The next morning, the newlyweds slept late, snuggled in each other’s arms.
When they finally awoke, they were starving. Maria had prepared a brunch for them, and they dug in greedily. After he’d taken the edge off his hunger, King Eric put down his fork and smiled at his new wife. “You know, my dear. I have a surprise for you. This afternoon we will be leaving to honeymoon at our summer estate in Bath.”
“ A honeymoon, really?! Oh Eric! And I have never been to Bath! I’ve heard the beaches are beautiful, and so relaxing!” She looked at him shyly. “Will we finally have the chance to be completely alone there?”
“ Well, Master Christopher and Mistress Hannah are scheduled to go with us…but now that you mention it, I too would like to be by ourselves for once. Should we draw straws to see who gets to break the news to them?”
As promised, the King and Queen departed for the coast later that afternoon, just the two of them. Christopher and Hannah waved goodbye with scowls on their faces.
“ I bet they make fools of themselves walking around in un-ironed clothes.” “ They won’t have anyone to answer the door for them! And they certainly cannot be seen answering it themselves!” “ Indeed! Not to mention how they will get by without a cook! When they return, they will see how much they truly need us!”
“ Oh come now, you two. Being left behind on vacation isn’t so bad--it happens to me all the time! At least now I’ll have some company!”
When they arrived at Bathampton, the royal summer residence, a storm was blowing in off the water. They ran inside to escape the wind and rain. Queen Abigail stumbled into the parlor and gasped, “Oh darling, this place is lovely!”
“ And just look at that view! Don’t those waves look angry! We shall have to wait until the weather calms down before we can swim!”
“ Eric, I am so happy!” “ I am glad, my love. So am I! Now come and let me show you the rest of the house.”
King Eric cleared his throat. “This of course is the master bedroom. I had all of the furniture imported from Morocco. Hannah said it would create a more island feel.” “ Oh yes! I feel like I’m in a tropical paradise!”
“ It’s just too bad we won’t be spending much time in here. Once the weather clears up, there will be so many fun things to do outside!” Queen Abigail sighed in mock dismay. “ Oh, well…I suppose we can worry about that later. As of right now, the weather is bad.” King Eric said, inching himself closer.
“ Besides, you shouldn’t discount all of the fun things we can do inside as well.” Queen Abigail batted her eyes coyly. “Oh? Like wha--” He cut her off with a kiss.
Later that evening, they headed into the kitchen to find some food. Queen Abigail started preparing some fish that had been dropped off that morning, and King Eric made a confession. “You know my dear, on our carriage ride the thought occurred to me that we had no one to cook for us. I didn’t bring it up because I didn’t want to alarm you, but I was quite worried at the time. You don’t understand how relieved I am that you can cook!”
“ Of course I can cook! Can’t you? Here--I will teach you!” “ No, that’s probably not…” “ Nonsense! Now, take these herbs and rub them into the fish like this…”
“ My, this tastes delicious! And I helped!” “ You did indeed.” Queen Abigail shook her head and laughed. “ Tomorrow, I shall make breakfast all by myself!” “ Hmm, well I would like to see that, actually!”
Suddenly, Queen Abigail stood. “Look sweetheart! The rain has stopped!” “ What? Where are you going?” “ Come on! Follow me!”
She ran out the door, shedding her clothes as she went. King Eric pulled off his robe, and stared after her in shock as she ran out to the waves. “Come on!” She called back. “Are you scared?”
She ran into the water and started swimming away from the shore. “Abigail! Be careful! The tide gets stronger!” She laughed. “Don’t worry my love, I’m a strong swimmer. We used to swim all the time in Avalon!”
They came back up on the beach and laid in the chairs, watching the peaceful water until the sun rose.
The next few weeks were filled with brand new sights and sounds. They sampled the local cuisine…
… And paid respect to the tropical deities. “I wish for…Abigail to make dinner tonight.” She snorted. “You don’t have to ask twice. Its hazardous to both of our healths to eat those pancakes you made this morning!”
They searched for treasures in the sand, mostly unsuccessfully.
And participated in local rituals and customs.
“ Isn’t this old ship fabulous fun, my dear? Eric? Eric, what are you doing?”
“ Just a moment, my Queen. This scallywag has insulted your honor, and must be taught a lesson. Avast, you scoundrel!”
But most importantly, they thrived in each other’s company, and took great joy in experiencing new things together.
As should be expected of newlyweds, their nights were filled with passion, and although they expected their honeymoon to be relaxing, they found that they got very little sleep.
Often, after making love, they would lay in bed talking until the wee hours of the morning. “Did you know, the first time I saw you I thought you were the most beautiful thing in the world.” “ You liar! You wanted to kick me out of the palace!” She punched him playfully, but then stopped. “ My dear, is anything the matter?” “ Oh…excuse me a moment my darling, I suddenly feel so dizzy…”
Eric ran in after her. “Oh sweetheart! What’s the matter? Are you sick? Maybe you’re not the great cook you thought you were, hmm?
She pulled away and gagged again. “Please don’t talk about food right now. And my cooking is fine thank you very much!” “ My goodness, you are all clammy and pale! You are clearly ill! We should return home at once!” “ No--please! I’m not ready to leave!!”
But the King insisted, and so they packed up and returned home straight away that morning. Christopher and Hannah greeted them with smug faces, and looked forward to hearing the reason for their early return. King Eric addressed them urgently. “The Queen is very ill, please call the physician immediately. I’m afraid she may have caught some island fever.”
“ Honestly Eric, do I look sick?” Queen Abigail was furious that he had made them come home early. “I just had a bit of an upset stomach this morning, and he ends our entire trip over it! Now I feel fine!”
“ Well, we’ll just have you looked at then. Perhaps it was due to ill-prepared food? You really should have brought one of us along to cook for you!”
King Eric waited patiently in he Queen’s salon outside her bedchamber while the doctor was in examining her.
“ What does the doctor say? Is she alright?” “ Indeed your majesty, the Queen is doing fine.”
“ Congratulations, your highness. The Queen is with child!” King Eric gasped and rushed past her into the room.
“ Oh my dear! Hannah just told me the wonderful news!”
“ Are you really with child?” He couldn’t hide the proud look on his face. “Well that didn’t take long, did it?”
“ You are incorrigible!” She giggled at him. “I’m glad you are happy. I am very happy too, but just so you know, you owe me a second honeymoon!”
The next day, King Eric took Queen Abigail into his private study, and began showing her the books. He had years of financial records, crop projections, and battle strategy logs in his library, and if she was going to be an effective ruler, she needed to become familiar with all of them.
Queen Abigail had a voracious appetite for knowledge, and she picked up the tasks quickly. She offered many helpful insights, and King Eric found he really enjoyed working with her.
But in addition to being a ruler, she was also an expectant mother, and Hannah made sure she got enough rest.
Do I really have to lay down Hannah? I don’t feel tired!” “ Your baby needs it, my dear. Trust me, I’ve cared for my share of pregnant women.”
Queen Abigail looked out the window and sighed. “I just feel like…Oh never mind.” “ You feel what?” “ Well, I feel like everything is happening so fast. Sometimes I wish we had not gotten pregnant so quickly. There is so much to do here in the kingdom, and all I’m allowed to do is take naps!”
“ Not to mention, I feel like we haven’t even been able to enjoy ourselves as newlyweds!” “ The life of a Queen is not always ideal. I tried to explain this to you before. You only have one duty, but it is the most important duty in the entire kingdom--to produce an heir. You are accomplishing more than you give yourself credit for, my Queen. What’s more, I promise that when you hold that little baby in your arms for the first time, you will forget all about the misgivings you have now.”
“ Why does Hannah always know the right things to say? I hope you appreciate this nap, baby.” She yawned. “Maybe I am a little sleepy…”
A few days later, Queen Abigail was resting in her quarters for the afternoon, as she was expected to do, when Hannah came to find her. “Your majesty, Lady Eloiza Somerset has come calling for you.” “ Can you tell her to come back some other time? I was up early this morning writing letters, and I’m feeling tired. I was just about to lay down.”
“ I shall have to speak with the King again--I told him not to let you work so much! Unfortunately I cannot ask her to come back later. It is also your duty to receive guests, and it would be rude to turn her away. Don’t worry though. She knows of your condition, and shouldn’t stay long.”
Queen Abigail sighed. “Well alright. I shall be right down. It might be refreshing to have some social interaction after all.”
Lady Eloiza was waiting for her out on the terrace. “Oh my dear Queen! We have never been properly introduced, but I attended your wedding, and I must say it was a spectacular event! I have been so looking forward to talking with you.” “ Yes, welcome Lady Eloiza. Would you like to take some tea?” Queen Abigail asked, as Hannah had instructed her to do.
“ First, allow me to congratulate you on your recent news!” Lady Eloiza sipped her tea daintily. “I have three little ones myself--motherhood is such a joy!” “ Three! I don’t believe it--you look far too young!”
“ Haha yes, well I suppose I am. Lord Richard and I married when I was quite young, and young Richard II came soon after! But I must say, I expect you shall start a sort of baby boom here in the kingdom! All the noblewomen will want children the same age as the little royal!”
“ I feel slightly embarrassed to admit this, but you are really the first noblewoman I’ve had the pleasure of talking to like this. I suppose I should host some sort of garden party…Especially being with child, I feel like I haven’t gotten the chance to meet everyone!”
“ Oh! A garden party would be just lovely!” Lady Eloiza’s eyes lit up. “If you need any help, please don’t hesitate to ask! I absolutely adore planning parties! I’m a bit surprised that I am the first to come calling on you, however…I would have expected everyone to be banging down your door! Most likely they don’t wish to bother you, given your condition. Oh! Now that I think of it, perhaps it was in poor taste for me to come!”
“ Oh no, Lady Eloiza! I have thoroughly enjoyed your visit! Honestly I feel like I’ve been shut off from the outside world for the last few months! And actually, I have met a few of the other women, Baroness Regina and Lady Georgiana Manchester…but we didn’t have time to talk quite like this.”
Lady Eloiza’s face became stern. “Well, I am sorry that those two were the first you had to meet!” She looked down and blushed. “But I have spoken out of turn! I know the Baroness is your relative now…but she has always seemed so unfriendly! Oh, I’m truly sorry, Your Highness, I have spoken above my place…At any rate, I should be leaving you to your rest.”
“ Between you and I, Eloiza, I have also had some misgivings about the Baroness, but we shall not talk of it now. I’ve truly enjoyed your visit. Once the baby comes, I would love to have you and Lord Richard over for dinner!” “ That would be lovely, Your Majesty!” The two women hugged goodbye, and Queen Abigail went back upstairs for her nap.
“ Oooh, and how is my little prince doing today?” King Eric cooed to her growing belly. “ You might be talking to a little princess, don’t forget that, my love.” “ Oh, rightly so! And would my little prince or princess like to go on an adventure today?”
“ It had better not be going on an adventure! I still have two months!” “ Don’t worry--the adventure involves the little one staying put. I just wondered if you felt well enough to accompany me to the Duke of Devonshire’s wedding today.” “ That’s today? Oh yes! Please let me come! I haven’t been out of the palace in ages!” “ It’s settled then! We’ll leave in a few hours.”
They arrived at Devonshire Hall early that afternoon. The yard was set up for the wedding ceremony of Duke William of Devonshire and Lady Georgiana Manchester.
Guests were milling about inside the Hall, waiting for the ceremony to begin. Queen Abigail spotted Baroness Regina by the window and approached her.
“ Ah, Your Highness.” Baroness Regina gave a stiff curtsey. “How wonderful of you to come today, especially given your protracted condition.”
“ Yes well, we are nearing the end, thankfully! And what of you? The King told me your happy news! You are due in…December, is it?
“ Yes. December.” Baroness Regina took a deep breath and looked suddenly uncomfortable. “I do not mean to be rude, Majesty , but I am not interested in discussing babies and weddings with you like a foolish girl. Let us not pretend we are friends. The family you are now a part of has committed many injustices against my husband and his family, and although I shall be cordial to you in public as protocol requires, I fear I cannot hold my tongue in private.”
Queen Abigail raised her eyebrows as she watched Baroness Regina walk out. She had not been sure of how their interaction would go, but she certainly hadn’t expected an outburst like that. Those hormones must be going to her head. She thought, a little scornfully.
She walked outside and met the King who was already seated for the ceremony. “My dear, I need to speak with you about Regina.” “ Oh, I think I’ve spotted the Earl of Pembroke! I wanted you to meet him…” “ Eric, I’m talking about something important. Baroness Regina was incredibly insubordinate to me just now.”
“ What? Oh Abigail, I told you how important it was to me for us to have good relations with the Von Windsors! Did you say something to her?” “ No! Of course not! Listen, I will tell you about it later, I just wanted you to know.”
The ceremony was beautiful, and the bride and groom seemed very happy. “They really are perfect for each other.” King Eric whispered to Queen Abigail. “He gets his lovely young bride, and she gets her older, wealthier gentleman and a title!”
Once the ceremony was over, the King and Queen went to congratulate the new couple. “Ah Georgiana, it has been too long! You are a duchess now!” “ Thank you, Your Highness. We do appreciate that you were able to come.”
“ Watching that wedding has inspired very romantic feelings in me, my Queen.” “ Haha, yes. It’s nice to see the young people so happy. I can almost recall our own wedding, so very long ago!” The royal couple laughed together, and Queen Abigail forgot about her uncomfortable encounter with the Baroness.
Soon after the Devonshire wedding, Queen Abigail entered her period of confinement. Her huge belly caused her to have back pain on occasion, but this morning it seemed worse than usual. “It’s been fun having you in there, little one, but I think I will be happy when you can occupy your own space!”
The pain in her back increased, until suddenly around lunchtime she was hit with a sharp wave of pain. She doubled over and clutched her stomach. “Hannah!” She yelled with ragged breath. “Haannaaahh!!!”
“ Christopher, what do I do? What can I do? I need to do something!”
“ Gah! Maria! Is there any news? Can I see the Queen?” “ No, stay out here, Your Highness. I just need to get more towels. You would do well to just sit and be patient.”
“ What is the matter with everyone?! I am the King for heaven’s sake! It’s my palace, I should be allowed to go where I want!” “ Trust me, Your Majesty. From what I’ve heard, you would rather be out here.”
“ I just feel so helpless. I hate having to wait, and wondering if she and the baby will be okay. You know my own mother died giving birth to me…I don’t think Abigail knows that--I didn’t want to tell her right before, you know…”
“ Er, yes…That was wise, Majesty. But you can’t focus on that. I am confident that she and the baby will be fine. Instead, start thinking about what it will be like to hold your newborn in your arms tonight!”
“ You’re right, Christopher! I could have a son tonight! …Or daughter, of course. Abigail always reminds me of that.”
Tic toc, tic toc. The clock ticked, and they waited.
Queen Abigail was in labor all through the night, and King Eric and Master Christopher fell asleep in their chairs. As morning dawned, Hannah finally emerged from the Queen’s bedchamber. “Your Majesty.” She whispered. “Majesty wake up.”
It took a moment for the King to come to, but when he did he jumped up immediately. Hannah held the most beautiful baby he had ever seen.
“ Allow me to introduce you to your son, Your Majesty.” “ A son!” King Eric took the baby and held him very tenderly. “And Abigail, is she…” “ She is just fine. Very tired, but fine. She’s waiting for you.”
He carried the baby in to see the Queen. “Hello again, little one!” She cooed. She looked into her husbands eyes and smiled. “ My Abigail, you are so amazing.”
“ I was thinking we could call him Thomas, after your father.” A tear came to King Eric’s eye. “That is a wonderful idea, my love. Little Prince Thomas.”
The new parents stood together in silence for a few moments, soaking in the face of their newborn. The little Prince Thomas gave a big yawn, and they both laughed. “Come love, I think all of us need to get some sleep.”
The next morning, bells rang out all over the countryside announcing the birth of the new crown prince.
Queen Abigail carried him over to the window. “Do you hear them, little one? They are for you!”
She and King Eric took their breakfast in the Queen’s room that next morning. Neither of them wanted to be separated from their baby. “Look at him sleeping. He is so peaceful.” King Eric held his wife close.
“ Excuse me, your majesties. Would now be a good time to go over plans for the Prince’s christening celebration?”
“ Well darling, because Thomas is the Crown Prince, there are certain expectations. He must be formally presented to the nobles of the Kingdom within the first week after his birth.”
“ Hmm…I’m not so sure I like that. He’s just a newborn, and that seems like a lot of commotion.”
“ I understand your concerns, Your Majesty, but you can be by the Prince’s side at all times, and he need not be present for the entire celebration. Now, for the planning…”
A few days later, the guests were all assembled to meet the new Prince. “Christopher, what of the Baron and Baroness? Will they be present today?” “ They will not, Your Majesty. They sent word that Baroness Regina went into labor this morning.” “ Well, then congratulations are in order for them! Keep me updated on that situation, if you would.” “ Certainly, Your Majesty.”
Queen Abigail joined the King at the top of the stairs, and Christopher went down to announce them to their guests. “Presenting the King and Queen of Britain, and the Crown Prince Thomas!” “ Well, here we go!” Queen Abigail winked.
The nobles clapped as the royal family descended the stairs. Everyone crowded around to get a glimpse of the new Prince, and future King of Britain.
“ He is so precious!” Lady Eloiza exclaimed. “ Indeed!” Agreed Duchess Georgiana. “The Duke and I can’t wait to have one of our own!”
“ Those two sure didn’t waste any time, did they Richard?” Don Lorenzo kidded. “ The same thing happened to Eloiza and I. That newlywed fever!” Lord Richard joked back. “ Well, I’m afraid I can’t relate, boys, and with all do respect to your lovely wives, I hope I never will!” Don Lorenzo grinned smugly.
“ Here, Your Majesty, I can take him. He’s made his appearance, and now he can go to bed!” “ Have a nice nap, little Thomas. Mommy has to stay here and do boring adult things!”
“ Ugh, finally they are all gone. I am so tired!” Queen Abigail rubbed her neck. “ Yes well, welcome to Royal functions! The good news is that they come few and far between.”
“ And what of the Baron and Baroness Von Windsor? Why didn’t they come?” “ Oh yes, we received word from them that the Baroness went into labor this morning.”
“ Into labor? But I thought she wasn’t due until December! She’s over a month early!”
“ Hmm, well we should be sure to contact them and make sure she and the baby are alright.”
“ But don’t worry about that now, ma cherie! All I can think about is how you are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen!” King Eric kissed her hand and up her arm. Queen Abigail giggled. “Oh Eric, stop! That tickles!”
“ What do you say we go up to the room, my love?” “ But, the baby is sleeping in there!” “ Hmm, that’s right. I guess we’ll just have to go to my room first…”
Meanwhile, Baron Marcus sat in the hall, as his wife, the Baroness Regina, labored in the next room.
Finally their serving maid emerged. “Here my Lord. You have a lovely daughter! She is early and that’s what makes her small, but she seems healthy…Would you like to hold her?”
Baron Marcus walked right past her without looking at the baby.
The Baroness Regina laid on the bed, recovering from the birth. “How do you feel? Are you well?”
“ Yes, I feel alright. Did you see our daughter? I was so worried she wouldn’t make it…”
“ I have little time for girls, Regina. You know that. I am pleased you are healthy. Get some rest, I will see you in the morning.” He turned and walked out to sleep down the hall. Baroness Regina wept silently.
I’d like to give a shout-out to Vita Sims. I used a lot of their furniture in this chapter. They have some of the most beautiful content I’ve seen. You have to pay for some of it, but it’s totally worth it!