Viola In The New World - Part II

I am so very tired. For two days I have not stirred from my seat by Robert's bed. The room spins before my eyes, and my limbs ache with weariness. But I will not rest myself until I am sure he sleeps the sleep of healing.

Two days ago, I despaired of his life. The fever raged through him, and he tossed on his bed, tearing at the covers, and shouting old curses -- at Shakespeare, at my beloved nurse, at the Queen, even at me. His dark eyes were open, looking past me to things I could not see. His lip curled with some remembered anger, and he called for his knife. Then, his face changed, softened, tears ran from his eyes as he wept and whispered our son's name -- "Robbie, Robbie. My son, you are gone," and again, "Viola, where are you? Our little Robert is dead, dead." Then more weeping, his head thrashing on the pillow.

I tried to comfort him, but he heard only the tortured sounds in his own head. It was then that I finally gave him a potion an old Indian wise man had given us during a harvest visit last autumn. We had not dared use it. We knew not what was in it, and I mistrusted the old native lores. But here now was death sitting on the bed by my love's head, and I would do anything to beat it down -- to tear it away.

So I spooned some into his mouth, and then again some more. The raving continued for a bit longer, then, as though sweet angel hands had covered him, he relaxed, and fell in to the deepest sleep.

He has slept now for a night and a day - I know, for evening's soft light comes through our small window opening. His skin has cooled, but he breathes so softly, and his face is pale and so very thin. I brush back the unruly curls, I kiss his eyelids, and softly touch the long dark lashes falling on his cheeks. Did I once think him ugly? Did I prefer younger arms? Was it poetry I craved so long ago? Well, I got my poetry, and my sorrow.

Robert of Wessex murmured his own poetry to me here in our wilderness home. It did not flow easily as Will's had done. He brought it hard from the depths of his heart. Perhaps he did not know it lay there. I think he was surprised at the honey words that passed from his soul into mine when he discovered that he loved me rich or poor.

I remember them all now, looking at him, a giant of a man laid low and weak. I kiss him again and tell him how I need him, how I love him.

"Wake, my darling, " I cry. "Wake and come back to me." I turn my head away and sob.

Then a rasping voice from the pillow, "Viola, why do you cry? Come, do not weep. It hurts me so. Get me some water, lady, and then lay beside me for I need your sweet warmth against this damned cold."

And so, joyfully, I did as he asked.

To Part 3