“Why can’t I be like you Bonnie?” Theodore muttered.
“You do not want to be like me.”
“You are loved Bonnie, by your kind family.”
Theodore gritted his teeth, throwing his head back as another spasm pulsated through his chest. He let out a cry as Bonnie continued to cradle him, rubbing his chest in circular motions.
“It will soon subside, I promise.”
Theodore nodded as he took in a gulp of air.
“That’s it your Grace, keep taking deep breaths if you can. The attack will soon pass.”
Bonnie grabbed a cloth, dabbing his sweaty brow as Theodore, composed himself, panting gently through gritted teeth. Bonnie rang the bell.
“I think we need further assistance.”
Theodore nodded as the pain dampened, leaving him with a dull aching within his chest cavity. Mr Howard dashed into the bedroom, standing at Theodore’s side.
“Your Grace, oh gosh you are in a great deal of pain aren’t you?”
He gazed into Bonnie’s glassy eyes, placing a hand onto her shoulder.
“You did everything you could.”
Bonnie nodded, biting her bottom lip.
“Howard?” Theodore muttered.
“Yes, your Grace I responded to your bell. I only wish there was something I could do to help you.”
“I-I think the worst of the attack is over, he was in a great deal of pain and now I fear that his Grace is exhausted.”
“Well.” Mr Howard continued, “Miss McGrath and I will make you as comfortable as we possibly can and then..”
He lifted the coverlet to reveal Theodore’s damp night gown.
“I am mortified.” Theodore muttered.
“Don’t be.” Bonnie coaxed. “We are going to help to get you clean and comfortable. Only, I am frightened to move you, for you are in so much pain.”
“It has subsided.” The exhausted Theodore muttered.
Bonnie searched linen cupboard, grasping fresh bed sheets, draping them over one arm. She filled a washbasin with water and re-entered the bedroom.
“Miss McGrath, you are so organised.” Mr Howard smiled, placing the washbasin upon it’s stand. Bonnie quickly closed the bedroom curtains as they removed Theodore’s old nightshirt and Mr Howard proceeded to wash him.
“I- I’ll look away.”
Bonnie turned her back to them, how dark the room felt with the curtains closed. Mr Howard dressed Theodore in the clean nightshirt, pulling it over his legs so that it lay smoothly against his body. Bonnie turned to face them once more and they rolled him, pulling the fresh bottom sheet underneath him, folding the top sheet and coverlet on top.
“There now, we are finished. That wasn’t so bad was it?”
“Hmm, perhaps not.”
“And the pain?”
“At bay for now.”
“Good. Now you must close your eyes and sleep, for you must be exhausted.”
“You coped so well.”
Theodore nodded. “Read to me, something gentle, tell me a tale.”
“Yes. Once upon a time there were two friends, who had found each others company a little challenging at first. As time passed, they had grown to understand one another and when they were separated, they yearned for the other person’s company.”
“I did, so much.”
“Thank fully they were re-united.”
“But alas, one will die.” Theodore sighed. “That is a given.”
Bonnie held his left hand in both of hers. “Sorry, I did not mean to upset you, oh don’t cry, I can’t bear to see you cry it breaks my heart. This is an emotional time for the both of us.”
“Bonnie, I wish to speak with Mother. There is something I have to ask her.”
Bonnie rang the bell, stroking away the lock of curly chestnut hair from Theodore’s cheek. Mr Howard entered the room, efficient as ever. He gazed at Theodore and shook his head.
“Mr Howard, is the Queen available?”
“I imagine so.”
“Please fetch her, his Grace wishes to speak to her.”
“Yes of course, I’ll be as fast as I can.”
Bonnie nodded. “I’ll leave you to speak with your Mother in peace.”
“I want you to stay.” He whispered as he pressed his lips together, the tears meandering down his cheeks. “Forgive me, I am emotional of late.”
Bonnie took out her handkerchief, wiping them away. “You can always rely on me to wipe away your tears.” She smiled. She caught sight of Queen Evangeline.
“The Queen.” Mr Howard announced. Bonnie curtsied and swallowed, keeping hold of Theodore’s hand. Queen Evangeline smiled sadly, approaching Theodore’s side. She patted his hand and sighed.
“What was it that you wanted to ask?”
“It was regarding Miss Mallis. Do you know more on the subject than I?” He whispered.
“I do not know what you mean my Son.”
“Mother, why did she come back?”
“Please just tell me as it is. There is little point in wrapping me up in cotton wool now.”
“Very well. As you know Jane is well…”
“A social climber, rude, superficial?”
“All of those things I suppose.” Queen Evangeline placed a hand on Theodore’s forehead. “You feel very cold.”
“It is normal. Please go on.”
“I do not know exactly what she wanted, all I can assume is that she was hoping that you might mention her in her will. I do not think that she came back for forgiveness.”
“Precisely as I thought. Perhaps I should….”
“I am not feeling so ill today, I wish to speak with her.”
“That is not wise.”
“No it is, it is true she is spoiled and selfish but she is harmless.”
There came another tap at the door.
“Rupert!” The Queen gasped.
“Yes, it is I.”
“Oh how lovely.” Theodore smiled. “Father, your timing was excellent. We all need your advice.”
“Yes of course.”
“Well, then tell me.”
“I shall tell you.” Queen Evangeline sniffed. “While you had abandoned us, Miss Jane Mallis decided to return to the palace.”
“She did not!”
“She did, but now we cannot think why she possibly would have come back.”
“I did not like the girl.”
“Evangeline, I did not like Miss Mallis not one little bit.”
“Rupert, I think we should step outside the room for a moment. Come now, let’s sit in the drawing room together out of earshot.”
“What shall we do?”
“I do not know, Theodore is weak, surely his days should be filled with positivity and not memories of her.”
“That is true my dear Evangeline. Perhaps Howard should go and see her, he seems like just the man for the job.”
“She would not answer the door to him.”
“Heavens no! That would be the worst idea but I do not want to go myself.”
“Then send her here and we shall decide who will speak to her at the time.”
“I have already said that she cannot return to the palace Rupert.”
“Then I suppose you’ll have to go back on your word.”
“She will not come back, I don’t think she’d dare.”
“Then we will have to put it in a gentle way. A social event perhaps, where you can take her to one side and have a good firm word.”
That will look most inconsiderate.”
“A social dinner?”
“Too intimate, no that will not do.”
“The weather is warmer now, a fete?”
“Perhaps or a small dance, but then why on earth would we invite her, especially when Theodore himself is in not fit state to attend.”
“That does not matter, Miss McGrath can stay with Theodore, and if we invite all the usual people and she is included then it will not look so strange.”
“Very well then Rupert! Oh thank the Lord you are finally speaking sense once more. I thought your time as a recluse may have knocked you senseless, but it seems that you have found yourself again.”
©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014