or they come some mental or physical cropper and hurt themselves, or they do something distressingly little and human and suddenly I find they’ve got me. I’m distressed. I’m filled with something between pity and an impulse of responsibility. I become tender towards them. I am impelled to take care of them. I want to ease them off, to reassure them, to make them stop hurting at any cost. I don’t see why it should be the weak and sickly and seamy side of people that grips me most, but it is. I don’t know why it should be their failures that gives them power over me, but it is. I told you of this girl, this mistress of mine, who is ill just now. She’s got me in that way; she’s got me tremendously.”
“You did not speak of her yesterday with any morbid excess of pity,” the doctor was constrained to remark.
“I abused her very probably. I forget exactly what I said....”
The doctor offered no assistance.
“But the reason why I abuse her is perfectly plain. I abuse her because she distresses me by her misfortunes and instead of my getting anything out of her, I go out to her. But I do go out to her. All this time at the back of my mind I am worrying about her. She has that gift of making one feel for her. I am feeling that damned carbuncle almost as if it had been my affair instead of hers.