Tonight she barred all attendants from her door. Alone and unobserved, she removed her wig and ran her fingers through her wispy gray hair. She tried to recall the face of her mother, the beauteous Anne Boleyn. But so many years had passed; she had been only three at the time of her mother’s execution, and the memory refused to answer her summons. At least her unfortunate mother hadn’t been forced to endure the agony of outliving her beauty.
Indeed, Elizabeth Tudor had survived long enough to have gained wisdom, the essential quality Lord Burghley had assured her was required by a successful monarch. But now she wondered if it was better for a female monarch to die young and at the peak of perfection – like her mother, bereft of the head whose face would one day betray her in the mirror. Wisdom was a fine quality, though perhaps overrated; for when it came down to a universal truth in a world governed by men, women without a trace of sensual beauty were powerless to control events in their favor.
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