Jude the Obscure HTML version

PART III: Chapter 7
TIDINGS from Sue a day or two after passed across Jude like a withering blast.
Before reading the letter he was led to suspect that its contents were of a
somewhat serious kind by catching sight of the signature-- which was in her full
name, never used in her correspondence with him since her first note:
MY DEAR JUDE,--I have something to tell you which perhaps you will not be
surprised to hear, though certainly it may strike you as being accelerated (as the
railway companies say of their trains). Mr. Phillotson and I are to be married quite
soon-- in three or four weeks. We had intended, as you know, to wait till I had
gone through my course of training and obtained my certificate, so as to assist
him, if necessary, in the teaching. But he generously says he does not see any
object in waiting, now I am not at the training school. It is so good of him,
because the awkwardness of my situation has really come about by my fault in
getting expelled.
Wish me joy. Remember I say you are to, and you mustn't refuse!-- Your
affectionate cousin,
Jude staggered under the news; could eat no breakfast; and kept on drinking tea
because his mouth was so dry. Then presently he went back to his work and
laughed the usual bitter laugh of a man so confronted. Everything seemed
turning to satire. And yet, what could the poor girl do? he asked himself: and felt
worse than shedding tears.
"O Susanna Florence Mary!" he said as he worked. "You don't know what
marriage means!"
Could it be possible that his announcement of his own marriage had pricked her
on to this, just as his visit to her when in liquor may have pricked her on to her
engagement? To be sure, there seemed to exist these other and sufficient
reasons, practical and social, for her decision; but Sue was not a very practical or
calculating person; and he was compelled to think that a pique at having his
secret sprung upon her had moved her to give way to Phillotson's probable
representations, that the best course to prove how unfounded were the
suspicions of the school authorities would be to marry him off-hand, as in
fulfilment of an ordinary engagement. Sue had, in fact, been placed in an
awkward corner. Poor Sue!
He determined to play the Spartan; to make the best of it, and support her; but he
could not write the requested good wishes for a day or two. Meanwhile there
came another note from his impatient little dear:
Jude, will you give me away? I have nobody else who could do it so conveniently
as you, being the only married relation I have here on the spot, even if my father
were friendly enough to be willing, which he isn't. I hope you won't think it a
trouble? I have been looking at the marriage service in the prayer-book, and it
seems to me very humiliating that a giver-away should be required at all.
According to the ceremony as there printed, my bridegroom chooses me of his
own will and pleasure; but I don't choose him. Somebody GIVES me to him, like