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A brilliant mythical drama about well-meaning people trapped in a war of spiritual forces
Marian Taylor, who has come as a “companion” to a lovely woman in a remote castle, becomes aware that her employer is a prisoner, not only of her obsessions, but of an unforgiving husband.
Hannah, the Unicorn, seemingly an image of persecuted virtue, fascinates those who surround her, some of whom plan to rescue her from her dream of redemptive suffering. But is she an innocent victim, a guilty woman, a mad woman, or a witch? Is her spiritual life really some evil enchantment? If she is forcibly liberated will she die? The ordinary, sensible people survive, and are never sure whether they have understood.
out to be a brace of pheasants. Effingham was displeased. The country as far as eye could see belonged to Hannah. Pip’s casual poaching seemed to Effingham petty and tactless. Pip quite failed to measure up to the potential grandeur of his role. Alice, who knew what Effingham felt about the poaching, said, ‘Oh, Pip, you said you were going up the coast for barnacle geese!’ ‘Didn’t get up early enough.’ He grinned at Effingham. ‘Off to pay homage, eh, Effie?’ Effingham said nothing. He felt for
been like that, I mean, ages? I had no idea Gerald was so inclined. He doesn’t look like it.’ ‘Those ones often don’t. Nearly three years. You didn’t know about what Jamesie did, or rather tried to do?’ ‘No, what? Please tell me, Denis. You’d better tell me. It’ll stop me from meddling.’ They had reached the top of the cliff now and the house was almost hidden by the humped green slope behind them. The black cliffs were lonely, majestic, old. ‘He tried to take her away.’ ‘Jamesie – tried to
moment to realize that it was Alice and Denis. He got up stiffly and went towards them. They became silent, lifting their faces, shadowy and light brown in the indistinct candlelight. ‘I’m sorry to come chasing you and bothering you, Effingham,’ said Alice rather stiffly. Her loud precise voice rang absurdly in the dark airless room. ‘But Father wanted to know what was going on.’ ‘I want to know what’s going on! I can tell you all I know –’ ‘It’s all right, Denis has told me everything. I
her and she saw against the green eastern sky his bony face of polished bronze, his jagged blue-black hair, his long eyes of sapphire blue, his sad lost face, his face of a man from altogether somewhere else. She said, ‘Whatever could we have done for Hannah? Forgive me for having been a coward.’ He frowned with distress, quickly looking away again. ‘There is nothing. Since she – gave herself – away.’ ‘I feel this too, but it’s quite irrational. Still I suppose there’s nothing to be done now.
‘What on earth do you mean? What about Peter?’ ‘Peter isn’t coming. It was a false alarm. He didn’t get on to the boat after all. He sent another cable. He’s going to stay in New York. So we can all settle down again. Isn’t it too lovely?’ Marian stared at him, dazed and horrified at things not yet fully understood. Over his shoulder she could see the men carrying Hannah’s trunks back into the hall. One of the black maids came in and removed the tea-cups. So everything would be the same as