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Sophia de la Cerda

Seeking Advice | Wednesday, late afternoon

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Volary Garden

 

Between the Privy Stairs and the location of the old Privy Gallery lay the Volary Garden, the aviary of King Charles II. On the other side it opened to the Kings Apartment, most particularly to the Kings Closet, also known as his Laboratory.

 

Four large statues representing ancient Greek goddesses graced the corners of the garden, which was filled with all matter of cages, filled with fowl. Pheasants, singing birds, peacocks, the most interesting amount of exotic birds, including parrots. Previously it was the site of the Kings Little Garden, which was the retreat of Charles I and forbidden to other nobles. Now however all were invited to share in the joy of the exotic, most especially the Maids of Honour, many of whom had their rooms open up to this private garden.

 

 

Sophia tried her best not to look at the water as she sat in the boat that would take her to the palace. She could feel it sloshing against the sides and moving underneath her, but she was accustomed to that after several trips to Madrid. Whether it was the rocky motion or her anxiety, she felt a bit queasy and placed one hand on her stomach. Quiet down, little one, she whispered. Again, she felt one of those soft little flutters in her belly. She liked to think that it was the baby kicking, but it was a bit early for that and was probably only her imagination. It was a pleasant sensation and she smiled as the boat pulled up to the landing.

 

Her ever-present bodyguard disembarked first and helped his mistress out of the boat. Sometimes Sophia wondered if Karl knew that she was pregnant. Would Esteban have spoken of such intimate matters with him? Probably not, but Anna might have told him. It wasn’t a secret. She assumed he was unaware of her arrangement with Juan and would believe the baby to be her husband’s. Anna was aware of the truth, but the middle-aged maidservant treated her mistress like a daughter and would never say anything to endanger her. Anna was one of the few people that Sophia trusted completely.

 

The young Countess had taken Davina’s advice and worn sturdy boots and a warm cloak. The hood was pulled up to conceal her face.  It was better that nobody saw the Queen’s maid-of-honor meeting with the wife of the Spanish Ambassador. Beneath the cloak was the same outfit she had worn earlier when meeting with Buckingham and Francis … a lovely gown of coral silk, embroidered all over with pale yellow flowers. It was trimmed in Venetian lace around the moderately cut neckline, beneath the each of the four puffs of her long sleeves and around the elongated bottom of her corset, forming a peplum. The sides of the skirt were pulled back with white lace bows so that her yellow silk underskirt, embroidered in pink flowers, could be seen. Her white-gold hair was arranged in its usual cascade of curls, held in place by combs featuring coral fabric flowers. Most of her jewelry was comprised of pearls, but around her neck she wore the cameo Juan had given her on a coral ribbon.

 

It had seemed a bit odd to leave the gardens and go home just to take a boat back, but had she stayed, she might have been seen wandering around killing time. Sophia had wanted to check on her pets anyway. Her new puppy was adjusting well to her cat and monkey companions and they accepted her among them. Juliet and her kittens had been moved to another room so that the mama cat didn’t attack the new addition to her menagerie.

 

The walk to the Volary garden was not far, and Sophia enjoyed the exercise. Just because she was pregnant didn’t mean that she had to sit around all day and be coddled. She believed it important to remain active for as long as possible. She smiled as the sound of birdsong reached her. Will Mistress Wellsley be waiting for me or will I have time to visit the parrots and see if they remember what I taught them?

 

With that thought, she stepped into the garden.

Edited by Sophia de la Cerda

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