She saw that she had thought falsely, and that Clorinda had not been out at all, for she was in home attire; and even in the midst of her trepidation there sprang into Anne's mind the awful thought that through some servant's blunder the comely young visitor had been sent away. For herself, she expected but to be driven forth with wrathful, disdainful words for her presumption. For what else could she hope from this splendid creature, who, while of her own flesh and blood, had never seemed to regard her as being more than a poor superfluous underling? But strangely enough, there was no anger in Clorinda's eyes; she but laughed, as though what she had seen had made her merry.
"You here, Anne," she said, "and looking with light-mindedness after gallant gentlemen! Mistress Margery should see to this and watch more closely, or we shall have unseemly stories told. YOU, sister, with your modest face and bashfulness! I had not thought it of you."
Suddenly she crossed the room to where her sister stood drooping, and seized her by the shoulder, so that she could look her well in the face.
"What," she said, with a mocking not quite harsh--"What is this? Does a glance at a fine gallant, even taken from behind an oriel window, make such change indeed? I never before saw this look, nor this colour, forsooth; it hath improved thee wondrously, Anne-- wondrously."
"Sister," faltered Anne, "I so desired to see your birth-night ball- gown, of which Mistress Margery hath much spoken--I so desired--I thought it would not matter if, the door being open and it spread forth upon the bed--I--I stole a look at it. And then I was tempted--and came in."
"And then was tempted more," Clorinda laughed, still regarding her downcast countenance shrewdly, "by a thing far less to be resisted-- a fine gentleman from town, with love-locks falling on his shoulders and ladies' hearts strung at his saddle-bow by scores. Which found you the most beautiful?"
"Your gown is splendid, sister," said Anne, with modest shyness. "There will be no beauty who will wear another like it; or should there be one, she will not carry it as you will."
"But the man--the man, Anne," Clorinda laughed again. "What of the man?"