Royal Seclusion-Part 20


Bonnie felt it improper being in Prince Theodore’s room unannounced. Bonnie watched the young Prince as he breathed peacefully, his chest rising and falling. His slightly unkempt hair flopped to one side upon his pillows. She did not wish to wake him he looked far too comfortable for that. Just a few minutes later the dream seemed to end and he sensed Bonnie’s presence.

“Who is there?” Theodore whispered, sounding slightly concerned.

“It is just me, Bonnie.”

“Oh. How long have I been in your company?”

“Just a matter of minutes your majesty. ” Bonnie reassured him.

“Oh, I am not accustomed to having people watch me sleep.”

“S-sorry. You looked very peaceful.”

“Hmm no matter. I am very glad that you are here. I was having an interesting dream. You were in it in fact.” he paused. “It is strange. I have had efficient sleep, but I feel the great need to close my eyes once more.”

Bonnie nodded. “You haven’t eaten for a while. I feel that it is not helping the situation. Would you like me to fetch you some breakfast? I think you should eat something.”

“I am not hungry.”

“Please Theodore eat something, you need to try to regain your strength.”

“Please don’t force me.” He pleaded. “I don’t think I could possibly stomach anything at this point in time.”

Bonnie sighed “As you wish. If you feel able for some toast later, Mother sent you a package containing her homemade jam. It is a gift.”

“Ah your Mother is very kind, thank you. I shall see whether I feel like some later if I may.”

“Very well. I think you should take some water, your throat is dry I can tell.

“Yes, please.” Theodore nodded in agreement. Bonnie poured him the water and assisted him. He took slow and feeble sips, enough to momentarily quench his constant thirst. On finishing his final mouthful, Theodore appeared breathless.

“Thank you I have had enough. Coming back to our conversation Bonita, what is your biggest fear? I told you mine, you did not reveal yours. Pray tell me.”

“Biggest fear?” Bonnie echoed. “Well like many your majesty, I believe I fear death and have done ever since I was a wee girl. Sorry, little girl. I’m not sure what I believe, except for I live in hope that we go to a better place.”

Theodore nodded. “I don’t know how I feel about god, I seem to have lost faith in him some time ago, but no matter.”

“Were you very ill?” Bonnie referred to the illness which had cruelly snatched Theodore’s sight from him, the tale was known to the majority of the kingdom.

“Yes, they feared I would die, I remember very little. I was so feverish, delirious in fact, that most memories of it escape me. I’m glad I did not die as I’m sure that I would not have gone to heaven.”

Bonnie gasped. “Whatever makes you say that?”

“I was a horrid person.”

“No not horrid, a little rude and selfish if I may say so, but that is no reason to be condemned to hell! You are much changed now.”

Theodore thought. “Hmm. Perhaps. My what a morbid topic! Anyhow, it is very lucky that I met you, I believe it was fate. You are as feisty as I am, if not more. I needed someone to show me the reality of what I was doing to myself.” Theodore smiled. “I believe that the subject choice was my doing! Hmm how about schooling? I can tell that you received a decent education, you are very learned.”

“It was ample your majesty. It was a small village school with only 70 pupils. I worked very hard. I should like to be a governess one day, but misfortune meant that I could not become one at the time originally planned.”

Theodore looked alarmed. “Really? What misfortunes?”

“Father died.” she said sullenly.

“Good lord I had no idea. I just assumed….”

“Yes Mother and I miss him. We were all very close.”

Theodore looked saddened. “I am so sorry for your loss.” He said in a gentle whispered tone, hastily changing the subject. “I have very much enjoyed our conversation. You are a fascinating woman Bonita!”

Bonnie smiled. “Like wise , except you are a man!” The pair laughed. “Goodnight sire. Are you sure that you are quite well?”

“Yes I am fine.  Pleasant dreams Bonita!”

*************************

In Bonnie’s dream, a vision of herself flashed before her very eyes. She was clad in white, why white? Bonnie questioned in her subconscious mind. It was not a wedding dress, she thought. It looked more to be a nurses uniform with a starched white apron. Where was she? Bonnie envisioned herself walking through large doors similar to the ones leading to the palace drawing-room, carved elegant structures. Oh it was Theodore, he ran through the doors energetically coming towards her. He appeared strong and well. No wait, what was happening? What was that falling? A river of blood trickled from his nose and mouth, he was crying, tears streamed down his pale cheeks. Bonnie stood before Theodore in her dream. He slumped to the floor. Unable to breathe, his oxygen starved lips were turning blue before Bonnie’s very eyes! He was choking uncontrollably. The blood was congealed upon his white shirt. Bonnie turned her back to him, why was she doing this? ‘Bonnie don’t abandon him!’ Her unconscious mind shrieked.

Bonnie awoke, fraught and dramatically gasping for breath. There was a cold dew creasing across her brow.  Thank the lord it was only a dream, Bonnie sighed. No wait what was that? Some of the dream appeared to be in fact a reality, Theodore really was coughing.

To be continued…..

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Royal Seclusion-Part 19


Good god! What was that bang? Bonnie awoke startled by the un-nerving sound. Someone had fallen out of bed somewhere on her landing. She knew it was Theodore. Bonnie rapidly lit a candle, pulled her shawl across her shoulders and paced quickly but silently to his chamber. The room was pitch black ,it was impossible to see properly with the small light from the candle. The light fell upon the shape of the four-poster bed, the sheets lay crumpled to one side as if they had been distorted in a hurry. Why was Prince Theodore not in his bed?

“I am at your feet.” Came a whisper. He was lying  on his side upon the carpet. The dim candle light traced his slim outline and created glimmering hi-lights in his chestnut hair.

“Your highness whatever happened?”

“I had a bad dream.” He mumbled.

“Did you fall from your bed ? Were you sleepwalker your majesty?”

“I’m not aware that I walk in my sleep. I am trying to recall what happened. I had a strange dream, I heard you call something and must have tried to get up in my semi-conscious state. The next thing I know I am lying upon the floor and you are by my side.” He whispered weakly.

“You did not faint?”

“I don’t know. If it was the case, it would only have been momentarily.”

“Do you wish for assistance? Shall I fetch help.  I will find Howard”

“No do not wake him! I need you to help me.”

Bonnie paused. “I don’t know if I can, you are taller than myself.”

“Bonita, please.”  He begged. Bonnie sensed the desperation in Theodore’s voice and decided to obey without any further questioning.

“Alright. Shall we stand?”

Theodore nodded. “Yes… I have to admit I feel a trifle light-headed. Give me your arm. I mean if you please.”

Bonnie offered Theodore her arm, which he took gratefully and eventually managed to stand shakily with all his remaining strength. How Theodore’s head spun. Bonnie helped him to the edge of the bed. He paused for a moment and then lay upon the pillows. Bonnie gently placed his coverlets over him. Theodore squeezed his eyes shut.

“What is the matter?” Bonnie queried. “Something pains you I can tell.”

“My head spins that is all. I feel a little weak still I must admit. I am sorry that I woke you.”

“Don’t be”  Bonnie squeezed his hand. “I am relieved that I awoke. The thought of you lying upon the floor all night alone catching cold  is not a pleasant one. I should leave you to rest now, you are very cold.”

He smiled. “Don’t go just yet. Pray lets talk for a while. Tell me something interesting.”

“I know very little sire.”

“Nonsense! You know much more than I!”

“I doubt that is true. I do know of stories of old. I could tell you one?”

Theodore nodded enthusiastically. “I would be intrigued to listen Bonita.”

“This one is one of my Father’s old favourites. Do you believe in ghosts your majesty?”

“Possibly. I am unsure.”

“Well then. I shall tell you the tale of the Bogle. A spirit who takes delight in frightening mankind, they are folkloric creatures of old. There once was a Bogle named Tatty Bogle who hid in potato fields hence his name! He would take it upon himself to frighten humans as a ghost would.  He was no ordinary ghost. Tatty Bogle in fact took the form of a scarecrow and frightened crows away. He was quite a rogue really. It was only a very short tale I’m afraid.”

A smile spread across Theodore’s face. “How unusual. I find myself very tired once more. Thank you for assisting me in my hour of need and for the quaint story.”

Bonnie stroked his hand. “I shall leave you to sleep sire. Are you sure that you were not hurt when you fell?”

“No I am quite well now, thank you.”

“Very well. Goodnight your majesty.”

“Goodnight Bonita and thank you once more.”

Despite being awoken Bonnie slept soundly for the rest of the night. She had never had a more comfortable nights sleep, laying against the soft goose feather pillows and mattress. For once she felt rejuvenated.  The crack of light fell as a shadow upon the hand-woven carpet. There came a gently knock upon her bedroom door, Bonnie glanced at the small carriage clock it read ; 8am. Bonnie opened her bedroom door a tiny crack aware that she was still dressed in her nightgown.

It was Rettie. “Pardon me miss but you have a letter and a package.”

Bonnie received them gratefully  “Oh what a lovely surprise to start the day. Thank you!” She exclaimed. Bonnie slid them from the silver tray. As expected it was from her Mother :

“My Dear Bonnie,

I hope all is well at the palace and that you are not finding Prince Theodore too demanding. I enclose this letter and a pot of my home-made strawberry jam for his majesty and you. Send him my well wishes.

I miss you! Love Mum x “

Bonnie smiled, her Mum was so thoughtful. Theodore would be pleased. Bonnie quickly dressed and went to pay a visit to Theodore. He was still fast asleep in his slightly creased bed sheets, cradled gently in the safety of his dreams.

To be continued….

Royal Seclusion-Part 18


As Theodore’s condition worsened, he had no option but to be confined completely to the loneliness of his bed chamber. Bonnie felt drawn to him more than ever. As she spent all of her days there and only returned home to sleep the royal family asked her to inhabit one of the rooms in the palace. Bonnie agreed to this and it was arranged that her belongings were to be transferred immediately . Her Mother nodded and helped Bonnie to pack a small trunk with her belongings.

“Don’t worry Mum I shall be back in a few weeks.” Bonnie smiled bravely. Inside her heart ached and her head was filled with worry.

“I know you will love” Maira smiled. “I feel for his poor family and you. Stay strong my dear Bonnie and send his majesty my well wishes.”

“I will Mum.”

Bonnie hugged her Mum and climbed into the awaiting horse-drawn carriage which had been sent for her. The room she was to inhabit was one of the smaller ones. It was clean and comfortable, with a small brown marble fire-place to provide a source of heat. Bonnie felt most at home as she unpacked her small case, hanging her dresses in the beautifully sculpted oak wardrobe. On tidying her slightly flyaway hair, Bonnie gazed into the mirror upon the dresser. ‘Yes that it better, I was beginning to look like a tattie bogle!’ How Theodore had enjoyed that tale. A small smile appeared upon Bonnie’s lips. She left the confinement of the room and ventured to see Theodore. He laid slightly curled in his bed, with one arm tucked under his soft pillow,the other by his side. He sensed Bonnie’s presence and stirred.

“Hmmm Bonita is that you? I heard you were here and unpacking. Was the move difficult?” His voice was barely more than a whisper, his throat felt as dry as parchment.

“No not at all. Your majesty you’re thirsty aren’t you? Look at your poor dry lips. Will you take some water? I will fetch you some.”

“Thank you.” He croaked.

Prince Theodore was so very weak. Bonnie held the water to his lips and supported his head as he drank thirstily.

“My goodness when did you last drink?” Bonnie’s voice was filled with concern. Surely he would have rung for assistance if he needed water?

“At breakfast. But I did not eat, I wasn’t hungry.”

“But that would have been 5 hours ago! Please you have to drink your majesty! If you are to get better.”

He nodded in agreement, but knew his chances were weakening at every chiming hour.

“Will you have another glass?”

“Please Bonita.”

Her arm draped around Theodore’s bony shoulder. He was becoming so very thin, after being malnourished for the past week. Bonnie felt the painful tears prickling her eyes. She willed them not to fall.

“Please my friend, do not cry!” Theodore sensed Bonnie’s salty tears dripping onto his neck. It stung ever so slightly. He placed his snowy white hand upon her sleeve, feeling the soft material at his fingertips in attempts to offer her some form of comfort.

“It was a speck of dust ,nothing more!” Bonnie sighed. Theodore smiled weakly. This was a white lie, he thought.

Bonnie decided to distract herself. “Now then, whatever shall we do with this hair of yours?”

“Is it really that hideous?”

“I could compare you to a wild cave man!”

Theodore laughed “Oh dear! That will not do!”

Bonnie placed Theodore to rest upon his cushions and grabbed the comb from his dresser. She began to gently tease the knots from his chestnut hair in attempt to restore it to its former beauty.

“You know your highness, this reminds me of the night before I met you. Mother put my hair in so many ridiculous rags. She wound them so tightly that I thought my hair might fall out in my sleep. My head looked like a mop.”

Prince Theodore laughed once more. It pained him to do so as it put great strain upon his chest. Bonnie placed a hand upon his shoulder. “There you look tidy now. If you don’t mind me saying you have beautiful hair.”

“Thank you Bonita. Yes, I have to admit that I was once very vain about my hair.”

There came a knock at the door. It was Howard. He bowed.

“Excuse me interrupting when you have company. I came to inquire whether you have eaten so far today?”

Theodore shook his head. “I have not. My appetite seems to have unfortunately vanished. But Bonita may be hungry, are you my dear?”

Bonnie paused. “I have to admit I am a little. A cup of tea would be lovely, actually two cups and some toast please. Thank you Howard.” Howard nodded, bowed and exited the room.

Theodore smiled. “That was spoken like a true expert! I think you’d do well living like this.” Bonnie laughed. Was that a discrete hint? Surely not, she thought. Their refreshments were brought to them upon a silver tray, the toast neatly stacked in the sturdy toast rack. They devoured their food hungrily.

“You need to sleep now sire.”

“Please, you don’t need to call me sire, from now on you must call me Theodore. You and I are equals I have decided. “

Bonnie smiled. “Wonderful! I am most flattered Theodore.”

She gently pecked his pale forehead, he gazed up at her with his lifeless eyes so filled with sorrow. Bonnie retired to her own room in order to let Theodore rest once more. The large palace rooms were frightfully drafty, she sat in bed completing some needle work for an hour or so. At last, Bonnie placed one of her older shawls round herself for warmth and drifted into a deep sleep.

To be continued…..

Royal Seclusion-Part 17


The play to be performed was “A Mid Summers Night Dream.” The small group of 5 Thespian actors were sent with great haste to the Palace and shown to the room by a rather anxious Rettie, who had been positioned polishing glasses in the huge hallway. They knocked carefully and entered Prince Theodore’s bedchamber. Theodore had requested that he was to be dressed before their arrival, Howard had assisted him in doing so. He wore a white linen shirt, similar to the one he had worn on the day that Bonnie and he first met. The 5 actors stood before him and bowed gracefully, the smallest man spoke.

“We are very pleased to make your acquaintance your majesty. I am Francis Leyton the lead actor. My friends and I are here to entertain you this afternoon.”

Theodore grinned. “How wonderful of you to come!”

“May we proceed?”

Theodore and Bonnie nodded. “Please do!” He exclaimed enthusiastically. “Bonita you are a marvel!” Prince Theodore whispered.

The play began and the pair sat in complete silence. It was to be a slightly abridged version as Theodore tired so rapidly. His face radiated happiness as he listened,clinging onto every word the actors uttered with their wonderfully expressive voices. In his tired mind Theodore pictured everything so clearly, his weak heart danced for joy. Bonnie thought it strange that a man should play the parts of Hermia and Titania but she said nothing, unaware that it was customary for all actors to be male. Theseus, Hippolta, Philostrate, and the attendants all entered and began the exciting play. How much of a delight it was to see Theodore laugh Bonnie thought as his one dull eyed seemed to sparkle. She wished that she had seen him do so more often. An hour or so passed and the play came to an end. Theodore had willed himself to stay awake through out. The pair clapped enthusiastically to show their heartfelt gratitude.

“I thank you all.” Theodore smiled weakly. “It is a glorious memory that I shall take with me. What wonderful acting skills and expressive voices you posses!”

The golden haired Francis Leyton stepped forward once more “I was very glad to be of help. We are delighted that you enjoyed your entertainment.” They bowed and with that the ‘players’ exited the room.

“Oh Bonita, how fantastic that was. I could see everything in my imagination!” He whispered.

“You are most welcome.” Bonnie patted his shoulder. “I can see you are exhausted now, you have turned quite pale. Please, you must rest once more. I fear that was too much excitement for you my dear.”

“No not at all” Theodore sighed. “It was an afternoon well spent. I feel that I have made far greater use of my time of late since meeting you my dear Bonita. What a fool I was when I was abler bodied, lying in my chamber wasting precious hours. I was so full of self-pity. Still, it is probably wise at this stage to have no regrets.”

“Perhaps. I feel that you felt great unhappiness not so long ago.” Bonnie agreed.

Theodore nodded. “Yes I was not myself. Or at least, I was not proud of the person I was becoming. You saved me.” Theodore grinned.

“Well I was glad to be your saviour!” Bonnie laughed and swiftly changed the subject. “Are you hungry or thirsty?”

“A little thirsty I admit. My appetite has deserted me I’m afraid.”

“Very well. I am also needing something to quench my thirst. Shall I ask Rettie to make us some tea?”

“Yes please and then I think I shall sleep, it is all I seem to want to do currently.”

Bonnie placed her request and assisted Theodore with his refreshments. His hands were all of a tremble, he had no strength left to hold the cup by himself. He drank thirstily and Bonnie poured him another cup from the hand painted china teapot, holding it to his lips.

“Thank you.” Theodore’s face was drawn and pale. Bonnie pulled the sheets out from under him and covered him. He was still clothed, but that did not matter as the clothing was comfortable. He sighed and held Bonnie’s hand, willing his heavy eyelids not to close.

“Will you sing to me again Bonita? Like you did before?”

“Yes your majesty this one is Scottish and tells the tale of  a blessing and the elements in heaven. According to tradition it was composed by his foster Mother  for the Donald Gorm MacDonald of Sleat, who died in 1617. “

“You really are knowledgeable Bonita. Please sing to me now” Bonnie quickly obeyed :

“Gu robh neart na cruinne leat
‘S neart na grèine
‘S neart an tairbh dhuibh
‘S àirde leumas.

Trì chruinn sheilich innt
Agus stiùir òir oirre
Tobar fìon innt
Agus tobar fìor-uisg’.”

Theodore had fallen into a deep sleep upon his pillows, he snored gently. Bonnie could not help but notice how youthful he looked when asleep. She decided to leave him be, allowing Theodore to remissness in his sweet dreams of the days positive events. The excitement had at last taken its toll.

To be continued…..

Royal Seclusion- Part 16


Theodore was assisted with undressing and climbed into bed rather shakily as his condition worsened further. As the young Prince’s energy had left him it was thought best that he rest in bed. Theodore was overcome with light headed-ness and it came as a great relief to him to lie upon the safety of his finely sprung mattress. Bonnie was quick to rejoin him, her face looking pale and anxious. She did a low curtsy much to Prince Theodore’s dismay and kissed his forehead.

“Good morning to you….my equal.” Theodore smiled.

“Hello my dear. I hope you slept well.”

Theodore sighed. “I do hope you are not offended Bonita.”

Bonnie felt confused. “Offended? Whatever for?”

“Falling asleep in the company of another is not something I am accustomed to doing. I’m sorry” He blushed.

Bonnie patted Theodore’s hand gently. “Oh no. I could never be angry with you my dear friend. Speaking truthfully, I am a little concerned.”

Theodore nodded and hastened to change the subject. “Hmmm. Bonita my dear, I have a request. I know you are fully aware of my love for the works of Shakespeare. I should very much like to see a Shakespearean play, well listen that is. I have not had the pleasure for such a long period of time. I was wondering whether it could be arranged? There are many Thespian actors around these parts.”

Arranged? Bonnie thought. “Why of course!” Bonnie exclaimed. “You are the future King! Almost anything is possible. Who might I speak to ?”

“My Mother, although you will have to find her. “

Bonnie nodded. “Very well my dear. How are you feeling this morning?”

“A little tired. But I am in good spirits.” Theodore smiled bravely. In truth he was in a great deal of pain. His whole body ached.

I shall return quickly” Bonnie smiled.

Bonnie hastened her step and wandered along the beautifully decorated corridors. Queen Evangeline was seated in her private parlour alone and engaging in working on a small piece of tapestry. It was a very beautiful design, one of birds stitched in a neat golden coloured thread upon the tightly stretched fabric. Bonnie cautiously knocked the door and curtsied. Queen Evangeline smiled.

“Ahh Miss Bonita. Is everything alright?”

“Yes your majesty. I came to inquire on behalf of his majesty Prince Theodore. Well it was more of a request….”

“Go on..”

“Well, he has a longing desire to hear a Shakespearean play.”

“Ah yes, you and he perform the work of Shakespeare beautifully. I overheard you one day.”

“Thank you your majesty.” Bonnie replied shyly not knowing what else to say in reply.

Queen Evangeline smiled. “Yes of course it shall be arranged. As it so happens there is a small group of Thespian actors who are performing in a local village shortly. I shall see that they are sent here this afternoon.”

Bonnie beamed. “Oh thank you your grace!” She curtsied. “I shall go and tell Prince Theodore the good news.”

Queen Evangeline nodded and smiled. “Yes please do.”

“Fair well your majesty.” Without turning her back to Queen Evangeline, Bonnie exited the room.

Bonnie rapidly returned to Prince Theodore’s room. He lay there asleep. Bonnie felt it cruel to disturb him, so perched herself upon the chair and occupied herself with some reading until he stirred.

“Bonita how long have you been here?” He sighed drowsily.

“About 20 minutes my dear Theodore. I have spoken to your mother. Thespian actors are being sent to the palace as we speak. They shall be here this afternoon.”

A wide smile spread across his youthful face. “Oh my goodness what a pleasant surprise! You really are a dear Bonita, it means a great deal to me! Thank you!”

“I am very excited myself!” Bonnie admitted. “I have not yet had the pleasure of being witness to a Shakespearean play.” The pair sat in their element, looking forward to the afternoons activities.

To be continued……

Royal Seclusion-Part 15


Prince Theodore’s cough worsened, lingering painfully for weeks on end. Despite his illness, he refused to be confined to his bedchamber, ignoring his physicians orders and took to inhabit one of the drawing rooms. Bonnie continued to visit, reading to him daily. Theodore’s chest ached caused by the countless coughing bouts. He had little energy as he lay upon one of the fine red velvety chaise lounges his face brightly aglow in the dancing fire light. Despite the beaming flame warming the room he constantly felt chilled to the bone. Bonnie returned as promised, entered the room and perched in front of him on a small high-backed chair. She tickled his outstretched hand.

“Bonita! I am so delighted that you are here!” He smiled raising his weary head a little from the cushion and resting it upon his hand.

“The pleasure is all mine your majesty.” she smiled sweetly. “How are you feeling today? Not worse I hope”

“No, no not worse” He lied. “I am just happy that you are here my friend.”

“Your majesty might I ask you something?” Bonnie asked sheepishly.

“Why of course.”

“Is it serious?”

“Is what serious?”

“Your cough. It sounds chesty if you don’t mind me saying.”

“No, it is nothing to worry about.” Theodore smiled. He did not speak the truth, his physician had been concerned about Theodore’s deteriorating health over the past six months or so. The royal family had been fully informed.

“Hmmm” Bonnie was not convinced, her bottom lip trembled. “It’s just if anything were to happen to you, your majesty I- well pardon me saying this but I feel that I have found a friend in you.”

“And I you my dear Bonita!”

She sighed rather sadly. He took her hand which rested upon the chaise lounge arm, gently sensing the smoothness of her palm and kissed Bonnie’s forehead. Prince Theodore seemed older and wiser, worlds apart from the foolish young man whom she had first laid eyes upon in the mortifying reading audition. The thought of that memory made Bonnie flush a deep shade of scarlet.

“Bonita would you tell me more about yourself? I fear that I talk about myself far too much! Or at least I did in the past.” 

“You were accustomed to.”

“Yes, well. Tell me more……please.”

“Sire I don’t know what to tell you. I’m rather plain and dull I’m afraid!”

Far from it!” He smiled recalling her previous outbursts. “Please anything!”

“Very well. As you know I live with my Mother. She means well, but sometimes forces me into things. Still, I have her to thank as she was the one who prompted me to go to the reading audition. As for my education, well it was simple but effective. I’m afraid that nothing can be done with this hideous accent of mine. It is incurable!” She had a wicked glint in her eye.

“Oh! I curse the day I said those words I’m sorry. I was a horrid little monster Bonita. I admire you for coping with my bahaviour. Many would have left, but you did not. Please forgive me.”

She held his outstretched hand. “I forgave you a long time ago” She smiled. “Will you drink some water? Your cough still lingers” Bonnie poured Theodore a small glass and assisted him holding it to his lips. Theodore nodded gratefully once he had had enough.

Bonnie proceeded to read a novel passage to Theodore, he listened intently. Bonnie was enraptured in the tale and did not look up. After an hour or so all grew quiet. Bonnie’s eyes gazed up from the book. Prince Theodore lay in a deep slumber upon the couch, his chest rising and falling ever so softly his lips slightly parted. Bonnie placed the book down on a nearby table and fetched one of the coverlets from his bedchamber, placing it over him. He did not stir. “Sleep well my friend.” Bonnie whispered and crept out of the room as quietly as a mouse. It was not until several hours later that Prince Theodore awoke. He sensed that his dear friend was no longer with him. ‘Stupid idiot! Imagine falling asleep in her company!’ He cursed. ‘How rude of me! I do hope Bonita is not greatly offended!’ Bonnie was not offended in the slightest. She felt saddened and concerned about the Prince’s declining health. Something was not right.

To be continued…..

Royal Seclusion-Part 14


One quiet morning a few days later, the pair were assuming their usual reading position. The sun shone brightly in the sky, gently caressing the flowers, enriching their vibrant shades in the gardens. Prince Theodore’s cold was a little better, although evidence of his chesty cough still remained. Theodore decided to break the silence which lingered.

“Bonita I was wondering. I very much enjoyed our stroll the other day. Might we take another shortly?”

Bonnie smiled. “Why of course! The weather looks more promising today your majesty. I don’t think it will rain.” She gazed out of the window at the pure sky. “As far as  I can see there is not a cloud in the sky. Would you like to go now? Only so long as you are not tired.”

Theodore nodded. “Yes please.”

“Very well your highness. We shall not make it a long walk.”

“Why ever not?” Prince Theodore sounded surprised.

“I feel that you are not fully recovered from your chest cold.”

Theodore tutted in disapproval and sighed. Bonnie, sensing that Theodore did not like her reply thought of an alternative answer.

“I suppose we could lengthen the walk if you would like.”

Yes I should like that. I believe the fresh air will do me good. Would you fetch my coat Bonita?”

“Of course.”

His coat was heavily woven and expensive. Theodore placed it over himself and fastened the buttons successfully with his nimble fingers.

“There at last I am ready.” He smiled.

Bonnie gently touched Prince Theodore’s shoulder. “Shall we go?”

“Yes. Might I take your arm Bonita? I have to admit I am feeling a little unnerved.”

“I understand” Bonnie said gently looping her arm in a teacup handle fashion.

Theodore threaded his arm through hers and they exited the building, strolling into the grounds. It was beautiful outside.

“My what a sublime day it is today! The palace grounds look magnificent!”

A smile spread across Theodore’s face.“What is it?” Bonnie questioned.

“Miss Bonita! I find it highly amusing that you are beginning to sound like me! You wouldn’t be spending too much time in my company would you?”

“Yes, but I treasure every minute my friend.” Bonnie squeezed his arm.

Theodore felt flattered. “Oh and I also. Bonita would you please describe the surroundings as you did before?”

Bonnie smiled delighted with his response. How changed Prince Theodore was of late. “Of course. But I think we should be seated first. There is a bench here.”

Bonnie guided Theodore gently to the seat, placing him to the safety of the back rest. It was there he sat ever so quietly.

“Now then. Not a great deal has changed. There is a little covering of frost upon the grass. The sky is pure blue and a small flock of birds are flying overhead.”

Unexpectedly, Prince Theodore squeezed his eyes tightly shut, bowing his head and grasping tightly onto the edge of the bench. He was ever so pale, almost chalk like in colour.  “Aaaargh!”  Theodore let out a cry, his tone sounding exasperated.

Bonnie was alarmed. “Your majesty is all alright?!”

Theodore did not speak but gritted his teeth and exhaled deeply, his eyes remaining shut. Five minutes passed before he felt well enough to speak.

“A sharp spasm pierced my chest momentarily, it is over now.”

“You get them often?”

“M-more often than late, but it is nothing to worry about. I’m afraid my cough aggravates them.”

“Your grace have you spoken to your physician?”

“My family and physician are aware, but do not fret. I am just a little under the weather.”

Bonnie let Theodore rest until the colour eventually flooded back to his pasty cheeks. The pain had vanished as quickly as it had overcome him.

“If you are able shall we go inside?”

“Of course I am able” Theodore smiled trying to brush off the incident, appearing to almost  bounce back to his own self. Bonnie gently led Theodore inside. He was still ever so pale. She made sure that he was carefully seated in the chair once more, propped him up with pillows and covered him with a blanket.

“Are you sure that you are quite recovered from the pain?” Bonnie poured Theodore a glass of water and placed it safely into his hand.

“Yes, quite Bonita thank you.”

“Here drink this. Shall we resume our reading session? You need to rest your majesty, I feel that you are not properly recovered from your chest cold.”

“Shakespeare?”

“Ah a good plan as ever your majesty!”

“Well I am always so full of them!” he grinned mischievously.

They both laughed heartily and the pair continued to go about their reading, putting the significant incident behind them.

To be continued….

Royal Seclusion-Part 13


Prince Theodore looked flushed. It was apparent that he has a raised temperature and the tip of his nose was slightly reddened. Bonnie glanced nervously at him. This is all my doing she worried.

“Ahh Bonita. Please take a seat” Theodore beckoned with his elegant hand . Bonnie couldn’t take her eyes off his unhealthy, tired appearance. He seemed paler than ever.

“Your grace I should really apologise…..again!”

Theodore smiled and shook his head. “Nonsense! I had a splendid time yesterday. I have been feeling unwell for the past few days, nothing serious. You are not to blame Bonita!”

“Truly?”

“Yes I swear upon it!”

“On pain of death?” Bonnie grinned.

“Ha! Yes. I had forgotten that had been said yesterday. Well you were true to your word. You did not let go of my hand.”

Bonnie sighed. “But I did let you get soaking wet.”

Theodore smiled. “Bonita you may be talented, but not so much so that you control the weather!” 

Bonnie blushed. This was a compliment indeed, she thought. Theodore did speak the truth. His health had deteriorated slightly of late. He wiped his nose with a handkerchief. Theodore had a tickling cough which agitated the back of his throat. He was overcome with a fit of coughing. Bonnie poured a cold glass of water and held it to his lips. Theodore finished drinking and sighed.

“Thank you my friend that helped me a great deal.”

Bonnie nodded. “I should probably let you get some rest your majesty.”

“No please stay a little while longer!” Theodore pleaded. He craved company more than anything else.

“Very well. Shall I read to you?”

“No not today. I do not feel that I am in the correct mindset.”

“How so?” Bonnie was curious.

“Well, I feel that I might doze off. I wouldn’t want to offend you.”

“You won’t. Shall I tell you something shorter then? Another folk story?”

“Do you sing Bonita? “

Bonnie thought. “A little.”

“Well that’s they all say! You do don’t you! Please sing something to me. I wish to be soothed.”

“As you wish.” Bonnie began to sing a Gaelic lullaby, which her Mother Maira used to sing to her when she was a small child. It brought back delightful memories of being seated on her Mother’s knee in the carved wooden rocking chair.

“Tha bean agam, tha taigh agam, 
Tha allt aig ceann an taighe agam, 
Tha bun de shiabann geal agam, 
‘S mo lèine salach, grànnda.

Dè ni mi gun lèine ghlan, 
Gun lèine gheal, gun lèine ghlan, 
Dè ni mi gun lèine ghlan, 
‘S mi ‘falbh an taigh’ a-màireach.”

She held the last note a little longer than the rest. Theodore was clearly impressed.

“I knew you could sing well Bonita! Pray tell me what was the song about?”

“Well your majesty, I do believe that it is a lot of old nonsense. An old Scottish Gaelic song. Mother used to sing it to me when I was young. It is about a gentleman who lives in a house and by the house there runs a stream. He is washing his shirt with a lump of white soap because it is so dirty. There is nothing more to it!

“Oh. So many words for such a little tale.” He smiled. Theodore’s eyes grew heavier all of a sudden and he yawned.

“You look tired.” Bonnie pointed out.

“I have to admit I feel it. It is this stupid chest cold”

“I shall go now sire, but I will be with you tomorrow.”

Theodore placed his chin on his bent elbow which was resting upon the chair arm. He stared at her with solitary eyes which looked ever so saddened.

“Please stay!”

He touched Bonnie’s face gently with his cool fingertips and planted a gentle kiss upon her cheek. Bonnie’s heart fluttered in her chest like a caged butterfly. Theodore closed his eyes overwhelmed by tiredness once more.

“I am afraid that I can barely keep my eyes open. Please will you stay with me Bonita. I do not feel so afraid when I am in your company.”

“You are afraid sire?”

“A little.”

“Very well. I shall fetch something useful to do, my knitting.”

“As you please.”

Bonnie walked to her room and picked up the unfinished object which lay upon the table in the drawing room. Theodore lay barely awake awaiting her return. Bonnie squeezed his hand once more.

“I have returned. Sleep now and you shall feel refreshed.”

Prince Theodore obeyed and Bonnie set too filling the room with a gently clicking sound which was soothing to Theodore’s ears,  knowing that a kindly face was at his side. As he fell into a deeper slumber he snored ever so slightly. Bonnie could not hide her guilt as she was reminded of Prince Theodore’s bad chest cold.

To be continued……

Royal Seclusion-Part 12


“Oh my goodness what a beautiful private garden!” Bonnie exclaimed.

“Yes Bonita. I do recall it being rather pretty when I was sighted.”

“I shall be your eyes now your Majesty. Shall I describe it to you?”

“Yes” Prince Theodore’s grip on Bonnie’s arm tightened ever so slightly, the feeling of her sleeved arm beneath his fingertips was comforting.

“Very well.”

Bonnie squeezed Prince Theodore’s hand sensing his fear. “I feel you are doing well. There is a pretty bench here.”

She guided him to the seat and they both sat comfortably. Bonnie thought for a moment.

“Well, the trees are bare now because it is still Winter. There is a small robin perched upon a tree branch to your left. The wee dear is fluffing out his breast and staring at us. He seems very tame and unnerved. Not afraid at all.”

Theodore sighed “Unlike me. Bonita I still feel that I know so little about you.”

“Well, ask me questions and I will tell you your majesty.”

“I can never think of what to ask others. It just proves my selfishness Bonita. Are you sure that you have never had any suitors?” Bonnie coughed nervously. This was a slightly forward question she felt, but answered him truthfully.

“None.”

“Oh.”

“Might I ask you a question sire?”

“Yes please do.”

“What do…. what are you most afraid of?”

Theodore paused. He had never been asked this before. The silence was a little longer than Bonnie had anticipated which made her nervous.

“Well in truth, originally I was afraid to leave the Palace. You’ve helped me to abolish that fear. I feel that before we met I had begun to hate myself and the wretched creature I’d become. I had begun to live my life in misery and spent my existence blaming others for my misfortune. They were only trying to help. Bonita you brought me out of that horrid, dark place. I don’t know how much longer I could have carried on in that fashion. For that I thank you.”

Bonnie was lost for words momentarily, but decided to opt for a humble answer.

“I was glad to be of assistance.”

“Ah a modest response Bonita.”

Bonnie noticed a silvery mark upon Theodore’s cheek. It was a tear, Bonnie was startled she had never seen a man cry before and was not aware that they could. His lip trembled and two large tears rolled down his fuchia pink cheeks. His breath intake became more rapid, causing a condensation cloud to form infront of him in the air. Bonnie  took Theodore’s hand in hers and squeezed it, she offered him her lace handkerchief. Theodore mopped his teary eyes and returned it to her.

With no warning the air grew chillier. The sky had been darkening over the last half hour, the clouds slowly forming in charcoal swirled patterns. The heavens opened and the pair took hands. Bonnie led Theodore safely inside. They both shivered, their clothing saturated with cold rainwater.

Your highness. I’m so sorry there was no warning.”

Theodore smiled. “Don’t fret. I had a memorable time. Thank you.”

Bonnie was concerned. What if Prince Theodore caught a cold? “Promise me that you will take a hot bath immediately  I do not wish for you to get ill. You’re wet through.”

Theodore did not answer her question. “Fair well my friend. I look forward to your company tomorrow.”

“and I.”

Theodore offered Bonnie his pale hand, a beautiful sapphire ring glinted upon his middle finger. Bonnie took his hand gladly. He was so very cold to the touch she thought. Once more they parted.

******************************************

On her arrival at the palace the next day, Bonnie thought it to be unusually quiet. Rettie stood in the huge castle hall beating one of the many rugs. A cloud of dust filled the air.

“Excuse me. Where is Prince Theodore?” Bonnie questioned.

“Ahh Miss Bonita I presume? His majesty was inquiring of your where a bouts  I’m afraid he’s feeling a little under the weather today. He got a soaking in the rain yesterday. He was asking for you.”

Bonnie was overrun with guilt. “Of course. Yes I should like to see him please.”

“Follow me Miss.” Rettie led the way through the lower ground floor rooms of the castle. There was so many, like a maze. She beckoned.

“Just in here Miss.” Bonnie’s heart raced. Surely Theodore would be furious with her she thought. After all it was her fault that he was ill wasn’t it?

Rettie curtsied. “Your grace you have a visitor.” Bonnie swallowed nervously and stood before Prince Theodore.

To be continued….

Royal Seclusion-Part 11


Prince Theodore did know the majority of the scripted pages, needing very little prompting. They sat reading for several hours more completely enraptured. Queen Evangeline had decided to take a stroll through the palace by chance and had overheard the reading. She now stood quietly in the doorway after recognising the voice of her son. Her heart pounded with excitement, but she said nothing keen to be a silent witness of his progress. In the past he wouldn’t have left his chamber by this hour, let alone be reciting the works of William Shakespeare off by heart with a young woman whom he had known less than a week. The Queen dashed around in search of king William. She found him reading in his private parlour, wearing his ‘thinking cap’ and lost in a deep chain of thought .

“My dear! Our son!”

“Goodness gracious who has he upset now?!” He jumped from his comfortable seat.

“No quite the contrary William dear.” 

She took King William’s hand and led him to where the young pair were reciting fluently. “Just look at them!” Queen Evangeline beamed.

The King’s jaw dropped and a wide Cheshire cat smile spread across his face.

“How has the young girl managed this!” King William said in a raised whisper.

“Shhhhh!” She put her slim index finger to her lips. They watched for a further 10 minutes and slipped away arm in arm.

“My goodness that girl is a miracle. We must congratulate her.”

Queen Evangeline nodded in agreement with her husband. Bonnie and Prince Theodore continued completely oblivious to the fact that they had just  been observed. At last, they seemed at ease in each others company. The coldness which had once been prominent between them had slipped away. Bonnie closed the book and Prince Theodore smiled at her.

“I very much enjoyed that.” 

“And I also your majesty. I shall have to go now, but until tomorrow.”

“Oh must you go?”

“Yes. Pardon my saying but you look slightly tired.” 

He outstretched his right hand. His slim fingers were pressed together on his perfectly manicured hand. A ring glinted on his middle finger. Bonnie took it.

“Very well. Fair well Bonita.”

“Until we meet again your majesty.”

Bonnie left the palace. Her heart danced for joy, so much was changing for the better she could feel it. I cannot wait to tell Mother she thought. She picked up her skirts and ran home to the confinement of her cottage. Maira was nowhere to be seen. This was odd. Bonnie ran into the garden, still no sign. She eyed the note upon the kitchen table. It read :

“Bonnie your Auntie Margaret has been taken ill. There was no-one to nurse her except myself. I’m not sure until I shall return, but word has spread of your wonderful progress with his Majesty. I told you that you would be suited to the job. I shall write  to you soon to keep you informed of my plans.

Love Mum”

Bonnie’s heart sank. She longed to have someone to share her good news with. Still, she would have Prince Theodore’s company tomorrow. She brewed the kettle and made herself a warming cup of tea to heat her chilled fingers. Bonnie reminisced in happy thoughts, feeling very proud of her progress. Her happiness was dampened with the thought of her poor Mother. She wondered how ill Auntie Margaret really was? and whether it was catching. Bonnie deeply hoped not. Unfortunately, Bonnie’s Auntie Margaret was sicker than first anticipated, meaning that her Mother Maira would not return home for some time. Bonnie stayed longer at the palace working over her hours in the days to follow. Theodore seemed much changed, more enthusiastic and happier in himself. Bonnie decided to make a suggestion.

“Your Grace might we take a quick walk outside?” Bonnie was careful to emphasise the word ‘quick’.

“Bonita I am not so sure.”

“If you don’t mind me saying I think the best way to deal with fear is to face it.”

“You can tell I am afraid?”

“Yes. We shall walk slowly and we shan’t go far. I promise that I will not let go of your arm”

“You swear it, truly?”

“On pain of death. I shall take great care of you! Come on, follow me !”

Bonnie took Theodore’s hand. She fetched one of Theodore’s cloaks from his wardrobe and draped it around his shoulders. She led him slowly downstairs. He stood momentarily hesitating in the huge hallway as if having second thoughts. Bonnie took Theodore’s arm in hers, opened the glossy door and helped him down the small flight of stone steps. Theodore trembled ever so slightly as she held his arm and he felt the wall for guidance with his free hand. Bonnie was immediately struck with the wondrous sight of the palace grounds.

To be continued….