Jude the Obscure
PART III: Chapter 8
JUDE wondered if she had really left her handkerchief behind; or whether it were
that she had miserably wished to tell him of a love that at the last moment she
could not bring herself to express.
He could not stay in his silent lodging when they were gone, and fearing that he
might be tempted to drown his misery in alcohol he went upstairs, changed his
dark clothes for his white, his thin boots for his thick, and proceeded to his
customary work for the afternoon.
But in the cathedral he seemed to hear a voice behind him, and to be possessed
with an idea that she would come back. She could not possibly go home with
Phillotson, he fancied. The feeling grew and stirred. The moment that the clock
struck the last of his working hours he threw down his tools and rushed
homeward. "Has anybody been for me?" he asked.
Nobody had been there.
As he could claim the downstairs sitting-room till twelve o'clock that night he sat
in it all the evening; and even when the clock had struck eleven, and the family
had retired, he could not shake off the feeling that she would come back and
sleep in the little room adjoining his own in which she had slept so many previous
days. Her actions were always unpredictable: why should she not come? Gladly
would he have compounded for the denial of her as a sweetheart and wife by
having her live thus as a fellow-lodger and friend, even on the most distant terms.
His supper still remained spread, and going to the front door, and softly setting it
open, he returned to the room and sat as watchers sit on Old-Mid-summer eves,
expecting the phantom of the Beloved. But she did not come.
Having indulged in this wild hope he went upstairs, and looked out of the window,
and pictured her through the evening journey to London, whither she and
Phillotson had gone for their holiday; their rattling along through the damp night
to their hotel, under the same sky of ribbed cloud as that he beheld, through
which the moon showed its position rather than its shape, and one or two of the
larger stars made themselves visible as faint nebulae only. It was a new
beginning of Sue's history. He projected his mind into the future, and saw her
with children more or less in her own likeness around her. But the consolation of
regarding them as a continuation of her identity was denied to him, as to all such
dreamers, by the wilfulness of Nature in not allowing issue from one parent
alone. Every desired renewal of an existence is debased by being half alloy. "If at
the estrangement or death of my lost love, I could go and see her child--hers
solely--there would be comfort in it!" said Jude. And then he again uneasily saw,
as he had latterly seen with more and more frequency, the scorn of Nature for
man's finer emotions, and her lack of interest in his aspirations.
The oppressive strength of his affection for Sue showed itself on the morrow and
following days yet more clearly. He could no longer endure the light of the
Melchester lamps; the sunshine was as drab paint, and the blue sky as zinc.
Then he received news that his old aunt was dangerously ill at Marygreen, which
intelligence almost coincided with a letter from his former employer at