here to help us in the ceremony. He's been good enough to come all the way from Shaston at great inconvenience to himself.'
Unlike a woman in ordinary, whose eye is so keen for material things, Sue seemed to see nothing of the room they were in, or any detail of her environment. But on moving across the parlour to put down her muff she uttered a little `Oh!' and grew paler than before. Her look was that of the condemned criminal who catches sight of his coffin.
`What?' said Phillotson.
The flap of the bureau chanced to be open, and in placing her muff upon it her eye had caught a document which lay there. `Oh - only a - funny surprise!' she said, trying to laugh away her cry as she came back to the table.
`Ah! Yes,' said Phillotson. `The licence.... It has just come.'
Gillingham now joined them from his room above, and Sue nervously made herself agreeable to him by talking on whatever she thought likely to interest him, except herself, though that interested him most of all. She obediently ate some supper, and prepared to leave for her lodging hard by. Phillotson crossed the green with her, bidding her good-night at Mrs. Edlin's door.
The old woman accompanied Sue to her temporary quarters, and helped her to unpack. Among other things she laid out a night-gown tastefully embroidered.
`Oh - I didn't know that was put in!' said Sue quickly. `I didn't mean it to be. Here is a different one.' She handed a new and absolutely plain garment, of coarse and unbleached calico.
`But this is the prettiest,' said Mrs. Edlin. `That one is no better than very sackcloth o' Scripture!'
`Yes - I meant it to be. Give me the other.'
She took it, and began rending it with all her might, the tears resounding through the house like a screech- owl.
`But my dear, dear! - whatever ...'
`It is adulterous! It signifies what I don't feel - I bought it long ago - to please Jude. It must be destroyed!'
Mrs. Edlin lifted her hands, and Sue excitedly continued to tear the linen into strips, laying the pieces in the fire.
`You med ha' give it to me!' said the widow. `It do make my heart ache to see such pretty open-work as that a-burned by the flames - not that ornamental night-rails can be much use to a' ould 'ooman like I. My days for such be all past and gone!'
`It is an accursed thing - it reminds me of what I want to forget!' Sue repeated. `It is only fit for the fire.'
`Lord, you be too strict! What do ye use such words for, and condemn to hell your dear little innocent children that's lost to 'ee! Upon my life I don't call that religion!'
Sue flung her face upon the bed, sobbing. `Oh, don't, don't! That kills me!' She remained shaken with her grief, and slipped down upon her knees.
`I'll tell 'ee what - you ought not to marry this man again!' said Mrs. Edlin indignantly. `You are in love wi' t' other still!'
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