Before their very eyes, their children grew like beanstalks. The following spring Danielle was seen toddling along after her brother through out the gardens. She had grown to be a bit of a chubby baby and as a result her walk was more like a waddle. Francis always blamed Marie for this; she was never satisfied that her daughter had enough to eat.
At first, Henry didn’t like that he had a sister too much. To him, she was pointless. All she would do was lay there and cry. Soon though, she had started to be amusing to him, and from then on they were never seen apart.
The only real problem was the fact that when they were together they tended to get themselves into trouble. Countless times a maid would have to remove one them from church in order to make the other behave. As they got older, it got worse. Finally, they were placed one on either side of their parents to try to keep them to behave. It did work for awhile, but they eventually found their way around it.
When Henry turned five, he started to get tutored. Once a week, Danielle was aloud to follow him, and even though she was only two years old she was an eager listener. Henry despised taking lesson everyday except the one day when his little sister joined him those were his most productive days.
On Danielle’s fifth birthday, things started to change. One of the changes dealt with her and the other was about her. Both were revealed in an early morning chat between her parents. “Marie, my dear, we need to have a little talk concerning Danielle.”
Marie didn’t like the tone of his voice. She already could tell that he was going to tell her something huge. “What is it Francis?”
“First off, I would like to discuss what type of lessons I believe she should begin taking. I know she is still young, but the sooner that we start the better. I have been busily interviewing a number of governess, and have it narrowed down to three. I will leave the final choice up to you. This governess shall teach her until the age of fourteen when we send her boarding school for two years.”
Marie’s face showed her disapproval. “I understand why you want for her to have a governess, but is boarding school really necessary? I never went, and see how well I turned out. I don’t think I could bear a year with out her let alone two years.”
“She shall be back during the summer. It is just that this is the right way to introduce her into proper society, and for her to perfect her accomplishments. I am already quite decided on this plan of action, so I am sorry to say you really have no say. What I would like your help on is what subjects should she learn. I will leave it up to you to pick what the governess shall teach her now, and what she will be taught later.”
Marie looked angrily at her husband, “I am glad that my opinion means so much to you.” There was a moment of awkward silence in which Marie glared at Francis. Finally, Marie broke the ice again, “Is that all you wanted to talk to me about?”
Francis drew a deep breath, “No, Marie. I would recommend that you sit down for the next part.” She sat down and watched silently as he paced the room. “For a long time, I have been keeping a secret from you. I should have told you many years ago, but I did not was to hurt you in anyway shape or form. You never did remember much about the night of Danielle’s birth, and have always relied on how I described have it to you. Well, my description is very inaccurate.”
Marie looked puzzled, “What does this have to do with anything. I really do not care about the details of that night all that I care about is that I gave birth to a wonderful child that we call Danielle.” Francis turned away from his wife. “Francis, I may have been out of it, but I do remember that I did give birth.”
Francis tried to keep his answers brief, “You did indeed give birth that night.”
“Then what is the big deal. What is the matter as long as I remember that I gave birth to Danielle that night?” There was no answer. Worry crept into Marie’s voice, “What is it you are not telling me that I did not give birth to Danielle.” Francis stood in silence. Tears stared to form in Marie’s eyes. In a forceful and yet scared voice she spoke, “Francis if you do not explain to me what is going on quick I shall never talk to you again!”
Francis had stopped pacing the room, and now was eye to eye with her. He silently pulled up a chair and sat across from her. He reached for her hands, but she pulled them back. He knew that he deserved that. “Marie, the night that Danielle was born was the night that our daughter was born. The childbirth was hard on both you and our unnamed child. The physician made me tell you that our daughter was doing fine in order to keep your spirits up. I followed his orders because I thought that it was best for you. The truth is that a few minutes after I took our child out of your room she died.”
Francis reached for his wife, and this time she took his embrace. She cried openly into his chest. It was a lot for her to have to bear, and Francis understood how she felt. He had long since got it out of his system, but he could only imagine how much worse it was for his wife. She cried for a good five minutes before she pushed Francis away. “I can not believe you lied to me all this time!” She started to walk towards the door, but a thought stopped her. “If Danielle isn’t our daughter, then whose child is she?”
Francis related to her what had happen in the garden that night, and about the letter that he found with the child. “Marie it was as if we had been granted a miracle. You always wanted to have a daughter and that is what that day brought us.”
Their conversation was cut short because they heard two children running through the hall laughing. The door flew open and their stood eight years old Henry, with his sister two steps behind him. Henry was completely out of breath. Danielle, on the other hand, was breathing normally.
Her father called to her, “Come here my little angel. How excited are you that you are now a whole hand old.” He patted his knee and she hopped up. “You have quite a day to look forward to. Your friends Jacqueline, and Marguerite are going to be coming over for lunch, and then you will have a huge birthday dinner with many of the noble’s children.”
Marie, who had been given a chance to recover, was ready to speak again. “Remind me. Jacqueline and Marguerite mother’s name is the Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent who just recently married Auguste de Barbarac. Is that correct?”
“Indeed it is.” He turns his attention back to Danielle. “So what is it you want to do before lunch. It is your big day and you can do anything that you want?”
“Anything?” He nods. “I want to ride a horse,” is what she simply answered.
Her father smiled, “Don’t you think you are a little too young for that?”
“Henry has started to take lesson. I want to learn too.”
Marie laughs, “Henry is two years older then you, but in time you shall learn as well. For now, why don’t we go outside and enjoy this beautiful weather.
The rest of the day was spent in simple enjoyments. At lunch, the Ghent sisters came over, and even then Danielle and Marguerite didn’t get along. Later that night, Francis and Marie had another ‘discussion’ about how Francis had lied to her. Things would never be the same between them. Their love would slowly fade because of the one secret that was kept too long.
Over the next few years, Danielle learned to speak different languages, dance, sing, sew, and many of the other accomplishments that were looked for in a young lady. Her father refused to let her be aloud to go to her brother’s lessons anymore. He claimed that it wasn’t right for her to learn to think like a man. Both of them were upset, but they found a way to get around it. A few times a week they would meet in the library, and her brother would teach her about the subjects that truly interested her.
The next few years past smoothly enough, but in the distance was the day that Marie dreaded. It was the day after Danielle’s fourteenth birthday. The day that Danielle would leave for boarding school.