“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!”
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?”
“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!”
“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