Screenplay for North and South (written by Sandy Welsh) Part 1 of 8

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Episode 1 – Chapter 1


This script is provided by the dedicated fans of North and South at the North and South Forum

Chapter written by Thomas591
(from Western USA)

[The film opens with a scene overlooking the countryside. A train moves along the tracks. It is the mid-1800’s in England. Margaret Hale is looking out of the train carriage window. She holds a yellow hedge rose in her lap along with some papers. Beside her, her father leans back against his seat with his eyes closed.]

Caption: Two Months Earlier

[Carriage and people go past a large London house on a corner. Dance orchestra heard, and we see Margaret Hale dressed in pink for a big occasion, her cousin Edith’s wedding. We see Edith, a pretty little blonde dancing with her groom, a young British officer in his red coat. Edith’s mother watches from her seat nearby.]

Aunt Shaw: What a business this wedding has been! What an expense! You know, sometimes, my dear sister, I envy you your little country parsonage. [Mr. and Mrs. Hale are sitting with her] You two married for love, I know. Now, of course, Edith can afford to do that. [turning her gaze back to the dancers] Go on, Captain. Dance! Dance with your bride.

[Henry Lennox is passing through the company…]
Henry: You are bored, Miss Margaret!

Margaret: No. I’m tired.

Henry: Ah!

Margaret: I’m exhausted. And a little too grown-up for ornaments like this. [pulling a butterfly comb from her hair] When I get married I want to wake up on a sunny day,…put on my favorite dress, and just walk to church. [She bends to put the butterfly in a little girl’s hair.] There! [laughing] There, is that better?

Henry: [Henry looks a little overwhelmed by Margaret’s confiding attitude]
I think you look very well. You would look very well whatever you wore.

Margaret: [giggles] I love my cousin dearly, I’ve been very happy in this house. But I’ll be even more happy to go home to Helstone tomorrow.

Henry: Ah, the wonderful Helstone. You cannot be kept away?

Margaret: No. I cannot. It’s the best place on earth.

[Dancing fades to a shot of trees overhead. Margaret is lying asleep in the grass below. Everything is very green.]

Henry: Margaret. Is that you? [Her eyes open slowly, then she sits up quickly on seeing Henry standing there with his traveling bag, and top hat in his hands.]

Margaret: M-Mr. Lennox! W-What’s happened? Is it Edith? Some accident?

Henry: No, no, no! Calm yourself. No such calamity. I have come to visit paradise…as you suggested.

Margaret: Well…Mr. Lennox. Y-You’d better sit down. [Henry sits beside her uncertainly, smiles, breathing hard from his walk there. Margaret laughs a little nervously.]

[Later they walk to Margaret’s house. Henry stops at the hedge to pick a rose for her, doffing his hat as he presents it.]

Margaret: This is home. [They approach her mother in front of the parsonage.] Mama, you remember Mr. Lennox?

Mrs. Hale: Oh, yes. Yes, yes, of course, I…

[Later . . . Margaret walks arm in arm with Henry to the church.]

Margaret: I could walk this route with my eyes closed. I’ve been visiting Father’s parishioners since I was a very small girl. Did you…hear what I just said?

Henry: Sorry. I was just remembering your prescription for a perfect wedding. “I should like to walk to church on a sunny morning?” Was this the path you were describing?

Margaret: Why, yes, I suppose so. I…wasn’t actually thinking of MY wedding, you understand.

Henry: I was wondering. Margaret, whether…

Margaret: Please, don’t…. go on.

Henry: …whether you might consider making that walk, sharing that morning with one who…Please, listen, Margaret.

Margaret: Please. Don’t continue. I’m sorry.

Henry: Excuse me. I… You led me to believe that such an offer would not be unwelcome. A London girl would have known not to talk of wedding days in such ambiguous terms.

Margaret: Excuse me, I…said nothing I am ashamed of. I-I’m sorry if you have been mistaken in my affections for you.

Henry: Is there someone else, someone else you prefer?

Margaret: No! I DO like you, Henry. But I’m not ready to marry anyone. You must believe that I mean what I say.

[Later . . . Mrs. Hale and their servant Dixon just out front of the parsonage watching Mr. Henry Lennox depart, followed anxiously by Margaret.]

Margaret: Henry, I…I-I’m sorry.

[Henry stops to look at her for a moment, then turns to continue on.]

[Fade back to Margaret on the train gazing out the window]


Episode 1 – Chapter 2

This script is provided by the dedicated fans of North and South at the North and South Forum

Chapter written by Thomas591
(from Western USA)


[Fade back to Margaret on the train gazing out the window.]

Mrs. Hale: [Coughing] We’ll be on the streets… a strange place.

Margaret Hale: Mama, I told you, we’ll stay at a hotel until we find a house. It won’t take long.

Mrs. Hale: Perhaps Dixon and I could stay on the coast while you look.

Dixon: Yes!…as the missis is so delicate.

Mr. Hale: No, Maria. Your place is with us. It will not take us long to find a house. My old college friend, Mr. Bell, has agreed to help. He’s already organised a list of potential pupils. There’ll be plenty of teaching for me. [unhappy looks from Maria Hale and Dixon]

Mrs. Hale: There will be no people there like us in Milton. How can there be?

Margaret: We will manage, Mother. It’s not another planet.

[Train arrives at the station with a screech of brakes, crowds passing in the twilight.]

Conductor: Outwood, Milton! Outwood Milton. All change. All change for stations north!

Mrs. Hale: [Weeping] Why have we come here, Dixon? It’s going to be awful. I know it is!

Dixon: Shh…. [ soothing Mrs. Hale]

Conductor: Outwood, Milton!

Margaret: Dixon. Take care and find a porter. [Opening the train door] We have arrived.

Conductor: All change! [Mouth whistle blows.]

Girl: I see him!

[The Hales and Dixon leave the train, Maria holding her handkerchief over her mouth and nose.]

Dixon: [Motioning to a man] Porter! Take these, please. [Another mouth whistle blown, and the train chuggs away as they leave the station platform going down stairs.]

[Outside their hotel building the next day]

Margaret: We’ll find a house faster if we go separately.

Mr. Hale: Are you sure?

Margaret Hale: Of course.

[Margaret walking along looking at the paper in her hand as she travels down a busy street past some shop windows. She stops, looks up, and surveys the street around her. It is crowded with carts, boxes and crates from the vendors of the street market.]

Peddler: Eggs, fresh-laid eggs this mornin’!

Barrow Men: Fresh fruits. Fresh fruits! Fruits and vegetables!

[Margaret navigates around all the carts and merchandise in the street. A woman plucks a fresh-killed chicken.]

Man: Hello, how are you?

Another Man: All right. [Chickens squawking. Margaret’s handkerchief is at her nose as she passes the crates of chickens to pause at a doorway. Then she starts up the steps to the door, which is open, looking back at the busy marketplace as she goes in.]

Landlord: The living room’s quite spacious, as you can see.

Williams: The property’s not for me. I’m making inquiries on behalf of one of me master’s business acquaintances. [Meanwhile, Margaret is downstairs in the same house looking around.] The man is still living as a clergyman. Or rather a former clergyman. He’s used to living simply. I don’t think he’s ever been a man of great property or fortune.

[Margaret has made it to the staircase and begins to climb up. She can hear the two men speaking now.]

Williams: …A matter of conscience, I believe.

Landlord: Ah, conscience. That never put bread on the table. South, eh?

Williams: Mm-hm.

Landlord: A little, er … indiscretion took place, maybe?

Williams: Well, they do say the Devil makes work for idle hands, don’t they? Maybe his hands weren’t so idle. [Both men chuckle]

[Margaret has reached the top of the steps and overhears the two men speaking.]

Landlord: Well, he’ll certainly find things…quite different up north.

Williams: Oh, aye. Oh, aye.

Landlord: I’ll make good the repairs, but the decoration’s good enough. Hey, what a business, eh? For a man to uproot his wife and child to come all the way to Milton. Conscience or no conscience, that’s strange behavior.

[Margaret enters the room]

Williams: Excuse me, madam, can I help you?

Margaret: My name is Margaret Hale. Who are you?

Williams: I’m Williams, Mr. Thornton’s overseer. He asked me to look out properties for your father.

Margaret: How much is the rent for the year?

Williams: These are details Mr. Thornton will discuss with your father. There’s no need to concern yourself in money matters, ma’am.

Margaret: I’ve no idea who your Mr. Thornton is. I thank him for his trouble, but my father and I are sharing the task of securing a property. [The men are looking a little uncomfortable.] I have spent two days viewing what Milton has to offer, so I have a fairly good idea of price.

Williams: Mr. Thornton thinks this will do very well for your father.

Margaret: Where IS Mr. Thornton?

Williams: Excuse me?

Margaret: Take me to see this Mr. Thornton. If he won’t deal with me, I’ll have to deal with HIM.

[They leave as the landlord looks on with his mouth open.]

Episode 1 – Chapter 3

This script is provided by the dedicated fans of North and South at the North and South Forum

Chapter written by Thomas591
(from Western USA)


[Margaret entering the mill courtyard, Williams coming after he pays the cab at the gate. They face a large house alongside the factory.]

Margaret Hale: Does Mr. Thornton live here?

Williams: Aye, but he’ll be at work. [He leads her to an office.] Stay here, miss. I’ll find Master.

[Margaret looks out the windows at the workers, around the room, at the clock which reads 3:37. She looks at the ledger on the desk, then out the window again. Now the clock reads 3:52 from where she has seated herself while waiting. She gets up and walks purposefully down the passage past workers, coughing when the white lint in the air gets in her throat. She gets to a large door, the particles in the air ever thicker, and slides it open. To her astonished eyes is revealed a huge room filled with clanking machines weaving cotton into cloth, the white fluff clogging the air around the workers who are overseeing their operation. As she walks further in, her eyes are drawn to a tall figure dressed in black, standing on a raised walkway watching the work being done. Then…his expression suddenly changes.]

John Thornton: [shouting] Stephens! Put that pipe out! [The man Stephens looks back, then starts running as he stuffs his pipe in a pocket. Thornton pursues, coming down the stairs shouting] I saw you! Stephens! Stephens! Come here! [Thornton catches up to Stephens when he falls. Thornton pulls him up off the floor, pinning him against some cotton bales with his arm to search Stephens pockets with the other hand.]

Thornton: Smoking again.

Stephens: I wasn’t!

Thornton: Where is it?

Stephens: I wasn’t smoking, I swear!

Thornton: [Producing the pipe from Stephen’s pocket.] Still warm. I warned you. [He grabs Stephens by the collar.]

Stephens: No! No! Please, sir! [as Thornton lands his first punch] Please don’t…Please! [More beating from Thornton.]

Thornton: You stupid idiot!

Stephens: Please, sir! [Thornton is hitting him in the face.]

Thornton: Look at me! Look at me! [as he bloodies Stephen’s nose]

Margaret: [She has followed the chase, and sees the horrible sight.] Stop! [Thornton kicks Stephens as he falls to the floor.] Stop! Please, stop!

Thornton: Who are you? What are you doing in here?

Margaret: My name is Margaret Hale.

Williams: Miss Hale! I’m sorry sir, Mr. Thornton, I told her to stay in the office.

Thornton: Get her out of here! [to Stephens] Aye, crawl away on your belly and don’t come back.

Stephens: Please, sir…I have little ones. [as he grovels on the floor, a kick from Thornton]

Thornton: You know the rules!

Stephens: My children will starve, sir.

Thornton: Better they starve than burn to death. Get out before I call the police! [turning to Williams] get that woman out of here! [He turns and leaves.]

Williams: Please, miss. [we see Stephens crawling off, and the camera rises to Bessy Higgins and some other girl workers watching.]
Miss. Miss, please! Miss, please, miss…Please! [Margaret cannot take her eyes off Stephens as she is led out of the mill. Bessy watches Margaret and Williams go.]

[Margaret emerges out into the mill’s courtyard, her handkerchief to her nose, heading for the gate as workers move cotton bales. She spots a movement at the house window. Mrs. Hannah Thornton is standing there looking as Margaret leaves through the gate.]

[Edith sits next to a colorful bouquet at a table writing a letter to Margaret]

Edith: [Narrating] My darling Margaret, we are back at last from our honeymoon in Corfu. We’ve been away so long I’m almost fluent in Greek – or so the Captain says. But you know, everything he says is always so agreeable. Oh, dear Margaret…now I’m going to say something that will make you very angry, but I can’t help it. What was uncle thinking of taking you all so far away from home? What on earth are you doing in that awful place where they make cotton, when no one who is anyone wishes to buy it? I’m sure we’ll always wear linen.

Margaret: [sitting at her desk writing back to Edith] Dear Edith, I’m pleased to report that we’ve replaced the horrible wallpapers with altogether more agreeable colours. Dixon has only – if you think this possible – grown in energy. She has set herself the task of engaging an under-maid, but as yet there isn’t anyone within a radius of at least 50 miles who is remotely suitable to wait on us hand and foot.

[The Kitchen of the Hale’s home]

Prospective Maid: I’ll sit, if you don’t mind.

Dixon: Hm. You’ll be expected to be well up before the family to light the fires.

Prospective Maid: I’m sorry, I’m not getting up at five in the morning. And I’m not working for those wages. I can get four shillings as a piecer up at Hamper’s. Anyway, if you don’t mind me asking, where’s money coming from to pay for me? This house must be costing thirty pound a year, and there’s not much coming in from what I’ve heard.

[Dixon’s hand setting down a pitcher forcefully…Then we see Margaret at the top of the stairs coming down, the outraged prospective maid coming from the kitchen below, Dixon following.]

Prospective Maid: I’ll come and go as I please! And I don’t need no bossy, jumped-up servant to tell me what’s what and how to think and how to behave! You can keep your rotten job! [Leaves, banging the door shut]

[Margaret hurries back upstairs quietly smiling. She sits down with her mother as Dixon is heard stomping upstairs with a vase of flowers. As she enters and sets the vase down…]

Dixon: Me, a servant, indeed! I don’t know what the master was thinking of, subjecting us to all this gossip! [She goes out again]

Episode 1 – Chapter 4

This script is provided by the dedicated fans of North and South at the North and South Forum

Chapter written by Thomas591
(from Western USA)


[More footsteps coming down the stairs from an upper floor.]

Mrs. Hale: Margaret?

[Mr. Hale enters with a book in his hands, turns to look at his wife and daughter.]

Mr. Hale: What’s the matter?

Mrs. Hale: [clearing her throat] There is some talk…Margaret?

Mr. Hale: Margaret, what does she mean “talk”?

Margaret Hale: I did hear some people talking, when we were house-hunting.

Mrs. Hale: About why we moved to Milton…so abruptly. Why you left the church.

Mr. Hale: People are…talking?

Mrs. Hale: Well, it’s only natural, after all, that people should wonder. It’s not usual for clergymen to leave their parish, travel hundreds of miles, as if to escape something. Just because we follow you without question…

[Mr. Hale pulls a letter out of his pocket, opens it and hands it to his wife.]

Mrs. Hale: It’s from the bishop. It’s not about Frederick?

Mr. Hale: No. I keep that letter with me at all times. To reassure me that I made the right decision.

Mrs. Hale: [reading the letter] I-Is this all? [quoting]“I ask that all rectors in the diocese of the New Forest reaffirm their belief in the Book of Common Prayer.”

Mr. Hale: Yes, there! Exactly. The effrontery! The man’s ten years our junior. [sighs] He tries to treat us all like children.

Mrs. Hale: But this is a formality, surely…to reaffirm.

Mr. Hale: My conscience will not let me. I can and have lived quietly with my doubts for … well, for some years now, but…I cannot swear publicly to doctrines I am no longer sure of. Now we men of conscience have to make a stand.

Mrs. Hale: We?

Mr. Hale: Yes, there are others who have doubts. We all agreed. We could not reaffirm.

Mrs. Hale: [rising from her seat] Are you telling me that all the rectors of the New Forest have decamped to industrial towns? [sarcastic and angry]

Mr. Hale: Well, some thought it possible to yield, but…I did not.

Mrs. Hale: [shouting] How many? How many refused?

Mr. Hale: I could not avoid it. I was FORCED into it. You must understand. [pleading]

Mrs. Hale: I understand.[calmer now] I understood…that the very worst must have happened…that you had lost your faith…or that you felt that God wished you to preach his word in these new places.[voice rising again] That some very GREAT matter must have happened to make you uproot us all, DRAGGING us up to this God-forsaken place! [Margaret flinches]

Mr. Hale: Maria! [Maragret leaves quickly]

Mrs. Hale: You gave up your livelihood…our source of income…on a formality. [she starts backing out of the room]

Mr. Hale: It was not like that Maria. [very distressed] Really, it IS not like that. I already have work – teaching. And I – I will find more. And…maybe I will discover THAT is my real vocation after all.

Mrs. Hale: The people here don’t want learning. They don’t want books and culture. It’s all money and smoke. That’s what they eat and breathe. [she backs into the shadows of the doorway]

[Margaret walking through streets hung with drying cloth. A woman stirring a big pot, dying fabric nearby. A baby is heard crying in the narrow passage.]

Margaret Hale: [voice heard as she writes another letter to her cousin] …And you’re right, Edith. Milton is very far from home, but it is quite an interesting and modern sort of place. There are at least twenty mills, all very prosperous, in and around the town, and it’s full of new industry of one sort or the other. It is, of course, not remotely green like Helstone, and so large that I often lose my way. But the people are friendly enough, and there is nearly always someone to point me in the right direction.

[Going down some stairs in the street, a mill whistle sounds loudly. Many footsteps sound behind soon after, Margaret sees workers rushing down behind her. She holds onto her hat on her head and moves to the wall to avoid them.]

Worker 1: Ey up, what have we got here?

Worker 2: Watch out, lass! [as he roughly brushes past]

Woman Worker: [laughter] ‘Scuse us! [She purposely knocks Margaret off balance down the stairs. Then they are all teasing and touching her.]

Margaret: Please. [gasping as they knock her about] Please…Please don’t.[drops her purse] …Just stop. Please…please stop. [more laughter as a young man coming down the stairs spies her bag on the ground and picks it up, holding it just out of her reach]

Young Man: Is this yours? [An older worker comes upon him from behind.]

Nicholas Higgins: Leave the lass alone.

Young Man: Here y’are!

Higgins: [repeats as he grabs the hand holding Margaret’s purse] Leave the lass alone!

Young Man: She shouldn’t take on so. We were only having a bit of fun.

Higgins: [handing Margaret her bag] Come on, miss. Be careful where you walk when the whistle sounds for the break. [accompanies her down the rest of the steps] But don’t worry, they won’t harm you. They just like a bonny face. And yours is a picture. [takes her arm] Come on. [leads her to a cab]

Margaret: I’m – I’m obliged to you. Thank you, sir.

Higgins: You’re welcome, lass. [As he opens the carriage door for her, Margaret offers him a coin from her purse] No charge, miss. [He sees her up and into the cab, closes the door and watches it drive off with a thoughtful smile.]

Cab Driver: Get up! Hup, hup, hup!

[A man is sitting in a public hall ( the Lyceum) listening to Mr. Hale’s lecture.]

Mr. Hale: So this century was probably the most productive, simply in terms of the number of…[sound fades out]

Margaret: [her voice as she continues her letter to Edith] Father is working hard. He teaches students and also lectures [shows other men yawning and sleeping] though some of it is unpaid [snoring from the sleeping man]…and, I fear, unwanted. But he keeps happy.

Mr. Hale: …Thank you. [some limp applause] Until, um…next Sunday. [Mr. Hale begins his walk down the aisle out of the auditorium.]


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