Chapter 23

When he returned she was dressed as usual.

`Now could I get out without anybody seeing me?' she asked. `The town is not yet astir.'

`But you have had no breakfast.'

`Oh, I don't want any! I fear I ought not to have run away from that school! Things seem so different in the cold light of morning, don't they? What Mr. Phillotson will say I don't know! It was quite by his wish that I went there. He is the only man in the world for whom I have any respect or fear. I hope he'll forgive me; but he'll scold me dreadfully, I expect!'

`I'll go to him and explain - ` began Jude.

`Oh no, you shan't. I don't care for him! He may think what he likes - I shall do just as I choose!'

`But you just this moment said - - '

`Well, if I did, I shall do as I like for all him! I have thought of what I shall do - go to the sister of one of my fellow-students in the training-school, who has asked me to visit her. She has a school near Shaston, about eighteen miles from here - and I shall stay there till this has blown over, and I get back to the training-school again.'

At the last moment he persuaded her to let him make her a cup of coffee, in a portable apparatus he kept in his room for use on rising to go to his work every day before the household was astir.

`Now a dew-bit to eat with it,' he said; `and off we go. You can have a regular breakfast when you get there.'

They went quietly out of the house, Jude accompanying her to the station. As they departed along the street a head was thrust out of an upper window of his lodging and quickly withdrawn. Sue still seemed sorry for her rashness, and to wish she had not rebelled; telling him at parting that she would let him know as soon as she got re-admitted to the training-school. They stood rather miserably together on the platform; and it was apparent that he wanted to say more.

`I want to tell you something - two things,' he said hurriedly as the train came up. `One is a warm one, the other a cold one!'

`Jude,' she said. `I know one of them. And you mustn't!'


`You mustn't love me. You are to like me - that's all!'

Jude's face became so full of complicated glooms that hers was agitated in sympathy as she bade him adieu through the carriage window. And then the train moved on, and waving her pretty hand to him she vanished away.

Melchester was a dismal place enough for Jude that Sunday of her departure, and the Close so hateful that he did not go once to the cathedral services. The next morning there came a letter from her, which, with her usual promptitude, she had written directly she had reached her friend's house. She told him of her safe arrival and comfortable quarters, and then added: -

What I really write about, dear Jude, is something I said to you at parting. You had been so very good and kind to me that when you were out of sight I felt what a cruel and ungrateful woman I was to say it, and it has reproached me ever since. If you want to love me, Jude, you may: I don't mind at all; and I'll never say again that you mustn't!

  By PanEris using Melati.

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