His Dark Materials

 ‘HIS DARK MATERIALS’ TRAILER

REVEALS THE POLAR BEAR
An unexpected surprise today is the new trailer for HBO’s and BBC’s HIS DARK MATERIALS epic TV series based on Philip Pullman’s books. James McAvoy plays Lord Asriel in the story about a young girl named Lyra

The series will air later this year on BBC and HBO

Belacqua (Dafne Keen) who travels to the Arctic to find her friend Roger. Lyra’s journey brings her on a considerable adventure across worlds and lands her in the midst of a massive war being waged across existence.

Brotherly Love – A North and South Novel with John Thornton – C19

Available at Amazon

Chapter Nineteen

(previous chapter)

 

“I don’t really know. I just said it. We aren’t going to fight over this, are we?”

“Did you direct that statement at me because of jealousy; because she possesses that one thing that you do not?”

“John? What’s wrong with you? Please, let’s not get into trivialities.”

“It is not trivial to me. I know you should know that chaste or not; means very little to me. That isn’t my puzzlement. She has very little to recommend her to a wealthy gentleman, I can see that, but why did you feel the need to embarrass her to me. I would have thought a lady would not have spoken that thought to her gentleman. Help me understand you. Just you. The past two meetings with you; something different seems to be gradually unfolding.”

“You are hallucinating, John. Perhaps you want to find something wrong with me, so you’re grasping at straws.”

“In a small conversation with your brother, he mentioned how he was very interested in who you were seeing, meaning me. The tone of his words immediately gave me concern that you had embellished our relationship when you spoke to him. You had not been in Milton very long when we were introduced, so I nor anyone knew of you. I make up my own mind, so I was not bothered by that. However, in meeting your brother and our last two meetings, is giving me pause to wonder who you really are. How do you really perceive the way I feel about you?”

Adeline picked up her brandy, crossed in front of John and sat in a big chair across from him. She pulled her legs under herself and sat comfortably on her feet.

“I take it that I have misunderstood your intentions?”

“I have never mentioned intentions. I am very careful with my words, as I know women take them any way they want to. Perhaps somehow my words evolved into a fantasy or misunderstanding as you say?

“Do you love me, John?”

“Have I ever told you that?”

“You must have, especially during our intimate moments.”

“I have, yet, in my life, to speak that word. I may have thought it at times, but I have never spoken it, especially when it can easily roll off the tongue during passionate encounters. I do know that is misleading.”

“And speaking of passionate encounters, would a gentleman involve himself in that if he didn’t love the woman.”

“At her insistent behest.”

“You’re saying that those three times we slept together, I was the one who initiated it?”

“Yes, I am saying that. It was lovely, but not love.”

“So, there is no marriage in the future?”

“I don’t know. My only regard to the word marriage was what you may be expecting. I have given it little thought. I know I have seen you longer than most women. I was looking deep for long-lasting happiness with you. I haven’t seen it yet, and I am beginning to lose what I did like about you.”

“I’ve made all this up in my mind, then?”

“I don’t know what’s in your mind. But love and certainly marriage is not in mine. I don’t believe I will ever marry. I am too hard to please, I suppose.”

“Bloody hell, John Thornton, I have invested a lot of time in you.”

“Invested? Is that how you see me . . . as an investment? Surely you have good financial support. Or do you? Has this all been a ruse to make me fall in love with you?”

“Don’t be ridiculous. If my funds begin to run out, my brother would always take me in.”

“I did not come here to have this type of conversation just yet, but I am glad I did. I believe I’ve gotten to the bottom of this relationship. The truth is finally coming to light. Thank you for that.”

“But if you love me, just a little, that shouldn’t make any difference.”

“You are correct. It would make no difference as to your financial means. I would never live off of a woman’s money, ever. But deceit breeds, once it is started. I could never find happiness with a woman I could no longer trust to tell me the truth.”

“So, you’re saying, we’re over?”

“I cannot see how this can be rectified. It didn’t just happen. You’ve been keeping in character for many months.”

“Well, that hasn’t been hard with you, John. It is quite easy to fall in love with you.”

“And I don’t believe that either. In the beginning, you seemed too good to be true. But the hill of our building relationship seemed to get slippery as time went on. Here and there, you must have shown the real you and I forgave it or made up some excuse in my mind wondering why you did or said something. Now, I see I was blind. I began hoping you were going to be the one. It is apparent that I have been played. I am a fool. Usually, I can spot those intentions, but I failed myself this time.”

“Since we’re confessing each other’s annoyances, let me have my say.”

“Please, go on.”

“As a man, you have too much pride in yourself. I’ve seen signs of a temper. As a gentleman, you achieve perfection. Do you know how that demeans women who know that can’t live up to your expectations? As a mill master, you are exemplary, but you would make a poor husband because you are married to your work.”

“I’m never changing who I am, Adeline.”

“I tried to love you, Adeline admitted.”

“And I the same but if you never showed your real self, I doubt you would have been happy with me. May I ask a question to which you never answered.

“Let’s let it all out. What did I not answer?”

“I was telling you the conversation that I had with my mother about her worrying of me growing into a gentleman without a father. I asked you if you thought I was a gentleman. You gave a positive response. Then I asked if I was too much of a gentleman to which you replied, ‘It is the 1850’s. What did you mean by that?”

“In my mind, you were a perfectionist gentleman. I wanted you to be a little more aggressive with me. You were dull, too sweet, too obliging. I only said that because gentlemen from where I come from had passed that point. That’s all.”

“I see.”

“You probably don’t see, but to hell with you now.”

John stood. “I guess this is goodbye.”

“That’s the way you seem to want it. Nothing I can do to change that, I see.”

“I’m sorry for all this Adeline. If I had any doubts walking in here tonight, this conversation has put them to rest. Do you intend to stay in Milton?”

“You will probably spread rumors about me like you would have done with my brother.”

“Oh… So you did know all about him. I will not spread rumors about you. I will not even spread the truth unless asked directly. There are plenty of well-off single gentlemen in Milton. If you attach yourself to another one, don’t pretend with him. He’s most likely to be a friend of mine and ask me about you. I am sorry you will have to miss the ball tomorrow evening. However, I did promise to take you and I will if you want to go. But furthermore, I will pay little attention to you. Do you want to attend?”

“I am going to say I do not want to attend. If I change my mind, I will send a note with my driver.”

“Please send it before 5:00 p.m. I will have to make a speech and ensure everything is set up properly, so I will be there early. I think we have said the last words to each other. I wish you better success in the future. Good evening.”

Adeline watched John walk out of her life. If she had tried to deny anything he brought up, she would dig a deeper hole. Perhaps this town was full of Masters that wouldn’t care if she wasn’t wealthy. She may decide to stay here.”

 

John and Nicholas left their office around mid-day and spoke with the foreman who would handle the next two shifts. Arriving home, John sat down and made a few notes to open the ball. Before taking his bath, he thought it was time to speak with his mother about Adeline.

Hannah sat and listened to the story John always seemed to be repeating. She looked for signs of sadness, but he appeared remarkably relieved and calm.

“What about the ball tonight, John?”

“I told her I would take her since I promised, but I would pay little to no consideration. She has until 5:00 p.m. to let me know if she wants to attend. Her initial reaction was that she did not wish to go.”

“Can you uninvite her to the dinner party? Ask someone else?”

“I can try. I will not bring her to your dinner, but as far as replacing her with a new guest, I doubt that may happen.”

“How about that Miss Ha….?” There was a knock on the door interrupting Hannah.

John headed towards the stairs; telling his mother, “I hope that’s not her changing her mind.”

John opened the door to Lenore Smithers. “Lenore. What a pleasant surprise. Please come in.”

Ascending the steps, Lenore said, “I believe this is the ball night and you must be busy preparing. I will only take a moment of your time.”

John couldn’t help but smile thinking of their youth when she took his virginity.

“Mother, I do not know if you remember Miss Smithers? She was my first lady friend about ten years ago.”

“I’m sorry. I only have a vague remembrance. How do you do, Miss Smithers? Please sit down.”

John waited for the women to be seated. “Lenore, you are correct, I do have little time. How can I be of help?”

“I am here to ask if you have any recommendations for a flat somewhere in town that can accommodate three people.”

“You’re staying?”

Hannah thought the smile on her son’s face was very unmanly. It was more child-like.

“I haven’t decided if it will be permanent or not. It all depends on how I can manage my father. It is more difficult than I thought to help him move from the bed to a chair. I’ve just hired a man to live-in and help my sister, but my brother is hoping I can take him there. My father is old and stubborn and doesn’t want to leave his flat. At the moment, the hired man is sleeping on a floor pallet in my father’s room as he has nightly needs.”

“I will ask around. I am sure we can find something for you. I will start asking tonight. May have news for you very soon.”

“Thank you, John. Your help would be most agreeable. I will go now and let you ready yourself.”

John walked with her to the bottom of the steps. “Lenore, my mother is having her annual dinner party this coming Thursday. We had a cancellation today and mother has tasked me to find a lady at the last minute. You wouldn’t be available on such short notice, would you?”

“You haven’t changed in ten years. Always surprising me. I am sure that I can manage it. I will know tomorrow. If for some reason, my man cannot be home that evening, I will send a note.”

“Very well. Let’s hope you can be my guest that evening. If not, I will still contact you when I find a flat.”

“Thank you, again. Have a nice evening, John.”

“Good night, Lenore.”

“Mother, she will be my guest on Thursday.”

“John?”

“Yes, mother.”

“Never mind. Some other time. Go take care of yourself.”

John wondered if it was fate that she knocked on his door today or was it bounce from Adeline. A bit of excitement rose inside of him. It was just memories stirring him along. He didn’t know if it was Lenore, or his first sexual encounter or a combination of the two, but nothing had ever surpassed those few weeks they spent together. Maturity had come along bringing other new experiences being more important to living and providing, but still, those memories had stayed with him. Maybe that was what he wanted to capture in a wife. In either case, he was going to find if she was the answer. All the bad memories that broke them up had faded in his mind.

 

John called for Branson to bring the carriage around to the front. It looked as if Adeline wouldn’t be coming. As mad as he was, he’d appear ungentlemanly ignoring her.

 

Adam Bell was sipping his drink talking with Richard while Margaret and Dixon put on her finishing touches. She wondered if Bessie was as nervous as she was.

Fred had spent the entire day with Max and the buggy. As Margaret would watch from the pantry window, she was pleased that he had complete control getting into the saddle and managing Max that way. She couldn’t tell when he took the buggy out if was knocking people off the sidewalks or not. The constable hadn’t paid the house a visit, so Fred must be faring well. Adam being here with his hired driver, Fred went around to talk with him for some time. Fred was getting a sense of the difference between in-service and independent driving.

Dixon finished Margaret braids with small white flowers and small sprigs of mint leaves to make her smell nice. Looking at herself in the mirror, she knew she looked the best she could. Putting on her dance slippers and filling her small bag with a bit of rouge powder and a handkerchief, she was ready. She tiptoed down the steps and quietly met Fred outside.

“Fred?”

He turned in her direction and was in awe. “Margaret? Are you my sister? You are stunning. You won’t be seated all night. Someone will have you on the dance floor all evening. I’ve never seen you so lovely.” He smiled. “I am not playing with you.”

“You really think so? I mean really? Your impression of how I look is important to me.”

“Sis, I really mean it.”

“Can you tell me what you noticed first about me? Wait, what would a man notice by looking at me for the first time? Be honest.”

“You’re not going to like me being honest.”

“Try me.”

“First I notice the gown and its shape and color. Next, I look directly at the cut of the neckline. Sorry. No man will admit that but it’s true gentleman or not. Then before I get noticed staring, the face burst’s forth with the smile, the eyes, and even the teeth. Somewhere along the line, I would probably look at your ears. Can’t have old man ears at your age. And finally your countenance. Now understand, that is the quick look over. Some men stop at the neckline and never pass it. That won’t be the gents tonight, though. Most of what I told you is almost unconscious. It is probably the same for women.”

“I think you might be right. We love cravats,” Margaret laughed.

“Come here. Let me smell you.”

Margaret walked over to Fred. “What is that, mint?”

“Yes, do you like it?”

“It’s rather a unique idea, but I am not sure I would like it.”

“Why?” Margaret asked, looking saddened.

“It’s pleasant enough but too pleasant I think. It’s a very strong scent and what happens as they wilt through the evening?”

“Oh, Fred.” Margaret stomped her foot. “I think I am grateful that you told me now. I’ll do something else.” Margaret turned, entered the kitchen, and pulled Dixon upstairs with her.

Looking through the sewing basket, a nice piece of green velvet ribbon was found. Dixon wove that through the flowers and the braids. Margaret applied a light mist of perfume.

“There. You are ready Miss Margaret.”

“Thank you, Dixon. You always do a very nice job with my hair. Mother always thought so, too.”

 

As she entered the parlor, both men stood. “You look marvelous, Margaret,” her father said.

“I’m afraid I can’t say that.” Adam Bell sputtered. “She is much more than marvelous. Stupendous would be my word.”

“Thank you, both. Please sit. You’re making me more shaky.”

“Margaret. What makes you feel that way? Don’t answer that. I believe I have an idea of what a young woman is feeling on her first ball. We only have a few more minutes before we leave, if you have anything else to do.”

“Oh, I left my wrap.” By the time she reached the stairs, Dixon was carrying it to her. “Thank you.”

“Are you ready, Margaret?”

“Indubitably, Mr. Bell,” she smiled.

“Reading again, are you?” Bell asked as Dixon handed him his hat and cane.

Margaret laughed.

“Don’t try to drop that in conversation. I would think about one-half would not know the word.” Adam now laughed.

Harlots S3

‘HARLOTS’ SEASON 3
TEASES YOU WITH A TEASER
Brothel delights for you this weekend: Hulu has released first, very colourful, teaser for the third season of their epic TV series HARLOTS which arrives July 10th with new episodes. The cast is now joined by Alfie Allen as

Liv Tyler’s Lady Fitz will wear some insanely lavish costumes in season 3

a new pimp Isaac Pincher who wants to take over London now that he’s back after fighting in the Seven Years War. Ash Hunter plays his brother Hal with whom he leases a tavern that serves as a front for their sex business!

 

SEASON 3 OF HARLOTS
set in 18th century Georgian London, continues to follow the fortunes of the Wells family. Margaret (Samantha Morton) has been sent to America in

The famous green jewel encrusted gown Lady Fitz will be wearing

chains and Lydia Quigley (Lesley Manville) is vanquished and in Bedlam. It seems that the Wells girls can finally free themselves of their mother’s feud,

With most of the old ones, some new whores will be back in town as well!

helped by allies such as Lady Fitz (Liv Tyler). But Charlotte Wells (JessicaBrown Findlay) soon learns that running a lucrative brothel brings enemies

Alfie Alen joins the show as the new ambitious pimp in London

as well as friends, including new pimp in town Isaac Pincher (Alfie Allen). Meanwhile Lydia still finds a way to bite, even in her darkest hour. Isaac

Will Lady Fitz get her daughter away from her evil brother?

Pincher is driven by his ambitions to achieve wealth and power. Compared to his more quiet and level headed brother Hal (Ash Hunter), he’s the

Emily Lacey will get flirty with Hal Pincher (behind her)

frontman. Back in London after fighting in the Seven Years War, Isaac wants to take over London. The brothers lease a tavern together, the Saracen’s Head,

Once a shiny whore, not any more! Lydia Quigley says Hi! from Bedlam!

which serves as a front for their ever-growing pimping business. Hal, meanwhile, enters into a relationship with Emily Lacey (Holli Dempsey), and they share an ambition to achieve something with their lives.

Mr Thornton Takes a Wife – Part Thirty

Chapter Thirty – Margaret Thornton of Marlborough Mills

It was now three days since John had been stabbed.

The day after the murderous attempt he developed a high fever without even regaining consciousness. Dr. Donaldson had taken residence at the house because he had his hands full with the patient. Hannah was at John’s side during the night and Margaret during the day. Dixon relieved both of them when they were in need of extra rest.

Meanwhile, Marlborough Mills kept its looms working with Nicholas Higgins at the helm as  substitute for John. Margaret had asked Nicholas to gather up the workers at the Lyceum Hall where she had spoken to them. She told them that the Master was very ill. Her voice had broken when she mentioned that he might die. She asked the workers of Marlborough Mills to take good care of their livelihood while John was absent. She pleaded them to keep their demands low until he was better, to keep the mill going. She reminded them of the money the mill produced along with the cotton fabric, money that was needed for their wages and for the working of the soup kitchen and infirmary. A strike, she said, would weaken the mill and, in consequence, would weaken them all and their families. When she finished speaking, the workers unanimously offered her their whole-hearted support and cooperation. It warmed her heart and gave her a little strength which she was able to share with Hannah.

 

John’s mother had a tough time, maybe the worse time in her entire life.

She wasn’t accustomed to see her son ill, let alone wounded and burning up with fever. He was also the only person that mattered to her, he was her anchor, her reason for living. Seeing him prostrated with fever, pale and withering away, was destroying her step by step.

John was tall and muscular but without an ounce of extra fat on his body. Because of the fever, he was wasting away, slowly but inevitably. After only a few hours of high fever, his eyes were sunken and his cheekbones stood out like those of a bare skull. They tried with every possible means they had to force some food pass his dried lips but the efforts were far too lacking. He did swallow a spoonful of broth or some drops of lemon water but not nearly enough to keep up his strength.

Dr Donaldson, however, encouraged them to keep on doing as they were. No vital organs had been damaged, he said. There was only the huge amount of blood lost that was the cause of his weakness. A lesser man than John Thornton would have succumbed far earlier.

Nonetheless, when Margaret entered the room to take Hannah’s place at John’s side, she found her brushing away a few lonely tears from her cheeks. It startled her, she had never seen Hannah display her emotions like that!

“What is it, Mother? Is he worse?”

“No, no, child, there is no change. Margaret, we have to get something in him! Look at him, he is so thin! Look at his face, it’s grey and his cheeks have caved in! I’ve been trying to give him water every hour but he does not take it in! Look at his lips, they’re all dried up! Merciful God! My son is fading away! What will become of him?”

There was no answer Margaret could give to that question.

“Mother, please, go to sleep. You’re exhausted. It is my turn to sit with him.”

Hannah left and Margaret put her hand on her husband’s brow. It was still way too hot and damp. John was soaked in sweat and his breathing was ragged and uneven. Hannah was right, his lips were parched and the flesh seemed to have melted from his handsome face. She applied herself in  bathing her husband with lukewarm water until he felt a little less hot. She changed his nightshirt and the sheets on the bed. Her work at the infirmary had taught her how to change sheets with the patient still on the bed. After that she dressed into her nightgown. With John propped up against his pillows, she tried and worked until she had gotten half a glass of lemon water between his lips. For the first time in three days he finally seemed to swallow it more easily. When, after that, she rested her head upon her own pillow, her baby suddenly jumped hard. Thank God for that, Margaret thought, at least our baby is alright! Gently she drew up the blanket over them both, turned down the lamp and closed her eyes.

 

John became aware of tiny scraps of consciousness piercing through the thick, black darkness surrounding him. Off and on they came, like the rotating lamp of a lighthouse he once saw at the coast in Scarborough. It was preventing him from sinking back into oblivion … but then, he did not want to go back there. Finally, a warm, soft presence close to him was dragging him back for good.

Margaret! She was sleeping next to him! His hand was lying upon her body and he recognized it! Why was his head so heavy and foggy? His throat was parched, his lips cracked. He felt like hell … no, that was not so, he revelled in the feeling of his wife’s body touching his. His hand on her stomach … Oh  … oh God! A ripple, a fluttering, a whisper of movement so tiny he first thought it a trick of imagination but no, there it was again!

“Margaret …”

His voice was all but entirely without sound but she heard it all the same and woke up.

“John! Oh, thank God, you are awake!”

Margaret sat upright in a split second and touched his brow with a shaking hand. It felt cool and dry.

“Oh, John! We have been so anxious! We all thought you gone beyond rescue. Do you know, my love, how very ill you have been? You were burning up with fever and we could not get you to eat or drink! Oh, my love, my own, my heart …”

She laid her head upon his shoulder and John wrapped his arms around her. All was well, all was perfect. He was holding his precious love and all was well …

“Margaret … I felt something … just now …”

Margaret’s heart soared! His voice, that tiny lisp of him when he said the word “something”, that was all John!

“Sometimes our baby is moving, dearest,” she answered, “I am almost fourteen weeks now. Dr Donaldson says it is very early for a baby to be moving but I can feel it. And now, you felt it too.

“That is so wonderful …”

John gently let his hand glide over his wife’s stomach. It was slightly, ever so slightly swollen. Margaret saw his smile, sweet and shy, but so alive! Their eyes met. Happiness … love … sparkled between them. Margaret caressed his face with the back of her hand and was suddenly startled into action when she realised he urgently needed to be nursed! Quickly she rose from the bed, pulled her shawl over her nightdress and ran from the room. She knocked upon Hannah’s bedroom door.

“What is it? Come in!”

“Mother!”, she said, still gasping for breath, “he is awake! Come and see, he is better!”

Then she ran down the stairs to stir the household into action; the Master needed care!

 

Hannah burst into the bedroom to find her son struggling to get up.

“Almighty God, John!”

“Mother? Mother, take care … you are suffocating me … Mother!”

This had to be a first! John had never known his mother to be overly inclined in displaying her affection like that! A caress, now and then, a hand on his arm, but not this overwhelming, highly emotional embrace! Yet, he returned it warmly, feeling ridiculously happy.

 

The news of the Master’s cautious recovery spread like a fire through the whole of the household and factory. The Spiteful One knew she had failed. John Thornton was still alive and so was his wife. The need for revenge burning in her heart was now like an ache. It gnawed and growled like a wild animal, devouring her very soul. Soon she would have to try again and this time she would make sure to succeed.

 

 

The Giaour

   ‘THE GIAOUR’ SENDS
DAVID OAKES AND JULIAN MORRIS TO OTTOMAN EMPIRE GREECE
David Oakes will play Hassan Ottoman commander

Gender identity is definitely a very hot topic these days, and Rika Ohara plans to discuss it from a 19th-century angle! She is currently preparing a movie project based on Lord Byron‘s famous 1813 poems The GIAOUR in which harem slave Leila is drowned as an adulteress and her lover the Giaour (“infidel”) kills her master Hassan in revenge and is cursed to become a vampire!

THE GIAOUR
which has two boys whom we couldn’t really adore more even if we tried – David Oakes and Julian Morris in the cast, with the story set during the Ottoman Empire in Greece, will follow ten-year-old Laertes who is saved by Ottoman commander Hassan (David Oakes). Baba the Nubian eunuch puts Laertes in girls’ clothes and calls him Leila. Protected by Hassan and Baba,

Julian Morris is to play a character named David

Leila grows to love Hassan but the world judges them master and “harem slave” — which is the story Byron chose to tell in his poem.

 

In Lord Byron’s The Giaour (1813), beautiful harem slave Leila is drowned as an adulteress. Her lover the Giaour (“infidel”) kills her master Hassan in revenge and is cursed in punishment.

In the 200 years since its publication, The Giaour spawned a genre of gothic fiction and came to symbolize, via Delacroix’s paintings, the lethal conflict between the East and the West as represented by its two male protagonists: one Muslim, the other, Christian – the Giaour, or “the infidel” of the title. Yet Leila, at the center of this murderous passion, is entirely silent and strangely bloodless – until we consider a controversial new reading of the poem that unlocks her true identity.

Love, blood, karmic retribution – the film The Giaour is Byron meets kabuki, in which Leila ceases to be a silent victim of “Oriental” violence against women, and Hassan emerges as a gay Muslim romantic hero.

No release date.
Eugène Delacroix, The Combat of the Giaour and Hassan, 1826, Art Institute of Chicago)
Related worksThe Giaour is the first of Byron’s series of Oriental romances. The poem’s success led Byron to publish three more “Turkish tales” in the next couple of years: “The Bride Of Abydos” in 1813, “The Corsair” and Lara, both in 1814.

Stateless

Cate Blanchett is to star in and has co-created Australian drama Stateless. She will appear in the six-part limited immigration drama alongside Dominic West. It was commissioned by Australian broadcaster ABC.

The series, which also stars Yvonne Strahovski, Jai Courtney, Asher Keddie and Fayssal Bazzi, follows four people caught up in an immigration system that profoundly affects their lives. Each character deals with the contradictions of protection and border control from a unique perspective, offering relevant and timely insight into issues that countries are grappling with around the world.

Co-created by Cate Blanchett, Tony Ayres and Elise McCredie, the series centres on four strangers in an immigration detention centre in the Australian desert.  They are an airline hostess escaping a suburban cult, an Afghan refugee fleeing persecution, a young Australian father escaping a dead-end job and a bureaucrat caught-up in a national scandal. When their lives intersect they are pushed to the brink of sanity, yet unlikely and profound emotional connections are made amongst the group. Inspired by real events, the series intertwines gripping and devastating personal stories revealing a system struggling with the irreconcilable contradictions of border protection.

NBCUniversal-backed Matchbox Pictures is producing alongside Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton’s Dirty Films. The show has been in the works for a number of years, first emerging in 2015. Production is set to begin in South Australia in June, based at Adelaide Studios. Rachel House, Kate Box, Clarence Ryan, Claude Jabbour, Rose Riley and Helana Sawires round out the cast. It will be distributed worldwide by NBCUniversal.

Stateless is written by Elise McCredie and Belinda Chayko and will be directed by Emma Freeman and Jocelyn Moorhouse, produced by Sheila Jayadev and Paul Ranford for Matchbox Pictures with Cate Blanchett, Andrew Upton and Tony Ayres as Executive Producers. McCredie is Showrunner and Executive Producer and Liz Watts will serve as Executive Producer. ABC Executive Producers are Sally Riley and Andrew Gregory.

Blanchett said, “Whilst this story centres on Australia, the dilemmas that it explores through four absorbing characters will resonate globally: the desire for personal freedom, the need for social stability, an escalating lack of faith in the political process and the deeply unsettling impact this has on individual lives.”

Ayres said, “We have assembled the most extraordinary array of Australian talent to make this show, both in front of and behind the camera. In each case, people were drawn to Stateless because it asks one of the most vexing questions of our times – how do we as a nation maintain control of our sovereign borders whilst retaining our own humanity?”

Sally Riley, Head of Scripted Production at the ABC added, “The ABC is proud to be collaborating with such a high calibre of homegrown talent to create this thought-provoking, ambitious and gripping series that is sure to connect with Australians and audiences around the world.”

Cate Blanchett is represented by CAA, Wolf-Kasteler PR and RGM, Yvonne Strahovski is represented by Paradigm, McKeon/Myones Entertainment and Sue Barnett and Associates, Jai Courtney by Morrissey Management, Silver Lining Entertainment and UTA, Asher Keddie by United Management and Independent Talent Group, Fayssal Bazzi by Shanahan, Dominic West by WME, Tavistock Wood Management and Narrative PR.

 

Dominic West
Jai Courtney
Yvonne Strahovski

Brotherly Love – A North and South Novel with John Thornton – C18

Available at Amazon

Chapter Eighteen

 

John had been having a long talk with Nicholas when Fred Hale knocked on his office door and entered.

“Fred, I can guess why you are here. I believe I have everything under control. I am so sorry for what your sister had to endure from the Captain, but he knows where he stands now. I hope you can control your temper and not do anything that would get you into trouble legally.”

Branson had parked the carriage and followed behind Fred.

“Mr. Thornton, I have asked Branson to be here to witness what I am about to say. Sir, you are a gentleman and should another incident like last night happen, I wish a driver to spread the word about him, where you may wish to handle things privately. That man is a libertine and deserves no quarter. I thought the name Waverly was memorable to me, but I only knew of a Captain Christopher Waverly, not someone named Kit.”

“I think we should all sit-down,” John said. “You know more about this man?”

“Much more, sir,” Fred spoke for the next half hour on all the news he could impart on the Captain. He included the good with the bad and what was rumored to be true, and what was truly known – such as the court case.

“It is only by the grace of my sister, and her assurance that you became involved, that I am not at his door with my pistol. My sister was shaken only slightly when she returned last night, and she is fine this morning. Of course, that is all on the surface. However, she begs me not to seek revenge in her honor and I am being forced to concede to her wishes. I did tell her that I would let you know what I know. That is all I have to say.”

“Do you have further information about his family?”

“If you mean Miss Waverly, I do not. I’m sorry. Also, I should tell you that she told our father that she had a fine evening, so he knows nothing about what happened. As much as she was looking forward to it, she is home now reconsidering if she will go to the ball. She assumes the Captain would be at the same table.”

“I will see to it that his invitation is revoked. I promise her, he will not be there. I will take care of that this morning.”

“Thank you. She will be relieved to hear that. If I can be of any further help, please, please let me help. Branson and I shall leave you and go purchase our horse and buggy.”

“Fred if you could hold on for a bit, I want Branson to take me to see the Captain now. You may ride on the top with him, but I wish you not to enter the home. Let me handle it. I fear you may find yourself in jail.”

“Let’s go, sir.”

“Good luck, John,” Nicholas stated as they left.

 

Branson brought the carriage to a stop at the Waverly home. John fitted his top hat as he strode to the front door.

“Please come in, Mr. Thornton,” said the housemaid.

“I would prefer to see the Captain outside if he doesn’t mind.”

“Please wait here. I will ask him.”

Branson and Fred were eagerly waiting to see why John did not enter. The door opened, and Kit came out still slipping on his coat.

Fred started down the wheel, and Branson restrained him.

No one could hear what the two were saying, but John was doing most of the talking. It wasn’t long before Adeline opened the front door, hearing the commotion outside.

John tipped his hat to her and returned to the carriage, never speaking to her. John entered the coach and Branson pulled away.

“Branson, what was that all about being outside?”

“My master does that when a possible fight could break out, or he does not want his lady to overhear the conversation. I would think both were reasons this time. I am sure he was successful because he wouldn’t have left until he was.”

Coming to a halt, Fred jumped down to speak with Mr. Thornton.

“Fred, it is all settled. I believe he is packing his bags at this moment. When I began to mention a few of the vulgarities that you mentioned, he had no response. He said he would save himself further embarrassment and move on.”

“Thank you, Mr. Thornton. I sure wanted a piece of him.”

“I know. Gentlemen do try to resolve issues without fists, but sometimes it is necessary. And one more piece of advice. Unless you become a cabby that carries money and fine people, don’t tote the pistol around that I see in your trousers,” John smiled, then climbed the stairs to his office.

“Branson, can we ride by my home so I can put my sister’s mind at ease?”

 

The post came.

“Bessie, you have a letter,” Peggy called up the steps.

“I do?” Bessie replied as she scurried down the steps. “Who would send me a letter. I can talk to everyone I know.” She ripped the note open and saw it was from Fred. Her face reddened. Peggy asked her who it was from.

“Fred. It’s from Fred.” Bessie let the back door slam closed as she hurried to the iron bench in Peggy’s small garden. She turned her back to the house.

 

Miss Higgins, dear Bessie …

 

Had I known you were visiting, you would not have found me in the state that you did. I seemed to embarrass you. For that, I am sorry. However, I only heard a brief few words that you spoke to my sister, and I was quite complimented. I’ve heard that many times in my head since you ran off. My sister seems to believe you will not forgive me. I tease my sister often, but if I am honest, I made that statement for you. I wanted you to know that I had heard you. I hope you saw the smile and how pleased I was to hear that.

In this note, I want to impart my wishes to see you again and as often as you wish it. If I have burned my bridge, I have lost something dear I had hoped to cultivate. If you permit me, I will apologize in person, but privately. I am very poor at writing letters so you will forgive me for what I should be saying but haven’t. I wait with a great interest in your feelings on this.

                                          I live in hope,

Fredrick Hale

 

Bessie let the happy tears fall where they would. The embarrassment that she had felt that day was ebbing slowly, but this note would hasten that uncomfortable feeling. Bessie decided to go see Margaret since Fred was out getting his horse.

Dixon showed her in just as Fred returned to tell Margaret that the Captain would be leaving Milton.

Fred noticed Bessie’s carriage outside and immediately became nervous. He opened the door and saw Bessie waiting at the staircase. Her head was bent.

“Bessie! I had not expected you. I just returned home to speak with Margaret. I am sure she will tell you all about last night. I am here to assuage her worries. I take it you received my note?”

Hesitantly Bessie stuttered, “I felt it was more than just a note.” She couldn’t lift her head and look at him.

“I cannot tell from that answer where I stand with my apology. I was most pleased to overhear your comment, but I was an idiot teasing you two about it. Have I dissolved our beginning friendship?”

“No …” she was interrupted and all the gladder for it. It was still hanging out there.

“Bessie! So glad you’re here. Fred, did you retrieve the horse yet?”

“No. I came back to tell you that John went to the Captain’s sister’s home just a bit ago and had a talk with him outside. He believes the Captain is packing to leave Milton. He will not be there tomorrow night.”

“Oh, thank you, Fred. Bessie, you don’t know how close I came to not going tomorrow night.”

“I will leave you ladies to your gowns. I hope to speak with you soon, Bessie.” Fred looked at her expectant of an answer, but none came. He left the house.

“I see you two are talking or am I wrong?” asked Margaret.

Bessie handed her the note.

“Let’s go to my room.” Margaret read it twice. “My brother never ceases to amaze me. I would not have thought he had the capacity to write such a nice note. Do you think it’s nice?”

Bessie threw her arms around Margaret. “I think it is the nicest words I have ever heard.”

“Did you tell him?”

“No, not entirely. You came down the steps. I was fumbling for words, and I was glad to see you,” Bessie smiled. “So what happened last night with your dinner?”

Margaret told her the whole story as she knew, but John had done much that she was not aware of. “It sounds like John has kicked him out of Milton.”

“I wonder how Miss Waverly will take that? Which man will she sacrifice in her heart?”

“Oh, Bessie, you would bring that up. Well, it doesn’t matter. Tomorrow night our social lives begin anew. I just hope we get asked to dance. Your father and John can introduce us to nearly everyone who would come asking.”

“John? You’re calling him, John, now?” Bessie grinned.

“At the dinner, it was agreed that we all use first names. As for tomorrow night, I doubt I will do that in front of others unless he does.”

“I think that is quite a step forward.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know anyone besides my father, his mother and Miss Waverly that he allows to call him John.”

“I suppose all the ladies that he’s attended eventually called him by his name, don’t you think?”

“You are probably right.”

“Don’t get me excited like that,” Margaret said. “So you are ready with your apparel?”

“Yes. How about you?”

“I don’t have much in the way of jewelry. I believe Father put my mother’s pieces in a box at the bank. I don’t know if it comes to me or it’s there for our old ages. I have a pearl drop and earbobs to match. That will have to do.”

“I am the same. Not much for me either. We never had money before, and jewelry for me hasn’t been thought by anyone.”

“I guess our jewels will be our young innocent faces.” They both laughed.

Dixon knocked on the door. “Mr. Bell to see you, Miss Margaret.”

“Tell him, I’ll be right down. Bessie, do you know Mr. Bell?”

“Not well. I believe I saw him at the lesson. I’ve heard father speak of him. An older man, isn’t he?”

“Yes, but he will ask us to dance. So don’t worry about sitting there like a wallflower.”

“I guess I had better go meet him.”

 

Night had fallen, and Richard Hale had retired early, and Margaret found Fred outside brushing his new horse, Max.

“How are you getting along with Max?” Margaret asked.

“He’s perfect. Nice and gentle, strong, healthy, he seems. Branson did well. He showed me how to check his shoes and many other things this afternoon.”

“Can Max have an apple?” One appeared in Margaret’s opened palm.

“As long as it isn’t green.” Fred took it from her hand. “Here you go, fella. Margaret brought you a treat.”

The horse slowly gathered it out of Fred’s hand.

“Bessie showed me your note to her, this morning?”

“She did? Do women usually share those things?”

“Actually, never, I don’t think. Perhaps it was her gushing excitement that allowed her to do it this one time. I knew what you might mean to her one day, but your silly remark the other day gave her doubts about your maturity.”

“She said that, did she?” Fred squatted and starting brushing Max’s legs.

“Not in so many words, at least nothing about the maturity. I saw that and felt she saw the same thing. You should have just enjoyed that and went on. You wrote that you wanted her to know you said that? Teach me something. Why? Why did you want her to know you heard her?”

“I … I … I’m not sure a woman would understand. It’s very subtle. I was fairly far away, and we weren’t alone. If you can understand that, I felt the same way, too. I wanted to reflect her words back to her as if coming from me. I wasn’t belittling you for not hearing me. I only hope she saw the smile on my face when I said that. It’s almost something having to be read between the lines. Do you understand.”

“No.”

“That’s good. Men don’t like being that clear about things at the beginning of what may become an important part of their life. That won’t show any emotional investment. Understand now?”

“I don’t think so. You’re making my head hurt. Anyway, that was a beautiful note any woman would love to receive. I didn’t know you were capable of that.”

“It seems we both grew up while I was away.”

“Can I ask you something and you won’t get mad?”

Fred reached behind Margaret for the small saddle. He wanted to fit it to the horse. “Yes, you know you can ask me anything.”

“But how about not getting mad at me?”

“You don’t miss a thing, do you? Go on. I promise. Do sound effects count?” He laughed.

“The other day when I saw John Thornton, and he was feeling coerced into asking me to be introduced to the Captain, and although he knew I was not in favor of it, I did say it had collateral benefits.”

“Collateral benefits? What did you mean by that? It’s usually collateral damage.”

“Is that similar to what you did with Bessie?”

“Collateral benefits! Oh, I think I get it. You meant because Mr. Thornton was going to be there, too?”

“That’s what I meant. I don’t know why I said it. It was far too bold. Do you think he understood it that way? I’m almost too embarrassed to think he did.”

“There seems to be no stopping you, sister. Of course, he figured out what you meant. That was a dangerous thing to do, just as I did. You took that chance of driving a wedge into their new friendship. Most likely, he thought the vague words were cute, but he would ignore them and go on, thinking about your maturity.” Fred smirked.

“You have told me how worthless your quest is; you should give up, but still you go on. You can’t love him, you know. You don’t even know what that feels like.”

“How will I know if I love him?”

“Oh, you’ll know. There is no mistaking it.”

“Do I look for any signs of encouragement or rejection?”

“If he truly is in love with Miss Waverly, you’ll become a hovering pest, and he may frown a lot when you speak to him. He will not seek you. He will not open a conversation with you unless it is necessary. Actually, he’s such an example of a true gentleman, I believe he acts that same way to everyone; pest or lover.”

“Big help that was.”

“That’s what I mean when I say you don’t know love.”

“And you do?”

“I know more than you, and inside I have expectations that I’ve never had before. It’s growing all the time.”

“So what should I do about Mr. Thornton. Would you try to steal another man’s lady if you loved her?”

“You can’t steal another’s love. The only thing is to recognize when he finally understands your interest and what his subsequent mannerisms toward you become. But, Margaret, you’ve bumped your head against that wall several times now. The next time may result in damage.”

“I see. I guess I just have to wait and see.”

“If you really do love him, it won’t leave you, Go on with other requests for your company. The comparisons will do you good. He’ll find you if you’re the one or the next one.”

“That doesn’t sound nice.”

“We’re men. We can’t help it. We don’t like being alone.”

“I still have an outstanding meeting with him about employment. That should probably come early next week. I am sure some of the Masters that were interested in more than I had to say will be at the ball. They will probably bring it up. I’ll have to tell them it will be next week before I can visit with them.”

“And I will be your driver and protector,” Fred smiled. “I shall practice this weekend and be ready by Monday.”

 

Margaret had stood before her dressing mirror before she put on her night shift. John was tall, Adeline was taller than her. She couldn’t compete in clothes, jewelry, or finishing manners. If anything, her studies had been very unfeminine and may shame a suitable husband. She had no money, which John didn’t need, but Miss Waverly’s interest was not monetary, and he knew that. That was probably a consideration he likely gave pause to reflect upon. Staring into the looking glass, her figure was passable. She didn’t know what men really looked for in that regard. She’d have to ask Fred. “Tomorrow night and the dinner at Mrs. Thornton’s would put an end to wondering what to do.”

 

There was a knock on the door which Adeline’s housemaid answered.

John was admitted and asked to wait while Miss Waverly was called. He heard nor saw the Captain.

“John. This is a surprise.”

“I’m sorry for not letting you know ahead of time. It was a last minute decision to visit you. I feel I have some explaining to do. And I wanted to do it before the ball tomorrow night.”

Adeline suggested a chair to him. John sat. “Is your brother here?”

“No. He left for the train station a few hours ago.”

“May I ask what he told you or why he was leaving?”

“He wasn’t specific but said he had a reputation with the ladies, and it had followed him here. He felt it better to move on. Is that what you know?”

“Yes. There is more to it than that, but I will spare you the details. You seem to understand what’s important, though.”

“John, tell me more than that.”

“I would rather not. I came by to apologize that I had to react the way I did to the rumors and the legal actions that he has been involved with some women. It isn’t pretty.”

“I see. Is there a paternity suit out there?”

“Nothing is proven. Please, let’s put that behind us.”

“If you wish it.”

“The other issue I had last night was with the comment you whispered to me about Miss Hale.”

“You mean when I said ‘She’s never been out with a man?’ What’s so wrong with that?”

“It seemed to me a belittlement of her innocence. Something you found to scoff at.”

“Oh, John, you’re not serious about that, are you?” Adeline walked over to the bar. “Scotch?”

“No thank you. I guess I am wondering why you felt the need to say that to me?”