Jude the Obscure HTML version

PART I: Chapter 2
SLENDER as was Jude Fawley's frame he bore the two brimming house-buckets
of water to the cottage without resting. Over the door was a little rectangular
piece of blue board, on which was painted in yellow letters, "Drusilla Fawley,
Baker." Within the little lead panes of the window--this being one of the few old
houses left--were five bottles of sweets, and three buns on a plate of the willow
While emptying the buckets at the back of the house he could hear an animated
conversation in progress within-doors between his great-aunt, the Drusilla of the
sign-board, and some other villagers. Having seen the school-master depart,
they were summing up particulars of the event, and indulging in predictions of his
"And who's he?" asked one, comparatively a stranger, when the boy entered.
"Well ye med ask it, Mrs. Williams. He's my great-nephew--come since you was
last this way." The old inhabitant who answered was a tall, gaunt woman, who
spoke tragically on the most trivial subject, and gave a phrase of her
conversation to each auditor in turn. "He come from Mellstock, down in South
Wessex, about a year ago--worse luck for 'n, Belinda" (turning to the right)
"where his father was living, and was took wi' the shakings for death, and died in
two days, as you know, Caroline" (turning to the left). "It would ha' been a
blessing if Goddy-mighty had took thee too, wi' thy mother and father, poor
useless boy! But I've got him here to stay with me till I can see what's to be done
with un, though I am obliged to let him earn any penny he can. Just now he's a-
scaring of birds for Farmer Troutham. It keeps him out of mischty. Why do ye turn
away, Jude?" she continued, as the boy, feeling the impact of their glances like
slaps upon his face, moved aside.
The local washerwoman replied that it was perhaps a very good plan of Miss or
Mrs. Fawley's (as they called her indifferently) to have him with her--"to kip 'ee
company in your loneliness, fetch water, shet the winder-shet-ters o' nights, and
help in the bit o' baking."
Miss Fawley doubted it.... "Why didn't ye get the schoolmaster to take 'ee to
Christminster wi' un, and make a scholar of 'ee," she continued, in frowning
pleasantry. "I'm sure he couldn't ha' took a better one. The boy is crazy for
books, that he is. It runs in our family rather. His cousin Sue is just the same-- so
I've heard; but I have not seen the child for years, though she was born in this
place, within these four walls, as it happened. My niece and her husband, after
they were married, didn' get a house of their own for some year or more; and
then they only had one till-- Well, I won't go into that. Jude, my child, don't you
ever marry. 'Tisn't for the Fawleys to take that step any more. She, their only one,
was like a child o' my own, Belinda, till the split come! Ah, that a little maid should
know such changes!"
Jude, finding the general attention again centering on himself, went out to the
bakehouse, where he ate the cake provided for his breakfast. The end of his
spare time had now arrived, and emerging from the garden by getting over the