Theodore- Chapter 6


“Darkness!” Evangeline gasped. “You see nothing?”
“Mother I can hear you. Oh what is it? Jane, where is Jane?”
“Darling she is here. Miss Mallis do not be alarmed, will you take his hand?”
“Oh I cannot!” She wept. “Oh this is all too much and I can’t bear it! Can’t you see it or all you all fools! Theodore has gone stone blind!”

Jane scrambled from the room. Queen Evangeline grabbed her wrist with her left hand, continuing to support Theodore’s body in her right arm.
“You will stay Jane!”
“Why? Why must I? After all, my fiancée is a blind, useless cripple, what use is he to any of us now!”
“Get out you, you little rat! Howard, remove Miss Mallis from the room. My God! You disgust me!”
“Jane please!” Theodore begged in his horse, cracked voice. “Oh Jane, I am so sorry, please I will try to get well and then it shall be like old times. Don’t go! Jane!” He bleated, the tears running down his cheeks.
“I wash my hands of you all, I cannot be married to a blind man! There is no hope for you Theodore, no one shall ever love you because you are damaged!”
She pushed past the guards, Queen Evangeline stroked Theodore’s hair as he wept, leaving his side to watch Jane Mallis strutting hastily down the long path. She shook her head and returned to Theodore.
“There, there dear. Shhh now, shhhh.” She kissed his forehead and his cheek.
“I wish there was something I could do, but she is too aloof to even reason with. My God! I should have seen it, she is far too head strong and feisty. I think that this is for the best Theodore, it may seem heart breaking now, but you are young and you shall find a more suitable woman one day.” She placed her hand on his trembling shoulder. Theodore pulled away, pulling the sheet over his head.
“Oh dear. Well, I shall leave you now as you are tired and still weak. My dear, try and get some rest and I shall come and see you later. But for now, I must speak with your Father.”
“Mother please! Do not go!”
“Very well dear, I shall speak with him in an hour or so, tell me, what can I do to bring you comfort? Are you hungry or thirsty? You haven’t eaten for so long.”
“Not really.”
“Perhaps you shall change your mind. I will ring the bell and ask one of the servants to place an order in the kitchen.”

**
Theodore picked at some toast, only attempting to eat a meagre mouthful. He drank one cup of tea, followed by another, much to Queen Evangeline’s relief.
“We shall try and get you out of this bed soon. The weather has been really quite pleasant and..”
“No, I shall stay here.”
“I could ask Howard to help you sit in a chaise lounge in one of the drawing rooms in time.”
“No!”
“How about a bath then? Something to sooth you.”
“Stop fussing over me as if I were some sick child!”
“Theodore, I am sorry and we are only trying to help. I remind you how ill you have been, don’t push us away my dear.”
“You are smothering me, I feel half suffocated!”
“Well dear, I shall go.”
Evangeline dabbed her eyes with a tissue and glanced over at Theodore, who had rolled on his side, facing away from her. She went to find Howard.
“Howard?”
He bowed. “Yes your Grace?”
“I am becoming ever more concerned about Theodore, he will not eat. Whatever shall we do?”
“Well your Grace, I think that we should perhaps leave him be for a little while and I think that eventually he will come to his senses.”
“I hope so Howard, I really do.”
“Ah, a bell rings now. It may very well be him, I shall go ma’am.”

To his relief, it was indeed Theodore. Howard paced up the staircase and tapped on his bedroom door.
“Who is there? I am blind remember!”
“Your Grace, it is Howard.”
“Ah, I had hoped that it would be you. Howard, I would like a bath.”
“Very good sir, I shall run you one directly and return to assist you to the bathroom.”
“So you do think me to be a cripple?! I can manage, everyone needs to stop smothering me, but you can run my bath.”
Howard raised his eyebrows, nodded and smiled as he entered the bathroom and filled the white porcelain tub with warm water.
“I will need to wash my hair of course. I can imagine that it looks quite disgusting does it not?”
Howard said nothing, placing the towels on a small table next to the bath. Theodore’s legs trembled as he stood, He put a wicker wheelchair underneath him and wheeled him into the bathroom. He placed Theodore’s hand on the side of the bath.

“Here is the bath now, here I will assist you to stand again, you are weak still. Step into the water and there is a sponge and soap on the side for you here, can you feel them?”
“Yes.”
“Good, then your grace, I shall leave you in peace to have your bath.”
Theodore lay, mulling in the water. He sighed, sensing it lapping at the back of his neck, the bottom of his curls soaking it up. Theodore tilted his head back to wet his hair and without taking a breath, submerged himself in the water. He sensed the hardness of the bath against his back as he lay there for a minute.  The pressure in his lungs became unbearable, as if his chest were being crushed. Quickly he resurfaced, gasping for air. Panting, he smoothed his hair back and washed it, before rinsing it. That was quite enough foolishness for one day, he thought, as he washed his body and exited the bath, pulling the plug. Theodore pulled on his dressing gown.
“I am ready.”
“Very good your Grace.”
He jumped on sensing a hand touch his back.
“Sorry Theodore my dear, it is just your Mother.”
“Mother?”
“Yes. Did you enjoy your bath?”
“It was quite pleasant actually.”
“I’m glad. Shall I take you back to your room.”
“No, Howard and I can manage, thank you!”
“Please Theodore, I only wish to help you, you are quite weak still and your Father and I are worried that..”
“Worried about what exactly? Oh do tell me! Are you afraid that I might not be married, because as you know I have been well and truly rejected by Miss Mallis. She saw her chance and fled! Hmm, let’s see what else could be on your mind; the fact that you may longer have an heir to the throne, because I assure you, a blind Prince is no use to this country. I suggest that you consider one of my cousins instead and I shall retire quietly somewhere.”
“Theodore, you are all of a tremble. Howard, please wheel him back to bed.”
“Yes Ma’am.”
“Mother, please leave me be! ”
“Howard please ignore what he says and take him to his room!”
“I am not going!”
“Oh dear. Well, now that you are in the drawing room I can be reassured that you are safe.” She waited as Howard helped him from the wheelchair and placed a blanket over his legs. “Rest by the fire for a while and that way, your hair shall dry properly. It looks as beautiful as ever.”
“What does that matter, I can’t see it anyway!”
“Everyone else can. Theodore, you are a good person, don’t let losing your sight defeat you, that is all I ask. I must go now.”
“Yes Mother you must, even though I am tired and lonely, you must leave me now.”
“Tell me, what can I do? There must be something. Would you like company?”
“Perhaps.”
“Well dear, it can be arranged, I know how much you used to love reading and…”
“You might as well burn those books, no-one shall read them now. They shall stand there gathering dust, Grandfather would have been most saddened.”
“Theodore, I have an idea as you are craving to read books and have some company, then this what I propose, you shall have a reader.”
“A reader?”
“Yes, someone can come to read to you daily for a few hours. I shall make sure that the person is educated and of a decent family and the books shall gather dust no more. What do you say to that?”
“I say, yes.”
“Then my son, if that is what your heart desires, your wish shall be granted and we shall advertise. Are you warm enough? Would you like a cup of tea or some water?”
“No thank you. I’d like to be alone for a while.”
“As you wish.”

Theodore ran his fingertips over the chaise lounge, sensing the intricate stitching and it’s high back, he sighed, placing his hand upon his sunken stomach.
‘I am damaged goods after all. Jane was right and now I am not worthy of her.’ His eyes filled with tears and he drifted off into a deep slumber.
**
“Theodore? Theodore my dear, can you open your eyes! Oh you scare me so!”
“Mother what is it?”
“Oh thank heavens. Oh Theodore you have been crying.”
“I’m fine.”
“Well, our advertisement has been placed around the town. I dare say that we shall hear a response soon. Do not look so melancholy.”
“It will probably be some mumbling old man or woman. Oh how they shall bore me!”
“Or, it may be someone similar to your own age. I said we were looking for people between the ages of 15 and 30.”
“15! I will not have a child reading to me.”
“My! You are cantankerous!”
“And you are fussing and getting on my wick.”
“Well at least try to be agreeable. I will find someone close to your own age, I promise my dear.”
“You and Father have always made so many promises to me that you never keep. You are lucky that I trust you at all.”

To be continued…

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014

Theodore- Chapter 5


“Your grace, there is a reply to your letter.”
The Queen picked up the letter from the silver tray, opening it with caution.
‘Your Majesty,
        As I am aware, Prince Theodore was in reasonable health when I saw him last. I am sorry to hear that his condition has worsened, but I have to tell you that he and I are not suited in the slightest. We are both far too selfish.
As he has you and the best physician in the country, he does not need me by his side and as he is in a stupor, my attempts to soothe him would be wasted. Therefore, I regret to tell you that I cannot return to him as I do not want to become ill also. 
Miss Jane Mallis

“Good God! The child is out of her mind! She will not come to the palace? I thought I expressed the urgency in my letter? Oh this will not do! It will not do at all. Rupert my dear? Rupert where are you?”
“Dear, I am here. I was just looking in on Theodore, alas, there is no change.”
“I know. Oh what are we to do? Perhaps if he senses her presence, he may stir.”
“Perhaps, perhaps not. But now Evangeline my dear, you must go to bed. You are so exhausted, I will ask Howard to look after him for an hour or two until Mr Dickinson returns.”
“Very well dear, you know best.”

Howard shuffled into the room in his quiet way. He seated himself by Theodore’s bed and patted his ivory hand.
“There, there young Sir, you are in safe hands, I promise you.” He dipped the cloth in some cool water and carefully dabbed his brow.
“Let us try to get your fever under control and you must drink water. I don’t think you can hear me but…” Howard wiped away a small tear.
“I don’t know if this girl Miss Jane Mallis will come and see you. I pray that she will, but your Grace, I feel that you can do much better.” He whispered. “She is insensitive and cruel and I don’t think she can be tamed. People can change, but I do not think she shall ever change. There now, the cool water is helping and I shall comb your hair your grace. You have the most glorious hair, you always have. Don’t worry, once you are well again it shall be restored to its original beauty.”
“Ja”
“I’m s-sorry?”
“Ja-ne.”
“My goodness! You speak her name, she is in your thoughts still, I know she is as that is not the first time that you have mentioned it. Your Grace, I shall have to go and see her myself. There, your hair is smooth now and your skin does not burn as much. When I have finished my vigil, I shall tell your Mother and Father that you speak of Miss Mallis again.”

**

There came a gently tap upon the door, Howard stood and bowed.
“Your majesty, I am very pleased that you have returned.”
“He-he is not worse I hope.”
“No your grace, only he said a name and I think it was Miss Mallis’s.”
“Ah, yes he said it earlier also.”
“I see your grace.”
“Yes Howard, fear not, I have written to her, but alas, she will not come.”
“Oh dear.”
“Yes Howard, I have to admit to being very angry.”
“I understand your grace. She is his fiancée. Still, perhaps when his fever has broken and he is no longer in danger, she will change her mind and visit him.”
“You always have a very sensible way of putting things Howard. You give me hope, and for that, I thank you.  Mr Dickinson will be returning in an hour to see him, but until then we can do very little.”
“Yes Ma’am. I managed to help him to take some water.”
“Ah, well that is progress!” She sniffed. “I am worried about his fever, it seems to be a violent one and I have heard that they can leave damage. I once heard about a man who contracted scarlet fever and it altered his mind most dreadfully!”
“In what way your grace?”
“When he recovered, if you can call it that, he was left a simpleton.”
“Oh dear. We must all have faith.”
“Yes Howard, faith.”

**
Rupert dear?”
“Yes Evangeline?”
“Here now, come out of his room you have been sat with him long enough.  Three hours have passed, You must rest my dear, Howard has rested and he shall sit with him once more.”
“I have a royal engagement this afternoon. You are tired, so I shall go alone.”
“Very well Rupert. Our poor son, whatever shall we do? He keeps saying her name and it scares me!”
“Don’t dwell on it Evangeline, sometimes delirium can do that to the brain. How is his arm?”
“Oh it will heal; I do believe that it’s the least of our worries. Howard is awake now, here he is. Howard?”
Howard bowed. “Your Graces shall I sit with his Grace.”
“We were just going to ask you.”
“Ah, then I will happily oblige, no not with happiness. Forgive me, I did not mean that. I shall go.”
“Very good Howard.”
Howard bowed and returned to Theodore’s bedchamber.

“I have returned, Your broken arm will take time to heal, but it is your fever which concerns us. You are so very still young sir, one would expect you to be delirious with it all, but that does not seem to be the case. I am aware that I only know very little, forgive me, I am only a foolish servant. I wish you would respond, it concerns your parents and you are growing thin before our very eyes. I am wary of placing water to your lips now in case you should choke, but I may have an idea.”
Howard tore off a new piece of natural bath sponge and dipped it in the untouched jug of drinking water, moistening Theodore’s lips with the liquid.
“There now, that should help. I’ll just adjust your pillows again; you are slumping to one side. My goodness I am tired, it appears that I may have needed more than 3 hours sleep. Hmm, your hair needs a comb again, possibly even a wash. I would wash it for you, but I am afraid that it would take too long to dry and having damp hair would do you no good.”
Theodore’s eyelids flickered, he stirred once more. Howard placed a hand on his cheek.
“Your Grace, can you hear me? That seems to be a slight improvement. Are you able to open your eyes at all?”
Theodore did not respond again. “Ah, that is alright. I feel that you are exhausted and now that your fever has almost broken, you must sleep. I will go and fetch Miss Mallis myself, as soon as your Mother returns.”
Howard slept in the chair next to Theodore’s bed, his body warmed by the fire in the otherwise cold room.

“Howard, I have slept a little now, so I wish to stay with him.”
“Very good ma’am. I shall go and fetch Miss Mallis as I see a great improvement in his grace.”
“Yes.” She took his hand in hers. “I agree, it feels rather cool now. I shall place his arms under the coverlet. I do believe that his fever has broken! Oh thank the Lord! He breathes more easily, he must be out of danger now surely. Oh Howard, forget Miss Mallis and get Mr Dickinson instead. Miss Mallis shall be told in time. No wait, fetch them both.”
“Of course ma’am, I shall not keep you waiting long.”

**
“Good heavens! That is great news to me, here do not worry, I shall travel with you and we shall collect this Miss Mallis along the way and we shall all travel to the palace together. You are sure that his fever has broken.”
Howard nodded. “He is not awake yet Mr Dickinson, but yes.”
Gingerly, Howard tapped on the door, to be greeted by Maude.
“Hello sir.”
“Good day to you, I was just passing by to enquire if Miss Mallis is in? I am from the Palace.”
“Ah! News on the young Prince is it? Oh she shall be very glad. One moment, I shall fetch her Sir.”
“Thank you.”
He waited in the doorway, pulling his coat more tightly around himself, there came the sound of a raised young voice, followed by Miss Mallis.
“Oh, it is you.”
“Yes, his Grace is recovering now and..”
“He is awake?”
“Well, not quite.”
“That is no good to me then! I received your letter, but what is the point of sitting with someone who is unconscious!”
“To bring comfort to them.”
“Don’t presume to speak until you are told to do so. Her majesty said that he kept mentioning me?”
“He did.”
“Oh, well I should be flattered I suppose. Very well, I shall go with you to the palace, but should I fall ill, I will hold you all responsible.”
“His fever has broken, he is out of danger now.”
“Well just give me a moment then please! I must fetch my shawl and bonnet, I had agreed to meet  a friend today, oh Maude when she arrives will you tell her that I am no longer available and it cannot be helped.”
“Yes Miss.”
Howard smiled. “I am pleased that you have agreed to come, we will escort you to the palace.”

**
“Does he appear to be very changed Howard?”
“He is…” Howard paused, thinking carefully.
“We have all noticed that he has lost a little weight and he is pale.”
“Hmm, I suppose that he will look rather dreadful, I must prepare myself for the worst.”
“With all due respect, he cannot help that Miss Mallis.”
“Indeed. Well, now that we have arrived, you must show me to his room. My! You don’t talk much do you Howard? Trying to make conversation with you is like getting blood from a stone. Did you ever marry?”
Howard paused, how he hated being asked this dreaded question.
No ma’am, I was never married.”
“Little wonder.” She muttered. “Well don’t just stand there you silly goose! The carriage has stopped and I must see my fiancé! Help me out Howard and take me to him! I would like refreshments, can you organise it?”
“Yes of course, they shall be brought to you directly. Step this way please.”
“Is no-one with him?”
“No.”
“Redicoulous!”
“Queen Evangeline has been with him for many hours and myself also. His Father is…”
“He thinks himself too high and mighty to watch over his own son? Bah! What a fool!”
“I would not speak in such a way about the king.”
“Why?”
“One might suppose that you are… it does not matter. Now, you must be quiet when you enter his room.”
“Oh don’t you dare tell me what to do, after all you are just a servant!”

Jane stormed into the bedroom and pulled the curtain aside. She took one glance at Theodore. Gasping, she staggered backwards, stepping on Howard’s foot.
“He is unrecognisable. Less than two weeks have passed and he looks like this? I think I need to sit down, I am all of a tremble. No wait, I must leave, I cannot..”
“J-ane.”
“Theodore? Did he just say my name?”
“Yes Miss, he did.”

Jane tiptoed closer to him, her head tilted to one side. She pressed her index finger against his cheek. She sprang back, shaking her head so that her curls bounced.
“He still has a fever! I am sure of it!”
“It is gone, do not be alarmed. Here Miss Mallis, sit down and be calm.”
“How can I be calm when my fiancée is in a state such as this? He appears to be close to death.”
“You will not like me saying this but…”
“Say nothing then, you are a servant!”
“Miss Mallis, his majesty needs your support in his hour of need. It is frightening yes, but do try to show some compassion.”
“Well you’re going to have to tell me how.”
“You could brush his hair, or simply talk to him.”
“Brush his hair? I am not his servant and what is the point of talking to someone when they are half-unconscious? What a foolish notion.”
“Jane is that you?”
“He-he spoke! Theodore’s voice sounds so… yes Theodore it is I. I have been taking good care of you.”
“Heavens!” Howard gasped. “I must fetch their highnesses!” He scurried out of the room.

**
What was this? Theodore sensed someone’s soft, warm hand stroking his and encasing it in hers. He felt a tender kiss upon his brow.
“Jane?”
“No my dear Theodore, it is your Mother.”
Queen Evangaline kissed him again, wrapping her arms around his neck, so that her head rested upon his shoulder. He smelt her familiar perfume and felt the round, smoothness of the string of pearls around her neck.
“There, there darling. Oh what a relief it is to see you open your eyes again. Jane is here also, do not be afraid your loved ones are here by your side. Here is your Father.”
Theodore sensed a strong hand upon his shoulder, one which held him up and adjusted the collar of his night shirt.
“My poor son.” The king sighed.
Theodore furrowed his troubled brow, his eyes filling with tears.
“My dear, do not cry! All is well now and you, in time shall get better.”
“Mother it is so dark in here? It scares me so!”
“Theodore it is rather, I shall ask Howard to light candles. Would you Howard?”
“Certainly.”
Theodore let out a cry of despair. “I am in darkness, engulfed by it. Oh God! It is as if someone has poked out both my eyes!”

To be continued….

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014

Theodore- Chapter 4


Theodore lay, his head covered with his sheet, aware of his blood pulsating through his veins and arteries. He knew Jane was gone, gone for ever. He still had her engagement ring clutched tightly in his grasp, the stone making a prominent indentation into the palm of his hand. Jane darted down the staircase, taking the servant’s exit so that no-one would see her. Queen Evangeline heard the heavy footsteps, gazing up from her tapestry.
“Miss Mallis is that you?”
Jane did not answer and scurried out of a side door. Queen Evangeline placed down her handiwork, going to investigate, but she was no-where to be seen. Collectively, she marched up the staircase and tapped on Theodore’s door.
“My dear, open your bedroom door please and explain to me what is going on.”
 It was not locked, she lifted the latch and waked in. She glanced at the huddle of bed covers pulled over a human form. Without saying so much as a word, she sat by him, placing a hand upon his shoulder.
“Theodore, where is Miss Mallis?” There came no reply. “Oh Lord this is my doing. Theodore my dear, I fear that I was too hard on her. She pulled the blanket away from his tear-stained face.
“My, you are very warm. Don’t worry, you don’t have to hide your face any longer.”
“She thinks I am a liar! Well, I don’t blame her, that’s what I am; a selfish, uncouth, fool. That poor girl, what have a done? I fear that her heart may be broken.”
“Theodore my son, I can assure you that hers is perfectly intact. I see you are suffering and if there was a way to mend things, then I would do everything in my power to help you.”
“Mother, the damage is done now. The worst of it is over and I must forgive and forget.  I must stop wallowing in my own self-pity and get out of bed. ”
“As you wish, perhaps you should rest. You have dark circles around your eyes my dear.”
“Well, for now I shall read in the library.”
“Yes, I think that to be a sensible idea for the time being.”
“Mother, the weather has improved again and I am in much need of some fresh air and exercise. I shall take my horse and go for a ride.”
“Theodore I realise that you are a man now, but think of your health, I would not advise it, not today. You have endured a shock and are very fragile. Please wait until tomorrow, so that you can decide then how you feel.”
“I am a man, not a child, so I ask you to stop treating me like one. You smother me! Yes, I shall go for that horse ride and it will do me no harm at all.”

**
Theodore meandered into the stable, quite alone. He pulled on his riding boots, wandering over to his favourite horse. He stroked her mane, sensing the coarseness of it.
“Aren’t you a beautiful girl?” He cooed, patting the side of her broad neck and lead her out of the stables. The well-trained horse stooped as Theodore mounted her, gracefully placing his boots into the stirrups.
“Yah!” He tapped her side and he raced out into the meadow on horse back. Theodore loved the freedom more than anything else, he closed his eyes, placing his arms around the horse’s neck as they raced. How he wished Jane was with him, the emptiness inside him ached and stung like a flesh wound, a wound across his heart. He sobbed, placing a hand to his throbbing chest, gasping for breath. The horse stopped, sensing it’s master’s distress and neighing loudly. Theodore, in his agony and confusion, dismounted his horse, collapsing onto the grass. The horse whinnied again, nudging Theodore with his nose, but he did not stir. She bolted, continuing to neigh loudly and raced towards the palace. Howard looked up from the bench he was painting and held his hands out to stop her and took her reins with gentle care.

“There now, what’s this about?” The horse nudged his arm and his back with her head.
“Ah, you’re trying to show me something? C-come on then, you shall take me there.”
Howard mounted the horse and braved the ride. The horse paused as Howard caught site of Theodore’s riding jacket.
“Your majesty?” No response. Howard crouched beside him, shaking the young prince. He placed a hand  in front of his mouth, sensing his breath upon the back of his hand. He was alive. Howard assumed the trickle of the blood from his nose must be an injury from the accident.
“Prince Theodore, are you badly hurt?”
He did not respond. Howard bit his bottom lip, scooping the unconscious Theodore up in his arms. He placed Theodore on the horse first, before climbing on behind him, placing a hand around his waist to hold him up, propping his limp body against his own.
“Poor young sir, I feel that you were not well enough for that horse ride. I think sometimes the heart can control the mind. Your Mother is very worried about you.”
He placed a hand to Theodore’s flushed, clammy brow. “Oh dear, you have the start of the fever also.”
He led the horse into the stable and carried Theodore into the place. Queen Evangeline paced into the hallway, placing both hands to her face. “My Lord! What on earth happened?
“Prince Theodore has fallen from his horse.”
“He looks frightful, he must be put to bed immediately!”
“Yes your Grace. Your Grace, I think his arm is injured.”
“Then, once he is in bed, you shall fetch our Physician directly.”
“Yes Ma’am.”
“And Howard, I thank you, without you he may still have been lying outside somewhere. Oh whatever made him do this! I fear that Miss Mallis has broken his heart, that is the cause and now he has gone and fallen off his horse. Good Lord, so much drama! Horrible. Howard, place him in his bedroom, he is covered in mud, place another sheet on top of his bed before you place him on it.”
“Of course Madam and then I shall get the Physician.”
“Yes, that is what I said is it not?”
“Yes Ma’am.”
“Until you return, I shall stay with my son. Urgh! He is covered in mud! Remove his riding boots before you go, we do not want soil all over our floors, making uneseccary work for our servants, do we?”
“I shall do it now, there.”
“Thank you.”

She took out a bottle of smelling salts from her dress pocket, she supported his head with her hand as he inhaled. Theodore coughed. She stroked his cheek, but he barley sensed it.
“Theodore my dear, you have taken a nasty fall from your horse. I fear that you were not well before you stepped out of the palace. You must rest, Howard has gone to fetch our best physician.”
A red- faced, panting Howard returned with the doctor. “Ma’am the doctor is here.”
“Yes Howard, I can see that. Thank you for your service. You may take the rest of the day off.”
“Why thank you ma’am. Please tell his grace that I hope he makes a rapid recovery.” He bowed and exited the room.
The doctor removed Theodore’s mud-spattered clothing, taking great care not to move his arm too much, before carefully stetting it. Queen Evangeline, rushed to Rupert, who had just returned from a public engagement.
“Oh my dear! I am so glad that you are home!” She wept, placing her head upon his shoulder.
“Where is Theodore, has he said something to upset you?”
“No!” She sobbed. “He- he is very ill I fear!”
“Good God! Where is he now?”
“Theodore is in his room, the physician is with him. He has a broken arm and a fever, but worse a broken heart. My God! I could strike Miss Mallis down! She is never to set foot in this castle again, as far as I am concerned she is banished. Oh I curse the day that she met Theodore, I curse the day that she was born!”
“Oh my dear! We shall go and see him once Mr Dickinson our physician leaves, I am sure it is not as bad as it all seems. We are both aware that his health has  been unsteady of late.”
“I fear it is. This is the sickest he has ever been.”
“In what way?”
“He is barely conscious.”
“Theodore will come around and his arm will heal.”
“You are not at all worried?”
“I have to admit to being slightly concerned.”
“I need to see my son!”
“Hush dear, you are very shocked. Here, sit by the fire, I will ring the bell for some hot tea.”
“How can you be so calm when Theodore is lying unconscious in his bed? I must- I must go and see him!”

Queen Evangaline hastened her step up the staircase, pushing open Theodore’s bedroom door with no warning. She gasped, pinning herself against the wall as she caught sight of the semi-naked Theodore; a blood collecting bowl ready under his left arm. His cheeks were flushed, his brow clammy as the waves of his fine hair clung to his fine face like limpets. His naked chest rose and fell rapidly, a single sheet covering his lower body. She caught sight of a pile of muddy towels in one corner.
“Mr Dickinson?”
He looked up, rolling down his white shirt sleeved and performed a low bow.
“Your majesty, I have done all I can for his grace. He has a fever, but apart from that, I am unsure of what is wrong with him. It may be the beginnings of Scarlet fever, but until the distinctive, strawberry-red rash covers his body, I am afraid that I am unable to tell you.”
“My God! You cannot wake him?”
“No your Grace.”
“You have tried everything?”
“Yes, I am afraid so.”
“What can I do?”
“Have faith and pray, God works in mysterious ways. I do believe that he has a plan for us all. There is little more I can do for his Grace at the moment.  Stay with him tonight, keep his head cool and body warm, we must banish this fever from his body.”
Queen Evangeline gasped. “Miss Mallis ought to know!”
“Your grace, I shall go now.”
“Thank you Mr Dickinson.”
“God bless you all ma’am. Your family shall be in my thoughts and prayers tonight.”
**

Queen Evangeline sat by Theodore’s bed. Every two minutes or so, she gazed up from her tapestry.
“Jane.” He muttered. “Jane.”
She grasped some writing paper and a pen.

‘Dear Miss Mallis,
As you are probably not aware, I thought that I should write to you myself. Prince Theodore has taken ill and his condition is as worse as I feared. He says nothing, only your name. I know for a fact that you are in his fevered thoughts still, even though his brain is overrun with delirium. Please Jane, come back to him, that is all I ask.’
HRH Queen Evangeline’

**
Jane sat on her velvet window seat, her feet tucked under one of the many silk gowns Theodore had bought as gifts. There came a knock on her bedroom door. An elderly servant, one long past retirement age, peered around the doorway a silver tea tray in her arthritic hands trembling under its weight. Jane jumped, snapping her precious diary shut.
“Heavens Maude! You gave me such a fright. Must you go creeping about like an old witch? You may go and do not disturb me again.”
“I am truly sorry Ma’am. I have brought a letter to you.”
“Well why didn’t you say so you silly thing! Goodness I recognise the style! It is from the palace.” Jane snatched the letter and scanned over it.
“His brain is overrun with delirium ” She mimicked. “Complete and utter cods-wallop  Why the whole family are liars. I suspect that Theodore is not ill at all, this is his little plan to force me to go back to him. The stupid fool!”
“Ahem, I beg your pardon ma’am.”
“Urgh! Woman! Why are you still here. Well go on then, what is it?”
“I overheard people talkin’ in the market today.”
“Did you now Maude, what precisely did they say?”
“I only caught loose ends.”
“Out with it old woman!”
“Madam, his illness is worse than they originally feared, so I heard. They believe that Prince Theodore might die!”
“Die! Bah! Poppycock! He is no closer to death than I. He clearly thrives from the drama, my what an interesting news title that will make. Prince taken ill, fiancée made accountable. Ridiculous! He says nothing, only my name! Well he is clearly saying something isn’t he! I’m not going, especially if he is ill, I may catch it! What happens if I have already?”
Jane gasped, examining her high cheekbones in the mirror.
“No, I still look pretty. I think I shall remain well.”
**
“Water!”
Theodore gasped, he was quite alone. Queen Evangeline had completed her 12 hour vigil and had retired, exhausted to her bed chamber. King Rupert paced up and down the gardens like a madman. Howard raised his head from his pillow, awoken by the loud coughing. He pulled on his overcoat and paced across the landing, opening Theodore’s bedroom door.
“You are alone?” Theodore lay slumped to one side. Howard adjusted his pillows and sat Theodore against them.
“Your lips are so dry sire. Here, try to drink some water.” He filled the glass, holding it to Theodore’s lips. He drank desperately until every last drop of the liquid had vanished.
“My, you were thirsty! There now, I don’t know if you can hear me, but I hope that the water has refreshed you a little. I will sit with you for a while, I do not mind being awake at this time, in fact I quite like it. I remember when you were a little boy your Grace, no higher than a grass hopper. You were such a character, such an intelligent child. Don’t give up hope your Grace for the sake of one girl. I will say no more, just in case that you are registering what I am saying. It is not my place to think or say such things.”

To be continued…

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014

Theodore- Chapter 3


“What is that?”
“Well, he can have quite a fiery temper.”
“Really? I have barely noticed.”
“Yes, he is good at controlling it I think, but I have seen it once or twice. He terrified me half to death.”
“He is physically violent?”
“Heavens, no! But his words stung like a whip. Forget I said anything. It was three years ago now, he was about 16.”
“Pray, tell me the full story.”
“I probably should not tell you this. But now I have started I should proceed. Well, I upset him, I did something wrong and he told me exactly what he thought of me.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Oh, let’s just say that I was a little too flirtatious and he didn’t like it. He told me that I was behaving like a harlot. I was furious and I’m afraid that I slapped him.”
“You slapped the future king?!”
“Yes. He was furious and accused me of being a-a-”
“Go on.”
“A woman of the night.”
“He insinuated that?!”
“Shhh! Yes.”
“Oh dear. Did he apologise?”
“Oh yes of course. Promise that you won’t mention it in front of him.”
“I swear.”
“Thank you Jane, I feel I can trust you.”
“You can Elizabeth. Sorry, I must find Theodore, he will wonder where I am.”
“Yes of course.”
**
“Queen Evangeline, where is Theodore?”
“He is seated over there, talking to the Earl of Lancashire.”
“Lancashire? My! He has come quite a way.”
“Yes indeed.”
“Oh dear, I do not want to interrupt them.”
“He won’t mind dear.”
“Thank you your majesty.” Jane curtsied, wandering over to Theodore. Both Theodore and the Earl of Lancashire stood.
“Jane! Dearest, there you are. Might I introduce my dear friend?”
“You are the Earl of Lancashire?”
“Yes ma’am.” He bowed humbly, kissing her hand.
“Well, I am very pleased to make your acquaintance. I don’t know how I shall remember everybody, there are so many people here this evening!”
“Don’t worry your pretty head, you will remember them all in time. If you forget then I shall remind you.”
“Thank you Theodore.”
“Now then Jane, we are to go around and speak with everyone.”
“Must I?”
“Don’t be shy, I will do the majority of the talking, but you must say hello and you have already met the Earl of Lancashire already.”
“Alright. Here, Lord Cranberry, might I introduce my fiancée; Miss Jane Mallis.”
He performed a bow. “It is a pleasure to meet you ma’am. I was just thinking how happy you both look.”
“We are thank you.”
“And may it continue. This evening is so marvellous!”
“I agree, but it is the company that makes a good evening.” Theodore beamed.
“Oh absolutely your grace, enjoy the rest of your evening.”
“Thank you Lord Cranberry.”

Jane coughed and giggled, hiding her face in her handkerchief once more.
“Jane, what are you doing, we are in the public eye.”
“My! How he suits his name, his face is as round and as scarlet as a cranberry!” Theodore pouted, narrowing his eyes
“That is the second comment of late that you have made a remark I have not liked. Please be careful what you say. Do not assume to poke fun at my friends. I find it hurtful and offensive!”
“Well, you certainly found it amusing the other evening.”
“That was then and this is now.”
“You look quite changed. What is wrong?”
“Nothing, nothing at all. Except, it is too hot in here.”
“No it isn’t.”
“I-I think I need some fresh air.”
“I shall come with you.”

Theodore ignored her, placing a hand to his burning forehead, gasping for breath as his head span like a carousel. He glanced at his guests, whose faces appeared like double vision, their features blurred beyond recognition. The loud music and laughter merged into one muffled tone. Desperate to get away from the public eye; he grasped the panelling for support and stumbled into the hallway. A ringing sound swirled inside his head, his version blurred. He was falling in slow motion and there was nothing he could do to stop himself. His body hit the ground, his head striking the stone floor. Jane grabbed her skirts and hurried to his side, followed by a crowd of party guests.

“Theodore!” She shrieked, shaking his shoulder. He lay there, chalky white, his lips ever so slightly parted, revealing his white teeth. Howard stepped in, placing the back of his hand to Theodore’s mouth. He lifted his head, placing a bottle of smelling salts under Theodore’s nose. Slowly, he stirred and opened his eyes, groaning.
“I have caused a scene.”
Queen Evangeline patted his hand.
“No dear, it’s not your fault. Howard, would you please carry him upstairs and help him into bed, he needs rest. I shall be up in one moment. Please everyone, as you were!”
“Yes Ma’am.”
A drowsy, semi-conscious Theodore sensed, strong, but gentle arms supporting his limp body. Mr Howard carried him into his bedroom, removing his boots for him and  placed the coverlet over him.
“Howard?”
“Yes your Grace? Ah, you are coming to.”
“Thank you.”
“I’m glad that I could be of assistance, pardon my saying, but I think you gave the whole court a fright this evening.”
“Miss Mallis, how is she?” He muttered.
“Naturally, she is shocked.”
“Poor woman. Might-might I see her?”
“I shall ask, but at this moment in time, I think she wishes to be alone.”
“Send her all my love and a humble apology.”
“Very good your grace, I shall tell her when I can.”
“My goodness! Who have we here? My Miss Mallis, it’s like you were sent to me, Howard and I were just discussing- never mind. Please do not look so alarmed, is it my appearance?”
Her bottom lip trembled as she kissed his forehead and pulled up a high-backed chair to his bedside, smoothing her skirts carefully beneath her before she sat. Jane stared at her lap, tracing her fingers over the fine, beaded design upon her dress, fine wisps of blonde, baby hair framing her face. Jane glanced at Theodore, forcing a smile.
“I thought I should come and see you.”
“Jane something troubles you.”
“I’m fine.”
“Jane, now that we are engaged, we must always be honest with one another.”
Jane glared at him and pouted. She narrowed her eyes, scanning Theodore’s pale form from top to bottom.
“You lied to me!”
“I did not lie, oh Jane nothing like this has ever happened before, not to this extremity. It wasn’t that bad, I regained consciousness quickly and I am quite well now. Please Jane, forgive me.”
“This is serious. There is something happening to your health. It is not normal for someone to faint twice in one day, not unless you are a woman who has her corset laced too tightly!”
“People faint all the time.”
“No they don’t! Not like that, you completely lost consciousness for about a minute! That is too long. Good God! I’m going to have to be your nurse maid aren’t I?”
“Jane, no!”
“Was all this a lie? Did you ever truly love me? Or were you just searching for a poor victim to care for you!”
“Your tone is too brash. I remind you whom you are speaking to! Kindly remember your place.”
“You did not answer my question!”
“Jane, I love you more than I ever could explain. You make me so, so happy. You are like a ray of sunshine in my life. My brain is overpowered each day with thoughts of you, I live and breathe you and you shall always be cherished and looked after here for as long as you shall live.”
“I don’t want to be cherished and looked after like some little lap dog! What am I to do after you are gone?”
“Gone?! Jane, I am not going to die!”
“I don’t know what to think or feel any more Theodore, I just don’t.”
“Well we shall take each day a step at a time.”
“You and your family have trapped me!”
“No! You are not trapped. Oh my love, please forgive me for what I have done. I shall rest today and then tomorrow we shall resume the fun. How about that, for an idea?”
“I don’t think you understand yourself, your grace. My God! It scares me so. I- I am going for a walk in the grounds to blow away the cobwebs.”
“Very well. Please don’t leave me for long. Would- would you read to me?”
“Your majesty, you can read!”
“I-I tried earlier, my eyes and brain would not focus, the words became a sea of blurred blackness upon the page. Please Jane, it would make me happy.”
Jane sighed, crossing her arms. “Very well then, I shall return in half and hour, when I do, I will read to you. There now, please try to get some more sleep, you have dark circles around your eyes and they appear to be all bloodshot.”
“That gives me great confidence.”
“It is how it is.”
“Oh. Enjoy your walk Jane.”
“I shall your Grace.”
“Jane?”
“Yes your Grace.”
“Please don’t use your Grace, that is for servants and acquaintances. Please call me Theodore.”
“As you wish Theodore.”

Jane walked with haste, glancing at the small cluster of deer that stood together under the high tree branches. Jane closed her eyes, smelling the delicious, natural aromas and soaking up the cool atmosphere. She sat on a stone, semi-circle seat, placing her right hand over her left and sensing the coldness of it underneath her fingertips. She removed the ring, placing it into the palm of her hand, gazing at its fine form. It truly was a beauty. She placed the ring back in its rightful place, venturing back indoors. The sudden change in the weather, brought a change in Theodore’s condition. She stepped indoors, all was quiet. Too much so. Jane raced up to Theodore’s bedroom to where he lay, Queen Evangeline at his side.
“Ah, Miss Mallis. Jane do come in, do not be alarmed.”
“He- he looks frightful!”
“My dear, he is just sleeping. Here, come and sit by him as I have done, but we mustn’t wake him. For the time being, Theodore needs plenty of rest.”
“Is he dangerously ill? As his fiancée, I should know. He told me about his black outs.”
“Ah yes, they have become more increasing of late.”
“Is-is this one of them?”
“No, no. He is simply sleeping at the moment, come.”
“Your majesty, why was no-one honest with me?”
“Excuse me?”
“You will have to forgive what I am saying, but it appears that everyone in the palace knew of Prince Theodore’s condition apart from myself.”
“We do not know what it is, therefore it is not a condition.”
“How long?”
“He has not been so well for a few months now, but it has grown more seriousness of late. He will be well in a day or two and you can forget this whole little incident.”
“How can I forget?!”
“I must remind you who you are speaking to!”
“I see a Queen standing before me.”
“Please, go and sit with him and bring him comfort.”
Jane stamped her foot.
“Your majesty I want a husband, not an invalid who will tie me down. I want to live my life to the fullest. I need to be happy, not miserable and trapped. This is awful, perfectly horrid. How dare he lie to me! He lied! Did you know that, you are all liars and swindlers. Theodore saw me as being naïve I suppose, so he chose me to be his little fiancé. I cannot marry him, no I cannot do this any more. My God! What am I to do?”
“Miss Mallis! I am horrified, my son is not a liar and we have not trapped you. It has been clear to everyone that Theodore has not been well. Perhaps you chose to pull the wool over your own eyes!”
“My-my own eyes! Oh God and now you turn the blame to me? What is this? I have no choice but to tell Theodore myself.”
“Tell him what exactly?”
“I cannot be engaged to him for one moment longer and I will not allow you all to trap me  into this marriage.”
“Miss Mallis, your behaviour horrifies me! I have tried to reserve my judgement and let Theodore make decisions for himself as a young gentleman. You have just proven yourself to be everything that I suspected you to be. Superficial and selfish! You do not love my son at all do you? No, you wanted to live a lavish lifestyle!”
“That is why I must tell him so! I cannot deceive him any longer!”
“You cannot! The news would kill him, you must continue your relationship as normal.”
“That, I can’t do!”

Jane pushed past the dumbstruck Queen, running up the staircase into Theodore’s bedroom, her eyes filled with tears of fury. He was not there. She rushed into the small drawing room next to his room, where he lay under a blanket upon one of the chaise lounges.
“Jane, how delightful it is to see you. My what is the matter? Darling? Tell me!”
“I’m afraid that I have told your Mother too much!”
“Too much?”
“Theodore, it pains me greatly to have to tell you this.”
“Go on.”
Slowly she removed her engagement ring, placing it in his open hand. She placed one hand underneath and the other over the top of his. Putting his fingers over the top of the ring. Theodore gasped and bit his bottom lip, closing his eyes a tear trickling down his cheek.
“Please don’t cry.” She whispered. “It’s for the best, we are both too young. Perhaps when you eventually recover, you will find someone worthy of you.”
Theodore said nothing and turned on his side, so she wouldn’t see his tears.
“I hope that you make a quick recovery your majesty, don’t cry. Thank you for the happy times and the wonderful memories. I will treasure them always, but now, I must go home forever.”

To be continued….

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014

Theodore- Chapter 2


“It feels so splendid to be engaged don’t you think?”
“There is so much excitement surrounding the whole thing. Yes, I do suppose it does Theodore.”
“Jane, you don’t sound certain.”
“Oh I can’t wait to see my new gown, when shall it be ready?” Jane added, in attempt to change the subject.
“When my Mother’s dress maker has finished it. She is very nimble fingered. I imagine that it will not take her any longer than 5 days to complete.”
“That is not long at all. What is on your mind Theodore, pray tell me what are you thinking? You seem a little sullen all of a sudden.”
“Forgive me, sometimes I have moments when I am extremely happy, but then I worry that my happiness might be taken away from me. Such a silly thought. I give you permission to ignore me completely.”
“And why would I do that Theodore? Don’t worry about things that wont come true. We are very young yet and have been in good health up to now.”
“I know.”
“Then why let it bother you so? I think you and I are in need of a little refreshment, I propose that we take tea in the drawing-room.”
“An excellent notion Jane! I do believe that you will soon be accustomed to this lifestyle, you are doing exceptionally well already. I shall ring the bell.”
He did so, and a sumptuous afternoon tea was brought to them.

“My! Fruit scones, they are the most beautiful ones that I have ever seen. I am afraid of gaining weight.”
“Weight? You are as slender as can be, don’t let that worry your pretty little head.”
“I wont be for long. I am not used to such rich food.”
“I see. Well, everything in moderation.”
“Yes I suppose so.”
She cut a tiny piece of scone nibbling at it like a church mouse. Theodore cleared his throat, placing some scone into his own and chewing with care.
I am so flattered.”
“Why is that my dear?”
“I am flattered that you chose plain little me.”
“You are not in the least bit plain, you are quite the beauty.”
“But what about all the other women you could have chosen?”
“You were the chosen one.” Theodore laughed.
“My dear, I see that you are leaving half of your scone, why is that?”
“I am not so hungry today, I can’t think why. Perhaps it is a good thing.”
“Perhaps. Well, I wont eat my other half either, but I would like some more tea. Here, you don’t need to ring for the servants, I am quite capable of doing it myself. What precisely are you doing?”
“Admiring you.”
“Me? Oh, why?”
“Do you not like me doing it?”
“I do not mind at all, except forgive me, it’s not something that I’m accustomed to.”
“That’s understandable. Neither am I.”
“You must be!”
“Not really. Oh I’d almost forgotten, you said you’d like some more tea, here you go, and would you like some more milk?”
“Yes dearest.”
“There you are then.”
“That is perfect, thank you.”
“Have you written to your family and told them?”
“Yes, of course I have. They will be very excited to discover our news. Even if I hadn’t told her, she would have found out sooner or later anyway. You look so- so.”
“So what my dear Jane?”
“Erm, ravishing as a matter of fact. Might I kiss you?”
“And why would you need to ask my permission?”
“I don’t know.”
“Come here please.”
She joined him on the plush, red velvet sofa opposite herself, seating herself upon his knee. She kissed his cheek, Theodore laughed ever so slightly as her warm breath tickled his cheek. He turned her face to him, kissing her full, rosy lips. She kissed him back, slowly moving her mouth and placing her tongue into his. Theodore paused for a moment and kissed her once more, before coming up for air. He blushed ever so slightly.
“My, that was rather pleasurable! More so than before. You are quite the natural Jane.”
“Why, thank you. I have to admit that I have not had much practice.”
“Much practice?”
“Forgive me, I have only kissed one other apart from yourself.”
“Oh.”
“Don’t look so alarmed, it was only once and perfectly horrid!”
“How so?”
The boy was ugly.”
“That’s a little mean is it not? What became of him?”
“I have no idea Theodore, I haven’t seen him in four years, come this Autumn.”
“Well that makes me feel happier about the whole thing. What did he look like?”
“Oh not half as handsome as you Theodore.”
“Ah, now you flatter me!”
“No it’s true. He had a heavier brow and dark brown hair. You have gentler eyes and a better complexion.”
“I see, well that is always reassuring.”
“Theodore, your majesty, please do not be cross with me.”
“I am not angry, I only wish that you had told me beforehand. We need to be truthful and honest with each other if this engagement and hopefully marriage is to last.”
“I’m sorry and I fully understand. I apologise for not telling you before.”
“Well you have confessed now. Is there anything else that you wish to tell me?”
“No my dear, nothing at all. Or at least, not that I can think of.”
“Ah here is Mother. Good afternoon!”
“Hello my dears, don’t you both look cheery, I see that you have both had refreshments. You both look so happy. Anyway, don’t mind me, I shall leave you in peace. I am shortly being joined by a friend myself.”
“Have a lovely time Mother.”
Jane swallowed. “Goodbye your majesty.”
“Jane you need not be afraid of Mother you know.”
“I-I’m not.”
“I tell you that you are, but you ought not to be. She is a great woman.”
“I have no doubt of it.”
“Indeed. We are to begin the celebrations soon!”
“Celebrations?”
“For our engagement of course.”
“Oh goodness.”
“Don’t look so scared, it will be very exciting. Now then I have a gift for you, I can’t believe how quickly it arrived. It is the first of many. Howard, do bring it in.”

Howard shuffled into the room carrying a large gift box.
“Good heavens, what is in it?”
“Open it and you shall see. A little something new for tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow?”
“The first of our many engagement parties. I have a waistcoat and cravat to match.”
“Ah, I may have guessed!”
With great care, Jane removed the lid from the box to unveil masses of tissue paper.
“Oh my! Is it what I think it is?”
“Most probably!”
She peeled back the layers of tissue paper like a lotus flower, slipping the gown from it’s beautiful box. She held it against her, swaying gently from side to side so that the material swished.
“It is the most exquisite gift I have received! Oh heavens!”
“And you shall have more in time, I can’t wait to see you wearing it.”
“What a gorgeous colour, I adore midnight blue. So you are wearing that colour also?”
“Partly, yes. I can’t wait to show you off to everyone.”
“How I shall relish every moment of the attention. Oh Theodore, you really are a dear, I shall be quite the belle of the ball!”
“Yes, indeed you will, now come along my dear, I propose that we take a little stroll in the grounds.”
“Must we, it is quite cold outside.”
“I feel like I would benefit from fresh air, but you need not come with me if you don’t want to.”
“No, no I’ll come.”
“Ah, that pleases me a great deal, come along then Jane, it will only be for an hour.”
Hand in hand, they strolled into the gardens.
“ My how beautiful it is. I love nature, do you like it Jane?”
“I have to be honest, no not really.”
“Then, I am determined to convert you. It would take something very serious indeed for me not to want to set foot out of doors. Here, please come with me.”
“Very well then Theodore, I shall go and get my warmer gloves and shawl. It is the cold that I fear the most.”
She returned promptly. Theodore held out his gloved hand and took hers in his.
“You have such slim, nimble fingers.”
“You have already said that. It’s a shame that I have to wear gloves, it means that I have no choice but to hide my engagement ring.”
“Well, no-one shall see us anyway, except perhaps the gardener.” Theodore pointed to him.
“Oh yes! Look at the poor creature hiding away there!”
“Creature?”
“That’s what I said isn’t it?”
“Yes Jane, but as far as I can see, he is a man.”
“Oh Theodore! It is just a term I use, no need to become all serious all of a sudden.”
“Yes, well, all human beings deserve to be treated with respect, no matter what their cast.”
“Cast?”
“Social class.”
“Oh yes. Theodore, what is the matter?”
“Pardon?”
“Well, all of a sudden you look very pale and drawn.”
“Drawn? Now I don’t recall having my portrait done before.”
“Oh Theodore, please be sensible. I am worried, the colour has gone from your cheeks and you are really quite breathless!”
“Don’t fret. Here, I shall sit down on this bench.”
“Do you feel unwell?”
“No, I think it was the cold air taking my breath away. It happens to me sometimes, it is really quite odd.”
“Would you like to go inside?”
“Not yet, but would you mind if we just sat here?”
“Not at all. What’s wrong? Theodore, tell me! What is the matter?”

Theodore placed his head in his hands and closed his eyes, the world revolving rapidly around his trembling body. He swayed in his seated position, his head falling into Jane’s lap.
“Theodore!” She shook him, quite violently. He gasped and his eyes flashed open.
“I-I am sorry.”
“What on earth just happened?”
“I don’t know.”
“You fainted? You did didn’t you?”
“N-no.”
“Don’t lie to me, be truthful, are you ill?”
“Jane my dear, I shall explain. Sometimes, but not very often I have little dizzy spells which sometimes lead to me loosing consciousness for a few seconds.” He sighed loudly. “There, now you know.”
“And you forgot to tell me this?”
“Jane, I thought you knew.”
“No! No I did not.”
“You were at my parent’s anniversary banquet with your parents were you not?”
“Well of course I was. Oh God! That’s why you left the table for half an hour isn’t it? And the Christmas ball last year when you made a very swift exit from the room. Forgive me, I thought that you had been drinking to excess and needed to…”
“I never allow myself to get intoxicated, ever!”
“I-I’m sorry Theodore, let’s not quarrel. Do you feel unwell at this moment in time?”
“Just a little light headed.”
“I am furious! How could you keep this from me?!”
“I really am sorry.”
“No you’re not! How can you propose to a girl who you claim to love and then force this news upon her? It isn’t right Theodore. What happens if these little attacks get worse, am I to become your nurse maid?”
“Oh Lord, no! I wouldn’t expect that of anyone.”
“I can’t believe that you only told me this now, this is ridiculous, and what kind of life are we going to lead?”
“I don’t think it’s anything serious.”
“Theodore! You are 19 years of age!”
“Yes, well remembered.”
“No, I mean it could be something very dangerous indeed. Are your parents aware?”
“Partly.”
“What? Partly?”
“Yes they know about it, but…”
“But what?”
“I wish to live a normal life. If I told them too much, then I think they’d stop me from horse riding for example.”
“Perhaps that is a good thing. They only know half of the truth?”
“They know most of it.”
“This is outrageous!”
“Your reaction was the most outrageous part of it. What happened to the excited, loving girl whom I proposed to? Hmm?”
“She is still here, but in shock.”
Theodore stood up, helping Jane to her feet. He kissed her, but she pulled away, salty tears filling her eyes.
“Don’t cry for me. I’ll be alright I’m sure.”
“I’m not crying for you! I’m crying for myself! I am engaged to a liar and it scares me so!”
“Darling, I didn’t lie.”
“Darling.” She parroted, mockingly. “Don’t patronise me Theodore!”
“I can understand that you’re cross.”
“I am boiling over with anger!”
“Please don’t look at me like that.”
“Like what? Argh! I’m going to have to go to my room to cool off and decide what to do. I must get ready for this evening.”
“Decide what to do?”
“Are you deaf? Must you repeat everything I say like a trained parakeet? We shall speak again in one hour! Oh and please try not to faint again.”

Theodore stumbled along the landing, blinded by his falling tears. He made his way into his four-poster bedroom and flopped onto his bed, hiding his face in his pillow. He lay there for a few minutes, before lying on his back, placing a hand to his fevered brow. ‘Perhaps I shouldn’t attend the dance tonight’, he thought, attempting to tame his breathing and racing heart, which pounded heavily against his rib cage. Theodore composed himself, splashing his face with cold water. He washed and changed his clothes for the evening, sitting down at his dresser. His legs trembled terribly. Theodore combed his wavy chestnut hair, gazing into his mirror, admiring it as it gleamed in the last of the dawn sunlight creeping through his window. There came a tapping at his door.
“Go away!” He snapped. The door creaked open and Howard, his male servant peered gingerly around the door.
“Oh Howard, I’m sorry, what is it?”
“Your Mother and Father were asking after you. They are already downstairs and the guests are beginning to arrive.”
“Tell them that I shall be down in 10 minutes or so.”
“Very good, your grace.”
Theodore adjusted his outfit once more, there came a second tapping at the door. It was Jane.
“Jane! Come in.”
“I- I wanted to apologise.”
“Nonsense, you do not need to. My how revising you look, how proud I will be to have the most beautiful girl in the room with me.”
“You are too kind Theodore. I am only beautiful, because of the stunning dress and I thank you.”
“Why no! You are a natural beauty.”
She blushed. “Thank you.”
“There now we are friends again, shall we go downstairs?”
“Yes of course. You go first, you are the Prince after all.”
“We shall go together; I want to make you my equal.”
“Very well. I am looking forward to tasting another glass of that delicious wine!”
Theodore laughed. “And what about your fiancée?”
“What about him?”
“Are you looking forward to spending our first proper evening together as a newly engaged couple?”
“Oh yes! Of course! ”
“I am glad.”
“Theodore?”
“Yes?”
“I beg your pardon, but you are not yourself. You look pale and tired.”
“What a silly thing to say. Pray, don’t mention it again today, all this talk of my health tires me, now let’s go and make our appearance. Are you ready?”
“Yes, of course. I am not nervous in the slightest.”
**
Queen Evangeline cleared her throat.
“Ladies and Gentleman, you all know of my son Prince Theodore; second in line to the throne, but might I introduce his fiancée Miss Jane Mallis. I am very proud to welcome her into our family”
Jane beamed and squeezed Theodore’s hand as they descended the remainder of the staircase together. The court bowed and curtsied and a round of applause filled the air with cries of; “Congratulations” and “It is a joyous day for the whole kingdom.”
Theodore kissed Jane’s cheek. She pulled away ever so slightly, embarrassed to be kissed in public.
“Don’t be shy Jane, just be happy.”
“I am.” She reassured.
“You don’t look to be. I dare say that the dancing will cheer you up. Here ,have some champagne my dear.” He grasped one of the many glasses from a silver tray and handed it to her.
“You are not drinking champagne yourself Theodore? You don’t feel that there is cause to celebrate? Whatever will you drink for the toast?”
“Forgive me Jane, for tonight, I will just drink water.”
“You are being careful,something is wrong!”
“Shh, will you keep your voice down please. I am fine now, stop making a mountain out of a mole hill and please smile. Try to look remotely happy.”
“How can I when you look so ill?”
“Shh, I do believe that Father is going to make a speech.”
Jane pursed her lips, loosening her grip on Theodore’s hand.
“Ladies and Gentleman. Welcome to our home. I am delighted to be celebrating my son Prince Theodore’s engagement to Miss Jane Mallis this evening. I imagine that they are soon to be married and my wife and I wish them a long and happy marriage.”
Queen Evangeline nodded, wiping away a tear. Theodore swallowed, were they tears of happiness? He truly hoped so. It was not long before the pair were mingling with the crowd. Theodore sensed Jane’s fear, taking her to one side.
“What is wrong my love?”
“I do not know anyone, not really.”
“Ah, well my cousin Elizabeth is very kind and only three years older than us. Here, I shall introduce you after I greet her.”
Elizabeth’s eyes lit up, after seeing Theodore and kissed him on both his cheeks.
“My dear Theodore! How are you cousin?”
“I am well, thank you.” He stated uncertainly.
“You do not sound confident.”
“I am. Here, where are my manners? This is my fiancée, Miss Jane Mallis.”
“And very beautiful she is too. What a stunning couple you make.”
“Thank you ma’am.”
“Please, call me Elizabeth, Jane. Theodore is a dear and will treat you well, you are both going to be so happy!” She beamed, adjusting the pearl hair pin in her curly, chocolate brown hair.
“Yes.” Jane nodded. “Your gown in very beautiful Elizabeth.”
“Why, thank you! Although, it is not half as grand as yours.”
“Oh I don’t know, I like it. Let us talk.”
“Why of course Jane, are you happy?”
“Oh yes! The happiest I have been in years! Theodore’s family have all been so kind to me although, I don’t know if the Queen likes me.”
“Aunt Evangeline? Oh of course she does, I think change scares her a little, that’s all. Once she warms to you, you two will get on like a house on fire.”
“I really hope so. I do want to be on good terms.”
“Is there anything that I should know about Theodore, that I might not know already?”
“Hmm, yes there is one thing.”

To be continued…

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014

Theodore- Chapter 1


“Oh goodness gracious! Where is Theodore? The guests will be arriving at any moment and he appears to be missing. Oh do find him Howard.”
“Yes your Grace.”
“And don’t be long, the festivities have almost begun.”
Howard gazed at Queen Evangeline’s tall, slender form as she adjusted her broach. A smile crossed her lips and she shook her head. How young and wild her son was. King Rupert took a long sip of wine and wandered from the crowd of guests to greet his wife.

“Ahem! What is this regarding our son?”
“He has escaped our company for the time being, but do not fret my dear Rupert, Howard will find him and all will be well again.”
“Boys will be boys.”
“I think you are forgetting that he is a man Rupert my dear, he is almost 20 years of age.”
“And fast how the years pass Evangeline. I wonder where he might have gotten to?”
“Oh I have my suspicions, as Miss Mallis is missing also.”
“Ah, Miss Mallis. Well, that explains it all.”
Howard paced with great haste, through the vast topiary mazes in attempt to catch any glimpse of Prince Theodore’s fine chestnut hair, or hear his hearty laugh, but all remained silent, except the sound of orchestrations coming from the castle’s great hall.
“Oh your majesty, we are both going to be in trouble! Me especially. Whatever will your parents say?”
“Hush now Jane, or we may be overheard. I am watched like a hawk 24 hours of every single day, but for the next 10 minutes or so we shall be alone. I believe poor Howard has lost us.”
“It is very easy to lose Howard!” Miss Mallis laughed. “He is such a simpleton.”
The insult aimed at Howard stung Theodore like a whip.
“My dear, I ask you not to speak of him in such a way. I am aware that he is not in any way educated, but that man’s service to my family has been second to none and I won’t hear a bad word said about him!”
“I-I apologise, I didn’t mean any harm by it.”
“I know my dear Jane, but pray, don’t say it again. Now then, you know that I always strive to make you happy, are you?”
“Yes Theodore, I am most content. How could I not be? I am stood with one of the richest, most beautiful and most eligible young men in the entire country. You have no idea what kind of happiness that it brings to my family and I. I could dance and sing with joy. I am so lucky.”
“You deserve all the luck and happiness in the world.”
“I do not deserve you.”
“Oh my dear! What ever would make you say or think such things? Pray, do tell me?”
“Very well then. Firstly, I am of a lower class and secondly, so many beautiful women have their eye on the future king, whatever made you choose me?”
“You have social status and estates do you not? Your family own several properties in Canterbury alone, I love you and I dare say that one day, my parents will too.”
“Theodore, we must return, everyone will wonder where you have been.”
“Yes, I suppose that will be the case, come along my dear. You must go in first through the front door, I know of another way in. I shall wait 5 minutes or so. Mingle with the crowds, that way people may think that you have been in the room for longer, but just suppose that they have not noticed.”
“What a clever idea! Oh you are sensible Theodore, far more intelligent than I.”

Theodore secretly beamed inside, but did not admit that Miss Mallis was right, after all, the last thing that he wanted to do was to hurt her feelings.
“Heavens! Mother is coming! I shall make myself scarce!”
Miss Mallis hid behind a small crowd of women, grasping a glass of champagne. Queen Evangeline approached her as Miss Mallis curtsied.
“Oh your majesty, what a wonderful evening this is.”
“It is indeed, have you seen Theodore?”
“N-no. I have not seen him for over half an hour.” She lied.
“I see, perhaps he is in another room.”
“He is probably reading, I am fully aware of his love of books, he is quite the bookworm.”
Miss Mallis laughed nervously, smoothing the creases of her skirts. Queen Evangeline nodded and turned her back, re-joining the crowd.Theodore gazed at the drawing room clock sheepishly. It had been half an hour; surely no-one would suspect him now. He closed one of his much loved books and placed it in the correct order in the library book shelf. He stood in the entrance of the great hall, the crowd silenced and bowed, acknowledging his presence. Queen Evangeline was soon at her son’s side.
Where were you?”
“That is really none of your business Mother, but if you must know; I was reading.”
“Reading? When we have guests and are in good company.”
“If this is what you class as good company.”
“Everyone wondered where you were and how unusual that you and Miss Mallis disappeared at exactly the same time. People will suspect Theodore, they are not as insolent as you may think!”
“Oh Mother please! I am a man, yet you treat me like a petulant child. I shant lie to you, Miss Mallis and I were together. There now, you know the truth and I no longer feel guilty. Forgive me Mother, please?”
“Yes dear, I forgive you, but why did Miss Mallis lie to me? She said that she was not aware of your whereabouts!”
“Oh dear. Well, I ask you to forgive her, she is a little afraid of you and Father that is all, and rightly so. You hold this country in the palm of your hand.”
“Now that is a very pleasant way of putting it. Now my dear, please stay where we can see you.”
“Yes Mother, as you wish.”
” You are just in time for the dancing my dear.”
“Oh splendid, I shall enjoy that very much.”
“Oh your majesty, you are a fine dancer!”
“Why thank you Miss Mallis, I feel like I must return the compliment. You are extremely graceful, wherever did you learn to dance so well?”
“Oh, I attended lessons and of course I had elocution.”
“You are a very refined, accomplished young woman.”
“Thank you your majesty, you are too kind!”
“No, I speak the truth.”
“You flatter me so; I am blushing!”
    Queen Evangeline tapped Rupert’s shoulder;
“My dear, they are most definitely in love!”
“Heavens! So soon?”
“I think so. I do believe that they will be announcing their engagement before long.”
“Don’t count your eggs before they have even hatched Evangeline, but we shall see.”
“Rupert, if he asked your permission, would you allow it?”
“Allow what?”
“The marriage of course!”
“Oh! That! Why yes, they seem to make a good pair don’t you think?”
“I’m not so sure?”
“Do you doubt our son’s judgement?”
“Hmm, yes a little, I fear that he is blinded by love and he is thinking with his head and not his heart. There is no denying that she is very beautiful, but what is she truly like? Is she good enough for our son?”
“Well dear, I don’t know and only time will tell.”

Theodore and Miss Mallis laughed as the dancing continued. Her beautiful eyes met his and he was smitten, head over heels in love.
 “You have the most glorious hair.” He whispered.
 “It is no finer than yours, you have the most beautiful chestnut curls, I am very envious.”
He shook his head. “No, I like yours best and it would look even more splendid if it were to be adorned with pearls and fine hats, that can be arranged.”
“Oh how I love fine things.”
“I am aware of it.” Theodore grinned. “And you shall have anything your heart desires.”
“Anything?”
“That’s what I said, was it not?”
“Splendid! I am in much need of a new gown!”
“You shall not have one, but several and of course you shall have new hats and gloves.”
“Oh my!”
“Yes, my indeed. Shall we sit down? I am a little tired.”
“Oh your majesty, I did want to dance the next dance with you.”
“In that case, I have changed my mind, shall we proceed?”
“Theodore, couldn’t the orchestra play something else? This is a slow dance and people will suspect!”
“I think they already do my dear. in time, we shall make our relationship public, but only when my parents come to the decision that it is suitable.”
“Very well, as you wish.”
“Ah, I see that you are not pleased with this.”
“I am not.”
“Well, it has to be done this way. We must court for a while and then, eventually I shall ask my parents for their permission to have your hand in marriage. Should they accept, then we can make our engagement public.”
“Everyone in the kingdom will know?”
“Yes dear.”
“Oh how exciting! What a wonderful thought, everyone will know who I am, how splendid!”
“Yes and one day, you shall be Queen in time and I king.”
“I hadn’t thought of that! This kingdom shall be ours.”
“Yes and everything I own shall become yours also.”
“Will I have my own servants?”
“Yes of course, only the best for you my dear. Here, shall we sit at the banquet table? I have taken a fancy to having a glass of wine.”
“Wine? Oh yes, I have only tried it once before.”
“Well, I dare say that this will be the best wine that you have tasted. Here now.” Theodore clicked his fingers and a servant quickly filled the glasses.
“There my dear Miss Mallis, take a sip and tell me exactly what you think.”
She placed a hand upon his thigh.
“Please my love, you must call me Jane.”
“Very well Jane, do you like it?”
“Why,it is delicious and indeed the most magnificent grape!”
She placed the glass down on the table, letting out a burst of laughter and hid her face in her handkerchief.
“Whatever is the matter?”
“Good God! Who is that woman in the red satin gown, she is the most dreadful dancer that I have ever seen. I could make a better attempt of that dance with my ankles tied together.”
Theodore flared his nostrils, biting his bottom lip.
Oh, what a dreadful thing to say!”
She looks like a circus elephant! The most shocking part is that I was just thinking how clumsy she looked upon the floor. Women of a certain size should not be allowed to dance!” Jane cried.
The woman looked up. Theodore’s face fell and his heart froze for a brief second in his chest. Jane giggled, taking another long sip of wine, while Theodore’s cheeks flushed a bright shade of fuchsia.
“Theodore, what pains you?”
“Jane, she overheard you! Oh Lord, I feel like I owe the poor woman an apology!”
“Oh she will have forgotten by morning, all I said was true. Here, finish your goblet of wine, I would love to share another dance with you! Oh come on now, don’t behave coldly with me, you know that I didn’t mean what I said, it was just a light hearted little joke was it not?”
“I suppose so, but I do not wish to offend people.”
“I offended you, you didn’t even say anything. Once the wine goes to her head she will forget everything. Now kiss me and all shall be well again.” Theodore planted a kiss upon her smooth cheek.
“That was a little cold! I am very disappointed.”
“We are in the public eye!”
“Oh yes, I suppose we are. Oh well it will have to do for now. Oh my dear I simply must see you tomorrow, I want to do something exiting, I know full well that you are an exquisite rider! Oh do take me horse riding.”
“Very well then, as you are staying in the castle tonight, you may stay longer than the other guests and we shall go tomorrow after they have gone.”
“Oh yes, marvellous! Have you a horse for me?”
“Why of course! We have 5 and I know full well that Mother would like more in the near future. Yes, Marigold will be the perfect height for you.”
“Oh everything is falling into place. How fun it will be and just imagine, I am to ride with a prince. I must write to my Mother and tell her!”
“Very well then.” Jane curtsied and scurried up to her guest bedroom, grasping a sheet of paper from her desk.
‘Dear Mother, I having the most wonderful time at the palace. I can’t even begin to explain it. Prince Theodore is generous and charming and I can see that he falls a little more in love with me each day. I intend to make him mine, listen for word of our engagement.
Your daughter, Jane.’
**

“The palace seems so quiet now.”
“Yes, I agree, but I prefer it that way.”
“What are you reading?”
“Oh it is a book belonging to my Grandfather.”
“Oh, to tell you the truth, I loathe reading it is so dull.”
“You really think so? Why, when I am alone it is my favourite past time, I’d say that I must have read over three quarters of the books in this palace, there are so many, I can’t imagine that I’ll ever get the chance to read them all.”
“Ah, no probably not.”
“What is the pattern upon your tapestry?”
“I haven’t quite decided yet, I am in two mind sets on what to do!”
“Well, I will look forward to seeing the finished result and I dare say that Mother would hang it somewhere in the palace.”
“I’d like that, that means that every time you see it, you will always think of me!”
“Yes indeed. Pray forgive me, I am growing tired so I think that I shall have to retire to bed, I hope that you find your bedroom comfortable Jane, goodnight.”
“Goodnight your grace.”
“Please, call me Theodore.”

**
Jane awoke, placing on her black riding hat with it’s long veil. She strutted through the long corridors in search of Theodore. She approached one of the several butlers.
“Please Sir, could you tell me where Prince Theodore is?”
“He is in one of the drawing rooms down stairs, playing the harpsichord.”
“My goodness! That is him playing, my! I am very impressed.”
“Yes his majesty seems to be brilliant at everything he puts his mind to doing.”
“It appears that way. I shall find him now.”
Jane held onto the banister, gracefully stepping down the red carpeted staircase and knocked on the drawing room door.
“My you are keen Jane! I have arranged for us to have breakfast together and then we must ride.”
“Oh, well I could easily do without.”
“I however cannot I’m afraid. I cannot begin to function without food.”
“Yes your grace, well in that case I shall dine with you.”
“Please Jane, call me Theodore, you do not need to call me your grace any longer.”
“Splendid! Very well Theodore I feel that this is the first time that I shall enjoy breakfast.”
Jane placed a tiny piece of toast into her prim mouth, chewing slowly. She ate half a piece, leaving the remainder.Theodore glanced at the waste upon her plate, yet said nothing. She gazed up at him.
“Forgive me, I am rarely hungry until luncheon.”
“I see, well I am nearly finished now. I can tell that you are keen to go.”
“Oh yes extremely.”
Theodore downed the last mouthful of tea.
Well, in that case, we shall ride.”
Jane picked up her hat from the small wooden table and placed it onto her head.
“There now, I am all ready, but tell me, how do I look?”
“Very beautiful as always and radiant. You always look so fresh.”
“Well you are as handsome as I am beautiful, we make a very attractive couple Theodore, don’t you think?”
“I agree, what a glorious Queen you shall be. I can already envision that crown upon your head.”
“Ah and I can already feel it.”
“Come along now, I think that we are becoming a little lost in our reverie!”
“It was a divine one!”
“You are divine!” Theodore laughed. “Now come along!”
Theodore offered Jane his hand, which she took gratefully.
“It is so perfect.”
“What?”
“This, being here with you and in your palace, I never want things to change Theodore, I want us to be this happy forever.”
“Well, I dare say that we shall grow older and wiser, but yes I feel most content at this moment in time. You are a beautiful young woman and you have no idea how happy you make me, I’m so over the moon I could burst. There, now you know.”
“I already knew it. Let’s ride. Here, I shall help you onto your horse.” Theodore did so with care, before mounting his own.
“I will race you Theodore and I will win!”
“Not if I have my say in the matter, the first person to touch the oak tree in the meadow wins.” Theodore tapped the horse with the stirrups and raced into the countryside, the cold wind in his face, he laughed as he heard Jane’s cry of defeatas he placed his hands upon the bark, I win!”
Jane followed, pouting.
“You cheated, you already had a good 30 second head start and then you declare yourself the winner, that really isn’t fair Theodore.”
“I am sorry Jane! Please don’t be upset.”
“I’m not.”
“I tell you that you are, but pray, tell me, how I can make amends?”
“Kiss me.”
“Ah, now that sounds like a very sensible plan.”
He placed his hands around her small waist, sensing the material of her riding cape and dress underneath his fingertips. Theodore drew Jane close to his as she placed her arms around his slender neck and kissed him tenderly, intertwining her fingers in his soft, chestnut curls.
“You have beautiful hair.” She gasped, pausing for air.
“Shhh.” He kissed her once more, but on the forehead.
“That was most pleasant I have to admit. You are an excellent kisser your majesty.”
“Please, Theodore.”
“Yes. I am sorry, Theodore.”
“Why, thank you I am flattered and I feel that I have surpassed myself, seeing as though you are first woman that I have ever kissed.”
“Please kiss me again, I never want this moment to end.”
“We cannot stand here kissing for the next 20 years.”
“It is all so beautiful, the weather, being here with you…”
“That is why I am taking the opportunity to…”
Theodore got down upon one knee, producing a small box from his pocket.
“Theodore!” She shrieked, placing a hand to her mouth.
“This is beyond my wildest dreams, oh I have gone to heaven!”
He laughed.
“You have not seen it yet.”
Carefully, he opened the small, blue velvet box, to reveal an exquisite ring.
“Oh heavens! It must have cost a small fortune.”
Theodore shook his head.
“It is a family heirloom.”
Jane’s face fell, the excitement in her eyes vanishing.
“You-you do not like it?”
“I do, but I am not sure about wearing someone else’s ring, if you get my meaning.”
“I am most disappointed, please at least try it on.”
“Oh Theodore, I apologise, I just expected the ring to be new, that was all.”
“It is tradition in my family to pass down rings and such, it belonged to my Grandmother.”
He slipped the ring onto her finger, she held it up to the sunlight, catching it’s rays and sparkling magnificently.
“It is very pretty.”
“You like it?”
“ Oh yes, of course! My we are engaged, just like that, I can’t believe it.”
“Come, we must tell my Mother and Father.”
“You did ask their permission didn’t you?”
“Not as such Jane my love, but they had their strong suspicions and I am sure that they have grown very fond of you. Come, we have to share our good news!”
“Yes we must.”
Jane took another glance at the delicate ring, secretly she had hoped for a ruby or diamond, something with a bigger stone which would sit out prominently upon her finger.
“Jane, you hesitate. Whatever is the matter, you know that you can tell me, I give you permission to speak freely.”
“I am just a little overwhelmed with happiness.” She lied, forcing a smile.
“Ah. I too, this is the happiest day of my life!”
**
“Mother? Father?”
Theodore entered the small dining hall where his parents sat eating a late breakfast. They glanced at the contented young couple, having their suspicions.
“Mother, Father. I have asked Jane to marry me and she has said yes! We are engaged!”
Rupert and Evangeline glanced at each other, their eyes widening. Rupert wiped the corner of his mouth, placing his napkin down upon the table.
“You- you are engaged? You did not ask for my permission!”
Theodore turned pale and swallowed.
“I did not, but I know that you both have a high opinion of Jane.”
Queen Evangeline embraced him.
“Congratulations to you both, I have no objection to the match. I have already told you in the past that I think highly of Miss Mallis.”
“Please, call me Jane.”
“Very well my dear Jane. That ring is most beautiful on your slim finger. Oh Rupert, do come and see her ring?”
Rupert who was staring out of the window, turned back to face them, forced a smile and came closer to examine the engagement ring.
“It suits you Miss Mallis and I have to say that you both seem very happy together.”
Theodore beamed;
“Oh we are.”
“We shall announce the engagement public ally at last! I suspected it at the dance last night, I knew that there would be a royal wedding soon! Oh how wonderful. Come we must celebrate, Theodore you shall have a new suit made and Jane shall have a brand new gown!”

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014

NEWS ; FICTION UPDATE….


Hello everyone!

I just wanted to leave a quick note on here to explain what I have decided to do. Unfortunately, “Pixies and Pickles” wasn’t working and was receiving too much negative feedback. For the time being, I have chosen to listen to my readers and ‘let it lie.’ (I may or may not come back to it in the future, I haven’t decided yet.)

Currently, I have written 2,500 words of a new piece of fiction, which I plan to post online once I am nearer to the 5,000-10,000 word mark. Thank you for your continued support with my writing. I feel blessed to have such a lovely group of loyal readers.

-Sophie Bowns

🙂

Pixies and Pickles- Part 32


gloves.jpg

 “I’m sorry.”

“No, I apologise Dr Smythe, I over reacted.”

“You didn’t and if you had, it would be very understandable. I’m going to listen to his chest, he sounds like he is having slight difficulty in breathing. We must sit Mr Ashdown in an upright position. Now, please don’t be too alarmed if he becomes delirious in time.”

“Delirious!”

It is possible, I thought I should warn you. There now, he looks comfortable does he not?”

“Yes he does.”

“Here Mrs Ashdown, would you care to take a seat? You are all of a tremble.”

“This- this is all so terrifying.”

Hot baths will help to relieve his chest when he is a little better. Stay with him tonight, I wont leave for another hour or so. That way, I might see how he fares. He must have those extra blankets and a few hot water bottles wouldn’t go a miss. Miss Douglas would you get them?”

“Yes of course.”

 “He is so clammy.” Lucinda sighed. “Cold, yet clammy.”

“Yes, one of the symptoms.”

“Doctor Smythe, must our children be sent away while Edward is not well?”

” I would recommend it, but it is your decision.”

“Oh dear, arrangements will have to be made in that case.”

“I will get the hot water bottles!” Bessie exclaimed, scurrying downstairs and into the kitchen to fetch them.

“She is a keen helper.”

“Too much so.”

“Mrs Ashdown, I shall go now as I have another patient to see. I will return shortly.”

Very well. Thank you Doctor Smythe.”

“You are a very capable woman Mrs Ashdown. I can be certain that Mr Ashdown will be in safe hands until I return.”

**

“Fear not darling, I will take care of you while you are not well.” She kissed him again, her tears dripping down the bridge of her nose, onto Edwards cheeks. His eyelids fluttered, as if the salty water droplets had revived him a little.

“Edward?” She whispered, lifting his arm, holding his hand against her cheek, cradling it in her own.

“Lu?”

“There, there. I am so glad that you have not forgotten me in your feverish condition. You must rest, sleep now.”

Edward obeyed as Lucinda adjusted the collar of his nightshirt and smoothed his damp hair away from his scorching brow with a cool cloth.

“I do not like to admit it.” She muttered, “but I think the Governess may have saved your life. If she hadn’t found you, God only  knows what might have happened. It doesn’t bear thinking about.”

“Mmm.” He muttered.

“Ah, you did hear me!”

“Yes.”

“Well, I won’t encourage you speak any more as I know it pains you. I’ll leave you to sleep now Edward.”

“Stay.” He croaked, gasping as he coughed loudly. Lucinda grabbed a glass, holding it to his lips.

“I-I will, please try to take some water.” Edward obeyed, taking a few, feeble sips.

“There, now go to sleep.” Lucinda watched him do so, her eyes growing heavier, she rested her head next to him, remaining seated in her chair as she clasped his hand in hers and closed her eyes.

**

Lucinda startled, sensing a firm,  hand upon her shoulder. “Ma’am! Mrs Ashdown?”

She jumped on sensing Bessie towering over her. “Ma’am, oh thank goodness you’re awake.” Lucinda jumped.

“My! What is the matter? You are like a towering giant!”

Bessie laughed.

Lucinda felt Edward’s cool forehead. “He, he is a little feverish still, but breathes more easily! Oh thank goodness. Doctor Smythe shall be returning soon.”

“Shall I sit with him Ma’am?”

“No, your responsibility is the children, never forget that. Now will you please return to them?”

“Lessons have not yet begun, it is but 6.45am.”

“Well, have you breakfasted?”

“I shall in time.”

“I do believe it is time now. You may go now Miss Douglas, I am perfectly capable at looking after my own husband.”

“Yes Ma’am. I will go now. Yes. shall I bring anything to you? A cup of tea perhaps?”

“That is kind Miss Douglas, but I am perfectly fine at the moment, thank you.”

“Yes ma’am. You know best.”

To be continued…

Pixies and Pickles- Part 31


gloves.jpg

Lucinda raced in a flurry into the bedroom. “Edward? Edward my dear! Oh Lord what is the matter with him? Oh what have I done? I shouldn’t have left him, not for one moment. How irresponsible I have been. I am to blame for this!”

“Ma’am, do not worry, I am going to fetch Doctor Smythe directly.”

“No wait, I’ll go Johnson. It is not far and I shall run all the way Ma’am”

“Yes- yes thank you Miss Douglas, please go now.”

Bessie nodded, returning to her room and pulling on her boots. Indeed she ran as fast as her legs could carry her, along the darkened streets and into the town. Number 62, where was it? She caught sight of it and banged on the front door with the flat of her hand.

“Doctor? Doctor Smythe! Please answer your front door sir!” She placed an ear to the door.

“Hello, can I help you?”

“It-I- Hello, I am the Ashdown’s Governess. The Master has taken ill. I came to fetch you, but you must hurry. He was soaked in the rain and caught a dreadful cold. I fear it is something worse! We can barely wake him, he is so cold and-”

“Heavens, I will be 2 minutes, you did the right thing. How is Mrs Ashdown?”

“A little shocked I imagine. I am aware that she is still not so well herself.”

He dressed, grabbing his leather doctor’s bag.

“Here, we shall take the horse and cart, we shall save time.”

“Will it take long to strap up the horse?”

“A matter of minutes. Here, climb in, can you manage?”

“Yes.” Bessie did so, smoothing her dress underneath her.

There. Now tell me, have you been working for the Ashdowns for long?”

“No, just over a week, yet I feel like I have been there a lifetime.”

**

Mr Johnson stood, now dressed, holding a candle in the porch.

“We came as quickly as we could. How is he Johnson?”

“Come in the both of you, Miss Douglas, you are to go back to bed in case you catch something. Mrs Ashdown sends her thanks, I dare say that she will come and see you in the morning, she is with her husband now.”

“But sir-”

“Well done my dear, I think that you may have saved the Master’s life.”

“Goodness!”

“Good night Miss Douglas.”

Johnson re entered the bedroom, closing the door behind him. Bessie did not return to her bedchamber, but pressed an ear to the door.

“It is strange. The fever seems to have gone to his head, quite literally, yet his body is very cold. Here Mrs Ashdown, feel for yourself, hold his hand in yours.”

“He is as cold as a corpse!”

“Precisely. We will need more blankets. I think the only way to cure him is to draw the fever down from his head.”

“How?”

“By keeping his body warm and head cool. He will need plenty of rest and peace and quiet which will enable him to sleep well.”

“What about the Children? I’ll take my chances, I’m not leaving his side!”

“I recommend that they are sent away for a little while. The last thing you want is for your children to become unwell also.”

“I cannot do that! Where would they go?”

“Do you have family or friends whom they might lodge with for a while?”

Bessie stepped into the room. “Mrs Ashdown, if the children are to be sent away, then there is little point in me being here. I have a friend who lives in Surrey. Might I stay with her and take the twins with me? Please consider my offer. Your children and I know each other fairly well now. We could go for a week or two while you stay here and look after Mr Ashdown.”

“With all due respect, I do not know your family Miss Douglas and neither do my children.”

“Very well, it was only an idea. Ma’am, you will not like me saying this, but as you are not well yourself, wouldn’t it be sensible for you to go away too.”

“No! Edward needs care, Doctor Smythe cannot be here all the time, he has other patients to care for. I need to remain here and help to look after my husband. What a thing to suggest! You really are quite out of line!”

To be continued….

Pixies and Pickles-Part 30


gloves.jpg

“I am warm again, I think I shall get out and go to bed.”

“Hmm, Edward I am not convinced. Look at the goose pimples covering your arms! I have asked Rettie to light the fire in our room to warm it for you.”

“I should be getting out now, the bath water is not as warm as it was.”

“As you wish, here, shall I walk with you to the bedroom?”

“No. There is no need. I got a little damp, I am by no means an invalid. It well and truly serves me right for being horrid to you.”

“Horrid to me? My goodness, I’m surprised that you could ever come out with such a thing. You are kind and so patient. I love you dearly.”

Edward sneezed twice, Lucinda handed him her lace handkerchief. “Oh Lord, it is as a feared, you have caught cold! If only you had had a bath sooner.”

“I only sneezed Lucinda, do not be alarmed.”

“Yes, well, that is how it often starts!”

“Don’t fret. Once I am in bed I will be fine and we can forget about this whole thing.”

Lucinda assisted Edward into bed, covering him with the coverlet.

“You are a little warm, perhaps it was the bath.”

“Probably.”

“Now then dear, I think that you need rest. I shall sleep in one of the guest bedrooms and I will ensure that Miss Douglas is doing her job properly.”

“She always does.”

“How would you know?”

“You heard for yourself! The twins could barely read before their lessons began and now look at them!”

“That is true. I shall leave you in peace, get some sleep and you’ll soon be as right as rain.”

Edward nodded, rolling onto his side. Lucinda turned off the light, closing the door behind him, to catch Miss Douglas scurrying along the corridor.

“Wait a moment there Miss Douglas! What precisely were you doing?”

“Ma’am, I was just wondering how the Master was.”

“It is none of your business really, but if you must know, he is resting in bed at present.”

“You ought to call for the doctor. You can never been too sure of these things, sometimes a little cold can turn into a bad chest infection, or worse; Pneumonia. ”

“He has refused to see a doctor.”

Well, personally, I would go against his wishes. What if something were to happen?”

“Mr Ashdown can be very stubborn. You may go Miss Douglas.”

“Yes Ma’am, you know best.”

**

Miss Douglas lay fully dressed on top of her coverlet, gazing at the shadows dancing upon the ceiling, waiting. With care, she tiptoed along the corridor and into Edwards bedroom. It was as she had imagined. He slept  fitfully, the beads of sweat etched across his pale brow. She shook him.

“Sir?” He did not wake. She supported his cold, clammy wrist in her hand, taking his racing pulse.

“Can you hear me sir?” He stirred a little, she placed his arm under the coverlet. She gazed at the empty space next to him in the bed. Where was Mrs Ashdown? She raced to the servant’s quarters, tapping on Johnson’s door. Momentarily, it creaked open.

“Good heavens! What is going on, fancy waking me at this hour! You are the new Governess I believe?”

“Y-yes. Something is the matter with the Master, you must fetch the doctor immediately. He is feverish and I cannot wake him.”

“Good Lord. I must see for myself and then I shall go.” Mr Johnson shuffled out of his room, wearing in his night attire and pushed open his bedroom door.

“Heavens! He is in a bad way. Tell me where is the Mrs Ashdown?”

“I-I don’t know, she must be sleeping in another room. I would not have left him alone.”

Well, we must find her immediately, I know that Mrs Ashdown would want to be at her husband’s side. I will try the guest bedrooms and you must stay here.”

“Yes Mr Johnson.”

She dipped a cloth in water and mopped his brow. Slowly he opened his eyes. “Thank you.” He whispered, closing them again.

“It is my pleasure sir. I am very relieved that I found you. I fear that you are quite ill, but do not worry, help is on its way.”

To be continued…