Theodore- Chapter 42


Mr Howard examined the building before him, with it’s dirty windows. He led Theodore’s horse into the stable to rest, ensuring that she had oats, water and a blanket. He took a long breath, as he meandered up the path, grasping the door knocker and tapped it. No answer. Mr Howard waited a moment before knocking again. There came no reply. He turned the door knob, to his surprise the property was open. His eyes averted to the dust. There was plenty of it, it clung to the velvet curtains and thick woollen carpets, creating a sea of fur.
“Hello? I am sorry to intrude, but is there anybody there?”
There came no answer. He stared up the staircase, trying to catch a glimpse of any apparent movement. Wait; in the darkness, there was a beam of light coming from a gap under one of the doors. He grasped the banister, ascending the green-carpeted staircase and tapped upon the door.
“Go away!” It was indeed the king. “I can still tell that you are there! Are you completely stupid, I do not care who it is, but leave!”
“It is Mr Howard. I wish to speak with you.”
“Please go.”
“Your Majesty, I do not want to go without speaking to you face to face. Why did you not respond to the letter the Queen sent?”
“Out I say!”
Mr Howard sighed and tried the door handle, which he assumed would have been locked. He gazed around the room, noticing an exhausted figure sitting upon the bed.
“Ah your Grace, there you are!”
“Kindly leave.”
“No. I am afraid that I must disobey you just this once. I have to speak with you. Why did you ignore your wife’s letter, I assume that you received it?”
“I did.”
“You did not reply?”
“No I did not! How could I when I had no clue what to say in return!”
“All she wanted was for you to return.”
“I don’t think I can go back!”
“Your son wanted to see you more than anything.”
King Rupert gasped. “My son is dead?”
“No, not yet.”
“You spoke in the past tense!”
“He is alive, but the horrible truth is; he will die and far sooner than we all anticipated, which is why it is so important that you return promptly, otherwise you may have a lifetime of regret.”
“Hmph!”
“Prince Theodore is seriously ill. His heart is weak and we do not know how long it will hold out.”
“Who cares for him?”
“Myself ,Miss McGrath and now your wife.”
“No physician! Who is this Miss McGrath?”
“Your Physician was of no use to him. You employed her your Grace as your Son’s reader.”
“Oh, that little Scottish reader?”
“Yes, your Grace. I think she should like to meet you.”
“Well… well, I do not want to meet her!”
“I do not know what else to say.”
“Say nothing! My son hates me, he loathes and despises me!”
“Why would you think that?”
“I-I just assumed that he would.”
“Why?”
“We often argued and never talked in much detail. We are both strong characters and I think that we are better off without each other”
“He  has changed a great deal. His manner is softer. Yes you will think him to be a more amiable person now, but you must give him chance. Will you come?”
“No!”
“What can I do to make you change your mind? The time we have left is oh so precious. You are wasting time, his life is like an hour-glass, each day a small part of him slips away, never to return. You will only have a lifetime of regret if you do not see him. This could be the very last time. At least let me find you some clean clothes and run you a hot bath.”
“If you must.”
“You are hungry, I can tell your Grace, where would I find some food, when did you last eat? I will look when you are having your bath, and your bath will allow you to have some quiet thinking time.”
“A reflection?”
“Yes.”
“On the way I have behaved?”
“Perhaps.”
“Oh dear, I do not like the sound of that at all. But yes, I will have a bath. I suppose that I should, thank you.”
Mr Howard nodded, going to fetch toiletries a dressing gown and a towel.
“Have you other clothes?”
“Yes.”
“Ah, that is good your Grace. Your bath is ready now, I will leave you in peace and find something suitable for you to eat.”

Mr Howard s cowered the pantry cupboard, but they were as bare as can be. He stepped into the larder, stumbling across a little salted pork and 2 large potatoes. He lit the fire in the kitchen and boiled the potatoes, warming the cooked meat in a separate pan, it was not much, but it would do for now. The king emerged with damp hair, dressed in the clean clothes with a towel draped around his shoulders, looking tired but refreshed. Mr Howard placed the plate of food in front of him, he wasted no time, eating hungrily.
“This is decent Howard, I am impressed.”
“So am I.” Mr Howard laughed. “Considering what little ingredients you had. I think we should go right away, once you have eaten. You needn’t pack sir, we must return, as I said, time is very precious.”
“He might not be so ill.”
“I assure you that Prince Theodore is. He eats next to nothing and has been forced to stay in his bed, for that is the safest place for him. In spirit he is quite well though, he has Miss McGrath and her cat for company and the Queen has been understanding of late.”
“Oh, that is good then. I do not see why he needs me.”
“You are his Father, all he desires now, is to be with his family and without you, it is not complete. Please come your Grace we must go.”
“I am yet to make up my mind.”

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014

Theodore- Chapter 41


“I think I shall tell Theodore.”
“But what happens if the King says no? I’d rather wait and tell him when they both return.”
If they do. Yes, you are sensible. We will wait, for now I think he will be expecting your company.”
“Of course, it will be my pleasure.”
Bonnie knocked. “I have returned.”
“Oh, do tell me. Is there any news on my Father?”
“We shall all have to wait and see.”
“Ah, that does not sound so promising.”
“Only time will tell. Ha! Aggie looks so funny, she is perched upon the window sill on the other side of the sash window staring at us. No doubt she has been up to no good.”
“Well, so far she has not brought in any little gifts.”
“She is not much of a killer cat, fortunately. I have heard that some cats can be little murderers!”
“I am glad that she is not like that. I do not fancy having a half chewed, dead mouse dropped upon the counter pane.”
As he smiled, another crack appeared in his dry lips.
“You need more balm.”
“Thank you. Mmm, lovely.”
“Shall I read a little something to you?”
“Yes, that would be pleasant.”
“How about…” Bonnie paused. “Pilgrim’s progress, I saw that upon the bookshelf the other day.”
“The Christian classic? Hmm, no thank you.”
“Oh, it used to be one of my favourites.”
“It is one of the very few books that I cannot stand.”

Theodore gasped, his chest tightening.
“What is it?”
“Just a little ache in my chest.”
“How are your limbs?”
“The same, do not read from a book.” He whispered.
“I’d love to know more about you, your Grace.”
“Me? Oh, well ask away.”
“Umm, what was your favourite thing to do as a child?”
“Ah, now there were so many things. I was a bit of a dreamer, much to the dismay of my parents, I had a habit of not paying attention in my lessons as I should have done.”
“It is pleasant to day dream.”
“Yes. What else did I like to do, hmm oh, I would often swim in the river something else which did not impress my parents, I used to be quite a decent swimmer actually. Can you swim? Oh yes, your ice skating story, of course you can.”
Bonnie smiled at the thought of him having remembered.
“Archery was fun and so was .. oh I can row a rowing boat but I haven’t done that since last year and that was with a disagreeable person.”
“Ah, you needn’t go on.”
“No I shall! It is a highly amusing tale. Jane decided that it was her heart’s desire to go on a picnic, I decided to be a little more adventurous, so I took a rowing boat out and we rowed across the wind pond in the castle grounds. Have you seen it?”
“Hmm, I am not sure.”
“I think you would have remembered it if you had. Anyhow, Jane was not at all happy. I think she was scared as she was not much accustomed to boats and she decided to stand.”
“She did not!”
“She did and you can imagine what happened.”
“She fell in?”
“Worse than that, she caused the whole rowing boat to capsize. She had failed to tell me that she could not swim and I had to rescue us both.”
“Heavens! What happened next?”
“She panicked a little and cursed, I told her to try to float on her back, but she would not listen, Jane being Jane. We managed to get out of the water and then um.. she would not speak to me for the rest of the day and marched home in a wild fury, still dripping wet.”
“But you saved her!”
“I suppose so.”
“No you did and she responded in such a way?”
“And you saved me Bonnie, you rescued me from becoming bitter and selfish like her and for that I will be eternally grateful.”
“Were you ill? After the incident I mean.”
“I got a chest cold, but it was not so bad. She refused to come and see me in case she should catch it.”
“How selfish! How do people become like that?”
“Speaking from experience; when a person is deeply unhappy, then sometimes they think it acceptable to take their frustrations out on other people. It is wrong, but it happens. I do not think that Jane will ever grow up. Oh perhaps I have been too hard on the girl, but I can only think bitter thoughts. Believe me when I say that it would have to take something very serious to have happened for me to forgive her, I doubt that to be the case.”
“Probably not, perhaps time will tell. Might I ask another question?”
“Yes if you must.”
“I see that you tire, so I shall go soon, but; who did you contract the initial Scarlet Fever from?”
“I do not think that I will ever know. I can only hope that the person has recovered. It could have been anyone, a party guest perhaps. It must have been in my system for some time, weeks I think and there it lay dormant, slowly destroying my heart.”
“Have some more water.”
“Thank you Nurse McGrath.”
“Ha! I could never be a nurse.”
“That is what you are doing now, is it not? Nursing me.”
“In a way yes, but I would never be brave enough to nurse large quantities of people.”
“Yes, one person is probably difficult enough.”
“Indeed. No, I am simply pulling your leg. You are not so bad.”
“How very kind of you to say Bonita.”
“It is my pleasure. Now then, I was going to read to you, but like you, I am becoming increasingly tired, you have dark circles around your eyes and that is the fifth time you have yawned in two minutes!”
“You were counting?”
“I was, I will wake you when Mr Howard and you Father returns. Hopefully it should not be too long until they do.”

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014

Theodore-Chapter 40


“Your Grace, I am sure that you were having a conversation with someone.”
“I talk in my sleep sometimes. It is happening increasingly of late.”
“Ah.”
“Where did you go?”
“Oh, I sat in the small garden for a little while.”
“The one where you took me?”
“Yes, that one. It was cold, but I feel refreshed.”
“Hmm, I am glad. I wonder if Mother has written to Father? She said that she would.”
“She said that she is still awaiting on a reply.”
“If it ever comes.” Theodore muttered. “What on earth is Father doing, the foolish man.”
“You tell me, what do you suppose that he is doing?”
“Either hiding away like a hermit or throwing extravagant parties.”
“Ah. He likes them?”
“He used to, but Mother and Father have not entertained in large quantities since I fell ill.”
“Could Mr Howard go and see your Father?”
“Perhaps, but it is quite a long journey and it may very well be wasted.”
“I’ll go.”
“No, please I want you to stay here.”
“Very well, but never hesitate to ask me. Here now, you must have another drink. I can hear your stomach grumbling, are you sure that you wouldn’t like something to eat?”
“No thank you.”
“I am determined that you shall eat something. Do you like ice cream?”
“I used to.”
“And now?”
“It is rich and brings back too many memories.”
“Ah. How about sorbet? I have never tried it, but have heard that it is lighter than ice cream.”
“Do not have any made especially. For I am cold enough as it is.”
“I tell you what, I will go down to the kitchen and seen what there is and whatever I bring back shall be a surprise.”
Bonnie exited and descended down the staircases until she reached the kitchen. She must ask the cook. The cook stared at Bonnie.
“Forgive me, I don’t think we have met before. I am Miss McGrath.”
“Ah the young reader, yes I know who you are.”
“I was wondering whether I could fetch something for his Grace, is there some ice cream or sorbet?”
“There is some vanilla ice cream in the ice box that their majesties did not finish at their luncheon dinner party, take as much as you like before it melts.”
“Thank you kindly.”

Bonnie fetched two bowls, scooping the ice cream into them. She returned to the bedroom where Theodore lay dozing.
“I found some ice cream.” She grinned. “Let’s prop you up a little.”
She placed a spoonful of the cool, delicious dessert into his mouth as he swallowed.
“Mmm, lovely.”
She swallowed some of her own, placing a second spoonful into Theodore’s mouth.
“This is helping my sore throat no end.” He smiled a sad sort of smile as Bonnie put his bowl on the bedside table, next to her untouched one.
“What is it?”
“I just feel…sad. I am scared that I should slip into unconsciousness again and not wake up, having not had the chance to say goodbye. It is a recurring dream I have, they often say that dreams like that can come true.”
“That would be peaceful at least.” Bonnie reassured, placing another spoonful of ice cream into his mouth.
“Peaceful, but…”
“Task one; you need to persuade your Father to return to the palace. Do what you must.”
Theodore shook his head.
“Yes, your Grace it is not as difficult as it may seem, perhaps you have a friend or servant who could fetch him for you.”
“Sorry your Grace, have you had enough ice cream?”
“Yes, thank you. Bonnie, I have a little favour to ask.”
“Oh?”
“I wish to see my Father.”
“We have tried your Grace.”
“Perhaps we have not tried enough, could someone not go in person? I think the house in which he is lodging is only 10 miles or so away.”
“Shall I ask Mr Howard?”
“If you would.”
**

“Mr Howard?”
“Ah Miss McGrath, what is it?”
“His Grace wishes to see his Father, can something not be done?”
“I understand the Queen wrote to him and has had no reply yet.”
“Oh dear. Would- would you fetch him? There is so little time that I”
“Goodness, yes. I shall speak to her majesty and if she allows it, then I shall go and fetch the King myself.”
“Thank you.”
“It will take a full day to get there and back again and of course there is no guarantee that he will come back.”
“Why?”
“He and the Queen… I should not say.”
“Ah, I am sorry, I did not mean to intrude.”
“You meant no harm. Yes, I will go and speak to her majesty, I think she is in her parlour.”
“Thank you.”
Mr Howard knocked upon the painted door.
“Yes, who is it? Ah Mr Howard.”
“Yes Ma’am. I was just talking to his Grace and well, he desperately wants to see his Father.”
“Ah.”
“I have an idea.”
“Do you?”
Queen Evangeline shook her head, staring out of the window. “I am ashamed to call that man my husband, I understand that I was a little foolish, but he has behaved in a terrible way. He has not responded to my letters for months, I am afraid that I cannot forgive him and I can assure you that he will not come.”
“What about if I were to go in person and fetch him?”
“Do as you like.”
“It would mean a great deal to Prince Theodore.”
“Why?”
“He wants to see his Father that is all, it may be the last time.”
“Yes, um you may take two days leave to fetch him then.”
“Thank you my Lady, I will go and tell his Grace directly, I am sure that the news will bring him a great deal of comfort.”
“I am sure that he will have a thing or two to say to his Father also.”
“Prince Theodore will behave in a calm and collected manner I am sure.”
“Yes, I do hope so. Well, off you go Mr Howard do not waste a moment more, go and fetch my so-called husband!”

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014

Theodore- Chapter 39


“I am going to sort this hair of yours.”
“Only do it if you can be bothered.”
“Well of course I can! I swear that it grows more every day.”
“I probably look like some sort of strange, red-headed sheep.”
“Ha! My hair is fiery, yours is more of a subtle tone.” Bonnie brushed the hair from his face with a metal comb, running through it in small sections.
“Where has your parting gone? It should be closer to the left, should it not?”
“Yes.”
“There, that is better, you now have a straight, left-sided parting which looks much more respectable.”
“Thank you. My hair is so dry now, I used to have such shiny hair, but now it is as dry and brittle as old bones.”
“Have some more honey and lemon. No, it is not so dry, but it has lost its shine.”
Theodore sipped once more at the concoction and rested his head against the pillow. “That will do for now.”
“Try and drink a little more, your Grace, you are thirsty.”
“On second thoughts, I will have some more.”
Bonnie held the cup to his lips as he took some more sips.
“You changed your mind very quickly.”
“I have become more indecisive of late and I am as awkward as ever.” He inhaled.
“A pain?”
He nodded.
“Where?”
“It was as if someone had momentarily jabbed something sharp into my side. Just a spasm.”
“Ah. Let me see your wrists.”
She pulled back the cover, glancing at the limb. “They are very swollen again.”
Bonnie placed a hand to his chest, sensing Theodore’s pounding heart.
“I do not understand, why does it work so hard when you are stationary?”
“I wish I knew, but it races in my chest and I feel the blood pulsating around my body. Here, listen.”
Theodore patted his chest. Bonnie, cautiously rested her head upon his chest, taking care not to lean too hard and placed a hand over the opposite ear closing her eyes. His heart was racing, beating out of control. She sighed, resting on an elbow.
“There is little wonder why you are always in pain.”
“At the moment, it is not so bad.”
“So you say, but I am not convinced.”
Theodore laughed.
“Your Grace, that is not funny.”
“No I was thinking; what if Mother walked in right now and saw us like this, she would have kittens!”
“Because I am sat on the side of your bed?”
“Yes, but it is so comforting even having you in the room with me.”
“Could I persuade you to eat a little something, it has been so long.”
“I am afraid that I am not hungry, but you must go and eat. I can hear your stomach grumbling, please go and rest.”
“No, there is no need.”
“Bonnie, please!”
“Very well, I shall go and find something to eat if it will make you happy.”
“You need to take care of yourself too you know, you do not eat and sleep nearly enough.”
“I do not like to leave you for too long.”
“In case I should go to sleep and never wake up again?”
“Yes!” Bonnie cried. “That is it exactly, hence why I do not want to leave your side.”
“I must insist that you go, but please ask Mr Howard to join me for half an hour or so if he is not too busy and you at least must have a nap.”
“Very well then. I’ll ring the bell.”
“Thank you.”

Rapidly, Mr Howard entered the room staring at the both of them.
“How can I be of assistance?”
“His Grace wanted to speak with you.”
“Yes, I do. Bonnie must rest now, for even though she will not admit to it, she is on the verge of becoming ill, if she doesn’t take care of herself.”
“I am not!”
“Bonnie, please rest. Mr Howard, Bonnie is worried in case I should die when she is away.”
“I should not have insinuated that, I am terribly sorry.”
“I was pulling your leg Bonnie, but please you must go an amuse yourself for a while, if it is dry take a walk in the palace grounds like we used to do.”
“I wish that you could come too!”
“I’ll be with you in spirit.”
“Spirit.” Bonnie repeated.’ Not literally, I hope’ she thought. “Have a sleep, your Grace, when I return I’ll read something to you.”
“I should like that very much.”
“Goodbye for now.”

Theodore placed one hand on top of the other, focusing on his breathing in the stillness of his bedroom. He shivered as a breeze swept past his cheek, for if he was sighted, he would have seen the condensation of his breath gather in the air like small plumes of smoke.
“H-hello.”
“We meet again.”
“John McGrath?”
“Yes.”
“Oh gosh! This is becoming quite obscure!”
“It depends how you perceive it.”
“I suppose.”
“I am afraid that I need a little help.”
“Help?”
“Yes. You see, I have some tasks that I wish for you to complete.”
“I am having my second conversation with a ghost.” Theodore muttered. “I am insane.”
“I realise that you are very ill, but you can do this from where you are lying now in your very bed.”
“You confuse me John McGrath.”
“I know, I can see the frown lines on your forehead. Let me explain; there are some things which you should know and all you need do is find the required information. The tasks will give you a feeling of fulfilment and a great sense of inner peace. Some of them are things that should have been done in the past, but do not worry, it is not too late.”
“Ahem.” Theodore cleared his throat, placing a hand to his chest.
“Painful isn’t’ it?”
“Very.”
“You are a brave man, your Grace I can tell you now and you have changed so much.”
“I owe that woman everything.”
“Who are you talking to?”
Theodore froze, it was Bonnie.
“Hmm? Oh, I must have been muttering away in my sleep.”
“I was beginning to worry that you were delirious again! You were quite loud.”
“Oh, I apologise.”
“A prince should never apologise, I was concerned, that is all.”
“Be ready.” Came a whisper in his ear. Theodore nodded in response.
“Alright.” He replied, placing a hand to his damp forehead.

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014

Theodore- Chapter 38


“We must get you straight back into bed.”
“Soon. Bonnie?”
“Yes dear?”
“What would you like to do with the rest of your life?”
“Well, I am very determined to keep myself busy and be of use to others.”
“Very wise. Quite the opposite of what I have done.”
“Now then, you, I think are feeling sorry for yourself. You used to be a magnificent horseman did you not?”
“Perhaps.”
“And you used to play the piano?”
“Yes, yes I did. When I was younger, Mother always used to persuade me to play at dinner parties.”
“I am very impressed, Mr Howard told me that you played beautifully. Can you still play now?”
“I don’t know, most probably. I used to do it by ear most of the time anyway. Now that you mention it, I feel like I have a small notion to play. Silly really.”
“Not at all.”
“Can you play Bonnie?”
“Badly.”
Theodore laughed. “I think you are being too hard on yourself.”
“Coming back to what I was saying, I think I would like to be a school teacher or Governess in a year or so. Here we are now. Mr Howard and I will help you to get back into bed.Your Grace, rest now. I will read in the parlour for a little while if you do not mind.”
“Of course I don’t my dear, you must go and have a little time to yourself. Mr Howard, will you see that Bonnie gets some refreshments. I wouldn’t mind a glass of water myself.”
“Very good your Grace.”

Bonnie sat quite alone in the warmth of the parlour, gazing into the fire as she sipped at the sweet tea which had been placed before her. Sugar was a real luxury, as were the small plate of shortbread, but how hungry she was and much to her dismay, she unintentionally devoured all 3 biscuits. She took off her boots, placing her feet upon the velvet covered footstool, rested her head against the chair arm and closed her heavy eyelids.
**

Theodore slept, wrapped in blankets, his long, butterfly eyelashes resting upon his cheeks. He stirred as he felt the gentle embrace of another and inhaled her sweet perfume, a scent which he had almost forgotten.
“Mother?”
“Yes dear.”
“Oh Mother whatever is the matter? If you are still dwelling on what I said almost a week ago then..”
“Oh no darling, it is not that.”
“Then, what troubles you?”
“Nothing.”
“I can tell that you have something which you would not like to share. A secret perhaps?”
“It is not a secret, not exactly.”
“Here now, sit with me.”
“Yes of course.”
“Please tell me what the matter is. It is nothing horrid I hope.”
“There is a reason why your Father will not come and see you.”
Theodore gasped. “He is not-!”
“Oh darling no. He is very much alive and was in good health when I heard from him last.”
“He is away?”
“Yes, what I wanted to say was; your Father and I have been living separately for a while.”
“What? How long!”
“About one month.”
“A month, and neither of you thought it wise to try to tell me, I am your son!”
“You are ill. I did not want to ail you with our problems. You see, this is why I did not want to tell you. Theodore?”
“Thank you for finally telling me the truth, even though you have lied to me for a month.”
“Saying nothing is not lying Theodore.”
“I suppose not. Will you make it public-ally known?”
“No, of course not!”
“I’d like to talk to Father, would you write to him?”
“For you I will.”
“It needn’t be a long letter Mother, just tell him that I would very much like to see him.”
“I will organise it right away.”
“And Mother?”
“Yes Theodore.”
“I think you and I have misunderstood one another of late. Know that I love you very much.”
He pressed his lips together, to prevent them from quivering. Queen Evangeline took his hand and kissed his cheek. “Theodore, I am sorry for what I did. I took out my anger on you and worse of all Miss McGrath, when she was only trying to help. I was in denial and was dealing with problems of my own, that poor girl. I will make it up to her, I promise. Oh my boy, my only son! How will I cope when we are parted forever. You have lived for two decades, yet I feel that we barley know one another.”
“Then Mother, we must make it our duty to make amends and use the remaining time wisely. Our little family seems to be struggling of late, we must make Father come to his senses.”
“Yes dear. How things have changed this last year, you have always been so energetic, so full of life.”
“And now I am as much use as a chocolate teapot.” Theodore laughed.
“Nonsense! Do you remember the parties?”
“Oh yes. How I miss them, why I have not been to a party since..” Theodore paused and swallowed. “My engagement, how very embarrassing.”
“Come now, that was not your fault.”
“I know. In a way, I am grateful. In the beginning things were dreadful after the Scarlet Fever but…”
“Jane broke your heart.”
“At the time, yes she did, but now I realise that her leaving me was for the best. Things have a strange way of happening. If my engagement with Miss Mallis had not ended, then I would not have met Bonnie and she makes me so happy, I have found a true, best friend. I think if I were to live, we would be best friends for life. Mother, happiness comes from within, we need to find inner peace, we cannot rely on luxury items and lavish parties to make us happy.”
Queen Evangeline patted his hand. “Sensible words, my dear. I do believe that you are becoming quite wise at your grand old age.” She laughed. “I shall leave you to rest, but I’ll come and see you soon.”
“Yes, of course. I have little Aggie for company, so I will be most content.”
“Good natured thing that she is.”
“She is the perfect companion. Bonnie has let me have her on loan for a while.”
“That was a thoughtful gift, she is a beautiful, well-groomed cat.”
“I think Bonnie brushes her every day, whether she needs it or not.”
“Well, sleep well the both of you.”
“Thank you Mother. How nice it is that we can talk like this. Our conversation has meant a great deal to me, more than you could ever know.”

**
Theodore felt a pair of warm hands on each of his cold cheeks and smelt the sweet smell of biscuits.
“Bonnie, how toasty you are.”
“Yes, it is so cosy where I was sat, the fire was so beautiful.”
“Good. I am glad.”
“Did you and your Mother find much to talk about?”
“Oh yes, we talked a great deal and I feel, that at last, I understand her ordeal.”
“Ah, I hope she is alright.”
“And I also, but now that I have seen her, I am feeling contented.”
“Pardon me saying your Grace, but your voice sounds a little raspy.”
“I have the beginnings of a sore throat. It comes and goes.”
“Ah I know a concoction which may help you.”
“Do you?”
“I often find that honey and lemon in hot water soothes the throat.”
“Then, if you or Mr Howard can find the ingredients, I will be willing to try it.”

Theodore- Chapter 37


“Bonnie, do not worry about me now, what an ordeal.” He muttered.
“It was not so bad your Grace.”
“Thank you as always for your gentle assistance.”
“It is my pleasure. Sleep now, my dear.”
Bonnie took both of his hands in hers, stroking them with her thumbs, before letting go and returning to her room.
**
Theodore overheard the sound of footsteps some hours later, aware that it must be morning. He froze, it was not Bonnie.
“Theodore?”
“Mother!”
“I felt that I should come and see you, it has been a while.”
“Yes, yes it has.” He muttered.
“Dearest, I am very sorry. I know that you must still be cross with me but…”
“I am not so cross, not any more. Pray tell me, what is the time?”
“8.15 am, Then, I am glad. I can see that she has been taking good care of you.”
“I am exceedingly lucky. Bonnie is the best nurse.”
“Yes, I am sure she is. How do you feel in yourself?”
“My pain does not cease. In body I am not well, but in mind and spirit I am most content, thank you.”

Bonnie stirred, woken by the beam of light pouring across the carpet. She dressed and knocked on Theodore’s bedroom door.
“Come in.”  Came the voice of a female.
Bonnie poked her head around the door, to see the Queen seated in a chair by Theodore, who was propped up comfortably in bed.
“Good morning.” Bonnie curtsied.
“Good day. Theodore was just asking for you. You’ve managed a little tea to drink haven’t you?”
“Yes, it was pleasant.”
“Well, I should leave you both.”
“No Mother, please stay, for a while longer, half an hour perhaps.”
“Very well, I will if it pleases you.”
“It does.”
“Shall I go?” Bonnie suggested.
“That is kind, you needn’t be long, perhaps you could get a little breakfast Miss McGrath, you must be hungry.”
Bonnie attempted to recall the last time that she had eaten, but could not.
“Of course.” She curtsied, leaving Theodore in the company of his Mother.Theodore smiled a small smile.
“What is it dear?”
“She is a character.”
“Yes, she seems to be. Are you still enjoying her company?”
“That would be an understatement. She is my rock and reassurance. I could not have asked for a better friend.”
“What is it?”
“Just a little aching, I will be fine in a moment.”
“It is worse than before?”
“Much. Sorry, I do not mean to complain or make a fuss.”
“I am sure that you don’t. Well, perhaps you should have a little nap and Bonnie will come up stairs again soon.”
“Mother please do not rush off. I miss you so.”
“Oh.” Queen Evangeline placed her hand on top of his, comparing the size of her own wrist to his. She shook her head.
“What are you doing?”
“I am sorry to see you looking so thin and pale my son.”
**
“I’ll warm more towels. I imagine that you will need one for your sprained ankle.”
“Hmm?”
“Gosh, sorry, I woke you.”
“Bonnie, you needn’t do that.”
“Let her, your Grace. She wants to look after you.”
“John?”  Theodore whispered, was it him?
“Hmm? Here now, they are a lovely temperature, but you could really do with a bandage.”
“No.
“A little gentler.”
“No thank you, not for the time being.”
“Then, I will go.”
“Ask her to read to you, I think she’d like that very much.”
“Perhaps you could read to me, it has been a while has it not.”
“I’d love to, I thought you’d never ask. Perhaps I should tell you another story.”
“Ask Bonnie to tell you the tale of how we found Aggie.”
Theodore stroked Aggie who sat upon Bonnie’s lap.
“How did you know she was there?”
“I could hear her purring.”
“Gosh she is quiet, you must have excellent hearing.”
“Probably, to compensate for my blindness. How did you find this little one?”
“Aggie? Oh gosh, well Father found her. It just so happened that he was walking home from work when he came across a woman with a sack in her hand, about to lower it into a stream. Father thought nothing of it, until the sack started to move. Father told her to put it down immediately and she did. After speaking to her, he discovered that little Aggie had not been suckling from her Mother and the woman thought it best to put her out of her misery, rather than have her starve to death. Anyhow, Father rescued her. You should have heard my squeal of delight, when Father came home with little Aggie in his arms.”
“She seems healthy now.”
“Oh yes she is.”
“I am very glad that you were saved Aggie.” She purred and pressed her damp nose against his as he stroked her back. “What is the weather like?”
“Pleasant enough.”
“Please, take me outside.”
“Your Mother would not allow it.”
“Please.” He begged, in a voice so desperate that Bonnie could not resist.
“S-she might then, if Mr Howard and I accompanied you.”
“I shall use the bath chair and wrap up warm. No further harm can come to me.”
“Perhaps we could just stay stationary on the grass, rather than us taking a walk if there is a chance that it might rain.”
“A good idea Bonita, yes, we shall do that. Please ring for Mr Howard.”
**
“How can I be of assistance?”
“I am desperate for fresh air, I cannot stand being indoors any longer.”
“You are not safe to walk, your Grace.”
“I know, but we have the bath chair.”
“I will accompany you both and if you are safely seated and wrapped up warm, then you shall come to no harm.”
Bonnie and Mr Howard bundled Theodore up in layers. Bonnie fetched her bonnet, shawl and gloves.
“How are you at pushing wheelchairs?”
“I have little experience. Perhaps we should allow Mr Howard to do it.”
“That is probably best.”
Bonnie took Theodore’s gloved hand in hers as they exited from one of the side doors of the castle. Theodore inhaled deeply, a wide smile spreading across his pale face.
“Marvellous, oh that is divine, to feel the cool air upon my cheeks is quite delicious!”
“It is a little colder than I had thought.”
“Nonsense, it will be very refreshing and how lovely it is to hear the birds tweeting away.”
“I cannot believe you brought Aggie.” Bonnie laughed. ” She looks like a little Queen! Shall we sit here Mr Howard?”
“Yes a very good idea, we will have the oak tree for shelter if it rains.”
“I cannot remember the last time I was outside.”
“It must have been a month ago, at least your Grace.”
“I suspect.” Theodore rubbed his neck.
“It aches?”
“My head is so heavy, it feels like it might fall from my neck.”
“What a funny thing to say.” Bonnie crouched beside him. “Here now, you may rest your head upon my shoulder.”
He did so, as he nestled into her neck, inhaling the smell of her clean, warm clothing and freshly washed hair. Bonnie in return, placed her arm around him, so it rested against the back of the chair.
“Is that better?”
“Much, this is beautiful. I cannot think of a better way to spend half an hour or so, than being sat outside on a pretty day, with two dear friends. No three! How could I forget Aggie? If I should die here and now, then I should not think it to be a bad thing.”
Bonnie sensed the tears gathering in her eyes, but flicked them away. “Shall I describe the garden to you?”
“I would like that.”
“The sky is the purest blue, with clusters of woolly, soft clouds. The sun is hiding somewhere, but you wouldn’t think it. To your left on the edge of the fountain, stands a little robin. I think he is contemplating whether or not to have a little bath in the shallow part. The poor chap will get a shock if he dares to enter the water.”
Theodore laughed. “I bet.”
“Do you wish to go inside?”
“No not at all, I am relishing this. Oh simple things.” Bonnie looked up at him, stroking his thin cheek.“I shall never forget the first time that you persuaded me to go into the gardens again, what a silly man I was. I do not know why I was so scared.”
“If I were in your shoes, I would not have wanted to go outside either.
“My, that wind has grown so strong, it is coming from the North. The North Wind calls once more. I feel that it is lingering and trying to find me.”

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014

Theodore- Chapter 36


“Did you consummate your relationship?”
“Excuse me?”
“Did you make love to one another?”
“I know what it means!”  Theodore hissed. “Hush, we may be overheard.”
“You haven’t answered my question.”
“In answer to your question, no we did not. What a thing to say!”
“I suppose enough time has passed now, we would have noticed.”
You would have noticed.”
“Oh, um yes. W-well goodnight. I am sorry for asking you such a thing.” Bonnie kissed his brow and straightened the cushion beneath his head.
“How can you state such a thing and then….”
“Yes?”
“It does not matter Bonnie.” Theodore stated, with a heavy heart.
“Forgive me, I crossed the line. I was only attempting to envisage a reason to why she might have come back.”

Bonnie tossed and turned, the rain battering her window pane of her palace room. It was so very cold, she crept from her bed, placing some more coal upon the fire and stoked it, placing on her own pair of bed socks. That was better, but something felt strange. Perhaps it was the unfamiliarity of the castle. Yes, she thought, it must be that, but it was not.

Theodore adjusted his head on his pillows, listening to the howling wind. He sighed a little, placing a hand on his throbbing chest, willing the pain to go but it did not, the dull ache lingered. Theodore gritted his teeth, grasping the coverlet. A stabbing pain struck his chest as he let out a cry, he must get help, but how? He grasped the bed post once more, closing his eyes.
“Bonnie, please!” He begged in little more than a whisper. “I need you.”
Bonnie, where was Bonnie? He must reach her. He grasped the bedpost with his white- knuckled fists, trying to slide into a seating position, his head spun as he fell forwards, sinking down onto the carpet, his troubled mind filled with a deafening ringing and all fell silent.He startled as  icy hand touched his, as he regained consciousness.
“Bon-Bonnie?”
No answer, but there was someone there, he was sure of it. Theodore shivered, his pearly teeth chattering together.
“I-I can sense your presence. Please, I have to admit to being a little afraid as well as cold.”
The window sash creaked shut, stopping the draft from hitting Theodore’s left side and there came a roaring sound as if someone had placed some more coal upon the fire and it’s radiating warmth confirmed it. Somebody had.
“Thank you.” Theodore whispered. “Is it who I think it is? I really hope so. I must be dreaming this feels so strange, or perhaps I am going mad.”
“You are not dreaming or going mad your Grace.”
“It is you!”
“Yes.”
“Bonnie’s Father?”
“Perhaps.”
“Now I am having conversations with the dead. My mind is playing tricks on me, or I have gone completely mad! Either way, thank you for your kindness.”
“Don’t worry, you are sane and I will stay with you until you are found.”
Theodore’s coverlet slipped from the bed, falling gently on top of him.
“It is a little skew-whiff, but it might look odd if it was on neatly. You will soon be warm.”
“I am still convinced that I have gone barking mad.”
Perhaps it is a dream then, or maybe you have fainted, I’ll let you decide.”
Theodore shook his head. “I think I must have struck my head after all, either that or I am delirious.”
“Maybe you are.”
“What is death like?”
“Not half as bad as people say. I was very ill, like yourself, there was no hope for me, but Bonnie is a brilliant nurse, so patient and caring.”
“She is a gem.”
“Now that you are no longer cold, I must go but I will ensure that Bonnie finds you.”
“Thank you, God bless you.”
He felt the gentle hand upon his shoulder once more, as the kind, calming presence evaporated into the surrounding air.
There was a single loud knock on Bonnie’s door. She startled awake, pulling on her shawl and opened it but there was no-one there. Surly it wasn’t one of the servents, unless.. Theodore. She darted along to his room, carrying a candle. Bonnie pushed the door open, gasping upon seeing that he was not in bed. Theodore recognised her footsteps.
“At your feet.”
Bonnie crouched down, holding the candle to him, illuminating his exhausted face.
“My God! How long have you been here?”
“I do not know.”
She placed a hand to his cheek, which was starting to regain some temperature.
“You are not as cold as I thought you might be, thank goodness. Poor dear. Can you stand? No wait, I will fetch Mr Howard.”
“Please, no do not wake him.”
“Then, I will try to help you. Do you think you will be able to get up?”
“I do not want to hurt you by straining your back.”
“Shh now, we must get you warm again, but I do not think I can help you off the floor by myself.”
“You are right, not onto the bed anyway. There is a chair, we will aim for that. I fear that you do not have enough strength to get up. I should get Mr Howard after all.”
“Please no. I will be embarrassed, no fuss.”
“I can’t leave you here. Fine I’ll help you.” Bonnie placed Theodore’s arm around her neck, helping him to his knees. “How does that feel?”
“I have to admit to being a little light-headed.”
“Can you stand?”
“I hope so.”
Gingerly, Theodore placed one foot down onto the floor, followed by another, turned around with Bonnie’s assistance and sat upon his bed.
“That is a relief.”
“You can say that again, your Grace! Here, I’ll swing your legs around for you. That’s it.”
She pulled his covers over him, placing her hand on top of his.
“You are so cold and little wonder. Would you like a warm drink?”
“No, do not worry. I would only fall asleep before you brought it to me.”
“I do not think that you are warm enough.”
“I am, thanks to you. You should go back to bed.”
“Why?”
“Because it is the early hours of the morning and you will be exhausted if you don’t. I am fine.”
“You do realise that I’m not going anywhere.”
“Must you be awkward and disobey me?”
“Yes.”
“You, the strong-minded Scottish woman who I lo-“
“Yes?”
“Whose friendship I cherish.”
Bonnie paused, realising what he would have said before he stopped himself. Did he love her, did he really? She said nothing but placed a hand on his sleeve for reassurance.
“While I am here then, I shall tell you another quick story which will send you off to sleep.”
“Is it really that dull?”
“The cheek of it!” Bonnie laughed. “No, I feel that I talk about myself too much.”
“Not at all, tell me about your Mother and Brother.”
“I have told you very little about Andrew. Well he is typical of his age, he has so much energy and loves the outdoors and always has a million and one questions to ask Mother and I. He is a character.”
“I bet, as he is your relation.”
“Meaning?”
“You are quite the character yourself.You must go back to bed and forget this little incident.”
“That has made me more determined to stay. Now then, I am not satisfied that you are warm enough. Here is my old shawl, draped over the edge of the bed, I am going to tuck it around your shoulders. I am amazed that the fire was still going, you are incredibly lucky.”
“Yes, lucky.” Theodore echoed  in a daze.
“I’m not convinced that you’re not hurt your Grace, if you were, you would tell me wouldn’t you?”
“When I fell, I may have gone over on my ankle a little.”
“I knew it! Badly?”
“It still aches, but it will only be a little sprain.”
“Will you allow me to look?”
“Yes.”
Bonnie held the candle closer to him, examining his reddened ankle.
“It looks very bruised, I hope it is no more than a sprain.”
“Stop fussing Bonita.”
“I am going to place a pillow under your ankle as I have a feeling that it will swell.”

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014

Theodore- Chapter 35


Theodore placed a hand to his head and groaned, Bonnie placed her hand on top of his, stroking his hair.
“You have a headache?”
“The beginnings of one, I can feel it.”
“Take a deep breath, I have an idea.”
“Pardon?”
“Trust me, all you must do is relax, stay where you are and listen to what I am saying, but this may help. Focus on your breathing now, breathe in deeply, filling your lungs with as much air as you can and then, breathe out. Each time you do this you are going to become even more relaxed. Imagine that you are quite alone, lying stretched out under a large oak tree, you are sheltered by it’s lush green leaves and a few metres away, runs a clear stream which meanders it’s way over rocks. You get up from your comfortable position, feeling the soft grass underneath your bare feet, as you move closer towards the stream. As you reach it, you step into the cool water and close your eyes you feel cleansed, the water is washing away any pain, any discomfort. The sun warms your neck as you continue to be healed by nature, feel it soothe and calm you.”

Bonnie paused, watching Theodore breathe slowly. He smiled and sighed a little.
“That was lovely, I really felt like I was underneath that oak tree and paddling in the cool water, what a shame that it had to come to an end.”
“Do you feel soothed?”
“I do, thank you.”
“I may try another one later.”
“Please, I should like that.”
“Have some water, here you are.”
“Thank you. Would you read a little something to me?”
“Why of course!”
“You sound surprised.”
“I-I am, for you haven’t asked me for a while.”
“Tell me a more about your Father, only if you do not mind.”
“Pardon me saying, but what interests you about him?”
“Um, I don’t know. Forgive me.”
“To tell you the truth your Grace, it is rather comforting to talk about him. I will think of an interesting tale to tell you. Hmm, now then it was winter time, one of the coldest winters of my life. The snow was 6 inches deep at one time and the blizzards were incredibly dangerous, if you had gone outside then there was a chance that you may not have returned. Do you remember?”
“How many years ago?”
Bonnie paused. “It must have been 6 or 7, for I was about 14 years of age and it was just him and me. Sorry, him and I.”
“Do not change the way you talk on my behalf! Please carry on.”
“Would you like some water?”
“I’ll take some sips. Thank you, continue. If- if you please.”
“Yes. Mother had gone to bed early for she had a bad cold and thought it best. Father and I stayed up and toasted marsh mallows before the fire, which we washed down with cups of tea.”
“What a pleasant memory!”
“It is and that leads on to the second part of my story.”
“Oh?”
“The conversation we had, was very different.”
“Which subject matter?”
“Angels.”
“Oh.”
“That ‘oh’ sounded cynical, you do not believe?”
“I do, but…”
“Yes, go on.”
“It is something which I have never really talked about with anyone. I’d like to believe that there is an afterlife, because at the moment, I am scared that I will just cease to exist after…”
“Oh, your Grace. There will be something, shhh, it’s alright.”
“But how would you know, when you have never even been close to death yourself, have you? Forgive me, but nursing someone is not the same.”
“That is true. As a matter of fact, I was close death once.”
“Lord! What happened?”
“I was 12. I decided to go ice skating with friends after school, it had been cold and frosty for some time. We just supposed that the frozen pond would be safe.”
“My God! The ice cracked?”
“Yes. I am afraid that I used to be too adventurous for my own good and went further than I should have done and well, the ice gave way and I fell straight through, into the freezing water.”
“You could have died! How frightful!”
“I was fortunate that I am a strong swimmer, but I was so scared. It felt like I was going to be sucked under it’s surface. Luckily for me, my friends were sensible and ran to get help while I treaded water. The adults who were with the younger children, pulled me out and I was shocked, but unharmed.” Bonnie chuckled.
“Bonita, why are you laughing?”
“Forgive me. It was what happened afterwards . Father walked home that day in nothing more than his long johns and boots , for he insisted that I be wrapped in his clothes. ‘I will be fine my dear.’ He said, but that was the kind of man he was, selfless.”
“I have never been so scared in all my life, your Grace. I thought that I was going to lose her that day.”
Theodore coughed. “Your parents must have been so frightened that they might lose you!”
“Yes, that is almost exactly what Father said. How strange. Well now, I have talked far too much as always so I will kiss your cheek and bid you goodnight.”
“I love your stories, you tell them all so well.”
She took his icy hand in hers and placed it to her cheek.
“You are cold, I am going to heat up your bed for you before you go. I have an idea, I will fetch an extra blanket, warm it before the fire and then place it over you, so that the heat is trapped in. Oh and here is my other shawl, draped over that chair.”
“Ah, I wonder where that had gone. You must take it so that you have another as the days grow colder, there are plenty of blankets for me to have.”
“No, no. I want you to have it, I will warm that for you too.”
She grasped the warmed shawl and blanket, tucking them around him. Aggie leapt onto the bed, scrambling under Theodore’s arm. Bonnie laughed, ruffling her head.
“You may have a fight on your hands for that blanket and shawl.”
“Ah my little furry companion!”
“Now that she has decided to return and you have company, I will bid you goodnight.”
“Must you go?”
“Yes for you can barely keep your eyes open.”
Bonnie kissed Theodore’s forehead, he gazed up at her with his lifeless, sad eyes as she stroked his cheek. Aggie nudged Bonnie’s arm with her nose.
“And what is this little Missy? Are you disheartened that I did not say goodnight to you also? You funny little thing!” Bonnie kissed her also and took a last glance Theodore, before blowing out the candle.
“Bonnie?”
“Yes?”
“Thank you.”
“You do not have to thank me, your Grace.”
“I owe you so much my friend, you have the patience of a saint, you really do. I do not know why you would choose to sit with a dull individual like me.”
“Ah, I do believe that you are feeling a little sorry for yourself, but I will let you for a few minutes before I try to cheer you up. You must know that you are good and kind and I am humbled that you would even consider having a commoner like me in your fine home. There now, we are even. I treasure the time that we spend together and hold our friendship close to my heart.”
“Truly?”
“Yes I do, would I lie to you?”
“No.”
“There you are then. I should go and let you sleep your Grace, I do believe that I blew the candle out 5 minutes ago.”
Bonnie kissed his cheek, running a comb through his hair.
“My hair must look disgusting.”
“No, it is not. I can ask Mr Howard to wash it for you though.”
“Yes, I might try to have a bath tomorrow.”
“Good. I shall see you soon. No wait, something troubles you, doesn’t it?”
“Yes.”
“Would you like to tell me?”
“I have been thinking a great deal about Jane for the past couple of hours. To me, it seems so strange, I cannot understand why she would return to the palace, surely she must have had a reason and perhaps she was too frightened to say.”
“I wish I knew, then I could help to put that fretting mind of yours at rest.”

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014

Theodore- Chapter 34


Bonnie returned to Theodore, she tickled his outstretched hand as his mouth spread into a wide smile.
“How do you feel now?”
“Better after my sleep.”
“That makes me very glad. You gave Mr Howard and I a fright earlier.”

“I know, and for that, I apologise.”

A blonde haired young woman pulled her intricately woven shawl around herself, exiting her horse and carriage. Bonnie, on hearing clattering hooves glanced out of the window, into the court yard.
“Your Grace, forgive me, but there is a woman outside. She is very finely dressed and pretty.”
Theodore gasped. “Describe her some more.”
“She has a slim face and shiny, blonde hair she must be of our age. Your Grace, it is not?”
“I-It sounds like it could very well be.”
“What shall we do? Shall I ask Mr Howard or your Mother to send her away? No one has gone to greet her.”
“I do not understand why she is here. Oh Lord! I am embarrassed that she should see me like this!”
“Shh, it’s alright.” Bonnie placed a hand upon his shoulder. “Do not be alarmed, Mr Howard has stepped outside.”
“Open the window, quickly.”
“Mr Howard does not seem impressed to say the least.”
Mr Howard folded his arms. “You are brave or perhaps very foolish to show your face here!”
“I wanted to see his Grace after hearing that he was ill. It is a known fact that Theodore has not been well.”
“But why; after all this time, does she want an inheritance?” Theodore hissed to a silent Bonnie.
“Mr Howard, what is it?” Queen Evangeline strutted outside. “What is she doing here?”
Theodore attempted to raise himself up on one elbow, but could not. “Please open the window Bonnie.”
“I don’t know if I should.”
“Open it!”
Bonnie obeyed, forcing open the sash window with shaking hands.

“Miss Mallis you are quite out of line showing your face again after what you did.”
“I heard that Theodore was ill.”
“That would be ‘his Grace’ to you!”
“After hearing that his Grace was ill, I wanted to see him.”
You wanted to see him after all this time! What for?  In hope that you might be able to win him back for a short while so that you may gain part of his inheritance?!”
“That was not the reason.”
“You must leave now.”
“All I ask is to see your son! I have been doing a great deal of thinking of late.”
“Yes well, don’t we all Miss Mallis and you of all people should. You do not seem in the least bit sorry or remorseful. But why am I not surprised.”

Bonnie placed her hand on top of Theodore’s.
“Your Mother sounds furious. Would you want to see her after all this time?”
“I don’t know.”
“Then you must ignore your head and answer with your heart.”
“Yes, my failing heart. Oh she has opened an old wound!”
“I know. Wait, I think they are both coming inside.”
“Oh God no! Look at me, how embarrassed I feel.”
“Why?”
“I am bedridden, dilapidated and ugly!”
“You are very ill your Grace and you could never look ugly, I can assure you. I- I hear footsteps. Shall I leave the room?”
“Please, I ask you to stay. Remain exactly where you are now.”
“Very well, I will help you to sit up, bolt right in bed and remove the towels for now, they have gone cold anyway.”
With haste, Bonnie ran a comb through Theodore’s hair and straightened his bed sheets, placing a small peppermint imperial into his mouth.
The bedroom door finally opened and in stepped the finely dressed Miss Mallis, the woman with the usual haughty air.
“Theodore, my goodness, I did not expect-”
“I am your Grace to you.”
Jane ignored him, staring sharply at Bonnie.
“Who is this red-head? Isn’t she a little, erm… what precisely is her station?”
“She is a reader, companion and friend. No, Bonnie is the best, dearest friend that I ever had.” Theodore smiled, stroking Bonnie’s shaking hand.
“Does the best friend that you ever had not speak?”
“I-I do.”
“Ah, she has found her tongue, but how her voice trembles.”
“She has a name.” Bonnie muttered.
“Why precisely are you here Miss Mallis? I am tired and a little upset at present, but tell me one thing how am I supposed to forgive you after you left me when I needed you.”
“Needed, not wanted! That is where the problem lies! I had no choice!”
“You are wasting my time. Mr Howard, please remove her from the room.”
“I am here because…”
“You desire part of my inheritance for I shall be dead soon, does that please you? Do not answer that! But it is the only reason I can think of!”
Bonnie placed a hand on top of his. “There, there it’s alright.”
“Leave and do not set foot in this palace again, or I will have you hanged.”
“How silly you are. Saying things like that that you do not mean and now you are best friends with a peasant, how quaint. How you have let your standards slip”
“I would not marry you if you were the last woman on earth!”
“Well you will never have to! Looking at your hideous, dilapidated form and crumbling looks, you have but weeks to live.”
“And you Jane, you will never ever be happy! At least I shall die having found happiness at last!”
Theodore coughed, closing his eyes, his throat feeling like it had shards of glass stuck in it. Bonnie placed a handkerchief in front of his mouth, catching the droplets of blood. Jane’s eyes widened.
“You are infectious?”
“Oh he is very. Hence why I must stay here and not return home, so not to infect my whole family.”
“Oh God!”
“Yes, you may or may not catch it.” Bonnie continued. “But I would think twice before returning home. Mr Howard, would you say that I am over reacting?”
“Oh no, why it was very dangerous of you to come here. You have now put yourself and your whole family at risk and now, you must leave.”
“I came because I wanted to tell you-“
“Get out!”
**
“Your Grace, are you alright?”
“Why, yes. I was more concerned about you.”
“Me! Why ever would you be, I would much rather be a peasant than a climber of society.”
“Stop labelling yourself as that.”
“I am one. Here have a drink of water to take the taste away.”
“My throat is on fire.”
“I am so sorry.”
“It was Mother who allowed her in, but no matter. I am tired now, I shall go to sleep and hopefully forget about all of this nonsense.”
“How is your pain?”
“It lingers.”
“Then I shall warm the towels again for you my dear?”
“Only if you want to.”
“I do, I wouldn’t have offered otherwise.”
Theodore laughed.
“Something amuses you?”
“Jane will now be paranoid that she will get ill for months now, what did I ever see in her. Oww! I should probably not laugh, for it hurts.”
Bonnie placed a hand upon his cold, clammy brow. “It is so cold in here that I can almost see my own breath.”
“You are cold Bonnie?”
“Yes.”
“And tired too I imagine, as am I.”
“Yes, but I do not want to go to bed, not yet. I think I may stay here for a while and write to Mother and Andrew.”
“Yes, you must.”
“What do you think Jane wanted to tell you.”
“I cannot even begin to imagine.”

‘Dear Mother and Andrew,
I miss you both so much, and I hope that this letter finds you well. Prince Theodore is fading fast and I must do what I can to comfort him as today he is a little shaken, I will not write the details, in case this letter should get lost. Andrew, I am sorry that you have to do my chores as well as mine, but I promise that I will make it up to you. Aggie could not be happier, she is currently purring at the foot of his Grace’s bed and I cannot help but smile. She looks far too content.
It will not be long before I see you both again.
Lots of love, Bonnie x’

“There I am finished.”
“You are a fast letter writer.”
“It is only a short one my dear.”
“Ah.”
“I just wanted to reassure her and keep her updated. I told her how happy Aggie was.”
“Little, slumbering, Aggie. She has a good life. What a shock she’s going to get when I bring her home again. I mean, oh gosh that was very insensitive for me to say.”
“Not at all.” He sucked in a breath of air, placing his hand on a chest in a fan. He groaned as Bonnie wiped away the freezing cold sweat from his brow with a warm cloth.
“Cold sweat is a strange thing.”
“I don’t understand it myself, but that is helping.”
“My Father suffered from the same thing.”
“Forgive me, I may have just forgotten, but what did your Father die of?”
“Like yourself, he had poor health.”
“Hmm.”
“I did not answer your question. No one was sure, we tried everything but could not save him, he was so brave and kind, right to the end.”
“I am really sorry.”
“I’ll never forget the day that he died.”
“Bonnie, you do not need to tell me.”
“No, I want to. We knew that he only had hours to live, Mother and I nursed him through the night, I couldn’t let Mother do it alone, inside she was breaking.  She still cries for him now some nights.”
“Would you think me mad if-”
“Go on.”
“Well, sometimes when I am alone and this has only been happening recently, I get a little voice of reassurance inside my head, it tells me not to be afraid. Forgive me in saying this, because normally I would assume that it was my conscience; but the voice is Scottish so-“
“Father answered my prayers!” Bonnie threw her arms around Theodore’s neck.
“Now what is all this about?”
“I will tell you. Often, when I take a walk I pray to my Father, the outdoors was his favourite place, so I just assume that it will be the best place to find him. Anyhow, I hope you don’t mind, but I do pray for you and-I pray to my Father, not to God. I asked him to look after you when I am not by your side your Grace.”
“That is precisely what I am doing.”
Theodore jumped, but smiled.
“Something startles you?”
“I felt a little draft.” It was a  white lie, but a necessary one.
Bonnie placed her hand on top of his, running her hand over his fingertips and the beautiful ring upon his finger. She placed her head upon his chest, listening to the gentle beat of his unpredictable heart.

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014

Theodore-Chapter 33


“Would you fancy some refreshments, your Grace?”
“Ah, you have returned! No, no thank you there is little point in you asking.”
“Your Grace, I am allowed to care aren’t I?”
Theodore sighed, placing a hand under his head.
“I think I shall read some more, shall I read to you or myself?”
“I do not mind. You may as well go, for I do not want you here and wish to be alone for the rest of the day.”
“Your Grace, I cannot even begin to imagine how you feel but..”
“No, no you cannot. There is little point in you being here any more, you are wasting my time and keeping me awake! Please go away!”
Bonnie placed a hand to her stomach, his words stabbing her like a dagger. She inhaled sharply, biting her bottom lip as she sat down abruptly, pulling her handkerchief from her pocket and dabbing her eyes.
“Be kind to her your Grace for inside, she is breaking.”  That voice again.
“Bonnie, I was cruel, I am sorry.”
But it was too late; Bonnie had already left the room in tears, leaving Theodore quite alone. She reached her  bedroom, placing her hand on her stomach once more, fell onto her knees and placed her head upon the bed.
“I don’t know it you can hear me. Father, I do not know what to do, I am not sure whether I am going to be able to cope. His Grace is in pain and I cannot help him, please show me what to do, I need your guidance. You always had a solution for everything, why can’t I be like you instead of being so fragile inside. Perhaps I should return to his Grace and apologise, but I do not want him to see me crying like this, I shall wait.”  Bonnie climbed onto the bed and rested her head on the pillow.

The clock struck 2am, she had been asleep for over four hours. Bonnie crept into Theodore’s room, where he lay, awake, his pale hand resting upon his chest.
“I am sorry, from the bottom of my heart, I really am.” He whispered. “Bonnie, please, do not cry.”
“I cannot help it.” She wept. “Truly, I cannot.”
Theodore outstretched his hand as Bonnie held it to her face, kissing it tenderly. He sensed her warm, salty tears falling upon it, stroking them away with his thumb.
“Will you stay with me for a while?
“Yes of course.” She sniffed. “Losing you is going to be too hard for me to bear. Every single day I try to prepare myself like I did with Father, but it is not helping. We have only known each other for a matter of two months, but you are my dearest friend, the best I ever had.”
“Oh Bonnie!”
Bonnie placed her head upon his shoulder, wrapping her arms around his neck; he placed his arms around her waist. Theodore gasped, inhaling a gulp of air.
“I-I am sorry, did I hurt you?”
“No. It is just general aching, it is not you. This is very comforting, you are a healer, I am sure of it. My current discomfort seems to be melting away.”
“Good. A question; have you spoken to your Mother or Father recently?”
“No.”
“Then, perhaps you should.”
“Father is a fool and I cannot forgive Mother for what she did.”
“Your Grace, she was upset, do not hold a grudge against her, you both are strong characters.”
“She sent you away!”
“I know, but I am here now aren’t I? Please, speak to your Mother.”
“ I am tired and would rather sleep, than try to reason with that woman!”
“Your Grace, your Mother does love you.”
“No she does not. She was not allowed love me in the way that your Mother loves you. I was brought up by servants, I barely see my parents. You could not class our relationship as one of love, for it is not.”
“That-that is very sad your Grace.”
“Yes, yes it is. I would rather have been born of your class than mine. I would be far happier living in a cottage and being able to roam as I choose.”
“I can’t, not really, not since Father died. I need to help Mother and Andrew. I don’t so much now that I am here, but Andrew is older he manages quite well himself. Might I ask a question?”
“Of course Bonnie.”
“What was it like when you first realised that you had gone blind?”
Theodore paused. “Well, I had been unwell for a while which alarmed Miss Mallis a great deal. I fell from my horse, I must have collapsed, but I do not remember. When I awoke properly, Mother, Father and Jane were with me and I could not see their faces.”
“Oh God! I am so sorry, I should not allow myself to ask such questions. I was out of line.”
“It helps to talk, it-it just brings back the memory of it all again. Oh it is not so bad, I could have lost the use of my legs or had a terrible facial deformity. I have wasted so much time, precious time and now, I cannot get it back. I behaved in such a pathetic way, I was so cross with Mother and horrid to Mr Howard, the kindest man that there ever was. I am sure that this is my penance! God is punishing me and I deserve it!”
“Your Grace no! You are not being punished at all.”
“Why do people die young, have we done something wrong and are we to be condemned for all eternity?”
“You are insinuating that the people who die young are being punished for their wrong doings. My Father had none, you have none. Please be calm, I-I think your fever may have returned.”
She placed her hand upon his forehead, but it was quite cool.
“I can assure you that it has not.”
“I was mistaken. I see that I am making you upset and agitated and it will do you no good, no good at all.”
“I want to see my Father!”
“Your Grace. He is not here.”
“I must see him, there are some things that I wish to say to him.”
“Your Mother told me that he was away, that’s all I know.”
“He is probably with one of his mistresses!” Theodore snapped.
“What?”
“Oh yes, he has many or certainly he used to. I swore that I would never be like him, I wanted to marry and have a family and settle. But no, I will never get that chance now. How I would have loved to have been married if it had all gone to plan. You will marry one day Miss McGrath and you will be so, so happy.”

Theodore gasped, coughed placing a hand to his chest his face turning paper white, his body flooded with the most agonizing pain. He let out a cry, fainting where he lay. Bonnie shook him a little, placing her cheek to his mouth. He was still breathing although his breaths were fainter than ever, barley there.
“Help! Please help me!
Mr Howard rushed into the room, glancing at the trembling Bonnie and deathly pale Theodore. He placed an ear to Theodore’s chest, sighing with relief.
“He has fainted, but he is still with us.”
“It is my fault!” Bonnie cried, placing her bottle of smelling salts under his nose while Mr Howard supported his head and neck.
“No, never blame yourself Miss McGrath.”
“I asked him things I should not have done, he was upset and I am sure that this triggered it.”
“He is coming round a little.”
He did, opening his eyes. Bonnie held his hand in hers.
I hate my family.” He muttered. “My parents are so unhappy, I was until I met you. It is proof that money cannot buy happiness, materialism is not everything Bonnie. You may be poor, but you have a loving family and people in your life who care about you. My parents have little time to care.”

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014