`It is not that I am ashamed - not as you think! But it seems such a terribly tragic thing to bring beings into the world - so presumptuous - that I question my right to do it sometimes!'

`Take it easy, my dear.... But you don't tell me why you do such a thing as this? Jude used to be a proud sort of chap - above any business almost, leave alone keeping a standing.'

`Perhaps my husband has altered a little since then. I am sure he is not proud now!' And Sue's lips quivered again. `I am doing this because he caught a chill early in the year while putting up some stonework of a music-hall, at Quartershot, which he had to do in the rain, the work having to be executed by a fixed day. He is better than he was; but it has been a long, weary time! We have had an old widow friend with us to help us through it; but she's leaving soon.'

`Well, I am respectable too, thank God, and of a serious way of thinking since my loss. Why did you choose to sell gingerbreads?'

`That's a pure accident. He was brought up to the baking business, and it occurred to him to try his hand at these, which he can make without coming out of doors. We call them Christminster cakes. They are a great success.'

`I never saw any like 'em. Why, they are windows and towers, and pinnacles! And upon my word they are very nice.' She had helped herself, and was unceremoniously munching one of the cakes.

`Yes. They are reminiscences of the Christminster Colleges. Traceried windows, and cloisters, you see. It was a whim of his to do them in pastry.'

`Still harping on Christminster - even in his cakes!' laughed Arabella. `Just like Jude. A ruling passion. What a queer fellow he is, and always will be!'

Sue sighed, and she looked her distress at hearing him criticized.

`Don't you think he is? Come now; you do, though you are so fond of him!'

`Of course Christminster is a sort of fixed vision with him, which I suppose he'll never be cured of believing in. He still thinks it a great centre of high and fearless thought, instead of what it is, a nest of commonplace schoolmasters whose characteristic is timid obsequiousness to tradition.'

Arabella was quizzing Sue with more regard of how she was speaking than of what she was saying. `How odd to hear a woman selling cakes talk like that!' she said. `Why don't you go back to school-keeping?'

She shook her head. `They won't have me.'

`Because of the divorce, I suppose?'

`That and other things. And there is no reason to wish it. We gave up all ambition, and were never so happy in our lives till his illness came.'

`Where are you living?'

`I don't care to say.'

`Here in Kennetbridge?'

Sue's manner showed Arabella that her random guess was right.

`Here comes the boy back again,' continued Arabella. `My boy and Jude's!'

Sue's eyes darted a spark. `You needn't throw that in my face!' she cried.

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