The Reform of John Thornton – Part Eight

TheReformofJohnThorntonChapter 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 because of the strike and the dangers of hungry workers roaming the streets. Yet it seemed that this hope would be crushed. Mr Hale told me she was dispensing food and coins all day in the most dismal places, such as the alleys in Princeton.

Bewildered, I asked why she would want to go to Princeton, the most destitute of all Milton’s neighbourhoods.

“Margaret has a friend there,” Mr Hale explained. “Her name is Bessy Higgins and she is in very bad health. She coughs dreadfully and I am worried about Margaret catching it. But then Margaret argues that it is called “fluff disease”. The more scientific word was byssinosis, I believe. It is untreatable and often fatal.”

“Ah,” I said, “I have tried to lower the amount of fluff in the sheds by installing wheels.”

“Yes, you said so when we were gathered around your table earlier. You did right, John. You tried to lessen your workers’ sorrow.”

I kept silent because there was nothing to say. Another six hundred pounds of wasted money, blast it! My workers were on strike, just as the rest of them in the whole of Milton.


Mother’s annual dinner party was the highlight that betokened the beginning of the winter celebrations which led to Christmas and New Year. That year was no exception, for even when there was a strike going on, all went well regarding to preparations and realization.

When I entered the parlour that evening, the room was already buzzing with the voices of many guests. My attention was instantly claimed by Slickson and his wife, then Henderson and Watson. I returned their greetings, all the while quite aware of the one that had conquered my heart. From the corner of my eye, I saw Margaret standing next to Fanny with whom she was chatting.

I could not allow myself to openly gaze at her. Singling her out would damage Margaret’s reputation, because all women present would understand my attraction to her in the wrong way. So I ambled further into the room, and was accosted by Mr Bell.

“Ah, Thornton. I took the liberty of inviting myself, knowing your mother’s hospitality,” he said, returning my handshake.

“I hope you’re not worrying about Marlborough Mills.  We’ll ride out the strike just as we always have,” I said, feeling the need to reassure my landlord.

Then he answered, in that infuriatingly flippant way of his, “I’ve always had complete faith in you Thornton, but obviously in the present situation …”

Damn him. In the most casual way, I answered, “It’s nothing I can’t handle.”

“No, of course not.”

He turned his attention to the people next to him, my banker Latimer, and a pretty young lady, all blond ringlets and cornflower blue eyes, I had not met before.

“Thornton knows everything in matters of business.  He has my every confidence,” was his comment.

I shook Mr Latimer’s proffered hand, and Mr Bell now turned to the girl.

“Thornton, you know Miss Latimer?”

I took her gloved hand, and she curtsied at me with a shy smile. My eyes went to Margaret. My breath was taken with some strange awareness. She was watching us with some strange light in her eyes, as if she did not approve of me making the acquaintance of another woman. No, that could not be. Margaret had no interest in me. It was only my foolish heart that once again indulged in its wishful thinking. I hastily averted my gaze.

“Thornton, who’s that fine young lady?” Henderson! I had not heard him approaching me and was startled. He was pointing at Margaret. Of course, he would notice the most beautiful girl in the room.

At that moment of time, all noise was dulled, and all I saw was my gorgeous Margaret. She wore a silk dress in soft sea green that fell away from her beautiful shoulders to hug the onset of her breasts. I dared smile at her, because she was smiling at me. That had never happened before, so my heart was beating erratically at the sight of her. I came nearer, unable to stay where I was, and then – oh, wonder! – she extended her hand to me. She was not wearing gloves. The delicate touch of it seared my skin, and I was uneasy for a moment. She then grasped my hand in both of hers, looking me directly in the face. Her eyes – blue like a summer sky – had a gentle light in them, and her voice was ever so soft, when she addressed me.

“See, I am learning Milton ways, Mr. Thornton.”

Dear, dear girl …

I let go of her slender little hand and forced myself to say something, anything, before someone saw my distress.

“I am sorry your mother was unable to join us.”

She bowed her head, a grateful smile on her lips. I wanted to draw her to me, kiss her, tell her that I loved her! Damn it, but it was true!

“Thornton, I must speak with you.” Blast it all to hell! Slickson! What now?

Wishing Slickson to hell and back, I apologized to Margaret. “Excuse me.”

I was then drawn aside by Slickson, who whispered to me, “Have you left word at the barracks?”

“It’s been done,” I replied, unable to suppress my annoyance. Slickson was an idiot, sometimes. He saw danger in everything but was too scared to do something when a crisis was on hand.

“Men on horseback, armed?” he continued in an urgent way.

“All those arrangements have been made.”

“If they find out you are planning to break the strike by bringing Irish workers …” His tone became even more wavering.

“I take this risk for myself. You need not join in,” I said, irritated, now. I can and will protect myself and anyone that works for me from any kind of violence.”

Slickson sighed, “I sincerely hope so.”

Margaret, I  noticed with infinite regret, had been claimed by Mr Bell. But I was rewarded as she looked back at me.


Mother had sixteen guests at her table. She and I both occupied the heads, while I had Miss Latimer at my left and Henderson at my right. Margaret was seated in the middle of the right side, between Mr Bell and Mr Latimer. She was, I noticed with dismay, again avoiding my gaze, while applying herself to the soup course. I knew I should entertain my guests with some intelligent conversation, yet I could not find the words. My eyes kept wondering to Margaret. I could not help admiring the gracious movements with which she brought her spoon to her lips. She was not the only elegant female guest tonight, but to me, she stood out from all the others. She captured my full attention whenever she was near me.

“I hear Arnold is moving lock, stock and barrel to America,” said Mr Bell, then sampled his wine.

Watson burst out, “America? I’ll be damned.”

Slickson chimed in, “That’s what I would like to do, pack up and leave.  The damn strikers would have no work at all then.”

“Well,” Mr Bell teased in his usual way, “they have no work at the moment.”

And of course, Slickson was drawn into an answer. “There is work.  They choose not to do it.  Thornton?  What do you think?”

I was not so easily baited. I knew Mr Bell very well. “Oh, I think our Mr. Bell is up to his old tricks, playing with words at the expense of us simpler fellows.”

Mr. Bell inclined his head and smiled at me, and so did Margaret, to my surprise. Ah, she, too, knew Mr Bell well enough, it seemed.

I continued, because the subject was to my liking. “But it is a serious question.  I do not want to manufacture in another country, but it is logical for others to try if they cannot make enough profit here.”

I considered my answer would be enough, but apparently, my sister thought otherwise.

“What do you think, Miss Hale?  Surely you do not condone the strikers?”

“Well, no,” was her immediate answer. “Well, and yes.  It is surely good to try to see both sides of a question.”

That was my dear girl showing her upbringing and education. I felt a smile tug at my lips.

Yet Fanny was on the warpath, now. With a sly smile, which I knew was when she had the better of someone, she said, “Mrs. Arthur saw you taking a basket to the Princeton district the other afternoon.”

I was instantly alarmed. Did everybody knew about Margaret’s involving herself with the workers? I fervently hoped this was not the case.

Margaret gave a poised reply. “I have a good friend in Princeton. Her name is Bessy Higgins.”

My breath caught. The cursed name had fallen, and Watson pounced, “Higgins?”

All attention was now on my spirited girl, who as usual, had no inkling to what was happening. I felt frozen by horror because I knew what was coming.

Watson continued, “Isn’t he one of your union leaders, Hamper?”

“Yeah. He’s a terrific firebrand. A dangerous man.”

“I’m surprised, Miss Hale, that you keep such company,” Mother said in a scornful voice. She was annoyed, I could tell. Mother is a stickler for propriety.

I felt sick with helplessness because I could not come to her defence.

Margaret, however, had not noticed anything amiss. “Bessy is my friend.  Nicholas is a little …”

Hamper now exclaimed, “Nicholas?  She’s on first name terms.”

I could not blame him. It irked me to no end that Margaret should be friends with such a creature of mischief. The only one who stayed unruffled was Margaret.

“Well,” she replied calmly, “Mr. Higgins has been made a little wild by circumstances.  But he speaks from his heart, I am sure.”

Hamper tried another tack, damn him. “Well, if he’s so determined, I’m surprised he’ll accept charity.”

Margaret had her answer ready. “Well, he doesn’t for himself.  The basket was for a man whose six children are starving.”

Hamper was annoyed now. “Ah, well.  Then he knows what to do. Go back to work.”

All were assenting to this, and to my infinite relief, I thought the matter settled.

Until Mr Bell stoked up the fire once more. “I believe this poor starving fellow works at Marlborough Mills, doesn’t he, Margaret?”

I had to say something, and I knew it was going to hurt Margaret, but I had no choice. She must see the errors of her ways.

In a voice as calm as I could muster, I said, “You do the man, whoever he is, more harm than good with your basket.  Well, as you could say, the longer you support the strikers, the more you prolong the strike.  That is not kindness.  They will be defeated, but it will take longer.  Their pain will be prolonged.”

Everybody applauded and murmured assent, but not Margaret. She was very defensive, now.

“But surely to give a dying baby food… is not just a question of logic.”

I was speechless with sudden fury. How dare she start a confrontation with her prime host? It was awful, and I could see mother was shocked to the core.

Fortunately, Mr Hale made a valiant attempt to save the moment. “Mrs. Thornton, um, I really must congratulate you on these magnificent… um, table settings.”

I could barely suppress a sigh if relief, when I saw he succeeded in drawing Mother’s attention from Margaret.

Mr. Hale forged on, “Um, I don’t believe I’ve seen finer table decorations even in the grandest gatherings in Harley Street.”

I had to have the last word, though not at Margaret. “Not all masters are the same, Mr. Bell.  You do us an injustice to always think we’re all up to some underhand scheme or other.”

I looked one last time at her, deliberately showing my profound dismay. She looked a bit subdued, finally. Well, I thought, you brought that on yourself, dear girl.

I grasped my glass and drank deeply, then turned to Miss Latimer, who I had neglected shamefully all evening.


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?

The Assassin 2015

Review: Cannes winner ‘The Assassin’ evokes majesty of martial arts movies

Although Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s The Assassin is technically a wuxia film – martial arts, swordplay, the whoosh of arrows in flight – it is much more a film of stillness, quiet, beauty.

Set in the waning days of the Tang Dynasty, The Assassin stars a serene and hard-to-read Shu Qi as Nie Yinniang, a woman trained in combat, trained to kill. She returns to her childhood home, to the palace and gardens of Weibo, with a mission she is reluctant to fulfill. There, she finds Tian Ji’an (Chang Chen), the governor, his children, his wife, his concubine. There is a dance – the concubine and her attendants – in which Tian rises from his dais and moves through the women, doing his own elegant ballet.

Winner of the best-director prize at the Cannes Film Festival in May, The Assassin unfolds in long, soft breaths, Hou’s cameras positioned far enough away to capture the comings and goings, the stirring in the trees, the children playing ball at the feet of their parents, the curtains billowing. The landscapes of northeastern China are like a slide show of classical paintings: shrouds of mist descend on craggy mountains; a lake ripples, mirroring the sky; a stand of silver birches reveals the film’s star, clad in dark robes, standing like a statue.

The Assassin is not Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and it is certainly not Kill Bill. But Hou – a linchpin of Taiwan’s New Wave movement, the director of A City of Sadness and The Puppetmaster – evokes the magic, the majesty, the artistry of the martial-arts movie tradition, and brings a Zen-like sense of observation to the proceedings.

So, observe. And whoosh when the mood strikes.

  • United States Oct 8, 2015 (Mill Valley Film Festival)
  • United States Oct 9, 2015 (New York Film Festival)
  • United Kingdom Oct 11, 2015 (London Film Festival)
  • United States Oct 12, 2015 (Beyond Fest)
  • Spain Oct 13, 2015 (Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival)
  • Belgium Oct 15, 2015 (Gent International Film Festival)
  • United States Oct 16, 2015 (limited)
  • Canada Oct 30, 2015 (limited)
  • Austria Nov 1, 2015 (Vienna International Film Festival)
  • Estonia Dec 4, 2015
  • Sweden Jan 15, 2016
  • United Kingdom Jan 22, 2016
  • Netherlands Feb 18, 2016
  • France Mar 9, 2016
  • Poland Mar 11, 2016

The Assassin (2015)


Anton Chekhov’s The Duel (2009)

ANTON CHEKHOV'S THE DUEL, Andrew Scott, 2009. ©Highline Pictures
ANTON CHEKHOV’S THE DUEL, Andrew Scott, 2009. ©Highline Pictures


Anton Chekhov authored his novella The Duel in 1891; one of the longest of the Russian master’s tales, it pits an aristocratic ne’er-do-well named Laevsky against a conceited and slightly arrogant scientist called Von Koren, and witnesses a climactic physical struggle between the two men. This film adaptation from Georgian director Dover Kosashvili follows the original text with remarkable fidelity; in it, Laevsky (Andrew Scott) clings to ephemeral pleasures such as drinking, gambling, and romancing his alluring mistress, Nadya (Fiona Glascott), in the Russian provinces — putting all of the said pursuits far ahead of disciplined action — but he soon grows listless and disenchanted with Nadya, falls into financial ruin, and ultimately must fight Von Koren in a vicious duel thanks to Nadya’s sexual liaisons with the man.

The Duel 2006

Mark Rylance Breaks Out in ‘Bridge of Spies’

David Mark Rylance Waters (born 18 January 1960), known professionally as Mark Rylance, is an English actor, theatre director, and playwright. He has appeared in films such as Prospero’s Books (1991), Angels and Insects (1995), Institute Benjamenta (1996), and Intimacy (2001), and has won Olivier Awards, Tony Awards, and a BAFTA Award. He was the first Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe in London, from 1995 to 2005. In 2015 he played Thomas Cromwell in Wolf Hall, BBC Two’s adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s historical novels. He co-starred with Tom Hanks in Steven Spielberg’s film Bridge of Spies, about the arrest and conviction of Russian spy, Rudolf Abel, and the exchange of Abel for the U-2 pilot, Francis Gary Powers, who was shot down and imprisoned by the Russians, in 1960.

Career Wiki

The Reform of John Thornton – Part Seven


Chapter Seven


I had enjoyed my conversation with Margaret so much that I now craved to have that kind of interaction with her on a daily basis. She intrigued me – no, she enthralled me. But it was not to be. Not even when I went to read with Mr Hale did I catch a glimpse of her. She was with her mother, Mr Hale casually informed me, one evening. So I came during the afternoon, one day that I could muster the time. To no avail, however. Mr Hale cheerfully explained that his daughter had made friends amongst my workers, and she was to be found daily at the house of no one other than Nicholas Higgins! Why, oh, why, I wondered, for I could not fathom the reason for it.

At the end of July, Mother began engaging in an entirely different kind of activity. I discovered her sitting at the dining room table busily scribbling, while my sister Fanny was helping her, humming a light melody – out of tune, unfortunately.

“Preparations already?” I asked, looking over her shoulder at her scribbling.

“If we are going to entertain, we must do it properly,” Mother replied, then, out of Fanny’s earshot, quietly continued, “You’re not regretting the invitations, are you?”

“No, no. Spend what you want. May have to be the last dinner party we have for some time, I whispered, then, louder, asked,  “So … who is on the list?”

“Slicksons, of course. Fosters. Browns will decline, but we must invite them all the same. Hales will come, I presume?”

Fanny burst in, “They are probably aware of the very great advantage it would be to Mr Hale, to be introduced to people like the Fosters …”

“I am sure that motive would not influence them, Fanny,” I said, irritated by her meddling. My sister could not resist doing all she could to annoy me. I walked away and sat down on the sofa, picking up my newssheet.

Yet Fanny was not done, it seemed. “How you seem to understand these Hales, John. Do you really think they are so very different from any other people we meet?”

“He seems a worthy kind of man …,” Mother mused. “Well, rather too simple for trade. She is a bit of a fine lady, with all her low spirits. As for the daughter, she gives herself airs! And yet they are not rich, and never have been.”

My attention was diverted away from the newssheet, and I was listening to the conversation between Mother and Fanny, who scolded, “And she’s not accomplished, mother. She can’t play the piano …”

I began to lose my patience, “Go on, Fanny. What else does she lack to bring her up to your standard?”

Of course, Mother heard the irritation in my voice and came to Fanny’s help, “I heard Miss Hale say she could not play myself, John! If you would let us alone, we would perhaps see her merits and like her.”

“I am sure I never could,” cried Fanny and went to sit down at her embroidery table.

I gave up on my paper and wandered across to Mother. In a low, but insistent voice, I asked, “I wish you would try to like Miss Hale, mother.”

Her reply was immediate and urgent. “Why? You have not formed an attachment to her, have you? Mind you, she will never have you. Aye, she once laughed in my face at the thought of it, I am sure she did.”

How right Mother was. Most of the time, Margaret despised me, although she seemed to have become slightly more lenient towards me.

“She would never have me,” I smiled, but wanly.

Mother burst out, “She’s too good of an opinion of herself to take you. I should like to know where she would find any one better.”

I had had enough. Soon they would start listing Margaret’s failures, and I could not bear it.

“You can both believe me then when I say this out of complete indifference to Miss Hale; Mr Hale is my friend, she is his only daughter. I wish you would both make an effort to befriend her.”

But, of course, Fanny was not placated so easily. “Pff … I only wish I knew why you talked about her so much. I am tired of it.”

Now I was truly angry, “What would you like us to talk about? How about a strike for a more pleasant topic?”

Fanny’s jaw dropped in disbelief, but she stopped nagging me, finally.


Tension amongst the workers had risen to a point where they would not be easily appeased. They had conveyed their wage demands to Williams, who in turn, had told me. I could not give them five percent raise, since all my extra funds had been used for the purchase of new machinery and cotton in bulk. I was standing idly at the mantelpiece in the sitting room when Mother, for once with idle hands, asked, “Are the hands about to turn out?”

I nodded, sudden weariness overcoming me. “They are waiting for the moment I have to turn down their wage demands.”

“Are there many orders in hand, John?”

“Of course, we know that well enough. The Americans are flooding the market. Our only chance is producing at a lower price and faster. But the faster we fill the orders, the longer it takes for us to be paid for them.”

“How much are we owed?”

“The debts at the bank is nearly four hundred pound.”

It was, alas, very true. I did not see how I was to remedy this in the near future. Mother must have felt my depression, no, indeed, she felt it even more keenly. She sighed and sat down on the sofa.

“The men are less patient,” I said, in an attempt to lift her spirits. “They barely made up pay since their last cut.”

“Why don’t they listen? They think that by just putting their ignorant heads together, they’ll get their way.

I smiled. “Don’t worry mother. It’s a young industry, these problems will iron themselves out. We’re not yet in a position of selling up.”

Mother shrugged, then asked, “Can’t you get men from Ireland? Then you could get rid of the strikers. I would. I would teach them, that I was master and could employ who I like.”

I crouched down before her, saying in what I hoped was a reassuring voice, “Yes, I can. And I will, too, if the strike lasts. It’ll be trouble and expense, but I will do it, rather than give in.”

Mother nodded, turned and took a pile of cards from a nearby table.

“If there’s to be this extra expense I am sorry we are giving the dinner this year, John.”

“We should go on as before. No more, no less.”

I got up, and touched her shoulder. Nothing pained me more than to see my mother in distress.


The hour had come. Mother and I were watching the activity in the courtyard, and it was now considerably less than on other days.

“You said no?” Mother asked softly.

I nodded. “They were expecting it.”

Mother turned away to sit down, completely dispirited, but I could not tear my eyes from the sorting room entrance. The noise of the machines was still audible, then, suddenly it slowed, and finally stopped. I pulled out my watch, and it said, a quarter to eight. Over two hours short, damn.

I ran down the stairs and positioned myself up the front door steps, from where I could watch the workers coming out of the shed.

All grim faces and determined paces. Fools! How was I to continue when I was not producing?


From then on, I lived in a kind of hell.

My mill was silent and deserted. A gloom hung over the immobile looms, still laden with unfinished cloth. The cotton fluff had settled down, resembling a blanket of snow, but inside instead of outside.

As I wandered through the empty sheds, I knew this could not go on for too long. Financially, I could stand it for a certain time, but eventually, I would be forced to close down. I made the necessary arrangements to keep my business alive. I went to an agency that employed Irish workers.

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?



Batman vs Superman 2016 | US & UK Mar. 25, 2016

What a powerful cast in this one.

Official Websites:

Fearing the actions of a god-like Super Hero left unchecked, Gotham City’s own formidable, forceful vigilante takes on Metropolis’ most revered, modern-day savior, while the world wrestles with what sort of hero it really needs. And with Batman and Superman at war with one another, a new threat quickly arises, putting mankind in greater danger than it’s ever known before.



Batman vs Superman - Dawn of Justice 2016

Brooklyn (2015) – Release: Nov 6, 2015

Directed by John Crowley. With Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson, Michael Zegen, Emory Cohen. In 1950s Ireland and New York, young Ellis Lacey has to choose between two men and two countries.

Release Dates

  • United Kingdom Nov 6, 2015
  • United States Nov 6, 2015

Source: Brooklyn (2015) – IMDb

Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson, Emory Cohen, Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters, Jessica Paré, Eve Macklin, Brid Brennan, Fiona Glascott, Jane Brennan, Nora-Jane Noone, Jenn Murray, Eva Birthistle, Michael Zegen