Chapter 45

Sue was convalescent, though she had hoped for death, and Jude had again obtained work at his old trade. They were in other lodgings now, in the direction of Beersheba, and not far from the Church of Ceremonies - Saint Silas.

They would sit silent, more bodeful of the direct antagonism of things than of their insensate and stolid obstructiveness. Vague and quaint imaginings had haunted Sue in the days when her intellect scintillated like a star, that the world resembled a stanza or melody composed in a dream; it was wonderfully excellent to the half-aroused intelligence, but hopelessly absurd at the full waking; that the first cause worked automatically like a somnambulist, and not reflectively like a sage; that at the framing of the terrestrial conditions there seemed never to have been contemplated such a development of emotional perceptiveness among the creatures subject to those conditions as that reached by thinking and educated humanity. But affliction makes opposing forces loom anthropomorphous; and those ideas were now exchanged for a sense of Jude and herself fleeing from a persecutor.

`We must conform!' she said mournfully. `All the ancient wrath of the Power above us has been vented upon us. His poor creatures, and we must submit. There is no choice. We must. It is no use fighting against God!'

`It is only against man and senseless circumstance,' said Jude.

`True!' she murmured. `What have I been thinking of! I am getting as superstitious as a savage! ... But whoever or whatever our foe may be, I am cowed into submission. I have no more fighting strength left; no more enterprise. I am beaten, beaten! ... `We are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men!' I am always saying that now.'

`I feel the same!'

`What shall we do? You are in work now; but remember, it may only be because our history and relations are not absolutely known.... Possibly, if they knew our marriage had not been formalized they would turn you out of your job as they did at Aldbrickham!'

`I hardly know. Perhaps they would hardly do that. However, I think that we ought to make it legal now - as soon as you are able to go out.'

`You think we ought?'


And Jude fell into thought. `I have seemed to myself lately,' he said, `to belong to that vast band of men shunned by the virtuous - the men called seducers. It amazes me when I think of it! I have not been conscious of it, or of any wrongdoing towards you, whom I love more than myself. Yet I am one of those men! I wonder if any other of them are the same purblind, simple creatures as I? ... Yes, Sue - that's what I am. I seduced you.... You were a distinct type - a refined creature, intended by Nature to be left intact. But I couldn't leave you alone!'

`No, no, Jude!' she said quickly. `Don't reproach yourself with being what you are not. If anybody is to blame it is I.'

`I supported you in your resolve to leave Phillotson; and without me perhaps you wouldn't have urged him to let you go.'

`I should have, just the same. As to ourselves, the fact of our not having entered into a legal contract is the saving feature in our union. We have thereby avoided insulting, as it were, the solemnity of our first marriages.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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