Jude the Obscure
PART V: Chapter 6
THE unnoticed lives that the pair had hitherto led began, from the day of the
suspended wedding onwards, to be observed and discussed by other persons
than Arabella. The society of Spring Street and the neighbourhood generally did
not understand, and probably could not have been made to understand, Sue and
Jude's private minds, emotions, positions, and fears. The curious facts of a child
coming to them unexpectedly, who called Jude "Father," and Sue "Mother," and
a hitch in a marriage ceremony intended for quietness to be performed at a
registrar's office, together with rumours of the undefended cases in the law-
courts, bore only one translation to plain minds.
Little Time--for though he was formally turned into "Jude," the apt nickname stuck
to him--would come home from school in the evening, and repeat inquiries and
remarks that had been made to him by the other boys; and cause Sue, and Jude
when he heard them, a great deal of pain and sadness.
The result was that shortly after the attempt at the registrar's the pair went off--to
London it was believed--for several days, hiring somebody to look to the boy.
When they came back they let it be understood indirectly, and with total
indifference and weariness of mien, that they were legally married at last. Sue,
who had previously been called Mrs. Bridehead now openly adopted the name of
Mrs. Fawley. Her dull, cowed, and listless manner for days seemed to
substantiate all this.
But the mistake (as it was called) of their going away so secretly to do the
business, kept up much of the mystery of their lives; and they found that they
made not such advances with their neighbours as they had expected to do
thereby. A living mystery was not much less interesting than a dead scandal.
The baker's lad and the grocer's boy, who at first had used to lift their hats
gallantly to Sue when they came to execute their errands, in these days no
longer took the trouble to render her that homage, and the neighbouring artizans'
wives looked straight along the pavement when they encountered her.
Nobody molested them, it is true; but an oppressive atmosphere began to
encircle their souls, particularly after their excursion to the show, as if that visit
had brought some evil influence to bear on them. And their temperaments were
precisely of a kind to suffer from this atmosphere, and to be indisposed to lighten
it by vigorous and open statements. Their apparent attempt at reparation had
come too late to be effective.
The headstone and epitaph orders fell off: and two or three months later, when
autumn came, Jude perceived that he would have to return to journey-work
again, a course all the more unfortunate just now, in that he had not as yet
cleared off the debt he had unavoidably incurred in the payment of the law-costs
of the previous year.
One evening he sat down to share the common meal with Sue and the child as
usual. "I am thinking," he said to her, "that I'll hold on here no longer. The life
suits us, certainly; but if we could get away to a place where we are unknown, we