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Chapter 2

"To-morrow is our grand day, you know. Where shall we go?"

"I have leave from three till nine. Wherever we can get to and come
back from in that time. Not ruins, Jude--I don't care for them."

"Well--Wardour Castle. And then we can do Fonthill if we like--all
in the same afternoon."

"Wardour is Gothic ruins--and I hate Gothic!"

"No. Quite otherwise. It is a classic building--Corinthian, I
think; with a lot of pictures."

"Ah--that will do. I like the sound of Corinthian. We'll go."

Their conversation had run thus some few weeks later, and next
morning they prepared to start. Every detail of the outing was
a facet reflecting a sparkle to Jude, and he did not venture to
meditate on the life of inconsistency he was leading. His Sue's
conduct was one lovely conundrum to him; he could say no more.

There duly came the charm of calling at the college door for her; her
emergence in a nunlike simplicity of costume that was rather enforced
than desired; the traipsing along to the station, the porters'
"B'your leave!," the screaming of the trains--everything formed the
basis of a beautiful crystallization. Nobody stared at Sue, because
she was so plainly dressed, which comforted Jude in the thought that
only himself knew the charms those habiliments subdued. A matter
of ten pounds spent in a drapery-shop, which had no connection
with her real life or her real self, would have set all Melchester
staring. The guard of the train thought they were lovers, and put
them into a compartment all by themselves.

"That's a good intention wasted!" said she.

Jude did not respond. He thought the remark unnecessarily cruel,
and partly untrue.

They reached the park and castle and wandered through the
picture-galleries, Jude stopping by preference in front of the
devotional pictures by Del Sarto, Guido Reni, Spagnoletto,
Sassoferrato, Carlo Dolci, and others. Sue paused patiently beside
him, and stole critical looks into his face as, regarding the
Virgins, Holy Families, and Saints, it grew reverent and abstracted.
When she had thoroughly estimated him at this, she would move on and
wait for him before a Lely or Reynolds. It was evident that her
cousin deeply interested her, as one might be interested in a man
puzzling out his way along a labyrinth from which one had one's self
escaped.

When they came out a long time still remained to them and Jude
proposed that as soon as they had had something to eat they should
walk across the high country to the north of their present position,
and intercept the train of another railway leading back to
Melchester, at a station about seven miles off. Sue, who was
inclined for any adventure that would intensify the sense of her
day's freedom, readily agreed; and away they went, leaving the
adjoining station behind them.

It was indeed open country, wide and high. They talked and bounded
on, Jude cutting from a little covert a long walking-stick for Sue
as tall as herself, with a great crook, which made her look like a
shepherdess. About half-way on their journey they crossed a main
road running due east and west--the old road from London to Land's
End. They paused, and looked up and down it for a moment, and
remarked upon the desolation which had come over this once lively
thoroughfare, while the wind dipped to earth and scooped straws and
hay-stems from the ground.

They crossed the road and passed on, but during the next half-mile
Sue seemed to grow tired, and Jude began to be distressed for her.
They had walked a good distance altogether, and if they could not
reach the other station it would be rather awkward. For a long
time there was no cottage visible on the wide expanse of down and
turnip-land; but presently they came to a sheepfold, and next to the
shepherd, pitching hurdles. He told them that the only house near
was his mother's and his, pointing to a little dip ahead from which a
faint blue smoke arose, and recommended them to go on and rest there.

This they did, and entered the house, admitted by an old woman
without a single tooth, to whom they were as civil as strangers can
be when their only chance of rest and shelter lies in the favour of
the householder.

"A nice little cottage," said Jude.

"Oh, I don't know about the niceness. I shall have to thatch it
soon, and where the thatch is to come from I can't tell, for straw do
get that dear, that 'twill soon be cheaper to cover your house wi'
chainey plates than thatch."

They sat resting, and the shepherd came in. "Don't 'ee mind I," he
said with a deprecating wave of the hand; "bide here as long as ye
will. But mid you be thinking o' getting back to Melchester to-night
by train? Because you'll never do it in this world, since you don't
know the lie of the country. I don't mind going with ye some o' the
ways, but even then the train mid be gone."

They started up.

"You can bide here, you know, over the night--can't 'em, Mother?
The place is welcome to ye. 'Tis hard lying, rather, but volk may do
worse." He turned to Jude and asked privately: "Be you a married
couple?"

"Hsh--no!" said Jude.

"Oh--I meant nothing ba'dy--not I! Well then, she can go into
Mother's room, and you and I can lie in the outer chimmer after
they've gone through. I can call ye soon enough to catch the first
train back. You've lost this one now."

On consideration they decided to close with this offer, and drew up
and shared with the shepherd and his mother the boiled bacon and
greens for supper.

"I rather like this," said Sue, while their entertainers were
clearing away the dishes. "Outside all laws except gravitation and
germination."

"You only think you like it; you don't: you are quite a product of
civilization," said Jude, a recollection of her engagement reviving
his soreness a little.

"Indeed I am not, Jude. I like reading and all that, but I crave to
get back to the life of my infancy and its freedom."

"Do you remember it so well? You seem to me to have nothing
unconventional at all about you."

"Oh, haven't I! You don't know what's inside me."

"What?"

"The Ishmaelite."

"An urban miss is what you are."

She looked severe disagreement, and turned away.

The shepherd aroused them the next morning, as he had said. It was
bright and clear, and the four miles to the train were accomplished
pleasantly. When they had reached Melchester, and walked to the
Close, and the gables of the old building in which she was again to
be immured rose before Sue's eyes, she looked a little scared. "I
expect I shall catch it!" she murmured.

They rang the great bell and waited.

"Oh, I bought something for you, which I had nearly forgotten," she
said quickly, searching her pocket. "It is a new little photograph
of me. Would you like it?"

"WOULD I!" He took it gladly, and the porter came. There seemed to
be an ominous glance on his face when he opened the gate. She passed
in, looking back at Jude, and waving her hand.

Thomas Hardy