Jude the Obscure HTML version

PART II: Chapter 4
HE was a handy man at his trade, an all-round man, as artizans in country-towns
are apt to be. In London the man who carves the boss or knob of leafage
declines to cut the fragment of moulding which merges in that leafage, as if it
were a degradation to do the second half of one whole. When there was not
much Gothic moulding for Jude to run, or much window-tracery on the bankers,
he would go out lettering monuments or tombstones, and take a pleasure in the
change of handiwork.
The next time that he saw her was when he was on a ladder executing a job of
this sort inside one of the churches. There was a short morning service, and
when the parson entered Jude came down from his ladder, and sat with the half-
dozen people forming the congregation, till the prayer should be ended, and he
could resume his tapping. He did not observe till the service was half over that
one of the women was Sue, who had perforce accompanied the elderly Miss
Fontover thither.
Jude sat watching her pretty shoulders, her easy, curiously nonchalant risings
and sittings, and her perfunctory genuflexions, and thought what a help such an
Anglican would have been to him in happier circumstances. It was not so much
his anxiety to get on with his work that made him go up to it immediately the
worshipers began to take their leave: it was that he dared not, in this holy spot,
confront the woman who was beginning to influence him in such an indescribable
manner. Those three enormous reasons why he must not attempt intimate
acquaintance with Sue Bridehead, now that his interest in her had shown itself to
be unmistakably of a sexual kind, loomed as stubbornly as ever. But it was also
obvious that man could not live by work alone; that the particular man Jude, at
any rate, wanted something to love. Some men would have rushed incontinently
to her, snatched the pleasure of easy friendship which she could hardly refuse,
and have left the rest to chance. Not so Jude--at first.
But as the days, and still more particularly the lonely evenings, dragged along, he
found himself, to his moral consternation, to be thinking more of her instead of
thinking less of her, and experiencing a fearful bliss in doing what was erratic,
informal, and unexpected. Surrounded by her influence all day, walking past the
spots she frequented, he was always thinking of her, and was obliged to own to
himself that his conscience was likely to be the loser in this battle.
To be sure she was almost an ideality to him still. Perhaps to know her would be
to cure himself of this unexpected and unauthorized passion. A voice whispered
that, though he desired to know her, he did not desire to be cured.
There was not the least doubt that from his own orthodox point of view the
situation was growing immoral. For Sue to be the loved one of a man who was
licensed by the laws of his country to love Arabella and none other unto his life's
end, was a pretty bad second beginning when the man was bent on such a
course as Jude purposed. This conviction was so real with him that one day
when, as was frequent, he was at work in a neighbouring village church alone, he
felt it to be his duty to pray against his weakness. But much as he wished to be