She waited a few minutes observing them, and then proceeded to join her spouse with no very amiable sentiments. She found him seated on a stool by the bar, talking to one of the gaily dressed maids who had served him with spirits.
"I should think you had enough of this business at home!" Arabella remarked gloomily. "Surely you didn't come fifty miles from your own bar to stick in another? Come, take me round the show, as other men do their wives! Dammy, one would think you were a young bachelor, with nobody to look after but yourself!"
"But we agreed to meet here; and what could I do but wait?"
"Well, now we have met, come along," she returned, ready to quarrel with the sun for shining on her. And they left the tent together, this pot-bellied man and florid woman, in the antipathetic, recriminatory mood of the average husband and wife of Christendom.
In the meantime the more exceptional couple and the boy still lingered in the pavilion of flowers — an enchanted palace to their appreciative taste — Sue's usually pale cheeks reflecting the pink of the tinted roses at which she gazed; for the gay sights, the air, the music, and the excitement of a day's outing with Jude had quickened her blood and made her eyes sparkle with vivacity. She adored roses, and what Arabella had witnessed was Sue detaining Jude almost against his will while she learnt the names of this variety and that, and put her face within an inch of their blooms to smell them.
"I should like to push my face quite into them — the dears!" she had said. "But I suppose it is against the rules to touch them — isn't it, Jude?"
"Yes, you baby," said he: and then playfully gave her a little push, so that her nose went among the petals.
"The policeman will be down on us, and I shall say it was my husband's fault!"
Then she looked up at him, and smiled in a way that told so much to Arabella.
"Happy?" he murmured.
"Why? Because you have come to the great Wessex Agricultural Show — or because WE have come?"
"You are always trying to make me confess to all sorts of absurdities. Because I am improving my mind, of course, by seeing all these steam-ploughs, and threshing-machines, and chaff-cutters, and cows, and pigs, and sheep."
Jude was quite content with a baffle from his ever evasive companion. But when he had forgotten that he had put the question, and because he no longer wished for an answer, she went on: "I feel that we have returned to Greek joyousness, and have blinded ourselves to sickness and sorrow, and have forgotten what twenty-five centuries have taught the race since their time, as one of your Christminster luminaries says... There is one immediate shadow, however — only one." And she looked at the aged child, whom, though they had taken him to everything likely to attract a young intelligence, they had utterly failed to interest.
He knew what they were saying and thinking. "I am very, very sorry, Father and Mother," he said. "But please don't mind! — I can't help it. I should like the flowers very very much, if I didn't keep on thinking they'd be all withered in a few days!"