Jude the Obscure
PART V: Chapter 4
THEIR next and second attempt thereat was more deliberately made, though it
was begun on the morning following the singular child's arrival at their home.
Him they found to be in the habit of sitting silent, his quaint and weird face set,
and his eyes resting on things they did not see in the substantial world.
"His face is like the tragic mask of Melpomene," said Sue. "What is your name,
dear? Did you tell us?"
"Little Father Time is what they always called me. It is a nickname; because I
look so aged, they say."
"And you talk so, too," said Sue tenderly. "It is strange, Jude, that these
preternaturally old boys almost always come from new countries. But what were
"I never was."
"Why was that?"
"Because, if I died in damnation, 'twould save the expense of a Christian funeral."
"Oh--your name is not Jude, then?" said his father with some disappointment.
The boy shook his head. "Never heerd on it."
"Of course not," said Sue quickly; "since she was hating you all the time!"
"We'll have him christened," said Jude; and privately to Sue: "The day we are
married." Yet the advent of the child disturbed him.
Their position lent them shyness, and having an impression that a marriage at a
superintendent registrar's office was more private than an ecclesiastical one, they
decided to avoid a church this time. Both Sue and Jude together went to the
office of the district to give notice: they had become such companions that they
could hardly do anything of importance except in each other's company.
Jude Fawley signed the form of notice, Sue looking over his shoulder and
watching his hand as it traced the words. As she read the four-square
undertaking, never before seen by her, into which her own and Jude's names
were inserted, and by which that very volatile essence, their love for each other,
was supposed to be made permanent, her face seemed to grow painfully
apprehensive. "Names and Surnames of the Parties"--(they were to be parties
now, not lovers, she thought). "Condition"--(a horrid idea)--"Rank or Occupation"-
-"Age"--"Dwelling at"--"Length of Residence"--"Church or Building in which the
Marriage is to be solemnized"-- "District and County in which the Parties
"It spoils the sentiment, doesn't it!" she said on their way home. "It seems making
a more sordid business of it even than signing the contract in a vestry. There is a
little poetry in a church. But we'll try to get through with it, dearest, now."
"We will. 'For what man is he that hath betrothed a wife and hath not taken her?
Let him go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man
take her.' So said the Jewish law-giver."
"How you know the Scriptures, Jude! You really ought to have been a parson. I
can only quote profane writers!"