John Thornton’s Unfolding Dream – 12

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John Thornton’s Unfolding Dream

 

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Chapter 7

 

Kindle arrived back at his apartment, finding Gilbert sitting down to their late breakfast as was customary with their late nights.

“Where have you been Cousin?” asked an energetic Gilbert who appeared to Kindle to be in rare form for the hour. Many a morning had Kindle and Gilbert sat across from each other, reluctant to speak because neither was usually very sociable until noon. Gilbert was certainly different this morning.

“What has you so full of yourself this early?” asked Kindle. “Myself, I am up early because I wanted to escort Miss Hale to her train, but found I was too late. Some other gentleman from Milton, of all places, was taking her in his coach. From their manner, I am assuming they are new acquaintances. But enough of me, you seem like you have swallowed the proverbial canary?”

“Oh, I am having a grand time trying to imagine what you will say to Lady Carter when you two next meet. Eve was unavailable last night, so I popped over to court. I was immediately set upon by Lady Carter demanding to know why you have not been attending any of the ton’s parties. Ever since that woman got a whiff that you might be wife hunting, she must have put plans into motion to snare you. I am surprised she hasn’t landed on our doorstep looking for you,” Gilbert continued to laugh. “She did allude to something someone saw. She was told you were with another lady at the park.”

“Oh, dear God.” Kindle replied, shaking his head. “With Miss Hale, so firmly entrenched in my thoughts lately, Lady Carter has been absent from my mind. She has been a pest all season, like a bee buzzing around my head. She can be incessant sometimes.”

“I should warn you, Kindle,” Gilbert said, “I think she is about to impale you with her stinger. Moreover, you know you are dealing with a Queen bee, or so she sees herself. Every since her husband was knighted and she became a Lady, she became magnified in her own mind. It’s a shame he died as young as he was. I never did hear how he died.” Gilbert could not help finding a little humor in all of this as he had been placed in a similar position once. There was a serious, almost sinister, side to Lady Carter, if rumors were to be, believed. “Do you think she’s seeking title?” Gilbert went on.

“I think that is all it can be. She has plenty of money and I doubt she actually thinks she is in love with me. What else could it be? By the way, what other noble gentlemen are in or near a position of becoming wed? Do you know? Am I the only one out there this season? I have never paid attention to any detail such as that, but I am suspecting the ladies do, for this has been a difficult season for me.”

“Cousin, cousin, cousin, what little you see. There are other nobles out there, but none that hold anything other than a knighthood. Being a Baron, you are the pièce de résistance this season. It is a good thing the rumor of your seeking a wife only started a month ago. You could have had a very difficult or very enjoyable, long season,” Gilbert said with a wink.

“Stop doing that, will you? I have had a decade in sins of the flesh, like you. It seems we both are looking past that now, for something to complete our lives. In our hearts, I think we both know whom we want by our side, but we want our wife to have passion and that, dear cousin, is still an unknown. However, I do not seek that out with just anyone, now. I do not know if God plays a cruel joke on us or not. The thing we have thought we needed in our life to make it worth living is now taking second place in our hearts, minds, and bodies. These are strange waters that we navigate; the way is uncharted, and our anchors are weighed,” Kindle laughed at this last comment, trying to lighten the subject.

Gilbert broke into a big laugh. “No wonder you speak at the House of Lords so eloquently. That was nicely put, and I might add, precisely, hits the mark. I shall stop teasing you for I fear you have well and truly convinced me that you are falling in love. What about your honey bee?” Gilbert asked. “She’s got a side to her that is rumored to be dark.”

“How is it that you know this? What have you heard?”

“It’s been many months ago that a rumor circulating wondered wherever did a nobleman go that she was known to be interested in. People kiddingly said that she held him in her basement until he promised to marry her. Now, mind you, that was a rumor, but the gentleman did actually vanish. I also heard tell that a fine gentleman of means but not titled, courted her for some months and then turned away from her. No one ever knew what caused him to turn away. It was swift and decisive on his part, leaving her a laughing stock of the ton. It was said that he left the country eventually. One wondered if she wanted rid of her embarrassment and forced him out or he left on his own accord or maybe lies rotting somewhere. It just left an air of mystery for some time. Where have you been? I know you have bedded her and nothing of this has reached your ears?”

Kindle shook his head “No. I pay little attention to gossip, but now I think I am glad that you do.”

“I wasn’t worried for you at all until last night, when I saw the determination in her eyes, to find you.”

“You really think I am in danger . . . from Lady Carter? Surely, you are mad – but I cannot take that chance. I will go and see her and find out just what she is expecting of me. There has never been any intimation of anything more than a pleasurable night in each other’s company. Nothing more. To be safe though, write my homestead and have them send another guard.”

*     *     *

Megan Pinson (nee Winston) was scurrying around the house cooking and waiting patiently with little success for the arrival of her best friend. Daniel, Megan’s husband, had been wonderful in supporting the visit by his wife’s friend. He had done a little painting on the outside of the house where chips of paint had fallen. He had repaired and painted the spare bedroom and made several small improvements around the house using the little time they had since they knew she was coming. A lot of his pittance of a savings went into the house, but it did not matter as long as Megan was so happy. Daniel was not so sure his guest, however, would like being reminded that the facilities were outside or under the bed, but Margaret understood Megan’s circumstances. Love had conquered Megan. Even with his low paying job, she still accepted him because she loved him. She willingly left a fine home and family to come live in a poor neighborhood with him. He loved her more than he could say.

“Megan, I am about done all I can do. Do you need any help in the kitchen?” Daniel asked as he walked over to her standing by the stove. As Megan stirred the stew, Daniel swept his arms around her waist and kissed her neck as he lifted her in the air for a moment. Megan breaking out with a big smile, left the wooden spoon in the pot, and turned so his kisses would find her mouth.

“Husband, you must not wife me too much right now. You know I have things to do . . . and no . . . I do not mean that, before you say it,” Megan laughed. “I need my wits and you are lovingly and cleverly diverting them. I can hear it now. Margaret, excuse our mess in the house, but my husband was making love to me and you were never a thought.”

Daniel backed off, laughing. “All right . . . if I mustn’t. I am glad for you to see your friend but I am also glad that it is only for a day or two. I want to hear you howl to the moon. When is she due to arrive at the station?”

“It should be around 4:30 this afternoon. When do you pick up the buggy that Bart is lending us for two days?” asked Megan.

“I guess I will go around to his place about 2:00, and return here. We will leave for the station around 4:00.”

 

*     *     *

 

“Surely, you jest, John,” Margaret said with a stunned look on her face. We have never had any connection in our lives that I remember. Do you know of anything?”

“I do not,” said John, stoically.

“Aren’t the people in your vision supposed to mean something to you, like a friend or family member that is in danger?” Margaret asked, starting to feel helpless coming to the end of the little knowledge she had heard.

“I did get a bit of research in and what you say seems to be the most common happening.”

“Would I be too impertinent to ask about your visions where I was concerned?”

John noticed how frightened she was becoming. It was overwhelming her as it had done to him. However, he knew what his multiple visions of her meant – that she was his mate – and he was happy about that. He did not think he would go that far in telling her what the folklore said.

John took the next hour and explained every dream in the detail he could remember. He told her how he was keeping a diary on his visions and watching their progression in the likelihood there was some pattern. He told her how he had seen her with Kindle and with Mr. Bell at some churches, museums and a bookstore. He knew not the why of his visions as there was no impending danger. John explained, if she were real, that she must be in London, from some of the paintings on the wall behind her, he saw in the museum vision.

“Miss Hale . . . Margaret . . . my trip to the bookstore was specifically and only for research. When I noticed you and Mr. Bell, I was stunned, quite honestly. I wondered what it meant to walk into my own vision. I have found no answers, but no one has gone up in a puff of smoke yet, so I guess it’s safe,” he laughed.

Seeing his smile, Margaret relaxed, hardly believing his accurate visions. The one thing she did know is that she unquestionably never wanted to leave his side. She laughingly wondered if he was a spell-caster. She realized her feelings for him were astoundingly impossible, as she had only known him an hour, if that. His voice, the way he looked at her with those luscious eyes, his total presence was undoing her, and there was no real reason for it. Love, lust – whatever it was, just did not work that way or so she thought. She had felt it in the bookstore, too. Apparently, from their earlier encounter with the satchel overhead, he was experiencing the same feelings.

“John, did you happen to have any vision of me last night?”

“No. I could not sleep. I got up and read some of the research I have purchased.”

“Did you find anything in the books to explain these visions of me?”

John hesitated and stared straight at her. “Margaret, I have merely skimmed a couple pages in a few books. I have become more fascinated with the folklore books than the scientific or medical ones. Folklore being what it is, passed down hearsay, has a rather interesting way of looking at what is transpiring between you and me right now. Please do not ask me to reveal it. It is rather embarrassing but someday I will tell you.”

Margaret could physically feel what had him embarrassed. She had never felt such longing to be in someone’s arms the way she felt right now. It was not many more hours that they had together so she decided to start resolving what she could immediately. She hoped she would not alienate him or cause him to cringe under her directness. With so little time, she had to be direct and take a chance.

“John would you come sit by me. I want to say some things to you and I am afraid I can’t look into your eyes and still say them.”

He crossed the small aisle and sat next to her, almost touching knees. “Margaret, I know we do not know each other at all, but I must tell you that you can say anything to me and I will not be hurt or shy away.”

“That, Mr. Thornton, I hope to believe.”

John, towering over her, watching her hands twist together in her lap, was forming a wrinkled brow wondering what she meant by that statement.

“I am afraid I do not understand,” he said.

“As you said and I fully agree, I know no other way than to be honest and with the little time left to us, it will be blunt. I should be demure and coy about what I would never ever say any other time, but there is something coming into my life that is extraordinary. If you and I are to find any way through this vision or gift or whatever it is, we must be completely honest. I am sure you have been honest with what you have told me but I feel you have not told it all. You are going to be very surprised to know what I have been feeling and thinking. I would wager right now that you think that I think you are a bit peculiar. And I have to say you are, but what is happening to me is very peculiar and I can feel it and I know it’s coming from me, through you.”

John turned in his seat to face her. Where was she going with her preface, he wondered.

Margaret, feeling his eyes on her wanted to squirm in her seat a bit but knew the squirming would get far worse the further she got into her story. “First, let us agree to be very honest, no matter how upsetting, shocking, disgusting, or exalting the words may be. Is that agreeable?”

“If that is what you want then I agree. I can tell you now, what you might ask or hear from me would not be what a gentleman would say to a lady of such short acquaintance and it shall go against all the behavior I have ever known,” John said reluctantly.

“Then it is agreed. I will tell you, that the things I will say would certainly not be heard from a lady. I only do this because we are under some very strange circumstances. I will hold nothing against you and hope you have no ill feelings towards me by the time we reach Milton.”

John could hardly contain the feeling that he was going to be crushed under an avalanche. Above all, he was going to face this gift square on and that may be a good thing.

“No matter what comes from that pretty mouth of yours, I will not have any ill-feelings, I swear. Proceed.” John said.

Margaret smiled at his compliment, now assured that the truth would be spoken even under their one hour knowledge of the other. Nothing would be withheld or considered sacred.

“I must ask you, John. Are you a witch, can you create spells?”

John laughed, “No, I am not a witch and I cannot create spells.”

Margaret was almost hoping for a positive answer. It would at least explain what was happening in and around her, but no such luck.

“To your knowledge, John, do you know of any other gift whether acknowledged or even hinted at that would be in addition to your sighted gift?”

“I know of no such gift and research tells me that the strength in my visions, which may grow, is of a moderate nature. It is neither weak nor strong. I told you that this started after a head injury – very late in life compared to most people with this gift. I cannot say that my gift is identical to others that were born with it. I know no other that I can speak to about it, only these books that are up on the shelf in my satchel.” What was she getting at? He wondered. She seemed to have some unknown experience or knowledge of something of which she had not spoken.

“All right, John. Please face away from me and prepare to be startled at what I am about to say.”

John Thornton’s Unfolding Dream – 11

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John Thornton’s Unfolding Dream

 

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Margaret had finished eating and packing, all the while thinking about seeing Megan again. Her pleasant thoughts of seeing her best friend were interrupted with other, more pleasant thoughts. She had very little sleep last night thinking of Mr. Brampton and his spontaneous farewell and the breathtaking Mr. Thornton, who would soon be picking her up. In the cold light of day, she could not help but chastise herself for accepting a ride from a stranger. Nevertheless, he did not feel like a stranger. She remembered the warm and peaceful spell he wove over her with that sultry voice.

Her aunt and cousin seemed to have finally come to the end of their tirade over her going with the stranger on a train. She hoped that Mr. Thornton could put them at some ease if he came inside. Margaret’s mind was whirling. If she were told that she had to choose between the two gentlemen right now or never breathe again, she would be hard pressed to do it.

Kindle was everything a woman could want: attractive, finely built, polite, protective, passionate, possessed of a career, although she did not know much about it, and by the looks of his carriage and horses he was probably well situated. If he were looking for a woman of wealth to aid his declining family’s historical castle or some such thing, he probably would not be controlling his behavior, which Margaret believed he was doing.

Mr. Thornton, on the other hand . . .

She knew nothing of the man except the city he lived in and the fact that he seemed like he would be well versed in the milling industry. That was all. He was mysterious. Margaret had heard of “love at first sight” but never thought it was real. It made interesting reading in her books, but surely, this was not what was happening to her, could it? There is just something about him, was an understatement. From the time she turned around in the bookstore aisle and blissfully sunk into his blue eyes, which looked like the sky at early twilight, she was almost lost. Still lost in the excitement of getting to know more about Mr. Thornton, she heard her cousin call to her from downstairs.

“There is a carriage outside, Margaret.”

Margaret thought Mr. Thornton was a bit early, but that was nice, too.

She heard Edith calling to her as she swept back the curtains.” It is your gentleman from last night. Come to say goodbye again, no doubt.”

“What!” Margaret whispered to herself as she rushed down the stairs to the door.” Kindle, what a surprise,” she said as she held the door open for him.

He peeked to see if anyone was watching them and quickly kissed her. “I thought I would come and take you to the station. I took a chance that you had not left yet.”

Still standing in the foyer, a worried Margaret said, “Oh, I wish you had said something about that last night. I have made plans. My ride should be here in a few moments.”

“Can’t you dismiss them?” Kindle asked, still smiling while trying to steal another kiss.

“I am afraid not. I am sorry you have come all this way to carry me to the station. Actually, I do not know where you live to know how far you have come. Where do you live?”

Knowing his address would give away his nobility, he said, “Margaret, when you return, we are going to talk about that and a lot of other things. There is much about me that you do not know, and I want that cleared up. My feelings for you are much more than I have felt for anyone, which is causing me to seek honesty in all we do together. That is not to say I have been dishonest about anything, but I have avoided some areas because I feared your reaction. That will be our priority when you return the day after tomorrow.”

“I do plan to be home in two days, on the four o’clock train. We will get to all you want to say as soon as I return. Oh, here is my . . . new acquaintance, who is taking me to the station, as he lives in the same city as my friend. It will be nice not to be alone for such a long journey, don’t you think?’ Margaret said, smiling, hoping to smooth over the frown now beginning to form on Kindle’s face. “Would you mind grabbing my bag, and I will walk out with you and introduce you.”

Kindle leaned down and collected Margaret’s satchel as Margaret shouted to her family that she was on her way. Both Edith and her aunt hurried to the front to say goodbye and saw Mr. Thornton heading toward the door. “What a mess this is,” said her cousin to her mother, “but Mr. Thornton sure is a fine-looking gentleman.”

“Poor Margaret. It looks like she might have two suitors who are colliding, right now.”

“Goodbye Margaret. Have a safe journey and a nice time with Megan,” called her aunt from behind the crowd that now seemed to be jammed at the front door.

Margaret stepped outside with Kindle behind her as Mr. Thornton was getting to the door, removing his hat. “Hello, Mr. Thornton. Thank you again for offering me a ride to the station. This is Mr. Kindle Brampton, a new friend. Kindle, this is Mr. John Thornton, a very new acquaintance.” The men shook hands politely, but the air was growing heavy with a primitive territorial mind game played by the male combatants. Margaret was sure she was exaggerating that in her mind, but that is exactly how if felt. It made her feel desired. How delicious and fancied she felt. She quickly dismissed her selfish and naive thoughts.

Margaret had not realized that she was on the mark with the men’s behavior.

“Hello, Miss Hale, Mr. Brampton.” John took the satchel from Kindle’s extended hand while wondering if this man was one of the men, he had seen with Margaret in his visions.

“A pleasure to meet you, Mr. Thornton. I have never been to Milton. They say it is a thriving city, now.”

“Yes. It is not London, but it has a lot of the same amenities, all new, but the people are much different there.”

“How do you mean, Mr. Thornton? How different are they?”

John had not missed the fact that Brampton’s coach and horses could only be afforded by the most affluent members of society.

“There are no highborn people. If you live in Milton, you are either poor or you manufacture. Even, the wealthy work. Everyone there works. It is a working town, a mill town, Mr. Brampton,” John said, holding his head high. He paused a moment. “Miss Hale, I believe we have need to leave now.” John noticed Brampton wrapping his hand around Margaret’s waistline at her back, assisting her toward the carriage while John walked behind with the satchel. John suddenly felt disheartened at their apparent closeness. He felt as if he had been punched in the stomach.

Kindle held her hand during the step up, and John stowed her satchel. “Good day, Mr. Brampton. It has been a pleasure to meet you,” John said as he climbed inside.

“The same, Mr. Thornton. Margaret, please have a nice time with your friend in Milton. I will see you upon your return, and we will talk.” Kindle closed the door and stepped back, nodding to the driver.

Margaret waved as the carriage pulled away. She felt that Kindle was playing a game when he said they would talk when she returned, clearly intimating some sort of relationship between them for Mr. Thornton’s benefit.

John and Margaret rode in silence for a few minutes. “It will be lovely to have someone to talk with on the long trip. What do you usually do on long trips, Mr. Thornton?”

“Most of my long trips are business related. I am usually giving a speech somewhere and have plenty of notes and diagrams to study during the hours,” John said.

“And this trip, Mr. Thornton, did you speak somewhere?”

“No, not this time, Miss Hale. I was just researching a subject.” John left his explanation hanging, hoping it would spark some curiosity in her.

The station stop had been close to Margaret’s home, so their journey was short. “Mr. Thornton,” she paused, “is your research something that you can speak about?”

The carriage pulled to a stop and John exited, handing his and Margaret’s satchels to a porter, then handed her out. “You, Miss Hale, seem to be the reason for my trip.”

The porter followed the pair to the ticket window, carrying their bags.

“Two tickets to Milton,” John requested. He turned to Margaret as she was beginning to speak, and said, “Please, allow me.” Leaning in to hear what the ticket master was asking, John responded, “One ticket is one way, and the second ticket is a return.”

No words were spoken while the two of them and the porter walked into the bustling crowd on the platform. John walked quite a long way down the platform until he found an empty coach. The porter entered the coach first and set their baggage on the overhead shelf. John handed him a coin. “Thank you.”

“Please, Miss Hale, have a seat.” Margaret sat next to the window as per her usual routine when it was available. “Miss Hale, would you feel more comfortable if I were to sit next to you or across from you?”

No one had ever asked that question of her before, but it did not take her long to think of the differences with the atmosphere that was now hovering around them. The peace and warmth were already settling through her body, but Margaret was selfish and wanted to look at his handsome face. “Would you mind sitting across from me? I do not know if it will make our conversations harder or easier. If we get a crowd in here, then we shall sit next to each other. When I am sleepy, though, I may borrow your shoulder if you do not mind.”

“I would not mind in the least,” John replied.

The train started its hissing of steam as the brakes were released. The loud chugging sound permeated the coach, and Margaret knew it would be several minutes before she could ask the question that was filling the coach. She could feel his eyes on her again, but he would deflect them when she looked his way. She looked at the overhead, forgetting that she had brought her Milton book. It would be a help when she was stuck for conversation. As she rose to reach for it, Mr. Thornton rose up instantly, too.

“Can I assist you, Miss Hale?” he asked.

The train was still lurching forward, causing Margaret to fall into his chest. John immediately had his arms around her to steady her. He took embarrassingly too long to ease his grip and hold her by her shoulders. Margaret did not want it to stop, either. Before he knew why, John pulled her tighter, leaned down, and kissed her long and hard. Embarrassed, John backed away, still holding her. “Please forgive me, Miss Hale. I do not know why I did that. I am sorry. You must think I am a rogue or a cad at the least. However, I am not. Maybe I will be able to explain myself before our trip is completed. Again, I am sorry.”

Looking down, Margaret pressed the back of her hand to her mouth. She said, “Please . . . do not be sorry, Mr. Thornton.”

Astonished over her comment, he glanced down at her again and said, “John.”

Margaret, stuttering, asked, “W-what did you say?”

“I said John. Please call me John, if your society permits that.”

“Mr. Thornton . . . John . . . I have no society. I, too, appreciate the casualness of first names. Please call me Margaret.”

“If you wish, but please accept my apology.”

“Accepted. If you do not mind, I was reaching for my satchel to retrieve my Milton book.”

John guided Margaret backward a step and encouraged her to sit while he collected her bag.

As he reached overhead, pulling his coat upwards from lifting his arms, Margaret’s eyes wandered shamelessly. She was aware that their kiss had meant a lot to him. Margaret started to wonder what type of woman she was turning out to be. Ideas of a more sensual nature were seeping into her consciousness more often. These new men in her life were spurring and stirring her inner passionate feelings, feelings she had only read about.

John had totally forgotten about his situation. He had been hard since he had put his arms around her. He was mortified to be standing almost directly in front of her as he reached to the overhead. He knew he could not say anything, could not apologize . . . could not do anything but be an idiot for the moment. He quickly gathered her bag and sat down on the same bench until he would return it. “Oh, God, she is blushing,” John thought. “At least, blushing is a good sign. She could have been frowning.” John calmed his nerves somewhat with that thinking. He could have thrown away everything in one absent-minded moment of lustful thinking.

Margaret wanted to burst out giggling when offering her thanks. She could not look at his face, not yet, anyway. Calming her knowledge of his desire for her, she said, “Thank you, John,” as she plundered her satchel. “Oh, here it is.” She buckled her bag. John took hold of the case, and she could see his hesitation on returning it to the top shelf. He did some type of contorted twist to swing it up, and Margaret could not hold it in any longer. With crimson rising from her throat to her cheeks, she burst out laughing. He had to know why she was laughing. It seemed suddenly the heaviness of the air lifted as they passed through the awkward new acquaintance stage in a highly unconventional manner. “I am sorry to laugh, John.”

“Why are you laughing, Margaret?” he asked, playing dumb as he returned to the seat opposite her, tugging his coat around him as he sat.

Sweat beaded on Margaret’s top lip and out came the giggles again. “Oh, it is nothing, really. Well . . . I do not really mean nothing. Not in that way, of course.” Margaret realized she was digging a hole and could not get out of the way of herself.

Now John joined in the laughter, duly relieved that she took this embarrassing event in the manner in which she did. “All right, have it your way, do not tell me.” John had to let her off this delicious hook for both their sakes.

John waited for the question to be asked. He had decided to be honest with her because he knew no other way. He folded his arms and looked at the passing scenes as the train rolled down the tracks.

 

Margaret did not know how to bring up the subject, opting instead for other conversation. “John, what is it that you do in Milton?”

John unfolded his arms and gave her all of his attention. “Margaret, I am a mill master. I, and a partner of mine own two cotton mills. Shortly, I believe he will allow me to buy his fifteen percent portion so both belong to me while he buys his own mill. We have been good friends for a long time.”

“Have you always lived in Milton?”

“Yes, I had rather humble beginnings there, but through diligence, I have made a good career for myself.”

“This career, does your wife mind it?” Margaret knew that would be seen as an obtuse way to find out if he was married, but she could think of no other way to find out.

“I am not married as yet,” John responded.

“That sounds like you soon will be. Do you have a lady picked out?”

“I think I would like to defer that question until a later time,” John said with a penetrating stare at her, as Margaret got closer to asking what he wanted her to know.

“You seem to be playing a game with me, so here it comes. As we exited the carriage, you said I seemed to be the reason you came to London. If I am to believe any of this, you must tell me why you assume to know me.”

“Let me preface my explanation by first saying that my original reason for coming to London was to do research on this strange phenomenon that has recently happened to me. Almost six months ago, I was involved in a rather serious accident that left me in a severe coma from a head injury that I sustained. After I was back on my feet, I started having visions that I could not explain and still cannot – that is why the research.”

“Oh, I think I have heard of such a thing. You have become gifted, is that right?”

Amazed at her knowledge, he said, “I guess you could say that. I am not at all sure that I like it, except for what has happened recently. My first real vision warned me, as I see it now, that my horse would be mildly injured. I dealt with the injury but feared this vision entity far more. There was a second vision that warned of a big personal mistake I could make and did not. Nevertheless, these past six weeks or so, the visions have been very pleasant. I still find them disturbing, as they interrupt my life the way I have always known it. But recently, my life has been pleasantly engaged in this chaos of unknown origin.”

“That is very interesting. I am most fascinated to hear your story. And what do I have to do with any of this?”

“You, Margaret Hale, have been the source of my latest and most agreeable visions.”

 

John Thornton’s Unfolding Dream – 10

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John Thornton’s Unfold Dream

 

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Kindle arrived back at his quarters to find his brother sitting in his favorite chair, sipping a scotch. “How went your evening, Gilbert? I did not expect you home this early. Was Miss Eve unavailable this evening?” Kindle asked as he walked over to the liquor cabinet and pulled out a very fine brandy.

The apartment reflected a very male-dominated household, with family historical weaponry, centuries old, covering the walls. There were several suits of heavy armor erected to stand in corners. The room was decorated in the dark blue colors of the Brampton coat of arms, along with huge, plush, dark leather chairs and a few brass items for smoking or holding writing implements. There was hardly a rare porcelain figurine in the place. Potted palms were sprinkled throughout the first floor, where it seemed every square foot was covered with the finest oriental rugs. The large entrance foyer, almost competing with the library for room size, sported wall-to-wall paintings of century upon century of family portraits, each person dressed in his finest military uniform. Kindle was no exception; he, too, had a portrait hanging. The family affectionately called it their Hall of Heroes. Gilbert’s portrait was not there, as he had not fully distinguished himself in the queen’s eye, yet. Nevertheless, Kindle knew he would get his knighthood some day.

“Eve and I had a very brief evening. Some of her relatives arrived from God knows where, so I gave her up to them after a while.”

“I know I have never meddled in your affairs of the flesh,” said Kindle, “but I may be teetering on the brink of falling in love, as you seem to think you are. I can see I will be driven mad with desire or lust before I am very sure of my own feelings; yet, I want to respect her wishes and chasteness. I know I could find a woman to rut with this minute, but I do not want that type of woman. Those types are for release, and I want more than that. If you mind that I ask, do not answer, but how are you handling your situation?” Kindle asked as he paced the floor, sipping his brandy, too stoked to sit down and discuss this calmly.

“You know, Kindle, we are suffering what ninety-nine percent of the rest of the males goes through. Our rank in society has led us to this state. We have been spoiled. Nevertheless, enough of that talk. I am struggling, too. I am one-step ahead of you in knowing that I do love her, and I think she feels the same. I think we are going to have physical relations before marriage. Within the next week or two, I will leave London and go to talk with father. Neither of us will have any problems with our mothers, but my father has never expressed any of his feelings on a marriage partner. He probably is not too concerned that I do not marry for land, wealth, or name, but what will he say about Lady No One? You are fortunate that I will be blazing this trail for both of us. I will marry her regardless, but she must know exactly who I am, what will be expected of her to a small extent, and what we might be headed for with our family before I ask her. She will not be expected to change and be the grand lady of the manor or a titled woman. I want her for herself and want her to stay the way she is. That is who I am in love with. She will have responsibilities as a wife, but they will be far different than what I think she might think when she knows our history; at least on a smaller scale, that is. I do not want to lose the Eve I am in love with.”

Kindle finally sat down, taking in his cousin’s well thought-out future.  “As lads, it seemed I was always coming to your rescue, but I think the tide has changed on this huge event in our lives. I do not think I have ever been in love, and I am having the damndest time figuring out if that is what this is. I have to be sure for both of us. I think of her all the time. I could spend every moment with her. I want her in my bed for life. I know I would be faithful to her unless she is passionless, which I am beginning to believe is not possible. However, I do have the issue that she is quite set against our society. I do not mind giving up that, at least not the season, and its orgies. Nevertheless, as you said, there will be some responsibility that a baroness must face in some minimum capacity. As much as I may love her, I cannot destroy the family name.”

“Kindle, you are not talking about some back-alley woman. She is a lady, educated, polite; if she is only civil, that should be enough. Can you doubt that of her?”

“That is not quite where I feel the issue may lie,” Kindle said, rising to fill his glass. “I know she will be all that is needed and then some, but at what expense? What sacrifice to our happiness will she be making? If she truly loves me, Margaret will do anything to please me, but what about her? Oh, this is all so confusing. Finding a proper wife should be easy. I want to be happy in my life. I want a wife to love, who loves me and is happy with our marriage. I may wind up sacrificing both of us to the house of Brampton if I am not careful. I started out on one subject with you, which I did not resolve, and now I am onto a bigger one. I see no other way but to be honest with her, as quickly as I can. I was hoping she would fall in love with me before she knew who I am, but it is only fair to her and me to get it all out and see what happens from there. When she returns from wherever she is going, we will talk. I know if you tell Eve, I must tell Margaret.”

 

John Thornton did not think he would ever get through the dark night and his morning meal. He had wrestled all night with the day that lay ahead. Around four o’clock, John finally threw on the light and went to the stack of books he was taking home. He actually found the folk stories book of more interest. It was not filled with every other word being fifteen letters long.

He read about many other curious gifts that had been around since the dawn of recorded time. There was an abundance of them. Along with his gift, there were different strengths and the occasional person with more than one gift. Besides his visions, which seemed to be about mid-strength, there was the ability to see into the future with a huge swing of clarity. There was a healing gift, a gift to look into the past, to make someone forget what he or she had just heard or seen—the astonishing list just continued.

After thumbing the various gifts, John settled in to read about his. He was sometimes referred to as a seer. To him, that sounded like stake-burning language. He thought he would stick with the word “visionary” that he had read in a medical book. The visionary did not have to have a relationship with whom or what they were seeing. Most visions were meant as some type of warning, but not always. John’s breath caught and his heart started pounding again the way it had when he was standing in front of Margaret in the bookstore. One line in the book, he knew, was written for him: “When a seer has constant, pleasant visions of someone they do not know, that person is usually destined to be their mate in life.” The book could not explain why – of course, not; it was a gift, but it did go on to say that, the seer usually lost the gift once the pair mated in marriage.

John put a bookmark between the pages and sprawled across the bed. He laid there for several hours, thinking about that one line. Tomorrow was his only chance . . . to . . . to what? Where does one start with this knowledge? First would be to gauge if he had any interest in her and he thought he knew the answer to that already. Remembering one vision where he felt jealous because a second gentleman was escorting her out seemed to be his first sign.

They did have a connection yesterday in the bookstore. She was staring and he was trembling. He had to ask himself whether that had ever happened to him before – never! He had never trembled in his life. That was what women do, he thought. When women are frightened, they will tremble. Men, as a rule, do not handle fright the same way; if anything, they feel emboldened. So … he kept gathering his thoughts to work his way through his trembling. “I must have been frightened of something.” Being at its mercy, whatever “it” was, had to be the frightening aspect. Only two reasons came to mind. One, he was frightened about himself walking into his own vision, not knowing if he would ever wake. Would the world explode? Would he turn into a frog or babble for the rest of his life? He laughed briefly on the ridiculousness of all that. However, that could not be it. He trembled most when he was near her, not when he first saw the two of them talking downstairs. That left only reason number two.

 

I am falling in love with her.

 

That train of thought brought John off the bed, and the pacing started. He was going to have to wash his hair again if he did not stop running his hands through it. He walked over to the shaving mirror and stared into it for a long time. No answers there. Finally, he went over to the hotel window, opened it, and sat on the ledge, looking out at the starry night sky. He needed air. Just like yesterday, he was finding it hard to breathe. Margaret’s image of her staring into his face, as he looked down upon her, kept floating by, repeatedly.

 

What do I do now?

 

“There are no bounds to the bewilderment in which I find myself,” he said aloud.

The hours drifted by, with John still analyzing all aspects of his situation. Literally, there were no plans to be made. Tomorrow would have to lead him onward. What would his next vision bring? Maybe he would not have any more after this. Tomorrow he would determine if his trembling was for the want of her and not knowing how to begin. The time on the train was going to be the most important hours of his life.

“How does life know when to point out to you that this is the most important step in your entire life? How is it so magnified that nothing else matters to you?”

 

You have lived your life to get to this one specific moment … decision … and you recognize it.
And … nothing else matters!

John Thornton’s Unfolding Dream – 09

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John Thornton’s Unfolding Dream

 

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The evening dinner was over at the Shaw’s home, and the three ladies—Edith, her aunt, and Margaret—had just settled in the parlor to hear Edith play the piano. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door, and they all looked from one to the other. No one was expecting a visitor. The maid went to the door and came back into the parlor with a card in her hand.” A gentleman to see Miss Hale. Here is his card,” she said, handing it to Margaret.

“Oh, it is Kindle. Whatever could be the matter? Please show him in,” Margaret instructed.

Walking into the room, looking as handsome as ever with his wavy blond hair pulled back into a lovely bow, he greeted Margaret, then Edith, and waited to be introduced to Mrs. Shaw.

“I am sorry to interrupt your evening. It is unforgivable to come unannounced, but I wish to have a few private words with Miss Hale if she would oblige me.” Kindle looked at their gaping mouths and almost laughed aloud at the trio of stunned females.

“Of course, Kindle. Since we are still enjoying our late summer, would the back veranda be agreeable?” Margaret asked, finding her composure.

With Kindle’s quick assent, Margaret led the way through the house to the veranda and back garden.

“Margaret, may we sit back there on the bench in the garden?”

“Yes, of course. I do hope you do not bring bad news.”

As Margaret turned to sit, she found herself in Kindle’s arms, which had tightly encircled her. As she opened her mouth to speak, he was there, too, kissing her deeply and passionately. Margaret’s knees buckled, and he held her weight until he was done with his ardent kiss. Relenting, she put her arms around his neck, and he drew her closer, encouraged by her reaction. He finally released her and stepped back, catching his breath.

“Margaret, I am sorry about that behavior.”

“I am not so sure I am,” Margaret entreated.

Never expecting those simple words to encourage him, he was kissing her throat from ear to ear and her neck to her shoulders. Margaret thought she would melt.

“Please, Kindle. Let me sit and catch my breath. Do you greet all of your women that way? London must be strewn with fainted ladies left in your path.”

Kindle belted out a considerably loud laugh.” Oh, Miss Hale, surely you jest. I have never met anyone like you. You may find this hard to believe, but I am behaving myself, to which honors should be bestowed upon me.”

They both sat down, enjoying the amusement of the moment.

“You have overwhelmed me, Mr. Brampton. Surely, what you have come to say cannot be all that bad.” She smiled.

“I have come to say little to nothing. I just had to see you and kiss you. I have done nothing but think of you since last we were together. I know you are leaving for a few days tomorrow, and I could not let you go without telling you goodbye.”

Margaret, feeling quite spirited with this unexpected encounter, said, “Well, goodbye then,” and kiddingly rose to leave. She immediately felt a large, tight hand around her tiny wrist, yanking her back down.

“You are a little imp, aren’t you? Another gem among your other . . . ah . . . allurements. I see I will have to keep a much closer eye on you.” Once again, he pulled her to him and covered her mouth, licking her lips. Margaret showed no hesitation as she parted her own moist lips to allow him passage. It was a very sensual kiss, and it stirred heat within Margaret. She knew they both wished for other things, but it was all too fast. Before she could give of herself, she must know him better. Otherwise, she would be like every other female that he must be leaving in his wake.

“Excuse me, Kindle, but that kiss . . . was that part of your better behavior?” Margaret asked, smiling.

Kindle rubbed his chin as if in thought.” Well . . . yes and no. Yes, I am on good behavior because I am stopping there. No, because I wanted you to have a memento to carry with you in your heart so you would know this is only a preview of how I feel about you and what we can share. I must admit, although you will not believe me, I rarely, if ever, promise anything in advance. This is a big step for me.” He was serious and he knew she did not believe a word of it yet. If he could only make her fall in love with him before she discovered who he was, she just might see that his dedicated attention to her was sincere. It was certainly a shock to him.

Margaret was glad for the twilight; hopefully, it was hampering his ability to see her red cheeks. “Mr. Brampton!” Margaret said in a playfully haughty voice.” It is a good thing that you are stopping there. You are seriously trying to undermine my naiveté.” Then she laughed and so did Kindle.

“Naiveté, is it? Well, milady, being a gentleman from the old school, I will stop here. Might I inquire where you might be thinking of divesting yourself of that unpopular and surely boring attribute of being naive?” Again, she was blushing, he noticed. He was sure she was still a virgin. He would have to rethink his feelings for her and his strategy to win her heart. With what he thought, he was feeling for her, he knew if he bedded her, he bedded her for life.

“I do not think you need to worry yourself about that, Mr. Brampton. The naiveté seems to be peeling away, layer by layer, all on its own.”

He pulled her to him again; once more covering her mouth with his, while he ran his hands up and down her shoulders and arms. He was on fire and wanted to climb inside of her so badly, but his tongue was his only weapon she was allowing. At least, he could make love to her that way, for as long as she could sustain him. No other woman had denied him anything at this point because she knew who he was. He knew they were easy because of his title, and he used them. This experience was new. He was in rough waters and would have to chart the proper course. Down deep, he knew keeping his identity from her because of her previous comments about his society was not a good course. He had not lied at all, but what he was doing was taking a different advantage of her. He was playing with her heart and his, too. He was determined to make his peace with her and take it from there. The longer he left it unsaid, the longer it would seem premeditated. He had a lot of thinking to do before she returned.

“Margaret, I wish you a nice journey to Milton. I have already acquired seating to a coming performance by the London Symphony. I believe they will be playing the works of Shubert. Do you like Shubert, Margaret?”

“I am not very much acquainted with his work but eagerly look forward to it. Thank you. In addition, thank you for your goodbye wishes. You have brought another first into my life. I have to wonder how many firsts we will share. I think we best return to the others. My family will be standing over me, curious as to who you are and why you were here. I am quite a private person, and they know little about you except for your name and your career.”

“So they do not know that I want to ravish you?” he asked. “That is a relief. Do not forget what I said about it being a preview of where our lives could lead us. I am eager to peel away the layers to find the treasured center core,” Kindle said with all the gentleness of a man in love.

“I think we have had quite enough of that conversation. You already have me trembling. You do not want me to faint, too, do you?” Margaret said in all seriousness.

“I think I would like that very much. I could catch you and hold you in my arms longer,” Kindle replied while leaning towards her lips.

Margaret started toward the veranda, and Kindle followed. “Wait, Margaret, just one last thing.”

“What would that be?” she asked as she turned his way.

He stood directly in front of her, holding her by the sides of her head. His eyes washed over every inch of her face, and he finally kissed her lightly. “From me to you.” He paused once again, looking deep into her eyes. “Let us go inside so I can leave through the front door. You should know that I am always a front-door man.” Kindle took her hand, leading her up the veranda steps, and followed her inside.

Kindle said his goodbyes to Margaret’s family. Margaret escorted him to the front hall and door. “Goodnight, Margaret. Please have a safe trip while I wait patiently for your return.”

He opened the door and left.

Margaret could already hear the mumbling from the other room. “If you two do not mind, I think I will retire,” Margaret called out.

“I do not think so,” she heard her aunt return. “You cannot leave us with so many questions overnight. Please give us a few moments. Were his private words anything that you are concerned about?” Auntie asked.

Coming back into the parlor, Edith was all smiles, looking very pleased for her cousin Margaret. Her aunt had a parental look of disturbance on her face.

Margaret spent about a quarter hour telling them of her meeting and outing with Kindle. They were impressed that he had just stopped by to tell her goodbye.

“He is quite the suitor,” her aunt declared.

“If you will excuse me, Mr. Thornton will be here for me tomorrow morning at half past ten. I need to ensure all is packed. Good night,” Margaret replied, heading toward the stairs.

Aunt Shaw looked at Edith and said, “Now, who is Mr. Thornton?”

Margaret heard her aunt’s statement as she ascended the stairs and wondered the same thing.

John Thornton’s Unfolding Dream – 08

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John Thornton’s Unfolding Dream

 

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Chapter 5

 

 

It was a cool night. The light breeze was drifting through John’s bedchamber window, but this new vision woke him up, glistening with sweat, well after midnight. This dream was clear, and he wanted to recapture it, for it was very pleasant. He could vividly see the woman with all of her charm and appeal sitting at a table, reading a book. She was a vision within his vision.

 

Who is she? Why do I keep seeing her?

 

In his office the next morning, he told Nicholas about his long conversation with Dr. Donaldson. His mind was somewhat relieved that he was not going mad, and Nicholas enjoyed hearing the scientific side of what was actually known about the gift. John told him what little there was to tell about his dream from the night before. Again, there were differences from the previous visions, in that this woman was alone and her face was very clear to him. If he were an artist, he would have been able to paint her.

“Nicholas, I want to apologize to you now, for all the distraction this is causing in my life, interrupting my normal work habits. You have probably been working behind my back to make up for my shortfall. Eventually, I hope this change in my life will become routine and I will be able to give my full concentration back to the business.”

“John, do not worry yourself. Except for those times when you are quiet, and I can see your mind is engaged elsewhere, you show no signs of change. There has been very little that I have attended for you. I know that it will eventually become second nature to you, but right now, I am happy that your visions are not of a violent nature. So . . . tell me about this lady that you met last night.” Nicholas laughed.

John saw the smarmy look on his friend’s face but decided to answer him anyway. Talking about it seemed to help.” She’s probably in her early twenties; she’s pretty without being exceptionally beautiful. She appears on the smallish side but has a perfect figure with a slender ivory neck that slopes to her ample bosom . . . very enticing. She is dressed well and obviously likes to read. That’s all I could see last night.”

“Ah . . . John, you sure studied her quite closely.” Higgins smiled.” Have you ever thought that you might be seeing into your own future, John?” he seriously asked.

John smiled inwardly at Higgins’s remark about how well he saw her.

 

Am I being drawn to her in some way?

 

“I did think of that once, in the beginning, but I am sure she does not live in Milton, and therefore she is not part of my world. All of the visions of her have depicted some other place, which I believe to be London. I am going there in a few days; I shall look for her,” John said, jokingly.” All jesting aside, I am going to take Donaldson’s advice and travel to London to find information that has been written about my sight. I shall only be gone two days, I believe.”

 

*   *   *

 

Margaret had already packed her bags for Milton. She did not need to carry much, as she would only be there two days. She was getting anxious to see her friend. She heard Mr. Bell’s distinctive knock and she waited while the maid opened the door for him. He was escorted to the parlor, where Margaret was eagerly waiting. Anticipating this trip, she was most excited to go to one of the largest bookstores in London. “Good morning, Mr. Bell,” Margaret said, all bright, and cheery on the sunny late summer morning.

“Well, Miss Margaret, you do look pretty, as always, but today you seem to be in high spirits. If you are ready, I have a cab waiting, but there is no rush,” Mr. Bell said, matching Margaret’s good mood.

“Oh, I am ready. I hope to take a goodly portion of the day looking at all the shelves. I have many books that I wish to look for. How about yourself? Anything special for which you search. I hate to think of you becoming bored too quickly.”

“Margaret, do not give me a thought. I might walk with you a bit and introduce you to the organization of the place. It is of significant size, with many thousands of books. I think it must be the largest in England. It has several floors. I believe even the Royals order from The Hall of Books, as it is called. Not only is it a huge book store, but I believe they hold an archive gallery of historical writings, viewable by the public, but not allowed to be removed or bought. You mainly find all the historical writers in there picking through very old manuscripts that are handled with gloves. I was told there is a movement to rewrite the oldest papers that are starting to disintegrate, so there is some record for posterity. If you ever are bored with nothing to occupy yourself, I am sure they would wish to find someone with your fine hand to help them. All volunteers, naturally.”

“That is very good to know. I may very much wish to help them. I feel so at ends with little to do of any worth. One wishes to make the world better, and that may be a suitable temporary situation until something more fulfilling comes along. Thank you for telling me that; I might just inquire while I am there,” Margaret replied with a smile on her face.

“Shall we go then, Miss Margaret?”

“Yes, Mr. Bell,” Margaret said, taking his arm, which he had extended to her.

As they rode to the bookstore, Mr. Bell asked what her particular interests might be at The Hall of Books.

“I am interested in finding something related to Milton, where I am headed tomorrow. From what I hear, it is making history almost month to month. It would be nice to be able to converse with my friend about her city and possibly surprise her with tidbits she has never heard. I will then leave the book with her. In addition, I am fascinated with a female author named Jane Austen. I have two of her books and I wish to collect all six of them. She is considered one of the most prolific female authors of her time. Unfortunately, she died at age forty-two, which was only a bit over thirty years ago. There is a second female author, still living, named Elizabeth Gaskell, who, I understand, has a similar, writing style. Enough about me. Where will your interest lie today?”

“Oh, I have various interests. I always like to read about what is new at my old college. I have interests in how to buy and sell land. I have meant to tell you that I have some investments in Milton. Maybe on some trip in the future you will allow me to attend you,” Mr. Bell mentioned.

“With that city growing in leaps and bounds, one would think that investing in land there — the right lands — might prove very profitable, as the city keeps spreading.”

“There you have it, Miss Margaret. I have done quite well there for so late in my life.”

“Mr. Bell, you are not that old. Someday you shall reap great rewards and share it with your family. You do have family, I would imagine?” Margaret questioned.

“Actually, I have no family. I have never married. I was the only son of my parents, who passed away many years ago.”

That saddened Margaret, as she thought about his being alone. She had little family herself and could understand the great void of being alone. She almost wished she could have been interested in him the way he wished her to be, purely to give him someone close, but that would never come to pass. He did not seem too old to find a woman in his life. She would hope that he found someone, but she would always be his friend. Margaret could not think of anything much worse than spending her older years alone.

 

John had been completely engrossed in looking through the sections about clairvoyance and something called precognition. Thumbing through the book index, he found references in the science, medical, early folklore, and occult sections. This gift of his had a lot of information and, undoubtedly, a lot of misinformation, backed up by a plethora of folktales. He took several books to the middle tables, wishing to get a sense of which ones he should buy. He had picked out a deep medical book that he would buy for Donaldson. He could not understand half of the words but hoped the doctor would enjoy it. As he was rising to return a book, he saw an impossible sight. Becoming weak in the knees, he quickly found his seat. There she was. “Certainly, I am having a waking vision,” he thought. “Yes, it has to be because she is with the same original man when the visions of her began.” It was only last week that he had seen her reading a book. He stood and walked close to the couple, hoping they would not disappear from his sight. None of his previous visions could be heard. John stood out of their line of sight, hoping to hear her . . . and he could.

 

This is not a dream. She is real and she is alive and here. I can reach out and touch her. I can hear her.

 

John was at a loss as to what to do. “What would happen if I introduced myself?” he wondered. “She’d think I was impertinent.” He was transfixed, sure that his mind was playing tricks. She had been so clearly focused in his last vision, which stirred something within him. It was possible that he was seeing what he wanted to see, being that he was in his vision’s London. One thing was for sure, he would not let her out of his sight. He heard her escort call her name.

 

Margaret. Her name is Margaret. Miss Margaret. My vision is alive and her name is Margaret.

 

“Mr. Bell, do you have any idea where I would find information about Milton?” John heard her ask the gentleman with her.

“I cannot specifically say on that topic, but let us check the card index.”

 

Milton?

 

“What is going on?” John asked himself. “Life must surely be playing games with me, or am I truly becoming unbalanced?
Or . . . or maybe I am seeing something that has to do with my future, just like Higgins suggested.”

John did not have time to ponder that as he returned to his chair and watched the gentleman escort Margaret up to the second-floor balcony. He watched them look at the categories listed at the end of each row of books until they disappeared down an aisle. Having her out of his sight was agonizing, so he headed for the stairs, leaving his own books on the table. As he approached the balcony, Margaret’s gentleman, now known as Mr. Bell, passed him on his way back to the ground floor. The name “Mr. Bell” had a familiarity that he could not place, but he knew his thoughts were solely focused in one direction. John quietly slipped past the aisles, knowing where she would be, as he was well acquainted with the Milton section.

There she was, her back to him, flipping pages in a book. How many times had he seen that image? Before he could give it any thought, words surprisingly leaped from his dry mouth.

“I am quite familiar with the Milton section, as that is my home. May I be of some assistance with what you are looking for?” John was shocked at himself, for he had never intended to speak with her. His inner self had rushed him, forcing him to speak.

 

Why does the thrill of soaring begin with the fear of falling?

 

“How do you do?” Margaret said as she turned and looked at him. “You are very kind. I am headed to Milton tomorrow to visit a friend and would like to know about her new town and give her the book for her own information.”

John knew he was trembling; he was helpless to control it. She had stepped out of his dreams and into his path.

 

Please, do not notice that I am shaking.

 

“Here is one that could fill your purpose,” he could hear the tremor in his own voice.” It is called Milton, a New City. I am afraid these books become outdated quite quickly with our constant expansion, but it will give you an overview of the city and not dwell on the cotton industry that has made Milton what it is today,” John told her.

“Thank you ever so much, Mr . . .?”

“Thornton, John Thornton. And you are?”

“Margaret Hale. Delighted to meet you, Mr. Thornton,” Margaret said, extending her hand for a polite shake.

 

Now I have touched her . . . she is radiant!

 

Margaret was struggling to acknowledge the sheer peace and warmth that was settling within her. It was quite pleasant, and nothing had ever filtered through her body quite like this before. She found herself staring into his pale blue eyes — drowning, more like it — as if they were deep pools. He seemed fascinated in her, as well, for he was staring back. The moment suspended itself and begged for something more, but nothing seemed appropriate.” Have we met before, Mr. Thornton?” she finally asked, regretfully breaking the connection.

“It is funny you should ask that; I was about to ask the same thing of you. I tend to believe that we have not, as I have lived in Milton all of my life and rarely come to London. You?”

“I was raised in a small southern town called Helstone. A friend I grew up with has married, and her husband has taken a job in one of the mills in Milton. We separated when I left for finishing school. My parents died in a house fire while I was away, and now I am spending time with my aunt, who lives here. I am not settled, as to my future. I am afraid I do not feel as though I want to fit in here . . . in London, that is.” Margaret realized she was babbling more than was polite. She just did not want this conversation to stop.

“This may be quite forward of me, but I am returning to Milton tomorrow. Did I understand you correctly when you said you were headed there tomorrow as well?”

“Yes, I am. I plan to be on the eleven o’clock train,” Margaret said, again finding herself trapped in his eyes. He had moved a little closer and was now almost towering over her. He was very tall, much taller than Kindle, she thought. “Would you be heading home about that time? I have no escort.” Margaret asked, not believing how forward that sounded.” This man is weaving some sort of spell over me,” she sighed inwardly. “He is so handsome, with his black hair; tall, lean, and muscular body; and a voice that is just about to put me into a trance.” She did not think she wanted to save herself, if he was.

“I had no special time to catch the train. If you will permit me, I would like to share a coach with you. Maybe I can tell you more about Milton,” John told her, not believing his luck. Maybe it was not really luck, he thought. He was starting to feel she was his destiny. “I could pick you up in my cab or meet you at the station.”

When Margaret told him where she lived, and he told her where he was staying. It appeared they were not very far apart, so Margaret consented to be collected. She could not understand why she felt so safe with this complete and utterly mind-numbing stranger.

“Was that your father I saw you with moments ago?” John asked.

“Oh, no. Mr. Bell is an old college friend of my father. He has no connection or acquaintance with my friend in Milton.”

“His name sounds vaguely familiar to me, but I cannot place him,” continued John.

“I believe Mr. Bell may have some land holdings in Milton.”

“Certainly. That is it. This is a small world, is it not?” John asked without expecting a reply.

John was sweating under his frock coat. He knew his collar and cravat were soaked from the stress of the short introductions. “Miss Hale, is there anything else that I can help you with in the Milton section? I am afraid unless it has something to do with manufacturing or cotton, I would be at a loss to help you further.”

“You have been most helpful, Mr. Thornton. I believe I can find my way to the female authors section,” she laughed.

John laughed, too, and said, “Yes, there I am very much out of my depth. Then I shall leave you and come for you at your home about one half hour before the train departs. Will that be agreeable?”

“Yes, that will suit most admirably,” Margaret, responded.

“Until tomorrow, Miss Hale.” John tipped his head in politeness then turned and walked away. Every step away from her felt like he was trudging through deep snow; it was difficult to put one foot in front of the other. He had no knowledge that Margaret moved to the balcony aisle and watched him walk away with his graceful, long-legged gait.

John returned to his table and looked down at the open book he had left there; not one word could he read. His head was spinning. Not only had he encountered his vision, but she was lovely beyond words. “Precious” was the word that came to him immediately. No woman had ever made him think of that word, precious. He could not help but turn occasionally and look up to see if she was there. Like a moth to a flame, he was inexplicably drawn to her. “Why is that?” he asked himself. It was not her beauty, as he had been with women with exceedingly attractive looks. Nevertheless, he knew it was more than the incredible coincidence of finding her here in this London bookstore. He would check all the books he had in front of him and see if there was any reference to walking into your own vision.

 

Margaret walked down the aisles, half-dazed, looking at book spines but not reading them. Occasionally, she would regain her senses and wonder where the female authors were. Mr. Bell found her wandering like a lost puppy.

“Margaret, you look miles away. Is anything wrong? I should not have left you alone. Did anyone accost you?” Bell asked with some alarm in his voice, seeing her blank stare.

Margaret opened her mouth to speak and found she had no voice. Several moments later, she explained to Bell about the nice gentleman who had helped her in the Milton section since he lived there.

“He must have been nice, indeed, by the look on your face. How you do scare one.” Bell laughed.” Which book did he recommend?”

Margaret handed the book to him.

“Oh, this should do you and your friend fine, indeed. It appears to have maps and information about the various areas that one can expect to find there. Let me see . . .” Bell started flipping the map pages. “Yes, here it is. It is another fine little bookstore that I have frequented. I remember the gentleman was very amiable and would order books, which interested you. He seemed to specialize in the harder-to-find editions of books. I do not know where your friend lives, but that might be a nice outing for the two of you.” Mr. Bell was still a little concerned about Margaret’s lack of interest in what he was saying. She was far away in her mind.

“Mr. Bell, I seem to have acquired a small headache. Would you mind if we go home? I am sorry to interrupt your day. I was not finished myself. We shall visit here again when I return from Milton.” Margaret felt she did not do a good job of bluffing her way through that, but Mr. Bell was too much of a gentleman to question her about it. What in the world, could she tell him, anyway? “Yes, Mr. Bell, I look this way because God just put the most beautiful man in my path.” A gentleman’s looks had never held much store to her. She knew it was what dwelled within that counted. She smiled at her inane thoughts and then wondered just how silly they really were. He was beautiful, but there was more . . . much more to him. But what?

John Thornton’s Unfolding Dream – 07

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Margaret eagerly opened the note that Megan had sent. Megan had many pleasant pieces of news about her work at the school. She wrote how well her husband was learning his trade in the cotton mill. They were all settled in their home and Megan wanted so much for Margaret to come visit her before the winter set in. Above all, she wanted Margaret to meet her husband and see how happy she was. She knew Margaret worried about her after she left for finishing school but life was good and Margaret should see it for herself.

Before the Christmas holiday, Margaret had responded to Fredrick that she would meet him half way, in Paris, at a date of his choosing. Fredrick had a new lady in his life that he wanted to marry and Margaret could hardly wait to meet her. Margaret started to look over her coming events and figured she would visit Megan before Fredrick. Fredrick was more bound by time on shore than anyone, so he would have to set the date for that. Margaret figured she had better get her visit in to Megan as quickly as possible. Margaret went to her desk and formed a letter to Megan telling her that she would come next week for two days. She would take the morning train from London arriving at 1:00 in the afternoon on Tuesday in Milton and would leave early morning on Thursday.

 

The day finally arrived when Margaret expected Kindle to knock on the door at any moment. Edith was slipping about waiting to meet him too but trying not to look obvious. Margaret had a small case of the jitters and had no idea what you might wear while boating on the lake. She had dressed in one of her lesser full dresses in case she went into the water. Since it was to be a picnic, as well, she wanted to bring along part of the food but Kindle would not have it. He was supplying everything.

As Kindle’s coach neared Margaret’s home, he waved his guards further back as to look separate from himself.” Stop here, Williams,” his driver heard him call. Williams pulled the carriage to the roadside of the handsome Georgian home. The groomsman, who rode on the rear of the coach, was at the carriage door and Kindle thought he might have made a mistake in bringing him. He did not want to look too important and put Miss Hale immediately on her guard.

Kindle exited and walked to the front door and lifted the doorknocker.

“Hello Kindle, please come in,” Margaret said.” This is my cousin, Edith and this home belongs to her mother, Mrs. Shaw.”

Kindle took Margaret’s hand, kissed it, and bowed to Edith. “Good day to you both. You have a lovely home Miss Edith. My compliments to your mother.” Kindle was startled a little when he thought Edith saw some recognition of him but she never said anything.

“Kindle, I have never been boating on a lake, leaving me with no idea how one dresses for such an event. Do I have your approval of my costume?”

“Miss Hale, you could not have worn anything more suitable. Are you ready?” Kindle asked.

Margaret nodded.

“Miss Edith, it was lovely to meet you. I hope I have this pleasure again. Shall we go, Margaret?” he asked.

Kindle escorted Margaret to the carriage, watching her reaction to the coach itself and the groomsman on the rear. She looked surprised but not terribly so. He handed her in and sat beside her while the groomsman closed his door. He could tell that she had not noticed his guard.

“How are you today, Margaret?” he began.

“I am quite well and excited about this outing. You really have a lovely coach and I see you have a groomsman,” Margaret said with almost a question in her voice.

“Thank you, Margaret. I am a little embarrassed being caught trying to make a good first impression,” he laughed.

The laughter put Margaret at ease and she was determined to enjoy her day and get to know Kindle.

The coach made its way about a half hour ride outside of London to a nice peaceful little park. There were other people picnicking and boats were being rented to sail around the very large lake. The coach pulled under the trees and Margaret was handed out.

“How about a nice little sail upon the lake before we eat?” asked Kindle.

“Yes, I would like that very much. It looks so inviting and there are smiles on the faces of the people already out there.”

“If you will walk with me, we shall go retrieve one.”

“How is your cousin, Gilbert? I have not seen Eve this week to know how they may be getting along.”

“I do not know about the Lady Eve but Gilbert is well and I think he is quite taken with your friend. We do share the same family apartment during The Season but only seem to pass each other coming and going most days. The Season seems to dictate our evenings, keeping us out late and sleeping a lot of the day away.”

“Yes, these events do tend to keep one out late. I have wondered why I haven’t seen you among all the others when I have been out,” Margaret said, again, almost questioningly.

“Oh, here we are. Do you see a boat that you prefer? I am a fair hand at rowing and can handle anyone you like.” Kindle realized he had dodged her inquisitive statement just in time. He wondered how long he could keep this up. Surely, someone would come along and recognize him but maybe being daylight hours all the people that knew him were still abed.

Kindle and Margaret spent the next hour and a half floating along the lake and speaking of all sorts of topics. They talked about horses and books they read. She spoke about the churches and museums she had recently visited. Margaret was enjoying herself but felt a little embarrassed by the way Kindle kept staring at her. He wasn’t doing it directly but she could see him from her periphery, all too often. Those made her laugh inwardly because she caught herself doing the same thing. She was enjoying being out with this nice handsome gentleman, watching his muscled arms ripple as he pulled the oars. She felt she could stay out there all day watching just that. He was quite lean with muscled calves and arms. Being in the military must keep one in the best physical shape possible. She felt a warm wave wash over her when he wiped away one of his casual long blond hair strands that had come loose from the knotted ribbon holding it behind his head.

Kindle was going through similar thoughts of Margaret which would embarrass him if he stood up.” How can something so wonderful be such a curse at other times,” he thought to himself. He had to find control so they could return to shore and partake of their lunch. For the last half hour, he had prayed that she wouldn’t talk about it being time to lunch. He had been purposely rowing in a direction that would allow her scent to be carried on the wind to him. Kindle struggled in his own mind as to why he was getting so carried away when women hung on him all the time. What was different about her? No, he thought he should think of that later or they would be in the boat until dark. He knew this was the last time he would take her boating until he had made love to her. He worried about getting through the picnic, as she would be the only thing taking up his mind.

Margaret felt one of them should break the silence that had engulfed them. She found it hard to look at his face any longer because she had caught a glimpse of his manly situation. She could not believe her eyes had fallen in that direction but then again she had been looking at all of him. Apparently, he had been doing the same thing. She smiled to herself feeling quite complimented.

Pulling the oars harder and spinning the boat around, Kindle was determined to get them to shore.” I am sure you must be getting as hungry as I am, are you not, Margaret?”

“Yes, I am. The sights and the breeze have been very accommodating and have given me an appetite. Can I guess what you have in your picnic basket?”

“I wish you would,” Kindle said with much more enthusiasm than was necessary. That change of subject would help him get out of the boat ahead of her.” What is your guess?”

“All right. Let me think. You have a nice coach so I will assume you have a good cook but . . . you are in a temporary place that you are living so maybe the cook is not exceptional. Surely, you have a bottle of wine, maybe two with you.”

“Correct.”

“You wouldn’t bring anything that is messy like chicken that you eat with your fingers. There are going to be cucumber sandwiches and all the crust has been cut off. You probably have some fruit and pieces of cheese and some sort of pastry to finish off the pallet. How close am I?”

“Very close. There will be a selection of sandwiches; there will be fruit and cheese as well.”

“No pastry?”

“I have a special treat there and you cannot know until the time comes,” Kindle said.

They reached shore and Kindle helped Margaret out of the boat. The groomsman took the rope and tied the boat down. Margaret noticed when Kindle passed the coach and wondered where they were headed.

“Where are we going?” Margaret asked.

“Just over here. See? A blanket and tablecloth have been placed under that nice big oak tree for us. Our lunch is ready,” he said smiling into her eyes.

Margaret was a bit surprised to find that their little eating area was somewhat secluded. Kindle helped her sit down and she began to set out the food while he opened and poured the wine.

“Kindle? I am afraid I see what the dessert is and I can tell you it is one of my very favorite vices. Trifle. I wish I hadn’t seen it for now I will eat too fast so I may have it,” Margaret smiled while Kindle laughed at that.

“I love that dessert too. I am glad you like it. I guess you know that originally it was a poor man’s dessert being made from all the left over pieces of cake, jam, and other assorted sweets. I asked the cook to make it so she may have had to go out and buy the leftovers,” he laughed.

The ease with which they laughed together caused Margaret to blush. She was having a wonderful day with Kindle. She was not going to like it when the day ended. All she could think about was would he invite her out again.

Kindle was in the same mind as he caught the sweet flush to her cheeks. He wondered if she would accept another invitation. By the look on her face, he felt confident. It was rare for him to want to be with the same woman on any regular basis unless she was a bed partner, but being with Margaret was different – just as Gilbert was feeling with Eve and he was calling it love. He could feel the lust welling up inside but he could not bring himself to be that forward with her. Kindle realized it was respect. Respect for her. He could not remember the last time that word had even popped into his head when it regarded a woman. Being with Margaret today had made him feel he wanted to be a better man.

Many words had passed between them during the rest of day spending the lazy afternoon sitting on the blanket watching the activity in the park. Margaret told him of her two visits that she was planning with the first being next week to Milton. Kindle could not imagine who she could possible know anyone in a mill town like Milton. He had heard it was growing into a bustling little London but there were only two levels of society there: the merchants and the poor. He knew he would never find anyone of his ilk in Milton. It puzzled him to think here sat a beautiful little Lady, refined, educated, and yet had some tie to Milton. Would her mysteries ever cease? He dearly hoped not.

Margaret could see the sun was starting to drift toward the horizon and dusk would soon be upon them. Even though the day had been wonderful, it was time to leave for home. Kindle had been a perfect gentleman but she had noticed several times throughout the day that he wished he did not have to be. During the day, she pondered the idea that he might be her mate in life. She would dwell on those thoughts when she was home.

“I see Margaret that it is time to take you home. I hope you enjoyed the day. I certainly have.”

“I can honestly say it has been my best day ever in London. I thank you for the very pleasant launch and lunch,” she laughed.”

Laughing too, Kindle said, “That was very clever. I must be honest with you, rogue that I am,” he smiled wickedly, “and say there have been many women in my life but none where conversation was so interesting. Please do not misconstrue that to mean undesirable, when, in fact, it is quite the opposite. I think I am getting myself in trouble here. Just know that I have thoroughly enjoyed the whole day being with you and talking with you. I do not know when I have had a more pleasant day as this has been.

Margaret’s cheeks were blushing again as Kindle pulled her to her feet. When they walked back to the coach, he wrapped her arm around his.” You know, Margaret, I like the way you blush.”

Margaret did not know what to say to that. Her blush grew richer. She felt like a silly little girl. All her life she had had trouble accepting compliments. She thought it the bane of most women.

“I see you have no words to respond to that,” Kindle said, smiling.

“I . . . I . . . Me thinks you are teasing me now,” Margaret finally replied.

“That I am. But the statement stands true enough.”

Arriving at the coach, Kindle handed Margaret in, looked around for his hidden guard, and finally slipped onto the seat next to her.” Margaret, I would like to see you again. You can choose the event or I shall.”

Pausing, out of courtesy, “Yes, Kindle, I would like that, – and maybe we could attend a concert if there is one in the city,” Margaret offered. “It could not be before a fortnight, as I will be away as you know.”

“That sounds quite delicious and I shall arrange something. May I be bold and ask you what takes you to Milton, which seems the end of the world to me,” he smiled.

“I go to visit a childhood friend who is now married and settled into Milton with her new husband. We were very close all of our lives until finishing school pulled us apart. I have seen her rarely since then and hope to keep in better contact with her now that I am able.”

The conversation had become light again as the coach wound its way over the small bridge and down the cobblestone path nearing the main road where Margaret’s aunt lived. Both were somewhat saddened that the lovely day was ending.

Kindle turned towards Margaret on the seat and looked into her face.” May I kiss you,” he asked. Again, he saw the tinge of color rapidly come to Margaret’s face. Her eyes seemed to glisten and her breathing seemed suspended.

“Yes, Kindle, you may,” were the only words that she softly stuttered.

Kindle moved closer to her on the seat and leaned in brushing his lips across hers. He paused looking into the brilliance of her blue eyes and then kissed her solidly. He could feel Margaret pressing herself to him, so he took his hands and held her shoulders while he ran his tongue over her closed mouth. There was a short hesitation when Margaret felt his tongue on her lips. Kindle drew back to look into her face again. He gently swept back a damp strand of hair from her face and studied her beautiful lines up close. He looked at her from her lovely locks to her ivory neck while still holding her. Feeling no resistance, he covered her mouth with his and felt her circle his neck with her arms. She was heartily engaging in their first kiss. He pulled her close and savored her sweet innocence. The promise of fiery passion was in his arms and he ached to uncover it but it was all too clear to him that he must go slowly with her. Just as the carriage was nearing her home, he wrapped her face in his hands and asked her to part her lips slightly. She did and that was all the encouragement he needed. He kissed her hard and smoothly slipped his tongue into her mouth holding her head still so she would not back away. It was only a moment’s demurral until he could feel she was thrilling to the experience. Her body trembled as he explored her full lush mouth and swirled his tongue around hers and she pulled tighter on her grasp of him.

Margaret felt she was on the verge of a faint when the coach stopped. Kindle pulled away judging her acceptance to his kiss and found her eyes drooping. She had certainly been overwhelmed and he could not be more pleased. He really did have an innocent in his arms.” I am sorry; Kindle, if I did not handle that all too well. I have never been kissed like that; it made me go weak,” Margaret said, barely above a whisper.

“Margaret, you could have never done that any better. My question is – did you enjoy it as I did?”

“Yes,” she whispered. Margaret could not look him in the eye. Her former shyness had reared its head and she wanted to get into the house.” Thank you for such a lovely day. I would really like to go inside now,” she asked as she peeked at his expression.

Smiling very broadly to her, Kindle then nodded to the groomsman who hurried to the coach door. Kindle assisted her out and holding her arm walked her to the front door. He was very pleased to find her mildly unsteady on her feet. His response to her actions was a totally pleasant and new experience for him. He could tell her weakness and look of confusion was real unlike what he was used to seeing.

“Margaret, this has been a day that I shall treasure for a long time. I will write to you soon with arrangements for our evening at the concert and count the days until I see you again. If I am not in touch with you before you leave for Milton, please have a lovely trip.”

“Thank you, Kindle. I, too, have had an extraordinary day all because of you. I am sorry to be rather breathless and dizzy but you have only yourself to blame for that. Thank you, again,” Margaret said and disappeared through her door.

John Thornton’s Unfolding Dream – 06

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Chapter 4

 

It was nearing 10:00 a. m. as Margaret sat waiting patiently for Mr. Bell to pick her up for a day at the museum. Even though she was excited to be going to look at the famous works of art, her mind was more agreeable engaged thinking about the night she met Kindle. It would be next week before he would pick her up for an afternoon on the water unless they both happened to be invited to the same ball. If he had been in London all season, she wondered why she had never noticed him before.

A knock was heard at the front door and Margaret called out to the maid that she would answer it. Opening the door, Margaret greeted Mr. Bell. He removed his hat and stepped into the parlor.

“How are you today, Miss Margaret? Fine, I hope,” Bell said as he kissed her hand in his gentlemanly greeting.

“Good day, Mr. Bell. I am quite fine and ready to leave.” Margaret picked up her shawl. Mr. Bell took it from her and wrapped it around her shoulders as Margaret turned her back to him. With no one else in the room, he indulged himself a moment to inhale Margaret’s sweet smelling scent as he leaned towards her hair.” There are so many great paintings that I have heard about and am quite anxious to see. Have you been there before?” She asked.

“Margaret, it has been several years since I last visited the museum which wouldn’t make any difference as there is so much to see and they often have traveling shows that come and go several times a year. I hope it lives up to your expectations. Shall we . . . ?” Mr. Bell asked with hat in hand, as he extended his arm toward the door.

Margaret led the way out to the carriage thinking of their last day out. She hoped there would be no repeat of a comment like their previous time together. She was beginning to feel that he had more than a friendly feeling for her and although she enjoyed his company, that issue made her uncomfortable. If anything like that came up this time, she would be as pleasant as she could when she told him that her feelings for him did not match his. To disappoint him and his possible expectations was new to her and she hated how it made her feel. She had never intentionally hurt anyone before but she would have no other choice and it would be most fair to him to let it be known early. Her feelings were such that friendship was all she could offer him.

Mr. Bell handed her into the coach saying, “Margaret, you look rather pensive. Is anything wrong? In case you were worrying about a repeat comment similar to our previous conversation, rest your mind. That will never happen again.”

“Mr. Bell, you are too astute this day. I would like to give you my thoughts, if you care to hear them.” Margaret replied.

Mr. Bell told the driver where to take them and climbed into the coach while saying, “There is no need to say anything. I am a foolish old man who overstepped his own rules of gentlemanly deportment. I hope I am forgiven.”

Margaret clasped her hands together in her lap as she began.” Mr. Bell, you do make too much of a fuss over your slip in expressing some hidden feelings. Please do not concern yourself with that any longer. I must say once I realized what I thought you were saying, I was most flattered mainly because of your maturity; I was certain you were speaking from your heart. Young men tend to tell you what they think you want to hear but I never want that and I knew you would not speak such nonsense. Mr. Bell, I like you very much and enjoy being in your company but friendship is all I have to offer you. Your age would not have and does not have any relevance in this. You are a most handsome, polite and intelligent man, which any woman should be delighted to find. I am afraid that I cannot return what you wish. I am sorry,” Margaret finished, finally raising her head to gauge his sentiment.

“Miss Hale . . . Margaret.” He paused.” You have given more of an explanation than I had any right to expect or deserve. I am sorry that this all blew out of proportion. I do desire your friendship and will be most glad to have it. Let us talk no more of this . . . ever. Now, do you have any favorite artist that you are especially anxious to see?”

Margaret and Mr. Bell’s day turned out to be quite rewarding with all that they did see. They finished their day in the tearoom at the museum and talked about what to do on a future outing.

*     *     *

 

John Thornton had just poured himself a brandy and sat in his favorite chair by the fireplace. It was still too warm for a fire but fall was not far off. All of his staff was gone at this time of the day and he was alone with his thoughts. He stretched out in his big chair, crossing his ankles and allowed his thoughts to wander over the man, woman, and the museum. He found he could not recall the vision any longer. Just as the church vision had disappeared so had the museum dream. He could only imagine that those events must have past. He tried hard to bring anything back and was finally able to bring back the woman. Who was she? John closed his eyes and tried to study her face. She had a porcelain face like a china doll. Her eyes were large and bluish green with lush lashes sweeping over them. She had a pert little pixie nose. It was the only part of her that he could see that kept her from being exquisitely attractive. Her mouth looked full and glistened with moisture. He thought she looked quite kissable. He would thoroughly like to try them. He still could not get a good sense of her hair color. She seemed to have a nice full bosom and small waist. She was small; he imagined she might come up to his shoulder if that. He really hoped these images of her were not lost forever. He was beginning to look forward to them since nothing seemed dangerous in them.

Suddenly, he was awakened by a new vision of her. He must have nodded off in his chair, as he had dropped his empty glass to the carpet. This fleeting vision of her was different in that there was a new man attending her. He was dressed in a military uniform. He was a handsome soldier and John thought he felt a twinge of jealousy, which was entirely ridiculous. Surely, he would now take this up with Dr. Donaldson.

 

The following morning John arrived at the surgery to find Donaldson in his office.” Can you spare a half hour to talk doctor?” John asked.

“John, for you, anything. Come in and sit down. What is on your mind?”

John turned and closed the office door, placed his hat and coat on a peg then sat in the chair in front of Donaldson’s desk.

John began.” Doctor, I have an unbelievable situation to tell you, I will need your honest opinion, and I know that is unnecessary to say. You have always been honest with me.” John began at the beginning, even as far back as post surgery, months earlier. He left nothing out. He told him what Higgins had said about it being a ‘gift’.” Doctor, what is happening to me?” John asked in an almost desperate tone after almost a half hour narration.

Dr. Donaldson finally stopped pacing his office as John came to his question. As he sat, he placed his pipe in a tin bowl and clasped his hands in front of him on his desk.” John that is quite an extraordinary story you have brought to me. I can certainly believe what you say as I have heard it before. I must admit there is no scientific explanation as of yet, but we know it happens. Most people with your ability are born with it but it is not unheard of for it to appear later in life and it’s usually caused by a head injury, too. The reverse is also true that one can lose the ability after an injury. Aside from what the actual vision is showing you, there is no harm, or pain or worry. However, naturally, some of the visions can be very disturbing. The science is called Clairvoyance. You have become a Clairvoyant. Two types are known so far. People that can hear and see the present and future such as yourself and people who can read someone else’s mind. These are proven facts and are accepted but not understood. The more pious people shun it but most of the world, with any knowledge of it, does accept it as a gift. Be glad you were born when you were John; you could be feeling the heat from the kindling about your feet,” Donaldson laughed.

“I cannot give you much information and I do not believe our current library or book stores have much on the subject. If you would ever get to London, I am sure you can find more detailed information about it in the larger bookstores.”

“You have put my mind quite at ease. At least I am not going mad but constant visions may drive me there someday. It is disrupting my life right now. Hopefully, I will become accustomed to it,” John mused.

“John, there is some controversy that you should be aware of and maybe the books can make it clear. The question of whether you try to react to a vision, that is, prevent what you see is going to happen, is being debated by the few scientists that are studying this phenomenon. Like I said, get to a bookstore or library in London.”

“Thank you Doctor. I will make a special trip into London next week. Higgins has asked me if I can think on a problem or person long enough and force a vision about it. I have not been able to do that. Do you know if that is possible?”

“I am sorry, John, I do not have an answer for that one. I have heard of people that can learn to control their visions. They have taught themselves how to enhance it, recall it and other such manipulations that are beyond me. I will be glad to follow all of this with you and then you and I will write a paper on it someday.”

“Thank you for all you have told me. It gives me great relief in some aspects of this . . . this science. I will share all the books I bring back with you. I would like you to be as knowledgeable as I hope to be.” John stood, grabbing his coat and hat off the peg.” Doctor, I will bid you a good day and know that we will talk often.”

John Thornton’s Unfolding Dream – 05

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Chapter 3

 

“Margaret, thank you for another nice day out. I had but seen only two of the churches before the ones we saw today. Much of the appreciation is in the architecture, do you not agree,” said Mr. Bell, handing her into the coach.”

Margaret tried to stifle a giggle but Mr. Bell quickly noticed it.

“Margaret, you find something amusing. Do you care to tell me what it is?”

“I had a lot of things I was thinking about. You and what we have seen today. In my mind, I put the words Church and your name Bell together. Do you find that amusing?” Margaret asked.

“Actually, I find that better than amusing. I know I grow older everyday but I still have hopes that I can hear my own church bells someday,” he said, as he seriously looked into Margaret eyes, realizing he let slip what he should not.

Margaret became very unsettled as she felt Mr. Bell’s comment had some indication being directed towards her. She was caught without a response.” Mr. Bell . . . ,” she started to stutter, not knowing what would come out of her mouth.

“Miss Hale, Margaret, please do not concern yourself with my last remark. Old men dream; that is all. Where shall we go next week?”

Margaret was glad for the curt explanation and change of subject. She finally took air not realizing she had been holding her breath.

 

*     *     *

 

Both Nicholas Higgins and John Thornton seemed to arrive at the steps to their office at the same time. John was just returning from Mill #2. How goes your day, Nicholas?” John said as they ascended the stairs.

“Not bad. All machines are up and running and we are on schedule. How about Mill #2?”

“About the same, Nicholas. I sure wish we would hear more information about Slickson’s mill sale.”

“Suppose that comes through, John, while we are in Paris?”

“I am going to speak with Slickson before then. I will ask him to wait if he can until our return and that should not be any problem for him to do.”

“You have not said anything lately about your recent dream of the man and woman in the church. Any progress?” Nicholas asked.

“Yes and no. I have had a new dream with the same man and woman but this time they were walking a museum, not churches. Therefore, it has changed completely with no ending, so to speak, of the first one. I did have a slight glimpse of their faces this time. He is a mature man and very distinguished looking. She is a young woman. She is not beautiful with the little I could see in the dream. They are both dressed in fine clothing. I do not think he is her father because he looks at her differently than a father would look at a daughter. She seems very carefree and maybe oblivious of the feelings this man may be having for her. This time I did get a sense that it is London. Some of those paintings that were just about visible in the background, I know hang in London museums. I wish I knew what it was about these two or a pending doom that I am being warned about.”

“I wish you could draw. I would enjoy seeing what you see at this moment.” Higgins was shaking his head slightly while looking down at his desk, “Well, at least, there doesn’t seem to be any gloom in this one. You do know . . . well, maybe you do not, not all your visions have to be of some dangerous situation. This gift also brings good news. Maybe one of them will come into your life someday. Do you ever hear any voices along with the vision?”

“No, I haven’t. Does that mean anything?”

“Not as far as I know. Maybe there are books to read.” Higgins suggested.

“I do not know what it is that I am doing. Do you remember it being called anything other than a gift?

“Sorry, John. Maybe Dr. Donaldson will have some idea. I am sure you feel you can go to him, do you not?”

“Yes, I do. I just wanted to have a little more experience with it before I tried to explain it. I do not know how people will take to it, if it gets around.”

“I have been meaning to ask you if you have any control over it. What I mean by that is, can you think of something and then call it into a vision? Could you see something about this mill in a month?”

“I haven’t tried anything like that but I fear I have absolutely no control over it at all. I would stop them if I could. Even if I get the good with the bad, I do not like the way it is disrupting my life. Suppose I finally find the woman, I will love. She would probably run away afraid of such a gift,” John said rather harshly.” I will talk with Donaldson and maybe get some books on the subject.”

 

*     *     *

 

Early one evening his cousin, Gilbert, slapped him on the shoulder after Kindle had just returned from the dance floor to flop in the seat he had been warming for the evening.

“What say you to going to another small ball away from all the snobs here,” said Gilbert. I have found a nice young lady and she attends another private party this evening not so nearly attended as this one. I would very much like to see her again. Pray . . . come with me, cousin.”

“Gilbert, I will gladly accompany you. I am bored with this lot. I see them nearly every night at whatever event is most fashionable to attend and I tire at the sight of them. Let us make haste before we are winked at and encouraged to dance with yet another young debutante or titled young lady. Oft times the privileges of rank make little challenge in life. I would give all for a fine war to occupy my time. Make haste, my man,” said Kindle snapping to attention finding some fascination knowing they were going to slip into the middle-upper society level.

On their thirty-minute coach ride away from center London Kindle and Gilbert began to divest themselves of the fine accouterments that hung hither and yon on their uniforms. Both men seemed truly interested in blending in the social scene and draw as little admiration as always followed them. Their private guards followed them and were always nearby but Kindle was anxious to meet Gilbert’s lady and leave the guards outside.

“Tell me cousin, this lady . . . what is she to you?” Kindle asked wearing a big smile, expecting some answer akin to her being a good bed partner.

“I honestly do not know yet. I have been in or around her company thrice now and we have talked about many things. I know you are not going to believe me when I tell you, I have not steadily dreamed of her beneath me. There is something more to her and it starts with respect. I know, I know, you think I have lost my senses. I cannot explain but I must find out what it is about her that is causing me to feel tied in knots. There is something far past lust and it is new to me. Have you ever experienced anything to which I am poorly explaining?”

“Gilbert, only once have I had a woman that I regarded as you seem to feel. I do not think I got to being tied in knots but tongue-tied somewhat, yes. It was an exhilarating feeling but for only a brief time. By the end of that evening, I had decided that I wanted to know her better in all ways but as the evening grew to a close, she introduced me to her husband. Later, thinking back on it, I was sure she had the same emotional turmoil going on and did not want to ruin it with talk of her husband. We never spoke once we said goodnight but I see her from time to time at these affairs. I think her husband works for our government in the foreign service area which keeps them out of London on the whole,” Kindle replied, while Gilbert noticed a melancholy look to his eyes as he peered out of the coach window.

“Did you ever think it could have been love that you were starting to feel for her,” Gilbert asked.

“With all the time that has passed and the many women since, I have not been able to recapture the essence of those hours we spent. I have wondered what was so special about her but have yet to feel that way again about anyone.”

“Well, here we are cousin. Try not to drink too much wine. I would like to make a nice impression on Miss Clayton. Look, if you do not mind, I would like to hide our family name as much as possible. We will not lie but we just will not offer up our heritage unless we have to. All right?”

“As you say, cousin. I would very much like to not be the center of attention for an hour in my life. Lead on.”

Gilbert and Kindle climbed the steps and were admitted by the butler, into the beautiful manor home. It was far from a grand estate and that suited both men more than fine. It was like an adventure. It felt good to take a couple steps down the ladder and enjoy a completely new range of people that were much more down to earth but well mannered, educated and from a vast array of professions and families. Kindle could almost feel the air was cleaner and less stuffy.

They were immediately impressed when they were escorted into the music hall ballroom and not announced. That was most pleasant indeed, Kindle thought. A turn about the room seemed to be in order as few were dancing to this particular piece of music but milling about talking amongst themselves. Kindle followed Gilbert while he perused the gathered groups looking for Miss Clayton. Gilbert began to fear that she had not attended and what would he say when the host or hostess approached them wondering why they were here. Finally, he glimpsed her being led from the dancing floor where he had not bothered looking on his way in.

Gilbert leaned back and whispered to Kindle, “There she is. Is she not beautiful?” Gilbert gently nodded his head toward her position in the room.

“Which one is she . . . the raven haired or the dark blonde?”

“She’s my black onyx.”

“Who is that lovely young lady with her, do you know?” Kindle asked merely because he could feel an evening coming on where he might have to spend a lot of time with the other lady. He thought to himself, at least it was someone new to listen to and hoped above all that she would not fawn over him.

Arriving at their sides with Gilbert claiming Miss Clayton’s attention, introductions were made.” Miss Clayton, I would like to introduce you to my cousin Kindle Brampton.”

“How very nice to meet you,” said Eve Clayton.

“The honor is all mine,” said Kindle as they each bowed slightly to the other.

“I would like you both to meet my friend Miss Margaret Hale,” said Eve turning towards Margaret.

Both men bowed and expressed their greetings to her as she replied with a curtsy.” Thank you, gentlemen,” Margaret replied.” It appears that you are late for the dinner but our table in over there,” Margaret said nodding a few tables away, “if you would care to sit.”

Gilbert spoke up as he grabbed Eve’s hand, “We will find you after this dance.” He gave no words of asking her to dance, but summarily pulled Eve to the dance floor and into his arms.

“Well . . . Miss Hale, would you care to sit?” Kindle motioned towards the table that had been pointed out to him.

As they arrived at the table Sir Kindle Brampton, being mostly called Sir Kindle or Lord Kindle, rather than Baron Brampton, politely held her chair until Margaret was seated.

Margaret was somewhat at a loss as to what to say or do with a stranger seated next to her. Her friend Eve had abandoned her for the dance floor. Concerned over the continued silence, Margaret began “Mr. Brampton . . .” when she was interrupted.

“Please call me Kindle, if you do not mind too much.”

“Yes, of course, if that is what you would prefer. And I would be pleased if you called me Margaret. I am but only a few months in London and find the overwhelming attention to who goes higher or lower than one self, too tedious. I want to enjoy people for who they are, their heart, their spirit and not their ancestors or their wealth or their power or land holdings. I want to admire people for what they have done for others. I am afraid I will not last long in this London life.”

“You are quite wise for your young years Miss Hale. I have endured it for nearly a decade and would prefer to shun ‘the season’ every year that it rolls around but find myself prompted to return because it is expected. I have all the courage and strength I need in battle but find myself bound by the culture into which I was born. I envy you Miss Hale.”

“I do feel sorry for several of the ladies that I have spoken with over the past several months. Most of them are looking towards some guided marriage plan. There are those with large dowries that must wed for rank and position and then there are those that are hoping to wed for wealth to lift their historical ancestry out of near poverty. Does no one seek love, or commitment or fidelity in this city? Oh . . . listen to me! I do go on with such matters. I am afraid Miss Clayton will give up on me soon if she could hear me now. Please, I beg your pardon for speaking so ill of things I do not really understand, never being brought up in such surroundings. I am sure you came here to see other people. Please, do not feel you have to keep me company. I am quite comfortable on my own.”

“Oh, you are, are you?” Kindle asked with a big grin.” Does it displease you that I remain here?”

As Margaret looked into that handsome grinning face, she felt warmth settle over her. Her stomach made a small flutter.” I did not mean to give that impression, Kindle. Please stay if you wish.”

Kindle watched the lady as she spoke. What earnest views she held and had no compunction to withhold them.” As a gentleman I must follow the rules and would never leave a lady unattended,” he smiled.

“Are you making fun of me, Mr. . . . Kindle?”

“Oh, Miss Margaret, you wound me to the core thinking that I toy with your views of society,” Kindle said, unable to hold back the laughter.” I am having a bit of fun with you, if you must know. You look so serious sitting here as if you are afraid you will make a false move and expose an unforgiveable faux pas.”

He could not decide if her thoughts were from intelligence of mind or little experience in the societal world or both. What he did know was that he had no problem with his body reacting to her swiftly and often. She had a small oval face with a pixie nose, creamy skin, and long lush eyelashes that accented her big blue-green eyes. Her hair was piled neatly upon her head with flowers woven through the braids and she had the customary sensual tendrils that lined the side of her face. She was not blindingly beautiful, such as one whom a man would risk his life just to hear a word from, but she did draw him to her and he knew not why. Many women in his life had done as much, yet she was adorable and he wanted to know more of her. He enjoyed the fact that she had no idea who he was and hoped it would continue a while longer.

Margaret smiled at his playful ridicule of her stiffness.” You must think me ignorant of the London ways, and in truth, I am. However, I do not wish to embarrass my friend. I find it quite intolerable to look like I am always on display in a shop window. I am sorry to be so frank, but there it is. I would much prefer to live out of London, ride my horse, play my pianoforte, and help mankind.”

“Miss Hale, I enjoy your scrutiny of society whether I agree with all of it or not is of no matter. Tell me about yourself.” Kindle knew that he would never have heard that revelation from anyone who knew who he was even if they did believe it.

“Surely, you cannot want to know about me. I am no one of consequence like many here. I see you are in the military. I think I would enjoy hearing about your career defending the realm in Her Majesty’s Service.”

Before Kindle could insist that Margaret speak about herself, Gilbert and Eve returned to the table with Eve breathing heavily from the lively dance that had just concluded. Kindle took a drink request and hailed a servant to their table.

Eve retrieved her fan from her small bag and fanned herself as she leaned over to speak quietly to Margaret behind it.” How did it go with Mr. Brampton?”

Margaret looked taken aback thinking her friend had steered her into his company on purpose and Eve wanted to know the details.

“This wasn’t something arranged, was it, Eve?”

“My heavens, no. I felt a little awkward out on the dance floor leaving you with a complete stranger. If he’s kin to Gilbert, I do assume he is a complete gentleman,” Eve responded.

“Yes, that he is. He is most amiable. Nevertheless, please do not try to pair someone with me. We have been down this road before and I would much prefer to select my own gentleman. Thank you, all the same.”

“Oh Margaret, please do not misunderstand me. I had no idea Gilbert would even come by this evening and knew nothing of him having a cousin in London.”

“All right,” Margaret giggled quietly, satisfied that she was not being maneuvered by her friend.

As the drinks arrived and the music started, a gentleman appeared at Margaret’s side asking her to dance and she accepted.

Kindle began to feel somewhat affronted that he was not asked by the gentleman if he could dance with Margaret. The gentleman should have assumed that they were together and asked his permission. Chuckling to himself, he realized that he and Gilbert had been very late to this function and Margaret could have danced with the gentleman earlier in the evening. Still . . . he could not understand why he felt bothered by it. Was it his title that was being overlooked, for which he had earnestly wanted to hide, or was it the woman that was just abducted from his company?

As Margaret was whirled around the floor, Kindle could not help but find interest in his attitude towards the young lady. From where he sat, he could not stop admiring her fine figure with nice curves and her soft moves to the music. The gentleman holding her was making her laugh and somehow he felt that he wanted to make her laugh, too. He realized that he was becoming engrossed in her, more in fact, than any woman he had seen all season. He did not think she would like his world and he could understand that all too well, himself. She was right; they were here for display. Most in attendance during the season were the single men, women, and those unfaithful to their marriage partners, but still young enough for the mainstream crowd. He had never worried about finding a marriage partner because his title or wealth provided for plenty of choices, but he realized that was not so for people outside of his circle. As he watched Margaret, being held in the arms of that other gentleman, he felt she was expecting to marry for love. She had no obsession to climb the social ladder. He admired that.

Gilbert and Kindle stood as Miss Hale was returned to their table.

“Oh dear. I am out of breath,” Margaret offered as her breasts were heaving for air.

Noticing the swell of her bosom pushing over her bodice, Kindle asked, “I saw you laughing out there. Was the fellow amusing you with a tale?”

“Yes, he did amuse me. His attire, that he is wearing this evening, was recently received from his tailor, and tonight was the first night he has worn it. He said as he was dressing he found the watch pocket was sewn shut. He is quite a funny man, as he told me other tales earlier this evening.”

“Miss Hale, I am surprised that you and Lady Eve do not have gentlemen escorting you this evening,” Kindle said in a tone that he hoped would entice Margaret into explaining the situation.

“My gentleman was called back to his home, wherever that is, for I have not known him but a day, or so. I believe there was some trouble with his tenants. As for Eve,” Margaret lowered her voice and leaned toward Kindle, “I believe she turned down her offer in hopes that your cousin would be here.”

Kindle was quiet for a moment, having been ambushed by the light sweet lavender scent of Miss Hale. Since she had been facing the dance floor when she leaned towards him, he allowed himself to close his eyes and let his senses experience her and he found he was well rewarded.” Miss Hale, um . . . Margaret, I know this evening will soon be ending as dawn is not far off, may I ask if I could see you again in the near future? I am having an enjoyable evening and I would like to talk with you further and to know you a bit better. Am I being too forward in my request?”

In the short time, Margaret had been in Kindle’s company she had begun to feel at ease with the gentleman and she thought that knowing him better may stop the butterflies in her stomach.” Kindle, you are most kind to ask. I would say the request is rather early in our new acquaintanceship but I have hardly found out much about you and desire to do so. Yes, I would be most happy to be in your company again.” Margaret handed Kindle a card and told him he could write to her at that address.

The timing was perfect because Eve turned toward Margaret and suggested that they take their leave. Margaret agreed and Gilbert asked if he and Kindle could escort them to their carriage.

Kindle offered his arm to Margaret and led the way outside, leaving his cousin and Eve to spend a few private moments lagging behind them.

“Miss Hale, where do you return after ‘the season’?” Kindle asked.

“For now Mr. Brampton, I live at that address year around. I am staying with an aunt, but do yearn to be on my own. I just have not decided if London is where I want to call home.”

Kindle and Margaret were at her carriage, but Kindle stalled until Gilbert was finished wooing his lady.” Miss Hale, I will be most anxious to be in your company soon. Do you like the opera?”

“I dislike being asked that question,” Margaret said laughing.” I tend to think I disappoint whoever asks that of me. I do not care for opera but I do care for theater and symphonies, especially. Now, if I were a proper socialite in London, I would have lied and told you that I loved it but you will soon learn that I am not encouraged to make you think one thing when it surely is another.”

“Margaret, I heartily concur with that notion and find it a breath of fresh air to hear. I quite tire of the game that is played. I am sure I would have found that out but it may have taken me a while to know if you were in earnest in your sincerity. I think you and I shall get along very well indeed.”

As Kindle heard his cousin approaching, he opened the carriage door, kissed Margaret’s hand, and assisted her up the carriage step.” Good evening, Miss Hale, it has been a pleasure.”

“Thank you Mr. Brampton for a short but enjoyable time. I look forward to seeing you again.”

Gilbert was identical in his attentions to Eve as he saw her into the coach. The two men stood there as the coach bore away their companions of the evening.

“I think I am in love, Kindle. The feeling is so different from the lady you select to come home with you in the evening. There is the lust, but there is so much more. There is desire beyond the flesh.”

“I am happy for you my cousin,” Kindle said as they strolled towards their own coach and driver.” What do you know of the lady?”

“I do not know much and I do not care about that either. She comes from a successful merchant family. She is well educated, has been ‘out’ for about a year and even though she has had offers of marriage, she wants to find love. Some women are getting very independent lately, and I must say I like it. She is an only daughter with a brother who will inherit. She would probably have a small or no dowry, but you know how little that means to you and me. She is sweet, and kind and gracious. I officially invited her out next time instead of hoping to meet her somewhere. I think she likes me and still does not know who we are. How did you get along with Miss Hale?”

As Kindle took his seat in the carriage and collected his accoutrements, he said, “I found her remarkable. She does not like society and took no time in telling me so. I have to admit, that might throw me a bit, but I admire that about her. I really know little else, but we do have an engagement to see each other again, although not the opera as she so boldly told me she did not like.” Kindle laughed to himself as he told that to Gilbert, remembering how she felt bad about saying it.” I was thinking about asking her to picnic on the river in a boat that I will row. I have not done that since university years. I think the ladies would both enjoy that or we could keep our engagements very separate. I would like to get to know her and she know me before she discovers whom I am and becomes steadfast in some objectionable opinion of me. I think she will be fast to label me upper society and dismiss me before we can ever begin whatever it is to be. Seeing her once more should give me a better insight into how quickly I should tell her who we are. I do not care to be in between that rock and that hard place too long. Either waiting or telling her, will not go easy, I fear.”

“Yes, I see your point,” offered a bewildered Gilbert.” I am sure I do not face such as you for Eve does not seem to detest the circles that we move in, but she does not aspire to them either. She is comfortable and confident in her place. I cannot help but admire the attitude among these people. A trait that I am finding to applaud among most of them is the fact that they seem to be busy doing for their fellow man. Even Eve with her financial independence and higher education wants to give of her time and talents to the sick.”

“I can say almost the same about Miss Hale. She did say that she would like to be on an estate where she could ride her horse, play her piano, and help mankind, although she did not mention anything of specifics. I think she is filling some request by her aunt to embrace the London life but not finding it a life she wants to live. There are too many people living false lives for her. I have a lot of thinking to do to see how our lives could work together should she and I come to any understanding.”

“I will tell you this, cousin; the word ‘understanding’ does not have a place when you’re in love. We have come to hear that word all of our lives. The husband and wife must come to an ‘understanding’. In our family, and who we are, the woman must have an understanding of her place beside us. That means there are conditions set in motion, blocked walls, unreachable happiness; we have been ruled by centuries of culture and tradition and we have seen very few happy marriages in our history. I am not going to be dictated by that. I believe I have found my mate in life. If she feels the same way, I will not punish her or myself by denying what our hearts desire. She will not have an ‘understanding’ if she becomes my wife. She will be who she is and whom I married in all aspects. I would rather suffer a little embarrassment in marrying below my class then the inevitable monstrous shame of what my behavior may be in a few years should I marry for proper reasons. My sons and daughters will be brought up the same way. You see how long it has taken us to find brides, do you not. That is because we are not looking for what we love and desire, we are looking for propriety, status and acceptance. Hang it all, is what I say,” Gilbert ended with a note of solemn certainty in his voice.

There was quiet in the coach for some time. Gilbert being glad to have expressed what he had been dwelling on for some weeks, but fearing what the family would say. Kindle hesitated in jumping to a knee jerk response with his cousin so resolute in his declaration.

“You’re awfully quiet, Kindle,” said Gilbert, waiting to hear some kind of reaction.

“I know with you being the oldest of my uncle’s sons, such as I am, that you feel the weight every bit as I do. We both have legacies to carry. Knowing you to be an intelligent cousin, I want to think upon what you have said. Do not say anymore about it to me. Let me ponder your arduous words, your conviction in matters of marriage. I must say that I have never thought of the smaller difficulty at the beginning weighed against the long running debauched behavior that usually follows planned marriages. We see it everywhere among our circle and yet we accept it as normal behavior. The decay that we sink to is demoralizing and I am glad cousin that you are going to find a way out of that.”

The carriage pulled up in front of the Brampton House where Kindle and Gilbert disembarked.” We will talk about this again, dear cousin,” said Kindle as he approached the footmen holding the doors open.

 

 

 

John Thornton’s Unfolding Dream – 04

Unfolding Dream 250x375

 

John Thornton’s Unfold Dream

 

Amazon Download   $3.99 US

 

Over the weeks that followed, Margaret kept in constant contact with her dearest friend, Megan Willets. She was happy to hear that Megan had found happiness with a nice young hard working man named Daniel. Although Megan was a schoolteacher by day, she met Daniel one evening as she waited for her parents to return on the evening train. Daniel was passing through Helstone on his way to Milton to take a job in a cotton mill. He had heard that many laborers were finding work in that mill town and he was determined to find solid work there. He had exited the train in Helstone preparing to spend the night and continue on his journey the following morning. As he disembarked, he noticed Megan waiting alone on the platform. Worried about this pretty woman standing alone, he introduced himself and inquired about sleeping accommodations in the small town. It did not take him long to feel that Megan was a woman he was interested in. They said goodnight when her father arrived on the next train but Daniel knew he could miss the morning train and all the trains coming through until he knew her better. One way or another, he was determined to seek out her company and find the underlying cause of the inner feelings that stirred within him.

Within six months, Megan did marry Daniel and they moved to Milton. He found work in a mill and she sought out work in the school just opening for the lower income families. They were extremely happy and Margaret was relieved that a man that loved her was caring for her dearest friend. Margaret envied the notes that she received from Megan. Her love for her husband and he for Megan just poured out of the letters in all that she wrote. All Megan’s words made Margaret feel melancholy for the old days and the honesty in people where she was raised. The north where Milton was located sounded a bit harsh but the inhabitants seemed to be hard working folks with pride. She decided to visit Megan someday soon.

 

*     *     *

 

Dearest John,

      It is with a heavy heart that I inform you of my return to London for the season. I know you are not one to leave your business for any length of time and do not relish fancy balls and parties that are taking place every night in London. I will tend to my parents apartment while they holiday in Bath to retreat from the young crowd that will flood the city. It is because of you, your truth, and your honesty on that day we had that talk, that I find the courage to attend the season, which has fascinated me from afar for several years. Yes, we have spent some extraordinary times together. In the weeks following our talk, we did not see each other. I felt we were giving each other breathing room to digest our new situation. Ultimately, I felt emboldened to do other things of interest to me. Most of which I knew you had no interest and such is my trip to the big city. I will think of you often and what might have been and still could be.

I will stop by your office today to say goodbye in person.

Sensual regards,

Winona

 

As John put down the note, Nicholas came through door still talking to someone outside on the steps.

“Yes, load it for Mill #2 that is correct.” Higgins entered the room shaking his head, catching John’s eye. “Some days, you wonder why you got up.” Nicholas said smiling.

As Nicholas saw John whirling in his desk chair, he knew something was up. It usually was not a sign of bad news. He paced for bad news and swiveled for other news.” I suppose, Mr. Fortune Teller, that you know what that was all about,” Nicholas kiddingly challenged.

“In fact, I do,” John said. We need more stretching and drying polls at the other mill.”

Nicholas looked astounded because that was the answer.” Now, how did you do that?”

“Actually, Barnabus came to the office just a few moments before you arrived asking where they were stored here,” John burst out in a rather loud laugh and beaming face.” I had you going, you have to admit.”

“You did, indeed. I thought your gift had accelerated considerably overnight. What I want to know is why you look like the cat’s cream this morning.” Nicholas quipped.

John leaned over his desk urging Nicholas to come a collect the note in his hand. Nicholas stood in front of John’s desk and read the note.

“I am not sure how your emotions are doing over this big change, but I can say that your last vision of Winona is now bearing fruit. I take it that you two haven’t seen much of each other after that night?”

“We have seen nothing of each other. I am still at odds with why I was so set to ask for her hand and have not even missed her that much. I am sure our last night together was planned as a trap that I foiled. I do not think she ever had real feelings for me, or she would not be leaving for London and give up so easy. It is remarkable how relieved I feel. I have you to thank for that. As you see, she will stop here later to say goodbye. I wonder how much that will look like it did in my vision.”

“John this is remarkable on so many levels.”

“There’s something exciting on the horizon. See what you can make of my latest vision. Did I tell you that after last night with Winona, I had no more dreams about her? Just like with my horse, when the accident ended so did the visions.”

“Do not keep me in suspense. Tell me about it before Miss Winona arrives and interrupts you.” Nicholas was very anxious.

“Higgins, in this vision, I see nothing familiar at all. I expect it to focus more clearly over the coming weeks so there really is not much to tell.”

“John, tell me what you have seen that is different,” asked a worried Higgins.

“I see a gentleman and a woman strolling through a very large and ornate church. I can only see them from the back. They seem to be looking at the architecture, as the church is very old and empty. From what I can tell, the woman is young and the gentleman is more mature, possibly her father. I do not know everyone in Milton, but they do not seem to be familiar and we certainly do not have a church anywhere near to the size of this one,” John related its massive structure.

Higgins noticed John’s far off look.” John, do you feel any fear anywhere in this one. Is there anything more than just two people walking a church?”

“That is all there is Higgins. The vision of Winona and this one showed no other detail from each other except . . .”

“Except what, man? Spit it out.” Nicholas urged.

“I felt drawn to the young woman. I do not know if its affection or fear, but I think the visions are going to continue to develop with her as the main subject,” John said as Nicholas noticed a very satisfying smile on John’s faraway look.

“Did you wake up with any feelings, like pleasure, a sense of dread, anything at all?” Higgins asked.

“If I had to pick one I would say it was pleasant. Plato’s vision started out peaceful too,” John said.

“Well, John, I do not really know what to say. This vision seems to have no personal attachment to you; in fact, nothing of it is familiar to you. There does not appear that you could ward off anything from happening if it does reveal more of itself. What are you going to do?”

“There is nothing I can do. I will just continue to document these visions and see where this one leads me. That is enough about me for a while. Anything interesting in the mail?”

“Here’s something a bit different and it’s for you.” Higgins said, handing the note to John.

John read it over several times and then gazed off into a void giving the note a lot of thought.” I guess you read far enough to see I am being asked to come to Paris and speak at a large manufactures convention. For once, I am not being asked to speak on wage settlements; that is a nice change. They want to give me a half hour to speak on shipping to the world and how to garner buyers from other countries. This will take a lot of thought and preparation, but I think I will do it. There is one thing I will do differently this time, though,” John teased, not finishing the end of his sentence.

Higgins waited but knew John was not going to be forthcoming without probing.” All right. You win. What is it that you will do different?”

“I want you to come with me,” John said with a big smile as he watched Higgins break into a beaming smile himself.

“Are you sure we can manage that, John? How long would we be out of touch of the mills?”

“I will have to work on that but a quick figure would be about five days and only one of those would be at the conference. I would like to train you to go to some of this places that I am always being called to speak. You know as much as I do about what I usually have to speak about. It’s time you started getting back in front of crowds of men and giving inspiring speeches like you once did back in your union days,” John smiled.” We should start looking into people to put in charge and I am sure I can get Watson to stop in each day and look about the mills for us. He owes us that for all we have done for him and my sister. So, what do you think?”

“I think I would like to accompany you very much. I have hardly been outside of Milton except for those couple of trips when you sent me to London. Yes, going to Paris sounds interesting; let us work this out.” Oh, I see you have Miss Winona arriving. I will be down in the canteen for lunch. Good luck! You know, I have never heard what happens when someone walks into his or her own vision. Please be careful. I do not want to see a toad sitting on your chair when I return,” Nicholas laughed heartily.

John followed Nicholas, laughing himself, until he met Winona’s coach and handed her up to the office.

 

*     *     *

 

Baron Kindle Brampton was always a social success and invited to every event ever held by anyone of peerage in London. He did not care for all of the social activities, as there were far too many. He had lands that he needed to improve and bring better conditions for the people that lived and worked there. His purpose as a Baron was to produce coin for the realm from raising crops and animals. Along with that, he was tasked with training of the young peerage leaders, for battle, and the fearless stallions they rode upon. As he discovered willing and acceptable sons of other Knights, the peerage and the Nobles, he hardened them for command in the mounted cavalry. However, when the London Season was in full swing with his expected acceptance of every invitation, he donned his dress uniform and headed to the big city for several months of gaiety, women, good food, and drink. He was of medium height for a man, handsome, broad-shouldered, and always physically fit from the constant honing of his military sword and battle tactics among his men. He was blessed with intelligence and grace, which dwelled in that head with blond hair and green eyes. This current season prompted Kindle to think about his nearing eight and twenty. He should begin turning his attention to producing an heir to the title; several sons would be quite adequate to insure that the lineage held strong. He was fortunate that he did not have to find a woman of fortune to keep his lands bountiful but he would like to find a woman who not only warmed his bed but his heart as well. Now was the time in his life to look past all the bedding he had done and look deeper into the hearts, minds, and souls of the women that could become Lady and Baroness Brampton. Many of the women at court had openly expressed interest in being his wife once the rumor was out that he may be ready to settle down but he paid little interest to their attention. The season was passing and his anxiety was beginning to grow because he could not find a woman that he wanted for a baroness to all he owned and who he wanted to love. Lord Kindle wanted someone to love him for himself and not his title. His father had warned him that his marriage partner would be one of the hardest choices he would make in his life and now he understood what he had meant.

Lord Gilbert Brampton, his cousin, shared with him a large apartment in London for the season, which was owned by the Brampton family. The apartment held the suitable staff for one Baron and a Lord and each had a 3-man guard that would always accompany them in the city. To Baron Kindle Brampton this had always been a way of life for him. Lord Gilbert, not quite reaching the accolades of the Queen by distinguishing himself in the military, as did his cousin, still held Kindle as his best friend. Service to the realm was the Brampton way for centuries.

Each man was single with no heirs and they started having long talks this season about that very subject. Gilbert, not being a Baron was not always invited to the highest society functions as Kindle but Kindle would often accompany his cousin as a guest if he did not have a young lady to escort. Both Kindle and Gilbert could have their choice of any lady they chose but did not always choose to do so, preferring to explore the many delicious and new flavors at the balls.

 

*     *     *

 

During one of the balls that Margaret had attended, she formed a nice acquaintanceship with Eve Clayton, a young lady quite similar to herself. Their backgrounds were very similar as her father was a gentlemen and she had been schooled very well along with the proper finishing school. Her father was a successful merchant but there was no nobility in their ancestral lineage. Eve was Margaret’s senior by one year but they quickly took up a close friendship and started attending functions together. Edith had become quite involved with her Captain and Margaret was glad to have a new friend to help her wile away the evenings that seemed to be her current way of life. Eve was very much of the same thinking when it came to the society level they were suited for and the upper levels. Although, Eve had an additional season under her petticoats, she was more disillusioned with the lifestyle of the rich and titled.

“Margaret, they seem to have no happiness at all. They will smile and laugh but it is all so shallow. Many of the ladies that I have met have been schooled as you and I have but tend to have forgotten everything except the social habits. The young women have no confidence in themselves and are out there solely to find a husband,” spoke Eve, one sunny afternoon in the park.

Margaret sighed.” Eve, you see it as I do. I guess one day I may be like them when I want to settle down but I am not ready for that in my life. These ladies seem to rush to marriage from school, always fearing being left alone or behind. I have enough skills to find work if I desire it without the aid of family money. I am sure many of these women do too but do not seem to realize it. I guess it is too scandalous to be working. You would be cast out and shunned. I am getting quite close to casting my own self out. I must say, though,” Margaret said in a more hushed voice, “I have met two fine young men that wish to see me and I would not be adverse to seeing them either. As a family friend has told me, there are gems among them, not all are the same. I think he may be right.”

“Oh Margaret, how excited you must be. How well do you know them and do they know of each other?” Eve asked.

“Well, Eve, I do not think they are acquainted with each other but they are aware of each other. The one in military uniform is Randall Smithers, and the other one’s name is Aidan Marshall. They do not seem to put on airs. Randall comes from a military family, which must be held in high regard for him to float among this class. He may even be Sir Randall. Aidan comes from a wealthy family with a lot of land somewhere in Scotland. I believe his family may be brewers of whiskey but it could be sheep for all I know.” They both laughed.” I am sure you have seen me dancing with them but did not know who they were or my feelings for them. I would not say there are any real feelings for either with the exception that they are amiable and I do not wish to run away while in their company. Randall is quite intelligent and a gentlemen of the highest caliber. We have had nice and interesting conversations during our times together. Aidan is quite a humorous man. He, also, seems quite intelligent and is plain speaking but always brings a smile to your face about what he is speaking. Neither has asked me out but I think they are both getting up their nerve. I believe they know they each have a possible competitor. I must admit, this has lifted my spirits towards life in London most perceptibly,” Margaret finished as she caught her breath after her ramblings.” Do you know or have you heard any scandalous rumors about either one?”

Eve seemed to hesitate, biting her lower lip, slightly.” Since you ask, I do not like spreading what is gossip to me but Aidan is seen as a real ladies man. He’s had many women and . . .” Eve blushed, “I hear he beds many of them and is highly regarded for his skills. I have heard nothing of Randall.”

“Oh dear,” Margaret said, “I must go out with Aidan soon.” Margaret burst out laughing as she saw Eve’s mouth gape open.” Eve . . . Eve, I am teasing you, of course.”

“Margaret, you did have me bewildered or . . . was it jealous?.” The both giggled.” Have . . . have you ever had any experience with . . . that pleasure? I know that is impertinent of me to ask and do not answer if you do not want to but if you have I would have some questions.”

Margaret noticed the total embarrassment on Eve’s face with her puppy brown eyes and was saddened to tell her, “No, I have not. I had some close friends in finishing school who were somewhat experienced and their stories varied greatly. I did not know whom to believe.”

“That is as I have heard it,” remarked Eve.” I wonder what causes such a wide variety of reactions.”

“I believe it to be the man. Apparently, there are skills that can be learned, there is his concern for the lady and the ardor she displays. There seems to be a lot that can cause these differences . . . on both sides. He could be nervous and she could be brazen. She can be very embarrassed and therefore will not permit the man to control the situation. I do not really know but I do dream about it often,” Margaret smiled embarrassingly.”

Eve nodded her head.” Margaret, I have a nice military gentleman that I want to let into my life. I believe we could be destined for each other. I need to know him much better before anything serious like that may happen but it just may be close at hand for me. I think I love him and he seems interested in me.”

“Oh Eve, your news is certainly more exciting than mine. Yours is serious, too. I am happy for you and I hope it ends the way you want it to,” Margaret replied with a happy tone in her voice.” When do you see him?”

“We have only been meeting at social functions. We have not known each other very long. There is fondness between us, I feel. When he looks at me, as we dance, I can just melt. In addition, the way he holds me tightly to him, I can tell he has a desire for me, if you know what I mean. It is quite a stunning experience.”

“Oh my. Oh my. I do not know what to say to that. But you say it’s nice?”

“Oh yes. There is a passion growing where I know I want to be closer to him. I want him to kiss me and I want to hold him tight. I want him to pick me up and carry me away to somewhere private. Am I mad? Am I being a bad girl? You do not think I am headed towards being one those lowlife women who do things like that for money do you?”

“Certainly not! Get that out of your head right now. You sound like a young woman falling in love,” Margaret responded.

“Yes, I think I am. However, I am saddened to think how he will respond should our relationship progress to a very serious level. I have no dowry, no lands, and no fortune to be offered. Isn’t that what is expected from most brides, however poor they are?”

“Eve, I do not know. That cannot be relative in all cases. It would seem that it would only be an important issue in arranged marriages. For two people who love each other, this cannot be too big a wall to climb. You can only be honest. Maybe it is something you should inform him of before it could become an embarrassment to say when he asks you to marry him.” Margaret was not sure of the advice she was giving Eve was correct. Each of them would have to find their own way through these important steps in their life.” When can I meet this Knight in Shining Armor?”

“I hope you will come with me to a private ball by an acquaintance of another friend. I have told Gilbert of it and he will eagerly try to attend even though he has another ball the same night. Shall you come with me, Margaret?”

“Oh yes. I shall look forward to it.”

 

John Thornton’s Unfolding Dream – 02

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John Thornton’s Unfold Dream

 

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Wednesday night John had his first dream about Winona. It was quite odd for he rarely dreamed. Remembering the dream when he awoke, his feeling of uneasiness had increased over the dilemma of marrying her. The dream was not at all pleasant as he thought it should have been. Would not one’s dreams have beautiful scenes about a prospective wife? His vision of Winona seemed to be in the future. A few age lines had appeared on her lovely face and she was holding a young boy to her side. In the dream, John was staring at her wondering why he had not been more discerning in selecting a wife. He had married a passionless woman. She was cold-hearted and demanding of his attention. She insisted that he purchase any whim that pleased her. Aside from the child that he saw beside her, he had married into not only further emotional loneliness but also a life of stress and depression.

John sat up and threw his legs over the side of his bed. He sat there placing his palms beside him on the bed top trying to shake the dream. “It must have sprung from my conversation with Nicholas,” he thought. It left him quite chilled inside. He knew, however, dreams were forgotten within hours, never leaving their mark behind. “What would Nicholas have to say about this turn of events?” He could figure that out on his own.

 

John and Winona had returned to her home after a lovely evening of dinner and attending the theater. Entering the foyer, Winona’s maid appeared taking her shawl and John’s hat and coat.

“Thank you, Bess. You may take the rest of the night off,” Winona told her maid.

“Thank you, Miss.” Bess turned and left.

John and Winona entered her warm flowery parlor, every bit decorated for eye appeal. She had lots of little china and crystal collections sitting about the room, bright billowy flowers on the wallpaper and family portraits adorning every wall. The upholstered furniture matched the pastel walls. For John, he thought it a room of airs and graces. He had only been in this room once before, but now he saw it through different eyes. His mind, now more attuned to her future expectations, did not seem to match his.

“John, would you do the honors?” Winona asked, pointing towards the small bar table in the corner.

“What drink do you prefer, Winona?”

“I think I would just like a glass of port. I hope there is something there for you and, if not, I shall see that it’s purchased right away.” She spoke in her consistent gay tone, which John now seemed to find irritating.

“Port is fine for me as well,” John remarked.

“John, you have been quiet this evening. I have planned this evening for us to be alone. I hope nothing is wrong, my dear,” Winona said pouting.

John walked over to the couch, bent down and kissed her lightly, then handed her the red port. He reclined beside her.

“Winona, I want to be honest with you, as honest as I know in my own heart. You and I have had some lovely times . . .” John was interrupted.

“Do not tell me we are through,” Winona said through developing tears.

“This is difficult for me. Please allow me to finish before you jump to conclusions,” John pleaded.

“All right, I will try,” she said, dabbing at her eyes with a handkerchief that magically appeared.

“I believe I have spent more time with you than any other lady in Milton. I enjoy going out with you. I think our new physical relationship is quite nice. I think my question to you is, do you have any expectations beyond our current situation? Are you anticipating that I will ask for your hand?” John asked in all sincerity but probably a little too directly.

Winona stood and started to walk the floor. Her face seemed quite startled and puzzled. “Oh, John, such a question to ask a lady.”

“I am sorry. I know it is that. I wish I knew a better way to ask. I will hope for honesty in your answer as I will be in my reply. Let me restate this. Instead of asking for a reply from you, I will tell you of my feelings. Then our discussion can go from there.”

John paused, waiting to see where Winona would sit. She strolled back over and sat next to John. He set his port on the table next to him and took her hand.

“Winona, I think a lot of you. However, I do not know the depths of my feelings. It occurred to me, after our intimate interlude that you presumably would think about our next level of commitment. What I have to say is that I can make no commitment to you at this time. I have never been in love and although my feelings for you are stronger than with others I have been with, I do not know if it is love. I would like to continue to see you but if I have put you off me, then, I deserve it being this forthright. I felt I owed you an explanation so you will direct any further action of us as a couple. I will marry for love. I want a woman who is intelligent, well-versed, passionate, and a woman who wishes to raise a family with me. If marriage is your ultimate goal . . .” John paused, his dream unfurled in his mind. “I cannot comfort you by saying it will be soon or ever. I am sorry to be so blunt, but you must know how I feel and be free to seek another who is more responsive to your attentions and desires.” John breathed a sigh of relief, finally having taken the pressure off himself. Since his talk with Higgins and his dream, it had plagued him that he really was not sure of his own heart.

The silence in the room hung like a heavy mist. Long ago, Winona had pulled her hand from John’s clutch. Winona rose again and walked the room while twisting her hands together. Time ticked on.

John, feeling like a real heel, spoke. “Please, say something.”

“John, I am quite taken aback by your words. I thought it the most ungallant words that a gentleman could say to a lady. However, the more I listened and thought, the better I began to feel. You are not casting me aside. You are going beyond to be honest with me, a quality rarely found in men when dealing with the other gender. I think if anything, it has strengthened my regard for you. I am disappointed to hear that you are not in love with me by now, but women are hopeless romantics, as you probably well know . . . knowing so many of them. My feelings for you are very strong, indeed, but I must admit we are the same. I have never been in love either, not really. I am afraid I would have eagerly answered yes if you had asked for my hand. However, you have given me pause to re-evaluate what I want in the man I hope to marry. Will our wills match? Are our priorities in life close enough? Do I really want children? This point continues to haunt me, as I cannot give even myself a definitive answer to that. Perhaps, there is a future for us or perhaps not, but you have removed what is usually an unspoken wall about expectations from each other. Let us not think, or worry or plan a future together. Let us see what naturally develops.” Winona knew most of her words were piffle. She did want him as a husband; he was one of Milton’s top catches, but she knew she would have to use a different plan of attack.

Winona returned to the couch and snuggled into John’s waiting arms. He turned her face towards him and kissed her pursed lips.

“Come with me,” she said, rising from the couch. John followed her to the bottom step of the staircase that led to her bedchamber.

Hesitating, he said, “After our frank discussion, are you sure about this? I feel quite awkward as if I would be taking advantage of you. You must know that I, nor any man, can resist the pleasure you give, but I just want to be sure that you want to do this. Do not feel that I need more persuading of my feelings for you by offering yourself to me. I want your honesty, passion and your fire but one day I might want your soul.” John looked up as Winona turned around and continued to ascend the stairs. He followed.

They entered her dark bedchamber. John waited at the hall door until she found a candle to light. Barely able to see her in the dim room, he strode in and closed the door behind him. “Should I lock this door?” he asked.

“Only if you think you will sleep past ten in the morning,” she laughed.

“I will not stay the night even though I may want to. I would not take the chance of disgracing you to your servants.” John walked towards Winona and pulled her to him. He imagined that he felt stiffness in her as if something was bothering her. “Are you quite certain about this?” John repeated. “Is it a good time for you?”

“Yes, John. I am quite certain. You have what I need. You can wipe away this uncomfortable evening with your loving and caressing body.” Winona began to undress John. She was in too much of a hurry, he thought.

Now John was the one feeling uneasy or was it suspicious. Somehow, the feeling of her determination enveloped him. He worried it would ruin his performance. He began to undress her, but Winona finally took herself in hand and hurried her own disrobing.

Standing naked before each other in the dim light, John pulled her into his arms to kiss her. She pulled back and drew him to the bed. John followed her lead but did not care for the pace she was setting. Ideas started to flow through his mind as she reached down and held his manhood in her hands. He groaned, but his foreboding thoughts returned vigorously. Was she setting a paternity trap for him? Did she want him to believe she was the only woman for him? Was she trying to persuade him to love her by being aggressive? His mind assaulted him and he lost concentration. He was finding it difficult bringing his passion to the moment. There and then, he decided to use his withdrawal method. That settled, he turned to Winona’s lovely body. She had not been a virgin at their first coupling, but that did not bother him. He found that most women near his age had long ago passed that honor along to their first love. John proceeded to get back to his basic sensual self and help them both find release from the stark topic of the evening. He finished making loving to her as he did any other woman of his past. He could sense no special attraction, only satisfaction.

Returning home near midnight, John went straight to his room, undressed, washed, and climbed into his large bed. In his mind, he went over the evening’s events and could not shake the dream or his unease about the night. Even though he had brought Winona to climax, she was more than disappointed when he withdrew himself and left his seed upon the linens.

That night, John had another dream about Winona. He did not know how much weight to give these nightly episodes as he had probably misunderstood his first dream. In this dream, they had parted ways but remained friends as they went on with their lives. Winona had found herself a wealthy Master, somewhat older than John. The next few weeks should tell him how much to rely on what seemed so real in these recurring visions.