Jude the Obscure HTML version
PART II: Chapter 5
THE schoolmaster sat in his homely dwelling attached to the school, both being
modern erections; and he looked across the way at the old house in which his
teacher Sue had a lodging. The arrangement had been concluded very quickly. A
pupil-teacher who was to have been transferred to Mr. Phillotson's school had
failed him, and Sue had been taken as stop-gap. All such provisional
arrangements as these could only last till the next annual visit of H.M. Inspector,
whose approval was necessary to make them permanent. Having taught for
some two years in London, though she had abandoned that vocation of late, Miss
Bridehead was not exactly a novice, and Phillotson thought there would be no
difficulty in retaining her services, which he already wished to do, though she had
only been with him three or four weeks. He had found her quite as bright as Jude
had described her; and what master-tradesman does not wish to keep an
apprentice who saves him half his labour?
It was a little over half-past eight o'clock in the morning and he was waiting to see
her cross the road to the school, when he would follow. At twenty minutes to nine
she did cross, a light hat tossed on her head; and he watched her as a curiosity.
A new emanation, which had nothing to do with her skill as a teacher, seemed to
surround her this morning. He went to the school also, and Sue remained
governing her class at the other end of the room, all day under his eye. She
certainly was an excellent teacher.
It was part of his duty to give her private lessons in the evening, and some article
in the Code made it necessary that a respectable, elderly woman should be
present at these lessons when the teacher and the taught were of different
sexes. Richard Phillotson thought of the absurdity of the regulation in this case,
when he was old enough to be the girl's father; but he faithfully acted up to it; and
sat down with her in a room where Mrs. Hawes, the widow at whose house Sue
lodged, occupied herself with sewing. The regulation was, indeed, not easy to
evade, for there was no other sitting-room in the dwelling.
Sometimes as she figured--it was arithmetic that they were working at-- she
would involuntarily glance up with a little inquiring smile at him, as if she
assumed that, being the master, he must perceive all that was passing in her
brain, as right or wrong. Phillotson was not really thinking of the arithmetic at all,
but of her, in a novel way which somehow seemed strange to him as preceptor.
Perhaps she knew that he was thinking of her thus.
For a few weeks their work had gone on with a monotony which in itself was a
delight to him. Then it happened that the children were to be taken to
Christminster to see an itinerant exhibition, in the shape of a model of Jerusalem,
to which schools were admitted at a penny a head in the interests of education.
They marched along the road two and two, she beside her class with her simple
cotton sunshade, her little thumb cocked up against its stem; and Phillotson
behind in his long dangling coat, handling his walking-stick genteelly, in the
musing mood which had come over him since her arrival. The afternoon was one
of sun and dust, and when they entered the exhibition room few people were