Chapter 47The next afternoon the familiar Christminster fog still hung over all things. Sue's slim shape was only just discernible going towards the station.
Jude had no heart to go to his work that day. Neither could he go anywhere in the direction by which she would be likely to pass. He went in an opposite one, to a dreary, strange, flat scene, where boughs dripped, and coughs and consumption lurked, and where he had never been before.
`Sue's gone from me - gone!' he murmured miserably.
She in the meantime had left by the train, and reached Alfredston Road, where she entered the steam- tram and was conveyed into the town. It had been her request to Phillotson that he should not meet her. She wished, she said, to come to him voluntarily, to his very house and hearthstone.
It was Friday evening, which had been chosen because the schoolmaster was disengaged at four o'clock that day till the Monday morning following. The little car she hired at the Bear to drive her to Marygreen set her down at the end of the lane, half a mile from the village, by her desire, and preceded her to the schoolhouse with such portion of her luggage as she had brought. On its return she encountered it, and asked the driver if he had found the master's house open. The man informed her that he had, and that her things had been taken in by the schoolmaster himself.
She could now enter Marygreen without exciting much observation. She crossed by the well and under the trees to the pretty new school on the other side, and lifted the latch of the dwelling without knocking. Phillotson stood in the middle of the room, awaiting her, as requested.
`I've come, Richard,' said she, looking pale and shaken, and sinking into a chair. `I cannot believe - you forgive your - wife!'
`Everything, darling Susanna,' said Phillotson.
She started at the endearment, though it had been spoken advisedly without fervour. Then she nerved herself again.
`My children - are dead - and it is right that they should be! I am glad - almost. They were sin-begotten. They were sacrificed to teach me how to live! Their death was the first stage of my purification. That's why they have not died in vain! ... You will take me back?'
He was so stirred by her pitiful words and tone that he did more than he had meant to do. He bent and kissed her cheek.
Sue imperceptibly shrank away, her flesh quivering under the touch of his lips.
Phillotson's heart sank, for desire was renascent in him. `You still have an aversion to me!'
`Oh no, dear - I - have been driving through the damp, and I was chilly!' she said, with a hurried smile of apprehension. `When are we going to have the marriage? Soon?'
`To-morrow morning, early, I thought - if you really wish. I am sending round to the vicar to let him know you are come. I have told him all, and he highly approves - he says it will bring our lives to a triumphant and satisfactory issue. But - are you sure of yourself? It is not too late to refuse now if - you think you can't bring yourself to it, you know?'
`Yes, yes, I can! I want it done quick. Tell him, tell him at once! My strength is tried by the undertaking - I can't wait long!'
`Have something to eat and drink then, and go over to your room at Mrs. Edlin's. I'll tell the vicar half- past eight to-morrow, before anybody is about - if that's not too soon for you? My friend Gillingham is
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