“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.”
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?”
“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.
“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