“Ah, Mr Howard.”
“It is very dark, might I take you home? That way you can pack your things and return to the palace right away.”
“I hadn’t thought of that. Yes, that sounds like a good idea. Thank you kindly.”
“I am ready when you are.”
Bonnie placed on her Bonnet and shawl, stroking Theodore’s cheek.
“I’ll be returning sooner than I thought.”
“Hmm, I am so glad.”
Bonnie glanced at Mr Howard. “Sorry, I am ready now. I just wanted to tell him.”
“Of course, this way.”
“It wont take me long to pack, I do not have many clothes. But I do want to say a proper goodbye to my family.”
Bonnie knocked on her door before entering, to be greeted by Maira.
“Bonnie, what is the matter?”
“Mother, I have returned to fetch my things so that I might stay at the palace. ”
Maira nodded. “I thought that they might ask you and I am very pleased that you have accepted.”
“His Grace was very grateful for the socks and lavender bag.”
Maira smiled. “Ah, I’m glad that he liked them.”
Bonnie nodded, grasping her battered suitcase and packing a fresh night gown, slippers and her other dress as well as another shawl and toiletries. It looked so empty, but she owned so little as she had spent none of the money that she had earned. She exited the bedroom with the suitcase in her hand.
“There now, I am ready.”
“Do you have everything Bonnie?”
“Goodbye my dear, do not be scared. Be the strong woman that I know you are.”
Bonnie’s chest ached as she hugged Maira, holding her close.
“I love you Mother, I am sorry that I have been crotchety lately.”
“No, you haven’t not at all. You must go now, have a safe journey back both of you and send my best wishes to the Royal family.”
“I shall. Fair-well Mother.” She took Mr Howard’s hand as he assisted her into the horse and cart and placed his hat upon his head.
“It is not so warm tonight.”
“There is quite a wind Mr Howard.”
“Hmm, a harsh one but do not worry, we shall be back at the palace soon and I shall show you to your room.”
“Here now, your room is on the same floor as his Grace’s, it is one of the smaller guest bedrooms but I find the larger rooms to be so draughty and difficult to heat.”
Bonnie stepped into the room which was easily twice the size of her own at home, taking an instant liking to it’s interior.
“My! It is beautiful, thank you so much.”
“I will leave you now to unpack. I dare say you shall be seeing his Grace.”
“Yes, it will only take 5 minutes to unpack.”
“I shall bring you both some refreshments.”
“I am not sure what his Grace might like.”
“I’ll ask him.”
Bonnie nodded, hanging her other dress in the wardrobe and placing her clean nightdress onto the pillow which was still carefully folded. She drew the curtains and pulled back the top cover, placing her hairbrush, soap and sponge onto her own clean towel, arranging them on the dresser. What a stunning mirror it was. Bonnie hesitated, gazing at her reflection. She adjusted her hair pin, that was better. Bonnie glanced around the room, which was to be her own for a few weeks. She knocked on Theodore’s bedroom door. Queen Evangeline glanced up having just finished her prayer, clutching a silver crucifix in her hand. Bonnie backed away.
“No, come here my dear, I have just finished. Theodore is sleeping, but he will be so delighted to see you. How do you find your room?”
“Thank you. Oh the room is beautiful, I love it very much and I am grateful for your kindness.”
“Ah, I am glad.”
“Forgive me for asking this but; where is the king? I-I have not seen him for some time.”
Queen Evangeline sighed. “He has gone away for a little while.”
“I know. I tried to stop him but he would not listen, I begged him to stay, with no avail.”
“How did Theodore take the news?”
“He is well aware what his Father is like; irresponsible and aloof. I do not think he was in the least bit surprised.”
“I am most sorry to hear it.”
“Here, sit with Theodore now Miss McGrath, I may rest in my parlour for a while.”
“Yes, it is me my dear.”
“Oh I am so happy, I could kiss you!” He blurted, biting his bottom lip, aware of what he had just said. “Forgive me.”
“There is nothing to forgive, you may kiss my cheek.”
Bonnie rested her chin upon his shoulder as he pressed his dry lips against her cheek bone, inhaling her smell, relishing the moment. He smiled as she patted his hand.
“I am going to place some more lip balm upon your lips as they are so dry again. There you go, and then I shall brush your hair and my goodness, your fingernails need to be cut. Well, I wont cut them, just in-case. They are not so long, but I happen to have a nail file in my pocket.”
“You are so organised.”
“So I have led you believe. It is quite an illusion, for I am scatter-brained.”
She took his milky hand in his and proceeded to neaten his nails.
“You don’t have to do this.”
“I want to.”
“Oh.” She blew away the nail dust from his thumb.
“That looks better already and I have only completed one nail.”
Theodore rubbed his forefinger over it. “Ah yes, it’s far neater. I could not have imagined that this would be so… relaxing. Forgive me if I fall asleep.”
“Do not worry about that.”
He closed his eyes.
“How do you know you are asleep when you are blind and how do you dream? Oh, heavens…sorry, I-I.”
Theodore laughed. “It is a good question. Well, as I have only been blind for less than a year, I still remember things such as people’s faces and places although, my memory of them is not as clear as it once was. I suppose like anybody, my brain turns itself off when I am sleeping.” He yawned, placing his hand under the pillow.
“Forgive me for being ridiculous.”
“No, not at all.”
“You are exhausted, so I will say goodnight now as I am tired myself. How lovely it is to have my own little room here.”
“I am pleased that you like it.”
“It is perfect.” Sleep well my dear.
Bonnie sat on her bed, gazing at the white painted carvings upon the ceiling, how beautiful they were. There came a knock on her door and a servant stood in the doorway.
“Forgive me Miss, her majesty thought that you should have your own servant, so she sent me.”
“My own servant. My goodness, I am a servant myself!”
“You may call me Mary.”
“I don’t think I’ve seen you before.”
“Normally I just help to make beds, I haven’t worked here very long.”
“Ah, that makes sense.”
“I hope that you like your room. Is there anything I can fetch for you?”
“No, but which bathroom am I able to use?”
“The one on this floor. Shall I run a bath for you? Then I will fetch towels.”
“That would be really lovely, thank you.”
“I’ll go and do it now.” Mary curtsied and left. It was all very strange to Bonnie as she was not accustomed to service such as this. Mary returned.
“Your bath will be ready in another 5 minutes or so.”
“I’ll go and fetch my toiletries, I brought my own.” Bonnie did so, returning to the bathroom.
“Is that all Miss?”
“Yes, thank you so much for all your help.”
“Oh, you are most welcome.”
Bonnie closed the door behind her, how amazing it felt to have hot water from the tap. She gazed up at the boiler above the bath, there must be a fire place behind it, she thought, mulling in the deliciously warm water. Bonnie relaxed for over half an hour before washing and exiting the water, she laughed, staring at her pruned fingers and drying her hair with her towel. She combed it through, placing on her nightgown, slippers and shawl. Bonnie exited the bathroom, swallowing as Queen Evangeline passed her on the landing. She laughed a little.
“Do not look so alarmed, I only came to say thank you for making Theodore so happy.”
“It is my pleasure and makes me delighted to see it.”
She nodded. “I was just speaking with him.”
“He says he is so glad that you are here. You do him good my dear, far better than that-that cad of a woman!”
“Has he spoken of her to you?”
“A-a little, but I think it pains him to do so.”
“Yes well, the less said about her the better. Goodnight.”
©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014