“Yes, Mr Howard I am coming now.”
Mr Howard escorted her outside the room with care. She followed him down the hallway, traipsing down the staircase with a heavy heart and her half-empty suitcase. He waited until they were out of earshot, before pausing.
“What you did there was incredibly brave you know.”
“And foolish.” Bonnie sniffed.
“Queen Evangeline does not stay angry for long, I can assure you. It is true, she can be cruel with her words when she is hurt, but do not take it to heart.”
“What about Prince Theodore?”
“I do not know. How is your face?”
“It is not so bad, it stings, but it is not a deep cut, it will scab over and heal. I must go, please go and see to Prince Theodore and comfort him for me, as cannot do it myself.”
“Of course, I will go now.”
“Thank you. You are a good man Mr Howard.”
She waved fair well as Queen Evangeline watched them through a tiny crack in her bedroom curtains, her eyes filled with hot tears. She turned around, entering Theodore’s bedroom. He knew the sound of those footsteps, his soul bubbling over with anger.
“Theodore, she gave me no choice. She brought this upon herself.”
“She meant no harm!” He gasped, overcome with a stabbing sensation in his chest. “Argh!” He closed his eyes, curling into a ball.
“Theodore, darling what is the matter?”
“You see, that is the problem, you really have no clue, no idea at all.”
“Well tell me.”
“I tried, but you would not listen. Bonita was the only person who would. She was the only person who has ever understood me properly and now you’ve sent her away. I shall never see her again. Do not step foot in my bedroom again your Majesty, you are not my Mother!”
Queen Evangeline gasped. “You- you do not mean that!”
“Get out. I hate you!”
She placed a hand to her mouth, scurrying out of the bedroom and past Mr Howard who glanced at Theodore’s pale, trembling form. He said nothing, placing a hand upon his shoulder.
“You are all very strong characters. Rest now and see how you feel tomorrow. I will try to help you again, the best that I can.”
“Thank you. I am so grateful for all you’ve done, you are a good man.” Theodore whispered in a pained voice before falling into a fitful sleep.
Bonnie scurried home, pushing the branches out of her way, utterly humiliated. She forced the door open, avoiding eye contact wither her Mother. Maira immediately noticed the mark upon her face.
“Bonnie! Your face what happened? You have been crying!”
“It-it was a tree branch.”
“You should tell me the truth.”
“I-I cannot. You will be furious.”
“Oh Lord, you have upset his Grace.”
“Worse.” Bonnie squeaked. “The Queen.”
“Mother, I have been dismissed. Oh, I have done something terrible, I don’t know what I was thinking, I am a stupid fool. I will never forget the look upon his face.”
“Dismissed! My God!”
“Yes, I have. I will tell you the full truth. As you know, Prince Theodore is, well he’s dying. What I did was nothing sinister and it caused no harm to anybody, none at all. You see, his Grace does not trust his Physician, so I went to see Mr Potter. Prince Theodore has told me that he should like to see him! He- he told his Grace the truth, confirming only what we already knew. Anyway, his Mother found out and took it all so badly, she was furious. The scarlet fever has attacked his heart, his previous physician did not treat it properly. He shall die regardless!”
“The poor man.”
“Here are my wages for this month, I have been dismissed and- and you should take them. .”
“Bonnie! You did a brave thing, even though you knew that if you were discovered, you would get into serious bother. Oh, do not cry, these things have a way of sorting themselves, do not fear.”
“I am worried about his Grace more than anything, he will be so alone. I hate to think of him in that room by himself. I hope that he has not taken it too badly.”
“I’m sure that he will be no worse off than he was before.”
“I hope not.”
“Let’s have some tea, it seems to cure everything.”
“That’s what I told his Grace once.”
“Mother, I think I need a little time alone.”
Bonnie scrambled into her room, grabbing a sheet of paper and a pen.
Please forgive me for what I have done. I am foolish and uncouth and have ruined everything. Know that you are my dearest friend, the best I have ever had. I enclose this feather, strange I know, but I found it upon my bedroom floor. Keep it for luck.
All my love, Bonnie.’
She enclosed the note and feather in the envelope, placing a kiss upon the paper. She pulled on her shawl, trekking towards the palace, pausing upon seeing Mr Howard walking along the front garden, pacing to and fro. He gazed up, walking towards her.
“Miss McGrath! Quickly, step this way or you shall be seen.”
“What has happened? What is wrong?”
“His-his Grace is-”
“Oh God no!”
“Oh heavens! He is still alive, forgive me, but he misses you dreadfully.”
“I-I have a letter for him.”
“That will bring him great comfort. I’ll give it to him right away.”
“I-I should go, I cannot let you get into trouble, again.”
“Do not worry about that. I’ll think of something, no,wait! The King and Queen have an engagement they day after tomorrow, they leave at 11pm.“
“What a strange time! It is very late for his Grace, when he should be sleeping.”
“I shall tell him and I assure that he will want to see you.”
“Very well then. I shall be here at 11.15pm, if they are still here, then I shall wait.”
“Yes, of course.”
“Thank you Mr Howard, I can’t thank you enough, please go and tell his grace what you have told me!”
“Yes of course.”
Howard tiptoed inside, returning to Theodore’s bed chamber.
“I am sorry to wake you.”
“Yes. I have just been speaking with Miss McGrath.”
“She- she is here?”
“Hush now, remain calm. I have here a letter, I shall read it to you.”
“Thank you.” Theodore listened intently, his eyes filling with tears. “Here is the feather, your Grace.”
Mr Howard placed it into the palm of Theodore’s hand. “Thank you.”
“Now then, I have more news. I caught her delivering the letter.”
“Your parents go away tomorrow, do they not?”
“Well, I have arranged for her to come at 11.15pm after their departure.”
“Aha, I see that that makes you happy. Now then, you must rest some more, but first, I will help you to drink some water. Would you like a little broth?”
“No thank you.”
“Very well, here. Is that better?”
Theodore nodded, flopping back against his pillows.
“You must sleep now your Grace, God works in mysterious ways.”
“I don’t think I believe in God, not any more.”
A fluffy little form pounced onto Theodore’s bed.
“Aggie!” He laughed, through tears, wrapping his arms around her small body. “Where ever have you been?”
“Like that.” Howard added. “I will go and fetch her a saucer of milk and I may even be able to locate a tin of fish somewhere, she must be ravenous.”
“How can I thank you! You are a marvel Mr Howard!”
“Seeing you smile again is all the reward I need.”
©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014