Chapter 44

Sue sat looking at the bare floor of the room, the house being little more than an old intramural cottage, and then she regarded the scene outside the uncurtained window. At some distance opposite, the outer walls of Sarcophagus College - silent, black, and windowless - threw their four centuries of gloom, bigotry, and decay into the little room she occupied, shutting out the moonlight by night and the sun by day. The outlines of Rubric College also were discernible beyond the other, and the tower of a third farther off still. She thought of the strange operation of a simple-minded man's ruling passion, that it should have led Jude, who loved her and the children so tenderly, to place them here in this depressing purlieu, because he was still haunted by his dream. Even now he did not distinctly hear the freezing negative that those scholared walls had echoed to his desire.

The failure to find another lodging, and the lack of room in this house for his father, had made a deep impression on the boy - a brooding undemonstrative horror seemed to have seized him. The silence was broken by his saying: `Mother, what shall we do to-morrow!'

`I don't know!' said Sue despondently. `I am afraid this will trouble your father.'

`I wish Father was quite well, and there had been room for him! Then it wouldn't matter so much! Poor Father!'

`It wouldn't!'

`Can I do anything?'

`No! All is trouble, adversity, and suffering!'

`Father went away to give us children room, didn't he?'


`It would be better to be out o' the world than in it, wouldn't it?'

`It would almost, dear.'

`'Tis because of us children, too, isn't it, that you can't get a good lodging?'

`Well - people do object to children sometimes.'

`Then if children make so much trouble, why do people have 'em?'

`Oh - because it is a law of nature.'

`But we don't ask to be born?'

`No indeed.'

`And what makes it worse with me is that you are not my real mother, and you needn't have had me unless you liked. I oughtn't to have come to 'ee - that's the real truth! I troubled 'em in Australia, and I trouble folk here. I wish I hadn't been born!'

`You couldn't help it, my dear.'

`I think that whenever children be born that are not wanted they should be killed directly, before their souls come to 'em, and not allowed to grow big and walk about!'

Sue did not reply. She was doubtfully pondering how to treat this too reflective child.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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