"Did you know Mrs. Catherick before Anne was born?" I asked.
"Not very long, sir—not 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, sir—neighbours 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 two miles off, convenient to the river—and 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 now—but 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 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