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.'
`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
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