I am a precocious child. My tutors say it, my household says it, my Lady Mother says it; my Lord Father must agree, for he has betrothed me to my cousin, my mother's nephew. He has betrothed me to a man nearly quadruple my age.

But I am a Princess, the Princess of England. I pray each day for my father to be blessed with a son, for my mother to complete our family, but so far, she has not done so.

I do as I must. I waste my time with feminine pursuits: I dance prettily; I stitch with precision; I play the virginal so sweetly that one would think my fingers made of sugar. I waste my time, for I am heir to the throne of England.

I lead my ladies to Mass on this most joyful day, the day of my betrothal. My mouth says the prayers, my tongue knows them by rote, but my mind is not on the service.

"Credo in unum Deum,

Patrem omnipoténtem..."

What is my cousin the Emperor like? Is he kind? We are Spaniards both; is he hot-tempered as I can be? Oh, terrors.

"...De luminé, Deum verum de Deo vero. Genitum non..."

Will we be happy? Where shall we live? Will we split our time between our countries?

What of our children? I smile at the thought. Being a mother is the one thing in life I cannot wait to have happen to me; indeed, I still have dolls to "mother", though I am nearly seven, nearly a woman, and should have put them away as child's play... But I should so like a baby.

"Et in Spíritum Sanctum..."

I am a Princess of Spain, but I am yet a girl. I dream of marriage in its perfection, that my husband shall love me and I shall be happy. I shall grow old and fat and happy, surrounded by my children and their children. I do not understand politics, I do not know that my father will soon rip apart my entire world. I do not know that I will be shamed, not a quite a bastard but not legally a Princess. I do not know that I will fear for my life, for my very soul, in the upcoming years. I do not know any of this, for I am my Lord Father's only legitimate child, the Pearl of his World, betrothed to my cousin Carlos, and I will be happy. In my naïve, child's heart, I feel peace.

"Amen."

"Amen."