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Part 2 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 present but themselves. The model of the ancient city stood in the middle of the apartment, and the proprietor, with a fine religious philanthropy written on his features, walked round it with a pointer in his hand, showing the young people the various quarters and places known to them by name from reading their Bibles, Mount Moriah, the Valley of Jehoshaphat, the City of Zion, the walls and the gates, outside one of which there was a large mound like a tumulus, and on the mound a little white cross. The spot, he said, was Calvary.

"I think," said Sue to the schoolmaster, as she stood with him a little in the background, "that this model, elaborate as it is, is a very imaginary production. How does anybody know that Jerusalem was like this in the time of Christ? I am sure this man doesn't."

"It is made after the best conjectural maps, based on actual visits to the city as it now exists."

"I fancy we have had enough of Jerusalem," she said, "considering we are not descended from the Jews. There was nothing first-rate about the place, or people, after all--as there was about Athens, Rome, Alexandria, and other old cities."

"But my dear girl, consider what it is to us!"

She was silent, for she was easily repressed; and then perceived behind the group of children clustered round the model a young man in a white flannel jacket, his form being bent so low in his intent inspection of the Valley of Jehoshaphat that his face was almost hidden from view by the Mount of Olives. "Look at your cousin Jude," continued the schoolmaster. "He doesn't think we have had enough of Jerusalem!"

"Ah--I didn't see him!" she cried in her quick, light voice. "Jude--how seriously you are going into it!"

Jude started up from his reverie, and saw her. "Oh--Sue!" he said, with a glad flush of embarrassment. "These are your school-children, of course! I saw that schools were admitted in the afternoons, and thought you might come; but I got so deeply interested that I didn't remember where I was. How it carries one back, doesn't it! I could examine it for hours, but I have only a few minutes, unfortunately; for I am in the middle of a job out here."

"Your cousin is so terribly clever that she criticizes it unmercifully," said Phillotson, with good-humoured satire. "She is quite sceptical as to its correctness."

"No, Mr. Phillotson, I am not--altogether! I hate to be what is called a clever girl--there are too many of that sort now!" answered Sue sensitively. "I only meant--I don't know what I meant-- except that it was what you don't understand!"

"I know your meaning," said Jude ardently (although he did not). "And I think you are quite right."

"That's a good Jude--I know you believe in me!" She impulsively seized his hand, and leaving a reproachful look on the schoolmaster turned away to Jude, her voice revealing a tremor which she herself felt to be absurdly uncalled for by sarcasm so gentle. She had not the least conception how the hearts of the twain went out to her at this momentary revelation of feeling, and what a complication she was building up thereby in the futures of both.

The model wore too much of an educational aspect for the children not to tire of it soon, and a little later in the afternoon they were all marched back to Lumsdon, Jude returning to his work. He watched the juvenile flock in their clean frocks and pinafores, filing down the street towards the country beside Phillotson and Sue, and a sad, dissatisfied sense of being out of the scheme of the latters' lives had possession of him. Phillotson had invited him to walk out and see them on Friday evening, when there would be no lessons to give to Sue, and Jude had eagerly promised to avail himself of the opportunity.

Meanwhile the scholars and teachers moved homewards, and the next day, on looking on the blackboard in Sue's class, Phillotson was surprised to find upon it, skilfully drawn in chalk, a perspective view of Jerusalem, with every building shown in its place.

"I thought you took no interest in the model, and hardly looked at it?" he said.

"I hardly did," said she, "but I remembered that much of it."

"It is more than I had remembered myself."

Her Majesty's school-inspector was at that time paying "surprise-visits" in this neighbourhood to test the teaching unawares; and two days later, in the middle of the morning lessons, the latch of the door was softly lifted, and in walked my gentleman, the king of terrors--to pupil-teachers.

To Mr. Phillotson the surprise was not great; like the lady in the story he had been played that trick too many times to be unprepared. But Sue's class was at the further end of the room, and her back was towards the entrance; the inspector therefore came and stood behind her and watched her teaching some half-minute before she became aware of his presence. She turned, and realized that an oft-dreaded moment had come. The effect upon her timidity was such that she uttered a cry of fright. Phillotson, with a strange instinct of solicitude quite beyond his control, was at her side just in time to prevent her falling from faintness. She soon recovered herself, and laughed; but when the inspector had gone there was a reaction, and she was so white that Phillotson took her into his room, and gave her some brandy to bring her round. She found him holding her hand.

"You ought to have told me," she gasped petulantly, "that one of the inspector's surprise-visits was imminent! Oh, what shall I do! Now he'll write and tell the managers that I am no good, and I shall be disgraced for ever!"

"He won't do that, my dear little girl. You are the best teacher ever I had!"

He looked so gently at her that she was moved, and regretted that she had upbraided him. When she was better she went home.

Jude in the meantime had been waiting impatiently for Friday. On both Wednesday and Thursday he had been so much under the influence of his desire to see her that he walked after dark some distance along the road in the direction of the village, and, on returning to his room to read, found himself quite unable to concentrate his mind on the page. On Friday, as soon as he had got himself up as he thought Sue would like to see him, and made a hasty tea, he set out, notwithstanding that the evening was wet. The trees overhead deepened the gloom of the hour, and they dripped sadly upon him, impressing him with forebodings--illogical forebodings; for though he knew that he loved her he also knew that he could not be more to her than he was.

On turning the corner and entering the village the first sight that greeted his eyes was that of two figures under one umbrella coming out of the vicarage gate. He was too far back for them to notice him, but he knew in a moment that they were Sue and Phillotson. The latter was holding the umbrella over her head, and they had evidently been paying a visit to the vicar-- probably on some business connected with the school work. And as they walked along the wet and deserted lane Jude saw Phillotson place his arm round the girl's waist; whereupon she gently removed it; but he replaced it; and she let it remain, looking quickly round her with an air of misgiving. She did not look absolutely behind her, and therefore did not see Jude, who sank into the hedge like one struck with a blight. There he remained hidden till they had reached Sue's cottage and she had passed in, Phillotson going on to the school hard by.

"Oh, he's too old for her--too old!" cried Jude in all the terrible sickness of hopeless, handicapped love.

He could not interfere. Was he not Arabella's? He was unable to go on further, and retraced his steps towards Christminster. Every tread of his feet seemed to say to him that he must on no account stand in the schoolmaster's way with Sue. Phillotson was perhaps twenty years her senior, but many a happy marriage had been made in such conditions of age. The ironical clinch to his sorrow was given by the thought that the intimacy between his cousin and the schoolmaster had been brought about entirely by himself.

 

小学老师坐在他的简朴住宅里,住宅同校舍相连,两者都是现代建筑。他望着路对面的房子,他的教员苏就住在那里边。苏的工作安排很快定下来了。原来准备调到费乐生先生的小学的小先生不肯来,苏暂时顶了这个缺。所有这类临时性安排只能延续到女王陛下的督学下年度视察之后再做定夺。苏要转为常任教职须得经他批准才行。柏瑞和小姐在伦敦时候大概教7两年书,虽然不久前辞掉了,但无论如何不好说她在教学方面全属外行;费乐生认为留她长期担任教职没什么困难;她跟他一块儿工作才三四个礼拜,他就已经希望她继续留下来。他发现她果真像裘德所形容的那样聪明;哪个行业的老师傅不想把一个能叫他节省一半精力的徒弟留在身边?

那时候是八点半稍过点,他等在那儿是为看到她穿过大路到学校这边来,这样他好随着她过去。八点四十分,她随随便便戴了顶轻便帽子,过了大路;他瞧着她,仿佛瞧着一件稀罕物。那早上她神采飞扬,容态绝尘,犹如为她自己发出的新的霞光所包围,但是这同她的教学能力毫不相干。他随后也到了学校;苏要一直在教室另一头照管她的学生,所以整天都在他的眼皮子底下。她绝对是个优秀教师。

到晚上他要专门给苏一个人上课,这也是他应尽的一项职责。依照有关法令规定,教者与学者如为不同性别,授课时应有一年高德劭的女性在座,云云。里查·费乐生一想到这一条款居然用到他们身上,觉着太可笑了,因为他年纪比她大好多,足可以当她爸爸;个过他还是竭诚遵守规定,跟她一块儿坐在屋里时候,苏的房东寡妇霍太太就在一边,忙着自己的针线活儿。其实这个规定也无从规避,因为这房子只有一间起坐室。

她计数时候——他们上的是算术课——有时候无意中抬头看他一眼,带着询问意味的微笑,意思像表示他既然是老师,她脑子里这会儿转的东西,不管是对还是错,他一定完全清楚。费乐生的心思实际上不在算术上,而是在她身上。按说他身为导师,这样的心境未免反常,恐怕连他自己也觉着前所未有。她呢,也许知道他那会儿正琢磨她吧。

他们这样上课已经几个礼拜,虽然很单调,可是他反而从中感到很大乐趣。恰好有一天学校收到了通知,要他们把学生带到基督堂去参观巡回展览,内容是耶路撒冷的模型。考虑到教育效果,每个学生只要交一便士就可以入场参观。于是他们的学生按两个一排,列队前往。苏在自己班旁边走,拿着一把朴素的遮阳伞,小小的拇指勾着伞把子。费乐生穿着肥肥大大的长袍,跟在后边,斯斯文文地甩着手杖。打她来了,他一直心神不定,左思右想的。那个下午,晴光烈日,尘土蒙蒙,进了展览室一看,除了他们,没几个人。

古城的模型高踞室中央,模型的主人,一副大善士的虔诚样儿,拿着根指点用的小棍儿,绕着模型,给小家伙指着,叫他们看念《圣经》时已经知道名字的区域和地方,摩利亚山呀、约沙法谷呀、锡安城呀、城墙城门呀;一个城门外头有个像大坟头的大土堆,大土堆上面有个又小又白的十字架。他说那地方就是髑髅地。

“据我看,”苏对老师说,她跟他都站在靠后的地方,“这个模型固然是精心造出来的,其实是个凭空想象的作品。有哪个人知道基督活着那会儿,耶路撒冷就是现在这个模样?我敢说连这个人也不知道怎么回事儿。”

“这是先根据对这个城实地调查的结果,再参考经过合理推测画出来的最好的地图,这才打样子把模型造出来的。”

“我倒是觉着咱们老耶路撒冷、耶路撒冷地够烦啦,”她说,“想想吧,咱们又不是犹太人的后人。干脆说吧,那儿向来就没出过什么了不起的地方、了不起的人物——雅典、罗马、亚历山大,还有别的古城,可都有啊。”

“不过,我的亲爱的姑娘,你可别忘了它对咱们意义多大呀!”

她不言语了,因为她很容易给人压下去;随后她瞧见在团团围住模型的孩子后边有个穿白法兰绒上衣的青年,聚精会神地仔细看着约沙法谷,身子躬得很低,所以他的脸差不多全让橄榄山给挡住了。“瞧你表亲裘德。”老师接下去说。‘他可不会觉着咱们耶路撒冷、耶路撒冷地才烦呢。”

“哎呀——我怎么没看出来是他呀!”她声音又快又亮地喊了出来。“裘德呀——瞧你这个认真劲儿,钻进去都出不来啦!”

裘德从神游中惊醒过来,瞧见了她。“哦——是苏呀!”他说,一时不知怎么好,心里可又高兴,脸刷地红了。“这全是你的学生吧,没错儿!我看见学校都排在下午入场,所以我猜你们也要来。我看得人了迷,连在哪儿都忘啦。它多叫人缅怀圣世哟!我可以花上几个钟头足足看个够,可我就那么几分钟,糟透啦!因为我这会儿就在这旁边地方干活呢。”

“你这位表亲可真聪明得厉害哪,她毫不留情地批评起模型啦。”费乐生说,口气是好意的揶揄。“对它的正确性,她大表怀疑呢。”

“不对,不对,费乐生先生,我不是——根本不是那么回事。我讨厌人家叫我聪明女孩什么的——这类货色大多接!”她带着满腹委屈回答他。“我的意思不过是——我也说不上来我什么意思,反正你没懂我意思就是啦!”

“我可懂你的意思呢。”裘德热呼呼地说(虽然他并不懂)。“我认为你蛮对呢。”

“你真是好裘德哟——我就知道你信得过我啊!”她冲动地抓住他的手,带着责怪的神气看了老师一眼,就扭过身去对着裘德;她话声带颤,这是因为老师不过心平气和地挪输了一下,她就那么放肆,不免觉着自己荒谬。她哪儿意识到,她就这一刹那感情流露竞使两颗心都爱她爱得接心刻骨,矢志不移;而又因如此,她又将如何没完没了地给他们的来日造成何等难解难分的冲突。

那个模型的说教气氛太浓,孩子们很快就腻烦了,下午稍晚一些时候,他们就全体整队返回拉姆登,裘德也回去干活。他目送穿着干净白罩衫和围裙的小羊羔,由费乐生和苏在旁保护,沿街往乡下走去;由于他自己不得不置身于他们的生活进程之外,心里充塞着十分难堪的失落感。费乐生已经邀请他于礼拜五晚上光临做客,苏也不上课。他满口答应,届时必来打扰。

同时学生和老师正在回家路上走。第二天,费乐生在苏上课时向黑板望去,不禁为他的发现大吃一惊,原来那上面有一幅用粉笔熟练地画下来的耶路撒冷示意图,所有的建筑都标在恰如其分的位置上。

“我以为你对那个模型毫无兴趣呢,再说你简直没怎么看,对吧?”

“我是没怎么看,”她说,“不过我记得它好多东西。”

“你记得的比我多啊。”

女王陛下的督学在那段时间正在这个居民区实行“突击察访”,要出其不意地检查教学情况。两天后,在上午上课中间,他轻轻托起门搭子,那位督学大人,边教边学的小先生眼里的凶神恶煞,走进了教室。

费乐生先生已经有点见怪不怪了,就像某篇小说里那个女人一样,他在毫无准备的情况下给他们捉弄的次数太多了。但是苏这个班是在教室靠里边那头,她背对着门口,所以督学站在后边,看了大概半分钟她教的课,她才察觉有个人在那儿。她一转过身,突然明白过来那个常常把人吓坏了的时刻到来了。她平素就胆怯,这下子受的影响如此之大,禁不住惊叫了一声。费乐生,出自一种极度关心的奇特本能,不由自主地及时跑到她身边,防备她因为虚弱而晕倒。她很快镇静下来,笑起来了;但督学走后,她又有了反应,脸色煞白,费乐生就把她带到自己屋里,给她喝了点白兰地,让她慢慢恢复到常态。她发现他握着她的手。

“你本该先跟我说。”她喘嘘嘘地发脾气说。‘脱有个督学马上要来‘突击察访’嘛!哦,我可怎么办哪!现在他要写报告,告诉主管,说我根本不够格呀,我这辈子要丢人丢到底啦!”

他那样和颜悦色地瞧着她,她感动了,后悔不该抢白他,人觉着好了点就回家了。

裘德在同一时间一直心清烦躁地等着礼拜五的到来。礼拜三、礼拜四两天,他要去会她的愿望对他影响太强烈了,天黑之后,他居然顺着到那个村子的大路走了好远;回到家里,他觉着简直没法集中心思看书。礼拜五晚上一到,他就按自以为苏喜欢的样儿打扮起来、匆匆吃过茶点就起身了,尽管那时候正下雨。茂密的树木笼罩下,那个本来昏暗的时刻就更昏暗了,雨水从树杈上滴下来,凄凉地落在他身上,这光景使他有了深深的不祥之感——没有道理的不祥之感,因为他知道他虽然爱她,但也知道只能到此为止,再往前一步绝对不行。

就在拐个弯儿、进村子的当口,他迎面头一眼就瞧见两个人合打一把伞从教区长住宅大门出来。他是在他们后边,离得很远,不过他立刻认出来是苏和费乐生。后者给她打着伞,显然他们刚走访过教区长——总是为什么跟学校工作有关的事吧。他们顺着雨淋湿的僻静的篱路往前走,裘德这时看见费乐生一只胳臂去搂她的腰;她轻轻推开了他的胳臂,可是他又搂上她,这回她没再管,只很快朝四处瞧了瞧,挺担心的样子。她根本没直接朝后看,也就没看见裘德。这下子裘德如同挨了一闷棍,一头扎进树篱中间藏起来,直到他们走到苏住的房子,她进去了,费乐生就往近边的校舍走去。

“哦,他配她,年纪可太大啦——太大啦!”裘德在爱情受挫、沦于绝望的极度可怕的病态中高声说出来。

他不能干涉。他不是阿拉贝拉的男人吗?他没法再往前走了,掉头回了基督堂。他走的每一步都像跟他说,他没有丝毫理由挡着费乐生,不让他跟苏好。费乐生或许是个比她大二十岁的长者,但是有好多婚姻像这样年龄条件悬殊的,不是也过得很美满吗?不过他的表亲同老师这层亲密关系却是他自己一手策划成功呀,他这么一想,就感到他的悲伤遭到了冷酷无情的奚落。



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