`You have no right to ask me such a question; and I shan't answer!' she said, smiling.

`My dear one, your happiness is more to me than anything - although we seem to verge on quarrelling so often! - and your will is law to me. I am something more than a mere - selfish fellow, I hope. Have it as you wish!' On reflection his brow showed perplexity. `But perhaps it is that you don't love me - not that you have become conventional! Much as, under your teaching, I hate convention, I hope it is that, not the other terrible alternative!'

Even at this obvious moment for candour Sue could not be quite candid as to the state of that mystery, her heart. `Put it down to my timidity,' she said with hurried evasiveness; `to a woman's natural timidity when the crisis comes. I may feel as well as you that I have a perfect right to live with you as you thought - from this moment. I may hold the opinion that, in a proper state of society, the father of a woman's child will be as much a private matter of hers as the cut of her underlinen, on whom nobody will have any right to question her. But partly, perhaps, because it is by his generosity that I am now free, I would rather not be other than a little rigid. If there had been a rope-ladder, and he had run after us with pistols, it would have seemed different, and I may have acted otherwise. But don't press me and criticize me, Jude! Assume that I haven't the courage of my opinions. I know I am a poor miserable creature. My nature is not so passionate as yours!'

He repeated simply! `I thought - what I naturally thought. But if we are not lovers, we are not. Phillotson thought so, I am sure. See, here is what he has written to me.' He opened the letter she had brought, and read:

`I make only one condition - that you are tender and kind to her. I know you love her. But even love may be cruel at times. You are made for each other: it is obvious, palpable, to any unbiased older person. You were all along `the shadowy third' in my short life with her. I repeat, take care of Sue.'

`He's a good fellow, isn't he!' she said with latent tears. On reconsideration she added, `He was very resigned to letting me go - too resigned almost! I never was so near being in love with him as when he made such thoughtful arrangements for my being comfortable on my journey, and offering to provide money. Yet I was not. If I loved him ever so little as a wife, I'd go back to him even now.'

`But you don't, do you?'

`It is true - oh so terribly true! - I don't.'

`Nor me neither, I half-fear!' he said pettishly. `Nor anybody perhaps! Sue, sometimes, when I am vexed with you, I think you are incapable of real love.'

`That's not good and loyal of you!' she said, and drawing away from him as far as she could, looked severely out into the darkness. She added in hurt tones, without turning round: `My liking for you is not as some women's perhaps. But it is a delight in being with you, of a supremely delicate kind, and I don't want to go further and risk it by - an attempt to intensify it! I quite realized that, as woman with man, it was a risk to come. But, as me with you, I resolved to trust you to set my wishes above your gratification. Don't discuss it further, dear Jude!'

`Of course, if it would make you reproach yourself ... but you do like me very much, Sue? Say you do! Say that you do a quarter, a tenth, as much as I do you, and I'll be content!'

`I've let you kiss me, and that tells enough.'

`Just once or so!'

`Well - don't be a greedy boy.'

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