I Killed Him – pt 10

Chapter Ten Captain Hartford returned to post with explanations to his Commander. He had entered his Commander’s office with great hesitancy only to be buoyed by the fact that nothing seemed out of order. Surely, there would be a severe questioning session if Miss Hale or Detective Boyle had come to him with any suspicions. Grant wondered how long it would be before Miss Hale was found, dead or alive. She had to have taken her own life as she admitted she had been thinking of doing. There could be little hope of reconciliation after all this time, if she … Read more

I Killed Him – pt 6

Chapter Six “Branson, I will be here for two hours. You may hitch the team and come to Miss Hale’s room if you wish, or just wait for me.” John looked at his pocket watch and proceeded up the steps to the hospital doors. As he walked the corridors, he thought he would bring flowers the next time. She may not be awake, but they would be there welcoming her back when her eyes opened. He prayed for good news. Walking into her room, Donaldson was discussing her condition with a hospital doctor. John decided to wait outside and listen … Read more

Hearts Adrift – Part Six

Chapter Six   Longpré was reached in the late afternoon, and the travellers were all exhausted, hungry and downtrodden. They hid in the surrounding woods while Jake went into the village. He was the least conspicuous of them all; he could pass as a harmless farmhand. Jéhan was fast asleep, his head on Manon’s lap. She gently brushed the boy’s auburn hair from his brow, a gesture that went straight to Richard’s heart. “You both have Lily’s colouring, Manon,” he said, his voice a bit hoarse, “and she was the image of her own mother, Lady Elizabeth. There is a … Read more

Hearts Adrift – Part Five

Chapter Five   Five days and four nights later, Richard and his companions reached Amiens. The journey had been relatively easy, with one checkpoint in Beauvais after twenty-one miles of travelling through the lush Picardie countryside. The farther they moved away from Paris, the less people seemed affected by the Revolution. At least, the farmers were still at their work; the fields had been sowed and the pastures had cattle grazing on them. Even at the Beauvais checkpoint, the guards seemed lax and did not question the travellers. Apparently, a small family of what looked like farmers was not prone … Read more

Hearts Adrift – Part Four

Chapter Four   The company set off at dawn, as was agreed, in a cart drawn by a large horse, one that de Briers had purchased from a brewer. He had paid handsomely for the horse, as well as for the cart, and had asked the brewer and the landlady to keep quiet about himself and his charges. As a precaution, he had let slip that their destination was Le Havre, instead of Boulogne. It was an insurance that meant whoever followed them would take the wrong road, heading due west instead of north. Jake and Manon sat on the … Read more

Hearts Adrift – Part Three

Chapter Three   The band of fugitives made its way to the quays aligning the river Seine without being spotted by members of the Garde Révolutionaire. A small boat was moored at the bottom of the steps. They got on board, Manon and Jéhan at the stern and Jake at the bow, while de Briers took the oars. He began rowing downstream in a steady rhythm, the heavy oaken shafts cutting the water in silence. They slid along the riverbank, and de Briers kept the boat as close to the quay wall as he could without crashing into it. Their … Read more

Hearts Adrift – Part Two

  Chapter Two   “Are you certain, sir, that you want to pursue this matter? The streets are extremely dangerous in Paris right now.” The young man’s pleasant countenance grew serious, causing Richard de Briers to turn a sharp eye on him. “What is it that you are saying, Jake? Are the streets barred? Bridges over the Seine destroyed, maybe?” Jake Davies had been acting as Richard’s business man in Paris for the last four years. He had begun his life as a London street urchin and Robert de Briers had caught the boy trying to steal his handkerchief one … Read more

The Reform of John Thornton – Part Sixteen

Chapter Sixteen   Soon thereafter, I took my leave of the sanctimonious couple. They had infuriated me more than I could stomach. I would have had a row if I had stayed any longer. How dared they criticize Mr Hale’s honest doubts in his faith when the poor man had been tried the way he had been? His son was banished from England’s shores, for heaven’s sake! And then the manner in which they treated their children! They were nothing but unpaid servants, no, they were treated like slaves! At least, the children in my mill had been paid for … Read more

The Reform of John Thornton – Part Fourteen

Chapter Fourteen For the next three months, I fought tooth and nail to keep my business afloat. I travelled to Birmingham, Leeds and even London to find some new investors, but alas, to no avail. Latimer would not see me again when I applied for an interview about a new loan. Needless to say I did not pursue Ann Latimer further. I was relieved about that, at least. On one day in late spring, I received a visit from Mr Bell, my landlord. He was an Oxford academic from a wealthy family, who had invested and still was investing money … Read more

The Reform of John Thornton – Part Thirteen

Chapter Thirteen   I rose from my chair behind my desk, all my limbs stiff with fatigue. It was late, I guessed. Just then the whistle blew, indicating the end of the evening shift. Ten o’ clock. I went to the window. Little Tom Boucher sat on the rough wooden planks of the loading bank, his feet in their scuffed boots dangling from it. He was reading aloud from a book. That was a most intelligent lad, I mused, while I donned my coat. I went to stand beside him, reading over his shoulder. He was spelling the words diligently, … Read more

The Reform of John Thornton – Part Twelve

Chapter  Twelve   One day in early October, I was in the courtyard, when I witnessed my overseer Williams, who was chasing away from the mill an individual who I had come to loathe most assiduously. Nicholas Higgins seemed to have mustered the effrontery – and the courage, I must admit – to come and ask for work. I knew he had been dismissed from Hamper’s mill after the strike, and also, why. The firebrand and his abominable union wanted the workers to pay contributions to keep up a fund that would sustain them when there was a prolonged strike. … Read more

The Reform of John Thornton – Part Eleven

Chapter Eleven   I came home in a state of shock and disbelief. To find myself betrayed by the first woman I had ever loved, was a cruel blow. Granted, she had never been mine to begin with, but I had professed my devotion to her with an honesty that she must have never experienced in the jaded drawing rooms of London. I knew I was not a gentleman in her eyes, but surely that was to be preferred over the sly, equivocal pretences of London, where no one ever spoke the truth. Apparently, Margaret thought otherwise. And, moreover, she … Read more

The Reform of John Thornton – Part Ten

Chapter Ten   I walked the streets in a state of numbness, not seeing or hearing a thing. Barely was I able to comprehend what had just happened to me. The pain, however, was already fully in attendance. It was a wound I would carry with me for the rest of my life. I know not how, but eventually I reached Marlborough Mills, and the house, where I ascended the stairs to the parlour, feeling drained and utterly cast down. I noticed Mother was not sitting on her usual sofa, but in a smaller chair, close to the hearth. She … Read more

The Reform of John Thornton – Part Nine

Chapter Nine   The Irish arrived on a gloomy evening at Milton Outwood Station. I was present with Williams at my side, and we noted the names of the hundred men and women, who alighted from the ghastly cargo train. Poor wretches, I thought, if they had to make the journey from Liverpool in these cattle wagons. We hastened them to Marlborough Mills, where we settled them on the top floor of the building that housed the sorting room. I sent for Father Patrick, the Catholic priest, and instructed food to be given them. The next day, my looms would … Read more

The Reform of John Thornton – Part Eight

Chapter Eight   I was given more free time now and I spent it to go and read with Mr Hale more frequently. My teacher was delighted, and we had many a pleasant evening conversing about the problems of manufacturing. Mr Hale even suggested a few solutions to the workers’ discontent, such as providing food and medical attention on the premises of the mill, but of course, I could not apply them. They were far too fanciful and would not have worked. My foolish heart had hoped to see more of Margaret, now that she was forced to stay indoors … Read more

The Reform of John Thornton – Part Six

This lovely art work is not mine. I found it somewhere on the internet. Would the artist please contact me so that I can acknowledge his/her work?   Chapter Six   How grateful I was to have my mill so that I could throw myself onto my work and forget the events of that upsetting tea party. The mill required my full attention at that time, for trouble was most definitively brewing. It was of such great concern that I called on my fellow mill masters to convene and discuss the situation. Our assembly hall was next to the Lyceum … Read more

The Reform of John Thornton – Part Five

This lovely art work is not mine. I found it somewhere on the internet. Would the artist please contact me so that I can acknowledge his/her work?     Chapter Five   After the day’s work, I ascended the stairs to prepare myself for my visit to the Hales. Mother was sitting at the table, absorbed in her needlework. How she managed to be so diligent, with Fanny’s dreadful attempts in doing piano scales upstairs, I do not know. Once in a while, my sister even sang, and it sounded horrible. I donned my coat and rolled my eyes, saying, … Read more

The Reform of John Thornton – Part Four

This lovely art work is not mine. I found it somewhere on the internet. Would the artist please contact me so that I can acknowledge his/her work?     Chapter Four   During the following week, I most assiduously tried to get Miss Margaret Hale out of my thoughts. I had to be honest with myself, though. I had begun developing some sort of attachment to her, and that was not to be tolerated. She was beautiful, I had to give her that, but she was also outspoken and prejudiced and … damn it! Never had I allowed any woman … Read more

The Reform of John Thornton – Part Three

  This lovely art work is not mine. I found it somewhere on the internet. Would the artist please contact me so that I can acknowledge his/her work?   Chapter Three   It took me several days to find the time to pay a visit to Mr Hale. The new machines I ordered from Leeds had finally arrived, and I had to supervise their installation in the mill’s main shed. Finally, on a windy morning mid-September, I went to Crampton to seek out my new teacher. The house was located at the corner of Canute Street and a narrow alley, … Read more

The Reform of John Thornton – Part Two

  This lovely art work is not mine. I found it somewhere on the internet. Would the artist please contact me so that I can acknowledge his/her work?   Chapter Two   As a rule, I am not a violent man. I do not take pleasure in beating my workers to a bloody pulp. Yet I have a temper, which at times, gets the better of me. Thus, when I witnessed Stephens’ transgression with my own eyes, I literally saw red. Stephens is a brainless fool, who has only his own selfish interests at heart. His poor wife and four … Read more