Part 6 out of 9
"Yes. He's not an unworthy fellow," said Jude, glancing at the note.
"And I am ashamed of myself for hating him because he married you."
"According to the rule of women's whims I suppose I ought to suddenly
love him, because he has let me go so generously and unexpectedly,"
she answered smiling. "But I am so cold, or devoid of gratitude,
or so something, that even this generosity hasn't made me love him,
or repent, or want to stay with him as his wife; although I do feel I
like his large-mindedness, and respect him more than ever."
"It may not work so well for us as if he had been less kind,
and you had run away against his will," murmured Jude.
"That I NEVER would have done."
Jude's eyes rested musingly on her face. Then he suddenly kissed her;
and was going to kiss her again. "No--only once now--please, Jude!"
"That's rather cruel," he answered; but acquiesced. "Such a strange
thing has happened to me," Jude continued after a silence.
"Arabella has actually written to ask me to get a divorce from her--
in kindness to her, she says. She wants to honestly and legally marry
that man she has already married virtually; and begs me to enable her
to do it."
"What have you done?"
"I have agreed. I thought at first I couldn't do it without
getting her into trouble about that second marriage, and I
don't want to injure her in any way. Perhaps she's no worse
than I am, after all! But nobody knows about it over here,
and I find it will not be a difficult proceeding at all.
If she wants to start afresh I have only too obvious reasons
for not hindering her."
"Then you'll be free?"
"Yes, I shall be free."
"Where are we booked for?" she asked, with the discontinuity
that marked her to-night.
"Aldbrickham, as I said."
"But it will be very late when we get there?"
"Yes. I thought of that, and I wired for a room for us at the Temperance
She looked at him. "Oh Jude!" Sue bent her forehead against the corner of
the compartment. "I thought you might do it; and that I was deceiving you.
But I didn't mean that!"
In the pause which followed, Jude's eyes fixed themselves with a stultified
expression on the opposite seat. "Well!" he said.... "Well!"
He remained in silence; and seeing how discomfited he was she put
her face against his cheek, murmuring, "Don't be vexed, dear!"
"Oh--there's no harm done," he said. "But--I understood it
like that.... Is this a sudden change of mind?"
"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
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
"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."
He leant back, and did not look at her for a long time.
That episode in her past history of which she had told him--
of the poor Christminster graduate whom she had handled thus,
returned to Jude's mind; and he saw himself as a possible second in
such a torturing destiny.
"This is a queer elopement!" he murmured. "Perhaps you
are making a cat's paw of me with Phillotson all this time.
Upon my word it almost seems so--to see you sitting up there
"Now you mustn't be angry--I won't let you!" she coaxed,
turning and moving nearer to him. "You did kiss me just now,
you know; and I didn't dislike you to, I own it, Jude. Only I
don't want to let you do it again, just yet--considering how we
are circumstanced, don't you see!"
He could never resist her when she pleaded (as she well knew). And they sat
side by side with joined hands, till she aroused herself at some thought.
"I can't possibly go to that Temperance Inn, after your telegraphing
"You can see well enough!"
"Very well; there'll be some other one open, no doubt.
I have sometimes thought, since your marrying Phillotson because
of a stupid scandal, that under the affectation of independent
views you are as enslaved to the social code as any woman
"Not mentally. But I haven't the courage of my views, as I said before.
I didn't marry him altogether because of the scandal. But sometimes
a woman's LOVE OF BEING LOVED gets the better of her conscience,
and though she is agonized at the thought of treating a man cruelly,
she encourages him to love her while she doesn't love him at all.
Then, when she sees him suffering, her remorse sets in, and she does
what she can to repair the wrong."
"You simply mean that you flirted outrageously with him,
poor old chap, and then repented, and to make reparation,
married him, though you tortured yourself to death by doing it."
"Well--if you will put it brutally!--it was a little like that--
that and the scandal together--and your concealing from me what you
ought to have told me before!"
He could see that she was distressed and tearful at his criticisms,
and soothed her, saying: "There, dear; don't mind! Crucify me,
if you will! You know you are all the world to me, whatever you do!"
"I am very bad and unprincipled--I know you think that!"
she said, trying to blink away her tears.
"I think and know you are my dear Sue, from whom neither length nor breadth,
nor things present nor things to come, can divide me!"
Though so sophisticated in many things she was such a child
in others that this satisfied her, and they reached the end
of their journey on the best of terms. It was about ten
o'clock when they arrived at Aldbrickham, the county town
of North Wessex. As she would not go to the Temperance Hotel
because of the form of his telegram, Jude inquired for another;
and a youth who volunteered to find one wheeled their luggage
to the George farther on, which proved to be the inn at which Jude
had stayed with Arabella on that one occasion of their meeting
after their division for years.
Owing, however, to their now entering it by another door,
and to his preoccupation, he did not at first recognize the place.
When they had engaged their respective rooms they went down to a
late supper. During Jude's temporary absence the waiting-maid
spoke to Sue.
"I think, ma'am, I remember your relation, or friend, or whatever he is,
coming here once before--late, just like this, with his wife--a lady,
at any rate, that wasn't you by no manner of means--jest as med be with
"Oh do you?" said Sue, with a certain sickness of heart.
"Though I think you must be mistaken! How long ago was it?"
"About a month or two. A handsome, full-figured woman.
They had this room."
When Jude came back and sat down to supper Sue seemed moping and miserable.
"Jude," she said to him plaintively, at their parting that night upon
the landing, "it is not so nice and pleasant as it used to be with us!
I don't like it here--I can't bear the place! And I don't like you so
well as I did!"
"How fidgeted you seem, dear! Why do you change like this?"
"Because it was cruel to bring me here!"
"You were lately here with Arabella. There, now I have said it!"
"Dear me, why--" said Jude looking round him. "Yes--it is the same!
I really didn't know it, Sue. Well--it is not cruel, since we have come
as we have--two relations staying together."
"How long ago was it you were here? Tell me, tell me!"
"The day before I met you in Christminster, when we went back
to Marygreen together. I told you I had met her."
"Yes, you said you had met her, but you didn't tell me all.
Your story was that you had met as estranged people,
who were not husband and wife at all in Heaven's sight--
not that you had made it up with her."
"We didn't make it up," he said sadly. "I can't explain, Sue."
"You've been false to me; you, my last hope! And I shall
never forget it, never!"
"But by your own wish, dear Sue, we are only to be friends, not lovers!
It is so very inconsistent of you to----"
"Friends can be jealous!"
"I don't see that. You concede nothing to me and I have to concede everything
to you. After all, you were on good terms with your husband at that time."
"No, I wasn't, Jude. Oh how can you think so! And you have taken me in,
even if you didn't intend to." She was so mortified that he was obliged
to take her into her room and close the door lest the people should hear.
"Was it this room? Yes it was--I see by your look it was! I won't
have it for mine! Oh it was treacherous of you to have her again!
I jumped out of the window!"
"But Sue, she was, after all, my legal wife, if not--"
Slipping down on her knees Sue buried her face in the bed and wept.
"I never knew such an unreasonable--such a dog-in-the-manger feeling,"
said Jude. "I am not to approach you, nor anybody else!"
"Oh don't you UNDERSTAND my feeling! Why don't you! Why are you so gross!
I jumped out of the window!"
"Jumped out of window?"
"I can't explain!"
It was true that he did not understand her feelings very well.
But he did a little; and began to love her none the less.
"I--I thought you cared for nobody--desired nobody in the world but me
at that time--and ever since!" continued Sue.
"It is true. I did not, and don't now!" said Jude, as distressed as she.
"But you must have thought much of her! Or--"
"No--I need not--you don't understand me either--women never do!
Why should you get into such a tantrum about nothing?"
Looking up from the quilt she pouted provokingly: "If it hadn't
been for that, perhaps I would have gone on to the Temperance Hotel,
after all, as you proposed; for I was beginning to think I did belong
"Oh, it is of no consequence!" said Jude distantly.
"I thought, of course, that she had never been really your wife
since she left you of her own accord years and years ago!
My sense of it was, that a parting such as yours from her,
and mine from him, ended the marriage."
"I can't say more without speaking against her, and I don't want to do that,"
said he. "Yet I must tell you one thing, which would settle the matter
in any case. She has married another man--really married him! I knew nothing
about it till after the visit we made here."
"Married another? ... It is a crime--as the world treats it,
but does not believe."
"There--now you are yourself again. Yes, it is a crime--as you don't hold,
but would fearfully concede. But I shall never inform against her!
And it is evidently a prick of conscience in her that has led her
to urge me to get a divorce, that she may remarry this man legally.
So you perceive I shall not be likely to see her again."
"And you didn't really know anything of this when you saw her?"
said Sue more gently, as she rose.
"I did not. Considering all things, I don't think you ought
to be angry, darling!"
"I am not. But I shan't go to the Temperance Hotel!"
He laughed. "Never mind!" he said. "So that I am near you,
I am comparatively happy. It is more than this earthly wretch
called Me deserves--you spirit, you disembodied creature,
you dear, sweet, tantalizing phantom--hardly flesh at all;
so that when I put my arms round you I almost expect them to pass
through you as through air! Forgive me for being gross, as you
call it! Remember that our calling cousins when really strangers
was a snare. The enmity of our parents gave a piquancy to you
in my eyes that was intenser even than the novelty of ordinary
"Say those pretty lines, then, from Shelley's 'Epipsychidion' as if they
meant me!" she solicited, slanting up closer to him as they stood.
"Don't you know them?"
"I know hardly any poetry," he replied mournfully.
"Don't you? These are some of them:
There was a Being whom my spirit oft
Met on its visioned wanderings far aloft.
A seraph of Heaven, too gentle to be human,
Veiling beneath that radiant form of woman....
Oh it is too flattering, so I won't go on! But say it's me!
Say it's me!"
"It is you, dear; exactly like you!"
"Now I forgive you! And you shall kiss me just once there--not very long."
She put the tip of her finger gingerly to her cheek; and he did as commanded.
"You do care for me very much, don't you, in spite of my not--you know?"
"Yes, sweet!" he said with a sigh; and bade her good-night.
IN returning to his native town of Shaston as schoolmaster Phillotson had won
the interest and awakened the memories of the inhabitants, who, though they
did not honour him for his miscellaneous aquirements as he would have been
honoured elsewhere, retained for him a sincere regard. When, shortly after
his arrival, he brought home a pretty wife--awkwardly pretty for him, if he
did not take care, they said--they were glad to have her settle among them.
For some time after her flight from that home Sue's absence did
not excite comment. Her place as monitor in the school was taken
by another young woman within a few days of her vacating it,
which substitution also passed without remark, Sue's services
having been of a provisional nature only. When, however, a month
had passed, and Phillotson casually admitted to an acquaintance
that he did not know where his wife was staying, curiosity began
to be aroused; till, jumping to conclusions, people ventured
to affirm that Sue had played him false and run away from him.
The schoolmaster's growing languor and listlessness over his work gave
countenance to the idea.
Though Phillotson had held his tongue as long as he could,
except to his friend Gillingham, his honesty and directness
would not allow him to do so when misapprehensions as to Sue's
conduct spread abroad. On a Monday morning the chairman of
the school committee called, and after attending to the business
of the school drew Phillotson aside out of earshot of the children.
"You'll excuse my asking, Phillotson, since everybody is talking of it:
is this true as to your domestic affairs--that your wife's going away
was on no visit, but a secret elopement with a lover? If so, I condole
"Don't," said Phillotson. "There was no secret about it."
"She has gone to visit friends?"
"Then what has happened?"
"She has gone away under circumstances that usually call for condolence
with the husband. But I gave my consent."
The chairman looked as if he had not apprehended the remark.
"What I say is quite true," Phillotson continued testily.
"She asked leave to go away with her lover, and I let her.
Why shouldn't I? A woman of full age, it was a question
of her own conscience--not for me. I was not her gaoler.
I can't explain any further. I don't wish to be questioned."
The children observed that much seriousness marked the faces
of the two men, and went home and told their parents
that something new had happened about Mrs. Phillotson.
Then Phillotson's little maidservant, who was a schoolgirl
just out of her standards, said that Mr. Phillotson had helped
in his wife's packing, had offered her what money she required,
and had written a friendly letter to her young man, telling him
to take care of her. The chairman of committee thought
the matter over, and talked to the other managers of the school,
till a request came to Phillotson to meet them privately.
The meeting lasted a long time, and at the end the school-master
came home, looking as usual pale and worn. Gillingham was sitting
in his house awaiting him.
"Well; it is as you said," observed Phillotson, flinging himself
down wearily in a chair. "They have requested me to send in my
resignation on account of my scandalous conduct in giving my tortured
wife her liberty--or, as they call it, condoning her adultery.
But I shan't resign!"
"I think I would."
"I won't. It is no business of theirs. It doesn't affect me
in my public capacity at all. They may expel me if they like."
"If you make a fuss it will get into the papers, and you'll never get
appointed to another school. You see, they have to consider what you did
as done by a teacher of youth--and its effects as such upon the morals
of the town; and, to ordinary opinion, your position is indefensible.
You must let me say that."
To this good advice, however, Phillotson would not listen.
"I don't care," he said. "I don't go unless I am turned out.
And for this reason; that by resigning I acknowledge I have acted
wrongly by her; when I am more and more convinced every day that in
the sight of Heaven and by all natural, straightforward humanity,
I have acted rightly."
Gillingham saw that his rather headstrong friend would not
be able to maintain such a position as this; but he said
nothing further, and in due time--indeed, in a quarter of an hour--
the formal letter of dismissal arrived, the managers having
remained behind to write it after Phillotson's withdrawal.
The latter replied that he should not accept dismissal;
and called a public meeting, which he attended, although he looked
so weak and ill that his friend implored him to stay at home.
When he stood up to give his reasons for contesting
the decision of the managers he advanced them firmly,
as he had done to his friend, and contended, moreover, that the
matter was a domestic theory which did not concern them.
This they over-ruled, insisting that the private eccentricities
of a teacher came quite within their sphere of control,
as it touched the morals of those he taught. Phillotson replied
that he did not see how an act of natural charity could
All the respectable inhabitants and well-to-do fellow-natives of the town
were against Phillotson to a man. But, somewhat to his surprise, some dozen
or more champions rose up in his defence as from the ground.
It has been stated that Shaston was the anchorage of a curious and
interesting group of itinerants, who frequented the numerous fairs
and markets held up and down Wessex during the summer and autumn months.
Although Phillotson had never spoken to one of these gentlemen they now nobly
led the forlorn hope in his defence. The body included two cheap Jacks,
a shooting-gallery proprietor and the ladies who loaded the guns,
a pair of boxing-masters, a steam-roundabout manager, two travelling
broom-makers, who called themselves widows, a gingerbread-stall keeper,
a swing-boat owner, and a "test-your-strength" man.
This generous phalanx of supporters, and a few others of independent judgment,
whose own domestic experiences had been not without vicissitude,
came up and warmly shook hands with Phillotson; after which they expressed
their thoughts so strongly to the meeting that issue was joined,
the result being a general scuffle, wherein a black board was split,
three panes of the school windows were broken, an inkbottle was spilled
over a town-councillor's shirt front, a churchwarden was dealt such a topper
with the map of Palestine that his head went right through Samaria,
and many black eyes and bleeding noses were given, one of which,
to everybody's horror, was the venerable incumbent's, owing to the zeal
of an emancipated chimney-sweep, who took the side of Phillotson's party.
When Phillotson saw the blood running down the rector's face he deplored
almost in groans the untoward and degrading circumstances, regretted that
he had not resigned when called upon, and went home so ill that next morning
he could not leave his bed.
The farcical yet melancholy event was the beginning of a serious
illness for him; and he lay in his lonely bed in the pathetic state
of mind of a middle-aged man who perceives at length that his life,
intellectual and domestic, is tending to failure and gloom.
Gillingham came to see him in the evenings, and on one occasion
mentioned Sue's name.
"She doesn't care anything about me!" said Phillotson.
"Why should she?"
"She doesn't know you are ill."
"So much the better for both of us."
"Where are her lover and she living?"
"At Melchester--I suppose; at least he was living there some time ago."
When Gillingham reached home he sat and reflected, and at last wrote an
anonymous line to Sue, on the bare chance of its reaching her, the letter
being enclosed in an envelope addressed to Jude at the diocesan capital.
Arriving at that place it was forwarded to Marygreen in North Wessex,
and thence to Aldbrickham by the only person who knew his present address--
the widow who had nursed his aunt.
Three days later, in the evening, when the sun was going down in
splendour over the lowlands of Blackmoor, and making the Shaston
windows like tongues of fire to the eyes of the rustics in that vale,
the sick man fancied that he heard somebody come to the house,
and a few minutes after there was a tap at the bedroom door.
Phillotson did not speak; the door was hesitatingly opened,
and there entered--Sue.
She was in light spring clothing, and her advent seemed ghostly--
like the flitting in of a moth. He turned his eyes upon her,
and flushed; but appeared to check his primary impulse
"I have no business here," she said, bending her frightened face to him.
"But I heard you were ill--very ill; and--and as I know that you
recognize other feelings between man and woman than physical love,
I have come."
"I am not very ill, my dear friend. Only unwell."
"I didn't know that; and I am afraid that only a severe illness would
have justified my coming!"
"Yes ... yes. And I almost wish you had not come! It is a little too soon--
that's all I mean. Still, let us make the best of it. You haven't heard
about the school, I suppose?"
"No--what about it?"
"Only that I am going away from here to another place.
The managers and I don't agree, and we are going to part--
Sue did not for a moment, either now or later, suspect what troubles
had resulted to him from letting her go; it never once seemed to cross
her mind, and she had received no news whatever from Shaston.
They talked on slight and ephemeral subjects, and when his tea was brought
up he told the amazed little servant that a cup was to be set for Sue.
That young person was much more interested in their history than
they supposed, and as she descended the stairs she lifted her eyes and
hands in grotesque amazement. While they sipped Sue went to the window
and thoughtfully said, "It is such a beautiful sunset, Richard."
"They are mostly beautiful from here, owing to the rays crossing
the mist of the vale. But I lose them all, as they don't shine
into this gloomy corner where I lie."
"Wouldn't you like to see this particular one? It is like heaven opened."
"Ah yes! But I can't."
"I'll help you to."
"No--the bedstead can't be shifted."
"But see how I mean."
She went to where a swing-glass stood, and taking it in her hands
carried it to a spot by the window where it could catch the sunshine,
moving the glass till the beams were reflected into Phillotson's face.
"There--you can see the great red sun now!" she said.
"And I am sure it will cheer you--I do so hope it will!"
She spoke with a childlike, repentant kindness, as if she could not
do too much for him.
Phillotson smiled sadly. "You are an odd creature!" he murmured
as the sun glowed in his eyes. "The idea of your coming to see me
after what has passed!"
"Don't let us go back upon that!" she said quickly.
"I have to catch the omnibus for the train, as Jude doesn't know
I have come; he was out when I started; so I must return home
almost directly. Richard, I am so very glad you are better.
You don't hate me, do you? You have been such a kind friend
"I am glad to know you think so," said Phillotson huskily.
"No. I don't hate you!"
It grew dusk quickly in the gloomy room during their intermittent chat,
and when candles were brought and it was time to leave she put her hand
in his or rather allowed it to flit through his; for she was significantly
light in touch. She had nearly closed the door when he said, "Sue!"
He had noticed that, in turning away from him, tears were on her face
and a quiver in her lip.
It was bad policy to recall her--he knew it while he pursued it.
But he could not help it. She came back.
"Sue," he murmured, "do you wish to make it up, and stay?
I'll forgive you and condone everything!"
"Oh you can't, you can't!" she said hastily. "You can't condone it now!"
"He is your husband now, in effect, you mean, of course?"
"You may assume it. He is obtaining a divorce from his wife Arabella."
"His wife! It is altogether news to me that he has a wife."
"It was a bad marriage."
"Like mine. He is not doing it so much on his own account as on hers.
She wrote and told him it would be a kindness to her, since then she could
marry and live respectably. And Jude has agreed."
"A wife.... A kindness to her. Ah, yes; a kindness to her to
release her altogether.... But I don't like the sound of it.
I can forgive, Sue."
"No, no! You can't have me back now I have been so wicked--
as to do what I have done!"
There had arisen in Sue's face that incipient fright which showed
itself whenever he changed from friend to husband, and which made
her adopt any line of defence against marital feeling in him.
"I MUST go now. I'll come again--may I?"
"I don't ask you to go, even now. I ask you to stay."
"I thank you, Richard; but I must. As you are not so ill as I thought,
I CANNOT stay!"
"She's his--his from lips to heel!" said Phillotson; but so faintly
that in closing the door she did not hear it. The dread of a reactionary
change in the schoolmaster's sentiments, coupled, perhaps, with a faint
shamefacedness at letting even him know what a slipshod lack of thoroughness,
from a man's point of view, characterized her transferred allegiance,
prevented her telling him of her, thus far, incomplete relations with Jude;
and Phillotson lay writhing like a man in hell as he pictured the prettily
dressed, maddening compound of sympathy and averseness who bore his name,
returning impatiently to the home of her lover.
Gillingham was so interested in Phillotson's affairs, and so
seriously concerned about him, that he walked up the hill-side
to Shaston two or three times a week, although, there and back,
it was a journey of nine miles, which had to be performed
between tea and supper, after a hard day's work in school.
When he called on the next occasion after Sue's visit his friend
was downstairs, and Gillingham noticed that his restless mood had
been supplanted by a more fixed and composed one.
"She's been here since you called last," said Phillotson.
"Not Mrs. Phillotson?"
"Ah! You have made it up?"
"No.... She just came, patted my pillow with her little white hand,
played the thoughtful nurse for half an hour, and went away."
"Well--I'm hanged! A little hussy!"
"What do you say?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, what a tantalizing, capricious little woman!
If she were not your wife"
"She is not; she's another man's except in name and law.
And I have been thinking--it was suggested to me by a conversation
I had with her--that, in kindness to her, I ought to dissolve
the legal tie altogether; which, singularly enough, I think I can do,
now she has been back, and refused my request to stay after I
said I had forgiven her. I believe that fact would afford me
opportunity of doing it, though I did not see it at the moment.
What's the use of keeping her chained on to me if she doesn't
belong to me? I know--I feel absolutely certain--that she would
welcome my taking such a step as the greatest charity to her.
For though as a fellow-creature she sympathizes with, and pities me,
and even weeps for me, as a husband she cannot endure me--
she loathes me--there's no use in mincing words--she loathes me,
and my only manly, and dignified, and merciful course is to complete
what I have begun.... And for worldly reasons, too, it will be better
for her to be independent. I have hopelessly ruined my prospects
because of my decision as to what was best for us, though she does
not know it; I see only dire poverty ahead from my feet to the grave;
for I can be accepted as teacher no more. I shall probably have
enough to do to make both ends meet during the remainder of my life,
now my occupation's gone; and I shall be better able to bear it alone.
I may as well tell you that what has suggested my letting her
go is some news she brought me--the news that Fawley is doing
"Oh--he had a spouse, too? A queer couple, these lovers!"
"Well--I don't want your opinion on that. What I was going
to say is that my liberating her can do her no possible harm,
and will open up a chance of happiness for her which she has
never dreamt of hitherto. For then they'll be able to marry,
as they ought to have done at first."
Gillingham did not hurry to reply. "I may disagree with your motive,"
he said gently, for he respected views he could not share. "But I
think you are right in your determination--if you can carry it out.
I doubt, however, if you can."
AT ALDBRICKHAM AND ELSEWHERE
"Thy aerial part, and all the fiery parts which are
mingled in thee, though by nature they have an upward
tendency, still in obedience to the disposition of the
universe they are over-powered here in the compound
mass the body."--M. ANTONINUS (Long).
How Gillingham's doubts were disposed of will most quickly appear
by passing over the series of dreary months and incidents that
followed the events of the last chapter, and coming on to a Sunday
in the February of the year following.
Sue and Jude were living in Aldbrickham, in precisely the same relations
that they had established between themselves when she left Shaston
to join him the year before. The proceedings in the law-courts had
reached their consciousness, but as a distant sound and an occasional
missive which they hardly understood.
They had met, as usual, to breakfast together in the little house
with Jude's name on it, that he had taken at fifteen pounds a year,
with three-pounds-ten extra for rates and taxes, and furnished
with his aunt's ancient and lumbering goods, which had cost him
about their full value to bring all the way from Marygreen.
Sue kept house, and managed everything.
As he entered the room this morning Sue held up a letter she
had just received.
"Well; and what is it about?" he said after kissing her.
"That the decree NISI in the case of Phillotson VERSUS Phillotson and Fawley,
pronounced six months ago, has just been made absolute."
"Ah," said Jude, as he sat down.
The same concluding incident in Jude's suit against Arabella
had occurred about a month or two earlier. Both cases
had been too insignificant to be reported in the papers,
further than by name in a long list of other undefended cases.
"Now then, Sue, at any rate, you can do what you like!"
He looked at his sweetheart curiously.
"Are we--you and I--just as free now as if we had never married at all?"
"Just as free--except, I believe, that a clergyman may object
personally to remarry you, and hand the job on to somebody else."
"But I wonder--do you think it is really so with us? I know it is generally.
But I have an uncomfortable feeling that my freedom has been obtained under
"Well--if the truth about us had been known, the decree wouldn't have
been pronounced. It is only, is it, because we have made no defence,
and have led them into a false supposition? Therefore is my freedom lawful,
however proper it may be?"
"Well--why did you let it be under false pretences? You have only yourself
to blame," he said mischievously.
"Jude--don't! You ought not to be touchy about that still.
You must take me as I am."
"Very well, darling: so I will. Perhaps you were right.
As to your question, we were not obliged to prove anything.
That was their business. Anyhow we are living together."
"Yes. Though not in their sense."
"One thing is certain, that however the decree may be
brought about, a marriage is dissolved when it is dissolved.
There is this advantage in being poor obscure people like us--
that these things are done for us in a rough and ready fashion.
It was the same with me and Arabella. I was afraid her criminal
second marriage would have been discovered, and she punished;
but nobody took any interest in her--nobody inquired,
nobody suspected it. If we'd been patented nobilities we should
have had infinite trouble, and days and weeks would have been spent
By degrees Sue acquired her lover's cheerfulness at the sense
of freedom, and proposed that they should take a walk in the fields,
even if they had to put up with a cold dinner on account of it.
Jude agreed, and Sue went up-stairs and prepared to start,
putting on a joyful coloured gown in observance of her liberty;
seeing which Jude put on a lighter tie.
"Now we'll strut arm and arm," he said, "like any other engaged couple.
We've a legal right to."
They rambled out of the town, and along a path over the low-lying
lands that bordered it, though these were frosty now,
and the extensive seed-fields were bare of colour and produce.
The pair, however, were so absorbed in their own situation
that their surroundings were little in their consciousness.
"Well, my dearest, the result of all this is that we can marry
after a decent interval."
"Yes; I suppose we can," said Sue, without enthusiasm.
"And aren't we going to?"
"I don't like to say no, dear Jude; but I feel just the same about it
now as I have done all along. I have just the same dread lest an iron
contract should extinguish your tenderness for me, and mine for you,
as it did between our unfortunate parents."
"Still, what can we do? I do love you, as you know, Sue."
"I know it abundantly. But I think I would much rather go on living
always as lovers, as we are living now, and only meeting by day.
It is so much sweeter--for the woman at least, and when she is sure
of the man. And henceforward we needn't be so particular as we have
been about appearances."
"Our experiences of matrimony with others have not been encouraging,
I own," said he with some gloom; "either owing to our own dissatisfied,
unpractical natures, or by our misfortune. But we two----"
"Should be two dissatisfied ones linked together, which would be twice
as bad as before.... I think I should begin to be afraid of you, Jude,
the moment you had contracted to cherish me under a Government stamp,
and I was licensed to be loved on the premises by you--Ugh, how horrible
and sordid! Although, as you are, free, I trust you more than any
other man in the world."
"No, no--don't say I should change!" he expostulated; yet there
was misgiving in his own voice also.
"Apart from ourselves, and our unhappy peculiarities, it is foreign
to a man's nature to go on loving a person when he is told that he must
and shall be that person's lover. There would be a much likelier chance
of his doing it if he were told not to love. If the marriage ceremony
consisted in an oath and signed contract between the parties to cease
loving from that day forward, in consideration of personal possession
being given, and to avoid each other's society as much as possible
in public, there would be more loving couples than there are now.
Fancy the secret meetings between the perjuring husband and wife,
the denials of having seen each other, the clambering in at bedroom windows,
and the hiding in closets! There'd be little cooling then."
"Yes; but admitting this, or something like it, to be true,
you are not the only one in the world to see it, dear little Sue.
People go on marrying because they can't resist natural forces,
although many of them may know perfectly well that they are
possibly buying a month's pleasure with a life's discomfort.
No doubt my father and mother, and your father and mother,
saw it, if they at all resembled us in habits of observation.
But then they went and married just the same, because they
had ordinary passions. But you, Sue, are such a phantasmal,
bodiless creature, one who--if you'll allow me to say it--
has so little animal passion in you, that you can act upon reason
in the matter, when we poor unfortunate wretches of grosser substance
"Well," she sighed, "you've owned that it would probably end in
misery for us. And I am not so exceptional a woman as you think.
Fewer women like marriage than you suppose, only they enter into it
for the dignity it is assumed to confer, and the social advantages
it gains them sometimes--a dignity and an advantage that I am quite
willing to do without."
Jude fell back upon his old complaint--that, intimate as they were,
he had never once had from her an honest, candid declaration that she
loved or could love him. "I really fear sometimes that you cannot,"
he said, with a dubiousness approaching anger. "And you are so reticent.
I know that women are taught by other women that they must never admit
the full truth to a man. But the highest form of affection is based
on full sincerity on both sides. Not being men, these women don't know
that in looking back on those he has had tender relations with, a man's
heart returns closest to her who was the soul of truth in her conduct.
The better class of man, even if caught by airy affectations of dodging
and parrying, is not retained by them. A Nemesis attends the woman who plays
the game of elusiveness too often, in the utter contempt for her that,
sooner or later, her old admirers feel; under which they allow her to go
unlamented to her grave."
Sue, who was regarding the distance, had acquired a guilty look;
and she suddenly replied in a tragic voice: "I don't think I
like you to-day so well as I did, Jude!"
"Don't you? Why?"
"Oh, well--you are not nice--too sermony. Though I suppose I am
so bad and worthless that I deserve the utmost rigour of lecturing!"
"No, you are not bad. You are a dear. But as slippery as an eel
when I want to get a confession from you."
"Oh yes I am bad, and obstinate, and all sorts! It is no use
your pretending I am not! People who are good don't want
scolding as I do.... But now that I have nobody but you,
and nobody to defend me, it is very hard that I mustn't have
my own way in deciding how I'll live with you, and whether
I'll be married or no!"
"Sue, my own comrade and sweetheart, I don't want to force you
either to marry or to do the other thing--of course I don't!
It is too wicked of you to be so pettish! Now we won't say
any more about it, and go on just the same as we have done;
and during the rest of our walk we'll talk of the meadows only,
and the floods, and the prospect of the farmers this
After this the subject of marriage was not mentioned by them for several days,
though living as they were with only a landing between them it was
constantly in their minds. Sue was assisting Jude very materially now:
he had latterly occupied himself on his own account in working and
lettering headstones, which he kept in a little yard at the back of his
little house, where in the intervals of domestic duties she marked out
the letters full size for him, and blacked them in after he had cut them.
It was a lower class of handicraft than were his former performances
as a cathedral mason, and his only patrons were the poor people who lived
in his own neighbourhood, and knew what a cheap man this "Jude Fawley:
Monumental Mason" (as he called himself on his front door) was to employ
for the simple memorials they required for their dead. But he seemed
more independent than before, and it was the only arrangement under
which Sue, who particularly wished to be no burden on him, could render
IT was an evening at the end of the month, and Jude had just returned home
from hearing a lecture on ancient history in the public hall not far off.
When he entered, Sue, who had been keeping indoors during his absence,
laid out supper for him. Contrary to custom she did not speak. Jude had
taken up some illustrated paper, which he perused till, raising his eyes,
he saw that her face was troubled.
"Are you depressed, Sue?" he said.
She paused a moment. "I have a message for you," she answered.
"Somebody has called?"
"Yes. A woman." Sue's voice quavered as she spoke, and she suddenly
sat down from her preparations, laid her hands in her lap, and looked
into the fire. "I don't know whether I did right or not!" she continued.
"I said you were not at home, and when she said she would wait, I said I
thought you might not be able to see her."
"Why did you say that, dear? I suppose she wanted a headstone.
Was she in mourning?"
"No. She wasn't in mourning, and she didn't want a headstone;
and I thought you couldn't see her." Sue looked critically
and imploringly at him.
"But who was she? Didn't she say?"
"No. She wouldn't give her name. But I know who she was--I think I do!
It was Arabella!"
"Heaven save us! What should Arabella come for? What made you think
it was she?"
"Oh, I can hardly tell. But I know it was! I feel perfectly
certain it was--by the light in her eyes as she looked at me.
She was a fleshy, coarse woman."
"Well--I should not have called Arabella coarse exactly,
except in speech, though she may be getting so by this time
under the duties of the public house. She was rather handsome
when I knew her."
"Handsome! But yes!--so she is!"
"I think I heard a quiver in your little mouth. Well, waiving that,
as she is nothing to me, and virtuously married to another man,
why should she come troubling us?"
"Are you sure she's married? Have you definite news of it?"
"No--not definite news. But that was why she asked me to release her.
She and the man both wanted to lead a proper life, as I understood."
"Oh Jude--it was, it WAS Arabella!" cried Sue, covering her eyes
with her hand. "And I am so miserable! It seems such an ill omen,
whatever she may have come for. You could not possibly see her,
"I don't really think I could. It would be so very painful to talk
to her now--for her as much as for me. However, she's gone.
Did she say she would come again?"
"No. But she went away very reluctantly."
Sue, whom the least thing upset, could not eat any supper,
and when Jude had finished his he prepared to go to bed.
He had no sooner raked out the fire, fastened the doors,
and got to the top of the stairs than there came a knock.
Sue instantly emerged from her room, which she had but
"There she is again!" Sue whispered in appalled accents.
"How do you know?"
"She knocked like that last time."
They listened, and the knocking came again. No servant was kept
in the house, and if the summons were to be responded to one of them
would have to do it in person. "I'll open a window," said Jude.
"Whoever it is cannot be expected to be let in at this time."
He accordingly went into his bedroom and lifted the sash.
The lonely street of early retiring workpeople was empty from end
to end save of one figure--that of a woman walking up and down
by the lamp a few yards off.
"Who's there?" he asked.
"Is that Mr. Fawley?" came up from the woman, in a voice which was
Jude replied that it was.
"Is it she?" asked Sue from the door, with lips apart.
"Yes, dear," said Jude. "What do you want, Arabella?" he inquired.
"I beg your pardon, Jude, for disturbing you," said Arabella humbly.
"But I called earlier--I wanted particularly to see you to-night, if I could.
I am in trouble, and have nobody to help me!"
"In trouble, are you?"
There was a silence. An inconvenient sympathy seemed to be rising in Jude's
breast at the appeal. "But aren't you married?" he said.
Arabella hesitated. "No, Jude, I am not," she returned.
"He wouldn't, after all. And I am in great difficulty.
I hope to get another situation as barmaid soon. But it
takes time, and I really am in great distress because of a sudden
responsibility that's been sprung upon me from Australia;
or I wouldn't trouble you--believe me I wouldn't. I want to tell you
Sue remained at gaze, in painful tension, hearing every word,
but speaking none.
"You are not really in want of money, Arabella?" he asked,
in a distinctly softened tone.
"I have enough to pay for the night's lodging I have obtained,
but barely enough to take me back again."
"Where are you living?"
"In London still." She was about to give the address, but she said,
"I am afraid somebody may hear, so I don't like to call out particulars
of myself so loud. If you could come down and walk a little way with me
towards the Prince Inn, where I am staying to-night, I would explain all.
You may as well, for old time's sake!"
"Poor thing! I must do her the kindness of hearing what's the matter,
I suppose," said Jude in much perplexity. "As she's going back to-morrow
it can't make much difference."
"But you can go and see her to-morrow, Jude! Don't go now, Jude!" came in
plaintive accents from the doorway. "Oh, it is only to entrap you, I know
it is, as she did before! Don't go, dear! She is such a low-passioned woman--
I can see it in her shape, and hear it in her voice!
"But I shall go," said Jude. "Don't attempt to detain me, Sue. God knows
I love her little enough now, but I don't want to be cruel to her."
He turned to the stairs.
"But she's not your wife!" cried Sue distractedly. "And I----"
"And you are not either, dear, yet," said Jude.
"Oh, but are you going to her? Don't! Stay at home! Please, please stay
at home, Jude, and not go to her, now she's not your wife any more than I!"
"Well, she is, rather more than you, come to that," he said,
taking his hat determinedly. "I've wanted you to be, and I've
waited with the patience of Job, and I don't see that I've got
anything by my self-denial. I shall certainly give her something,
and hear what it is she is so anxious to tell me; no man could
There was that in his manner which she knew it would be futile to oppose.
She said no more, but, turning to her room as meekly as a martyr,
heard him go down-stairs, unbolt the door, and close it behind him.
With a woman's disregard of her dignity when in the presence of nobody
but herself, she also trotted down, sobbing articulately as she went.
She listened. She knew exactly how far it was to the inn that Arabella
had named as her lodging. It would occupy about seven minutes to get
there at an ordinary walking pace; seven to come back again. If he did
not return in fourteen minutes he would have lingered. She looked at
the clock. It was twenty-five minutes to eleven. He MIGHT enter the inn
with Arabella, as they would reach it before closing time; she might get
him to drink with her; and Heaven only knew what disasters would befall
In a still suspense she waited on. It seemed as if the whole
time had nearly elapsed when the door was opened again,
and Jude appeared.
Sue gave a little ecstatic cry. "Oh, I knew I could trust you!--
how good you are!"--she began.
"I can't find her anywhere in this street, and I went out
in my slippers only. She has walked on, thinking I've been
so hard-hearted as to refuse her requests entirely, poor woman.
I've come back for my boots, as it is beginning to rain."
"Oh, but why should you take such trouble for a woman who has served
you so badly!" said Sue in a jealous burst of disappointment.
"But, Sue, she's a woman, and I once cared for her; and one can't
be a brute in such circumstances."
"She isn't your wife any longer!" exclaimed Sue, passionately excited.
"You MUSTN'T go out to find her! It isn't right! You CAN'T join her,
now she's a stranger to you. How can you forget such a thing, my dear,
"She seems much the same as ever--an erring, careless,
unreflecting fellow-creature," he said, continuing to pull
on his boots. "What those legal fellows have been playing
at in London makes no difference in my real relations to her.
If she was my wife while she was away in Australia with another
husband she's my wife now."
"But she wasn't! That's just what I hold! There's the absurdity!--
Well--you'll come straight back, after a few minutes, won't you, dear?
She is too low, too coarse for you to talk to long, Jude, and was always!"
"Perhaps I am coarse too, worse luck! I have the germs of every
human infirmity in me, I verily believe--that was why I saw
it was so preposterous of me to think of being a curate.
I have cured myself of drunkenness I think; but I never know
in what new form a suppressed vice will break out in me!
I do love you, Sue, though I have danced attendance on you
so long for such poor returns! All that's best and noblest
in me loves you, and your freedom from everything that's gross
has elevated me, and enabled me to do what I should never have
dreamt myself capable of, or any man, a year or two ago.
It is all very well to preach about self-control, and the wickedness
of coercing a woman. But I should just like a few virtuous
people who have condemned me in the past, about Arabella
and other things, to have been in my tantalizing position
with you through these late weeks!--they'd believe, I think,
that I have exercised some little restraint in always giving
in to your wishes--living here in one house, and not a soul
"Yes, you have been good to me, Jude; I know you have, my dear protector."
"Well--Arabella has appealed to me for help. I must go out and speak
to her, Sue, at least!"
"I can't say any more!--Oh, if you must, you must!" she said,
bursting out into sobs that seemed to tear her heart.
"I have nobody but you, Jude, and you are deserting me!
I didn't know you were like this--I can't bear it, I can't! If she
were yours it would be different!"
"Or if you were."
"Very well then--if I must I must. Since you will have it so,
I agree! I will be. Only I didn't mean to! And I didn't
want to marry again, either! ... But, yes--I agree, I agree!
I do love you. I ought to have known that you would conquer in
the long run, living like this!"
She ran across and flung her arms round his neck. "I am not
a cold-natured, sexless creature, am I, for keeping you at such
a distance? I am sure you don't think so! Wait and see!
I do belong to you, don't I? I give in!"
"And I'll arrange for our marriage to-morrow, or as soon as ever you wish."
"Then I'll let her go," said he, embracing Sue softly.
"I do feel that it would be unfair to you to see her,
and perhaps unfair to her. She is not like you, my darling,
and never was: it is only bare justice to say that.
Don't cry any more. There; and there; and there!" He kissed
her on one side, and on the other, and in the middle, and rebolted
the front door.
The next morning it was wet.
"Now, dear," said Jude gaily at breakfast; "as this is Saturday
I mean to call about the banns at once, so as to get the first
publishing done to-morrow, or we shall lose a week. Banns will do?
We shall save a pound or two."
Sue absently agreed to banns. But her mind for the moment was
running on something else. A glow had passed away from her,
and depression sat upon her features.
"I feel I was wickedly selfish last night!" she murmured.
"It was sheer unkindness in me--or worse--to treat Arabella as I did.
I didn't care about her being in trouble, and what she wished
to tell you! Perhaps it was really something she was justified
in telling you. That's some more of my badness, I suppose!
Love has its own dark morality when rivalry enters in--
at least, mine has, if other people's hasn't.... I wonder
how she got on? I hope she reached the inn all right,
"Oh yes: she got on all right," said Jude placidly.
"I hope she wasn't shut out, and that she hadn't to walk the streets
in the rain. Do you mind my putting on my waterproof and going to see
if she got in? I've been thinking of her all the morning."
"Well--is it necessary? You haven't the least idea how Arabella
is able to shift for herself. Still, darling, if you want to go
and inquire you can."
There was no limit to the strange and unnecessary penances
which Sue would meekly undertake when in a contrite mood;
and this going to see all sorts of extraordinary persons whose
relation to her was precisely of a kind that would have made
other people shun them was her instinct ever, so that the request
did not surprise him.
"And when you come back," he added, "I'll be ready to go about the banns.
You'll come with me?"
Sue agreed, and went off under cloak and umbrella letting Jude kiss
her freely, and returning his kisses in a way she had never done before.
Times had decidedly changed. "The little bird is caught at last!" she said,
a sadness showing in her smile.
"No--only nested," he assured her.
She walked along the muddy street till she reached the public
house mentioned by Arabella, which was not so very far off.
She was informed that Arabella had not yet left, and in doubt
how to announce herself so that her predecessor in Jude's affections
would recognize her, she sent up word that a friend from Spring
Street had called, naming the place of Jude's residence.
She was asked to step upstairs, and on being shown into a room
found that it was Arabella's bedroom, and that the latter had
not yet risen. She halted on the turn of her toe till Arabella
cried from the bed, "Come in and shut the door," which Sue
Arabella lay facing the window, and did not at once turn her head:
and Sue was wicked enough, despite her penitence, to wish for a moment
that Jude could behold her forerunner now, with the daylight full upon her.
She may have seemed handsome enough in profile under the lamps,
but a frowsiness was apparent this morning; and the sight of her own
fresh charms in the looking-glass made Sue's manner bright, till she
reflected what a meanly sexual emotion this was in her, and hated herself
"I've just looked in to see if you got back comfortably last night,
that's all," she said gently. "I was afraid afterwards that you
might have met with any mishap?"
"Oh--how stupid this is! I thought my visitor was--your friend--
your husband--Mrs. Fawley, as I suppose you call yourself?"
said Arabella, flinging her head back upon the pillows with a
disappointed toss, and ceasing to retain the dimple she had just
taken the trouble to produce.
"Indeed I don't," said Sue.
"Oh, I thought you might have, even if he's not really yours.
Decency is decency, any hour of the twenty-four."
"I don't know what you mean," said Sue stiffly. "He is mine,
if you come to that!"
"He wasn't yesterday."
Sue coloured roseate, and said "How do you know?"
"From your manner when you talked to me at the door. Well, my dear,
you've been quick about it, and I expect my visit last night helped it on--
ha-ha! But I don't want to get him away from you."
Sue looked out at the rain, and at the dirty toilet-cover, and at
the detached tail of Arabella's hair hanging on the looking-glass,
just as it had done in Jude's time; and wished she had not come.
In the pause there was a knock at the door, and the chambermaid brought
in a telegram for "Mrs. Cartlett."
Arabella opened it as she lay, and her ruffled look disappeared.
"I am much obliged to you for your anxiety about me," she said blandly
when the maid had gone; "but it is not necessary you should feel it.
My man finds he can't do without me after all, and agrees to stand
by the promise to marry again over here that he has made me all along.
See here! This is in answer to one from me." She held out the telegram
for Sue to read, but Sue did not take it. "He asks me to come back.
His little corner public in Lambeth would go to pieces without me,
he says. But he isn't going to knock me about when he has had a drop,
any more after we are spliced by English law than before! ... As
for you, I should coax Jude to take me before the parson straight off,
and have done with it, if I were in your place. I say it as a friend,
"He's waiting to, any day," returned Sue, with frigid pride.
"Then let him, in Heaven's name. Life with a man is more businesslike
after it, and money matters work better. And then, you see, if you have rows,
and he turns you out of doors, you can get the law to protect you, which you
can't otherwise, unless he half-runs you through with a knife, or cracks
your noddle with a poker. And if he bolts away from you--I say it friendly,
as woman to woman, for there's never any knowing what a man med do--
you'll have the sticks o' furniture, and won't be looked upon as a thief.
I shall marry my man over again, now he's willing, as there was a little flaw
in the first ceremony. In my telegram last night which this is an answer to,
I told him I had almost made it up with Jude; and that frightened him,
I expect! Perhaps I should quite have done it if it hadn't been for you,"
she said laughing; "and then how different our histories might have been
from to-day! Never such a tender fool as Jude is if a woman seems in trouble,
and coaxes him a bit! Just as he used to be about birds and things.
However, as it happens, it is just as well as if I had made it up, and I
forgive you. And, as I say, I'd advise you to get the business legally done
as soon as possible. You'll find it an awful bother later on if you don't."
"I have told you he is asking me to marry him--to make our
natural marriage a legal one," said Sue, with yet more dignity.
"It was quite by my wish that he didn't the moment I was free."
"Ah, yes--you are a oneyer too, like myself," said Arabella,
eyeing her visitor with humorous criticism. "Bolted from
your first, didn't you, like me?"
"Good morning!--I must go," said Sue hastily.
"And I, too, must up and off!" replied the other, springing out
of bed so suddenly that the soft parts of her person shook.
Sue jumped aside in trepidation. "Lord, I am only a woman--
not a six-foot sojer! ... Just a moment, dear," she continued,
putting her hand on Sue's arm. "I really did want to consult
Jude on a little matter of business, as I told him. I came about
that more than anything else. Would he run up to speak to me
at the station as I am going? You think not. Well, I'll write
to him about it. I didn't want to write it, but never mind--
WHEN Sue reached home Jude was awaiting her at the door to take
the initial step towards their marriage. She clasped his arm,
and they went along silently together, as true comrades oft-times do.
He saw that she was preoccupied, and forbore to question her.
"Oh Jude--I've been talking to her," she said at last.
"I wish I hadn't! And yet it is best to be reminded of things."
"I hope she was civil."
"Yes. I--I can't help liking her--just a little bit!
She's not an ungenerous nature; and I am so glad her difficulties
have all suddenly ended." She explained how Arabella
had been summoned back, and would be enabled to retrieve
her position. "I was referring to our old question.
What Arabella has been saying to me has made me feel more than
ever how hopelessly vulgar an institution legal marriage is--
a sort of trap to catch a man--I can't bear to think of it.
I wish I hadn't promised to let you put up the banns
"Oh, don't mind me. Any time will do for me. I thought you
might like to get it over quickly, now."
"Indeed, I don't feel any more anxious now than I did before.
Perhaps with any other man I might be a little anxious;
but among the very few virtues possessed by your family and mine,
dear, I think I may set staunchness. So I am not a bit frightened
about losing you, now I really am yours and you really are mine.
In fact, I am easier in my mind than I was, for my conscience
is clear about Richard, who now has a right to his freedom.
I felt we were deceiving him before."
"Sue, you seem when you are like this to be one of the women of some
grand old civilization, whom I used to read about in my bygone, wasted,
classical days, rather than a denizen of a mere Christian country.
I almost expect you to say at these times that you have just been talking
to some friend whom you met in the Via Sacra, about the latest news
of Octavia or Livia; or have been listening to Aspasia's eloquence,
or have been watching Praxiteles chiselling away at his latest Venus,
while Phryne made complaint that she was tired of posing."
They had now reached the house of the parish clerk. Sue stood back,
while her lover went up to the door. His hand was raised to knock
when she said: "Jude!"
He looked round.
"Wait a minute, would you mind?"
He came back to her.
"Just let us think," she said timidly. "I had such a horrid
dream one night! ... And Arabella----"
"What did Arabella say to you?" he asked
"Oh, she said that when people were tied up you could get the law of a man
better if he beat you--and how when couples quarrelled.... Jude, do you
think that when you must have me with you by law, we shall be so happy as we
are now? The men and women of our family are very generous when everything
depends upon their goodwill, but they always kick against compulsion.
Don't you dread the attitude that insensibly arises out of legal obligation?
Don't you think it is destructive to a passion whose essence is
"Upon my word, love, you are beginning to frighten me, too, with all
this foreboding! Well, let's go back and think it over."
Her face brightened. "Yes--so we will!" said she. And they turned
from the clerk's door, Sue taking his arm and murmuring as they
walked on homeward:
Can you keep the bee from ranging,
Or the ring-dove s neck from changing?
No! Nor fetter'd love ...
They thought it over, or postponed thinking. Certainly they
postponed action, and seemed to live on in a dreamy paradise.
At the end of a fortnight or three weeks matters remained unadvanced,
and no banns were announced to the ears of any Aldbrickham congregation.
Whilst they were postponing and postponing thus a letter and a
newspaper arrived before breakfast one morning from Arabella.
Seeing the handwriting Jude went up to Sue's room and told her,
and as soon as she was dressed she hastened down. Sue opened
the newspaper; Jude the letter. After glancing at the paper she
held across the first page to him with her finger on a paragraph;
but he was so absorbed in his letter that he did not turn awhile.
"Look!" said she.
He looked and read. The paper was one that circulated in South London only,
and the marked advertisement was simply the announcement of a marriage
at St. John's Church, Waterloo Road, under the names, "CARTLETT--DONN";
the united pair being Arabella and the inn-keeper.
"Well, it is satisfactory," said Sue complacently.
"Though, after this, it seems rather low to do likewise,
and I am glad. However, she is provided for now in a way,
I suppose, whatever her faults, poor thing. It is nicer
that we are able to think that, than to be uneasy about her.
I ought, too, to write to Richard and ask him how he is getting
But Jude's attention was still absorbed. Having merely
glanced at the announcement he said in a disturbed voice:
"Listen to this letter. What shall I say or do?"
THE THREE HORNS, LAMBETH.
DEAR JUDE (I won't be so distant as to call you Mr. Fawley),--
I send to-day a newspaper, from which useful document you will
learn that I was married over again to Cartlett last Tuesday.
So that business is settled right and tight at last.
But what I write about more particular is that private affair
I wanted to speak to you on when I came down to Aldbrickham.
I couldn't very well tell it to your lady friend,
and should much have liked to let you know it by word
of mouth, as I could have explained better than by letter.
The fact is, Jude, that, though I have never informed you before,
there was a boy born of our marriage, eight months after I left you,
when I was at Sydney, living with my father and mother.
All that is easily provable. As I had separated from
you before I thought such a thing was going to happen,
and I was over there, and our quarrel had been sharp,
I did not think it convenient to write about the birth.
I was then looking out for a good situation, so my parents
took the child, and he has been with them ever since.
That was why I did not mention it when I met you in Christminster,
nor at the law proceedings. He is now of an intelligent age,
of course, and my mother and father have lately written
to say that, as they have rather a hard struggle over there,
and I am settled comfortably here, they don't see why they should
be encumbered with the child any longer, his parents being alive.
I would have him with me here in a moment, but he is not old
enough to be of any use in the bar nor will be for years
and years, and naturally Cartlett might think him in the way.
They have, however, packed him off to me in charge of some friends
who happened to be coming home, and I must ask you to take
him when he arrives, for I don't know what to do with him.
He is lawfully yours, that I solemnly swear. If anybody says
he isn't, call them brimstone liars, for my sake. Whatever I
may have done before or afterwards, I was honest to you from
the time we were married till I went away, and I remain, yours,
Sue's look was one of dismay. "What will you do, dear?" she asked faintly.
Jude did not reply, and Sue watched him anxiously, with heavy breaths.
"It hits me hard!" said he in an under-voice. "It MAY be true!
I can't make it out. Certainly, if his birth was exactly when she says,
he's mine. I cannot think why she didn't tell me when I met her
at Christminster, and came on here that evening with her! ... Ah--
I do remember now that she said something about having a thing
on her mind that she would like me to know, if ever we lived
"The poor child seems to be wanted by nobody!" Sue replied,
and her eyes filled.
Jude had by this time come to himself. "What a view of life
he must have, mine or not mine!" he said. "I must say that,
if I were better off, I should not stop for a moment to think
whose he might be. I would take him and bring him up.
The beggarly question of parentage--what is it, after all?
What does it matter, when you come to think of it,
whether a child is yours by blood or not? All the little
ones of our time are collectively the children of us adults
of the time, and entitled to our general care. That excessive
regard of parents for their own children, and their dislike
of other people's, is, like class-feeling, patriotism,
save-your-own-soul-ism, and other virtues, a mean exclusiveness
Sue jumped up and kissed Jude with passionate devotion.
"Yes--so it is, dearest! And we'll have him here!
And if he isn't yours it makes it all the better. I do hope
he isn't--though perhaps I ought not to feel quite that!
If he isn't, I should like so much for us to have him as an
"Well, you must assume about him what is most pleasing to you,
my curious little comrade!" he said. "I feel that, anyhow,
I don't like to leave the unfortunate little fellow to neglect.
Just think of his life in a Lambeth pothouse, and all its
evil influences, with a parent who doesn't want him, and has,
indeed, hardly seen him, and a stepfather who doesn't know him.
'Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night
in which it was said, There is a man child conceived!'
That's what the boy--my boy, perhaps, will find himself saying
"As I was the petitioner, I am really entitled to his custody,
"Whether or no, we must have him. I see that. I'll do the best I
can to be a mother to him, and we can afford to keep him somehow.
I'll work harder. I wonder when he'll arrive?"
"In the course of a few weeks, I suppose."
"I wish--When shall we have courage to marry, Jude?"
"Whenever you have it, I think I shall. It remains with you entirely, dear.
Only say the word, and it's done."
"Before the boy comes?"
"It would make a more natural home for him, perhaps," she murmured.
Jude thereupon wrote in purely formal terms to request that the boy
should be sent on to them as soon as he arrived, making no remark
whatever on the surprising nature of Arabella's information,
nor vouchsafing a single word of opinion on the boy's paternity,
nor on whether, had he known all this, his conduct towards her would
have been quite the same.
In the down-train that was timed to reach Aldbrickham station
about ten o'clock the next evening, a small, pale child's face could
be seen in the gloom of a third-class carriage. He had large,
frightened eyes, and wore a white woollen cravat, over which a
key was suspended round his neck by a piece of common string:
the key attracting attention by its occasional shine in the lamplight.
In the band of his hat his half-ticket was stuck. His eyes
remained mostly fixed on the back of the seat opposite, and never
turned to the window even when a station was reached and called.
On the other seat were two or three passengers, one of them a working
woman who held a basket on her lap, in which was a tabby kitten.
The woman opened the cover now and then, whereupon the kitten
would put out its head, and indulge in playful antics.
At these the fellow-passengers laughed, except the solitary boy bearing
the key and ticket, who, regarding the kitten with his saucer eyes,
seemed mutely to say: "All laughing comes from misapprehension.
Rightly looked at there is no laughable thing under the sun."
Occasionally at a stoppage the guard would look into the compartment
and say to the boy, "All right, my man. Your box is safe in the van."
The boy would say, "Yes," without animation, would try to smile,
He was Age masquerading as Juvenility, and doing it so badly that his real
self showed through crevices. A ground-swell from ancient years of night
seemed now and then to lift the child in this his morning-life, when his face
took a back view over some great Atlantic of Time, and appeared not to care
about what it saw.
When the other travellers closed their eyes, which they did one by one--
even the kitten curling itself up in the basket, weary of its too
circumscribed play--the boy remained just as before. He then seemed
to be doubly awake, like an enslaved and dwarfed divinity, sitting passive
and regarding his companions as if he saw their whole rounded lives
rather than their immediate figures.
This was Arabella's boy. With her usual carelessness she had postponed
writing to Jude about him till the eve of his landing, when she could
absolutely postpone no longer, though she had known for weeks of his
approaching arrival, and had, as she truly said, visited Aldbrickham
mainly to reveal the boy's existence and his near home-coming to Jude.
This very day on which she had received her former husband's answer
at some time in the afternoon, the child reached the London Docks,
and the family in whose charge he had come, having put him into a cab for
Lambeth and directed the cabman to his mother's house, bade him good-bye,
and went their way.
On his arrival at the Three Horns, Arabella had looked him
over with an expression that was as good as saying, "You are
very much what I expected you to be," had given him a good meal,
a little money, and, late as it was getting, dispatched him
to Jude by the next train, wishing her husband Cartlett,
who was out, not to see him.
The train reached Aldbrickham, and the boy was deposited on
the lonely platform beside his box. The collector took his
ticket and, with a meditative sense of the unfitness of things,
asked him where he was going by himself at that time of night.
"Going to Spring Street," said the little one impassively.
"Why, that's a long way from here; a'most out in the country;
and the folks will be gone to bed."
"I've got to go there."
"You must have a fly for your box."
"No. I must walk."
"Oh well: you'd better leave your box here and send for it.
There's a 'bus goes half-way, but you'll have to walk
"I am not afraid."
"Why didn't your friends come to meet 'ee?"
"I suppose they didn't know I was coming."
"Who is your friends?"
"Mother didn't wish me to say."
"All I can do, then, is to take charge of this. Now walk as fast as you can."
Saying nothing further the boy came out into the street,
looking round to see that nobody followed or observed him.
When he had walked some little distance he asked for the street
of his destination. He was told to go straight on quite into
the outskirts of the place.
The child fell into a steady mechanical creep which had in it
an impersonal quality--the movement of the wave, or of the breeze,
or of the cloud. He followed his directions literally, without an
inquiring gaze at anything. It could have been seen that the boy's
ideas of life were different from those of the local boys.
Children begin with detail, and learn up to the general; they begin
with the contiguous, and gradually comprehend the universal.
The boy seemed to have begun with the generals of life,
and never to have concerned himself with the particulars.
To him the houses, the willows, the obscure fields beyond,
were apparently regarded not as brick residences, pollards, meadows;
but as human dwellings in the abstract, vegetation, and the wide
He found the way to the little lane, and knocked at the door of Jude's house.
Jude had just retired to bed, and Sue was about to enter her chamber adjoining
when she heard the knock and came down.
"Is this where Father lives?" asked the child.
"Mr. Fawley, that's his name."
Sue ran up to Jude's room and told him, and he hurried down as soon
as he could, though to her impatience he seemed long.
"What--is it he--so soon?" she asked as Jude came.
She scrutinized the child's features, and suddenly went away into
the little sitting-room adjoining. Jude lifted the boy to a level
with himself, keenly regarded him with gloomy tenderness, and telling
him he would have been met if they had known of his coming so soon,
set him provisionally in a chair whilst he went to look for Sue,
whose supersensitiveness was disturbed, as he knew. He found her
in the dark, bending over an arm-chair. He enclosed her with his arm,
and putting his face by hers, whispered, "What's the matter?"
"What Arabella says is true--true! I see you in him!"
"Well: that's one thing in my life as it should be, at any rate."
"But the other half of him is--SHE! And that's what I can't bear!
But I ought to--I'll try to get used to it; yes, I ought!"
"Jealous little Sue! I withdraw all remarks about your sexlessness.
Never mind! Time may right things.... And Sue, darling; I have an idea!
We'll educate and train him with a view to the university.
What I couldn't accomplish in my own person perhaps I can carry
out through him? They are making it easier for poor students now,
"Oh you dreamer!" said she, and holding his hand returned to the child
with him. The boy looked at her as she had looked at him. "Is it you
who's my REAL mother at last?" he inquired.
"Why? Do I look like your father's wife?"
"Well, yes; 'cept he seems fond of you, and you of him.
Can I call you Mother?"
Then a yearning look came over the child and he began to cry.
Sue thereupon could not refrain from instantly doing likewise,
being a harp which the least wind of emotion from another's
heart could make to vibrate as readily as a radical stir in
"You may call me Mother, if you wish to, my poor dear!" she said,
bending her cheek against his to hide her tears.
"What's this round your neck?" asked Jude with affected calmness.
"The key of my box that's at the station."
They bustled about and got him some supper, and made him up a temporary bed,
where he soon fell asleep. Both went and looked at him as he lay.
"He called you Mother two or three times before he dropped off,"
murmured Jude. "Wasn't it odd that he should have wanted to!"
"Well--it was significant," said Sue. "There's more for us to think
about in that one little hungry heart than in all the stars of the sky....
I suppose, dear, we must pluck up courage, and get that ceremony over?
It is no use struggling against the current, and I feel myself
getting intertwined with my kind. Oh Jude, you'll love me dearly,
won't you, afterwards! I do want to be kind to this child, and to be
a mother to him; and our adding the legal form to our marriage might make
it easier for me."
THEIR next and second attempt thereat was more deliberately made,
though it was begun on the morning following the singular child's
arrival at their home.
Him they found to be in the habit of sitting silent, his quaint
and weird face set, and his eyes resting on things they did not see
in the substantial world.
"His face is like the tragic mask of Melpomene," said Sue.
"What is your name, dear? Did you tell us?"
"Little Father Time is what they always called me. It is a nickname;
because I look so aged, they say."
"And you talk so, too," said Sue tenderly. "It is strange, Jude,
that these preternaturally old boys almost always come from new countries.
But what were you christened?"
"I never was."
"Why was that?"
"Because, if I died in damnation, 'twould save the expense
of a Christian funeral."
"Oh--your name is not Jude, then?" said his father with some disappointment.
The boy shook his head. "Never heerd on it."
"Of course not," said Sue quickly; "since she was hating you all the time!"
"We'll have him christened," said Jude; and privately to Sue:
"The day we are married." Yet the advent of the child
Their position lent them shyness, and having an impression that a
marriage at a superintendent registrar's office was more private
than an ecclesiastical one, they decided to avoid a church this time.
Both Sue and Jude together went to the office of the district
to give notice: they had become such companions that they could
hardly do anything of importance except in each other's company.
Jude Fawley signed the form of notice, Sue looking over his
shoulder and watching his hand as it traced the words.
As she read the four-square undertaking, never before seen
by her, into which her own and Jude's names were inserted,
and by which that very volatile essence, their love for
each other, was supposed to be made permanent, her face
seemed to grow painfully apprehensive. "Names and Surnames
of the Parties"--(they were to be parties now, not lovers,
she thought). "Condition"--(a horrid idea)--"Rank or
Occupation"--"Age"--"Dwelling at"--"Length of Residence"--"Church
or Building in which the Marriage is to be solemnized"--
"District and County in which the Parties respectively dwell."
"It spoils the sentiment, doesn't it!" she said on their way home.
"It seems making a more sordid business of it even than signing
the contract in a vestry. There is a little poetry in a church.
But we'll try to get through with it, dearest, now."
"We will. 'For what man is he that hath betrothed a wife
and hath not taken her? Let him go and return unto his house,
lest he die in the battle, and another man take her.'
So said the Jewish law-giver."
"How you know the Scriptures, Jude! You really ought to have been a parson.
I can only quote profane writers!"
During the interval before the issuing of the certificate Sue,
in her housekeeping errands, sometimes walked past the office,
and furtively glancing in saw affixed to the wall the notice
of the purposed clinch to their union. She could not bear
its aspect. Coming after her previous experience of matrimony,
all the romance of their attachment seemed to be starved
away by placing her present case in the same category.
She was usually leading little Father Time by the hand, and fancied
that people thought him hers, and regarded the intended ceremony
as the patching up of an old error.
Meanwhile Jude decided to link his present with his past in some slight
degree by inviting to the wedding the only person remaining on earth who was
associated with his early life at Marygreen--the aged widow Mrs. Edlin,
who had been his great-aunt's friend and nurse in her last illness. He hardly
expected that she would come; but she did, bringing singular presents,
in the form of apples, jam, brass snuffers, an ancient pewter dish,
a warming-pan, and an enormous bag of goose feathers towards a bed.
She was allotted the spare room in Jude's house, whither she retired early,
and where they could hear her through the ceiling below, honestly saying
the Lord's Prayer in a loud voice, as the Rubric directed.
As, however, she could not sleep, and discovered that Sue and
Jude were still sitting up--it being in fact only ten o'clock--
she dressed herself again and came down, and they all sat by the fire
till a late hour--Father Time included; though, as he never spoke,
they were hardly conscious of him.
"Well, I bain't set against marrying as your great-aunt was," said the widow.
"And I hope 'twill be a jocund wedding for ye in all respects this time.
Nobody can hope it more, knowing what I do of your families, which is more,
I suppose, than anybody else now living. For they have been unlucky that way,
Sue breathed uneasily.
"They was always good-hearted people, too--wouldn't kill
a fly if they knowed it," continued the wedding guest.
"But things happened to thwart 'em, and if everything wasn't vitty
they were upset. No doubt that's how he that the tale is told
of came to do what 'a did--if he WERE one of your family."
"What was that?" said Jude.
"Well--that tale, ye know; he that was gibbeted just on the brow
of the hill by the Brown House--not far from the milestone between
Marygreen and Alfredston, where the other road branches off.
But Lord, 'twas in my grandfather's time; and it medn' have been one
of your folk at all."
"I know where the gibbet is said to have stood, very well," murmured Jude.
"But I never heard of this. What--did this man--my ancestor and Sue's--
kill his wife?"
"'Twer not that exactly. She ran away from him, with their child,
to her friends; and while she was there the child died. He wanted
the body, to bury it where his people lay, but she wouldn't give it up.
Her husband then came in the night with a cart, and broke into the house
to steal the coffin away; but he was catched, and being obstinate,
wouldn't tell what he broke in for. They brought it in burglary,
and that's why he was hanged and gibbeted on Brown House Hill. His wife
went mad after he was dead. But it medn't be true that he belonged to ye
more than to me."
A small slow voice rose from the shade of the fireside,
as if out of the earth: "If I was you, Mother, I wouldn't
marry Father!" It came from little Time, and they started,
for they had forgotten him.
"Oh, it is only a tale," said Sue cheeringly.
After this exhilarating tradition from the widow on the eve
of the solemnization they rose, and, wishing their guest
The next morning Sue, whose nervousness intensified with the hours,
took Jude privately into the sitting-room before starting.
"Jude, I want you to kiss me, as a lover, incorporeally," she said,
tremulously nestling up to him, with damp lashes. "It won't be ever
like this any more, will it! I wish we hadn't begun the business.
But I suppose we must go on. How horrid that story was last night!
It spoilt my thoughts of to-day. It makes me feel as if a tragic doom
overhung our family, as it did the house of Atreus."
"Or the house of Jeroboam," said the quondam theologian.
"Yes. And it seems awful temerity in us two to go marrying!
I am going to vow to you in the same words I vowed in to my
other husband, and you to me in the same as you used to your
other wife; regardless of the deterrent lesson we were taught
by those experiments!"
"If you are uneasy I am made unhappy," said he. "I had hoped you would
feel quite joyful. But if you don't, you don't. It is no use pretending.
It is a dismal business to you, and that makes it so to me!"
"It is unpleasantly like that other morning--that's all," she murmured.
"Let us go on now."