The Girl Who Would Be Queen by Jane Ann McLachlan

The Girl Who Would Be Queen by Jane Ann McLachlan

Author:Jane Ann McLachlan [McLachlan, Jane Ann]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781999383619
Publisher: ISBN CANADA
Published: 2019-03-04T05:00:00+00:00

Chapter Fourteen: Confinement

My Lady Mother-in-law accompanies me to the rooms she has prepared for my confinement, close by her chambers. She wants to be the first to know when my child is born. I would prefer to be closer to Charles, so that he could run to me if I called for him if something went wrong, and I could see him one last time. I have not said such a silly thing aloud, they would think me a coward. Charles has his battles and so do I.

Anyway, Charles is a man and cannot come near me at this time. My womanhood is too strong during this period of childbirth, it would unman him to touch me. And I do not want that!

The door into my confinement rooms opens onto an iron screen which we walk around to enter. A priest will perform mass for me once a day, standing on the outside of this screen while I kneel on the inside where I can hear him and make my confession and receive the host, all without being seen. No man may enter these rooms or lay eyes on me during my confinement, not even a priest who should not need his manhood any more. That is a wicked thought.

I am fortunate it is late autumn, not summer, for the windows are all shuttered tightly and hung with heavy cloth to keep out any draft that might carry fever on its breath. The lamps are dim and the fires in the fireplaces are banked up regularly. There are fresh, sweet-smelling rushes on the floor, scattered with shepherd’s purse and motherwort, herbs that are beneficial to childbirth. Altogether it is as dark and hot and airless as my womb, where the next heir to the Duchy of Durazzo, and possibly to the throne of Naples, waits to be born. I am certain it will be a boy. My Lord husband and my Lady Mother-in-law will accept nothing else. I close my eyes and offer another quick prayer for his, and my, safekeeping. I feel better afterwards. Surely God will hear me praying when I am not even at chapel.

In the first room there are beds for Margherita and my mid-wives, and chairs for us to sit on to do our sewing and reading and entertain ourselves as best we might while we wait. I walk through it, into the second room. Together they are not much bigger than my bedchamber beside Charles’ rooms. The low birthing bed where I will sleep is in this inner room. Beside it is a cradle with beautiful carving of a woodland scene on its headboard, made up with fine linen trimmed with lace. Inside it lies a swaddling board with bands, and a cunning little cap, ready for my baby. I cannot help but smile as I lay the little pale green gowns I have sewn beside them.

“You like it, then?” my mother-in-law asks as I stroke the cradle headboard, setting it to rocking.

“I do,” I tell her.


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