Bonnie squeezed the cloth into the basin of water, dabbing Theodore’s brow, wiping away the dewy sweat which had returned.
“How do you feel?”
“A little hot and bothered. I knew that the fever would return sooner or later, it is just part of the illness.”
“I am very glad that you are able to talk to me at this moment in time.”
“And I also. I should miss our little chats. I must be more determined to live than I originally thought.”
“Yes, I wonder if Mr Howard has had any luck with Father? I doubt it.”
“Do not dwell on the negative, you never know.”
“No, I do. Father will not come; he cares about me as much as I care for Miss Mallis.”
“What are you thinking your majesty, forgive me, but you are very quiet.”
“I do not know to tell you the truth. I have been so stupid have I not? I am surprised that Theodore even wants to see me.”
“He does your grace, very much so. It will bring him great delight to hear your voice.”
“Perhaps, or perhaps he will be angry.”
“He is never angry, not any-more.”
“Now that does surprise me.”
“It has to be said, he can still be a little short-tempered, but we are only human are we not?”
“Are you comfortable enough your Grace?”
“Yes. Now close the window, I am starting to get a chill.”
“Ah, you will find a travelling rug on the seat next to you.”
Mr Howard smiled, closing it and tapping the horse with the reins, watching it gallop along the stony pathways and through the darkened forest. An owl hooted overhead, it must be getting late, later than he had initially intended. King Rupert jumped and muttered something, folding his arms in dismay.
“The journey is not so long your Grace, we will be there before you know it.”
He sighed and nodded, running a hand through his hair.
“Would you mind dreadfully if I had a cigar?”
“You need not ask me Sir, I do not mind.”
“Thank you Howard.” He took a long puff of the rolled cigar, holding his breath before exhaling and creating a cloud of smoke in the night air.
Mr Howard steered the horse and carriage to the stable, assisting the king down from where he sat. King Rupert laughed nervously, pulling his coat more tightly around himself.
“What amuses you?”
“Oh nothing, nothing at all. My son will be sleeping will he not? For it is very late now.”
“He might be, but he will want to see you none the less.”
“Perhaps it would be better if I just waited until tomorrow morning.”
“It isn’t always sensible to procrastinate, your Grace.”
“No, I do suppose that you are right. You are a wise man Mr Howard, I knew that we had made a wise decision employing you, right from the off.”
“I thank you your Grace, I am flattered. Here now, we have arrived. I will take your cloak for you.”
“I will go up to his room.”
“That would be best, I imagine that Miss McGrath will be sat by him, she barley leaves his side.”
King Rupert tiptoed up the staircase and eased open the bedroom door. Theodore lay on his side sleeping peacefully. The King backed away, but Bonnie curtsied and beckoned, urged him to come closer. She gazed at Theodore once more, placing a hand upon his cheek, he stirred, opening his eyes.
“What is it Bonnie? I was having such a beautiful dream, I dreamt that ..wait, who is there?”
“Hello my Son.”
“Father!” Theodore gasped. “Is that you? Really and truly?”
“It is I, your stupid old Father.”
“Oh thank heavens! Oh my Howard, you have done it again. You are a magician I am sure of it.”
“Your appearance is much changed.”
“I know Father, I know.”
“Thank the Lord I came. You are very thin, have you not been eating?”
“My appetite has diminished I’m afraid.”
“Father, what on earth have you been doing for all this time?”
“I wish I knew, each day seemed to merge into one and I have wasted so many hours.”
“Have you had any company?”
“None. Oh, wait yes I did. The Earl of Lancashire joined me for two days, but that was a month ago.”
“Gosh, you have been very alone. I think I would have gone mad, had it not been for Miss McGrath.” Bonnie smiled, as the King glanced up at her and returned the gesture.
“He is too kind your majesty.”
“Do not listen to her, that woman is a marvel.”
Mr Howard nodded. “She is.” He mouthed, smiling.
“You must find Mother, Father for she will be so anxious to see you I am sure but do come and see me again soon, oh how happy I am, now that our little family is complete again.”
King Rupert smiled a sad sort of smile and placed a hand on Theodore’s shoulder which had one of Bonnie’s shawl tucked around it. As he did so, Aggie hopped onto the bed.
“Who is this new addition?”
“She is mine on loan, she was a little gift from Miss McGrath.”
“Ah what is her name?”
“What a good natured little thing she is too. I must go and find that Mother of yours.”
“Of course. Father?”
“Do not be alarmed, even though you deserve it. Stand your ground.” Theodore laughed.
“That was mean, my Son!”
“I know.” He grinned. “But it is true.”
“Mr Howard, would you please tell my wife that I am here.”
“She knows and would like you to meet her in the parlour. I will bring you both some refreshments as it is important that you both talk.”
King Rupert coughed, glancing at the smiling Bonnie and Theodore and followed Mr Howard.
Queen Evangeline was seated at the table, she glanced at him, rolling her eyes before placing her cup back onto her saucer.
“Yes, ah Rupert. What were you thinking?”
“I know dear, I have already been to see Theodore.”
“Did you apologise?”
“Hmm, not in so many words.”
“Why am I not surprised? Tea?”
“No thank you.”
“I had it made especially.” She narrowed her eyes.
“Umm, yes please then.”
“You and I have a lot to discuss Rupert. Don’t you even dare to think that we are letting you off lightly!”
©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014