The thought occurs to Theresa as she is sitting in the shadow of Vaduz castle, Carolyn Shipwright in an iron outdoor chair next to her. They watch as Arthur tries to catch Theresa’s eldest daughter, who is giggling as she runs around the castle garden.
She didn’t have this, when she was a kid. Her father was the eldest of his siblings, which meant that she was the firstborn of her generation, which meant no playmates. When she was a child, she spent most of her time running around by herself.
Things are different — at least for this firstborn-of-her-generation.
“I’m...I’m going to catch you!” Arthur vows, hopping over a patch of coneflowers Theresa’s mother had particularly liked (and therefore which Theresa slightly disliked) in hot pursuit of his — as he’s called her — godsister.
“Keep trying, Arthur,” Carolyn calls out to her son, half-teasing, and Theresa wonders if she will be able to replicate that kind of familiarity with her children. She’s spent enough time around Carolyn and Arthur to see the teasing, the ridicule — but most of all, the love.
Theresa’s whole childhood, she reflects, was dominated by the fact that she was the heiress presumptive. Used to being treated like a piece of porcelain, she’d initially been shocked by not only the ways in which Carolyn would tease her son, but by the familiarity between the rest of the airline and Arthur.
Was that part of the reason why she’s loved to be with them? Undeniably.
Was that the reason why she’s wanted her children to be part of this family? Of course.
“I want her to have a childhood,” Theresa murmurs, almost to herself.
She looks to her daughter’s godmother, sitting in the other garden chair, and wonders if Carolyn has heard.
“Why? Did you...not have a childhood?” the older woman asks her, with a concerned tilt of her head.
“It’s not like I didn’t have one, I mean I did, but…” She doesn’t know how to explain it still. She’s had this problem for the longest time, but she’s getting better at it. “I hope she’ll have time to play.”
“From the looks of it,” Carolyn comments dryly as her son pretends to fall over in the garden and her goddaughter runs back to pile on top of him, “Arthur is helping to take care of that .”