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THUS far, the information which I had
received from Mrs. Clementsthough it
established facts of which I had not previously been
awarewas of a preliminary character only. It
was clear that the series of deceptions which had
removed Anne Catherick to London and separated
her from Mrs. Clements, had been accomplished
solely by Count Fosco and the Countess;
and the question whether any part of the conduct
of husband or wife had been of a kind to place
either of them within reach of the law, might be
well worthy of future consideration. But the
purpose I had now in view led me in another
direction than this. The immediate object of
my visit to Mrs. Clements was to make some
approach at least to the discovery of Sir Percival's
secret; and she had said nothing, as yet,
which advanced me on my way to that important
end. I felt the necessity of trying to awaken
her recollections of other times, persons, and
events, than those on which her memory had
hitherto been employed; and, when I next
spoke, I spoke with that object indirectly in

"I wish I could be of any help to you in this
sad calamity" I said. " All I can do is to feel
heartily for your distress. If Anne had been
your own child, Mrs. Clements, you could have
shown her no truer kindnessyou could have
made no readier sacrifices for her sake".
There's no great merit in that, sir," said
Mrs. Clements, simply. "The poor thing was
as good as my own child to me. I nursed her
from a baby, sir; bringing her up by handand
a hard job it was to rear her. It wouldn't go to
my heart so to lose her, if I hadn't made her
first short-clothes, and taught her to walk. I
always said she was sent to console me for never
having chick or child of my own. And now
she's lost, the old times keep coming back to
my mind; and, even at my age, I can't help
crying about herI can't indeed, sir!"

I waited a little to give Mrs. Clements time
to compose herself. Was the light that I had
been looking for so long, now glimmering on
mefar off, as yetin the good woman's
recollections of Anne's early life?

"Did you know Mrs. Catherick before Anne
was born?" I asked

" Not very long, sirnot above four months.
We saw a great deal of each other in that time,
but we were never very friendly together."

  Her voice was steadier as she made that reply.
Painful as many of her recollections might
be, I observed that it was, unconsciously, a
relief to her mind to revert to the dimly-seen
troubles of the past, after dwelling so long on
the vivid sorrows of the present.

"Were you and Mrs. Catherick neighbours?"
I inquired, leading her memory on, as
encouragingly as I could.

"Yes, sirneighbours at Old Welmingham"

"Old Welmingham? There are two places
of that name then, in Hampshire?"

"Well, sir, there used to be in those days
better than three and twenty years ago. They
built a new town about about two miles off, convenient
to the riverand Old Welmingham, which was
never much more than a village, got in time to
be deserted. The new town is the place they
call Welmingham, nowbut the old parish
church is the parish church still. It stands by
itself, with the houses pulled down, or gone to
ruin, all round it. I've lived to see sad changes.
It was a pleasant, pretty place in my time."

"Did you live there before your marriage,
Mrs. Clements?"

" No, sir I'm a Norfolk woman. It wasn't
the place my husband belonged to, either. He
was from Grimsby, as I told you; and he served
his apprenticeship there. But having friends
down south, and hearing of an opening, he got
into business at Southampton. It was in a
small way, but he made enough for a plain man
to retire on, and settled at Old Welmingham. I
went there with him, when he married me. We
were neither of us young; but we lived very
happy togetherhappier than our neighbour,
Mr. Catherick, lived along with his wife, when
they came to Old Welmingham, a year or two

"Was your husband acquainted with them before that?"

"With Catherick, sirnot with his wife.
She was a stranger to both of us. Some
gentlemen had made interest for Catherick;  and
he got the situation of clerk at Welmingham
church, which was the reason of his coming to
settle in our neighbourhood. He brought his
newly-married wife along with him; and we
heard, in course of time, she had been lady's maid
in a great family that lived at Varneck Hall, near