`Thy aerial part, and all the fiery parts which are mingled in thee, though by nature they have an upward tendency, still in obedience to the disposition of the universe they are over-powered here in the compound mass the body.' - M. Antoninus (Long).
V-iHow Gillingham's doubts were disposed of will most quickly appear by passing over the series of dreary months and incidents that followed the events of the last chapter, and coming on to a Sunday in the February of the year following.
Sue and Jude were living in Aldbrickham, in precisely the same relations that they had established between themselves when she left Shaston to join him the year before. The proceedings in the law-courts had reached their consciousness, but as a distant sound and an occasional missive which they hardly understood.
They had met, as usual, to breakfast together in the little house with Jude's name on it, that he had taken at fifteen pounds a year, with three-pounds-ten extra for rates and taxes, and furnished with his aunt's ancient and lumbering goods, which had cost him about their full value to bring all the way from Marygreen. Sue kept house, and managed everything.
As he entered the room this morning Sue held up a letter she had just received.
`Well; and what is it about?' he said after kissing her.
`That the decree nisi in the case of Phillotson versus Phillotson and Fawley, pronounced six months ago, has just been made absolute.'
`Ah,' said Jude, as he sat down.
The same concluding incident in Jude's suit against Arabella had occurred about a month or two earlier. Both cases had been too insignificant to be reported in the papers, further than by name in a long list of other undefended cases.
`Now then, Sue, at any rate, you can do what you like!' He looked at his sweetheart curiously.
`Are we - you and I - just as free now as if we had never married at all?'
`Just as free - except, I believe, that a clergyman may object personally to remarry you, and hand the job on to somebody else.'
`But I wonder - do you think it is really so with us? I know it is generally. But I have an uncomfortable feeling that my freedom has been obtained under false pretences!'
`Well - if the truth about us had been known, the decree wouldn't have been pronounced. It is only, is it, because we have made no defence, and have led them into a false supposition? Therefore is my freedom lawful, however proper it may be?'
`Well - why did you let it be under false pretences? You have only yourself to blame,' he said mischievously.
`Jude - don't! You ought not to be touchy about that still. You must take me as I am.'
`Very well, darling: so I will. Perhaps you were right. As to your question, we were not obliged to prove anything. That was their business. Anyhow we are living together.'
`Yes. Though not in their sense.'
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