neither of us young, but we lived very happy together -- happier than our neighbour, Mr Catherick, lived along with his wife when they came to Old Welmingham a year or two afterwards.'

`Was your husband acquainted with them before that?'

`With Catherick, sir -- not 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 family that lived at Varneck Hall, near Southampton. Catherick had found it a hard matter to get her to marry him, in consequence of her holding herself uncommonly high. He had asked and asked, and given the thing up at last, seeing she was so contrary about it. When he had given it up she turned contrary just the other way, and came to him of her own accord, without rhyme or reason seemingly. My poor husband always said that was the time to have given her a lesson. But Catherick was too fond of her to do anything of the sort -- he never checked her either before they were married or after. He was a quick man in his feelings, letting them carry him a deal too far, now in one way and now in another, and he would have spoilt a better wife than Mrs Catherick if a better had married him. I don't like to speak ill of any one, sir, but she was a heartless woman, with a terrible will of her own -- fond of foolish admiration and fine clothes, and not caring to show so much as decent outward respect to Catherick, kindly as he always treated her. My husband said he thought things would turn out badly when they first came to live near us, and his words proved true. Before they had been quite four months in our neighbourhood there was a dreadful scandal and a miserable break- up in their household. Both of them were in fault -- I am afraid both of them were equally in fault.'

`You mean both husband and wife?'

`Oh, no, sir! I don't mean Catherick -- he was only to be pitied. I meant his wife and the person --'

`And the person who caused the scandal?'

`Yes, sir. A gentleman born and brought up, who ought to have set a better example. You know him, sir -- and my poor dear Anne knew him only too well.'

`Sir Percival Glyde?'

`Yes, Sir Percival Glyde.'

My heart beat fast -- I thought I had my hand on the clue. How little I knew then of the windings of the labyrinths which were still to mislead me!

`Did Sir Percival live in your neighbourhood at that time?' I asked.

`No, sir. He came among us as a stranger. His father had died not long before in foreign parts. I remember he was in mourning. He put up at the little inn on the river (they have pulled it down since that time), where gentlemen used to go to fish. He wasn't much noticed when he first came -- it was a common thing enough for gentlemen to travel from all parts of England to fish in our river.'

`Did he make his appearance in the village before Anne was born?'

`Yes, sir. Anne was born in the June month of eighteen hundred and twenty-seven -- and I think he came at the end of April or the beginning of May.'

`Came as a stranger to all of you? A stranger to Mrs Catherick as well as to the rest of the neighbours?'

`So we thought at first, sir. But when the scandal broke out, nobody believed they were strangers. I remember how it happened as well as if it was yesterday. Catherick came into our garden one night, and woke us by throwing up a handful of gravel from the walk at our window. I heard him beg my husband,

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