Chapter 43

`... And she humbled her body greatly, and all the places of her joy she filled with her torn hair.' - Esther (Apoc.).

`There are two who decline, a woman and I,
And enjoy our death in the darkness here.' - R. Browning.


On their arrival the station was lively with straw-hatted young men, welcoming young girls who bore a remarkable family likeness to their welcomers, and who were dressed up in the brightest and lightest of raiment.

`The place seems gay,' said Sue. `Why - it is Remembrance Day! - Jude - how sly of you - you came to- day on purpose!'

`Yes,' said Jude quietly, as he took charge of the small child, and told Arabella's boy to keep close to them, Sue attending to their own eldest. `I thought we might as well come to-day as on any other.'

`But I am afraid it will depress you!' she said, looking anxiously at him up and down.

`Oh, I mustn't let it interfere with our business; and we have a good deal to do before we shall be settled here. The first thing is lodgings.'

Having left their luggage and his tools at the station they proceeded on foot up the familiar street, the holiday people all drifting in the same direction. Reaching the Fourways they were about to turn off to where accommodation was likely to be found when, looking at the clock and the hurrying crowd, Jude said: `Let us go and see the procession, and never mind the lodgings just now? We can get them afterwards.'

`Oughtn't we to get a house over our heads first?' she asked.

But his soul seemed full of the anniversary, and together they went down Chief Street, their smallest child in Jude's arms, Sue leading her little girl, and Arabella's boy walking thoughtfully and silently beside them. Crowds of pretty sisters in airy costumes, and meekly ignorant parents who had known no college in their youth, were under convoy in the same direction by brothers and sons bearing the opinion written large on them that no properly qualified human beings had lived on earth till they came to grace it here and now.

`My failure is reflected on me by every one of those young fellows,' said Jude. `A lesson on presumption is awaiting me to-day! - Humiliation Day for me! ... If you, my dear darling, hadn't come to my rescue, I should have gone to the dogs with despair!'

She saw from his face that he was getting into one of his tempestuous, self-harrowing moods. `It would have been better if we had gone at once about our own affairs, dear,' she answered. `I am sure this sight will awaken old sorrows in you, and do no good!'

`Well - we are near; we will see it now,' said he.

They turned in on the left by the church with the Italian porch, whose helical columns were heavily draped with creepers, and pursued the lane till there arose on Jude's sight the circular theatre with that well- known lantern above it, which stood in his mind as the sad symbol of his abandoned hopes, for it was from that outlook that he had finally surveyed the City of Colleges on the afternoon of his great meditation, which convinced him at last of the futility of his attempt to be a son of the university.

To-day, in the open space stretching between this building and the nearest college, stood a crowd of expectant people. A passage was kept clear through their midst by two barriers of timber, extending from the door of the college to the door of the large building between it and the theatre.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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