A/N: For those of you on C19, this is the same one I posted there as "Clockwood." I finally decided to get it up on this website, too, so that a larger audience could read it, although I'm only going to post it one chapter per day. As there are only three chapters, it shouldn't take that long to get it all up.
Margaret's Journal, Part 1
Finally, thought Margaret Hale, the bride is here and now the wedding can begin. She glanced over at the brooding man walking Fanny up the aisle, John Thornton. It could be me walking up the aisle towards him. No, I must not think these things! I had good reason to refuse him. She then turned her attention back to the bride.
The brooding man walking beside Fanny was having similar thoughts after stealing a glance at Margaret. Oh, it could be Margaret walking up the aisle towards me! No, I must not think these things. She refused me and gave me every indication that I would have a poor chance of winning her should I try again. I cannot let my mind travel in that direction. I am considering courting Miss Latimer, for goodness sake! It is most improper for me to be thinking of another woman. And with that thought, he turned his attention back to the front of the sanctuary.
Throughout the ceremony, Margaret's eyes kept drifting toward Mr. Thornton. Every time it happened, she would scold herself for not focusing on the bride and groom.
Mr. Thornton was not in a position to see Margaret, but he was just as aware of and distracted by her as she was of him. He, too, was continuously scolding himself for his inattention, and cajoling himself to focus on the bride and groom, only to be distracted by thoughts of what it would be like were it his and Margaret's wedding day. Stop it, he would scold himself again. You are not helping yourself. Focus on Fanny and Watson.
The wedding was over and everyone poured out of the church to congratulate the bride and groom. After giving their congratulations, Mr. Hale and Margaret walked with Mrs. Thornton to one side, watching the bride and groom.
"Congratulations, Mrs. Thornton. A very good match, I'm sure. I haven't seen Mr. Thornton for some time. The winter's been going on so. I do hope he isn't sickening," Mr. Hale commented.
"My son works hard, Mr. Hale. He's never ill," replied Mrs. Thornton, with her pride in her son obvious from her tone.
Margaret's eyes wandered towards Mr. Thornton again. When she saw Ann Latimer take his arm, she felt her heart sink. Why am I being so silly? she asked herself as she turned deliberately away. I shall think of him no longer.
At that moment, Mrs. Slickson and Mrs. Hamper walked over towards her. They had noticed her watching Mr. Thornton and Miss Latimer and were curious at her reaction.
"Miss Hale, it has been a while since we last saw you," Mrs. Slickson began.
"Yes, indeed. And as I understand, you have not been out in company much," Mrs. Hamper added.
"Mrs. Slickson, Mrs. Hamper, you are both correct," Margaret replied.
Mrs. Slickson glanced slyly at Margaret as she said, "You know, they say one wedding brings about another. I hear Mr. Thornton will begin officially courting Miss Latimer soon." Looking fully at Margaret to gauge her reaction, she added, "It would be a good match for him, as she is his banker's daughter. I'm sure you've seen them together. Don't they make such a splendid pair? Look, see how she holds onto his arm? Surely, it is just a matter of time before they announce their courtship."
Margaret gave them a strained smile. She averted her eyes from the two women and quietly excused herself.
After she left, Mrs. Slickson said to Mrs. Hamper. "It seems you were right, Cordillia. Miss Hale has fallen in love with Mr. Thornton herself, but she seems to be unaware of it."
"Poor girl," Mrs. Hamper replied. "I only hope she's not missed her chance." Mrs. Hamper paused for a moment as if measuring her words. "I know too well what it means to live without love. Mr. Hamper..." Her words trailed off.
Mrs. Slickson took her friend's hand in hers. "Living without love is something I know as well."
When Miss Latimer had taken his arm, Mr. Thornton wanted to recoil. Good Lord! Must she cling to my arm? Why am I even contemplating courting her? She means nothing at all to me and cannot hold a candle to Margaret. No one can compare to Margaret. I am sure I would feel very differently on the matter if it were it Margaret taking my arm. Hmmm...how good it would feel to have her on my arm. Oh! Stop thinking these things! She doesn't even like you! Focus, man! Focus!
Later that evening, as she laid in bed, Margaret thought back to the wedding and the conversation with Mrs. Hamper and Mrs. Slickson. As she recalled how Miss Latimer had taken Mr. Thornton's arm, and the conjectures that they would soon begin courting, tears began to slide down her cheeks. Too exhausted to fight against it, she gave in to the feelings of emptiness and utter hopelessness and cried herself to sleep.
John Thornton stood in front of the dying fire in his bedroom with his forearm propped against the mantelpiece. All of the emotions he had buried deep inside him, endeavoring to keep in check, were at the surface. Dear God, he loved her. He might try to quell his foolish passions but he had not lied that day when he proposed to her. Neither she, nor the whole world, could keep him from loving her. Tears forced their way from his eyes as he thought of Margaret. Lovely, wonderful Margaret. She looked as beautiful as ever. But she is lost to me. She does not care for me. I must get over her! Why do I torture myself this way?
The fire went out in the fireplace, but John Thornton did not notice. Heartbroken, a sob escaped him as he stumbled over to his bed and collapsed on it in shear emotional exhaustion. He cried as he had not done since he was a boy, when he had lost his father under miserable circumstances.
The next morning, as Margaret lay in bed, she decided that she would visit the Higgins' home to see what more she could do for the Boucher children. Determined not to let anyone's prejudice prevent her from taking this opportunity to help those darling orphans, she decided that she would visit them that very afternoon.
Later, at breakfast, her father told her his plans for the day. "I'm going to be taking a walk this morning, Margaret. Would you like to join me?"
"No, Father. I have some things I need to get done this morning. This afternoon, I will be going over to the Higgins' to see what I can do for the Boucher children."
"That sounds like an excellent plan, my dear. I'll be walking along the path that goes by the graveyard and should be back in time for luncheon."
They went their separate ways after breakfast—Mr. Hale to his walk and Margaret to the library where she could write in her journal about the revelations from the previous night.
As Mr. Thornton lay in bed the next morning, contemplating the day ahead, he decided he would take a walk. His thoughts turned toward the factory. He had taken a risk when he asked for Margaret's hand and had been refused. He would not do the same with his factory. His father had risked their livelihood and left them to pick up the broken pieces.
Sighing, he realized he should not bother courting Miss Latimer. His mother, his sister, Mr. Latimer, and many others had been throwing them together constantly, in the hope that something more would develop between them. But Miss Latimer could not give him the companionship he so desperately craved. If Margaret would not have him, then he would have to content himself with remaining a bachelor for the rest of his life.
Walking into the dining room, he saw that his mother was already up, preparing her breakfast.
"Good morning, Mother," he greeted her.
"Good morning, John. I trust that you slept well?"
Not wanting to let his mother know that he was still in turmoil over Margaret, he told her that he had. "I will be taking a walk this morning, Mother, on the path that goes past the graveyard," he informed her. "I should be back in plenty of time for lunch."
"Very well," she replied.
After breakfast, his mother went to work on her linen while he went out for a walk.
A/N: Sooo...please let me know what you all think! Thanks! :D