An infant’s piercing shriek filled the air as the mother slumped back on to the pillows of the birthing bed,
her usually shining honey curls dark with sweat and her creamy skin waxy with exhaustion.
“What is it?” she croaked, throat raw from screaming out her pain, “What is it?”
The midwife paused in her ministrations to beam up at the new mother.
“A beautiful healthy girl, Madam. Your Grace has given birth to a healthy baby girl.”
“A Princess,” the woman breathed, eyes lighting with relief, “God be thanked, a Princess.”
She went to hold out her arms, but a fierce undertow of exhaustion was already pulling her under. Eyelids flickering, she shook her head at the maid who made to hand her the child.
“No, Sarah. Put her in the cradle. Put her in the cradle and fetch His Grace. Tell him we have a sister for George.”
As the maid scurried to do her bidding, Elizabeth Howard, Queen Regnant of England, slid into the blessed peace of sleep, secure in the knowledge that she had done her duty at last.
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