Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007)
Chapter Fifteen – Blending In
Within three weeks John and Margaret’s situation had thoroughly changed.
John was doing a hell of a job at “The Green Huntsman”. With Jowan’s help, he hired an elderly man who retired from public service the year before but who had done some pub work in his spare time to have an extra income. Paul Burrows was a short, slender man with a shock of white hair and a pair of dark brown eyes. He had kept himself fairly fit over the years by working out at a gym. A couple of years before, his two daughters had left the house to set up their own households – finally, as Paul stated to John – since they had lingered at home for far too long in their father’s opinion. His eldest had recently become a mother, and Paul’s wife Dorothy was so besotted with her first grandson that she spent all her waking hours with him. Paul felt a little lonesome lately, so he jumped at the chance of making a little money on the sideline. John found out pretty quickly that Paul was a regular employee, hard-working and honest. Despite his short stature, he could display authority when it was needed in the pub. John was very much taken with him.
Margaret too was settling in nicely. She accompanied Betty to the old people’s home “The Larks” and found herself loving working for and with the elderly, especially with the ones that suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. They were the ones that were completely defenceless, as vulnerable as babies, but Margaret loved the way they smiled at her when she helped them. Even though they had no idea of what she was doing or why, they often communicated the only way they still could – with a smile. Then there were the silent ones, those who had withdrawn within themselves into a world thoroughly closed to others. Margaret just helped them where she could, mostly at meal times, when she would butter their toast and feed it to them, or make sure they finished their plates and help them drink. It was a difficult task since there were not enough nurses to help all the people. Margaret usually busied herself with five or six people at the same time.
She had only been working at “The Larks” for a week when she was asked to come and work for a private service that helped elderly people who wanted to stay in their homes as long as possible. Small household tasks were needed, such as dusting and cleaning, making beds, cooking simple meals, doing the shopping. Most of all, those elderly needed the contact with others, so that they could talk and reminiscence about the past. Margaret eagerly agreed, especially since this job came with a small salary which was very welcome. She didn’t give up her work at “The Larks”, though she just wasn’t able anymore to come in every day.
On Sundays, John and Margaret went for long, lazy walks through the lush Leicestershire countryside. It was September now and the leaves, though still a dark green, were inevitably turning golden.
John loved these walks immensely. Strolling over country paths, hand in hand with Margaret, he frequently took her in his arms in spots that were hidden from view. He knew Margaret was still a bit shy about embracing in broad daylight where people could see them. He’d had problems with it himself but with what he daily saw in the pub, he’d realised the people in this era didn’t care a bit about propriety and good manners. They just did the things they enjoyed, and embracing in public in the middle of the day was very common now. Yet he acknowledged Margaret’s qualms because he respected her.
On one of such walks, Margaret and John found a spot in the woods where trees had been cleared and sunlight threw a dappled golden light through the remaining tree leaves. The forest floor was carpeted with soft green moss, and they stretched out on it, enjoying the quiet peace of nature around them.
Margaret’s head rested on her beloved’s chest while she was cradled in his arms, the strong, steady beat of his heart against her cheek. She could have felt completely at ease but for one thought that had been nagging her since days. Timidly but determinedly as was her habit, Margaret broached the subject.
“John, where do we stand on the matter of our wedding?”
She caught John completely off guard. He had been so busy, these last weeks, that he had totally forgot about their future together. How could he have done so? Wasn’t Margaret the most important person in his life? Yes, and yet he had let his feelings go dormant in the rush of new things that drowned him, without even noticing it.
“My sweet Margaret,” he whispered, cupping her face to look deep into her lovely blue-green eyes, “if you still want me for a husband, I am at your feet. I just do not have the slightest notion as to how we are going to make it come true.”
Margaret smiled a little sadly.
“Yes, it all depends whether we stay here or return to our own time and Milton, does it not?”
“We cannot return, sweetheart, the portal is gone.”
“John, I do not know how I know this but I do think the portal is not available anymore for a reason. We are meant to spend some time here in this era so that we can learn from it and then take it back to 1852. With that knowledge we could improve so much in our own time. Just think about the way the hospitals are organized. So clean and efficient! They have homes for old people here, John! People grow old in this century. I saw several ninety-year-old and a lot of people reach eighty very easily. A great deal of them are even fairly fit, physically and mentally.”
John, who’d gone to “The Larks” with Margaret once or twice, particularly remembered the Alzheimer cases.
“Yes, but many of them have their mind slipped away from them also. I do not wish to grow old like that, Margaret, it scares me.”
“At least they are given the chance to grow old, John!” Her cheeks were flushed now, and she was warming to her subject rapidly. “In 1852, people just die long before they reach sixty! Their minds are already numb with misery from the day they are born!”
With a sudden shock, John recalled that day when he had gone to speak to Higgins in the Princeton district and wandered through the dismal alleys. He again felt the pity over the black despair that marked the faces of the people there, crouching before their homes. He again was moved by the absolute misery that made the children whimper and cower like cornered animals when they knew they were going to be killed by the hunters. No hope for the future, no joy. That day, John had realised that these people were his people, his workers and their families. Living, breathing and struggling to survive. That day, he had understood why Margaret so loved this people. She knew what it was to lose someone to a disease like measles or pneumonia that could have been prevented by a minimum of concern and care. Had she not lost her dear friend Bessy Higgins? “So do you think we will be given a chance to go back to 1852, then?” he asked Margaret. “Yes, I do, John. I believe that we will find the portal when we are ready to go back. But that was not my question, my love. I asked you if we should not get married here, in this present era. After all, we do not know when the portal will appear again, and I cannot wait endlessly to become your wife. It is my dearest wish to become yours, John, completely and without restraint.”
“Oh, my dear heart!” John cried, pulling her to him. “I too wish this fervently! Let’s do it, Margaret! Let’s get married.”
BBC One’s newest drama series The Musketeers has been renewed for a second season.
“Drama in 2014 has got off to a great start on BBC One and The Musketeers has really brought something fresh and new to the channel”, said BBC One Controller Charlotte Moore, who commissioned the second season alongside the BBC’s Controller of Drama Commissioning Ben Stephenson. ”I can’t wait to see how things will develop in the next series.”
Created by Adrian Hodges, The Musketeers is a new adaptation of the legendary tale of the three musketeers. The series is set on the streets of seventeenth century Paris where law and order is more an idea than reality and follows the three Musketeers: Athos, Aramis and Porthos who are far more than King Louis XIII’s personal bodyguards. They stand resolutely for social justice, for honour, for valour, for love and for the thrill of it. The drama series is being produced by BBC Drama Productions in association with BBC Worldwide & BBC America and stars Luke Pasqualino (Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome), Tom Burke (Great Expectations), Santiago Cabrera (Merlin) and Howard Charles.
The series’ ten-episode first season is currently unspooling on BBC One on Sunday nights following ratings juggernaut Call The Midwife, with a further 7 episodes still to air. The pick up of a second season comes after the series – which is a co-production with BBC America – premiered as the BBC’s biggest drama launch since the aforementioned Call The Midwife, with the first three episodes averaging an audience of 6.3 million viewers. The renewal also comes despite concerns as to how the series will proceed without Cardinal Richelieu, with the actor portyraying that character, Peter Capaldi, not returning for season two as he was recently cast as Doctor Who on the BBC’s eponymous science-fiction series.
- Ancient mysteries. Powerful evil. And a fearless hero’s quest through a fantastical realm of steam-powered wonders and sinister magic… In THE ADVENTURER: THE CURSE OF THE MIDAS BOX, seventeen-year-old Mariah Mundi’s life is turned upside down when his parents vanish and his younger brother is kidnapped. Following a trail of clues to the darkly majestic Prince Regent Hotel, Mariah discovers a hidden realm of child-stealing monsters, deadly secrets and a long-lost artifact that grants limitless wealth – but also devastating supernatural power. With the fate of his world, and his family at stake, Mariah will risk everything to unravel the Curse of the Midas Box!- Written by Anonymous
Peter Bevan, Ibon Cormenzana, Ignasi Estape, Karl Richards
Matthew Huffman, Gavin Scott, John R. Smith, Rob Sprackling, Christian Taylor
- Aneurin Barnard as Mariah Mundi
- Michael Sheen as Charity
- Ioan Gruffudd as Charles Mundi
- Lena Headey as Monica
- Sam Neill as Otto Luger
- Keeley Hawes
- Tristan Gemmill
- Daniel Wilde
- Mella Carron
- Xavier Atkins
- Oliver Stark
- Will Payne
Chapter Fourteen – Taking Stock
Around three in the morning, John, Margaret and Jowan finally returned to Betty’s cottage, all of them weary to the bone. Yet, all pressing and disturbing issues had been brought to a satisfactory end.
Jowan’s father was recuperating from his stroke which in the end, was not that severe. The doctors had every confidence of him leaving the hospital as soon as his vitals were back to normal. Mrs Thorn was back in her home and her sister, living nearby in a Leicestershire village had come to keep her company, whilst Mr Thorn was still in hospital.
Jowan now faced the problem of his father’s pub and he wasn’t happy about it.
“How am I going to do this?” he asked John when they all sat in the cottage’s kitchen where Betty, roused from a fitful dose on the settee, had provided them with tea and cookies to set them straight again.
John, who had problems of his own to deal with, hazarded a proposition.
“Well, you saw what I did in the pub, didn’t you? What would you say if I was to return there in the morning and in the days to follow and run it for you? I like Robert Duvalier. He deserves to be supported and therefore needs hands. The pub is seriously understaffed, Jowan. I gathered that there’s a large clientele at noon, and on Sundays, and also, on nights when they show sports on television. If you could hire an extra kitchen help and a man behind the counter, I could set them to work efficiently.”
“You would do that for me? That would be … well, splendid! I can’t get away from my duties at the hospital, and nor can Marjorie. Thanks, John! I agree on the staff issue and will see to it first thing tomorrow.”
The two men toasted their tea cups when a quiet voice interrupted them.
“And what about me? What am I to do with my time?”
Two pair of astonished male eyes turned in Margaret’s direction.
“I think I have the answer to that, dear,” Betty’s calm voice came. “You must accompany me when I do my voluntary work at the old people’s home in Leicester. There’s a great need of helping hands in every aspect of the caring for them, especially feeding them, an activity for which there’s a serious understaffing.”
“I would be allowed to do that?” Margaret asked, with bright eyes.
“Yes, of course. No financial compensation, I’m afraid. The home is in serious need of funds, although the National Health Service is doing what they can. But you, my dear, have the right skills and temperament for such a task, being compassionate and patient as you are.”
Margaret blushed at Betty’s appraisal and met John’s fond gaze when she raised her eyes again.
“I would like that very much, Betty. Thank you for your kindness.”
“Well,” Jowan said, rising and yawning, “I don’t know about you, guys, but I’m turning in. I’m absolutely knackered! Goodnight!”
They all stood and went for their rooms. Margaret laid a hesitating hand on John’s arm.
“John, we must talk,” she said softly because she didn’t want the others to hear.
“What is it, my love?”
“Come with me to my room,” she urged and then coloured a fierce red as she realised what she just said and implied but John did not seem to notice. He nodded, curled an arm around her waist and steered her to the room she was using as her bed chamber.
Once inside, John could not contain himself any longer and did what he had wanted to do all day long, and a blasted eternally long day it had been! He drew his Margaret into his arms and kissed her as hard as he could.
Welcoming the violent stir of desire deep inside him, he deepened their kiss as soon as he registered Margaret’s own, fierce reaction. She hugged her body close to his and, through the thin fabric of the cotton blouse she was wearing, he suddenly felt the peaks of her breasts against his chest. Dear Lord in heaven …
While he was plundering her lush mouth with his tongue, his body was screaming with need as a reaction to the little, needy moans Margaret was uttering between gasps of breath. He tore himself away from her before his own need would drive him to act upon it.
“My dearest love,” he breathed, “are we not so lost in this madness that we do not know anymore what is right and what to do? I know I am. Without you, my Margaret, I should go insane out of sheer confusion. Thank God that I can at least hold you in my arms and restore my inner peace.”
Margaret raised her face upwards and suddenly his heart stopped at the sight of her beautiful eyes overflowing with tears. The desolation in her look tugged at him with violent sorrow.
“Margaret, sweetest, what is the matter? You are weeping! Is it my doing? Tell me, for heaven’s sake!”
Margaret freed herself from his anxious grasp and wiped her cheeks clean with hasty hands.
“Forgive me, John, it is nothing. Only my stupid weakness of character that turns me into a puddle every time something arises that I cannot handle. It will not happen again, my love.”
She laid her hand against John’s cheek and peered into his eyes, shyly smiling.
“And, John, I too am immensely happy that you are with me. I too would not have born the strength to endure all this. But, meanwhile, we are indeed caught in the middle of it and must deal with it.”
She drew him with her to the bed and made him sit down beside her.
“Now, tell me. Something is worrying you, John. I saw it all too clear, during this long, long day.”
“You are right, sweetest. When I walked through the countryside, last night, I noticed the train carriage had disappeared. We no longer have a portal to go back to our own time.”
Margaret raised startled eyes to him.
“Oh, John! What will we do? How is this even possible?”
“I don’t know, my darling, but I do know we are trapped here, in this century. We have to make the best of it, which means I have to make a living. We cannot keep living off Jowan, Marjorie and Betty forever.”
Margaret nodded in agreement and asked, “What profession will you take on, John? And I, should I also try and earn some money? In this century, women stand on their own two feet. I like that, John, and I would welcome an income of my own. Do you suppose we could still make use of the money I inherited from Mr Bell?”
“No, Margaret, that is impossible. We even have no real identity any more. I spoke with Jowan, earlier, and it seems that you must have a way to prove who you are, if asked for by the authorities. Jowan uses his driver’s license, which is needed if you want to drive the motored vehicles of this era, or his British passport, which is needed if you want to go abroad.”
“Can we get one of these, John? We must if we want to blend in with the rest.”
John chuckled and shook his head.
“For the driver’s license, you have to pass a test, and I must learn to drive a motor car first. Jowan tells me it needs a lot of practicing. To obtain a passport, I must prove myself a British citizen, which I could do by proving that I was born in England or have lived in England for ten years.”
“Oh! That is fine, then!” Margaret exclaimed. “We have lived in England all our lives!”
“Yes, but how are we going to prove that, darling? I was under the assumption that I was living in Milton and now, Jowan tells me Milton does not really exists! That Milton and Helstone are products of a writer’s imagination, that we are characters in a novel. It is utterly confusing and inexplicable, Margaret. Yet, we have to make the best of it, so I am going to run “The Green Huntsman” for a living. Jowan and I will work out a suitable compensation.”
He drew her closer and kissed her brow.
“We will weather this, Margaret. It is a promise I make to you, here and now.”