Though her husband had once feared that he was depriving her of the life she deserved, Celeste had found that being a wife and especially a mother was truly all she had wanted for herself. She did not have as much time to read as she had once, but her darling little girl and her adoring husband more than made up for it. She had fashioned a kind of sling to hold her little girl that freed both her hands for making dinner or washing clothes or dishes or cleaning. Sometimes, she got a bit of a reprieve and a rest when Jean would take her to the shop with him, tucking her tiny body in his coat when he went out so that only her chubby cheeks could be seen.
Celeste had not known it was possible to love someone as much as she loved her Eleanor. Sometimes, her heart broke simply looking at her with her perfect, rosy cheeks and her silky dark hair. She was a quiet baby, and fairly good for her mother, and their lives had settled into a lovely routine. Housework was no longer much of a struggle, and she had found a certain flare for cooking, although she would never be able to cook quite as well as Jean’s mother.
One particularly rainy afternoon found Celeste sprawled out on the sitting room rug in front of a roaring fire. Her daughter lay on her belly next to her, and she was reading aloud from some ancient, impressive-looking tome that was actually just fairy stories from her own childhood.
“And then the prince—,” she was saying, but looked up when the door opened. Baby Eleanor turned over onto her back and wriggled on the rug, squealing. She knew that sound meant her father had come home, and of course she was terribly fond of him. How could she be otherwise when he doted upon her so? “Look, my sweet, ‘tis the very one!” Celeste giggled, scooping the girl up as she stood.