Ten Years Later
"Do you feel all right?" Arthur asked his wife Anne, who was not quite nine months pregnant.
"I'm fine," Anne said with a smile. "The baby just kicked me again, that's all."
"Well, that problem will very soon be a thing of the past." Arthur smiled and stroked his wife's swollen belly.
"I can't wait!" Anne exclaimed.
"Neither can I," said Arthur.
This was Anne's fifth pregnancy. She and Arthur already had four healthy sons, Arthur, Brandon, Charles, and David. Arthur was very happy with his growing family but felt that something was missing. What it was he dared not mention for fear of being ridiculed.
He remembered how thrilled he'd been at the birth of his firstborn son and namesake. His Uncle Henry and all his friends and courtiers had congratulated him on the birth and told him how fortunate he was to have gotten a male heir so quickly. Anne had been immensely relieved.
"I'm so happy the baby was a boy," she'd told her husband. "I know how disappointed you would have been at the birth of a daughter."
"I am very happy to have a healthy son," Arthur had agreed. "But I wouldn't have loved you any less if he'd been a girl, as I know it wouldn't have been your fault."
The births of Brandon and Charles had been met with the same euphoria, but although he never would have admitted it to anyone, Arthur had felt just a tad disappointed after David's birth, and from the look on Anne's face, he'd been able to tell that she'd felt the same way.
"I think I shall retire early tonight," Anne said, her voice bringing Arthur back to the present. "I feel unusually tired." She rose from where she and Arthur had been sitting in the garden watching their sons at play and returned to the palace.
Arthur noticed that it was getting darker. "Boys, it's time to go inside and get ready for bed," he told his sons.
"Please, Papa, can we stay outside for just a little while longer?" asked little Charles.
"Very well. You may play for fifteen minutes more," his father told him.
Later that night, Anne gently shook her husband awake. "It's time," she told him.
Instantly Arthur was wide awake. "Are you sure?" he asked her.
"I'm positive," she replied. "I've been through this four times before, you know."
Half awake, the King stumbled from his bedchambers in search of the palace physician. The physician was quickly located and immediately went to Anne's bedchambers. Arthur settled in for the long wait.
At first things seemed to be fairly routine, but after awhile, Arthur became anxious that this labor and delivery seemed to be taking longer than the previous four had. He began to pace back and forth restlessly.
He was almost frantic with worry by the time the physician finally emerged from Anne's bedchambers. The expression on the physician's face confirmed Arthur's fears.
"The Queen grows weaker and weaker, yet the child seems no nearer to being born," the physician said. "I'm afraid the time has come to make a choice. You must chose between the mother's life and that of the child."
"I can't lose Anne!" Arthur cried. "Please, you must do whatever you can to save her!"
"Very well. I shall do my utmost to save Anne, but of course, I can't make any promises," the physician said before disappearing inside the bedchambers once again.
At that moment Arthur wasn't even thinking about the baby's gender, but before the situation had become critical, he'd found himself daydreaming of soft black curls resting against Anne's breast, a dainty hand reaching up to grasp his finger, a soft voice in contrast to the whoops and shouts of his four energetic sons.
After what seemed like hours, the physician finally reappeared, looking very weary. "The Queen lives," he told Arthur.
"You have a healthy new daughter," the physician told him.
"Is Anne going to be all right?"
"She's very weak, but I believe she shall make it."
"Can I see her now?"
The physician stepped aside so that Arthur could enter his wife's bedchambers. Arthur found Anne sitting up in bed, looking very pale and weak but happy. She held a tiny bundle in her arms. Arthur felt a thrill of joy course through his body.
"Would you like to hold her?" Anne asked.
Arthur gingerly took the tiny bundle from his wife's arms and looked into the tiny face. He felt an overwhelming love for the tiny creature.
"She's beautiful!" he exclaimed happily.
"I thought that perhaps we could name her Elizabeth, for my mother and your grandmother," Anne suggested.
"That's a lovely name," Arthur replied.
"I never realized how badly I wanted a daughter until after she was born," Anne admitted.
"Neither did I," said Arthur. He was thrilled that his wife had shared his secret yearning all along.