TOWARDS spring Harriett showed signs of [FE] [MS] [WB] depression, and they took her to the south of France and to Bordighera and Rome. In Rome she recovered. Rome was one of those places you ought to see; she had always been anxious to do the right thing. In the little Pension in the Via Babuino she had a sense of her own importance and the importance of her father and mother. They were Mr and Mrs Hilton Frean, and Miss Harriett Frean, seeing Rome. After their return in the summer he began to write his book, The Social Order. There were things that had to be said; it did not much matter who said them [FE] provided they were said plainly. He dreamed of a new Social State, society governing itself without representatives. For a long time they lived on the interest and excitement of the book, and when it came out Harriett pasted all his reviews very neatly into an album. He had the air of not taking them quite seriously; but he subscribed to The Spectator, and sometimes an article appeared there understood to have been written by Hilton Frean. And they went abroad again every year. They went to Florence and came [MS] home and read Romola and Mrs Browning and Dante and The Spectator; they went [WB] to Assisi and read the Little Flowers of Saint Francis; they went to Venice and read Ruskin and The Spectator; they [FE] went to Rome again and read Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Harriett said, 'We should have enjoyed Rome more if we had read Gibbon,' and her mother replied that they would not have enjoyed Gibbon so much if they had not seen Rome. Harriett did not really enjoy him; but she enjoyed the sound of her own voice reading out tile great sentences and the rolling Latin names. She had brought back photographs of the Colosseum and the Forum and of Botticelli's Spring, and a della Robbia Madonna in a shrine of fruit and flowers, and hung them in the drawing-room. And when she saw the blue egg in its gilt frame standing on the marble-topped table, she wondered how she had ever loved it, and wished it were not there. [FE] It had been one of Mamma's wedding presents. Mrs Hancock had given it her; but Mr Hancock must have bought it. Harriett's face had taken on again its arrogant lift. She esteemed herself justly. She knew she was superior to the Han- cocks and the Pennefathers and to Lizzie [MS] Pierce and Sarah Barmby; even to Pris- cilla. When she thought of Robin and how she had given him up she felt a thrill [WB] of pleasure in her beautiful behaviour, and a thrill of pride in remembering that he had loved her more than Priscilla. Her mind refused to think of Robin married. Two, three, five years passed, with a perceptible acceleration, and Harriett was now thirty. She had not seen them since the wedding- [FE] day. Robin had gone back to his own town; he was cashier in a big bank there. For four years Prissie's letters came regularly every month or so, then ceased abruptly. Then Robin wrote and told her of Prissie's illness. A mysterious paralysis. It had begun with fits of giddiness in the street; Prissie would turn round and round on the pavement; then falling fits; and now both legs were paralysed, but Robin thought she was gradually recover- ing the use of her hands. Harriett did not cry. The shock of it stopped her tears. She tried to see it and couldn't. Poor little Prissie. How terrible. She kept on saying to herself she couldn't bear to think of Prissie paralysed. Poor little Prissie. [MS] And poor Robin-- [FE] Paralysis. She saw the paralysis coming between them, separating them, and inside her the secret pain was soothed. She need not think of Robert married any more. She was going to stay with them. Robin had written the letter. He said Prissie wanted her. When she met him [WB] on the platform she had a little shock at seeing him changed. Changed. His face was fuller, and a dark moustache hid the sensitive, uneven, pulsing lip. His mouth was dragged down further at the corners. But he was the same Robin. In the cab, going to the house, he sat silent, breathing hard; she felt the tremor of his consciousness and knew that he still loved her; more than he loved Priscilla. Poor little Prissie. How terrible! Priscilla sat by the fireplace in a wheel- [FE] chair. She became agitated when she saw Harriett; her arms shook as she lifted them for the embrace. 'Hattyyou've hardly changed a bit.' Her voice shook. Poor little Prissie. She was thin, thinner [WB] than ever, and stiff as if she had withered. Her face was sallow and dry, and the [MS] lustre had gone from her black hair. Her wide mouth twitched and wavered, wavered and twitched. Though it was warm summer she sat by a blazing fire with the windows behind her shut. Through dinner Harriett and Robin were silent and constrained. She tried not to see Prissie shaking and jerking and spilling soup down the front of her gown. [WB] Robin's face was smooth and blank; he pretended to be absorbed in his food, so [FE] as not to look at Prissie. It was as if Prissie's old restlessness had grown into that ceaseless jerking and twitching. And her eyes fastened on Robin; they clung to him and wouldn't let him go. She kept on asking him to do things for her. 'Robin, you might get me my shawl'; and Robin would go and get the shawl and put it round her. Whenever he did anything for her Prissie's face would settle down into a quivering, deep content. At nine o'clock he lifted her out of her wheel-chair. Harriett saw his stoop, and the taut, braced power of his back as he lifted. Prissie lay in his arms with rigid limbs hanging from loose attach- ments, inert, like a doll. As he carried her upstairs to bed her face had a queer, exaltedlook of pleasure and of [FE] [MS] triumph. Harriett and Robin sat alone together in his study. 'How long is it since we've seen each other?' 'Five years, Robin.' 'It isn't. It can't be.' [WB] 'It is.' 'I suppose it is. But I can't believe it. I can't believe I'm married. I can't believe Prissie's ill. It doesn't seem real with you sitting there.' 'Nothing's changed, Robin, except that you're more serious.' 'Nothing's changed, except that I'm more serious than ever.... Do you still do the same things Do you still sit in the curly chair, holding your work up to your chin with your little pointed [FE] hands like a squirrel? Do you still see the same people?' 'I don't make new friends, Robin.' He seemed to settle down after that, smiling at his own thoughts, appeased.... Lying in her bed in the spare room, Harriett heard the opening and shutting of Robin's door. She still thought of Prissie's paralysis as separating them, still [MS] felt inside her a secret, unacknowledged satisfaction. Poor little Prissie. How terrible. Her pity for Priscilla went through and through her in wave after wave. Her pity was sad and beautiful and at the same time it appeased her pain. In the morning Priscilla told her about [WB] her illness. The doctors didn't understand it. She ought to have had a stroke and [FE] she hadn't one. There was no reason [WB] why she shouldn't walk except that she couldn't. It seemed to give her pleasure to go over it, from her first turning round and round in the street (with helpless, shaking laughter at the queerness of it), to the moment when Robin bought her the wheel-chair. .. . Robin.... Robin . . .' I minded most because of Robin. It's such an awful illness, Hatty. I can't move when I'm in bed. Robin has to get up and turn me a dozen times in one night.... Robin's a perfect saint. He does everything for me.' Prissie's voice and her face softened and thickened with voluptuous content. '. . . Do you know, Hatty, I had a little baby. It died the day it was born. [MS] . . . Perhaps some day I shall have [FE] another.' Harriett was aware of a sudden tighten- ing of her heart, of a creeping depression that weighed on her brain and worried it. She thought this was her pity for Priscilla. Her third night. All evening Robin had been moody and morose. He would hardly speak to either Harriett or Priscilla. When Priscilla asked him to do anything for her he got up heavily, pulling himself together with a sigh, with a look of weary, irritated patience. Prissie wheeled herself out of the study into the drawing-room, beckoning Harriett to follow. She had the air of saving Robin from Harriett, of intimating that his grumpiness was Harriett's fault.' He [FE] doesn't want to be bothered,' she said. She sat up till eleven, so that Robin shouldn't be thrown with Harriett in the last hours. Half the night Harriett's thoughts ran [WB] on, now in a darkness, now in thin flashes of light.' Supposing, after all, Robin wasn't happy? Supposing he can't stand it? Supposing.... But why is he [MS] angry with me?' Then a clear thought: 'He's angry with me because he can't be angry with Priscilla.' And clearer. 'He's angry with me because I made him marry her.' She stopped the running and meditated with a steady, hard deliberation. She [WB] thought of her deep, spiritual love for Robin; of Robin's deep spiritual love for her; of his strength in shouldering his [FE] burden. It was through her renunciation that he had grown so strong, so pure, so good. Something had gone wrong with Prissie. Robin, coming home early on Saturday afternoon, had taken Harriett for a walk. All evening and all through Sunday it was Priscilla who sulked and snapped when Harriett spoke to her. On Monday morning she was ill, and [WB] Robin ordered her to stay in bed. Monday was Harriett's last night. Priscilla stayed in bed till six o'clock, when she heard Robin come in; then she insisted on being dressed and carried downstairs. Harriett heard her calling to Robin, and Robin saying, 'I told you you weren't to get up till to-morrow,' and a sound like [FE] Prissie crying. At dinner she shook and jerked and [MS] spilt things worse than ever. Robin gloomed at her.' You know you ought to be in bed. You'll go at nine.' [WB] 'If I go, you'll go. You've got a headache.' 'I should think I had, sitting in this furnace.' The heat of the dining-room oppressed him, but they sat on there after dinner because Prissie loved the heat. Robin's pale, blank face had a sick look, a deadly smoothness. He had to lie down on the sofa in the window. When the clock struck nine he sighed and got up, dragging himself as if the weight of his body was more than he could bear. He stooped over Prissie, and [FE] lifted her. 'Robinyou can't. You're dropping to pieces.' 'I'm all right.' He heaved her up with one tremendous, irritated effort, and carried her upstairs, fast, as if he wanted to be done with it. Through the open doors Harriett could hear Prissie's pleading whine, and Robin's voice, hard and con- trolled. Presently he came back to her and they went into his study. They could breathe there, he said. They sat without speaking for a little [WB] time. The silence of Prissie's room over- head came between them. Robin spoke first. 'I'm afraid it hasn't [MS] been very gay for you with poor Prissie in this state.' 'Poor Prissie? She's very happy, [FE] [WB] Robin.' He stared at her. His eyes, round and full and steady, taxed her with falsehood, with hypocrisy. 'You don't suppose I'm not, do you?' 'No.' There was a movement in her throat as though she swallowed some- thing hard. 'No. I want you to be happy.' 'You don't. You want me to be rather miserable.' 'Robin!' She contrived a sound like laughter. But Robin didn't laugh; his eyes, morose and cynical, held her there. 'That's what you want.... At least I hope you do. If you didn't-- She fenced off the danger.' Do you want me to be miserable, then?' At that he laughed out. 'No. I don't. [FE] I don't care how happy you are.' She took the pain of it: the pain he meant to give her. That evening he hung over Priscilla [WB] with a deliberate, exaggerated tenderness. 'Dear.... Dearest....' He spoke the words to Priscilla, but he sent out his voice to Harriett. She could feel its false precision, its intention, its repulse of her. She was glad to be gone.