Dawn and the miller-knight were very happy for a time, and Dawn soon became with child. Unfortunately, Dawn did not take well to pregnancy. She lay in her upstairs chamber, sick and clammy with the pains of pregnancy. Her ladies opened up the window to ease her hot body. Dawn stared out the window for days.
“Our child will have eyes as blue as that sky,” she said. “She will be absolutely beautiful.”
“If she looks anything like you, she will be,” said the miller-knight as he dabbed her forehead with a cool cloth. He kept his wishes for a son to himself. If she spoke, she still had strength in her.
“Her skin will be as white as that cloud,” she said.
He pressed the cool cloth against the red splotches on her cheeks. Her skin was once pale and creamy, and if he had his way, it would be again.
The next day she swallowed some broth and said she felt better. The miller-knight thought it best if she tried some fresh air. Two strong men carried her in a chair down to the river. He arranged to have some servants change out the bedsheets and other linens, and called for flowers and dry herbs to be strung around the room to sweeten the air.
The small party sat by a calm tributary of the river. It would soon meet with another tributary, where the waters would flush and rush and form the strong current that ran the mill. But here, it was shaded and calm. They could see small fish and insects. The miller-knight pointed out a group of tadpoles to Dawn, who smiled at his words without looking. She was pink today. A lady sat by her chair and fanned her. Perhaps the cool air by the water would help.
The picnic lasted only for an hour or two, but when the miller-knight appeared distracted by clean-up, she complained to her ladies of how achey her bones felt; her knees, her elbows, her shoulders, her neck. She tried to smile whenever the miller-knight looked at her, but he looked at her so often. She was carried upstairs, and was delighted by the changes made to her chambers.
Dawn allowed herself to be tucked into bed and announced that she would be taking a nap. The servants and ladies all left the room. The miller-knight hesitated and ran his hand lightly over her arm before turning to leave.
“They will be frogs soon,” Dawn murmured. The miller-knight stopped and looked at her from the corner of his eye. Dawn ran a hand over her large belly. “They won’t have a lily.”
The miller-knight pinched her hand and started to leave.
“Why would they live somewhere without a lily?”
The miller-knight turned and looked at Dawn. Her eyes were on him, wide and frightened.
“Maybe they don’t need a lily pad,” said the miller-knight.
“But they do,” said Dawn. “That’s what they always say.”
He thought for a moment, and then said, “I’ll get them a lily-pad. I promise.”
When the child was born, she was dipped in cold river water, wrapped in a fine blanket, and brought before her father to be named. All thoughts of wanting a boy disappeared when she was sunk helplessly into her father’s arms. Her eyes were as blue as the mid-summer sky, and she quickly closed them when he had her safely in his arms. She was safe. She was beautiful.
She was named Lilian Patricia Dawn of the Mills. She was presented before her mother, who accepted her as such. The announcement therefore was sent out; the name was announced before the King in His royal court. Letters were sent to connections, merchant and genteel. Lilian Patricia Dawn was born to a noble and wealthy family. Her life would surely be one of prestige and luxury.
For the first few years of her life, it seemed to be the case. Dawn recovered from her fever, although she never regained her full strength. She laughed when she told Lily how she got her name. She brought Lily to the picnic spot often. She walked with a cane and rested frequently, with servants and ladies lagging behind, but she insisted on walking to regain her strength.
The miller-knight had indeed brought lily pads to the little picnic area, just as he had promised. The spot was a nice one for frogs, who jumped around and snapped up all the little bugs in the area. Little Lily ran to and fro, chasing bugs, grabbing worms, sticking her hands in mud, and giving random people hugs.
“She will need a friend soon,” said Dawn, watching her rub her muddy hands all over her dress. “She will need to learn how to act properly. Send out for a governess, and get for me a list of families with children just her age.”
“How old are the King’s children?” asked Lady Abigail, idly.
Lady Georgina sighed and thought. “Brendan is four,” she said. “Beatrice is six, and there are rumors that the Queen is with child again.”
“Excellent,” said Dawn. “I will have to apply to have Lily be made a lady-in-waiting for Beatrice.”
She told her ladies often of her plans for Lily. She would become lady-in-waiting to the princess, and be seen often at court. A young nobleman, a baron or a count, perhaps, would fall madly in love with her and marry her, raising her up higher in society. With such a dowry as a first-born child of the Miller-Knight, any member of the Peerage would welcome her with open arms. Perhaps Lily would own two houses instead of one. Or three houses, and spend part of the year in the city, attending court.
Lily would need to know how to dance and sing. She would need to know her letters, arithmetic, geography, literature, and history. She needed to learn herbs. Someone needed to teach her how to walk properly. The way she walked now was fine, since she was just learning to walk. But soon she would no longer be a wobble-headed toddler but a colt-legged child. She needed to learn grace and modesty.
A governess was hired when Lily was five years old. Elizabeth was barely twenty, the daughter of a shipping agent who had died recently. The miller-knight made the arrangement at his wife’s behest. She was a sweet girl, and balanced the need for Lily to behave and her need to play.
A friend for Lily was much harder to come by. The local families were much too enthralled by the wealth of the miller-knight. Finally the miller-knight and Dawn attended the funeral of a count. Dawn met with the count’s widow and saw that she had two daughters just Lily’s age. She sent for Elizabeth and Lily, and arranged a picnic for the three girls.