Jude the Obscure
PART I: Chapter 9
IT was some two months later in the year, and the pair had met constantly during
the interval. Arabella seemed dissatisfied; she was always imagining, and
waiting, and wondering.
One day she met the itinerant Vilbert. She, like all the cottagers thereabout, knew
the quack well, and she began telling him of her experiences. Arabella had been
gloomy, but before he left her she had grown brighter. That evening she kept an
appointment with Jude, who seemed sad.
"I am going away," he said to her. "I think I ought to go. I think it will be better
both for you and for me. I wish some things had never begun! I was much to
blame, I know. But it is never too late to mend."
Arabella began to cry. "How do you know it is not too late?" she said. "That's all
very well to say! I haven't told you yet!" and she looked into his face with
"What?" he asked, turning pale. "Not ... ?"
"Yes! And what shall I do if you desert me?"
"Oh, Arabella--how can you say that, my dear! You _know_ I wouldn't desert
"I have next to no wages as yet, you know; or perhaps I should have thought of
this before.... But, of course if that's the case, we must marry! What other thing
do you think I could dream of doing?"
"I thought--I thought, deary, perhaps you would go away all the more for that, and
leave me to face it alone!"
"You knew better! Of course I never dreamt six months ago, or even three, of
marrying. It is a complete smashing up of my plans--I mean my plans before I
knew you, my dear. But what are they, after all! Dreams about books, and
degrees, and impossible fellowships, and all that. Certainly we'll marry: we must!"
That night he went out alone, and walked in the dark self-communing. He knew
well, too well, in the secret centre of his brain, that Arabella was not worth a great
deal as a specimen of womankind. Yet, such being the custom of the rural
districts among honourable young men who had drifted so far into intimacy with a
woman as he unfortunately had done, he was ready to abide by what he had
said, and take the consequences. For his own soothing he kept up a factitious
belief in her. His idea of her was the thing of most consequence, not Arabella
herself, he sometimes said laconically.
The banns were put in and published the very next Sunday. The people of the
parish all said what a simple fool young Fawley was. All his reading had only
come to this, that he would have to sell his books to buy saucepans. Those who
guessed the probable state of affairs, Arabella's parents being among them,
declared that it was the sort of conduct they would have expected of such an
honest young man as Jude in reparation of the wrong he had done his innocent
sweetheart. The parson who married them seemed to think it satisfactory too.
And so, standing before the aforesaid officiator, the two swore that at every other