Mr Howard washed his hair with care, assisting him to wash the rest of his body.
“Your Grace, are you in a lot of pain?”
Theodore nodded.
“Then, I must get you back into bed. I-I think I can carry you.”
Another spasm pierced Theodore’s chest, he gasped, sitting bolt upright into the bath, grasping the sides as his knuckles whitened. Mr Howard pulled the plug, placing a towel over Theodore,whisking him from the bath. Bonnie jumped, dropping her shawl, as she saw Theodore’s whitened face, the bath water still dripping from his pale limbs. She placed a hand to her mouth, pulling back the bedclothes as Mr Howard placed Theodore on top of the bed. Theodore placed the palm of his hand upon his chest, closing his eyes as Bonnie rested her hand on top of his, stroking his slim fingers.
“We must get you dry and tucked properly into bed.” Bonnie did not question anything, but dried his top half, placing on his night-shirt, putting a fresh towel around his shoulders to catch any drips from his hair.
“I should never have persuaded you to have another bath, what have I done?”
Theodore shook his head. “It was just another chest spasm, I was very lucky that you were both near by. Thank you.” He whispered as Bonnie stroked his damp hair.
“You must rest now. We should send for a Physician.”
“Absolutely not! I wish that I could see Father, why has he forgotten me? How I miss him.  How could Mother send you away?”
“Shh now, it’s alright. Your Mother was upset, that’s all. I am back now, am I not, so do not worry any more. Have another drink, I am always thirsty myself after a bath.How is your pain?”
“The discomfort in my muscles has been eased a great deal.” He muttered.
“But?”
“I feel so very strange.”

“That is understandable. Would you like another story perhaps, to divert your mind?”
“I’ll try to stay awake.”
“Very well then.”
“Do not be afraid.”
“I’ll try.”
Bonnie tilted her head. “Sorry your Grace, what will you try to do?”
“You said…”
“You are mistaken, I said ‘very well then’”
“Oh, I must be hearing things.” Theodore paused. But he had heard something, that male voice again, the same one from his dream. “I am clearly more delirious than I thought.”
“Don’t you fret, sometimes I hear things. It might just be your mind playing tricks on you.”
“Yes, I think it was that. Forgive me, I think I must be growing a little bit mad.”
“You are not mad, I can assure you.”
“Did your Father believe in the afterlife?”
“Well, hmm he wasn’t really a religious man.”
“I see little point in going to church, God is everywhere, not in one building.”
“That is what Father said, except he believed that he could find him in the outdoors. So, on a Sunday, he would often sit in one of the fields and pray by himself and sometimes I would join him after church.”
“That is a nice thought. Yes, I like that idea myself.”
“Hmm, yes.”
“What did your Mother think?”
“To him not going to church? She respected his wishes and took Andrew and I to church, although, I do not go much any-more.”
“Oh. I should probably pray for forgiveness.”
“Why ever would you do that?”
“Because of things I have said. Wouldn’t ending an engagement be classed as a sin?”
“Not at all. That was not your fault. You needn’t worry.”
“Why has my Father forgotten me, where is he?”
“I am not sure where he is, but I am sure that he thinks about you often.”
“Please ask Mother of his whereabouts.”
“Yes of course.”
 **

“Miss McGrath, my husband is away.”
“Away, when his son is d- seriously ill?”
“Yes.”
“Could someone not write to him?”
“Perhaps. Although, my efforts may be completely wasted.”
“Where is he?”
“That is not your concern!”
“I-I am sorry. Thank you, your majesty. I will return to his Grace and tell him.”
Bonnie scurried along the corridor, gazing at the sleeping Theodore. It would not be fair to wake him, not yet. She gazed at his pale form, the moonlight seeping through the crack in the curtains. He lay with his arms by his side. How peaceful he looked, tranquil but there was no hiding his failing health. Bonnie pulled a chair up to his bed and stroked his hand, she gasped, and pulling hers away. It was so very cold.
“Your Grace?”
“Hmm, yes?”
“Oh forgive me.”
“It was not a deep sleep.”
“My dear, your Mother is going to write to your Father.”
“What a waste of time that would be. Do not tell her that, I don’t think that she would be pleased to hear me speak of him in such a way.”
“You are entitled to your opinion. You are cold, I shall close the window and place some more coal on the fire.”
“Bonnie my dear, you should be in bed. I shall sleep regardless of whether I am cold or not. You sound weary and your hands tremble. I doubt that you have eaten enough today, please go and rest, for it the hour must be late I am sure.”
“No, no. It is only 8.30pm. It is true, I have not eaten a great deal, but I will be alright. Shall I read to you?”
“Not until you have eaten.”
“Oh I do not need food to read.”
“Bonita, if you do not go and eat this instant, then I shall place my hands over my ears and not listen to a word!”
Bonnie laughed, planting a kiss on his prominent cheekbone. “If it makes you happy, I shall eat then but I will return with haste.”
Theodore nodded as Bonnie kissed him and went to the kitchen in search of some food, with Mr Howard following behind as she sat on the chair in front of the fire.
“You needn’t stay in here you know.”
“Oh, I may as well.”
“I think cook made some pie earlier, ah yes here it is. You may have some of that Miss McGrath.”
“That looks delicious. Thank you, I shall be alright now but tell his grace that I will be no longer than half an hour.”

©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014

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