`I have had advantages. I don't know Latin and Greek, though I know the grammars of those tongues. But I know most of the Greek and Latin classics through translations, and other books too. I read Lempriere, Catullus, Martial, Juvenal, Lucian, Beaumont and Fletcher, Boccaccio, Scarron, De Brantame, Sterne, De Foe, Smollett, Fielding, Shakespeare, the Bible, and other such; and found that all interest in the unwholesome part of those books ended with its mystery.'

`You have read more than I,' he said with a sigh. `How came you to read some of those queerer ones?'

`Well,' she said thoughtfully, `it was by accident. My life has been entirely shaped by what people call a peculiarity in me. I have no fear of men, as such, nor of their books. I have mixed with them - one or two of them particularly - almost as one of their own sex. I mean I have not felt about them as most women are taught to feel - to be on their guard against attacks on their virtue; for no average man - no man short of a sensual savage - will molest a woman by day or night, at home or abroad, unless she invites him. Until she says by a look `Come on' he is always afraid to, and if you never say it, or look it, he never comes. However, what I was going to say is that when I was eighteen I formed a friendly intimacy with an undergraduate at Christminster, and he taught me a great deal, and lent me books which I should never have got hold of otherwise.'

`Is your friendship broken off?'

`Oh yes. He died, poor fellow, two or three years after he had taken his degree and left Christminster.'

`You saw a good deal of him, I suppose?'

`Yes. We used to go about together - on walking tours, reading tours, and things of that sort - like two men almost. He asked me to live with him, and I agreed to by letter. But when I joined him in London I found he meant a different thing from what I meant. He wanted me to be his mistress, in fact, but I wasn't in love with him - and on my saying I should go away if he didn't agree to my plan, he did so. We shared a sitting-room for fifteen months; and he became a leader-writer for one of the great London dailies; till he was taken ill, and had to go abroad. He said I was breaking his heart by holding out against him so long at such close quarters; he could never have believed it of woman. I might play that game once too often, he said. He came home merely to die. His death caused a terrible remorse in me for my cruelty - though I hope he died of consumption and not of me entirely. l went down to Sandbourne to his funeral, and was his only mourner. He left me a little money - because I broke his heart, I suppose. That's how men are - so much better than women!'

`Good heavens! - what did you do then?'

`Ah - now you are angry with me!' she said, a contralto note of tragedy coming suddenly into her silvery voice. `I wouldn't have told you if I had known!'

`No, I am not. Tell me all.'

`Well, I invested his money, poor fellow, in a bubble scheme, and lost it. I lived about London by myself for some time, and then I returned to Christminster, as my father - who was also in London, and had started as an art metal-worker near Long-Acre - wouldn't have me back; and I got that occupation in the artist-shop where you found me.... I said you didn't know how bad I was!'

Jude looked round upon the arm-chair and its occupant, as if to read more carefully the creature he had given shelter to. His voice trembled as he said: `However you have lived, Sue, I believe you are as innocent as you are unconventional!'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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