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Chapter 4

Jude's reverie was interrupted by the creak of footsteps ascending
the stairs.

He whisked Sue's clothing from the chair where it was drying, thrust
it under the bed, and sat down to his book. Somebody knocked and
opened the door immediately. It was the landlady.

"Oh, I didn't know whether you was in or not, Mr. Fawley. I
wanted to know if you would require supper. I see you've a young
gentleman--"

"Yes, ma'am. But I think I won't come down to-night. Will you bring
supper up on a tray, and I'll have a cup of tea as well."

It was Jude's custom to go downstairs to the kitchen, and eat his
meals with the family, to save trouble. His landlady brought up the
supper, however, on this occasion, and he took it from her at the
door.

When she had descended he set the teapot on the hob, and drew out
Sue's clothes anew; but they were far from dry. A thick woollen
gown, he found, held a deal of water. So he hung them up again, and
enlarged his fire and mused as the steam from the garments went up
the chimney.

Suddenly she said, "Jude!"

"Yes. All right. How do you feel now?"

"Better. Quite well. Why, I fell asleep, didn't I? What time is
it? Not late surely?"

"It is past ten."

"Is it really? What SHALL I do!" she said, starting up.

"Stay where you are."

"Yes; that's what I want to do. But I don't know what they would
say! And what will you do?"

"I am going to sit here by the fire all night, and read. To-morrow
is Sunday, and I haven't to go out anywhere. Perhaps you will be
saved a severe illness by resting there. Don't be frightened. I'm
all right. Look here, what I have got for you. Some supper."

When she had sat upright she breathed plaintively and said, "I do
feel rather weak still. I thought I was well; and I ought not to be
here, ought I?" But the supper fortified her somewhat, and when she
had had some tea and had lain back again she was bright and cheerful.

The tea must have been green, or too long drawn, for she seemed
preternaturally wakeful afterwards, though Jude, who had not taken
any, began to feel heavy; till her conversation fixed his attention.

"You called me a creature of civilization, or something, didn't you?"
she said, breaking a silence. "It was very odd you should have done
that."

"Why?"

"Well, because it is provokingly wrong. I am a sort of negation of
it."

"You are very philosophical. 'A negation' is profound talking."

"Is it? Do I strike you as being learned?" she asked, with a touch
of raillery.

"No--not learned. Only you don't talk quite like a girl--well, a
girl who has had no advantages."

"I have had advantages. I don't know Latin and Greek, though I know
the grammars of those tongues. But I know most of the Greek and
Latin classics through translations, and other books too. I read
Lemprière, Catullus, Martial, Juvenal, Lucian, Beaumont and Fletcher,
Boccaccio, Scarron, De Brantôme, Sterne, De Foe, Smollett, Fielding,
Shakespeare, the Bible, and other such; and found that all interest
in the unwholesome part of those books ended with its mystery."

"You have read more than I," he said with a sigh. "How came you to
read some of those queerer ones?"

"Well," she said thoughtfully, "it was by accident. My life has been
entirely shaped by what people call a peculiarity in me. I have no
fear of men, as such, nor of their books. I have mixed with them--one
or two of them particularly--almost as one of their own sex. I mean
I have not felt about them as most women are taught to feel--to be on
their guard against attacks on their virtue; for no average man--no
man short of a sensual savage--will molest a woman by day or night,
at home or abroad, unless she invites him. Until she says by a look
'Come on' he is always afraid to, and if you never say it, or look
it, he never comes. However, what I was going to say is that when I
was eighteen I formed a friendly intimacy with an undergraduate at
Christminster, and he taught me a great deal, and lent me books which
I should never have got hold of otherwise."

"Is your friendship broken off?"

"Oh yes. He died, poor fellow, two or three years after he had taken
his degree and left Christminster."

"You saw a good deal of him, I suppose?"

"Yes. We used to go about together--on walking tours, reading tours,
and things of that sort--like two men almost. He asked me to live
with him, and I agreed to by letter. But when I joined him in London
I found he meant a different thing from what I meant. He wanted me
to be his mistress, in fact, but I wasn't in love with him--and on
my saying I should go away if he didn't agree to MY plan, he did
so. We shared a sitting-room for fifteen months; and he became a
leader-writer for one of the great London dailies; till he was taken
ill, and had to go abroad. He said I was breaking his heart by
holding out against him so long at such close quarters; he could
never have believed it of woman. I might play that game once too
often, he said. He came home merely to die. His death caused a
terrible remorse in me for my cruelty--though I hope he died of
consumption and not of me entirely. I went down to Sandbourne
to his funeral, and was his only mourner. He left me a little
money--because I broke his heart, I suppose. That's how men
are--so much better than women!"

"Good heavens!--what did you do then?"

"Ah--now you are angry with me!" she said, a contralto note of
tragedy coming suddenly into her silvery voice. "I wouldn't have
told you if I had known!"

"No, I am not. Tell me all."

"Well, I invested his money, poor fellow, in a bubble scheme, and
lost it. I lived about London by myself for some time, and then I
returned to Christminster, as my father-- who was also in London, and
had started as an art metal-worker near Long-Acre--wouldn't have me
back; and I got that occupation in the artist-shop where you found
me... I said you didn't know how bad I was!"

Jude looked round upon the arm-chair and its occupant, as if to read
more carefully the creature he had given shelter to. His voice
trembled as he said: "However you have lived, Sue, I believe you are
as innocent as you are unconventional!"

"I am not particularly innocent, as you see, now that I have


'twitched the robe
From that blank lay-figure your fancy draped,'"


said she, with an ostensible sneer, though he could hear that she was
brimming with tears. "But I have never yielded myself to any lover,
if that's what you mean! I have remained as I began."

"I quite believe you. But some women would not have remained as they
began."

"Perhaps not. Better women would not. People say I must be
cold-natured--sexless--on account of it. But I won't have it!
Some of the most passionately erotic poets have been the most
self-contained in their daily lives."

"Have you told Mr. Phillotson about this university scholar friend?"

"Yes--long ago. I have never made any secret of it to anybody."

"What did he say?"

"He did not pass any criticism--only said I was everything to him,
whatever I did; and things like that."

Jude felt much depressed; she seemed to get further and further away
from him with her strange ways and curious unconsciousness of gender.

"Aren't you REALLY vexed with me, dear Jude?" she suddenly asked, in
a voice of such extraordinary tenderness that it hardly seemed to
come from the same woman who had just told her story so lightly. "I
would rather offend anybody in the world than you, I think!"

"I don't know whether I am vexed or not. I know I care very much
about you!"

"I care as much for you as for anybody I ever met."

"You don't care MORE! There, I ought not to say that. Don't answer
it!"

There was another long silence. He felt that she was treating
him cruelly, though he could not quite say in what way. Her very
helplessness seemed to make her so much stronger than he.

"I am awfully ignorant on general matters, although I have worked so
hard," he said, to turn the subject. "I am absorbed in theology, you
know. And what do you think I should be doing just about now, if you
weren't here? I should be saying my evening prayers. I suppose you
wouldn't like--"

"Oh no, no," she answered, "I would rather not, if you don't mind.
I should seem so--such a hypocrite."

"I thought you wouldn't join, so I didn't propose it. You must
remember that I hope to be a useful minister some day."

"To be ordained, I think you said?"

"Yes."

"Then you haven't given up the idea?--I thought that perhaps you had
by this time."

"Of course not. I fondly thought at first that you felt as I do
about that, as you were so mixed up in Christminster Anglicanism.
And Mr. Phillotson--"

"I have no respect for Christminster whatever, except, in a qualified
degree, on its intellectual side," said Sue Bridehead earnestly. "My
friend I spoke of took that out of me. He was the most irreligious
man I ever knew, and the most moral. And intellect at Christminster
is new wine in old bottles. The mediævalism of Christminster must
go, be sloughed off, or Christminster itself will have to go. To
be sure, at times one couldn't help having a sneaking liking for
the traditions of the old faith, as preserved by a section of the
thinkers there in touching and simple sincerity; but when I was in my
saddest, rightest mind I always felt,


'O ghastly glories of saints, dead limbs of gibbeted Gods!'"...


"Sue, you are not a good friend of mine to talk like that!"

"Then I won't, dear Jude!" The emotional throat-note had come back,
and she turned her face away.

"I still think Christminster has much that is glorious; though I
was resentful because I couldn't get there." He spoke gently, and
resisted his impulse to pique her on to tears.

"It is an ignorant place, except as to the townspeople, artizans,
drunkards, and paupers," she said, perverse still at his differing
from her. "THEY see life as it is, of course; but few of the people
in the colleges do. You prove it in your own person. You are one
of the very men Christminster was intended for when the colleges
were founded; a man with a passion for learning, but no money, or
opportunities, or friends. But you were elbowed off the pavement
by the millionaires' sons."

"Well, I can do without what it confers. I care for something
higher."

"And I for something broader, truer," she insisted. "At present
intellect in Christminster is pushing one way, and religion the
other; and so they stand stock-still, like two rams butting each
other."

"What would Mr. Phillotson--"

"It is a place full of fetishists and ghost-seers!"

He noticed that whenever he tried to speak of the schoolmaster she
turned the conversation to some generalizations about the offending
university. Jude was extremely, morbidly, curious about her life as
Phillotson's _protégée_ and betrothed; yet she would not enlighten
him.

"Well, that's just what I am, too," he said. "I am fearful of life,
spectre-seeing always."

"But you are good and dear!" she murmured.

His heart bumped, and he made no reply.

"You are in the Tractarian stage just now, are you not?" she added,
putting on flippancy to hide real feeling, a common trick with her.
"Let me see--when was I there? In the year eighteen hundred and--"

"There's a sarcasm in that which is rather unpleasant to me, Sue.
Now will you do what I want you to? At this time I read a chapter,
and then say prayers, as I told you. Now will you concentrate your
attention on any book of these you like, and sit with your back to
me, and leave me to my custom? You are sure you won't join me?"

"I'll look at you."

"No. Don't tease, Sue!"

"Very well--I'll do just as you bid me, and I won't vex you, Jude,"
she replied, in the tone of a child who was going to be good for ever
after, turning her back upon him accordingly. A small Bible other
than the one he was using lay near her, and during his retreat she
took it up, and turned over the leaves.

"Jude," she said brightly, when he had finished and come back to her;
"will you let me make you a NEW New Testament, like the one I made
for myself at Christminster?"

"Oh yes. How was that made?"

"I altered my old one by cutting up all the Epistles and Gospels into
separate _brochures_, and rearranging them in chronological order as
written, beginning the book with Thessalonians, following on with the
Epistles, and putting the Gospels much further on. Then I had the
volume rebound. My university friend Mr.--but never mind his name,
poor boy--said it was an excellent idea. I know that reading it
afterwards made it twice as interesting as before, and twice as
understandable."

"H'm!" said Jude, with a sense of sacrilege.

"And what a literary enormity this is," she said, as she glanced
into the pages of Solomon's Song. "I mean the synopsis at the head
of each chapter, explaining away the real nature of that rhapsody.
You needn't be alarmed: nobody claims inspiration for the chapter
headings. Indeed, many divines treat them with contempt. It seems
the drollest thing to think of the four-and-twenty elders, or
bishops, or whatever number they were, sitting with long faces and
writing down such stuff."

Jude looked pained. "You are quite Voltairean!" he murmured.

"Indeed? Then I won't say any more, except that people have no
right to falsify the Bible! I HATE such hum-bug as could attempt to
plaster over with ecclesiastical abstractions such ecstatic, natural,
human love as lies in that great and passionate song!" Her speech
had grown spirited, and almost petulant at his rebuke, and her eyes
moist. "I WISH I had a friend here to support me; but nobody is ever
on my side!"

"But my dear Sue, my very dear Sue, I am not against you!" he said,
taking her hand, and surprised at her introducing personal feeling
into mere argument.

"Yes you are, yes you are!" she cried, turning away her face that he
might not see her brimming eyes. "You are on the side of the people
in the training-school--at least you seem almost to be! What I
insist on is, that to explain such verses as this: 'Whither is thy
beloved gone, O thou fairest among women?' by the note: '_The Church
professeth her faith_,' is supremely ridiculous!"

"Well then, let it be! You make such a personal matter of
everything! I am--only too inclined just now to apply the words
profanely. You know YOU are fairest among women to me, come to
that!"

"But you are not to say it now!" Sue replied, her voice changing
to its softest note of severity. Then their eyes met, and they
shook hands like cronies in a tavern, and Jude saw the absurdity of
quarrelling on such a hypothetical subject, and she the silliness of
crying about what was written in an old book like the Bible.

"I won't disturb your convictions--I really won't!" she went on
soothingly, for now he was rather more ruffled than she. "But I did
want and long to ennoble some man to high aims; and when I saw you,
and knew you wanted to be my comrade, I--shall I confess it?--thought
that man might be you. But you take so much tradition on trust that
I don't know what to say."

"Well, dear; I suppose one must take some things on trust. Life
isn't long enough to work out everything in Euclid problems before
you believe it. I take Christianity."

"Well, perhaps you might take something worse."

"Indeed I might. Perhaps I have done so!" He thought of Arabella.

"I won't ask what, because we are going to be VERY nice with each
other, aren't we, and never, never, vex each other any more?" She
looked up trustfully, and her voice seemed trying to nestle in his
breast.

"I shall always care for you!" said Jude.

"And I for you. Because you are single-hearted, and forgiving to
your faulty and tiresome little Sue!"

He looked away, for that epicene tenderness of hers was too
harrowing. Was it that which had broken the heart of the poor
leader-writer; and was he to be the next one? ... But Sue was so
dear! ... If he could only get over the sense of her sex, as she
seemed to be able to do so easily of his, what a comrade she would
make; for their difference of opinion on conjectural subjects only
drew them closer together on matters of daily human experience. She
was nearer to him than any other woman he had ever met, and he could
scarcely believe that time, creed, or absence, would ever divide him
from her.

But his grief at her incredulities returned. They sat on till she
fell asleep again, and he nodded in his chair likewise. Whenever
he aroused himself he turned her things, and made up the fire anew.
About six o'clock he awoke completely, and lighting a candle, found
that her clothes were dry. Her chair being a far more comfortable
one than his she still slept on inside his great-coat, looking warm
as a new bun and boyish as a Ganymede. Placing the garments by her
and touching her on the shoulder he went downstairs, and washed
himself by starlight in the yard.

Thomas Hardy