Bessy, the one friend Margaret has made in Milton, is also failing, her lung disease becoming steadily worse. It doesn't help that the strike is causing her needless stress, with her father Nicholas a union leader who, off work and struggling to keep desperate workers from breaking the strike, has started occasionally coming home tipsy. Nicholas and Margaret have an interesting relationship; Bessy constantly fears that her father's brusk, almost rude manner of speaking to Margaret will offend her, but Margaret is neither offended nor afraid. She asks serious and searching questions about the strike, sometimes debating his points, ironically often using the facts learned from Mr. Thornton's conversations with her father. Nicholas, though quick to push back, actually likes Margaret for holding her own in their discussions and not meekly backing down. In this he is not dissimilar to Mrs. Thornton: they both respect strength of character. He tells Margaret that Mr. Thornton is a foe worthy of fighting, because he says what he's going to do and then does it, unlike some of the other factory owners who lie to their workers, telling them what they want to hear and then doing the opposite. Nicholas dislikes and resents Thornton but respects him.