Plea


Maira, you coped so perfectly, what would you like to call this little man?
Our baby son has just been born, oh how proud of you I am!
I think Andrew is fitting Maira dear,  he is such a handsome child
He has my eyes and your lovely nose; he is both of us compiled.
It is time for you to sleep my love, for you have had an exhausting day
Just rest your head against the pillow, let your cares just melt away
Bonnie and I will wait up a while and ensure that Andrew is well
Don’t you worry about a thing now, for on the future you must dwell.

You seem less troubled that you did, it is lovely to see you smile
Father, I will sit with you now, let us stay together for a while
Gosh, just look at the difference between my pale, and your reddened hand
Forgive me that was rude of me, when you work under such hard demand.
It is four o’clock in the morning, I have school and to work you must go
I wish that you could rest Father. You’re exhausted, Mother and I know.
Would you like anything to eat, or shall I make you a cup of tea?
Please look after yourself Father, for you mean the world to me.

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014

Restrained


Queen Evangeline looked up from her needlework, for she was nearly done,
She hadn’t seen Theodore all day and wanted to speak with her son
Mr Howard approached her as she cast the tapestry to one side;
She confronted the servant, asking him where Theodore could possibly hide
Her blood heated, boiling in her veins and something snapped within
She ordered Mr Howard to find him, and swiftly bring him in
The Queen shook her head in frustration, and pressed her lips into a line
Did her son have no idea of reality; was he even aware of the time?

Mr Howard darted outside, seeing Theodore sat on the cold stone seat
Theodore sighed as he was approached and their saddened eyes did meet
The young Prince shook his head as his stomach filled with butterflies
How his Mother made his legs shake, her behaviour he did despise
“Mr Howard.” He stated, “I think would rather die than marry;
For no one cares for me anyway; and this county I cannot carry.
Mother has already chosen a wife for me and of her I barely know
Why is it that the prospect of everything, terrifies me so?”

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014

Guest Post – Uncredited


Originally posted on Idiot Writing:

A Guest Post
By Sophie Bowns

A completed novel is in my grasp, why am I pulling on the reins?

Why do I have these inhibitions, which are tying me up in chains?

I can do this; the readers of my unpublished novel believe in me

Why is it that I am curling up in a corner, when I so long to be free?

My ideas are down on paper, almost completed, longing to be edited;

I cannot remain as an unknown writer, whose novels go uncredited.

Next months I must be braver, any edits of my book I must complete

Yes, the time has come to take the plunge and perhaps I will find my feet.

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014

View original

Anticipation


My heart is fluttering within my chest, I need to rest but don’t know how;
For my beautiful wife is in labour, I must stay for she needs me now
I gaze over at her flushed face and kiss Maira’s clammy cheek
I must stay, though my legs tremble. I feel I could sleep for a week.

Dearest Father, you’re very white! Here, you must sit down in this chair
Drink this cup of honey tea I made, or Mother will start to despair
I know you are worried about her, but please take a moment to recover
She has the best care she possibly can, don’t you fret about Mother

Thank you Bonnie, you are very kind. I felt a little tired just then
Yes, I shall rest here until it is necessary for me to assist again
Maira here now, hold my hand, this won’t be for very much longer
For as the hours pass, the time nears. Your contractions are getting stronger.

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014

Childbearing


homepagepregnantbelly.gif

Everything was still and tranquil, but then Maira felt her stomach change;

A tightening ached across her middle, as she sat by the fire range

John roused from his slumber, as he had been dozing in the fires glare

For he sensed that something had altered; of Maira’s distress he was aware

He got to his creaking knees and placed his arm around his beloved wife’s waist;

He reassured her with an overwhelming calmness. Bonnie left the house with haste.

She ran to dear Minnie Pip’s house, the one with sage upon the door

As John stayed with Maira and helped her pace up and down the floor

The contractions grew closer now, how Maira’s poor hands did shake

But the exhausted John comforted her, willing himself to stay awake

He lifted her in his gentle arms and like a child, carried her to the bed;

He placed the warm blankets around her pregnant waist and put a pillow behind her head.

Maira willed herself not to squeeze his chill-blained hands, resisting temptation to push

Minnie Pip and Bonnie rushed through the door, both breathless and scarlet flushed.

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014

Teddy- Chapter 66


teddy poppy

Bonnie curtsied and placed the one guinea coin safely into her apron with trembling hands.
“Who feeds your mind with such utter rubbish Lady Jane? Just because someone doesn’t live in luxury, doesn’t mean…”
Lady Jane stamped her foot. “She was stupid! Who cares?”
He shook his head.  “She seemed articulate to me.”
“I am sick of you scolding me.”
“Well if you speak to people in such a horrid way, then I’m afraid that you give me no choice.” Theodore took her hand, for Mr Howard beckoned across the way to where the carriage was stationed.
“I am afraid we must move on.”
Theodore nodded. Mr Howard smiled and placed a hand on his shoulder as Lady Jane got into the other side.
“I saw.” He whispered in Theodore’s ear. “That is how I know you are going to be an excellent king. You have such a genuine and compassionate way with people. You are so kind, just like your Father.”
Theodore beamed. “Thank you, Mr Howard.”
“Come now, I must take you both back to the palace.”

Lady Jane stepped up into the carriage and rolled her eyes, determined not to speak to Theodore for the rest of the journey. Theodore sighed and placed his hand on top of hers, but she slapped it away.
“Oh, please don’t be cross!”
“I am livid!”
Theodore shook his head, and pressed it against the window as they sat in silence. She folded her arms and sighed as loudly as possible.
“Promise that you won’t ever do that again!”
“Oh Lady Jane, stop! No one saw me, except for you and Mr Howard!”
“That doesn’t matter.”
“She looked troubled.” Theodore sighed. “Mr Howard, what do you think on the matter?”
He did not want to intervene in the argument.
“It was a very Christian deed, your Grace. I only could see the back of you both, but I think that you lightened her burden a little.”
“She seemed so sad and pale.” Theodore muttered. “I think she had been crying, what do you think?”
Lady Jane tutted. “Do you need to get his opinion on everything? She was pale, because she is ginger!”

The carriage stopped and Lady Jane strutted out making her way into the palace. She stopped and curtsied as Queen Evangeline walked past. Immediately the Queen noticed her thunder stricken face and placed a hand on her shoulder, ushering her to one side.
“Lady Jane, your mood is quite changed. Whatever is the matter?”
Theodore’s heart pounded in her chest. His Mother would be furious.
“Theodore gave a one guinea coin to a common, market girl and she took it!”
He sat down in one of the chairs in the hallway.
“Oh?” Queen Evangeline titled her head to the side. Theodore expected her to explode with fury, but her face softened.
“Mother she was so tired, thin and troubled.” Theodore explained. “I am nearly 20. It is my own money and…”
She shook her head and forced a smile. “I suggest that you don’t make a habit of giving your money away to the poor, but if she looked deserving, then it is your decision. She didn’t beg, did she?”
“No absolutely not! No, she told me the price of an apple and I gave her a little more. She protested, but I insisted.”
“Is what he says true, Lady Jane?”
Lady Jane sighed. “Yes, but I still don’t think its right!” She pouted.
“No one cares what you think! Lady Jane, I think you should go home now. Mr Howard will escort you back.”
“Yes- yes of course your Majesty.”
Theodore smiled at his Mother and went to kiss Lady Jane goodbye. He pressed his lips to hers, but she stood there like a shop mannequin, not reciprocating his kiss.

Bonnie returned home with an empty basket and a small smile on her face. She placed all her earnings on the table.
“Bonnie love, you’re home! Oh that was a long day for you. Goodness me, didn’t you do well?”
Bonnie slid the one guinea coin towards Maira.
“Lord in heaven, who gave you that?”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I were to tell you.”
“Please tell me.”
“Well, I was serving a customer and I saw a finely dressed lady and gentleman across the way. They approached my stall and I froze like a wee snow lady!”
“Gosh! Tell me more.”
“It-it was Prince Theodore and his fiancé, or soon to be!”
“What, how?”
“Have you ever seen him, Mother?”
“Yes, years ago love when he was 13 or 14. Your Father was with me. He was a good looking child, even then.”
“He spoke in such a fine way and was so incredibly elegant, beautiful really. I-I know it was him, because I asked.” Bonnie sighed.
“My, my! You sound quite taken with him!”
“He was kind.” She smiled. “And his eyes were so warm.”
“He is indeed popular. From what I have heard, he has a way with people. When he is king, he will be much loved I am sure. Less can be said for his fiancé.”
“Who is she?”
“Lady Jane Mallis.”
“Oh. I- I, he wouldn’t take change. He insisted that I have the coin. Have my earnings, Mother.”
She pushed the collection of coins across the table.
“No Bonnie, this is your hard earned money.”
“This money was for us!”
“Then keep the guinea coin, for that was a gift to you. I insist.”
“Alright, I’ll keep it for emergencies only.”
“I think that’s a good idea love.”
“And then I can share it with you.” Bonnie grinned.
“You don’t have to.”
“I want to, Mother. Share and share alike.”
Maira sniffed a little. “You sound just like your Father.”
“Good.” Bonnie grinned. “That is a lovely compliment if ever there was one, and today was not so bad. I’d be more than willing to do it again.”
“The money you made will see us right for a week, thank you Bonnie.”
“Wonderful, I like being the bread winner. Why is it usually men who bring the money home?”
“It is just tradition, I suppose.”
“Hmm and we are breaking it. I love my wee teaching job too. Is Andrew in bed?”
“Yes love, he was so tired.”
“Aww, bless him.”
“Goodness me Bonnie, have you eaten?”
“Not since breakfast.”
“You must be ravenous.”
“I didn’t realise until now, but yes.”
“I am intrigued to know what Prince Theodore really is like.”
“I doubt we ever will, not properly. Those things are kept private aren’t they?”
“Yes, I do suppose that they are.”

Maira placed a bowl of stew and slice of bread in front of Bonnie, who ate gratefully. Maira smiled, placing her hand on her arm.
“Mother, there was another thing.”
“Yes?”
“I couldn’t help but notice. He was wearing the most beautiful suit; I had to ask him in a roundabout way, because I was so certain of something. I was right, Father made it.”
Maira, placed her hand over her mouth, took a deep breath and composed herself.
“What an achievement, gosh your Father would be pleased with himself and rightly so! It was a stunning one, I remember him showing it to me. Bonnie?”
“Yes Mum?”
“Your Father would be so proud of you. I just know that he’s looking after us all, he promised that he would.”
Bonnie nodded. “I know Mum, I sense him around us every day.”
Maira stroked Bonnie’s hair and held her to her.
“Yes love, his spirit is free. He is in the grass you walk on and the air you breathe. He’ll be there when you need him, for I am certain that your Father never really left us.”

-The End.

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014

Teddy- Chapter 65


teddy poppy

“T-Theodore, I-I am sorry.”
Theodore shook his head, placing a hand to his forehead.
“I am the one who should be apologising to you. For a moment there, I fear that I sounded so much like Mother and was out of line, I did not mean to snap.”
Jane’s expression softened. “No matter, are we going into town this morning?”
“Have you forgiven me?”
“Yes Theodore.”
“Thank goodness. Yes, Mr Howard is just seeing if the groom is ready.”
“Mr Howard?”
“Why yes, he is going to be our escort.”
“Oh, I see.” She muttered, unimpressed. “Why do we need one?”
Theodore raised an eyebrow. “I think you know the answer, it is not…”
“I despise being watched over by him, you know that! What are going to be doing?”
“I explained yesterday.”
“And I have forgotten Theodore, must you patronise me?”
Theodore wondered if she had been listening. He sighed, for he was racked with nerves and hated how she criticised Mr Howard. He smiled and immediately felt better.
“Why are you smiling for no reason?”
“Father always told me to smile when I am nervous.”
“Oh, but then people might think that you are a little bit simple.”
“I am no more simple than the next fool!”
Lady Jane huffed and rolled her eyes. “Do what you must Theodore, I do not care one bit.”
“Shall we go, Lady Jane?”
“If it pleases you.”
“It does.”
Theodore offered her his arm, gritting his teeth. This was going to be a tedious day.

Bonnie checked every, single vegetable ensuring that they were all unmarked and clean. She dressed in her every day dress and pulled her hair back into a neat bun. Bonnie placed the vegetables in a large basket and arranged them as neatly as she could into rows. Maira sighed and looked up at her from where she was knitting.
“Are you sure that you don’t mind?”
“Of course not! We need this extra money.”
Maira nodded. “Have you had breakfast?”
“Yes, of course. I always do.”
Bonnie pulled on her black bonnet and shawl and set off to market. The basket was full and made her forearm ache terribly, but she willed herself not to cuss or complain inside her head.
“I’m sorry that I am doing this Father, but I do fear that Mother would have kittens and refuse to speak to me if I cut my hair again. Please don’t let me make a fool of myself and send a wee bit of money my way.”
She arrived at market and placed her basket down, placing it on her stand. She glanced around at the other stall keepers and felt incredibly out-of-place. The first customer came along and Bonnie forced a small smile, despite her dreary mood.
“What are you selling?”
“Fruit and vegetables, they’re all home-grown in our garden.”
“What do you charge per item?”
“Three-pence.”
“Hmm, I don’t know.”
“Two-pence?”
“Very well then, I’ll have an apple please.”
Bonnie pointed to one of the large cooking apples. “They’re very nice in pies.”
“One of those, then.”
She took her money and handed over the apple, putting the two-pence safely in her apron pocket.

After an hour or so passed she had sold five of the items. Bonnie was grateful for the little stool she had been given. She froze, for across the way walked a finely dressed young couple, arm in arm. The gentleman wore a midnight blue tail coat, with shiny black buttons and gloves to match. His top hat was so very tall. It couldn’t be, she thought. Bonnie did a double take and examined them again. Although she had never seen him before, Bonnie was sure that the young gentleman was Prince Theodore for he fitted her Father’s description to a tee. A servant stood but a few places away from them. Bonnie thought that she must look frightful, but she pinched her cheeks, re-pinned the sides of her hair and adjusted her dress accordingly. She listened in to their conversation and…
“Your Father is too quiet; that is why!”
“Shh, Lady Jane it is not your place to make such accusations. Please don’t say any more.”
“As you wish. I want to go, this is so dull, Theodore.”
Bonnie opened and closed her mouth. It was Prince Theodore, and how stunning they both looked as a couple.  Lady Jane stroked Theodore’s arm which she held in her grasp and whispered something in his ear. He smiled a little and shook his head. Lady Jane tried to kiss him, but he pulled away.

“Oh Theodore!” She sighed. “Please don’t be a cold fish.”
“Eyes are watching us, Lady Jane.”
“But Mr Howard is looking at that stall over there.” She pointed over to Bonnie’s stall as they neared it. “Just look at her carrot hair!” Lady Jane giggled.
“It’s called auburn.” Theodore corrected. “And what precisely is wrong with it, my hair is of a chestnut shade is it not?”
“Yes, but it isn’t bright red, and just look at her shabby clothes.”
“Jane, you are out of line!” Theodore’s eyes widened and he shook his head.

Bonnie had heard every single word, she pressed her lips together. If only the finely dressed woman knew of her pain. She turned her head away, so that they couldn’t see her crying. Lady Jane sighed and stormed to the next stall. To her dismay, Prince Theodore walked towards her stall. He was just as stunning as her Mother and Father had said, with perfect skin and silky, chestnut hair. Theodore smiled and Bonnie’s heart froze, as the warm tears rested on her cheeks.
“Good day.” He spoke with such beautiful diction, that Bonnie’s jaw almost dropped open.
“Your Grace?” Bonnie squeaked.
“Why, yes.” He laughed.
Bonnie curtsied quickly. “Um, I-I am pleased to make your acquaintance, your Grace.” She said, in little more than a whisper.
“And I yours.” He picked up an apple with his thumb and forefinger and examined it. “They look like lovely apples, are they home-grown?”
Bonnie nodded.
“Then I’ll take two, please.”
He selected the two and handed her a one guinea coin. Bonnie panicked, for she did not have much change in her pocket.
“Excuse me, but I-I am afraid that I cannot take-” Bonnie began.
“I don’t need change. I insist.” Theodore stated in such a sincere way, that Bonnie just
nodded, a little flustered. She glanced at his warm eyes and relaxed. Lady Jane marched over again, taking a firm grip of Theodore’s arm. She didn’t even acknowledge Bonnie and began to pull him away.
“Theodore, what are you doing?”
“I am buying an apple.”
“From her?”
“I am sure that the young woman has a name.”
She pulled at his arm. “You cannot be seen doing that!”
“Doing what exactly?”
“Talking to scruffy, ugly, commoners. I think it is you who is out of line! Come away this instant, Theodore!”
“Jane!”
“So!”
“She has feelings too and she wasn’t ugly at all.”
“She is poor, the poor don’t.”

Theodore shook his head and turned to Bonnie as Lady Jane turned her back to them and walked away. “Sorry.” He mouthed.
Bonnie took a deep breath and plucked up every ounce of courage within her.
“P-pray forgive me, but I couldn’t help but admire your suit.”
“Why thank you, it isn’t particularly new. It was made in a local tailor shop beginning with ‘V’, gosh I wish I could recall the sir name of the person who actually made it, but it was something Irish or Scottish sounding.”
“McGrath?”
“Why, yes!” Theodore beamed. “Mr McGrath must be exceptionally talented, for it is the nicest suit I have ever owned. Good day to you.”

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014

Teddy- Chapter 64


teddy poppy

“Mother?”
Maira looked up from where she was drying her hair in front of the fire. She ran a comb all the way through it, until it was silky soft.
“Yes dear?”
“I-um. There are so many things that I would like to say and I just don’t know how!” She blurted.
“Ah, well go ahead.”
“Why Father?”
Maira shook her head. “I wish I knew, love.”
“Forgive me. Gosh, that was such a thoughtless thing to ask.”
“I ask it all the time, it is only natural.”
“I feel so lost.” Bonnie muttered.
“Oh?”
“Mum, I’m 19 years of age and I feel so restless. It’s like I don’t know what to do any more. I thought I wanted to be a teacher, but now I’m not so sure. I don’t think I’m good with the wee ones.”
“What makes you say that?”
“I feel my blood boiling. I always manage to control my anger as Father taught me; count silently to ten and take a deep breath in, out and then speak. But even just helping in the class makes me feel like I am going to explode. What if I do?”
“Perhaps you need a wee change love. You’ve been there a year and a half now.”
“Mother, we need the money.”
“Well, naturally you should keep that job until you find another. If in doubt, ask your Dad.”
“Yes, that is a good idea.” She took a sip of her cup of tea and shook her long mane of hair, it quivered down her back. “I’ll do that in my prayers tonight. He did say that he’d help me.”
“Yes, that’s right.” Maira drank the last of her tea. “I think I am going to have to turn in.” She kissed Bonnie’s cheek. “Don’t forget to put the fire-guard on.”
“I won’t, goodnight.”

Bonnie continued to sit there for 10 minutes more, gazing at the chair where her Father used to sit. Tears rolled down her cheeks, she flicked them away; willing herself not to cry. She closed her eyes, thinking pleasant thoughts of him. Bonnie placed the fire-guard on and tiptoed into her bedroom.
“Please God, look after my Dad in heaven and help my Mum to find proper happiness again. Guide me, I fear that I am not getting enough work at the school and any savings we had are almost gone. I do not want to be greedy, but I must feed my family. Help me to do that. Amen.”
‘Perhaps I should sell my hair again’, she thought. It had been almost 6 years since the last time and her hair was thicker than ever. But would it be worth the argument it would cause? He Father was not here to stand by her, not now. She lay and wept in silence. The tears rolled down her pale cheeks and dropped onto the pillow. Bonnie sniffed and raised her head as her door creaked open and Aggie tiptoed in and hopped onto her bed beside her.
“Hello wee lady!” Bonnie smiled, moving over a little. Aggie mewed and pressed her forehead against Bonnie’s. “I think you can tell when I am upset. You’re clever.” Aggie purred.
“Father saved your life, someone had given up on you, but not him.” Aggie rested her chin on Bonnie’s waist as she dozed off. She looked over to where Andrew slept and sucked his thumb.
“Night Andrew.” She whispered. Bonnie pressed her ear to her Mother’s room and heard her gentle sobs. Poor Mother, she thought. Still, at least she wasn’t bottling it up inside. Should she go and see her? Bonnie wasn’t sure. Bonnie crept into Maira’s room and got into bed with her, lying in the empty space and kissed her cheek.
“I miss him too.” Bonnie whispered. “So much.”
Maira sniffed and rubbed her eyes. “The- the day your Father died I feel like a part of me died too.”
“Oh Mum, please don’t say that!”
“It is true.” She whispered. “We are struggling Bonnie; physically, emotionally and financially. We had money saved, but it will soon run out and…”
“Mother, please don’t worry. We both have long hair and also..”
“I am not selling mine.”
“Very well then, but we have a garden full of vegetables. What if I took some to market tomorrow and tried to sell them?”
“Oh Bonnie, no! I couldn’t have you doing that.”
“And why not? I need to be of some use to you.”
“You work at the wee school Bonnie, that is enough dear.”
“Not really, it is not a regular job. Please let me go to market, just as a wee trial. I’ll only go this once if you do not want me to do it again and you needn’t ever go yourself. I’ll be the donkey.”
Maira stroked her cheek and sniffed. “You do so much already.”
“I can do more. I need your approval.”
“For now, I’ll say that you can go this once. But however will you sell them?”
Bonnie shrugged.
“Are you allowed to sell things, just like that?”
“I think so.”
Maira sighed loudly. “I have a basket that you can borrow. We have a stand too, your Father made it. You may use that.”
“What type of stand?”
“It was for my washing basket.”
“Ah yes, I know the one. Thank you for being so understanding.” Bonnie kissed her. “You are a dear if ever there was one. Please don’t cry any more, Father wouldn’t want us to weep too much.”
“No, I know.”
“Would he agree to this do you think?”
“Selling at market? Hmm I don’t know. I don’t think that he would let me go, still I doubt that he will come back and haunt me, do you?”
“I wish he’d haunt me.” Bonnie sighed. “I long to hear the sound of his dear voice.”
“Me too darling, me too, I am overcome with guilt and…”
“Why?”
“Oh Bonnie, you and I both saw how tired he had become from working in the fields. I should have made him leave sooner.”
“He would not have listened to you. You know as well as I do that he would have insisted he was fine and carried on anyway.”
“Perhaps.”

Bonnie noticed the subtle chain around her Mother’s neck and pulled it from her collar. Maira let her do so, and she placed the wedding ring which was still attached to the chain on the palm of her hand. Bonnie smiled a little.
“Oh gosh, you kept it! I just assumed…”
“That he was still wearing it in his coffin?” Maira shook her head. “No, your Father wanted me to keep it. It’s one of the few things I have left of him.”
“I have written the majority of Father’s stories down.” Bonnie smiled.
“When did you get time?”
“Oh, at night when I cannot sleep. I keep the book by my bedside table and jot things down. There are 30 or so in there.”
“I knew that you would, that’s lovely. Well, goodnight dear and thank you.”
Bonnie tilted her head to one side.
“You have been my rock, Bonnie. I could not have endured this pain without your support. I am blessed with such caring children. I see glimpses of your Father’s mannerisms in you. It’s the way Andrew sits in a chair and tilts his head when he is listening and you have your Father’s nose and lovely smile. In you both, our darling John lives on.”

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014

A Day Of Rest


Bless you John, you look so peaceful as you lie sleeping in our bed
I wonder which dreams are circulating around your troubled head?
You poor wee lamb, I love you, despite your slightly stubborn ways
But I fear that you look physically drained, and could probably sleep for days

Mother, I hated those pesky rags, so firmly knotted in my hair
They don’t make it look any better, I’d rather they were not there!
Goodness, is Father quite alright? It is not like him to snore
Oh please don’t tell me that he is ill! Not my Father who I adore!

Bonnie, don’t you worry, he says it is nothing serious and I agree;
I think he has a cold, which is why we must be as quiet as can be
Let us get his bath ready for him and it will be warmed when he awakens
Yes, your Father will enjoy a soak in the water if I am not mistaken.

Must I go to church; can I not do what Father does?
It must be so pleasant to lie in a field and examine the clouds above.
How is the wee bump today? I cannot wait to meet my sister or brother,
But we must leave for church now. I’ll look after you, dearest Mother.

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014

Teddy- Chapter 63


teddy poppy

Mr Howard sighed. “You seem so sad of late.”
Theodore nodded, proceeding to play. He did not give Mr Howard an answer, but insinuated that something was not right.
“You have a lot on your mind I suppose, with time ticking on a little. Don’t worry about your Mother, she is a strong woman. It is a shame that she makes you feel so inferior. You know, I do believe that you will be seeing Lady Jane again soon and….”
Theodore released his fingers from the keys, pushed the piano stool abruptly to one side, closed the lid and tossed the diploma level music across the grand piano. He stormed from the room, letting out an exasperated cry.

Queen Evangeline stood up immediately from where she had just begun having afternoon tea and walked from the room, closing the oak door behind her. Her face was white and she gritted her teeth. She grabbed hold of Theodore’s arm, ushering him into the small library and closed the door.
“What is the meaning of your behaviour?”
Theodore shook his head.
“Well, you are clearly out of sorts, aren’t you?”
“I am quite well, thank you. May I be excused? You have company.”
“And now you’ll run and tell your Father everything, I suppose.”
“Has Father…”
“Your Father hasn’t said anything to me. I know, you’re just like him.”
“So you have said, Mother.”
“I noticed something…”
Theodore tilted his head to one side and narrowed his eyes.
“Your arm seems thinner.”
“Pardon?”
“You seem to be spending far too much time on your horse and taking part in recreational activities.”
“That is hardly a bad thing.”
“Everything you do is for yourself, Theodore. I never dreamed that I would be Mother to such a self-centred man. I do imagine that when you and Jane are married, you won’t even come to visit us, will you? It will be like I never had a son.”
“That is not fair.”
“It’s true.”
“Not at all. The new house is not so far away, we shall visit as often as we can and…”
“You say that now. Still, I don’t suppose that you or I have ever been very close, have we?”

Theodore didn’t know what to say. He recalled being a child; and his Mother always being too pre-occupied to have anything to do with him. Even when he had asked her to read to him, he had been sent back to his nanny or Mr Howard, who would almost always oblige instead. The silence was too long for Queen Evangeline’s liking.
“Well?”
Theodore had forgotten the question in his state of anxiety.
“I would love you if you didn’t give me reasons to…”
“To hate me? Bah!”
“That is not what…”
“Yes it is!”
“Mother, please allow me to put a word in edgeways! I am begging you! I do not hate you, but I fear that you despise me and that is where the problem lies. I try to bend over backwards, just to please you! Why do you think I practised playing the piano so often as a child? Just so that you might have said; ‘that sounds lovely, Theodore’ but no, you only accused me of showing off. The same with my paintings. You thought me obnoxious, when I only wanted your seal of approval and to be loved by my own Mother!”
Theodore sat down in a straight-backed chair and prayed that she would say something comforting to him, but she did not. She stared coldly at him.
“Please hold me and tell me that you love me! Please!” He begged. “What do I have to do?”
“When you are married to Lady Jane, perhaps you will stop trying to cling on to me like a limpet.”
“I do not cling, Mother. Whatever I have done please forgive me. I am sorry that I am not the son that you wanted to be. I may have been a flighty teenager, but I am almost 20 now. I am a man, I am no longer that little boy. Mother, I love you.”

Something he had said triggered something within Queen Evangeline. For a moment, she realised that she probably had behaved in a harsh manner towards her son. She forced a smile.
“You know that I am not the hugging sort, but I am sorry. I went too far. You know, perhaps I have been a bit harsh towards you and I often forget that you are not a child any more, you are a man. Your Father and I are both very pleased that you have made the effort to be so amiable towards Lady Jane.”
“I am very fond of her.”
“Truly?”
“Yes, she is a sweet girl.”
“What else?”
“I certainly hope that we shall be happy together.”
She nodded. “Yes, that would be pleasant, wouldn’t it?”
Theodore bowed out of politeness and left the room.

***
Jane waited for him downstairs the following morning, as she draped her shawl over the back of one of the many chairs. She sighed and shook her head. Whatever was taking him so long? At long last, he appeared; poking his head around the door.
“Oh, there you are at long last! I have been sat here, twiddling my thumbs for the past ten minutes.”
“Lady Jane, there are hundreds of books on that bookshelf.”
“I hate reading Theodore, you know that.”
“Yes, forgive me.”
“Whatever took you so long?”
“I had business to attend to.”
“Oh, of what sort?”
“Nothing of any great importance.”
“Please tell me, when we are married we must be able to confide in each other, mustn’t we?”
“The majority of things, yes.”
“And I am so ravenous!”
“Oh goodness me, what a bad host I am. I haven’t offered you anything to eat or drink yet!”
He rang the bell and Mr Howard came to his assistance.

“Ah, your Grace. I hope you and Lady Jane are having a lovely day.”
“We are.” Lady Jane stated as a matter of fact. “Might we have some elevenses?”
“Why of course. I’ll place an order in the kitchen.”
“Thank you, Mr Howard.” Theodore beamed.
An elegant cake stand was brought out, followed by a tea-tray. Lady Jane beamed as they were placed before them.
“How nice this is. Those smoked salmon and cucumber sandwiches look divine and just look at the cakes!” She gasped.
Theodore smiled as a maid poured the tea. He thanked her and she scurried inside. Jane added sugar to her tea and took a small sip.
“Hmm, only the best.”
Theodore took a tiny nibble of sandwich, putting it down on his plate. Jane frowned and pursed her lips as he stared out of the window.
“Aren’t you hungry?”
“I am just taking my time.”
“You are being rude! What is wrong with you?” She hissed, grasping onto his wrist and turning his face rather abruptly to her. Theodore got up like a shot and pulled away.
“Who do you think you are? I am not a puppet! Do not presume to force my head in your direction!”

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014