It was noticed at school that Jones would never be seen in an exposed state. For example, he was never seen having a shower. It occurs to me that he was never seen in the boys’ toilet, either. I think there must have been speculation among fellow-pupils about this; Jones was quite a talking-point anyway and observations about Jones’s non-appearance in the showers and toilets would have got around. I was still friendly with Jones at this time, and I asked him about it. If I can picture the scene correctly, it would be in Davelyshome where I put the question to him.
He replied, “Because of my modesteh!” The words were delivered very quietly, almost in a whisper. During the couple of seconds that Jones spoke, his eyes were closed or almost closed and his eyelids probably flickered slightly. As soon as he finished speaking, his mouth closed into a slightly down-turned beak, a very sober, serious expression.
“What do you mean, Jones?” I asked. I thought modesty meant having a moderate opinion of oneself, and therefore on that definition it would be most immodest of Jones to boast of his modesty. I did not realise that the word also meant observing the proprieties of dress and behaviour.
“My modesteh!” Jones repeated. “I am very modest.” And I don’t remember getting any more out of him.
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