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BEFORE I had reached the turning which led
out of the square, my attention was aroused by
the sound of a closing door, in the row of houses
behind me. I looked round, and saw an under-
sized man in black, on the door-step of the house,
which, as well as I could judge, stood next to
Mrs. Catherick's place of abode, on the side
nearest to me. The man advanced rapidly
towards the turning at which I had stopped. I
recognised him as the lawyer's clerk who had
preceded me in my visit to Blackwater Park,
and who had tried to pick a quarrel with me,
when I asked him if I could see the house.

I waited where I was, to ascertain whether
his object was to come to close quarters and
speak, on this occasion. To my surprise, he
passed on on rapidly, without saying a word,
without even looking up in my face as he
went by. This was such a complete inversion
of the course of proceeding which I had every
reason to expect on his part, that my curiosity,
or rather my suspicion, was aroused, and I
determined, on my side, to keep him cautiously in
view, and to discover what the business might
be on which he was now employed. Without
caring whether he saw me or not, I walked after
him. He never looked back; and led me straight
through the streets to the railway station.

The train was on the point oif starting, and
two or three passengers who were late were
clustering round the small opening through
which the tickets were issued. I joined thein,
and distinctly heard the lawyer's clerk demand
a ticket for the Blackwater station. I satisfied
myself that he had actually left by the train,
before I came away.

There was only one interpretation that I
could place on what I had just seen and heard.
I had unquestionably observed the man leav-
ing a house which closely adjoined Mrs.
Catherick's residence. He had been probably
placed there, by Sir Pcrcival's directions, as a
lodger, in anticipation of my inquiries leading
me, sooner or later, to communicate with
Mrs. Catherick. He had doubtless seen me go
in and come out; and he had hurried away by
the first train to make his report at Blackwater
Parkto which place Sir Percival would naturally
betake himself (knowing what he evidently
knew of my movements), in order to be ready
on the spot, if I returned to Hampshire. I saw
this clearly; and I felt for the first time that
the apprehensions which Marian had expressed
to me at parting, might be realised. Before
many days, there seemed every likelihood, now,
that Sir Percival and I might meet.

Whatever result events might be destined to
produce, I resolved to pursue my own course,
straight to the end in view, without stopping or
turning aside, for Sir Percival, or for any one.
The great responsibility which weighed on me
heavily in Londonthe responsibility of so
guiding my slightest actions as to prevent them
from leading accidentally to the discovery of
Laura's place of refuge was removed, now
that I was in Hampshire. I could go and come
as I pleased, at Welmingham; and if I failed in
observing any necessary precautions, the immediate
results would, at least, affect only myself.

When I left the station, the winter evening
was beginning to close in. There was little
hope of continuing my inquiries after dark to
any useful purpose, in a neighbourhood that
was strange to me. Accordingly, T made my
way to the nearest hotel, and ordered my dinner
and my bed. This done, I wrote to Marian, to
tell her that I was safe and well, and that I had
fair prospects of success. I had directed her,
on leaving home, to address her first letter
(the letter I expected to receive the next morning)
to "The Post-office, Welmingham;" and I
now begged her to send her second day's letter
to the same address. I could easily receive it,
by writing to the postmaster, if I happened to
be away from the town when it arrived.

The coffee-room of the hotel, as it grew late
in the evening, became a perfect solitude. I
was left to reflect on what I had accomplished
that afternoon, as uninterruptedly as if the house
had been my own. Before I retired to rest, I
had thought over my extraordinary interview
with Mrs. Catherick, from beginning to end;
and had verified the conclusions which I had
hastily drawn in the earlier part of the day.

The vestry of Old Welmingham church was
the starting-point from which my mind slowly
worked its way back through all that I had
heard Mrs. Catherick say, and through all that I
had seen Mrs. Catherick do. At the time when
the neighbourhood of the vestry was first