The old men saw a young woman, to them a child, upright, with level eyes of a very clear blue; strikingly good looking, sometimes beautiful, with her height, her corn-coloured hair – great masses of it, her only known vanity. They had known her as an extremely determined young girl, who was also gay and high-spirited to the point of frivolity, with a passion for dancing and card-playing all through the night. Now she was pale, but the remarkable thing was that only a few hours before she had been prostrate with grief, her doctors prepared for a miscarriage; and now here she was, very much a queen, having summoned them to her first audience – not seated on the throne to receive them, but standing on the steps that led up to it, wonderfully fair in her mourning, framed by the heavy purple canopy. She stood alone and with perfect self-possession, her husband, now Grand Duke of Tuscany, on her left, but outside the frame. It was to go on like this.
from Maria Theresa by Edward Crankshaw