From her side Mistress Anne was rarely parted. In her fair retreat at Camylott she had lived a life all undisturbed by outward things. When the children were born strange joy came to her.
“Be his mother also,” the duchess had said when she had drawn the clothes aside to show her first-born sleeping in her arm. “You were made to be the mother of things, Anne.”
“Nay, or they had been given to me,” Anne had answered.
“Mine I will share with you,” her Grace had said, lifting her Madonna face. “Kiss me, sister—kiss him, too, and bless him. Your life has been so innocent it must be good that you should love and guard him.”
’Twas sweet to see the wit she showed in giving to poor Anne the feeling that she shared her motherhood. She shared her tenderest cares and duties with her. Together they bathed and clad the child in the morning, this being their high festival, in which the nurses shared but in the performance of small duties. Each day they played with him and laughed as women will at such dear times, kissing his grand round limbs, crying out at their growth, worshipping his little rosy feet, and smothering him with caresses. And then they put him to sleep, Anne sitting close while his mother fed him from her breast until his small red mouth parted and slowly released her.
When he could toddle about and was beginning to say words, there was a morning when she bore him to Anne’s tower that they might joy in him together, as was their way. It was a beautiful thing to see her walk carrying him in the strong and lovely curve of her arm as if his sturdy babyhood were of no more weight than a rose, and he cuddling against her, clinging and crowing, his wide brown eyes shining with delight.
“He has come to pay thee court, Anne,” she said. “He is a great gallant, and knows how we are his loving slaves. He comes to say his new word that I have taught him.”
She set him down where he stood holding to Anne’s knee and showing his new pearl teeth, in a rosy grin; his mother knelt beside him, beginning her coaxing.
“Who is she?” she said, pointing with her finger at Anne’s face, her own full of lovely fear lest the child should not speak rightly his lesson. “What is her name? Mammy’s man say—” and she mumbled softly with her crimson mouth at his ear.
The child looked up at Anne, with baby wit and laughter in his face, and stammered sweetly—
“Muz—Muzzer—Anne,” he said, and then being pleased with his cleverness, danced on his little feet and said it over and over.
Clorinda caught him up and set him on Anne’s lap.
“Know you what he calls you?” she said. “’Tis but a mumble, his little tongue is not nimble enough for clearness, but he says it his pretty best. ’Tis Mother Anne, he says—’tis Mother Anne.”
And then they were in each other’s arms, the child between them, he kissing both and clasping both, with little laughs of joy as if they were but one creature.