On the night of the dance the line of private carriages, remises and cabs, lined the Viale Ariosto for a mile up and down before her gates, where young artists of both sexes arrived on foot. By this time her passion for Clementina was at its height. She had Maddalena bring her out early in the evening, and made her dress under her own eye and her French maid’s, while Maddalena went back to comfort Mrs. Lander.
“I hated to leave her,” said Clementina. “I don’t believe she’s very well.”
“Isn’t she always ill?” demanded Miss Milray. She embraced the girl again, as if once were not enough. “Clementina, if Mrs. Lander won’t give you to me, I’m going to steal you. Do you know what I want you to do tonight? I want you to stand up with me, and receive, till the dancing begins, as if it were your coming-out. I mean to introduce everybody to you. You’ll be easily the prettiest girl, there, and you’ll have the nicest gown, and I don’t mean that any of your charms shall be thrown away. You won’t be frightened?”
“No, I don’t believe I shall,” said Clementina. “You can tell me what to do.”
The dress she wore was of pale green, like the light seen in thin woods; out of it shone her white shoulders, and her young face, as if rising through the verdurous light. The artists, to a man and woman, wished to paint her, and severally told her so, during the evening which lasted till morning. She was not surprised when Lord Lioncourt appeared, toward midnight, and astonished Miss Milray by claiming acquaintance with Clementina. He asked about Mrs. Lander, and whether she had got to Florence without losing the way; he laughed but he seemed really to care. He took Clementina out to supper, when the time came; and she would have topped him by half a head as she leaned on his arm, if she had not considerately drooped and trailed a little after him.