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Jude the Obscure

PART II: Chapter 7
THE stroke of scorn relieved his mind, and the next morning he laughed at his
self-conceit. But the laugh was not a healthy one. He re-read the letter from the
master, and the wisdom in its lines, which had at first exasperated him, chilled
and depressed him now. He saw himself as a fool indeed.
Deprived of the objects of both intellect and emotion, he could not proceed to his
work. Whenever he felt reconciled to his fate as a student, there came to disturb
his calm his hopeless relations with Sue. That the one affined soul he had ever
met was lost to him through his marriage returned upon him with cruel
persistency, till, unable to bear it longer, he again rushed for distraction to the
real Christminster life. He now sought it out in an obscure and low-ceiled tavern
up a court which was well known to certain worthies of the place, and in brighter
times would have interested him simply by its quaintness. Here he sat more or
less all the day, convinced that he was at bottom a vicious character, of whom it
was hopeless to expect anything.
In the evening the frequenters of the house dropped in one by one, Jude still
retaining his seat in the corner, though his money was all spent, and he had not
eaten anything the whole day except a biscuit. He surveyed his gathering
companions with all the equanimity and philosophy of a man who has been
drinking long and slowly, and made friends with several: to wit, Tinker Taylor, a
decayed church-ironmonger who appeared to have been of a religious turn in
earlier years, but was somewhat blasphemous now; also a red-nosed auctioneer;
also two Gothic masons like himself, called Uncle Jim and Uncle Joe. There were
present, too, some clerks, and a gown- and surplice-maker's assistant; two ladies
who sported moral characters of various depths of shade, according to their
company, nicknamed "Bower o' Bliss" and "Freckles"; some horsey men "in the
know" of betting circles; a travelling actor from the theatre, and two devil-may-
care young men who proved to be gownless undergraduates; they had slipped in
by stealth to meet a man about bull-pups, and stayed to drink and smoke short
pipes with the racing gents aforesaid, looking at their watches every now and
then.
The conversation waxed general. Christminster society was criticized, the dons,
magistrates, and other people in authority being sincerely pitied for their
shortcomings, while opinions on how they ought to conduct themselves and their
affairs to be properly respected, were exchanged in a large-minded and
disinterested manner.
Jude Fawley, with the self-conceit, effrontery, and APLOMB of a strong-brained
fellow in liquor, threw in his remarks somewhat peremptorily; and his aims having
been what they were for so many years, everything the others said turned upon
his tongue, by a sort of mechanical craze, to the subject of scholarship and
study, the extent of his own learning being dwelt upon with an insistence that
would have appeared pitiable to himself in his sane hours.
"I don't care a damn," he was saying, "for any provost, warden, principal, fellow,
or cursed master of arts in the university! What I know is that I'd lick 'em on their
 
 
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