“Most take up sewing their newborn’s clothes by hand. Ah, at least their christening gown, as the child will be baptized in the Church of England. We shall have none of that Roman Catholicism in this bloodline.”
The Queen spoke scathingly. Her granddaughter sat quietly as she drank her cup of redbush tea – something that had been recommended by the royal physician that would help quell the sickness that Her Highness suffered from now on a nearly day-to-day basis – and bothered not to remind Her Majesty that she was of Catholic descent.
“So I suggest you begin as well. God only knows how long it will take you to sew a gown of acceptable grade.”
“…I will begin this afternoon,” she replied, “but there is also something else that I would like to begin.”
The Queen glanced up, disinterested. Whatever it was that the young girl had in mind, it wouldn’t ever become reality. She didn’t have to know what it was, she could already see in her face how rebellious and reckless her intentions were, whatever they were. Beautiful the young princess may be, but she could never dupe her like she had her husband and her grandson. She could see through her right away; she’d never do whatever it was she was planning in that pretty little head of hers.
“I would like to spend time with the unwed mothers of this city.”
The Queen very nearly choked. Brows drawn together, her nostrils flared as she drew herself up as tall as she could all the while remaining seated in her chair. Struggling to maintain her composure, she sharply snapped, “What?”
“From my own childhood, I understand what it is like to grow up without the guidance of a father, and I can only imagine how much more difficult it is for them and their children. I would like to spend time with them so that they are not so lonely in this world. So that they know that there is someone who cares.”
“Absolutely not. Out of the question. I’m not sure whether I have to explain or not, but by God do I pray that there is no need to. How dare you so much as entertain the thought of associating with-”
“His Majesty has already given his approval. The first meeting is to take place the day after tomorrow. I will receive them in the Arianrhod Parlor for tea.”
Perhaps…it was rash of her to be so forward and rude. She wasn’t quite sure if her husband and grandfather would applaud her or reprimand her. Her mother certainly would punish her for being so thoughtless and selfish, but quite honestly, as she sat there at the table with the Queen, the young woman found it difficult to care. Her body was being disagreeable, all thanks to the unborn child, and her husband was far, far out of her reach, and though he sent her the warmest and most romantic letters one could possibly send, as often as one could possibly send, vellum was an incredibly poor substitute for his touch. No doubt he would have deflected his grandmother so that she wouldn’t have to even deal with her, but he hadn’t because he wasn’t here, and so she was all the more grouchy.
“How dare you,” she sputtered, “Never in my life have I ever suffered from such primitive company. You’d best be warned that-”
“I am sure I will find more in common with them than I will ever at this table.”
“Continue with this kind of ill behavior, Princess, and soon enough that will become true in more ways than one.”
“You plan on disinheriting your grandson? The heir to this country’s throne? Do you hate me so much to commit treason?”
The two women stared at one another with fire in their eyes until the Queen regally rose from her seat and left without addressing the Princess as per etiquette. Left alone at last, the young mother sunk back into her chair. Closing her eyes, she carefully – delicately – held her face in her hands. She hadn’t even done much today, but she was just so tired to the bone…
“You are my only solace, ma chérie,” she whispered. “My one ray of sun in this dark, dark storm. Oh, how I can’t wait until you’re here. I promise Maman and Papa will never be like her. We want only the greatest happiness for you, mon chou. So come out as soon as you can. We can’t wait to meet you.”
And she felt a kick as if she were replying, “Oui, Maman” and wept for the pure happiness that welled up within her at the mere thought of how beautiful their baby would be.