Beware, spoilers for Northern Light below the jump!
Excerpt from Chapter Two
Hannah Thornton was darning one of John's shirts when he came in. She closed her eyes in relief as she heard the front door close and his familiar footfalls making their way towards her.
He was home safe.
She didn't look up as he came in, needing a minute to prepare herself for the despair she would surely see in his eyes, for not only did he have to give up his precious mill, he had to go begging to the woman he loved, asking to be released from his tenancy.
To her surprise he leaned over the back of her chair and kissed her cheek.
“Mother.” His tone was warm rather than broken and, surprised, she turned to him. He looked relaxed, even happy.
“We are saved, Mother,” he said, taking the seat opposite her. He smiled to himself, his eyes focused on nothing. “We are saved,” he repeated softly.
“John!” His unusual behaviour was disconcerting and she spoke more sharply that she might have wished. “Stop this nonsense and tell me what has happened.”
He looked up at her. “She loves me, Mother, and she wishes to invest some of her fortune in the mill.”
Mrs. Thornton was quite speechless for a moment as many thoughts occurred to her simultaneously. Finally she began to sort them into some kind of order.
“She has told you her feelings?” she asked. She hardly needed to ask who he was talking about.
“She has. If only I had not led her to believe that I no longer cared for her, we may have found each other a great deal sooner.”
Mrs. Thornton frowned. “And the mill?” she prompted.
“She came to me, offering me some eighteen thousand pounds to invest on her behalf.”
She inhaled sharply and swallowed before continuing.
“She has that much to spare?”
This was quite an unexpected turn of events and she really didn't know how to feel about it. On the one hand she still disliked Miss Hale greatly for the pain she had caused her son and Mrs. Thornton still felt her to be a proud and disapproving young woman.
And yet she had both accepted her son and offered him a chance to restart the mill. Given the great sum of money involved, it surely showed the high regard in which Miss Hale now held her son.
Or perhaps she wasn't doing this for her son, perhaps this was for the hands, like Higgins. Then again, why would she agree to marry John if she did not care for him?
“And you have asked her to marry you?” She needed that point confirmed before she could order her thoughts any further.
“I have, and she has said yes.”
Perhaps, she thought, it was Miss Hale's pride that finally allowed her to say yes. Now that she was of means, she may well feel as though she had more power than the last time he had asked for her hand in marriage. There would surely be gossip but it was her son who would be branded the fortune hunter this time.
Yes, she was certain that Miss Hale had always harboured feelings for her son. Her pride and the airs and graces she gave herself must have prevented her from acting on those feelings previously. Imagine, a lady accepting the hand and fortune of a Milton manufacturer! Now though, she was rescuing him, she was his saviour, how much better that must be for her inflated opinion of herself.
She put her sewing aside and reached out to take his hand.
“Are you certain this is what you want, John? There will be talk; people will say you are only marrying her because of her inheritance, they will belittle your hard work and undermine your good reputation.”
John sat forward and looked into her eyes.
“As things stand, Mother, I have no need of my good reputation.”
“That is hardly the point, we both know you will be great again one day.”
“Perhaps.” He leaned back in the chair. Mrs. Thornton would almost describe him as lounging. “But since when have we cared what others say? Even if I could find a way to get the mill running again, it would be a hollow victory without her at my side.”
“And what of her indiscretions? She has ignited the gossip of the town twice already with her forward ways, and only one of those incidents involved you.”
“The other gentleman was her brother. There was no impropriety on Margaret's part,” John assured her.
“Then why didn't she tell us that?” Mrs. Thornton accused.
“She was protecting him. I don't know most of the details but he is on the run and only returned to this country because their mother was dying.”
“So her brother is a criminal!” she sounded shocked.
“Only in name. She has told me of his supposed crime and I can't say I would have acted any differently given the circumstances.”
“So you are determined, then?”
Mrs. Thornton swallowed down her feelings and picked up her sewing again.
“So where is Miss Hale?”
“She's staying at a hotel overnight. Tomorrow she will try and find more permanent accommodation until we are married.”
“She is here? In Milton?”
“She chose to return with me.” He laughed, which Mrs. Thornton found very disconcerting. “I am sorry for laughing, Mother, but rest assured, I am not laughing at you. I know how you feel about Miss Hale but right now I feel as giddy as a school boy. I only hope that you will give her a chance, so that you might come to understand what it is that I love about her.”
“I will give her a chance, John. She makes you happy and I only want what you want.”
“Thank you, Mother. You will not regret it.”
Mrs. Thornton could not agree, yet she couldn't not voice her opinion so she gave no reply.
***Available on Amazon UK
And all ebook formats
And you can visit Miss Winchester's inter-site here.
I confess that I was concerned about Mother reaction; she can be stubborn at times and she is not quick to change her mind once you have lost her good opinion but I was pleased that she was willing to give Margaret a chance.
I also had every faith in Margaret and her ability to change Mothers mind. Was she successful? Well, that would be telling.