Theodore- Chapter 22


“Good morning my dear, my you look a little brighter.”
“I have just had another bath, it has soothed the aching within my body a great deal.”
“Ah, so that is why your hair looks slightly damp. What is this little lady doing? Aggie! Fancy sitting upon his Grace’s pillow you daft creature. You are too comfortable there!”
“Is she staring at me?”
“Yes.”
“Ah, I thought she was. I can sense it. Have you thought any more about this doctor business?”
“I have, but it is a risk. Perhaps we could put that secret passageway to use again.”
“And he could come at an unsociable hour?”
“Exactly your Grace. Tonight?”
“That would do very well. Who is he?”
“He is a gentleman named Mr David Potter, he is a younger doctor than your own. Mother has been to see him in the past when she was ill and he cured her. He is a respected man, yes it is true that he is not a physician and a man of lower class, but he is very intelligent and his observation skills are second to none.”
“I need to meet this man. Yes, do bring him.”
“For you my dear friend, I shall. What have we to lose?”
“Nothing, not really.”
“That’s the spirit your Grace. Now then, we have a little plan which may or may not work. You’ll be glad to know that Mr Potter objects to bleeding his patients.”
“Thank the Lord.”
“Yes, indeed.”

Theodore coughed, placing a hand to his mouth, turning his head away from Bonnie. The rattling in his chest becoming more prominent as the coughing fit continued. He gasped for breath, like a fish being cast from water. It ceased and he rolled onto his back once more to reveal the fresh blood upon the pillow. Bonnie held his hand, wiping the blood from his cheek with her handkerchief.
“Sorry. Does it hurt?”
“It stings my throat and chest when it happens, but I do not understand, why is there blood now?”
“I wish I knew. Here take some water to get rid of the taste. I shall change this pillow case for you.”
“Hmm, please.”
“What time, shall we say after midnight?”
“Yes, everyone else will be asleep for sure.”
“Very well then and I shall go and speak to Mr Potter in a few hours time.”
**
“I must go now your Grace.”
“Thank you for doing this, for you do not have to.”
She kissed his forehead, the salty tears dropping onto his cheeks.
Don’t cry my friend, please.”
“I’ll try to compose myself your Grace.”
“You must go?”
“Yes, but I will be back in a few hours’ time. Aggie, look after Prince Theodore for me while I am away, won’t you?” She poked the sleeping Aggie at the foot of the bed, who woke, batting Bonnie’s hand away with her paw.
“I can feel her breathing, that is comfort enough.”
“Well then, until this evening. Goodbye my dear, sleep until I return. It will take me a little longer to get home today as I will be taking a detour to see Mr Potter.”

**
Bonnie watched the clock like a hawk, glancing up from her bowl of soup.
“Why are you clock watching Bonnie?”
“I-I wasn’t Andrew. Here, I will finish this soup and then shall I tell you another story.”
“Please, oh please! You didn’t finish the last one.”
“Yes, you’re right. I’ll tell you the second part in a minute.”
“Oh good! I’ll go and brush my teeth first.”
“Yes, that is a very good idea Andrew.”
Bonnie scraped the bowl, washing it in the sink. Andrew returned, wrapped in the quilt from his bed.
“Andrew, you look like a little multi-coloured ghost, where is your dressing gown?”
“The moths ate it.”
“Oh dear. Well, you shall have a new one soon, don’t you worry. For now your quilt will have to do my dear. Sit down and I’ll have to remember where we left off.”
“Alright.”
“Ah yes, the young girl received the letter, that was it. Well, much to her complete and utter shock, she had been chosen to read to the young, unhappy prince who was still grieving.”
“What over?”
“Over a love he had lost, he was quite heart broken and bitter and took his anger out on members of the court. He did not mean it and even though he appeared to be angry and short tempered, really he had a kind heart and in the company of the young reader, slowly began to soften. Alas something was not right, as the Prince’s health had been left in tatters, damaged by a previous illness. “
“Bonnie, oh Bonnie, please don’t cry!”
Andrew wrapped his arms around Bonnie’s neck, climbing onto her lap and kissing her cheek. She held her young brother to her, kissing his cheek.
“I am sorry Andrew, I did not mean to.”
“Is he a nice man Bonnie?”
“Oh yes, at first I was quite afraid of him I have to admit, but now I see that underneath it all, he has a good heart, but it is a weak heart. One like Father’s.” Andrew’s eyes widened.
“Father died.”
“Yes dear and I think Prince Theodore shall too. He is so young, only the same age as myself and so afraid.”
Andrew nodded, kissing Bonnie’s cheek. “Bonnie?”
“Yes?”
“Where is Aggie? I called and called her but she did not come. Something hasn’t happened to her has it?”
“Oh no Andrew, I gave her to Prince Theodore on loan for a little while.”
“That was very kind Bonnie.” Maira stated, poking her head around the door.
“He needed a little company and soothing I think. Aggie took to him like a duck to water. You should have seen her, she was so content. Goodnight Andrew.”
“Night Bonnie. I am very tired, so I shall go to bed also, are you staying up?”
“Yes, yes I shall.” Bonnie checked the clock once more. It was not time, not yet.

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014

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Theodore- Chapter 21


Queen Evangeline cleared her throat, Bonnie jumped, forgetting that she was still in the room.
“You-your Grace, I am very sorry, I forgot that you were stood there.”
“No matter.” She smiled, her expression softening. “It is very soothing hearing you talking together.”
Bonnie nodded. “I am aware that I am an outwardly spoken, country bumpkin, but I am not so bad.” She laughed.
Theodore smiled. “Scottish country bumpkin.”
“I shall go now as I have an engagement to attend.”
“Fair well your majesty.”
“Ha! Yes, I forgot that part your Grace.” She took his hand in hers, running her thumb over the beautiful ring upon his finger.
“It is lovely.”
“Hmm, yes. It is my most treasured possession.”
“Shall I close that window? The wind is so noisy, I am afraid that your voice is almost being carried away with it. Would you like some more water, or another boiled sweet perhaps?”
“Both please.”
“Here then, here is some more water. Take small sips and finish this glass. I am afraid of choking you. There, here is the second sweet.” She placed into his mouth as he accepted it gratefully, sucking on the fruity piece of sugar and placing it inside his cheek with his tongue.
“Hmm, lovely.”
“You’d best not talk for 5 minutes in case you should choke.”
Theodore sighed and rolled his eyes. “I’m not an infant.”
“I am very glad that you are able to argue with me, it is reassurance. Now then, are you quite comfortable?”
Theodore nodded, sensing his ear rubbing against the pillow. Bonnie felt his forehead.
“Yes, the fever has gone now.” Theodore closed his eyes, curling his body into a ball. He gasped, placing a hand to his chest. Bonnie rested her hand against his back, rubbing it in circular motions.
“I feel that you would do better to sit upright in bed, it’s not the best position for sleeping, but just until the pain subsides. There now, do you feel supported?”
“Yes.”
“Good, try to relax.”
“Tell me another story, I mean, if you please.”
“Yes, of course. Now then, where shall I begin;  once there was…”
“Bonita?”
“Yes?”
“Is- do I look very changed, please tell me honestly.”
“You have lost some more weight and your face is paler, but apart from that, you are not so different. Fear not, I think it would be impossible for you to look…”
“Ugly? No I think that I could, very easily. I can imagine that I was very unattractive when we first met.”
“No, on the contrary, your fine looks were the first thing that I noticed.”
“Ha!”
“You are amused your Grace?”
“Very.”
“Why?”
“Um, I do not know. Hmm.”

Here, close your eyes and I shall stay with you. No, do not let this go to your head, but you are very handsome indeed. That is a compliment only, nothing sinister or suggestive I can assure you. What is wrong, it is the pain, isn’t it? Here, have some more lip balm, you shiver. I will place some more coal on the fire and shut the window.”
“Thank you. I-I remember when….” Theodore paused, exhaling and pressing his lips together. “When I first was ill, Jane would not come, she would not visit me and then, then I lost my sight and-and she abandoned me forever, oh God, what if it happens again? What shall I do? I am powerless, I am a prisoner in my own body and I shall go mad.”
Bonnie shook her head. “Shhh, shhh now.” She scooped him  into her arms, holding him next to her so that his head rested upon her shoulder.
“Be calm, be calm my dear friend. I will be here for as long as you want me to be a swear upon it, why if I had a bible I would swear upon it here and now. You are trembling, you are so cold. Here, take my shawl. I can assure you that you shall not go insane.”
She placed her arms around his waist, placing the flats of her hands upon his back as she wrapped the shawl around his shivering body.
“You must keep my shawl, it is a gift. I only hope that you will feel warmer soon.”
“It is very thick.”
“Yes.” Bonnie wiped away the tears from Theodore’s eyes.
“Forgive me?”
“For what?”
“Crying, like a child.”
“Now don’t you worry about crying in front of me, I have already told you that. Crying is not a sign of weakness. Are you comfortable enough?”
“I am now.”
“Good.”
“This shawl is lovely.” Theodore pressed it against his cheek, it smelt of Bonnie.
“You may have it on loan until you are feeling better.”
“Thank you. Another foolish request..”
“Yes? Although, let me assure you that your requests are always reasonable ones, your Grace.”
“Could- could you bring Aggie again tomorrow?”
“Why, I had forgotten all about her.I brought her today, oh the poor thing! Aggie? Oh, here she is,under your bed.”
“That makes me happy. She is a lovely little character.”
“Oh, goodness! I think that she heard me.” Aggie hopped next to Theodore on the bed, sitting next to him and rubbed her head against his arm. He laughed, stroking her back.
“Well she clearly prefers you to me!”
“I may have to adopt her.”
Bonnie thought for a moment.
“She is yours…on loan, for company. She is very good and always goes outside to do the toilet, just make sure that your window is open at the bottom so that she can get out.”
“It is always open, the fresh air does me good.”
“Excellent. Now then Aggie, you must be a good girl.” Aggie purred as Bonnie tickled her stomach. “I should probably go now, Mother will wonder where on earth I am.”
“Yes, of course. Is that Mr Howard I hear?”
“Ah yes.”
“Your Grace, Miss McGrath ah and a new edition.”
Bonnie laughed. “This is my cat Aggie, I have given her to his Grace on loan for a little while, she is very good, I can assure you.” Aggie yawned, closing her eyes.
“And lazy.” She added.
“Like me.”
“No your Grace, you are ill, not lazy, there is a difference there. Now then, what about some refreshments?”
“I am not hungry.”
“Something to give you energy. I propose that you are to have some tea, it will warm you. How about beef tea, to help you to get your strength back, lemonade is also very refreshing.”
“Perhaps I shall try both.”
“Good idea, I shall ask Mr Howard to have some made immediately.”
**
Theodore sipped at the cool glass of tangy lemonade.
“How is that?”
“Delightful!” He smiled, taking another sip.“I don’t think I have tried beef tea.”
“I have, once. It is very palatable.”
“Were you very ill Bonnie?”
“It was influenza when I was about 13, but it was not so bad. I just lost my appetite afterwards. More lemonade?”
“Please. Bonita?”
“Yes.”
“You don’t have to do this.”
“Do what?”
“Nurse me.”
“I want to, more than anything.”
“Truly?”
“Yes. Now then I am going to sit you up again, before we attempt the beef tea.”

Theodore gasped, closing his eyes, his face turning chalky white before Bonnie’s very eyes. He clutched his chest, leaning forwards. Bonnie supported him and sitting him bolt upright in bed. Theodore grasped the coverlet, his knuckles whitening as he clenched his teeth together.
“Where, where is the pain?”
“My chest.”
“Your Grace, pardon my asking, but the first time you were ill, you said that the doctor thought that it was Scarlet fever did you not?”
“Yes, Scarlet Fever.” He exhaled. “It’s over, it was only a short spasm.”
“I-I have heard that after Scarlet Fever-” Bonnie paused.
“Go on.”
“It- it is possible that a second illness can be developed.”
“Second illness?”
“I know little about it.”
“Oh. Yes, well that does make sense, the second illness I mean.”
“Oh gosh I am such a fool, it is not my place to tell you such things when I am only a servant.”
“Bonita you are a friend.”
Bonnie stroked his hair. “Yes I am, you shall not get rid of me in a hurry. I was thinking, have you ever considered having another Physician come and look at you?”
“I asked. Mother and Father refused, I suppose that they think that Mr Dickinson is the best. I disagree.”
“I-I know of another doctor, but I don’t think that your parents would be very welcoming of the idea.”
“No, they wouldn’t.”
“Hmm. Would you like him to look at you?”
“Yes, for my Physician is useless!”
“I know. Well, I shall have a think. How is your pain?”
“For the time being it is more of an ache, I hope it stays that way, it’s bearable.”
“You are tired and here I am muttering away,keeping you awake.”
“You do not mumble. Thank you for the beef tea and this little one. Is she asleep still?”
“Yes, she will sleep through the night now. Goodnight my dear, it has been a long day for you.”
“I have cherished every moment of your company.”
“And I yours.”

Bonnie kissed his forehead. “I’ll brush your hair once more for you before we go and apply some more lip balm.” She lifted his head, running the comb through it. “Ah, it is not so bad now.” She dabbed her finger in the balm and smoothed it over his top and bottom lip. He placed his hand on top of hers.
“Thank you again, for everything. I will be eternally grateful.”
“You do not need to thank me.”
“Your shawl, you must take it, or you will be cold walking back.”
“It is warmer today; I’ll hasten my walk and will not need it. Farewell your Grace, I shall see you tomorrow.”

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014

Theodore- Chapter 20


Bonnie darted along along the flagstone floor. Something was not right. The atmosphere of the palace seemed so disconcerting, why was there nobody there to greet her? She scurried up the staircase in the most un-lady like fashion, tapping on Theodore’s bedroom door. Mr Howard glanced at her, his expression pained.

Miss McGrath, you should probably take today off, his Grace is-” Bonnie gasped, pushing past him. Theodore lay on his back, his sweat drenched hair clinging to his temples. He panted in desperation, in attempt to catch a normal breath. Bonnie placed a hand on his forehead.
“My God! What is going on? His fever is worse than ever, has his physician been called?”
“Yes he is on his way.”
Mr Howard stepped forwards. “I will raise his head, it should help slightly. There now.” He felt his hand and shook his head. “It is always the way, scorching forehead, but the rest of his body is cold.”
“Mr Howard, please fetch a basin of lukewarm water, and for goodness sake, raise him up against his pillows! Here, I will help you. Does he have a fresh night shirt?  This one is soaked in sweat.”
“Yes of course, I will get both. Oh and fresh sheets also.”
“Thank you.” Bonnie sighed, stroking Theodore’s cheek. “You may be a very stubborn man, but I do believe that I have grown very fond of you. Don’t give up my dear, not yet.” She sniffed.
“Ahem.”
“My that was quick, I’ll step outside the door.”
“I-I may need assistance Miss McGrath, I’ll need you to help me when I sit him forwards, if-if you do not mind that is.”
“Of course not. He shall be covered and it will be far quicker with two of us.”

Bonnie smiled weakly, relieved to be of help. “I do not mind, I helped my Mother to look after my Father when he was ill, so I have some idea what to do.” They removed his old nightshirt, carefully washing his face as Bonnie dabbed it, wiping away the sleep from his eyes. She grasped the towel. “I will dry his top half, I think we should roll him so we can change his bottom sheet. That’s it, now then, push the clean sheet underneath him and roll him to me please. I am glad now that Mother taught me how to do this. There, we shall roll him to you and I shall sort this side.” Bonnie straightened the sheet, tucking in the sides and placing on a new coverlet, satisfied.
“He looks clean and comfortable now, I’ll brush his hair, it does not look so bad.”
Howard smiled. “I am very impressed.”
“Impressed?”
“Yes, you would make a fine nurse. He looks far better now that he is properly supported.”
“Yes, I imagine that he is very thirsty. Here now, I shall dampen his lips and that should help a little. Hmm.” Bonnie cleared her dry throat, gazing up on hearing footsteps.
Mr Howard stepped forwards. “Ah Mr Dickinson.”
“Mr Howard.” He nodded in acknowledgement. Bonnie stepped to one side.
“I-I should probably wait outside, shouldn’t I? I’ll be in the small parlour on this floor.”

Bonnie paced into the room, pulling her shawl more tightly around herself. She stood, gazing into the mirror at her pale face and adjusted her wispy hair, re-pinning it into a neater bun. She proceeded to read one of the leather bound books upon the bookshelf, thumbing through the pages without reading so much as a word, blinded by tears.
“Miss McGrath?”
“Ah Mr Howard?”
“I came quickly to bring you some refreshments. Here now, here is a pot of tea and…”
“Ham, bread and cheese. Thank you, how wonderful. Once I have finished these, am I allowed to return?”
“Yes, yes of course.”
“Thank you.”
Bonnie poured the tea taking a long sip, it was true, she was very thirsty herself. She finished the first cupful, pouring another. What a relief it was to have something in her growling stomach. Bonnie made a small sandwich, nibbling one corner, keeping a close eye on the clock. Bonnie placed her empty dishes down, placing her head upon the chair arm and closed her eyes.

**
“Really? What is she still doing here at this time?” Bonnie opened her eyes, stirring in the chair. It was the Queen. Bonnie stood up, curtsying. She swallowed, attempting to smooth the creases in her dress, aware that she must look somewhat dishevelled.
“You-your Grace, please forgive me. I must have fallen asleep. I will return to see his Grace.”
Mr Howard felt Theodore’s brow once more. He closed his eyes, sighing deeply.
“Miss McGrath, he is cool again, his fever has broken.”
Bonnie gasped as she placed a hand to his cheek.
“Oh, thank the Lord! The fever had only a short duration. He must rest now, he will need a great deal of sleep and peace and quiet.”
“How do you know what he needs? You are a reader, that is all.”
“I am his friend.”
“His friend!” Queen Evangeline mocked. “You are a servant, kindly remember your place. You are spending too long in his company and it is time for you to go home. My son does not want you here.” She lied.
“That’s not true!”
“Bon-” Theodore muttered as he stirred in his bed. Bonnie glanced at him as he opened his eyes, sighed and closed them again.
“There now, you are going to be alright, do not worry.”
He opened his eyes once more. “That friendly voice.” He muttered, smiling and attempting to lift his aching arms from the bed. Bonnie took his hand in hers, placing it to her face.
“It is Miss McGrath your Grace, your fever has broken.”
“Hmm.”
“Would you like a drink of water before you go to sleep again?”
“Please.”
She placed her arm under his head to hold him up, placing a fresh glass of cool water to his lips.
“This is just water, sip it very slowly.” He did so, until he had finished the glassful.  Bonnie combed his hair, patting his hand.
“That is much better, it had become all knotted, but now it is smooth. You are lucky to be a man your Grace, my hair has proved to be a complete nightmare all of my life.”
Bonnie looked up, staring at Queen Evangeline, who had backed herself towards the door and stood there looking on at them, before leaving the room with haste.
“Your hair matches your personality then.” Theodore muttered.
“How very naughty of you to say.” Bonnie laughed. “It is a sign that you must be feeling a little better. For today, you have my full permission to say what you like to me.”
Theodore smiled, a tiny tear forming in his cracked bottom lip. Without saying anything, Bonnie reached into her pocket and produced a tiny pot. She opened it, placing some on her index finger and smoothed it onto his top and bottom lip.
“It is a little balm, made from beeswax. Mother and I make it. I hope that it soothes you.”
“Hmm, that is so much better.”
“Would you like some more water?”
“Please.”
“There now.”
“Hmm, thank you.”
“Now then, you must go to sleep again, for you have not rested nearly enough.”
“Please tell me another story.”
“Very well then. Once upon a time there was a little girl with fiery red hair and lots of freckles, who stuck out like a sore thumb.”
“You?”
“However did you guess?! Anyway, one day when she came home from school there were surprises waiting for her. It was her 10th birthday, the best of all was an easel, for she wanted to become a teacher more than anything. Her Father had crafted it himself. It was upon that easel that she taught her younger brother Andrew how to read and write and it still stands to this day in the corner of the room. Each time I use it, it reminds me of my lovely Dad.”
“That is a thoughtful gift.” Theodore smiled.
“Oh, very.”
“I am sure that you no longer ‘stick out’ as you put it.”
“I am afraid that I do, your Grace. I am freckly and ginger and well, not at all attractive.”
“Ugly? No, not you! Beauty comes from within Bonita, come a little closer.” He tried to reach his arm up, but could not. Bonnie held his hand to her face once more, as he gently ran his fingertips over her face, sensing the natural contours of her bone structure.
“You have large eyes, which I imagine are expressive, a fine nose and well-shaped lips. Your skin is soft and well kept, I think you must be a real beauty.”
Bonnie inhaled. “Thank you.” She whispered. “That means a great deal to me, more than you could ever know.”

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014

Theodore- Chapter 19


Bonnie bit her bottom lip, wiping away a tear. She kissed his forehead, stroking a stray piece of hair away from his cheek.
“Mr Howard, would you stay with him for a minute? I meant to fetch another blanket for his Grace.”
“Yes, of course.”
“Howard?”
“Yes, your Grace?”
“After Miss McGrath has gone, might I speak to my Mother, I miss her so. Could you tell her that please, where is she?”
“Of course I shall. Last time I saw her she had just returned from an engagement, that was around half an hour ago. I will fetch her.”
“Thank you.”

Bonnie returned with a smaller blanket, draping it over the bed. “Here you are.”
“Thank you.”

There came a tapping at the door. Bonnie glanced up, curtsying.
“Your grace, your Mother is here.”
“Thank you both.”
“I-I shall go now. Fair well your Grace, until tomorrow.”
“Goodbye Miss McGrath, I have thoroughly enjoyed being in your company, as always.”
“And-and I yours.”
She turned to Queen Evangeline and curtsied,  pacing  from the room. Theodore sighed and shook his head.

“That poor woman.”
“Why? What would make you say that my dear?”
“She is growing tired and must have so little time for herself.”
“Miss McGrath chooses to stay with you.”
“Hmm.”
“What was it that you wanted to say to me?”
“I miss your company that is all. Mother, I have barely seen you for months.”
“Now that isn’t fair! That’s not true!”
“It is, you always seem to be so desperate to get away from me.”
“I found your moods difficult to contend with, you are so cross all the time.”
“So you chose to abandon me. As for Father, well, I might as well not even have one. What in God’s name does he do with his time?”
“Do not use the Lords name in vain!”
“Yes, well I can hardly see a reason to be religious any more.”
“Perhaps you should pray.”
“Pray! Oh for goodness sake.”
“Why must you be so cantankerous and rude towards me Theodore, when it is clear that you and Miss McGrath get along so well?”
“Because, she understands me more in a matter of weeks, than you have done in 20 years.”
“Ah.”
“What?”
“You have fallen in love.”
“No! No I have not.”
“I think you have. That would not be wise, I can assure you!”
“Mother, no. Not after last time, Miss McGrath is a dear friend that is all. I-I shall never fall in love again. What would be the point when there is so little time. Mother? ”
“Yes?”
“Might I have a little water?”
“Yes of course. Here you are. You are thirsty.”
“I am, always. Why does Father deny me?”
“Shh now, you are a little feverish and I don’t think you are aware of what you are saying.”
“Why does Father deny me? Is it because he is ashamed of me because of my failed engagement and loss of sight. Is it perhaps my appearance or short temper, I must know so I can put things right. Please talk to him and ask him to see me.”
“I-I shall try. But for now, you need to rest.”
“I feel like a captive.”
“You are not a prisoner, but at this moment in time you are safest in bed.”
“I am cold, but I feel like I would benefit from some fresh air. I long to feel the breeze brushing against my face again.”
“When you are a little better you shall.”
“Hmm, yes. When I am better.” He parroted, rolling onto his side and closing his heavy eyes. Queen Evangeline placed her hand upon his shoulder as he drifted off to sleep.
**
“Bonnie oh my goodness, you are arriving home later and later. Let me feel your hands, why, you are frozen to the bone!”
“Mum don’t worry about me.”
“You’re exhausted dear, you must take a day off to rest. You are at the palace before 8.30am in the morning and never leave before 10pm. Do they feed you?”
“Well, I-I could eat if I wished to.”
“My dear, you have lost some weight. Now listen to me, you must eat properly.”
“I always have breakfast.”
“I know, but what about luncheon? You eat at 7.30am and often go straight to bed. Now, you must eat something. I made lamb stew.”
“It is too heavy. Here I shall have a slice of bread toasted before the fire.”
“Very well then. Take care, you do not want to be ill also.”
“Yes, I know. How is Andrew?”
“Still missing you, he says that he is jealous of this Prince Theodore man, as he has taken you from him.”
“Oh.” Bonnie turned the bread over.
“Bonnie, Bonnie? What is the matter?”
“You and Andrew needn’t worry. His Grace was right, he is sinking Mother, sinking fast. I shan’t be needed at the palace for more than a month longer! I am going to bed.”
“Oh Bonnie! Wait. Is- is it really that bad?”
“Yes Mother, it is. It reminds me of when…”
“Your Father was dying?”
“Exactly.” Bonnie sniffed, wiping a tear from her eye. “Which is why I want to stay.”
“I have been selfish Bonnie, I’m sorry.”
“I am not so tired. I’ll eat this and then wash my dress now and dry it before the fire. I could do with another really, as this one is becoming shabby, but no matter.”
Maira shrugged. “You have earned it.”
“We need the money for other things.”
“Nonsense, we all have new boots now and there is plenty of food.”
“I shall consider it then.”

Bonnie scrubbed her dress, squeezing it out in a mangle and placing it a small distance away from the fire.
“There, that is much better now. It will be dry by morning. Goodnight.”
“Sleep well dear. Do not worry about things that have not happened yet, dwell on the positive and help Prince Theodore to do the same. How is he coping?”
“He- he has accepted the fact, but cannot get his parents to do the same, which causes him a great deal of distress.”
“That is a great shame.”
“There is little wonder why he is sometimes short tempered, but he is softening, I see it.” Bonnie placed the last piece of toast into her mouth.
“There now, I am done.”

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014

Theodore- Chapter 18


“Might I listen to your chest your Grace?”
Theodore nodded reluctantly as the room fell silent. He rested his head back against the pillows as his body tensed. Mr Dickinson paused, moving the stethoscope around a little and sighed. He sat there for five minutes or so before removing it.
“You will tell me the full truth, do not lie to me for I already understand that my health is declining.”
“It- it is true your Grace, it has been.”
“I know, I can feel it.”
“There is little else to tell you, except the fact that you have a fever, but once that is under control you shall be fine.”
“Is that all you know? Ask Miss McGrath to come back in please and you may go.”
“I shall speak with your Mother.”
“Do what you must.”

Mr Dickinson exited the room, opening the bedroom door and glanced down the corridor to where Mr Howard and Bonnie sat.
“I am leaving now.”
“Might I go back in?”
“Yes of course Miss McGrath.”
Bonnie nodded, entering Theodore’s bedroom where he lay on his side. He was crying. Without saying so much as a word, she sat beside him, placing a hand upon his shoulder, much to her surprise, he placed a hand on top of hers.
“There, there my dear. I think you would do well to rest in bed for the rest of the day, but do not worry, I shall sit with you. Here now, you really are warm. I will fetch a cloth and some cool water.”
She searched for a small basin in the main bathroom and found one in one of the long cupboards. Bonnie filled it half full, grasping a clean cloth. She seated herself by Theodore, placing the basin on the bedside table.
“You might as well just put it onto my head and leave it there.”
“No. I will do it properly. Here now.” She dabbed his brow with care, gently washing down to his neck.
“Oh what a difference that makes, thank you.” He closed his eyes and sighed as a single, silver tear dropped onto his cheekbone. Bonnie wiped it away.
“Sorry.”
“Don’t apologise, you don’t have to worry about crying in front of me.”
“But I am a man.” He sniffed.
“So, what’s wrong with men crying?”
“It doesn’t feel socially acceptable.” Theodore forced a smile, wiping his eyes and inhaling deeply.
“Do not worry about that. Here, will you take some water? I will adjust your pillows a little for you. There now. Can you manage?” She placed the glass in his grasp.
“Yes, thank you.” With a shaky hand, he sipped at the water until the contents of the glass had gone.
“Would you like another?”
“Yes please, although I am afraid that if I drink too much then..”
“You might be in need of the bathroom?”
“You read my mind. Yes indeed.”
“Do not worry about that. If that is the case, then I shall ring for Mr Howard.”
“Thank you.”
“I’ll sit outside the room. Shall I fetch a book so that I can read to you?”
“You could tell me another of your stories.”
“Yes of course. Ah, Mr Howard.”
“Hello your Grace and Miss McGrath.”
“Good day. I think I need to use the bathroom.”
“Of course. I shall assist you, although I do not know whether you should be out of bed. Are you able to walk your Grace?”
“I think so, if I go slowly that is.”
“I can help you both, Mr Howard and I can go either side of you and help you to walk. Now then, here is your dressing gown. I’ll help you to put it on.”
Theodore nodded as Bonnie grasped his dressing gown, assisting him to place his arms in and tied it around his middle. He placed his legs over the end of the bed, standing rather shakily, as he placed his arms around their necks.
“Now we shall hold your waist. There now, how does that feel?”
“I feel..safe.”
They entered the bathroom.
“Mr Howard. I will wait outside now.”
“Yes of course, I can manage this part.”
Bonnie nodded, closing the bathroom door behind her. Mr Howard assisted Theodore onto the toilet and turned his back for a moment.
“I – I am finished. It sounds like a foolish think to ask, but well, I should really like a bath.”
“Not at all your Grace, I shall run it for you now and I might as well change your bed sheets also.”
“I can do that while you are having your bath.” Came a voice from outside the door.
“Ah, Miss McGrath you do not have to.”
“No I shall.”
“There is a linen cupboard at the end of this corridor with fresh sheets upon the shelves. Place the old ones into the laundry bag and they shall be cleared away by one of the other servants.”
“Yes of course, thank you Mr Howard.”
Mr Howard turned on the taps, allowing the warm water to circulate the bathtub before putting in the plug.
“I-I am finished.” He helped him from the toilet, seating him on the window seat to allow the bath to fill a little more. He sat by him for support, noticing the goose bumps appearing on his neck.
“You are cold, aren’t you?”
“A little, but these days I always am Howard.”
“Well, the bath is ready now. I shall turn off the taps. There.” He assisted Theodore over to the bath tub and removed his dressing gown, helping him to be seated in the bath water. Theodore sighed.
“I feel like a small child again.”
“You cannot help being ill your grace.”
“I suppose not. The bath water is so soothing, thank you Mr Howard.”
“Here now. I shall wash your hair for you and we shall go from there.”

Bonnie adjusted the top sheet under the coverlet, smoothing it carefully and tucking it under on one side. She closed the window she had opened to allow some fresh air to circulate around the room.  She looked up as Mr Howard re-entered the room, carrying Theodore. He smiled.
“A fine job you have done there, Miss McGrath.”
He placed Theodore into bed, propping him up with the pillows and drying his damp hair once more with a towel. Mr Howard combed it as the waves started to re-appear.
“I feel very refreshed, I am content. I think I may have a little sleep now.”
“Then, I shall go and leave you in peace.”
“No please, not yet.”
“Your Grace, Miss McGrath has been here for nearly 9 hours.”
“Oh gosh, I am being selfish. Yes, you must go home before it gets dark and rest.”
Bonnie patted his hand, “you too must sleep and try to eat something more if you can. Another cup of broth perhaps?”
“No.”
“Water then?”
“Yes, very well.”
“I will stay with you for another 15 minutes or so until you have finished it and then I shall go.”
“Only if you are sure.”
“Of course I am.”
Howard smiled. “I shall bring some upstairs directly.”
“Thank you. Are you warm enough? Here, let me feel your hands. My God! They are freezing, here have my shawl.”
“No, please you must keep it. You will catch a chill walking home.”
“Where would I fetch another blanket from?”
Theodore did not respond, flopping against his pillows.
“Your Grace? Hello? Your Grace!”
Bonnie shook Theodore’s shoulder gently. “C-can you hear me?” He did not respond. Howard entered the bedroom, gazing at Bonnie’s white face.
“He- he is not responding.”
“Your Grace? Have you some smelling salts Miss McGrath?”
“Yes.” She took them out of her pocket, placing them under his nose. Theodore, gasped, inhaling deeply, his closed eyes flickering. He opened them, sensing their gentle hands upon his arms.
“I-I am sorry.”
“Don’t be.” Bonnie coaxed. “Here, have some water; you shall feel a bit better.”
“Thank you, there is little point, I have no purpose.” He muttered.
“I do not understand. Here, I will close your window fully, there is quite a gale blowing. There’s no wonder that you are now cold.”
“The North wind again.”
“You have mentioned it before.”
“Each day it beckons a little louder. But It does not need me, not yet.”

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014

Theodore- Chapter 17


Bonnie awoke bright and early, gathering her bonnet and shawl and placing her beloved Aggie under one arm.
“I am afraid that I shall have to carry you my dear.” She cooed, “It would be too far for you to walk, as you are only small.”
Aggie settled herself under Bonnie’s arm as Bonnie strode towards the palace. She dug her claws into her arm a little. Bonnie calmly unhooked them from her sleeve and rubbed her head.
“Well, as we are only 5 minutes away, you shall have to walk the rest. Come along now missus, follow me.” Aggie did so, scratching Bonnie’s shadow with her paw.
“That is my shadow you silly thing!” Bonnie tapped her back and the cat continued to follow her. “Nearly there now. I have someone I wish you to meet, but I am afraid that I will have to carry you.”
Bonnie tucked her under one arm once more and knocked on the door of her usual entrance.
“Ah Miss McGrath! I see you have brought a little friend.”
“Yes I have Mr Howard, do not worry I can assure you that she is clean and flea free.”
“I am glad to hear it. His Grace will be very pleased , he was just enquiring whether you had arrived.”
“Ah, then I shall go to him. Where is he?”
“He is feeling a little brighter and is in the parlour.”
“The one on the corridor, near to his bedroom?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“Well with no further ado, I’ll go and find him. Come along Aggie dear.”
“She is a very beautiful cat, her fur is so soft.”
“I brush her every night, she always comes in looking bedraggled with her fur all matted. I am afraid that I have no choice.”
“Ah she is quite the little adventurer then?” Mr Howard laughed. “Come along, I shall show you both through.” He tapped upon the door.
“Your Grace, Miss McGrath is here.”
“Oh, I am glad.”
“I shall leave you both now.”
“Thank you Mr Howard. Your Grace I have brought a friend. She is of the small furry kind.” Gently, she placed Aggie upon Theodore’s lap. He laughed, running his fingertips over her fluffy fur.
“My she is beautiful!”
“Aggie is her name, my word! She has taken to you already!”
“I can feel and hear her purring.”
“How are you today your Grace?”
“I am very happy that you are both here. I am feeling brighter today.”
“Have you eaten?”
“No, but water has quenched my thirst.”
“Perhaps you should try to eat something and keep your strength up. Just a little something, an apple?”
“Hmm, you are all determined to make me eat aren’t you?”
“Why do you say that?”
“Well, Mother tried to make me eat breakfast and Howard asked me again about half an hour ago.”
“Oh, sorry.”
“No matter, I shall wait another hour and see how I feel.”
“Try something gentle, how about a little broth? It is more like a drink that way, but it will nourish you.”
“I hadn’t thought of that, yes if there is some, then I shall have it.”

**
“There now, how is that?”
“It is quite pleasant actually, like you said, it is more like a drink and it is easier to sip from a cup. I hate eating in company.”
“Why is that?”
“In case I were make a mess.”
“Ah well, anything you should ever spill can always be cleared up.”
“Hmm, yes I suppose.”
“I am not one to judge, I would be the first person to drip something down my dress.”
Theodore took another slow sip, hesitating for a second, before swallowing his mouthful of broth.
“I think I can manage broth, it is quite pleasant. My goodness is that Aggie again?”
“Ha! Yes, she has finished exploring and she has come back to see you.”
“She is lovely.” He took another sip of broth.
“Finished?”
“Yes, I feel so full now.”
“Well, that is good. Now then, if Aggie will sit still for an hour or two, I shall read to you.”
“Splendid.”
“I actually know a tale from memory, it is a folk tale but you might think it strange.”
“No, go on, I would like to hear it.”
“Very well then, I will obey.”
“I shall tell you the tale of the Bogle. A spirit who takes delight in frightening mankind, they are folkloric creatures of old. There once was a Bogle named Tatty Bogle ,who hid in potato fields hence his name! He would take it upon himself to frighten humans as a ghost would.  He was no ordinary ghost, Tatty Bogle in fact took the form of a scarecrow and frightened crows away. He was quite a rogue really. It was only a very short tale I’m afraid.”
“It was an interesting one.”
“You really think so?”
“Yes. Pray, tell me another.”
“Now then, um, I shall have to have a good think.”
“Tell… tell me more about your Father, or is it too difficult?”
“No, I shall tell you. I remember once when I was a little girl of about 5 and my Mum and Dad took me on a picnic, this was before my brother Andrew was born. We sat for hours in the meadow and my Father would read to me, he told the most wonderful stories.”
“Like you?”
“No! Mine are only from books, but his were always from memory. Oh how he made me laugh and he had so much patience, bags of it, unlike me.”
“You are patient.”
“Goodness no! I have this horrid, fiery temper which comes out of me like a dragon .”
“Only when you are pushed to your limit. Oh Bonita, I am sorry.”
“What for?”
“The day you auditioned.”
“Oh that day.”
“Yes, I am mortified just thinking about it. Those poor people, I should not have mocked them in the way that I did. I am afraid that I took my anger out on them. Recalling back, I am ashamed to say that I sounded like… it does not matter.”
“Sounded like whom?”
“Jane.”
“Ah, yes she was a cruel one.”
“You think me cruel?” Theodore bit his bottom lip.
“No! Oh forgive me, you are not in the least bit cruel, but you were harsh with your words that day.”

Theodore sat bolt upright, grasping his chest. Aggie stared at him, while Bonnie placed a hand upon his shoulder, crouching by his side.
“Heavens! What is it?”
“A pain.”
“Where, please tell me?”
“Shh.”
“No I will not shhh! I must fetch your physician! Please your Grace, surely he must be able to do something to help.”
“That man does not have the first clue about anything!”
“Who?”
“Mr Dickinson, he is useless.”
“Oh come now, he cannot be so bad.”
“He will only bleed me I suspect.”
“He may listen to your chest and even give you something to ease your discomfort.”
“It’s a no Bonita.” Theodore took another sharp intake of breath.
“Oh why do you have to be so stubborn? Mr Howard, Howard? Are you there?”
“Yes Miss McGrath?”
Where is his Grace’s physician?”
“He lives near by. Here I shall have  a look at you your Grace, you are fevered, but it is a cold sweat.” He placed a hand to Theodore’s forehead. Theodore pushed it away and rolled onto his side.
“If you fetch him, I wont speak to either of you again!”
“Well this is childish behaviour. You listen here now. Please agree to this, we promise that we will not let Mr Dickinson bleed you in any shape or form. You have my word, it will purely be an examination.”
“And you must stay with me!”
“I am afraid that I must leave the room when he comes. It wouldn’t be proper for me to stay and watch.”
“I will stay your Grace.”
“There you are, you shall have Mr Howard in the room.”
“I do not know.”
“Please say yes.”
“For goodness sake! Yes then.”
“Thank heavens.”
“Your Grace, I shall help you back to bed and then I will go directly. Miss McGrath, I shall return in just over half an hour.”
“Thank you Mr Howard.”

An hour or so passed as the pair sat in silence, Theodore turned away from Bonnie once more. She placed a hand upon his shoulder, dabbing his neck with a cloth and pulling back the coverlet a little.
“You are overheated and agitated. First thing’s first, I must keep this fever of yours at bay.”
She lifted up the coverlet at the bottom of the bed, placing a hand on his leg. She shivered, pulling her hand away.
“Your legs and feet are freezing, we must draw this fever down from your head.” She took a small blanket, placing it around Theodore’s waist.
“Apart from chest pain, tiredness and weight loss what other things do you feel are wrong?”
“I did not wish to tell you this, but my heart feels… strange. It has done since my previous illness.”
“Strange, in what way?”
“It does not seem to beat in the way that it used to.”
“Well why didn’t you say so before! In what way is it different?”
“Oh what do I know?!”
“Too many questions.” Bonnie sighed. “Well, have a quick nap until Mr Dickinson arrives, shall I leave you for a while?”
“Please do not go.”
“Very well then, but you must try.”

**
“Your Grace, he is here.”
“Ah, I did manage to sleep after all Bonita.”
“Mr Dickinson is here.”
“Yes! I can assure you that I heard you the first time.”
“Hello your Grace.”
“Good day.” Theodore mumbled, pursing his lips.
“What appears to be the problem?”
Theodore shrugged. “I am not myself and I suppose I haven’t been since I lost my sight.”
“Well, recovery takes time, but you have an elevated temperature I see.” He gazed at Theodore’s sweat glistened face and neck.
“He has a fever Mr Dickinson.” Bonnie stated.
“And who might you be?”
“Miss McGrath is a friend.”
“Oh, well I will decide what the matter is Miss McGrath.”
“Yes, of course. I will step outside the room for a while.”
“Miss McGrath-“ Bonnie looked at Theodore, he sighed and nodded in agreement as she exited the room, closing the bedroom door beside her. She sat in a chair along the corridor, placing her head in her hands.
“Ahem.”
“Oh goodness! Mr Howard! I did not see you.”
“I fear that I am too quiet.”
“No not at all.”
“How is his Grace now?”
“He is.. a little feverish and very tired.”
“God forgive me for saying this, but that man is about as much use as a chocolate fire-guard!”

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014

Theodore- Chapter 16


“Miss McGrath?”
“Oh sorry. I am here, I was just admiring the paintings and that one.” She pointed to the small one in the corner. “That, is an excellent likeness.”
“Ah yes, the painting of the courtyard? Yes, his Grace did that one, he is a very talented artist.”
“He never said so!”
“Prince Theodore has many talents, he also plays the piano and sings beautifully.”
“My! I am impressed. I am surprised that I have never heard him play! I-I suppose he would have to play by ear now.”
“He rarely used music anyway.”
“My goodness, I should love to hear him play.”
“Yes, he is very accomplished. He is an excellent horse rider and his archery is second to none. Hence, loosing his sight means that he cannot do some of these things any longer. Here now, if you will step outside, I will take the horse and trap.”
“Ah, thank you Mr Howard.”

Mr Howard helped Bonnie into her seat as she smoothed her grey dress underneath her so not to crease it.
“You seem to manage him well you know. He does take some getting used to. You must never take anything Prince Theodore says to heart.”
“No, I know. He does not mean the things that he says. But I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoy his company despite his… faults. But we all have them Mr Howard, his Grace is only human, like the rest of us.”
“You have helped him a great deal, more than you could ever know.”
“Helped him? I am aware that he is ill but..”
“Yes, there are no doubts about that Miss McGrath, but you are a friend that he has never had.”
“No, that cannot be true. He had Miss Mallis not so long ago.”
“He did, but she, pardon my saying, brought out the worst in him. Anyway, I shall say no more as it is not my place to.”
“I understand. You just go left here.” Bonnie pointed into the small village. “My it takes half the time when you go by horse and cart!”
“Of course.”
Howard steadied the horse placing on a break, and got out to help Bonnie climb down from the carriage. Maira pulled back the curtain from inside and smiled, going to answer the door.
“And what hour do you call this, Missy?”
“Sorry Mum.”
“My! You are late this evening.”
“I know, but do not worry, Mr Howard brought me back.”
Maira smiled and nodded.
“Thank you Mr Howard, I shall see you all again tomorrow.”
“Yes Miss McGrath. Good evening to you both.”
Maira closed the cottage door. “Is everything alright?”
“Yes.” Bonnie placed her head in her hands.
“Oh Bonnie dear, do not cry, what is the matter?”
“Mum, Prince Theodore is dying, I am sure of it!”
“What?”
“There was blood upon his handkerchief when he coughed into it, he barley eats and he has little energy. He is growing weaker each day and there is nothing I can do to help him!”
“Oh darling, there, there! Do not cry pet. You are helping him, every single day.”
“I am of little use.”
“That is not true. It is clear that you bring him comfort and his family are pleased to have you there. Pray for him Bonnie and never, ever give up hope.”
“Praying does not work. I prayed for Father all the time but it did not help!” Bonnie sobbed.
Maira held Bonnie close to her. “You must persevere my darling.”
“I’ll try to stay strong.”
“That’s my girl. You make me so proud; your Dad will be looking down from the heavens beaming with pride.”
“Hmm, that is a nice thought.”
“You look very tired, you seem to be staying later and later at the Palace.”
“I know, oh Mother I received my wages today, 15 shillings. Here, you must take them.”
Maira shook her head. “No Bonnie, that is your money, you must keep it. You are a woman now after all!”
“It is true that I need a new dress, but no. Here I will keep 5 shillings and you must have 10.”
“I cannot take your money!”
“Mother! Please accept it.”
“No, I cannot.”
“Please stop being so proud and use it to buy a new coat for Andrew then, he needs one and you need another pair of winter boots!”
“Very well, I will take it.”
“Thank goodness for that.”
“As a loan.”
Hmph!” Bonnie undid her bun, so that her hair flowed down her back in fiery waves.
“My that feels better, my bun was so tight that it was beginning to make the back of my head ache. Now, where is my little Aggie cat? Oh there you are, curled under the chair by the fire. Has Mother been feeding you?”
“She ate a mouse before.”
“Normally she just kills them.”
“No. She ate it!”
“My! You must be hungry. Here dear, come here. Now then, how would you like to come on a little trip with me tomorrow Aggie, to see a friend. Would you like that? Yes?” She rocked the cat in her arms as if she were a baby, planting a kiss on her furry head, before placing her back onto the floor.
“You cannot take her to the palace!”
“Of course I can, she will be as good as gold wont you my dear.”
“What happens if the Prince has allergies?”
“He doesn’t, he told me he liked animals, so I cannot imagine that she will do him any harm.”
“Well, she’s your cat dear, but only if you are sure.”
“Yes I shall take her in the little wooden box that Father made with it’s handle, that will be perfect.”
“Alright then, goodnight.”
“It is cold tonight, there is a storm a’ brewing!”
“Yes I know, look at the trees they are bent over with the force of the wind.”
Bonnie shivered. “Well then, I shall look forward to being tucked up in my wee bed all cosy warm.” She smiled, making her way into her bedroom, slipping under the covers and pulling up her coverlet to her chin. Aggie pattered into her room, nudging the ajar door with her nose and sprang onto Bonnie’s bed.
Ah so you are joining me, are you? Was it a bit lonely by the fire side?” Aggie curled herself into a ball at the foot of the bed and dozed off to sleep.
“I will be joining you soon.” Bonnie yawned, placing her coverlet over her head for warmth.

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014

Theodore- Chapter 15


“Please stop! Oh do not speak in such a way, it hurts me so!”
“Hurts you?”
“Yes, because I care and hate to see you suffer.”
“Ah, come now, for the time being things are not so bad.”

Bonnie cleared her throat. “Your Grace, your Mother is struggling, I see the pain in her eyes.”
“I don’t know. She doesn’t show it.”
“Your Grace, she cares for you more than anything.”
“Hmph! Her kingdom means more to her than I do.”
“It is true, your parents are very busy, but I am sure that they love you very much.”
“Love! Oh what on earth would you know?”
“I have a family too! I know I have not married, not yet anyway, but there is still time for me. If that was meant as an insult, you failed miserably.”
“Why did I have to choose such a disagreeable person to read to me?!”
“Oh poppycock, you are disagreeable yourself.”
“And you are nosey and too blunt for your own good Bonita!”
“Ha, you call me Bonita again.”
“Yes, I shall call you it from now on. I am sick of all this Miss McGrath business! ”
“Very well then.”
“Really?”
“Why ever not.”
Bonnie smiled, patting his hand. “There now, I have given you your own way.”
“I suppose you have Bonita.”
“Here,shall we read some more Shakespeare?”
“We can try, just a little perhaps.”
“Hamlet?”
“Yes, although, I have to admit to knowing that play the least.”
“Well, I will have to read from the book and prompt you as we go.”
“It sounds like a good idea.” Theodore sighed, running a hand through his hair. “My God! My hair must look frightful!”
“It does not appear to be that way, but I shall fetch a comb.”
“Yes, please. There are always combs in the bathroom on this floor. Do you know where it is?”
“I think so, I shall find it.”

Bonnie curtsied out of respect and wandered along the long corridor, ah yes here is the bathroom she thought as entered, peering into the cabinet and grasping the metal comb, returning to Theodore’s side.
“Bonita is that you?”
“No, it is Attila the Hun.”
“Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.” He muttered.
“I found the comb, here now.” Gently she took a section of his chestnut curls and proceeded to run the comb through them.
“My your hair was knotted, I am afraid that you were beginning to look like a cave man.”
“How lovely of you to say so.”
“It is true.”
“Yes well, at least I can rely on you to tell me things as they are.”
“I am not hurting you am I?”
“No not at all, you are gentle.”
“There now, I am done. See, feel how smooth your hair is now.”
He felt a section of his hair. “Ah, that is a large improvement. Thank you Bonita.”
Theodore coughed, placing his handkerchief over his mouth and turning away from Bonnie. He folded it, but not before she caught sight of the speckles of blood upon the white material.
“Your-your Grace !”
“Yes I know, I can taste it in my mouth.”
“Has this just started happening? The blood I mean.”
“Yes a day or so ago, no one knows now except you and I.”
“This- this is serious.”
“I know, but come now do not be alarmed.”
“How can I prevent myself from being so!”
“I am aware that I am deteriorating. Please promise me something?”
“Anything.”
“Promise, that you will not abandon me, I will try to hold a civil tongue, I know that I have been rather horrid to you so I would not blame you should you choose to leave.”
“Your Grace, I promise that I will never, ever abandon you. Shh, there now do not be sad.”
Bonnie wiped away the falling tears from Theodore’s dull eyes. He rested his head upon her shoulder, but cleared his throat and sat up again.
“That is quite enough wallowing in self-pity for one day. I feel like I must do something of use today.”
“Of use?”
“Yes, instead of sitting here moping like a fool.”
“You are no fool your Grace.”
“Oh I hate all this ‘your Grace’ business.”
“I am afraid that I cannot call you anything else but that. It would not be proper and I should get into trouble.”
“Perhaps.”
“Tell me of your childhood.”
“My childhood, are you trying to change the subject?”
“Yes, I am interested to know.”
“Oh, no one really asks me questions as you do, so I shall tell you. Well, before I was born, Mother was in labour for 16 hours. They thought that she might die, but she did not. Anyhow, my childhood was an unusual one I suppose, I was only allowed to speak to certain children and of course I had to be watched everywhere I went. I would rather have been a peasant.”
“Poverty is not fun. Well no, I am not poor, but before I was employed here we did struggle.”
“I understand.”
“Yes, when Father died we couldn’t afford to live in our previous house in Scotland any longer, so we moved to England.”
“Were you quite a well to do family?”
“Middle class.”
“Hence why you are so well-educated now?”
“Yes, I do suppose so.”
“You are an intelligent woman.”
“Why thank you, that is kind of you to say.”
“That’s because it is true. What is that clicking sound?”
“Oh, I am knitting while we talk.”
“What are you making?”
“Some winter socks for Andrew, my brother.”
“My company bores you?”
“No of course not! I enjoy it very much, but I might as well do something useful.”
“Hmph! I am never of use to anybody.”
“Oh you are, stop wallowing in self-pity!” Bonnie gasped, realising what she had just said. “I mean-um, I.”
Theodore raised an eyebrow. “You truly think that?”
“I do. Now that I have said it I cannot lie can I? Oh I am always saying things I shouldn’t.”
Theodore coughed again, placing his handkerchief over his nose and mouth. “Sorry.” He gasped as his coughing fit finally ceased and Bonnie held a glass of water to his lips. He drank thirstily.
“Your Grace, slow down a little otherwise you might choke yourself.”
Theodore nodded.

“It must be getting late.” He sighed. “I do not want you to walk home by yourself in this darkness.”
Bonnie stared at the clock. “It is 10.15pm, it is not so late, but if you are very tired then I shall go and I will see you in the morning. Here now, shall I ring for Howard to take you up to your room.”
“Yes, please and you must go home and send some time with your family.”
Bonnie rang the bell and there came a knock at the door. Bonnie smiled.
“Hello, good evening Mr Howard. I was just going but please will you escort his grace to his bedroom, I think he is very tired.”
“Yes of course. But how are you getting home Miss McGrath? It is dark now.”
“Oh do not worry about me.”
“No, I don’t think it is safe. Miss McGrath, I will see that his Grace gets to his room safely and into bed. Then I shall take you home myself.”
“That is very kind, thank you but…”
“Miss McGrath, please say yes otherwise I shall not sleep tonight with worry.”
“Very well then. Thank you both.”
Mr Howard nodded and smiled, leading a pale Theodore up the staircase and into his room.
“Thank you Howard.”
“Ah, I am glad to be of help.”
“She is quite a woman.” Theodore smiled weakly. “I almost despised her at first, but now I think, no, I know that she is doing me the world of good.”
“Pardon me saying, but I agree. Here now, just feel for your bed and be seated.”
“Thank you.”
“Here is your nightshirt and wash-bowl, can you manage?”
“Yes of course I can, I am not an invalid! Not yet anyway!”
Mr Howard said nothing, turning his back to Theodore and waiting for him to finish.
“I am finished. You may take the bowl away.”
“Of course.” He gazed at Theodore’s noticeable collar bones underneath his pale skin, a lump rising in his throat, he inhaled quietly watching Theodore slowly cover himself with his coverlet, resting his head against his pillows.
“Goodnight your Grace.”
“Thank you Howard.”
He closed the door behind him, returning to Bonnie with a heavy heart.

Theodore- Chapter 14


“Well, of course I don’t.”
“You are a servant, why would I tell you things that I am not happy to mention in front of my parents?”
“Sometimes it helps to speak with someone that you hardly know your Grace.”
“Bah! You expect me to pour my heart out to you? A little red-head such as yourself!”
“I remind you that you are one yourself. Therefore, that is pot calling the kettle black.”
“My hair is of a chestnut shade.”
“Which is somewhere between red and brown is it not?”
“I do not know. I can barely remember. Well, I am afraid to say that is through no fault of my own. Now, if we have quite finished insulting one another, I should like you to read to me.”
“Did you and this Miss Mallis insult one another your Grace?”
“Why would you even speak of her again? That is in the past so kindly do not mention that subject! How many times must I tell you Miss McGrath! It pains me so and I have told you all I wish to!”
“Your Grace!”

Theodore flopped forwards. Bonnie caught him, resting his head against her shoulder and supporting his limp body.
“Oh Lord! What have I done?”
Carefully she took out a bottle of smelling salts from her dress pocket, placing it under his nose. He coughed and opened his eyes, staring vacantly at her. Without saying so much as a word, he placed a hand upon her arm, sensing her soft, over-washed dress beneath his grasp.
“Miss McGrath, that is still you isn’t it?”
“Yes your Grace. I- I am so sorry, I went too far as always, I shall collect my bonnet and shawl and leave immediately and–”
He clutched her arm tighter still. “No, you are not to go!.Please, you are right again and I have been a fool again. This was my own doing but thank you.”
“What for?”
“Catching me before I hit my head upon the stone floor.”
“Your physician should be called immediately.”
“No, but..but you may ask Howard to fetch my Mother, I wish to speak with her.”
“Yes, yes of course.”
“For now, help me to lie on top my bed. I will probably be safer there.”
Bonnie swallowed, in fear that she should tell her everything.

**
“Thank you Miss McGrath, we shall not be long. Feel free to have a wander in the palace grounds while you wait.”
“Thank you your Grace.”
Bonnie’s hands shook, her stomach fluttering as she closed the oak door behind her, descending the vast staircase.
“What is it my dear, are you two getting along?”
“I did not think that I would meet a woman whose character almost matches my own.” Theodore laughed weakly. “Yes, I am enjoying her company actually.”
“Well, that is good. So what was it that you wanted to tell me?”
“Mother, I think we must prepare ourselves for the worst.”
“The worst?”
“My condition is, well it’s not improving. Each day I grow a little weaker. Mother, I can feel  something attacking me from within!”
“I do not understand. Do you mean a feeling of love?”
“No! Oh Mother, you misunderstand me completely! How can you pretend that everything is fine, when it is not! Mother, I think I am dying!”
“Theodore no! How could you say such a thing?”
“This- this morning I had a small coughing fit and found speckles of blood upon my handkerchief.”
“I feel you are over reacting. Your lips look quite dry, perhaps you accidentally brushed your handkerchief against them or bit your tongue.”
“Don’t you think that I would have felt it?”
“Nonsense! You are still recovering from your previous illness, that is all.”
“You would say that and now, I am branded as a liar my my own Mother! In two months or so, you shall see.”
“I-I do not want to hear this. No! I must go and see a friend in the country for a few days but Howard and Miss McGrath will remain here to keep you company.”
“Yes that’s right Mother, walk away and leave me like you always do! Did you know Mother, I fainted again today. That’s the third time this week.”
“Were you quite alone?”
“No Miss McGrath was with me.”
“Why didn’t you say so?!”
“Because you do not care. This discussion is over. I shall be dead by Christmas. Now please allow Miss McGrath to come back in. She seems to be the only person in this palace to make any sense.”

Queen Evangeline hastened from the room and down the staircase to find Bonnie seated in a wooden armchair in the hallway, staring up at the sycamore carved ceiling.
“You are gazing at one year’s work.”
Bonnie jumped.
“Did I scare you?”
“A-a little I must admit.”
“Well come now, my son awaits your return. He may be awkward, but secretly your company means a great deal to him, even though I doubt that he would admit that himself.”
“You really think so?”
“I know so.”
“Well then, I shall go back to him.”
**
“Your Grace, are you crying?”
“I rarely cry.”
“Very well then.”
“What did you hear?”
“Nothing. But I think I may have sussed it.”
“Oh?”
“But I would not like to say.” Bonnie bit her bottom lip. “Shall I order some refreshments? A cup of tea perhaps and something to eat? I will tell Howard.”
“I have water here, that will be sufficient.”
Theodore reached for the glass, his right hand trembling as he held it to his lips, the tears running down his cheeks. He let out a cry of exasperation, dropping the empty glass and placing his head into his hands.
“What, what is it? You are in pain?!”
“I am furious, practically boiling over with anger. There are so many things that I would love to do, but I cannot do them. I am no longer myself. I have little patience with anything and all I wish to do at the moment is sleep, because I feel so exhausted all the time. I don’t understand! I never will!”
“Shhh, it’s al-right. If I may say so, I think that you have become more patient since we first met and it is not a crime to feel fatigued.”
“Yes, well. My Mother does not understand and thinks that I am over reacting!”
“She is not fully aware?”
“No she is, but she chooses to turn her back. She is ashamed of me. I shall never be king. I have let both my Mother and Father down in that respect. Well if God wants to take me, he’d better hurry up and do it!”

To be continued…

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014

Theodore- Chapter 13


“Prince Theodore?”
“Ah you have finally arrived.”
“But it is 8.55am, I am early.”
“Oh, it just seems like a long time since I saw you last that is all. Time drags when I am alone.”
“Ah, well must you be by yourself? Couldn’t you dine with your parents one evening?”
“Perhaps.”
“Ahem, well. Did you tell your parents about yesterday?”
“Fainting you mean? Absolutely not.”
“It is your health I suppose, but you should….”
“Yes, yes it is. That is quite enough!”
“So as well as your health, what are the other taboo subjects?”
“There are none.”
“Miss Mallis?”
“She is not a taboo subject, you may speak of her, but I would rather you did not.”
“Ah. Well, ahem.”
“What is wrong?”
“Nothing, you look….”
“Ghastly, drained or cold? For that is how I feel.”
“You look a little pale, which is possibly linked to you feeling fatigued. As for the coldness, shall I fetch a blanket for you? It is no bother.”
“Please Bonita, if you wouldn’t mind.”
“There now.”
“Thank you, I feel a good deal better.”
“I am sorry that I mentioned the subject.”
“No matter. Hmm, now then what were you planning on reading to me today?”
“I rarely plan your Grace.”
“My head aches so.”
“I think that you might benefit from some fresh air, how about a quick stroll in the garden?”
“Yes, you may be right.”
“You- you are serious?”
“Yes.”
“My! I just supposed that you would say no! We shall go then, but just for half an hour at the very most. Shall I fetch your coat?”
“Yes Miss McGrath.”
“Here. Shall I help you to fasten it?”
“That will not be necessary.”

Bonnie gazed at the intricate coat button fastenings, as Theodore felt them beneath his fingers, attempting to hook one side to the other, the frown lines etched across his brow. He dropped one side, sensing it slide from his left shoulder. Bonnie said nothing, lifting the coat from the floor and fastening it in the blink of an eye. She took his slender hand in hers, leading him outside into one of the many side gardens as they sat upon a stone seat.
“You are very quiet your Grace.”
“I-I am trying not to explode with fury!”
“It is only a foolish little fastening.”
“It is another thing that I cannot do alone!”
“Your Grace, even I struggled. Let us think of positive things, now then, I shall tell you. You are very intelligent and have a wonderful memory.”
“I am also bitter and have very little patience.”
“At least you have recognised your faults. Some people live in innocent bliss all their lives and never change and that, as my Father would have said, is progress.”
“You really believe me to be those things?”
“Yes your Grace, I do.”
“I- I find it very hard to bear!”
“Ah. Here now, shall we sit on the little wall here, it is dry and not cold if you place your coat under you. There now. What do you feel?”
“I feel fine, a little tired and somewhat hurt!” He pouted.
Bonnie shook her head. “No what do you feel? Describe it to me.”
“This is foolishness!”
“It is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Come on your Grace, be a sport.”
“Hmph! Very well. I sense roughness of the stone wall under my grasp. I can also tell that you are watching me, which makes me a little uneasy.”
“You can sense being watched?”
“Yes, very often.”
“That is fascinating!”
“I am not an experiment Bonita!”
“I wasn’t implying that you were. Um, this stone seat is very well designed.”
“Yes, I suppose so, it brings back too many memories! I am going inside!”
“Wait please, you are so changeable.”
“Yes, well! Argh!”
“What, what is it?”
Theodore placed a hand to his chest, gasping for breath.
“N-nothing.”
“You are experiencing pain?”
“That is not your concern!”
“Your Grace, forgive me, but that is very serious in someone our age. Please let me help.”
“No! Let go of my arm!”
He pulled away and dismounted the seat, as he did so he slumped against it.
“Oh Lord! Oh my goodness, what have I done? Your Grace, can you hear me?”
“Yes Bonita, I hear you. I am fine, just a little sleepy.”
“We must get you inside. Are you hurt?”
“No. I’d rather here with you in the fresh air. You are kind to me and I do not deserve it.”
Theodore muttered as Bonnie took his hand in hers. “Still, I am at peace at the time being, I feel like I am at one with nature.”
“What happened just then?”
“I had  a little dizzy spell, that is all.”
“You are very tired, but the ground is dry and you are wrapped up warm, so you should not catch a chill.”
“I am so tired.”
“That is understandable, but I cannot let you sleep outdoors, shall I fetch Howard? Here I shall help you to stand, there now. That was easy.”
“Goodness no! I do not want anyone to find out about this! Promise me you will not tell a soul. Now then, you must take me into one of the smaller entrances and that way we shall not be seen!”
“I do not know where to go.”
“I think I may be able to describe it from memory, even though my head spins. Go to the left of the building, past the oak tree with the seating around it. Do you see it?”
“I do.”
“Good.”
“Do you wish to stop again for a moment or two?”
“No.”
“Very well then. We have passed the tree.”
“To your left, there should be some Virginia creepers growing up the wall, pull them to one side and there is a door.”
“But where is the key?”
“Here, let me find it.” Theodore ran his hand over the stones, feeling the gap between two larger ones. “It is here.”
“A secret passageway of yours?”
“It used to be, but today it is being put to use again.”
“When would you have used it?”
“That is none of your business Miss McGrath.”

With care, Bonnie took his arm once more as he bit his trembling bottom lip. “Do not worry, we are inside now. Where will this small passage way take us?”
“To one of the unused studies on the bottom floor and then you must take me back to the drawing room.”
“Yes, of course. You tremble so, I am afraid that our little expedition was too much for you!”
“Oh nonsense, I had a wonderful time.”
“Goodness what a dark room, there is little light at all.”
“Hence why no-one uses it.”

Bonnie led Theodore into the parlour where he sat upon the couch once more.
“Oh I really enjoyed that!”
“You did?”
“Why, yes!”
“I see that you are fatigued, but the colour has returned to your cheeks.”
“Hmmm.”
“Perhaps I should fetch your Physician?”
“My Physician, oh God! Everyone is obsessed, kindly focus on your own affairs Miss McGrath.”
“It was only a suggestion.”
“Yes, well.”
“And you still have not eaten, it is now almost 10am.”
“I am not hungry.”
“Well, some water or tea then.”
“No thank you.”
“This is not a little rebellious strike against your parents is it, your Grace?”
“I think it is time for you to go!”
“Oh for goodness sake! If I had a sovereign for every time you ordered me to leave, I would be a rich woman.”
“Hmph!”
“You laugh at me?”
“I do. Do not presume to tell me what to do, when you are as low as a servant.”
“Oh how kind of you.”
“And you are a woman!”
“Oh and now you are being quite the chauvinist your Grace!”
“No, it is how society works!”
“You are so changeable, I don’t know how it is possible for me to like and dislike somebody as much as I do you. You can be quite a horror your Grace.”
“Do not presume to label me. You know nothing of my past, so kindly mind your own business.”

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014