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.”
“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.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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?”
“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?”
“Where, please tell me?”
“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!”
“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.”
“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.
“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