CONNIE HANCOCK was her friend. [FE] [MS] She had once been a slender, wide- mouthed child, top-heavy with her damp clumps of hair. Now she was squaring and thickening and looking horrid, like Mr Hancock. Beside her Harriett felt tall and elegant and slender. Mamma didn't know what Connie was really like; it was one of those things you couldn't tell her. She said Connie would grow out of it. Meanwhile you could see he wouldn't. Mr Hancock had red whis- kers, and his face squatted down in his collar, instead of rising nobly up out of it like Papa's. It looked as if it was thinking things that made its eyes bulge [FE] and its mouth curl over and slide like a drawn loop. When you talked about Mr Hancock, Papa gave a funny laugh, as if he was something improper. He said Connie ought to have red whiskers. Mrs Hancock, Connie's mother, was Mamma's dearest friend. That was why there had always been Connie. She could remember her, squirming and spluttering in her high nursery chair. And there had always been Mrs Hancock, refined and mournful, looking at you with gentle, disappointed eyes. She was glad that Connie hadn't been [MS] sent to her boarding-school, so that nothing could come between her and Priscilla Heaven. Priscilla was her real friend. [FE] It had began in her third term, when Priscilla first came to the school, unhappy and shy, afraid of the new faces. Harriett took her to her room. She was thin, thin, in her shabby black velvet jacket. She stood looking at herself in the greenish glass over the yellow- painted chest of drawers. Her heavy black hair had dragged the net and broken it. She put up her thin arms, helpless. 'They'll never keep me,' she said. 'I'm so untidy.' 'It wants more pins,' said Harriett. 'Ever so many more pins. If you put them in head downwards they'll fall out. I'll show you.' Priscilla trembled with joy when Harriett asked her to walk with her; she had been [FE] afraid of her at first because she behaved so beautifully. Soon they were always together. They sat side by side at the dinner table and in [MS] school, black head and golden brown leaning to each other over the same book; they walked side by side in the packed procession, going two by two. They slept in the same room, the two white beds drawn close together; a white dimity curtain hung between; they drew it back so that they could see each other lying there in the summer dusk and in the clear mornings when they waked. Harriett loved Priscilla's odd, dusk- white face; her long hound's nose, seeking; her wide mouth, restless between her shallow, fragile jaws; her eyes, black, cleared with spots of jade gray, prominent, [FE] showing white rims when she was startled. She started at sudden noises; she quivered and stared when you caught her dreaming; she cried when the organ bust out triumphantly in church. You had to take care every minute that you didn't hurt her. She cried when term ended and she had to go home. Priscilla's home was horrible. Her father drank, her mother fretted; they were poor; a rich aunt paid for her schooling. When the last midsummer holidays came she spent them with Harriett. 'Oh-h-h!' Prissie drew in her breath when she heard they were to sleep together in the big bed in the spare room. She [MS] went about looking at things, curious, touching them softly as if they were [FE] sacred. She loved the two rough-coated china lambs on the chimney-piece, and 'Ohthe dear little china boxes with the flowers sitting up on them.' But when the bell rang she stood quivering in the doorway. 'I'm afraid of your father and mother, Hatty. They won't like me. I know they won't like me.' 'They will. They'll love you,' Hatty said. And they did. They were sorry for the little white-faced, palpitating thing. It was their last night. Priscilla wasn't going back to school again. Her aunt, she said, was only paying for a year. They lay together in the big bed, dim face to face, talking. 'Hatty- if you wanted to do something [FE] most awfully, more than anything else in the world, and it was wrong, would you be able not to do it?' 'I hope so. I think I would, because I'd know if I did it would make Papa and Mamma unhappy.' [MS] 'Yes, but suppose it was giving up something you wanted, something you loved more than them- could you?' 'Yes. If it was wrong for me to have it. And I couldn't love anything more than them.' 'But if you did, you'd give it up' 'I'd have to.' 'Hatty- I couldn't.' 'Oh, yes, you could if I could.' 'No. No. . . .' 'How do you know you couldn't ? 'Because I haven't. I- I oughtn't to [FE] have gone on staying here. My father's ill. They wanted me to go to them, and I wouldn't go.' 'Oh, Prissie-- 'There, you see. But I couldn't. I couldn't. I was so happy here with you. I couldn't give it up.' 'If your father had been like Papa you would have.' 'Yes. I'd do anything for him, because he's your father. It's you I couldn't give up.' 'You'll have to some day.' 'Whenwhen?' 'When somebody else comes. When you're married.' 'I shall never marry. Never. I shall never want anybody but you. If we could [MS] always be together.... I can't think [FE] why people marry, Hatty.' 'Still,' Hatty said, 'they do.' 'It's because they haven't ever cared as you and me care.... Hatty, if I don't marry anybody, you won't, will you?' 'I'm not thinking of marrying any- body.' 'No. But promise, promise on your honour you won't ever.' 'I'd rather not promise. You see, I might. I shall love you all the same, Priscilla, all my life.' 'No, you won't. It'll all be different. I love you more than you love me. But I shall love you all my life and it won't be different. I shall never marry.' 'Perhaps I shan't, either,' Harriett said. They exchanged gifts. Harriett gave [FE] Priscilla a rosewood writing-desk inlaid with mother-of-pearl, and Priscilla gave Harriett a pocket-handkerchief case she had made herself of fine gray canvas embroidered with blue flowers like a sampler and lined with blue and white plaid silk. On the top part you read 'Pocket-handkerchiefs' in blue lettering, and on the bottom 'Harriett Frean,' and, tucked away in one corner, 'Priscilla Heaven: September, 1861.'