"Jack, may I disturb you please?"
"What is the matter? An older French gloss not in the dictionary would be a case for Warnie. Me it's rather 14th C. than le Grand Siècle, you know."
"You remember the night we met?"
"Of course. Some cad had tried to lay his hands on you and you had paddled across the Thames."
"Well, it seems his father wants me to forgive him."
"A father would want that, of course, but what are his arguments?"
"A car key. A handsome sum of money. And a somewhat phoney excuse."
"If you take these things after he wrote you explicitly he was asking you to forgive his son, I would try to forgive him. Or reject the offer."
"But if the excuse is too bad?"
"What excuse is that?"
"The man who tried to rape me grew up among men who thought if you are a young lady and walk out into the woods with someone, you are asking to be raped. How stupid is that?"
"If they are Jewish, it is not quite stupid."
"Right is right and wrong is wrong anywhere, right?"
"Sure, but rape is one thing among us and one thing among people where inviting a rape is the only way a girl has to get toused without getting stoned afterwards."
"Surely Jews don't stone people any more?"
"No, but it seems some reactions die hard with them. A Jewish girl - at least among conservatives - can consider getting raped (by a Jew of course if it is the one she likes), but would consider herself totally disgraced if she were to be seduced."
"Was it like that with Christians too?"
"Not really, since a girl was not stoned for getting seduced. Even married woman could count on some forgiveness and understanding."
"So rape was much worse among us than among Jews, then?"
"Yes ... or depends when and where, some places and times there were unwed maidens who had similar sensibilities to Jewesses. Like the one in St Thomas More's satire. I won't quote it."
"How do you know that?"
"Because I was doing some research on what reactions to seduction are in different times:
.... For to win love in sondry ages ...
... there sondry be usages.
"And in some cultures 'usages' are indeed very sondry."
"So you mean the excuse could be honest?"
"I would not bet on it. But if I took the offer, I would still try to forgive. And it could be, we cannot look into their hearts."
"I suppose you Christians go around forgiving people all the time?"
"Did you before you fell away?"
"No, not offended all that often. Oh, except by family and friends ... usually small stuff ... and there I forgave."
And she cried, because she thought of Edmund again. And - though she did not tell Jack Lewis - of her own sister forgiving her the betrayal.
"I'll go and get a tea for you." And he did. "Think it over when you are alone."
She did that. She considered she had had no untoward meetings with him or anyone else for some time. She considered she was going to visit Narnia in Umbria, where her family had been going. And she decided to take the offer and to try to forgive young Mr White.
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