The women of Sue’s strict Training College see that she has not returned at night, and they gossip about her. In the morning Sue returns and the administration decides to punish her, confining her to a solitary room for a week. The other girls find this punishment harsh and protest against it, but then they find that Sue has escaped her room through the window. They worry that she might have drowned in the river below, but the mistress is mostly worried about the scandal this would bring to the school.
The Training College is the epitome of the Victorian prudishness that Hardy mocks. Sue is basically imprisoned for going out with her cousin on her day off, and the only way she can escape this repressive environment is by risking her life. It is also telling that the school’s mistress is more concerned about being respectable than about Sue’s possible drowning.
Meanwhile Sue arrives at Jude’s lodgings, freezing and soaked through from crossing the river. Jude is reading when she tosses some gravel at his window. He takes Sue in and hides her from his landlady. Sue admits that she was angered at the injustice of her punishment and so she ran away from the Training School, but she doesn’t want them to find her.
Jude is delighted that Sue came to him first, but Sue is still trying to keep their relations platonic. She recognizes Jude’s protective nature, and knows he will be more sympathetic towards her than anyone else.
Jude feels that he and Sue are “counterparts,” as she came to him in her time of need. He gives her some of his own clothes and some brandy. Sue falls asleep by the fire and Jude watches her, seeing her as “almost a divinity.”
Hardy begins to develop an idea that Jude and Sue are almost twins, having similar natures or as separated parts of one soul. This makes their inability to be together all the more tragic. Jude’s love for Sue has become his new Christminster.