reached her, she was at the end of her resources, and perfectly ignorant where else to inquire or what else to do. From that time to this she had remained in total ignorance of the cause of Anne's disappearance and of the end of Anne's story.
Thus far the information which I had received from Mrs. Clements— though it established facts of which I had not previously been aware—was 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 view.
"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 kindness—you 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 hand—and 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 her— I 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 glimmering on me—far off, as yet—in the good woman's recollections of Anne's early life?