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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Dominic West
Jai Courtney
Yvonne Strahovski

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

Available at Amazon

Chapter Eighteen


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

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

Branson had parked the carriage and followed behind Fred.

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

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

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

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

“Do you have further information about his family?”

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

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

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

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

“Let’s go, sir.”

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


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

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

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

“Please wait here. I will ask him.”

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

Fred started down the wheel, and Branson restrained him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The post came.

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

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

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


Miss Higgins, dear Bessie …


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

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

                                          I live in hope,

Fredrick Hale


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bessie handed her the note.

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

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

“Did you tell him?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I think that is quite a step forward.”


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

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

“You are probably right.”

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

“Yes. How about you?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I guess I had better go meet him.”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

“But how about not getting mad at me?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How will I know if I love him?”

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

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

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

“Big help that was.”

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

“And you do?”

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

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

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

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

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

“That doesn’t sound nice.”

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

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

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


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


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

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

“John. This is a surprise.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“John, tell me more than that.”

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

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

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

“If you wish it.”

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

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

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

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

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



Mr Thornton Takes a Wife – Part Twenty-Nine

Chapter Twenty-Nine – Fighting for dear life

Wallpaper by Heathra on Richard Armitage

Dr. Donaldson turned to Margaret and Hannah as soon as they had laid John onto the pristine kitchen table. Mary took Hannah’s place at his side to keep hold of the severed vein.

“Ladies, I want you to leave us to do our work.  Go and lie down for a rest. You have both been shaken to the core. You, young Mistress, should try to get some sleep, for your baby’s sake. You, Mrs.Thornton, are exhausted. Please, ladies, leave?”

Margaret realised he was right. John’s mother was at the end of her wits as she was standing ramrod straight but pale as a ghost, her hands covered with John’s blood. She gently took Hannah’s arm and guided her out of the kitchen.

“Come, dear Mother, let us take care of one another.”

They climbed the stairs dragging their feet.


As soon as the women had left, Dr. Donaldson took the matter in hand. He seemed to become an entirely different person, cool and businesslike.

“Miss Dixon, you are in charge of the constant supply of hot water, bandages, or whatever we might need or call for. Mr. Higgins, take a pair of scissors and strip him. I want him removed of all his clothes. Mary, you keep the pressure on that vein while I sterilise my instruments.”

The team worked in a steady rhythm for the next three hours.

John was stripped naked and covered with a fresh sheet. Higgins was ordered to sit at his head and check his pulse whenever the doctor asked him to. He also had a bottle of ether and a cotton cloth ready, should John be showing signs to come around. The doctor wanted him absolutely motionless during the operation. Mary acted as assisting nurse when the doctor asked her to swipe away the sweat from his brow or dab up the excess of blood in the wound. She also kept her fingers firmly on the severed vein.

For all those long hours John did not stir. Higgins, who was watching him attentively, was worried by his ashen face, shallow breathing and cold dampness of skin. When finally Dr. Donaldson had the wound stitched and bandaged, he was the one who carefully wrapped John up in a clean sheet and carried him to his bedroom upstairs. From then on, the two women in John’s life who loved him fiercely, took over. They washed the dried blood from his body and dressed him in a clean nightshirt.

Dr. Donaldson came up and checked on John one last time before going home.

“All we can but do now, is wait and pray. He has lost a large amount of blood and he’s not breathing the way he should, it is too shallow. In the next hours to come, he might develop a fever. If so, you must call for me and, in the meantime, try and keep his temperature down by sponging his body with lukewarm water. Keep up your spirits, dear ladies, you are going to need them. I thank God he is young and healthy and may have a chance to overcome this.”


The doctor left together with Higgins who took the knife to Police Sergeant Mason and explained the situation to him. Mason, one of John’s friends, was thoroughly shaken by what he heard.

“Holy smoke, Higgins, this is serious! Thornton stabbed in his own mill? Who could be responsible for this? A disgruntled worker? A business competitor?”

“I don’t know!”, Higgins growled, displeased at the hint of a worker being the culprit. “But I am determined to find out and strangle the bastard with my bare hands!”


Margaret and Hannah established a strict routine in order to keep watch at John’s sickbed both day and night. Between the two of them and Dixon, they indefatigably cared for him. Checking for fever, giving him some drops of lemon water at regular times, praying for him. John, however, was in deep unconsciousness and did not stir for long hours.


There was no way she could get access to John Thornton now, the Spiteful One mused. Margaret Hale Thornton was equally unreachable while she stayed at her husband’s sickbed. Moreover, the old dragon Hannah Thornton and that bitch Dixon were in full attendance almost around the clock! Hell and damnation! She would have to rethink her whole strategy now!


Aladdin is ready to fly into cinemas May 24th

And here it is: the latest rendition of timeless classic A Whole New Worldset as the end title for Disney‘s live action ALADDIN which flies into theatres this month. It is performed by surprisingly good Zayn and awfully mismatched vocals from a singer called Zhavia Ward (I’ve never heard of her, but her singing sounds ghastly bad in the song, even offensively disrespectful to the genre, but that’s a millennial for you, sadly)! Beside new versions of the old songs, the soundtrack will have a new song as well. Will Smith and DJ Khaled will cover classic Oscar nominated song Friend Like Me. New song Speechless is performed by

The movie is a live action version of the animated hit

Princess Jasmine herself.

directed by Guy Ritchie, is written by John Augustand Ritchie based on Disney’s classic animated adventure. The film stars Will Smith as the larger than life Genie; Mena Massoud as the charming scoundrel Aladdin; Naomi Scott  as Jasmine, the beautiful, self determined princess; Marwan Kenzari as Jafar, the powerful sorcerer; Navid Negahban as the Sultan concerned with his daughter’s future; Nasim Pedrad as Dalia, Princess Jasmine’s free spirited best friend and confidante;

Mena Massoud is Aladdin in the live action remake

Billy Magnussen as the handsome and arrogant suitor Prince Anders; and Numan Acar as Hakim, Jafar’s right-hand man and captain of the palace guards. Read more in our spotlight on the movie!




One of the new projects that is trying to find buyers over at Cannes this month is John Madden‘s (Shakespeare in Love) World War II movie

Colin Firth will lead the new WW2 drama

OPERATION MINCEMEATwhich has already found its lead star in Colin Firth!

Based on the book by Ben Macintyre,the film is set in 1943 when the Allies are determined to launch an all-out assault on ‘Fortress Europe’! The story of the movie will follow two brilliant intelligence officers, Ewen Montagu (Colin Firth) and Charles Cholmondeley, who dream up an inspired and improbable disinformation strategy to help the cause. It is a richly human story of the soldiers we seldom see, who fight a different kind of war in shadows and deception, haunted by the knowledge that certainty and guarantee of success are nowhere to be found.

Brotherly Love – A North and South Novel with John Thornton – C17

 Chapter Seventeen


“You look very pretty, dear sister.”

“Indeed, she does,” replied Richard Hale.

“Thank you, both.”

Fred thought he spotted a nervousness to her. Her face couldn’t quite work up a smile.

“Any advice, Fred?”

“Are you seriously asking me that or are you humoring me?”

“I think I’m serious,” Margaret said as she sat down and tried to keep her hands from shaking.

“Margaret, just be yourself,” said her father.

“I agree. Be polite, but you always are, and if conversations ensue, speak your mind. Don’t hesitate. No playing, little Miss Mouse in the corner. Be who you are from the beginning whether you’re funny or show too much intelligence, which you could easily do. If the Captain approaches you in an un-gentleman-like fashion, embarrass him, walk to the front and call a cabby.” Fred reached into his pocket. “Advice. This is always and forever, carry the cost of a ride home.”

“That’s good advice, Margaret.”

“Here, take this and put it in your bag.”

“Thank you, Fred. That does give me some comfort.”


Fred heard the coach approaching before anyone else. He went to open the door before the knock. He’d really like to speak with Branson only a minute to confirm tomorrow’s time. Captain Waverly came to the door. “How do you do, sir,” he said to Fred. Not thinking, Fred automatically saluted the officer.

“I say old chap, are you in the Navy?”

“Yes, I was until recently.”

“Well, we must talk sometime soon. Were you an officer?”

“I lost my commission, sir. Let me get my sister.”

“Very well.”

Fred stepped back into the house, and Margaret was waiting.

As Margaret stepped out to greet the Captain, she saw Mr. Thornton standing outside his coach. That was quite the gentleman. She wondered how often that happened. All gentlemen would exit a coach and allow a lady to take her own seat.

“Good evening, Miss Hale. Thank you for this proper introduction. You are most lovely.”

“Thank you,” Margaret replied as she saw Fred hurry by them heading towards Branson. “Please excuse my brother. He needs to speak with Mr. Thornton’s driver.”

As they arrived at the coach, Mr. Thornton tipped his hat, “Good evening, Miss Hale.” He was immediately struck with her alluring frock. He thought he had seen them all, but this simple evening gown looked spectacular. She had no jewelry that caught the eye before seeing the face. Also, there was nothing drawing a man’s eye to her breasts. John encouraged Kit to enter before Margaret and sit facing his sister. Margaret entered next and then John.

Margaret realized the pattern John created in entering the coach was so that the two ladies would have room for the gowns if they sat opposite a man.

“Miss Hale, I am not sure you were properly introduced to Miss Adeline Waverly. Adeline this is Miss Margaret Hale.”

“Yes, actually we were.” The ladies exchanged polite handshakes and greetings. Margaret could feel all eyes on her undervalued apparel. She didn’t care. She was proper, Miss Waverly seemed to have set her bonnet at Mr. Thornton, and she didn’t think she would find much interest in the Captain.

The Captain opened the conversation. “Miss Hale, you and I seem to be new to this nightlife of Milton. Perhaps you and I shall learn our way around together. Do you know the restaurants of Milton?”

“I know little of Milton, itself and none of the dining houses.” Margaret saw Miss Waverly lean over and whisper something to John, who kept his stoic presence.

“Would you enjoy going out for dinners, Miss Hale?”

“Captain, please call me Margaret as I wish everyone in this carriage would do. As to going out for dinners, I cannot say. This is new to me, and I do not know you. I have quite simple tastes, sir.”

John was smiling inside as Margaret was keeping him at bay. It was a game to watch this evening.

“Margaret, I wish you to call me, Adeline, as well. I wanted to tell you how impressive your lesson was the other evening. I did not understand it, but the rumblings in the crowd seem to find it helpful. Did finishing school teach you that?”

“No, Miss Adeline, I did not attend a proper finishing school. I attended a woman’s university that had some finishing classes. I am afraid, Captain, that I may not be the kind of lady you are hoping to meet. I would not make a terribly good hostess.”

“All thoughts to the contrary, my dear.”

Margaret didn’t care to be called ‘my dear.’ She would mention it if he repeated it. “And how about you, Captain, what are your plans now that peacetime and retirement loom in front of you?”

“At the moment, I am trying to re-enter the public world. There seems little accountability outside the military and it makes me quite anxious.”


The carriage pulled to a stop in front of The Dove. Adeline mumbled something about being there again. “Adeline, The Dove is new to these people,” John whispered back.

“Yes, John. How selfish of me.”

John exited the coach and handed Margaret out, followed by Adeline. Kit quickly caught up with Margaret. He offered his arm for the walk inside, and Margaret took it reluctantly, letting go of him when they stopped.

“Good evening, Mr. Thornton and guests. I have your table ready. Please follow me.”

John laughed inwardly as the owner, who waited on him personally, had given up on learning the names of the women that he brought.

They were led to John’s table, which he never asked for, but it was prominently placed in the room.

Margaret was astounded at the size and beauty of the walls and tables. Arriving at their table, she noticed the gleaming silver and the reflections off the cut crystal stemware. A finely spun linen tablecloth covered the table, and the matching dinner linens were placed in their laps. John couldn’t help watching her look at everything around the room.

“This is a most elegant place, Mr. Thornton,” Margaret said in hushed tones.

“Yes, it is nice. Please call me John.”

A waiter brought a complimentary bottle of champagne and filled their glasses.

“I would like to make a toast,” opened the Captain. “Everyone lifted their glass. “To new friends, new places and a new life.” The glasses were clinked.

“Tell me more about this college you attended, Margaret,” asked Adeline. “You said you had some finishing classes. Can I ask what they entailed?”

“Of course, there were advanced manners, in case I meet the queen,” Margaret laughed. A basic course on how to entertain. We learned about what to expect from a proper gentleman and what to expect from someone who isn’t. We actually learned several moves to defend ourselves.” She looked at the Captain jokingly.

“We learned to ride and jump, which I particularly liked. Never know when you will be invited to a fox hunt in Milton.” Everyone laughed at that.

“Let me think a bit. There were small classes on dressing properly for the occasion, including balls, riding and working hours. There were a few others, but they do not come to mind.”

“And you had subject material, too?”

“Oh, yes. You heard about the accounting, we had other math’s, world history, British history, writing, literature and a bit of science. There was more in-depth science, but I replaced the few finishing classes in place of the advanced sciences. I knew I would never be a doctor. Oh, and we had a bit of law, which was most discouraging.”

“Why is that,” asked John.

“I wish to not put a damper on the evening, so I will just say, I believe the rights of women are in severely reduced circumstances. It’s pitiful how the laws ignore us. If you read Charles Dickens, he calls the law an ass. He said that women have the same rights as criminals.”

“And where did he say that?” John asked.

“He wrote that in Oliver Twist; one of his famous writings. It was written about fifteen years ago.”

“You do know your literature. You may not know, but I am a Magistrate in the Court system. Men do not get away with any wife abusing in my court. When it comes to property rights and divorce, I am saddened to have to follow the law.”

“That is admirable of you, Mr. … John.”

“Enough of this, where is the wine menu?” complained Kit.


Wines and meals were ordered, and the foursome returned to the conversation.

“Margaret, you know I wish to converse with you about possible employment, but that will be at another time. However, I was wondering how many offers you received from the masters for additional help, if you don’t mind revealing that.”

“No, of course, I do not mind. I believe Bessie wrote down six mills and one came in the mail only yesterday. You were a great help to my father and I and took my word on blind faith. I feel indebted to listen to your offer first.”

“Thank you. I am relieved. Nicholas and I were afraid we may be too late in asking.”

“I do intend to visit these masters and help them establish their bookwork, but I will accept no permanent work until speaking with you. I do believe you have two of the most successful cotton mills in England.”

“So, Margaret, you intend to work, do you?” asked Kit.

“Captain, although I have a home available to me in London, within the society circles, I have refused that life. I selected my education purposely to prepare my life to be self-reliant. I could see no other choice. I intend to marry for love and nothing else. Being quite focused on that intention I am prepared to never be married.”

“So, my dear, if destitute, you would not marry for a roof over your head.”

“If it came to such drastic circumstances, I may have to return to my aunt in London. Kit, you are a nice gentlemen, but I wish that you would not call me ‘my dear, my pet, my love’ or any such endearments. We’ve only been introduced. I beg that you understand me. I am sorry.”

“No, I must apologize for any offense given, it must be a habit I will have to break. My, you do say your piece, don’t you?”

John threw his hand to his mouth as if to cough but squelched the broad smile and chuckle he was experiencing.

“Margaret, can I ask about this life in London that you turn from?” Spoke Adeline.

“Adeline, I would be glad to speak with you about that, but I find I am monopolizing all of the conversation. If you will permit me to enlighten you at another time.”

“Of course, dear.” Adeline laughed and then so did Margaret.

The meals were served and all settled into their feast sitting before them. Compliments about the food were being handed around when Margaret dropped her fork.

“Excuse me, Captain, but I believe you have taken my dinner linen.

“Please forgive me,” apologized Kit. I thought that was my dinner napkin.

“You thought you would find your dinner napkin on my thigh?” Margaret started laughing. “You should see the look on your face!”

“Margaret, why are you laughing?” asked John.

“I see I caused a commotion and may be embarrassing you, so the laugh was to appease the onlookers.” Margaret gave that explanation with a smile on her face. She didn’t want anything to fall on John for Kit’s groping.

“Well, did it happen or not?”

Kit spoke up. “It was an accident; you must believe me. I am not starting out very well, am I?”

John knew better. That was no accident, but Margaret handled it brilliantly.

“My brother gave me a very good piece of advice tonight.”

“And that was what?” Asked John.

“He gave me money and told me never to go out at night without cab fare home.”

“Good advice, indeed,” remarked Adeline.


The night was starting to grow old. Kit was looking despondent, John was seething, Adeline was a bit tipsy, and Margaret was exhausted from the interrogations. She wondered if all introductions were like this. She was indebted to John for not leaving her alone with the Captain.

“Shall we go?” Suggested John.

“Please.” Responded Margaret.

On the ride home the conversation was stilted. “I wish to thank all of you for an interesting first night out. I will assume this was not exactly as one would have expected but the food was excellent, and the collateral benefits were nice.”

“What does she mean by that,” came from Adeline.

Although, John felt he knew he never answered.

Arriving at the Hale residence, John stepped out and took Margaret’s hand. As Kit began his exit, John pushed him back inside on the bench.

“John, thank you for such a lovely place and meal. I appreciate the thoughtfulness of not allowing an evening alone with him. I hold nothing against you for the Captain’s actions. You said you could not recommend him and I knew that. I am going to assume that he will need some civilian training to enter this public world.”

“You can’t know how terrible I feel for what you were put through tonight. He was supposed to be a perfect gentleman, and he wasn’t. I will make it up to you someday soon.”

“That is not necessary John.”

“I think it is. Good night Miss Margaret. I shall see you at the ball.”

“Good night, Master John.” Margaret opened the door and entered her home.


“John why did you not let me walk Margaret to the door?”

“Why? You have to ask?” John angrily asked. “When you and I are alone, I shall tell you why. For God’s sake, Captain. If there is no improvement at the ball, I will wish to know you no longer. You are an embarrassment for gentlemen and even an officer.”

“Now see here, John Thornton!”

“Yes?” John questioned in a harsh voice.

“I will not be spoken to like that.”

“Then sir, I would suggest you return to the Navy. It is perhaps that which causes you to act as you did tonight.”

“I said the dinner linen was an accident,” braved the Captain.

“You and I know different. You embarrassed her when she was forced to ask you not to call her ‘my dear.’ That indicated far more familiarity than what you have a right to speak. I would encourage you to become more aware of the civilian gentleman.”

“John, aren’t you being a little hard on my brother?”

“No, I am not. He as much as told me the type of gentleman he was when he spoke earlier of examining her manifest. I despised his intimated intent. And that would be directed toward any woman.”

“Well, brother, it looks as though you’ve been a bad boy.”

“Adeline, the both of you should understand that the gentlemen of Milton have an unwritten code of ethics. Should Kit be seen doing such things by someone else, he will be publically outcast by the gentlemen here. From there the word will spread. London may be better suited for such actions.”

The carriage rolled in front of the Waverly home. Before exiting the coach, Kit said, “I will give your words some consideration, John.”

“Captain, it better be more than thinking about my words, if you wish to remain here. And should you think about becoming a business merchant, that shall be lost to you as well. Good evening.”

The Captain walked ahead of his sister and John.

Stopping before the door, Adeline said, “I am sorry for my brother’s actions. I truly believe it to be the result of naval life. Maybe he’s just been at sea too long.”

“I hope you are right, Adeline, but I can’t see treating any woman, whatever type they are, differently. It should be a way of life to him, not some standard used in particular situations as a tool. Do your best with him. He will not be welcomed here if he does not change. He is to hope that Miss Hale is quiet about that. She was brilliant in covering it up with laughter. I have said my words and they are resolute. Good evening, Adeline.” John kissed her lightly, then turned and left.

It was too late in the evening, or John would have apologized again. He was still seething. He knew sleep would be little.


Fred was waiting up for his sister when she arrived home.

“Fred you waited up?”

“It’s not that late, sis. Here, let me take your bonnet and shawl so you can sit and tell me all.”

Margaret sat in a comfortable chair but worried about how much she should tell him. He was going to be mad.

“Alright. I’m ready. Don’t leave anything out.”

She hesitated.

“Oh, I can tell this is a tale to tell,” Fred announced.

“Before I start, I want to say that father can’t know everything and that Mr. Thornton came to my aid like a champion.”

“Get on with it.”

“First I felt like a rabbit on a spit. It seemed I was the center of attention all night.”

“It was an introduction. That isn’t entirely an unlikely thing to happen.”

“He called me ‘my dear,’ twice. I corrected that by asking him not to call me by any endearments.”

“Good for you. That was not proper at all.”

“The worst that happened was he started touching my thigh. He said he was feeling for his own dinner linen.”


“Fred! He apologized, but I did make a mockery out of him by announcing, did he think he’d find his dinner linen on my thigh. There were onlookers, so I turned it into a joke, but John was serious about finding out if it really did happen. That’s when the Captain apologized. Mr. Thornton was terribly upset, and it showed for the rest of the evening. I would have hated to be in that carriage with just the two of them.”

“I forbid you to go out with him again.”

“You forbid me? You forbid me, not!” Margaret laughed. “I may dance with him at the ball, but I will never be in a position where we are alone. I will not accept any offers to go out.  But don’t think you can forbid me.”

“I keep thinking I know of him. I remember hearing the name Waverly, but it was a Captain Christopher Waverly, not Kit.”

“That’s his real name. Kit is the short name that he is called.”

“You’ve got to be kidding. Christopher Waverly?”

“I do believe so. Why? What do you know?”

“Oh, my God.” Fred started pacing the room. “He was a good seafaring captain. He knew tactics of war and could read the stars for navigation, but he was cruel to the women in the foreign ports. I know he was accused of raping a woman, but due to her vague English language and her profession, it was never proven. He was a deviant, a libertine. The women that he paid were forced to do unspeakable sexual acts. I cannot stand to think of him touching you. I want to face him man-to-man.”

“Oh, please don’t do that. My honor is safe. If you make a scene, it will only bring up the issue that no one knows about. Please, Fred, no.”

“Fred, where are you going. Please don’t go.”

“I’m going to inform Mr. Thornton about what I know.”

“It’s late. If you must, please let it be tomorrow. He needs to relax. He might kill the man.”

“Are you sure there were no reflections against your innocence or your regard?”

“I am not sure, but I don’t think so. Mr. Thornton could tell you, but I am alright. Please don’t make too much of this. I don’t want to start out my social life with any suspicions.”

“Sis, do know that you will never meet another gentleman like this. You have been seated with the worst and survived it. He gives the adult male a bad name. He is the worst sort of our lot. Branson will be by here tomorrow. I will have him take me to the mill office.”



The Spanish Princess now playing on Starz

Spanish Princess starts tomorrow at Starz

Are you ready, royals? Sequel series to The White Queenand The White Princess – THE SPANISH PRINCESS is ready to launch its seven episode epic to run, May 5th at Starz.


THE SPANISHPRINCESSfollows Catherine of Aragon, princess of Spain who was promised the English throne since she was a child. She arrives in a grey, rain lashed England with her glorious  court and becomes Princess of Wales, but when her husband Prince Arthur dies suddenly, the throne seems lost to Catherine. However, she claims her

The series will air in seven hour long episodes!

marriage was never consummated and that therefore as a virgin she may set her sights on the new heir, the charismatic and headstrong Prince Harry who

Charlotte Hope takes the lead role of Catherine of Aragon

will one day rule as King Henry VIII. You can read more in our previous massive premium spotlight, but here are the main characters with new portraits:

Charlotte Hope portrays Princess Catherine of Aragon who arrives to the English court in order to become the future queen. Her life there will be one of the most tragic ones recorded in royal history.

Ruairi O’Connor plays Prince Harry, the future King Henry VIII of England, the famous womaniser.  Although in love with Catherine in the beginning, he will ditch her later on as she did not produce him a male heir.
Elliot Cowan plays Henry Tudor, the king of England! He wants to cement his alliance with Spain because he has scheming enemies in France and Scotland. He is both charmed by Catherine and shocked by her audacity.
 more than two decades! Her character is based on a real woman called Catalina de Cardonnes!
Nadia Parkes plays Catherine of Aragon’s second lady in waiting Rosa. She is a part of the strong female sisterhood with Catherine and Lina. They support each other when they arrive to the new court as newcomers.
Aaron Cobham is handsome Oviedo in the series, a bowman who travels to England with the court of Catherine of Aragon! Lina falls in love with him, even though she’s supposed to marry someone from the Tudor court!
Harriet Walter plays the infamous and evil Margaret Beaufort, Henry VIII’s vicious grandmother who fought for the Tudors to steal the throne from Yorks. Her son is now safely on that throne and she has two grandsons to secure the future as well.
Laura Carmichael plays Maggie Pole, a good and kind member of the royal court whom we remember from the previous The White Princess series as well! The cast also includes  Alicia Borrachero as Spanish Queen Isabella, Jordan Renzo as Charlie Brandon, Richard Pepper as Thomas Boleyn,

Elliot Cowan plays a crowned head again after Da Vinci’s Demons

Earl of Wiltshire, Philip Cumbus as Thomas Wolsey and Alan McKennaas Sir Richard Pole! Check out the trailer below:

Mr Thornton Takes a Wife – Part Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Eight – From the depths I cry to Thee, oh Lord, hear my pleas for mercy

Higgins slowly pushed open the office door and lifted his lantern. He drew in a sharp breath when he saw John, collapsed on top of his books, a dark puddle at his feet. The irony smell of blood made him retreat into the hall. He needed to break the news gently to the pregnant Margaret.

“Miss Dixon,” he said quietly, “would you please go and call for Dr. Donaldson?”

That was all he said but the tone of his voice was enough to make Dixon turn on her heels and run like hell. Margaret gave a small shriek and pushed past Nicholas who was too late to stop her.

Her heart lurched when she saw her husband and realised he was wounded and bleeding!

“John! Oh my God, John!”

“Margaret, don’t touch him, for Heaven’s sake!”, Nicholas shouted. By now a shaking Hannah took Margaret by the arm.

“He’s right, Margaret. There’s … oh God!”, she gasped as she fully understood what it was she was seeing, “He’s been stabbed, Margaret!” Hannah’s voice broke suddenly and she gave a tiny whale . Margaret held on to her as her mother-in-law was swaying in horror.

Both women stood there clinging to each other, watching Higgins go to John and feel at his neck.

“He’s still breathing!”, he said in huge relief, “but we must not move him. The knife is still in the wound and displacing him could …”

Margaret suddenly knew with absolute certainty that John was balancing on the brink of death at this very moment. She let go of Hannah and went at his side. With uttermost care, she placed a hand on his cheek.

“Dear Lord,” she breathed, “he is so cold …”

She quickly took off her shawl and draped it over John’s shoulders, then grasped his hand and cradled it between her own.

“John … please, don’t die … don’t leave us, my love … hold on …”

Deep down in her body something was shifting … oh God! a flutter, so tiny that it felt like a caress … like a ripple of breeze over a field of corn … and she knew what it had been. Their baby had just moved! With tears running down her cheeks, Margaret placed John’s hand on her stomach and begged her child to move again against his father’s hand.

“John, my love … we all love you so much … we need you, John, me and the baby and mother, please, don’t leave us …”

Then she was praying. Begging, pleading, ordering God to let John live! He must let John live!


Dr. Donaldson burst into the office and instantly sank to his knees at John’s side.

“I need more light over here!”, he shouted. “Quickly!”

Hannah who had been standing there without moving, paralysed by the sight of her beloved son bleeding to death, shook herself into action and began lightening several lanterns. She placed two of them on the floor under John’s desk.

“Mrs. Thornton, come here, sit on your knees beside him! Come, give me your hand.”

Hannah obeyed and felt how the doctor guided her hand towards John’s stomach, low and on the right side. With a shock she came upon the knife sticking out of his body but she didn’t flinch.

“Now, Ma’am, I am going to put your fingers around the severed vein and then you must squeeze it hard while I remove the knife. Keep the pressure up! Mr. Higgins?”

“Aye, doctor?”

“Find me a board or something so I can have him transported to the house. Miss Dixon?”

“Yes, doctor?”

“I need large quantities of hot water, boiled for several minutes. Also I need you to clear a table in the kitchen and spread a clean sheet over it. Furthermore I want bandages, medicinal alcohol and laudanum. You’ll find all these in the infirmary. Send someone for Miss Mary, she can give me a hand.”

Margaret heard all this and began hoping again. Dear Dr. Donaldson! If anybody could save John, he was the one. She kept talking to John and pressed his hand against her stomach. Her baby moved again, all of a sudden, right there against John’ hand! She whispered to him, tears running down her cheeks.

“John, the baby moved! Did you feel it, love? That was for you, solely for you! Our baby is reaching out to you, John, don’t let go of it! Feel it, John! Feel!”


John was desperately trying to move closer to the bright light at the end of the narrowing tunnel when he saw the figure of his father fading into the distance. Alarm swept through him and he screamed. “Father, no! Please, father, please don’t leave me? Father! Father!”

It was all for naught! His father was gone and he was alone in this dark, narrow corridor. Bereft, alone, left behind, just like when his father took his own life.

“John … please, John, don’t leave us? Come back to us, John?”

Again someone was calling his name but the sound came from the other side, the dark one, and he didn’t want to go there. But they were calling him, pulling at him, begging him to come back …


“Doctor, he’s shivering so violently! What must I do?”

At Margaret’s alarmed cry Dr. Donaldson, who knew all too well John was in severe shock from the massive loss of blood and therefore trembling, answered calmly. “Don’t pay attention to it, Mrs. Thornton. Just stay where you are and keep calling his name.”

The doctor then turned to Hannah. “Now, Ma’am, you know what to do. I will pull the knife out and you must hold the pressure onto that vein. Mr. Higgins and I will then place Mr. Thornton on the board. You must not, under any circumstances, release your hold of that vein, do you understand?”

Hannah nodded. She was trembling herself now, while she had her fingers tightened on the severed vein in her son’s lower body. The men then did what they had to. Nicholas and the doctor had to lift the heavy desk over her head and out of the way so that the doctor was given a clear sight in order to retrieve the knife. When he did that, albeit ever so slowly, John gave a groan of pain which cut through Hannah’s heart like a blade. Margaret felt John’s body shudder in shock! Oh, why was it taking so long to get him out of here?

“Good,” Dr. Donaldson said, “he’s responding! Now, Mr. Higgins, you take him under the arms. I will lift his feet. Gently, steady, try not moving him too abruptly, gently now …”

Between the two of them they managed to lay down John on the office door which had been heaved from its hinges by Nicholas. Hannah kept her fingers firmly on the damaged vein while they transported John towards the house. Margaret held his hand in hers.


The Spiteful One stamped her foot in frustration. This was too soon! They had found Thornton way too soon! He could not already have bled to death! She would have to start all over again and how would she do that now that Thornton was in the house. His wife and mother would stand guard over him like lionesses! She needed to let off for now and leave this place. Someone might discover that she was not where she was supposed to be!