the hard part," she went on a little vacantly. "It was easy to escape, or I should not have got away. They never suspected me as they suspected the others. I was so quiet, and so obedient, and so easily frightened. The finding London was the hard part; and there you helped me. Did I thank you at the time? I thank you now very kindly."
"Was the Asylum far from where you met me? Come! show that you believe me to be your friend, and tell me where it was."
She mentioned the place—a private Asylum, as its situation informed me; a private Asylum not very far from the spot where I had seen her—and then, with evident suspicion of the use to which I might put her answer, anxiously repeated her former inquiry: "You don't think I ought to be taken back, do you?"
"Once again, I am glad you escaped; I am glad you prospered well after you left me," I answered. "You said you had a friend in London to go to. Did you find the friend?"
"Yes. It was very late, but there was a girl up at needle-work in the house, and she helped me to rouse Mrs. Clements. Mrs. Clements is my friend. A good, kind woman, but not like Mrs. Fairlie. Ah no, nobody is like Mrs. Fairlie!"
"Is Mrs. Clements an old friend of yours? Have you known her a long time?"
"Yes; she was a neighbour of ours once, at home, in Hampshire; and liked me, and took care of me when I was a little girl. Years ago, when she went away from us, she wrote down in my Prayer-book for me where she was going to live in London, and she said, 'If you are ever in trouble, Anne, come to me. I have no husband alive to say me nay, and no children to look after, and I will take care of you.' Kind words, were they not? I suppose I remember them because they were kind. It's little enough I remember besides—little enough, little enough!"
"Had you no father or mother to take care of you?"
"Father?—I never saw him—I never heard mother speak of him. Father? Ah, dear! he is dead, I suppose."
"And your mother?"
"I don't get on well with her. We are a trouble and a fear to each other."
A trouble and a fear to each other! At those words the suspicion crossed my mind, for the first time, that her mother might be the person who had placed her under restraint.
"Don't ask me about mother," she went on. "I'd rather