They were in absolute solitude - the most apparent of all solitudes, that of empty surrounding space. Nobody could be nearer than a mile to them without their seeing him. They were, in fact, on one of the summits of the county, and the distant landscape around Christminster could be discerned from where they lay. But Jude did not think of that then.

`Oh, I can see such a pretty thing up this tree,' said Arabella. `A sort of a - caterpillar, of the most loveliest green and yellow you ever came across!'

`Where?' said Jude, sitting up.

`You can't see him there - you must come here,' said she.

He bent nearer and put his head in front of hers. `No - I can't see it,' he said.

`Why, on the limb there where it branches off - close to the moving leaf - there!' She gently pulled him down beside her.

`I don't see it,' he repeated, the back of his head against her cheek. `But I can, perhaps, standing up.' He stood accordingly, placing himself in the direct line of her gaze.

`How stupid you are!' she said crossly, turning away her face.

`I don't care to see it, dear: why should I?' he replied looking down upon her. `Get up, Abby.'


`I want you to let me kiss you. I've been waiting to ever so long!'

She rolled round her face, remained a moment looking deedily aslant at him; then with a slight curl of the lip sprang to her feet, and exclaiming abruptly `I must mizzle!' walked off quickly homeward. Jude followed and rejoined her.

`Just one!' he coaxed

`Shan't!' she said

He, surprised: `What's the matter?'

She kept her two lips resentfully together, and Jude followed her like a pet lamb till she slackened her pace and walked beside him, talking calmly on indifferent subjects, and always checking him if he tried to take her hand or clasp her waist. Thus they descended to the precincts of her father's homestead, and Arabella went in, nodding good-bye to him with a supercilious, affronted air.

`I expect I took too much liberty with her, somehow,' Jude said to himself, as he withdrew with a sigh and went on to Marygreen.

On Sunday morning the interior of Arabella's home was, as usual, the scene of a grand weekly cooking, the preparation of the special Sunday dinner. Her father was shaving before a little glass hung on the mullion of the window, and her mother and Arabella herself were shelling beans hard by. A neighbour passed on her way home from morning service at the nearest church, and seeing Donn engaged at the window with the razor, nodded and came in.

She at once spoke playfully to Arabella: `I zeed 'ee running with 'un - hee-hee! I hope 'tis coming to something?'

Arabella merely threw a look of consciousness into her face without raising her eyes.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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