The Lost Northbound Train – Part Eighteen

Chapter Eighteen – When Two Become One


The cold winds announcing fall began coming in from the north when, one evening, Father Patrick visited Betty’s cottage.

“I’ve good news for you, John and Margaret, but there’s also some bad news.”

“Oh!” Margaret’s anguished cry startled John, and he went to put his arm around her shoulder.

“For God’s sake, Father! Do tell us! You are upsetting Margaret.”

“I’m sorry, my dear,” Patrick apologized, “but I’m afraid a proper civil marriage isn’t possible. The Registrar has to enter your marriage in the register, and since you have no proper address nor legal whereabouts, that won’t be possible. However, you can marry in a religious marriage and be registered here, in the parish where Betty lives. Mr Routhledge, the local vicar, has agreed to perform the ceremony. You could be husband and wife within three weeks from the date the banns are published.”

Margaret immediately looked at John. Although her heart had just made a huge jump of joy inside her, she wasn’t sure about her betrothed’s reaction. John had set rules for himself that could be very strict. Being engaged to him, she was now subjected to those same rules.

She was seeing conflicting feelings on that strong face of his; a bit of doubt, a touch of fear but also, relief.

“My darling,” he said softly, “do you find it convenient if we go to Mr Routhledge and ask him to publish our banns?”

Margaret flung herself around his neck in sheer joy!


On the tenth of October 2013, John and Margaret were wed in the parish church of St Mary’s at Sileby by Mr Routhledge, the vicar. Margaret was wearing a beautiful, mint-green dress in the finest cotton, that reached halfway down her legs, in transparent white stockings, to reveal her slim feet in short, white, high-heeled boots. To protect herself from the biting wind, she had donned a woollen coat, a bit longer than her dress, and of a green a bit darker than that of her dress. She could not stop glancing at her bridegroom in his three-piece black suit of fine wool over a light blue linen shirt and matching tie. Even without the glorious cravats he used to wear in 1852, John managed to look simply dashing.

Father Patrick was there too and acted as a witness for John and also, for Jowan. He and Marjorie finally decided to be husband and wife and begin a real family, now that their baby was duly underway. Betty was radiant with pride and joy for the two lovely couples in front of the altar. She was Margaret’s witness and Dorothy, Paul Burrows’ wife had agreed to be Marjorie’s. Of course, Jowan’s parents were also present.

After the ceremony, the whole company went to “The Green Huntsman” to celebrate with a fine meal and a few bottles of champagne.

John and Margaret were then settled in a taxi, which brought them to a nearby hotel for their wedding night. This was Mr Thorn’s wedding present for the newlyweds, as a token of his appreciation for John, who’d worked so hard in the pub. They would stay for three days and enjoy a quiet honeymoon in Leicester.

After the door closed behind them, they found themselves in a pretty room of large proportions, upholstered in a twenty-first century version of the Victorian style, with dark mahogany furniture and long, dark red velvet curtains. A flower-patterned wallpaper covered the walls and their feet sunk into a thick carpet of a rich brown, sprinkled with tiny rose buds. However, their eyes were drawn to the big four-poster bed with its silken bedspread.

Margaret’s breath escaped her lips in a helpless little sigh of both anxiety and anticipation. This was her wedding night with John! She turned towards her husband and immediately was enveloped in his intense blue gaze, burning dark with unmistakeable desire. It startled her, despite the stirring of her own rising need. How familiar this feeling had become, she reflected. This surge of heat, originating low in her abdomen and spreading slowly through her entire body, until she shivered from the intensity of it.

John saw the slight shudder of fear in Margaret’s stance and his heart clenched with deep, uncontrolled love for her. He opened his arms and offered her his brightest smile.

“Come, my love.” He said it with a voice so husky with suppressed need, that Margaret instantly responded to his call and stepped into the waiting circle of his arms. She felt so safe and so whole as her cheek came to rest against the hard surface of his chest.

“My sweet Margaret …” The deep, warm rumble of his voice kindled the fire within her to a heat and Margaret lifted her face for him to kiss her. He took her mouth in his with a fierceness that made her want to press even closer to him. Plundering her mouth with his tongue, revelling in the sweet, clean taste of it, John moaned and let his hands move to the back of her dress. Slowly unzipping it, his fingers felt only the soften silkiness of her creamy skin until they found her bra, which he unhooked deftly. Margaret gasped as her breasts came free from their restraint.

“Shhh, love … relax … let me finish.”

Suppressing the burning need to simply throw her onto the bed and take her, John forced himself to go slowly. He eased Margaret’s dress from her shoulders, removing the bra in the process, and his hands followed the fabric as it fell to the ground, tracing the lush yet delicate curves of her gorgeous body. The soft moans, escaping from her moist lips, delighted him to a sudden edge of fierce arousal, and he pressed her against his body to let her feel how he ached for her.

Margaret felt the long hardness push against the silk of her drawers, and a sudden wetness pooled between her legs in a rush of heat. It was breathtaking! Swirls of molten fire started to originate in her belly with tantalizing progress. She found herself tugging at John’s jacket and removing it. Then she attacked his waistcoat and shirt, unfastening buttons as they came. Finally, at last, she found the warm yet soft skin of his bare chest and roved her hands over the taut muscles in delight.

“Slowly, my sweet. Do not rush things.”

John’s suave baritone voice sounded at the edge of her ear, and Margaret closed her eyes, better to savour the moment. She felt John’s hands slide down her body to her legs. Her stockings were being peeled off her legs and her drawers followed and, at the back of her mind, she acknowledged vaguely that she was naked.

She looked down to see her husband’s gaze travel over her in awe. Heat swirling through her, she continued working on John’s clothing with a determination of steel. She wanted him naked too, as quickly as possible.

That goal finally achieved, they stood contemplating each other for a while, eyes big with wonder.

“My God, Margaret! You are so incredibly beautiful, my love …”

“So are you, John … I … it is the first time I … oh, oh, it’s … it’s so … “

“What?” John chuckled. “Don’t you like what you see? I can put on my clothes again and …”

“No! No, don’t do that!” Margaret shrieked in panic.

John swooped her up in his arms so swiftly her breath seemed to become solid within her. With endless tenderness, he positioned her on the turned-up bed and lowered himself beside her. His hand followed the soft curve of her cheek to cup her face and kiss her. Margaret gave herself over to that kiss with rapt eagerness, and now her body was aching for him. John felt the length of her slender figure touch every inch of him and again he had to control himself fiercely not to go till the end.

With slow, teasing touches of lips, tongue and teeth, he traced the curve of her neck to descend further to her shoulder and lower, to the onset of her breasts until, at last, his lips encountered the hard peaks. Margaret gave a small cry of delight when he nibbled, first one peak and then, the other. The ache in her belly became a roaring fire, and she pressed herself hard against the steely length of him, marvelling in the delicious tortures it unleashed in her.

While Margaret was savouring all those swirls deep inside her, John began kissing her along her flat stomach and down to the dark triangle that covered her femininity. God, the scent of her! All roses and cream, so completely woman! He gently parted her thighs with trembling hands to gain access to her deepest core, kissing her warm folds, tasting her sweetness and shivering with the delight of it.

Margaret arched her back to meet his mouth even closer, swept up by waves and waves of sheer, uncontrolled pleasure. She buried her hands in John’s thick, black curls, slid her hands over the hard muscles of his back. Her legs gripped him around the waist with only one purpose; to bring that tantalizing mouth of his deeper into her core. Suddenly, she came in a rush of heat so fierce that she cried out in the bliss of her intense release.

John positioned himself between her thighs and slowly eased himself into her wetness. Oh Lord! She was still pulsing with the bliss of her aftermath. It tore at his control so fiercely that he had to fight the incredibly powerful urge to let himself go.

He began thrusting carefully while he waited patiently between strokes until she adjusted herself to his weight and to the rhythm of he set. When Margaret started to follow his pace, he gradually began pushing harder and faster.

A faint little whimper escaped her as a sharp pain meandered through her deepest core.

John instantly stopped and drew her close.

“I am so sorry, my darling, did I hurt you? The pain won’t last, sweetheart, do not be afraid.”

“John …”

“Yes, my heart?”

“Do not stop, please?”

Exulting in her eagerness, John resumed his lovemaking, thrusting gently into her sleek womanhood. As he felt Margaret respond again to his caresses, he gave himself over to his own arousal completely. Rushes of heat swept through him as his strokes became stronger and faster. Margaret climaxed suddenly and she cried out, her inner muscles clenching around his manhood, which caused the wave of desire to sweep him higher and higher until it pushed him over the edge in a powerful release.

Shock after shock of sheer bliss rolled over him, and his breath was harsh and loud as he struggled for air. Sweet Lord in Heaven! Later, much later, he lay down beside Margaret, taking her into his arms and, pulling the bedclothes over them both, he cradled her tousled head against his heart. Sweet oblivion settled over John, now that Margaret was finally his.

A League of Their Own 1992

The All-American Girls’ Professional Baseball League was founded in 1943, when most of the men of baseball-playing age were far away in Europe and Asia fighting World War II. The league flourished until after World War II, when, with the men’s return, the league was consigned to oblivion. Director Penny Marshall and screenwriters Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel re-create the wartime era when women’s baseball looked to stand a good chance of sweeping the country. The story begins as a candy-bar tycoon enlists agents to scour the country to find women who could play ball. In the backwoods of Oregon, two sisters — Dottie (Geena Davis) and Kit (Lori Petty) — are discovered. Dottie can hit and catch, while Kit can throw a mean fastball. The girls come to Chicago to try out for the team with other prospects that include their soon-to-be-teammates Mae Mordabito (Madonna), Doris Murphy (Rosie O’Donnell), and Marla Hooch (Megan Cavanagh). The team’s owner, Walter Harvey (Gary Marshall) needs someone to coach his team and he picks one-time home-run champion Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks), who is now a broken-down alcoholic. After a few weeks of training, as Dugan sobers up, the team begins to show some promise. By the end of the season, the team has improved to the point where they are competing in the World Series (which is no big deal, since there are only four teams in the league).

Tom Hiddleston: “ ‘Thor’ Fans Think I Can Pole Dance”

By Fraser McAlpine

Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Thor: The Dark World’

Tom Hiddleston has given a lovely interview over at the UK Huffington Post in support of the Blu Ray/DVD release of Thor: The Dark World, in which he reveals that fans have started writing their own narratives about what he is and isn’t good at, based on certain things he’s expected to do on screen when playing Loki.

He explains: “I’ve had some very strange fan mail over the years. There’s a moment in the first Thor movie where Thor and Loki are engaged in a fight. I have a spear in my hand and I make a huge leap to spear Chris – but he dodges out of the way. The spear is embedded into the ground, so I use the spear as a lever to spin myself around and kick him in the chest. Well, some fans have interpreted this as emblematic of my hidden talent at pole dancing. I’ve received a surprising number of depictions of myself in a pair of tight briefs and a horny helmet dancing on a pole. That is pretty weird and hilarious.”

And when asked whether he had a mischievous a childhood as Loki, he said:

“I was quite mischievous, certainly with my sisters. However, I never tried to subjugate the Earth.

“Once, my cousin and I thought it would be fun to hide underneath our beds at bath time. We were four or five years old, and we were in the middle of a game, so we didn’t want to sit in the bath. We stayed there for hours, but we decided to come out when my aunt picked up the phone to call the police. I’m generally well behaved now, but that was 25 years ago. That’s the sort of thing you do when you’re five, right?”

He also explained how he came to appear in the now highly-prized, musclebound audition clip for the lead role in the first Thor movie, saying that it was during his first trip to LA for casting calls.

“I auditioned for everything under the sun: television series, films that you’ve seen, films that have been huge hits – and films that haven’t. Thor was one of them and it was a potential opportunity for me because I had a connection to Kenneth Branagh; I’d worked with him in the theatre. I thought, ‘At least there’s someone in this world of Hollywood who I don’t have to prove something to because he knows I can act.’ It was just a matter of trying to prove it to the studio, so I had to audition.”

He continued: “I’m really proud of the audition. It proved a lot to me as an actor because I’ve never committed so much to an audition before. The guys at Marvel called and said, “Can you put on as much muscle as you can in six weeks?” So I went from 180 pounds to 198 pounds and I had 7% body fat. I’ve still got the pictures to prove it. I’ve never challenged myself like that before. I basically showed myself what was possible.”

And thankfully, having done all that work, Sir Ken’s decision to cast Chris Hemsworth as Thor proved to be Tom’s exceptional good fortune. Something he’ll readily admit:

“In a way, it was a gift – and I have no regrets about it at all. I’ve never once thought, ‘I wish I were playing Thor.’”

Lore 2012

The daughter of Nazis arrested by Allied forces ventures across Germany with her four younger siblings in hopes of reaching their grandmother, encountering a young Jewish refugee along the way who may prove to be their only hope of surviving the harrowing ordeal in this World War II drama based on Rachel Seiffert’s novel The Dark Room. It’s the spring of 1945. Adolf Hitler is dead and Allied forces are advancing through Germany, arresting and imprisoning Nazis as the fractured country’s “final victory” slips permanently out of reach. Swept out of her opulent Bavarian home in a whirlwind by her father, an SS officer, and her embittered mother, 14-year-old Lore (Saskia Rosendahl) and her four younger siblings occupy a secluded farm; one day, their mother disappears down a long country road after telling Lore to find her way to her grandmother’s house in Hamburg. Determined yet terrified, the shaken teen gathers up her siblings and sets out on a difficult journey across war-torn Germany. Later, just when it begins to seem as if all hope is lost, the weary young travelers cross paths with Thomas (Kai Malina), a young, enigmatic drifter who selflessly protects and feeds them. The fact that Thomas is Jewish challenges everything Lore has been taught to believe about the people whom the Führer despised, sparking an intense internal conflict in the confused adolescent, who will do anything to ensure the safety of her younger brothers and sisters.


The Lost Northbound Train – Part Seventeen

Chapter Seventeen – Setting Things In Motion

The priest continued in the same, relaxed way, not giving them a chance to recollect themselves after the first shock John and Margaret had suffered.


“I have to dress the old-fashioned way, you know. People in this neighbourhood still feel strongly about every man that holds a position in religion; they want to know him for what he is, no more, no less. Certainly, no less. A priest must look like one. I came here in jeans and leather jacket but I soon changed into traditional garb since I was ignored, even by the few Irish that live here. Now, what can I do for you, my good people? Sit down, sit down. Sharia, my pet, won’t you ask Mrs Trundle if she can serve us some tea, there’s a good girl?”

Betty, noticing the couple’s embarrassment, took over.

“Patrick, this is John Thornton and his fiancée, Margaret Hale. They’ve been staying at my house since a couple of weeks now. They would like to be married, only, they are illegally staying in the country. I know how you dealt with cases like that in the past and I thought you might be able to help them.”

The priest showed no visible surprise or rejection.

“So, you don’t have the necessary documents to prove your identity? Well, you just have come to the right neighbourhood, then. Half the residents are in the exact same position as you are. But, forgive me for asking, Thornton looks like a real British name to me, and so does Hale. What’s happening here?”

The indomitable Betty opened her big handbag and pulled a book out of it.

“Here, Patrick. I think you should have a look at this. Go directly for the back cover.”

How am I to dress up in my finery, and go off and away to smart parties, after the sorrow I have seen today?’


When her father leaves the Church in a crisis of conscience, Margaret Hale is uprooted from her comfortable home in Hampshire to move with her family to the north of England. Initially repulsed by the ugliness of her new surroundings in the industrial town of Milton, Margaret becomes aware of the poverty and suffering of the local mill-workers and develops a passionate sense of social justice.

This is intensified by her tempestuous relationship with the mill-owner and self-made man

John Thornton, as their fierce opposition over treatment over his employees masks a deeper attraction.

In North and South Elizabeth Gaskell skilfully fused individual feeling with social concern, and in Margaret Hale created one of the most original heroines of Victorian literature.

John watched the priest as he was reading with sharp attention what was on the page. The absurdity of it all again hit him with considerable force. How was one to explain what had happened to him and Margaret? John wasn’t even sure he understood himself but here he was – propelled forward into time for the span of a hundred and sixty years. It was mind-blowing!

Father Patrick looked up to gaze directly at John first and then at Margaret.

“Look here,” he said slowly, “if you hadn’t come with Betty, I would have taken you for two people who are seriously confused in their minds. People who are so shaken by life that they seek relief in extreme escapism by posing as characters out of a novel. But I have known Betty for ten years now, and she is the most level-headed person I know. So I have no choice but to believe her. You two are the John and Margaret of a Gaskell novel but you have ended up here, not only real but also with knowledge of your past lives or – at least – how this novel describes them?”

“Yes, Father,” John replied in a steady voice, “we were in a train carriage somewhere between London and Milton, in 1852. The train stopped, and we discovered that the carriage, we were in was all that was left of the train. We alighted and found ourselves in the twenty-first century.

Somehow – and do not ask me how for I have no inkling – we must have gone through a time portal.”

Father Patrick nodded.

“Well,” he mused, “it’s certainly very unusual and utterly inexplicable, but there are more things between Heaven and Earth that are also inexplicable to us, mere mortals. You must have been thoroughly shaken by the experience! A time gap of a hundred and sixty years is immense. The changes that have taken place must overwhelm the two of you.”

John smiled and took Margaret’s hand in his.

“Margaret and I are in this together, Father. We draw whatever courage we can from each other’s presence and support. But you are right; we do keep being amazed – and sometimes shocked – by all the unknown new things that we’re discovering. It’s mind-boggling what people have achieved over the years.”

Father Patrick studied the couple sitting in front of his desk with interest. They were so obviously not in their right place, even though they were dressed in jeans, T-shirt and denim jacket. The girl’s hair was a rich, chocolate brown, wavy and thick, and tied in a tail in the nape of her neck but Patrick could easily picture her with her hair piled up on top of her head as was the custom in the eighteen-hundreds. The man’s bearing was full of quiet dignity and strong authority, as was befitting his status as a manufacturer from 1852. They were deeply in love; he could feel the strength of that love in every look they gave each other, in every sweet, yet very shaky smile. They were also very afraid. The force of that fear seeped through their every action and was visible in the depths of their eyes.

“What would you have me do to help you, people?” he asked quietly, folding his hands before him.

The girl spoke for the first time, directing her blue eyes at him.

“We want you to marry us, Father.”


After they had all returned to Betty’s cottage and explained to Jowan where they had been, Margaret wanted Marjorie to go and rest. The young woman’s face was very pale and she seemed exhausted. Betty and Margaret then saw to supper.

“Do you think Father Patrick can marry us, Betty?” Margaret asked.

“No, dear, since you and John are no Roman-Catholics. But he knows a lot of people, and I’m sure he can find a clergyman of The Church of England to perform the ceremony. I was surprised, though, when he said he wanted to read ‘North & South’ first.”

“I am not,” John said, matter-of-factly. “If I were in his shoes, I would have done the same thing. It is of the uttermost importance for a priest to know everything there is about the couple.”

“So you’re really going through with it, John?” Jowan asked, while he sat down and began buttering toast.

“Of course I am. Margaret and I have chosen each other for life, and we want to seal our union for life, also.” He extended a hand to Margaret who took it and smiled sweetly at him.

“I should go and bring Marjorie something to eat,” she said. “She was really tired, Jowan. She’s well up in her second trimester now, yet her nausea spells keep coming up still.”

When she entered Marjorie’s room, Margaret found her friend sitting in a chair in front of the window.

“I brought you some toast and scrambled eggs and some tea, Marjorie. You should be in bed, you know. You need a lot of rest.”

Marjorie swung round to face her, distress plainly on her face.

“I envy you, Margaret. What did John do to persuade you to marry him?”

Margaret put her tray on the dressing table and looked at her friend in astonishment.

“What do you mean ‘persuade me’? John proposed to me a long time ago, you know that from – well, from the film and the book. I was so stupid and stubborn. I did not see what a good man he was and how much he loved me. I have a lot to make up to him, Marjorie, for I must have caused him great sorrow. Yet, he did not stop loving me but kept hoping we would come together. God knows I have kept him waiting a long time, refusing to realise that I, too had started loving him. It is only natural that we should become man and wife, now that we both know we love each other.”

“Yes, but when did you realise that you loved him? What did persuade you that he was the right man for you? What had changed, so long after that first proposal?”

Margaret suddenly found herself blushing with embarrassment.

“Marjorie, I think I was attracted to John from the first time I set eyes on him, in the sorting room at Marlborough Mills. Yet, the attraction turned instantly into revulsion, when I saw him beat Stephens. I remember being troubled for days, after that. I kept seeing his angry face, and the appalling violence he used to punish a worker who was weaker than himself. From then on, I fought the attraction and focussed on the revulsion. John – time after time – confused me when one minute, he was arrogant and cruel and abrasive and, the next minute, he was compassionate and civil. And at some point, he was downright sweet. That was when he broke through my defences, so gradually that I did not see it. After Mason came to tell me John had annulled the coroner’s inquest after the death of Leonards, it suddenly dawned on me just how much he must love me. At that same moment, I realised I loved him too.”

“But he withdrew from you then, isn’t it? He was persuading himself that it would never work out between the two of you.”

“Yes!” Margaret exclaimed. “Oh, I was such a goose, Marjorie! I did not know how to deal with his newfound aloofness, which hurt me very deeply. There were times when I wanted to scream at him, to shout out loud that I loved him! But my upbringing prevented me from doing so. Thank God, we got another chance, at that train station. Now I absolutely know I will never let him go again.”

Marjorie nodded, her face very earnest.

“Maybe I should let Jowan break through my defences too, isn’t it? Maybe it’s time I accepted his proposal, now that we’re going to have a baby together.”


300: Rise of an Empire * Releases March 7, 2014


Greek general Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) assembles his troops to fend off an invading Persian army led by the immortal Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and the vindictive Persian navy commander Artemisia (Eva Green) in this sequel to 300 based on the graphic novel Xerses by Frank Miller.

mpaa rating
  • Nudity
  • Profanity
  • Sexual Situations
  • Violence
  • Action
  • Historical Epic
  • War Epic


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