The Reform of John Thornton – Part Fifteen


Chapter Fifteen


“Mother,” I said that evening, while we were sitting in the parlour after dinner, “I’m going away for a couple of days. There is enough money in our strongbox to last us three months, so you needn’t worry. When I come back, I’ll deal with seeing us through to the next stage.”

Mother, who had been doing her usual needlework in her usual, quiet way, looked up in alarm. “John, where are you going? Why?”

“I don’t know yet, Mother, but I feel it is necessary that am alone somewhere to reflect on where our lives are heading.”

I could not, must not disclose to Mother that I was leaving for Hampshire. Mother had never approved of Margaret, I knew that well enough. I was well aware of the fact that she had been prepared to accept Margaret as my wife, if such was my wish. She would have given over the household reins to Margaret begrudgingly and she would have retreated in dignity, because she knew Margaret was my choice of wife. There would, however, never have been love between the two most precious women in my life. Now, of course, the question would never arise.


I packed a small valise with just the barest necessities to last me a week. If I could not get my spirits back in that time, I was a lost cause anyway. I departed from Milton Outwood Station on the early train. The trustworthy London and North Western Railway service provided good service, and the train was busy with travellers.

It was early summer, and the day promised to be warm and sunny. The compartment was fully occupied with people of all classes, and they were chattering with ear-deafening enthusiasm. I inwardly sighed. I had hoped for silence and solitude, so that I might reflect on all my troubles in peace.

When I entered the compartment, there was only one vacant seat next to the gangway door, so I lowered myself into it. The other occupants regarded me from top to toe, but, although I saw recognition dawn in their eyes, no one greeted me, nor gave any sign they knew who I was. So I had become someone to be wary of amongst my fellow citizens, hadn’t I? Well, if they choose to be rude, I did not!

“Good day to you all,” I said and nodded. They stared at me in stunned surprise, then one stout woman in plain workers’ clothes, bold as you please, ventured a remark.

“Aren’t you that Thornton fella?”

“Yes, ma’am, I am. Are you one of my former workers, then?”

“Nah, but me man was. He’d be Simmons, Jake Simmons, that is. He worked as a piecer, until ye closed the place. Now he’s workin’ at Driscoll’s, in Birmingham. I’m for there meself, lookin’ for a job and a place to stay.”

“I am most happy that he has found work, ma’am,” I said, inclined my head and from then on, kept silent. Workers were leaving Milton, it seemed. The thought was alarming enough to make me overlook the woman’s rude behaviour. Indeed, mine was not the only mill to have closed down in the past years. The years when Margaret had been living in Milton.

Unsurprisingly, my thoughts strayed to Margaret. They always did, whenever I had a moment to myself, and I had plenty, now. Margaret, the woman I loved and would always love … how did she fare? Was she still grieving for her father? Was she still in England? I was driving myself near madness with the want for knowledge of her.


I had wronged her so many times, I now realised. I had been judgemental, and prejudiced, and proud. I had never even tried to see things her way. It was little wonder she despised me. I would have despised myself, had I been in her shoes. I did despise myself, didn’t I? I loathed the man I had been. I thought I had been dreaming when I sensed a change in her attitude the last few months. She seemed more amiable and quiet. I can remember the faces of disappointment when I scolded her or walked away without speaking. I should have noticed it then. Perhaps there was hope in the air and I never felt it. Why? Why didn’t I notice the change in her? I am too headstrong and blinded myself. I am not sure I will ever recover from her.

As the train made its rhythmic progress through an ever changing landscape, I saw the grimy houses of Milton fall away to reveal the lush summer countryside of the Midlands. Then came Birmingham, as grimy as Milton. Here all of my fellow passengers alighted, and I was finally alone. I went to sit by the window, dirty with oily, soothed fingerprints.

Was that what Margaret had seen on her very first journey to Milton? A dismally dirty compartment full of smelly people? Ah, but she would have travelled first class, wouldn’t she? Or maybe not, if Mr Hale had already been short of funds.

And Milton, what had been her reflections, when she saw its dark, dirty streets full of loud, poverty-stricken people? And me, now one of them.

Oh, Margaret … could I but change the way we met! Yet life does not give us a second chance often, does it?

In London, I took a cab from Euston Station to Waterloo Station, where I boarded a train to Southampton. I did not delay, for I was eager to get to Helstone. I was hoping to find people who had known Mr Hale and his family, and talk with them.

Gradually, the scenery changed from London’s smoky neighbourhoods to countryside again. From Wandsworth on, the countryside opened up to lush, green hills and woodland. In Wimbledon, there were the beautiful mansions and country estates, commissioned by rich Londoners who wanted a home away from Town. From Kingston on, the landscape became rural and even a lusher green. I lost myself in dreaming of exploring these beautiful places, whose names were shown on placards as we passed the passengers stations; Dilton Marsh, Walton, Weybridge, and others, whose names were completely unknown to me. It occurred to me that I had perhaps focussed too much on the north of England, and not tried to discover the rest of it.

After several hours, the train stopped at Bishopstoke, which was not ten miles from Helstone. I had consulted Milton’s principal lending library, where they kept several atlases. Bishopstoke was a pleasant little seaside town, its main street lined with beautiful old houses dating from the previous century. I went to the stables and hired a horse.

Before my father died, I had been at a boarding school in Bedford. Part of our education had been horse riding, a sport I thoroughly liked. Even when I had been extremely occupied with the mill, I still had found the time to go riding, although I did not possess a mount. So when I mounted the strong, fiery stallion by the name of Parnassus, my pleasure was immense. It had been too long, since I had ridden.

I covered the distance to Margaret’s former town in good time and was pleased to find a decent inn to spend the night. The establishment’s name – The Huntsman – left no doubt as to what was the principal activity going on around here. I was surprised, though, to discover that I was still feeling prejudiced about it. What if there are people who like hunting, I admonished myself. Each person to his own.

Since dusk was already settling in, I contented myself to stay put for the night. I had a good, hearty meal of stew and a pint of decent ale, and then looked around the taproom, where a few patrons were having their evening pint at the counter. They had been looking at me askance all evening, recognizing me for the stranger I was. That was only fair, I knew. My workers would have done the same, while drinking their pints in a Milton pub. Such was the nature of man.

Blunt and straightforward speech would be best, I reckoned, so I ambled towards them and took a seat at the bar.

“Pardon me, gentlemen,” I said in a jovial tone, “but would you permit me to offer you a pint?”

They grunted acquiescence, and one short, thin individual with a thin ferret-like face and a head as bald as an egg ventured in a tone I judged was a bit on the rude side, “Ye’re not from around ‘ere, are ye? Northern chap, I reckon,”

“Yes, I’m from Milton, Lancashire. I was a friend of Mr Hale, a former vicar here, if I’m not mistaken.”

“Aye, Mr Hale was vicar before Mr Pettigrew came into the living. How’s Mr Hale doin’?”

“Ah,” I replied, “Mr Hale passed away some seven months ago. He died in his sleep, and people said he never recovered from the death of his wife, the year before.”

Cries of distress and compassion were uttered, and the landlord asked, “What of Miss Margaret, sir?”

That was a disappointment. I had rather hoped they could tell me more about my beloved.

“She went to live with her aunt in London,” I answered. “I have not heard of her since her father died. However, I was a very good friend of Mr Hale, and it would ease my conscience if I knew how his daughter fared.”

They were measuring me up with the wary glances country people used for town people. I needed to reassure them about my good intentions.

“Mr Hale was my teacher for over two years,” I elaborated. “He most generously gave me a love for reading and a friendship I still value as one of the best I ever had. Mrs Hale always opened her home to me, so that Mr Hale and I could discuss and read in homely comfort. And Miss Hale … ”

They were listening intently, now. Two women had joined our group, although they stayed behind the counter. One must be the innkeeper’s wife, and the other her daughter. The latter gaped at me with interest sparkling in her eyes.

“Ah,” I continued, “but I need not expostulate about Miss Hale’s character, because you all knew her. Far better than I, I fancy. Miss Hale was an additional incentive to me for visiting the house. She encouraged my efforts in learning an interest in Milton and its community.”

I involuntarily sighed, something I did frequently when thinking about Margaret.

“Miss Margaret has become something of a legend in Milton. She was deeply concerned about the workers and their families. She taught me a lot about compassion and how to speak with instead of to my workers. Until recently, I was a mill master, and my dictatorial behaviour was at first a thorn in Miss Margaret’s side.”

The unbidden and painful memory of Margaret scolding me for beating Stephens sprang into my mind. I closed my eyes, as I always did when I remembered my rude attitude of the past.

“Miss Margaret came visitin’ not long ago now,” a light female voice sounded.

I snapped my eyes open and saw the young woman’s face alight with sympathy and some other feeling I could not instantly recognize.

“She came here?” I asked, somewhat baffled with the knowledge.

“With some older gentleman we would see from time to time with Reverend Hale, ,” the girl continued, eager now that she had my attention. “They visited the rectory. I do the rough work for Mrs Pettigrew, and she ordered me to prepare tea for her visitors.”

She giggled suddenly. “Miss Margaret had a bit of a row with the vicar, I could see. He is a bit of a lecturer. Always berating people.”

“Hush, girl!” her mother admonished, and the girl blushed and said no more.

“I think I will go and visit the Reverend and his wife in the morning,” I said and wished them



My night was far from good, though. I lay awake, not because of the bed and mattress, which were as excellent as my own in Milton, but because of what I had learnt downstairs.

Margaret had been here, in her beloved Helstone. Was she contemplating on coming back here, now that she had come of age and of means after inheriting Bell’s money? It must have been Bell who had accompanied her here, I mused. What other elderly gentleman would she know but him? But most importantly, why? Curse it, I thought! Why had the innkeeper’s wife silenced her daughter before she could tell me more?

Too restless to sleep, I rose early and went down to breakfast. To my joy, it was the young girl who served me, although she was quiet and polite, and most assuredly avoided my gaze. I was struggling to find something to say that could lure her to talk but could not come up with anything suitable. She was about to leave when my eyes fell upon something that might inspire her to talk with me.

“Ah,” I said casually, “those yellow roses over there were particularly of Miss Margaret’s liking. She always praised them as the most beautiful flowers on earth.”

The girl looked at me with a shy smile.

“There used to be hundreds of them at the vicarage, sir,” she said. “That was before they were cut down by the Reverend Pettigrew. Such as shame.” She shook her head so emphatically, that I was beginning to develop a dislike of the unknown new vicar. A berating lecturer and a destroyer of roses!


I left the hired horse at the stables. The day was far too beautiful not to walk around the charming little town and enjoy its peaceful, yet single street, its fields and woodland. I set a good pace and walked for several hours, and then partook of the packed luncheon the landlady had given me. I found a particular idyllic spot beneath a large old oak tree. Afterwards I lay on my back in the long grass, my hands beneath my head. A few wispy clouds drifted lazily in an azure sky. The silence was almost absolute, and only the chirping of crickets rivalled with the buzzing of flies and bees to gently brake it.

I dozed off and dreamt of Margaret, walking hand in hand with me, and smiling sweetly. Under the old tree, we kissed for the first time, and I held her petite body close to mine. This was a dream that had often recurred, and yet again I woke to the realisation that it would never be real. I sighed, rose and set off for the vicarage.


A young girl – she could not have been more than twelve – opened the door when I knocked. She was dressed in a high-necked garment that covered her almost to the toes. She wore a starched, white apron over it, and her small head was bedecked with a plain, cotton mob cap.

“Yes, sir?” she asked, then lowered her eyes shyly.

“I would like to speak with the Reverend Pettigrew,” I announced briskly, attempting to smother my nascent irritation. A vicar employing a child for a parlour maid? I did not like that!

She curtsied and stepped aside to let me into a small, dark hall. Proceeding me to a door on the left, she quietly knocked. She must have heard a reply for she opened the door to me, although she did not announce me as a visitor.

As I stepped in, the vicar was berating her already with an irritated remark.

“No, Horatia, that is not the way to present a visitor. One asks for his card, and then one presents that card to the master of the house, who can then decide whether or not to receive him.”

The Reverend Pettigrew was short, stout, and balding. He had a round, red-cheeked face with a thin-lipped mouth, a blunt nose, and small pig-like eyes. His voice was soft, yet capable of expressing all his thoughts in the appropriate way, irritation being the principal of them. He rose with some difficulty from behind the enormous desk, where he had been writing, and stretched out a podgy hand.

“Good morning, sir. I believe we have not met before, if I am not mistaken?”

I shook his hand in a firm grasp, but from the way he winced, I must have made my grip a bit too hard. “You are correct, Reverend. My name is John Thornton from Milton. I was a close friend to your predecessor, the Reverend Richard Hale.”

Pettigrew showed me to a chair opposite the desk. His mouth pinched a bit more as he replied, “Ah, yes, Mr Hale. Well …”

And then he said no more. I frowned and continued, “Did you know he passed away several months ago?”

“Yes, yes, of course. His Eminence informed me of his passing.”

He shook his head. “The Lord did not take kindly his refusal to re-affirm in the Book of Common Prayers, some years ago, I presume.”

This must have been when Mr Hale abandoned his livelihood to commence a new career as a teacher in Milton, I realised. But why not re-affirm his vocation? Of course, my good friend had never talked about why he left his parsonage, but I knew him well enough to realise he would have not done so, if not a very serious reason had driven him to it. Then, all of a sudden, it dawned on me; because of young Hale’s predicaments with the Navy. My poor friend! What a shock it must have been when he realised he would never see his son again. And Mrs Hale, poor woman! It was no wonder she had been ailing and weak. But … Margaret! Again, I felt my face flush with shame, because I had been so appallingly jealous about seeing her with her brother.

“How can I be of service to you, sir?”

The vicar’s voice interrupted my wayward thoughts. I had completely forgotten the man.

“I told you I was a good friend of Mr Hale’s, vicar. I was therefore wondering if you had any notion as to the whereabouts of Miss Margaret Hale. My mother is most anxious because she has had no notice from her, and she promised Mrs Hale on her deathbed to look after her daughter.”

Although Mother had never spoken me about that promise, I nevertheless knew about it. She had been to the Hales’ house when Margaret had been in London for the Great Exhibition. She thought I did not know it, but I had heard it from my coachman, of course. He had brought her there once more after Mrs Hale had passed. I can only guess at what transpired then, but judging by the state of perturbation Mother was in that evening, I deduced Margaret must have set her down quite fiercely.

My little speech seemed to embarrass the vicar. He rose again. “Excuse me a moment, Mr Thornton,” he said and left.

I leaned back in my high-backed, very uncomfortable chair and looked around while I was waiting. The room was actually a pleasant one, with a large window overlooking the back garden, and a smaller one at the front. The large desk was placed ideally to have a view of both sides of the house. Had this room been Mr Hale’s study, too? I wondered if this could even be called a study, since, apart from on top of the desk, there were very few books. Mr Hale’s house in Canute Street, overcrowding with books on all possible surfaces, was a fond but sad memory.

A few moments later, Pettigrew entered and was accompanied by his wife. She was a thin, rather unattractive woman with hair of an indistinctive light brown and pale grey eyes. She was dressed in a severe grey gown, high-necked and long-sleeved, and she was several inches taller than her pudgy husband. Her plain face wore an expression of barely concealed annoyance. She folded her hands in front of her and nodded for me to sit down again. Her husband dragged a chair for her next to his own behind the desk.

“Now, my dear,” he said in his soothing vicar’s voice, “Mr Thornton has come to enquire about Miss Hale. Maybe you could tell him of her visit to us, a few weeks back?”

Mrs Pettigrew’s thin mouth stretched primly. “We received Miss Hale and her visitor in a most gracious and welcome manner,” she said, her voice dripping with disapproval. “ I offered them tea on the terrace, since it was a beautiful day. I had been wondering about the family ever since we moved in here. To have to abandon one’s home and familiar surroundings, and particularly because of the Reverend Hale’s refusal to confirm, must have been very hard on his family. I welcomed Miss Hale with the compassion and warmth the Scriptures require from us, but she behaved in a very bad manner. She disapproved because I had to remove the enormous mass of rose bushes in the garden, and she critized Mr Pettigrew when he ventured to speak about how the promiscuous use of books can led a man astray.”

I could almost hear Margaret’s disapproval voice saying words that shocked these two narrow-minded persons so much that they still could not deal with it. It was all I could do to cover my extreme need to burst out laughing aloud. I let my gaze drift to the back garden, where two young boys were tending to a large kitchen garden full of vegetables. The resemblance with the young parlour maid clearly betrayed them as her brothers.

“Why did you do away with the roses?” I asked.

Mrs Pettigrew was taken aback by my question. She gasped, then got herself back under control enough to say, “Mr Thornton, when one has seven children, a pleasure garden is of no use. We converted it into a vegetable garden, as you can see. It is of great use to us, since we can now teach our eldest sons to grow their own food, just as we teach our girls to tend to the household. I am very proud to say that only our two youngest children, aged three and four, do not do their bid yet. All the others work together with my husband and me in the proper way described in the Scriptures. No Devil will induce work to idle hands in this house, since he will not find any!”

The Matador’s Mistress 2008 (aka Manolete)


The Menno Meyjes directed drama stars Adrien Brody as Spanish bullfighter Manolete, in a film that covers his late life love affair with actress Lupe Sino (Penélope Cruz) before he was gored to death in the bull ring. Sino’s communist politics turned their affair into a scandal in the early 1940s, especially after discovering her previous marriage to a PCE member.[3] The film begins with Manolete’s last day in Linares.


Adrien Brody
Penélope Cruz
Santiago Segura
Ann Mitchell
Juan Echanove
Pedro Casablanc
Nacho Aldeguer


a Matadors Mistress 2008 


Period Drama Heros

I made this video about a month ago. I loved the music so much that I had to put some video to it. The artist is John Dreamer. He has about 5 other pieces similar to this. They are much used for the PC Game Makers. In fact, the first part of this video is the advert for the game Assassin III. If you like this music, which has been edited longer to fit the video, check this link for his other pieces. John Dreamer

Go Full Screen for Best results

[flowplayer src=” Drama Heros.mp4″ poster=””]

Copying Beethoven 2006

Personal Favorite of mine


It is set in 1824 as Beethoven (Ed Harris) is finishing his Ninth Symphony. He is plagued by deafness, loneliness and personal trauma. A fictional character, a new copyist, Anna Holtz (Diane Kruger) is engaged to help the composer finish preparing the score for the first performance. Anna is a young conservatory student and aspiring composer. Her understanding of his work is such that she corrects mistakes he has made, while her personality opens a door into his private world. Beethoven is initially skeptical, but slowly comes to trust Anna’s assistance and eventually grows fond of her. By the time the piece is performed, her presence is a necessity and she helps him conduct the premiere from a spot hidden amongst the orchestra.

After the premiere, they collaborate and become closer. His eccentricities become more and more troublesome, but Anna continues to provide companionship. She eventually transcribes his compositions as he simply talks her through them.

Ed Harris as Ludwig van Beethoven
Diane Kruger as Anna Holtz
Matthew Goode as Martin Bauer
Phyllida Law as Mother Canisius
Joe Anderson as Karl van Beethoven
Ralph Riach as Wenzel Schlemmer





Joyous Noel 2005



  • In 1914, World War I, the bloodiest war ever at that time in human history, was well under way. However on Christmas Eve, numerous sections of the Western Front called an informal, and unauthorized, truce where the various front-line soldiers of the conflict peacefully met each other in No Man’s Land to share a precious pause in the carnage with a fleeting brotherhood. This film dramatizes one such section as the French, Scottish and German sides partake in the unique event, even though they are aware that their superiors will not tolerate its occurrence.

    Written by Kenneth Chisholm (

Based on true events



Benno Fürmann
Guillaume Canet
Daniel Brühl
Diane Kruger
Gary Lewis
Alex Ferns


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 into Marlborough Mills. He had some disturbing news. It seemed he was dying from a long neglected disease, and he was concluding his affairs with the intention of going to Argentina. There he hoped to die in peace and comfort.

“So, I’m almost at the end of sorting my business affairs,” he said in a jovial tone, handing me the documents I was to sign.

I took them and began reading. “When do you sail?” I asked.

“On Wednesday.  I shall be pleased to be warmed by the sun again.  I spent much of my youth there.”

I was reading a document concerning the lease of my mill’s premises and startled when I saw who was to be my new landlord.

“Yes,” Bell said, a slight smile on his face. “I have signed all my property and fortune to my goddaughter Miss Hale.  I have no other family and Hale is my oldest friend.”

I had a difficult time believing what I saw with my own eyes. So Margaret was not only a very rich woman, now, she was also my landlord, which meant she could end my lease when she desired so. I was at her mercy, and so was my business.

When I looked up, I saw Bell watching me with I can only describe as sympathy. I quickly changed the subject. “But South America?  Won’t you need money to live on?”

“Oh, I have sufficient for a very good life there,” Bell stated, seemingly uninterested. Then he sobered, “What remains of it.”

“I’m sorry,” I said. I could never warm to the gentleman. He was too glib by far and always trying to stir peoples’ feelings to make them react. Yet I was distraught to hear what his fate was.

“Thank you, but don’t be,” he replied.  “I consider myself lucky to be able to settle my own affairs.  To know that Miss Hale is secure will ease my heart in these last few months.”

He paused, studying his fingers. “By the way, Miss Hale is unlikely to bother you or to interfere.  She is landlord in name only.”

Damn the fellow! He must suspect I had an interest in Margaret. In my most frosty voice I said, “Even if Miss Hale were minded to interfere, she has little enough opinion of me.  There may not be much left for her to interfere with.”

I handed him the signed documents and he shrugged. “Yes, well, I’m sorry.  I’m afraid there’s nothing more I can do.  I have left business behind me.” He stood and donned his hat. “I sail on Wednesday.”

I touched my sweaty brow with one hand, overwhelmed by all I had learned, just now. With Bell’s visit, all my suppressed thoughts of Margaret were assailing me anew. I was aware of Bell going to the door but he had something more to say.

“You might be mistaken, Thornton, if you think Miss Hale has a bad opinion of you.”

It was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I quickly rose and turned away from him.

But Bell was not finished. “And you might not judge her as harshly as you do…  In fact…”

I burst out, barely able to control my livid fury. “As you say, Mr. Bell, your business in Milton is finished. And now the future of this mill is no concern of yours.  I’m afraid I’m busy too. Good day.”


I shall always remember those dreadful months as the worst time of my life.

There was no joy, no succour to be found in the slow, painful demise of one’s beloved business.

I tried everything, but nothing could prevent Marlborough Mill from bankruptcy. Mother attempted to help me, of course. Mother is and has always been my most faithful ally and support.

She proposed to sell her jewels, the thought of it made me cringe with horror. I hastened to explain there was no need for that. I had secured our financial survival, and now that Fanny was off my hands, I was certain Mother and I could survive on very little. I would find employment, if necessary.

That did not seem to reassure Mother, for she then proposed to dismiss all the servants and do the work herself. If need be, she said, she could go into service herself and add to our income.

“Mother!” I exclaimed, thoroughly horrified. “Here, have a look at this!” And I showed her the small ledger where I noted my personal finances. She was sighing with relief, after that.

“John,” she said, placing a hand over mine, “we could sell the house, if matters become too dire. It would pain me, I’ll give you that, but I’m prepared to do whatever is necessary to alleviate our problems.”

“I shall fight hard to prevent that, Mother, fear not. I’m fond of this house, too. It is my own, personal achievement, marking our successful battle against poverty, after Father died. Yet, if there’s no other solution, I will sell it.”

“Oh, John,” she whispered, and for the first time since years, I saw tears glistening in her eyes. She did not give in to weeping, though. Mother never weeps. She is the strongest woman alive. But I would not have minded to see her weep now. I was close to tears myself, curse it!


On the last working day of Marlborough Mills, I could not bring myself to go to my office and see the workers depart for the very last time. It was cowardly, I know. For them, it was disastrous, while I had other options to gain my daily bread. They, however, faced starvation, if they couldn’t manage to find work.

Mother and I were sitting in the parlour, and we were thoroughly discouraged. We did not speak, for what was there to say? But we felt each other’s sorrow, and I was furious because I could do absolutely nothing to lift hers.

Suddenly, Fanny burst into the room, a smirk on her face that did not bode well.

“I told you,” she exclaimed, in a tone so conceited that I felt like throttling her! Wretched girl!

She continued in a triumphant tone, “ I was right and John was wrong. For once you must admit I was right.  If you’d invested in Watson’s scheme, you’d have made thousands.  Enough to get you out of trouble!”

I could not find the strength to react, and that seemed to anger her.

“Admit it,” she demanded, but Mother and I just looked at each other. What was there to say, or to admit? I would never invest in a speculation scheme. If that was the way to make money, I would not do it. It was like playing with other people’s lives, playing without having to pay the consequences.

Then Fanny said in a haughty, condescending tone, “I will ask Watson if he will lend John some money, but he was very angry when John would not join him in the venture.  And he says a gentleman must pay his own way!”

I was beginning to think that my only sister disliked me very much. She must have known her words would hurt me, and Mother. The best I could do was keep my mouth shut, so that was what I did. Fanny waited, then left, but she had one final arrow to shoot at me.

“And I think you can think again about Ann Latimer!  I’m sure she won’t have you now!”

As if that was of any concern to me! How little did she know me, my superficial, egotistic little sister.

“You mustn’t mind losing the house, Mother,” I said, after a long silence.

“I don’t mind about the house!” Mother said forcefully. She again put her hand on my arm. “I care about you!”

I found the courage to smile at her. “Thank God Fanny’s taken care of. It’ll just be you and I again.”

Mother gave me her rare, exquisite smile, and it encouraged me, despite my morose state of mind.

Later that day, I found the courage to go to the sorting room, now empty and silent. What a dismal sight greeted me there. The looms, cotton sheets still on them, were silent and looked so abandoned it broke the heart of me. All my life’s work, all my pride, all my hope … gone. All I had fought for, since the death of my father, to restore his memory and repay his debts … it had all been for nought. I was back to where I had been at sixteen. I was destitute again but for the meagre savings I had managed to rescue out of the disaster.

My eyes wandered through the shed to the dais I always used to survey it all. I suddenly remembered the day I saw Margaret for the first time, and how she shouted at me to stop thrashing Stephens. How right she had been, my love.

Ever since I met her, she had been in my heart. A lady of the purest heart and beauty, she had shown me the way to a human relationship with my workers. Not through violence and masterful haughtiness, but through treating them as human beings. Listening to them, letting them explain their grievances, and negotiating with them to find an acceptable solution for all concerned.

Too late had I found how to deal with people. Too late had I known how to win my love.

For only now did I understand how she must have seen me. Not a man, but a beast, a yelling, beating, and rude beast of a man. Not a gentleman, oh, how right she had been there. I would have nothing to offer her now, should I ever get a new chance at wooing her. Should I ever again have the chance to lay my heart at her feet, I had nothing in my hands to offer her. Would she have me now, I wondered? A man, and nothing but a man, with no position or status, and my only richness the deep love I still harboured for her.

No, she would not even glance at me, let alone hear me out or speak to me. I was not worthy of her, I knew that all along, but, oh, how I would love her, and worship her, and give my life’s blood to make her the happiest woman on earth.


“What a nice Christmas present it will be, said Charlotte. But I hope …”

The light, stumbling voice of little Tom Boucher broke through my black thought with the strength of a ray of summer sun. I turned and saw him sitting on top of one of the looms, a book in his lap. I wandered to him, smiled and asked, “Where’s Higgins?”

“He’s finishing off something,” said Tom and carried on reading. “Mr Arnott will… sometimes bring her cart into…”

Again my mind pictured Margaret, now in the arms of the stranger, late at night at the station. Again I recalled my stupid jealousy, and my fury, and my powerlessness. How caddish I had behaved to her, as a result of all these idle and senseless feelings. What right had I being outraged at her because she loved another? Had I not explained in detail how independent my female workers were in the matter of using their wages? Was I their father or their brother to tell them what to do? Yet I had wanted to thrash the man holding my Margaret, and beat him to a bloody pulp, without any right at all. I had no claim on her, and never would.

“I said, have you heard about Miss Margaret?”

I startled, and saw Higgins approach. Why was he asking about Margaret? He would be the one knowing all about her, I mused. I could not bring myself to answer his question, so I asked one of mine, “Still here?”

“Just because it’s the last shift, Master, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t finish the job well.”

I shrugged. “I am nobody’s master anymore, Higgins.”

In a casual tone, Higgins ventured, “If you’re ever in a position to take on workers again, there’s a fair number of us who’d be happy to run a mill for you.”

I smiled. Ah, Higgins. How I had come to like the man, since he took up work with me.

“I got up a petition to collect the names,” said Higgins, and handed me a role of paper. I took it from him and was at a loss what to do with it. It was very unlikely that I would ever be a mill master again.

”Anyway,” Higgins continued, ‘I was asking about Miss Margaret. Have you heard how she’s doing?”

What was I to say? I had not seen Margaret for several months. “She’s well.  She’s in London.  We’ll not see her again.”

“I thought she might have gone to Spain,” Higgins said, mischief colouring his voice.

I was stunned and failed to understand what he was driving at. “Spain?  Why would she go there?”

Higgins grinned at me. “Well, to see her brother, now that he’s her only family.”

What?!? What was he saying, curse it? “Her brother? She doesn’t have a brother.”

Higgins was having a laugh at me, I could tell, yet I was too eager to hear the rest. “Him that were over when their mother were dying.  Kept it a secret, they did. My Mary used to fetch things for them.  She’s a quiet girl, but she talks to me.”

I was really at a loss, now. “Why wouldn’t Mr Hale tell me that he had a son?”

“Something to do with the law.  Found himself on the wrong side of the Navy.  In real danger he was.”

A brother in the Navy, away from home. A man wanted by the authorities … a man in hiding.

How could I have been so daft? If I had only known, our lives may have been different.  “He was her brother,” I whispered, and felt as if a light had been lit inside me.

Higgins extended his hand. “Well. Thornton…. I’ll bid you good day.”

I clasped it, all of a sudden overwhelmed by joy from what he had told me. “Goodbye Higgins. Good luck.”


I was alone again in the vast emptiness of the mill. It weighed on me like a suffocating blanket. As matters stood, I had only two options; either I would wallow in self-pity, deploring the unhappy demise of my business, or I would try to begin anew. Whichever path I chose, it would be a solitary one. I was on my own, I was without my Margaret.

I went to my office and sank down onto the hard wooden chair behind my now useless desk.

Margaret, too, had endured much sorrow since she came to Milton. I had time to waste, now, so I reflected on Margaret’s life, as I knew it.

She had come to Milton with both her parents still alive, sad beyond comprehension because she had had to leave her beloved Helstone in sunny, easy Hampshire. Her mother had suffered even more, and to the point that she became ill. Margaret had had no support from her mother, on the contrary, it had been she who must comfort Mrs Hale, over and over again.

Mr Hale was no great support, neither to his weak wife, nor to his brave daughter. He had retreated behind his books and left his daughter to seek the company of others, like the Higginses.

I could not begin to understand what enormous difference Milton and its people must have been to Margaret from her Southern village. Yet she had endeavoured to blend in in Milton’s society as best as she could, albeit in her own outspoken and free-thinking way. She had even made some friends amongst the workers, something I had not even tried.

Margaret … my courageous love. I knew I would never stop loving her, and, even if some other woman crossed my path, I would remain a bachelor for the rest of my life. How could I love another, when I knew that somewhere in London or beyond, there was my Margaret?

Maybe, I mused, she would indeed go to her brother in Spain. She obviously loved and adored him a great deal. Would my heart feel it if she left England’s shores?

Perhaps she would go back to her beloved Helstone and settle there, alone or with a husband. Would my heart shatter the day she gave herself to another man? Surely, it would.

I stood and left the building to go to the house. I had made up my mind. I would indeed start anew, but not until I had cleansed myself from my bitterness and sorrow about Margaret. The only place where I could attempt just that, was Helstone, Hampshire.

The Keeping Room 2014


Released 2015

Left without men in the dying days of the American Civil War, three Southern women – two sisters and one African-American slave – must fight to defend their home and themselves from two rogue soldiers who have broken off from the fast-approaching Union Army.



The Keeping Room 2015


The Revenant UK release 01/15/2016 – US release 01/08/16

The action adventure film follows American wilderness explorer Hugh Glass, portrayed by DiCaprio. He was left for dead after being attacked by a bear, and he’s not happy with his team for abandoning him. The term revenant refers to someone who has made a return, and in some cases, from the dead. Hardy takes on the role of his disloyal companion John Fitzgerald, and he appears to be first on Glass’s hit list.

The two are living rough so it’s no surprise to see them with full beards, but it’s almost hard to make out who is who with all the hand-to-hand combat in the intense trailer below:

Source: WATCH: Tom Hardy Stars Opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘The Revenant’ Trailer