noon of that memorable day of the sixteenth, Miss Halcombe roused her sister to a last exertion of courage; and without a living soul to wish them well at parting, the two took their way into the world alone, and turned their backs for ever on Limmeridge House.
They had passed the hill above the churchyard, when Lady Glyde insisted on turning back to look her last at her mother's grave. Miss Halcombe tried to shake her resolution; but, in this one instance, tried in vain. She was immovable. Her dim eyes lit with a sudden fire, and flashed through the veil that hung over them; her wasted fingers strengthened, moment by moment, round the friendly arm by which they had held so listlessly till this time. I believe in my soul that the Hand of God was pointing their way back to them; and that the most innocent and the most afflicted of His creatures was chosen, in that dread moment, to see it.
They retraced their steps to the burial-ground; and by that act sealed the future of our three lives.
This was the story of the past—the story, so far as we knew it then.
Two obvious conclusions presented themselves to my mind, after hearing it. In the first place, I saw darkly what the nature of the conspiracy had been; how chances had been watched, and how circumstances had been handled to ensure impunity to a daring and an intricate crime. While all details were still a mystery to me, the vile manner in which the personal resemblance between the woman in white and Lady Glyde had been turned to account, was clear beyond a doubt. It was plain that Anne Catherick had been introduced into Count Fosco's house as Lady Glyde; it was plain that Lady Glyde had taken the dead woman's place in the Asylum—the substitution having been so managed as to make innocent people (the doctor and the two servants certainly; and the owner of the mad-house in all probability) accomplices in the crime.
The second conclusion came as the necessary consequence of the first. We three had no mercy to expect from Count Fosco and Sir Percival Glyde. The success of the conspiracy had brought with it a clear gain to those two men of thirty thousand pounds—twenty thousand to one: ten thousand to the other, through his wife. They had that interest, as well as other interests, in ensuring their impunity from exposure; and they would leave no stone unturned, no sacrifice