Thanks for waiting! I hope this satisfies. I promise that the wedding is right around the corner....
The following week could not pass swiftly enough for Margaret as she waited for Thursday evening to arrive. Throughout the days, her thoughts inevitably drifted to the man she was to marry with a measure of joyous contentment. As the shadowy quiet of each evening wore on, her ears strained to hear his familiar footstep at the door. However, the deep resonance of his voice and the animated glow of his face were left to her conjecture for a time. So she turned over in her mind every cherished memory of him, keeping the special moments they had shared close to her heart until he would at last stand before her again in living flesh and boundless power.
It had taken her mother a day or two of rest to recover from the exertion of going to luncheon at the Thorntons, which reminded Margaret all too forcefully that the days that remained to her under her parents’ roof were precious gifts to be cherished. She spent treasured time with her mother and listened patiently and cheerfully to the recounting of returned cards from the wedding invitations as well as to the rehearsal of a great many details concerning the forthcoming event.
When Mrs. Hale had the energy, mother and daughter worked side by side embroidering or sewing lace onto the new nightdresses, camisoles, drawers, and petticoats of Margaret’s trousseau. The young bride-to-be was sent out to see about acquiring a new traveling dress as soon as her mother learned that Mr. Thornton planned to take his new wife to the sea. Margaret worried about the economy of purchasing so many new garments on her father’s humble income, but her mother had no compunction in insisting that her daughter look the part of a wealthy manufacturer’s wife.
The day before the mayor’s dinner gala was spent fussing over the gown Margaret would wear, as they added a few faux rosettes to the wide skirt's layered flounces of burgundy tulle and secured the satin trim at the hem of the dress she had worn once before in London.
At last, the evening she had awaited arrived. All dressed and coiffed at a quarter to seven, Margaret turned herself about in Mrs. Hale’s chamber to accolades of praise from her weary mother and from Dixon, who proclaimed that Milton would be much enhanced with Margaret as a refined and gracious addition to its social circles. The young miss blushed and smiled at the compliments to her appearance. The energy of excitement at the thought of presenting herself to Mr. Thornton coursed through her until she almost felt dizzy in expectation.
Her heart leaped and skittered erratically when the doorbell sounded and Dixon left the room to answer it.
Mr. Thornton had similarly spent his week thinking of Margaret. Although his days had been consumed by work and the presentation of his factory to various visiting notables, he found that the image of her sweet countenance was never far from his mind.
It was at the close of each day, when he finally retired to his empty bedchamber late at night, that he yearned to feel her arms about him and tortured himself with the sweet remembrance of her delectable kisses.
His gaze was drawn to the new ornately carved dressing-table that now sat next to his own dresser, contrary to all his mother’s intimated protests that there was ample room in the house to accord Margaret her own bedchamber. Satisfied by his mother’s dutiful efficiency in complying with his strict demands, he glanced at the new wardrobe, which had been placed along the back wall, ready to hold all the delicate feminine garments of a lady’s apparel.
As his room was slowly transformed into a bridal chamber, the arrival of each new furnishing brought with it a palpable reminder of what was to come. He imagined his new bride sitting at the dressing-table, brushing the long waves of her chestnut hair as he loosened the binding of his cravat and unbuttoned his waistcoat at the end of a wearying day. The vivid images parading through his thoughts only intensified his restless longing to bring her into his home.
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A fateful event awakens hidden attraction, and fleeting tenderness grows steadily into love when a single impulse changes the course of Margaret Hale's life forever. Set in Victorian England, this story unfolds amidst the gritty struggles of the Ind...