Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
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Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy.
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[1]         
[2]         Part First
[3]         
[4]         AT MARYGREEN
[5]         
[6]         
[7]         
[8]            "Yea, many there be that have run out of their wits for
[9]             women, and become servants for their sakes. Many also
[10]            have perished, have erred, and sinned, for women.... O
[11]            ye men, how can it be but women should be strong, seeing
[12]            they do thus?"--ESDRAS.
[13]        
[14]        
[15]        I
[16]        
[17]        
[18]        The schoolmaster was leaving the village, and everybody seemed sorry.
[19]        The miller at Cresscombe lent him the small white tilted cart and
[20]        horse to carry his goods to the city of his destination, about twenty
[21]        miles off, such a vehicle proving of quite sufficient size for the
[22]        departing teacher's effects. For the schoolhouse had been partly
[23]        furnished by the managers, and the only cumbersome article possessed
[24]        by the master, in addition to the packing-case of books, was a
[25]        cottage piano that he had bought at an auction during the year in
[26]        which he thought of learning instrumental music. But the enthusiasm
[27]        having waned he had never acquired any skill in playing, and the
[28]        purchased article had been a perpetual trouble to him ever since in
[29]        moving house.
[30]        
[31]        The rector had gone away for the day, being a man who disliked the
[32]        sight of changes. He did not mean to return till the evening, when
[33]        the new school-teacher would have arrived and settled in, and
[34]        everything would be smooth again.
[35]        
[36]        The blacksmith, the farm bailiff, and the schoolmaster himself were
[37]        standing in perplexed attitudes in the parlour before the instrument.
[38]        The master had remarked that even if he got it into the cart he
[39]        should not know what to do with it on his arrival at Christminster,
[40]        the city he was bound for, since he was only going into temporary
[41]        lodgings just at first.
[42]        
[43]        A little boy of eleven, who had been thoughtfully assisting in the
[44]        packing, joined the group of men, and as they rubbed their chins he
[45]        spoke up, blushing at the sound of his own voice: "Aunt have got a
[46]        great fuel-house, and it could be put there, perhaps, till you've
[47]        found a place to settle in, sir."
[48]        
[49]        "A proper good notion," said the blacksmith.
[50]        
[51]        It was decided that a deputation should wait on the boy's aunt--an
[52]        old maiden resident--and ask her if she would house the piano till
[53]        Mr. Phillotson should send for it. The smith and the bailiff started
[54]        to see about the practicability of the suggested shelter, and the boy
[55]        and the schoolmaster were left standing alone.
[56]        
[57]        "Sorry I am going, Jude?" asked the latter kindly.
[58]        
[59]        Tears rose into the boy's eyes, for he was not among the regular day
[60]        scholars, who came unromantically close to the schoolmaster's life,
[61]        but one who had attended the night school only during the present
[62]        teacher's term of office. The regular scholars, if the truth must
[63]        be told, stood at the present moment afar off, like certain historic
[64]        disciples, indisposed to any enthusiastic volunteering of aid.
[65]        
[66]        The boy awkwardly opened the book he held in his hand, which Mr.
[67]        Phillotson had bestowed on him as a parting gift, and admitted that
[68]        he was sorry.
[69]        
[70]        "So am I," said Mr. Phillotson.
[71]        
[72]        "Why do you go, sir?" asked the boy.
[73]        
[74]        "Ah--that would be a long story. You wouldn't understand my reasons,
[75]        Jude. You will, perhaps, when you are older."
[76]        
[77]        "I think I should now, sir."
[78]        
[79]        "Well--don't speak of this everywhere. You know what a university
[80]        is, and a university degree? It is the necessary hallmark of a man
[81]        who wants to do anything in teaching. My scheme, or dream, is to be
[82]        a university graduate, and then to be ordained. By going to live at
[83]        Christminster, or near it, I shall be at headquarters, so to speak,
[84]        and if my scheme is practicable at all, I consider that being on the
[85]        spot will afford me a better chance of carrying it out than I should
[86]        have elsewhere."
[87]        
[88]        The smith and his companion returned. Old Miss Fawley's fuel-house
[89]        was dry, and eminently practicable; and she seemed willing to give
[90]        the instrument standing-room there. It was accordingly left in
[91]        the school till the evening, when more hands would be available for
[92]        removing it; and the schoolmaster gave a final glance round.
[93]        
[94]        The boy Jude assisted in loading some small articles, and at nine
[95]        o'clock Mr. Phillotson mounted beside his box of books and other
[96]        _impedimenta_, and bade his friends good-bye.
[97]        
[98]        "I shan't forget you, Jude," he said, smiling, as the cart moved off.
[99]        "Be a good boy, remember; and be kind to animals and birds, and read
[100]       all you can. And if ever you come to Christminster remember you hunt
[101]       me out for old acquaintance' sake."
[102]       
[103]       The cart creaked across the green, and disappeared round the corner
[104]       by the rectory-house. The boy returned to the draw-well at the edge
[105]       of the greensward, where he had left his buckets when he went to help
[106]       his patron and teacher in the loading. There was a quiver in his lip
[107]       now and after opening the well-cover to begin lowering the bucket he
[108]       paused and leant with his forehead and arms against the framework,
[109]       his face wearing the fixity of a thoughtful child's who has felt the
[110]       pricks of life somewhat before his time. The well into which he was
[111]       looking was as ancient as the village itself, and from his present
[112]       position appeared as a long circular perspective ending in a shining
[113]       disk of quivering water at a distance of a hundred feet down.
[114]       There was a lining of green moss near the top, and nearer still the
[115]       hart's-tongue fern.
[116]       
[117]       He said to himself, in the melodramatic tones of a whimsical boy,
[118]       that the schoolmaster had drawn at that well scores of times on a
[119]       morning like this, and would never draw there any more. "I've seen
[120]       him look down into it, when he was tired with his drawing, just as I
[121]       do now, and when he rested a bit before carrying the buckets home!
[122]       But he was too clever to bide here any longer--a small sleepy place
[123]       like this!"
[124]       
[125]       A tear rolled from his eye into the depths of the well. The morning
[126]       was a little foggy, and the boy's breathing unfurled itself as
[127]       a thicker fog upon the still and heavy air. His thoughts were
[128]       interrupted by a sudden outcry:
[129]       
[130]       "Bring on that water, will ye, you idle young harlican!"
[131]       
[132]       It came from an old woman who had emerged from her door towards the
[133]       garden gate of a green-thatched cottage not far off. The boy quickly
[134]       waved a signal of assent, drew the water with what was a great effort
[135]       for one of his stature, landed and emptied the big bucket into his
[136]       own pair of smaller ones, and pausing a moment for breath, started
[137]       with them across the patch of clammy greensward whereon the well
[138]       stood--nearly in the centre of the little village, or rather hamlet
[139]       of Marygreen.
[140]       
[141]       It was as old-fashioned as it was small, and it rested in the lap of
[142]       an undulating upland adjoining the North Wessex downs. Old as it
[143]       was, however, the well-shaft was probably the only relic of the local
[144]       history that remained absolutely unchanged. Many of the thatched
[145]       and dormered dwelling-houses had been pulled down of late years, and
[146]       many trees felled on the green. Above all, the original church,
[147]       hump-backed, wood-turreted, and quaintly hipped, had been taken
[148]       down, and either cracked up into heaps of road-metal in the lane, or
[149]       utilized as pig-sty walls, garden seats, guard-stones to fences, and
[150]       rockeries in the flower-beds of the neighbourhood. In place of it
[151]       a tall new building of modern Gothic design, unfamiliar to English
[152]       eyes, had been erected on a new piece of ground by a certain
[153]       obliterator of historic records who had run down from London and back
[154]       in a day. The site whereon so long had stood the ancient temple to
[155]       the Christian divinities was not even recorded on the green and level
[156]       grass-plot that had immemorially been the churchyard, the obliterated
[157]       graves being commemorated by eighteen-penny cast-iron crosses
[158]       warranted to last five years.
[159]       
[160]       
[161]       
[162]       II
[163]       
[164]       
[165]       Slender as was Jude Fawley's frame he bore the two brimming
[166]       house-buckets of water to the cottage without resting. Over the door
[167]       was a little rectangular piece of blue board, on which was painted
[168]       in yellow letters, "Drusilla Fawley, Baker." Within the little lead
[169]       panes of the window--this being one of the few old houses left--were
[170]       five bottles of sweets, and three buns on a plate of the willow
[171]       pattern.
[172]       
[173]       While emptying the buckets at the back of the house he could hear an
[174]       animated conversation in progress within-doors between his great-aunt,
[175]       the Drusilla of the sign-board, and some other villagers. Having
[176]       seen the school-master depart, they were summing up particulars of
[177]       the event, and indulging in predictions of his future.
[178]       
[179]       "And who's he?" asked one, comparatively a stranger, when the boy
[180]       entered.
[181]       
[182]       "Well ye med ask it, Mrs. Williams. He's my great-nephew--come since
[183]       you was last this way." The old inhabitant who answered was a tall,
[184]       gaunt woman, who spoke tragically on the most trivial subject, and
[185]       gave a phrase of her conversation to each auditor in turn. "He come
[186]       from Mellstock, down in South Wessex, about a year ago--worse luck
[187]       for 'n, Belinda" (turning to the right) "where his father was living,
[188]       and was took wi' the shakings for death, and died in two days, as you
[189]       know, Caroline" (turning to the left). "It would ha' been a blessing
[190]       if Goddy-mighty had took thee too, wi' thy mother and father, poor
[191]       useless boy! But I've got him here to stay with me till I can see
[192]       what's to be done with un, though I am obliged to let him earn any
[193]       penny he can. Just now he's a-scaring of birds for Farmer Troutham.
[194]       It keeps him out of mischty. Why do ye turn away, Jude?" she
[195]       continued, as the boy, feeling the impact of their glances like slaps
[196]       upon his face, moved aside.
[197]       
[198]       The local washerwoman replied that it was perhaps a very good plan of
[199]       Miss or Mrs. Fawley's (as they called her indifferently) to have him
[200]       with her--"to kip 'ee company in your loneliness, fetch water, shet
[201]       the winder-shetters o' nights, and help in the bit o' baking."
[202]       
[203]       Miss Fawley doubted it.... "Why didn't ye get the schoolmaster to
[204]       take 'ee to Christminster wi' un, and make a scholar of 'ee," she
[205]       continued, in frowning pleasantry. "I'm sure he couldn't ha' took a
[206]       better one. The boy is crazy for books, that he is. It runs in our
[207]       family rather. His cousin Sue is just the same--so I've heard; but
[208]       I have not seen the child for years, though she was born in this
[209]       place, within these four walls, as it happened. My niece and her
[210]       husband, after they were married, didn' get a house of their own for
[211]       some year or more; and then they only had one till--Well, I won't go
[212]       into that. Jude, my child, don't you ever marry. 'Tisn't for the
[213]       Fawleys to take that step any more. She, their only one, was like
[214]       a child o' my own, Belinda, till the split come! Ah, that a little
[215]       maid should know such changes!"
[216]       
[217]       Jude, finding the general attention again centering on himself, went
[218]       out to the bakehouse, where he ate the cake provided for his
[219]       breakfast. The end of his spare time had now arrived, and emerging
[220]       from the garden by getting over the hedge at the back he pursued a
[221]       path northward, till he came to a wide and lonely depression in the
[222]       general level of the upland, which was sown as a corn-field. This
[223]       vast concave was the scene of his labours for Mr Troutham the farmer,
[224]       and he descended into the midst of it.
[225]       
[226]       The brown surface of the field went right up towards the sky all
[227]       round, where it was lost by degrees in the mist that shut out the
[228]       actual verge and accentuated the solitude. The only marks on the
[229]       uniformity of the scene were a rick of last year's produce standing
[230]       in the midst of the arable, the rooks that rose at his approach, and
[231]       the path athwart the fallow by which he had come, trodden now by he
[232]       hardly knew whom, though once by many of his own dead family.
[233]       
[234]       "How ugly it is here!" he murmured.
[235]       
[236]       The fresh harrow-lines seemed to stretch like the channellings in
[237]       a piece of new corduroy, lending a meanly utilitarian air to the
[238]       expanse, taking away its gradations, and depriving it of all history
[239]       beyond that of the few recent months, though to every clod and stone
[240]       there really attached associations enough and to spare--echoes of
[241]       songs from ancient harvest-days, of spoken words, and of sturdy
[242]       deeds. Every inch of ground had been the site, first or last,
[243]       of energy, gaiety, horse-play, bickerings, weariness. Groups of
[244]       gleaners had squatted in the sun on every square yard. Love-matches
[245]       that had populated the adjoining hamlet had been made up there
[246]       between reaping and carrying. Under the hedge which divided the
[247]       field from a distant plantation girls had given themselves to lovers
[248]       who would not turn their heads to look at them by the next harvest;
[249]       and in that ancient cornfield many a man had made love-promises to
[250]       a woman at whose voice he had trembled by the next seed-time after
[251]       fulfilling them in the church adjoining. But this neither Jude nor
[252]       the rooks around him considered. For them it was a lonely place,
[253]       possessing, in the one view, only the quality of a work-ground, and
[254]       in the other that of a granary good to feed in.
[255]       
[256]       The boy stood under the rick before mentioned, and every few seconds
[257]       used his clacker or rattle briskly. At each clack the rooks left off
[258]       pecking, and rose and went away on their leisurely wings, burnished
[259]       like tassets of mail, afterwards wheeling back and regarding him
[260]       warily, and descending to feed at a more respectful distance.
[261]       
[262]       He sounded the clacker till his arm ached, and at length his heart
[263]       grew sympathetic with the birds' thwarted desires. They seemed, like
[264]       himself, to be living in a world which did not want them. Why should
[265]       he frighten them away? They took upon more and more the aspect of
[266]       gentle friends and pensioners--the only friends he could claim as
[267]       being in the least degree interested in him, for his aunt had often
[268]       told him that she was not. He ceased his rattling, and they alighted
[269]       anew.
[270]       
[271]       "Poor little dears!" said Jude, aloud. "You SHALL have some dinner--
[272]       you shall. There is enough for us all. Farmer Troutham can afford
[273]       to let you have some. Eat, then my dear little birdies, and make a
[274]       good meal!"
[275]       
[276]       They stayed and ate, inky spots on the nut-brown soil, and Jude
[277]       enjoyed their appetite. A magic thread of fellow-feeling united his
[278]       own life with theirs. Puny and sorry as those lives were, they much
[279]       resembled his own.
[280]       
[281]       His clacker he had by this time thrown away from him, as being a mean
[282]       and sordid instrument, offensive both to the birds and to himself
[283]       as their friend. All at once he became conscious of a smart blow
[284]       upon his buttocks, followed by a loud clack, which announced to his
[285]       surprised senses that the clacker had been the instrument of offence
[286]       used. The birds and Jude started up simultaneously, and the dazed
[287]       eyes of the latter beheld the farmer in person, the great Troutham
[288]       himself, his red face glaring down upon Jude's cowering frame, the
[289]       clacker swinging in his hand.
[290]       
[291]       "So it's 'Eat my dear birdies,' is it, young man? 'Eat, dear
[292]       birdies,' indeed! I'll tickle your breeches, and see if you say,
[293]       'Eat, dear birdies,' again in a hurry! And you've been idling at the
[294]       schoolmaster's too, instead of coming here, ha'n't ye, hey? That's
[295]       how you earn your sixpence a day for keeping the rooks off my corn!"
[296]       
[297]       Whilst saluting Jude's ears with this impassioned rhetoric, Troutham
[298]       had seized his left hand with his own left, and swinging his slim
[299]       frame round him at arm's-length, again struck Jude on the hind parts
[300]       with the flat side of Jude's own rattle, till the field echoed with
[301]       the blows, which were delivered once or twice at each revolution.
[302]       
[303]       "Don't 'ee, sir--please don't 'ee!" cried the whirling child, as
[304]       helpless under the centrifugal tendency of his person as a hooked
[305]       fish swinging to land, and beholding the hill, the rick, the
[306]       plantation, the path, and the rooks going round and round him in an
[307]       amazing circular race. "I--I sir--only meant that--there was a good
[308]       crop in the ground--I saw 'em sow it--and the rooks could have a
[309]       little bit for dinner--and you wouldn't miss it, sir--and Mr.
[310]       Phillotson said I was to be kind to 'em--oh, oh, oh!"
[311]       
[312]       This truthful explanation seemed to exasperate the farmer even more
[313]       than if Jude had stoutly denied saying anything at all, and he still
[314]       smacked the whirling urchin, the clacks of the instrument continuing
[315]       to resound all across the field and as far as the ears of distant
[316]       workers--who gathered thereupon that Jude was pursuing his business
[317]       of clacking with great assiduity--and echoing from the brand-new
[318]       church tower just behind the mist, towards the building of which
[319]       structure the farmer had largely subscribed, to testify his love for
[320]       God and man.
[321]       
[322]       Presently Troutham grew tired of his punitive task, and depositing
[323]       the quivering boy on his legs, took a sixpence from his pocket and
[324]       gave it him in payment for his day's work, telling him to go home and
[325]       never let him see him in one of those fields again.
[326]       
[327]       Jude leaped out of arm's reach, and walked along the trackway
[328]       weeping--not from the pain, though that was keen enough; not from the
[329]       perception of the flaw in the terrestrial scheme, by which what was
[330]       good for God's birds was bad for God's gardener; but with the awful
[331]       sense that he had wholly disgraced himself before he had been a year
[332]       in the parish, and hence might be a burden to his great-aunt for
[333]       life.
[334]       
[335]       With this shadow on his mind he did not care to show himself in the
[336]       village, and went homeward by a roundabout track behind a high hedge
[337]       and across a pasture. Here he beheld scores of coupled earthworms
[338]       lying half their length on the surface of the damp ground, as
[339]       they always did in such weather at that time of the year. It was
[340]       impossible to advance in regular steps without crushing some of them
[341]       at each tread.
[342]       
[343]       Though Farmer Troutham had just hurt him, he was a boy who could not
[344]       himself bear to hurt anything. He had never brought home a nest of
[345]       young birds without lying awake in misery half the night after, and
[346]       often reinstating them and the nest in their original place the next
[347]       morning. He could scarcely bear to see trees cut down or lopped,
[348]       from a fancy that it hurt them; and late pruning, when the sap was up
[349]       and the tree bled profusely, had been a positive grief to him in his
[350]       infancy. This weakness of character, as it may be called, suggested
[351]       that he was the sort of man who was born to ache a good deal before
[352]       the fall of the curtain upon his unnecessary life should signify that
[353]       all was well with him again. He carefully picked his way on tiptoe
[354]       among the earthworms, without killing a single one.
[355]       
[356]       On entering the cottage he found his aunt selling a penny loaf to a
[357]       little girl, and when the customer was gone she said, "Well, how do
[358]       you come to be back here in the middle of the morning like this?"
[359]       
[360]       "I'm turned away."
[361]       
[362]       "What?"
[363]       
[364]       "Mr. Troutham have turned me away because I let the rooks have a few
[365]       peckings of corn. And there's my wages--the last I shall ever hae!"
[366]       
[367]       He threw the sixpence tragically on the table.
[368]       
[369]       "Ah!" said his aunt, suspending her breath. And she opened upon him
[370]       a lecture on how she would now have him all the spring upon her hands
[371]       doing nothing. "If you can't skeer birds, what can ye do? There!
[372]       don't ye look so deedy! Farmer Troutham is not so much better than
[373]       myself, come to that. But 'tis as Job said, 'Now they that are
[374]       younger than I have me in derision, whose fathers I would have
[375]       disdained to have set with the dogs of my flock.' His father was my
[376]       father's journeyman, anyhow, and I must have been a fool to let 'ee
[377]       go to work for 'n, which I shouldn't ha' done but to keep 'ee out of
[378]       mischty."
[379]       
[380]       More angry with Jude for demeaning her by coming there than for
[381]       dereliction of duty, she rated him primarily from that point of view,
[382]       and only secondarily from a moral one.
[383]       
[384]       "Not that you should have let the birds eat what Farmer Troutham
[385]       planted. Of course you was wrong in that. Jude, Jude, why didstn't
[386]       go off with that schoolmaster of thine to Christminster or somewhere?
[387]       But, oh no--poor or'nary child--there never was any sprawl on thy
[388]       side of the family, and never will be!"
[389]       
[390]       "Where is this beautiful city, Aunt--this place where Mr. Phillotson
[391]       is gone to?" asked the boy, after meditating in silence.
[392]       
[393]       "Lord! you ought to know where the city of Christminster is. Near a
[394]       score of miles from here. It is a place much too good for you ever
[395]       to have much to do with, poor boy, I'm a-thinking."
[396]       
[397]       "And will Mr. Phillotson always be there?"
[398]       
[399]       "How can I tell?"
[400]       
[401]       "Could I go to see him?"
[402]       
[403]       "Lord, no! You didn't grow up hereabout, or you wouldn't ask such as
[404]       that. We've never had anything to do with folk in Christminster, nor
[405]       folk in Christminster with we."
[406]       
[407]       Jude went out, and, feeling more than ever his existence to be an
[408]       undemanded one, he lay down upon his back on a heap of litter near
[409]       the pig-sty. The fog had by this time become more translucent, and
[410]       the position of the sun could be seen through it. He pulled his
[411]       straw hat over his face, and peered through the interstices of the
[412]       plaiting at the white brightness, vaguely reflecting. Growing up
[413]       brought responsibilities, he found. Events did not rhyme quite as
[414]       he had thought. Nature's logic was too horrid for him to care for.
[415]       That mercy towards one set of creatures was cruelty towards another
[416]       sickened his sense of harmony. As you got older, and felt yourself
[417]       to be at the centre of your time, and not at a point in its
[418]       circumference, as you had felt when you were little, you were seized
[419]       with a sort of shuddering, he perceived. All around you there seemed
[420]       to be something glaring, garish, rattling, and the noises and glares
[421]       hit upon the little cell called your life, and shook it, and warped
[422]       it.
[423]       
[424]       If he could only prevent himself growing up! He did not want to be a
[425]       man.
[426]       
[427]       Then, like the natural boy, he forgot his despondency, and sprang up.
[428]       During the remainder of the morning he helped his aunt, and in the
[429]       afternoon, when there was nothing more to be done, he went into the
[430]       village. Here he asked a man whereabouts Christminster lay.
[431]       
[432]       "Christminster? Oh, well, out by there yonder; though I've never bin
[433]       there--not I. I've never had any business at such a place."
[434]       
[435]       The man pointed north-eastward, in the very direction where lay that
[436]       field in which Jude had so disgraced himself. There was something
[437]       unpleasant about the coincidence for the moment, but the fearsomeness
[438]       of this fact rather increased his curiosity about the city. The
[439]       farmer had said he was never to be seen in that field again; yet
[440]       Christminster lay across it, and the path was a public one. So,
[441]       stealing out of the hamlet, he descended into the same hollow which
[442]       had witnessed his punishment in the morning, never swerving an inch
[443]       from the path, and climbing up the long and tedious ascent on the
[444]       other side till the track joined the highway by a little clump of
[445]       trees. Here the ploughed land ended, and all before him was bleak
[446]       open down.
[447]       
[448]       
[449]       
[450]       III
[451]       
[452]       
[453]       Not a soul was visible on the hedgeless highway, or on either side of
[454]       it, and the white road seemed to ascend and diminish till it joined
[455]       the sky. At the very top it was crossed at right angles by a green
[456]       "ridgeway"--the Ickneild Street and original Roman road through the
[457]       district. This ancient track ran east and west for many miles, and
[458]       down almost to within living memory had been used for driving flocks
[459]       and herds to fairs and markets. But it was now neglected and
[460]       overgrown.
[461]       
[462]       The boy had never before strayed so far north as this from the
[463]       nestling hamlet in which he had been deposited by the carrier from a
[464]       railway station southward, one dark evening some few months earlier,
[465]       and till now he had had no suspicion that such a wide, flat,
[466]       low-lying country lay so near at hand, under the very verge of his
[467]       upland world. The whole northern semicircle between east and west,
[468]       to a distance of forty or fifty miles, spread itself before him; a
[469]       bluer, moister atmosphere, evidently, than that he breathed up here.
[470]       
[471]       Not far from the road stood a weather-beaten old barn of reddish-grey
[472]       brick and tile. It was known as the Brown House by the people of the
[473]       locality. He was about to pass it when he perceived a ladder against
[474]       the eaves; and the reflection that the higher he got, the further he
[475]       could see, led Jude to stand and regard it. On the slope of the roof
[476]       two men were repairing the tiling. He turned into the ridgeway and
[477]       drew towards the barn.
[478]       
[479]       When he had wistfully watched the workmen for some time he took
[480]       courage, and ascended the ladder till he stood beside them.
[481]       
[482]       "Well, my lad, and what may you want up here?"
[483]       
[484]       "I wanted to know where the city of Christminster is, if you please."
[485]       
[486]       "Christminster is out across there, by that clump. You can see
[487]       it--at least you can on a clear day. Ah, no, you can't now."
[488]       
[489]       The other tiler, glad of any kind of diversion from the monotony of
[490]       his labour, had also turned to look towards the quarter designated.
[491]       "You can't often see it in weather like this," he said. "The time
[492]       I've noticed it is when the sun is going down in a blaze of flame,
[493]       and it looks like--I don't know what."
[494]       
[495]       "The heavenly Jerusalem," suggested the serious urchin.
[496]       
[497]       "Ay--though I should never ha' thought of it myself.... But I can't
[498]       see no Christminster to-day."
[499]       
[500]       The boy strained his eyes also; yet neither could he see the far-off
[501]       city. He descended from the barn, and abandoning Christminster with
[502]       the versatility of his age he walked along the ridge-track, looking
[503]       for any natural objects of interest that might lie in the banks
[504]       thereabout. When he repassed the barn to go back to Marygreen he
[505]       observed that the ladder was still in its place, but that the men had
[506]       finished their day's work and gone away.
[507]       
[508]       It was waning towards evening; there was still a faint mist, but it
[509]       had cleared a little except in the damper tracts of subjacent country
[510]       and along the river-courses. He thought again of Christminster, and
[511]       wished, since he had come two or three miles from his aunt's house
[512]       on purpose, that he could have seen for once this attractive city of
[513]       which he had been told. But even if he waited here it was hardly
[514]       likely that the air would clear before night. Yet he was loth to
[515]       leave the spot, for the northern expanse became lost to view on
[516]       retreating towards the village only a few hundred yards.
[517]       
[518]       He ascended the ladder to have one more look at the point the men
[519]       had designated, and perched himself on the highest rung, overlying
[520]       the tiles. He might not be able to come so far as this for many
[521]       days. Perhaps if he prayed, the wish to see Christminster might be
[522]       forwarded. People said that, if you prayed, things sometimes came to
[523]       you, even though they sometimes did not. He had read in a tract that
[524]       a man who had begun to build a church, and had no money to finish
[525]       it, knelt down and prayed, and the money came in by the next post.
[526]       Another man tried the same experiment, and the money did not come;
[527]       but he found afterwards that the breeches he knelt in were made by
[528]       a wicked Jew. This was not discouraging, and turning on the ladder
[529]       Jude knelt on the third rung, where, resting against those above it,
[530]       he prayed that the mist might rise.
[531]       
[532]       He then seated himself again, and waited. In the course of ten or
[533]       fifteen minutes the thinning mist dissolved altogether from the
[534]       northern horizon, as it had already done elsewhere, and about a
[535]       quarter of an hour before the time of sunset the westward clouds
[536]       parted, the sun's position being partially uncovered, and the beams
[537]       streaming out in visible lines between two bars of slaty cloud. The
[538]       boy immediately looked back in the old direction.
[539]       
[540]       Some way within the limits of the stretch of landscape, points of
[541]       light like the topaz gleamed. The air increased in transparency with
[542]       the lapse of minutes, till the topaz points showed themselves to be
[543]       the vanes, windows, wet roof slates, and other shining spots upon the
[544]       spires, domes, freestone-work, and varied outlines that were faintly
[545]       revealed. It was Christminster, unquestionably; either directly
[546]       seen, or miraged in the peculiar atmosphere.
[547]       
[548]       The spectator gazed on and on till the windows and vanes lost their
[549]       shine, going out almost suddenly like extinguished candles. The
[550]       vague city became veiled in mist. Turning to the west, he saw that
[551]       the sun had disappeared. The foreground of the scene had grown
[552]       funereally dark, and near objects put on the hues and shapes of
[553]       chimaeras.
[554]       
[555]       He anxiously descended the ladder, and started homewards at a run,
[556]       trying not to think of giants, Herne the Hunter, Apollyon lying in
[557]       wait for Christian, or of the captain with the bleeding hole in his
[558]       forehead and the corpses round him that remutinied every night on
[559]       board the bewitched ship. He knew that he had grown out of belief in
[560]       these horrors, yet he was glad when he saw the church tower and the
[561]       lights in the cottage windows, even though this was not the home of
[562]       his birth, and his great-aunt did not care much about him.
[563]       
[564]       
[565]       
[566]       Inside and round about that old woman's "shop" window, with its
[567]       twenty-four little panes set in lead-work, the glass of some of
[568]       them oxidized with age, so that you could hardly see the poor penny
[569]       articles exhibited within, and forming part of a stock which a strong
[570]       man could have carried, Jude had his outer being for some long
[571]       tideless time. But his dreams were as gigantic as his surroundings
[572]       were small.
[573]       
[574]       Through the solid barrier of cold cretaceous upland to the northward
[575]       he was always beholding a gorgeous city--the fancied place he had
[576]       likened to the new Jerusalem, though there was perhaps more of the
[577]       painter's imagination and less of the diamond merchant's in his
[578]       dreams thereof than in those of the Apocalyptic writer. And the city
[579]       acquired a tangibility, a permanence, a hold on his life, mainly from
[580]       the one nucleus of fact that the man for whose knowledge and purposes
[581]       he had so much reverence was actually living there; not only so, but
[582]       living among the more thoughtful and mentally shining ones therein.
[583]       
[584]       In sad wet seasons, though he knew it must rain at Christminster too,
[585]       he could hardly believe that it rained so drearily there. Whenever
[586]       he could get away from the confines of the hamlet for an hour or two,
[587]       which was not often, he would steal off to the Brown House on the
[588]       hill and strain his eyes persistently; sometimes to be rewarded by
[589]       the sight of a dome or spire, at other times by a little smoke, which
[590]       in his estimate had some of the mysticism of incense.
[591]       
[592]       Then the day came when it suddenly occurred to him that if he
[593]       ascended to the point of view after dark, or possibly went a mile or
[594]       two further, he would see the night lights of the city. It would be
[595]       necessary to come back alone, but even that consideration did not
[596]       deter him, for he could throw a little manliness into his mood, no
[597]       doubt.
[598]       
[599]       The project was duly executed. It was not late when he arrived at
[600]       the place of outlook, only just after dusk, but a black north-east
[601]       sky, accompanied by a wind from the same quarter, made the occasion
[602]       dark enough. He was rewarded; but what he saw was not the lamps in
[603]       rows, as he had half expected. No individual light was visible, only
[604]       a halo or glow-fog over-arching the place against the black heavens
[605]       behind it, making the light and the city seem distant but a mile or
[606]       so.
[607]       
[608]       He set himself to wonder on the exact point in the glow where the
[609]       schoolmaster might be--he who never communicated with anybody at
[610]       Marygreen now; who was as if dead to them here. In the glow he
[611]       seemed to see Phillotson promenading at ease, like one of the forms
[612]       in Nebuchadnezzar's furnace.
[613]       
[614]       He had heard that breezes travelled at the rate of ten miles an hour,
[615]       and the fact now came into his mind. He parted his lips as he faced
[616]       the north-east, and drew in the wind as if it were a sweet liquor.
[617]       
[618]       "You," he said, addressing the breeze caressingly "were in
[619]       Christminster city between one and two hours ago, floating along the
[620]       streets, pulling round the weather-cocks, touching Mr. Phillotson's
[621]       face, being breathed by him; and now you are here, breathed by
[622]       me--you, the very same."
[623]       
[624]       Suddenly there came along this wind something towards him--a message
[625]       from the place--from some soul residing there, it seemed. Surely it
[626]       was the sound of bells, the voice of the city, faint and musical,
[627]       calling to him, "We are happy here!"
[628]       
[629]       He had become entirely lost to his bodily situation during this
[630]       mental leap, and only got back to it by a rough recalling. A few
[631]       yards below the brow of the hill on which he paused a team of horses
[632]       made its appearance, having reached the place by dint of half an
[633]       hour's serpentine progress from the bottom of the immense declivity.
[634]       They had a load of coals behind them--a fuel that could only be got
[635]       into the upland by this particular route. They were accompanied by a
[636]       carter, a second man, and a boy, who now kicked a large stone behind
[637]       one of the wheels, and allowed the panting animals to have a long
[638]       rest, while those in charge took a flagon off the load and indulged
[639]       in a drink round.
[640]       
[641]       They were elderly men, and had genial voices. Jude addressed them,
[642]       inquiring if they had come from Christminster.
[643]       
[644]       "Heaven forbid, with this load!" said they.
[645]       
[646]       "The place I mean is that one yonder." He was getting so
[647]       romantically attached to Christminster that, like a young lover
[648]       alluding to his mistress, he felt bashful at mentioning its name
[649]       again. He pointed to the light in the sky--hardly perceptible to
[650]       their older eyes.
[651]       
[652]       "Yes. There do seem a spot a bit brighter in the nor'-east than
[653]       elsewhere, though I shouldn't ha' noticed it myself, and no doubt it
[654]       med be Christminster."
[655]       
[656]       Here a little book of tales which Jude had tucked up under his arm,
[657]       having brought them to read on his way hither before it grew dark,
[658]       slipped and fell into the road. The carter eyed him while he picked
[659]       it up and straightened the leaves.
[660]       
[661]       "Ah, young man," he observed, "you'd have to get your head screwed on
[662]       t'other way before you could read what they read there."
[663]       
[664]       "Why?" asked the boy.
[665]       
[666]       "Oh, they never look at anything that folks like we can understand,"
[667]       the carter continued, by way of passing the time. "On'y foreign
[668]       tongues used in the days of the Tower of Babel, when no two families
[669]       spoke alike. They read that sort of thing as fast as a night-hawk
[670]       will whir. 'Tis all learning there--nothing but learning, except
[671]       religion. And that's learning too, for I never could understand it.
[672]       Yes, 'tis a serious-minded place. Not but there's wenches in the
[673]       streets o' nights... You know, I suppose, that they raise pa'sons
[674]       there like radishes in a bed? And though it do take--how many years,
[675]       Bob?--five years to turn a lirruping hobble-de-hoy chap into a solemn
[676]       preaching man with no corrupt passions, they'll do it, if it can be
[677]       done, and polish un off like the workmen they be, and turn un out wi'
[678]       a long face, and a long black coat and waistcoat, and a religious
[679]       collar and hat, same as they used to wear in the Scriptures, so that
[680]       his own mother wouldn't know un sometimes.... There, 'tis their
[681]       business, like anybody else's."
[682]       
[683]       "But how should you know"
[684]       
[685]       "Now don't you interrupt, my boy. Never interrupt your senyers.
[686]       Move the fore hoss aside, Bobby; here's som'at coming... You must
[687]       mind that I be a-talking of the college life. 'Em lives on a lofty
[688]       level; there's no gainsaying it, though I myself med not think much
[689]       of 'em. As we be here in our bodies on this high ground, so be they
[690]       in their minds--noble-minded men enough, no doubt--some on 'em--able
[691]       to earn hundreds by thinking out loud. And some on 'em be strong
[692]       young fellows that can earn a'most as much in silver cups. As for
[693]       music, there's beautiful music everywhere in Christminster. You med
[694]       be religious, or you med not, but you can't help striking in your
[695]       homely note with the rest. And there's a street in the place--the
[696]       main street--that ha'n't another like it in the world. I should
[697]       think I did know a little about Christminster!"
[698]       
[699]       By this time the horses had recovered breath and bent to their
[700]       collars again. Jude, throwing a last adoring look at the distant
[701]       halo, turned and walked beside his remarkably well-informed friend,
[702]       who had no objection to telling him as they moved on more yet of
[703]       the city--its towers and halls and churches. The waggon turned
[704]       into a cross-road, whereupon Jude thanked the carter warmly for his
[705]       information, and said he only wished he could talk half as well about
[706]       Christminster as he.
[707]       
[708]       "Well, 'tis oonly what has come in my way," said the carter
[709]       unboastfully. "I've never been there, no more than you; but I've
[710]       picked up the knowledge here and there, and you be welcome to it.
[711]       A-getting about the world as I do, and mixing with all classes of
[712]       society, one can't help hearing of things. A friend o' mine, that
[713]       used to clane the boots at the Crozier Hotel in Christminster when he
[714]       was in his prime, why, I knowed un as well as my own brother in his
[715]       later years."
[716]       
[717]       Jude continued his walk homeward alone, pondering so deeply that
[718]       he forgot to feel timid. He suddenly grew older. It had been the
[719]       yearning of his heart to find something to anchor on, to cling
[720]       to--for some place which he could call admirable. Should he find
[721]       that place in this city if he could get there? Would it be a spot in
[722]       which, without fear of farmers, or hindrance, or ridicule, he could
[723]       watch and wait, and set himself to some mighty undertaking like the
[724]       men of old of whom he had heard? As the halo had been to his eyes
[725]       when gazing at it a quarter of an hour earlier, so was the spot
[726]       mentally to him as he pursued his dark way.
[727]       
[728]       "It is a city of light," he said to himself.
[729]       
[730]       "The tree of knowledge grows there," he added a few steps further on.
[731]       
[732]       "It is a place that teachers of men spring from and go to."
[733]       
[734]       "It is what you may call a castle, manned by scholarship and
[735]       religion."
[736]       
[737]       After this figure he was silent a long while, till he added:
[738]       
[739]       "It would just suit me."
[740]       
[741]       
[742]       
[743]       IV
[744]       
[745]       
[746]       Walking somewhat slowly by reason of his concentration, the boy--an
[747]       ancient man in some phases of thought, much younger than his years
[748]       in others--was overtaken by a light-footed pedestrian, whom,
[749]       notwithstanding the gloom, he could perceive to be wearing an
[750]       extraordinarily tall hat, a swallow-tailed coat, and a watch-chain
[751]       that danced madly and threw around scintillations of sky-light as
[752]       its owner swung along upon a pair of thin legs and noiseless boots.
[753]       Jude, beginning to feel lonely, endeavoured to keep up with him.
[754]       
[755]       "Well, my man! I'm in a hurry, so you'll have to walk pretty fast
[756]       if you keep alongside of me. Do you know who I am?"
[757]       
[758]       "Yes, I think. Physician Vilbert?"
[759]       
[760]       "Ah--I'm known everywhere, I see! That comes of being a public
[761]       benefactor."
[762]       
[763]       Vilbert was an itinerant quack-doctor, well known to the rustic
[764]       population, and absolutely unknown to anybody else, as he, indeed,
[765]       took care to be, to avoid inconvenient investigations. Cottagers
[766]       formed his only patients, and his Wessex-wide repute was among them
[767]       alone. His position was humbler and his field more obscure than
[768]       those of the quacks with capital and an organized system of
[769]       advertising. He was, in fact, a survival. The distances he
[770]       traversed on foot were enormous, and extended nearly the whole length
[771]       and breadth of Wessex. Jude had one day seen him selling a pot of
[772]       coloured lard to an old woman as a certain cure for a bad leg, the
[773]       woman arranging to pay a guinea, in instalments of a shilling a
[774]       fortnight, for the precious salve, which, according to the physician,
[775]       could only be obtained from a particular animal which grazed on
[776]       Mount Sinai, and was to be captured only at great risk to life and
[777]       limb. Jude, though he already had his doubts about this gentleman's
[778]       medicines, felt him to be unquestionably a travelled personage, and
[779]       one who might be a trustworthy source of information on matters not
[780]       strictly professional.
[781]       
[782]       "I s'pose you've been to Christminster, Physician?"
[783]       
[784]       "I have--many times," replied the long thin man. "That's one of my
[785]       centres."
[786]       
[787]       "It's a wonderful city for scholarship and religion?"
[788]       
[789]       "You'd say so, my boy, if you'd seen it. Why, the very sons of the
[790]       old women who do the washing of the colleges can talk in Latin--not
[791]       good Latin, that I admit, as a critic: dog-Latin--cat-Latin, as we
[792]       used to call it in my undergraduate days."
[793]       
[794]       "And Greek?"
[795]       
[796]       "Well--that's more for the men who are in training for bishops, that
[797]       they may be able to read the New Testament in the original."
[798]       
[799]       "I want to learn Latin and Greek myself."
[800]       
[801]       "A lofty desire. You must get a grammar of each tongue."
[802]       
[803]       "I mean to go to Christminster some day."
[804]       
[805]       "Whenever you do, you say that Physician Vilbert is the only
[806]       proprietor of those celebrated pills that infallibly cure all
[807]       disorders of the alimentary system, as well as asthma and shortness
[808]       of breath. Two and threepence a box--specially licensed by the
[809]       government stamp."
[810]       
[811]       "Can you get me the grammars if I promise to say it hereabout?"
[812]       
[813]       "I'll sell you mine with pleasure--those I used as a student."
[814]       
[815]       "Oh, thank you, sir!" said Jude gratefully, but in gasps, for the
[816]       amazing speed of the physician's walk kept him in a dog-trot which
[817]       was giving him a stitch in the side.
[818]       
[819]       "I think you'd better drop behind, my young man. Now I'll tell you
[820]       what I'll do. I'll get you the grammars, and give you a first
[821]       lesson, if you'll remember, at every house in the village, to
[822]       recommend Physician Vilbert's golden ointment, life-drops, and female
[823]       pills."
[824]       
[825]       "Where will you be with the grammars?"
[826]       
[827]       "I shall be passing here this day fortnight at precisely this hour of
[828]       five-and-twenty minutes past seven. My movements are as truly timed
[829]       as those of the planets in their courses."
[830]       
[831]       "Here I'll be to meet you," said Jude.
[832]       
[833]       "With orders for my medicines?"
[834]       
[835]       "Yes, Physician."
[836]       
[837]       Jude then dropped behind, waited a few minutes to recover breath,
[838]       and went home with a consciousness of having struck a blow for
[839]       Christminster.
[840]       
[841]       Through the intervening fortnight he ran about and smiled outwardly
[842]       at his inward thoughts, as if they were people meeting and nodding to
[843]       him--smiled with that singularly beautiful irradiation which is seen
[844]       to spread on young faces at the inception of some glorious idea, as
[845]       if a supernatural lamp were held inside their transparent natures,
[846]       giving rise to the flattering fancy that heaven lies about them then.
[847]       
[848]       He honestly performed his promise to the man of many cures, in whom
[849]       he now sincerely believed, walking miles hither and thither among
[850]       the surrounding hamlets as the Physician's agent in advance. On the
[851]       evening appointed he stood motionless on the plateau, at the place
[852]       where he had parted from Vilbert, and there awaited his approach.
[853]       The road-physician was fairly up to time; but, to the surprise of
[854]       Jude on striking into his pace, which the pedestrian did not diminish
[855]       by a single unit of force, the latter seemed hardly to recognize his
[856]       young companion, though with the lapse of the fortnight the evenings
[857]       had grown light. Jude thought it might perhaps be owing to his
[858]       wearing another hat, and he saluted the physician with dignity.
[859]       
[860]       "Well, my boy?" said the latter abstractedly.
[861]       
[862]       "I've come," said Jude.
[863]       
[864]       "You? who are you? Oh yes--to be sure! Got any orders, lad?"
[865]       
[866]       "Yes." And Jude told him the names and addresses of the cottagers
[867]       who were willing to test the virtues of the world-renowned pills and
[868]       salve. The quack mentally registered these with great care.
[869]       
[870]       "And the Latin and Greek grammars?" Jude's voice trembled with
[871]       anxiety.
[872]       
[873]       "What about them?"
[874]       
[875]       "You were to bring me yours, that you used before you took your
[876]       degree."
[877]       
[878]       "Ah, yes, yes! Forgot all about it--all! So many lives depending on
[879]       my attention, you see, my man, that I can't give so much thought as I
[880]       would like to other things."
[881]       
[882]       Jude controlled himself sufficiently long to make sure of the truth;
[883]       and he repeated, in a voice of dry misery, "You haven't brought 'em!"
[884]       
[885]       "No. But you must get me some more orders from sick people, and I'll
[886]       bring the grammars next time."
[887]       
[888]       Jude dropped behind. He was an unsophisticated boy, but the gift of
[889]       sudden insight which is sometimes vouchsafed to children showed him
[890]       all at once what shoddy humanity the quack was made of. There was to
[891]       be no intellectual light from this source. The leaves dropped from
[892]       his imaginary crown of laurel; he turned to a gate, leant against it,
[893]       and cried bitterly.
[894]       
[895]       The disappointment was followed by an interval of blankness. He
[896]       might, perhaps, have obtained grammars from Alfredston, but to do
[897]       that required money, and a knowledge of what books to order; and
[898]       though physically comfortable, he was in such absolute dependence as
[899]       to be without a farthing of his own.
[900]       
[901]       At this date Mr. Phillotson sent for his pianoforte, and it gave Jude
[902]       a lead. Why should he not write to the schoolmaster, and ask him to
[903]       be so kind as to get him the grammars in Christminster? He might
[904]       slip a letter inside the case of the instrument, and it would be
[905]       sure to reach the desired eyes. Why not ask him to send any old
[906]       second-hand copies, which would have the charm of being mellowed by
[907]       the university atmosphere?
[908]       
[909]       To tell his aunt of his intention would be to defeat it. It was
[910]       necessary to act alone.
[911]       
[912]       After a further consideration of a few days he did act, and on the
[913]       day of the piano's departure, which happened to be his next birthday,
[914]       clandestinely placed the letter inside the packing-case, directed to
[915]       his much-admired friend, being afraid to reveal the operation to his
[916]       aunt Drusilla, lest she should discover his motive, and compel him to
[917]       abandon his scheme.
[918]       
[919]       The piano was despatched, and Jude waited days and weeks, calling
[920]       every morning at the cottage post office before his great-aunt was
[921]       stirring. At last a packet did indeed arrive at the village, and he
[922]       saw from the ends of it that it contained two thin books. He took it
[923]       away into a lonely place, and sat down on a felled elm to open it.
[924]       
[925]       Ever since his first ecstasy or vision of Christminster and its
[926]       possibilities, Jude had meditated much and curiously on the probable
[927]       sort of process that was involved in turning the expressions of one
[928]       language into those of another. He concluded that a grammar of the
[929]       required tongue would contain, primarily, a rule, prescription, or
[930]       clue of the nature of a secret cipher, which, once known, would
[931]       enable him, by merely applying it, to change at will all words of his
[932]       own speech into those of the foreign one. His childish idea was, in
[933]       fact, a pushing to the extremity of mathematical precision what is
[934]       everywhere known as Grimm's Law--an aggrandizement of rough rules to
[935]       ideal completeness. Thus he assumed that the words of the required
[936]       language were always to be found somewhere latent in the words of the
[937]       given language by those who had the art to uncover them, such art
[938]       being furnished by the books aforesaid.
[939]       
[940]       When, therefore, having noted that the packet bore the postmark of
[941]       Christminster, he cut the string, opened the volumes, and turned to
[942]       the Latin grammar, which chanced to come uppermost, he could scarcely
[943]       believe his eyes.
[944]       
[945]       The book was an old one--thirty years old, soiled, scribbled
[946]       wantonly over with a strange name in every variety of enmity to the
[947]       letterpress, and marked at random with dates twenty years earlier
[948]       than his own day. But this was not the cause of Jude's amazement.
[949]       He learnt for the first time that there was no law of transmutation,
[950]       as in his innocence he had supposed (there was, in some degree, but
[951]       the grammarian did not recognize it), but that every word in both
[952]       Latin and Greek was to be individually committed to memory at the
[953]       cost of years of plodding.
[954]       
[955]       Jude flung down the books, lay backward along the broad trunk of the
[956]       elm, and was an utterly miserable boy for the space of a quarter of
[957]       an hour. As he had often done before, he pulled his hat over his
[958]       face and watched the sun peering insidiously at him through the
[959]       interstices of the straw. This was Latin and Greek, then, was it
[960]       this grand delusion! The charm he had supposed in store for him was
[961]       really a labour like that of Israel in Egypt.
[962]       
[963]       What brains they must have in Christminster and the great schools, he
[964]       presently thought, to learn words one by one up to tens of thousands!
[965]       There were no brains in his head equal to this business; and as the
[966]       little sun-rays continued to stream in through his hat at him, he
[967]       wished he had never seen a book, that he might never see another,
[968]       that he had never been born.
[969]       
[970]       Somebody might have come along that way who would have asked him his
[971]       trouble, and might have cheered him by saying that his notions were
[972]       further advanced than those of his grammarian. But nobody did come,
[973]       because nobody does; and under the crushing recognition of his
[974]       gigantic error Jude continued to wish himself out of the world.
[975]       
[976]       
[977]       
[978]       V
[979]       
[980]       
[981]       During the three or four succeeding years a quaint and singular
[982]       vehicle might have been discerned moving along the lanes and by-roads
[983]       near Marygreen, driven in a quaint and singular way.
[984]       
[985]       In the course of a month or two after the receipt of the books
[986]       Jude had grown callous to the shabby trick played him by the dead
[987]       languages. In fact, his disappointment at the nature of those
[988]       tongues had, after a while, been the means of still further
[989]       glorifying the erudition of Christminster. To acquire languages,
[990]       departed or living in spite of such obstinacies as he now knew them
[991]       inherently to possess, was a herculean performance which gradually
[992]       led him on to a greater interest in it than in the presupposed patent
[993]       process. The mountain-weight of material under which the ideas lay
[994]       in those dusty volumes called the classics piqued him into a dogged,
[995]       mouselike subtlety of attempt to move it piecemeal.
[996]       
[997]       He had endeavoured to make his presence tolerable to his crusty
[998]       maiden aunt by assisting her to the best of his ability, and the
[999]       business of the little cottage bakery had grown in consequence. An
[1000]      aged horse with a hanging head had been purchased for eight pounds at
[1001]      a sale, a creaking cart with a whity-brown tilt obtained for a few
[1002]      pounds more, and in this turn-out it became Jude's business thrice a
[1003]      week to carry loaves of bread to the villagers and solitary cotters
[1004]      immediately round Marygreen.
[1005]      
[1006]      The singularity aforesaid lay, after all, less in the conveyance
[1007]      itself than in Jude's manner of conducting it along its route.
[1008]      Its interior was the scene of most of Jude's education by "private
[1009]      study." As soon as the horse had learnt the road and the houses
[1010]      at which he was to pause awhile, the boy, seated in front, would
[1011]      slip the reins over his arm, ingeniously fix open, by means of a
[1012]      strap attached to the tilt, the volume he was reading, spread the
[1013]      dictionary on his knees, and plunge into the simpler passages from
[1014]      Caesar, Virgil, or Horace, as the case might be, in his purblind
[1015]      stumbling way, and with an expenditure of labour that would have made
[1016]      a tender-hearted pedagogue shed tears; yet somehow getting at the
[1017]      meaning of what he read, and divining rather than beholding the
[1018]      spirit of the original, which often to his mind was something else
[1019]      than that which he was taught to look for.
[1020]      
[1021]      The only copies he had been able to lay hands on were old Delphin
[1022]      editions, because they were superseded, and therefore cheap. But,
[1023]      bad for idle schoolboys, it did so happen that they were passably
[1024]      good for him. The hampered and lonely itinerant conscientiously
[1025]      covered up the marginal readings, and used them merely on points of
[1026]      construction, as he would have used a comrade or tutor who should
[1027]      have happened to be passing by. And though Jude may have had little
[1028]      chance of becoming a scholar by these rough and ready means, he was
[1029]      in the way of getting into the groove he wished to follow.
[1030]      
[1031]      While he was busied with these ancient pages, which had already been
[1032]      thumbed by hands possibly in the grave, digging out the thoughts
[1033]      of these minds so remote yet so near, the bony old horse pursued
[1034]      his rounds, and Jude would be aroused from the woes of Dido by the
[1035]      stoppage of his cart and the voice of some old woman crying, "Two
[1036]      to-day, baker, and I return this stale one."
[1037]      
[1038]      He was frequently met in the lanes by pedestrians and others without
[1039]      his seeing them, and by degrees the people of the neighbourhood
[1040]      began to talk about his method of combining work and play (such they
[1041]      considered his reading to be), which, though probably convenient
[1042]      enough to himself, was not altogether a safe proceeding for other
[1043]      travellers along the same roads. There were murmurs. Then a private
[1044]      resident of an adjoining place informed the local policeman that the
[1045]      baker's boy should not be allowed to read while driving, and insisted
[1046]      that it was the constable's duty to catch him in the act, and
[1047]      take him to the police court at Alfredston, and get him fined for
[1048]      dangerous practices on the highway. The policeman thereupon lay in
[1049]      wait for Jude, and one day accosted him and cautioned him.
[1050]      
[1051]      As Jude had to get up at three o'clock in the morning to heat the
[1052]      oven, and mix and set in the bread that he distributed later in the
[1053]      day, he was obliged to go to bed at night immediately after laying
[1054]      the sponge; so that if he could not read his classics on the highways
[1055]      he could hardly study at all. The only thing to be done was,
[1056]      therefore, to keep a sharp eye ahead and around him as well as he
[1057]      could in the circumstances, and slip away his books as soon as
[1058]      anybody loomed in the distance, the policeman in particular. To do
[1059]      that official justice, he did not put himself much in the way of
[1060]      Jude's bread-cart, considering that in such a lonely district the
[1061]      chief danger was to Jude himself, and often on seeing the white tilt
[1062]      over the hedges he would move in another direction.
[1063]      
[1064]      On a day when Fawley was getting quite advanced, being now about
[1065]      sixteen, and had been stumbling through the "Carmen Sculare," on
[1066]      his way home, he found himself to be passing over the high edge of
[1067]      the plateau by the Brown House. The light had changed, and it was
[1068]      the sense of this which had caused him to look up. The sun was going
[1069]      down, and the full moon was rising simultaneously behind the woods in
[1070]      the opposite quarter. His mind had become so impregnated with the
[1071]      poem that, in a moment of the same impulsive emotion which years
[1072]      before had caused him to kneel on the ladder, he stopped the horse,
[1073]      alighted, and glancing round to see that nobody was in sight, knelt
[1074]      down on the roadside bank with open book. He turned first to the
[1075]      shiny goddess, who seemed to look so softly and critically at his
[1076]      doings, then to the disappearing luminary on the other hand, as he
[1077]      began:
[1078]      
[1079]      
[1080]      "Phoebe silvarumque potens Diana!"
[1081]      
[1082]      
[1083]      The horse stood still till he had finished the hymn, which Jude
[1084]      repeated under the sway of a polytheistic fancy that he would never
[1085]      have thought of humouring in broad daylight.
[1086]      
[1087]      Reaching home, he mused over his curious superstition, innate or
[1088]      acquired, in doing this, and the strange forgetfulness which had led
[1089]      to such a lapse from common sense and custom in one who wished, next
[1090]      to being a scholar, to be a Christian divine. It had all come of
[1091]      reading heathen works exclusively. The more he thought of it the
[1092]      more convinced he was of his inconsistency. He began to wonder
[1093]      whether he could be reading quite the right books for his object
[1094]      in life. Certainly there seemed little harmony between this pagan
[1095]      literature and the medival colleges at Christminster, that
[1096]      ecclesiastical romance in stone.
[1097]      
[1098]      Ultimately he decided that in his sheer love of reading he had taken
[1099]      up a wrong emotion for a Christian young man. He had dabbled in
[1100]      Clarke's Homer, but had never yet worked much at the New Testament
[1101]      in the Greek, though he possessed a copy, obtained by post from a
[1102]      second-hand bookseller. He abandoned the now familiar Ionic for a
[1103]      new dialect, and for a long time onward limited his reading almost
[1104]      entirely to the Gospels and Epistles in Griesbach's text. Moreover,
[1105]      on going into Alfredston one day, he was introduced to patristic
[1106]      literature by finding at the bookseller's some volumes of the
[1107]      Fathers which had been left behind by an insolvent clergyman of the
[1108]      neighbourhood.
[1109]      
[1110]      As another outcome of this change of groove he visited on Sundays all
[1111]      the churches within a walk, and deciphered the Latin inscriptions on
[1112]      fifteenth-century brasses and tombs. On one of these pilgrimages he
[1113]      met with a hunch-backed old woman of great intelligence, who read
[1114]      everything she could lay her hands on, and she told him more yet
[1115]      of the romantic charms of the city of light and lore. Thither he
[1116]      resolved as firmly as ever to go.
[1117]      
[1118]      But how live in that city? At present he had no income at all. He
[1119]      had no trade or calling of any dignity or stability whatever on which
[1120]      he could subsist while carrying out an intellectual labour which
[1121]      might spread over many years.
[1122]      
[1123]      What was most required by citizens? Food, clothing, and shelter.
[1124]      An income from any work in preparing the first would be too meagre;
[1125]      for making the second he felt a distaste; the preparation of the
[1126]      third requisite he inclined to. They built in a city; therefore he
[1127]      would learn to build. He thought of his unknown uncle, his cousin
[1128]      Susanna's father, an ecclesiastical worker in metal, and somehow
[1129]      medival art in any material was a trade for which he had rather a
[1130]      fancy. He could not go far wrong in following his uncle's footsteps,
[1131]      and engaging himself awhile with the carcases that contained the
[1132]      scholar souls.
[1133]      
[1134]      As a preliminary he obtained some small blocks of freestone, metal
[1135]      not being available, and suspending his studies awhile, occupied his
[1136]      spare half-hours in copying the heads and capitals in his parish
[1137]      church.
[1138]      
[1139]      There was a stone-mason of a humble kind in Alfredston, and as
[1140]      soon as he had found a substitute for himself in his aunt's little
[1141]      business, he offered his services to this man for a trifling