Mary is an old maid .She chose to be one. 'Men are selfish creatures', she used to say in her haughty voice, 'I could not put up with their nonsense. Not with my character.. I was not made to serve and obey them'. But with Theo she has forgotten all her haughtiness. Maybe because Theo was different! She had sort of 'adopted' him or, may be, he adopted her. Who knows?
Theo was already quite an old gentleman when she met him. He had no family and badly needed somebody to look after him. He was actually spotted one day wandering in the streets aimlessly with such a forlorn look in his eyes that one old woman took pity on him. She offered him assistance and invited him to share a meal with her. It was such a cold, rainy day! It happened that Mary visited her that day .She took to Theo at once.
Lonely people understand the despair of separateness .He had such sad eyes which spoke volumes. Nothing else was really attractive in him, just those sad, sad eyes.
She made her mind up at once. Theo must live with her.
Shocking decision for an old maid, set in her ways, isn't it? But Mary was not an ordinary woman. She was an aristocrat by birth therefore she could disregard the normal code of behavior. She was also an aristocrat as far as generosity goes.
She had lots of time for wretched poor, unwanted creatures. Because of her aloofness no one suspected that all her life she craved to give, to love, to protect somebody who was in need of her gifts And now she found an outlet of her feelings in Theo.
He moved with her and soon he became a different being. His looks had changed. He was more lively. His eyes lost their perpetual sadness which haunted Mary. He in fact became, quite handsome and looked healthier which was a tribute to Mary's good food and her care. And Mary? She lost her aloofness and haughty manners. There was a new softness on her face. She was in fact, quite beautiful these days. She was gay, friendly and looked years younger. No doubt this was due to her friendship with Theo.
She had somebody to live for and that is what we all want, isn't?
How busy she was those days! She had to shop for Theo to get the right food for him. She cooked for him and kept him amused. She did everything in her power to divert his thoughts from unhappy memories which often clouded his eyes. They both adored walks. Although Mary had a 'bad leg' and Theo was full of rheumatism, they went for long strolls in parks and sometimes they ventured outside the town into fields and forests where they could enjoy the feeling of oneness with nature. In winter they stayed mostly indoors for they were both full of pains and aches and felt wretched exposed to rain, snow and icy wind. But they made a point of taking at least, once a day, a short brisk walk round the block of flats they lived in. Just to straight- en up their crippled joints. It was always such a happy occasion, especially when they could manage to walk without moans and groans.
They never talked much. They knew nothing of their past lives. She guessed that Theo's life must have been as wretched as her own. But is it necessary to share unhappy memories, especially when the present moments were so peaceful, full of warmth and pleasant feelings? Words were not necessary to comment on their love for each other.
They showed it when they looked in each other eyes, by an occasional touch or caress. They became quite inseparable. Their love for each other had grown in time and so did their understanding of each other needs.
This idealistic existence was disrupted one day when Mary received a letter from Paris notifying her that her aunt had died and left her a small legacy Money was god -sent for Mary was poor and her expanses rose considerably since Theo came to her life. She had to go to Paris to receive her share of the estate.
'Just for one week', she assured him. 'And you will be well looked after. I'll arrange for you to board with some people I know. They live outside the city in the forest. You will enjoy it there. It will be a wonderful change for you A real holiday And for me, too. I have never been to Paris before,' she added wistfully.
Theo just nodded wisely and said nothing. What could he have said anyway?
And so Mary departed for Paris. She remained there longer than she planned due to the legal formalities and so she had plenty of time to do some sight-seeing. On the day of her planned departure date a strange thing happened to her. She picked up an empty thermos beside her bedside table in order to ask a chambermaid to fill it with coffee as she was going out for a day. As she carried the thermos it suddenly exploded into small fragments. She happened to glance at the calendar and noticed date. It was the 4th of July.
Finally she was able to return home. Paris, after all meant nothing without Theo. She found out that all the beauty of nature and interesting places are of no consequences, if you cannot share them with someone you love.
On her arrival, she took a taxi to collect Theo. She had no wish to go to her flat alone. She was in a happy mood. She became more and more excited thinking of their reunion. She had so much to tell him and she wanted to share her good fortune with Theo.
There was nobody at the gate to greet her. She hoped Theo would be waiting for her. The house was strangely quiet. She knocked at the front door with a sudden feeling of dread.
'Where is Theo?' she stammered as the man opened the door. 'I am sorry. I have been delayed Is there anything wrong?'
The man nodded looking at her sadly. 'Theo is dead. I am very sorry. We tried to look after him but he refused to eat. He fretted. We did what we could, even called a doctor. He was given several injections but nothing doing. Theo sat, day after day, on the verandah where he could see the road and would not budge. He grew weaker and weaker but still insisted on watching the road leading to the city. He died on the 4th of July. Doc gave me a certificate to show you. It says that he died of a broken heart. There was nothing the doctor could do. Theo's heart could not take the separation from you. You see, he was, after all, such an old dog'.