Miss Potter (2006) Script

There's something delicious about writing the first words of a story.

You can never quite tell where they'll take you.

Mine took me here.

Looking back, the city and I never much liked each other.

An unmarried woman, after all, was expected to behave in very particular ways.

Which did not include traipsing from publisher to publisher with a gaggle of friends.

Now, listen to me, you must not be afraid.

And don't talk too much.

Friends who, sadly, others were not so keen to meet.

I've been selling my drawings for greeting cards, place cards, etcetera for seven years.


Bunnies in jackets with brass buttons.

How ever do you imagine such things?

I don't imagine them.

They're quite real. They're my friends.

Are you based the animal characters on your friends?

No, the animals are my friends.

Before Peter Rabbit there was Benjamin Bunny, and then Sir Isaac the Newt.

I have their drawings as well, if you'd like to see them.

That won't be necessary. Unfortunately, Miss Potter.

It is 'Miss' Potter, is it not? Yes. Of course. Silly of me.

Unfortunately, the market for children's books...

Yes, of course. I completely understand.

It was silly of me, with no experience of these...

F. Warne and company would like to publish your little book, Miss Potter.

But best not to get overly hopeful.

I know publishing your book will not sell a great number of copies, but I think we can turn a small profit.

My dear Mr Warne, well, I'm pleased. Very pleased indeed.

I shall do everything possible to ensure that you've not made a mistake.

Miss Wiggin, I believe we can go.

Thank you very much indeed. Messrs Warne, for your time.

Our pleasure. My brother always knows what he's doing.

Oh, I'm quite particular about book size and price, and I'd like to avoid that dreadful Gothic typeface your children's books usually have.

I'm sure everything will be to your satisfaction.

Miss Potter.

Your...

Of course.

My portfolio.

Come along, Peter.

Sir Isaac, the newt! You can't be serious, Fruing.

That book won't sell ten copies. Of course not!

However, the thought did occur to me... Norman!

We promised our little brother a project.

If he makes a muck of it, what will it matter?

I think Miss Potter may turn out to be a Godsend.

Home, Miss Potter?

No, Saunders. Drive me through the park.

Through all the parks.

I beg your pardon, Miss Potter? Drive!

Walk on.

We did it!

Did you hear my heart? It was a kettle drum.

You see? We cannot stay home all our lives.

We must present ourselves to the world.

And we must look upon it as an adventure.

Faster, Saunders!

Faster, Saunders, if you please! No, Miss Beatrix. No!

Fast as you can, old boy. Go on!

Oh, I say!

Saunders.

Beatrix, where have you been? It's after four o'clock.

I'm not a child. I can do things without my mother's permission.

I was hoping to use the carriage myself this afternoon.

Where were you?

I took a drive. With my friends.


You don't have any friends.

Yes, I do, Mother. Every time I draw.

Some of your paintings are quite pretty, Beatrix, but I'm not going to deceive you as your father does and call them great art.

Well, my friend, when I am a published author then we shall see.

Beatrix, Bertram, time for good nights.

I haven't finished yet. Come on, hurry up.

Bertram. There! I got him.

Bertram, you're barbaric. Come on, you two.

Hurry up. Down you go.

Slowly!

Hurry, Rupert! It won't do t be late to the 'Hydes'.

Doesn't Mama look beautiful, Beatrix?

Being in a temper puts such a rose into her cheeks.

When you grow up, Beatrix, and have to run a household, plan parties, keep a social calendar and put up with a man who's never been introduced to a clock, your cheeks will glow too.

Look at this ribbon.

That's unsightly. Change her into something decent.

And give this nightdress away.

Oh, this will never do. I'm just all fingers and thumbs!

You're impossible, Rupert! We are so late.

What have you drawn today, Beatrix?

Benjamin Bunny having a rest.

His ears are getting better and better.

This shading here is very good, Beatrix.

Say your good nights now, children.

Good night, Mother. Good night, Beatrix.

Good night, Father. Good night, Beatrix.

Good night, Mother. Good night, Bertram.

Good night, Father.

Now, hurry upstairs.

Come on, mustn't make Mama and Papa. Later than they are.

Oh, children. What now?

On my way home, I happened to walke down Piccadilly.

And what do you think jumped into my pockets?

Something very special for the young entomologist.

And something very suitable for the young lady who's very soon to grow up to run a fine home, just like her mother.

We'll open them upstairs. Come on. Thank you, Father.

Thank you, Father. Come on.

Late, late late! We are not late.

We will never be invited to the Hydes' again.

Heaven's sake, Helen, it's polite to be a little late.

Now get in the carriage.

This isn't polite late, this is late, late.

Right, wee ones, one story and then bed.

I want Beatrix to tell a story. Hers are funny.

Indeed they are, and I know exactly what it'll be about.

Tom Thumb and Hunker Munker.

Precisely. Tom, Hunker, are you ready to play in a story?

Oh, yes. We're excellent actors.

Well, we shall see about that. This will be your test.

Over there.

Once upon a time, those two excellent housekeepers, Lucinda and Jane, bought some shiny new porcelain food which they set out on their perfectly appointed dining room table.

Then, they decided to go for a walk.

Suddenly, there came a scuffling noise from the kitchen.

Tom Thumb and Hunker Munker crept out.

The two mice saw that the dining table was set for dinner.

Tom Thumb leapt up and took a big bite from the first plate and broke his tooth.

Who we expecting someone?

That's my publishers.

It's not a social call. In fact, I'm rather dreading it.

I wish you wouldn't invite trades people in to the house.

They carry dust.

Well, next time, I shall go to their office.

Mr Norman Warne.

Miss Potter.

I hope you will forgive my intrusion into your daily routine.

I was expecting one of the...

Ah, yes, I am Harold and Fruing's brother.

I've recently joined the firm and they have done me the great honour of assigning your book to me.

Thank you. It was most gracious of you to invite me to...

Tea. Yes, I would love some.

Yes, thank you. Lemon.

Thank you.

Extraordinary!

Funny!

Delightful and magical and so beautifully drawn.

I am utterly, utterly speechless.

Perhaps we should discuss our business, Mr Warne.

I put your drawings aside with the greatest reluctance.

Your brother's letter makes two proposals which I find quite unacceptable.

First, they'd like the drawings to be in colour.

I'm adamant they be in black and white.

But Peter Rabbit's blue jacket and the red radishes, Surely you would like your enchanting drawings reproduced as they are?

Well, of course I would prefer colour, but colour will make the book cost far more than little rabbits can afford. I'm adamant.

Which brings us to your brother's second point.

They wish to reduce the number of drawings by nearly a third.

Totally unacceptable.

Let me explain. The idea of reducing the number of drawings was not my brother's but my own.

If we can reduce the number to 31 precisely, then the illustrations for the entire book could be printed on a single sheet of paper using what we call the three-colour process, that you desire, and at a relatively low level of cost. Yes?

I've given your book a great deal of attention, truly.

I would like it to look colourful on the shelf so that it stands out from ordinary books.

You have given it some thought.

Which other books have you supervised, Mr Warne?

Personally?

Yes. This will be my first.

Miss Potter, I have recently informed my brothers and my mother that I am no longer content to stay at home and play nursemaid solely because I am the youngest son.

No. I would like a proper job, working for my family's firm and they have assigned me you.

Does that make things clearer?

In other words, you have no experience whatsoever, but because you've made a nuisance of yourself, demanding a chance, they've fobbed you off on me.

Miss Potter, I know all too well what my brothers intended, giving me your, your 'bunny book', as they call it, but I find your book quite enchanting, delightful, and if they intended to fob me off, as you say, then we shall show them.

We shall give them a bunny book to conjure with, In colours, mixed to your satisfaction in front of your very eyes at the printer.

At the printer?

Oh, I could never.

I will escort you there myself.

If you will allow me the the honour.

Why would I never?

Of course I'll go. I'm a grown woman.

Miss Wiggin will be there.

I see absolutely no reason why an artist shouldn't visit her printer.

Excellent, Miss Potter.

Jolly good. Thank you.

I shall make all the arrangements, and I am, in every way, my dear lady, at your service.

You and rabbits, extraordinary. Excuse me.

Johnson, come and get the charms, would you?

Slowly, slowly. Put it there. I will be careful, ma'am.

One, two, three... ten.

When I was ten, my mother badgered my father into spending the summer in the Lake District, as did other fashionable families.

Like an animal released from its cage, I fell under its spell.

Mind your frocks now. Come here!

The woods are full of fairies and little folk that look for children that get their clothes dirty.

And when they find them, they send the fairy beasts at night, with sharp teeth and a ready appetite for young flesh.

I'm coming to get you, Bea! No

Yes!

Bertram. Bertram!

Don't! They're farmers' children. Their hands. Germs. Come on.

Bertram! Bertram!

Catch him, Bea!

There he is!

Oh, yes!

Out of the way!

There!

There he is.

I don't think a thrashing will be necessary.

I'll just leave the window in the nursery unlatched tonight.

The fairy beasts will take care of the rest.

No! I'll stay clean!

Bertram.

Really, Beatrix, what young man is ever going to marry a girl with a faceful of mud?

Well, I shan't marry, so it doesn't matter.

Of course you shall marry.

All girls marry. I did. Your grandmother did.

Even Fiona will one day.

Well, I shan't. I shall draw. Oh, those silly drawings.

Then who will love you?

My art and my animals. I won't need more love than that.

Perhaps not at 11, but let's see if you still feel the same way at 18.

I drew Mama when we first met and she married me.

And, Fiona, doesn't mud wash off?

Bertram, come along.

Die, you little devil!

Right. Prince charming himself couldn't resist such a bunny, wee girl.

Not when he meets my brother, Vlad the lmpaler.

Got you! Bedtime my young reprobates.

Now, shall I leave a window open, or...?

No! I don't like fairy beasts.

Well, it is a well-known fact that fairy beasts never eat a child when he's tucked up in his own bed.

The fairies have been in the north country for hundreds of years, and have had many adventures.

I told you about you a changingly child?

No.

Yes, several times.

I want to hear it.

Oh, go ahead, Fiona. I'll tell myself a story.

Right.

Once upon a time, there was a king and a queen.

Once upon a time, there were four little rabbits.

Their names were... Flopsy, Mopsy... cotton-tail and Peter.

'Now, my dears, said old Mrs Rabbit one morning, 'you may go into the fields or down the lane, 'but don't go into Mr McGregor's garden.'

'Why not, Mother? '

'Because your father had an accident there.

He was put in a pie by Mrs McGregor.'

Peter, who was very naughty, ran straightaway to Mr McGregor's garden, and squeezed under the gate.

I like it.

But round the end of the cucumber frame, whom should he meet, but Mr McGregor!

Peter was out of breath and trembling with fright, and he had not the least idea which way to go.

It's muddy, actually. One more, Mr Mortimer.

Lighten it up.

Mr McGregor caught sight of him at the corner, but Peter did not care.

He slipped underneath the gate and was safe at last in the wood outside.

Not quite. See here? It's still a bit...

When Peter came home his mother put him to bed with a tablespoonful of camomile tea.

But Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-tail had bread and milk and blackberries for supper.

This book, it's changed things for me, Mr Warne.

How so?

For one thing, it's given me the chance to prove to my mother that an unmarried woman of 32 can do more than attend tea parties and smile at dull conversations. Yes, indeed.

You know, my family never wanted me to get into publishing either.

We do make rather a good team, don't you think?

Provided, of course, we prove them wrong.

Mother, this is Miss Potter.

At last, we poor forgotten folk in Bedford Square get to share some of Norman's excitement.

Mrs Warne, it's so kind of you to invite me.

Nonsense. It was the desperate act of a woman who was beginning to forget what her son looked like.

Mother! And this is my sister, Amelia.

Hello.

Norman allowed us a peek at Peter Rabbit, Miss Potter.

We found it utterly charming. So we wheedled, cajoled, and absolutely insisted that Norman bring you round for tea.

I have decided that you and I are going to be friends.

Have you?

Well, Norman tells me that you're unmarried, as am I, and that you're not unhappy about it.

And I can't tell you how much that pleases me.

Why can't you talk about the weather like other girls?

Well, all the other unmarried daughters in our circle, and, believe me, there are many they sit around all day, gossiping and unaccountably bursting into tears.

But you have done something. You've written a book.

I warn you, I am prepared to like you very much.

Well, in that case, I shall have to like you too, Miss Warne.

Call me Millie, and that's to be the last of Miss Potter too, I'm afraid.

Absolutely. Beatrix, by all means.

Thank goodness, the tea! I'm beginning to feel quite ill with all this bonhomie.

Oh, do let's have tea in the garden, Mother.

It's too beautiful a day in every way not to share it with the flowers.

Well, I love to garden. Mother disapproves, but I can't help myself. I love flowers shockingly.

That's why you have the hands of a greengrocer.

I do not!

Thank heavens Norman sometimes deigns to read to me.

If I had to rely on you for companionship, I should expire of loneliness.

My mother's taste in books, Miss Potter, and, I'm afraid, in life, runs to the er... melodramatic.

Oh, nonsense.

I like good English biographies and you know it.

I loathe silly romances, such as the ones your brothers publish.

My brothers and I, Mother.

I am part of the firm now too, you know.

A sweet-natured boy like you does not need to work.

Your brothers provide quite well for all of us, and I need your smile here.

But then, no-one listens to a crotchety old lady in a wheelchair.

Indeed they don't, Mother.

My mother may be crotchety, Miss Potter, but she does have an eye for beautiful things.

She was fascinated by your drawings.

Utterly unique.

Well, when I see something unusual, I'm not content just to look at it.

I must capture it.

Last summer, in the farmyard, I was drawing something that was quite lovely in the sun, and suddenly, I realised I was drawing the pigs' swill bucket.

I had to laugh at myself.

I feel a bit of a chill, Norman. Can you take me inside?

Of course. Please excuse me.

It was delightful meeting you, Miss Potter.

And you.

Do stay longer, and teach Millie how to behave.

I think that means she likes you.

Did she say she likes to draw swill buckets?

Indeed she did, Mother. Indeed she did.

I think by wednesday, you could hang the lace curtains upstairs.

Then at least it will look like summer, even if it doesn't feel like it. -Yes, Madam Oh, Beatrix. What is this stain on your blouse?

Jane says it won't wash out, and she's tried everything.

Oh, it's ink. Ink?

I must have brushed against something at the printers'.

Jane, I'm very sorry for causing you extra work.

Jane, take the blouse away. Give it to the poor.

This behaviour shows scant regard for your father's money.

Well, one day, I shall make enough money to buy my own clothes.

I'm far too old to be living off the generosity of my father.

You're too old to be spending so much time in the company of a man who takes you to printers!

Your father does not approve, and neither do I.

Mr Warne is publishing my book.

Oh, that book! I can hardly wait till it's finished and forgotten.

I don't understand you, Beatrix.

Your father and I have introduced you to so many suitable young men of your class, young men of fortune, and impeccably good family.

Oh, certainly, like that charming fellow, Lionel Stokely.

Lionel is a particular favourite of his uncle, the earl, whom we visit every summer at Stokely court.

Oh, and I do regret terribly that I didn't accept Harry Haddon-Bell.

Harry's great-grandfather went to Sandhurst.

Harry's grandfather went to Sandhurst.

Harry's father went to Sandhurst.

And so I went to Sandhurst.

Father and I and the gamekeeper often go out riding in the morning and shoot breakfast Ashton's a crack shot.

But no, you're just a pig-headed girl.

Mr Warne is asking for you at the door, Miss.

Mr Warne? He's not expected.

Unannounced. Perfection!

Come on, here.

Two sold while we were at the booksellers.

That amounts to 40 in a week.

Which is 160 in a month. Good gracious!

I'm trying to remember my twelve-times table.

1,920 in a year.

I can't breathe. That's just in one shop.

My dear Miss Potter, you are an author.

We have achieved what we set out to do.

We have created a book.

Yes.

What's the matter?

A cloud just passed across your face.

You've been very generous with your time, Mr Warne, Shown me things that I never would have seen.

Printing houses!

I shall miss your company. Are you losing my company?

It just occurred to me that the book is out and our association is coming to an end.

Miss Potter.

I had hoped that you might have other stories.

Really?

Really?

Do you know, I recently remembered one I thought I had forgotten it.

About a duck... a very stupid duck.

Based on one of your friends?

It's based on myself, I think It's a story I told a friend once.

My family summers in the Lake District, and there was someone there, the grounds man's son, who was always interested in my stories.

Miss Beatrix. Are you skulking?

No such thing, willie Heelis. No. I was drying off my sketch book.

Not bad, Miss Beatrix.

Do you have any animal stories for me today?

I don't. Sorry. Nothing new.

That's Jemima. She doesn't have a story yet.

Not a proper one.

Jemima Duck? Jemima Puddle-Duck.

And a stupider duck the world has never seen.

She goes looking for a safe place to lay her eggs and meets a charming gentleman with a long bushy tail and very sharp teeth.

Precisely.

The gentlemen offers her his shed and Jemima is surprised to find that there are so many feathers in it.

But then, as I told you, she is a very stupid duck.

I like it.

I'd love to paint every view in this valley, but I'm not very good at landscapes.

Wait too long and it won't be here to paint, Miss Beatrix.

Really, that's ridiculous. No, I'm serious.

The large farms are being broken up into small plots and sold off.

Well, you can't stand in the way of progress.

So they say.

But I say beauty's worth preserving.

I know you do, willie.

But nobody could disagree with you about that.

Well, I'll see you soon, then.

Perhaps not, Miss Beatrix. I'm leaving for Manchester next week.

To study the law?

Yes, indeed. I have to better myself somehow.

Good luck. Send me some drawings.

I will.

He encouraged me to take my writing seriously.

We must get started on the new story straight away.

Jemima Puddle-Duck. I think the public should like that, and Tom Thumb and Hunker Munker. What do you think?

Well, if you, if you think.

Your book has been very important in my life.

You have been very important in my life.

And you in mine, Mr Warne.

And we must do it again and again. And again!

I promise you, I intend to be a nuisance.


When did you decide you wouldn't marry?

Just before my 20th birthday.

Mother came to my room and announced that Lionel Stokely was to marry Gwendolyn Alcott and they were to live at Stokely court, which Lionel had just inherited from the earl.

And I knew right then that she would bring me no more suitors and that I would never marry.

And that shocked me.

But I felt relieved.

And that shocked me.

So I went into the garden and filled an entire notebook with sketches.

Men are bores.

They're useful for only two things in life financial support and procreation.

Millie! You say outrageous things!

Ah, but the price. What price?

Domestic enslavement. Childbirth. Terrifying.

No, unmarried women have a better life.

I swear it's true.

No houses, no babies, no husbands demanding things all the time.

As long as one's lucky enough in life to have a good friend.

I'm so glad Norman found you, Beatrix.

I was missing something I didn't even know.

Dear Miss Potter, I enclose with great pleasure the latest in what I hope will be a long line of tales.

Yours affably, Norman Warne.

Mr Warne.

Would you and Millie like to come to a christmas party?

My parents hold one every year, and I think it's high time that I invited someone.

Yes, we'd be delighted to attend. Thrilled, in fact.

Be still, little imps!

Peter, you naughty boy!

Look what an example you're setting.

That's better. Any more of that and I'll paint you out.

Your father is home.

How was your day at the club, Father?

Interesting, as always.

Rupert, we seem to have a situation. We need your resolution.

I want to invite Norman Warne and his sister to our christmas party.

With Lady Armitage? With Sir Nigel and Sybil?

A tradesman, Rupert! How will anyone have fun?

He's the gentleman who publishes my books, Father.

Rupert. I have something here, Beatrix.

I went into Hatchards bookshop and I purchased this with good money.

Hugh Whitteford bearded me in the club and rattled on for hours.

You know old Hugh, jowls all aflutter.

Wife's bought three of your girls' books for her granddaughter's nursery.

Sending more by ship to chums in Bombay.

Very soon, the whole club was telling me of some purchase that they had made of our daughter's creation.

So I thought it was time that I bought one.

So I went straight into Hatchards, put my shilling onto the counter.

I would have given you one.

But I wanted to buy one like everyone else.

Now, I owe you an apology, Beatrix.

When you showed me your books, all I saw was my little girl bringing me clever drawings for me to comment on.

You're not a little girl anymore. You're an artist.

The genuine article.

I would have been proud to use that word about myself, and now, I'm proud of you, Beatrix.

Thank you, Father.

So I don't see any reason why we cannot make a little social effort to welcome the gentleman responsible for this blessing into our home.

Thank you, Father.

Thank you.

I think it will be good for all of us.

Merry christmas, Rupert.

Glenys, don't serve Sir Nigel the punch with brandy unless he demands it. Yes, madam.

And after dinner, he'll take port.

Come and give me a little signal after he's had four glasses.

The house shimmers, my darling. You've done it again.

Good evening, sir. Good evening.

Mr Warne, Millie, how wonderful!

Thank you, Jane.

Thank you. Thank you.

Mother, Father, I would like you to meet Miss Amelia and Mr Norman Warne.

How charming of you to be so punctual!

Go on, one wouldn't hurt.

I think Wiggin is under strict orders never to leave our side.

How festive!


Such scintillating conversation.

Oh, mine as well! The weather in Amsterdam in July.

Could I interest you ladies in an after dinner coffee?

Some of the gentlemen would like to play a few hands of cards, but they're short of a fourth.

I don't suppose you play whist, Mr Warne?

I'm afraid I've never had much aptitude for cards.

Oh, that is a pity. I play.

This is to play with Sir Nigel, Miss Warne.

Sir Nigel takes his whist very seriously.

I play rather well, actually.

Do you, Millie?

Well, I'm sure you two have plenty to talk about without me, and if they can't play without a fourth... come along, Miss Warne.

Carols in the music room, my dears.

Perhaps I could show you your christmas present.

Yes.

It's upstairs.

I will bring the coffee.

Mrs Wiggin. Miss.

Miss Wiggin. I have taken the liberty of adding a splash of brandy to our coffees.

Well, it is christmas.

Is this where you paint, Miss Potter?

Yes, and it's where we shall find your christmas present.

Oh, my!

I think, other than Bertram and Father, you are the first man ever to set foot in this room.

Would you like me to leave? No, no, no. Wiggin is here.

And if this is the best I can do for scandal at my age, I'm hardly worthy of my reputation for creativity.

Here.

My, but it's beautiful!

Is it the new story?

Miss Potter, is it the new story?

Is it? I'm not going to tell you.

Come over here.

That's Jemima Puddle-Duck.

It's the first drawing I ever did of Jemima. I was eight, I think.

Jemima, stop that!

Stop what?

Just some silliness.

And what's this? Oh, it's a music box.

My father gave it to me for my sixth birthday.

He did the painting himself.

So your father is an artist too?

No. He always wanted to be an artist, but the family disapproved.

So, he took up law.

The joke is I've never once heard him discuss a case.

He goes to his club every day, and never his office.

So, I don't really know what he does.

Oh, dear. Wiggin is fallible.

I'm afraid, Miss Potter, your reputation is now officially dented.

'Let me teach you how to dance'. Do you dance, Miss Potter?

No. Well, not well.

I make a terrible hash of it too when I try, but the words are very sweet.

You know the words? Will you sing the words?

Well, er...

*Let me teach you how to dance

*Let me lead you to the floor

*simply place your hand in mine

*And then think of nothing more.

*Let the music cast its spell

*Give the atmosphere a chance.

*simply follow where I lead

*Let me teach you how to dance.

Miss Potter.

I know you have decided not to marry.

All my life, I thought that I would not marry either but something has happened that has caused me to change my mind.

No, please, let me go on, for if I do not say what I have to say it now, I fear I never will.

Miss Potter, I would like you to consider...

Mr Warne.

Doing me the honour, and I do not expect an immediate answer.

Beatrix?

I was just showing Mr Warne his christmas present.

I'm an impeccably genteel, unmarried lady, Mother.

I haven't begun to invite men to my room.

Mr Warne?

Wiggin!

What is the picture, Beatrix?

I've written and drawn little children's books, which have been published.

The man who published them is here. Mr Norman Warne.

To thank him for his assistance and generosity... well... l'm...

I'm writing him a christmas story.

Can we hear it? It isn't finished, so...

Oh, go on.

I suppose, before we part for the evening, I could share a glimpse of the unfinished tale of

'The Rabbits' christmas Party'.

One particularly snowy christmas Eve, a young rabbit and his fearsome older brothers and fiercely brave sister set out on a journey they make every year to celebrate with their friends.

Now, rabbits are highly sociable creatures, and legend has it that wherever they find themselves on christmas Eve, they get together and throw a jolly party!

Now, I know such a legend exists because I made it up.

The rabbits travel through the woods to the well-appointed burrow of their cousins where a warm fire is waiting for them.

They take off their frosty coats and the party begins!

Now, I know on this night that they will eat and talk and dance and laugh and roast apples on the fire!

But I'm not certain how the story ends, because I haven't made that part up yet.

But, in any case, Mr Warne will have to read it first, as he is my strict censor, and, well, it is his present.

Merry christmas, Mr Warne.

Thank you, Miss Potter. It's so beautiful.

There'll be no problem with presents for the grandchildren next year, I dare say. You must be very proud, Helen.

It's just a children's story.

Outstanding!

Can I talk to you? Of course.

What is it? Is there something wrong?

No. As my confidante.

You have something to confide? How delicious!

Your brother has asked me to marry him, and I feel, quite irrationally, that I may say, 'yes'.

I'd like your approval.

My approval?

Beatrix, don't be a fool.

Marry him.

Tomorrow. Don't waste a moment. How could you hesitate?

You're not upset?

Well, why would I be upset?

Well, both Norman and I. You'll be alone.

You have a chance for happiness, and you're worrying about me?

I wouldn't worry about you if, if someone came along who loved me and whom I loved, I would trample my mother.

Do you love Norman? Yes.

Then marry him. Don't you dare think about anyone else.

But what about all the blessings of being alone?

Hogwash.

What else is a woman on her own supposed to say?

You have a chance to be loved. Take it.

And leave me happy, knowing that the two people that I love are happy.

That is the most thought you should ever have for me.

There you are, Beatrix! The guests.

Yes, Mother.

Millie...

Go.

What is going on tonight?

Why do I feel like a stranger in my own home?

You have a clever daughter, Rupert. You must be very proud.

Of Beatrix? Yes, we are. To write and draw like that!

Beatrix should meet my niece, Anne. She makes pots.

Ceramics, Nigel. Look like pots to me.

As for you, madam, I suggest you take up knitting.

Merry christmas.

What was all that about?

Sir Nigel disapproves of the way I play whist.

I'm afraid I won two guineas from him.

Mr Warne!

Your painting. Oh, yes. My christmas present.

Yes.

Goodbye, Mr Warne. Goodbye, Mr Warne.


Sir?

I have an appointment to see Mr Rupert Potter in the Eagleton Room.

He's expecting you, sir. Thank you.

Come along, Norman, it's only her father.

Come in.

Thank you very much, Mr Potter, for taking the time out of your very busy day.

Goodbye, Mr Warne.

If you will not accept our advice in this decision, then we will have to impose that advice.

Respect our knowledge and the worth of our opinions, Beatrix.

Oi! Get over there!

I said that I'll do it and I will.

Norman Warne is a tradesman, Beatrix. No Potter can marry into trade, and that's final. And what are we?

Father's money comes from Grandfather's printing works in Lancashire. A trade, Mother.

And if Grandfather hadn't run for parliament, we'd still be living in the shadow of his factories.

Your legacy came from Grandfather Leech's cotton trade.

When did we become so high and mighty?

We're parvenus, Mother. Social climbers.

Your father and I we will not allow this marriage for your own good, and there is no reason to become insulting!

It's not an insult! It's the truth!

Our lives are pretension and social aspiration.

Sir this and Lady that!

Norman Warne is a gentleman of comfortable means, and not one bit beneath us, and I intend to marry him.

Not if you expect to take one penny of your inheritance!

You haven't disinherited Bertram for running off with a wine merchant's daughter.

Happily, I am a published author. I have means of my own.

This discussion is over.

Come in, Father.

Why is it that after any difficult situation, she always sends you?

Mama didn't send me.

I don't like tension in my home. I want to resolve this matter.

Well, you can't. I've made my decision.

Your mother wants what is best for you, as do I, Beatrix.

An impulsive and inappropriate marriage is something that you would ultimately regret.

You can't allow me to marry and leave.

With Bertram moved away, who would take care of you?

You surely do not think we would deny you happiness just simply because we needed a nursemaid?

That is a knife in my heart.

Well, then, what is it, Father, because I cannot understand.

You cannot make us the villains, Beatrix.

Your mother trotted out countless suitors all of them acceptable.

You rejected every one of them. I know that, Father.

I didn't want to be a silly woman marrying a man simply because he was acceptable, or rich enough to take care of me.

But does that mean that I'm never to be loved?

Father?

Wiggin, wait here, please.

I'd like to enquire about my royalty earnings, Mr Copperthwaite.

And whether I might, at some stage, afford a house of my own in the country.

You have enough to buy an estate. Several estates, and a house in town.

You're quite a wealthy woman, Miss Potter.

Am I truly?

Yes, the income has become quite regular.

If your fortune continues to grow, you should have no financial worries for the rest of your life.

Extraordinary.

Beatrix.

Beatrix, come and sit with us, please.

I'd rather not, Father. We have something to discuss.

A proposition.

And, for heaven's sake, Beatrix. Let the servants carry your dishes.

Tea? No, thank you.

Nonsense. You always take tea.

Contrary to what you think and what you have so vehemently expressed, your mama and I want you to be happy.

We simply doubt that this marriage will do the trick.

Helen, please. Sit down, Beatrix.

What we don't want is for you to rush into something which you may later wish to reconsider.

I won't want to reconsider.

We are not convinced. Helen, please.

We are not convinced. Yet, neither have we hearts of stone.

Therefore, this is what we propose.

You may accept Mr. Warne, but it must remain a complete secret even from his own family.

Now, this summer, yourself, Mama and I will go, as always, to the Lake District.

If, at the end of the summer, you still wish to proceed, then we will announce your engagement and you can marry with our blessing and our love.

Why must no one know?

So there'll be no public embarrassment when you change.

If, If you change your mind. If.

Now, Beatrix, if you care for this man as much as you say you do, then in a few months the ardour will still be there.

If your mother, and I, are correct, and this emotion cools with time, then we will have protected you against humiliation and unhappiness.

It will not cool. Beatrix, listen to me.

A woman at your age must consider very carefully...

Mother, the only thing true at my age is that at my age, every day matters.

Very well, Mother, Father, I accept your terms.

Norman and I may decide to wait in any case.

But make plans.

There will be a wedding in this house by October.


They're beautiful.


Which carriage, Rupert?

Saunders?

Four carriages down. This way.

Well...

This is the Potters' for windermere. Right you are, sir.

Here and those two.

Beatrix!

Mr. Warne!

Oh, I do apologise.

Miss Potter! Mr. Warne!

I was beginning to fear you wouldn't come.

You're soaked.

It wasn't raining when I left the office.

I brought you the proof of the new book for your trip.

Oh, you'll catch cold. I couldn't miss seeing you off.

You know nothing would stop me.

This is going to be the longest summer I've ever spent.

It's only the summer. That's all. Yes.

And this time is not for us. It's for your parents.

How can they know what we're feeling? They've never felt it.

We can afford them this three months.

I suppose.

This is not how I wish to say goodbye to you.

Goodbye, Miss Potter. I look forward to your speedy return.

As do I, Mr. Warne.

Quickly. Here.

Goodbye, Miss Potter.

Goodbye, Mr. Warne.

Goodbye, Norman.


My dear, dear Norman, this absurd forced separation is surely a kind of madness, most notably, that of my mother, but you are here, my dear, for me.

The beauty of this place seems magnified somehow, with you in my mind.

In my occasional lonely moments, I imagine conversations between us, and yesterday startled a duck with my declaration of love for you.

All of my thoughts are with you, my darling.

I know that you find Harold and Fruing terribly boring, but, in fact, I'm having what I could almost describe as wild enjoyment working with them.

You may wake up, one day, to find yourself married to a businessman.

Praise the day when I can wake up to find you beside me.

I took one of the boats out onto the lake at sunset to watch the water hens feeding.

They made noises like kissing.

I closed my eyes and pictured you.

I find I love my heart more now, because that is where I know I can find you.

Amelia sends her fond love and wishes for us all to be together again, as do I, multiplied a hundredfold.

Sir... Hill Top Farm.

May I ask, is it a working farm?

Aye. Another great one falls, but this one breaks your heart.

Really? Why?

Now, Miss, a body would have to be a poet, which I certainly am not.

Excuse me, but I'd swear you were someone I once knew.

Good heavens, Willie Heelis!

Miss Beatrix! Miss Potter!

Is that you? How good to see you!

Well, hello!

I see you've given up on the law.

Have you decided to make an honest living?

Ah, yes, the law. Well, not exactly. No, no.

A country solicitor needs to be proficient in many skills.

And it suits me to be out of the office now and again.

Now, I could show you Hill Top, if you have the time.

Yes. Yes. Time is exactly what I have.

Good.

Not a bad outlook, Miss Potter. It's sublime.

By chance, I met an old friend today who showed me a beautiful farm that's for sale.

It would be a perfect country home, and though I know we'll live mainly in the city I'm very keen to share my favourite places with you.

The post has arrived and, once again, no letter from your Mr. Warne.

Is it time for me to start getting just a little hopeful?

He did mention he might take a few days' holiday.

The post is no doubt slow from wherever he's gone.

Indeed.

But there is something that appears to be from that interesting sister of his.

Millie? How delightful!

Excuse me.


Norman is ill.


I'm Beatrix Potter. Please come in, Miss.

Ah, Miss Potter. Hello.

Please, come in. Thank you.

I came as soon as I heard. Yes. It's very kind of you.

Very, very kind indeed.

How is he?

Beatrix.

Millie?

Millie?

I'm too late.

He was so happy.

He sang songs.

He made me dance with him in the parlour.

He laughed all the time, everyone noticed the change in him.

Only I knew the reason.

But all summer, he had a cough, and then the cough got worse, and in one night, he was gone.

It was so sudden. I keep thinking that it hasn't happened.

I keep expecting to see him in the garden.

When's the funeral?

It was yesterday.

It was only the immediate family, and I... well, I couldn't think of a reason to ask them to delay it for you.

It was considerate of you to come and pay your respects, Miss Potter.

Our mother is particularly moved, and is sorry she isn't well enough to come down to greet you.

I'll be taking over our late brother's business affairs, Miss Potter.

Fine.

I want to assure you that F Warne and company will do everything in its power to ensure that our tragic loss causes you the least possible inconvenience.

Please accept the gratitude of the entire family.

They want me to go. I'm sorry.


Miss Beatrix! What are you doing in London?

Is something wrong? A friend died.

I'm sorry, Miss.

Was she a close friend?


Miss Beatrix?

Miss Beatrix?

I'll leave your dinner outside the door, then, Miss.


Saunders is here, Miss Potter, to take you to the station.

I shan't be going back to the Lakes.

Can I get you anything, then?

Nothing, Hilda.

Very well, Miss Potter.


Beatrix, it's Millie.

Look, I know I'm unannounced, but they sent back all my messages.

Please, please, please, let me in.


We've got to get you out of here. Come on. Come on.

Let's get you washed and dressed and out of this room.

Go and find something to wear.

I can't.

Millie!

I can't!

I've been torturing myself.

I should never have encouraged you with Norman.

I'd have saved you all this terrible grief.

I loved him.

I loved him too.

But he's gone.

I must leave this house.

I will leave this house.


Congratulations, Miss Potter.

You are now the proud owner of Hill Top Farm.

Thank you, George.

Well, I'm sure you'll be very happy at Hill Top.

I spent some time there as a child.

Is that so? I did have other plans for it, but...

I'm sure that I will love it in any case.

Yes. If you need any other assistance or help...

Thank you very much, Mr Heelis.

Good day.

Good day, Miss Potter.

What I don't understand, Beatrix, is how you're going to pay for this farm.

I'm a writer, Mother. People buy my work.

Our daughter is famous, Helen.

You are the only person who doesn't know it.

What I don't understand is why you find it necessary to leave your home.

It is not a choice, Father.

Beatrix, if I could undo anything...

There's nothing to undo.

This has nothing to do with you or Mother.

I must make my own way.

So you must.

So you must.


Everybody out.

You see?

I told you we could not know where our journey would lead.

It has led us here.

This is your new home.

No tears!


Miss.

Millie!

It's wonderful to see you!

Oh, this place is perfect.

Millie!

What have you brought?

I thought it best not to bring this, but then... it jumped into my hand as I walked out the door.

I'm sorry.

Thank you.

It's getting easier.

It's getting easier for me too. Good

I'm painting again.

My mind's going mad with the story. I've got pigs running amuck up there.

Well, it's this place, isn't it?

Who'd want to be cooped up in London when they could be up here?

I'm so glad you came. Me too.

I've been so lucky with visitors. First, my brother Bertram, then my mother.

You think that's lucky? Your mother is a monster!

No, its fine. My mother and I have come to an understanding.

We've agreed to not understand each other.


Look, if some city slicker wants to offer me a half-decent price for a derelict property and then pay me and my lads good money to knock the damn place down.

Let him build what he likes.

If we allow these city developers to buy up our land, there'll be no more farming.

And all you're left with is a ruined landscape and no community.

Miss Potter!

Ah, Mr Heelis.

I see you've found me.

I played here so often as a child. I know your farm very well.

I swam in the stream, played hide and seek in the woods with cousin charles.

I brought you the executed deed for the farm.

At last. Thank you very much, Mr Heelis.

Busy. Yes.

Yes, I've asked Mr Canon to stay on and run Hill Top as a working farm.

I'm learning a great deal.

I wish everyone who bought land up here could be so... enlightened.

You've bought a farm, you've kept the workers on, you're working the land and you're preserving this place.

Yes. It makes me happy.

Mr Cannon says the two farms adjoining mine are for sale.

I'd hate to see the developers get hold of them.

Do you know anything about them?

Morning, Mr Canon. Miss Potter.

My, they've grown!

Handsome lot, wouldn't you say? Yes.

Have you named them?

We don't often give them names, Miss Potter.

Makes it a bit hard, come slaughtering time.

Hello, Miss Potter!

Hello yourself, Mr Heelis. To what do I owe this pleasure?

I've come with a message. Mr Hubbard is ill and will be unable to show you the neighbouring farms today.

Oh, dear. It's not serious, I hope? Chronic illness, I'm afraid.

Recurs several times a month.

Usually after a night at the Rose And crown.

I see.

Mr Hubbard wondered if I might show you the properties instead.

I'd be pleased to have so knowledgeable a guide.

I'll just get my shawl.

Well, it's prime land.

There's a lot of profit in building houses on it.

But more value as a working farm, surely?

Spoken like a true Lakes woman, Miss Potter.

Indeed, Mr Heelis.

You do realise I've never been to an auction.

Oh, it's simple enough.

Don't bid too early, and stick to your limit.

I know my limits, Mr Heelis.

Craven's Mill Farm, 40 acres of splendour, 1,100 ponds, anywhere?

1,100 on bid

1,150? come along, gentlemen.

Splendid little farm, this. Lots of development potential.

1,150 ponds 1,200 anywhere?

1,200 1,300 anywhere?

Bidding, madam? 1,300 ponds Seated at 1,300 ponds.

1,400

1,500

1,600 Seven hundred. Eight hundred.

1,900 At one thousand... 2,000 ponds at the back.

2,000 ponds Any more at 2,000 ponds?

2,300 Rich bastard! Thank you, sir.

2,300 ponds At 2,300 ponds.

Any more, then, at 2,300 ponds?

2,500 ponds The lady at 2,500 ponds.

Against you, sir, at 2,500...2,800 ponds.

Miss Potter, you've bid more than that farm is worth.

3,000 ponds at 3,000 ponds Seated with the lady. Against you, sir.

Are we all done at 3,000 ponds?

Going once, Going twice, Sold to the lady, 3,000 ponds.

Sir, you should control your client.

She has allowed her emotions to get the better of her.

Really?

She has squandered any possibility of profit from that farm.

It was prime development land.

This place, this community is an inspiration.

It should be conserved for future generations, and not destroyed. It deserves protection.

Madam, your observations are woefully inadequate...

Please, sir. I am no longer in the habit of being lectured to, and, thankfully, I do not require your approval or anyone else's.

So, if you'll excuse us? Mr Heelis?

I hope you're not going to make a habit of this, Miss Potter.

Do you know, Mr Heelis, I think I might.

Now, will you have time tomorrow to show me those other farms?

I certainly will. Excellent!

Come in.

Oh, my!

Goodness me!

I'll be just a moment.


Now then young man, how are you taking to your new home?

I know it's not London, but Hill Top might suit a young rabbit better.

He seems to be taking to the place.

As am I, Mr Heelis.

Now, the road. Oh, yes.

Yes, of course, Miss Potter.

How would you feel about calling me william instead of this infernal Mr Heelis? It sound like an undertaker.

Of course, william.

And I believe Beatrix might be perfectly appropriate as well.

There's something delicious about writing the first few words of a story.

You can never quite tell where they're take you.

Mine took me here. Where I belong.