"I was too early married, and then unhappily married; at eighteen I was a mother. All this ages a woman--not the years but the storms of life have marked these fearful lines in my face. Then it is not possible for a man to feel any warm interest in me when he sees a grown-up daughter by my side, who will soon be my rival, and strive with me for the homage of men. This is indeed exasperating. Oh, my God! my God! a day may come in which I may be jealous of my own daughter! May Heaven guard me from that! Grant that I may see her fresh and blooming beauty without rancor; that I may think more of her happiness than my vanity."
Then, as if she would strengthen her good resolutions, Louise left her room and hastened to the chamber of her daughter.
Camilla lay upon the divan--her slender and beauteous form was wrapped in soft white drapery; her shining, soft dark hair fell around her rosy face and over her naked shoulders, with whose alabaster whiteness it contrasted strongly. Camilla was reading, and so entirely was she occupied with her book that she did not hear her mother enter.
Louise drew softly near the divan, and stood still, lost in admiration at this lovely, enchanting picture, this reposing Hebe.
"Camilla," said she, fondly, "what are you reading so eagerly?"
Camilla started and looked up suddenly, then laughed aloud.
"Ah, mamma," said she, in a silver, clear, and soft voice, "how you frightened me! I thought it was my tyrannical governess already returned from her walk, and that she had surprised me with this book."
"Without doubt she forbade you to read it," said her mother, gravely, stretching out her hand for the book, but Camilla drew it back suddenly.