Jude the Obscure
PART IV: Chapter 2
HOWEVER, if God disposed not, woman did. The next morning but one brought
him this note from her:
Don't come next week. On your own account don't! We were too free, under the
influence of that morbid hymn and the twilight. Think no more than you can help
of SUSANNA FLORENCE MARY.
The disappointment was keen. He knew her mood, the look of her face, when
she subscribed herself at length thus. But whatever her mood he could not say
she was wrong in her view. He replied:
I acquiesce. You are right. It is a lesson in renunciation which I suppose I ought
to learn at this season. JUDE
He despatched the note on Easter Eve, and there seemed a finality in their
decisions. But other forces and laws than theirs were in operation. On Easter
Monday morning he received a message from the Widow Edlin, whom he had
directed to telegraph if anything serious happened:
Your aunt is sinking. Come at once.
He threw down his tools and went. Three and a half hours later he was crossing
the downs about Marygreen, and presently plunged into the concave field across
which the short cut was made to the village. As he ascended on the other side a
labouring man, who had been watching his approach from a gate across the
path, moved uneasily, and prepared to speak. "I can see in his face that she is
dead," said Jude. "Poor Aunt Drusilla!"
It was as he had supposed, and Mrs. Edlin had sent out the man to break the
news to him.
"She wouldn't have knowed 'ee. She lay like a doll wi' glass eyes; so it didn't
matter that you wasn't here," said he.
Jude went on to the house, and in the afternoon, when everything was done, and
the layers-out had finished their beer, and gone, he sat down alone in the silent
place. It was absolutely necessary to communicate with Sue, though two or three
days earlier they had agreed to mutual severance. He wrote in the briefest terms:
Aunt Drusilla is dead, having been taken almost suddenly. The funeral is on
He remained in and about Marygreen through the intervening days, went out on
Friday morning to see that the grave was finished, and wondered if Sue would
come. She had not written, and that seemed to signify rather that she would
come than that she would not. Having timed her by her only possible train, he
locked the door about mid-day, and crossed the hollow field to the verge of the
upland by the Brown House, where he stood and looked over the vast prospect
northwards, and over the nearer landscape in which Alfredston stood. Two miles
behind it a jet of white steam was travelling from the left to the right of the picture.
There was a long time to wait, even now, till he would know if she had arrived.
He did wait, however, and at last a small hired vehicle pulled up at the bottom of
the hill, and a person alighted, the conveyance going back, while the passenger
began ascending the hill. He knew her; and she looked so slender to-day that it