Bequeath My Estate

Entry by: Alobear

5th December 2016
A shrill, clipped voice pierced the fabric of Caroline’s uneasy dreams, jolting her into wakefulness.

“Thank you for attending on me at such an inconvenient time, my lord.”

Caroline couldn’t make sense of who was speaking. She shifted beneath the blanket draped over her, feeling as if it was really wrapped around her brain. Her thoughts shied away from trying to comprehend her situation and she felt the pull of sleep tempting her back to oblivion.

A deeper, gruffer voice replied to the first.

“Majesty, I live to serve. How may I be of assistance to you?”

Caroline pictured a stocky, middled-aged man, struggling down to one knee before an elaborate throne. In her mind’s eye, he was dressed in an Elizabethan costume, the tight doublet restricting his movements. The queen, adorned in finery, sat very upright, looking down her nose at him. Her imperious tone suggested she did not fully appreciate the lengths he would go to in order to carry out her bidding.

The queen spoke again.

“It has been brought to my attention that I am not long for this world. To reward you for your faithful service in the latter part of my reign, I bequeath my estate and all my possessions to you.”

“Majesty, I have no words for the honour you bestow upon me.”

Perhaps Caroline had misjudged the queen, though her next words revealed the gift as a double-edged sword.

“You realise, of course, that this also includes all my responsibilities, as the crown will now fall to you.”

Something about this nagged at Caroline. Surely the queen couldn’t just choose who the crown would pass to on her death. There were rules of succession and, even if she had no heirs, the decision of who would rule after her would not be hers alone.

And why Caroline sleeping in the presence of royalty in the first place?

She fought to focus her thoughts on her immediate surroundings, and opened her eyes. Everything seemed suffused wtih white light for a moment, and then the scene resolved itself. Her daughter, Millie, sat up in bed, a wooden peg doll in each hand. One did indeed sport a rough approximation of a doublet, fashioned from blue felt and gold thread. It was prostrated before the other, which had a paper crown, decorated with red sequins.

The dolls had been lovingly made by Caroline’s fiance, Daniel, as a solution to the restrictions placed on the size and number of Millie’s personal possessions. Caroline had worried that Millie might reject them as too simple and old-fashioned, but she had in fact accepted them with delight. They had provided many hours of entertainment. Millie and Daniel had worked together on a range of accessories for them, and Millie amused herself endlessly by creating new characters and scenes for them to portray.

Caroline decided not to interrupt Millie’s current theatrical by letting her know she was awake. Instead, she closed her eyes again and let the exchange of dialogue wash over her, amazed as always by her daughter’s imagination and command of language.

“Majesty, your news brings heaviness to my heart, but I will do my best to serve both you and our great country in this new role.”

“I am glad to hear it, and I know I am leaving the country in safe hands. She has been a wonderful mother to me and she will need a lot of care and love once I am gone.”

A sharp pain squeezed Caroline’s heart at this and her eyes flew open. She took in the stark reality of the crisp, white sheets, the fluorescent strip lighting, and the incessant beeping of the machines at Millie’s bedside.

The queen spoke again, her voice softening as Millie looked up to meet her mother’s gaze.

“I entrust this most sacred of duties to you, my lord Daniel, in the knowledge that your strength and compassion will see the country through the difficult times ahead and in the hope that you will eventually lead her into a new era of happiness and prosperity.”

Millie reached out to place one of her hands on her mother’s swollen belly in a gesture of benediction, as Caroline began to cry.