Chapter 51

On the platform stood Arabella. She looked him up and down.

`You've been to see her?' she asked.

`I have,' said Jude, literally tottering with cold and lassitude.

`Well, now you'd best march along home.'

The water ran out of him as he went, and he was compelled to lean against the wall to support himself while coughing.

`You've done for yourself by this, young man,' said she. `I don't know whether you know it.'

`Of course I do. I meant to do for myself.'

`What - to commit suicide?'


`Well, I'm blest! Kill yourself for a woman.'

`Listen to me, Arabella. You think you are the stronger; and so you are, in a physical sense, now. You could push me over like a nine-pin. You did not send that letter the other day, and I could not resent your conduct. But I am not so weak in another way as you think. I made up my mind that a man confined to his room by inflammation of the lungs, a fellow who had only two wishes left in the world, to see a particular woman, and then to die, could neatly accomplish those two wishes at one stroke by taking this journey in the rain. That I've done. I have seen her for the last time, and I've finished myself - put an end to a feverish life which ought never to have been begun!'

`Lord - you do talk lofty! Won't you have something warm to drink?'

`No thank you. Let's get home.'

They went along by the silent colleges, and Jude kept stopping.

`What are you looking at?'

`Stupid fancies. I see, in a way, those spirits of the dead again, on this my last walk, that I saw when I first walked here!'

`What a curious chap you are!'

`I seem to see them, and almost hear them rustling. But I don't revere all of them as I did then. I don't believe in half of them. The theologians, the apologists, and their kin the metaphysicians, the high-handed statesmen, and others, no longer interest me. All that has been spoilt for me by the grind of stern reality!'

The expression of Jude's corpselike face in the watery lamplight was indeed as if he saw people where there was nobody. At moments he stood still by an archway, like one watching a figure walk out; then he would look at a window like one discerning a familiar face behind it. He seemed to hear voices, whose words he repeated as if to gather their meaning.

`They seem laughing at me!'


  By PanEris using Melati.

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