PRISCILLA'S last visit was followed by [FE] [MS] another passionate vow that she would never marry. Then within three weeks she wrote again, telling of her engagement to Robin Lethbridge. '. . . I haven't known him very long, and Mamma says it's too soon; but he makes me feel as if I had known him all my life. I know I said I wouldn't, but I couldn't tell; I didn't know it would be so different. I couldn't have believed that anybody could be so happy. You won't mind, Hatty. We can love each other just the same....' Incredible that Priscilla, who could be so beaten down and crushed by suffering, [FE] should have risen to such an ecstasy. Her letters had a swinging lilt, a hurried beat, like a song bursting, a heart beating for joy too fast. It would have to be a long engagement. Robin was in a provincial bank, he had his way to make. Then, a year later, Prissie wrote and told them that Robin had got a post in Parson's Bank in the City. He didn't know a soul in London. Would they be kind to him and let him come to them sometimes, on Saturdays [MS] and Sundays? He came one Sunday. Harriett had wondered what he would be like, and he was tall, slender-waisted, wide-shouldered; he had a square, very white forehead; his brown hair was parted on one side, half curling at the tips above his ears. His [FE] eyes-- thin, black crystal, shining, turning, showing speckles of brown and gray; perfectly set under straight eyebrows laid very black on the white skin. His round, pouting chin had a dent in it. The face in between was thin and irregular; the nose straight and serious and rather long in profile, with a dip and a rise at three quarters; in full face straight again but shortened. His eyes had another meaning, deeper and steadier than his fine slender mouth; but it was the mouth that made you look at him. One arch of the bow was higher than the other; now and then it quivered with an uneven, sensitive movement of its own. She noticed his mouth's little dragging droop at the corners and thought: 'Oh, you're cross. If you're cross with Prissie [FE] -- if you make her unhappy'-- but when he caught her looking at him the cross lips drew back in a sudden, white, con- fiding smile. And when he spoke she understood why he had been irresistible [MS] to Priscilla. He had come three Sundays now, four perhaps; she had lost count. They were all sitting out on the lawn under the cedar. Suddenly, as if he had only just thought of it, he said:-- 'It's extraordinarily good of you to have me.' 'Oh, well,' her mother said, 'Prissie is Hatty's greatest friend.' 'I supposed that was why you do it.' He didn't want it to be that. He wanted it to be himself. Himself. He was proud. He didn't like to owe any- [FE] thing to other people, not even to Prissie. Her father smiled at him. 'You must give us time.' He would never give it or take it. You could see him tearing at things in his impatience, to know them, to make them give themselves up to him at once. He came rushing to give himself up, all in a minute, to make himself known. 'It isn't fair,' he said, 'I know you so much better than you know me. Priscilla's always talking about you. But you don't know anything about me.' 'No. We've got all the excitement.' 'And the risk, sir.' 'And, of course, the risk.' He liked him. [MS] She could talk to Robin Lethbridge as she couldn't talk to Connie Hancock's [FE] young men. She wasn't afraid of what he was thinking. She was safe with him, he belonged to Priscilla Heaven. He liked her because he loved Priscilla; but he wanted her to like him, not because of Priscilla, but for himself. She talked about Priscilla: 'I never saw anybody so loving. It used to frighten me; because you can hurt her so easily.' 'Yes. Poor little Prissie, she's very vulnerable,' he said. When Priscilla came to stay it was almost painful. Her eyes clung to him, and wouldn't let him go. If he left the room she was restless, unhappy till he came back. She went out for long walks with him and returned silent, with a tired, beaten look. She would lie on the sofa and he would hang over her, gazing [FE] at her with strained, unhappy eyes. After she had gone he kept on coming more than ever, and he stayed overnight. Harriett had to walk with him now. He wanted to talk, to talk about himself, endlessly. When she looked in the glass she saw a face she didn't know: bright-eyed, flushed, pretty. The little arrogant lift [MS] had gone. As if it had been somebody else's face she asked herself, in wonder, without rancour, why nobody had ever cared for it. Why? Why? She could see her father looking at her, intent, as if he wondered. And one day her mother said, 'Do you think you ought to see so much of Robin? Do you think it's quite fair to Prissie?' 'Oh--Mamma! . . . I wouldn't. I [FE] haven't-- 'I know. You couldn't if you would, Hatty. You would always behave beauti- fully. But are you so sure about Robin?' 'Oh, he couldn't care for anybody but Prissie. It's only because he's so safe with me, because he knows I don't and he doesn't-- The wedding day was fixed for July. After all, they were going to risk it. By the middle of June the wedding presents began to come in. Harriett and Robin Lethbridge were walking up Black's Lane. The hedges were a white bridal froth of cow-parsley. Every now and then she swerved aside to pick the red campion. [MS] He spoke suddenly. 'Do you know [FE] what a dear little face you have, Hatty ? It's so clear and still and it behaves so beautifully.' 'Does it ?' She thought of Prissie's face, dark and restless, never clear, never still. 'You're not a bit like what I expected. Prissie doesn't know what you are. You don't know yourself.' 'I know what she is.' His mouth's uneven quiver beat in and out like a pulse. 'Don't talk to me about Prissie!' Then he got it out. He tore it out of himself. He loved her. 'Oh, Robin--' Her fingers loosened in her dismay; she went dropping red campion. It was no use, he said, to think about [FE] Prissie. He couldn't marry her. He couldn't marry anybody but Hatty; Hatty must marry him. 'You can't say you don't love me, Hatty.' No. She couldn't say it; for it wouldn't be true. 'Well, then--' 'I can't. I'd be doing wrong, Robin. I feel all the time as if she belonged to [MS] you; as if she were married to you.' 'But she isn't. It isn't the same thing.' 'To me it is. You can't undo it. It would be too dishonourable.' 'Not half so dishonourable as marrying her when I don't love her.' 'Yes. As long as she loves you. She hasn't anybody but you. She was so happy. So happy. Think of the cruelty [FE] of it. Think what we should send her back to.' 'You think of Prissie. You don't think of me.' 'Because it would kill her.' 'How about you ? ' 'It can't kill us, because we know we love each other. Nothing can take that from us.' 'But I couldn't be happy with her, Hatty. She wears me out. She's so restless.' 'We couldn't be happy, Robin. We should always be thinking of what we did to her. How could we be happy ? ' 'You know how.' 'Well, even if we were, we've no right to get our happiness out of her suffering.' 'Oh, Hatty, why are you so good, so [FE] good ? ' 'I'm not good. It's only-- there are [MS] some things you can't do. We couldn't. We couldn't.' 'No,' he said at last. 'I don't suppose we could. Whatever it's like I've got to go through with it.' He didn't stay that night. She was crouching on the floor beside her father, her arm thrown across his knees. Her mother had left them there. 'Papado you know?' 'Your mother told me.... You've done the right thing.' 'You don't think I've been cruel? He said I didn't think of him.' 'Oh, no, you couldn't do anything else.' She couldn't. She couldn't. It was [FE] no use thinking about him. Yet night after night, for weeks and months, she thought, and cried herself to sleep. By day she suffered from Lizzie's sharp eyes and Sarah's brooding pity and Connie Pennefather's callous, married stare. Only with her father and another she had peace.