Jude the Obscure
PART II: Chapter 3
BUT under the various deterrent influences Jude's instinct was to approach her
timidly, and the next Sunday he went to the morning service in the Cathedral
church of Cardinal College to gain a further view of her, for he had found that she
frequently attended there.
She did not come, and he awaited her in the afternoon, which was finer. He knew
that if she came at all she would approach the building along the eastern side of
the great green quadrangle from which it was accessible, and he stood in a
corner while the bell was going. A few minutes before the hour for service she
appeared as one of the figures walking along under the college walls, and at
sight of her he advanced up the side opposite, and followed her into the building,
more than ever glad that he had not as yet revealed himself. To see her, and to
be himself unseen and unknown, was enough for him at present.
He lingered awhile in the vestibule, and the service was some way advanced
when he was put into a seat. It was a louring, mournful, still afternoon, when a
religion of some sort seems a necessity to ordinary practical men, and not only a
luxury of the emotional and leisured classes. In the dim light and the baffling
glare of the clerestory windows he could discern the opposite worshippers
indistinctly only, but he saw that Sue was among them. He had not long
discovered the exact seat that she occupied when the chanting of the 119th
Psalm in which the choir was engaged reached its second part, IN QUO
CORRIGET, the organ changing to a pathetic Gregorian tune as the singers
Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?
It was the very question that was engaging Jude's attention at this moment. What
a wicked worthless fellow he had been to give vent as he had done to an animal
passion for a woman, and allow it to lead to such disastrous consequences; then
to think of putting an end to himself; then to go recklessly and get drunk. The
great waves of pedal music tumbled round the choir, and, nursed on the
supernatural as he had been, it is not wonderful that he could hardly believe that
the psalm was not specially set by some regardful Providence for this moment of
his first entry into the solemn building. And yet it was the ordinary psalm for the
twenty-fourth evening of the month.
The girl for whom he was beginning to nourish an extraordinary tenderness was
at this time ensphered by the same harmonies as those which floated into his
ears; and the thought was a delight to him. She was probably a frequenter of this
place, and, steeped body and soul in church sentiment as she must be by
occupation and habit, had, no doubt, much in common with him. To an
impressionable and lonely young man the consciousness of having at last found
anchorage for his thoughts, which promised to supply both social and spiritual
possibilities, was like the dew of Hermon, and he remained throughout the
service in a sustaining atmosphere of ecstasy.
Though he was loth to suspect it, some people might have said to him that the
atmosphere blew as distinctly from Cyprus as from Galilee.