Change of scene had, Dr. Woodford said, brightened the poor youth, and he was showing more interest in passing events, but probably he would never again be the light-hearted boy they used to know.
Anne could well believe it.
CHAPTER XVI: A ROYAL NURSERY
“The duty that I owe unto your Majesty
I seal upon the lips of this sweet babe.”
King Richard III.
It was not till the Queen had moved from St. James’s, where her son had been born, to take up her abode at Whitehall, that Lady Oglethorpe was considered to be disinfected from her children’s whooping-cough, and could conduct Mistress Anne Jacobina Woodford to her new situation.
Anne remembered the place from times past, as she followed the lady up the broad stairs to the state rooms, where the child was daily carried for inspection by the nation to whom, it was assumed, he was so welcome, but who, on the contrary, regarded him with the utmost dislike and suspicion.
Whitehall was, in those days, free to all the world, and though sentries in the Life-guards’ uniform with huge grenadier caps were posted here and there, every one walked up and down. Members of Parliament and fine gentlemen in embroidered coats and flowing wigs came to exchange news; country cousins came to stare and wonder, some to admire, some to whisper their disbelief in the Prince’s identity; clergy in gown, cassock, and bands came to win what they could in a losing cause; and one or two other clergy, who were looked at askance, whose dress had a foreign air, and whose tonsure could be detected as they threaded their way with quick, gliding steps to the King’s closet.
Lady Oglethorpe, as one to the manner born, made her way through the midst of this throng in the magnificent gallery, and Anne followed her closely, conscious of words of admiration and inquiries who she was. Into the Prince’s presence chamber, in fact his day-nursery, they came, and a sweet and gentle-looking lady met them, and embraced Lady Oglethorpe, who made known Mistress Woodford to Lady Strickland, of Sizergh, the second governess, as the fourth rocker who had been appointed.
“You are welcome, Miss Woodford,” said the lady, looking at Anne’s high, handsome head and well-bred action in courtesying, with a shade of surprise. “You are young, but I trust you are discreet. There is much need thereof.”