Jude the Obscure HTML version

PART III: Chapter 6
MEANWHILE a middle-aged man was dreaming a dream of great beauty
concerning the writer of the above letter. He was Richard Phillotson, who had
recently removed from the mixed village school at Lumsdon near Christminster,
to undertake a large boys' school in his native town of Shaston, which stood on a
hill sixty miles to the south-west as the crow flies.
A glance at the place and its accessories was almost enough to reveal that the
schoolmaster's plans and dreams so long indulged in had been abandoned for
some new dream with which neither the Church nor literature had much in
common. Essentially an unpractical man, he was now bent on making and saving
money for a practical purpose--that of keeping a wife, who, if she chose, might
conduct one of the girls' schools adjoining his own; for which purpose he had
advised her to go into training, since she would not marry him offhand.
About the time that Jude was removing from Marygreen to Melchester, and
entering on adventures at the latter place with Sue, the schoolmaster was settling
down in the new school-house at Shaston. All the furniture being fixed, the books
shelved, and the nails driven, he had begun to sit in his parlour during the dark
winter nights and re-attempt some of his old studies-- one branch of which had
included Roman-Britannic antiquities-- an unremunerative labour for a national
school-master but a subject, that, after his abandonment of the university
scheme, had interested him as being a comparatively unworked mine;
practicable to those who, like himself, had lived in lonely spots where these
remains were abundant, and were seen to compel inferences in startling contrast
to accepted views on the civilization of that time.
A resumption of this investigation was the outward and apparent hobby of
Phillotson at present--his ostensible reason for going alone into fields where
causeways, dykes, and tumuli abounded, or shutting himself up in his house with
a few urns, tiles, and mosaics he had collected, instead of calling round upon his
new neighbours, who for their part had showed themselves willing enough to be
friendly with him. But it was not the real, or the whole, reason, after all. Thus on a
particular evening in the month, when it had grown quite late-- to near midnight,
indeed--and the light of his lamp, shining from his window at a salient angle of
the hill-top town over infinite miles of valley westward, announced as by words a
place and person given over to study, he was not exactly studying.
The interior of the room--the books, the furniture, the schoolmaster's loose coat,
his attitude at the table, even the flickering of the fire, bespoke the same dignified
tale of undistracted research--more than creditable to a man who had had no
advantages beyond those of his own making. And yet the tale, true enough till
latterly, was not true now. What he was regarding was not history. They were
historic notes, written in a bold womanly hand at his dictation some months
before, and it was the clerical rendering of word after word that absorbed him.
He presently took from a drawer a carefully tied bundle of letters, few, very few,
as correspondence counts nowadays. Each was in its envelope just as it had
arrived, and the handwriting was of the same womanly character as the historic