The World of Fashion said when her ladyship’s equipage drove by, that her beauty was like that of the god of day at morning, and that ’twas plain that no man or woman had ever beheld her as his Grace of Osmonde would.
“She loves at last,” a wit said. “Until the time that such a woman loves, however great her splendour, she is as the sun behind a cloud.”
“And now this one hath come forth, and shines so that she warms us in mere passing,” said another. “What eyes, and what a mouth, with that strange smile upon it. Whoever saw such before? and when she came to town with my Lord Dunstanwolde, who, beholding her, would have believed that she could wear such a look?”
In sooth, there was that in her face and in her voice when she spoke which almost made Anne weep, through its strange sweetness and radiance. ’Twas as if the flood of her joy had swept away all hardness and disdain. Her eyes, which had seemed to mock at all they rested on, mocked no more, but ever seemed to smile at some dear inward thought.
One night when she went forth to a Court ball, being all attired in brocade of white and silver, and glittering with the Dunstanwolde diamonds, which starred her as with great sparkling dewdrops, and yet had not the radiance of her eyes and smile, she was so purely wonderful a vision that Anne, who had been watching her through all the time when she had been under the hands of her tirewoman, and beholding her now so dazzling and white a shining creature, fell upon her knees to kiss her hand almost as one who worships.
“Oh, sister,” she said, “you look like a spirit. It is as if with the earth you had naught to do—as if your eyes saw Heaven itself and Him who reigns there.”
The lovely orbs of Clorinda shone more still like the great star of morning.
“Sister Anne,” she said, laying her hand on her white breast, “at times I think that I must almost be a spirit, I feel such heavenly joy. It is as if He whom you believe in, and who can forgive and wipe out sins, has forgiven me, and has granted it to me, that I may begin my poor life again. Ah! I will make it better; I will try to make it as near an angel’s life as a woman can; and I will do no wrong, but only good; and I will believe, and pray every day upon my knees—and all my prayers will be that I may so live that my dear lord—my Gerald—could forgive me all that I have ever done—and seeing my soul, would know me worthy of him. Oh! we are strange things, we human creatures, Anne,” with a tremulous smile; “we do not believe until we want a thing, and feel that we shall die if ’tis not granted to us; and then we kneel and kneel and believe, because we must have somewhat to ask help from.”
“But all help has been given to you,” poor tender Anne said, kissing her hand again; “and I will pray, I will pray—”
“Ay, pray, Anne, pray with all thy soul,” Clorinda answered; “I need thy praying—and thou didst believe always, and have asked so little that has been given thee.”