Mr Thornton Takes a Wife – Part Fifty-Seven

Chapter Fifty-Seven – Torn Between Fear and Joy

Near the half of June 1853, Margaret found herself growing more and more restless every day.

She was now huge and experienced great discomfort from her pregnancy, although the babies seemed healthy enough. They were very active, especially when she tried to rest or sleep. Even John marvelled about the force of his unborn children when he laid his hand on Margaret’s stomach.

“My poor darling,” he said, one night when he helped Margaret to go to the bathroom for the fourth time that night, “how I wish I could relieve your suffering! I cannot imagine how the weight of the children must burden you.”

He plumped up her pillows and helped her back into bed. “Now, how many weeks to go?”

Margaret gave a deep, heartfelt sigh. “Theoretically three and a half weeks. But I fervently wish it to be less!”

“You know what the doctor said, darling. The longer you carry them, the stronger they will be.”

“Yes, you are right, John. It was very selfish of me to wish for the birth to begin.”

“Come, my love. Close your eyes and sleep now. You need to rest.”

Her head resting upon John’s breast, while lying on her side with one leg drawn up and the other stretched out – a position she found very comfortable – Margaret soon found sleep.

John, on the other hand, worried, as usual. He watched Margaret grow more tired every day and of lower spirits. Lord, but to have to carry two babies, large, heavy babies, for that matter, must be torture for his fragile, slender wife.

John Thornton had always been a fighter. Problems might arouse but they had to be dealt with. He was going to make absolutely sure Margaret was being taken care of as completely as could be.

Therefore he wrote a letter to Dr Mortimer Chelmsford, obstetrician in London, and invited him to come and live at the Thornton home so as to be ready at hand when Margaret would go into labour.

Dr Chelmsford , who was a busy man with a blooming practice, promised to come to Milton during the last week of June or, should labour start sooner, travel post haste to be with her. For now, he sent his most skilled midwife to cover for him until he would arrive.

Mrs Eliza Goodyear arrived duly on the 20th of June from London. She was a widow whose husband died of pneumonia ten years ago, leaving her without money. Dr Chelmsford, who was looking for a housekeeper took her on and discovered very soon that Mrs Goodyear was better suited to care for the sick than for sweeping and cooking. He provided her with the money to take a proper training so that she could go and offer her services wherever they were needed.

Margaret was immediately drawn to the lively and cheerful woman of thirty-five.

Eliza Goodyear had soon organized Margaret’s days into long periods of rest and short intervals of sitting up on the parlour couch. C & J, Margaret’s faithful chair bearers were banned from the house, at least as far the wheelchair was concerned. No more outings, Eliza said, no more tiring distractions.

That was a good thing for one night at the dinner table where she was taking her evening meal in the company of John, Margaret suddenly felt a gnawing pain in her lower back. She gasped, startling John into action.

“Love, what is the matter? Are you unwell? Talk to me, Margaret, please?”

At that moment the pain was expanding, circling her waist like a belt and growing stronger by the second. Margaret clasped John’s hand with closed eyes, unable to breathe.

“Dixon! Mrs Goodyear! Somebody, help!,” John bellowed in helpless rage.

It was Dixon who was first on the spot but this was so clearly beyond her usual skills that John was relieved when Eliza Goodyear entered the room. She took matters in hand with a comforting  confidence.

“Mr Thornton, sir, help her up. Come on, Mrs Thornton, we must get you to your bed.”

John, in his usual brisk manner, shoved her aside and scooped up his wife as if she weighed nothing. Eliza Goodyear’s eyes widened in admiring surprise seeing how strong he was. Between the two of them, they soon had Margaret in bed.

“Mrs Thornton, I want you to lie on your side in, as I told you, was the position of relax. Very well, that is it. Now, breathe, exactly the way I taught you to, deep long intakes that go all the way down to your stomach. Then, hold your breath for ten seconds and release it very slowly. Yes, that is good.”

She turned towards John. “Mr Thornton, you must see that she does this every time the pain starts. It is her body preparing for birth. The womb, which is in fact no more than a very strong muscle, is in great need of oxygen. That is the reason for the elaborated breathing process. You, sir, must help her to breathe instead of clamping up, like she did just now. Can I trust you with this? Can you do this?”

John shot the nurse a very grim but determined look. “Of course I can! Do you think me a weakling?” He turned to Margaret, kneeled by the bed and started working on her breathing along with her.

Eliza Goodyear smiled in satisfaction and left the room, feeling reassured about John Thornton’s utter commitment and cooperation.

1917 – USA Release Dec. 25, 2019

At the height of the First World War during Spring 1917 in northern France, two young British soldiers, Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman), are given a seemingly impossible mission to deliver a message which will warn of an ambush during one of the skirmishes soon after the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line during Operation Alberich. The two recruits race against time, crossing enemy territory to deliver the warning and keep a British battalion of 1,600 men, which includes Blake’s own brother, from walking into a deadly trap. The pair must give their all to accomplish their mission by surviving the war to end all wars.  Source: Wikipedia

 

 

 

 

  JUSTIN KURZEL TO DIRECT
 THE NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP

The novel won The Man Booker prize in 2014

NORTH WW2 MINI SERIES

After The Railwayman with Colin Firth we are getting a new movie on the horrors of infamous railway in Burma during World War II! As ‘Deadline’ reports, director Justin Kurzel has boarded Freemantle’s small screen adaptation of Richard Flanagan’s acclaimed novel THE NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH which has the story set against the backdrop of the horrific Burma Railway in 1943 and across the Pacific during World War II. The mini series will chart the cruelty of war, the tenuousness of life and the impossibility of love, as seen through the eyes of an Australian doctor and prisoner of war.

Domina – 2020

Sky Sets Ancient Rome Drama ‘Domina’ With Isabella Rossellini (Exclusive)

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Isabella Rossellini

The 10-part political period epic is being produced by Comcast-backed Sky Studios and Fifty Fathoms.

The power struggles of Ancient Rome — told through a female perspective — are to be dramatized for TV in a new original series from Comcast-owned European giant Sky.

Domina, being produced by Sky’s new production arm Sky Studios alongside Fifty Fathoms (Fortitude, The A Word), part of Endemol Shine, with Cattleya as exec producers, is a 10-part drama following the life and the extraordinary rise of Livia Drusilla, the mother of the emperor Tiberius, who overcame adversity to become the most powerful woman in the world. Filming started this week at Cinecittà Studios in Rome.

The series features Kasia Smutniak (Perfect StrangersThemDevils) playing Drusilla, supported by an international cast including Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones) playing Livius, Livia’s father, and Isabella Rossellini (Blue Velvet, Death Becomes Her) playing Balbina, an early enemy. Alongside them star Matthew McNulty (Misfits) as the future emperor Gaius, Christine Bottomley (The End of the F***ing World) as Scribonia, Colette Tchantcho (The Witcher) as Antigone, Ben Batt (Captain America: The First Avenger) as Agrippa, Enzo Cilenti (Free Fire) as Tiberius Claudius Nero, while Claire Forlani (Meet Joe Black) plays Claudia Octavia.

Domina follows Livia’s journey from a naïve young girl whose world crumbles in the wake of Julius Caesar’s assassination, to Rome’s most powerful and influential Empress, driven by a deep desire to avenge her father and secure power for her sons. Livia and her peers navigate their way through a brutal society by means of strategy, conspiracy, seduction and murder. This is a visceral and authentic family saga, grounded in historical accuracy and bringing to life the incredible true stories of the women who would create one of the most enduring and fascinating dynasties of all time.

Created and written by Simon Burke (ZenFortitude), the lead director is Australian filmmaker Claire McCarthy (OpheliaThe Luminaries).

The crew includes top Italian professionals: costumes will be designed by the Academy Award winning Gabriella Pescucci (The Age of InnocenceOnce Upon A Time in America), production design by Luca Tranchino (Prison Break), makeup by Katia Sisto (Penny Dreadful) and hair design by Claudia Catini (Trust).

“I am thrilled to be playing such a complex character as Livia Drusilla,” said Kasia Smutniak. “As a frontrunner in defending women’s rights, she was a tough woman who was both feared and cherished and was strong enough to seal the fate of the Roman Empire.”

Added Nicola Maccanico, Sky Italia’s executive vp programming: “Domina is an international production and we are very proud of its strong Italian roots. It is a great epic drama that brings to life ancient Rome again, but from a different perspective, that of the women, and reshapes our view of them. They are the masters of their fate and fiercely pursue their ambitions and ultimately the conquest of power. With Domina, Sky Studios will once again bring together major international artistic values and top Italian talents.”

Patrick Spence, managing director of Fifty Fathoms, added: “Simon’s scripts offer a unique opportunity to see Ancient Rome as it has never been shown before. Authentic, messy, visceral, and with the agenda-driven quietly, but ruthlessly by the women.”

Claire McCarthy, Domina lead director, said: “This period of Roman history is truth being stranger than fiction. I’m tremendously excited to bring this rich and visceral world to life with this incredible troupe of stellar actors and the gifted creative team. What an honor to be working out of Cinecittà studios too where so many of the greats have built cinema history.”

Domina is being executive produced by Spence, Marcus Wilson, Faye Dorn, Burke and McCarthy and produced by John Phillips.

The series will air exclusively in all Sky territories, in Italy, U.K., Ireland, Germany and Spain. NBCUniversal Global Distribution holds international rights in the rest of the world on behalf of Sky Studios.

Production underway.

The Noble Coachman Chapter 8

The Noble Coachman 2.99 Amazon

Chapter 8
The Rest of the Family

 

Trevor was seated in the pub when his father entered after his day in Parliament. Rather than wave him over, he let his father discover him. Kip doubted if many people from this part of town knew what his father looked like. He stood as his father arrived.

“I hadn’t expected to see you so soon, but I am glad I have, son.”

A serving woman came over to take the order. “What may I get for you gents?”

“Please, let me order,” Kip suggested.

“Very well.”

“We’ll have two pints and two beef sandwiches,” Trevor smiled at his father.

“I’m not sure I’ve ever eaten or tasted this meal. You like it; I assume. Oh, Gus will be visiting soon. He’s anxious to see you.”

“Good. This is one of my meals when out.”

“Which is how often?” Lord Caldwell laughed.

“Actually, quite often, but I do cook.”

“I went to see the other Caldwell family yesterday,” said Lord Caldwell. “They do look a bit familiar, but they are quite far from us – somewhere down my grandfather’s line. I believe he’s a second son, of a first son. It’s quite sad over there. Lilith is officially missing. No ransom note. Her clothes are home; no eloping is being considered. It’s grim, Trev.”

“I wanted to talk about a few other Caldwell members. If there is some conspiracy to our family, I should be aware of them. Tell me about your brothers.”

“This could take a long time, son.”

“For now, just be brief about where they are, what they do, and are their cousins I don’t know about.”

“I believe you met my brother, Hamilton. He has two sons. Hamilton remains in the banking business in Manchester, which now seems to be making him quite wealthy with all this new machine industry flowing into that city. His oldest son, also named Hamilton, is following in his father’s path. I don’t think you have seen either of them since you were very young. Hamilton’s other son, Gregory, went into the legal profession. He is most likely a barrister if he hasn’t made it to his judgeship, yet. I think my brother has a grandchild or two, but how many and their names; I am afraid I have forgotten.”

“You have another brother I remember. He left home early.”

“I did, yes. He was born second and could not accept that he would never hold the title. Many years in our youth, I feared him. Nathaniel and my father argued often. He was wild and remained irate. Your mother called him feral. We know he caused the staff almost unbearable anxiety. We lost several excellent servants. One was a pretty young woman whom he favored more than most. It came to our knowledge that she was with child because of him. We always thought she left on her own, but one day she was gone. God only knows what she endured. Upon hearing of this too late, which the staff was afraid to mention, your grandfather asked him to leave. Your sister had just been born. Nathaniel was given money to live on and left, taking his valet with him. Within a few years, his coach was stopped by highwaymen. Possibly being drunk, we believe, he fired upon them and was killed during the robbery. There is little more I know about that.”

“What happened to his driver and valet?”

“I am not sure about the driver. He could have been part of the gang. We invited the valet back to Caldwell Hall, but he had a love interest by then and stayed in London. All that was years ago. We never spoke of him again. I have at no time met my other nephew Gregory either. If they have families of their own, I know not. Hamilton and I are amiable brothers to each other and parted ways peacefully. He knows how very busy I have been, and I assume he has no time either. We write at the holidays, but that is as far as it goes. He did send your sister a gift at her ‘coming out.’”

“You’ve never told me much about Nathaniel,” Kip remarked.

“Son, we talked sparingly about him most of his life. I believe your grandfather did more covering up for him, too. He was an embarrassment to the family. It is conceivable that he made enemies, but that would have been many years ago, now.

“Have you heard the rumor about Lord Stokes having a female driver?” Trevor asked.

“Yes. I am afraid Stokes is taking the brunt of some banter in the house by his friends. I believe she was born into his service, and he has taken to her since she could walk. Her father is Lord Stokes’s driver for over twenty years, but you probably know that. The daughter grew up wanting to drive like her father. I believe Stokes gave up when she was a young teen and told her she could. She has been riding with Dorset; I hear. I guess the time is getting near, and she never changed her mind, which he actually believed she would. I think that’s how the story goes. Have you seen her?”

“Yes, this morning. It was the second time we’ve talked. Her father broke his leg last evening. She is reining, with a footman riding the rear, but she was alone in the box.”

“She can turn a team of two? Well, the day has come for her, has it? Wait until I see him. Is she pretty?”

“Stunning would be my word.”

“Oh, stunning, is she? Someone with whom you would not mind crossing the class lines to know better?” His father laughed.

Ignoring his father’s slight, Kip continued. “I followed her today. She is quite skilled.”

“Followed her? What kind of son have I raised?” he laughed again. Earl Caldwell secretly was elated that his son might be returning to the man he remembered.

“Lord Stokes doesn’t know about me, does he?” Asked Kip.

“I don’t know about you, son. How could he? I cannot finish this sandwich if you continue to make me chuckle.”

“I would like to see more of her, Father. I thought I should let you know in the event she accepts my calling on her.”

“Do you call in the lower classes? I am sorry, that was terribly rude and unfair, but you are making me laugh, and here I am so happy to hear you looking forward to seeing a woman.”

“You are correct, Father, you don’t know about me,” Trevor agreed.

Earl Caldwell scratched at his beard, “I’ll tell you there is to be a special dinner invitation this Saturday. Someone is announcing an engagement or some other event. Many of us will be attending. I did not plan on going, but if Lord Stokes accepts, I will, also. That’s the best I can do, son. You will drive me.”

Kip finally blushed in front of his father. He had never done that for anyone.

“I can hardly wait to see this beautiful young lady driver.”

“Father, somehow, I doubt you ever will. You are the upper class, remember. You keep saving the realm, and we’ll keep seeing that you do.”

They smiled at each other as if a broken bond had been renewed.

“Tell Augustus I will see him while he is here.”

“He will be overjoyed. Augustus won’t tell you or show it, but with you, Mary, and myself away, he has been abandoned, so to speak. I ask him to London as often as I can. He’s a young man. The young are here, in this city.”

“That never once entered my mind. I have been quite selfish it seems.”

“No, son. Don’t feel that way. We both knew that if you had not walked away when you did, you would be lost to us, forever, as an upstanding man. Our only hope has been that you would see there was nothing you could do to save her that day.”

“After nearly a year, it has been only recently that I feel life flowing into my lungs again. I am now faced with learning the art of wooing. This will not come naturally to me.” Kip laughed.

 

#

 

“What did His Lordship want, Squeaks?”

“He asked about my day. I told him about talking with Kip and meeting many other drivers. He gave me another talk. Then he complimented me on getting around that horse that was rearing on the other side of the road. He said I did a grand job.”

“I am so proud of you. Perhaps, I can retire early.”

“Would you do that, Father?”

“No, you silly child.” Clyde laughed. “But I think you may be allowed to be the second driver and no longer waiting in training.”

Squeaks blushed. “I don’t know if you heard Kip yesterday calling me the driver regent. We both laughed at that.”

“No, I did not hear that. However, you are no longer regent; you are installed as the first driver right now.”

“Father, you had days off to do what you wanted, didn’t you?”

“What’s this? Twenty years you have wanted to drive the coach and are now looking for a day of rest?” Clyde smirked.

“Oh no, I want to drive more than anything. Even so, I don’t think His Lordship will allow me to do it every day. I want to make plans for my day away.”

“Away? Away, where? Oh, I know. You still want to drive but another coach with other horses, hmm?”

“You knew I was going to say that.”

“Yes, but I knew that because of Kip. I had no idea what your answer would be unless it really was for his team and coach.”

“I think these feelings are more than that. I would like to know if it is. I need to assess it, somehow.”

“Assess it? What kind of foolishness is this you speak? Are you talking about love? You don’t even know the man.”

“I know! So how do I get to know him? How did you get to know mother?”

“I thought you said you’ve have had all these talks with the servant women. I do not believe I can tell you how YOU will tell. I think you just know, and you are nowhere near that stage.”

“I do have some sense, Father. I know he is not going to propose or anything. Suppose he is a nice gentleman wanting to be friends?”

“I would be quite happy with that.”

“Suppose I want to know him? How do I get him to see me?”

“Young lady, he definitely sees you. I guess what you are asking is what type of mistakes you must not make. What could you do to turn him away?”

“Yes, that’s it. Such as what, Father? He drives so many beautiful women; I doubt I hold a candle to any of them.”

“You’re suddenly not my little girl anymore.” Clyde became saddened.

“Father, I will always be your daughter and love you. Someday, you knew you would share me, didn’t you?”

“I gave it as little thought as possible, but the day is shortly upon me; I sense.”

“I don’t want you telling me silly stuff to drive a gentleman away from me.”

“Do you think I would do that to you; dearest Squeaks.”

“Well …” she said, looking down at her tapping foot. “You might.” She laughed.

“My only goal in life is to see that you are happy and content. I want to know that you have a fine man in your life when I am near my end. He doesn’t have to be rich, or important. He just has to love you as I do.”

“I want that, too, Father. I want more than that.”

“I think I believe you. I see your flower is about to bloom. It will not wither as I once feared.”

“So what mistakes could I be making if I want to keep his attention?”

“I do not think you can make any mistakes if you remain yourself. You are a wee bit headstrong, but that may be inevitable, living with a lord of the realm. This house has always had high standards and expectations.”

“Do you think Lord Stokes will want to approve of a man I want to marry someday?”

“He will take an interest. If he is a gentleman with income, you will most likely not be questioned on anything. You will not pander to those other types, anyway. Just be yourself. You know how to be polite. Don’t show a gentleman what you are not. Do not mislead him. Whatever your life will be with another person; you want to be able to be yourself, and he will too. There will be some compromises, but few if the love is really there.”

Squeaks had tears in her eyes. “Thank you, Father. You make it sound easy.”

“With your looks and brains, it will not be too easy for you. You will be admired and sought after by many, and decisions may come hard.”

“Suppose I meet a driver, who I like – will he not be intimidated by me?”

Clyde laughed. “Are you that good of a driver to intimidate another professional driver?”

“I guess that’s not what I mean, and he may not be a coachman.” She frowned.

“Are you saying he will not like you being in a man’s world with lots of other handsome men admiring you?”

“I believe so, yes.”

“I cannot answer that. It will depend on the man. It will take a lot of trust on his part. It will be difficult for any man being in love with you, you know. He will have to be endowed with much confidence in himself. You must always be honest, and I have no doubt that you will.”

“Thank you, Father. I will go collect our meal.”

“Too late,” someone called from the stairway.

 

Kip picked up fares until he spotted one of his apostles. It was nearing dusk when he found Marc. Kip nodded, and they both pulled to a side street and parked.

“I’ve been looking for you all day, Kip. Kyle had a nice look at the coach and just a glance at the driver. He was not familiar with either one. They’re new in town. He said the coach was old and hadn’t been cleaned. Kyle figured it came from quite a distance before picking up the young lady. Is she still missing?”

“Yes … well, she was as of this morning. Do you know where Kyle is now?”

“Sorry, mate. Haven’t seen him since then.”

“If you do see him, ask him to see Inspector Marshall at the Met. I will tell him of Kyle, and they will come looking for him.”

“I’ll spread the word. I heard the lady driver was alone today. She was driving Lord Stokes.”

“Yes, I spoke to her. She has a house footman riding the rear step. He is her protection. I wish us all to keep vigilant of her. I followed her for a short time and found she is well skilled.”

“If any of us was to meet her first, why did it have to be you?” Marc kidded.

“When I last saw her this morning at the Parliament Building, she had just been introduced to another thirty drivers, mostly in-service.”

“What are we to call her?”

Kip laughed before he could get the words out. “Apparently, being born into service, His Lordship started calling her Squeaks, and she is still called that today. I think her father said her name was Rebecca.”

“Squeaks? Is she pretty?”

“No, she’s beyond that.”

“Oh, I see. Does the old Kipper have an interest?”

“Any man who meets her will have an interest. I may have the first edge because of these beauties,” Kip said, patting the horse closest to him.”

“You know; she’ll only want you for Soldier and Warrior. Can you live with that?” Marc laughed.

“Bloody right, I can.” Kip roared. He didn’t want his fresh emotions showing to anyone just yet. He played the game of men.

 

 

 

Emma – Valentines 2020

DELIGHTFULLY PLAYFUL TRAILER FOR THE LATEST BIG SCREEN ADAPTATION OF JANE AUSTEN’S EMMA IS HERE WITH ANYA TAYLOR JOY, BILL NIGHY, JOSH O’CONNOR, CALLUM TURNER, MIRANDA HART

     ‘EMMA’ TRAILER
IS MUCH MORE FUN THAN WE THOUGHT IT WOULD BE

It is all colourful fun and hilarious thrills in the first picturesque teaser for the latest movie adaptation of Jane Austen’s EMMA from Focus Features this

The film arrives for Valentines next year

time with Anya Taylor Joy as clever and rich Emma Woodhouse, a restless queen bee without rivals in her sleepy little English town. In this glittering satire of social class and the pain of growing up, Emma must adventure through misguided matches and romantic missteps to find the love that has been there all along.

Who Is In The Cast?
British thespians Bill Nighy, Josh O’Connor, Callum Turner, Rupert Graves, Johnny Flynn,  Mia Goth, Miranda Hart, Gemma Whelan, Amber Anderson, Tanya Reynolds and Connor Swindells all star in the movie scheduled for next

Anya Taylor Joy got her fame after The Miniaturist series at  BBC

February! It first hits British cinemas right for Valentines and then moves to US a week after. Autumn de Wilde is making her directorial debut with the

Bill Nighy also stars in the big screen adaptation

film! The colourful costumes in the film were done by Alexandra Byrne who also did our favourite films Elizabeth and Hamlet. Check out the vivacious and playful trailer below:

Mr Thornton Takes a Wife – Part Fifty-Six

Chapter Fifty-Six – I, Nicholas, Take Thee Hannah

 

The second day of the month of June in the year of Our Lord 1853, the bells of Milton Chapel were peeling joyfully to announce the wedding of Mrs Hannah Thornton, mother of the Master of Marlborough Mills, and Mr Nicholas Higgins, assistant manager of the factory.

The day was a bit overcast but that did not lessen the joyful mood as the bride was being led down the aisle on the arm of her proud son, John Thornton of Marlborough Mills. At the altar stood Nicholas Higgins, tall and broad in a suit of black superfine, a white, linen shirt, dove grey waistcoat and dazzling white cravat. His hands held a pair of white cotton gloves and a black top hat, and his honest face bore a wide, happy grin as he watched Hannah approach on John’s arm.

Hannah was magnificently decked out in a lavender dress of gleaming silk, whose sober, straight cut accented the slimness of her tall, erect figure but softened the lines in her usually stern countenance. Now, Hannah was smiling, blue eyes sparkling like diamonds. Her thick, black hair, with only the hint of silver, was combed back loosily from her face to fall down in heavy waves on her back. Nicholas’s heart skipped a beat as he noticed the loosened hair. It made her look like the young girl she must have been when she married John’s father.

John solemnly lay his mother’s hand on Nicholas’s and retired at the side of his own wife.

Margaret smiled at him as he sat down beside her wheelchair and took her hand.

 

Not yet one year ago, they had been bride and groom at this very church themselves. How well John remembered his lovely Margaret in her cream coloured silk dress and lace vale, the very picture of beauty and grace. Today she wore a loose gown of mint green silk, very light to the touch as to give her as much comfort as possible with the heavy burden of her pregnancy to bear. John’s heart lurched in fear as it had for so many days now, since he knew Margaret was carrying twins.

He pressed her fine boned hand and smiled at her, not showing what he was really feeling other than his huge love for her.

Margaret watched the couple at the altar with quiet joy filling her heart.

Dear Nicholas and sweet Mother! How she wished them to gain a new happiness with each other! They had been through such a difficult time, with Hannah being stalked and nearly killed. A shiver ran through her as she remembered the deeds of their former maid, Jane.

Another memory returned suddenly and she had to swallow back tears. At this same time of year, last June, her father had died. Margaret could still see the tall figure of Mr Bell, standing in the street with her father’s suitcase in his hand, when he came to tell her of Mr Hale’s demise.

The sudden kick of one of her babies brought Margaret back from the sad past into the present. She admonished herself sternly. It was no use reminiscing about past sorrow. She had things to do, she must prepare herself for motherhood and stop being such a ninny! After all, she had the most dedicated and loving man in the whole world at her side and the strong support of a woman whom she considered a mother. Her own dear departed mother would never have given her strength at all, weak and sickly as she had been. So she brought John’s hand to her lips and watched fondly as Nicholas and Hannah spoke their wedding vows.

 

After the ceremony, there was a reception at the Thornton house. The gathering was small. There was the family, of course, and a few acquaintances, such as Dr Donaldson and Inspector Mason from the Milton Constabulary.

Margaret was watching the guests with a fond eye when her friend, Mary Higgins, came to sit on a chair beside her wheelchair.

“Dear Margaret, how are you feeling? This must be an exhausting day for you. Are you comfortable? Can I get you something?”

Margaret took Mary’s hand and pressed it fondly. “No, Mary, do not worry.  I’m perfectly alright, though huge as a beached whale! How I am ever to get my figure back after this, I do not know!”

She winced as a kick from the babies made her stomach lurch with a burning gulf of bile. Mary laid her hand on Margaret’s swollen stomach and smiled as she felt the strong kicking.

“They are very healthy in there, for sure! Two boys, I should say, and rugby players to boot!”

The two women burst into laughter at the thought, and Margaret saw John’s head turn towards her in surprise. She waved at him and he, reassured with her lightness of spirit, went on with his conversation with Dr Donaldson.

“Mary, I have not yet have an opportunity to thank you for sending your cousin, Letty Monroe, to us. She is very sweet and, although still very young, she impressed me with her quiet self-confidence. She will make a good nanny, I’m sure.”

Mary was silent for a moment, then spoke in an earnest tone. “Letty had an unusual childhood, Margaret, one that would have scarred a less stronger girl for life but not her! She was but ten years old when she lost her left foot. A cart wheel broke down and the wheel axe’s sharp edge severed it clean, so no chance of saving it. Many little girls would have lost courage but not our Letty. She stepped into our house, one day, on her crutches and tackled Dad, whom she knew to be a good carver of wood. ‘Uncle Nick,’ she said, ‘make me a wooden foot so that I can walk without these stupid crutches.’ I tell you, Margaret, Father was all in doubt about it but he did as Letty asked. After lots of failures, he finally managed to make a foot to match her leg stump fairly good.”

Margaret listened in awe to all this. “Did she manage to walk on the foot? I imagine it must have been difficult to keep her balance?”

“It was. She kept falling and she didn’t seem to be able to fasten the foot adequately enough on her stump. But, finally, she succeeded. She and Father designed something quite new, a leather sock, lined with cotton waste, to cover her stump, and then they used Arabic gum to make it stick on the foot as an addition to the straps around her leg. It works. She’ll never be able to run, of course, but she can walk alright.”

This girl, Margaret thought, deserved a chance.

 

After the reception Nicholas Higgins took his bride to their new home, their carriage seen off by their family and friends. Despite being as tall as he, Nicholas carried Hannah over the threshold and straight up to their bedroom. The housekeeper and maids had the rare experience of hearing their mistress giggle like a young girl.

 

Portrait of a Lady of Fire – Dec 6

As Orpheus led Eurydice out of Hades, why did he turn around to look for her just before getting out, and thus lose her forever? Was it because he made a poet’s choice that the memory of his love was enough, or was it perhaps Eurydice herself who called him to turn? The Greek myth is at the center of Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire, which won Best Screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival this year and had its U.K. premiere at the BFI London Film Festival. Sciamma was invited to speak about her career as a film director and screenwriter at the festival’s Screen Talk, and discussed further her latest film.

Set in 1760 Brittany, on the northern coast of France, Portrait of a Lady on Fire recounts a beautiful love story between two young women. The film explores the different steps from desire to love and then eventually how one lets go until this love becomes a memory.

The film opens in an art class, as a female tutor, Marianne (played by Noémie Merlant), teaches young female artists how to look at their subject in order to draw. Marianne is a young female artist, who learnt her trade from her artist father, painting portraits of the wealthy for a living. The title of the film is the title of a painting she made, which one of her students has taken up to their classroom. The painting depicts a female figure in a darkened background with her dress on fire. As Marianne gazes longingly at her painting, the film sets about to tell us who this mysterious figure is, and how this painting came about.

Marianne met the lady on fire when she was invited by a countess (played by Valeria Golino) to paint a portrait of her daughter, Héloïse (played by Adèle Haenel), who has just come out of a convent after the death of her sister. The mother intends this portrait for her daughter’s betrothed who lives in Milan. As Héloïse refused to pose for the previous painter, the mother asks Marianne to pretend that she is a walking companion for her daughter, and to draw her from memory without Héloïse’s knowledge. Sciamma takes her time to reveal the face of Héloïse. Anticipation sets in, much like Marianne, who is eager to discover her subject.

However, cleverly, Sciamma does not make her protagonist fall in love with her subject on first sight, like so many films we have seen before. This is not the typical story of the painter falling in love, or lusting, over the image of the model. Marianne observes, scrutinizes Héloïse’s face, but fails her first drawing of her. The film suggests that desire between the two women does not begin when Marianne gazes at Héloïse to capture her every facial detail to memory. Desire rather starts when Héloïse returns her gaze. After Marianne reveals her real purpose, Héloïse agrees to pose for her. It is at that moment, as Héloïse sits for Marianne to paint her that desire rises between the two women.

Valhalla Epic Series

TUDORS CREATOR MICHAEL HIRST TO CREATE VALHALLA EPIC TV SAGA FOR NETFLIX FOLLOWING HISTORY’S MOST FAMOUS VIKINGS! LEGENDARY ELRIC OF MELNIBONE SF SAGA TO BECOME TV SERIES ‘VALHALLA’ EPIC SERIES HISTORY’S MOST FAMOUS VIKINGS

The Vikings saga will continue on Netflix. The streamer has picked up Vikings: Valhalla, a sequel to the hit series that is heading into its sixth and final season on History. I hear Netflix has ordered 24 episodes of the new series from Vikings creator Michael Hirst and studio MGM Television, which continues the storytelling of the original.

 

Three streaming services fought for the series Valhalla will have the story which begins 100 years after the original series concludes and dramatizes the adventures of the most famous Vikings who ever lived: Leif Erikson, Freydis, Harald Harada and the Norman King William the Conqueror (also a Viking descendant). These men and women will blaze new paths as they fight for survival in an ever-changing and evolving Europe. This is the explosive next chapter of the Vikings legend. It will bring heart-pounding, unstoppable action rooted in rich characters and dramatic storytelling that shines the light on family, loyalty, and power!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘THE ELRIC SAGA’
TO BECOME EPIC TV SERIES

The Elric Saga has been translated into many languages

Speaking of epic delights, Deadline reports that New Republic Pictures has acquired rights on Michael Moorcock’s famous THE ELRIC SAGA with the plan to turn it into TV series with Glen Mazzara and Vaun Wilmott attached to pen it. It is a series of 11 complex and layered novels that take place across multiple dimensions of reality and alternative universes. They began with the legendary Elric of Melnibone novel. The saga brings sword and sorcery tales that centre on the title character, a brooding albino warrior who presides over an unruly, decadent island nation. The novels follow Elric on a series of adventures, in which he is betrayed by his cousin, sent into exile and attempts to come to terms with his own humanity.

Labels: ADAPTATION, ELRIC SAGA, MICHAEL HIRST, NETFLIX,

‘Vikings: Valhalla’: Netflix Orders ‘Vikings’ Sequel Series From Michael Hirst, Jeb Stuart & MGM TV

The Vikings saga will continue on Netflix. The streamer has picked up Vikings: Valhalla, a sequel to the hit series that is heading into its sixth and final season on History. I hear Netflix has ordered 24 episodes of the new series from Vikings creator Michael Hirst and studio MGM Television, which continues the storytelling of the original.

Written and executive produced by feature writer Jeb Stuart (Die Hard, The Fugitive), Vikings: Valhalla begins 100 years after the original series concludes and dramatizes the adventures of the most famous Vikings who ever lived: Leif Erikson, Freydis, Harald Harada and the Norman King William the Conqueror (also a Viking descendant). These men and women will blaze new paths as they fight for survival in an ever-changing and evolving Europe. This is the explosive next chapter of the Vikings legend.

Stuart executive produces with Vikings executive producers Hirst and Morgan O’Sullivan for MGM Television.

When Deadline broke the news in January that History’s flagship drama would be coming to an end after Season 6, we also revealed that Hirst and MGM TV were looking to extend the Vikings franchise with a new series, written and exec produced by Stuart, who had been handpicked by Hirst.

At the time, History was in talks with MGM TV about the offshoot. But interest in the project quickly grew as streamers with deep pockets went after the hot, global-appeal property. By this fall, Vikings: Valhalla was in a bidding situation with three major streaming companies in pursuit. Netflix landed the series in a pricey deal with a massive commitment, by its standards, of 24 episodes. Netflix’s average season size is eight to 10 episodes.

Vikings is accustomed to large orders — it has been producing 20 episodes a season since its fourth season; they have been airing in 10-episode half-seasons.

The mothership Vikings series currently is not available on Netflix; it’s streaming on Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. Netflix is expected to pursue SVOD rights to Vikings to have on the platform alongside sequel Vikings: Valhalla. 

“I am beyond excited that we are announcing the continuation of our Vikings saga,” Hirst said. “I know that the millions of our fans across the globe will be thrilled by the belief being shown in our show by MGM and Netflix. Jeb Stuart, a truly wonderful writer, will bring new story-lines and a powerful visceral vision to stories about some of the most famous Vikings known to history.

Hirst, who also created The Tudors and co-created Camelot, has a first-look deal at MGM. In addition to him and O’Sullivan, much of the Vikings team in all departments will return for the sequel. It will be filmed in Ireland where the original series was shot.

MGM

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Michael, Morgan, Jeb and Netflix on the next chapter in the incredible Vikings universe,” said Steve Stark, MGM’s President of Television Production and Development. “Valhalla has been a labor of love for everyone involved and as we look ahead to the continuation of this great saga, we are excited to know that fans the world over will have the opportunity to continue with the series on its new home at Netflix.”

Vikings has been an important show for MGM TV. It marked the first series order for the company as it was rebuilding itself post-bankruptcy. The TV studio has ramped up its portfolio since; it also includes the Emmy-winning The Handmaid’s Tale and Fargo.

When he originally was tapped to spearhead the Vikings followup series, Stuart was working with History sibling A+E Studios as creator, writer and executive producer of animated World War II drama series The Liberator, which initially had been developed for History but ended up at Netflix.

History

Vikings: Valhalla promises to be everything that fans love about the franchise: heart-pounding, unstoppable action rooted in rich characters and dramatic storytelling that shines the light on family, loyalty and power,” said Channing Dungey, VP Original Series at Netflix. “We are thrilled to bring the next iteration of the Vikings saga to life with Michael Hirst, Jeb Stuart, Morgan O’Sullivan and MGM Television.”

Created and executive produced by Hirst, who has written every episode, Vikings was a breakout ratings hit when it debuted in 2013 and remains History’s No. 1 scripted series of all time, successfully overcoming a number of cast changes, including the exit of original lead Travis Fimmel, whose character Ragnar Lothbrok’s story arc came to an end in Season 4.

Vikings originally set out to follow the adventures of Ragnar Lothbrok (Fimmel) and tell the sagas of Ragnar’s band of Viking brothers and his family. Because it was based on actual historical figures and events, Vikings had a finite number of stories to tell and had been building toward an end, set by Hirst as the creative mastermind behind the series.

The Noble Coachman Chapter 7

The Noble Coachman 2.99 Amazon

 

Chapter 7
Twenty Years of Waiting

 

Clyde Dorset was still at a quite capable age for a driver when he fell climbing from the box because his boot heel slipped off a spoke. Squeaks jumped down from the bench. “Father, I think your leg may be broken.” After the doctor had left, Lord Stokes had a private talk with him. They spoke about half an hour.

Squeaks paced outside the door, hoping she would be given a chance to drive His Lordship. Finally, Lord Stokes left the room, and she went in to hear what her father was going to tell her.

“Father, I am sorry about your broken leg, really; I am, but I cannot help but be anxious to drive on my own.”

“Yes, I can see how broken-hearted you are over my injury,” Clyde smiled. “I must look at those boot heels and see if they’re worn. Remember that in the future. Squeaks, His Lordship has approved of you driving, but he has insisted you shall have a footman standing the rear for the first week. For that, I am relieved. You will not be alone. As you drive to areas where you will wait, it will be tedious unless it is some type of ball or meeting. There you will be with many other male drivers, that will wish to speak with you. The young ones will be immature and do stupid things to catch your attention. Most of them will swarm you since I won’t be there to flick the whip. That concerns me most, child, as it does indeed worry His Lordship. He believes you’re capable but a little gullible.”

“Father, we’re not going over that talk again, are we? Every maid in the house has told me about men and their needs. You are a gentleman, and I am a lady . . . of sorts. My behavior will respect the Stokes’ name. I want to experience more of life, but I will not be irresponsible with my conduct.”

“Squeaks, I am not worried about your behavior. The drivers are going to find you unique and highly appealing. You saw Kip’s interest in you. If you keep with the in-service drivers, I would feel better about allowing you out alone. I know all the ones that park at Parliament daily, but now and again there are independents, such as Kip. Their words may be crude and embarrassing; God knows, most young men are like that.”

“Father, this is the third time I hear the same words. I do not think you see me for the age I am. I will never put myself in situations, which would make either of us embarrassed. I am not your average naïve young woman. No one could be naive, living here with a staff of this size. I’ve slapped a few faces and felt my backside patted more times than you know about. And here I stand, still chaste. And I like Kip very much. You should be happy about that.”

“Is it him or his horses,” Clyde laughed.

“Who’s going to be my footman?” Squeaks quickly changed the subject.

“I believe Boots is being assigned to you. He’s looking forward to it, probably more than he should, if you ask me. At least, he’s big and strong.”

“Father, he can scare off anyone with that stern look he’s mastered. However, I don’t want him hovering. That will make me look scared. And I am anything but that.”

Clyde Dorset laughed. “You will be given your daily routes and times.”

“I think it is Lord Stokes’s normal routine. First, the House of Lords until midday, then it says ‘unknown’ after that.”

“That could be anywhere, Squeaks. Most likely in London, but you could have to drive through the rain or dense fog.”

“I understand that quite well, Father. Now don’t fuss. Start at this moment and begin to get well. Stay in bed and read. I brought you some books to choose from. I put them somewhere, here they are. Maggie should be up with your dinner soon. I have to go, Father. Don’t worry about me,” Squeaks said, kissing her father on the forehead.

“Good luck, Rebecca.”

Squeaks hadn’t heard her name as Rebecca for a long time. She really was on her father’s mind. Time would prove to him; she was capable of doing the job as it should be done, even with his constant counsel.

Squeaks went into her room and checked herself in the mirror. Although she had worn her livery for a long time, she would be alone, holding the whip and reins tomorrow, and people would look. She wanted to appear at her smartest. Feeling good about herself, she headed off to find Boots to talk about the route.

 

The following morning, Kip was at the House of Lords early. This time, he wanted to leave a note for his father rather than face him in public. Kip mounted the stairs and met with a reception desk attendant as he entered. He handed the note to the gentleman there and left.

When Kip was descending the steps into the yard, he had to wait for another coach to let its passenger out. He noticed it was Lord Stokes exiting his coach and then stopping to talk with his coachman. He carried a second driver standing rear today. Kip thought that a bit unusual, but then he saw why. Squeaks, the petite young woman in her livery uniform, with raven hair piled under that beaver top hat, held the reins alone. Kip rolled his hand into a fist and placed it over his mouth to cover the broad smile.

She looks proud and majestic. I shall chase her scent and indulge myself.

Squeaks took her instructions from His Lordship, curtsied and hauled herself up the wheel peg into the box, then reined the coach to the waiting area.

Kip returned to his coach and followed since it seemed she would be waiting today. He wanted to speak with her more and find out what happened to her father.

For the next half hour, she stayed on her bench, rather than on the ground. The footman was up and down several times talking to her or pacing. Apparently, he wasn’t a second driver at all. Kip knew her Lord outranked his father. He was not aware how long the Stokes had produced heirs, but it was more than several centuries. There was no getting away from the fact that all the other waiting drivers were watching every move she made. Most of the waiting teams were owned by the higher peerage who had their private stables. As an independent, he was close to being the odd man there. He knew she was admiring his coach and horses. Perhaps, she would speak a few words with him.

He pulled a horse’s comb from his bench seat and climbed down to tidy their manes. “Miss Squeaks, I hope all is well with your father today.”

“He fell yesterday getting down and broke his leg. He will be in bed for a few weeks; I feel.”

Kip could see she was repressing a guilty smile. “I am truly sorry to hear that. Such inconvenience for him. Please tell him Kip sends his regards today. If I can help him in any way, please allow me to do so.”

“Kip, that is most kind. I think father will agree and allow me to ride with you and your team.”

“I am well pleased. Are you no longer the driver regent?” he laughed.

She blushed. “That is correct. I am His Lordship’s first driver for some time to come; I hope. I mean . . . I believe.”

“And do you work seven days a week?”

“I don’t know. There is another driver, of course, plus a fourth in training. They mainly carry the family or do odd jobs that need a coach or wagon. At least once a week, my father was allowed to rest. I should think that will be available to me, as well.”

“Do you have any reservations about being alone with me, as we go riding with you driving my horses?”

“I believe I have no reservations at all with you, even if you are a man and independent.”

“I wasn’t aware I was being tested, but I think I have just been complimented. I’m not so sure I like a woman being comfortable with me. I want her to be excited about my company, and find me mysterious.” Kip laughed.

“I will be excited; I know,” she replied in a child-like way.

“Yes, but it will only be for my team of horses. However, I will allow you to use me just to get to them.” Kip heard a faint giggle from her.

“Hearing no rebuttal on that subject, I am a bit saddened. I thought it might be my horses and not me. Should you have a free day soon and you have been given permission by the Butler, your father, and His Lordship, the Prime Minister, the Queen, and The Arch Bishop, please send me a note. I will gladly set aside the day.”

Squeaks bubbled up with laughter at his remark. “No, you too, are part of the excitement. I just didn’t know if I should say that. I can’t remember talking with a man outside the castle walls. I’m afraid I don’t know what and when I can speak. You will forgive me and . . . and correct me?”

Boots, her footman, came from the rear and gave Kip a stern look. Kip was nearly half a foot taller than Boots.  Kip smiled at his attempted scrutiny. “With honor, Miss Squeaks, I will be glad to correct you. Look around at all these fellow drivers who will be your close friends someday.”

“Kip, this is Boots. He is a footman who will be in attendance with me this week. Somehow, I doubt my father will be happy about being good friends with all of them.”

“I must admit, I am guilty of those same thoughts. So, Boots, can you drive as well?” Kip asked, wanting to ingratiate himself to her overseer.

“I do not. I can do anything with the coach, such as change a wheel. I can saddle and ride a horse, but I have never driven a team.”

While Squeaks patted his horses, Kip continued. “Everyone at Stokes Castle must be proud of this young lady for her skills. By the way, what is your primary function at Stokes Castle?”

“I mainly serve at table and other odd jobs, such as assisting at the front door when guests arrive.”

“I know how important that job is, serving table. How many are on staff at Stokes?” Kip asked, catching a glance from Squeaks.

“Counting outdoor as well?”

“Yes.”

Squeaks held her whip horizontally by both palms as she bent her head and clicked her boot toes together. Here comes the embarrassment.

“Perhaps a total of eighty to eighty-five. They have lovely gardens and grounds.”

“Eighty-five?  That many, mm?” Kip let out a little sigh that only Squeaks could hear. He saw a smile being stifled as he noticed her profile.

“Miss Squeaks, would you care for my comb and brush, which I have been holding?”

“No, not at this time. It appears you have brushed them this morning.”

“I have. We, independents, do not have grooms or stable boys to do our work. We love our horses and prefer to tend them with great care. It bonds us to our horses.” Kip was getting so rattled at her looking up at him when he spoke, that he wasn’t sure if he made sense anymore.

“Tsk.”

Kip burst forth laughing at her response. She did not know her own unbridled charm.

“Who did you drive today, Mr. Kip, if I may ask?”

“You may ask, and I will answer, no one.”

“No one?”

“I came to deliver a note to someone inside. I have completed that. I stay to talk with you and keep you company.”

“But you are giving up fares, are you not?”

“I am. However, I have my priorities.”

“Am I one of your priorities?” Squeaks asked, in pure innocense.

Thankfully, one driver approached them under the guise of looking at Kip’s horses, so Kip introduced Squeaks to him. Then another walked over … and a third and a fourth. In little time, the peerage drivers were coming to meet Miss Squeaks of Stokes Castle. Many remarked on her name, and Kip heard the story repeated. She was being swarmed, so he took to his bench to watch and listen from overhead.

After another half an hour, “Excuse me, gentlemen, you are exhausting me with your questions.” She threaded her way through several men, hopped her wheel peg, taking to her bench.

Kip knew any minute she would glance his way, so he looked elsewhere, pretending to be unaffected by her popularity. The lads drifted away, suddenly not interested in his horses today. He laughed to himself.

“Miss Squeaks, it has been delightful seeing you this morning. I must be on my way. Don’t forget to watch for your master coming down those steps over there.” Kip pointed, in jest.

“I know where he exits,” she said, sporting a small frown like she had just been insulted. “It has been amusing seeing you, too. Will you be here tomorrow? Will I be a priority?”

“If you wish me to be here, I will be most honored to keep you company for a while.”

“I must admit; that gathering was a bit frightening. I was pleased you were near. I thought Boots was going to start growling.”

“He does have a face to warn people away.”

“Yes, if you do not mind, I would like your company until I can get used to this. I cannot pay you.”

“Miss Squeaks, I think I am offended,” he smiled, lifting his nose in the air. “If you think I would ever do such a courtesy for money, you have much to learn about me. And I hope you will want to do that, as I wish to do that with you. Until tomorrow then. Good day.” Kip tipped his hat and ruffled the reins, pulled away, allowing Squeaks to wonder if he was in earnest.

Kip was thoroughly entertained and immersed in emotions by the lady driver this morning. He pulled out of the yard, feeling he had acquitted himself well. Perhaps later, he might wait out on the street and watch for her exit. He would like to see how she reined.

 

Kip did not want to scare Miss Squeaks by following directly behind her, so he allowed several coaches to pass before entering the main thoroughfare. There were shouts for his service, but he was more interested in watching the young lady. She amazed him. He was stunned at her actual talent of turning that team. Several times she had to pass men calling to her when they recognized she was a woman. She paid them no mind. Nearing an ill-behaved horse with its frantic driver trying to calm him down, she negotiated her way around the disturbance without a pause and used a very deft hand to guide the team away without swaying the rider. Kip felt she was quite skilled in her craft. He planned more than hoped they would meet for a drive soon.

Kip veered off and looked for fares for the next several hours while waiting to meet his father in an outlying pub.

 

Arriving home with His Lordship, Squeaks felt very good about her first day out. The Butler saw to the coach door, but Lord Stokes stopped to talk with his new driver.

“Well, Squeaks, how did it go today, waiting with all those men?”

“Sir, I spoke with independent driver Kip for about half an hour. Then many drivers came over to introduce themselves. Although Kip could have been out taking fares, he stayed to watch over me along with Boots. I will say the drivers were very polite and friendly, asking if I needed any help, but there were so many of them. I finally returned to my box, and they left. Then driver Kip left.”

“Squeaks, do not ever become comfortable and think they are mates. You are a woman after all. I do feel, as your father assures me, that the drivers are polite. They are gentlemen, at least most of the ones in service. However, it is something I wish you would not totally rely on. Always be on your guard. Being a woman, you are a target for thieves; not knowing you do not carry money. Have you been trained in the use of a firearm?”

Yes, sir. I’m quite good, I’ve been told, sir,” she laughed.”

“I believe I was more nervous than you, today. Go see your father and let him know of your day and then find me in my study. I would like to talk a little further with you.”

“Yes, milord.”

Squeaks retired the carriage and team to the stablemen. She could do it herself, but today she was the driver in the box and not the staff on the ground. She had earned it. The staff was smiling, seeing that she was going to play first driver to the hilt. Anxious they were, to hear how the day had gone.

Clyde heard the coach coming to the back stable. He pulled himself up in his bed to a sitting position, waiting for his daughter to rush through the door, bursting with excitement. He was not disappointed.

She knocked and then did not wait for a command to enter, and upon seeing her cheerful face, her father said, “Did you not tend to your team, young lady?”

“But Father that is a stableman’s job. I am the driver.”

“Come here,” he said, holding out his arms to her. “You seem to have won the day.”

“I believe so Father. Well, almost, anyway.”

“What happened?” Her father looked more serious.

Squeaks told him how she had met many drivers today and how Kip stayed to watch over her. “There are so many, Father.”

“I have warned you, child. And that is the worst that happened, even though that could have been serious for you?”

“You would have been proud how I worked my way around a rearing horse with his driver on the ground, hanging on to the reins. I gently guided our team away from him. I don’t think His Lordship shifted at all. However, he does want to talk with me after seeing you. And Kip and Boots were conversing about the staff. I’m afraid Boots told him how many work here. I could only look at the ground.”

“Did His Lordship seem mad about anything?”

“Father, you know His Lordship. He’s concerned for me. He never gets mad at me, even when I was little. I don’t think he wants me to trust other drivers.”

“I see. Well, we have been over that a hundred times. I suppose he wants to know how that part went today.”

“Oh, His Lordship did ask me if I have been trained with a firearm. I told him I had.”

“All right, dear. Run along. Don’t keep him waiting.”

Squeaks kissed her father and hurried out the door.

 

As she left the staff area and headed into the family’s quarters, she tugged on her uniform jacket and checked her skirt. She wanted to look smart. She held her small top hat, having piled the long flowing ribbons inside. If Morgan, the Butler, approached her, she would hand him her hat and laugh. She was disappointed; he didn’t appear.

Squeaks knocked lightly on the door and heard the word “enter.”

“You wanted to see me, Your Lordship?”

Lord Stokes pitched his feathered pen on the desk, rocked back in his chair, clasping his hands behind his head. “Did you have any other issues today that we need to discuss?”

“I do not believe so, milord.”

“Nothing?”

“After an hour of men talking at me, I felt they should be doing other things, so I returned to the bench.”

“Oh, they should be doing something with their time rather than looking at you, is that what you thought? And you decided to climb on high, so they could go on about their business?”

“Yes, sir.”

Lord Stokes covered his laugh with a cough. “So far I hear nothing that should be confessed. This Kip chap, I believe I know who that is. Yes, he is a very well-respected independent driver. I have heard his name mentioned at the club. For evening affairs, he will dress in tails and bring his fine coach and horses. For normal fares during the day, I think he has another coach, fancy but not so elegant.”

“I believe he delivered a note to someone inside.”

“I called you in here to find out how you felt out there, and I wanted to compliment you on negotiating past the horse that was acting up in the street. Getting around that disturbance, you showed great skill. I was well pleased.”

“Oh, thank you, milord. I enjoyed my day. I will hope tomorrow brings a longer drive.”

“Perhaps it will, but I will be in Parliament longer.”

“I will be fine, milord. Will you send the footman with me?”

“Yes, Squeaks, all this week.”

“Yes, sir. Is that all?”

“Yes, that is all. A beautiful drive today, Miss Squeaks.”

She curtsied and left the room with a huge smile. Morgan stepped inside to pull the doors closed and saw Lord Stokes laughing to himself.

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