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Part 3 Chapter 10

JUDE returned to Melchester, which had the questionable recommendation of being only a dozen and a half miles from his Sue's now permanent residence. At first he felt that this nearness was a distinct reason for not going southward at all; but Christminster was too sad a place to bear, while the proximity of Shaston to Melchester might afford him the glory of worsting the Enemy in a close engagement, such as was deliberately sought by the priests and virgins of the early Church, who, disdaining an ignominious flight from temptation, became even chamber-partners with impunity. Jude did not pause to remember that, in the laconic words of the historian, "insulted Nature sometimes vindicated her rights" in such circumstances.

He now returned with feverish desperation to his study for the priesthood-- in the recognition that the single-mindedness of his aims, and his fidelity to the cause, had been more than questionable of late. His passion for Sue troubled his soul; yet his lawful abandonment to the society of Arabella for twelve hours seemed instinctively a worse thing-- even though she had not told him of her Sydney husband till afterwards. He had, he verily believed, overcome all tendency to fly to liquor-- which, indeed, he had never done from taste, but merely as an escape from intolerable misery of mind. Yet he perceived with despondency that, taken all round, he was a man of too many passions to make a good clergyman; the utmost he could hope for was that in a life of constant internal warfare between flesh and spirit the former might not always be victorious.

As a hobby, auxiliary to his readings in Divinity, he developed his slight skill in church-music and thorough-bass, till he could join in part-singing from notation with some accuracy. A mile or two from Melchester there was a restored village church, to which Jude had originally gone to fix the new columns and capitals. By this means he had become acquainted with the organist, and the ultimate result was that he joined the choir as a bass voice.

He walked out to this parish twice every Sunday, and sometimes in the week. One evening about Easter the choir met for practice, and a new hymn which Jude had heard of as being by a Wessex composer was to be tried and prepared for the following week. It turned out to be a strangely emotional composition. As they all sang it over and over again its harmonies grew upon Jude, and moved him exceedingly.

When they had finished he went round to the organist to make inquiries. The score was in manuscript, the name of the composer being at the head, together with the title of the hymn: "The Foot of the Cross."

"Yes," said the organist. "He is a local man. He is a professional musician at Kennetbridge--between here and Christminster. The vicar knows him. He was brought up and educated in Christminster traditions, which accounts for the quality of the piece. I think he plays in the large church there, and has a surpliced choir. He comes to Melchester sometimes, and once tried to get the cathedral organ when the post was vacant. The hymn is getting about everywhere this Easter."

As he walked humming the air on his way home, Jude fell to musing on its composer, and the reasons why he composed it. What a man of sympathies he must be! Perplexed and harassed as he himself was about Sue and Arabella, and troubled as was his conscience by the complication of his position, how he would like to know that man!" He of all men would understand my difficulties," said the impulsive Jude. If there were any person in the world to choose as a confidant, this composer would be the one, for he must have suffered, and throbbed, and yearned.

In brief, ill as he could afford the time and money for the journey, Fawley resolved, like the child that he was, to go to Kennetbridge the very next Sunday. He duly started, early in the morning, for it was only by a series of crooked railways that he could get to the town. About mid-day he reached it, and crossing the bridge into the quaint old borough he inquired for the house of the composer.

They told him it was a red brick building some little way further on. Also that the gentleman himself had just passed along the street not five minutes before.

"Which way?" asked Jude with alacrity.

"Straight along homeward from church."

Jude hastened on, and soon had the pleasure of observing a man in a black coat and a black slouched felt hat no considerable distance ahead. Stretching out his legs yet more widely he stalked after. "A hungry soul in pursuit of a full soul!" he said. "I must speak to that man!"

He could not, however, overtake the musician before he had entered his own house, and then arose the question if this were an expedient time to call. Whether or not he decided to do so there and then, now that he had got here, the distance home being too great for him to wait till late in the afternoon. This man of soul would understand scant ceremony, and might be quite a perfect adviser in a case in which an earthly and illegitimate passion had cunningly obtained entrance into his heart through the opening afforded for religion.

Jude accordingly rang the bell, and was admitted.

The musician came to him in a moment, and being respectably dressed, good-looking, and frank in manner, Jude obtained a favourable reception. He was nevertheless conscious that there would be a certain awkwardness in explaining his errand.

"I have been singing in the choir of a little church near Melchester," he said. "And we have this week practised 'The Foot of the Cross,' which I understand, sir, that you composed?"

"I did--a year or so ago."

"I--like it. I think it supremely beautiful!"

"Ah well--other people have said so too. Yes, there's money in it, if I could only see about getting it published. I have other compositions to go with it, too; I wish I could bring them out; for I haven't made a five-pound note out of any of them yet. These publishing people--they want the copyright of an obscure composer's work, such as mine is, for almost less than I should have to pay a person for making, a fair manuscript copy of the score. The one you speak of I have lent to various friends about here and Melchester, and so it has got to be sung a little. But music is a poor staff to lean on--I am giving it up entirely. You must go into trade if you want to make money nowadays. The wine business is what I am thinking of. This is my forthcoming list-- it is not issued yet--but you can take one."

He handed Jude an advertisement list of several pages in booklet shape, ornamentally margined with a red line, in which were set forth the various clarets, champagnes, ports, sherries, and other wines with which he purposed to initiate his new venture. It took Jude more than by surprise that the man with the soul was thus and thus; and he felt that he could not open up his confidences.

They talked a little longer, but constrainedly, for when the musician found that Jude was a poor man his manner changed from what it had been while Jude's appearance and address deceived him as to his position and pursuits. Jude stammered out something about his feelings in wishing to congratulate the author on such an exalted composition, and took an embarrassed leave.

All the way home by the slow Sunday train, sitting in the fireless waiting-rooms on this cold spring day, he was depressed enough at his simplicity in taking such a journey. But no sooner did he reach his Melchester lodging than he found awaiting him a letter which had arrived that morning a few minutes after he had left the house. It was a contrite little note from Sue, in which she said, with sweet humility, that she felt she had been horrid in telling him he was not to come to see her, that she despised herself for having been so conventional; and that he was to be sure to come by the eleven-forty-five train that very Sunday, and have dinner with them at half-past one.

Jude almost tore his hair at having missed this letter till it was too late to act upon its contents; but he had chastened himself considerably of late, and at last his chimerical expedition to Kennetbridge really did seem to have been another special intervention of Providence to keep him away from temptation. But a growing impatience of faith, which he had noticed in himself more than once of late, made him pass over in ridicule the idea that God sent people on fools' errands. He longed to see her; he was angry at having missed her: and he wrote instantly, telling her what had happened, and saying he had not enough patience to wait till the following Sunday, but would come any day in the week that she liked to name.

Since he wrote a little over-ardently, Sue, as her manner was, delayed her reply till Thursday before Good Friday, when she said he might come that afternoon if he wished, this being the earliest day on which she could welcome him, for she was now assistant-teacher in her husband's school. Jude therefore got leave from the cathedral works at the trifling expense of a stoppage of pay, and went.

 

裘德回到了麦尔切斯特,那儿离苏的永久性寓所不过十二英里半,这当然有好处,不过好处本身就有问题。起初他认为近便正是个明显的理由,他不该南去看苏。但是基督堂又叫他痛心疾首,他也实在不想回去。再说沙氏顿同麦尔切斯特既然有邻近之利,这岂不是让他大可借此同“大敌”短兵相接,取得战而胜之的光荣吗?教会早期的僧侣和贞女就是视逃避诱惑力可耻行径,甚至不惜同处一室而决无苟且之行。可是裘德就是不肯回想一下历史家从前说得多么言简意赅,一针见血:遇到这类情形,“受了凌辱的‘自然’,势必有时为她的权利而肆虐。”

为当牧师,他现在又是废寝忘食,不遗余力地学习,省悟到前一阵子既没有一心扑在自己的目标上,也不是抱住事业不放。他对苏的热烈的爱情搅得他心烦意乱,可是他又甘心同阿拉贝拉鬼混十二个钟头,就算这样做于法有据,就算她事后才说在悉尼有了个丈夫,看来还是他的本能在做怪,所以才干了坏事。他确实自信已经克服了一切纵酒自废的倾向,说实在的,他以前何尝因好酒而贪杯,他痛饮无度无非借此逃避无法忍受的内心痛苦。话虽如此,他还是不免心情沮丧,因为他很明白,就他整个人格而言,他情欲太盛,因此当不了好牧师,充其极量只能希望在一生永不息止的灵与肉之间的内在斗争中,肉并不总是胜方。

在攻读神学著作的同时,他还有一项爱好,就是想把在教堂音乐和通奏低音记谱法方面的粗浅技巧发展起来,能达到相当准确地按谱合乐参加合唱的水平。麦尔切斯特市外一两英里的地方有个新近修好的教堂,裘德在那儿安装过石柱和柱头。他借那次机会结识了教堂风琴师,后来总算以一个低音部歌手进了唱诗班。

每个礼拜天,他两次到那个教区,有时候礼拜中间也去。复活节前有个晚上,唱诗班聚起来练唱,试唱一首新赞美诗,准备下个礼拜正式使用。裘德听人说新赞美诗出自维塞克斯郡一位作曲人之手。试唱结果表明它是一首有非凡的感人力量的曲子。大家唱了又唱,它的和声把他紧紧抓住了,令他极为感动。

试唱一结束,他就走过去向风琴师请教。乐谱还是稿本,作曲人姓名和赞美诗题名《十字架下》都标在稿本上端。

“哦,”风琴师说,“他是本地人,是位职业音乐家,住在肯尼桥,在这儿跟基督堂之间,教区长对他很了解。他可是基督堂的传统培养造就出来的呢。他的作品能有那样的品味,道理就在这儿。我想他这会儿是在一座大点的教堂演奏,还带个穿着白法衣的唱诗班呢。他有时候也到麦尔切斯特来,大教堂风琴师位子有一回出了缺,他很想谋到手。这回复活节,他这首赞美诗已经到处传唱啦。”

裘德在回家的路上一边走,一边哼着赞美诗的调子,老琢磨着那位作曲人是个何等样人物,作那样的曲子又原因何在,他该是多么富于同情心的人哪!他自己这会儿为苏和阿拉贝拉的事弄得焦头烂额,无法收拾,这种纠缠不清的局面叫他觉着良心有亏,他多想认识那个人啊!“只有他那样的人才能理解我的难处啊。”好冲动的裘德说。如果哪个人想在世上觅个可供谈心的知音,恐怕非那位作曲人莫属,因为他必定受过苦,揪过心,做过梦啊。

简单地说吧,福来如同孩子一样决心下个礼拜天到肯尼桥去,虽然来回破费和误工本会承受不起,他也顾不得了。他一大早按时动身,因为坐火车也得经过一段曲折、绕弯的路程,才到得了那个乡镇。傍午他一到,就过桥进了别具风貌的老镇,向人打听作曲人的住址。

人家跟他说再往前走一点,看见红砖房子,就是他家了。那位先生不到五分钟之前才走过那条街。

“他上哪儿去啦?”裘德赶紧问。

“打教堂出来,一直回家了。”

裘德步子加快往前追,一会儿就瞧见前头没多远有个男人,身穿黑外套,头戴黑呢帽,帽檐耷拉着。他心里挺高兴,步子迈得更大,直追上去。“饥渴的心灵在追饱暖的心灵哪!”他说,“我一定得跟他谈谈才行!”

但是没等他追上,音乐家就进了家门。他琢磨这会儿拜访他合不合适,决定既然到了地方,那就一不做二不休,不能再等,不然的话,候到下午,回家的路太远,就赶不及了。那位心灵高尚的人未必那么拘泥礼节,而这会儿他正向圣教敞开心扉之际,俗世的。律法不容的情欲却找到空子,乘虚而入,这个人大概就是给他提出十分中肯的忠告的上佳人选吧。

于是裘德拉了门铃,有人把他让进去了。

音乐家随即出来见他。裘德衣冠楚楚,仪表堂堂,从容大方,当下受到很好的款待,不过要说明来意,他还是觉着为难,不好出口。

“我在麦尔切斯特附近一个小教堂的唱诗班里头。”他说。“这礼拜我们练过《十字架下》,先生,我听说曲子是你作的。”

“是我作的——大概一年了。”

“我——喜欢这个曲子,我认为它真美极啦!”

“哎,呃——好多人也这么说呢。是呀,我要是能想法子把它出版了,那可是一笔钱呢。除了这首,我还谱了别的曲子,也可以一块儿出嘛,但愿能够把它们都印出来啊;因为不论哪一首,到这会儿,我连一张五镑票子也没挣到手呢。出版商呀——他们就是专门弄到我这样没名气的作曲人的作品,出的价简直连我付给抄一份清谱的人的钱还不够呢。这地方跟麦尔切斯特的好多朋友,我都借给他们啦,也就慢慢有人唱它啦。不过音乐这玩意儿,要靠它吃饭,那就太可怜喽——我要把它全甩到一边儿啦。这年头要想弄钱,得去做生意。我这会儿正打算于卖酒这行。这就是我打算经销的货单——现在还没往外发,不过你拿一份也可以嘛。”

他递给裘德一份经销各种酒类的广告,是钉好了的几页小册子,页边套印了红线,品目繁多,有波尔多红酒、香摈酒、葡萄酒、雪利酒等等,他打算一发广告就开张营业。裘德不禁大失所望,想不到那位心灵高尚的人物竞然如此俗鄙,感到自己再没法开口说心里话了。

他们又谈了会儿,不过是没话找话,因为音乐家已经察觉裘德是个穷人,原先让裘德的外貌和谈吐给蒙住了,没弄明白他的真实身份和职业。所以他这会儿的态度跟先前大不相同了。裘德结结巴巴地讲了几句,表示心意,祝贺作者能有这样备受赞赏的曲谱,然后尴里尴尬地告辞而去。

他在开得很慢的火车里,还有刚才在这春寒料峭却没生火的候车室里坐着的时候,想到自己头脑居然如此简单,白跑了这么个来回,着实感到懊丧。但是他刚到麦尔切斯特的家,就发现早晨才离家几分钟,信就到了。原来是苏因为后悔写来一封短信,她说得又甜蜜又谦卑,表示她因为叫他别来,觉着自己实在太不应该,为了自己拘礼从俗而深感惭愧;他一定要在这个礼拜天坐十一点四十五分的火车来,一点半跟他们一块儿吃午饭。

裘德因为自己误了这封信,为时太晚,没法按信里说的去赴约,急得简直要把自己的头发揪下来,不过他近来大有变化,很能克己自制了;再一想他这趟异想天开的肯尼桥之行,真像是天公又一次特意插手,免得他跟诱惑结缘;可是他原先就注意到自己近来对信仰已经多少次不那么恭敬从命了,而且越来越厉害,所以想到上帝出点子叫人冤枉来回,他也只是当个笑话。他渴望见到她。为了错过跟她见面,他一肚子火,于是立刻动手写信,告诉她始末根由,说他可没那么大耐性等到下个礼拜天,随便她定下礼拜哪天,他都去。

他信写得太热火,所以苏按她一向的态度,迟到耶稣受难日的礼拜四才给他回信,说他如想来的话,那天下午来就行了,这是她能欢迎他的最早一天,因为她现在已经在她丈夫的小学里当助理教员了。裘德向大教堂工地管事的告了假,到她那儿去了,好在牺牲的工资为数甚微,不在话下。



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