“It is coming back to you?”
Theodore nodded, the tears flowing down his cheeks.
Mr Howard squeezed his hand. “I am so sorry.”
“Why is Mother so cruel? You saw what she did to Jane, she made her faint when she was not well. Poor Jane and my baby.” He muttered.
“Jane will be quite well, your Grace and your child is in heaven.” He soothed, placing a hand upon Theodore’s shoulder.
“Waiting for me?”
“Yes, I am so sure of it.” Mr Howard closed his eyes, placing his head into his hands.
“Bonnie is a strong woman.” He reassured.
“I shall never see her again. Listen to the wind, how the North Wind grows stronger, he says my name each day. I will not let him take me, I must hold on so I can see my Bonnie again. Oh Mr Howard, do not cry. It is how it was meant to be, I knew after I caught the Scarlet Fever, that I would not live long, but these past few months I have shared with Bonnie and you have been such happy, memorable times. I shall look down from heaven and always care for you both. But I may die without seeing Bonnie again. I will never hear that gentle Scottish lilt or sense the comfort of her arm underneath my neck.”
The howling gale ceased and a gentler wind blew, a North wind, searching for somebody, someone to take with it. A beautiful young man with wavy hair and structured cheekbones. Mr Howard’s tears dropped upon Theodore’s coverlet as he nursed him, placing his hand on top of his for gentle reassurance.
“Do not let me go without saying goodbye to Bonnie!” Theodore begged.
Mr Howard placed his arm underneath Theodore’s neck. “Shhh, it’s alright, there there.”
“I need her.”
“I know, your Grace.”
“Is she well?”
“I do not know, she will be with her family.”
“Family, I’d be better off without them.”
“You do not mean that, your Grace.”
“Oh, I do.”
Mr Howard gazed at Theodore’s disturbed face, his features sullen and sunken, his cheeks tear stained and swollen.
“Shall I try to speak to your Mother?”
“And risk your position for me? No, I will not allow it.”
“I shall find the King then.”
“Father? Yes, he is the man of the house.” Theodore muttered. “Surely he feels a little in my debt after he hid away for so long.”
“Please, do not leave me.”
“Then, I will ask the footman to fetch him.”
The Queen strutted into the room.
“Pardon me saying Ma’am, but Theodore asked for his Father.”
“Hmph! His Father?”
“Please Mother I have to speak to him!”
“Do not speak to me as if I were some object! I am your Mother and first and foremost the Queen.”
“You’d sooner see me suffer.” Theodore sighed.
“That’s not true!”
“You don’t have a compassionate bone in your body!”
“How dare you speak to me like that!”
“I could not care less. Get Father! Fetch my Father, where is he?” He gasped, another spasm hitting his chest.
“Argh! Oh God!”
“What? What is it?”
“You will never understand!” He cried. “You will never realise the physical and mental pain I feel, because you are cruel, selfish and heartless. You blamed Jane for my unhappiness, yet it was you all along. You frightened her so much, you hurt her just like you hurt Bonnie!”
“What? You are out of your mind, your brain is over-run with delirium!”
“Ahem, Ma’am, your son needs comfort, you should adhere to his last few wishes or you will regret it for the rest of your life! Look at him, his Grace is anxious and distressed. Surly you want him to die a happy man.”
“I will not have a deceitful little liar in my palace! Remember your place Howard!”
“It was a mistake, we are only human. She did not purposefully drop the letter. Ma’am, look at your son, how he fades each day, I am witnessing it with my own two eyes. Please don’t let him die having felt grief and unhappiness. I will fetch her myself.”
Queen Evangeline shook her head.
“Please! Look at your son!”
She pushed past him, marching from the room. Mr Howard gasped, where was the King? Surely, he had more authority over his wife. He dashed from Theodore’s room, banging on the King’s study door.
“Your Grace, thank God!”
“He wishes to speak with you. If you are not too busy.”
“Yes of course, I am coming now. Where is the Queen?”
“She will not allow Miss McGrath to return to the palace.”
“Exactly, she has not told you. Miss McGrath made a mistake, but she meant no harm.”
“Ah, my wife told me. That letter?”
“Mr Howard, you know as well as I that our marriage has not been on good terms for some time. I give you my full permission to fetch her. We will lock Theodore’s bedroom door from the inside if needs must. Yes, you must go now.”
“But who will look after Prince Theodore?”
“You, the King, are you sure?”
“Yes, it’s the very least I can do to repay my Son after I failed him. I am not so useless.” He smiled weakly. “Come, you must go now and tell Theodore our plan.”
“Theodore my son?”
“Father? Oh Father, how lovely it is to hear your voice.”
The king placed a hand upon Theodore’s shoulder. “Mr Howard and I have a plan.”
“A plan?” He whispered, his eyes filling with tears.
“Shh, don’t cry my child. We are going to do everything in our power to have Miss McGrath brought back to you. Mr Howard will fetch her and I shall stay here and look after you.”
“Ha! That was Mr Howard’s reaction.”
“How will you deceive Mother?”
“We may have to dispose of her for a while.”
“Please, be careful.”
“Yes of course I shall. Now then, you must have a sleep, as you are struggling to speak. Mr Howard has already gone and I am going to see to your Mother.”
The king swallowed as he entered the Queens parlour.
“What is it Rupert?”
He did not answer, but removed the key from the inside of the door, slamming it and locking it from the outside.
“What is this?” She gasped. “What are you doing?”
“I am sorry, but I have no choice to keep you in here.”
“What? Are you out of your mind?!”
“Ha! Says the woman who sent our son’s best friend away. He has not stopped crying since you have done so and he has not eaten, and sleeps fitfully! Does that make you happy to know that? You are cruel!”
“How can you say that? YOU the stupid buffoon who went into hiding!”
“You know why I did, although you claim to have forgotten.”
“You struck me did you not?”
“Then told me that you wished I was dead!”
“Rupert, you are lying!”
“You have no recollection, none at all?”
“I don’t know.”
“You are a harsh, bitter woman and after our son dies, I wash my hands of you.”
“You cannot mean that.”
“Oh I do, I assure you. I’ll live in one of our other properties and keep Mr Howard under my employment.”
“Stupid man, no wonder our son has turned out like he has!”
“Turned out like what, exactly?”
“He is selfish, spoiled and so over sensitive! How dare you have this conversation with me from the other side of the door.”
“Goodbye Evangeline. Just be thankful that it is not you who is dying. God would not be forgiving.”
©Sophie Bowns 2011-2014