Mr Thornton Takes a Wife – Part Eight

 Chapter 8 – Trouble is brewing   Once more John carried Margaret inside while Hannah, who had rushed out after Nicholas Higgins, shouted at Jane to fetch the doctor. Dixon came running down high on Hannah’s heels, her benign face frowned with concern. Margaret came to her senses when the pain in her hands became worse. She couldn’t keep herself from whimpering a little and it tore at John’s very soul. “Hush, sweetheart, Dr. Donaldson is on his way. Margaret, please, tell me what I can do to relieve your pain? I cannot stand to see you suffer like that …

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Mr Thornton Takes a Wife – Part Seven

Chapter 7 – A catastrophe is looming Jane entered soon thereafter to announce that dinner was served. The party moved to the dining room and took seats. John sat on one table head with Margaret on his right and Mary next to her. Hannah sat on John’s left side and Nicholas next to her. It was but a simple meal, with pumpkin soup, roast turkey with rice and a simple dressing, accompanied by mashed peas and stewed leak stems, citrus flavoured ice and coffee afterwards. John poured a French cognac for himself and Nicholas, while the ladies were served with …

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Mr Thornton Takes a Wife – Part Six

Chapter 6 – Engaged to be married Next Friday evening the Thorntons hosted a small intimate party in honour of John and Margaret’s betrothal. It was not a formal engagement party. That would be so if there was to be made an announcement  to both their families of the wedding. As it was, Margaret’s remaining relatives, Aunt Shaw and the Lennoxes, could not make the trip from London for just this occasion. Margaret’s parents had passed away the previous year and her brother Frederic lived in Spain. John’s sister Fanny already knew of the wedding so it was just a …

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Mr Thornton Takes a Wife – Part Five

  Chapter 5 – We make cotton The next few days would prove to be extremely busy. While John was preparing the upstart of the Mill, with Nicholas Higgins as his assistant, Margaret and Hannah were working on the wedding preparations. The guest list was not long because Margaret had only her aunt Shaw and the Lennoxes to invite. Hannah’s invitations would go out for the Watsons and the other mill owners and their solicitor and banker. Margaret, who was seeing very little of John during the day, kept herself busy with other matters. She had plans for the improving …

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Mr Thornton Takes a Wife – Part Four

Chapter 4 – Gathering Clouds John was horrified at holding Margaret in his arms, injured, bleeding, just like it had been on the day of the riots. His hand was trembling as he reached for her slender wrist. Thank God, he could feel her racing heartbeat and knew she lived. Carefully, he lifted her into his arms and carried her down the deserted street. Fortunately a hansom cab pulled up near the curb and its driver, recognizing him, stopped and jumped down from the driver’s seat. “Lord! Mr. Thornton, is that you? Can I be of assistance, sir?” “Yes, help …

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Mr Thornton Takes a Wife – Part Three

Chapter 3 – Renewing old acquaintances Meanwhile at the Thornton house, a much needed cup of tea had been served. Now that his mind was at rest about his mother’s attitude towards Margaret, John raised an important issue. “You cannot stay in this house, Margaret. I’m sure, Mother, that you agree with me in this?” Hannah nodded, her stern face more concerned than Margaret had ever known. “Yes, Margaret, John is right. It would not do for you to stay in John’s house while the two of you are still unmarried. You also have no relatives in Milton. Perhaps it …

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Mr Thornton Takes a Wife – Part Two

Chapter Two – You Do Not Seem Worthy to Me “Mother!” choked John, his voice giving way with shock. Margaret witnessed the acute distress on John’s pale face and felt deeply sorry for him. It was imperative for their future relationship’s sake that she and Mrs. Thornton would go on well together.  John needed a home where he could be at ease after the long day’s work at the factory. Hence she stepped forward and took Mrs. Thornton’s hands in hers. Hannah startled but did not pull away as she was all too aware of her son’s avid gaze on …

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Mr Thornton Takes a Wife – Part One

Recap before you start reading At the end of the four-part series, John Thornton and his Margaret have just met in a train station halfway between London and Manchester after a long absence. John and Margaret have kissed, and the long-standing estrangement between them is finally over. They are both heading for Milton where they will marry.           Chapter One – Coming Home With Me As the train pulled away from the platform, John Thornton sat dreamily watching Margaret. He still couldn’t believe his luck! Finally they had found each other after all the misery theyhad …

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Mr Thornton Takes a Wife

Once in a while, we are touched by something so deeply that it becomes a constant source of joy. When we need to have our spirits lift, there it is; we just have to revisit our source, and the joy is back.   The 2004 BBC adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North & South provides that kind a joy to me. The novel’s plot is brilliant, but Sandy Welsh’s script gives it a contemporary ring so that the characters become even more alive. Brian Percival’s direction is magnificent and gives the viewer a thorough understanding of the nineteenth century workers’ struggle. …

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Hearts Adrift – Part Six

Chapter Six   Longpré was reached in the late afternoon, and the travellers were all exhausted, hungry and downtrodden. They hid in the surrounding woods while Jake went into the village. He was the least conspicuous of them all; he could pass as a harmless farmhand. Jéhan was fast asleep, his head on Manon’s lap. She gently brushed the boy’s auburn hair from his brow, a gesture that went straight to Richard’s heart. “You both have Lily’s colouring, Manon,” he said, his voice a bit hoarse, “and she was the image of her own mother, Lady Elizabeth. There is a …

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Hearts Adrift – Part Five

Chapter Five   Five days and four nights later, Richard and his companions reached Amiens. The journey had been relatively easy, with one checkpoint in Beauvais after twenty-one miles of travelling through the lush Picardie countryside. The farther they moved away from Paris, the less people seemed affected by the Revolution. At least, the farmers were still at their work; the fields had been sowed and the pastures had cattle grazing on them. Even at the Beauvais checkpoint, the guards seemed lax and did not question the travellers. Apparently, a small family of what looked like farmers was not prone …

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Hearts Adrift – Part Four

Chapter Four   The company set off at dawn, as was agreed, in a cart drawn by a large horse, one that de Briers had purchased from a brewer. He had paid handsomely for the horse, as well as for the cart, and had asked the brewer and the landlady to keep quiet about himself and his charges. As a precaution, he had let slip that their destination was Le Havre, instead of Boulogne. It was an insurance that meant whoever followed them would take the wrong road, heading due west instead of north. Jake and Manon sat on the …

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