Queen Evangeline tapped on the door, Bonnie placed down her knitting, adjusting the collar of Theodore’s fresh night shirt and kissed his hand, which grew a little colder by the second.
“My Goodness, your majesty and oh… Miss Mallis?”
Jane nodded, meekly.
“I did not expect to see you both together.”
“Indeed.” Queen Evangeline sighed.
“Jane.” Theodore placed a hand to his clammy forehead, shaking his head. “What trouble you have caused me, what upset.”
“Dear, you must listen as I have done, but do not react as I did. She has not been well.”
Theodore exhaled, adjusting his head upon his pillows. “Jane, I am very sorry to hear that.” His voice sounded a little stronger and so sincere. “I cannot be angry with you any longer, just saddened by what you did.”
“I fully understand, your Grace.”
“Now then, you must sit down and tell me what you told Mother.”
“Of course, your Grace, only I am scared to.”
“You? Scared? You always seemed so confident and self assured.” He whispered.
“Yes, but I am no longer given the circumstances.”
“Please tell me. Here, there should be a chair, pull it up to my bed.”
“Of course. Do you remember the one time when we consummated our relationship.”
Theodore sighed and nodded. “I had kept that a secret, but now you mention it, I cannot deny that fact.”
Bonnie bit her bottom lip, the news stinging like a whip. She froze, backing into the chair in the corner.
“It-it came to something.”
“You fell pregnant?”
“Lord! I have a child?” Theodore gasped.
“Hush now.” Jane took his hand, the hand she knew so well, with its long, slim fingers. “I-I am afraid that I miscarried. The baby, of course, died. Your Grace, that was the reason I returned to the palace that day. I came to ask for help.”
“Oh Lord, oh no and-and I turned you away, before you had chance to even tell me. I cannot even begin to imagine what you have been through!” The tears welled in Theodore’s eyes.
“There, I have told you, but do not be sad. Perhaps is was for the best.”
“How can the death of a baby be for the best? I tarred you and you left and now, God has punished me. I have been cruel and unjust and I am certain to burn in hell. Oh Jane, I don’t know what to say, except that I am so, so sorry. Oh if only I hadn’t sent you away, when you came back!”
“Don’t be, but at last my mind it at rest, now that I have told you. It is neither of our faults that I miscarried, perhaps if the child had been born, then it would not have survived. Oh I have wanted to get that news off my chest for a while now. Please don’t cry Theodore.” She placed a hand upon his shoulder and kissed his brow.
“You will not burn in hell, we will not allow it, will we Miss McGrath?”
Bonnie sat trembling in the corner. “No.” She whispered. Bonnie glanced at Theodore, he looked changed once more, thinner still and now troubled, devastated by the news which he now bore.
“Hopefully, I shall see the child in heaven.” Theodore whispered.
“I should like to think that.” Jane sighed, kissing his cheek.
“We shall be a perfect trio.” Theodore sniffed, his voice cracking as the tears dropped onto his sunken cheeks. Bonnie wiped them away. “John, the baby and I.”
“It is my doing.” Jane added.
“Mixed emotions.” Theodore whispered. “Sad, but now I know the full truth.”
Jane nodded. “I-I should leave now, you need to rest and I should not have shared my burden.”
“Are you well enough to travel?”
“I am quite recovered The- your Grace, thank you.”
“Then, I am afraid that this may be goodbye, forever.”
“Yes, I promise that I will never return to the palace again.”
“Jane, no. You must if you wish to. You must go downstairs and re-join the party.”
“I don’t understand, this is a final fair-well? But why? ”
“Oh Miss Mallis!” Bonnie cried. “Can’t you see that he is dying with your own two eyes? You left him because he was blind and now you cannot see for yourself. Do you really need it dictating to you?”
“Bonnie, stop.” Theodore whispered.
“I don’t understand, your Grace, what is it?”
“Jane, you told me yourself last time we met. Had you forgotten?”
“Oh God forgive me for what I said! It is true?”
“Yes my friend. You only spoke the truth, you and Bonnie were the only ones who ever did, and for that, I will be eternally grateful.”
“Thank you for the happy memories your Grace, I am only sorry that I was ungrateful.”
“Always so difficult to please.” He sighed.
“I-I should go.” Jane stuttered.
“Stay for a while.”
“I am not wanted here.” She whispered.
“Then, I wish you all the best. You must do what you think is right Jane. One day you will marry a sensible man who is suited to you.”
“I cannot marry, not now.”
“I hope that you find inner happiness Jane, no matter what it is.”
“I have to admit, that I find a great deal of comfort from going to church.”
“Then, you must continue to do that.”
“Yes, I will.”
“And always remember, should you need anything, my family are only a letter away.”
“May I visit you again?”
“You can visit my tomb any time you choose.”
Jane gasped, placing a hand to her mouth. “Tomb.” She repeated, staring at the floor.
“You- you’ll be in my prayers your Grace.”
“And you mine, dear Jane, God be with you.”
©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014