“Shall I leave you to think for a little while?”
“No. Um, yes of course, you must go home and rest.”
“I shall, and you must sleep but have a little more water before I go and I shall comb your hair through.”
“How I would love another bath.”
“Then you shall have one.”
“I do not feel so ill today, just tired.”
“I shall ring for Mr Howard. Here is your water, are you sure that you are not hungry.”
“I have no appetite.”
Bonnie placed a hand upon his back, his spine pressed against his flesh, it’s nodules showing underneath. Theodore sighed.
“I know, I have become a bag of bones. It is my own fault for not eating properly, I cannot remember the last time when I had three substantial meals in one day.”
“It is not your fault. Ah, Mr Howard, his Grace would like another bath.”
“Very good sir, now then, how shall we get you there? Can you walk?”
“I fear that my legs have turned to jelly, they do not feel like my own.”
“You- you cannot feel them?”
“I can, but they feel prickly, like someone is sticking tiny pins into them. I should like to try to walk.”
“Very well, we shall do what we did last time.”
Carefully, Bonnie and Mr Howard took a side each. Theodore paused, his shivering arms resting around their neck. His legs, why weren’t they moving. His chest ached terribly as he tried with all his might to place one foot in front of the other. It was so quiet, any noise was muffled as if he were under water. Theodore staggered, slumping towards Mr Howard as he caught him, gently lowering him to the floor. He gasped, shaking Theodore with care.
“We- I have some smelling salts.” She placed her arm under Theodore’s head, allowing him to inhale from the small bottle. He coughed, his eyes flickering open as he sighed.
“The roo I- spinnin.” He slurred. Bonnie placed a hand to his cheek.
“Your Grace, your speech does not sound right, please try to say something else.”
Theodore placed a hand to his chest. Bonnie placed hers on top.
“It is that terrible pain again, isn’t it?”
“Mr Howard, I think the safest place for his Grace would be in bed.”
“I agree, I shall carry him.”
“I should never have persuaded him to walk.”
They sat Theodore on the bed, placing him underneath the covers.
Mr Howard glanced at her in a reassuring manner.
She placed Theodore’s arms inside the coverlet and stroked his hair. “I shall leave his Grace to sleep, do not shut the door Mr Howard for Aggie will not be able to get out again.” She stroked her cat at Theodore’s side.
“You are a little dear aren’t you. Thank you for keeping his Grace company for so long and being such a good girl even though I am sure that you are getting fat!”
Mr Howard laughed. “She is well fed, only the best for our little friend. Ah, there is a bell it is Queen Evangeline I shall see what she wants and then return to see you both.”
Mr Howard paced along the corridor, knocking on Queen Evangeline’s bedroom door.
“Ah Mr Howard.”
“Good evening my Lady.”
“Is it?” She said solemnly. “Mr Howard I have been thinking a great deal.”
“Yes, about Theodore and Miss McGrath.”
“They have become very good friends, who would have thought it.”
“Miss McGrath has been a wonderful support for my son, but alas he- he is not getting any better, he wont get better. I feel that it would be sensible for Miss McGrath to-”
“My lady, please do not dismiss her as his Grace grows weaker, she is his support I have seen it, he relies on her she is his eyes and he trusts her a great deal.”
“Hmm yes, which is why I have a suggestion. I feel that it may be better for her to live here with us. It is a fair distance for her to walk day in, day out.”
“She is to have a room in the palace?”
“If she accepts, although she may not.”
“Why not my lady?”
“Well, she will be away from her family, but it wont be for long.”
“I know. Shall I tell her.”
“If you will.”
“Of course. I presume that she is still with his Grace.”
Howard entered Theodore’s bedroom to where Bonnie was seated, holding Theodore’s left hand in hers while he slept and supported a book in her right.
“Miss McGrath?” He whispered.
“Might I speak with you?”
Bonnie stepped outside the room, closing the door behind her.
“I-I think the Queen is seeing more and more sense. She wishes for you to- to live at the palace until-”
A lump raised in Bonnie’s throat as she desperately tried to hold back the tears.
“Thank you.” She whispered. “Shall I return home to gather my things?”
“Yes, rest at home for as long as you need to.”
“I’ll return this evening, I do not want to sleep long, just incase.”
“Ah you wish.”
“Thank you Mr Howard. I shall say goodbye to his Grace before I go and might I tell him?”
She returned to his side, placing the book on his bedside table.
“Your Grace I must go now.”
“Oh.” His voice sounded small and so very melancholy.
“But do not fear, I am only going home to pack my things and grasp a few hours of sleep for I am to inhabit a room in this very palace.”
Theodore’s dull eyes seemed to sparkle catching the rays of light from the candle flames.
“I am so happy!”
“See, I brought good news. Now then, you must finish this water and I shall return tonight with my things. Let’s prop your pillows up and I shall shut this window, what a horrible racket outside.”
“I am not afraid.”
“Afraid? Of the storm?”
“No, of the wind.”
“You talk of this wind again, you will have to explain for I still do not understand.”
“Before you shut the window, listen Bonita.”
Bonnie sat on the window seat as the wind swept through the bushes.
“What do you make of it?”
“It sounds like-“
“Like a word.”
“It- it is as if it is saying ‘come, come’ in a whisper.” Bonnie shuddered, closing the sash.
Theodore smiled a sad sort of smile, sniffing as Bonnie returned to his side and kissed his cheek.
“I shall see you again in about 6 hours’ time, for I do not need to sleep for long.”
Theodore placed his arms around her neck as she leaned over the bed.
“Fear not, someone is allowing us a little longer together.” Bonnie kissed his forehead, resting him against his pillows and adjusting her shawl around his shoulders as he closed his eyes.
“Sleep well my dear friend, but not forever, not yet.”
She picked Aggie up, who circled around her feet and placed him by Theodore’s side. She circled, seating herself by his side and placed her head on his arm.
©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014