“But, after all,” as Anne overheard her observing to Miss Dunord, “it may be all the better for us. What with her breeding and her foreign tongues, she would be sure to be set over our heads as under-governess, or the like, if she were not such an obstinate heretic, and keeping that stupid Humphreys so. We could have converted her long ago, if it were not for that Woodford and for her City grand-dame! Portia is the King’s godchild, too, so it is just as well that she does not see what is for her own advantage.”
“I do not care for promotion. I only want to save my own soul and hers,” said Pauline. “I wish she would come over to the true Church, for I could love her.”
And certainly Pauline Dunord’s gentle devotional example, and her perfect rest and peace in the practice of her religion, were strong influences with Anne. She was waiting till circumstances should make it possible to her to enter a convent, and in the meantime she lived a strictly devout life, abstracted as far as duty and kindness permitted from the little cabals and gossipry around.
Anne could not help feeling that the girl was as nearly a saint as any one she had ever seen—far beyond herself in goodness. Moreover, the Queen inspired strong affection. Mary Beatrice was not only a very beautiful person, full of the grace and dignity of the House of Este, but she was deeply religious, good and gentle, kindly and gracious to all who approached her, and devoted to her husband and child. A word or look from her was always a delight, and Anne, by her knowledge of Italian, was able sometimes to obtain a smiling word or remark.
The little Prince, after those first miserable weeks of his life, had begun to thrive, and by and by manifested a decided preference not only for his beautiful mother, but for the fresh face, bright smile, and shining brown eyes of Miss Woodford. She could almost always, with nods and becks, avert a passion of roaring, which sometimes went beyond the powers of even his foster-mother, the tiler’s wife. The Queen watched with delight when he laughed and flourished his arms in response, and the King was summoned to see the performance, which he requited by taking out a fat gold watch set with pearls, and presenting it to Anne, as his grave gloomy face lighted up with a smile.
“Are you yet one of us?” he asked, as she received his gift on her knee.
“No, sir, I cannot—”
“That must be amended. You have read his late Majesty’s paper?”
“I have, sir.”
“And seen Father Giverlai?”
“Yes, please your Majesty.”
“And still you are not convinced. That must not be. I would gladly consider and promote you, but I can only have true Catholics around my son. I shall desire Father Crump to see you.”
CHAPTER XVIII: HALLOWMAS EVE
“This more strange
Than such a murder is.”