Chapter Twenty – The Miracle of Life
Around the clock of noon on June 19th 1853, Mrs Eliza Goodyear, nurse and midwife, came into the parlour of the Thornton house, carrying two small bundles, one in each arm. Beaming with pride, she placed them in the lap of John Thornton with a smile.
“Here you are, Mr Thornton! Meet your twin sons! They are a fine example of strong, healthy English babies and you can be proud of your good wife for delivering them in so fine a condition.”
“Margaret! Oh, my God, how is she?”
“As well as can be expected, do not worry. She is sleeping and Dr Chelmsford will soon be here to tell you all about her. For now, look at your babies!”
John’s large hands were trembling when he held his newborn sons. They were so small yet so perfect!
His thumb touched one of the tiny hands and instantly the delicate fingers curled around his with a surprising strength.
“Ouch! But you are quite the muscle man, aren’t you, son,” he whispered, grinning at Nicholas and Hannah, who stood smiling at him, his mother all misty-eyed.
“Oh, you don’t know half of it!”, Mrs Goodyear assured him, “Wait until they open their mouths!”
As if waiting for a sign, both babies began crying their hearts out, the level of noise deafening and very, very shrill!
“Good God!”, John exclaimed, “Is this how it is going to be from now on? May God have mercy on us!”
Hannah now laughed through her tears of joy and reached out for one of the babies. John stood and laid one howling child in Hannah’s arms and the other in the arms of a startled Nicholas.
“Oh, yes, Higgins! I am not going to do this on my own! You are to help me, Granddad! And you too, Granny!,” he joked with an impish smile curling his mouth.
After that, he escaped from the parlour and went to find Margaret in their bedroom. Dr Chelmsford was just checking her pulse and put a finger to his lips when John entered. ‘Five minutes’ he gestured, stood and left.
The sight of his beloved wife resting peacefully brought a lump into John’s throat. He seated himself next to the bed and carefully took her porcelain little hand in his. With anxious eyes roaming over her, he took it all in, her lovely dark brown hair neatly brushed from her still pale face, delicate and precious in its sleep-relaxed state, her breast moving under the intake of breath, the slight curve of her stomach under the covers where their children had been. He couldn’t keep himself from caressing the alabaster cheeks and the curve of the cherry mouth.
Margaret opened her eyes, saw him and smiled. “John …”
“How are you, my heart? Do you know how much I love you? You have done so marvellously, my love! You have given me two strong, handsome sons for whom we yet have to find names. I was hoping you would have some suggestions?”
Margaret smiled again, so sweetly that John’s heart turned into water.
“I know you have already picked one name, John. Charles Richard, after both of our fathers. I do agree with that but what about the other one?”
John chuckled and squeezed her hand.
“There is no way to keep anything from you, is it not? You are right. Charles Richard Thornton is a good name but which one of them is going to have it?”
“The firstborn, of course! He has a small birthmark on his chest, in the shape of a weaving reel.”
“Really? I never saw that! Remarkable! So our little future weaver is named Charles. Now the other one, any suggestions?”
“Yes … I would like to call him Nicholas Alexander. And … I would like to have Nicholas as his godfather and Dr Donaldson for Charles, if that is alright with you, John?”
John stroked his wife’s face and whispered. “You have been thinking this over very thoroughly, haven’t you, my love? Alright, I agree but what about godmothers?”
“Mother for Charles and Mary for Nicholas. It is really very simple, if you put your mind to it.”
John grinned mischievously, kissed Margaret on the mouth and stood. “Well, I will leave you to rest, darling, and go and inform the godparents-to-be of their future duties. I am looking forward to that in rapt anticipation! Just think of all the money they will have to spend on sugared almonds and silver spoons!”
Margaret burst out into genuinely merry laughter which caused her husband to bend over her and take her into his arms.
“Margaret, you are my heart and soul and I love you more than life itself. Thank you for our boys and thank you for loving me. Life is going to be just marvellous!”