Anne forms the group that she will marry Alan—the same person who reported Sophie for her Offense. The group protests, saying that it will be too difficult for her to feign normalcy. To them, marriage to a norm seems impossible because it would mean relying on words for communication. Anne is unbothered by this, and points out that the numbers in the group work out so that two girls would have no one to marry. She argues that it is unfair for two girls to be denied the happiness that comes with marriage simply because there are not enough boys in the group. Rosalind and David, she claims, are the only others who know what it is like to be in love, so the others cannot understand how badly she wants to be with Alan. In order to be with him more easily, she decides to stop using thought-images altogether.
The group experiences its first disagreement—something they have long been spared by the fact that they can communicate with one another so easily and honestly. While the drawbacks of a life spent pretending to be normal are clear to almost everyone in the group, Anne is so blinded by her feelings for Alan that she will not listen. This is also the first time the reader learns that David and Rosalind are romantically involved.
David tells Uncle Axel, who knows about the wedding, that Anne is capable of think-together. David, having had access to Anne’s feelings, explains to Uncle Axel that Anne wants to be with Alan so badly that she is willing to jeopardize the safety of the group and give up, or at least ignore, her ability. David likens this to the difficulty of “taking a vow of silence.” Uncle Axel tells David that a woman in love is dangerous because she will sacrifice anything for her relationship. He asks David whether it is ethically acceptable for Anne to endanger seven lives for the sake of romantic love.
To David, Anne’s decision to give up her ability is unfathomable, but to Uncle Axel it is frightening. He worries that she will sacrifice anything, even her friends, in the name of love. The conversation foreshadows what will come to pass, and, although David does not yet know it, it also gives Uncle Axel the information he needs to save David’s life.
Uncle Axel tells David about a sailor he once knew who was thrown overboard so that the rest of the sailors would have enough food and water. David, catching his implication, is adamant that the members of the group will not use force against Anne, even in order to save themselves. When Uncle Axel questions his will to survive, David tells him that while he and the others would be willing to murder a norm in order to survive, they cannot harm one of their own. They are simply too close to one another. David says that he would rather be killed himself than have a hand in killing Anne.
Even in the face of a great moral injustice, David is absolutely certain that no one in the group would be willing to kill Anne to save themselves. The morality David espouses is in sharp contrast to the morals held by most Wanukians, who fear everything unusual and are happy to destroy anything with even the slightest potential to be dangerous.
Anne’s relationship with Alan prompts David to reflect on his relationship with Rosalind, a relationship he has had to keep secret because Rosalind is the daughter of Joseph Strorm’s enemy, Angus Morton. The idea that they might be allowed to be together openly seems impossible, and David is not even certain that he would be able to marry Rosalind if he were to get her pregnant.
We learn that for some time Rosalind and David have been conducting a romance in secret. David’s father is so stuck in his ways that Rosalind and David are not sure he would allow them to marry, even if Wanukian custom necessitated that they do so—because pregnancy outside of marriage is considered sinful.
Rachel, Anne’s telepathic sister, tells the group that Alan has been found dead with an arrow in his neck. Anne believes one of the group is responsible for Alan’s death, and she refuses to speak to Rachel about what has occurred. Michael suggests that everyone make preparations so that they can flee if Anne decides to report them. The next morning, Rachel goes to her sister’s house, only to find Anne dead, hanging from the rafters.
Anne turns her back on her friends, even when she has the ability to look into their minds and know their true thoughts. Instead, like normal Wanukians, she decides to believe what she wants to believe, whether or not it is true to her personal experience.
Anne leaves behind a suicide note outing everyone in the group, even Petra, and suggesting that they killed Alan. Fortunately, Anne’s illiterate neighbor finds the note and, thinking it is meant for a family member, gives it to Rachel rather than to the Inspector. Rachel does not tell the neighbor she has read the address on the note incorrectly (it was meant to go to the Inspector), and when she reads its contents, she immediately burns it. Alan’s death remains a puzzle to both the group and the rest of the town.
While written and spoken language often makes things more difficult for the group, the fact that Anne writes her suicide note means that Rachel can lie to intercept it and destroy it. Here, Wyndham draws attention to some of the potential benefits of words: in writing they are physically manifested and can be manipulated.