Her being able to talk learnedly showed that she was mistress of herself again; and before they parted she had almost regained her vivacious glance, her reciprocity of tone, her gay manner, and her second- thought attitude of critical largeness towards others of her age and sex.

He could speak more freely now. `There were several reasons against my telling you rashly. One was what I have said; another, that it was always impressed upon me that I ought not to marry - that I belonged to an odd and peculiar family - the wrong breed for marriage.'

`Ah - who used to say that to you?'

`My great-aunt. She said it always ended badly with us Fawleys.'

`That's strange. My father used to say the same to me!'

They stood possessed by the same thought, ugly enough, even as an assumption: that a union between them, had such been possible, would have meant a terrible intensification of unfitness - two bitters in one dish.

`Oh, but there can't be anything in it!' she said with nervous lightness. `Our family have been unlucky of late years in choosing mates - that's all.'

And then they pretended to persuade themselves that all that had happened was of no consequence, and that they could still be cousins and friends and warm correspondents, and have happy genial times when they met, even if they met less frequently than before. Their parting was in good friendship, and yet Jude's last look into her eyes was tinged with inquiry, for he felt that he did not even now quite know her mind.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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