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The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens
CHAPTER I - THE DAWN
AN ancient English Cathedral Tower? How can the ancient English
Cathedral tower be here! The well-known massive gray square tower
of its old Cathedral? How can that be here! There is no spike of
rusty iron in the airbetween the eye and itfrom any point of
the real prospect. What is the spike that intervenesand who has
set it up? Maybe it is set up by the Sultan's orders for the
impaling of a horde of Turkish robbersone by one. It is sofor
cymbals clashand the Sultan goes by to his palace in long
procession. Ten thousand scimitars flash in the sunlightand
thrice ten thousand dancing-girls strew flowers. Thenfollow
white elephants caparisoned in countless gorgeous coloursand
infinite in number and attendants. Still the Cathedral Tower rises
in the backgroundwhere it cannot beand still no writhing figure
is on the grim spike. Stay! Is the spike so low a thing as the
rusty spike on the top of a post of an old bedstead that has
tumbled all awry? Some vague period of drowsy laughter must be
devoted to the consideration of this possibility.
Shaking from head to footthe man whose scattered consciousness
has thus fantastically pieced itself togetherat length rises
supports his trembling frame upon his armsand looks around. He
is in the meanest and closest of small rooms. Through the ragged
window-curtainthe light of early day steals in from a miserable
court. He liesdressedacross a large unseemly bedupon a
bedstead that has indeed given way under the weight upon it. Lying
also dressed and also across the bednot longwiseare a Chinaman
a Lascarand a haggard woman. The two first are in a sleep or
stupor; the last is blowing at a kind of pipeto kindle it. And
as she blowsand shading it with her lean handconcentrates its
red spark of lightit serves in the dim morning as a lamp to show
him what he sees of her.
'Another?' says this womanin a querulousrattling whisper.
He looks about himwith his hand to his forehead.
'Ye've smoked as many as five since ye come in at midnight' the
woman goes onas she chronically complains. 'Poor mepoor memy
head is so bad. Them two come in after ye. Ahpoor methe
business is slackis slack! Few Chinamen about the Docksand
fewer Lascarsand no ships coming inthese say! Here's another
ready for yedeary. Ye'll remember like a good soulwon't ye
that the market price is dreffle high just now? More nor three
shillings and sixpence for a thimbleful! And ye'll remember that
nobody but me (and Jack Chinaman t'other side the court; but he
can't do it as well as me) has the true secret of mixing it? Ye'll
pay up accordinglydearywon't ye?'
She blows at the pipe as she speaksandoccasionally bubbling at
itinhales much of its contents.
'O meO memy lungs is weakmy lungs is bad! It's nearly ready
for yedeary. Ahpoor mepoor memy poor hand shakes like to
drop off! I see ye coming-toand I ses to my poor selfI'll
have another ready for him, and he'll bear in mind the market price
of opium, and pay according.O my poor head! I makes my pipes of
old penny ink-bottlesye seedeary - this is one - and I fits-in
a mouthpiecethis wayand I takes my mixter out of this thimble
with this little horn spoon; and so I fillsdeary. Ahmy poor
nerves! I got Heavens-hard drunk for sixteen year afore I took to
this; but this don't hurt menot to speak of. And it takes away
the hunger as well as wittlesdeary.'
She hands him the nearly-emptied pipeand sinks backturning over
on her face.
He rises unsteadily from the bedlays the pipe upon the hearthstone
draws back the ragged curtainand looks with repugnance at
his three companions. He notices that the woman has opium-smoked
herself into a strange likeness of the Chinaman. His form of
cheekeyeand templeand his colourare repeated in her. Said
Chinaman convulsively wrestles with one of his many Gods or Devils
perhapsand snarls horribly. The Lascar laughs and dribbles at
the mouth. The hostess is still.
'What visions can SHE have?' the waking man musesas he turns her
face towards himand stands looking down at it. 'Visions of many
butchers' shopsand public-housesand much credit? Of an
increase of hideous customersand this horrible bedstead set
upright againand this horrible court swept clean? What can she
rise tounder any quantity of opiumhigher than that! - Eh?'
He bends down his earto listen to her mutterings.
As he watches the spasmodic shoots and darts that break out of her
face and limbslike fitful lightning out of a dark skysome
contagion in them seizes upon him: insomuch that he has to
withdraw himself to a lean arm-chair by the hearth - placed there
perhapsfor such emergencies - and to sit in itholding tight
until he has got the better of this unclean spirit of imitation.
Then he comes backpounces on the Chinamanand seizing him with
both hands by the throatturns him violently on the bed. The
Chinaman clutches the aggressive handsresistsgaspsand
'What do you say?'
A watchful pause.
Slowly loosening his grasp as he listens to the incoherent jargon
with an attentive frownhe turns to the Lascar and fairly drags
him forth upon the floor. As he fallsthe Lascar starts into a
half-risen attitudeglares with his eyeslashes about him
fiercely with his armsand draws a phantom knife. It then becomes
apparent that the woman has taken possession of this knifefor
safety's sake; forshe too starting upand restraining and
expostulating with himthe knife is visible in her dressnot in
hiswhen they drowsily drop backside by side.
There has been chattering and clattering enough between thembut
to no purpose. When any distinct word has been flung into the air
it has had no sense or sequence. Wherefore 'unintelligible!' is
again the comment of the watchermade with some reassured nodding
of his headand a gloomy smile. He then lays certain silver money
on the tablefinds his hatgropes his way down the broken stairs
gives a good morning to some rat-ridden doorkeeperin bed in a
black hutch beneath the stairsand passes out.
That same afternoonthe massive gray square tower of an old
Cathedral rises before the sight of a jaded traveller. The bells
are going for daily vesper serviceand he must needs attend it
one would sayfrom his haste to reach the open Cathedral door.
The choir are getting on their sullied white robesin a hurry
when he arrives among themgets on his own robeand falls into
the procession filing in to service. Thenthe Sacristan locks the
iron-barred gates that divide the sanctuary from the chanceland
all of the procession having scuttled into their placeshide their
faces; and then the intoned words'WHEN THE WICKED MAN - ' rise
among groins of arches and beams of roofawakening muttered
CHAPTER II - A DEANAND A CHAPTER ALSO
WHOSOEVER has observed that sedate and clerical birdthe rookmay
perhaps have noticed that when he wings his way homeward towards
nightfallin a sedate and clerical companytwo rooks will
suddenly detach themselves from the restwill retrace their flight
for some distanceand will there poise and linger; conveying to
mere men the fancy that it is of some occult importance to the body
politicthat this artful couple should pretend to have renounced
connection with it.
Similarlyservice being over in the old Cathedral with the square
towerand the choir scuffling out againand divers venerable
persons of rook-like aspect dispersingtwo of these latter retrace
their stepsand walk together in the echoing Close.
Not only is the day waningbut the year. The low sun is fiery and
yet cold behind the monastery ruinand the Virginia creeper on the
Cathedral wall has showered half its deep-red leaves down on the
pavement. There has been rain this afternoonand a wintry shudder
goes among the little pools on the crackeduneven flag-stonesand
through the giant elm-trees as they shed a gust of tears. Their
fallen leaves lie strewn thickly about. Some of these leavesin a
timid rushseek sanctuary within the low arched Cathedral door;
but two men coming out resist themand cast them forth again with
their feet; this doneone of the two locks the door with a goodly
keyand the other flits away with a folio music-book.
'Mr. Jasper was thatTope?'
'He has stayed late.'
'YesMr. Dean. I have stayed for himyour Reverence. He has
been took a little poorly.'
'Say "taken Tope - to the Dean,' the younger rook interposes in a
low tone with this touch of correction, as who should say: 'You
may offer bad grammar to the laity, or the humbler clergy, not to
Mr. Tope, Chief Verger and Showman, and accustomed to be high with
excursion parties, declines with a silent loftiness to perceive
that any suggestion has been tendered to him.
'And when and how has Mr. Jasper been taken - for, as Mr.
Crisparkle has remarked, it is better to say taken - taken - '
repeats the Dean; 'when and how has Mr. Jasper been Taken - '
'Taken, sir,' Tope deferentially murmurs.
' - Poorly, Tope?'
'Why, sir, Mr. Jasper was that breathed - '
'I wouldn't say That breathed Tope,' Mr. Crisparkle interposes
with the same touch as before. 'Not English - to the Dean.'
'Breathed to that extent,' the Dean (not unflattered by this
indirect homage) condescendingly remarks, 'would be preferable.'
'Mr. Jasper's breathing was so remarkably short' - thus discreetly
does Mr. Tope work his way round the sunken rock - 'when he came
in, that it distressed him mightily to get his notes out: which
was perhaps the cause of his having a kind of fit on him after a
little. His memory grew DAZED.' Mr. Tope, with his eyes on the
Reverend Mr. Crisparkle, shoots this word out, as defying him to
improve upon it: 'and a dimness and giddiness crept over him as
strange as ever I saw: though he didn't seem to mind it
particularly, himself. However, a little time and a little water
brought him out of his DAZE.' Mr. Tope repeats the word and its
emphasis, with the air of saying: 'As I HAVE made a success, I'll
make it again.'
'And Mr. Jasper has gone home quite himself, has he?' asked the
'Your Reverence, he has gone home quite himself. And I'm glad to
see he's having his fire kindled up, for it's chilly after the wet,
and the Cathedral had both a damp feel and a damp touch this
afternoon, and he was very shivery.'
They all three look towards an old stone gatehouse crossing the
Close, with an arched thoroughfare passing beneath it. Through its
latticed window, a fire shines out upon the fast-darkening scene,
involving in shadow the pendent masses of ivy and creeper covering
the building's front. As the deep Cathedral-bell strikes the hour,
a ripple of wind goes through these at their distance, like a
ripple of the solemn sound that hums through tomb and tower, broken
niche and defaced statue, in the pile close at hand.
'Is Mr. Jasper's nephew with him?' the Dean asks.
'No, sir,' replied the Verger, 'but expected. There's his own
solitary shadow betwixt his two windows - the one looking this way,
and the one looking down into the High Street - drawing his own
'Well, well,' says the Dean, with a sprightly air of breaking up
the little conference, 'I hope Mr. Jasper's heart may not be too
much set upon his nephew. Our affections, however laudable, in
this transitory world, should never master us; we should guide
them, guide them. I find I am not disagreeably reminded of my
dinner, by hearing my dinner-bell. Perhaps, Mr. Crisparkle, you
will, before going home, look in on Jasper?'
'Certainly, Mr. Dean. And tell him that you had the kindness to
desire to know how he was?'
'Ay; do so, do so. Certainly. Wished to know how he was. By all
means. Wished to know how he was.'
With a pleasant air of patronage, the Dean as nearly cocks his
quaint hat as a Dean in good spirits may, and directs his comely
gaiters towards the ruddy dining-room of the snug old red-brick
house where he is at present, 'in residence' with Mrs. Dean and
Mr. Crisparkle, Minor Canon, fair and rosy, and perpetually
pitching himself head-foremost into all the deep running water in
the surrounding country; Mr. Crisparkle, Minor Canon, early riser,
musical, classical, cheerful, kind, good-natured, social,
contented, and boy-like; Mr. Crisparkle, Minor Canon and good man,
lately 'Coach' upon the chief Pagan high roads, but since promoted
by a patron (grateful for a well-taught son) to his present
Christian beat; betakes himself to the gatehouse, on his way home
to his early tea.
'Sorry to hear from Tope that you have not been well, Jasper.'
'O, it was nothing, nothing!'
'You look a little worn.'
'Do I? O, I don't think so. What is better, I don't feel so.
Tope has made too much of it, I suspect. It's his trade to make
the most of everything appertaining to the Cathedral, you know.'
'I may tell the Dean - I call expressly from the Dean - that you
are all right again?'
The reply, with a slight smile, is: 'Certainly; with my respects
and thanks to the Dean.'
'I'm glad to hear that you expect young Drood.'
'I expect the dear fellow every moment.'
'Ah! He will do you more good than a doctor, Jasper.'
'More good than a dozen doctors. For I love him dearly, and I
don't love doctors, or doctors' stuff.'
Mr. Jasper is a dark man of some six-and-twenty, with thick,
lustrous, well-arranged black hair and whiskers. He looks older
than he is, as dark men often do. His voice is deep and good, his
face and figure are good, his manner is a little sombre. His room
is a little sombre, and may have had its influence in forming his
manner. It is mostly in shadow. Even when the sun shines
brilliantly, it seldom touches the grand piano in the recess, or
the folio music-books on the stand, or the book-shelves on the
wall, or the unfinished picture of a blooming schoolgirl hanging
over the chimneypiece; her flowing brown hair tied with a blue
riband, and her beauty remarkable for a quite childish, almost
babyish, touch of saucy discontent, comically conscious of itself.
(There is not the least artistic merit in this picture, which is a
mere daub; but it is clear that the painter has made it humorously
- one might almost say, revengefully - like the original.)
'We shall miss you, Jasper, at the Alternate Musical Wednesdays"
to-night; but no doubt you are best at home. Good-night. God
bless you! "Tell meshep-herdste-e-ell me; tell me-e-ehave
you seen (have you seenhave you seenhave you seen) my-y-y Floo-
ora-a pass this way!"' Melodiously good Minor Canon the Reverend
Septimus Crisparkle thus delivers himselfin musical rhythmas he
withdraws his amiable face from the doorway and conveys it downstairs.
Sounds of recognition and greeting pass between the Reverend
Septimus and somebody elseat the stair-foot. Mr. Jasper listens
starts from his chairand catches a young fellow in his arms
'My dear Edwin!'
'My dear Jack! So glad to see you!'
'Get off your greatcoatbright boyand sit down here in your own
corner. Your feet are not wet? Pull your boots off. Do pull your
'My dear JackI am as dry as a bone. Don't moddley-coddley
there's a good fellow. I like anything better than being moddleycoddleyed.'
With the check upon him of being unsympathetically restrained in a
genial outburst of enthusiasmMr. Jasper stands stilland looks
on intently at the young fellowdivesting himself of his outward
coathatglovesand so forth. Once for alla look of
intentness and intensity - a look of hungryexactingwatchful
and yet devoted affection - is alwaysnow and ever afterwardson
the Jasper face whenever the Jasper face is addressed in this
direction. And whenever it is so addressedit is neveron this
occasion or on any otherdividedly addressed; it is always
'Now I am rightand now I'll take my cornerJack. Any dinner
Mr. Jasper opens a door at the upper end of the roomand discloses
a small inner room pleasantly lighted and preparedwherein a
comely dame is in the act of setting dishes on table.
'What a jolly old Jack it is!' cries the young fellowwith a clap
of his hands. 'Look hereJack; tell me; whose birthday is it?'
'Not yoursI know' Mr. Jasper answerspausing to consider.
'Not mineyou know? No; not mineI know! Pussy's!'
Fixed as the look the young fellow meetsisthere is yet in it
some strange power of suddenly including the sketch over the
'Pussy'sJack! We must drink Many happy returns to her. Come
uncle; take your dutiful and sharp-set nephew in to dinner.'
As the boy (for he is little more) lays a hand on Jasper's
shoulderJasper cordially and gaily lays a hand on HIS shoulder
and so Marseillaise-wise they go in to dinner.
'AndLord! here's Mrs. Tope!' cries the boy. 'Lovelier than
'Never you mind meMaster Edwin' retorts the Verger's wife; 'I
can take care of myself.'
'You can't. You're much too handsome. Give me a kiss because it's
'I'd Pussy youyoung manif I was Pussyas you call her' Mrs.
Tope blushingly retortsafter being saluted. 'Your uncle's too
much wrapt up in youthat's where it is. He makes so much of you
that it's my opinion you think you've only to call your Pussys by
the dozento make 'em come.'
'You forgetMrs. Tope' Mr. Jasper interposestaking his place at
the table with a genial smile'and so do youNedthat Uncle and
Nephew are words prohibited here by common consent and express
agreement. For what we are going to receive His holy name be
'Done like the Dean! WitnessEdwin Drood! Please to carveJack
for I can't.'
This sally ushers in the dinner. Little to the present purposeor
to any purposeis saidwhile it is in course of being disposed
of. At length the cloth is drawnand a dish of walnuts and a
decanter of rich-coloured sherry are placed upon the table.
'I say! Tell meJack' the young fellow then flows on: 'do you
really and truly feel as if the mention of our relationship divided
us at all? I don't.'
'Uncles as a ruleNedare so much older than their nephews' is
the reply'that I have that feeling instinctively.'
'As a rule! Ahmay-be! But what is a difference in age of halfa-
dozen years or so? And some unclesin large familiesare even
younger than their nephews. By GeorgeI wish it was the case with
'Because if it wasI'd take the lead with youJackand be as
wise as Begonedull Care! that turned a young man grayand
Begonedull Care! that turned an old man to clay. - HalloaJack!
'Asks why noton Pussy's birthdayand no Happy returns proposed!
PussyJackand many of 'em! Happy returnsI mean.'
Laying an affectionate and laughing touch on the boy's extended
handas if it were at once his giddy head and his light heartMr.
Jasper drinks the toast in silence.
'Hiphiphipand nine times nineand one to finish withand
all thatunderstood. Hoorayhoorayhooray! - And nowJack
let's have a little talk about Pussy. Two pairs of nut-crackers?
Pass me oneand take the other.' Crack. 'How's Pussy getting on
'With her music? Fairly.'
'What a dreadfully conscientious fellow you areJack! But I know
Lord bless you! Inattentiveisn't she?'
'She can learn anythingif she will.'
'IF she will! Egadthat's it. But if she won't?'
Crack! - on Mr. Jasper's part.
'How's she lookingJack?'
Mr. Jasper's concentrated face again includes the portrait as he
returns: 'Very like your sketch indeed.'
'I AM a little proud of it' says the young fellowglancing up at
the sketch with complacencyand then shutting one eyeand taking
a corrected prospect of it over a level bridge of nut-crackers in
the air: 'Not badly hit off from memory. But I ought to have
caught that expression pretty wellfor I have seen it often
Crack! - on Edwin Drood's part.
Crack! - on Mr. Jasper's part.
'In point of fact' the former resumesafter some silent dipping
among his fragments of walnut with an air of pique'I see it
whenever I go to see Pussy. If I don't find it on her faceI
leave it there. - You know I doMiss Scornful Pert. Booh!' With
a twirl of the nut-crackers at the portrait.
Crack! crack! crack. Slowlyon Mr. Jasper's part.
Crack. Sharply on the part of Edwin Drood.
Silence on both sides.
'Have you lost your tongueJack?'
'Have you found yoursNed?'
'Nobut really; - isn't ityou knowafter all - '
Mr. Jasper lifts his dark eyebrows inquiringly.
'Isn't it unsatisfactory to be cut off from choice in such a
matter? ThereJack! I tell you! If I could chooseI would
choose Pussy from all the pretty girls in the world.'
'But you have not got to choose.'
'That's what I complain of. My dead and gone father and Pussy's
dead and gone father must needs marry us together by anticipation.
Why the - DevilI was going to sayif it had been respectful to
their memory - couldn't they leave us alone?'
'Tuttutdear boy' Mr. Jasper remonstratesin a tone of gentle
'Tuttut? YesJackit's all very well for YOU. YOU can take it
easily. YOUR life is not laid down to scaleand lined and dotted
out for youlike a surveyor's plan. YOU have no uncomfortable
suspicion that you are forced upon anybodynor has anybody an
uncomfortable suspicion that she is forced upon youor that you
are forced upon her. YOU can choose for yourself. Lifefor YOU
is a plum with the natural bloom on; it hasn't been over-carefully
wiped off for YOU - '
'Don't stopdear fellow. Go on.'
'Can I anyhow have hurt your feelingsJack?'
'How can you have hurt my feelings?'
'Good HeavenJackyou look frightfully ill! There's a strange
film come over your eyes.'
Mr. Jasperwith a forced smilestretches out his right handas
if at once to disarm apprehension and gain time to get better.
After a while he says faintly:
'I have been taking opium for a pain - an agony - that sometimes
overcomes me. The effects of the medicine steal over me like a
blight or a cloudand pass. You see them in the act of passing;
they will be gone directly. Look away from me. They will go all
With a scared face the younger man complies by casting his eyes
downward at the ashes on the hearth. Not relaxing his own gaze on
the firebut rather strengthening it with a fiercefirm grip upon
his elbow-chairthe elder sits for a few moments rigidand then
with thick drops standing on his foreheadand a sharp catch of his
breathbecomes as he was before. On his so subsiding in his
chairhis nephew gently and assiduously tends him while he quite
recovers. When Jasper is restoredhe lays a tender hand upon his
nephew's shoulderandin a tone of voice less troubled than the
purport of his words - indeed with something of raillery or banter
in it - thus addresses him:
'There is said to be a hidden skeleton in every house; but you
thought there was none in minedear Ned.'
'Upon my lifeJackI did think so. Howeverwhen I come to
consider that even in Pussy's house - if she had one - and in mine
-if I had one - '
'You were going to say (but that I interrupted you in spite of
myself) what a quiet life mine is. No whirl and uproar around me
no distracting commerce or calculationno riskno change of
placemyself devoted to the art I pursuemy business my
'I really was going to say something of the kindJack; but you
seeyouspeaking of yourselfalmost necessarily leave out much
that I should have put in. For instance: I should have put in the
foreground your being so much respected as Lay Precentoror Lay
Clerkor whatever you call itof this Cathedral; your enjoying
the reputation of having done such wonders with the choir; your
choosing your societyand holding such an independent position in
this queer old place; your gift of teaching (whyeven Pussywho
don't like being taughtsays there never was such a Master as you
are!)and your connexion.'
'Yes; I saw what you were tending to. I hate it.'
'Hate itJack?' (Much bewildered.)
'I hate it. The cramped monotony of my existence grinds me away by
the grain. How does our service sound to you?'
'Beautiful! Quite celestial!'
'It often sounds to me quite devilish. I am so weary of it. The
echoes of my own voice among the arches seem to mock me with my
daily drudging round. No wretched monk who droned his life away in
that gloomy placebefore mecan have been more tired of it than I
am. He could take for relief (and did take) to carving demons out
of the stalls and seats and desks. What shall I do? Must I take
to carving them out of my heart?'
'I thought you had so exactly found your niche in lifeJack'
Edwin Drood returnsastonishedbending forward in his chair to
lay a sympathetic hand on Jasper's kneeand looking at him with an
'I know you thought so. They all think so.'
'WellI suppose they do' says Edwinmeditating aloud. 'Pussy
'When did she tell you that?'
'The last time I was here. You remember when. Three months ago.'
'How did she phrase it?'
'Oshe only said that she had become your pupiland that you were
made for your vocation.'
The younger man glances at the portrait. The elder sees it in him.
'Anyhowmy dear Ned' Jasper resumesas he shakes his head with a
grave cheerfulness'I must subdue myself to my vocation: which is
much the same thing outwardly. It's too late to find another now.
This is a confidence between us.'
'It shall be sacredly preservedJack.'
'I have reposed it in youbecause - '
'I feel itI assure you. Because we are fast friendsand because
you love and trust meas I love and trust you. Both handsJack.'
As each stands looking into the other's eyesand as the uncle
holds the nephew's handsthe uncle thus proceeds:
'You know nowdon't youthat even a poor monotonous chorister and
grinder of music - in his niche - may be troubled with some stray
sort of ambitionaspirationrestlessnessdissatisfactionwhat
shall we call it?'
'And you will remember?'
'My dear JackI only ask youam I likely to forget what you have
said with so much feeling?'
'Take it as a warningthen.'
In the act of having his hands releasedand of moving a step back
Edwin pauses for an instant to consider the application of these
last words. The instant overhe sayssensibly touched:
'I am afraid I am but a shallowsurface kind of fellowJackand
that my headpiece is none of the best. But I needn't say I am
young; and perhaps I shall not grow worse as I grow older. At all
eventsI hope I have something impressible within mewhich feels
-deeply feels - the disinterestedness of your painfully laying
your inner self bareas a warning to me.'
Mr. Jasper's steadiness of face and figure becomes so marvellous
that his breathing seems to have stopped.
'I couldn't fail to noticeJackthat it cost you a great effort
and that you were very much movedand very unlike your usual self.
Of course I knew that you were extremely fond of mebut I really
was not prepared for youras I may saysacrificing yourself to me
in that way.'
Mr. Jasperbecoming a breathing man again without the smallest
stage of transition between the two extreme stateslifts his
shoulderslaughsand waves his right arm.
'No; don't put the sentiment awayJack; please don't; for I am
very much in earnest. I have no doubt that that unhealthy state of
mind which you have so powerfully described is attended with some
real sufferingand is hard to bear. But let me reassure you
Jackas to the chances of its overcoming me. I don't think I am
in the way of it. In some few months less than another yearyou
knowI shall carry Pussy off from school as Mrs. Edwin Drood. I
shall then go engineering into the Eastand Pussy with me. And
although we have our little tiffs nowarising out of a certain
unavoidable flatness that attends our love-makingowing to its end
being all settled beforehandstill I have no doubt of our getting
on capitally thenwhen it's done and can't be helped. In short
Jackto go back to the old song I was freely quoting at dinner
(and who knows old songs better than you?)my wife shall dance
and I will singso merrily pass the day. Of Pussy's being
beautiful there cannot be a doubt; - and when you are good besides
Little Miss Impudence' once more apostrophising the portrait
'I'll burn your comic likenessand paint your music-master
Mr. Jasperwith his hand to his chinand with an expression of
musing benevolence on his facehas attentively watched every
animated look and gesture attending the delivery of these words.
He remains in that attitude after theyare spokenas if in a kind
of fascination attendant on his strong interest in the youthful
spirit that he loves so well. Then he says with a quiet smile:
'You won't be warnedthen?'
'You can't be warnedthen?'
'NoJacknot by you. Besides that I don't really consider myself
in dangerI don't like your putting yourself in that position.'
'Shall we go and walk in the churchyard?'
'By all means. You won't mind my slipping out of it for half a
moment to the Nuns' Houseand leaving a parcel there? Only gloves
for Pussy; as many pairs of gloves as she is years old to-day.
Mr. Jasperstill in the same attitudemurmurs: '"Nothing half so
sweet in life Ned!'
'Here's the parcel in my greatcoat-pocket. They must be presented
to-night, or the poetry is gone. It's against regulations for me
to call at night, but not to leave a packet. I am ready, Jack!'
Mr. Jasper dissolves his attitude, and they go out together.
CHAPTER III - THE NUNS' HOUSE
FOR sufficient reasons, which this narrative will itself unfold as
it advances, a fictitious name must be bestowed upon the old
Cathedral town. Let it stand in these pages as Cloisterham. It
was once possibly known to the Druids by another name, and
certainly to the Romans by another, and to the Saxons by another,
and to the Normans by another; and a name more or less in the
course of many centuries can be of little moment to its dusty
An ancient city, Cloisterham, and no meet dwelling-place for any
one with hankerings after the noisy world. A monotonous, silent
city, deriving an earthy flavour throughout from its Cathedral
crypt, and so abounding in vestiges of monastic graves, that the
Cloisterham children grow small salad in the dust of abbots and
abbesses, and make dirt-pies of nuns and friars; while every
ploughman in its outlying fields renders to once puissant Lord
Treasurers, Archbishops, Bishops, and such-like, the attention
which the Ogre in the story-book desired to render to his unbidden
visitor, and grinds their bones to make his bread.
A drowsy city, Cloisterham, whose inhabitants seem to suppose, with
an inconsistency more strange than rare, that all its changes lie
behind it, and that there are no more to come. A queer moral to
derive from antiquity, yet older than any traceable antiquity. So
silent are the streets of Cloisterham (though prone to echo on the
smallest provocation), that of a summer-day the sunblinds of its
shops scarce dare to flap in the south wind; while the sun-browned
tramps, who pass along and stare, quicken their limp a little, that
they may the sooner get beyond the confines of its oppressive
respectability. This is a feat not difficult of achievement,
seeing that the streets of Cloisterham city are little more than
one narrow street by which you get into it and get out of it: the
rest being mostly disappointing yards with pumps in them and no
thoroughfare - exception made of the Cathedral-close, and a paved
Quaker settlement, in colour and general confirmation very like a
Quakeress's bonnet, up in a shady corner.
In a word, a city of another and a bygone time is Cloisterham, with
its hoarse Cathedral-bell, its hoarse rooks hovering about the
Cathedral tower, its hoarser and less distinct rooks in the stalls
far beneath. Fragments of old wall, saint's chapel, chapter-house,
convent and monastery, have got incongruously or obstructively
built into many of its houses and gardens, much as kindred jumbled
notions have become incorporated into many of its citizens' minds.
All things in it are of the past. Even its single pawnbroker takes
in no pledges, nor has he for a long time, but offers vainly an
unredeemed stock for sale, of which the costlier articles are dim
and pale old watches apparently in a slow perspiration, tarnished
sugar-tongs with ineffectual legs, and odd volumes of dismal books.
The most abundant and the most agreeable evidences of progressing
life in Cloisterham are the evidences of vegetable life in many
gardens; even its drooping and despondent little theatre has its
poor strip of garden, receiving the foul fiend, when he ducks from
its stage into the infernal regions, among scarlet-beans or oystershells,
according to the season of the year.
In the midst of Cloisterham stands the Nuns' House: a venerable
brick edifice, whose present appellation is doubtless derived from
the legend of its conventual uses. On the trim gate enclosing its
old courtyard is a resplendent brass plate flashing forth the
legend: 'Seminary for Young Ladies. Miss Twinkleton.' The housefront
is so old and worn, and the brass plate is so shining and
staring, that the general result has reminded imaginative strangers
of a battered old beau with a large modern eye-glass stuck in his
Whether the nuns of yore, being of a submissive rather than a
stiff-necked generation, habitually bent their contemplative heads
to avoid collision with the beams in the low ceilings of the many
chambers of their House; whether they sat in its long low windows
telling their beads for their mortification, instead of making
necklaces of them for their adornment; whether they were ever
walled up alive in odd angles and jutting gables of the building
for having some ineradicable leaven of busy mother Nature in them
which has kept the fermenting world alive ever since; these may be
matters of interest to its haunting ghosts (if any), but constitute
no item in Miss Twinkleton's half-yearly accounts. They are
neither of Miss Twinkleton's inclusive regulars, nor of her extras.
The lady who undertakes the poetical department of the
establishment at so much (or so little) a quarter has no pieces in
her list of recitals bearing on such unprofitable questions.
As, in some cases of drunkenness, and in others of animal
magnetism, there are two states of consciousness which never clash,
but each of which pursues its separate course as though it were
continuous instead of broken (thus, if I hide my watch when I am
drunk, I must be drunk again before I can remember where), so Miss
Twinkleton has two distinct and separate phases of being. Every
night, the moment the young ladies have retired to rest, does Miss
Twinkleton smarten up her curls a little, brighten up her eyes a
little, and become a sprightlier Miss Twinkleton than the young
ladies have ever seen. Every night, at the same hour, does Miss
Twinkleton resume the topics of the previous night, comprehending
the tenderer scandal of Cloisterham, of which she has no knowledge
whatever by day, and references to a certain season at Tunbridge
Wells (airily called by Miss Twinkleton in this state of her
existence 'The Wells'), notably the season wherein a certain
finished gentleman (compassionately called by Miss Twinkleton, in
this stage of her existence, 'Foolish Mr. Porters') revealed a
homage of the heart, whereof Miss Twinkleton, in her scholastic
state of existence, is as ignorant as a granite pillar. Miss
Twinkleton's companion in both states of existence, and equally
adaptable to either, is one Mrs. Tisher: a deferential widow with
a weak back, a chronic sigh, and a suppressed voice, who looks
after the young ladies' wardrobes, and leads them to infer that she
has seen better days. Perhaps this is the reason why it is an
article of faith with the servants, handed down from race to race,
that the departed Tisher was a hairdresser.
The pet pupil of the Nuns' House is Miss Rosa Bud, of course called
Rosebud; wonderfully pretty, wonderfully childish, wonderfully
whimsical. An awkward interest (awkward because romantic) attaches
to Miss Bud in the minds of the young ladies, on account of its
being known to them that a husband has been chosen for her by will
and bequest, and that her guardian is bound down to bestow her on
that husband when he comes of age. Miss Twinkleton, in her
seminarial state of existence, has combated the romantic aspect of
this destiny by affecting to shake her head over it behind Miss
Bud's dimpled shoulders, and to brood on the unhappy lot of that
doomed little victim. But with no better effect - possibly some
unfelt touch of foolish Mr. Porters has undermined the endeavour -
than to evoke from the young ladies an unanimous bedchamber cry of
'O, what a pretending old thing Miss Twinkleton is, my dear!'
The Nuns' House is never in such a state of flutter as when this
allotted husband calls to see little Rosebud. (It is unanimously
understood by the young ladies that he is lawfully entitled to this
privilege, and that if Miss Twinkleton disputed it, she would be
instantly taken up and transported.) When his ring at the gatebell
is expected, or takes place, every young lady who can, under
any pretence, look out of window, looks out of window; while every
young lady who is 'practising,' practises out of time; and the
French class becomes so demoralised that the mark goes round as
briskly as the bottle at a convivial party in the last century.
On the afternoon of the day next after the dinner of two at the
gatehouse, the bell is rung with the usual fluttering results.
'Mr. Edwin Drood to see Miss Rosa.'
This is the announcement of the parlour-maid in chief. Miss
Twinkleton, with an exemplary air of melancholy on her, turns to
the sacrifice, and says, 'You may go down, my dear.' Miss Bud goes
down, followed by all eyes.
Mr. Edwin Drood is waiting in Miss Twinkleton's own parlour: a
dainty room, with nothing more directly scholastic in it than a
terrestrial and a celestial globe. These expressive machines imply
(to parents and guardians) that even when Miss Twinkleton retires
into the bosom of privacy, duty may at any moment compel her to
become a sort of Wandering Jewess, scouring the earth and soaring
through the skies in search of knowledge for her pupils.
The last new maid, who has never seen the young gentleman Miss Rosa
is engaged to, and who is making his acquaintance between the
hinges of the open door, left open for the purpose, stumbles
guiltily down the kitchen stairs, as a charming little apparition,
with its face concealed by a little silk apron thrown over its
head, glides into the parlour.
'O! IT IS so ridiculous!' says the apparition, stopping and
shrinking. 'Don't, Eddy!'
'Don't what, Rosa?'
'Don't come any nearer, please. It IS so absurd.'
'What is absurd, Rosa?'
'The whole thing is. It IS so absurd to be an engaged orphan and
it IS so absurd to have the girls and the servants scuttling about
after one, like mice in the wainscot; and it IS so absurd to be
The apparition appears to have a thumb in the corner of its mouth
while making this complaint.
'You give me an affectionate reception, Pussy, I must say.'
'Well, I will in a minute, Eddy, but I can't just yet. How are
you?' (very shortly.)
'I am unable to reply that I am much the better for seeing you,
Pussy, inasmuch as I see nothing of you.'
This second remonstrance brings a dark, bright, pouting eye out
from a corner of the apron; but it swiftly becomes invisible again,
as the apparition exclaims: 'O good gracious! you have had half
your hair cut off!'
'I should have done better to have had my head cut off, I think,'
says Edwin, rumpling the hair in question, with a fierce glance at
the looking-glass, and giving an impatient stamp. 'Shall I go?'
'No; you needn't go just yet, Eddy. The girls would all be asking
questions why you went.'
'Once for all, Rosa, will you uncover that ridiculous little head
of yours and give me a welcome?'
The apron is pulled off the childish head, as its wearer replies:
'You're very welcome, Eddy. There! I'm sure that's nice. Shake
hands. No, I can't kiss you, because I've got an acidulated drop
in my mouth.'
'Are you at all glad to see me, Pussy?'
'O, yes, I'm dreadfully glad. - Go and sit down. - Miss
It is the custom of that excellent lady when these visits occur, to
appear every three minutes, either in her own person or in that of
Mrs. Tisher, and lay an offering on the shrine of Propriety by
affecting to look for some desiderated article. On the present
occasion Miss Twinkleton, gracefully gliding in and out, says in
passing: 'How do you do, Mr. Drood? Very glad indeed to have the
pleasure. Pray excuse me. Tweezers. Thank you!'
'I got the gloves last evening, Eddy, and I like them very much.
They are beauties.'
'Well, that's something,' the affianced replies, half grumbling.
'The smallest encouragement thankfully received. And how did you
pass your birthday, Pussy?'
'Delightfully! Everybody gave me a present. And we had a feast.
And we had a ball at night.'
'A feast and a ball, eh? These occasions seem to go off tolerably
well without me, Pussy.'
'De-lightfully!' cries Rosa, in a quite spontaneous manner, and
without the least pretence of reserve.
'Hah! And what was the feast?'
'Tarts, oranges, jellies, and shrimps.'
'Any partners at the ball?'
'We danced with one another, of course, sir. But some of the girls
made game to be their brothers. It WAS so droll!'
'Did anybody make game to be - '
'To be you? O dear yes!' cries Rosa, laughing with great
enjoyment. 'That was the first thing done.'
'I hope she did it pretty well,' says Edwin rather doubtfully.
'O, it was excellent! - I wouldn't dance with you, you know.'
Edwin scarcely seems to see the force of this; begs to know if he
may take the liberty to ask why?
'Because I was so tired of you,' returns Rosa. But she quickly
adds, and pleadingly too, seeing displeasure in his face: 'Dear
Eddy, you were just as tired of me, you know.'
'Did I say so, Rosa?'
'Say so! Do you ever say so? No, you only showed it. O, she did
it so well!' cries Rosa, in a sudden ecstasy with her counterfeit
'It strikes me that she must be a devilish impudent girl,' says
Edwin Drood. 'And so, Pussy, you have passed your last birthday in
this old house.'
'Ah, yes!' Rosa clasps her hands, looks down with a sigh, and
shakes her head.
'You seem to be sorry, Rosa.'
'I am sorry for the poor old place. Somehow, I feel as if it would
miss me, when I am gone so far away, so young.'
'Perhaps we had better stop short, Rosa?'
She looks up at him with a swift bright look; next moment shakes
her head, sighs, and looks down again.
'That is to say, is it, Pussy, that we are both resigned?'
She nods her head again, and after a short silence, quaintly bursts
out with: 'You know we must be married, and married from here,
Eddy, or the poor girls will be so dreadfully disappointed!'
For the moment there is more of compassion, both for her and for
himself, in her affianced husband's face, than there is of love.
He checks the look, and asks: 'Shall I take you out for a walk,
Rosa dear does not seem at all clear on this point, until her face,
which has been comically reflective, brightens. 'O, yes, Eddy; let
us go for a walk! And I tell you what we'll do. You shall pretend
that you are engaged to somebody else, and I'll pretend that I am
not engaged to anybody, and then we shan't quarrel.'
'Do you think that will prevent our falling out, Rosa?'
'I know it will. Hush! Pretend to look out of window - Mrs.
Through a fortuitous concourse of accidents, the matronly Tisher
heaves in sight, says, in rustling through the room like the
legendary ghost of a dowager in silken skirts: 'I hope I see Mr.
Drood well; though I needn't ask, if I may judge from his
complexion. I trust I disturb no one; but there WAS a paper-knife
-O, thank you, I am sure!' and disappears with her prize.
'One other thing you must do, Eddy, to oblige me,' says Rosebud.
'The moment we get into the street, you must put me outside, and
keep close to the house yourself - squeeze and graze yourself
'By all means, Rosa, if you wish it. Might I ask why?'
'O! because I don't want the girls to see you.'
'It's a fine day; but would you like me to carry an umbrella up?'
'Don't be foolish, sir. You haven't got polished leather boots
on,' pouting, with one shoulder raised.
'Perhaps that might escape the notice of the girls, even if they
did see me,' remarks Edwin, looking down at his boots with a sudden
distaste for them.
'Nothing escapes their notice, sir. And then I know what would
happen. Some of them would begin reflecting on me by saying (for
THEY are free) that they never will on any account engage
themselves to lovers without polished leather boots. Hark! Miss
Twinkleton. I'll ask for leave.'
That discreet lady being indeed heard without, inquiring of nobody
in a blandly conversational tone as she advances: 'Eh? Indeed!
Are you quite sure you saw my mother-of-pearl button-holder on the
work-table in my room?' is at once solicited for walking leave, and
graciously accords it. And soon the young couple go out of the
Nuns' House, taking all precautions against the discovery of the so
vitally defective boots of Mr. Edwin Drood: precautions, let us
hope, effective for the peace of Mrs. Edwin Drood that is to be.
'Which way shall we take, Rosa?'
Rosa replies: 'I want to go to the Lumps-of-Delight shop.'
'To the - ?'
'A Turkish sweetmeat, sir. My gracious me, don't you understand
anything? Call yourself an Engineer, and not know THAT?'
'Why, how should I know it, Rosa?'
'Because I am very fond of them. But O! I forgot what we are to
pretend. No, you needn't know anything about them; never mind.'
So he is gloomily borne off to the Lumps-of-Delight shop, where
Rosa makes her purchase, and, after offering some to him (which he
rather indignantly declines), begins to partake of it with great
zest: previously taking off and rolling up a pair of little pink
gloves, like rose-leaves, and occasionally putting her little pink
fingers to her rosy lips, to cleanse them from the Dust of Delight
that comes off the Lumps.
'Now, be a good-tempered Eddy, and pretend. And so you are
'And so I am engaged.'
'Is she nice?'
'Immensely tall!' Rosa being short.
'Must be gawky, I should think,' is Rosa's quiet commentary.
'I beg your pardon; not at all,' contradiction rising in him.
'What is termed a fine woman; a splendid woman.'
'Big nose, no doubt,' is the quiet commentary again.
'Not a little one, certainly,' is the quick reply, (Rosa's being a
'Long pale nose, with a red knob in the middle. I know the sort of
nose,' says Rosa, with a satisfied nod, and tranquilly enjoying the
'You DON'T know the sort of nose, Rosa,' with some warmth; 'because
it's nothing of the kind.'
'Not a pale nose, Eddy?'
'No.' Determined not to assent.
'A red nose? O! I don't like red noses. However; to be sure she
can always powder it.'
'She would scorn to powder it,' says Edwin, becoming heated.
'Would she? What a stupid thing she must be! Is she stupid in
'No; in nothing.'
After a pause, in which the whimsically wicked face has not been
unobservant of him, Rosa says:
'And this most sensible of creatures likes the idea of being
carried off to Egypt; does she, Eddy?'
'Yes. She takes a sensible interest in triumphs of engineering
skill: especially when they are to change the whole condition of
an undeveloped country.'
'Lor!' says Rosa, shrugging her shoulders, with a little laugh of
'Do you object,' Edwin inquires, with a majestic turn of his eyes
downward upon the fairy figure: 'do you object, Rosa, to her
feeling that interest?'
'Object? my dear Eddy! But really, doesn't she hate boilers and
'I can answer for her not being so idiotic as to hate Boilers,' he
returns with angry emphasis; 'though I cannot answer for her views
about Things; really not understanding what Things are meant.'
'But don't she hate Arabs, and Turks, and Fellahs, and people?'
'Certainly not.' Very firmly.
'At least she MUST hate the Pyramids? Come, Eddy?'
'Why should she be such a little - tall, I mean - goose, as to hate
the Pyramids, Rosa?'
'Ah! you should hear Miss Twinkleton,' often nodding her head, and
much enjoying the Lumps, 'bore about them, and then you wouldn't
ask. Tiresome old burying-grounds! Isises, and Ibises, and
Cheopses, and Pharaohses; who cares about them? And then there was
Belzoni, or somebody, dragged out by the legs, half-choked with
bats and dust. All the girls say: Serve him right, and hope it
hurt him, and wish he had been quite choked.'
The two youthful figures, side by side, but not now arm-in-arm,
wander discontentedly about the old Close; and each sometimes stops
and slowly imprints a deeper footstep in the fallen leaves.
'Well!' says Edwin, after a lengthy silence. 'According to custom.
We can't get on, Rosa.'
Rosa tosses her head, and says she don't want to get on.
'That's a pretty sentiment, Rosa, considering.'
'If I say what, you'll go wrong again.'
'YOU'LL go wrong, you mean, Eddy. Don't be ungenerous.'
'Ungenerous! I like that!'
'Then I DON'T like that, and so I tell you plainly,' Rosa pouts.
'Now, Rosa, I put it to you. Who disparaged my profession, my
destination - '
'You are not going to be buried in the Pyramids, I hope?' she
interrupts, arching her delicate eyebrows. 'You never said you
were. If you are, why haven't you mentioned it to me? I can't
find out your plans by instinct.'
'Now, Rosa, you know very well what I mean, my dear.'
'Well then, why did you begin with your detestable red-nosed
giantesses? And she would, she would, she would, she would, she
WOULD powder it!' cries Rosa, in a little burst of comical
'Somehow or other, I never can come right in these discussions,'
says Edwin, sighing and becoming resigned.
'How is it possible, sir, that you ever can come right when you're
always wrong? And as to Belzoni, I suppose he's dead; - I'm sure I
hope he is - and how can his legs or his chokes concern you?'
'It is nearly time for your return, Rosa. We have not had a very
happy walk, have we?'
'A happy walk? A detestably unhappy walk, sir. If I go up-stairs
the moment I get in and cry till I can't take my dancing lesson,
you are responsible, mind!'
'Let us be friends, Rosa.'
'Ah!' cries Rosa, shaking her head and bursting into real tears, 'I
wish we COULD be friends! It's because we can't be friends, that
we try one another so. I am a young little thing, Eddy, to have an
old heartache; but I really, really have, sometimes. Don't be
angry. I know you have one yourself too often. We should both of
us have done better, if What is to be had been left What might have
been. I am quite a little serious thing now, and not teasing you.
Let each of us forbear, this one time, on our own account, and on
Disarmed by this glimpse of a woman's nature in the spoilt child,
though for an instant disposed to resent it as seeming to involve
the enforced infliction of himself upon her, Edwin Drood stands
watching her as she childishly cries and sobs, with both hands to
the handkerchief at her eyes, and then - she becoming more
composed, and indeed beginning in her young inconstancy to laugh at
herself for having been so moved - leads her to a seat hard by,
under the elm-trees.
'One clear word of understanding, Pussy dear. I am not clever out
of my own line - now I come to think of it, I don't know that I am
particularly clever in it - but I want to do right. There is not -
there may be - I really don't see my way to what I want to say, but
I must say it before we part - there is not any other young - '
'O no, Eddy! It's generous of you to ask me; but no, no, no!'
They have come very near to the Cathedral windows, and at this
moment the organ and the choir sound out sublimely. As they sit
listening to the solemn swell, the confidence of last night rises
in young Edwin Drood's mind, and he thinks how unlike this music is
to that discordance.
'I fancy I can distinguish Jack's voice,' is his remark in a low
tone in connection with the train of thought.
'Take me back at once, please,' urges his Affianced, quickly laying
her light hand upon his wrist. 'They will all be coming out
directly; let us get away. O, what a resounding chord! But don't
let us stop to listen to it; let us get away!'
Her hurry is over as soon as they have passed out of the Close.
They go arm-in-arm now, gravely and deliberately enough, along the
old High-street, to the Nuns' House. At the gate, the street being
within sight empty, Edwin bends down his face to Rosebud's.
She remonstrates, laughing, and is a childish schoolgirl again.
'Eddy, no! I'm too sticky to be kissed. But give me your hand,
and I'll blow a kiss into that.'
He does so. She breathes a light breath into it and asks,
retaining it and looking into it:
'Now say, what do you see?'
'Why, I thought you Egyptian boys could look into a hand and see
all sorts of phantoms. Can't you see a happy Future?'
For certain, neither of them sees a happy Present, as the gate
opens and closes, and one goes in, and the other goes away.
CHAPTER IV - MR. SAPSEA
ACCEPTING the Jackass as the type of self-sufficient stupidity and
conceit - a custom, perhaps, like some few other customs, more
conventional than fair - then the purest jackass in Cloisterham is
Mr. Thomas Sapsea, Auctioneer.
Mr. Sapsea 'dresses at' the Dean; has been bowed to for the Dean,
in mistake; has even been spoken to in the street as My Lord, under
the impression that he was the Bishop come down unexpectedly,
without his chaplain. Mr. Sapsea is very proud of this, and of his
voice, and of his style. He has even (in selling landed property)
tried the experiment of slightly intoning in his pulpit, to make
himself more like what he takes to be the genuine ecclesiastical
article. So, in ending a Sale by Public Auction, Mr. Sapsea
finishes off with an air of bestowing a benediction on the
assembled brokers, which leaves the real Dean - a modest and worthy
gentleman - far behind.
Mr. Sapsea has many admirers; indeed, the proposition is carried by
a large local majority, even including non-believers in his wisdom,
that he is a credit to Cloisterham. He possesses the great
qualities of being portentous and dull, and of having a roll in his
speech, and another roll in his gait; not to mention a certain
gravely flowing action with his hands, as if he were presently
going to Confirm the individual with whom he holds discourse. Much
nearer sixty years of age than fifty, with a flowing outline of
stomach, and horizontal creases in his waistcoat; reputed to be
rich; voting at elections in the strictly respectable interest;
morally satisfied that nothing but he himself has grown since he
was a baby; how can dunder-headed Mr. Sapsea be otherwise than a
credit to Cloisterham, and society?
Mr. Sapsea's premises are in the High-street, over against the
Nuns' House. They are of about the period of the Nuns' House,
irregularly modernised here and there, as steadily deteriorating
generations found, more and more, that they preferred air and light
to Fever and the Plague. Over the doorway is a wooden effigy,
about half life-size, representing Mr. Sapsea's father, in a curly
wig and toga, in the act of selling. The chastity of the idea, and
the natural appearance of the little finger, hammer, and pulpit,
have been much admired.
Mr. Sapsea sits in his dull ground-floor sitting-room, giving first
on his paved back yard; and then on his railed-off garden. Mr.
Sapsea has a bottle of port wine on a table before the fire - the
fire is an early luxury, but pleasant on the cool, chilly autumn
evening - and is characteristically attended by his portrait, his
eight-day clock, and his weather-glass. Characteristically,
because he would uphold himself against mankind, his weather-glass
against weather, and his clock against time.
By Mr. Sapsea's side on the table are a writing-desk and writing
materials. Glancing at a scrap of manuscript, Mr. Sapsea reads it
to himself with a lofty air, and then, slowly pacing the room with
his thumbs in the arm-holes of his waistcoat, repeats it from
memory: so internally, though with much dignity, that the word
'Ethelinda' is alone audible.
There are three clean wineglasses in a tray on the table. His
serving-maid entering, and announcing 'Mr. Jasper is come, sir,'
Mr. Sapsea waves 'Admit him,' and draws two wineglasses from the
rank, as being claimed.
'Glad to see you, sir. I congratulate myself on having the honour
of receiving you here for the first time.' Mr. Sapsea does the
honours of his house in this wise.
'You are very good. The honour is mine and the self-congratulation
'You are pleased to say so, sir. But I do assure you that it is a
satisfaction to me to receive you in my humble home. And that is
what I would not say to everybody.' Ineffable loftiness on Mr.
Sapsea's part accompanies these words, as leaving the sentence to
be understood: 'You will not easily believe that your society can
be a satisfaction to a man like myself; nevertheless, it is.'
'I have for some time desired to know you, Mr. Sapsea.'
'And I, sir, have long known you by reputation as a man of taste.
Let me fill your glass. I will give you, sir,' says Mr. Sapsea,
filling his own:
'When the French come over,
May we meet them at Dover!'
This was a patriotic toast in Mr. Sapsea's infancy, and he is
therefore fully convinced of its being appropriate to any
'You can scarcely be ignorant, Mr. Sapsea,' observes Jasper,
watching the auctioneer with a smile as the latter stretches out
his legs before the fire, 'that you know the world.'
'Well, sir,' is the chuckling reply, 'I think I know something of
it; something of it.'
'Your reputation for that knowledge has always interested and
surprised me, and made me wish to know you. For Cloisterham is a
little place. Cooped up in it myself, I know nothing beyond it,
and feel it to be a very little place.'
'If I have not gone to foreign countries, young man,' Mr. Sapsea
begins, and then stops:- 'You will excuse me calling you young man,
Mr. Jasper? You are much my junior.'
'By all means.'
'If I have not gone to foreign countries, young man, foreign
countries have come to me. They have come to me in the way of
business, and I have improved upon my opportunities. Put it that I
take an inventory, or make a catalogue. I see a French clock. I
never saw him before, in my life, but I instantly lay my finger on
him and say Paris!" I see some cups and saucers of Chinese make
equally strangers to me personally: I put my finger on themthen
and thereand I say "PekinNankinand Canton." It is the same
with Japanwith Egyptand with bamboo and sandalwood from the
East Indies; I put my finger on them all. I have put my finger on
the North Pole before nowand said "Spear of Esquimaux makefor
half a pint of pale sherry!"'
'Really? A very remarkable wayMr. Sapseaof acquiring a
knowledge of men and things.'
'I mention itsir' Mr. Sapsea rejoinswith unspeakable
complacency'becauseas I sayit don't do to boast of what you
are; but show how you came to be itand then you prove it.'
'Most interesting. We were to speak of the late Mrs. Sapsea.'
'We weresir.' Mr. Sapsea fills both glassesand takes the
decanter into safe keeping again. 'Before I consult your opinion
as a man of taste on this little trifle' - holding it up - 'which
is BUT a trifleand still has required some thoughtsirsome
little fever of the browI ought perhaps to describe the character
of the late Mrs. Sapseanow dead three quarters of a year.'
Mr. Jasperin the act of yawning behind his wineglassputs down
that screen and calls up a look of interest. It is a little
impaired in its expressiveness by his having a shut-up gape still
to dispose ofwith watering eyes.
'Half a dozen years agoor so' Mr. Sapsea proceeds'when I had
enlarged my mind up to - I will not say to what it now isfor that
might seem to aim at too muchbut up to the pitch of wanting
another mind to be absorbed in it - I cast my eye about me for a
nuptial partner. Becauseas I sayit is not good for man to be
Mr. Jasper appears to commit this original idea to memory.
'Miss Brobity at that time keptI will not call it the rival
establishment to the establishment at the Nuns' House oppositebut
I will call it the other parallel establishment down town. The
world did have it that she showed a passion for attending my sales
when they took place on half holidaysor in vacation time. The
world did put it aboutthat she admired my style. The world did
notice that as time flowed bymy style became traceable in the
dictation-exercises of Miss Brobity's pupils. Young mana whisper
even sprang up in obscure malignitythat one ignorant and besotted
Churl (a parent) so committed himself as to object to it by name.
But I do not believe this. For is it likely that any human
creature in his right senses would so lay himself open to be
pointed atby what I call the finger of scorn?'
Mr. Jasper shakes his head. Not in the least likely. Mr. Sapsea
in a grandiloquent state of absence of mindseems to refill his
visitor's glasswhich is full already; and does really refill his
ownwhich is empty.
'Miss Brobity's Beingyoung manwas deeply imbued with homage to
Mind. She revered Mindwhen launchedoras I sayprecipitated
on an extensive knowledge of the world. When I made my proposal
she did me the honour to be so overshadowed with a species of Awe
as to be able to articulate only the two wordsO Thou!meaning
myself. Her limpid blue eyes were fixed upon meher semi-
transparent hands were clasped togetherpallor overspread her
aquiline featuresandthough encouraged to proceedshe never did
proceed a word further. I disposed of the parallel establishment
by private contractand we became as nearly one as could be
expected under the circumstances. But she never couldand she
never didfind a phrase satisfactory to her perhaps-too-favourable
estimate of my intellect. To the very last (feeble action of
liver)she addressed me in the same unfinished terms.'
Mr. Jasper has closed his eyes as the auctioneer has deepened his
voice. He now abruptly opens themand saysin unison with the
deepened voice 'Ah!' - rather as if stopping himself on the extreme
verge of adding - 'men!'
'I have been since' says Mr. Sapseawith his legs stretched out
and solemnly enjoying himself with the wine and the fire'what you
behold me; I have been since a solitary mourner; I have been since
as I saywasting my evening conversation on the desert air. I
will not say that I have reproached myself; but there have been
times when I have asked myself the question: What if her husband
had been nearer on a level with her? If she had not had to look up
quite so highwhat might the stimulating action have been upon the
Mr. Jasper sayswith an appearance of having fallen into
dreadfully low spiritsthat he 'supposes it was to be.'
'We can only suppose sosir' Mr. Sapsea coincides. 'As I say
Man proposesHeaven disposes. It may or may not be putting the
same thought in another form; but that is the way I put it.'
Mr. Jasper murmurs assent.
'And nowMr. Jasper' resumes the auctioneerproducing his scrap
of manuscript'Mrs. Sapsea's monument having had full time to
settle and drylet me take your opinionas a man of tasteon the
inscription I have (as I before remarkednot without some little
fever of the brow) drawn out for it. Take it in your own hand.
The setting out of the lines requires to be followed with the eye
as well as the contents with the mind.'
Mr. Jasper complyingsees and reads as follows:
Reverential Wife of
MR. THOMAS SAPSEA
OF THIS CITY.
Whose Knowledge of the World
Though somewhat extensive
Never brought him acquainted with
More capable of
LOOKING UP TO HIM.
And ask thyself the Question
CANST THOU DO LIKEWISE?
WITH A BLUSH RETIRE.
Mr. Sapsea having risen and stationed himself with his back to the
firefor the purpose of observing the effect of these lines on the
countenance of a man of tasteconsequently has his face towards
the doorwhen his serving-maidagain appearingannounces
'Durdles is comesir!' He promptly draws forth and fills the
third wineglassas being now claimedand replies'Show Durdles
'Admirable!' quoth Mr. Jasperhanding back the paper.
'Impossible not to approve. Strikingcharacteristicand
The auctioneer inclines his headas one accepting his due and
giving a receipt; and invites the entering Durdles to take off that
glass of wine (handing the same)for it will warm him.
Durdles is a stonemason; chiefly in the gravestonetomband
monument wayand wholly of their colour from head to foot. No man
is better known in Cloisterham. He is the chartered libertine of
the place. Fame trumpets him a wonderful workman - whichfor
aught that anybody knowshe may be (as he never works); and a
wonderful sot - which everybody knows he is. With the Cathedral
crypt he is better acquainted than any living authority; it may
even be than any dead one. It is said that the intimacy of this
acquaintance began in his habitually resorting to that secret
placeto lock-out the Cloisterham boy-populaceand sleep off
fumes of liquor: he having ready access to the Cathedralas
contractor for rough repairs. Be this as it mayhe does know much
about itandin the demolition of impedimental fragments of wall
buttressand pavementhas seen strange sights. He often speaks
of himself in the third person; perhapsbeing a little misty as to
his own identitywhen he narrates; perhaps impartially adopting
the Cloisterham nomenclature in reference to a character of
acknowledged distinction. Thus he will saytouching his strange
sights: 'Durdles come upon the old chap' in reference to a buried
magnate of ancient time and high degree'by striking right into
the coffin with his pick. The old chap gave Durdles a look with
his open eyesas much as to sayIs your name Durdles? Why, my
man, I've been waiting for you a devil of a time!And then he
turned to powder.' With a two-foot rule always in his pocketand
a mason's hammer all but always in his handDurdles goes
continually sounding and tapping all about and about the Cathedral;
and whenever he says to Tope: 'Topehere's another old 'un in
here!' Tope announces it to the Dean as an established discovery.
In a suit of coarse flannel with horn buttonsa yellow neckerchief
with draggled endsan old hat more russet-coloured than blackand
laced boots of the hue of his stony callingDurdles leads a hazy
gipsy sort of lifecarrying his dinner about with him in a small
bundleand sitting on all manner of tombstones to dine. This
dinner of Durdles's has become quite a Cloisterham institution:
not only because of his never appearing in public without itbut
because of its having beenon certain renowned occasionstaken
into custody along with Durdles (as drunk and incapable)and
exhibited before the Bench of justices at the townhall. These
occasionshoweverhave been few and far apart: Durdles being as
seldom drunk as sober. For the resthe is an old bachelorand he
lives in a little antiquated hole of a house that was never
finished: supposed to be builtso farof stones stolen from the
city wall. To this abode there is an approachankle-deep in stone
chipsresembling a petrified grove of tombstonesurnsdraperies
and broken columnsin all stages of sculpture. Herein two
journeymen incessantly chipwhile other two journeymenwho face
each otherincessantly saw stone; dipping as regularly in and out
of their sheltering sentry-boxesas if they were mechanical
figures emblematical of Time and Death.
To Durdleswhen he had consumed his glass of portMr. Sapsea
intrusts that precious effort of his Muse. Durdles unfeelingly
takes out his two-foot ruleand measures the lines calmly
alloying them with stone-grit.
'This is for the monumentis itMr. Sapsea?'
'The Inscription. Yes.' Mr. Sapsea waits for its effect on a
'It'll come in to a eighth of a inch' says Durdles. 'Your
servantMr. Jasper. Hope I see you well.'
'How are you Durdles?'
'I've got a touch of the Tombatism on meMr. Jasperbut that I
'You mean the Rheumatism' says Sapseain a sharp tone. (He is
nettled by having his composition so mechanically received.)
'NoI don't. I meanMr. Sapseathe Tombatism. It's another
sort from Rheumatism. Mr. Jasper knows what Durdles means. You
get among them Tombs afore it's well light on a winter morningand
keep onas the Catechism saysa-walking in the same all the days
of your lifeand YOU'LL know what Durdles means.'
'It is a bitter cold place' Mr. Jasper assentswith an
'And if it's bitter cold for youup in the chancelwith a lot of
live breath smoking out about youwhat the bitterness is to
Durdlesdown in the crypt among the earthy damps thereand the
dead breath of the old 'uns' returns that individual'Durdles
leaves you to judge. - Is this to be put in hand at onceMr.
Mr. Sapseawith an Author's anxiety to rush into publication
replies that it cannot be out of hand too soon.
'You had better let me have the key then' says Durdles.
'Whymanit is not to be put inside the monument!'
'Durdles knows where it's to be putMr. Sapsea; no man better.
Ask 'ere a man in Cloisterham whether Durdles knows his work.'
Mr. Sapsea risestakes a key from a drawerunlocks an iron safe
let into the walland takes from it another key.
'When Durdles puts a touch or a finish upon his workno matter
whereinside or outsideDurdles likes to look at his work all
roundand see that his work is a-doing him credit' Durdles
The key proffered him by the bereaved widower being a large onehe
slips his two-foot rule into a side-pocket of his flannel trousers
made for itand deliberately opens his flannel coatand opens the
mouth of a large breast-pocket within it before taking the key to
place it in that repository.
'WhyDurdles!' exclaims Jasperlooking on amused'you are
undermined with pockets!'
'And I carries weight in 'em tooMr. Jasper. Feel those!'
producing two other large keys.
'Hand me Mr. Sapsea's likewise. Surely this is the heaviest of the
'You'll find 'em much of a muchnessI expect' says Durdles.
'They all belong to monuments. They all open Durdles's work.
Durdles keeps the keys of his work mostly. Not that they're much
'By the bye' it comes into Jasper's mind to sayas he idly
examines the keys'I have been going to ask youmany a dayand
have always forgotten. You know they sometimes call you Stony
'Cloisterham knows me as DurdlesMr. Jasper.'
'I am aware of thatof course. But the boys sometimes - '
'O! if you mind them young imps of boys - ' Durdles gruffly
'I don't mind them any more than you do. But there was a
discussion the other day among the Choirwhether Stony stood for
Tony;' clinking one key against another.
('Take care of the wardsMr. Jasper.')
'Or whether Stony stood for Stephen;' clinking with a change of
('You can't make a pitch pipe of 'emMr. Jasper.')
'Or whether the name comes from your trade. How stands the fact?'
Mr. Jasper weighs the three keys in his handlifts his head from
his idly stooping attitude over the fireand delivers the keys to
Durdles with an ingenuous and friendly face.
But the stony one is a gruff one likewiseand that hazy state of
his is always an uncertain statehighly conscious of its dignity
and prone to take offence. He drops his two keys back into his
pocket one by oneand buttons them up; he takes his dinner-bundle
from the chair-back on which he hung it when he came in; he
distributes the weight he carriesby tying the third key up in it
as though he were an Ostrichand liked to dine off cold iron; and
he gets out of the roomdeigning no word of answer.
Mr. Sapsea then proposes a hit at backgammonwhichseasoned with
his own improving conversationand terminating in a supper of cold
roast beef and saladbeguiles the golden evening until pretty
late. Mr. Sapsea's wisdom beingin its delivery to mortals
rather of the diffuse than the epigrammatic orderis by no means
expended even then; but his visitor intimates that he will come
back for more of the precious commodity on future occasionsand
Mr. Sapsea lets him off for the presentto ponder on the
instalment he carries away.
CHAPTER V - MR. DURDLES AND FRIEND
JOHN JASPERon his way home through the Closeis brought to a
stand-still by the spectacle of Stony Durdlesdinner-bundle and
allleaning his back against the iron railing of the burial-ground
enclosing it from the old cloister-arches; and a hideous small boy
in rags flinging stones at him as a well-defined mark in the
moonlight. Sometimes the stones hit himand sometimes they miss
himbut Durdles seems indifferent to either fortune. The hideous
small boyon the contrarywhenever he hits Durdlesblows a
whistle of triumph through a jagged gapconvenient for the
purposein the front of his mouthwhere half his teeth are
wanting; and whenever he misses himyelps out 'Mulled agin!' and
tries to atone for the failure by taking a more correct and vicious
'What are you doing to the man?' demands Jasperstepping out into
the moonlight from the shade.
'Making a cock-shy of him' replies the hideous small boy.
'Give me those stones in your hand.'
'YesI'll give 'em you down your throatif you come a-ketching
hold of me' says the small boyshaking himself looseand
backing. 'I'll smash your eyeif you don't look out!'
'Baby-Devil that you arewhat has the man done to you?'
'He won't go home.'
'What is that to you?'
'He gives me a 'apenny to pelt him home if I ketches him out too
late' says the boy. And then chantslike a little savagehalf
stumbling and half dancing among the rags and laces of his
'Widdy widdy wen!
I - ket - ches - Im - out - ar - ter - ten
Widdy widdy wy!
Then - E - don't - go - then - I - shy -
Widdy Widdy Wake-cock warning!'
-with a comprehensive sweep on the last wordand one more
delivery at Durdles.
This would seem to be a poetical note of preparationagreed upon
as a caution to Durdles to stand clear if he canor to betake
John Jasper invites the boy with a beck of his head to follow him
(feeling it hopeless to drag himor coax him)and crosses to the
iron railing where the Stony (and stoned) One is profoundly
'Do you know this thingthis child?' asks Jasperat a loss for a
word that will define this thing.
'Deputy' says Durdleswith a nod.
'Is that its - his - name?'
'Deputy' assents Durdles.
'I'm man-servant up at the Travellers' Twopenny in Gas Works
Garding' this thing explains. 'All us man-servants at Travellers'
Lodgings is named Deputy. When we're chock full and the Travellers
is all a-bed I come out for my 'elth.' Then withdrawing into the
roadand taking aimhe resumes:-
'Widdy widdy wen!
I - ket - ches - Im - out - ar - ter - '
'Hold your hand' cries Jasper'and don't throw while I stand so
near himor I'll kill you! ComeDurdles; let me walk home with
you to-night. Shall I carry your bundle?'
'Not on any account' replies Durdlesadjusting it. 'Durdles was
making his reflections here when you come upsirsurrounded by
his workslike a poplar Author. - Your own brother-in-law;'
introducing a sarcophagus within the railingwhite and cold in the
moonlight. 'Mrs. Sapsea;' introducing the monument of that devoted
wife. 'Late Incumbent;' introducing the Reverend Gentleman's
broken column. 'Departed Assessed Taxes;' introducing a vase and
towelstanding on what might represent the cake of soap. 'Former
pastrycook and Muffin-makermuch respected;' introducing
gravestone. 'All safe and sound heresirand all Durdles's work.
Of the common folkthat is merely bundled up in turf and brambles
the less said the better. A poor lotsoon forgot.'
'This creatureDeputyis behind us' says Jasperlooking back.
'Is he to follow us?'
The relations between Durdles and Deputy are of a capricious kind;
foron Durdles's turning himself about with the slow gravity of
beery suddennessDeputy makes a pretty wide circuit into the road
and stands on the defensive.
'You never cried Widdy Warning before you begun to-night' says
Durdlesunexpectedly reminded ofor imaginingan injury.
'Yer lieI did' says Deputyin his only form of polite
'Own brothersir' observes Durdlesturning himself about again
and as unexpectedly forgetting his offence as he had recalled or
conceived it; 'own brother to Peter the Wild Boy! But I gave him
an object in life.'
'At which he takes aim?' Mr. Jasper suggests.
'That's itsir' returns Durdlesquite satisfied; 'at which he
takes aim. I took him in hand and gave him an object. What was he
before? A destroyer. What work did he do? Nothing but
destruction. What did he earn by it? Short terms in Cloisterham
jail. Not a personnot a piece of propertynot a windernot a
horsenor a dognor a catnor a birdnor a fowlnor a pigbut
what he stonedfor want of an enlightened object. I put that
enlightened object before himand now he can turn his honest
halfpenny by the three penn'orth a week.'
'I wonder he has no competitors.'
'He has plentyMr. Jasperbut he stones 'em all away. NowI
don't know what this scheme of mine comes to' pursues Durdles
considering about it with the same sodden gravity; 'I don't know
what you may precisely call it. It ain't a sort of a - scheme of a
'I should say not' replies Jasper.
'I should say not' assents Durdles; 'then we won't try to give it
'He still keeps behind us' repeats Jasperlooking over his
shoulder; 'is he to follow us?'
'We can't help going round by the Travellers' Twopennyif we go
the short waywhich is the back way' Durdles answers'and we'll
drop him there.'
So they go on; Deputyas a rear rank onetaking open orderand
invading the silence of the hour and place by stoning every wall
postpillarand other inanimate objectby the deserted way.
'Is there anything new down in the cryptDurdles?' asks John
'Anything oldI think you mean' growls Durdles. 'It ain't a spot
'Any new discovery on your partI meant.'
'There's a old 'un under the seventh pillar on the left as you go
down the broken steps of the little underground chapel as formerly
was; I make him out (so fur as I've made him out yet) to be one of
them old 'uns with a crook. To judge from the size of the passages
in the wallsand of the steps and doorsby which they come and
wentthem crooks must have been a good deal in the way of the old
'uns! Two on 'em meeting promiscuous must have hitched one another
by the mitre pretty oftenI should say.'
Without any endeavour to correct the literality of this opinion
Jasper surveys his companion - covered from head to foot with old
mortarlimeand stone grit - as though heJasperwere getting
imbued with a romantic interest in his weird life.
'Yours is a curious existence.'
Without furnishing the least clue to the questionwhether he
receives this as a compliment or as quite the reverseDurdles
gruffly answers: 'Yours is another.'
'Well! inasmuch as my lot is cast in the same old earthychilly
never-changing placeYes. But there is much more mystery and
interest in your connection with the Cathedral than in mine.
IndeedI am beginning to have some idea of asking you to take me
on as a sort of studentor free 'prenticeunder youand to let
me go about with you sometimesand see some of these odd nooks in
which you pass your days.'
The Stony One repliesin a general way'All right. Everybody
knows where to find Durdleswhen he's wanted.' Whichif not
strictly trueis approximately soif taken to express that
Durdles may always be found in a state of vagabondage somewhere.
'What I dwell upon most' says Jasperpursuing his subject of
romantic interest'is the remarkable accuracy with which you would
seem to find out where people are buried. - What is the matter?
That bundle is in your way; let me hold it.'
Durdles has stopped and backed a little (Deputyattentive to all
his movementsimmediately skirmishing into the road)and was
looking about for some ledge or corner to place his bundle onwhen
thus relieved of it.
'Just you give me my hammer out of that' says Durdles'and I'll
Clinkclink. And his hammer is handed him.
'Nowlookee here. You pitch your notedon't youMr. Jasper?'
'So I sound for mine. I take my hammerand I tap.' (Here he
strikes the pavementand the attentive Deputy skirmishes at a
rather wider rangeas supposing that his head may be in
requisition.) 'I taptaptap. Solid! I go on tapping. Solid
still! Tap again. Holloa! Hollow! Tap againpersevering.
Solid in hollow! Taptaptapto try it better. Solid in
hollow; and inside solidhollow again! There you are! Old 'un
crumbled away in stone coffinin vault!'
'I have even done this' says Durdlesdrawing out his two-foot
rule (Deputy meanwhile skirmishing neareras suspecting that
Treasure may be about to be discoveredwhich may somehow lead to
his own enrichmentand the delicious treat of the discoverers
being hanged by the neckon his evidenceuntil they are dead).
'Say that hammer of mine's a wall - my work. Two; four; and two is
six' measuring on the pavement. 'Six foot inside that wall is
'Not really Mrs. Sapsea?'
'Say Mrs. Sapsea. Her wall's thickerbut say Mrs. Sapsea.
Durdles tapsthat wall represented by that hammerand saysafter
good sounding: "Something betwixt us!" Sure enoughsome rubbish
has been left in that same six-foot space by Durdles's men!'
Jasper opines that such accuracy 'is a gift.'
'I wouldn't have it at a gift' returns Durdlesby no means
receiving the observation in good part. 'I worked it out for
myself. Durdles comes by HIS knowledge through grubbing deep for
itand having it up by the roots when it don't want to come. -
Holloa you Deputy!'
'Widdy!' is Deputy's shrill responsestanding off again.
'Catch that ha'penny. And don't let me see any more of you to-
nightafter we come to the Travellers' Twopenny.'
'Warning!' returns Deputyhaving caught the halfpennyand
appearing by this mystic word to express his assent to the
They have but to cross what was once the vineyardbelonging to
what was once the Monasteryto come into the narrow back lane
wherein stands the crazy wooden house of two low stories currently
known as the Travellers' Twopenny:- a house all warped and
distortedlike the morals of the travellerswith scant remains of
a lattice-work porch over the doorand also of a rustic fence
before its stamped-out garden; by reason of the travellers being so
bound to the premises by a tender sentiment (or so fond of having a
fire by the roadside in the course of the day)that they can never
be persuaded or threatened into departurewithout violently
possessing themselves of some wooden forget-me-notand bearing it
The semblance of an inn is attempted to be given to this wretched
place by fragments of conventional red curtaining in the windows
which rags are made muddily transparent in the night-season by
feeble lights of rush or cotton dip burning dully in the close air
of the inside. As Durdles and Jasper come nearthey are addressed
by an inscribed paper lantern over the doorsetting forth the
purport of the house. They are also addressed by some half-dozen
other hideous small boys - whether twopenny lodgers or followers or
hangers-on of suchwho knows! - whoas if attracted by some
carrion-scent of Deputy in the airstart into the moonlightas
vultures might gather in the desertand instantly fall to stoning
him and one another.
'Stopyou young brutes' cries Jasper angrily'and let us go by!'
This remonstrance being received with yells and flying stones
according to a custom of late years comfortably established among
the police regulations of our English communitieswhere Christians
are stoned on all sidesas if the days of Saint Stephen were
revivedDurdles remarks of the young savageswith some point
that 'they haven't got an object' and leads the way down the lane.
At the corner of the laneJasperhotly enragedchecks his
companion and looks back. All is silent. Next momenta stone
coming rattling at his hatand a distant yell of 'Wake-Cock!
Warning!' followed by a crowas from some infernally-hatched
Chanticleerapprising him under whose victorious fire he stands
he turns the corner into safetyand takes Durdles home: Durdles
stumbling among the litter of his stony yard as if he were going to
turn head foremost into one of the unfinished tombs.
John Jasper returns by another way to his gatehouseand entering
softly with his keyfinds his fire still burning. He takes from a
locked press a peculiar-looking pipewhich he fills - but not with
tobacco - andhaving adjusted the contents of the bowlvery
carefullywith a little instrumentascends an inner staircase of
only a few stepsleading to two rooms. One of these is his own
sleeping chamber: the other is his nephew's. There is a light in
His nephew lies asleepcalm and untroubled. John Jasper stands
looking down upon himhis unlighted pipe in his handfor some
timewith a fixed and deep attention. Thenhushing his
footstepshe passes to his own roomlights his pipeand delivers
himself to the Spectres it invokes at midnight.
CHAPTER VI - PHILANTHROPY IN MINOR CANON CORNER
THE Reverend Septimus Crisparkle (Septimusbecause six little
brother Crisparkles before him went outone by oneas they were
bornlike six weak little rushlightsas they were lighted)
having broken the thin morning ice near Cloisterham Weir with his
amiable headmuch to the invigoration of his framewas now
assisting his circulation by boxing at a looking-glass with great
science and prowess. A fresh and healthy portrait the lookingglass
presented of the Reverend Septimusfeinting and dodging with
the utmost artfulnessand hitting out from the shoulder with the
utmost straightnesswhile his radiant features teemed with
innocenceand soft-hearted benevolence beamed from his boxinggloves.
It was scarcely breakfast-time yetfor Mrs. Crisparkle - mother
not wife of the Reverend Septimus - was only just downand waiting
for the urn. Indeedthe Reverend Septimus left off at this very
moment to take the pretty old lady's entering face between his
boxing-gloves and kiss it. Having done so with tendernessthe
Reverend Septimus turned to againcountering with his leftand
putting in his rightin a tremendous manner.
'I sayevery morning of my lifethat you'll do it at lastSept'
remarked the old ladylooking on; 'and so you will.'
'Do whatMa dear?'
'Break the pier-glassor burst a blood-vessel.'
'Neitherplease GodMa dear. Here's windMa. Look at this!'
In a concluding round of great severitythe Reverend Septimus
administered and escaped all sorts of punishmentand wound up by
getting the old lady's cap into Chancery - such is the technical
term used in scientific circles by the learned in the Noble Art -
with a lightness of touch that hardly stirred the lightest lavender
or cherry riband on it. Magnanimously releasing the defeatedjust
in time to get his gloves into a drawer and feign to be looking out
of window in a contemplative state of mind when a servant entered
the Reverend Septimus then gave place to the urn and other
preparations for breakfast. These completedand the two alone
againit was pleasant to see (or would have beenif there had
been any one to see itwhich there never was)the old lady
standing to say the Lord's Prayer aloudand her sonMinor Canon
neverthelessstanding with bent head to hear ithe being within
five years of forty: much as he had stood to hear the same words
from the same lips when he was within five months of four.
What is prettier than an old lady - except a young lady - when her
eyes are brightwhen her figure is trim and compactwhen her face
is cheerful and calmwhen her dress is as the dress of a china
shepherdess: so dainty in its coloursso individually assorted to
herselfso neatly moulded on her? Nothing is prettierthought
the good Minor Canon frequentlywhen taking his seat at table
opposite his long-widowed mother. Her thought at such times may be
condensed into the two words that oftenest did duty together in all
her conversations: 'My Sept!'
They were a good pair to sit breakfasting together in Minor Canon
CornerCloisterham. For Minor Canon Corner was a quiet place in
the shadow of the Cathedralwhich the cawing of the rooksthe
echoing footsteps of rare passersthe sound of the Cathedral bell
or the roll of the Cathedral organseemed to render more quiet
than absolute silence. Swaggering fighting men had had their
centuries of ramping and raving about Minor Canon Cornerand
beaten serfs had had their centuries of drudging and dying there
and powerful monks had had their centuries of being sometimes
useful and sometimes harmful thereand behold they were all gone
out of Minor Canon Cornerand so much the better. Perhaps one of
the highest uses of their ever having been therewasthat there
might be left behindthat blessed air of tranquillity which
pervaded Minor Canon Cornerand that serenely romantic state of
the mind - productive for the most part of pity and forbearance -
which is engendered by a sorrowful story that is all toldor a
pathetic play that is played out.
Red-brick walls harmoniously toned down in colour by timestrong-
rooted ivylatticed windowspanelled roomsbig oaken beams in
little placesand stone-walled gardens where annual fruit yet
ripened upon monkish treeswere the principal surroundings of
pretty old Mrs. Crisparkle and the Reverend Septimus as they sat at
'And whatMa dear' inquired the Minor Canongiving proof of a
wholesome and vigorous appetite'does the letter say?'
The pretty old ladyafter reading ithad just laid it down upon
the breakfast-cloth. She handed it over to her son.
Nowthe old lady was exceedingly proud of her bright eyes being so
clear that she could read writing without spectacles. Her son was
also so proud of the circumstanceand so dutifully bent on her
deriving the utmost possible gratification from itthat he had
invented the pretence that he himself could NOT read writing
without spectacles. Therefore he now assumed a pairof grave and
prodigious proportionswhich not only seriously inconvenienced his
nose and his breakfastbut seriously impeded his perusal of the
letter. Forhe had the eyes of a microscope and a telescope
combinedwhen they were unassisted.
'It's from Mr. Honeythunderof course' said the old ladyfolding
'Of course' assented her son. He then lamely read on:
'"Haven of Philanthropy
'"I write in the - ;" In the what's this? What does he write in?'
'In the chair' said the old lady.
The Reverend Septimus took off his spectaclesthat he might see
her faceas he exclaimed:
'Whywhat should he write in?'
'Bless mebless meSept' returned the old lady'you don't see
the context! Give it back to memy dear.'
Glad to get his spectacles off (for they always made his eyes
water)her son obeyed: murmuring that his sight for reading
manuscript got worse and worse daily.
'"I write' his mother went on, reading very perspicuously and
precisely, 'from the chairto which I shall probably be confined
for some hours."'
Septimus looked at the row of chairs against the wallwith a halfprotesting
and half-appealing countenance.
'"We have' the old lady read on with a little extra emphasis, 'a
meeting of our Convened Chief Composite Committee of Central and
District Philanthropistsat our Head Haven as above; and it is
their unanimous pleasure that I take the chair."'
Septimus breathed more freelyand muttered: 'O! if he comes to
'"Not to lose a day's postI take the opportunity of a long report
being readdenouncing a public miscreant - "'
'It is a most extraordinary thing' interposed the gentle Minor
Canonlaying down his knife and fork to rub his ear in a vexed
manner'that these Philanthropists are always denouncing somebody.
And it is another most extraordinary thing that they are always so
violently flush of miscreants!'
'"Denouncing a public miscreant - "' - the old lady resumed'"to
get our little affair of business off my mind. I have spoken with
my two wardsNeville and Helena Landlesson the subject of their
defective educationand they give in to the plan proposed; as I
should have taken good care they didwhether they liked it or
'And it is another most extraordinary thing' remarked the Minor
Canon in the same tone as before'that these philanthropists are
so given to seizing their fellow-creatures by the scruff of the
neckand (as one may say) bumping them into the paths of peace. -
I beg your pardonMa dearfor interrupting.'
'"Thereforedear Madamyou will please prepare your sonthe Rev.
Mr. Septimusto expect Neville as an inmate to be read withon
Monday next. On the same day Helena will accompany him to
Cloisterhamto take up her quarters at the Nuns' Housethe
establishment recommended by yourself and son jointly. Please
likewise to prepare for her reception and tuition there. The terms
in both cases are understood to be exactly as stated to me in
writing by yourselfwhen I opened a correspondence with you on
this subjectafter the honour of being introduced to you at your
sister's house in town here. With compliments to the Rev. Mr.
SeptimusI amDear MadamYour affectionate brother (In
'WellMa' said Septimusafter a little more rubbing of his ear
'we must try it. There can be no doubt that we have room for an
inmateand that I have time to bestow upon himand inclination
too. I must confess to feeling rather glad that he is not Mr.
Honeythunder himself. Though that seems wretchedly prejudiced -
does it not? - for I never saw him. Is he a large manMa?'
'I should call him a large manmy dear' the old lady replied
after some hesitation'but that his voice is so much larger.'
'Hah!' said Septimus. And finished his breakfast as if the flavour
of the Superior Family Souchongand also of the ham and toast and
eggswere a little on the wane.
Mrs. Crisparkle's sisteranother piece of Dresden chinaand
matching her so neatly that they would have made a delightful pair
of ornaments for the two ends of any capacious old-fashioned
chimneypieceand by right should never have been seen apartwas
the childless wife of a clergyman holding Corporation preferment in
London City. Mr. Honeythunder in his public character of Professor
of Philanthropy had come to know Mrs. Crisparkle during the last
re-matching of the china ornaments (in other words during her last
annual visit to her sister)after a public occasion of a
philanthropic naturewhen certain devoted orphans of tender years
had been glutted with plum bunsand plump bumptiousness. These
were all the antecedents known in Minor Canon Corner of the coming
'I am sure you will agree with meMa' said Mr. Crisparkleafter
thinking the matter over'that the first thing to be doneisto
put these young people as much at their ease as possible. There is
nothing disinterested in the notionbecause we cannot be at our
ease with them unless they are at their ease with us. Now
Jasper's nephew is down here at present; and like takes to like
and youth takes to youth. He is a cordial young fellowand we
will have him to meet the brother and sister at dinner. That's
three. We can't think of asking himwithout asking Jasper.
That's four. Add Miss Twinkleton and the fairy bride that is to
beand that's six. Add our two selvesand that's eight. Would
eight at a friendly dinner at all put you outMa?'
'Nine wouldSept' returned the old ladyvisibly nervous.
'My dear MaI particularise eight.'
'The exact size of the table and the roommy dear.'
So it was settled that way: and when Mr. Crisparkle called with
his mother upon Miss Twinkletonto arrange for the reception of
Miss Helena Landless at the Nuns' Housethe two other invitations
having reference to that establishment were proffered and accepted.
Miss Twinkleton didindeedglance at the globesas regretting
that they were not formed to be taken out into society; but became
reconciled to leaving them behind. Instructions were then
despatched to the Philanthropist for the departure and arrivalin
good time for dinnerof Mr. Neville and Miss Helena; and stock for
soup became fragrant in the air of Minor Canon Corner.
In those days there was no railway to Cloisterhamand Mr. Sapsea
said there never would be. Mr. Sapsea said more; he said there
never should be. And yetmarvellous to considerit has come to
passin these daysthat Express Trains don't think Cloisterham
worth stopping atbut yell and whirl through it on their larger
errandscasting the dust off their wheels as a testimony against
its insignificance. Some remote fragment of Main Line to somewhere
elsethere waswhich was going to ruin the Money Market if it
failedand Church and State if it succeededand (of course)the
Constitutionwhether or no; but even that had already so unsettled
Cloisterham trafficthat the trafficdeserting the high road
came sneaking in from an unprecedented part of the country by a
back stable-wayfor many years labelled at the corner: 'Beware of
To this ignominious avenue of approachMr. Crisparkle repaired
awaiting the arrival of a shortsquat omnibuswith a
disproportionate heap of luggage on the roof - like a little
Elephant with infinitely too much Castle - which was then the daily
service between Cloisterham and external mankind. As this vehicle
lumbered upMr. Crisparkle could hardly see anything else of it
for a large outside passenger seated on the boxwith his elbows
squaredand his hands on his kneescompressing the driver into a
most uncomfortably small compassand glowering about him with a
'Is this Cloisterham?' demanded the passengerin a tremendous
'It is' replied the driverrubbing himself as if he achedafter
throwing the reins to the ostler. 'And I never was so glad to see
'Tell your master to make his box-seat widerthen' returned the
passenger. 'Your master is morally bound - and ought to be
legallyunder ruinous penalties - to provide for the comfort of
The driver institutedwith the palms of his handsa superficial
perquisition into the state of his skeleton; which seemed to make
'Have I sat upon you?' asked the passenger.
'You have' said the driveras if he didn't like it at all.
'Take that cardmy friend.'
'I think I won't deprive you on it' returned the drivercasting
his eyes over it with no great favourwithout taking it. 'What's
the good of it to me?'
'Be a Member of that Society' said the passenger.
'What shall I get by it?' asked the driver.
'Brotherhood' returned the passengerin a ferocious voice.
'Thankee' said the driververy deliberatelyas he got down; 'my
mother was contented with myselfand so am I. I don't want no
'But you must have them' replied the passengeralso descending
'whether you like it or not. I am your brother.'
' I say!' expostulated the driverbecoming more chafed in temper
'not too fur! The worm WILLwhen - '
But hereMr. Crisparkle interposedremonstrating asidein a
friendly voice: 'JoeJoeJoe! don't forget yourselfJoemy
good fellow!' and thenwhen Joe peaceably touched his hat
accosting the passenger with: 'Mr. Honeythunder?'
'That is my namesir.'
'My name is Crisparkle.'
'Reverend Mr. Septimus? Glad to see yousir. Neville and Helena
are inside. Having a little succumbed of lateunder the pressure
of my public laboursI thought I would take a mouthful of fresh
airand come down with themand return at night. So you are the
Reverend Mr. Septimusare you?' surveying him on the whole with
disappointmentand twisting a double eyeglass by its ribbonas if
he were roasting itbut not otherwise using it. 'Hah! I expected
to see you oldersir.'
'I hope you will' was the good-humoured reply.
'Eh?' demanded Mr. Honeythunder.
'Only a poor little joke. Not worth repeating.'
'Joke? Ay; I never see a joke' Mr. Honeythunder frowningly
retorted. 'A joke is wasted upon mesir. Where are they? Helena
and Nevillecome here! Mr. Crisparkle has come down to meet you.'
An unusually handsome lithe young fellowand an unusually handsome
lithe girl; much alike; both very darkand very rich in colour;
she of almost the gipsy type; something untamed about them both; a
certain air upon them of hunter and huntress; yet withal a certain
air of being the objects of the chaserather than the followers.
Slendersupplequick of eye and limb; half shyhalf defiant;
fierce of look; an indefinable kind of pause coming and going on
their whole expressionboth of face and formwhich might be
equally likened to the pause before a crouch or a bound. The rough
mental notes made in the first five minutes by Mr. Crisparkle would
have read thusVERBATIM.
He invited Mr. Honeythunder to dinnerwith a troubled mind (for
the discomfiture of the dear old china shepherdess lay heavy on
it)and gave his arm to Helena Landless. Both she and her
brotheras they walked all together through the ancient streets
took great delight in what he pointed out of the Cathedral and the
Monastery ruinand wondered - so his notes ran on - much as if
they were beautiful barbaric captives brought from some wild
tropical dominion. Mr. Honeythunder walked in the middle of the
roadshouldering the natives out of his wayand loudly developing
a scheme he hadfor making a raid on all the unemployed persons in
the United Kingdomlaying them every one by the heels in jailand
forcing themon pain of prompt exterminationto become
Mrs. Crisparkle had need of her own share of philanthropy when she
beheld this very large and very loud excrescence on the little
party. Always something in the nature of a Boil upon the face of
societyMr. Honeythunder expanded into an inflammatory Wen in
Minor Canon Corner. Though it was not literally trueas was
facetiously charged against him by public unbelieversthat he
called aloud to his fellow-creatures: 'Curse your souls and
bodiescome here and be blessed!' still his philanthropy was of
that gunpowderous sort that the difference between it and animosity
was hard to determine. You were to abolish military forcebut you
were first to bring all commanding officers who had done their
dutyto trial by court-martial for that offenceand shoot them.
You were to abolish warbut were to make converts by making war
upon themand charging them with loving war as the apple of their
eye. You were to have no capital punishmentbut were first to
sweep off the face of the earth all legislatorsjuristsand
judgeswho were of the contrary opinion. You were to have
universal concordand were to get it by eliminating all the people
who wouldn'tor conscientiously couldn'tbe concordant. You were
to love your brother as yourselfbut after an indefinite interval
of maligning him (very much as if you hated him)and calling him
all manner of names. Above all thingsyou were to do nothing in
privateor on your own account. You were to go to the offices of
the Haven of Philanthropyand put your name down as a Member and a
Professing Philanthropist. Thenyou were to pay up your
subscriptionget your card of membership and your riband and
medaland were evermore to live upon a platformand evermore to
say what Mr. Honeythunder saidand what the Treasurer saidand
what the sub-Treasurer saidand what the Committee saidand what
the sub-Committee saidand what the Secretary saidand what the
Vice-Secretary said. And this was usually said in the unanimouslycarried
resolution under hand and sealto the effect: 'That this
assembled Body of Professing Philanthropists viewswith indignant
scorn and contemptnot unmixed with utter detestation and loathing
abhorrence' - in shortthe baseness of all those who do not belong
to itand pledges itself to make as many obnoxious statements as
possible about themwithout being at all particular as to facts.
The dinner was a most doleful breakdown. The philanthropist
deranged the symmetry of the tablesat himself in the way of the
waitingblocked up the thoroughfareand drove Mr. Tope (who
assisted the parlour-maid) to the verge of distraction by passing
plates and dishes onover his own head. Nobody could talk to
anybodybecause he held forth to everybody at onceas if the
company had no individual existencebut were a Meeting. He
impounded the Reverend Mr. Septimusas an official personage to be
addressedor kind of human peg to hang his oratorical hat onand
fell into the exasperating habitcommon among such oratorsof
impersonating him as a wicked and weak opponent. Thushe would
ask: 'And will yousirnow stultify yourself by telling me' -
and so forthwhen the innocent man had not opened his lipsnor
meant to open them. Or he would say: 'Now seesirto what a
position you are reduced. I will leave you no escape. After
exhausting all the resources of fraud and falsehoodduring years
upon years; after exhibiting a combination of dastardly meanness
with ensanguined daringsuch as the world has not often witnessed;
you have now the hypocrisy to bend the knee before the most
degraded of mankindand to sue and whine and howl for mercy!'
Whereat the unfortunate Minor Canon would lookin part indignant
and in part perplexed; while his worthy mother sat bridlingwith
tears in her eyesand the remainder of the party lapsed into a
sort of gelatinous statein which there was no flavour or
solidityand very little resistance.
But the gush of philanthropy that burst forth when the departure of
Mr. Honeythunder began to impendmust have been highly gratifying
to the feelings of that distinguished man. His coffee was
producedby the special activity of Mr. Topea full hour before
he wanted it. Mr. Crisparkle sat with his watch in his hand for
about the same periodlest he should overstay his time. The four
young people were unanimous in believing that the Cathedral clock
struck three-quarterswhen it actually struck but one. Miss
Twinkleton estimated the distance to the omnibus at five-and-twenty
minutes' walkwhen it was really five. The affectionate kindness
of the whole circle hustled him into his greatcoatand shoved him
out into the moonlightas if he were a fugitive traitor with whom
they sympathisedand a troop of horse were at the back door. Mr.
Crisparkle and his new chargewho took him to the omnibuswere so
fervent in their apprehensions of his catching coldthat they shut
him up in it instantly and left himwith still half-an-hour to
CHAPTER VII - MORE CONFIDENCES THAN ONE
'I KNOW very little of that gentlemansir' said Neville to the
Minor Canon as they turned back.
'You know very little of your guardian?' the Minor Canon repeated.
'How came he - '
'To BE my guardian? I'll tell yousir. I suppose you know that
we come (my sister and I) from Ceylon?'
'I wonder at that. We lived with a stepfather there. Our mother
died therewhen we were little children. We have had a wretched
existence. She made him our guardianand he was a miserly wretch
who grudged us food to eatand clothes to wear. At his deathhe
passed us over to this man; for no better reason that I know of
than his being a friend or connexion of hiswhose name was always
in print and catching his attention.'
'That was latelyI suppose?'
'Quite latelysir. This stepfather of ours was a cruel brute as
well as a grinding one. It is well he died when he didor I might
have killed him.'
Mr. Crisparkle stopped short in the moonlight and looked at his
hopeful pupil in consternation.
'I surprise yousir?' he saidwith a quick change to a submissive
'You shock me; unspeakably shock me.'
The pupil hung his head for a little whileas they walked onand
then said: 'You never saw him beat your sister. I have seen him
beat minemore than once or twiceand I never forgot it.'
'Nothing' said Mr. Crisparkle'not even a beloved and beautiful
sister's tears under dastardly ill-usage;' he became less severe
in spite of himselfas his indignation rose; 'could justify those
horrible expressions that you used.'
'I am sorry I used themand especially to yousir. I beg to
recall them. But permit me to set you right on one point. You
spoke of my sister's tears. My sister would have let him tear her
to piecesbefore she would have let him believe that he could make
her shed a tear.'
Mr. Crisparkle reviewed those mental notes of hisand was neither
at all surprised to hear itnor at all disposed to question it.
'Perhaps you will think it strangesir' - this was said in a
hesitating voice - 'that I should so soon ask you to allow me to
confide in youand to have the kindness to hear a word or two from
me in my defence?'
'Defence?' Mr. Crisparkle repeated. 'You are not on your defence
'I think I amsir. At least I know I should beif you were
better acquainted with my character.'
'WellMr. Neville' was the rejoinder. 'What if you leave me to
find it out?'
'Since it is your pleasuresir' answered the young manwith a
quick change in his manner to sullen disappointment: 'since it is
your pleasure to check me in my impulseI must submit.'
There was that in the tone of this short speech which made the
conscientious man to whom it was addressed uneasy. It hinted to
him that he mightwithout meaning itturn aside a trustfulness
beneficial to a mis-shapen young mind and perhaps to his own power
of directing and improving it. They were within sight of the
lights in his windowsand he stopped.
'Let us turn back and take a turn or two up and downMr. Neville
or you may not have time to finish what you wish to say to me. You
are hasty in thinking that I mean to check you. Quite the
contrary. I invite your confidence.'
'You have invited itsirwithout knowing itever since I came
here. I say "ever since as if I had been here a week. The truth
is, we came here (my sister and I) to quarrel with you, and affront
you, and break away again.'
'Really?' said Mr. Crisparkle, at a dead loss for anything else to
'You see, we could not know what you were beforehand, sir; could
'Clearly not,' said Mr. Crisparkle.
'And having liked no one else with whom we have ever been brought
into contact, we had made up our minds not to like you.'
'Really?' said Mr. Crisparkle again.
'But we do like you, sir, and we see an unmistakable difference
between your house and your reception of us, and anything else we
have ever known. This - and my happening to be alone with you -
and everything around us seeming so quiet and peaceful after Mr.
Honeythunder's departure - and Cloisterham being so old and grave
and beautiful, with the moon shining on it - these things inclined
me to open my heart.'
'I quite understand, Mr. Neville. And it is salutary to listen to
'In describing my own imperfections, sir, I must ask you not to
suppose that I am describing my sister's. She has come out of the
disadvantages of our miserable life, as much better than I am, as
that Cathedral tower is higher than those chimneys.'
Mr. Crisparkle in his own breast was not so sure of this.
'I have had, sir, from my earliest remembrance, to suppress a
deadly and bitter hatred. This has made me secret and revengeful.
I have been always tyrannically held down by the strong hand. This
has driven me, in my weakness, to the resource of being false and
mean. I have been stinted of education, liberty, money, dress, the
very necessaries of life, the commonest pleasures of childhood, the
commonest possessions of youth. This has caused me to be utterly
wanting in I don't know what emotions, or remembrances, or good
instincts - I have not even a name for the thing, you see! - that
you have had to work upon in other young men to whom you have been
'This is evidently true. But this is not encouraging,' thought Mr.
Crisparkle as they turned again.
'And to finish with, sir: I have been brought up among abject and
servile dependents, of an inferior race, and I may easily have
contracted some affinity with them. Sometimes, I don't know but
that it may be a drop of what is tigerish in their blood.'
'As in the case of that remark just now,' thought Mr. Crisparkle.
'In a last word of reference to my sister, sir (we are twin
children), you ought to know, to her honour, that nothing in our
misery ever subdued her, though it often cowed me. When we ran
away from it (we ran away four times in six years, to be soon
brought back and cruelly punished), the flight was always of her
planning and leading. Each time she dressed as a boy, and showed
the daring of a man. I take it we were seven years old when we
first decamped; but I remember, when I lost the pocket-knife with
which she was to have cut her hair short, how desperately she tried
to tear it out, or bite it off. I have nothing further to say,
sir, except that I hope you will bear with me and make allowance
'Of that, Mr. Neville, you may be sure,' returned the Minor Canon.
'I don't preach more than I can help, and I will not repay your
confidence with a sermon. But I entreat you to bear in mind, very
seriously and steadily, that if I am to do you any good, it can
only be with your own assistance; and that you can only render
that, efficiently, by seeking aid from Heaven.'
'I will try to do my part, sir.'
'And, Mr. Neville, I will try to do mine. Here is my hand on it.
May God bless our endeavours!'
They were now standing at his house-door, and a cheerful sound of
voices and laughter was heard within.
'We will take one more turn before going in,' said Mr. Crisparkle,
'for I want to ask you a question. When you said you were in a
changed mind concerning me, you spoke, not only for yourself, but
for your sister too?'
'Undoubtedly I did, sir.'
'Excuse me, Mr. Neville, but I think you have had no opportunity of
communicating with your sister, since I met you. Mr. Honeythunder
was very eloquent; but perhaps I may venture to say, without illnature,
that he rather monopolised the occasion. May you not have
answered for your sister without sufficient warrant?'
Neville shook his head with a proud smile.
'You don't know, sir, yet, what a complete understanding can exist
between my sister and me, though no spoken word - perhaps hardly as
much as a look - may have passed between us. She not only feels as
I have described, but she very well knows that I am taking this
opportunity of speaking to you, both for her and for myself.'
Mr. Crisparkle looked in his face, with some incredulity; but his
face expressed such absolute and firm conviction of the truth of
what he said, that Mr. Crisparkle looked at the pavement, and
mused, until they came to his door again.
'I will ask for one more turn, sir, this time,' said the young man,
with a rather heightened colour rising in his face. 'But for Mr.
Honeythunder's - I think you called it eloquence, sir?' (somewhat
'I - yes, I called it eloquence,' said Mr. Crisparkle.
'But for Mr. Honeythunder's eloquence, I might have had no need to
ask you what I am going to ask you. This Mr. Edwin Drood, sir: I
think that's the name?'
'Quite correct,' said Mr. Crisparkle. 'D-r-double o-d.'
'Does he - or did he - read with you, sir?'
'Never, Mr. Neville. He comes here visiting his relation, Mr.
'Is Miss Bud his relation too, sir?'
('Now, why should he ask that, with sudden superciliousness?'
thought Mr. Crisparkle.) Then he explained, aloud, what he knew of
the little story of their betrothal.
'O! THAT'S it, is it?' said the young man. 'I understand his air
of proprietorship now!'
This was said so evidently to himself, or to anybody rather than
Mr. Crisparkle, that the latter instinctively felt as if to notice
it would be almost tantamount to noticing a passage in a letter
which he had read by chance over the writer's shoulder. A moment
afterwards they re-entered the house.
Mr. Jasper was seated at the piano as they came into his drawingroom,
and was accompanying Miss Rosebud while she sang. It was a
consequence of his playing the accompaniment without notes, and of
her being a heedless little creature, very apt to go wrong, that he
followed her lips most attentively, with his eyes as well as hands;
carefully and softly hinting the key-note from time to time.
Standing with an arm drawn round her, but with a face far more
intent on Mr. Jasper than on her singing, stood Helena, between
whom and her brother an instantaneous recognition passed, in which
Mr. Crisparkle saw, or thought he saw, the understanding that had
been spoken of, flash out. Mr. Neville then took his admiring
station, leaning against the piano, opposite the singer; Mr.
Crisparkle sat down by the china shepherdess; Edwin Drood gallantly
furled and unfurled Miss Twinkleton's fan; and that lady passively
claimed that sort of exhibitor's proprietorship in the
accomplishment on view, which Mr. Tope, the Verger, daily claimed
in the Cathedral service.
The song went on. It was a sorrowful strain of parting, and the
fresh young voice was very plaintive and tender. As Jasper watched
the pretty lips, and ever and again hinted the one note, as though
it were a low whisper from himself, the voice became less steady,
until all at once the singer broke into a burst of tears, and
shrieked out, with her hands over her eyes: 'I can't bear this! I
am frightened! Take me away!'
With one swift turn of her lithe figures Helena laid the little
beauty on a sofa, as if she had never caught her up. Then, on one
knee beside her, and with one hand upon her rosy mouth, while with
the other she appealed to all the rest, Helena said to them: 'It's
nothing; it's all over; don't speak to her for one minute, and she
Jasper's hands had, in the same instant, lifted themselves from the
keys, and were now poised above them, as though he waited to
resume. In that attitude he yet sat quiet: not even looking
round, when all the rest had changed their places and were
reassuring one another.
'Pussy's not used to an audience; that's the fact,' said Edwin
Drood. 'She got nervous, and couldn't hold out. Besides, Jack,
you are such a conscientious master, and require so much, that I
believe you make her afraid of you. No wonder.'
'No wonder,' repeated Helena.
'There, Jack, you hear! You would be afraid of him, under similar
circumstances, wouldn't you, Miss Landless?'
'Not under any circumstances,' returned Helena.
Jasper brought down his hands, looked over his shoulder, and begged
to thank Miss Landless for her vindication of his character. Then
he fell to dumbly playing, without striking the notes, while his
little pupil was taken to an open window for air, and was otherwise
petted and restored. When she was brought back, his place was
empty. 'Jack's gone, Pussy,' Edwin told her. 'I am more than half
afraid he didn't like to be charged with being the Monster who had
frightened you.' But she answered never a word, and shivered, as
if they had made her a little too cold.
Miss Twinkleton now opining that indeed these were late hours, Mrs.
Crisparkle, for finding ourselves outside the walls of the Nuns'
House, and that we who undertook the formation of the future wives
and mothers of England (the last words in a lower voice, as
requiring to be communicated in confidence) were really bound
(voice coming up again) to set a better example than one of rakish
habits, wrappers were put in requisition, and the two young
cavaliers volunteered to see the ladies home. It was soon done,
and the gate of the Nuns' House closed upon them.
The boarders had retired, and only Mrs. Tisher in solitary vigil
awaited the new pupil. Her bedroom being within Rosa's, very
little introduction or explanation was necessary, before she was
placed in charge of her new friend, and left for the night.
'This is a blessed relief, my dear,' said Helena. 'I have been
dreading all day, that I should be brought to bay at this time.'
'There are not many of us,' returned Rosa, 'and we are good-natured
girls; at least the others are; I can answer for them.'
'I can answer for you,' laughed Helena, searching the lovely little
face with her dark, fiery eyes, and tenderly caressing the small
figure. 'You will be a friend to me, won't you?'
'I hope so. But the idea of my being a friend to you seems too
'O, I am such a mite of a thing, and you are so womanly and
handsome. You seem to have resolution and power enough to crush
me. I shrink into nothing by the side of your presence even.'
'I am a neglected creature, my dear, unacquainted with all
accomplishments, sensitively conscious that I have everything to
learn, and deeply ashamed to own my ignorance.'
'And yet you acknowledge everything to me!' said Rosa.
'My pretty one, can I help it? There is a fascination in you.'
'O! is there though?' pouted Rosa, half in jest and half in
earnest. 'What a pity Master Eddy doesn't feel it more!'
Of course her relations towards that young gentleman had been
already imparted in Minor Canon Corner.
'Why, surely he must love you with all his heart!' cried Helena,
with an earnestness that threatened to blaze into ferocity if he
'Eh? O, well, I suppose he does,' said Rosa, pouting again; 'I am
sure I have no right to say he doesn't. Perhaps it's my fault.
Perhaps I am not as nice to him as I ought to be. I don't think I
am. But it IS so ridiculous!'
Helena's eyes demanded what was.
'WE are,' said Rosa, answering as if she had spoken. 'We are such
a ridiculous couple. And we are always quarrelling.'
'Because we both know we are ridiculous, my dear!' Rosa gave that
answer as if it were the most conclusive answer in the world.
Helena's masterful look was intent upon her face for a few moments,
and then she impulsively put out both her hands and said:
'You will be my friend and help me?'
'Indeed, my dear, I will,' replied Rosa, in a tone of affectionate
childishness that went straight and true to her heart; 'I will be
as good a friend as such a mite of a thing can be to such a noble
creature as you. And be a friend to me, please; I don't understand
myself: and I want a friend who can understand me, very much
Helena Landless kissed her, and retaining both her hands said:
'Who is Mr. Jasper?'
Rosa turned aside her head in answering: 'Eddy's uncle, and my
'You do not love him?'
'Ugh!' She put her hands up to her face, and shook with fear or
'You know that he loves you?'
'O, don't, don't, don't!' cried Rosa, dropping on her knees, and
clinging to her new resource. 'Don't tell me of it! He terrifies
me. He haunts my thoughts, like a dreadful ghost. I feel that I
am never safe from him. I feel as if he could pass in through the
wall when he is spoken of.' She actually did look round, as if she
dreaded to see him standing in the shadow behind her.
'Try to tell me more about it, darling.'
'Yes, I will, I will. Because you are so strong. But hold me the
while, and stay with me afterwards.'
'My child! You speak as if he had threatened you in some dark
'He has never spoken to me about - that. Never.'
'What has he done?'
'He has made a slave of me with his looks. He has forced me to
understand him, without his saying a word; and he has forced me to
keep silence, without his uttering a threat. When I play, he never
moves his eyes from my hands. When I sing, he never moves his eyes
from my lips. When he corrects me, and strikes a note, or a chord,
or plays a passage, he himself is in the sounds, whispering that he
pursues me as a lover, and commanding me to keep his secret. I
avoid his eyes, but he forces me to see them without looking at
them. Even when a glaze comes over them (which is sometimes the
case), and he seems to wander away into a frightful sort of dream
in which he threatens most, he obliges me to know it, and to know
that he is sitting close at my side, more terrible to me than
'What is this imagined threatening, pretty one? What is
'I don't know. I have never even dared to think or wonder what it
'And was this all, to-night?'
'This was all; except that to-night when he watched my lips so
closely as I was singing, besides feeling terrified I felt ashamed
and passionately hurt. It was as if he kissed me, and I couldn't
bear it, but cried out. You must never breathe this to any one.
Eddy is devoted to him. But you said to-night that you would not
be afraid of him, under any circumstances, and that gives me - who
am so much afraid of him - courage to tell only you. Hold me!
Stay with me! I am too frightened to be left by myself.'
The lustrous gipsy-face drooped over the clinging arms and bosom,
and the wild black hair fell down protectingly over the childish
form. There was a slumbering gleam of fire in the intense dark
eyes, though they were then softened with compassion and
admiration. Let whomsoever it most concerned look well to it!
CHAPTER VIII - DAGGERS DRAWN
THE two young men, having seen the damsels, their charges, enter
the courtyard of the Nuns' House, and finding themselves coldly
stared at by the brazen door-plate, as if the battered old beau
with the glass in his eye were insolent, look at one another, look
along the perspective of the moonlit street, and slowly walk away
'Do you stay here long, Mr. Drood?' says Neville.
'Not this time,' is the careless answer. 'I leave for London
again, to-morrow. But I shall be here, off and on, until next
Midsummer; then I shall take my leave of Cloisterham, and England
too; for many a long day, I expect.'
'Are you going abroad?'
'Going to wake up Egypt a little,' is the condescending answer.
'Are you reading?'
'Reading?' repeats Edwin Drood, with a touch of contempt. 'No.
Doing, working, engineering. My small patrimony was left a part of
the capital of the Firm I am with, by my father, a former partner;
and I am a charge upon the Firm until I come of age; and then I
step into my modest share in the concern. Jack - you met him at
dinner - is, until then, my guardian and trustee.'
'I heard from Mr. Crisparkle of your other good fortune.'
'What do you mean by my other good fortune?'
Neville has made his remark in a watchfully advancing, and yet
furtive and shy manner, very expressive of that peculiar air
already noticed, of being at once hunter and hunted. Edwin has
made his retort with an abruptness not at all polite. They stop
and interchange a rather heated look.
'I hope,' says Neville, 'there is no offence, Mr. Drood, in my
innocently referring to your betrothal?'
'By George!' cries Edwin, leading on again at a somewhat quicker
pace; 'everybody in this chattering old Cloisterham refers to it I
wonder no public-house has been set up, with my portrait for the
sign of The Betrothed's Head. Or Pussy's portrait. One or the
'I am not accountable for Mr. Crisparkle's mentioning the matter to
me, quite openly,' Neville begins.
'No; that's true; you are not,' Edwin Drood assents.
'But,' resumes Neville, 'I am accountable for mentioning it to you.
And I did so, on the supposition that you could not fail to be
highly proud of it.'
Now, there are these two curious touches of human nature working
the secret springs of this dialogue. Neville Landless is already
enough impressed by Little Rosebud, to feel indignant that Edwin
Drood (far below her) should hold his prize so lightly. Edwin
Drood is already enough impressed by Helena, to feel indignant that
Helena's brother (far below her) should dispose of him so coolly,
and put him out of the way so entirely.
However, the last remark had better be answered. So, says Edwin:
'I don't know, Mr. Neville' (adopting that mode of address from Mr.
Crisparkle), 'that what people are proudest of, they usually talk
most about; I don't know either, that what they are proudest of,
they most like other people to talk about. But I live a busy life,
and I speak under correction by you readers, who ought to know
everything, and I daresay do.'
By this time they had both become savage; Mr. Neville out in the
open; Edwin Drood under the transparent cover of a popular tune,
and a stop now and then to pretend to admire picturesque effects in
the moonlight before him.
'It does not seem to me very civil in you,' remarks Neville, at
length, 'to reflect upon a stranger who comes here, not having had
your advantages, to try to make up for lost time. But, to be sure,
I was not brought up in busy life and my ideas of civility were
formed among Heathens.'
'Perhaps, the best civility, whatever kind of people we are brought
up among,' retorts Edwin Drood, 'is to mind our own business. If
you will set me that example, I promise to follow it.'
'Do you know that you take a great deal too much upon yourself?' is
the angry rejoinder, 'and that in the part of the world I come
from, you would be called to account for it?'
'By whom, for instance?' asks Edwin Drood, coming to a halt, and
surveying the other with a look of disdain.
But, here a startling right hand is laid on Edwin's shoulder, and
Jasper stands between them. For, it would seem that he, too, has
strolled round by the Nuns' House, and has come up behind them on
the shadowy side of the road.
'Ned, Ned, Ned!' he says; 'we must have no more of this. I don't
like this. I have overheard high words between you two. Remember,
my dear boy, you are almost in the position of host to-night. You
belong, as it were, to the place, and in a manner represent it
towards a stranger. Mr. Neville is a stranger, and you should
respect the obligations of hospitality. And, Mr. Neville,' laying
his left hand on the inner shoulder of that young gentleman, and
thus walking on between them, hand to shoulder on either side:
'you will pardon me; but I appeal to you to govern your temper too.
Now, what is amiss? But why ask! Let there be nothing amiss, and
the question is superfluous. We are all three on a good
understanding, are we not?'
After a silent struggle between the two young men who shall speak
last, Edwin Drood strikes in with: 'So far as I am concerned,
Jack, there is no anger in me.'
'Nor in me,' says Neville Landless, though not so freely; or
perhaps so carelessly. 'But if Mr. Drood knew all that lies behind
me, far away from here, he might know better how it is that sharpedged
words have sharp edges to wound me.'
'Perhaps,' says Jasper, in a soothing manner, 'we had better not
qualify our good understanding. We had better not say anything
having the appearance of a remonstrance or condition; it might not
seem generous. Frankly and freely, you see there is no anger in
Ned. Frankly and freely, there is no anger in you, Mr. Neville?'
'None at all, Mr. Jasper.' Still, not quite so frankly or so
freely; or, be it said once again, not quite so carelessly perhaps.
'All over then! Now, my bachelor gatehouse is a few yards from
here, and the heater is on the fire, and the wine and glasses are
on the table, and it is not a stone's throw from Minor Canon
Corner. Ned, you are up and away to-morrow. We will carry Mr.
Neville in with us, to take a stirrup-cup.'
'With all my heart, Jack.'
'And with all mine, Mr. Jasper.' Neville feels it impossible to
say less, but would rather not go. He has an impression upon him
that he has lost hold of his temper; feels that Edwin Drood's
coolness, so far from being infectious, makes him red-hot.
Mr. Jasper, still walking in the centre, hand to shoulder on either
side, beautifully turns the Refrain of a drinking song, and they
all go up to his rooms. There, the first object visible, when he
adds the light of a lamp to that of the fire, is the portrait over
the chimneypicce. It is not an object calculated to improve the
understanding between the two young men, as rather awkwardly
reviving the subject of their difference. Accordingly, they both
glance at it consciously, but say nothing. Jasper, however (who
would appear from his conduct to have gained but an imperfect clue
to the cause of their late high words), directly calls attention to
'You recognise that picture, Mr. Neville?' shading the lamp to
throw the light upon it.
'I recognise it, but it is far from flattering the original.'
'O, you are hard upon it! It was done by Ned, who made me a
present of it.'
'I am sorry for that, Mr. Drood.' Neville apologises, with a real
intention to apologise; 'if I had known I was in the artist's
presence - '
'O, a joke, sir, a mere joke,' Edwin cuts in, with a provoking
yawn. 'A little humouring of Pussy's points! I'm going to paint
her gravely, one of these days, if she's good.'
The air of leisurely patronage and indifference with which this is
said, as the speaker throws himself back in a chair and clasps his
hands at the back of his head, as a rest for it, is very
exasperating to the excitable and excited Neville. Jasper looks
observantly from the one to the other, slightly smiles, and turns
his back to mix a jug of mulled wine at the fire. It seems to
require much mixing and compounding.
'I suppose, Mr. Neville,' says Edwin, quick to resent the indignant
protest against himself in the face of young Landless, which is
fully as visible as the portrait, or the fire, or the lamp: 'I
suppose that if you painted the picture of your lady love - '
'I can't paint,' is the hasty interruption.
'That's your misfortune, and not your fault. You would if you
could. But if you could, I suppose you would make her (no matter
what she was in reality), Juno, Minerva, Diana, and Venus, all in
'I have no lady love, and I can't say.'
'If I were to try my hand,' says Edwin, with a boyish boastfulness
getting up in him, 'on a portrait of Miss Landless - in earnest,
mind you; in earnest - you should see what I could do!'
'My sister's consent to sit for it being first got, I suppose? As
it never will be got, I am afraid I shall never see what you can
do. I must bear the loss.'
Jasper turns round from the fire, fills a large goblet glass for
Neville, fills a large goblet glass for Edwin, and hands each his
own; then fills for himself, saying:
'Come, Mr. Neville, we are to drink to my nephew, Ned. As it is
his foot that is in the stirrup - metaphorically - our stirrup-cup
is to be devoted to him. Ned, my dearest fellow, my love!'
Jasper sets the example of nearly emptying his glass, and Neville
follows it. Edwin Drood says, 'Thank you both very much,' and
follows the double example.
'Look at him,' cries Jasper, stretching out his hand admiringly and
tenderly, though rallyingly too. 'See where he lounges so easily,
Mr. Neville! The world is all before him where to choose. A life
of stirring work and interest, a life of change and excitement, a
life of domestic ease and love! Look at him!'
Edwin Drood's face has become quickly and remarkably flushed with
the wine; so has the face of Neville Landless. Edwin still sits
thrown back in his chair, making that rest of clasped hands for his
'See how little he heeds it all!' Jasper proceeds in a bantering
vein. 'It is hardly worth his while to pluck the golden fruit that
hangs ripe on the tree for him. And yet consider the contrast, Mr.
Neville. You and I have no prospect of stirring work and interest,
or of change and excitement, or of domestic ease and love. You and
I have no prospect (unless you are more fortunate than I am, which
may easily be), but the tedious unchanging round of this dull
'Upon my soul, Jack,' says Edwin, complacently, 'I feel quite
apologetic for having my way smoothed as you describe. But you
know what I know, Jack, and it may not be so very easy as it seems,
after all. May it, Pussy?' To the portrait, with a snap of his
thumb and finger. 'We have got to hit it off yet; haven't we,
Pussy? You know what I mean, Jack.'
His speech has become thick and indistinct. Jasper, quiet and
self-possessed, looks to Neville, as expecting his answer or
comment. When Neville speaks, HIS speech is also thick and
'It might have been better for Mr. Drood to have known some
hardships,' he says, defiantly.
'Pray,' retorts Edwin, turning merely his eyes in that direction,
'pray why might it have been better for Mr. Drood to have known
'Ay,' Jasper assents, with an air of interest; 'let us know why?'
'Because they might have made him more sensible,' says Neville, 'of
good fortune that is not by any means necessarily the result of his
Mr. Jasper quickly looks to his nephew for his rejoinder.
'Have YOU known hardships, may I ask?' says Edwin Drood, sitting
Mr. Jasper quickly looks to the other for his retort.
'And what have they made you sensible of?'
Mr. Jasper's play of eyes between the two holds good throughout the
dialogue, to the end.
'I have told you once before to-night.'
'You have done nothing of the sort.'
'I tell you I have. That you take a great deal too much upon
'You added something else to that, if I remember?'
'Yes, I did say something else.'
'Say it again.'
'I said that in the part of the world I come from, you would be
called to account for it.'
'Only there?' cries Edwin Drood, with a contemptuous laugh. 'A
long way off, I believe? Yes; I see! That part of the world is at
a safe distance.'
'Say here, then,' rejoins the other, rising in a fury. 'Say
anywhere! Your vanity is intolerable, your conceit is beyond
endurance; you talk as if you were some rare and precious prize,
instead of a common boaster. You are a common fellow, and a common
'Pooh, pooh,' says Edwin Drood, equally furious, but more
collected; 'how should you know? You may know a black common
fellow, or a black common boaster, when you see him (and no doubt
you have a large acquaintance that way); but you are no judge of
This insulting allusion to his dark skin infuriates Neville to that
violent degree, that he flings the dregs of his wine at Edwin
Drood, and is in the act of flinging the goblet after it, when his
arm is caught in the nick of time by Jasper.
'Ned, my dear fellow!' he cries in a loud voice; 'I entreat you, I
command you, to be still!' There has been a rush of all the three,
and a clattering of glasses and overturning of chairs. 'Mr.
Neville, for shame! Give this glass to me. Open your hand, sir.
I WILL have it!'
But Neville throws him off, and pauses for an instant, in a raging
passion, with the goblet yet in his uplifted hand. Then, he dashes
it down under the grate, with such force that the broken splinters
fly out again in a shower; and he leaves the house.
When he first emerges into the night air, nothing around him is
still or steady; nothing around him shows like what it is; he only
knows that he stands with a bare head in the midst of a blood-red
whirl, waiting to be struggled with, and to struggle to the death.
But, nothing happening, and the moon looking down upon him as if he
were dead after a fit of wrath, he holds his steam-hammer beating
head and heart, and staggers away. Then, he becomes half-conscious
of having heard himself bolted and barred out, like a dangerous
animal; and thinks what shall he do?
Some wildly passionate ideas of the river dissolve under the spell
of the moonlight on the Cathedral and the graves, and the
remembrance of his sister, and the thought of what he owes to the
good man who has but that very day won his confidence and given him
his pledge. He repairs to Minor Canon Corner, and knocks softly at
It is Mr. Crisparkle's custom to sit up last of the early
household, very softly touching his piano and practising his
favourite parts in concerted vocal music. The south wind that goes
where it lists, by way of Minor Canon Corner on a still night, is
not more subdued than Mr. Crisparkle at such times, regardful of
the slumbers of the china shepherdess.
His knock is immediately answered by Mr. Crisparkle himself. When
he opens the door, candle in hand, his cheerful face falls, and
disappointed amazement is in it.
'Mr. Neville! In this disorder! Where have you been?'
'I have been to Mr. Jasper's, sir. With his nephew.'
The Minor Canon props him by the elbow with a strong hand (in a
strictly scientific manner, worthy of his morning trainings), and
turns him into his own little book-room, and shuts the door.'
'I have begun ill, sir. I have begun dreadfully ill.'
'Too true. You are not sober, Mr. Neville.'
'I am afraid I am not, sir, though I can satisfy you at another
time that I have had a very little indeed to drink, and that it
overcame me in the strangest and most sudden manner.'
'Mr. Neville, Mr. Neville,' says the Minor Canon, shaking his head
with a sorrowful smile; 'I have heard that said before.'
'I think - my mind is much confused, but I think - it is equally
true of Mr. Jasper's nephew, sir.'
'Very likely,' is the dry rejoinder.
'We quarrelled, sir. He insulted me most grossly. He had heated
that tigerish blood I told you of to-day, before then.'
'Mr. Neville,' rejoins the Minor Canon, mildly, but firmly: 'I
request you not to speak to me with that clenched right hand.
Unclench it, if you please.'
'He goaded me, sir,' pursues the young man, instantly obeying,
'beyond my power of endurance. I cannot say whether or no he meant
it at first, but he did it. He certainly meant it at last. In
short, sir,' with an irrepressible outburst, 'in the passion into
which he lashed me, I would have cut him down if I could, and I
tried to do it.'
'You have clenched that hand again,' is Mr. Crisparkle's quiet
'I beg your pardon, sir.'
'You know your room, for I showed it you before dinner; but I will
accompany you to it once more. Your arm, if you please. Softly,
for the house is all a-bed.'
Scooping his hand into the same scientific elbow-rest as before,
and backing it up with the inert strength of his arm, as skilfully
as a Police Expert, and with an apparent repose quite unattainable
by novices, Mr. Crisparkle conducts his pupil to the pleasant and
orderly old room prepared for him. Arrived there, the young man
throws himself into a chair, and, flinging his arms upon his
reading-table, rests his head upon them with an air of wretched
The gentle Minor Canon has had it in his thoughts to leave the
room, without a word. But looking round at the door, and seeing
this dejected figure, he turns back to it, touches it with a mild
hand, says 'Good night!' A sob is his only acknowledgment. He
might have had many a worse; perhaps, could have had few better.
Another soft knock at the outer door attracts his attention as he
goes down-stairs. He opens it to Mr. Jasper, holding in his hand
the pupil's hat.
'We have had an awful scene with him,' says Jasper, in a low voice.
'Has it been so bad as that?'
Mr. Crisparkle remonstrates: 'No, no, no. Do not use such strong
'He might have laid my dear boy dead at my feet. It is no fault of
his, that he did not. But that I was, through the mercy of God,
swift and strong with him, he would have cut him down on my
The phrase smites home. 'Ah!' thinks Mr. Crisparkle, 'his own
'Seeing what I have seen to-night, and hearing what I have heard,'
adds Jasper, with great earnestness, 'I shall never know peace of
mind when there is danger of those two coming together, with no one
else to interfere. It was horrible. There is something of the
tiger in his dark blood.'
'Ah!' thinks Mr. Crisparkle, 'so he said!'
'You, my dear sir,' pursues Jasper, taking his hand, 'even you,
have accepted a dangerous charge.'
'You need have no fear for me, Jasper,' returns Mr. Crisparkle,
with a quiet smile. 'I have none for myself.'
'I have none for myself,' returns Jasper, with an emphasis on the
last pronoun, 'because I am not, nor am I in the way of being, the
object of his hostility. But you may be, and my dear boy has been.
Mr. Crisparkle goes in, with the hat that has so easily, so almost
imperceptibly, acquired the right to be hung up in his hall; hangs
it up; and goes thoughtfully to bed.
CHAPTER IX - BIRDS IN THE BUSH
ROSA, having no relation that she knew of in the world, had, from
the seventh year of her age, known no home but the Nuns' House, and
no mother but Miss Twinkleton. Her remembrance of her own mother
was of a pretty little creature like herself (not much older than
herself it seemed to her), who had been brought home in her
father's arms, drowned. The fatal accident had happened at a party
of pleasure. Every fold and colour in the pretty summer dress, and
even the long wet hair, with scattered petals of ruined flowers
still clinging to it, as the dead young figure, in its sad, sad
beauty lay upon the bed, were fixed indelibly in Rosa's
recollection. So were the wild despair and the subsequent boweddown
grief of her poor young father, who died broken-hearted on the
first anniversary of that hard day.
The betrothal of Rosa grew out of the soothing of his year of
mental distress by his fast friend and old college companion,
Drood: who likewise had been left a widower in his youth. But he,
too, went the silent road into which all earthly pilgrimages merge,
some sooner, and some later; and thus the young couple had come to
be as they were.
The atmosphere of pity surrounding the little orphan girl when she
first came to Cloisterham, had never cleared away. It had taken
brighter hues as she grew older, happier, prettier; now it had been
golden, now roseate, and now azure; but it had always adorned her
with some soft light of its own. The general desire to console and
caress her, had caused her to be treated in the beginning as a
child much younger than her years; the same desire had caused her
to be still petted when she was a child no longer. Who should be
her favourite, who should anticipate this or that small present, or
do her this or that small service; who should take her home for the
holidays; who should write to her the oftenest when they were
separated, and whom she would most rejoice to see again when they
were reunited; even these gentle rivalries were not without their
slight dashes of bitterness in the Nuns' House. Well for the poor
Nuns in their day, if they hid no harder strife under their veils
Thus Rosa had grown to be an amiable, giddy, wilful, winning little
creature; spoilt, in the sense of counting upon kindness from all
around her; but not in the sense of repaying it with indifference.
Possessing an exhaustless well of affection in her nature, its
sparkling waters had freshened and brightened the Nuns' House for
years, and yet its depths had never yet been moved: what might
betide when that came to pass; what developing changes might fall
upon the heedless head, and light heart, then; remained to be seen.
By what means the news that there had been a quarrel between the
two young men overnight, involving even some kind of onslaught by
Mr. Neville upon Edwin Drood, got into Miss Twinkleton's
establishment before breakfast, it is impossible to say. Whether
it was brought in by the birds of the air, or came blowing in with
the very air itself, when the casement windows were set open;
whether the baker brought it kneaded into the bread, or the milkman
delivered it as part of the adulteration of his milk; or the
housemaids, beating the dust out of their mats against the
gateposts, received it in exchange deposited on the mats by the
town atmosphere; certain it is that the news permeated every gable
of the old building before Miss Twinkleton was down, and that Miss
Twinkleton herself received it through Mrs. Tisher, while yet in
the act of dressing; or (as she might have expressed the phrase to
a parent or guardian of a mythological turn) of sacrificing to the
Miss Landless's brother had thrown a bottle at Mr. Edwin Drood.
Miss Landless's brother had thrown a knife at Mr. Edwin Drood.
A knife became suggestive of a fork; and Miss Landless's brother
had thrown a fork at Mr. Edwin Drood.
As in the governing precedence of Peter Piper, alleged to have
picked the peck of pickled pepper, it was held physically desirable
to have evidence of the existence of the peck of pickled pepper
which Peter Piper was alleged to have picked; so, in this case, it
was held psychologically important to know why Miss Landless's
brother threw a bottle, knife, or fork-or bottle, knife, AND fork -
for the cook had been given to understand it was all three - at Mr.
Well, then. Miss Landless's brother had said he admired Miss Bud.
Mr. Edwin Drood had said to Miss Landless's brother that he had no
business to admire Miss Bud. Miss Landless's brother had then
'up'd' (this was the cook's exact information) with the bottle,
knife, fork, and decanter (the decanter now coolly flying at
everybody's head, without the least introduction), and thrown them
all at Mr. Edwin Drood.
Poor little Rosa put a forefinger into each of her ears when these
rumours began to circulate, and retired into a corner, beseeching
not to be told any more; but Miss Landless, begging permission of
Miss Twinkleton to go and speak with her brother, and pretty
plainly showing that she would take it if it were not given, struck
out the more definite course of going to Mr. Crisparkle's for
When she came back (being first closeted with Miss Twinkleton, in
order that anything objectionable in her tidings might be retained
by that discreet filter), she imparted to Rosa only, what had taken
place; dwelling with a flushed cheek on the provocation her brother
had received, but almost limiting it to that last gross affront as
crowning 'some other words between them,' and, out of consideration
for her new friend, passing lightly over the fact that the other
words had originated in her lover's taking things in general so
very easily. To Rosa direct, she brought a petition from her
brother that she would forgive him; and, having delivered it with
sisterly earnestness, made an end of the subject.
It was reserved for Miss Twinkleton to tone down the public mind of
the Nuns' House. That lady, therefore, entering in a stately
manner what plebeians might have called the school-room, but what,
in the patrician language of the head of the Nuns' House, was
euphuistically, not to say round-aboutedly, denominated 'the
apartment allotted to study,' and saying with a forensic air,
'Ladies!' all rose. Mrs. Tisher at the same time grouped herself
behind her chief, as representing Queen Elizabeth's first
historical female friend at Tilbury fort. Miss Twinkleton then
proceeded to remark that Rumour, Ladies, had been represented by
the bard of Avon - needless were it to mention the immortal
SHAKESPEARE, also called the Swan of his native river, not
improbably with some reference to the ancient superstition that
that bird of graceful plumage (Miss Jennings will please stand
upright) sang sweetly on the approach of death, for which we have
no ornithological authority, - Rumour, Ladies, had been represented
by that bard - hem!
The celebrated Jew,'
as painted full of tongues. Rumour in Cloisterham (Miss Ferdinand
will honour me with her attention) was no exception to the great
limner's portrait of Rumour elsewhere. A slight FRACAS between two
young gentlemen occurring last night within a hundred miles of
these peaceful walls (Miss Ferdinand, being apparently
incorrigible, will have the kindness to write out this evening, in
the original language, the first four fables of our vivacious
neighbour, Monsieur La Fontaine) had been very grossly exaggerated
by Rumour's voice. In the first alarm and anxiety arising from our
sympathy with a sweet young friend, not wholly to be dissociated
from one of the gladiators in the bloodless arena in question (the
impropriety of Miss Reynolds's appearing to stab herself in the
hand with a pin, is far too obvious, and too glaringly unladylike,
to be pointed out), we descended from our maiden elevation to
discuss this uncongenial and this unfit theme. Responsible
inquiries having assured us that it was but one of those 'airy
nothings' pointed at by the Poet (whose name and date of birth Miss
Giggles will supply within half an hour), we would now discard the
subject, and concentrate our minds upon the grateful labours of the
But the subject so survived all day, nevertheless, that Miss
Ferdinand got into new trouble by surreptitiously clapping on a
paper moustache at dinner-time, and going through the motions of
aiming a water-bottle at Miss Giggles, who drew a table-spoon in
Now, Rosa thought of this unlucky quarrel a great deal, and thought
of it with an uncomfortable feeling that she was involved in it, as
cause, or consequence, or what not, through being in a false
position altogether as to her marriage engagement. Never free from
such uneasiness when she was with her affianced husband, it was not
likely that she would be free from it when they were apart. Today,
too, she was cast in upon herself, and deprived of the relief
of talking freely with her new friend, because the quarrel had been
with Helena's brother, and Helena undisguisedly avoided the subject
as a delicate and difficult one to herself. At this critical time,
of all times, Rosa's guardian was announced as having come to see
Mr. Grewgious had been well selected for his trust, as a man of
incorruptible integrity, but certainly for no other appropriate
quality discernible on the surface. He was an arid, sandy man,
who, if he had been put into a grinding-mill, looked as if he would
have ground immediately into high-dried snuff. He had a scanty
flat crop of hair, in colour and consistency like some very mangy
yellow fur tippet; it was so unlike hair, that it must have been a
wig, but for the stupendous improbability of anybody's voluntarily
sporting such a head. The little play of feature that his face
presented, was cut deep into it, in a few hard curves that made it
more like work; and he had certain notches in his forehead, which
looked as though Nature had been about to touch them into
sensibility or refinement, when she had impatiently thrown away the
chisel, and said: 'I really cannot be worried to finish off this
man; let him go as he is.'
With too great length of throat at his upper end, and too much
ankle-bone and heel at his lower; with an awkward and hesitating
manner; with a shambling walk; and with what is called a near sight
-which perhaps prevented his observing how much white cotton
stocking he displayed to the public eye, in contrast with his black
suit - Mr. Grewgious still had some strange capacity in him of
making on the whole an agreeable impression.
Mr. Grewgious was discovered by his ward, much discomfited by being
in Miss Twinkleton's company in Miss Twinkleton's own sacred room.
Dim forebodings of being examined in something, and not coming well
out of it, seemed to oppress the poor gentleman when found in these
'My dear, how do you do? I am glad to see you. My dear, how much
improved you are. Permit me to hand you a chair, my dear.'
Miss Twinkleton rose at her little writing-table, saying, with
general sweetness, as to the polite Universe: 'Will you permit me
'By no means, madam, on my account. I beg that you will not move.'
'I must entreat permission to MOVE,' returned Miss Twinkleton,
repeating the word with a charming grace; 'but I will not withdraw,
since you are so obliging. If I wheel my desk to this corner
window, shall I be in the way?'
'Madam! In the way!'
'You are very kind. - Rosa, my dear, you will be under no
restraint, I am sure.'
Here Mr. Grewgious, left by the fire with Rosa, said again: 'My
dear, how do you do? I am glad to see you, my dear.' And having
waited for her to sit down, sat down himself.
'My visits,' said Mr. Grewgious, 'are, like those of the angels -
not that I compare myself to an angel.'
'No, sir,' said Rosa.
'Not by any means,' assented Mr. Grewgious. 'I merely refer to my
visits, which are few and far between. The angels are, we know
very well, up-stairs.'
Miss Twinkleton looked round with a kind of stiff stare.
'I refer, my dear,' said Mr. Grewgious, laying his hand on Rosa's,
as the possibility thrilled through his frame of his otherwise
seeming to take the awful liberty of calling Miss Twinkleton my
dear; 'I refer to the other young ladies.'
Miss Twinkleton resumed her writing.
Mr. Grewgious, with a sense of not having managed his opening point
quite as neatly as he might have desired, smoothed his head from
back to front as if he had just dived, and were pressing the water
out - this smoothing action, however superfluous, was habitual with
him - and took a pocket-book from his coat-pocket, and a stump of
black-lead pencil from his waistcoat-pocket.
'I made,' he said, turning the leaves: 'I made a guiding
memorandum or so - as I usually do, for I have no conversational
powers whatever - to which I will, with your permission, my dear,
refer. Well and happy." Truly. You are well and happymy dear?
You look so.'
'Yesindeedsir' answered Rosa.
'For which' said Mr. Grewgiouswith a bend of his head towards
the corner window'our warmest acknowledgments are dueand I am
sure are renderedto the maternal kindness and the constant care
and consideration of the lady whom I have now the honour to see
This pointagainmade but a lame departure from Mr. Grewgious
and never got to its destination; forMiss Twinkletonfeeling
that the courtesies required her to be by this time quite outside
the conversationwas biting the end of her penand looking
upwardas waiting for the descent of an idea from any member of
the Celestial Nine who might have one to spare.
Mr. Grewgious smoothed his smooth head againand then made another
reference to his pocket-book; lining out 'well and happy' as
'"Poundsshillingsand pence is my next note. A dry subject
for a young lady, but an important subject too. Life is pounds,
shillings, and pence. Death is - ' A sudden recollection of the
death of her two parents seemed to stop him, and he said in a
softer tone, and evidently inserting the negative as an afterthought:
'Death is NOT pounds, shillings, and pence.'
His voice was as hard and dry as himself, and Fancy might have
ground it straight, like himself, into high-dried snuff. And yet,
through the very limited means of expression that he possessed, he
seemed to express kindness. If Nature had but finished him off,
kindness might have been recognisable in his face at this moment.
But if the notches in his forehead wouldn't fuse together, and if
his face would work and couldn't play, what could he do, poor man!
'Poundsshillingsand pence." You find your allowance always
sufficient for your wantsmy dear?'
Rosa wanted for nothingand therefore it was ample.
'And you are not in debt?'
Rosa laughed at the idea of being in debt. It seemedto her
inexperiencea comical vagary of the imagination. Mr. Grewgious
stretched his near sight to be sure that this was her view of the
case. 'Ah!' he saidas commentwith a furtive glance towards
Miss Twinkletonand lining out poundsshillingsand pence: 'I
spoke of having got among the angels! So I did!'
Rosa felt what his next memorandum would prove to beand was
blushing and folding a crease in her dress with one embarrassed
handlong before he found it.
'"Marriage." Hem!' Mr. Grewgious carried his smoothing hand down
over his eyes and noseand even chinbefore drawing his chair a
little nearerand speaking a little more confidentially: 'I now
touchmy dearupon the point that is the direct cause of my
troubling you with the present visit. Othenwisebeing a
particularly Angular manI should not have intruded here. I am
the last man to intrude into a sphere for which I am so entirely
unfitted. I feelon these premisesas if I was a bear - with the
cramp - in a youthful Cotillon.'
His ungainliness gave him enough of the air of his simile to set
Rosa off laughing heartily.
'It strikes you in the same light' said Mr. Grewgiouswith
perfect calmness. 'Just so. To return to my memorandum. Mr.
Edwin has been to and fro hereas was arranged. You have
mentioned thatin your quarterly letters to me. And you like him
and he likes you.'
'I LIKE him very muchsir' rejoined Rosa.
'So I saidmy dear' returned her guardianfor whose ear the
timid emphasis was much too fine. 'Good. And you correspond.'
'We write to one another' said Rosapoutingas she recalled
their epistolary differences.
'Such is the meaning that I attach to the word "correspond" in this
applicationmy dear' said Mr. Grewgious. 'Good. All goes well
time works onand at this next Christmas-time it will become
necessaryas a matter of formto give the exemplary lady in the
corner windowto whom we are so much indebtedbusiness notice of
your departure in the ensuing half-year. Your relations with her
are far more than business relationsno doubt; but a residue of
business remains in themand business is business ever. I am a
particularly Angular man' proceeded Mr. Grewgiousas if it
suddenly occurred to him to mention it'and I am not used to give
anything away. Iffor these two reasonssome competent Proxy
would give YOU awayI should take it very kindly.'
Rosa intimatedwith her eyes on the groundthat she thought a
substitute might be foundif required.
'Surelysurely' said Mr. Grewgious. 'For instancethe gentleman
who teaches Dancing here - he would know how to do it with graceful
propriety. He would advance and retire in a manner satisfactory to
the feelings of the officiating clergymanand of yourselfand the
bridegroomand all parties concerned. I am - I am a particularly
Angular man' said Mr. Grewgiousas if he had made up his mind to
screw it out at last: 'and should only blunder.'
Rosa sat still and silent. Perhaps her mind had not got quite so
far as the ceremony yetbut was lagging on the way there.
'MemorandumWill.Nowmy dear' said Mr. Grewgiousreferring
to his notesdisposing of 'Marriage' with his penciland taking a
paper from his pocket; 'although. I have before possessed you with
the contents of your father's willI think it right at this time
to leave a certified copy of it in your hands. And although Mr.
Edwin is also aware of its contentsI think it right at this time
likewise to place a certified copy of it in Mr. Jasper's hand - '
'Not in his own!' asked Rosalooking up quickly. 'Cannot the copy
go to Eddy himself?'
'Whyyesmy dearif you particularly wish it; but I spoke of Mr.
Jasper as being his trustee.'
'I do particularly wish itif you please' said Rosahurriedly
and earnestly; 'I don't like Mr. Jasper to come between usin any
'It is naturalI suppose' said Mr. Grewgious'that your young
husband should be all in all. Yes. You observe that I sayI
suppose. The fact isI am a particularly Unnatural manand I
don't know from my own knowledge.'
Rosa looked at him with some wonder.
'I mean' he explained'that young ways were never my ways. I was
the only offspring of parents far advanced in lifeand I half
believe I was born advanced in life myself. No personality is
intended towards the name you will so soon changewhen I remark
that while the general growth of people seem to have come into
existencebudsI seem to have come into existence a chip. I was
a chip - and a very dry one - when I first became aware of myself.
Respecting the other certified copyyour wish shall be complied
with. Respecting your inheritanceI think you know all. It is an
annuity of two hundred and fifty pounds. The savings upon that
annuityand some other items to your creditall duly carried to
accountwith voucherswill place you in possession of a lump-sum
of moneyrather exceeding Seventeen Hundred Pounds. I am
empowered to advance the cost of your preparations for your
marriage out of that fund. All is told.'
'Will you please tell me' said Rosataking the paper with a
prettily knitted browbut not opening it: 'whether I am right in
what I am going to say? I can understand what you tell meso very
much better than what I read in law-writings. My poor papa and
Eddy's father made their agreement togetheras very dear and firm
and fast friendsin order that wetoomight be very dear and
firm and fast friends after them?'
'For the lasting good of both of usand the lasting happiness of
both of us?'
'That we might be to one another even much more than they had been
to one another?'
'It was not bound upon Eddyand it was not bound upon meby any
forfeitin case - '
'Don't be agitatedmy dear. In the case that it brings tears into
your affectionate eyes even to picture to yourself - in the case of
your not marrying one another - nono forfeiture on either side.
You would then have been my ward until you were of age. No worse
would have befallen you. Bad enough perhaps!'
'He would have come into his partnership derived from his father
and into its arrears to his credit (if any)on attaining his
majorityjust as now.'
Rosawith her perplexed face and knitted browbit the corner of
her attested copyas she sat with her head on one sidelooking
abstractedly on the floorand smoothing it with her foot.
'In short' said Mr. Grewgious'this betrothal is a wisha
sentimenta friendly projecttenderly expressed on both sides.
That it was strongly feltand that there was a lively hope that it
would prosperthere can be no doubt. When you were both children
you began to be accustomed to itand it HAS prospered. But
circumstances alter cases; and I made this visit to-daypartly
indeed principallyto discharge myself of the duty of telling you
my dearthat two young people can only be betrothed in marriage
(except as a matter of convenienceand therefore mockery and
misery) of their own free willtheir own attachmentand their own
assurance (it may or it may not prove a mistaken onebut we must
take our chance of that)that they are suited to each otherand
will make each other happy. Is it to be supposedfor example
that if either of your fathers were living nowand had any
mistrust on that subjecthis mind would not be changed by the
change of circumstances involved in the change of your years?
Mr. Grewgious said all thisas if he were reading it aloud; or
still moreas if he were repeating a lesson. So expressionless of
any approach to spontaneity were his face and manner.
'I have nowmy dear' he addedblurring out 'Will' with his
pencil'discharged myself of what is doubtless a formal duty in
this casebut still a duty in such a case. MemorandumWishes.
My dearis there any wish of yours that I can further?'
Rosa shook her headwith an almost plaintive air of hesitation in
want of help.
'Is there any instruction that I can take from you with reference
to your affairs?'
'I - I should like to settle them with Eddy firstif you please'
said Rosaplaiting the crease in her dress.
'Surelysurely' returned Mr. Grewgious. 'You two should be of
one mind in all things. Is the young gentleman expected shortly?'
'He has gone away only this morning. He will be back at
'Nothing could happen better. You willon his return at
Christmasarrange all matters of detail with him; you will then
communicate with me; and I will discharge myself (as a mere
business acquaintance) of my business responsibilities towards the
accomplished lady in the corner window. They will accrue at that
season.' Blurring pencil once again. 'MemorandumLeave.Yes.
I will nowmy deartake my leave.'
'Could I' said Rosarisingas he jerked out of his chair in his
ungainly way: 'could I ask youmost kindly to come to me at
Christmasif I had anything particular to say to you?'
'Whycertainlycertainly' he rejoined; apparently - if such a
word can be used of one who had no apparent lights or shadows about
him - complimented by the question. 'As a particularly Angular
manI do not fit smoothly into the social circleand consequently
I have no other engagement at Christmas-time than to partakeon
the twenty-fifthof a boiled turkey and celery sauce with a - with
a particularly Angular clerk I have the good fortune to possess
whose fatherbeing a Norfolk farmersends him up (the turkey up)
as a present to mefrom the neighbourhood of Norwich. I should be
quite proud of your wishing to see memy dear. As a professional
Receiver of rentsso very few people DO wish to see methat the
novelty would be bracing.'
For his ready acquiescencethe grateful Rosa put her hands upon
his shouldersstood on tiptoeand instantly kissed him.
'Lord bless me!' cried Mr. Grewgious. 'Thank youmy dear! The
honour is almost equal to the pleasure. Miss TwinkletonmadamI
have had a most satisfactory conversation with my wardand I will
now release you from the incumbrance of my presence.'
'Naysir' rejoined Miss Twinkletonrising with a gracious
condescension: 'say not incumbrance. Not soby any means. I
cannot permit you to say so.'
'Thank youmadam. I have read in the newspapers' said Mr.
Grewgiousstammering a little'that when a distinguished visitor
(not that I am one: far from it) goes to a school (not that this
is one: far from it)he asks for a holidayor some sort of
grace. It being now the afternoon in the - College - of which you
are the eminent headthe young ladies might gain nothingexcept
in nameby having the rest of the day allowed them. But if there
is any young lady at all under a cloudmight I solicit - '
'AhMr. GrewgiousMr. Grewgious!' cried Miss Twinkletonwith a
chastely-rallying forefinger. 'O you gentlemenyou gentlemen!
Fie for shamethat you are so hard upon us poor maligned
disciplinarians of our sexfor your sakes! But as Miss Ferdinand
is at present weighed down by an incubus' - Miss Twinkleton might
have said a pen-and-ink-ubus of writing out Monsieur La Fontaine -
'go to herRosa my dearand tell her the penalty is remittedin
deference to the intercession of your guardianMr. Grewgious.'
Miss Twinkleton here achieved a curtseysuggestive of marvels
happening to her respected legsand which she came out of nobly
three yards behind her starting-point.
As he held it incumbent upon him to call on Mr. Jasper before
leaving CloisterhamMr. Grewgious went to the gatehouseand
climbed its postern stair. But Mr. Jasper's door being closedand
presenting on a slip of paper the word 'Cathedral' the fact of its
being service-time was borne into the mind of Mr. Grewgious. So he
descended the stair againandcrossing the Closepaused at the
great western folding-door of the Cathedralwhich stood open on
the fine and brightthough short-livedafternoonfor the airing
of the place.
'Dear me' said Mr. Grewgiouspeeping in'it's like looking down
the throat of Old Time.'
Old Time heaved a mouldy sigh from tomb and arch and vault; and
gloomy shadows began to deepen in corners; and damps began to rise
from green patches of stone; and jewelscast upon the pavement of
the nave from stained glass by the declining sunbegan to perish.
Within the grill-gate of the chancelup the steps surmounted
loomingly by the fast-darkening organwhite robes could be dimly
seenand one feeble voicerising and falling in a cracked
monotonous muttercould at intervals be faintly heard. In the
free outer airthe riverthe green pasturesand the brown arable
landsthe teeming hills and daleswere reddened by the sunset:
while the distant little windows in windmills and farm homesteads
shonepatches of bright beaten gold. In the Cathedralall became
graymurkyand sepulchraland the cracked monotonous mutter went
on like a dying voiceuntil the organ and the choir burst forth
and drowned it in a sea of music. Thenthe sea felland the
dying voice made another feeble effortand then the sea rose high
and beat its life outand lashed the roofand surged among the
archesand pierced the heights of the great tower; and then the
sea was dryand all was still.
Mr. Grewgious had by that time walked to the chancel-stepswhere
he met the living waters coming out.
'Nothing is the matter?' Thus Jasper accosted himrather quickly.
'You have not been sent for?'
'Not at allnot at all. I came down of my own accord. I have
been to my pretty ward'sand am now homeward bound again.'
'You found her thriving?'
'Blooming indeed. Most blooming. I merely came to tell her
seriouslywhat a betrothal by deceased parents is.'
'And what is it - according to your judgment?'
Mr. Grewgious noticed the whiteness of the lips that asked the
questionand put it down to the chilling account of the Cathedral.
'I merely came to tell her that it could not be considered binding
against any such reason for its dissolution as a want of affection
or want of disposition to carry it into effecton the side of
'May I askhad you any especial reason for telling her that?'
Mr. Grewgious answered somewhat sharply: 'The especial reason of
doing my dutysir. Simply that.' Then he added: 'ComeMr.
Jasper; I know your affection for your nephewand that you are
quick to feel on his behalf. I assure you that this implies not
the least doubt ofor disrespect toyour nephew.'
'You could not' returned Jasperwith a friendly pressure of his
armas they walked on side by side'speak more handsomely.'
Mr. Grewgious pulled off his hat to smooth his headandhaving
smoothed itnodded it contentedlyand put his hat on again.
'I will wager' said Jaspersmiling - his lips were still so white
that he was conscious of itand bit and moistened them while
speaking: 'I will wager that she hinted no wish to be released
'And you will win your wagerif you do' retorted Mr. Grewgious.
'We should allow some margin for little maidenly delicacies in a
young motherless creatureunder such circumstancesI suppose; it
is not in my line; what do you think?'
'There can be no doubt of it.'
'I am glad you say so. Because' proceeded Mr. Grewgiouswho had
all this time very knowingly felt his way round to action on his
remembrance of what she had said of Jasper himself: 'because she
seems to have some little delicate instinct that all preliminary
arrangements had best be made between Mr. Edwin Drood and herself
don't you see? She don't want usdon't you know?'
Jasper touched himself on the breastand saidsomewhat
indistinctly: 'You mean me.'
Mr. Grewgious touched himself on the breastand said: 'I mean us.
Thereforelet them have their little discussions and councils
togetherwhen Mr. Edwin Drood comes back here at Christmas; and
then you and I will step inand put the final touches to the
'Soyou settled with her that you would come back at Christmas?'
observed Jasper. 'I see! Mr. Grewgiousas you quite fairly said
just nowthere is such an exceptional attachment between my nephew
and methat I am more sensitive for the dearfortunatehappy
happy fellow than for myself. But it is only right that the young
lady should be consideredas you have pointed outand that I
should accept my cue from you. I accept it. I understand that at
Christmas they will complete their preparations for Mayand that
their marriage will be put in final train by themselvesand that
nothing will remain for us but to put ourselves in train alsoand
have everything ready for our formal release from our trustson
'That is my understanding' assented Mr. Grewgiousas they shook
hands to part. 'God bless them both!'
'God save them both!' cried Jasper.
'I saidbless them' remarked the formerlooking back over his
'I saidsave them' returned the latter. 'Is there any
CHAPTER X - SMOOTHING THE WAY
IT has been often enough remarked that women have a curious power
of divining the characters of menwhich would seem to be innate
and instinctive; seeing that it is arrived at through no patient
process of reasoningthat it can give no satisfactory or
sufficient account of itselfand that it pronounces in the most
confident manner even against accumulated observation on the part
of the other sex. But it has not been quite so often remarked that
this power (falliblelike every other human attribute) is for the
most part absolutely incapable of self-revision; and that when it
has delivered an adverse opinion which by all human lights is
subsequently proved to have failedit is undistinguishable from
prejudicein respect of its determination not to be corrected.
Naythe very possibility of contradiction or disproofhowever
remotecommunicates to this feminine judgment from the firstin
nine cases out of tenthe weakness attendant on the testimony of
an interested witness; so personally and strongly does the fair
diviner connect herself with her divination.
'Nowdon't you thinkMa dear' said the Minor Canon to his mother
one day as she sat at her knitting in his little book-room'that
you are rather hard on Mr. Neville?'
'NoI do NOTSept' returned the old lady.
'Let us discuss itMa.'
'I have no objection to discuss itSept. I trustmy dearI am
always open to discussion.' There was a vibration in the old
lady's capas though she internally added: 'and I should like to
see the discussion that would change MY mind!'
'Very goodMa' said her conciliatory son. 'There is nothing like
being open to discussion.'
'I hope notmy dear' returned the old ladyevidently shut to it.
'Well! Mr. Nevilleon that unfortunate occasioncommits himself
'And under mulled wine' added the old lady.
'I must admit the wine. Though I believe the two young men were
much alike in that regard.'
'I don't' said the old lady.
'Because I DON'T' said the old lady. 'StillI am quite open to
'Butmy dear MaI cannot see how we are to discussif you take
'Blame Mr. Neville for itSeptand not me' said the old lady
with stately severity.
'My dear Ma! why Mr. Neville?'
'Because' said Mrs. Crisparkleretiring on first principles'he
came home intoxicatedand did great discredit to this houseand
showed great disrespect to this family.'
'That is not to be deniedMa. He was thenand he is nowvery
sorry for it.'
'But for Mr. Jasper's well-bred consideration in coming up to me
next dayafter servicein the Nave itselfwith his gown still
onand expressing his hope that I had not been greatly alarmed or
had my rest violently brokenI believe I might never have heard of
that disgraceful transaction' said the old lady.
'To be candidMaI think I should have kept it from you if I
could: though I had not decidedly made up my mind. I was
following Jasper outto confer with him on the subjectand to
consider the expediency of his and my jointly hushing the thing up
on all accountswhen I found him speaking to you. Then it was too
'Too lateindeedSept. He was still as pale as gentlemanly ashes
at what had taken place in his rooms overnight.'
'If I HAD kept it from youMayou may be sure it would have been
for your peace and quietand for the good of the young menand in
my best discharge of my duty according to my lights.'
The old lady immediately walked across the room and kissed him:
saying'Of coursemy dear SeptI am sure of that.'
'Howeverit became the town-talk' said Mr. Crisparklerubbing
his earas his mother resumed her seatand her knitting'and
passed out of my power.'
'And I said thenSept' returned the old lady'that I thought ill
of Mr. Neville. And I say nowthat I think ill of Mr. Neville.
And I said thenand I say nowthat I hope Mr. Neville may come to
goodbut I don't believe he will.' Here the cap vibrated again
'I am sorry to hear you say soMa - '
'I am sorry to say somy dear' interposed the old ladyknitting
on firmly'but I can't help it.'
' - For' pursued the Minor Canon'it is undeniable that Mr.
Neville is exceedingly industrious and attentiveand that he
improves apaceand that he has - I hope I may say - an attachment
'There is no merit in the last articlemy dear' said the old
ladyquickly; 'and if he says there isI think the worse of him
for the boast.'
'Butmy dear Mahe never said there was.'
'Perhaps not' returned the old lady; 'stillI don't see that it
There was no impatience in the pleasant look with which Mr.
Crisparkle contemplated the pretty old piece of china as it
knitted; but there wascertainlya humorous sense of its not
being a piece of china to argue with very closely.
'BesidesSeptask yourself what he would be without his sister.
You know what an influence she has over him; you know what a
capacity she has; you know that whatever he reads with youhe
reads with her. Give her her fair share of your praiseand how
much do you leave for him?'
At these words Mr. Crisparkle fell into a little reveriein which
he thought of several things. He thought of the times he had seen
the brother and sister together in deep converse over one of his
own old college books; nowin the rimy morningswhen he made
those sharpening pilgrimages to Cloisterham Weir; nowin the
sombre eveningswhen he faced the wind at sunsethaving climbed
his favourite outlooka beetling fragment of monastery ruin; and
the two studious figures passed below him along the margin of the
riverin which the town fires and lights already shonemaking the
landscape bleaker. He thought how the consciousness had stolen
upon him that in teaching onehe was teaching two; and how he had
almost insensibly adapted his explanations to both minds - that
with which his own was daily in contactand that which he only
approached through it. He thought of the gossip that had reached
him from the Nuns' Houseto the effect that Helenawhom he had
mistrusted as so proud and fiercesubmitted herself to the fairy
bride (as he called her)and learnt from her what she knew. He
thought of the picturesque alliance between those twoexternally
so very different. He thought - perhaps most of all - could it be
that these things were yet but so many weeks oldand had become an
integral part of his life?
Aswhenever the Reverend Septimus fell a-musinghis good mother
took it to be an infallible sign that he 'wanted support' the
blooming old lady made all haste to the dining-room closetto
produce from it the support embodied in a glass of Constantia and a
home-made biscuit. It was a most wonderful closetworthy of
Cloisterham and of Minor Canon Corner. Above ita portrait of
Handel in a flowing wig beamed down at the spectatorwith a
knowing air of being up to the contents of the closetand a
musical air of intending to combine all its harmonies in one
delicious fugue. No common closet with a vulgar door on hinges
openable all at onceand leaving nothing to be disclosed by
degreesthis rare closet had a lock in mid-airwhere two
perpendicular slides met; the one falling downand the other
pushing up. The upper slideon being pulled down (leaving the
lower a double mystery)revealed deep shelves of pickle-jarsjampots
tin canistersspice-boxesand agreeably outlandish vessels
of blue and whitethe luscious lodgings of preserved tamarinds and
ginger. Every benevolent inhabitant of this retreat had his name
inscribed upon his stomach. The picklesin a uniform of rich
brown double-breasted buttoned coatand yellow or sombre drab
continuationsannounced their portly formsin printed capitals
as WalnutGherkinOnionCabbageCauliflowerMixedand other
members of that noble family. The jamsas being of a less
masculine temperamentand as wearing curlpapersannounced
themselves in feminine caligraphylike a soft whisperto be
The scene closing on these charmersand the lower slide ascending
oranges were revealedattended by a mighty japanned sugar-boxto
temper their acerbity if unripe. Home-made biscuits waited at the
Court of these Powersaccompanied by a goodly fragment of plumcake
and various slender ladies' fingersto be dipped into sweet
wine and kissed. Lowest of alla compact leaden-vault enshrined
the sweet wine and a stock of cordials: whence issued whispers of
Seville OrangeLemonAlmondand Caraway-seed. There was a
crowning air upon this closet of closetsof having been for ages
hummed through by the Cathedral bell and organuntil those
venerable bees had made sublimated honey of everything in store;
and it was always observed that every dipper among the shelves
(deepas has been noticedand swallowing up headshouldersand
elbows) came forth again mellow-facedand seeming to have
undergone a saccharine transfiguration.
The Reverend Septimus yielded himself up quite as willing a victim
to a nauseous medicinal herb-closetalso presided over by the
china shepherdessas to this glorious cupboard. To what amazing
infusions of gentianpeppermintgilliflowersageparsley
thymeruerosemaryand dandeliondid his courageous stomach
submit itself! In what wonderful wrappersenclosing layers of
dried leaveswould he swathe his rosy and contented faceif his
mother suspected him of a toothache! What botanical blotches would
he cheerfully stick upon his cheekor foreheadif the dear old
lady convicted him of an imperceptible pimple there! Into this
herbaceous penitentiarysituated on an upper staircase-landing: a
low and narrow whitewashed cellwhere bunches of dried leaves hung
from rusty hooks in the ceilingand were spread out upon shelves
in company with portentous bottles: would the Reverend Septimus
submissively be ledlike the highly popular lamb who has so long
and unresistingly been led to the slaughterand there would he
unlike that lambbore nobody but himself. Not even doing that
muchso that the old lady were busy and pleasedhe would quietly
swallow what was given himmerely taking a corrective dip of hands
and face into the great bowl of dried rose-leavesand into the
other great bowl of dried lavenderand then would go outas
confident in the sweetening powers of Cloisterham Weir and a
wholesome mindas Lady Macbeth was hopeless of those of all the
seas that roll.
In the present instance the good Minor Canon took his glass of
Constantia with an excellent graceandso supported to his
mother's satisfactionapplied himself to the remaining duties of
the day. In their orderly and punctual progress they brought round
Vesper Service and twilight. The Cathedral being very coldhe set
off for a brisk trot after service; the trot to end in a charge at
his favourite fragment of ruinwhich was to be carried by storm
without a pause for breath.
He carried it in a masterly mannerandnot breathed even then
stood looking down upon the river. The river at Cloisterham is
sufficiently near the sea to throw up oftentimes a quantity of
seaweed. An unusual quantity had come in with the last tideand
thisand the confusion of the waterand the restless dipping and
flapping of the noisy gullsand an angry light out seaward beyond
the brown-sailed barges that were turning blackforeshadowed a
stormy night. In his mind he was contrasting the wild and noisy
sea with the quiet harbour of Minor Canon Cornerwhen Helena and
Neville Landless passed below him. He had had the two together in
his thoughts all dayand at once climbed down to speak to them
together. The footing was rough in an uncertain light for any
tread save that of a good climber; but the Minor Canon was as good
a climber as most menand stood beside them before many good
climbers would have been half-way down.
'A wild eveningMiss Landless! Do you not find your usual walk
with your brother too exposed and cold for the time of year? Or at
all eventswhen the sun is downand the weather is driving in
from the sea?'
Helena thought not. It was their favourite walk. It was very
'It is very retired' assented Mr. Crisparklelaying hold of his
opportunity straightwayand walking on with them. 'It is a place
of all others where one can speak without interruptionas I wish
to do. Mr. NevilleI believe you tell your sister everything that
passes between us?'
'Consequently' said Mr. Crisparkle'your sister is aware that I
have repeatedly urged you to make some kind of apology for that
unfortunate occurrence which befell on the night of your arrival
here.' In saying it he looked to herand not to him; therefore it
was sheand not hewho replied:
'I call it unfortunateMiss Helena' resumed Mr. Crisparkle
'forasmuch as it certainly has engendered a prejudice against
Neville. There is a notion aboutthat he is a dangerously
passionate fellowof an uncontrollable and furious temper: he is
really avoided as such.'
'I have no doubt he ispoor fellow' said Helenawith a look of
proud compassion at her brotherexpressing a deep sense of his
being ungenerously treated. 'I should be quite sure of itfrom
your saying so; but what you tell me is confirmed by suppressed
hints and references that I meet with every day.'
'Now' Mr. Crisparkle again resumedin a tone of mild though firm
persuasion'is not this to be regrettedand ought it not to be
amended? These are early days of Neville's in Cloisterhamand I
have no fear of his outliving such a prejudiceand proving himself
to have been misunderstood. But how much wiser to take action at
oncethan to trust to uncertain time! Besidesapart from its
being politicit is right. For there can be no question that
Neville was wrong.'
'He was provoked' Helena submitted.
'He was the assailant' Mr. Crisparkle submitted.
They walked on in silenceuntil Helena raised her eyes to the
Minor Canon's faceand saidalmost reproachfully: 'O Mr.
Crisparklewould you have Neville throw himself at young Drood's
feetor at Mr. Jasper'swho maligns him every day? In your heart
you cannot mean it. From your heart you could not do itif his
case were yours.'
'I have represented to Mr. CrisparkleHelena' said Nevillewith
a glance of deference towards his tutor'that if I could do it
from my heartI would. But I cannotand I revolt from the
pretence. You forget howeverthat to put the case to Mr.
Crisparkle as his ownis to suppose to have done what I did.'
'I ask his pardon' said Helena.
'You see' remarked Mr. Crisparkleagain laying hold of his
opportunitythough with a moderate and delicate touch'you both
instinctively acknowledge that Neville did wrong. Then why stop
shortand not otherwise acknowledge it?'
'Is there no difference' asked Helenawith a little faltering in
her manner; 'between submission to a generous spiritand
submission to a base or trivial one?'
Before the worthy Minor Canon was quite ready with his argument in
reference to this nice distinctionNeville struck in:
'Help me to clear myself with Mr. CrisparkleHelena. Help me to
convince him that I cannot be the first to make concessions without
mockery and falsehood. My nature must be changed before I can do
soand it is not changed. I am sensible of inexpressible affront
and deliberate aggravation of inexpressible affrontand I am
angry. The plain truth isI am still as angry when I recall that
night as I was that night.'
'Neville' hinted the Minor Canonwith a steady countenance'you
have repeated that former action of your handswhich I so much
'I am sorry for itsirbut it was involuntary. I confessed that
I was still as angry.'
'And I confess' said Mr. Crisparkle'that I hoped for better
'I am sorry to disappoint yousirbut it would be far worse to
deceive youand I should deceive you grossly if I pretended that
you had softened me in this respect. The time may come when your
powerful influence will do even that with the difficult pupil whose
antecedents you know; but it has not come yet. Is this soand in
spite of my struggles against myselfHelena?'
Shewhose dark eyes were watching the effect of what he said on
Mr. Crisparkle's facereplied - to Mr. Crisparklenot to him:
'It is so.' After a short pauseshe answered the slightest look
of inquiry conceivablein her brother's eyeswith as slight an
affirmative bend of her own head; and he went on:
'I have never yet had the courage to say to yousirwhat in full
openness I ought to have said when you first talked with me on this
subject. It is not easy to sayand I have been withheld by a fear
of its seeming ridiculouswhich is very strong upon me down to
this last momentand mightbut for my sisterprevent my being
quite open with you even now. - I admire Miss Budsirso very
muchthat I cannot bear her being treated with conceit or
indifference; and even if I did not feel that I had an injury
against young Drood on my own accountI should feel that I had an
injury against him on hers.'
Mr. Crisparklein utter amazementlooked at Helena for
corroborationand met in her expressive face full corroboration
and a plea for advice.
'The young lady of whom you speak isas you knowMr. Neville
shortly to be married' said Mr. Crisparklegravely; 'therefore
your admirationif it be of that special nature which you seem to
indicateis outrageously misplaced. Moreoverit is monstrous
that you should take upon yourself to be the young lady's champion
against her chosen husband. Besidesyou have seen them only once.
The young lady has become your sister's friend; and I wonder that
your sistereven on her behalfhas not checked you in this
irrational and culpable fancy.'
'She has triedsirbut uselessly. Husband or no husbandthat
fellow is incapable of the feeling with which I am inspired towards
the beautiful young creature whom he treats like a doll. I say he
is as incapable of itas he is unworthy of her. I say she is
sacrificed in being bestowed upon him. I say that I love herand
despise and hate him!' This with a face so flushedand a gesture
so violentthat his sister crossed to his sideand caught his
Thus recalled to himselfhe quickly became sensible of having lost
the guard he had set upon his passionate tendencyand covered his
face with his handas one repentant and wretched.
Mr. Crisparklewatching him attentivelyand at the same time
meditating how to proceedwalked on for some paces in silence.
Then he spoke:
'Mr. NevilleMr. NevilleI am sorely grieved to see in you more
traces of a character as sullenangryand wildas the night now
closing in. They are of too serious an aspect to leave me the
resource of treating the infatuation you have disclosedas
undeserving serious consideration. I give it very serious
considerationand I speak to you accordingly. This feud between
you and young Drood must not go on. I cannot permit it to go on
any longerknowing what I now know from youand you living under
my roof. Whatever prejudiced and unauthorised constructions your
blind and envious wrath may put upon his characterit is a frank
good-natured character. I know I can trust to it for that. Now
pray observe what I am about to say. On reflectionand on your
sister's representationI am willing to admit thatin making
peace with young Droodyou have a right to be met half-way. I
will engage that you shall beand even that young Drood shall make
the first advance. This condition fulfilledyou will pledge me
the honour of a Christian gentleman that the quarrel is for ever at
an end on your side. What may be in your heart when you give him
your handcan only be known to the Searcher of all hearts; but it
will never go well with youif there be any treachery there. So
faras to that; next as to what I must again speak of as your
infatuation. I understand it to have been confided to meand to
be known to no other person save your sister and yourself. Do I
Helena answered in a low voice: 'It is only known to us three who
are here together.'
'It is not at all known to the young ladyyour friend?'
'On my soulno!'
'I require youthento give me your similar and solemn pledge
Mr. Nevillethat it shall remain the secret it isand that you
will take no other action whatsoever upon it than endeavouring (and
that most earnestly) to erase it from your mind. I will not tell
you that it will soon pass; I will not tell you that it is the
fancy of the moment; I will not tell you that such caprices have
their rise and fall among the young and ardent every hour; I will
leave you undisturbed in the belief that it has few parallels or
nonethat it will abide with you a long timeand that it will be
very difficult to conquer. So much the more weight shall I attach
to the pledge I require from youwhen it is unreservedly given.'
The young man twice or thrice essayed to speakbut failed.
'Let me leave you with your sisterwhom it is time you took home'
said Mr. Crisparkle. 'You will find me alone in my room by-andby.'
'Pray do not leave us yet' Helena implored him. 'Another minute.'
'I should not' said Nevillepressing his hand upon his face
'have needed so much as another minuteif you had been less
patient with meMr. Crisparkleless considerate of meand less
unpretendingly good and true. Oif in my childhood I had known
such a guide!'
'Follow your guide nowNeville' murmured Helena'and follow him
There was that in her tone which broke the good Minor Canon's
voiceor it would have repudiated her exaltation of him. As it
washe laid a finger on his lipsand looked towards her brother.
'To say that I give both pledgesMr. Crisparkleout of my
innermost heartand to say that there is no treachery in itis to
say nothing!' Thus Nevillegreatly moved. 'I beg your
forgiveness for my miserable lapse into a burst of passion.'
'Not mineNevillenot mine. You know with whom forgiveness lies
as the highest attribute conceivable. Miss Helenayou and your
brother are twin children. You came into this world with the same
dispositionsand you passed your younger days together surrounded
by the same adverse circumstances. What you have overcome in
yourselfcan you not overcome in him? You see the rock that lies
in his course. Who but you can keep him clear of it?'
'Who but yousir?' replied Helena. 'What is my influenceor my
weak wisdomcompared with yours!'
'You have the wisdom of Love' returned the Minor Canon'and it
was the highest wisdom ever known upon this earthremember. As to
mine - but the less said of that commonplace commodity the better.
She took the hand he offered herand gratefully and almost
reverently raised it to her lips.
'Tut!' said the Minor Canon softly'I am much overpaid!' and
Retracing his steps towards the Cathedral Closehe triedas he
went along in the darkto think out the best means of bringing to
pass what he had promised to effectand what must somehow be done.
'I shall probably be asked to marry them' he reflected'and I
would they were married and gone! But this presses first.'
He debated principally whether he should write to young Droodor
whether he should speak to Jasper. The consciousness of being
popular with the whole Cathedral establishment inclined him to the
latter courseand the well-timed sight of the lighted gatehouse
decided him to take it. 'I will strike while the iron is hot' he
said'and see him now.'
Jasper was lying asleep on a couch before the firewhenhaving
ascended the postern-stairand received no answer to his knock at
the doorMr. Crisparkle gently turned the handle and looked in.
Long afterwards he had cause to remember how Jasper sprang from the
couch in a delirious state between sleeping and wakingand crying
out: 'What is the matter? Who did it?'
'It is only IJasper. I am sorry to have disturbed you.'
The glare of his eyes settled down into a look of recognitionand
he moved a chair or twoto make a way to the fireside.
'I was dreaming at a great rateand am glad to be disturbed from
an indigestive after-dinner sleep. Not to mention that you are
'Thank you. I am not confident' returned Mr. Crisparkleas he
sat himself down in the easy-chair placed for him'that my subject
will at first sight be quite as welcome as myself; but I am a
minister of peaceand I pursue my subject in the interests of
peace. In a wordJasperI want to establish peace between these
two young fellows.'
A very perplexed expression took hold of Mr. Jasper's face; a very
perplexing expression toofor Mr. Crisparkle could make nothing of
'How?' was Jasper's inquiryin a low and slow voiceafter a
'For the "How" I come to you. I want to ask you to do me the great
favour and service of interposing with your nephew (I have already
interposed with Mr. Neville)and getting him to write you a short
notein his lively waysaying that he is willing to shake hands.
I know what a good-natured fellow he isand what influence you
have with him. And without in the least defending Mr. Nevillewe
must all admit that he was bitterly stung.'
Jasper turned that perplexed face towards the fire. Mr. Crisparkle
continuing to observe itfound it even more perplexing than
beforeinasmuch as it seemed to denote (which could hardly be)
some close internal calculation.
'I know that you are not prepossessed in Mr. Neville's favour' the
Minor Canon was going onwhen Jasper stopped him:
'You have cause to say so. I am notindeed.'
'Undoubtedly; and I admit his lamentable violence of temperthough
I hope he and I will get the better of it between us. But I have
exacted a very solemn promise from him as to his future demeanour
towards your nephewif you do kindly interpose; and I am sure he
will keep it.'
'You are always responsible and trustworthyMr. Crisparkle. Do
you really feel sure that you can answer for him so confidently?'
The perplexed and perplexing look vanished.
'Then you relieve my mind of a great dreadand a heavy weight'
said Jasper; 'I will do it.'
Mr. Crisparkledelighted by the swiftness and completeness of his
successacknowledged it in the handsomest terms.
'I will do it' repeated Jasper'for the comfort of having your
guarantee against my vague and unfounded fears. You will laugh -
but do you keep a Diary?'
'A line for a day; not more.'
'A line for a day would be quite as much as my uneventful life
would needHeaven knows' said Jaspertaking a book from a desk
'but that my Diary isin facta Diary of Ned's life too. You
will laugh at this entry; you will guess when it was made:
'"Past midnight. - After what I have just now seenI have a morbid
dread upon me of some horrible consequences resulting to my dear
boythat I cannot reason with or in any way contend against. All
my efforts are vain. The demoniacal passion of this Neville
Landlesshis strength in his furyand his savage rage for the
destruction of its objectappal me. So profound is the
impressionthat twice since I have gone into my dear boy's room
to assure myself of his sleeping safelyand not lying dead in his
'Here is another entry next morning:
'"Ned up and away. Light-hearted and unsuspicious as ever. He
laughed when I cautioned himand said he was as good a man as
Neville Landless any day. I told him that might bebut he was not
as bad a man. He continued to make light of itbut I travelled
with him as far as I couldand left him most unwillingly. I am
unable to shake off these dark intangible presentiments of evil -
if feelings founded upon staring facts are to be so called."
'Again and again' said Jasperin conclusiontwirling the leaves
of the book before putting it by'I have relapsed into these
moodsas other entries show. But I have now your assurance at my
backand shall put it in my bookand make it an antidote to my
'Such an antidoteI hope' returned Mr. Crisparkle'as will
induce you before long to consign the black humours to the flames.
I ought to be the last to find any fault with you this evening
when you have met my wishes so freely; but I must sayJasperthat
your devotion to your nephew has made you exaggerative here.'
'You are my witness' said Jaspershrugging his shoulders'what
my state of mind honestly wasthat nightbefore I sat down to
writeand in what words I expressed it. You remember objecting to
a word I usedas being too strong? It was a stronger word than
any in my Diary.'
'Wellwell. Try the antidote' rejoined Mr. Crisparkle; 'and may
it give you a brighter and better view of the case! We will
discuss it no more now. I have to thank you for myselfthank you
'You shall find' said Jasperas they shook hands'that I will
not do the thing you wish me to doby halves. I will take care
that Nedgiving way at allshall give way thoroughly.'
On the third day after this conversationhe called on Mr.
Crisparkle with the following letter:
'MY DEAR JACK
'I am touched by your account of your interview with Mr.
Crisparklewhom I much respect and esteem. At once I openly say
that I forgot myself on that occasion quite as much as Mr. Landless
didand that I wish that bygone to be a bygoneand all to be
'Look heredear old boy. Ask Mr. Landless to dinner on Christmas
Eve (the better the day the better the deed)and let there be only
we threeand let us shake hands all round there and thenand say
no more about it.
'My dear Jack
'Ever your most affectionate
'P.S. Love to Miss Pussy at the next music-lesson.'
'You expect Mr. Nevillethen?' said Mr. Crisparkle.
'I count upon his coming' said Mr. Jasper.
CHAPTER XI - A PICTURE AND A RING
BEHIND the most ancient part of HolbornLondonwhere certain
gabled houses some centuries of age still stand looking on the
public wayas if disconsolately looking for the Old Bourne that
has long run dryis a little nook composed of two irregular
quadranglescalled Staple Inn. It is one of those nooksthe
turning into which out of the clashing streetimparts to the
relieved pedestrian the sensation of having put cotton in his ears
and velvet soles on his boots. It is one of those nooks where a
few smoky sparrows twitter in smoky treesas though they called to
one another'Let us play at country' and where a few feet of
garden-mould and a few yards of gravel enable them to do that
refreshing violence to their tiny understandings. Moreoverit is
one of those nooks which are legal nooks; and it contains a little
Hallwith a little lantern in its roof: to what obstructive
purposes devotedand at whose expensethis history knoweth not.
In the days when Cloisterham took offence at the existence of a
railroad afar offas menacing that sensitive constitutionthe
property of us Britons: the odd fortune of which sacred
institution it is to be in exactly equal degrees croaked about
trembled forand boasted ofwhatever happens to anything
anywhere in the world: in those days no neighbouring architecture
of lofty proportions had arisen to overshadow Staple Inn. The
westering sun bestowed bright glances on itand the south-west
wind blew into it unimpeded.
Neither wind nor sunhoweverfavoured Staple Inn one December
afternoon towards six o'clockwhen it was filled with fogand
candles shed murky and blurred rays through the windows of all its
then-occupied sets of chambers; notably from a set of chambers in a
corner house in the little inner quadranglepresenting in black
and white over its ugly portal the mysterious inscription:
In which set of chambersnever having troubled his head about the
inscriptionunless to bethink himself at odd times on glancing up
at itthat haply it might mean Perhaps John Thomasor Perhaps Joe
Tylersat Mr. Grewgious writing by his fire.
Who could have toldby looking at Mr. Grewgiouswhether he had
ever known ambition or disappointment? He had been bred to the
Barand had laid himself out for chamber practice; to draw deeds;
'convey the wise it call' as Pistol says. But Conveyancing and he
had made such a very indifferent marriage of it that they had
separated by consent - if there can be said to be separation where
there has never been coming together.
No. Coy Conveyancing would not come to Mr. Grewgious. She was
wooednot wonand they went their several ways. But an
Arbitration being blown towards him by some unaccountable windand
he gaining great credit in it as one indefatigable in seeking out
right and doing righta pretty fat Receivership was next blown
into his pocket by a wind more traceable to its source. Soby
chancehe had found his niche. Receiver and Agent nowto two
rich estatesand deputing their legal businessin an amount worth
havingto a firm of solicitors on the floor belowhe had snuffed
out his ambition (supposing him to have ever lighted it)and had
settled down with his snuffers for the rest of his life under the
dry vine and fig-tree of P. J. T.who planted in seventeen-fortyseven.
Many accounts and account-booksmany files of correspondenceand
several strong boxesgarnished Mr. Grewgious's room. They can
scarcely be represented as having lumbered itso conscientious and
precise was their orderly arrangement. The apprehension of dying
suddenlyand leaving one fact or one figure with any
incompleteness or obscurity attaching to itwould have stretched
Mr. Grewgious stone-dead any day. The largest fidelity to a trust
was the life-blood of the man. There are sorts of life-blood that
course more quicklymore gailymore attractively; but there is no
better sort in circulation.
There was no luxury in his room. Even its comforts were limited to
its being dry and warmand having a snug though faded fireside.
What may be called its private life was confined to the hearthand
all easy-chairand an old-fashioned occasional round table that
was brought out upon the rug after business hoursfrom a corner
where it elsewise remained turned up like a shining mahogany
shield. Behind itwhen standing thus on the defensivewas a
closetusually containing something good to drink. An outer room
was the clerk's room; Mr. Grewgious's sleeping-room was across the
common stair; and he held some not empty cellarage at the bottom of
the common stair. Three hundred days in the yearat leasthe
crossed over to the hotel in Furnival's Inn for his dinnerand
after dinner crossed back againto make the most of these
simplicities until it should become broad business day once more
with P. J. T.date seventeen-forty-seven.
As Mr. Grewgious sat and wrote by his fire that afternoonso did
the clerk of Mr. Grewgious sit and write by HIS fire. A pale
puffy-faceddark-haired person of thirtywith big dark eyes that
wholly wanted lustreand a dissatisfied doughy complexionthat
seemed to ask to be sent to the baker'sthis attendant was a
mysterious beingpossessed of some strange power over Mr.
Grewgious. As though he had been called into existencelike a
fabulous Familiarby a magic spell which had failed when required
to dismiss himhe stuck tight to Mr. Grewgious's stoolalthough
Mr. Grewgious's comfort and convenience would manifestly have been
advanced by dispossessing him. A gloomy person with tangled locks
and a general air of having been reared under the shadow of that
baleful tree of Java which has given shelter to more lies than the
whole botanical kingdomMr. Grewgiousneverthelesstreated him
with unaccountable consideration.
'NowBazzard' said Mr. Grewgiouson the entrance of his clerk:
looking up from his papers as he arranged them for the night:
'what is in the wind besides fog?'
'Mr. Drood' said Bazzard.
'What of him?'
'Has called' said Bazzard.
'You might have shown him in.'
'I am doing it' said Bazzard.
The visitor came in accordingly.
'Dear me!' said Mr. Grewgiouslooking round his pair of office
candles. 'I thought you had called and merely left your name and
gone. How do you doMr. Edwin? Dear meyou're choking!'
'It's this fog' returned Edwin; 'and it makes my eyes smartlike
'Is it really so bad as that? Pray undo your wrappers. It's
fortunate I have so good a fire; but Mr. Bazzard has taken care of
'No I haven't' said Mr. Bazzard at the door.
'Ah! then it follows that I must have taken care of myself without
observing it' said Mr. Grewgious. 'Pray be seated in my chair.
No. I beg! Coming out of such an atmospherein MY chair.'
Edwin took the easy-chair in the corner; and the fog he had brought
in with himand the fog he took off with his greatcoat and neckshawl
was speedily licked up by the eager fire.
'I look' said Edwinsmiling'as if I had come to stop.'
' - By the by' cried Mr. Grewgious; 'excuse my interrupting you;
do stop. The fog may clear in an hour or two. We can have dinner
in from just across Holborn. You had better take your Cayenne
pepper here than outside; pray stop and dine.'
'You are very kind' said Edwinglancing about him as though
attracted by the notion of a new and relishing sort of gipsy-party.
'Not at all' said Mr. Grewgious; 'YOU are very kind to join issue
with a bachelor in chambersand take pot-luck. And I'll ask'
said Mr. Grewgiousdropping his voiceand speaking with a
twinkling eyeas if inspired with a bright thought: 'I'll ask
Bazzard. He mightn't like it else. - Bazzard!'
'Dine presently with Mr. Drood and me.'
'If I am ordered to dineof course I willsir' was the gloomy
'Save the man!' cried Mr. Grewgious. 'You're not ordered; you're
'Thank yousir' said Bazzard; 'in that case I don't care if I
'That's arranged. And perhaps you wouldn't mind' said Mr.
Grewgious'stepping over to the hotel in Furnival'sand asking
them to send in materials for laying the cloth. For dinner we'll
have a tureen of the hottest and strongest soup availableand
we'll have the best made-dish that can be recommendedand we'll
have a joint (such as a haunch of mutton)and we'll have a goose
or a turkeyor any little stuffed thing of that sort that may
happen to be in the bill of fare - in shortwe'll have whatever
there is on hand.'
These liberal directions Mr. Grewgious issued with his usual air of
reading an inventoryor repeating a lessonor doing anything else
by rote. Bazzardafter drawing out the round tablewithdrew to
'I was a little delicateyou see' said Mr. Grewgiousin a lower
toneafter his clerk's departure'about employing him in the
foraging or commissariat department. Because he mightn't like it.'
'He seems to have his own waysir' remarked Edwin.
'His own way?' returned Mr. Grewgious. 'O dear no! Poor fellow
you quite mistake him. If he had his own wayhe wouldn't be
'I wonder where he would be!' Edwin thought. But he only thought
itbecause Mr. Grewgious came and stood himself with his back to
the other corner of the fireand his shoulder-blades against the
chimneypieceand collected his skirts for easy conversation.
'I take itwithout having the gift of prophecythat you have done
me the favour of looking in to mention that you are going down
yonder - where I can tell youyou are expected - and to offer to
execute any little commission from me to my charming wardand
perhaps to sharpen me up a bit in any proceedings? EhMr. Edwin?'
'I calledsirbefore going downas an act of attention.'
'Of attention!' said Mr. Grewgious. 'Ah! of coursenot of
Mr. Grewgious had meant to be arch - not that he in the remotest
degree expressed that meaning - and had brought himself into
scarcely supportable proximity with the fireas if to burn the
fullest effect of his archness into himselfas other subtle
impressions are burnt into hard metals. But his archness suddenly
flying before the composed face and manner of his visitorand only
the fire remaininghe started and rubbed himself.
'I have lately been down yonder' said Mr. Grewgiousrearranging
his skirts; 'and that was what I referred towhen I said I could
tell you you are expected.'
'Indeedsir! Yes; I knew that Pussy was looking out for me.'
'Do you keep a cat down there?' asked Mr. Grewgious.
Edwin coloured a little as he explained: 'I call Rosa Pussy.'
'Oreally' said Mr. Grewgioussmoothing down his head; 'that's
Edwin glanced at his faceuncertain whether or no he seriously
objected to the appellation. But Edwin might as well have glanced
at the face of a clock.
'A pet namesir' he explained again.
'Umps' said Mr. Grewgiouswith a nod. But with such an
extraordinary compromise between an unqualified assent and a
qualified dissentthat his visitor was much disconcerted.
'Did PRosa - ' Edwin began by way of recovering himself.
'PRosa?' repeated Mr. Grewgious.
'I was going to say Pussyand changed my mind; - did she tell you
anything about the Landlesses?'
'No' said Mr. Grewgious. 'What is the Landlesses? An estate? A
villa? A farm?'
'A brother and sister. The sister is at the Nuns' Houseand has
become a great friend of P - '
'PRosa's' Mr. Grewgious struck inwith a fixed face.
'She is a strikingly handsome girlsirand I thought she might
have been described to youor presented to you perhaps?'
'Neither' said Mr. Grewgious. 'But here is Bazzard.'
Bazzard returnedaccompanied by two waiters - an immovable waiter
and a flying waiter; and the three brought in with them as much fog
as gave a new roar to the fire. The flying waiterwho had brought
everything on his shoulderslaid the cloth with amazing rapidity
and dexterity; while the immovable waiterwho had brought nothing
found fault with him. The flying waiter then highly polished all
the glasses he had broughtand the immovable waiter looked through
them. The flying waiter then flew across Holborn for the soupand
flew back againand then took another flight for the made-dish
and flew back againand then took another flight for the joint and
poultryand flew back againand between whiles took supplementary
flights for a great variety of articlesas it was discovered from
time to time that the immovable waiter had forgotten them all. But
let the flying waiter cleave the air as he mighthe was always
reproached on his return by the immovable waiter for bringing fog
with himand being out of breath. At the conclusion of the
repastby which time the flying waiter was severely blownthe
immovable waiter gathered up the tablecloth under his arm with a
grand airand having sternly (not to say with indignation) looked
on at the flying waiter while he set the clean glasses round
directed a valedictory glance towards Mr. Grewgiousconveying:
'Let it be clearly understood between us that the reward is mine
and that Nil is the claim of this slave' and pushed the flying
waiter before him out of the room.
It was like a highly-finished miniature painting representing My
Lords of the Circumlocution DepartmentCommandership-in-Chief of
any sortGovernment. It was quite an edifying little picture to
be hung on the line in the National Gallery.
As the fog had been the proximate cause of this sumptuous repast
so the fog served for its general sauce. To hear the out-door
clerks sneezingwheezingand beating their feet on the gravel was
a zest far surpassing Doctor Kitchener's. To bidwith a shiver
the unfortunate flying waiter shut the door before he had opened
itwas a condiment of a profounder flavour than Harvey. And here
let it be noticedparentheticallythat the leg of this young man
in its application to the doorevinced the finest sense of touch:
always preceding himself and tray (with something of an angling air
about it)by some seconds: and always lingering after he and the
tray had disappearedlike Macbeth's leg when accompanying him off
the stage with reluctance to the assassination of Duncan.
The host had gone below to the cellarand had brought up bottles
of rubystraw-colouredand golden drinkswhich had ripened long
ago in lands where no fogs areand had since lain slumbering in
the shade. Sparkling and tingling after so long a napthey pushed
at their corks to help the corkscrew (like prisoners helping
rioters to force their gates)and danced out gaily. If P. J. T.
in seventeen-forty-sevenor in any other year of his perioddrank
such wines - thenfor a certaintyP. J. T. was Pretty Jolly Too.
ExternallyMr. Grewgious showed no signs of being mellowed by
these glowing vintages. Instead of his drinking themthey might
have been poured over him in his high-dried snuff formand run to
wastefor any lights and shades they caused to flicker over his
face. Neither was his manner influenced. Butin his wooden way
he had observant eyes for Edwin; and when at the end of dinnerhe
motioned Edwin back to his own easy-chair in the fireside corner
and Edwin sank luxuriously into it after very brief remonstrance
Mr. Grewgiousas he turned his seat round towards the fire too
and smoothed his head and facemight have been seen looking at his
visitor between his smoothing fingers.
'Bazzard!' said Mr. Grewgioussuddenly turning to him.
'I follow yousir' returned Bazzard; who had done his work of
consuming meat and drink in a workmanlike mannerthough mostly in
'I drink to youBazzard; Mr. Edwinsuccess to Mr. Bazzard!'
'Success to Mr. Bazzard!' echoed Edwinwith a totally unfounded
appearance of enthusiasmand with the unspoken addition: 'What
'And May!' pursued Mr. Grewgious - 'I am not at liberty to be
definite - May! - my conversational powers are so very limited that
I know I shall not come well out of this - May! - it ought to be
put imaginativelybut I have no imagination - May! - the thorn of
anxiety is as nearly the mark as I am likely to get - May it come
out at last!'
Mr. Bazzardwith a frowning smile at the fireput a hand into his
tangled locksas if the thorn of anxiety were there; then into his
waistcoatas if it were there; then into his pocketsas if it
were there. In all these movements he was closely followed by the
eyes of Edwinas if that young gentleman expected to see the thorn
in action. It was not producedhoweverand Mr. Bazzard merely
said: 'I follow yousirand I thank you.'
'I am going' said Mr. Grewgiousjingling his glass on the table
with one handand bending aside under cover of the otherto
whisper to Edwin'to drink to my ward. But I put Bazzard first.
He mightn't like it else.'
This was said with a mysterious wink; or what would have been a
winkifin Mr. Grewgious's handsit could have been quick
enough. So Edwin winked responsivelywithout the least idea what
he meant by doing so.
'And now' said Mr. Grewgious'I devote a bumper to the fair and
fascinating Miss Rosa. Bazzardthe fair and fascinating Miss
'I follow yousir' said Bazzard'and I pledge you!'
'And so do I!' said Edwin.
'Lord bless me' cried Mr. Grewgiousbreaking the blank silence
which of course ensued: though why these pauses SHOULD come upon
us when we have performed any small social ritenot directly
inducive of self-examination or mental despondencywho can tell?
'I am a particularly Angular manand yet I fancy (if I may use the
wordnot having a morsel of fancy)that I could draw a picture of
a true lover's state of mindto-night.'
'Let us follow yousir' said Bazzard'and have the picture.'
'Mr. Edwin will correct it where it's wrong' resumed Mr.
Grewgious'and will throw in a few touches from the life. I dare
say it is wrong in many particularsand wants many touches from
the lifefor I was born a Chipand have neither soft sympathies
nor soft experiences. Well! I hazard the guess that the true
lover's mind is completely permeated by the beloved object of his
affections. I hazard the guess that her dear name is precious to
himcannot be heard or repeated without emotionand is preserved
sacred. If he has any distinguishing appellation of fondness for
herit is reserved for herand is not for common ears. A name
that it would be a privilege to call her bybeing alone with her
own bright selfit would be a libertya coldnessan
insensibilityalmost a breach of good faithto flaunt elsewhere.'
It was wonderful to see Mr. Grewgious sitting bolt uprightwith
his hands on his kneescontinuously chopping this discourse out of
himself: much as a charity boy with a very good memory might get
his catechism said: and evincing no correspondent emotion
whateverunless in a certain occasional little tingling
perceptible at the end of his nose.
'My picture' Mr. Grewgious proceeded'goes on to represent (under
correction from youMr. Edwin)the true lover as ever impatient
to be in the presence or vicinity of the beloved object of his
affections; as caring very little for his case in any other
society; and as constantly seeking that. If I was to say seeking
thatas a bird seeks its nestI should make an ass of myself
because that would trench upon what I understand to be poetry; and
I am so far from trenching upon poetry at any timethat I never
to my knowledgegot within ten thousand miles of it. And I am
besides totally unacquainted with the habits of birdsexcept the
birds of Staple Innwho seek their nests on ledgesand in gutterpipes
and chimneypotsnot constructed for them by the beneficent
hand of Nature. I begthereforeto be understood as foregoing
the bird's-nest. But my picture does represent the true lover as
having no existence separable from that of the beloved object of
his affectionsand as living at once a doubled life and a halved
life. And if I do not clearly express what I mean by thatit is
either for the reason that having no conversational powersI
cannot express what I meanor that having no meaningI do not
mean what I fail to express. Whichto the best of my beliefis
not the case.'
Edwin had turned red and turned whiteas certain points of this
picture came into the light. He now sat looking at the fireand
bit his lip.
'The speculations of an Angular man' resumed Mr. Grewgiousstill
sitting and speaking exactly as before'are probably erroneous on
so globular a topic. But I figure to myself (subjectas before
to Mr. Edwin's correction)that there can be no coolnessno
lassitudeno doubtno indifferenceno half fire and half smoke
state of mindin a real lover. Pray am I at all near the mark in
As abrupt in his conclusion as in his commencement and progresshe
jerked this inquiry at Edwinand stopped when one might have
supposed him in the middle of his oration.
'I should saysir' stammered Edwin'as you refer the question to
me - '
'Yes' said Mr. Grewgious'I refer it to youas an authority.'
'I should saythensir' Edwin went onembarrassed'that the
picture you have drawn is generally correct; but I submit that
perhaps you may be rather hard upon the unlucky lover.'
'Likely so' assented Mr. Grewgious'likely so. I am a hard man
in the grain.'
'He may not show' said Edwin'all he feels; or he may not - '
There he stopped so longto find the rest of his sentencethat
Mr. Grewgious rendered his difficulty a thousand times the greater
by unexpectedly striking in with:
'No to be sure; he MAY not!'
After thatthey all sat silent; the silence of Mr. Bazzard being
occasioned by slumber.
'His responsibility is very greatthough' said Mr. Grewgious at
lengthwith his eyes on the fire.
Edwin nodded assentwith HIS eyes on the fire.
'And let him be sure that he trifles with no one' said Mr.
Grewgious; 'neither with himselfnor with any other.'
Edwin bit his lip againand still sat looking at the fire.
'He must not make a plaything of a treasure. Woe betide him if he
does! Let him take that well to heart' said Mr. Grewgious.
Though he said these things in short sentencesmuch as the
supposititious charity boy just now referred to might have repeated
a verse or two from the Book of Proverbsthere was something
dreamy (for so literal a man) in the way in which he now shook his
right forefinger at the live coals in the grateand again fell
But not for long. As he sat upright and stiff in his chairhe
suddenly rapped his kneeslike the carved image of some queer Joss
or other coming out of its reverieand said: 'We must finish this
bottleMr. Edwin. Let me help you. I'll help Bazzard toothough
he IS asleep. He mightn't like it else.'
He helped them bothand helped himselfand drained his glassand
stood it bottom upward on the tableas though he had just caught a
bluebottle in it.
'And nowMr. Edwin' he proceededwiping his mouth and hands upon
his handkerchief: 'to a little piece of business. You received
from methe other daya certified copy of Miss Rosa's father's
will. You knew its contents beforebut you received it from me as
a matter of business. I should have sent it to Mr. Jasperbut for
Miss Rosa's wishing it to come straight to youin preference. You
'You should have acknowledged its receipt' said Mr. Grewgious;
'business being business all the world over. Howeveryou did
'I meant to have acknowledged it when I first came in this evening
'Not a business-like acknowledgment' returned Mr. Grewgious;
'howeverlet that pass. Nowin that document you have observed a
few words of kindly allusion to its being left to me to discharge a
little trustconfided to me in conversationat such time as I in
my discretion may think best.'
'Mr. Edwinit came into my mind just nowwhen I was looking at
the firethat I couldin my discretionacquit myself of that
trust at no better time than the present. Favour me with your
attentionhalf a minute.'
He took a bunch of keys from his pocketsingled out by the candlelight
the key he wantedand thenwith a candle in his handwent
to a bureau or escritoireunlocked ittouched the spring of a
little secret drawerand took from it an ordinary ring-case made
for a single ring. With this in his handhe returned to his
chair. As he held it up for the young man to seehis hand
'Mr. Edwinthis rose of diamonds and rubies delicately set in
goldwas a ring belonging to Miss Rosa's mother. It was removed
from her dead handin my presencewith such distracted grief as I
hope it may never be my lot to contemplate again. Hard man as I
amI am not hard enough for that. See how bright these stones
shine!' opening the case. 'And yet the eyes that were so much
brighterand that so often looked upon them with a light and a
proud hearthave been ashes among ashesand dust among dustsome
years! If I had any imagination (which it is needless to say I
have not)I might imagine that the lasting beauty of these stones
was almost cruel.'
He closed the case again as he spoke.
'This ring was given to the young lady who was drowned so early in
her beautiful and happy careerby her husbandwhen they first
plighted their faith to one another. It was he who removed it from
her unconscious handand it was he whowhen his death drew very
nearplaced it in mine. The trust in which I received itwas
thatyou and Miss Rosa growing to manhood and womanhoodand your
betrothal prospering and coming to maturityI should give it to
you to place upon her finger. Failing those desired resultsit
was to remain in my possession.'
Some trouble was in the young man's faceand some indecision was
in the action of his handas Mr. Grewgiouslooking steadfastly at
himgave him the ring.
'Your placing it on her finger' said Mr. Grewgious'will be the
solemn seal upon your strict fidelity to the living and the dead.
You are going to herto make the last irrevocable preparations for
your marriage. Take it with you.'
The young man took the little caseand placed it in his breast.
'If anything should be amissif anything should be even slightly
wrongbetween you; if you should have any secret consciousness
that you are committing yourself to this step for no higher reason
than because you have long been accustomed to look forward to it;
then' said Mr. Grewgious'I charge you once moreby the living
and by the deadto bring that ring back to me!'
Here Bazzard awoke himself by his own snoring; andas is usual in
such casessat apoplectically staring at vacancyas defying
vacancy to accuse him of having been asleep.
'Bazzard!' said Mr. Grewgiousharder than ever.
'I follow yousir' said Bazzard'and I have been following you.'
'In discharge of a trustI have handed Mr. Edwin Drood a ring of
diamonds and rubies. You see?'
Edwin reproduced the little caseand opened it; and Bazzard looked
'I follow you bothsir' returned Bazzard'and I witness the
Evidently anxious to get away and be aloneEdwin Drood now resumed
his outer clothingmuttering something about time and
appointments. The fog was reported no clearer (by the flying
waiterwho alighted from a speculative flight in the coffee
interest)but he went out into it; and Bazzardafter his manner
Mr. Grewgiousleft alonewalked softly and slowly to and frofor
an hour and more. He was restless to-nightand seemed dispirited.
'I hope I have done right' he said. 'The appeal to him seemed
necessary. It was hard to lose the ringand yet it must have gone
from me very soon.'
He closed the empty little drawer with a sighand shut and locked
the escritoireand came back to the solitary fireside.
'Her ring' he went on. 'Will it come back to me? My mind hangs
about her ring very uneasily to-night. But that is explainable. I
have had it so longand I have prized it so much! I wonder - '
He was in a wondering mood as well as a restless; forthough he
checked himself at that pointand took another walkhe resumed
his wondering when he sat down again.
'I wonder (for the ten-thousandth timeand what a weak fool Ifor
what can it signify now!) whether he confided the charge of their
orphan child to mebecause he knew - Good Godhow like her mother
she has become!'
'I wonder whether he ever so much as suspected that some one doted
on herat a hopelessspeechless distancewhen he struck in and
won her. I wonder whether it ever crept into his mind who that
unfortunate some one was!'
'I wonder whether I shall sleep to-night! At all eventsI will
shut out the world with the bedclothesand try.'
Mr. Grewgious crossed the staircase to his raw and foggy bedroom
and was soon ready for bed. Dimly catching sight of his face in
the misty looking-glasshe held his candle to it for a moment.
'A likely some oneYOUto come into anybody's thoughts in such an
aspect!' he exclaimed. 'There! there! there! Get to bedpoor
manand cease to jabber!'
With thathe extinguished his lightpulled up the bedclothes
around himand with another sigh shut out the world. And yet
there are such unexplored romantic nooks in the unlikeliest men
that even old tinderous and touchwoody P. J. T. Possibly Jabbered
Thusat some odd timesin or about seventeen-forty-seven.
CHAPTER XII - A NIGHT WITH DURDLES
WHEN Mr. Sapsea has nothing better to dotowards eveningand
finds the contemplation of his own profundity becoming a little
monotonous in spite of the vastness of the subjecthe often takes
an airing in the Cathedral Close and thereabout. He likes to pass
the churchyard with a swelling air of proprietorshipand to
encourage in his breast a sort of benignant-landlord feelingin
that he has been bountiful towards that meritorious tenantMrs.
Sapseaand has publicly given her a prize. He likes to see a
stray face or two looking in through the railingsand perhaps
reading his inscription. Should he meet a stranger coming from the
churchyard with a quick stephe is morally convinced that the
stranger is 'with a blush retiring' as monumentally directed.
Mr. Sapsea's importance has received enhancementfor he has become
Mayor of Cloisterham. Without mayorsand many of themit cannot
be disputed that the whole framework of society - Mr. Sapsea is
confident that he invented that forcible figure - would fall to
pieces. Mayors have been knighted for 'going up' with addresses:
explosive machines intrepidly discharging shot and shell into the
English Grammar. Mr. Sapsea may 'go up' with an address. Rise
Sir Thomas Sapsea! Of such is the salt of the earth.
Mr. Sapsea has improved the acquaintance of Mr. Jaspersince their
first meeting to partake of portepitaphbackgammonbeefand
salad. Mr. Sapsea has been received at the gatehouse with kindred
hospitality; and on that occasion Mr. Jasper seated himself at the
pianoand sang to himtickling his ears - figuratively - long
enough to present a considerable area for tickling. What Mr.
Sapsea likes in that young man isthat he is always ready to
profit by the wisdom of his eldersand that he is soundsirat
the core. In proof of whichhe sang to Mr. Sapsea that evening
no kickshaw dittiesfavourites with national enemiesbut gave him
the genuine George the Third home-brewed; exhorting him (as 'my
brave boys') to reduce to a smashed condition all other islands but
this islandand all continentspeninsulasisthmuses
promontoriesand other geographical forms of land soeverbesides
sweeping the seas in all directions. In shorthe rendered it
pretty clear that Providence made a distinct mistake in originating
so small a nation of hearts of oakand so many other verminous
Mr. Sapseawalking slowly this moist evening near the churchyard
with his hands behind himon the look-out for a blushing and
retiring strangerturns a cornerand comes instead into the
goodly presence of the Deanconversing with the Verger and Mr.
Jasper. Mr. Sapsea makes his obeisanceand is instantly stricken
far more ecclesiastical than any Archbishop of York or Canterbury.
'You are evidently going to write a book about usMr. Jasper'
quoth the Dean; 'to write a book about us. Well! We are very
ancientand we ought to make a good book. We are not so richly
endowed in possessions as in age; but perhaps you will put THAT in
your bookamong other thingsand call attention to our wrongs.'
Mr. Topeas in duty boundis greatly entertained by this.
'I really have no intention at allsir' replies Jasper'of
turning author or archaeologist. It is but a whim of mine. And
even for my whimMr. Sapsea here is more accountable than I am.'
'How soMr. Mayor?' says the Deanwith a nod of good-natured
recognition of his Fetch. 'How is thatMr. Mayor?'
'I am not aware' Mr. Sapsea remarkslooking about him for
information'to what the Very Reverend the Dean does me the honour
of referring.' And then falls to studying his original in minute
points of detail.
'Durdles' Mr. Tope hints.
'Ay!' the Dean echoes; 'DurdlesDurdles!'
'The truth issir' explains Jasper'that my curiosity in the man
was first really stimulated by Mr. Sapsea. Mr. Sapsea's knowledge
of mankind and power of drawing out whatever is recluse or odd
around himfirst led to my bestowing a second thought upon the
man: though of course I had met him constantly about. You would
not be surprised by thisMr. Deanif you had seen Mr. Sapsea deal
with him in his own parlouras I did.'
'O!' cries Sapseapicking up the ball thrown to him with ineffable
complacency and pomposity; 'yesyes. The Very Reverend the Dean
refers to that? Yes. I happened to bring Durdles and Mr. Jasper
together. I regard Durdles as a Character.'
'A characterMr. Sapseathat with a few skilful touches you turn
inside out' says Jasper.
'Naynot quite that' returns the lumbering auctioneer. 'I may
have a little influence over himperhaps; and a little insight
into his characterperhaps. The Very Reverend the Dean will
please to bear in mind that I have seen the world.' Here Mr.
Sapsea gets a little behind the Deanto inspect his coat-buttons.
'Well!' says the Deanlooking about him to see what has become of
his copyist: 'I hopeMr. Mayoryou will use your study and
knowledge of Durdles to the good purpose of exhorting him not to
break our worthy and respected Choir-Master's neck; we cannot
afford it; his head and voice are much too valuable to us.'
Mr. Tope is again highly entertainedandhaving fallen into
respectful convulsions of laughtersubsides into a deferential
murmurimporting that surely any gentleman would deem it a
pleasure and an honour to have his neck brokenin return for such
a compliment from such a source.
'I will take it upon myselfsir' observes Sapsea loftily'to
answer for Mr. Jasper's neck. I will tell Durdles to be careful of
it. He will mind what I say. How is it at present endangered?' he
inquireslooking about him with magnificent patronage.
'Only by my making a moonlight expedition with Durdles among the
tombsvaultstowersand ruins' returns Jasper. 'You remember
suggestingwhen you brought us togetherthatas a lover of the
picturesqueit might be worth my while?'
'I remember!' replies the auctioneer. And the solemn idiot really
believes that he does remember.
'Profiting by your hint' pursues Jasper'I have had some dayrambles
with the extraordinary old fellowand we are to make a
moonlight hole-and-corner exploration to-night.'
'And here he is' says the Dean.
Durdles with his dinner-bundle in his handis indeed beheld
slouching towards them. Slouching nearerand perceiving the Dean
he pulls off his hatand is slouching away with it under his arm
when Mr. Sapsea stops him.
'Mind you take care of my friend' is the injunction Mr. Sapsea
lays upon him.
'What friend o' yourn is dead?' asks Durdles. 'No orders has come
in for any friend o' yourn.'
'I mean my live friend there.'
'O! him?' says Durdles. 'He can take care of himselfcan Mister
'But do you take care of him too' says Sapsea.
Whom Durdles (there being command in his tone) surlily surveys from
head to foot.
'With submission to his Reverence the Deanif you'll mind what
concerns youMr. SapseaDurdles he'll mind what concerns him.'
'You're out of temper' says Mr. Sapseawinking to the company to
observe how smoothly he will manage him. 'My friend concerns me
and Mr. Jasper is my friend. And you are my friend.'
'Don't you get into a bad habit of boasting' retorts Durdleswith
a grave cautionary nod. 'It'll grow upon you.'
'You are out of temper' says Sapsea again; reddeningbut again
sinking to the company.
'I own to it' returns Durdles; 'I don't like liberties.'
Mr. Sapsea winks a third wink to the companyas who should say:
'I think you will agree with me that I have settled HIS business;'
and stalks out of the controversy.
Durdles then gives the Dean a good eveningand addingas he puts
his hat on'You'll find me at homeMister Jarsperas agreed
when you want me; I'm a-going home to clean myself' soon slouches
out of sight. This going home to clean himself is one of the man's
incomprehensible compromises with inexorable facts; heand his
hatand his bootsand his clothesnever showing any trace of
cleaningbut being uniformly in one condition of dust and grit.
The lamplighter now dotting the quiet Close with specks of light
and running at a great rate up and down his little ladder with that
object - his little ladder under the sacred shadow of whose
inconvenience generations had grown upand which all Cloisterham
would have stood aghast at the idea of abolishing - the Dean
withdraws to his dinnerMr. Tope to his teaand Mr. Jasper to his
piano. Therewith no light but that of the firehe sits chanting
choir-music in a low and beautiful voicefor two or three hours;
in shortuntil it has been for some time darkand the moon is
about to rise.
Then he closes his piano softlysoftly changes his coat for a peajacket
with a goodly wicker-cased bottle in its largest pocket
and putting on a low-crownedflap-brimmed hatgoes softly out.
Why does he move so softly to-night? No outward reason is apparent
for it. Can there be any sympathetic reason crouching darkly
Repairing to Durdles's unfinished houseor hole in the city wall
and seeing a light within ithe softly picks his course among the
gravestonesmonumentsand stony lumber of the yardalready
touched here and theresidewiseby the rising moon. The two
journeymen have left their two great saws sticking in their blocks
of stone; and two skeleton journeymen out of the Dance of Death
might be grinning in the shadow of their sheltering sentry-boxes
about to slash away at cutting out the gravestones of the next two
people destined to die in Cloisterham. Likely enoughthe two
think little of that nowbeing aliveand perhaps merry. Curious
to make a guess at the two; - or say one of the two!
The light movesand he appears with it at the door. He would seem
to have been 'cleaning himself' with the aid of a bottlejugand
tumbler; for no other cleansing instruments are visible in the bare
brick room with rafters overhead and no plastered ceilinginto
which he shows his visitor.
'Are you ready?'
'I am readyMister Jarsper. Let the old uns come out if they
darewhen we go among their tombs. My spirit is ready for 'em.'
'Do you mean animal spiritsor ardent?'
'The one's the t'other' answers Durdles'and I mean 'em both.'
He takes a lantern from a hookputs a match or two in his pocket
wherewith to light itshould there be need; and they go out
togetherdinner-bundle and all.
Surely an unaccountable sort of expedition! That Durdles himself
who is always prowling among old gravesand ruinslike a Ghoul -
that he should be stealing forth to climband diveand wander
without an objectis nothing extraordinary; but that the Choir-
Master or any one else should hold it worth his while to be with
himand to study moonlight effects in such company is another
affair. Surely an unaccountable sort of expeditiontherefore!
''Ware that there mound by the yard-gateMister Jarsper.'
'I see it. What is it?'
Mr. Jasper stopsand waits for him to come upfor he lags behind.
'What you call quick-lime?'
'Ay!' says Durdles; 'quick enough to eat your boots. With a little
handy stirringquick enough to eat your bones.'
They go onpresently passing the red windows of the Travellers'
Twopennyand emerging into the clear moonlight of the Monks'
Vineyard. This crossedthey come to Minor Canon Corner: of which
the greater part lies in shadow until the moon shall rise higher in
The sound of a closing house-door strikes their earsand two men
come out. These are Mr. Crisparkle and Neville. Jasperwith a
strange and sudden smile upon his facelays the palm of his hand
upon the breast of Durdlesstopping him where he stands.
At that end of Minor Canon Corner the shadow is profound in the
existing state of the light: at that endtoothere is a piece of
old dwarf wallbreast highthe only remaining boundary of what
was once a gardenbut is now the thoroughfare. Jasper and Durdles
would have turned this wall in another instant; butstopping so
shortstand behind it.
'Those two are only sauntering' Jasper whispers; 'they will go out
into the moonlight soon. Let us keep quiet hereor they will
detain usor want to join usor what not.'
Durdles nods assentand falls to munching some fragments from his
bundle. Jasper folds his arms upon the top of the wallandwith
his chin resting on themwatches. He takes no note whatever of
the Minor Canonbut watches Nevilleas though his eye were at the
trigger of a loaded rifleand he had covered himand were going
to fire. A sense of destructive power is so expressed in his face
that even Durdles pauses in his munchingand looks at himwith an
unmunched something in his cheek.
Meanwhile Mr. Crisparkle and Neville walk to and froquietly
talking together. What they saycannot be heard consecutively;
but Mr. Jasper has already distinguished his own name more than
'This is the first day of the week' Mr. Crisparkle can be
distinctly heard to observeas they turn back; 'and the last day
of the week is Christmas Eve.'
'You may be certain of mesir.'
The echoes were favourable at those pointsbut as the two
approachthe sound of their talking becomes confused again. The
word 'confidence' shattered by the echoesbut still capable of
being pieced togetheris uttered by Mr. Crisparkle. As they draw
still nearerthis fragment of a reply is heard: 'Not deserved
yetbut shall besir.' As they turn away againJasper again
hears his own namein connection with the words from Mr.
Crisparkle: 'Remember that I said I answered for you confidently.'
Then the sound of their talk becomes confused again; they halting
for a little whileand some earnest action on the part of Neville
succeeding. When they move once moreMr. Crisparkle is seen to
look up at the skyand to point before him. They then slowly
disappear; passing out into the moonlight at the opposite end of
It is not until they are gonethat Mr. Jasper moves. But then he
turns to Durdlesand bursts into a fit of laughter. Durdleswho
still has that suspended something in his cheekand who sees
nothing to laugh atstares at him until Mr. Jasper lays his face
down on his arms to have his laugh out. Then Durdles bolts the
somethingas if desperately resigning himself to indigestion.
Among those secluded nooks there is very little stir or movement
after dark. There is little enough in the high tide of the day
but there is next to none at night. Besides that the cheerfully
frequented High Street lies nearly parallel to the spot (the old
Cathedral rising between the two)and is the natural channel in
which the Cloisterham traffic flowsa certain awful hush pervades
the ancient pilethe cloistersand the churchyardafter dark
which not many people care to encounter. Ask the first hundred
citizens of Cloisterhammet at random in the streets at noonif
they believed in Ghoststhey would tell you no; but put them to
choose at night between these eerie Precincts and the thoroughfare
of shopsand you would find that ninety-nine declared for the
longer round and the more frequented way. The cause of this is not
to be found in any local superstition that attaches to the
Precincts - albeit a mysterious ladywith a child in her arms and
a rope dangling from her neckhas been seen flitting about there
by sundry witnesses as intangible as herself - but it is to be
sought in the innate shrinking of dust with the breath of life in
it from dust out of which the breath of life has passed; alsoin
the widely diffusedand almost as widely unacknowledged
reflection: 'If the dead dounder any circumstancesbecome
visible to the livingthese are such likely surroundings for the
purpose that Ithe livingwill get out of them as soon as I can.'
Hencewhen Mr. Jasper and Durdles pause to glance around them
before descending into the crypt by a small side doorof which the
latter has a keythe whole expanse of moonlight in their view is
utterly deserted. One might fancy that the tide of life was
stemmed by Mr. Jasper's own gatehouse. The murmur of the tide is
heard beyond; but no wave passes the archwayover which his lamp
burns red behind his curtainas if the building were a Lighthouse.
They enterlocking themselves indescend the rugged stepsand
are down in the Crypt. The lantern is not wantedfor the
moonlight strikes in at the groined windowsbare of glassthe
broken frames for which cast patterns on the ground. The heavy
pillars which support the roof engender masses of black shadebut
between them there are lanes of light. Up and down these lanes
they walkDurdles discoursing of the 'old uns' he yet counts on
disinterringand slapping a wallin which he considers 'a whole
family on 'em' to be stoned and earthed upjust as if he were a
familiar friend of the family. The taciturnity of Durdles is for
the time overcome by Mr. Jasper's wicker bottlewhich circulates
freely; - in the sensethat is to saythat its contents enter
freely into Mr. Durdles's circulationwhile Mr. Jasper only rinses
his mouth onceand casts forth the rinsing.
They are to ascend the great Tower. On the steps by which they
rise to the CathedralDurdles pauses for new store of breath. The
steps are very darkbut out of the darkness they can see the lanes
of light they have traversed. Durdles seats himself upon a step.
Mr. Jasper seats himself upon another. The odour from the wicker
bottle (which has somehow passed into Durdles's keeping) soon
intimates that the cork has been taken out; but this is not
ascertainable through the sense of sightsince neither can descry
the other. And yetin talkingthey turn to one anotheras
though their faces could commune together.
'This is good stuffMister Jarsper!'
'It is very good stuffI hope. - I bought it on purpose.'
'They don't showyou seethe old uns don'tMister Jarsper!'
'It would be a more confused world than it isif they could.'
'Wellit WOULD lead towards a mixing of things' Durdles
acquiesces: pausing on the remarkas if the idea of ghosts had
not previously presented itself to him in a merely inconvenient
lightdomestically or chronologically. 'But do you think there
may be Ghosts of other thingsthough not of men and women?'
'What things? Flower-beds and watering-pots? horses and harness?'
'What cries do you mean? Chairs to mend?'
'No. I mean screeches. Now I'll tell youMr. Jarsper. Wait a
bit till I put the bottle right.' Here the cork is evidently taken
out againand replaced again. 'There! NOW it's right! This time
last yearonly a few days laterI happened to have been doing
what was correct by the seasonin the way of giving it the welcome
it had a right to expectwhen them town-boys set on me at their
worst. At length I gave 'em the slipand turned in here. And
here I fell asleep. And what woke me? The ghost of a cry. The
ghost of one terrific shriekwhich shriek was followed by the
ghost of the howl of a dog: a longdismalwoeful howlsuch as a
dog gives when a person's dead. That was MY last Christmas Eve.'
'What do you mean?' is the very abruptandone might sayfierce
'I mean that I made inquiries everywhere aboutandthat no living
ears but mine heard either that cry or that howl. So I say they
was both ghosts; though why they came to meI've never made out.'
'I thought you were another kind of man' says Jasperscornfully.
'So I thought myself' answers Durdles with his usual composure;
'and yet I was picked out for it.'
Jasper had risen suddenlywhen he asked him what he meantand he
now says'Come; we shall freeze here; lead the way.'
Durdles compliesnot over-steadily; opens the door at the top of
the steps with the key he has already used; and so emerges on the
Cathedral levelin a passage at the side of the chancel. Here
the moonlight is so very bright again that the colours of the
nearest stained-glass window are thrown upon their faces. The
appearance of the unconscious Durdlesholding the door open for
his companion to followas if from the graveis ghastly enough
with a purple hand across his faceand a yellow splash upon his
brow; but he bears the close scrutiny of his companion in an
insensible wayalthough it is prolonged while the latter fumbles
among his pockets for a key confided to him that will open an iron
gateso to enable them to pass to the staircase of the great
'That and the bottle are enough for you to carry' he saysgiving
it to Durdles; 'hand your bundle to me; I am younger and longerwinded
than you.' Durdles hesitates for a moment between bundle
and bottle; but gives the preference to the bottle as being by far
the better companyand consigns the dry weight to his fellowexplorer.
Then they go up the winding staircase of the great tower
toilsomelyturning and turningand lowering their heads to avoid
the stairs aboveor the rough stone pivot around which they twist.
Durdles has lighted his lanternby drawing from the coldhard
wall a spark of that mysterious fire which lurks in everything
andguided by this speckthey clamber up among the cobwebs and
the dust. Their way lies through strange places. Twice or thrice
they emerge into levellow-arched gallerieswhence they can look
down into the moon-lit nave; and where Durdleswaving his lantern
waves the dim angels' heads upon the corbels of the roofseeming
to watch their progress. Anon they turn into narrower and steeper
staircasesand the night-air begins to blow upon themand the
chirp of some startled jackdaw or frightened rook precedes the
heavy beating of wings in a confined spaceand the beating down of
dust and straws upon their heads. At lastleaving their light
behind a stair - for it blows fresh up here - they look down on
Cloisterhamfair to see in the moonlight: its ruined habitations
and sanctuaries of the deadat the tower's base: its mosssoftened
red-tiled roofs and red-brick houses of the living
clustered beyond: its river winding down from the mist on the
horizonas though that were its sourceand already heaving with a
restless knowledge of its approach towards the sea.
Once againan unaccountable expedition this! Jasper (always
moving softly with no visible reason) contemplates the sceneand
especially that stillest part of it which the Cathedral
overshadows. But he contemplates Durdles quite as curiouslyand
Durdles is by times conscious of his watchful eyes.
Only by timesbecause Durdles is growing drowsy. As aeronauts
lighten the load they carrywhen they wish to risesimilarly
Durdles has lightened the wicker bottle in coming up. Snatches of
sleep surprise him on his legsand stop him in his talk. A mild
fit of calenture seizes himin which he deems that the ground so
far belowis on a level with the towerand would as lief walk off
the tower into the air as not. Such is his state when they begin
to come down. And as aeronauts make themselves heavier when they
wish to descendsimilarly Durdles charges himself with more liquid
from the wicker bottlethat he may come down the better.
The iron gate attained and locked - but not before Durdles has
tumbled twiceand cut an eyebrow open once - they descend into the
crypt againwith the intent of issuing forth as they entered.
Butwhile returning among those lanes of lightDurdles becomes so
very uncertainboth of foot and speechthat he half dropshalf
throws himself downby one of the heavy pillarsscarcely less
heavy than itselfand indistinctly appeals to his companion for
forty winks of a second each.
'If you will have it soor must have it so' replies Jasper'I'll
not leave you here. Take themwhile I walk to and fro.'
Durdles is asleep at once; and in his sleep he dreams a dream.
It is not much of a dreamconsidering the vast extent of the
domains of dreamlandand their wonderful productions; it is only
remarkable for being unusually restless and unusually real. He
dreams of lying thereasleepand yet counting his companion's
footsteps as he walks to and fro. He dreams that the footsteps die
away into distance of time and of spaceand that something touches
himand that something falls from his hand. Then something clinks
and gropes aboutand he dreams that he is alone for so long a
timethat the lanes of light take new directions as the moon
advances in her course. From succeeding unconsciousness he passes
into a dream of slow uneasiness from cold; and painfully awakes to
a perception of the lanes of light - really changedmuch as he had
dreamed - and Jasper walking among thembeating his hands and
'Holloa!' Durdles cries outunmeaningly alarmed.
'Awake at last?' says Jaspercoming up to him. 'Do you know that
your forties have stretched into thousands?'
'They have though.'
'What's the time?'
'Hark! The bells are going in the Tower!'
They strike four quartersand then the great bell strikes.
'Two!' cries Durdlesscrambling up; 'why didn't you try to wake
'I did. I might as well have tried to wake the dead - your own
family of deadup in the corner there.'
'Did you touch me?'
'Touch you! Yes. Shook you.'
As Durdles recalls that touching something in his dreamhe looks
down on the pavementand sees the key of the crypt door lying
close to where he himself lay.
'I dropped youdid I?' he sayspicking it upand recalling that
part of his dream. As he gathers himself up again into an upright
positionor into a position as nearly upright as he ever
maintainshe is again conscious of being watched by his companion.
'Well?' says Jaspersmiling'are you quite ready? Pray don't
'Let me get my bundle rightMister Jarsperand I'm with you.' As
he ties it afreshhe is once more conscious that he is very
'What do you suspect me ofMister Jarsper?' he askswith drunken
displeasure. 'Let them as has any suspicions of Durdles name 'em.'
'I've no suspicions of youmy good Mr. Durdles; but I have
suspicions that my bottle was filled with something stiffer than
either of us supposed. And I also have suspicions' Jasper adds
taking it from the pavement and turning it bottom upwards'that
Durdles condescends to laugh at this. Continuing to chuckle when
his laugh is overas though remonstrant with himself on his
drinking powershe rolls to the door and unlocks it. They both
pass outand Durdles relocks itand pockets his key.
'A thousand thanks for a curious and interesting night' says
Jaspergiving him his hand; 'you can make your own way home?'
'I should think so!' answers Durdles. 'If you was to offer Durdles
the affront to show him his way homehe wouldn't go home.
Durdles wouldn't go home till morning;
And THEN Durdles wouldn't go home
Durdles wouldn't.' This with the utmost defiance.
Each is turning his own waywhen a sharp whistle rends the
silenceand the jargon is yelped out:
Widdy widdy wen!
I - ket - ches - Im - out - ar - ter - ten.
Widdy widdy wy!
Then - E - don't - go - then - I - shy -
Widdy Widdy Wake-cock warning!'
Instantly afterwardsa rapid fire of stones rattles at the
Cathedral walland the hideous small boy is beheld opposite
dancing in the moonlight.
'What! Is that baby-devil on the watch there!' cries Jasper in a
fury: so quickly rousedand so violentthat he seems an older
devil himself. 'I shall shed the blood of that impish wretch! I
know I shall do it!' Regardless of the firethough it hits him
more than oncehe rushes at Deputycollars himand tries to
bring him across. But Deputy is not to be so easily brought
across. With a diabolical insight into the strongest part of his
positionhe is no sooner taken by the throat than he curls up his
legsforces his assailant to hang himas it wereand gurgles in
his throatand screws his bodyand twistsas already undergoing
the first agonies of strangulation. There is nothing for it but to
drop him. He instantly gets himself togetherbacks over to
Durdlesand cries to his assailantgnashing the great gap in
front of his mouth with rage and malice:
'I'll blind yers'elp me! I'll stone yer eyes outs'elp me! If
I don't have yer eyesightbellows me!' At the same time dodging
behind Durdlesand snarling at Jaspernow from this side of him
and now from that: preparedif pounced uponto dart away in all
manner of curvilinear directionsandif run down after allto
grovel in the dustand cry: 'Nowhit me when I'm down! Do it!'
'Don't hurt the boyMister Jarsper' urges Durdlesshielding him.
'He followed us to-nightwhen we first came here!'
'Yer lieI didn't!' replies Deputyin his one form of polite
'He has been prowling near us ever since!'
'Yer lieI haven't' returns Deputy. 'I'd only jist come out for
my 'elth when I see you two a-coming out of the Kin-freederel. If
I - ket - ches - Im - out - ar - ter - ten!'
(with the usual rhythm and dancethough dodging behind Durdles)
'it ain't ANY faultis it?'
'Take him homethen' retorts Jasperferociouslythough with a
strong check upon himself'and let my eyes be rid of the sight of
Deputywith another sharp whistleat once expressing his relief
and his commencement of a milder stoning of Mr. Durdlesbegins
stoning that respectable gentleman homeas if he were a reluctant
ox. Mr. Jasper goes to his gatehousebrooding. And thusas
everything comes to an endthe unaccountable expedition comes to
an end - for the time.
CHAPTER XIII - BOTH AT THEIR BEST
MISS TWINKLETON'S establishment was about to undergo a serene hush.
The Christmas recess was at hand. What had onceand at no remote
periodbeen calledeven by the erudite Miss Twinkleton herself
'the half;' but what was now calledas being more elegantand
more strictly collegiate'the term' would expire to-morrow. A
noticeable relaxation of discipline had for some few days pervaded
the Nuns' House. Club suppers had occurred in the bedroomsand a
dressed tongue had been carved with a pair of scissorsand handed
round with the curling tongs. Portions of marmalade had likewise
been distributed on a service of plates constructed of curlpaper;
and cowslip wine had been quaffed from the small squat measuring
glass in which little Rickitts (a junior of weakly constitution)
took her steel drops daily. The housemaids had been bribed with
various fragments of ribandand sundry pairs of shoes more or less
down at heelto make no mention of crumbs in the beds; the airiest
costumes had been worn on these festive occasions; and the daring
Miss Ferdinand had even surprised the company with a sprightly solo
on the comb-and-curlpaperuntil suffocated in her own pillow by
two flowing-haired executioners.
Nor were these the only tokens of dispersal. Boxes appeared in the
bedrooms (where they were capital at other times)and a surprising
amount of packing took placeout of all proportion to the amount
packed. Largessin the form of odds and ends of cold cream and
pomatumand also of hairpinswas freely distributed among the
attendants. On charges of inviolable secrecyconfidences were
interchanged respecting golden youth of England expected to call
'at home' on the first opportunity. Miss Giggles (deficient in
sentiment) did indeed profess that shefor her partacknowledged
such homage by making faces at the golden youth; but this young
lady was outvoted by an immense majority.
On the last night before a recessit was always expressly made a
point of honour that nobody should go to sleepand that Ghosts
should be encouraged by all possible means. This compact
invariably broke downand all the young ladies went to sleep very
soonand got up very early.
The concluding ceremony came off at twelve o'clock on the day of
departure; when Miss Twinkletonsupported by Mrs. Tisherheld a
drawing-room in her own apartment (the globes already covered with
brown Holland)where glasses of white-wine and plates of cut
pound-cake were discovered on the table. Miss Twinkleton then
said: Ladiesanother revolving year had brought us round to that
festive period at which the first feelings of our nature bounded in
our - Miss Twinkleton was annually going to add 'bosoms' but
annually stopped on the brink of that expressionand substituted
'hearts.' Hearts; our hearts. Hem! Again a revolving year
ladieshad brought us to a pause in our studies - let us hope our
greatly advanced studies - andlike the mariner in his barkthe
warrior in his tentthe captive in his dungeonand the traveller
in his various conveyanceswe yearned for home. Did we sayon
such an occasionin the opening words of Mr. Addison's impressive
'The dawn is overcastthe morning lowers
And heavily in clouds brings on the day
The greatth' important day - ?'
Not so. From horizon to zenith all was COULEUR DE ROSEfor all
was redolent of our relations and friends. Might WE find THEM
prospering as WE expected; might THEY find US prospering as THEY
expected! Ladieswe would nowwith our love to one anotherwish
one another good-byeand happinessuntil we met again. And when
the time should come for our resumption of those pursuits which
(here a general depression set in all round)pursuits which
pursuits which; - then let us ever remember what was said by the
Spartan Generalin words too trite for repetitionat the battle
it were superfluous to specify.
The handmaidens of the establishmentin their best capsthen
handed the traysand the young ladies sipped and crumbledand the
bespoken coaches began to choke the street. Then leave-taking was
not long about; and Miss Twinkletonin saluting each young lady's
cheekconfided to her an exceedingly neat letteraddressed to her
next friend at law'with Miss Twinkleton's best compliments' in
the corner. This missive she handed with an air as if it had not
the least connexion with the billbut were something in the nature
of a delicate and joyful surprise.
So many times had Rosa seen such dispersalsand so very little did
she know of any other Homethat she was contented to remain where
she wasand was even better contented than ever beforehaving her
latest friend with her. And yet her latest friendship had a blank
place in it of which she could not fail to be sensible. Helena
Landlesshaving been a party to her brother's revelation about
Rosaand having entered into that compact of silence with Mr.
Crisparkleshrank from any allusion to Edwin Drood's name. Why
she so avoided itwas mysterious to Rosabut she perfectly
perceived the fact. But for the factshe might have relieved her
own little perplexed heart of some of its doubts and hesitations
by taking Helena into her confidence. As it wasshe had no such
vent: she could only ponder on her own difficultiesand wonder
more and more why this avoidance of Edwin's name should lastnow
that she knew - for so much Helena had told her - that a good
understanding was to be reestablished between the two young men
when Edwin came down.
It would have made a pretty pictureso many pretty girls kissing
Rosa in the cold porch of the Nuns' Houseand that sunny little
creature peeping out of it (unconscious of sly faces carved on
spout and gable peeping at her)and waving farewells to the
departing coachesas if she represented the spirit of rosy youth
abiding in the place to keep it bright and warm in its desertion.
The hoarse High Street became musical with the cryin various
silvery voices'Good-byeRosebud darling!' and the effigy of Mr.
Sapsea's father over the opposite doorway seemed to say to mankind:
'Gentlemenfavour me with your attention to this charming little
last lot left behindand bid with a spirit worthy of the
occasion!' Then the staid streetso unwontedly sparkling
youthfuland fresh for a few rippling momentsran dryand
Cloisterham was itself again.
If Rosebud in her bower now waited Edwin Drood's coming with an
uneasy heartEdwin for his part was uneasy too. With far less
force of purpose in his composition than the childish beauty
crowned by acclamation fairy queen of Miss Twinkleton's
establishmenthe had a conscienceand Mr. Grewgious had pricked
it. That gentleman's steady convictions of what was right and what
was wrong in such a case as hiswere neither to be frowned aside
nor laughed aside. They would not be moved. But for the dinner in
Staple Innand but for the ring he carried in the breast pocket of
his coathe would have drifted into their wedding-day without
another pause for real thoughtloosely trusting that all would go
wellleft alone. But that serious putting him on his truth to the
living and the dead had brought him to a check. He must either
give the ring to Rosaor he must take it back. Once put into this
narrowed way of actionit was curious that he began to consider
Rosa's claims upon him more unselfishly than he had ever considered
them beforeand began to be less sure of himself than he had ever
been in all his easy-going days.
'I will be guided by what she saysand by how we get on' was his
decisionwalking from the gatehouse to the Nuns' House. 'Whatever
comes of itI will bear his words in mindand try to be true to
the living and the dead.'
Rosa was dressed for walking. She expected him. It was a bright
frosty dayand Miss Twinkleton had already graciously sanctioned
fresh air. Thus they got out together before it became necessary
for either Miss Twinkletonor the deputy high-priest Mrs. Tisher
to lay even so much as one of those usual offerings on the shrine
'My dear Eddy' said Rosawhen they had turned out of the High
Streetand had got among the quiet walks in the neighbourhood of
the Cathedral and the river: 'I want to say something very serious
to you. I have been thinking about it for a longlong time.'
'I want to be serious with you tooRosa dear. I mean to be
serious and earnest.'
'Thank youEddy. And you will not think me unkind because I
beginwill you? You will not think I speak for myself only
because I speak first? That would not be generouswould it? And
I know you are generous!'
He said'I hope I am not ungenerous to youRosa.' He called her
Pussy no more. Never again.
'And there is no fear' pursued Rosa'of our quarrellingis
there? BecauseEddy' clasping her hand on his arm'we have so
much reason to be very lenient to each other!'
'We will beRosa.'
'That's a dear good boy! Eddylet us be courageous. Let us
change to brother and sister from this day forth.'
'Never be husband and wife?'
Neither spoke again for a little while. But after that pause he
saidwith some effort:
'Of course I know that this has been in both our mindsRosaand
of course I am in honour bound to confess freely that it does not
originate with you.'
'Nonor with youdear' she returnedwith pathetic earnestness.
'That sprung up between us. You are not truly happy in our
engagement; I am not truly happy in it. OI am so sorryso
sorry!' And there she broke into tears.
'I am deeply sorry tooRosa. Deeply sorry for you.'
'And I for youpoor boy! And I for you!'
This pure young feelingthis gentle and forbearing feeling of each
towards the otherbrought with it its reward in a softening light
that seemed to shine on their position. The relations between them
did not look wilfulor capriciousor a failurein such a light;
they became elevated into something more self-denyinghonourable
'If we knew yesterday' said Rosaas she dried her eyes'and we
did know yesterdayand on manymany yesterdaysthat we were far
from right together in those relations which were not of our own
choosingwhat better could we do to-day than change them? It is
natural that we should be sorryand you see how sorry we both are;
but how much better to be sorry now than then!'
'When it would be too late. And then we should be angrybesides.'
Another silence fell upon them.
'And you know' said Rosa innocently'you couldn't like me then;
and you can always like me nowfor I shall not be a drag upon you
or a worry to you. And I can always like you nowand your sister
will not tease or trifle with you. I often did when I was not your
sisterand I beg your pardon for it.'
'Don't let us come to thatRosa; or I shall want more pardoning
than I like to think of.'
'NoindeedEddy; you are too hardmy generous boyupon
yourself. Let us sit downbrotheron these ruinsand let me
tell you how it was with us. I think I knowfor I have considered
about it very much since you were here last time. You liked me
didn't you? You thought I was a nice little thing?'
'Everybody thinks thatRosa.'
'Do they?' She knitted her brow musingly for a momentand then
flashed out with the bright little induction: 'Wellbut say they
do. Surely it was not enough that you should think of me only as
other people did; nowwas it?'
The point was not to be got over. It was not enough.
'And that is just what I mean; that is just how it was with us'
said Rosa. 'You liked me very welland you had grown used to me
and had grown used to the idea of our being married. You accepted
the situation as an inevitable kind of thingdidn't you? It was
to beyou thoughtand why discuss or dispute it?'
It was new and strange to him to have himself presented to himself
so clearlyin a glass of her holding up. He had always patronised
herin his superiority to her share of woman's wit. Was that but
another instance of something radically amiss in the terms on which
they had been gliding towards a life-long bondage?
'All this that I say of you is true of me as wellEddy. Unless it
wasI might not be bold enough to say it. Onlythe difference
between us wasthat by little and little there crept into my mind
a habit of thinking about itinstead of dismissing it. My life is
not so busy as yoursyou seeand I have not so many things to
think of. So I thought about it very muchand I cried about it
very much too (though that was not your faultpoor boy); when all
at once my guardian came downto prepare for my leaving the Nuns'
House. I tried to hint to him that I was not quite settled in my
mindbut I hesitated and failedand he didn't understand me. But
he is a goodgood man. And he put before me so kindlyand yet so
stronglyhow seriously we ought to considerin our circumstances
that I resolved to speak to you the next moment we were alone and
grave. And if I seemed to come to it easily just nowbecause I
came to it all at oncedon't think it was so reallyEddyfor O
it was veryvery hardand OI am veryvery sorry!'
Her full heart broke into tears again. He put his arm about her
waistand they walked by the river-side together.
'Your guardian has spoken to me tooRosa dear. I saw him before I
left London.' His right hand was in his breastseeking the ring;
but he checked itas he thought: 'If I am to take it backwhy
should I tell her of it?'
'And that made you more serious about itdidn't itEddy? And if
I had not spoken to youas I haveyou would have spoken to me? I
hope you can tell me so? I don't like it to be ALL my doing
though it IS so much better for us.'
'YesI should have spoken; I should have put everything before
you; I came intending to do it. But I never could have spoken to
you as you have spoken to meRosa.'
'Don't say you mean so coldly or unkindlyEddypleaseif you can
'I mean so sensibly and delicatelyso wisely and affectionately.'
'That's my dear brother!' She kissed his hand in a little rapture.
'The dear girls will be dreadfully disappointed' added Rosa
laughingwith the dewdrops glistening in her bright eyes. 'They
have looked forward to it sopoor pets!'
'Ah! but I fear it will be a worse disappointment to Jack' said
Edwin Droodwith a start. 'I never thought of Jack!'
Her swift and intent look at him as he said the words could no more
be recalled than a flash of lightning can. But it appeared as
though she would have instantly recalled itif she could; for she
looked downconfusedand breathed quickly.
'You don't doubt its being a blow to JackRosa?'
She merely repliedand that evasively and hurriedly: Why should
she? She had not thought about it. He seemedto herto have so
little to do with it.
'My dear child! can you suppose that any one so wrapped up in
another - Mrs. Tope's expression: not mine - as Jack is in me
could fail to be struck all of a heap by such a sudden and complete
change in my life? I say suddenbecause it will be sudden to HIM
She nodded twice or thriceand her lips parted as if she would
have assented. But she uttered no soundand her breathing was no
'How shall I tell Jack?' said Edwinruminating. If he had been
less occupied with the thoughthe must have seen her singular
emotion. 'I never thought of Jack. It must be broken to him
before the town-crier knows it. I dine with the dear fellow tomorrow
and next day - Christmas Eve and Christmas Day - but it
would never do to spoil his feast-days. He always worries about
meand moddley-coddleys in the merest trifles. The news is sure
to overset him. How on earth shall this be broken to Jack?'
'He must be toldI suppose?' said Rosa.
'My dear Rosa! who ought to be in our confidenceif not Jack?'
'My guardian promised to come downif I should write and ask him.
I am going to do so. Would you like to leave it to him?'
'A bright idea!' cried Edwin. 'The other trustee. Nothing more
natural. He comes downhe goes to Jackhe relates what we have
agreed uponand he states our case better than we could. He has
already spoken feelingly to youhe has already spoken feelingly to
meand he'll put the whole thing feelingly to Jack. That's it! I
am not a cowardRosabut to tell you a secretI am a little
afraid of Jack.'
'Nono! you are not afraid of him!' cried Rosaturning whiteand
clasping her hands.
'Whysister Rosasister Rosawhat do you see from the turret?'
said Edwinrallying her. 'My dear girl!'
'You frightened me.'
'Most unintentionallybut I am as sorry as if I had meant to do
it. Could you possibly suppose for a momentfrom any loose way of
speaking of minethat I was literally afraid of the dear fond
fellow? What I mean isthat he is subject to a kind of paroxysm
or fit - I saw him in it once - and I don't know but that so great
a surprisecoming upon him direct from me whom he is so wrapped up
inmight bring it on perhaps. Which - and this is the secret I
was going to tell you - is another reason for your guardian's
making the communication. He is so steadypreciseand exact
that he will talk Jack's thoughts into shapein no time: whereas
with me Jack is always impulsive and hurriedandI may say
Rosa seemed convinced. Perhaps from her own very different point
of view of 'Jack' she felt comforted and protected by the
interposition of Mr. Grewgious between herself and him.
And nowEdwin Drood's right hand closed again upon the ring in its
little caseand again was checked by the consideration: 'It is
certainnowthat I am to give it back to him; then why should I
tell her of it?' That pretty sympathetic nature which could be so
sorry for him in the blight of their childish hopes of happiness
togetherand could so quietly find itself alone in a new world to
weave fresh wreaths of such flowers as it might prove to bearthe
old world's flowers being witheredwould be grieved by those
sorrowful jewels; and to what purpose? Why should it be? They
were but a sign of broken joys and baseless projects; in their very
beauty they were (as the unlikeliest of men had said) almost a
cruel satire on the loveshopesplansof humanitywhich are
able to forecast nothingand are so much brittle dust. Let them
be. He would restore them to her guardian when he came down; he in
his turn would restore them to the cabinet from which he had
unwillingly taken them; and therelike old letters or old vowsor
other records of old aspirations come to nothingthey would be
disregardeduntilbeing valuablethey were sold into circulation
againto repeat their former round.
Let them be. Let them lie unspoken ofin his breast. However
distinctly or indistinctly he entertained these thoughtshe
arrived at the conclusionLet them be. Among the mighty store of
wonderful chains that are for ever forgingday and nightin the
vast iron-works of time and circumstancethere was one chain
forged in the moment of that small conclusionriveted to the
foundations of heaven and earthand gifted with invincible force
to hold and drag.
They walked on by the river. They began to speak of their separate
plans. He would quicken his departure from Englandand she would
remain where she wasat least as long as Helena remained. The
poor dear girls should have their disappointment broken to them
gentlyandas the first preliminaryMiss Twinkleton should be
confided in by Rosaeven in advance of the reappearance of Mr.
Grewgious. It should be made clear in all quarters that she and
Edwin were the best of friends. There had never been so serene an
understanding between them since they were first affianced. And
yet there was one reservation on each side; on hersthat she
intended through her guardian to withdraw herself immediately from
the tuition of her music-master; on histhat he did already
entertain some wandering speculations whether it might ever come to
pass that he would know more of Miss Landless.
The brightfrosty day declined as they walked and spoke together.
The sun dipped in the river far behind themand the old city lay
red before themas their walk drew to a close. The moaning water
cast its seaweed duskily at their feetwhen they turned to leave
its margin; and the rooks hovered above them with hoarse cries
darker splashes in the darkening air.
'I will prepare Jack for my flitting soon' said Edwinin a low
voice'and I will but see your guardian when he comesand then go
before they speak together. It will be better done without my
being by. Don't you think so?'
'We know we have done rightRosa?'
'We know we are better soeven now?'
'And shall be farfar better so by-and-by.'
Still there was that lingering tenderness in their hearts towards
the old positions they were relinquishingthat they prolonged
their parting. When they came among the elm-trees by the
Cathedralwhere they had last sat togetherthey stopped as by
consentand Rosa raised her face to hisas she had never raised
it in the old days; - for they were old already.
'God bless youdear! Good-bye!'
'God bless youdear! Good-bye!'
They kissed each other fervently.
'Nowplease take me homeEddyand let me be by myself.'
'Don't look roundRosa' he cautioned heras he drew her arm
through hisand led her away. 'Didn't you see Jack?'
'Under the trees. He saw usas we took leave of each other. Poor
fellow! he little thinks we have parted. This will be a blow to
himI am much afraid!'
She hurried onwithout restingand hurried on until they had
passed under the gatehouse into the street; once thereshe asked:
'Has he followed us? You can look without seeming to. Is he
'No. Yeshe is! He has just passed out under the gateway. The
dearsympathetic old fellow likes to keep us in sight. I am
afraid he will be bitterly disappointed!'
She pulled hurriedly at the handle of the hoarse old belland the
gate soon opened. Before going inshe gave him one lastwide
wondering lookas if she would have asked him with imploring
emphasis: 'O! don't you understand?' And out of that look he
vanished from her view.
CHAPTER XIV - WHEN SHALL THESE THREE MEET AGAIN?
CHRISTMAS EVE in Cloisterham. A few strange faces in the streets;
a few other faceshalf strange and half familiaronce the faces
of Cloisterham childrennow the faces of men and women who come
back from the outer world at long intervals to find the city
wonderfully shrunken in sizeas if it had not washed by any means
well in the meanwhile. To thesethe striking of the Cathedral
clockand the cawing of the rooks from the Cathedral towerare
like voices of their nursery time. To such as theseit has
happened in their dying hours afar offthat they have imagined
their chamber-floor to be strewn with the autumnal leaves fallen
from the elm-trees in the Close: so have the rustling sounds and
fresh scents of their earliest impressions revived when the circle
of their lives was very nearly tracedand the beginning and the
end were drawing close together.
Seasonable tokens are about. Red berries shine here and there in
the lattices of Minor Canon Corner; Mr. and Mrs. Tope are daintily
sticking sprigs of holly into the carvings and sconces of the
Cathedral stallsas if they were sticking them into the coatbutton-
holes of the Dean and Chapter. Lavish profusion is in the
shops: particularly in the articles of currantsraisinsspices
candied peeland moist sugar. An unusual air of gallantry and
dissipation is abroad; evinced in an immense bunch of mistletoe
hanging in the greengrocer's shop doorwayand a poor little
Twelfth Cakeculminating in the figure of a Harlequin - such a
very poor little Twelfth Cakethat one would rather called it a
Twenty-fourth Cake or a Forty-eighth Cake - to be raffled for at
the pastrycook'sterms one shilling per member. Public amusements
are not wanting. The Wax-Work which made so deep an impression on
the reflective mind of the Emperor of China is to be seen by
particular desire during Christmas Week onlyon the premises of
the bankrupt livery-stable-keeper up the lane; and a new grand
comic Christmas pantomime is to be produced at the Theatre: the
latter heralded by the portrait of Signor Jacksonini the clown
saying 'How do you do to-morrow?' quite as large as lifeand
almost as miserably. In shortCloisterham is up and doing:
though from this description the High School and Miss Twinkleton's
are to be excluded. From the former establishment the scholars
have gone homeevery one of them in love with one of Miss
Twinkleton's young ladies (who knows nothing about it); and only
the handmaidens flutter occasionally in the windows of the latter.
It is noticedby the byethat these damsels becomewithin the
limits of decorummore skittish when thus intrusted with the
concrete representation of their sexthan when dividing the
representation with Miss Twinkleton's young ladies.
Three are to meet at the gatehouse to-night. How does each one of
the three get through the day?
Neville Landlessthough absolved from his books for the time by
Mr. Crisparkle - whose fresh nature is by no means insensible to
the charms of a holiday - reads and writes in his quiet roomwith
a concentrated airuntil it is two hours past noon. He then sets
himself to clearing his tableto arranging his booksand to
tearing up and burning his stray papers. He makes a clean sweep of
all untidy accumulationsputs all his drawers in orderand leaves
no note or scrap of paper undestroyedsave such memoranda as bear
directly on his studies. This donehe turns to his wardrobe
selects a few articles of ordinary wear - among themchange of
stout shoes and socks for walking - and packs these in a knapsack.
This knapsack is newand he bought it in the High Street
yesterday. He also purchasedat the same time and at the same
placea heavy walking-stick; strong in the handle for the grip of
the handand iron-shod. He tries thisswings itpoises itand
lays it bywith the knapsackon a window-seat. By this time his
arrangements are complete.
He dresses for going outand is in the act of going - indeed has
left his roomand has met the Minor Canon on the staircasecoming
out of his bedroom upon the same story - when he turns back again
for his walking-stickthinking he will carry it now. Mr.
Crisparklewho has paused on the staircasesees it in his hand on
his immediately reappearingtakes it from himand asks him with a
smile how he chooses a stick?
'Really I don't know that I understand the subject' he answers.
'I chose it for its weight.'
'Much too heavyNeville; MUCH too heavy.'
'To rest upon in a long walksir?'
'Rest upon?' repeats Mr. Crisparklethrowing himself into
pedestrian form. 'You don't rest upon it; you merely balance with
'I shall know betterwith practicesir. I have not lived in a
walking countryyou know.'
'True' says Mr. Crisparkle. 'Get into a little trainingand we
will have a few score miles together. I should leave you nowhere
now. Do you come back before dinner?'
'I think notas we dine early.'
Mr. Crisparkle gives him a bright nod and a cheerful good-bye;
expressing (not without intention) absolute confidence and ease
Neville repairs to the Nuns' Houseand requests that Miss Landless
may be informed that her brother is thereby appointment. He
waits at the gatenot even crossing the threshold; for he is on
his parole not to put himself in Rosa's way.
His sister is at least as mindful of the obligation they have taken
on themselves as he can beand loses not a moment in joining him.
They meet affectionatelyavoid lingering thereand walk towards
the upper inland country.
'I am not going to tread upon forbidden groundHelena' says
Nevillewhen they have walked some distance and are turning; 'you
will understand in another moment that I cannot help referring to -
what shall I say? - my infatuation.'
'Had you not better avoid itNeville? You know that I can hear
'You can hearmy dearwhat Mr. Crisparkle has heardand heard
'Yes; I can hear so much.'
'Wellit is this. I am not only unsettled and unhappy myselfbut
I am conscious of unsettling and interfering with other people.
How do I know thatbut for my unfortunate presenceyouand - and
-the rest of that former partyour engaging guardian excepted
might be dining cheerfully in Minor Canon Corner to-morrow? Indeed
it probably would be so. I can see too well that I am not high in
the old lady's opinionand it is easy to understand what an
irksome clog I must be upon the hospitalities of her orderly house
-especially at this time of year - when I must be kept asunder
from this personand there is such a reason for my not being
brought into contact with that personand an unfavourable
reputation has preceded me with such another person; and so on.
have put this very gently to Mr. Crisparklefor you know his self
denying ways; but still I have put it. What I have laid much
greater stress upon at the same time isthat I am engaged in a
miserable struggle with myselfand that a little change and
absence may enable me to come through it the better. Sothe
weather being bright and hardI am going on a walking expedition
and intend taking myself out of everybody's way (my own includedI
hope) to-morrow morning.'
'When to come back?'
'In a fortnight.'
'And going quite alone?'
'I am much better without companyeven if there were any one but
you to bear me companymy dear Helena.'
'Mr. Crisparkle entirely agreesyou say?'
'Entirely. I am not sure but that at first he was inclined to
think it rather a moody schemeand one that might do a brooding
mind harm. But we took a moonlight walk last Monday nightto talk
it over at leisureand I represented the case to him as it really
is. I showed him that I do want to conquer myselfand thatthis
evening well got overit is surely better that I should be away
from here just nowthan here. I could hardly help meeting certain
people walking together hereand that could do no goodand is
certainly not the way to forget. A fortnight hencethat chance
will probably be overfor the time; and when it again arises for
the last timewhyI can again go away. FartherI really do feel
hopeful of bracing exercise and wholesome fatigue. You know that
Mr. Crisparkle allows such things their full weight in the
preservation of his own sound mind in his own sound bodyand that
his just spirit is not likely to maintain one set of natural laws
for himself and another for me. He yielded to my view of the
matterwhen convinced that I was honestly in earnest; and sowith
his full consentI start to-morrow morning. Early enough to be
not only out of the streetsbut out of hearing of the bellswhen
the good people go to church.'
Helena thinks it overand thinks well of it. Mr. Crisparkle doing
soshe would do so; but she does originallyout of her own mind
think well of itas a healthy projectdenoting a sincere
endeavour and an active attempt at self-correction. She is
inclined to pity himpoor fellowfor going away solitary on the
great Christmas festival; but she feels it much more to the purpose
to encourage him. And she does encourage him.
He will write to her?
He will write to her every alternate dayand tell her all his
Does he send clothes on in advance of him?
'My dear Helenano. Travel like a pilgrimwith wallet and staff.
My wallet - or my knapsack - is packedand ready for strapping on;
and here is my staff!'
He hands it to her; she makes the same remark as Mr. Crisparkle
that it is very heavy; and gives it back to himasking what wood
it is? Iron-wood.
Up to this point he has been extremely cheerful. Perhapsthe
having to carry his case with herand therefore to present it in
its brightest aspecthas roused his spirits. Perhapsthe having
done so with successis followed by a revulsion. As the day
closes inand the city-lights begin to spring up before themhe
'I wish I were not going to this dinnerHelena.'
'Dear Nevilleis it worth while to care much about it? Think how
soon it will be over.'
'How soon it will be over!' he repeats gloomily. 'Yes. But I
don't like it.'
There may be a moment's awkwardnessshe cheeringly represents to
himbut it can only last a moment. He is quite sure of himself.
'I wish I felt as sure of everything elseas I feel of myself' he
'How strangely you speakdear! What do you mean?'
'HelenaI don't know. I only know that I don't like it. What a
strange dead weight there is in the air!'
She calls his attention to those copperous clouds beyond the river
and says that the wind is rising. He scarcely speaks againuntil
he takes leave of herat the gate of the Nuns' House. She does
not immediately enterwhen they have partedbut remains looking
after him along the street. Twice he passes the gatehouse
reluctant to enter. At lengththe Cathedral clock chiming one
quarterwith a rapid turn he hurries in.
And so HE goes up the postern stair.
Edwin Drood passes a solitary day. Something of deeper moment than
he had thoughthas gone out of his life; and in the silence of his
own chamber he wept for it last night. Though the image of Miss
Landless still hovers in the background of his mindthe pretty
little affectionate creatureso much firmer and wiser than he had
supposedoccupies its stronghold. It is with some misgiving of
his own unworthiness that he thinks of herand of what they might
have been to one anotherif he had been more in earnest some time
ago; if he had set a higher value on her; ifinstead of accepting
his lot in life as an inheritance of coursehe had studied the
right way to its appreciation and enhancement. And stillfor all
thisand though there is a sharp heartache in all thisthe vanity
and caprice of youth sustain that handsome figure of Miss Landless
in the background of his mind.
That was a curious look of Rosa's when they parted at the gate.
Did it mean that she saw below the surface of his thoughtsand
down into their twilight depths? Scarcely thatfor it was a look
of astonished and keen inquiry. He decides that he cannot
understand itthough it was remarkably expressive.
As he only waits for Mr. Grewgious nowand will depart immediately
after having seen himhe takes a sauntering leave of the ancient
city and its neighbourhood. He recalls the time when Rosa and he
walked here or theremere childrenfull of the dignity of being
engaged. Poor children! he thinkswith a pitying sadness.
Finding that his watch has stoppedhe turns into the jeweller's
shopto have it wound and set. The jeweller is knowing on the
subject of a braceletwhich he begs leave to submitin a general
and quite aimless way. It would suit (he considers) a young bride
to perfection; especially if of a rather diminutive style of
beauty. Finding the bracelet but coldly looked atthe jeweller
invites attention to a tray of rings for gentlemen; here is a style
of ringnowhe remarks - a very chaste signet - which gentlemen
are much given to purchasingwhen changing their condition. A
ring of a very responsible appearance. With the date of their
wedding-day engraved insideseveral gentlemen have preferred it to
any other kind of memento.
The rings are as coldly viewed as the bracelet. Edwin tells the
tempter that he wears no jewellery but his watch and chainwhich
were his father's; and his shirt-pin.
'That I was aware of' is the jeweller's reply'for Mr. Jasper
dropped in for a watch-glass the other dayandin factI showed
these articles to himremarking that if he SHOULD wish to make a
present to a gentleman relativeon any particular occasion - But
he said with a smile that he had an inventory in his mind of all
the jewellery his gentleman relative ever wore; namelyhis watch
and chainand his shirt-pin.' Still (the jeweller considers) that
might not apply to all timesthough applying to the present time.
'Twenty minutes past twoMr. DroodI set your watch at. Let me
recommend you not to let it run downsir.'
Edwin takes his watchputs it onand goes outthinking: 'Dear
old Jack! If I were to make an extra crease in my neckclothhe
would think it worth noticing!'
He strolls about and aboutto pass the time until the dinner-hour.
It somehow happens that Cloisterham seems reproachful to him today;
has fault to find with himas if he had not used it well; but
is far more pensive with him than angry. His wonted carelessness
is replaced by a wistful looking atand dwelling uponall the old
landmarks. He will soon be far awayand may never see them again
he thinks. Poor youth! Poor youth!
As dusk draws onhe paces the Monks' Vineyard. He has walked to
and frofull half an hour by the Cathedral chimesand it has
closed in darkbefore he becomes quite aware of a woman crouching
on the ground near a wicket gate in a corner. The gate commands a
cross bye-pathlittle used in the gloaming; and the figure must
have been there all the timethough he has but gradually and
lately made it out.
He strikes into that pathand walks up to the wicket. By the
light of a lamp near ithe sees that the woman is of a haggard
appearanceand that her weazen chin is resting on her handsand
that her eyes are staring - with an unwinkingblind sort of
steadfastness - before her.
Always kindlybut moved to be unusually kind this eveningand
having bestowed kind words on most of the children and aged people
he has methe at once bends downand speaks to this woman.
'Are you ill?'
'Nodeary' she answerswithout looking at himand with no
departure from her strange blind stare.
'Are you blind?'
'Are you losthomelessfaint? What is the matterthat you stay
here in the cold so longwithout moving?'
By slow and stiff effortsshe appears to contract her vision until
it can rest upon him; and then a curious film passes over herand
she begins to shake.
He straightens himselfrecoils a stepand looks down at her in a
dread amazement; for he seems to know her.
'Good Heaven!' he thinksnext moment. 'Like Jack that night!'
As he looks down at hershe looks up at himand whimpers: 'My
lungs is weakly; my lungs is dreffle bad. Poor mepoor memy
cough is rattling dry!' and coughs in confirmation horribly.
'Where do you come from?'
'Come from Londondeary.' (Her cough still rending her.)
'Where are you going to?'
'Back to Londondeary. I came herelooking for a needle in a
haystackand I ain't found it. Look'eedeary; give me three-andsixpence
and don't you be afeard for me. I'll get back to London
thenand trouble no one. I'm in a business. - Ahme! It's
slackit's slackand times is very bad! - but I can make a shift
to live by it.'
'Do you eat opium?'
'Smokes it' she replies with difficultystill racked by her
cough. 'Give me three-and-sixpenceand I'll lay it out welland
get back. If you don't give me three-and-sixpencedon't give me a
brass farden. And if you do give me three-and-sixpencedeary
I'll tell you something.'
He counts the money from his pocketand puts it in her hand. She
instantly clutches it tightand rises to her feet with a croaking
laugh of satisfaction.
'Bless ye! Hark'eedear genl'mn. What's your Chris'en name?'
'EdwinEdwinEdwin' she repeatstrailing off into a drowsy
repetition of the word; and then asks suddenly: 'Is the short of
that name Eddy?'
'It is sometimes called so' he replieswith the colour starting
to his face.
'Don't sweethearts call it so?' she askspondering.
'How should I know?'
'Haven't you a sweetheartupon your soul?'
She is moving awaywith another 'Bless yeand thank'eedeary!'
when he adds: 'You were to tell me something; you may as well do
'So I wasso I was.
your name ain't Ned.'
Wellthen. Whisper. You be thankful that
He looks at her quite steadilyas he asks: 'Why?'
'Because it's a bad name to have just now.'
'How a bad name?'
'A threatened name. A dangerous name.'
'The proverb says that threatened men live long' he tells her
'Then Ned - so threatened is hewherever he may be while I am atalking
to youdeary - should live to all eternity!' replies the
She has leaned forward to say it in his earwith her forefinger
shaking before his eyesand now huddles herself togetherand with
another 'Bless yeand thank'ee!' goes away in the direction of the
Travellers' Lodging House.
This is not an inspiriting close to a dull day. Alonein a
sequestered placesurrounded by vestiges of old time and decayit
rather has a tendency to call a shudder into being. He makes for
the better-lighted streetsand resolves as he walks on to say
nothing of this to-nightbut to mention it to Jack (who alone
calls him Ned)as an odd coincidenceto-morrow; of course only as
a coincidenceand not as anything better worth remembering.
Stillit holds to himas many things much better worth
remembering never did. He has another mile or soto linger out
before the dinner-hour; andwhen he walks over the bridge and by
the riverthe woman's words are in the rising windin the angry
skyin the troubled waterin the flickering lights. There is
some solemn echo of them even in the Cathedral chimewhich strikes
a sudden surprise to his heart as he turns in under the archway of
And so HE goes up the postern stair.
John Jasper passes a more agreeable and cheerful day than either of
his guests. Having no music-lessons to give in the holiday season
his time is his ownbut for the Cathedral services. He is early
among the shopkeepersordering little table luxuries that his
nephew likes. His nephew will not be with him longhe tells his
provision-dealersand so must be petted and made much of. While
out on his hospitable preparationshe looks in on Mr. Sapsea; and
mentions that dear Nedand that inflammable young spark of Mr.
Crisparkle'sare to dine at the gatehouse to-dayand make up
their difference. Mr. Sapsea is by no means friendly towards the
inflammable young spark. He says that his complexion is 'Un-
English.' And when Mr. Sapsea has once declared anything to be Un-
Englishhe considers that thing everlastingly sunk in the
John Jasper is truly sorry to hear Mr. Sapsea speak thusfor he
knows right well that Mr. Sapsea never speaks without a meaning
and that he has a subtle trick of being right. Mr. Sapsea (by a
very remarkable coincidence) is of exactly that opinion.
Mr. Jasper is in beautiful voice this day. In the pathetic
supplication to have his heart inclined to keep this lawhe quite
astonishes his fellows by his melodious power. He has never sung
difficult music with such skill and harmonyas in this day's
Anthem. His nervous temperament is occasionally prone to take
difficult music a little too quickly; to-dayhis time is perfect.
These results are probably attained through a grand composure of
the spirits. The mere mechanism of his throat is a little tender
for he wearsboth with his singing-robe and with his ordinary
dressa large black scarf of strong close-woven silkslung
loosely round his neck. But his composure is so noticeablethat
Mr. Crisparkle speaks of it as they come out from Vespers.
'I must thank youJasperfor the pleasure with which I have heard
you to-day. Beautiful! Delightful! You could not have so outdone
yourselfI hopewithout being wonderfully well.'
'I AM wonderfully well.'
'Nothing unequal' says the Minor Canonwith a smooth motion of
his hand: 'nothing unsteadynothing forcednothing avoided; all
thoroughly done in a masterly mannerwith perfect self-command.'
'Thank you. I hope soif it is not too much to say.'
'One would thinkJasperyou had been trying a new medicine for
that occasional indisposition of yours.'
'Noreally? That's well observed; for I have.'
'Then stick to itmy good fellow' says Mr. Crisparkleclapping
him on the shoulder with friendly encouragement'stick to it.'
'I congratulate you' Mr. Crisparkle pursuesas they come out of
the Cathedral'on all accounts.'
'Thank you again. I will walk round to the Corner with youif you
don't object; I have plenty of time before my company come; and I
want to say a word to youwhich I think you will not be displeased
'What is it?'
'Well. We were speakingthe other eveningof my black humours.'
Mr. Crisparkle's face fallsand he shakes his head deploringly.
'I saidyou knowthat I should make you an antidote to those
black humours; and you said you hoped I would consign them to the
'And I still hope soJasper.'
'With the best reason in the world! I mean to burn this year's
Diary at the year's end.'
'Because you - ?' Mr. Crisparkle brightens greatly as he thus
'You anticipate me. Because I feel that I have been out of sorts
gloomybiliousbrain-oppressedwhatever it may be. You said I
had been exaggerative. So I have.'
Mr. Crisparkle's brightened face brightens still more.
'I couldn't see it thenbecause I WAS out of sorts; but I am in a
healthier state nowand I acknowledge it with genuine pleasure. I
made a great deal of a very little; that's the fact.'
'It does me good' cries Mr. Crisparkle'to hear you say it!'
'A man leading a monotonous life' Jasper proceeds'and getting
his nervesor his stomachout of orderdwells upon an idea until
it loses its proportions. That was my case with the idea in
question. So I shall burn the evidence of my casewhen the book
is fulland begin the next volume with a clearer vision.'
'This is better' says Mr. Crisparklestopping at the steps of his
own door to shake hands'than I could have hoped.'
'Whynaturally' returns Jasper. 'You had but little reason to
hope that I should become more like yourself. You are always
training yourself to bemind and bodyas clear as crystaland
you always areand never change; whereas I am a muddysolitary
moping weed. HoweverI have got over that mope. Shall I wait
while you ask if Mr. Neville has left for my place? If nothe and
I may walk round together.'
'I think' says Mr. Crisparkleopening the entrance-door with his
key'that he left some time ago; at least I know he leftand I
think he has not come back. But I'll inquire. You won't come in?'
'My company wait' said Jasperwith a smile.
The Minor Canon disappearsand in a few moments returns. As he
thoughtMr. Neville has not come back; indeedas he remembers
nowMr. Neville said he would probably go straight to the
'Bad manners in a host!' says Jasper. 'My company will be there
before me! What will you bet that I don't find my company
'I will bet - or I wouldif ever I did bet' returns Mr.
Crisparkle'that your company will have a gay entertainer this
Jasper nodsand laughs good-night!
He retraces his steps to the Cathedral doorand turns down past it
to the gatehouse. He singsin a low voice and with delicate
expressionas he walks along. It still seems as if a false note
were not within his power to-nightand as if nothing could hurry
or retard him. Arriving thus under the arched entrance of his
dwellinghe pauses for an instant in the shelter to pull off that
great black scarfand bang it in a loop upon his arm. For that
brief timehis face is knitted and stern. But it immediately
clearsas he resumes his singingand his way.
And so HE goes up the postern stair.
The red light burns steadily all the evening in the lighthouse on
the margin of the tide of busy life. Softened sounds and hum of
traffic pass it and flow on irregularly into the lonely Precincts;
but very little else goes bysave violent rushes of wind. It
comes on to blow a boisterous gale.
The Precincts are never particularly well lighted; but the strong
blasts of wind blowing out many of the lamps (in some instances
shattering the frames tooand bringing the glass rattling to the
ground)they are unusually dark to-night. The darkness is
augmented and confusedby flying dust from the earthdry twigs
from the treesand great ragged fragments from the rooks' nests up
in the tower. The trees themselves so toss and creakas this
tangible part of the darkness madly whirls aboutthat they seem in
peril of being torn out of the earth: while ever and again a
crackand a rushing falldenote that some large branch has
yielded to the storm.
Not such power of wind has blown for many a winter night. Chimneys
topple in the streetsand people hold to posts and cornersand to
one anotherto keep themselves upon their feet. The violent
rushes abate notbut increase in frequency and fury until at
midnightwhen the streets are emptythe storm goes thundering
along themrattling at all the latchesand tearing at all the
shuttersas if warning the people to get up and fly with it
rather than have the roofs brought down upon their brains.
Stillthe red light burns steadily. Nothing is steady but the red
All through the night the wind blowsand abates not. But early in
the morningwhen there is barely enough light in the east to dim
the starsit begins to lull. From that timewith occasional wild
chargeslike a wounded monster dyingit drops and sinks; and at
full daylight it is dead.
It is then seen that the hands of the Cathedral clock are torn off;
that lead from the roof has been stripped awayrolled upand
blown into the Close; and that some stones have been displaced upon
the summit of the great tower. Christmas morning though it beit
is necessary to send up workmento ascertain the extent of the
damage done. Theseled by Durdlesgo aloft; while Mr. Tope and a
crowd of early idlers gather down in Minor Canon Cornershading
their eyes and watching for their appearance up there.
This cluster is suddenly broken and put aside by the hands of Mr.
Jasper; all the gazing eyes are brought down to the earth by his
loudly inquiring of Mr. Crisparkleat an open window:
'Where is my nephew?'
'He has not been here. Is he not with you?'
'No. He went down to the river last nightwith Mr. Nevilleto
look at the stormand has not been back. Call Mr. Neville!'
'He left this morningearly.'
'Left this morning early? Let me in! let me in!'
There is no more looking up at the towernow. All the assembled
eyes are turned on Mr. Jasperwhitehalf-dressedpantingand
clinging to the rail before the Minor Canon's house.
CHAPTER XV - IMPEACHED
NEVILLE LANDLESS had started so early and walked at so good a pace
that when the church-bells began to ring in Cloisterham for morning
servicehe was eight miles away. As he wanted his breakfast by
that timehaving set forth on a crust of breadhe stopped at the
next roadside tavern to refresh.
Visitors in want of breakfast - unless they were horses or cattle
for which class of guests there was preparation enough in the way
of water-trough and hay - were so unusual at the sign of The Tilted
Wagonthat it took a long time to get the wagon into the track of
tea and toast and bacon. Neville in the intervalsitting in a
sanded parlourwondering in how long a time after he had gonethe
sneezy fire of damp fagots would begin to make somebody else warm.
IndeedThe Tilted Wagonas a cool establishment on the top of a
hillwhere the ground before the door was puddled with damp hoofs
and trodden straw; where a scolding landlady slapped a moist baby
(with one red sock on and one wanting)in the bar; where the
cheese was cast aground upon a shelfin company with a mouldy
tablecloth and a green-handled knifein a sort of cast-iron canoe;
where the pale-faced bread shed tears of crumb over its shipwreck
in another canoe; where the family linenhalf washed and half
driedled a public life of lying about; where everything to drink
was drunk out of mugsand everything else was suggestive of a
rhyme to mugs; The Tilted Wagonall these things considered
hardly kept its painted promise of providing good entertainment for
Man and Beast. HoweverManin the present casewas not
criticalbut took what entertainment he could getand went on
again after a longer rest than he needed.
He stopped at some quarter of a mile from the househesitating
whether to pursue the roador to follow a cart track between two
high hedgerowswhich led across the slope of a breezy heathand
evidently struck into the road again by-and-by. He decided in
favour of this latter trackand pursued it with some toil; the
rise being steepand the way worn into deep ruts.
He was labouring alongwhen he became aware of some other
pedestrians behind him. As they were coming up at a faster pace
than hishe stood asideagainst one of the high banksto let
them pass. But their manner was very curious. Only four of them
passed. Other four slackened speedand loitered as intending to
follow him when he should go on. The remainder of the party (halfa-
dozen perhaps) turnedand went back at a great rate.
He looked at the four behind himand he looked at the four before
him. They all returned his look. He resumed his way. The four in
advance went onconstantly looking back; the four in the rear came
When they all ranged out from the narrow track upon the open slope
of the heathand this order was maintainedlet him diverge as he
would to either sidethere was no longer room to doubt that he was
beset by these fellows. He stoppedas a last test; and they all
'Why do you attend upon me in this way?' he asked the whole body.
'Are you a pack of thieves?'
'Don't answer him' said one of the number; he did not see which.
'Better be quiet.'
'Better be quiet?' repeated Neville. 'Who said so?'
'It's good advicewhichever of you skulkers gave it' he went on
angrily. 'I will not submit to be penned in between four men
thereand four men there. I wish to passand I mean to pass
those four in front.'
They were all standing still; himself included.
'If eight menor four menor two menset upon one' he
proceededgrowing more enraged'the one has no chance but to set
his mark upon some of them. Andby the LordI'll do itif I am
interrupted any farther!'
Shouldering his heavy stickand quickening his pacehe shot on to
pass the four ahead. The largest and strongest man of the number
changed swiftly to the side on which he came upand dexterously
closed with him and went down with him; but not before the heavy
stick had descended smartly.
'Let him be!' said this man in a suppressed voiceas they
struggled together on the grass. 'Fair play! His is the build of
a girl to mineand he's got a weight strapped to his back besides.
Let him alone. I'll manage him.'
After a little rolling aboutin a close scuffle which caused the
faces of both to be besmeared with bloodthe man took his knee
from Neville's chestand rosesaying: 'There! Now take him armin-
armany two of you!'
It was immediately done.
'As to our being a pack of thievesMr. Landless' said the manas
he spat out some bloodand wiped more from his face; 'you know
better than that at midday. We wouldn't have touched you if you
hadn't forced us. We're going to take you round to the high road
anyhowand you'll find help enough against thieves thereif you
want it. - Wipe his facesomebody; see how it's a-trickling down
When his face was cleansedNeville recognised in the speakerJoe
driver of the Cloisterham omnibuswhom he had seen but onceand
that on the day of his arrival.
'And what I recommend you for the presentisdon't talkMr.
Landless. You'll find a friend waiting for youat the high road -
gone ahead by the other way when we split into two parties - and
you had much better say nothing till you come up with him. Bring
that stick alongsomebody elseand let's be moving!'
Utterly bewilderedNeville stared around him and said not a word.
Walking between his two conductorswho held his arms in theirshe
went onas in a dreamuntil they came again into the high road
and into the midst of a little group of people. The men who had
turned back were among the group; and its central figures were Mr.
Jasper and Mr. Crisparkle. Neville's conductors took him up to the
Minor Canonand there released himas an act of deference to that
'What is all thissir? What is the matter? I feel as if I had
lost my senses!' cried Nevillethe group closing in around him.
'Where is my nephew?' asked Mr. Jasperwildly.
'Where is your nephew?' repeated Neville'Why do you ask me?'
'I ask you' retorted Jasper'because you were the last person in
his companyand he is not to be found.'
'Not to be found!' cried Nevilleaghast.
'Staystay' said Mr. Crisparkle. 'Permit meJasper. Mr.
Nevilleyou are confounded; collect your thoughts; it is of great
importance that you should collect your thoughts; attend to me.'
'I will trysirbut I seem mad.'
'You left Mr. Jasper last night with Edwin Drood?'
'At what hour?'
'Was it at twelve o'clock?' asked Nevillewith his hand to his
confused headand appealing to Jasper.
'Quite right' said Mr. Crisparkle; 'the hour Mr. Jasper has
already named to me. You went down to the river together?'
'Undoubtedly. To see the action of the wind there.'
'What followed? How long did you stay there?'
'About ten minutes; I should say not more. We then walked together
to your houseand he took leave of me at the door.'
'Did he say that he was going down to the river again?'
'No. He said that he was going straight back.'
The bystanders looked at one anotherand at Mr. Crisparkle. To
whom Mr. Jasperwho had been intensely watching Nevillesaidin
a lowdistinctsuspicious voice: 'What are those stains upon his
All eyes were turned towards the blood upon his clothes.
'And here are the same stains upon this stick!' said Jaspertaking
it from the hand of the man who held it. 'I know the stick to be
hisand he carried it last night. What does this mean?'
'In the name of Godsay what it meansNeville!' urged Mr.
'That man and I' said Nevillepointing out his late adversary
'had a struggle for the stick just nowand you may see the same
marks on himsir. What was I to supposewhen I found myself
molested by eight people? Could I dream of the true reason when
they would give me none at all?'
They admitted that they had thought it discreet to be silentand
that the struggle had taken place. And yet the very men who had
seen it looked darkly at the smears which the bright cold air had
'We must returnNeville' said Mr. Crisparkle; 'of course you will
be glad to come back to clear yourself?'
'Mr. Landless will walk at my side' the Minor Canon continued
looking around him. 'ComeNeville!'
They set forth on the walk back; and the otherswith one
exceptionstraggled after them at various distances. Jasper
walked on the other side of Nevilleand never quitted that
position. He was silentwhile Mr. Crisparkle more than once
repeated his former questionsand while Neville repeated his
former answers; alsowhile they both hazarded some explanatory
conjectures. He was obstinately silentbecause Mr. Crisparkle's
manner directly appealed to him to take some part in the
discussionand no appeal would move his fixed face. When they
drew near to the cityand it was suggested by the Minor Canon that
they might do well in calling on the Mayor at oncehe assented
with a stern nod; but he spake no word until they stood in Mr.
Mr. Sapsea being informed by Mr. Crisparkle of the circumstances
under which they desired to make a voluntary statement before him
Mr. Jasper broke silence by declaring that he placed his whole
reliancehumanly speakingon Mr. Sapsea's penetration. There was
no conceivable reason why his nephew should have suddenly
abscondedunless Mr. Sapsea could suggest oneand then he would
defer. There was no intelligible likelihood of his having returned
to the riverand been accidentally drowned in the darkunless it
should appear likely to Mr. Sapseaand then again he would defer.
He washed his hands as clean as he could of all horrible
suspicionsunless it should appear to Mr. Sapsea that some such
were inseparable from his last companion before his disappearance
(not on good terms with previously)and thenonce morehe would
defer. His own state of mindhe being distracted with doubtsand
labouring under dismal apprehensionswas not to be safely trusted;
but Mr. Sapsea's was.
Mr. Sapsea expressed his opinion that the case had a dark look; in
short (and here his eyes rested full on Neville's countenance)an
Un-English complexion. Having made this grand pointhe wandered
into a denser haze and maze of nonsense than even a mayor might
have been expected to disport himself inand came out of it with
the brilliant discovery that to take the life of a fellow-creature
was to take something that didn't belong to you. He wavered
whether or no he should at once issue his warrant for the committal
of Neville Landless to jailunder circumstances of grave
suspicion; and he might have gone so far as to do it but for the
indignant protest of the Minor Canon: who undertook for the young
man's remaining in his own houseand being produced by his own
handswhenever demanded. Mr. Jasper then understood Mr. Sapsea to
suggest that the river should be draggedthat its banks should be
rigidly examinedthat particulars of the disappearance should be
sent to all outlying places and to Londonand that placards and
advertisements should be widely circulated imploring Edwin Drood
if for any unknown reason he had withdrawn himself from his uncle's
home and societyto take pity on that loving kinsman's sore
bereavement and distressand somehow inform him that he was yet
alive. Mr. Sapsea was perfectly understoodfor this was exactly
his meaning (though he had said nothing about it); and measures
were taken towards all these ends immediately.
It would be difficult to determine which was the more oppressed
with horror and amazement: Neville Landlessor John Jasper. But
that Jasper's position forced him to be activewhile Neville's
forced him to be passivethere would have been nothing to choose
between them. Each was bowed down and broken.
With the earliest light of the next morningmen were at work upon
the riverand other men - most of whom volunteered for the service
-were examining the banks. All the livelong day the search went
on; upon the riverwith barge and poleand drag and net; upon the
muddy and rushy shorewith jack-bootshatchetspaderopedogs
and all imaginable appliances. Even at nightthe river was
specked with lanternsand lurid with fires; far-off creeksinto
which the tide washed as it changedhad their knots of watchers
listening to the lapping of the streamand looking out for any
burden it might bear; remote shingly causeways near the seaand
lonely points off which there was a race of waterhad their
unwonted flaring cressets and rough-coated figures when the next
day dawned; but no trace of Edwin Drood revisited the light of the
All that dayagainthe search went on. Nowin barge and boat;
and now ashore among the osiersor tramping amidst mud and stakes
and jagged stones in low-lying placeswhere solitary watermarks
and signals of strange shapes showed like spectresJohn Jasper
worked and toiled. But to no purpose; for still no trace of Edwin
Drood revisited the light of the sun.
Setting his watches for that night againso that vigilant eyes
should be kept on every change of tidehe went home exhausted.
Unkempt and disorderedbedaubed with mud that had dried upon him
and with much of his clothing torn to ragshe had but just dropped
into his easy-chairwhen Mr. Grewgious stood before him.
'This is strange news' said Mr. Grewgious.
'Strange and fearful news.'
Jasper had merely lifted up his heavy eyes to say itand now
dropped them again as he droopedworn outover one side of his
Mr. Grewgious smoothed his head and faceand stood looking at the
'How is your ward?' asked Jasperafter a timein a faint
'Poor little thing! You may imagine her condition.'
'Have you seen his sister?' inquired Jasperas before.
The curtness of the counter-questionand the coolslow manner in
whichas he put itMr. Grewgious moved his eyes from the fire to
his companion's facemight at any other time have been
exasperating. In his depression and exhaustionJasper merely
opened his eyes to say: 'The suspected young man's.'
'Do you suspect him?' asked Mr. Grewgious.
'I don't know what to think. I cannot make up my mind.'
'Nor I' said Mr. Grewgious. 'But as you spoke of him as the
suspected young manI thought you HAD made up your mind. - I have
just left Miss Landless.'
'What is her state?'
'Defiance of all suspicionand unbounded faith in her brother.'
'However' pursued Mr. Grewgious'it is not of her that I came to
speak. It is of my ward. I have a communication to make that will
surprise you. At leastit has surprised me.'
Jasperwith a groaning sighturned wearily in his chair.
'Shall I put it off till to-morrow?' said Mr. Grewgious. 'MindI
warn youthat I think it will surprise you!'
More attention and concentration came into John Jasper's eyes as
they caught sight of Mr. Grewgious smoothing his head againand
again looking at the fire; but nowwith a compressed and
'What is it?' demanded Jasperbecoming upright in his chair.
'To be sure' said Mr. Grewgiousprovokingly slowly and
internallyas he kept his eyes on the fire: 'I might have known
it sooner; she gave me the opening; but I am such an exceedingly
Angular manthat it never occurred to me; I took all for granted.'
'What is it?' demanded Jasper once more.
Mr. Grewgiousalternately opening and shutting the palms of his
hands as he warmed them at the fireand looking fixedly at him
sidewaysand never changing either his action or his look in all
that followedwent on to reply.
'This young couplethe lost youth and Miss Rosamy wardthough
so long betrothedand so long recognising their betrothaland so
near being married - '
Mr. Grewgious saw a staring white faceand two quivering white
lipsin the easy-chairand saw two muddy hands gripping its
sides. But for the handshe might have thought he had never seen
' - This young couple came gradually to the discovery (made on both
sides pretty equallyI think)that they would be happier and
betterboth in their present and their future livesas
affectionate friendsor say rather as brother and sisterthan as
husband and wife.'
Mr. Grewgious saw a lead-coloured face in the easy-chairand on
its surface dreadful starting drops or bubblesas if of steel.
'This young couple formed at length the healthy resolution of
interchanging their discoveriesopenlysensiblyand tenderly.
They met for that purpose. After some innocent and generous talk
they agreed to dissolve their existingand their intended
relationsfor ever and ever.'
Mr. Grewgious saw a ghastly figure riseopen-mouthedfrom the
easy-chairand lift its outspread hands towards its head.
'One of this young coupleand that one your nephewfearful
howeverthat in the tenderness of your affection for him you would
be bitterly disappointed by so wide a departure from his projected
lifeforbore to tell you the secretfor a few daysand left it
to be disclosed by mewhen I should come down to speak to youand
he would be gone. I speak to youand he is gone.'
Mr. Grewgious saw the ghastly figure throw back its headclutch
its hair with its handsand turn with a writhing action from him.
'I have now said all I have to say: except that this young couple
partedfirmlythough not without tears and sorrowon the evening
when you last saw them together.'
Mr. Grewgious heard a terrible shriekand saw no ghastly figure
sitting or standing; saw nothing but a heap of torn and miry
clothes upon the floor.
Not changing his action even thenhe opened and shut the palms of
his hands as he warmed themand looked down at it.
CHAPTER XVI - DEVOTED
WHEN John Jasper recovered from his fit or swoonhe found himself
being tended by Mr. and Mrs. Topewhom his visitor had summoned
for the purpose. His visitorwooden of aspectsat stiffly in a
chairwith his hands upon his kneeswatching his recovery.
'There! You've come to nicely nowsir' said the tearful Mrs.
Tope; 'you were thoroughly worn outand no wonder!'
'A man' said Mr. Grewgiouswith his usual air of repeating a
lesson'cannot have his rest brokenand his mind cruelly
tormentedand his body overtaxed by fatiguewithout being
thoroughly worn out.'
'I fear I have alarmed you?' Jasper apologised faintlywhen he was
helped into his easy-chair.
'Not at allI thank you' answered Mr. Grewgious.
'You are too considerate.'
'Not at allI thank you' answered Mr. Grewgious again.
'You must take some winesir' said Mrs. Tope'and the jelly that
I had ready for youand that you wouldn't put your lips to at
noonthough I warned you what would come of ityou knowand you
not breakfasted; and you must have a wing of the roast fowl that
has been put back twenty times if it's been put back once. It
shall all be on table in five minutesand this good gentleman
belike will stop and see you take it.'
This good gentleman replied with a snortwhich might mean yesor
noor anything or nothingand which Mrs. Tope would have found
highly mystifyingbut that her attention was divided by the
service of the table.
'You will take something with me?' said Jasperas the cloth was
'I couldn't get a morsel down my throatI thank you' answered Mr.
Jasper both ate and drank almost voraciously. Combined with the
hurry in his mode of doing itwas an evident indifference to the
taste of what he tooksuggesting that he ate and drank to fortify
himself against any other failure of the spiritsfar more than to
gratify his palate. Mr. Grewgious in the meantime sat upright
with no expression in his faceand a hard kind of imperturbably
polite protest all over him: as though he would have saidin
reply to some invitation to discourse; 'I couldn't originate the
faintest approach to an observation on any subject whateverI
'Do you know' said Jasperwhen he had pushed away his plate and
glassand had sat meditating for a few minutes: 'do you know that
I find some crumbs of comfort in the communication with which you
have so much amazed me?'
'DO you?' returned Mr. Grewgiouspretty plainly adding the
unspoken clause: 'I don'tI thank you!'
'After recovering from the shock of a piece of news of my dear boy
so entirely unexpectedand so destructive of all the castles I had
built for him; and after having had time to think of it; yes.'
'I shall be glad to pick up your crumbs' said Mr. Grewgious
'Is there notor is there - if I deceive myselftell me soand
shorten my pain - is there notor is therehope thatfinding
himself in this new positionand becoming sensitively alive to the
awkward burden of explanationin this quarterand thatand the
otherwith which it would load himhe avoided the awkwardness
and took to flight?'
'Such a thing might be' said Mr. Grewgiouspondering.
'Such a thing has been. I have read of cases in which people
rather than face a seven days' wonderand have to account for
themselves to the idle and impertinenthave taken themselves away
and been long unheard of.'
'I believe such things have happened' said Mr. Grewgious
'When I hadand could haveno suspicion' pursued Jaspereagerly
following the new track'that the dear lost boy had withheld
anything from me - most of allsuch a leading matter as this -
what gleam of light was there for me in the whole black sky? When
I supposed that his intended wife was hereand his marriage close
at handhow could I entertain the possibility of his voluntarily
leaving this placein a manner that would be so unaccountable
capriciousand cruel? But now that I know what you have told me
is there no little chink through which day pierces? Supposing him
to have disappeared of his own actis not his disappearance more
accountable and less cruel? The fact of his having just parted
from your wardis in itself a sort of reason for his going away.
It does not make his mysterious departure the less cruel to meit
is true; but it relieves it of cruelty to her.'
Mr. Grewgious could not but assent to this.
'And even as to me' continued Jasperstill pursuing the new
trackwith ardourandas he did sobrightening with hope: 'he
knew that you were coming to me; he knew that you were intrusted to
tell me what you have told me; if your doing so has awakened a new
train of thought in my perplexed mindit reasonably follows that
from the same premiseshe might have foreseen the inferences that
I should draw. Grant that he did foresee them; and even the
cruelty to me - and who am I! - John JasperMusic Master
Once moreMr. Grewgious could not but assent to this.
'I have had my distrustsand terrible distrusts they have been'
said Jasper; 'but your disclosureoverpowering as it was at first
-showing me that my own dear boy had had a great disappointing
reservation from mewho so fondly loved himkindles hope within
me. You do not extinguish it when I state itbut admit it to be a
reasonable hope. I begin to believe it possible:' here he clasped
his hands: 'that he may have disappeared from among us of his own
accordand that he may yet be alive and well.'
Mr. Crisparkle came in at the moment. To whom Mr. Jasper repeated:
'I begin to believe it possible that he may have disappeared of his
own accordand may yet be alive and well.'
Mr. Crisparkle taking a seatand inquiring: 'Why so?' Mr. Jasper
repeated the arguments he had just set forth. If they had been
less plausible than they werethe good Minor Canon's mind would
have been in a state of preparation to receive themas exculpatory
of his unfortunate pupil. But hetoodid really attach great
importance to the lost young man's having beenso immediately
before his disappearanceplaced in a new and embarrassing relation
towards every one acquainted with his projects and affairs; and the
fact seemed to him to present the question in a new light.
'I stated to Mr. Sapseawhen we waited on him' said Jasper: as
he really had done: 'that there was no quarrel or difference
between the two young men at their last meeting. We all know that
their first meeting was unfortunately very far from amicable; but
all went smoothly and quietly when they were last together at my
house. My dear boy was not in his usual spirits; he was depressed
-I noticed that - and I am bound henceforth to dwell upon the
circumstance the morenow that I know there was a special reason
for his being depressed: a reasonmoreoverwhich may possibly
have induced him to absent himself.'
'I pray to Heaven it may turn out so!' exclaimed Mr. Crisparkle.
'I pray to Heaven it may turn out so!' repeated Jasper. 'You know
-and Mr. Grewgious should now know likewise - that I took a great
prepossession against Mr. Neville Landlessarising out of his
furious conduct on that first occasion. You know that I came to
youextremely apprehensiveon my dear boy's behalfof his mad
violence. You know that I even entered in my Diaryand showed the
entry to youthat I had dark forebodings against him. Mr.
Grewgious ought to be possessed of the whole case. He shall not
through any suppression of minebe informed of a part of itand
kept in ignorance of another part of it. I wish him to be good
enough to understand that the communication he has made to me has
hopefully influenced my mindin spite of its having beenbefore
this mysterious occurrence took placeprofoundly impressed against
This fairness troubled the Minor Canon much. He felt that he was
not as open in his own dealing. He charged against himself
reproachfully that he had suppressedso farthe two points of a
second strong outbreak of temper against Edwin Drood on the part of
Nevilleand of the passion of jealousy havingto his own certain
knowledgeflamed up in Neville's breast against him. He was
convinced of Neville's innocence of any part in the ugly
disappearance; and yet so many little circumstances combined so
wofully against himthat he dreaded to add two more to their
cumulative weight. He was among the truest of men; but he had been
balancing in his mindmuch to its distresswhether his
volunteering to tell these two fragments of truthat this time
would not be tantamount to a piecing together of falsehood in the
place of truth.
Howeverhere was a model before him. He hesitated no longer.
Addressing Mr. Grewgiousas one placed in authority by the
revelation he had brought to bear on the mystery (and surpassingly
Angular Mr. Grewgious became when he found himself in that
unexpected position)Mr. Crisparkle bore his testimony to Mr.
Jasper's strict sense of justiceandexpressing his absolute
confidence in the complete clearance of his pupil from the least
taint of suspicionsooner or lateravowed that his confidence in
that young gentleman had been formedin spite of his confidential
knowledge that his temper was of the hottest and fiercestand that
it was directly incensed against Mr. Jasper's nephewby the
circumstance of his romantically supposing himself to be enamoured
of the same young lady. The sanguine reaction manifest in Mr.
Jasper was proof even against this unlooked-for declaration. It
turned him paler; but he repeated that he would cling to the hope
he had derived from Mr. Grewgious; and that if no trace of his dear
boy were foundleading to the dreadful inference that he had been
made away withhe would cherish unto the last stretch of
possibility the ideathat he might have absconded of his own wild
Nowit fell out that Mr. Crisparklegoing away from this
conference still very uneasy in his mindand very much troubled on
behalf of the young man whom he held as a kind of prisoner in his
own housetook a memorable night walk.
He walked to Cloisterham Weir.
He often did soand consequently there was nothing remarkable in
his footsteps tending that way. But the preoccupation of his mind
so hindered him from planning any walkor taking heed of the
objects he passedthat his first consciousness of being near the
Weirwas derived from the sound of the falling water close at
'How did I come here!' was his first thoughtas he stopped.
'Why did I come here!' was his second.
Thenhe stood intently listening to the water. A familiar passage
in his readingabout airy tongues that syllable men's namesrose
so unbidden to his earthat he put it from him with his handas
if it were tangible.
It was starlight. The Weir was full two miles above the spot to
which the young men had repaired to watch the storm. No search had
been made up herefor the tide had been running strongly downat
that time of the night of Christmas Eveand the likeliest places
for the discovery of a bodyif a fatal accident had happened under
such circumstancesall lay - both when the tide ebbedand when it
flowed again - between that spot and the sea. The water came over
the Weirwith its usual sound on a cold starlight nightand
little could be seen of it; yet Mr. Crisparkle had a strange idea
that something unusual hung about the place.
He reasoned with himself: What was it? Where was it? Put it to
the proof. Which sense did it address?
No sense reported anything unusual there. He listened againand
his sense of hearing again checked the water coming over the Weir
with its usual sound on a cold starlight night.
Knowing very well that the mystery with which his mind was
occupiedmight of itself give the place this haunted airhe
strained those hawk's eyes of his for the correction of his sight.
He got closer to the Weirand peered at its well-known posts and
timbers. Nothing in the least unusual was remotely shadowed forth.
But he resolved that he would come back early in the morning.
The Weir ran through his broken sleepall nightand he was back
again at sunrise. It was a bright frosty morning. The whole
composition before himwhen he stood where he had stood last
nightwas clearly discernible in its minutest details. He had
surveyed it closely for some minutesand was about to withdraw his
eyeswhen they were attracted keenly to one spot.
He turned his back upon the Weirand looked far away at the sky
and at the earthand then looked again at that one spot. It
caught his sight again immediatelyand he concentrated his vision
upon it. He could not lose it nowthough it was but such a speck
in the landscape. It fascinated his sight. His hands began
plucking off his coat. For it struck him that at that spot - a
corner of the Weir - something glistenedwhich did not move and
come over with the glistening water-dropsbut remained stationary.
He assured himself of thishe threw off his clotheshe plunged
into the icy waterand swam for the spot. Climbing the timbers
he took from themcaught among their interstices by its chaina
gold watchbearing engraved upon its back E. D.
He brought the watch to the bankswam to the Weir againclimbed
itand dived off. He knew every hole and corner of all the
depthsand dived and dived and diveduntil he could bear the cold
no more. His notion wasthat he would find the body; he only
found a shirt-pin sticking in some mud and ooze.
With these discoveries he returned to Cloisterhamandtaking
Neville Landless with himwent straight to the Mayor. Mr. Jasper
was sent forthe watch and shirt-pin were identifiedNeville was
detainedand the wildest frenzy and fatuity of evil report rose
against him. He was of that vindictive and violent naturethat
but for his poor sisterwho alone had influence over himand out
of whose sight he was never to be trustedhe would be in the daily
commission of murder. Before coming to England he had caused to be
whipped to death sundry 'Natives' - nomadic personsencamping now
in Asianow in Africanow in the West Indiesand now at the
North Pole - vaguely supposed in Cloisterham to be always black
always of great virtuealways calling themselves Meand everybody
else Massa or Missie (according to sex)and always reading tracts
of the obscurest meaningin broken Englishbut always accurately
understanding them in the purest mother tongue. He had nearly
brought Mrs. Crisparkle's grey hairs with sorrow to the grave.
(Those original expressions were Mr. Sapsea's.) He had repeatedly
said he would have Mr. Crisparkle's life. He had repeatedly said
he would have everybody's lifeand become in effect the last man.
He had been brought down to Cloisterhamfrom Londonby an eminent
Philanthropistand why? Because that Philanthropist had expressly
declared: 'I owe it to my fellow-creatures that he should bein
the words of BENTHAMwhere he is the cause of the greatest danger
to the smallest number.'
These dropping shots from the blunderbusses of blunderheadedness
might not have hit him in a vital place. But he had to stand
against a trained and well-directed fire of arms of precision too.
He had notoriously threatened the lost young manand had
according to the showing of his own faithful friend and tutor who
strove so hard for hima cause of bitter animosity (created by
himselfand stated by himself)against that ill-starred fellow.
He had armed himself with an offensive weapon for the fatal night
and he had gone off early in the morningafter making preparations
for departure. He had been found with traces of blood on him;
trulythey might have been wholly caused as he representedbut
they might notalso. On a search-warrant being issued for the
examination of his roomclothesand so forthit was discovered
that he had destroyed all his papersand rearranged all his
possessionson the very afternoon of the disappearance. The watch
found at the Weir was challenged by the jeweller as one he had
wound and set for Edwin Droodat twenty minutes past two on that
same afternoon; and it had run downbefore being cast into the
water; and it was the jeweller's positive opinion that it had never
been re-wound. This would justify the hypothesis that the watch
was taken from him not long after he left Mr. Jasper's house at
midnightin company with the last person seen with himand that
it had been thrown away after being retained some hours. Why
thrown away? If he had been murderedand so artfully disfigured
or concealedor bothas that the murderer hoped identification to
be impossibleexcept from something that he woreassuredly the
murderer would seek to remove from the body the most lastingthe
best knownand the most easily recognisablethings upon it.
Those things would be the watch and shirt-pin. As to his
opportunities of casting them into the river; if he were the object
of these suspicionsthey were easy. Forhe had been seen by many
personswandering about on that side of the city - indeed on all
sides of it - in a miserable and seemingly half-distracted manner.
As to the choice of the spotobviously such criminating evidence
had better take its chance of being found anywhererather than
upon himselfor in his possession. Concerning the reconciliatory
nature of the appointed meeting between the two young menvery
little could be made of that in young Landless's favour; for it
distinctly appeared that the meeting originatednot with himbut
with Mr. Crisparkleand that it had been urged on by Mr.
Crisparkle; and who could say how unwillinglyor in what illconditioned
moodhis enforced pupil had gone to it? The more his
case was looked intothe weaker it became in every point. Even
the broad suggestion that the lost young man had abscondedwas
rendered additionally improbable on the showing of the young lady
from whom he had so lately parted; for; what did she saywith
great earnestness and sorrowwhen interrogated? That he had
expressly and enthusiasticallyplanned with herthat he would
await the arrival of her guardianMr. Grewgious. And yetbe it
observedhe disappeared before that gentleman appeared.
On the suspicions thus urged and supportedNeville was detained
and re-detainedand the search was pressed on every handand
Jasper laboured night and day. But nothing more was found. No
discovery being madewhich proved the lost man to be deadit at
length became necessary to release the person suspected of having
made away with him. Neville was set at large. Thena consequence
ensued which Mr. Crisparkle had too well foreseen. Neville must
leave the placefor the place shunned him and cast him out. Even
had it not been sothe dear old china shepherdess would have
worried herself to death with fears for her sonand with general
trepidation occasioned by their having such an inmate. Even had
that not been sothe authority to which the Minor Canon deferred
officiallywould have settled the point.
'Mr. Crisparkle' quoth the Dean'human justice may errbut it
must act according to its lights. The days of taking sanctuary are
past. This young man must not take sanctuary with us.'
'You mean that he must leave my housesir?'
'Mr. Crisparkle' returned the prudent Dean'I claim no authority
in your house. I merely confer with youon the painful necessity
you find yourself underof depriving this young man of the great
advantages of your counsel and instruction.'
'It is very lamentablesir' Mr. Crisparkle represented.
'Very much so' the Dean assented.
'And if it be a necessity - ' Mr. Crisparkle faltered.
'As you unfortunately find it to be' returned the Dean.
Mr. Crisparkle bowed submissively: 'It is hard to prejudge his
casesirbut I am sensible that - '
'Just so. Perfectly. As you sayMr. Crisparkle' interposed the
Deannodding his head smoothly'there is nothing else to be done.
No doubtno doubt. There is no alternativeas your good sense
'I am entirely satisfied of his perfect innocencesir
'We-e-ell!' said the Deanin a more confidential toneand
slightly glancing around him'I would not say sogenerally. Not
generally. Enough of suspicion attaches to him to - noI think I
would not say sogenerally.'
Mr. Crisparkle bowed again.
'It does not become usperhaps' pursued the Dean'to be
partisans. Not partisans. We clergy keep our hearts warm and our
heads cooland we hold a judicious middle course.'
'I hope you do not objectsirto my having stated in public
emphaticallythat he will reappear herewhenever any new
suspicion may be awakenedor any new circumstance may come to
light in this extraordinary matter?'
'Not at all' returned the Dean. 'And yetdo you knowI don't
think' with a very nice and neat emphasis on those two words: 'I
DON'T THINK I would state it emphatically. State it? Ye-e-es!
But emphatically? No-o-o. I THINK not. In point of factMr.
Crisparklekeeping our hearts warm and our heads coolwe clergy
need do nothing emphatically.'
So Minor Canon Row knew Neville Landless no more; and he went
whithersoever he wouldor couldwith a blight upon his name and
It was not until then that John Jasper silently resumed his place
in the choir. Haggard and red-eyedhis hopes plainly had deserted
himhis sanguine mood was goneand all his worst misgivings had
come back. A day or two afterwardswhile unrobinghe took his
Diary from a pocket of his coatturned the leavesand with an
impressive lookand without one spoken wordhanded this entry to
Mr. Crisparkle to read:
'My dear boy is murdered. The discovery of the watch and shirt-pin
convinces me that he was murdered that nightand that his
jewellery was taken from him to prevent identification by its
means. All the delusive hopes I had founded on his separation from
his betrothed wifeI give to the winds. They perish before this
fatal discovery. I now swearand record the oath on this page
That I nevermore will discuss this mystery with any human creature
until I hold the clue to it in my hand. That I never will relax in
my secrecy or in my search. That I will fasten the crime of the
murder of my dear dead boy upon the murderer. AndThat I devote
myself to his destruction.'
CHAPTER XVII - PHILANTHROPYPROFESSIONAL AND UNPROFESSIONAL
FULL half a year had come and goneand Mr. Crisparkle sat in a
waiting-room in the London chief offices of the Haven of
Philanthropyuntil he could have audience of Mr. Honeythunder.
In his college days of athletic exercisesMr. Crisparkle had known
professors of the Noble Art of fisticuffsand had attended two or
three of their gloved gatherings. He had now an opportunity of
observing that as to the phrenological formation of the backs of
their headsthe Professing Philanthropists were uncommonly like
the Pugilists. In the development of all those organs which
constituteor attenda propensity to 'pitch into' your fellowcreatures
the Philanthropists were remarkably favoured. There
were several Professors passing in and outwith exactly the
aggressive air upon them of being ready for a turn-up with any
Novice who might happen to be on handthat Mr. Crisparkle well
remembered in the circles of the Fancy. Preparations were in
progress for a moral little Mill somewhere on the rural circuit
and other Professors were backing this or that Heavy-Weight as good
for such or such speech-making hitsso very much after the manner
of the sporting publicansthat the intended Resolutions might have
been Rounds. In an official manager of these displays much
celebrated for his platform tacticsMr. Crisparkle recognised (in
a suit of black) the counterpart of a deceased benefactor of his
speciesan eminent public characteronce known to fame as Frostyfaced
Fogowho in days of yore superintended the formation of the
magic circle with the ropes and stakes. There were only three
conditions of resemblance wanting between these Professors and
those. Firstlythe Philanthropists were in very bad training:
much too fleshyand presentingboth in face and figurea
superabundance of what is known to Pugilistic Experts as Suet
Pudding. Secondlythe Philanthropists had not the good temper of
the Pugilistsand used worse language. Thirdlytheir fighting
code stood in great need of revisionas empowering them not only
to bore their man to the ropesbut to bore him to the confines of
distraction; also to hit him when he was downhit him anywhere and
anyhowkick himstamp upon himgouge himand maul him behind
his back without mercy. In these last particulars the Professors
of the Noble Art were much nobler than the Professors of
Mr. Crisparkle was so completely lost in musing on these
similarities and dissimilaritiesat the same time watching the
crowd which came and went byalwaysas it seemedon errands of
antagonistically snatching something from somebodyand never
giving anything to anybodythat his name was called before he
heard it. On his at length respondinghe was shown by a miserably
shabby and underpaid stipendiary Philanthropist (who could hardly
have done worse if he had taken service with a declared enemy of
the human race) to Mr. Honeythunder's room.
'Sir' said Mr. Honeythunderin his tremendous voicelike a
schoolmaster issuing orders to a boy of whom he had a bad opinion
Mr. Crisparkle seated himself.
Mr. Honeythunder having signed the remaining few score of a few
thousand circularscalling upon a corresponding number of families
without means to come forwardstump up instantlyand be
Philanthropistsor go to the Devilanother shabby stipendiary
Philanthropist (highly disinterestedif in earnest) gathered these
into a basket and walked off with them.
'NowMr. Crisparkle' said Mr. Honeythunderturning his chair
half round towards him when they were aloneand squaring his arms
with his hands on his kneesand his brows knittedas if he added
I am going to make short work of YOU: 'NowMr. Crisparklewe
entertain different viewsyou and Isirof the sanctity of human
'Do we?' returned the Minor Canon.
'Might I ask you' said the Minor Canon: 'what are your views on
'That human life is a thing to be held sacredsir.'
'Might I ask you' pursued the Minor Canon as before: 'what you
suppose to be my views on that subject?'
'By Georgesir!' returned the Philanthropistsquaring his arms
still moreas he frowned on Mr. Crisparkle: 'they are best known
'Readily admitted. But you began by saying that we took different
viewsyou know. Therefore (or you could not say so) you must have
set up some views as mine. Praywhat views HAVE you set up as
'Here is a man - and a young man' said Mr. Honeythunderas if
that made the matter infinitely worseand he could have easily
borne the loss of an old one'swept off the face of the earth by a
deed of violence. What do you call that?'
'Murder' said the Minor Canon.
'What do you call the doer of that deedsir?
'A murderer' said the Minor Canon.
'I am glad to hear you admit so muchsir' retorted Mr.
Honeythunderin his most offensive manner; 'and I candidly tell
you that I didn't expect it.' Here he lowered heavily at Mr.
'Be so good as to explain what you mean by those very unjustifiable
'I don't sit heresir' returned the Philanthropistraising his
voice to a roar'to be browbeaten.'
'As the only other person presentno one can possibly know that
better than I do' returned the Minor Canon very quietly. 'But I
interrupt your explanation.'
'Murder!' proceeded Mr. Honeythunderin a kind of boisterous
reveriewith his platform folding of his armsand his platform
nod of abhorrent reflection after each short sentiment of a word.
'Bloodshed! Abel! Cain! I hold no terms with Cain. I repudiate
with a shudder the red hand when it is offered me.'
Instead of instantly leaping into his chair and cheering himself
hoarseas the Brotherhood in public meeting assembled would
infallibly have done on this cueMr. Crisparkle merely reversed
the quiet crossing of his legsand said mildly: 'Don't let me
interrupt your explanation - when you begin it.'
'The Commandments sayno murder. NO murdersir!' proceeded Mr.
Honeythunderplatformally pausing as if he took Mr. Crisparkle to
task for having distinctly asserted that they said: You may do a
little murderand then leave off.
'And they also sayyou shall bear no false witness' observed Mr.
'Enough!' bellowed Mr. Honeythunderwith a solemnity and severity
that would have brought the house down at a meeting'E-e-nough!
My late wards being now of ageand I being released from a trust
which I cannot contemplate without a thrill of horrorthere are
the accounts which you have undertaken to accept on their behalf
and there is a statement of the balance which you have undertaken
to receiveand which you cannot receive too soon. And let me tell
yousirI wish thatas a man and a Minor Canonyou were better
employed' with a nod. 'Better employed' with another nod. 'Better
em-ployed!' with another and the three nods added up.
Mr. Crisparkle rose; a little heated in the facebut with perfect
command of himself.
'Mr. Honeythunder' he saidtaking up the papers referred to: 'my
being better or worse employed than I am at present is a matter of
taste and opinion. You might think me better employed in enrolling
myself a member of your Society.'
'Ayindeedsir!' retorted Mr. Honeythundershaking his head in a
threatening manner. 'It would have been better for you if you had
done that long ago!'
'I think otherwise.'
'Or' said Mr. Honeythundershaking his head again'I might think
one of your profession better employed in devoting himself to the
discovery and punishment of guilt than in leaving that duty to be
undertaken by a layman.'
'I may regard my profession from a point of view which teaches me
that its first duty is towards those who are in necessity and
tribulationwho are desolate and oppressed' said Mr. Crisparkle.
'Howeveras I have quite clearly satisfied myself that it is no
part of my profession to make professionsI say no more of that.
But I owe it to Mr. Nevilleand to Mr. Neville's sister (and in a
much lower degree to myself)to say to you that I KNOW I was in
the full possession and understanding of Mr. Neville's mind and
heart at the time of this occurrence; and thatwithout in the
least colouring or concealing what was to be deplored in him and
required to be correctedI feel certain that his tale is true.
Feeling that certaintyI befriend him. As long as that certainty
shall lastI will befriend him. And if any consideration could
shake me in this resolveI should be so ashamed of myself for my
meannessthat no man's good opinion - nonor no woman's - so
gainedcould compensate me for the loss of my own.'
Good fellow! manly fellow! And he was so modesttoo. There was
no more self-assertion in the Minor Canon than in the schoolboy who
had stood in the breezy playing-fields keeping a wicket. He was
simply and staunchly true to his duty alike in the large case and
in the small. So all true souls ever are. So every true soul ever
wasever isand ever will be. There is nothing little to the
really great in spirit.
'Then who do you make out did the deed?' asked Mr. Honeythunder
turning on him abruptly.
'Heaven forbid' said Mr. Crisparkle'that in my desire to clear
one man I should lightly criminate another! I accuse no one'
'Tcha!' ejaculated Mr. Honeythunder with great disgust; for this
was by no means the principle on which the Philanthropic
Brotherhood usually proceeded. 'Andsiryou are not a
disinterested witnesswe must bear in mind.'
'How am I an interested one?' inquired Mr. Crisparklesmiling
innocentlyat a loss to imagine.
'There was a certain stipendsirpaid to you for your pupil
which may have warped your judgment a bit' said Mr. Honeythunder
'Perhaps I expect to retain it still?' Mr. Crisparkle returned
enlightened; 'do you mean that too?'
'Wellsir' returned the professional Philanthropistgetting up
and thrusting his hands down into his trousers-pockets'I don't go
about measuring people for caps. If people find I have any about
me that fit 'emthey can put 'em on and wear 'emif they like.
That's their look out: not mine.'
Mr. Crisparkle eyed him with a just indignationand took him to
'Mr. HoneythunderI hoped when I came in here that I might be
under no necessity of commenting on the introduction of platform
manners or platform manoeuvres among the decent forbearances of
private life. But you have given me such a specimen of boththat
I should be a fit subject for both if I remained silent respecting
them. They are detestable.'
'They don't suit YOUI dare saysir.'
'They are' repeated Mr. Crisparklewithout noticing the
interruption'detestable. They violate equally the justice that
should belong to Christiansand the restraints that should belong
to gentlemen. You assume a great crime to have been committed by
one whom Iacquainted with the attendant circumstancesand having
numerous reasons on my sidedevoutly believe to be innocent of it.
Because I differ from you on that vital pointwhat is your
platform resource? Instantly to turn upon mecharging that I have
no sense of the enormity of the crime itselfbut am its aider and
abettor! Soanother time - taking me as representing your
opponent in other cases - you set up a platform credulity; a moved
and seconded and carried-unanimously profession of faith in some
ridiculous delusion or mischievous imposition. I decline to
believe itand you fall back upon your platform resource of
proclaiming that I believe nothing; that because I will not bow
down to a false God of your makingI deny the true God! Another
time you make the platform discovery that War is a calamityand
you propose to abolish it by a string of twisted resolutions tossed
into the air like the tail of a kite. I do not admit the discovery
to be yours in the leastand I have not a grain of faith in your
remedy. Againyour platform resource of representing me as
revelling in the horrors of a battle-field like a fiend incarnate!
Another timein another of your undiscriminating platform rushes
you would punish the sober for the drunken. I claim consideration
for the comfortconvenienceand refreshment of the sober; and you
presently make platform proclamation that I have a depraved desire
to turn Heaven's creatures into swine and wild beasts! In all such
cases your moversand your secondersand your supporters - your
regular Professors of all degreesrun amuck like so many mad
Malays; habitually attributing the lowest and basest motives with
the utmost recklessness (let me call your attention to a recent
instance in yourself for which you should blush)and quoting
figures which you know to be as wilfully onesided as a statement of
any complicated account that should be all Creditor side and no
Debtoror all Debtor side and no Creditor. Therefore it isMr.
Honeythunderthat I consider the platform a sufficiently bad
example and a sufficiently bad schooleven in public life; but
hold thatcarried into private lifeit becomes an unendurable
'These are strong wordssir!' exclaimed the Philanthropist.
'I hope so' said Mr. Crisparkle. 'Good morning.'
He walked out of the Haven at a great ratebut soon fell into his
regular brisk paceand soon had a smile upon his face as he went
alongwondering what the china shepherdess would have said if she
had seen him pounding Mr. Honeythunder in the late little lively
affair. For Mr. Crisparkle had just enough of harmless vanity to
hope that he had hit hardand to glow with the belief that he had
trimmed the Philanthropic Jacket pretty handsomely.
He took himself to Staple Innbut not to P. J. T. and Mr.
Grewgious. Full many a creaking stair he climbed before he reached
some attic rooms in a cornerturned the latch of their unbolted
doorand stood beside the table of Neville Landless.
An air of retreat and solitude hung about the rooms and about their
inhabitant. He was much wornand so were they. Their sloping
ceilingscumbrous rusty locks and gratesand heavy wooden bins
and beamsslowly mouldering withalhad a prisonous lookand he
had the haggard face of a prisoner. Yet the sunlight shone in at
the ugly garret-windowwhich had a penthouse to itself thrust out
among the tiles; and on the cracked and smoke-blackened parapet
beyondsome of the deluded sparrows of the place rheumatically
hoppedlike little feathered cripples who had left their crutches
in their nests; and there was a play of living leaves at hand that
changed the airand made an imperfect sort of music in it that
would have been melody in the country.
The rooms were sparely furnishedbut with good store of books.
Everything expressed the abode of a poor student. That Mr.
Crisparkle had been either chooserlenderor donor of the books
or that he combined the three charactersmight have been easily
seen in the friendly beam of his eyes upon them as he entered.
'How goes itNeville?'
'I am in good heartMr. Crisparkleand working away.'
'I wish your eyes were not quite so large and not quite so bright'
said the Minor Canonslowly releasing the hand he had taken in
'They brighten at the sight of you' returned Neville. 'If you
were to fall away from methey would soon be dull enough.'
'Rallyrally!' urged the otherin a stimulating tone. 'Fight for
'If I were dyingI feel as if a word from you would rally me; if
my pulse had stoppedI feel as if your touch would make it beat
again' said Neville. 'But I HAVE ralliedand am doing famously.'
Mr. Crisparkle turned him with his face a little more towards the
'I want to see a ruddier touch hereNeville' he saidindicating
his own healthy cheek by way of pattern. 'I want more sun to shine
Neville drooped suddenlyas he replied in a lowered voice: 'I am
not hardy enough for thatyet. I may become sobut I cannot bear
it yet. If you had gone through those Cloisterham streets as I
did; if you had seenas I didthose averted eyesand the better
sort of people silently giving me too much room to passthat I
might not touch them or come near themyou wouldn't think it quite
unreasonable that I cannot go about in the daylight.'
'My poor fellow!' said the Minor Canonin a tone so purely
sympathetic that the young man caught his hand'I never said it
was unreasonable; never thought so. But I should like you to do
'And that would give me the strongest motive to do it. But I
cannot yet. I cannot persuade myself that the eyes of even the
stream of strangers I pass in this vast city look at me without
suspicion. I feel marked and taintedeven when I go out - as I do
only - at night. But the darkness covers me thenand I take
courage from it.'
Mr. Crisparkle laid a hand upon his shoulderand stood looking
down at him.
'If I could have changed my name' said Neville'I would have done
so. But as you wisely pointed out to meI can't do thatfor it
would look like guilt. If I could have gone to some distant place
I might have found relief in thatbut the thing is not to be
thought offor the same reason. Hiding and escaping would be the
construction in either case. It seems a little hard to be so tied
to a stakeand innocent; but I don't complain.'
'And you must expect no miracle to help youNeville' said Mr.
'NosirI know that. The ordinary fulness of time and
circumstances is all I have to trust to.'
'It will right you at lastNeville.'
'So I believeand I hope I may live to know it.'
But perceiving that the despondent mood into which he was falling
cast a shadow on the Minor Canonand (it may be) feeling that the
broad hand upon his shoulder was not then quite as steady as its
own natural strength had rendered it when it first touched him just
nowhe brightened and said:
'Excellent circumstances for studyanyhow! and you knowMr.
Crisparklewhat need I have of study in all ways. Not to mention
that you have advised me to study for the difficult profession of
the lawspeciallyand that of course I am guiding myself by the
advice of such a friend and helper. Such a good friend and
He took the fortifying hand from his shoulderand kissed it. Mr.
Crisparkle beamed at the booksbut not so brightly as when he had
'I gather from your silence on the subject that my late guardian is
The Minor Canon answered: 'Your late guardian is a - a most
unreasonable personand it signifies nothing to any reasonable
person whether he is ADversePERverseor the REverse.'
'Well for me that I have enough with economy to live upon' sighed
Nevillehalf wearily and half cheerily'while I wait to be
learnedand wait to be righted! Else I might have proved the
proverbthat while the grass growsthe steed starves!'
He opened some books as he said itand was soon immersed in their
interleaved and annotated passages; while Mr. Crisparkle sat beside
himexpoundingcorrectingand advising. The Minor Canon's
Cathedral duties made these visits of his difficult to accomplish
and only to be compassed at intervals of many weeks. But they were
as serviceable as they were precious to Neville Landless.
When they had got through such studies as they had in handthey
stood leaning on the window-silland looking down upon the patch
of garden. 'Next week' said Mr. Crisparkle'you will cease to be
aloneand will have a devoted companion.'
'And yet' returned Neville'this seems an uncongenial place to
bring my sister to.'
'I don't think so' said the Minor Canon. 'There is duty to be
done here; and there are womanly feelingsenseand courage wanted
'I meant' explained Neville'that the surroundings are so dull
and unwomanlyand that Helena can have no suitable friend or
'You have only to remember' said Mr. Crisparkle'that you are
here yourselfand that she has to draw you into the sunlight.'
They were silent for a little whileand then Mr. Crisparkle began
'When we first spoke togetherNevilleyou told me that your
sister had risen out of the disadvantages of your past lives as
superior to you as the tower of Cloisterham Cathedral is higher
than the chimneys of Minor Canon Corner. Do you remember that?'
'I was inclined to think it at the time an enthusiastic flight. No
matter what I think it now. What I would emphasise isthat under
the head of Pride your sister is a great and opportune example to
'Under ALL heads that are included in the composition of a fine
'Say so; but take this one. Your sister has learnt how to govern
what is proud in her nature. She can dominate it even when it is
wounded through her sympathy with you. No doubt she has suffered
deeply in those same streets where you suffered deeply. No doubt
her life is darkened by the cloud that darkens yours. But bending
her pride into a grand composure that is not haughty or aggressive
but is a sustained confidence in you and in the truthshe has won
her way through those streets until she passes along them as high
in the general respect as any one who treads them. Every day and
hour of her life since Edwin Drood's disappearanceshe has faced
malignity and folly - for you - as only a brave nature well
directed can. So it will be with her to the end. Another and
weaker kind of pride might sink broken-heartedbut never such a
pride as hers: which knows no shrinkingand can get no mastery
The pale cheek beside him flushed under the comparisonand the
hint implied in it.
'I will do all I can to imitate her' said Neville.
'Do soand be a truly brave manas she is a truly brave woman'
answered Mr. Crisparkle stoutly. 'It is growing dark. Will you go
my way with mewhen it is quite dark? Mind! it is not I who wait
Neville repliedthat he would accompany him directly. But Mr.
Crisparkle said he had a moment's call to make on Mr. Grewgious as
an act of courtesyand would run across to that gentleman's
chambersand rejoin Neville on his own doorstepif he would come
down there to meet him.
Mr. Grewgiousbolt upright as usualsat taking his wine in the
dusk at his open window; his wineglass and decanter on the round
table at his elbow; himself and his legs on the window-seat; only
one hinge in his whole bodylike a bootjack.
'How do you doreverend sir?' said Mr. Grewgiouswith abundant
offers of hospitalitywhich were as cordially declined as made.
'And how is your charge getting on over the way in the set that I
had the pleasure of recommending to you as vacant and eligible?'
Mr. Crisparkle replied suitably.
'I am glad you approve of them' said Mr. Grewgious'because I
entertain a sort of fancy for having him under my eye.'
As Mr. Grewgious had to turn his eye up considerably before he
could see the chambersthe phrase was to be taken figuratively and
'And how did you leave Mr. Jasperreverend sir?' said Mr.
Mr. Crisparkle had left him pretty well.
'And where did you leave Mr. Jasperreverend sir?' Mr. Crisparkle
had left him at Cloisterham.
'And when did you leave Mr. Jasperreverend sir?' That morning.
'Umps!' said Mr. Grewgious. 'He didn't say he was coming
'Anywherefor instance?' said Mr. Grewgious.
'Because here he is' said Mr. Grewgiouswho had asked all these
questionswith his preoccupied glance directed out at window.
'And he don't look agreeabledoes he?'
Mr. Crisparkle was craning towards the windowwhen Mr. Grewgious
'If you will kindly step round here behind mein the gloom of the
roomand will cast your eye at the second-floor landing window in
yonder houseI think you will hardly fail to see a slinking
individual in whom I recognise our local friend.'
'You are right!' cried Mr. Crisparkle.
'Umps!' said Mr. Grewgious. Then he addedturning his face so
abruptly that his head nearly came into collision with Mr.
Crisparkle's: 'what should you say that our local friend was up
The last passage he had been shown in the Diary returned on Mr.
Crisparkle's mind with the force of a strong recoiland he asked
Mr. Grewgious if he thought it possible that Neville was to be
harassed by the keeping of a watch upon him?
'A watch?' repeated Mr. Grewgious musingly. 'Ay!'
'Which would not only of itself haunt and torture his life' said
Mr. Crisparkle warmly'but would expose him to the torment of a
perpetually reviving suspicionwhatever he might door wherever
he might go.'
'Ay!' said Mr. Grewgious musingly still. 'Do I see him waiting for
'No doubt you do.'
'Then WOULD you have the goodness to excuse my getting up to see
you outand to go out to join himand to go the way that you were
goingand to take no notice of our local friend?' said Mr.
Grewgious. 'I entertain a sort of fancy for having HIM under my
eye to-nightdo you know?'
Mr. Crisparklewith a significant need complied; and rejoining
Nevillewent away with him. They dined togetherand parted at
the yet unfinished and undeveloped railway station: Mr. Crisparkle
to get home; Neville to walk the streetscross the bridgesmake a
wide round of the city in the friendly darknessand tire himself
It was midnight when he returned from his solitary expedition and
climbed his staircase. The night was hotand the windows of the
staircase were all wide open. Coming to the topit gave him a
passing chill of surprise (there being no rooms but his up there)
to find a stranger sitting on the window-sillmore after the
manner of a venturesome glazier than an amateur ordinarily careful
of his neck; in factso much more outside the window than inside
as to suggest the thought that he must have come up by the waterspout
instead of the stairs.
The stranger said nothing until Neville put his key in his door;
thenseeming to make sure of his identity from the actionhe
'I beg your pardon' he saidcoming from the window with a frank
and smiling airand a prepossessing address; 'the beans.'
Neville was quite at a loss.
'Runners' said the visitor. 'Scarlet. Next door at the back.'
'O' returned Neville. 'And the mignonette and wall-flower?'
'The same' said the visitor.
'Pray walk in.'
Neville lighted his candlesand the visitor sat down. A handsome
gentlemanwith a young facebut with an older figure in its
robustness and its breadth of shoulder; say a man of eight-andtwenty
or at the utmost thirty; so extremely sunburnt that the
contrast between his brown visage and the white forehead shaded out
of doors by his hatand the glimpses of white throat below the
neckerchiefwould have been almost ludicrous but for his broad
templesbright blue eyesclustering brown hairand laughing
'I have noticed' said he; ' - my name is Tartar.'
Neville inclined his head.
'I have noticed (excuse me) that you shut yourself up a good deal
and that you seem to like my garden aloft here. If you would like
a little more of itI could throw out a few lines and stays
between my windows and yourswhich the runners would take to
directly. And I have some boxesboth of mignonette and wallflower
that I could shove on along the gutter (with a boathook I
have by me) to your windowsand draw back again when they wanted
watering or gardeningand shove on again when they were shipshape;
so that they would cause you no trouble. I couldn't take
this liberty without asking your permissionso I venture to ask
it. Tartarcorresponding setnext door.'
'You are very kind.'
'Not at all. I ought to apologise for looking in so late. But
having noticed (excuse me) that you generally walk out at nightI
thought I should inconvenience you least by awaiting your return.
I am always afraid of inconveniencing busy menbeing an idle man.'
'I should not have thought sofrom your appearance.'
'No? I take it as a compliment. In factI was bred in the Royal
Navyand was First Lieutenant when I quitted it. Butan uncle
disappointed in the service leaving me his property on condition
that I left the NavyI accepted the fortuneand resigned my
'WellI had had twelve or fifteen years of knocking about first.
I came here some nine months before you; I had had one crop before
you came. I chose this placebecausehaving served last in a
little corvetteI knew I should feel more at home where I had a
constant opportunity of knocking my head against the ceiling.
Besidesit would never do for a man who had been aboard ship from
his boyhood to turn luxurious all at once. Besidesagain; having
been accustomed to a very short allowance of land all my lifeI
thought I'd feel my way to the command of a landed estateby
beginning in boxes.'
Whimsically as this was saidthere was a touch of merry
earnestness in it that made it doubly whimsical.
'However' said the Lieutenant'I have talked quite enough about
myself. It is not my wayI hope; it has merely been to present
myself to you naturally. If you will allow me to take the liberty
I have describedit will be a charityfor it will give me
something more to do. And you are not to suppose that it will
entail any interruption or intrusion on youfor that is far from
Neville replied that he was greatly obligedand that he thankfully
accepted the kind proposal.
'I am very glad to take your windows in tow' said the Lieutenant.
'From what I have seen of you when I have been gardening at mine
and you have been looking onI have thought you (excuse me) rather
too studious and delicate. May I askis your health at all
'I have undergone some mental distress' said Nevilleconfused
'which has stood me in the stead of illness.'
'Pardon me' said Mr. Tartar.
With the greatest delicacy he shifted his ground to the windows
againand asked if he could look at one of them. On Neville's
opening ithe immediately sprang outas if he were going aloft
with a whole watch in an emergencyand were setting a bright
'For Heaven's sake' cried Neville'don't do that! Where are you
going Mr. Tartar? You'll be dashed to pieces!'
'All well!' said the Lieutenantcoolly looking about him on the
housetop. 'All taut and trim here. Those lines and stays shall be
rigged before you turn out in the morning. May I take this short
cut homeand say good-night?'
'Mr. Tartar!' urged Neville. 'Pray! It makes me giddy to see
But Mr. Tartarwith a wave of his hand and the deftness of a cat
had already dipped through his scuttle of scarlet runners without
breaking a leafand 'gone below.'
Mr. Grewgioushis bedroom window-blind held aside with his hand
happened at the moment to have Neville's chambers under his eye for
the last time that night. Fortunately his eye was on the front of
the house and not the backor this remarkable appearance and
disappearance might have broken his rest as a phenomenon. But Mr.
Grewgious seeing nothing therenot even a light in the windows
his gaze wandered from the windows to the starsas if he would
have read in them something that was hidden from him. Many of us
wouldif we could; but none of us so much as know our letters in
the stars yet - or seem likely to do itin this state of existence
-and few languages can be read until their alphabets are mastered.
CHAPTER XVIII - A SETTLER IN CLOISTERHAM
AT about this time a stranger appeared in Cloisterham; a whitehaired
personagewith black eyebrows. Being buttoned up in a
tightish blue surtoutwith a buff waistcoat and gray trousershe
had something of a military airbut he announced himself at the
Crozier (the orthodox hotelwhere he put up with a portmanteau) as
an idle dog who lived upon his means; and he farther announced that
he had a mind to take a lodging in the picturesque old city for a
month or twowith a view of settling down there altogether. Both
announcements were made in the coffee-room of the Crozierto all
whom it might or might not concernby the stranger as he stood
with his back to the empty fireplacewaiting for his fried sole
veal cutletand pint of sherry. And the waiter (business being
chronically slack at the Crozier) represented all whom it might or
might not concernand absorbed the whole of the information.
This gentleman's white head was unusually largeand his shock of
white hair was unusually thick and ample. 'I supposewaiter' he
saidshaking his shock of hairas a Newfoundland dog might shake
his before sitting down to dinner'that a fair lodging for a
single buffer might be found in these partseh?'
The waiter had no doubt of it.
'Something old' said the gentleman. 'Take my hat down for a
moment from that pegwill you? NoI don't want it; look into it.
What do you see written there?'
The waiter read: 'Datchery.'
'Now you know my name' said the gentleman; 'Dick Datchery. Hang
it up again. I was saying something old is what I should prefer
something odd and out of the way; something venerable
'We have a good choice of inconvenient lodgings in the townsirI
think' replied the waiterwith modest confidence in its resources
that way; 'indeedI have no doubt that we could suit you that far
however particular you might be. But a architectural lodging!'
That seemed to trouble the waiter's headand he shook it.
'Anything Cathedralynow' Mr. Datchery suggested.
'Mr. Tope' said the waiterbrighteningas he rubbed his chin
with his hand'would be the likeliest party to inform in that
'Who is Mr. Tope?' inquired Dick Datchery.
The waiter explained that he was the Vergerand that Mrs. Tope had
indeed once upon a time let lodgings herself or offered to let
them; but that as nobody had ever taken themMrs. Tope's windowbill
long a Cloisterham Institutionhad disappeared; probably had
tumbled down one dayand never been put up again.
'I'll call on Mrs. Tope' said Mr. Datchery'after dinner.'
So when he had done his dinnerhe was duly directed to the spot
and sallied out for it. But the Crozier being an hotel of a most
retiring dispositionand the waiter's directions being fatally
precisehe soon became bewilderedand went boggling about and
about the Cathedral Towerwhenever he could catch a glimpse of it
with a general impression on his mind that Mrs. Tope's was
somewhere very near itand thatlike the children in the game of
hot boiled beans and very good butterhe was warm in his search
when he saw the Towerand cold when he didn't see it.
He was getting very cold indeed when he came upon a fragment of
burial-ground in which an unhappy sheep was grazing. Unhappy
because a hideous small boy was stoning it through the railings
and had already lamed it in one legand was much excited by the
benevolent sportsmanlike purpose of breaking its other three legs
and bringing it down.
''It 'im agin!' cried the boyas the poor creature leaped; 'and
made a dint in his wool.'
'Let him be!' said Mr. Datchery. 'Don't you see you have lamed
'Yer lie' returned the sportsman. ''E went and lamed isself. I
see 'im do itand I giv' 'im a shy as a Widdy-warning to 'im not
to go a-bruisin' 'is master's mutton any more.'
'I won't; I'll come when yer can ketch me.'
'Stay there thenand show me which is Mr. Tope's.'
'Ow can I stay here and show you which is Topeseseswhen Topeseses
is t'other side the Kinfreederaland over the crossingsand round
ever so many comers? Stoo-pid! Ya-a-ah!'
'Show me where it isand I'll give you something.'
This brisk dialogue concludedthe boy led the wayand by-and-by
stopped at some distance from an arched passagepointing.
'Lookie yonder. You see that there winder and door?'
'Yer lie; it ain't. That's Jarsper's.'
'Indeed?' said Mr. Datcherywith a second look of some interest.
'Yesand I ain't a-goin' no nearer 'IMI tell yer.'
''Cos I ain't a-goin' to be lifted off my legs and 'ave my braces
bust and be choked; not if I knows itand not by 'Im. Wait till I
set a jolly good flint a-flyin' at the back o' 'is jolly old 'ed
some day! Now look t'other side the harch; not the side where
Jarsper's door is; t'other side.'
'A little way ino' that sidethere's a low doordown two steps.
That's Topeseses with 'is name on a hoval plate.'
'Good. See here' said Mr. Datcheryproducing a shilling. 'You
owe me half of this.'
'Yer lie I don't owe yer nothing; I never seen yer.'
'I tell you you owe me half of thisbecause I have no sixpence in
my pocket. So the next time you meet me you shall do something
else for meto pay me.'
'All rightgive us 'old.'
'What is your nameand where do you live?'
'Deputy. Travellers' Twopenny'cross the green.'
The boy instantly darted off with the shillinglest Mr. Datchery
should repentbut stopped at a safe distanceon the happy chance
of his being uneasy in his mind about itto goad him with a demon
dance expressive of its irrevocability.
Mr. Datcherytaking off his hat to give that shock of white hair
of his another shakeseemed quite resignedand betook himself
whither he had been directed.
Mr. Tope's official dwellingcommunicating by an upper stair with
Mr. Jasper's (hence Mrs. Tope's attendance on that gentleman)was
of very modest proportionsand partook of the character of a cool
dungeon. Its ancient walls were massiveand its rooms rather
seemed to have been dug out of themthan to have been designed
beforehand with any reference to them. The main door opened at
once on a chamber of no describable shapewith a groined roof
which in its turn opened on another chamber of no describable
shapewith another groined roof: their windows smalland in the
thickness of the walls. These two chambersclose as to their
atmosphereand swarthy as to their illumination by natural light
were the apartments which Mrs. Tope had so long offered to an
unappreciative city. Mr. Datcheryhoweverwas more appreciative.
He found that if he sat with the main door open he would enjoy the
passing society of all comers to and fro by the gatewayand would
have light enough. He found that if Mr. and Mrs. Topeliving
overheadused for their own egress and ingress a little side stair
that came plump into the Precincts by a door opening outwardto
the surprise and inconvenience of a limited public of pedestrians
in a narrow wayhe would be aloneas in a separate residence. He
found the rent moderateand everything as quaintly inconvenient as
he could desire. He agreedthereforeto take the lodging then
and thereand money downpossession to be had next eveningon
condition that reference was permitted him to Mr. Jasper as
occupying the gatehouseof which on the other side of the gateway
the Verger's hole-in-the-wall was an appanage or subsidiary part.
The poor dear gentleman was very solitary and very sadMrs. Tope
saidbut she had no doubt he would 'speak for her.' Perhaps Mr.
Datchery had heard something of what had occurred there last
Mr. Datchery had as confused a knowledge of the event in question
on trying to recall itas he well could have. He begged Mrs.
Tope's pardon when she found it incumbent on her to correct him in
every detail of his summary of the factsbut pleaded that he was
merely a single buffer getting through life upon his means as idly
as he couldand that so many people were so constantly making away
with so many other peopleas to render it difficult for a buffer
of an easy temper to preserve the circumstances of the several
cases unmixed in his mind.
Mr. Jasper proving willing to speak for Mrs. TopeMr. Datchery
who had sent up his cardwas invited to ascend the postern
staircase. The Mayor was thereMr. Tope said; but he was not to
be regarded in the light of companyas he and Mr. Jasper were
'I beg pardon' said Mr. Datcherymaking a leg with his hat under
his armas he addressed himself equally to both gentlemen; 'a
selfish precaution on my partand not personally interesting to
anybody but myself. But as a buffer living on his meansand
having an idea of doing it in this lovely place in peace and quiet
for remaining span of lifeI beg to ask if the Tope family are
Mr. Jasper could answer for that without the slightest hesitation.
'That is enoughsir' said Mr. Datchery.
'My friend the Mayor' added Mr. Jasperpresenting Mr. Datchery
with a courtly motion of his hand towards that potentate; 'whose
recommendation is actually much more important to a stranger than
that of an obscure person like myselfwill testify in their
behalfI am sure.'
'The Worshipful the Mayor' said Mr. Datcherywith a low bow
'places me under an infinite obligation.'
'Very good peoplesirMr. and Mrs. Tope' said Mr. Sapseawith
condescension. 'Very good opinions. Very well behaved. Very
respectful. Much approved by the Dean and Chapter.'
'The Worshipful the Mayor gives them a character' said Mr.
Datchery'of which they may indeed be proud. I would ask His
Honour (if I might be permitted) whether there are not many objects
of great interest in the city which is under his beneficent sway?'
'We aresir' returned Mr. Sapsea'an ancient cityand an
ecclesiastical city. We are a constitutional cityas it becomes
such a city to beand we uphold and maintain our glorious
'His Honour' said Mr. Datcherybowing'inspires me with a desire
to know more of the cityand confirms me in my inclination to end
my days in the city.'
'Retired from the Armysir?' suggested Mr. Sapsea.
'His Honour the Mayor does me too much credit' returned Mr.
'Navysir?' suggested Mr. Sapsea.
'Again' repeated Mr. Datchery'His Honour the Mayor does me too
'Diplomacy is a fine profession' said Mr. Sapseaas a general
'ThereI confessHis Honour the Mayor is too many for me' said
Mr. Datcherywith an ingenious smile and bow; 'even a diplomatic
bird must fall to such a gun.'
Now this was very soothing. Here was a gentleman of a greatnot
to say a grandaddressaccustomed to rank and dignityreally
setting a fine example how to behave to a Mayor. There was
something in that third-person style of being spoken tothat Mr.
Sapsea found particularly recognisant of his merits and position.
'But I crave pardon' said Mr. Datchery. 'His Honour the Mayor
will bear with meif for a moment I have been deluded into
occupying his timeand have forgotten the humble claims upon my
ownof my hotelthe Crozier.'
'Not at allsir' said Mr. Sapsea. 'I am returning homeand if
you would like to take the exterior of our Cathedral in your wayI
shall be glad to point it out.'
'His Honour the Mayor' said Mr. Datchery'is more than kind and
As Mr. Datcherywhen he had made his acknowledgments to Mr.
Jaspercould not be induced to go out of the room before the
Worshipfulthe Worshipful led the way down-stairs; Mr. Datchery
following with his hat under his armand his shock of white hair
streaming in the evening breeze.
'Might I ask His Honour' said Mr. Datchery'whether that
gentleman we have just left is the gentleman of whom I have heard
in the neighbourhood as being much afflicted by the loss of a
nephewand concentrating his life on avenging the loss?'
'That is the gentleman. John Jaspersir.'
'Would His Honour allow me to inquire whether there are strong
suspicions of any one?'
'More than suspicionssir' returned Mr. Sapsea; 'all but
'Only think now!' cried Mr. Datchery.
'But proofsirproof must be built up stone by stone' said the
Mayor. 'As I saythe end crowns the work. It is not enough that
justice should be morally certain; she must be immorally certain -
'His Honour' said Mr. Datchery'reminds me of the nature of the
law. Immoral. How true!'
'As I saysir' pompously went on the Mayor'the arm of the law
is a strong armand a long arm. That is the may I put it. A
strong arm and a long arm.'
'How forcible! - And yetagainhow true!' murmured Mr. Datchery.
'And without betrayingwhat I call the secrets of the prisonhouse'
said Mr. Sapsea; 'the secrets of the prison-house is the
term I used on the bench.'
'And what other term than His Honour's would express it?' said Mr.
'WithoutI saybetraying themI predict to youknowing the iron
will of the gentleman we have just left (I take the bold step of
calling it ironon account of its strength)that in this case the
long arm will reachand the strong arm will strike. - This is our
Cathedralsir. The best judges are pleased to admire itand the
best among our townsmen own to being a little vain of it.'
All this time Mr. Datchery had walked with his hat under his arm
and his white hair streaming. He had an odd momentary appearance
upon him of having forgotten his hatwhen Mr. Sapsea now touched
it; and he clapped his hand up to his head as if with some vague
expectation of finding another hat upon it.
'Pray be coveredsir' entreated Mr. Sapsea; magnificently plying:
'I shall not mind itI assure you.'
'His Honour is very goodbut I do it for coolness' said Mr.
Then Mr. Datchery admired the Cathedraland Mr. Sapsea pointed it
out as if he himself had invented and built it: there were a few
details indeed of which he did not approvebut those he glossed
overas if the workmen had made mistakes in his absence. The
Cathedral disposed ofhe led the way by the churchyardand
stopped to extol the beauty of the evening - by chance - in the
immediate vicinity of Mrs. Sapsea's epitaph.
'And by the by' said Mr. Sapseaappearing to descend from an
elevation to remember it all of a sudden; like Apollo shooting down
from Olympus to pick up his forgotten lyre; 'THAT is one of our
small lions. The partiality of our people has made it soand
strangers have been seen taking a copy of it now and then. I am
not a judge of it myselffor it is a little work of my own. But
it was troublesome to turnsir; I may saydifficult to turn with
Mr. Datchery became so ecstatic over Mr. Sapsea's composition
thatin spite of his intention to end his days in Cloisterhamand
therefore his probably having in reserve many opportunities of
copying ithe would have transcribed it into his pocket-book on
the spotbut for the slouching towards them of its material
producer and perpetuatorDurdleswhom Mr. Sapsea hailednot
sorry to show him a bright example of behaviour to superiors.
'AhDurdles! This is the masonsir; one of our Cloisterham
worthies; everybody here knows Durdles. Mr. DatcheryDurdles a
gentleman who is going to settle here.'
'I wouldn't do it if I was him' growled Durdles. 'We're a heavy
'You surely don't speak for yourselfMr. Durdles' returned Mr.
Datchery'any more than for His Honour.'
'Who's His Honour?' demanded Durdles.
'His Honour the Mayor.'
'I never was brought afore him' said Durdleswith anything but
the look of a loyal subject of the mayoralty'and it'll be time
enough for me to Honour him when I am. Until whichand whenand
Mister Sapsea is his name,
England is his nation,
Cloisterham's his dwelling-place,
Aukshneer's his occupation.'
HereDeputy (preceded by a flying oyster-shell) appeared upon the
sceneand requested to have the sum of threepence instantly
'chucked' to him by Mr. Durdleswhom he had been vainly seeking up
and downas lawful wages overdue. While that gentlemanwith his
bundle under his armslowly found and counted out the moneyMr.
Sapsea informed the new settler of Durdles's habitspursuits
abodeand reputation. 'I suppose a curious stranger might come to
see youand your worksMr. Durdlesat any odd time?' said Mr.
Datchery upon that.
'Any gentleman is welcome to come and see me any evening if he
brings liquor for two with him' returned Durdleswith a penny
between his teeth and certain halfpence in his hands; 'or if he
likes to make it twice twohe'll be doubly welcome.'
'I shall come. Master Deputywhat do you owe me?'
'Mind you pay me honestly with the job of showing me Mr. Durdles's
house when I want to go there.'
Deputywith a piercing broadside of whistle through the whole gap
in his mouthas a receipt in full for all arrearsvanished.
The Worshipful and the Worshipper then passed on together until
they partedwith many ceremoniesat the Worshipful's door; even
then the Worshipper carried his hat under his armand gave his
streaming white hair to the breeze.
Said Mr. Datchery to himself that nightas he looked at his white
hair in the gas-lighted looking-glass over the coffee-room
chimneypiece at the Crozierand shook it out: 'For a single
bufferof an easy temperliving idly on his meansI have had a
rather busy afternoon!'
CHAPTER XIX - SHADOW ON THE SUN-DIAL
AGAIN Miss Twinkleton has delivered her valedictory addresswith
the accompaniments of white-wine and pound-cakeand again the
young ladies have departed to their several homes. Helena Landless
has left the Nuns' House to attend her brother's fortunesand
pretty Rosa is alone.
Cloisterham is so bright and sunny in these summer daysthat the
Cathedral and the monastery-ruin show as if their strong walls were
transparent. A soft glow seems to shine from within themrather
than upon them from withoutsuch is their mellowness as they look
forth on the hot corn-fields and the smoking roads that distantly
wind among them. The Cloisterham gardens blush with ripening
fruit. Time was when travel-stained pilgrims rode in clattering
parties through the city's welcome shades; time is when wayfarers
leading a gipsy life between haymaking time and harvestand
looking as if they were just made of the dust of the earthso very
dusty are theylounge about on cool door-stepstrying to mend
their unmendable shoesor giving them to the city kennels as a
hopeless joband seeking others in the bundles that they carry
along with their yet unused sickles swathed in bands of straw. At
all the more public pumps there is much cooling of bare feet
together with much bubbling and gurgling of drinking with hand to
spout on the part of these Bedouins; the Cloisterham police
meanwhile looking askant from their beats with suspicionand
manifest impatience that the intruders should depart from within
the civic boundsand once more fry themselves on the simmering
On the afternoon of such a daywhen the last Cathedral service is
doneand when that side of the High Street on which the Nuns'
House stands is in grateful shadesave where its quaint old garden
opens to the west between the boughs of treesa servant informs
Rosato her terrorthat Mr. Jasper desires to see her.
If he had chosen his time for finding her at a disadvantagehe
could have done no better. Perhaps he has chosen it. Helena
Landless is goneMrs. Tisher is absent on leaveMiss Twinkleton
(in her amateur state of existence) has contributed herself and a
veal pie to a picnic.
'O whywhywhydid you say I was at home!' cried Rosa
The maid repliesthat Mr. Jasper never asked the question.
That he said he knew she was at homeand begged she might be told
that he asked to see her.
'What shall I do! what shall I do!' thinks Rosaclasping her
Possessed by a kind of desperationshe adds in the next breath
that she will come to Mr. Jasper in the garden. She shudders at
the thought of being shut up with him in the house; but many of its
windows command the gardenand she can be seen as well as heard
thereand can shriek in the free air and run away. Such is the
wild idea that flutters through her mind.
She has never seen him since the fatal nightexcept when she was
questioned before the Mayorand then he was present in gloomy
watchfulnessas representing his lost nephew and burning to avenge
him. She hangs her garden-hat on her armand goes out. The
moment she sees him from the porchleaning on the sun-dialthe
old horrible feeling of being compelled by himasserts its hold
upon her. She feels that she would even then go backbut that he
draws her feet towards him. She cannot resistand sits downwith
her head benton the garden-seat beside the sun-dial. She cannot
look up at him for abhorrencebut she has perceived that he is
dressed in deep mourning. So is she. It was not so at first; but
the lost has long been given upand mourned foras dead.
He would begin by touching her hand. She feels the intentionand
draws her hand back. His eyes are then fixed upon hershe knows
though her own see nothing but the grass.
'I have been waiting' he begins'for some timeto be summoned
back to my duty near you.'
After several times forming her lipswhich she knows he is closely
watchinginto the shape of some other hesitating replyand then
into noneshe answers: 'Dutysir?'
'The duty of teaching youserving you as your faithful musicmaster.'
'I have left off that study.'
'Not left offI think. Discontinued. I was told by your guardian
that you discontinued it under the shock that we have all felt so
acutely. When will you resume?'
'Never? You could have done no more if you had loved my dear boy.'
'I did love him!' cried Rosawith a flash of anger.
'Yes; but not quite - not quite in the right wayshall I say? Not
in the intended and expected way. Much as my dear boy was
unhappilytoo self-conscious and self-satisfied (I'll draw no
parallel between him and you in that respect) to love as he should
have lovedor as any one in his place would have loved - must have
She sits in the same still attitudebut shrinking a little more.
'Thento be told that you discontinued your study with mewas to
be politely told that you abandoned it altogether?' he suggested.
'Yes' says Rosawith sudden spirit'The politeness was my
guardian'snot mine. I told him that I was resolved to leave off
and that I was determined to stand by my resolution.'
'And you still are?'
'I still amsir. And I beg not to be questioned any more about
it. At all eventsI will not answer any more; I have that in my
She is so conscious of his looking at her with a gloating
admiration of the touch of anger on herand the fire and animation
it brings with itthat even as her spirit risesit falls again
and she struggles with a sense of shameaffrontand fearmuch as
she did that night at the piano.
'I will not question you any moresince you object to it so much;
I will confess - '
'I do not wish to hear yousir' cries Rosarising.
This time he does touch her with his outstretched hand. In
shrinking from itshe shrinks into her seat again.
'We must sometimes act in opposition to our wishes' he tells her
in a low voice. 'You must do so nowor do more harm to others
than you can ever set right.'
'Presentlypresently. You question MEyou seeand surely that's
not fair when you forbid me to question you. NeverthelessI will
answer the question presently. Dearest Rosa! Charming Rosa!'
She starts up again.
This time he does not touch her. But his face looks so wicked and
menacingas he stands leaning against the sun-dial-settingas it
werehis black mark upon the very face of day - that her flight is
arrested by horror as she looks at him.
'I do not forget how many windows command a view of us' he says
glancing towards them. 'I will not touch you again; I will come no
nearer to you than I am. Sit downand there will be no mighty
wonder in your music-master's leaning idly against a pedestal and
speaking with youremembering all that has happenedand our
shares in it. Sit downmy beloved.'
She would have gone once more - was all but gone - and once more
his facedarkly threatening what would follow if she wenthas
stopped her. Looking at him with the expression of the instant
frozen on her faceshe sits down on the seat again.
'Rosaeven when my dear boy was affianced to youI loved you
madly; even when I thought his happiness in having you for his wife
was certainI loved you madly; even when I strove to make him more
ardently devoted to youI loved you madly; even when he gave me
the picture of your lovely face so carelessly traduced by him
which I feigned to hang always in my sight for his sakebut
worshipped in torment for yearsI loved you madly; in the
distasteful work of the dayin the wakeful misery of the night
girded by sordid realitiesor wandering through Paradises and
Hells of visions into which I rushedcarrying your image in my
armsI loved you madly.'
If anything could make his words more hideous to her than they are
in themselvesit would be the contrast between the violence of his
look and deliveryand the composure of his assumed attitude.
'I endured it all in silence. So long as you were hisor so long
as I supposed you to be hisI hid my secret loyally. Did I not?'
This lieso grosswhile the mere words in which it is told are so
trueis more than Rosa can endure. She answers with kindling
indignation: 'You were as false throughoutsiras you are now.
You were false to himdaily and hourly. You know that you made my
life unhappy by your pursuit of me. You know that you made me
afraid to open his generous eyesand that you forced mefor his
own trustinggoodgood saketo keep the truth from himthat you
were a badbad man!'
His preservation of his easy attitude rendering his working
features and his convulsive hands absolutely diabolicalhe
returnswith a fierce extreme of admiration:
'How beautiful you are! You are more beautiful in anger than in
repose. I don't ask you for your love; give me yourself and your
hatred; give me yourself and that pretty rage; give me yourself and
that enchanting scorn; it will be enough for me.'
Impatient tears rise to the eyes of the trembling little beauty
and her face flames; but as she again rises to leave him in
indignationand seek protection within the househe stretches out
his hand towards the porchas though he invited her to enter it.
'I told youyou rare charmeryou sweet witchthat you must stay
and hear meor do more harm than can ever be undone. You asked me
what harm. Stayand I will tell you. Goand I will do it!'
Again Rosa quails before his threatening facethough innocent of
its meaningand she remains. Her panting breathing comes and goes
as if it would choke her; but with a repressive hand upon her
'I have made my confession that my love is mad. It is so madthat
had the ties between me and my dear lost boy been one silken thread
less strongI might have swept even him from your sidewhen you
A film come over the eyes she raises for an instantas though he
had turned her faint.
'Even him' he repeats. 'Yeseven him! Rosayou see me and you
hear me. Judge for yourself whether any other admirer shall love
you and livewhose life is in my hand.'
'What do you meansir?'
'I mean to show you how mad my love is. It was hawked through the
late inquiries by Mr. Crisparklethat young Landless had confessed
to him that he was a rival of my lost boy. That is an inexpiable
offence in my eyes. The same Mr. Crisparkle knows under my hand
that I have devoted myself to the murderer's discovery and
destructionbe he whom he mightand that I determined to discuss
the mystery with no one until I should hold the clue in which to
entangle the murderer as in a net. I have since worked patiently
to wind and wind it round him; and it is slowly winding as I
'Your beliefif you believe in the criminality of Mr. Landlessis
not Mr. Crisparkle's beliefand he is a good man' Rosa retorts.
'My belief is my own; and I reserve itworshipped of my soul!
Circumstances may accumulate so strongly EVEN AGAINST AN INNOCENT
MANthat directedsharpenedand pointedthey may slay him. One
wanting link discovered by perseverance against a guilty man
proves his guilthowever slight its evidence beforeand he dies.
Young Landless stands in deadly peril either way.'
'If you really suppose' Rosa pleads with himturning paler'that
I favour Mr. Landlessor that Mr. Landless has ever in any way
addressed himself to meyou are wrong.'
He puts that from him with a slighting action of his hand and a
'I was going to show you how madly I love you. More madly now than
everfor I am willing to renounce the second object that has
arisen in my life to divide it with you; and henceforth to have no
object in existence but you only. Miss Landless has become your
bosom friend. You care for her peace of mind?'
'I love her dearly.'
'You care for her good name?'
'I have saidsirI love her dearly.'
'I am unconsciously' he observes with a smileas he folds his
hands upon the sun-dial and leans his chin upon themso that his
talk would seem from the windows (faces occasionally come and go
there) to be of the airiest and playfullest - 'I am unconsciously
giving offence by questioning again. I will simply make
statementsthereforeand not put questions. You do care for your
bosom friend's good nameand you do care for her peace of mind.
Then remove the shadow of the gallows from herdear one!'
'You dare propose to me to - '
'DarlingI dare propose to you. Stop there. If it be bad to
idolise youI am the worst of men; if it be goodI am the best.
My love for you is above all other loveand my truth to you is
above all other truth. Let me have hope and favourand I am a
forsworn man for your sake.'
Rosa puts her hands to her templesandpushing back her hair
looks wildly and abhorrently at himas though she were trying to
piece together what it is his deep purpose to present to her only
'Reckon up nothing at this momentangelbut the sacrifices that I
lay at those dear feetwhich I could fall down among the vilest
ashes and kissand put upon my head as a poor savage might. There
is my fidelity to my dear boy after death. Tread upon it!'
With an action of his handsas though he cast down something
'There is the inexpiable offence against my adoration of you.
With a similar action.
'There are my labours in the cause of a just vengeance for six
toiling months. Crush them!'
With another repetition of the action.
'There is my past and my present wasted life. There is the
desolation of my heart and my soul. There is my peace; there is my
despair. Stamp them into the dust; so that you take mewere it
even mortally hating me!'
The frightful vehemence of the mannow reaching its full height
so additionally terrifies her as to break the spell that has held
her to the spot. She swiftly moves towards the porch; but in an
instant he is at her sideand speaking in her ear.
'RosaI am self-repressed again. I am walking calmly beside you
to the house. I shall wait for some encouragement and hope. I
shall not strike too soon. Give me a sign that you attend to me.'
She slightly and constrainedly moves her hand.
'Not a word of this to any oneor it will bring down the blowas
certainly as night follows day. Another sign that you attend to
She moves her hand once more.
'I love youlove youlove you! If you were to cast me off now -
but you will not - you would never be rid of me. No one should
come between us. I would pursue you to the death.'
The handmaid coming out to open the gate for himhe quietly pulls
off his hat as a parting saluteand goes away with no greater show
of agitation than is visible in the effigy of Mr. Sapsea's father
opposite. Rosa faints in going up-stairsand is carefully carried
to her room and laid down on her bed. A thunderstorm is coming on
the maids sayand the hot and stifling air has overset the pretty
dear: no wonder; they have felt their own knees all of a tremble
all day long.
CHAPTER XX - A FLIGHT
ROSA no sooner came to herself than the whole of the late interview
was before her. It even seemed as if it had pursued her into her
insensibilityand she had not had a moment's unconsciousness of
it. What to doshe was at a frightened loss to know: the only
one clear thought in her mind wasthat she must fly from this
But where could she take refugeand how could she go? She had
never breathed her dread of him to any one but Helena. If she went
to Helenaand told her what had passedthat very act might bring
down the irreparable mischief that he threatened he had the power
and that she knew he had the willto do. The more fearful he
appeared to her excited memory and imaginationthe more alarming
her responsibility appeared; seeing that a slight mistake on her
parteither in action or delaymight let his malevolence loose on
Rosa's mind throughout the last six months had been stormily
confused. A half-formedwholly unexpressed suspicion tossed in
itnow heaving itself upand now sinking into the deep; now
gaining palpabilityand now losing it. Jasper's self-absorption
in his nephew when he was aliveand his unceasing pursuit of the
inquiry how he came by his deathif he were deadwere themes so
rife in the placethat no one appeared able to suspect the
possibility of foul play at his hands. She had asked herself the
question'Am I so wicked in my thoughts as to conceive a
wickedness that others cannot imagine?' Then she had considered
Did the suspicion come of her previous recoiling from him before
the fact? And if sowas not that a proof of its baselessness?
Then she had reflected'What motive could he haveaccording to my
accusation?' She was ashamed to answer in her mind'The motive of
gaining ME!' And covered her faceas if the lightest shadow of
the idea of founding murder on such an idle vanity were a crime
almost as great.
She ran over in her mind againall that he had said by the sundial
in the garden. He had persisted in treating the disappearance
as murderconsistently with his whole public course since the
finding of the watch and shirt-pin. If he were afraid of the crime
being traced outwould he not rather encourage the idea of a
voluntary disappearance? He had even declared that if the ties
between him and his nephew had been less stronghe might have
swept 'even him' away from her side. Was that like his having
really done so? He had spoken of laying his six months' labours in
the cause of a just vengeance at her feet. Would he have done
thatwith that violence of passionif they were a pretence?
Would he have ranged them with his desolate heart and soulhis
wasted lifehis peace and his despair? The very first sacrifice
that he represented himself as making for herwas his fidelity to
his dear boy after death. Surely these facts were strong against a
fancy that scarcely dared to hint itself. And yet he was so
terrible a man! In shortthe poor girl (for what could she know
of the criminal intellectwhich its own professed students
perpetually misreadbecause they persist in trying to reconcile it
with the average intellect of average meninstead of identifying
it as a horrible wonder apart) could get by no road to any other
conclusion than that he WAS a terrible manand must be fled from.
She had been Helena's stay and comfort during the whole time. She
had constantly assured her of her full belief in her brother's
innocenceand of her sympathy with him in his misery. But she had
never seen him since the disappearancenor had Helena ever spoken
one word of his avowal to Mr. Crisparkle in regard of Rosathough
as a part of the interest of the case it was well known far and
wide. He was Helena's unfortunate brotherto herand nothing
more. The assurance she had given her odious suitor was strictly
truethough it would have been better (she considered now) if she
could have restrained herself from so giving it. Afraid of him as
the bright and delicate little creature washer spirit swelled at
the thought of his knowing it from her own lips.
But where was she to go? Anywhere beyond his reachwas no reply
to the question. Somewhere must be thought of. She determined to
go to her guardianand to go immediately. The feeling she had
imparted to Helena on the night of their first confidencewas so
strong upon her - the feeling of not being safe from himand of
the solid walls of the old convent being powerless to keep out his
ghostly following of her - that no reasoning of her own could calm
her terrors. The fascination of repulsion had been upon her so
longand now culminated so darklythat she felt as if he had
power to bind her by a spell. Glancing out at windoweven nowas
she rose to dressthe sight of the sun-dial on which he had leaned
when he declared himselfturned her coldand made her shrink from
itas though he had invested it with some awful quality from his
She wrote a hurried note to Miss Twinkletonsaying that she had
sudden reason for wishing to see her guardian promptlyand had
gone to him; alsoentreating the good lady not to be uneasyfor
all was well with her. She hurried a few quite useless articles
into a very little bagleft the note in a conspicuous placeand
went outsoftly closing the gate after her.
It was the first time she had ever been even in Cloisterham High
Street alone. But knowing all its ways and windings very wellshe
hurried straight to the corner from which the omnibus departed. It
wasat that very momentgoing off.
'Stop and take meif you pleaseJoe. I am obliged to go to
In less than another minute she was on her road to the railway
under Joe's protection. Joe waited on her when she got thereput
her safely into the railway carriageand handed in the very little
bag after heras though it were some enormous trunk
hundredweights heavywhich she must on no account endeavour to
'Can you go round when you get backand tell Miss Twinkleton that
you saw me safely offJoe
'It shall be doneMiss.'
'With my lovepleaseJoe.'
'YesMiss - and I wouldn't mind having it myself!' But Joe did
not articulate the last clause; only thought it.
Now that she was whirling away for London in real earnestRosa was
at leisure to resume the thoughts which her personal hurry had
checked. The indignant thought that his declaration of love soiled
her; that she could only be cleansed from the stain of its impurity
by appealing to the honest and true; supported her for a time
against her fearsand confirmed her in her hasty resolution. But
as the evening grew darker and darkerand the great city impended
nearer and nearerthe doubts usual in such cases began to arise.
Whether this was not a wild proceedingafter all; how Mr.
Grewgious might regard it; whether she should find him at the
journey's end; how she would act if he were absent; what might
become of heralonein a place so strange and crowded; how if she
had but waited and taken counsel first; whetherif she could now
go backshe would not do it thankfully; a multitude of such uneasy
speculations disturbed hermore and more as they accumulated. At
length the train came into London over the housetops; and down
below lay the gritty streets with their yet un-needed lamps a-glow
on a hotlightsummer night.
'Hiram GrewgiousEsquireStaple InnLondon.' This was all Rosa
knew of her destination; but it was enough to send her rattling
away again in a cabthrough deserts of gritty streetswhere many
people crowded at the corner of courts and byways to get some air
and where many other people walked with a miserably monotonous
noise of shuffling of feet on hot paving-stonesand where all the
people and all their surroundings were so gritty and so shabby!
There was music playing here and therebut it did not enliven the
case. No barrel-organ mended the matterand no big drum beat dull
care away. Like the chapel bells that were also going here and
therethey only seemed to evoke echoes from brick surfacesand
dust from everything. As to the flat wind-instrumentsthey seemed
to have cracked their hearts and souls in pining for the country.
Her jingling conveyance stopped at last at a fast-closed gateway
which appeared to belong to somebody who had gone to bed very
earlyand was much afraid of housebreakers; Rosadischarging her
conveyancetimidly knocked at this gatewayand was let invery
little bag and allby a watchman.
'Does Mr. Grewgious live here?'
'Mr. Grewgious lives thereMiss' said the watchmanpointing
So Rosa went further inandwhen the clocks were striking ten
stood on P. J. T.'s doorstepswondering what P. J. T. had done
with his street-door.
Guided by the painted name of Mr. Grewgiousshe went up-stairs and
softly tapped and tapped several times. But no one answeringand
Mr. Grewgious's door-handle yielding to her touchshe went inand
saw her guardian sitting on a window-seat at an open windowwith a
shaded lamp placed far from him on a table in a corner.
Rosa drew nearer to him in the twilight of the room. He saw her
and he saidin an undertone: 'Good Heaven!'
Rosa fell upon his neckwith tearsand then he saidreturning
'My childmy child! I thought you were your mother! - But what
whatwhat' he addedsoothingly'has happened? My dearwhat
has brought you here? Who has brought you here?'
'No one. I came alone.'
'Lord bless me!' ejaculated Mr. Grewgious. 'Came alone! Why
didn't you write to me to come and fetch you?'
'I had no time. I took a sudden resolution. Poorpoor Eddy!'
'Ahpoor fellowpoor fellow!'
'His uncle has made love to me. I cannot bear it' said Rosaat
once with a burst of tearsand a stamp of her little foot; 'I
shudder with horror of himand I have come to you to protect me
and all of us from himif you will?'
'I will' cried Mr. Grewgiouswith a sudden rush of amazing
energy. 'Damn him!
Confound his politics!
Frustrate his knavish tricks!
On Thee his hopes to fix?
Damn him again!'
After this most extraordinary outburstMr. Grewgiousquite beside
himselfplunged about the roomto all appearance undecided
whether he was in a fit of loyal enthusiasmor combative
He stopped and saidwiping his face: 'I beg your pardonmy dear
but you will be glad to know I feel better. Tell me no more just
nowor I might do it again. You must be refreshed and cheered.
What did you take last? Was it breakfastlunchdinnerteaor
supper? And what will you take next? Shall it be breakfast
The respectful tenderness with whichon one knee before herhe
helped her to remove her hatand disentangle her pretty hair from
itwas quite a chivalrous sight. Yet whoknowing him only on the
surfacewould have expected chivalry - and of the true sorttoo;
not the spurious - from Mr. Grewgious?
'Your rest too must be provided for' he went on; 'and you shall
have the prettiest chamber in Furnival's. Your toilet must be
provided forand you shall have everything that an unlimited head
chambermaid - by which expression I mean a head chambermaid not
limited as to outlay - can procure. Is that a bag?' he looked hard
at it; sooth to sayit required hard looking at to be seen at all
in a dimly lighted room: 'and is it your propertymy dear?'
'Yessir. I brought it with me.'
'It is not an extensive bag' said Mr. Grewgiouscandidly'though
admirably calculated to contain a day's provision for a canarybird.
Perhaps you brought a canary-bird?'
Rosa smiled and shook her head.
'If you hadhe should have been made welcome' said Mr. Grewgious
'and I think he would have been pleased to be hung upon a nail
outside and pit himself against our Staple sparrows; whose
execution must be admitted to be not quite equal to their
intention. Which is the case with so many of us! You didn't say
what mealmy dear. Have a nice jumble of all meals.'
Rosa thanked himbut said she could only take a cup of tea. Mr.
Grewgiousafter several times running outand in againto
mention such supplementary items as marmaladeeggswatercresses
salted fishand frizzled hamran across to Furnival's without his
hatto give his various directions. And soon afterwards they were
realised in practiceand the board was spread.
'Lord bless my soul' cried Mr. Grewgiousputting the lamp upon
itand taking his seat opposite Rosa; 'what a new sensation for a
poor old Angular bachelorto be sure!'
Rosa's expressive little eyebrows asked him what he meant?
'The sensation of having a sweet young presence in the placethat
whitewashes itpaints itpapers itdecorates it with gilding
and makes it Glorious!' said Mr. Grewgious. 'Ah me! Ah me!'
As there was something mournful in his sighRosain touching him
with her tea-cupventured to touch him with her small hand too.
'Thank youmy dear' said Mr. Grewgious. 'Ahem! Let's talk!'
'Do you always live heresir?' asked Rosa.
'And always alone?'
'Always alone; except that I have daily company in a gentleman by
the name of Bazzardmy clerk.'
'HE doesn't live here?'
'Nohe goes his wayafter office hours. In facthe is off duty
herealtogetherjust at present; and a firm down-stairswith
which I have business relationslend me a substitute. But it
would be extremely difficult to replace Mr. Bazzard.'
'He must be very fond of you' said Rosa.
'He bears up against it with commendable fortitude if he is'
returned Mr. Grewgiousafter considering the matter. 'But I doubt
if he is. Not particularly so. You seehe is discontentedpoor
'Why isn't he contented?' was the natural inquiry.
'Misplaced' said Mr. Grewgiouswith great mystery.
Rosa's eyebrows resumed their inquisitive and perplexed expression.
'So misplaced' Mr. Grewgious went on'that I feel constantly
apologetic towards him. And he feels (though he doesn't mention
it) that I have reason to be.'
Mr. Grewgious had by this time grown so very mysteriousthat Rosa
did not know how to go on. While she was thinking about it Mr.
Grewgious suddenly jerked out of himself for the second time:
'Let's talk. We were speaking of Mr. Bazzard. It's a secretand
moreover it is Mr. Bazzard's secret; but the sweet presence at my
table makes me so unusually expansivethat I feel I must impart it
in inviolable confidence. What do you think Mr. Bazzard has done?'
'O dear!' cried Rosadrawing her chair a little nearerand her
mind reverting to Jasper'nothing dreadfulI hope?'
'He has written a play' said Mr. Grewgiousin a solemn whisper.
Rosa seemed much relieved.
'And nobody' pursued Mr. Grewgious in the same tone'will hear
on any account whateverof bringing it out.'
Rosa looked reflectiveand nodded her head slowly; as who should
say'Such things areand why are they!'
'Nowyou know' said Mr. Grewgious'I couldn't write a play.'
'Not a bad onesir?' said Rosainnocentlywith her eyebrows
again in action.
'No. If I was under sentence of decapitationand was about to be
instantly decapitatedand an express arrived with a pardon for the
condemned convict Grewgious if he wrote a playI should be under
the necessity of resuming the blockand begging the executioner to
proceed to extremities- meaning' said Mr. Grewgiouspassing his
hand under his chin'the singular numberand this extremity.'
Rosa appeared to consider what she would do if the awkward
supposititious case were hers.
'Consequently' said Mr. Grewgious'Mr. Bazzard would have a sense
of my inferiority to himself under any circumstances; but when I am
his masteryou knowthe case is greatly aggravated.'
Mr. Grewgious shook his head seriouslyas if he felt the offence
to be a little too muchthough of his own committing.
'How came you to be his mastersir?' asked Rosa.
'A question that naturally follows' said Mr. Grewgious. 'Let's
talk. Mr. Bazzard's fatherbeing a Norfolk farmerwould have
furiously laid about him with a flaila pitch-forkand every
agricultural implement available for assaulting purposeson the
slightest hint of his son's having written a play. So the son
bringing to me the father's rent (which I receive)imparted his
secretand pointed out that he was determined to pursue his
geniusand that it would put him in peril of starvationand that
he was not formed for it.'
'For pursuing his geniussir?'
'Nomy dear' said Mr. Grewgious'for starvation. It was
impossible to deny the positionthat Mr. Bazzard was not formed to
be starvedand Mr. Bazzard then pointed out that it was desirable
that I should stand between him and a fate so perfectly unsuited to
his formation. In that way Mr. Bazzard became my clerkand he
feels it very much.'
'I am glad he is grateful' said Rosa.
'I didn't quite mean thatmy dear. I meanthat he feels the
degradation. There are some other geniuses that Mr. Bazzard has
become acquainted withwho have also written tragedieswhich
likewise nobody will on any account whatever hear of bringing out
and these choice spirits dedicate their plays to one another in a
highly panegyrical manner. Mr. Bazzard has been the subject of one
of these dedications. Nowyou knowI never had a play dedicated
Rosa looked at him as if she would have liked him to be the
recipient of a thousand dedications.
'Which againnaturallyrubs against the grain of Mr. Bazzard'
said Mr. Grewgious. 'He is very short with me sometimesand then
I feel that he is meditatingThis blockhead is my master! A
fellow who couldn't write a tragedy on pain of death, and who will
never have one dedicated to him with the most complimentary
congratulations on the high position he has taken in the eyes of
posterity!Very tryingvery trying. Howeverin giving him
directionsI reflect beforehand: "Perhaps he may not like this
or He might take it ill if I asked that;" and so we get on very
well. Indeedbetter than I could have expected.'
'Is the tragedy namedsir?' asked Rosa.
'Strictly between ourselves' answered Mr. Grewgious'it has a
dreadfully appropriate name. It is called The Thorn of Anxiety.
But Mr. Bazzard hopes - and I hope - that it will come out at
It was not hard to divine that Mr. Grewgious had related the
Bazzard history thus fullyat least quite as much for the
recreation of his ward's mind from the subject that had driven her
thereas for the gratification of his own tendency to be social
'And nowmy dear' he said at this point'if you are not too
tired to tell me more of what passed to-day - but only if you feel
quite able - I should be glad to hear it. I may digest it the
betterif I sleep on it to-night.'
Rosacomposed nowgave him a faithful account of the interview.
Mr. Grewgious often smoothed his head while it was in progressand
begged to be told a second time those parts which bore on Helena
and Neville. When Rosa had finishedhe sat gravesilentand
meditative for a while.
'Clearly narrated' was his only remark at last'andI hope
clearly put away here' smoothing his head again. 'Seemy dear'
taking her to the open window'where they live! The dark windows
'I may go to Helena to-morrow?' asked Rosa.
'I should like to sleep on that question to-night' he answered
doubtfully. 'But let me take you to your own restfor you must
With that Mr. Grewgious helped her to get her hat on againand
hung upon his arm the very little bag that was of no earthly use
and led her by the hand (with a certain stately awkwardnessas if
he were going to walk a minuet) across Holbornand into Furnival's
Inn. At the hotel doorhe confided her to the Unlimited head
chambermaidand said that while she went up to see her roomhe
would remain belowin case she should wish it exchanged for
anotheror should find that there was anything she wanted.
Rosa's room was airycleancomfortablealmost gay. The
Unlimited had laid in everything omitted from the very little bag
(that is to sayeverything she could possibly need)and Rosa
tripped down the great many stairs againto thank her guardian for
his thoughtful and affectionate care of her.
'Not at allmy dear' said Mr. Grewgiousinfinitely gratified;
'it is I who thank you for your charming confidence and for your
charming company. Your breakfast will be provided for you in a
neatcompactand graceful little sitting-room (appropriate to
your figure)and I will come to you at ten o'clock in the morning.
I hope you don't feel very strange indeedin this strange place.'
'O noI feel so safe!'
'Yesyou may be sure that the stairs are fire-proof' said Mr.
Grewgious'and that any outbreak of the devouring element would be
perceived and suppressed by the watchmen.'
'I did not mean that' Rosa replied. 'I meanI feel so safe from
'There is a stout gate of iron bars to keep him out' said Mr.
Grewgioussmiling; 'and Furnival's is fire-proofand specially
watched and lightedand I live over the way!' In the stoutness of
his knight-errantryhe seemed to think the last-named protection
all sufficient. In the same spirit he said to the gate-porter as
he went out'If some one staying in the hotel should wish to send
across the road to me in the nighta crown will be ready for the
messenger.' In the same spirithe walked up and down outside the
iron gate for the best part of an hourwith some solicitude;
occasionally looking in between the barsas if he had laid a dove
in a high roost in a cage of lionsand had it on his mind that she
might tumble out.
CHAPTER XXI - A RECOGNITION
NOTHING occurred in the night to flutter the tired dove; and the
dove arose refreshed. With Mr. Grewgiouswhen the clock struck
ten in the morningcame Mr. Crisparklewho had come at one plunge
out of the river at Cloisterham.
'Miss Twinkleton was so uneasyMiss Rosa' he explained to her
'and came round to Ma and me with your notein such a state of
wonderthatto quiet herI volunteered on this service by the
very first train to be caught in the morning. I wished at the time
that you had come to me; but now I think it best that you did AS
you didand came to your guardian.'
'I did think of you' Rosa told him; 'but Minor Canon Corner was so
near him - '
'I understand. It was quite natural.'
'I have told Mr. Crisparkle' said Mr. Grewgious'all that you
told me last nightmy dear. Of course I should have written it to
him immediately; but his coming was most opportune. And it was
particularly kind of him to comefor he had but just gone.'
'Have you settled' asked Rosaappealing to them both'what is to
be done for Helena and her brother?'
'Why really' said Mr. Crisparkle'I am in great perplexity. If
even Mr. Grewgiouswhose head is much longer than mineand who is
a whole night's cogitation in advance of meis undecidedwhat
must I be!'
The Unlimited here put her head in at the door - after having
rappedand been authorised to present herself - announcing that a
gentleman wished for a word with another gentleman named
Crisparkleif any such gentleman were there. If no such gentleman
were therehe begged pardon for being mistaken.
'Such a gentleman is here' said Mr. Crisparkle'but is engaged
'Is it a dark gentleman?' interposed Rosaretreating on her
'NoMissmore of a brown gentleman.'
'You are sure not with black hair?' asked Rosataking courage.
'Quite sure of thatMiss. Brown hair and blue eyes.'
'Perhaps' hinted Mr. Grewgiouswith habitual caution'it might
be well to see himreverend sirif you don't object. When one is
in a difficulty or at a lossone never knows in what direction a
way out may chance to open. It is a business principle of minein
such a casenot to close up any directionbut to keep an eye on
every direction that may present itself. I could relate an
anecdote in pointbut that it would be premature.'
'If Miss Rosa will allow methen? Let the gentleman come in'
said Mr. Crisparkle.
The gentleman came in; apologisedwith a frank but modest grace
for not finding Mr. Crisparkle alone; turned to Mr. Crisparkleand
smilingly asked the unexpected question: 'Who am I?'
'You are the gentleman I saw smoking under the trees in Staple Inn
a few minutes ago.'
'True. There I saw you. Who else am I?'
Mr. Crisparkle concentrated his attention on a handsome facemuch
sunburnt; and the ghost of some departed boy seemed to rise
gradually and dimlyin the room.
The gentleman saw a struggling recollection lighten up the Minor
Canon's featuresand smiling againsaid: 'What will you have for
breakfast this morning? You are out of jam.'
'Wait a moment!' cried Mr. Crisparkleraising his right hand.
'Give me another instant! Tartar!'
The two shook hands with the greatest heartinessand then went the
wonderful length - for Englishmen - of laying their hands each on
the other's shouldersand looking joyfully each into the other's
'My old fag!' said Mr. Crisparkle.
'My old master!' said Mr. Tartar.
'You saved me from drowning!' said Mr. Crisparkle.
'After which you took to swimmingyou know!' said Mr. Tartar.
'God bless my soul!' said Mr. Crisparkle.
'Amen!' said Mr. Tartar.
And then they fell to shaking hands most heartily again.
'Imagine' exclaimed Mr. Crisparklewith glistening eyes: 'Miss
Rosa Bud and Mr. Grewgiousimagine Mr. Tartarwhen he was the
smallest of juniorsdiving for mecatching mea big heavy
seniorby the hair of the headand striking out for the shore
with me like a water-giant!'
'Imagine my not letting him sinkas I was his fag!' said Mr.
Tartar. 'But the truth being that he was my best protector and
friendand did me more good than all the masters put togetheran
irrational impulse seized me to pick him upor go down with him.'
'Hem! Permit mesirto have the honour' said Mr. Grewgious
advancing with extended hand'for an honour I truly esteem it.
am proud to make your acquaintance. I hope you didn't take cold.
I hope you were not inconvenienced by swallowing too much water.
How have you been since?'
It was by no means apparent that Mr. Grewgious knew what he said
though it was very apparent that he meant to say something highly
friendly and appreciative.
If HeavenRosa thoughthad but sent such courage and skill to her
poor mother's aid! And he to have been so slight and young then!
'I don't wish to be complimented upon itI thank you; but I think
I have an idea' Mr. Grewgious announcedafter taking a jog-trot
or two across the roomso unexpected and unaccountable that they
all stared at himdoubtful whether he was choking or had the cramp
-'I THINK I have an idea. I believe I have had the pleasure of
seeing Mr. Tartar's name as tenant of the top set in the house next
the top set in the corner?'
'Yessir' returned Mr. Tartar. 'You are right so far.'
'I am right so far' said Mr. Grewgious. 'Tick that off;' which he
didwith his right thumb on his left. 'Might you happen to know
the name of your neighbour in the top set on the other side of the
party-wall?' coming very close to Mr. Tartarto lose nothing of
his facein his shortness of sight.
'Tick that off' said Mr. Grewgioustaking another trotand then
coming back. 'No personal knowledgeI supposesir?'
'Tick that off' said Mr. Grewgioustaking another trotand again
coming back. 'Nature of knowledgeMr. Tartar?'
'I thought he seemed to be a young fellow in a poor wayand I
asked his leave - only within a day or so - to share my flowers up
there with him; that is to sayto extend my flower-garden to his
'Would you have the kindness to take seats?' said Mr. Grewgious.
'I HAVE an idea!'
They complied; Mr. Tartar none the less readilyfor being all
abroad; and Mr. Grewgiousseated in the centrewith his hands
upon his kneesthus stated his ideawith his usual manner of
having got the statement by heart.
'I cannot as yet make up my mind whether it is prudent to hold open
communication under present circumstancesand on the part of the
fair member of the present companywith Mr. Neville or Miss
Helena. I have reason to know that a local friend of ours (on whom
I beg to bestow a passing but a hearty maledictionwith the kind
permission of my reverend friend) sneaks to and froand dodges up
and down. When not doing so himselfhe may have some informant
skulking aboutin the person of a watchmanporteror such-like
hanger-on of Staple. On the other handMiss Rosa very naturally
wishes to see her friend Miss Helenaand it would seem important
that at least Miss Helena (if not her brother toothrough her)
should privately know from Miss Rosa's lips what has occurredand
what has been threatened. Am I agreed with generally in the views
'I entirely coincide with them' said Mr. Crisparklewho had been
'As I have no doubt I should' added Mr. Tartarsmiling'if I
'Fair and softlysir' said Mr. Grewgious; 'we shall fully confide
in you directlyif you will favour us with your permission. Now
if our local friend should have any informant on the spotit is
tolerably clear that such informant can only be set to watch the
chambers in the occupation of Mr. Neville. He reportingto our
local friendwho comes and goes thereour local friend would
supply for himselffrom his own previous knowledgethe identity
of the parties. Nobody can be set to watch all Stapleor to
concern himself with comers and goers to other sets of chambers:
'I begin to understand to what you tend' said Mr. Crisparkle'and
highly approve of your caution.'
'I needn't repeat that I know nothing yet of the why and
wherefore' said Mr. Tartar; 'but I also understand to what you
tendso let me say at once that my chambers are freely at your
'There!' cried Mr. Grewgioussmoothing his head triumphantly'now
we have all got the idea. You have itmy dear?'
'I think I have' said Rosablushing a little as Mr. Tartar looked
quickly towards her.
'You seeyou go over to Staple with Mr. Crisparkle and Mr.
Tartar' said Mr. Grewgious; 'I going in and outand out and in
alonein my usual way; you go up with those gentlemen to Mr.
Tartar's rooms; you look into Mr. Tartar's flower-garden; you wait
for Miss Helena's appearance thereor you signify to Miss Helena
that you are close by; and you communicate with her freelyand no
spy can be the wiser.'
'I am very much afraid I shall be - '
'Be whatmy dear?' asked Mr. Grewgiousas she hesitated. 'Not
'Nonot that' said Rosashyly; 'in Mr. Tartar's way. We seem to
be appropriating Mr. Tartar's residence so very coolly.'
'I protest to you' returned that gentleman'that I shall think
the better of it for evermoreif your voice sounds in it only
Rosanot quite knowing what to say about thatcast down her eyes
and turning to Mr. Grewgiousdutifully asked if she should put her
hat on? Mr. Grewgious being of opinion that she could not do
bettershe withdrew for the purpose. Mr. Crisparkle took the
opportunity of giving Mr. Tartar a summary of the distresses of
Neville and his sister; the opportunity was quite long enoughas
the hat happened to require a little extra fitting on.
Mr. Tartar gave his arm to Rosaand Mr. Crisparkle walked
'Poorpoor Eddy!' thought Rosaas they went along.
Mr. Tartar waved his right hand as he bent his head down over Rosa
talking in an animated way.
'It was not so powerful or so sun-browned when it saved Mr.
Crisparkle' thought Rosaglancing at it; 'but it must have been
very steady and determined even then.'
Mr. Tartar told her he had been a sailorroving everywhere for
years and years.
'When are you going to sea again?' asked Rosa.
Rosa wondered what the girls would say if they could see her
crossing the wide street on the sailor's arm. And she fancied that
the passers-by must think her very little and very helpless
contrasted with the strong figure that could have caught her up and
carried her out of any dangermiles and miles without resting.
She was thinking furtherthat his far-seeing blue eyes looked as
if they had been used to watch danger afar offand to watch it
without flinchingdrawing nearer and nearer: whenhappening to
raise her own eyesshe found that he seemed to be thinking
something about THEM.
This a little confused Rosebudand may account for her never
afterwards quite knowing how she ascended (with his help) to his
garden in the airand seemed to get into a marvellous country that
came into sudden bloom like the country on the summit of the magic
bean-stalk. May it flourish for ever!
CHAPTER XXII - A GRITTY STATE OF THINGS COMES ON
MR. TARTAR'S chambers were the neatestthe cleanestand the bestordered
chambers ever seen under the sunmoonand stars. The
floors were scrubbed to that extentthat you might have supposed
the London blacks emancipated for everand gone out of the land
for good. Every inch of brass-work in Mr. Tartar's possession was
polished and burnishedtill it shone like a brazen mirror. No
specknor spotnor spatter soiled the purity of any of Mr.
Tartar's household godslargesmallor middle-sized. His
sitting-room was like the admiral's cabinhis bath-room was like a
dairyhis sleeping-chamberfitted all about with lockers and
drawerswas like a seedsman's shop; and his nicely-balanced cot
just stirred in the midstas if it breathed. Everything belonging
to Mr. Tartar had quarters of its own assigned to it: his maps and
charts had their quarters; his books had theirs; his brushes had
theirs; his boots had theirs; his clothes had theirs; his casebottles
had theirs; his telescopes and other instruments had
theirs. Everything was readily accessible. Shelfbracket
lockerhookand drawer were equally within reachand were
equally contrived with a view to avoiding waste of roomand
providing some snug inches of stowage for something that would have
exactly fitted nowhere else. His gleaming little service of plate
was so arranged upon his sideboard as that a slack salt-spoon would
have instantly betrayed itself; his toilet implements were so
arranged upon his dressing-table as that a toothpick of slovenly
deportment could have been reported at a glance. So with the
curiosities he had brought home from various voyages. Stuffed
driedrepolishedor otherwise preservedaccording to their kind;
birdsfishesreptilesarmsarticles of dressshellsseaweeds
grassesor memorials of coral reef; each was displayed in its
especial placeand each could have been displayed in no better
place. Paint and varnish seemed to be kept somewhere out of sight
in constant readiness to obliterate stray finger-marks wherever any
might become perceptible in Mr. Tartar's chambers. No man-of-war
was ever kept more spick and span from careless touch. On this
bright summer daya neat awning was rigged over Mr. Tartar's
flower-garden as only a sailor can rig itand there was a sea
going air upon the whole effectso delightfully completethat the
flower-garden might have appertained to stern-windows afloatand
the whole concern might have bowled away gallantly with all on
boardif Mr. Tartar had only clapped to his lips the speakingtrumpet
that was slung in a cornerand given hoarse orders to
heave the anchor uplook alive theremenand get all sail upon
Mr. Tartar doing the honours of this gallant craft was of a piece
with the rest. When a man rides an amiable hobby that shies at
nothing and kicks nobodyit is only agreeable to find him riding
it with a humorous sense of the droll side of the creature. When
the man is a cordial and an earnest man by natureand withal is
perfectly fresh and genuineit may be doubted whether he is ever
seen to greater advantage than at such a time. So Rosa would have
naturally thought (even if she hadn't been conducted over the ship
with all the homage due to the First Lady of the Admiraltyor
First Fairy of the Sea)that it was charming to see and hear Mr.
Tartar half laughing atand half rejoicing inhis various
contrivances. So Rosa would have naturally thoughtanyhowthat
the sunburnt sailor showed to great advantage whenthe inspection
finishedhe delicately withdrew out of his admiral's cabin
beseeching her to consider herself its Queenand waving her free
of his flower-garden with the hand that had had Mr. Crisparkle's
life in it.
'Helena! Helena Landless! Are you there?'
'Who speaks to me? Not Rosa?' Then a second handsome face
'Whyhow did you come heredearest?'
'I - I don't quite know' said Rosa with a blush; 'unless I am
Why with a blush? For their two faces were alone with the other
flowers. Are blushes among the fruits of the country of the magic
'I am not dreaming' said Helenasmiling. 'I should take more for
granted if I were. How do we come together - or so near together -
so very unexpectedly?'
Unexpectedly indeedamong the dingy gables and chimney-pots of P.
J. T.'s connectionand the flowers that had sprung from the salt
sea. But Rosawakingtold in a hurry how they came to be
togetherand all the why and wherefore of that matter.
'And Mr. Crisparkle is here' said Rosain rapid conclusion; 'and
could you believe it? long ago he saved his life!'
'I could believe any such thing of Mr. Crisparkle' returned
Helenawith a mantling face.
(More blushes in the bean-stalk country!)
'Yesbut it wasn't Crisparkle' said Rosaquickly putting in the
'I don't understandlove.'
'It was very nice of Mr. Crisparkle to be saved' said Rosa'and
he couldn't have shown his high opinion of Mr. Tartar more
expressively. But it was Mr. Tartar who saved him.'
Helena's dark eyes looked very earnestly at the bright face among
the leavesand she askedin a slower and more thoughtful tone:
'Is Mr. Tartar with you nowdear?'
'No; because he has given up his rooms to me - to usI mean. It
is such a beautiful place!'
'It is like the inside of the most exquisite ship that ever sailed.
It is like - it is like - '
'Like a dream?' suggested Helena.
Rosa answered with a little nodand smelled the flowers.
Helena resumedafter a short pause of silenceduring which she
seemed (or it was Rosa's fancy) to compassionate somebody: 'My
poor Neville is reading in his own roomthe sun being so very
bright on this side just now. I think he had better not know that
you are so near.'
'OI think so too!' cried Rosa very readily.
'I suppose' pursued Helenadoubtfully'that he must know by-andby
all you have told me; but I am not sure. Ask Mr. Crisparkle's
advicemy darling. Ask him whether I may tell Neville as much or
as little of what you have told me as I think best.'
Rosa subsided into her state-cabinand propounded the question.
The Minor Canon was for the free exercise of Helena's judgment.
'I thank him very much' said Helenawhen Rosa emerged again with
her report. 'Ask him whether it would be best to wait until any
more maligning and pursuing of Neville on the part of this wretch
shall disclose itselfor to try to anticipate it: I meanso far
as to find out whether any such goes on darkly about us?'
The Minor Canon found this point so difficult to give a confident
opinion onthatafter two or three attempts and failureshe
suggested a reference to Mr. Grewgious. Helena acquiescinghe
betook himself (with a most unsuccessful assumption of lounging
indifference) across the quadrangle to P. J. T.'sand stated it.
Mr. Grewgious held decidedly to the general principlethat if you
could steal a march upon a brigand or a wild beastyou had better
do it; and he also held decidedly to the special casethat John
Jasper was a brigand and a wild beast in combination.
Thus advisedMr. Crisparkle came back again and reported to Rosa
who in her turn reported to Helena. She now steadily pursuing her
train of thought at her windowconsidered thereupon.
'We may count on Mr. Tartar's readiness to help usRosa?' she
O yes! Rosa shyly thought so. O yesRosa shyly believed she
could almost answer for it. But should she ask Mr. Crisparkle? 'I
think your authority on the point as good as hismy dear' said
Helenasedately'and you needn't disappear again for that.' Odd
'You seeNeville' Helena pursued after more reflection'knows no
one else here: he has not so much as exchanged a word with any one
else here. If Mr. Tartar would call to see him openly and often;
if he would spare a minute for the purposefrequently; if he would
even do soalmost daily; something might come of it.'
'Something might come of itdear?' repeated Rosasurveying her
friend's beauty with a highly perplexed face. 'Something might?'
'If Neville's movements are really watchedand if the purpose
really is to isolate him from all friends and acquaintance and wear
his daily life out grain by grain (which would seem to be the
threat to you)does it not appear likely' said Helena'that his
enemy would in some way communicate with Mr. Tartar to warn him off
from Neville? In which casewe might not only know the factbut
might know from Mr. Tartar what the terms of the communication
'I see!' cried Rosa. And immediately darted into her state-cabin
Presently her pretty face reappearedwith a greatly heightened
colourand she said that she had told Mr. Crisparkleand that Mr.
Crisparkle had fetched in Mr. Tartarand that Mr. Tartar - 'who is
waiting nowin case you want him' added Rosawith a half look
backand in not a little confusion between the inside of the
state-cabin and out - had declared his readiness to act as she had
suggestedand to enter on his task that very day.
'I thank him from my heart' said Helena. 'Pray tell him so.'
Again not a little confused between the Flower-garden and the
CabinRosa dipped in with her messageand dipped out again with
more assurances from Mr. Tartarand stood wavering in a divided
state between Helena and himwhich proved that confusion is not
always necessarily awkwardbut may sometimes present a very
'And nowdarling' said Helena'we will be mindful of the caution
that has restricted us to this interview for the presentand will
part. I hear Neville moving too. Are you going back?'
'To Miss Twinkleton's?' asked Rosa.
'OI could never go there any more. I couldn't indeedafter that
dreadful interview!' said Rosa.
'Then where ARE you goingpretty one?'
'Now I come to think of itI don't know' said Rosa. 'I have
settled nothing at all yetbut my guardian will take care of me.
Don't be uneasydear. I shall be sure to be somewhere.'
(It did seem likely.)
'And I shall hear of my Rosebud from Mr. Tartar?' inquired Helena.
'YesI suppose so; from - ' Rosa looked back again in a flutter
instead of supplying the name. 'But tell me one thing before we
partdearest Helena. Tell me - that you are suresuresureI
couldn't help it.'
'Help making him malicious and revengeful. I couldn't hold any
terms with himcould I?'
'You know how I love youdarling' answered Helenawith
indignation; 'but I would sooner see you dead at his wicked feet.'
'That's a great comfort to me! And you will tell your poor brother
sowon't you? And you will give him my remembrance and my
sympathy? And you will ask him not to hate me?'
With a mournful shake of the headas if that would be quite a
superfluous entreatyHelena lovingly kissed her two hands to her
friendand her friend's two hands were kissed to her; and then she
saw a third hand (a brown one) appear among the flowers and leaves
and help her friend out of sight.
The refection that Mr. Tartar produced in the Admiral's Cabin by
merely touching the spring knob of a locker and the handle of a
drawerwas a dazzling enchanted repast. Wonderful macaroons
glittering liqueursmagically-preserved tropical spicesand
jellies of celestial tropical fruitsdisplayed themselves
profusely at an instant's notice. But Mr. Tartar could not make
time stand still; and timewith his hard-hearted fleetnessstrode
on so fastthat Rosa was obliged to come down from the bean-stalk
country to earth and her guardian's chambers.
'And nowmy dear' said Mr. Grewgious'what is to be done next?
To put the same thought in another form; what is to be done with
Rosa could only look apologetically sensible of being very much in
her own way and in everybody else's. Some passing idea of living
fireproofup a good many stairs in Furnival's Inn for the rest of
her lifewas the only thing in the nature of a plan that occurred
'It has come into my thoughts' said Mr. Grewgious'that as the
respected ladyMiss Twinkletonoccasionally repairs to London in
the recesswith the view of extending her connectionand being
available for interviews with metropolitan parentsif any -
whetheruntil we have time in which to turn ourselves roundwe
might invite Miss Twinkleton to come and stay with you for a
'Whether' explained Mr. Grewgious'we might take a furnished
lodging in town for a monthand invite Miss Twinkleton to assume
the charge of you in it for that period?'
'And afterwards?' hinted Rosa.
'And afterwards' said Mr. Grewgious'we should be no worse off
than we are now.'
'I think that might smooth the way' assented Rosa.
'Then let us' said Mr. Grewgiousrising'go and look for a
furnished lodging. Nothing could be more acceptable to me than the
sweet presence of last eveningfor all the remaining evenings of
my existence; but these are not fit surroundings for a young lady.
Let us set out in quest of adventuresand look for a furnished
lodging. In the meantimeMr. Crisparkle hereabout to return
home immediatelywill no doubt kindly see Miss Twinkletonand
invite that lady to co-operate in our plan.'
Mr. Crisparklewillingly accepting the commissiontook his
departure; Mr. Grewgious and his ward set forth on their
As Mr. Grewgious's idea of looking at a furnished lodging was to
get on the opposite side of the street to a house with a suitable
bill in the windowand stare at it; and then work his way
tortuously to the back of the houseand stare at that; and then
not go inbut make similar trials of another housewith the same
result; their progress was but slow. At length he bethought
himself of a widowed cousindivers times removedof Mr.
Bazzard'swho had once solicited his influence in the lodger
worldand who lived in Southampton StreetBloomsbury Square.
This lady's namestated in uncompromising capitals of considerable
size on a brass door-plateand yet not lucidly as to sex or
Personal faintnessand an overpowering personal candourwere the
distinguishing features of Mrs. Billickin's organisation. She came
languishing out of her own exclusive back parlourwith the air of
having been expressly brought-to for the purposefrom an
accumulation of several swoons.
'I hope I see you wellsir' said Mrs. Billickinrecognising her
visitor with a bend.
'Thank youquite well. And youma'am?' returned Mr. Grewgious.
'I am as well' said Mrs. Billickinbecoming aspirational with
excess of faintness'as I hever ham.'
'My ward and an elderly lady' said Mr. Grewgious'wish to find a
genteel lodging for a month or so. Have you any apartments
'Mr. Grewgious' returned Mrs. Billickin'I will not deceive you;
far from it. I HAVE apartments available.'
This with the air of adding: 'Convey me to the stakeif you will;
but while I liveI will be candid.'
'And nowwhat apartmentsma'am?' asked Mr. Grewgiouscosily. To
tame a certain severity apparent on the part of Mrs. Billickin.
'There is this sitting-room - whichcall it what you willit is
the front parlourMiss' said Mrs. Billickinimpressing Rosa into
the conversation: 'the back parlour being what I cling to and
never part with; and there is two bedrooms at the top of the 'ouse
with gas laid on. I do not tell you that your bedroom floors is
firmfor firm they are not. The gas-fitter himself allowedthat
to make a firm jobhe must go right under your jistesand it were
not worth the outlay as a yearly tenant so to do. The piping is
carried above your jistesand it is best that it should be made
known to you.'
Mr. Grewgious and Rosa exchanged looks of some dismaythough they
had not the least idea what latent horrors this carriage of the
piping might involve. Mrs. Billickin put her hand to her heartas
having eased it of a load.
'Well! The roof is all rightno doubt' said Mr. Grewgious
plucking up a little.
'Mr. Grewgious' returned Mrs. Billickin'if I was to tell you
sirthat to have nothink above you is to have a floor above youI
should put a deception upon you which I will not do. Nosir.
Your slates WILL rattle loose at that elewation in windy weather
do your utmostbest or worst! I defy yousirbe you what you
mayto keep your slates tighttry how you can.' Here Mrs.
Billickinhaving been warm with Mr. Grewgiouscooled a little
not to abuse the moral power she held over him. 'Consequent'
proceeded Mrs. Billickinmore mildlybut still firmly in her
incorruptible candour: 'consequent it would be worse than of no
use for me to trapse and travel up to the top of the 'ouse with
youand for you to sayMrs. Billickin, what stain do I notice in
the ceiling, for a stain I do consider it?and for me to answer
I do not understand you, sir.NosirI will not be so
underhand. I DO understand you before you pint it out. It is the
wetsir. It do come inand it do not come in. You may lay dry
there half your lifetime; but the time will comeand it is best
that you should know itwhen a dripping sop would be no name for
Mr. Grewgious looked much disgraced by being prefigured in this
'Have you any other apartmentsma'am?' he asked.
'Mr. Grewgious' returned Mrs. Billickinwith much solemnity'I
have. You ask me have Iand my open and my honest answer airI
have. The first and second floors is wacantand sweet rooms.'
'Comecome! There's nothing against THEM' said Mr. Grewgious
'Mr. Grewgious' replied Mrs. Billickin'pardon methere is the
stairs. Unless your mind is prepared for the stairsit will lead
to inevitable disappointment. You cannotMiss' said Mrs.
Billickinaddressing Rosa reproachfully'place a first floorand
far less a secondon the level footing 'of a parlour. Noyou
cannot do itMissit is beyond your powerand wherefore try?'
Mrs. Billickin put it very feelinglyas if Rosa had shown a
headstrong determination to hold the untenable position.
'Can we see these roomsma'am?' inquired her guardian.
'Mr. Grewgious' returned Mrs. Billickin'you can. I will not
disguise it from yousir; you can.'
Mrs. Billickin then sent into her back parlour for her shawl (it
being a state fictiondating from immemorial antiquitythat she
could never go anywhere without being wrapped up)and having been
enrolled by her attendantled the way. She made various genteel
pauses on the stairs for breathand clutched at her heart in the
drawing-room as if it had very nearly got looseand she had caught
it in the act of taking wing.
'And the second floor?' said Mr. Grewgiouson finding the first
'Mr. Grewgious' replied Mrs. Billickinturning upon him with
ceremonyas if the time had now come when a distinct understanding
on a difficult point must be arrived atand a solemn confidence
established'the second floor is over this.'
'Can we see that tooma'am?'
'Yessir' returned Mrs. Billickin'it is open as the day.'
That also proving satisfactoryMr. Grewgious retired into a window
with Rosa for a few words of consultationand then asking for pen
and inksketched out a line or two of agreement. In the meantime
Mrs. Billickin took a seatand delivered a kind of Index toor
Abstract ofthe general question.
'Five-and-forty shillings per week by the month certain at the time
of year' said Mrs. Billickin'is only reasonable to both parties.
It is not Bond Street nor yet St. James's Palace; but it is not
pretended that it is. Neither is it attempted to be denied - for
why should it? - that the Arching leads to a mews. Mewses must
exist. Respecting attendance; two is kep'at liberal wages.
Words HAS arisen as to tradesmenbut dirty shoes on fresh hearthstoning
was attributableand no wish for a commission on your
orders. Coals is either BY the fireor PER the scuttle.' She
emphasised the prepositions as marking a subtle but immense
difference. 'Dogs is not viewed with favour. Besides litterthey
gets stoleand sharing suspicions is apt to creep inand
unpleasantness takes place.'
By this time Mr. Grewgious had his agreement-linesand his
earnest-moneyready. 'I have signed it for the ladiesma'am' he
said'and you'll have the goodness to sign it for yourself
Christian and Surnamethereif you please.'
'Mr. Grewgious' said Mrs. Billickin in a new burst of candour
'nosir! You must excuse the Christian name.'
Mr. Grewgious stared at her.
'The door-plate is used as a protection' said Mrs. Billickin'and
acts as suchand go from it I will not.'
Mr. Grewgious stared at Rosa.
'NoMr. Grewgiousyou must excuse me. So long as this 'ouse is
known indefinite as Billickin'sand so long as it is a doubt with
the riff-raff where Billickin may be hidin'near the street-door
or down the airyand what his weight and sizeso long I feel
safe. But commit myself to a solitary female statementnoMiss!
Nor would you for a moment wish' said Mrs. Billickinwith a
strong sense of injury'to take that advantage of your sexif you
were not brought to it by inconsiderate example.'
Rosa reddening as if she had made some most disgraceful attempt to
overreach the good ladybesought Mr. Grewgious to rest content
with any signature. And accordinglyin a baronial waythe signmanual
BILLICKIN got appended to the document.
Details were then settled for taking possession on the next day but
onewhen Miss Twinkleton might be reasonably expected; and Rosa
went back to Furnival's Inn on her guardian's arm.
Behold Mr. Tartar walking up and down Furnival's Innchecking
himself when he saw them comingand advancing towards them!
'It occurred to me' hinted Mr. Tartar'that we might go up the
riverthe weather being so delicious and the tide serving. I have
a boat of my own at the Temple Stairs.'
'I have not been up the river for this many a day' said Mr.
'I was never up the river' added Rosa.
Within half an hour they were setting this matter right by going up
the river. The tide was running with themthe afternoon was
charming. Mr. Tartar's boat was perfect. Mr. Tartar and Lobley
(Mr. Tartar's man) pulled a pair of oars. Mr. Tartar had a yacht
it seemedlying somewhere down by Greenhithe; and Mr. Tartar's man
had charge of this yachtand was detached upon his present
service. He was a jolly-favoured manwith tawny hair and
whiskersand a big red face. He was the dead image of the sun in
old woodcutshis hair and whiskers answering for rays all around
him. Resplendent in the bow of the boathe was a shining sight
with a man-of-war's man's shirt on - or offaccording to opinion -
and his arms and breast tattooed all sorts of patterns. Lobley
seemed to take it easilyand so did Mr. Tartar; yet their oars
bent as they pulledand the boat bounded under them. Mr. Tartar
talked as if he were doing nothingto Rosa who was really doing
nothingand to Mr. Grewgious who was doing this much that he
steered all wrong; but what did that matterwhen a turn of Mr.
Tartar's skilful wristor a mere grin of Mr. Lobley's over the
bowput all to rights! The tide bore them on in the gayest and
most sparkling manneruntil they stopped to dine in some everlastingly-
green gardenneeding no matter-of-fact identification
here; and then the tide obligingly turned - being devoted to that
party alone for that day; and as they floated idly among some
osier-bedsRosa tried what she could do in the rowing wayand
came off splendidlybeing much assisted; and Mr. Grewgious tried
what he could doand came off on his backdoubled up with an oar
under his chinbeing not assisted at all. Then there was an
interval of rest under boughs (such rest!) what time Mr. Lobley
moppedandarranging cushionsstretchersand the likedanced
the tight-rope the whole length of the boat like a man to whom
shoes were a superstition and stockings slavery; and then came the
sweet return among delicious odours of limes in bloomand musical
ripplings; andall too soonthe great black city cast its shadow
on the watersand its dark bridges spanned them as death spans
lifeand the everlastingly-green garden seemed to be left for
everlastingunregainable and far away.
'Cannot people get through life without gritty stagesI wonder?'
Rosa thought next daywhen the town was very gritty againand
everything had a strange and an uncomfortable appearance of seeming
to wait for something that wouldn't come. NO. She began to think
thatnow the Cloisterham school-days had glided past and gonethe
gritty stages would begin to set in at intervals and make
themselves wearily known!
Yet what did Rosa expect? Did she expect Miss Twinkleton? Miss
Twinkleton duly came. Forth from her back parlour issued the
Billickin to receive Miss Twinkletonand War was in the
Billickin's eye from that fell moment.
Miss Twinkleton brought a quantity of luggage with herhaving all
Rosa's as well as her own. The Billickin took it ill that Miss
Twinkleton's mindbeing sorely disturbed by this luggagefailed
to take in her personal identity with that clearness of perception
which was due to its demands. Stateliness mounted her gloomy
throne upon the Billickin's brow in consequence. And when Miss
Twinkletonin agitation taking stock of her trunks and packages
of which she had seventeenparticularly counted in the Billickin
herself as number eleventhe B. found it necessary to repudiate.
'Things cannot too soon be put upon the footing' said shewith a
candour so demonstrative as to be almost obtrusive'that the
person of the 'ouse is not a box nor yet a bundlenor a carpetbag.
NoI am 'ily obleeged to youMiss Twinkletonnor yet a
This last disclaimer had reference to Miss Twinkleton's
distractedly pressing two-and-sixpence on herinstead of the
Thus cast offMiss Twinkleton wildly inquired'which gentleman'
was to be paid? There being two gentlemen in that position (Miss
Twinkleton having arrived with two cabs)each gentleman on being
paid held forth his two-and-sixpence on the flat of his open hand
andwith a speechless stare and a dropped jawdisplayed his wrong
to heaven and earth. Terrified by this alarming spectacleMiss
Twinkleton placed another shilling in each hand; at the same time
appealing to the law in flurried accentsand recounting her
luggage this time with the two gentlemen inwho caused the total
to come out complicated. Meanwhile the two gentlemeneach looking
very hard at the last shilling grumblinglyas if it might become
eighteen-pence if he kept his eyes on itdescended the doorsteps
ascended their carriagesand drove awayleaving Miss Twinkleton
on a bonnet-box in tears.
The Billickin beheld this manifestation of weakness without
sympathyand gave directions for 'a young man to be got in' to
wrestle with the luggage. When that gladiator had disappeared from
the arenapeace ensuedand the new lodgers dined.
But the Billickin had somehow come to the knowledge that Miss
Twinkleton kept a school. The leap from that knowledge to the
inference that Miss Twinkleton set herself to teach HER something
was easy. 'But you don't do it' soliloquised the Billickin; 'I am
not your pupilwhatever she' meaning Rosa'may bepoor thing!'
Miss Twinkletonon the other handhaving changed her dress and
recovered her spiritswas animated by a bland desire to improve
the occasion in all waysand to be as serene a model as possible.
In a happy compromise between her two states of existenceshe had
already becomewith her workbasket before herthe equably
vivacious companion with a slight judicious flavouring of
informationwhen the Billickin announced herself.
'I will not hide from youladies' said the B.enveloped in the
shawl of state'for it is not my character to hide neither my
motives nor my actionsthat I take the liberty to look in upon you
to express a 'ope that your dinner was to your liking. Though not
Professed but Plainstill her wages should be a sufficient object
to her to stimilate to soar above mere roast and biled.'
'We dined very well indeed' said Rosa'thank you.'
'Accustomed' said Miss Twinkleton with a gracious airwhich to
the jealous ears of the Billickin seemed to add 'my good woman' -
'accustomed to a liberal and nutritiousyet plain and salutary
dietwe have found no reason to bemoan our absence from the
ancient cityand the methodical householdin which the quiet
routine of our lot has been hitherto cast.'
'I did think it well to mention to my cook' observed the Billickin
with a gush of candour'which I 'ope you will agree withMiss
Twinkletonwas a right precautionthat the young lady being used
to what we should consider here but poor diethad better be
brought forward by degrees. Fora rush from scanty feeding to
generous feedingand from what you may call messing to what you
may call methoddo require a power of constitution which is not
often found in youthparticular when undermined by boardingschool!'
It will be seen that the Billickin now openly pitted herself
against Miss Twinkletonas one whom she had fully ascertained to
be her natural enemy.
'Your remarks' returned Miss Twinkletonfrom a remote moral
eminence'are well meantI have no doubt; but you will permit me
to observe that they develop a mistaken view of the subjectwhich
can only be imputed to your extreme want of accurate information.'
'My informiation' retorted the Billickinthrowing in an extra
syllable for the sake of emphasis at once polite and powerful - 'my
informiationMiss Twinkletonwere my own experiencewhich I
believe is usually considered to be good guidance. But whether so
or notI was put in youth to a very genteel boarding-schoolthe
mistress being no less a lady than yourselfof about your own age
or it may be some years youngerand a poorness of blood flowed
from the table which has run through my life.'
'Very likely' said Miss Twinkletonstill from her distant
eminence; 'and very much to be deplored. - Rosamy dearhow are
you getting on with your work?'
'Miss Twinkleton' resumed the Billickinin a courtly manner
'before retiring on the 'intas a lady shouldI wish to ask of
yourselfas a ladywhether I am to consider that my words is
'I am not aware on what ground you cherish such a supposition'
began Miss Twinkletonwhen the Billickin neatly stopped her.
'Do notif you pleaseput suppositions betwixt my lips where none
such have been imparted by myself. Your flow of words is great
Miss Twinkletonand no doubt is expected from you by your pupils
and no doubt is considered worth the money. NO doubtI am sure.
But not paying for flows of wordsand not asking to be favoured
with them hereI wish to repeat my question.'
'If you refer to the poverty of your circulation' began Miss
Twinkletonwhen again the Billickin neatly stopped her.
'I have used no such expressions.'
'If you referthento the poorness of your blood - '
'Brought upon me' stipulated the Billickinexpressly'at a
boarding-school - '
'Then' resumed Miss Twinkleton'all I can say isthat I am bound
to believeon your asseverationthat it is very poor indeed. I
cannot forbear addingthat if that unfortunate circumstance
influences your conversationit is much to be lamentedand it is
eminently desirable that your blood were richer. - Rosamy dear
how are you getting on with your work?'
'Hem! Before retiringMiss' proclaimed the Billickin to Rosa
loftily cancelling Miss Twinkleton'I should wish it to be
understood between yourself and me that my transactions in future
is with you alone. I know no elderly lady hereMissnone older
'A highly desirable arrangementRosa my dear' observed Miss
'It is notMiss' said the Billickinwith a sarcastic smile
'that I possess the Mill I have heard ofin which old single
ladies could be ground up young (what a gift it would be to some of
us)but that I limit myself to you totally.'
'When I have any desire to communicate a request to the person of
the houseRosa my dear' observed Miss Twinkleton with majestic
cheerfulness'I will make it known to youand you will kindly
undertakeI am surethat it is conveyed to the proper quarter.'
'Good-eveningMiss' said the Billickinat once affectionately
and distantly. 'Being alone in my eyesI wish you good-evening
with best wishesand do not find myself droveI am truly 'appy to
sayinto expressing my contempt for an indiwidualunfortunately
for yourselfbelonging to you.'
The Billickin gracefully withdrew with this parting speechand
from that time Rosa occupied the restless position of shuttlecock
between these two battledores. Nothing could be done without a
smart match being played out. Thuson the daily-arising question
of dinnerMiss Twinkleton would saythe three being present
'Perhapsmy loveyou will consult with the person of the house
whether she can procure us a lamb's fry; orfailing thata roast
On which the Billickin would retort (Rosa not having spoken a
word)'If you was better accustomed to butcher's meatMissyou
would not entertain the idea of a lamb's fry. Firstlybecause
lambs has long been sheepand secondlybecause there is such
things as killing-daysand there is not. As to roast fowlsMiss
why you must be quite surfeited with roast fowlsletting alone
your buyingwhen you market for yourselfthe agedest of poultry
with the scaliest of legsquite as if you was accustomed to
picking 'em out for cheapness. Try a little inwentionMiss. Use
yourself to 'ousekeeping a bit. Come nowthink of somethink
To this encouragementoffered with the indulgent toleration of a
wise and liberal expertMiss Twinkleton would rejoinreddening:
'Ormy dearyou might propose to the person of the house a duck.'
'WellMiss!' the Billickin would exclaim (still no word being
spoken by Rosa)'you do surprise me when you speak of ducks! Not
to mention that they're getting out of season and very dearit
really strikes to my heart to see you have a duck; for the breast
which is the only delicate cuts in a duckalways goes in a
direction which I cannot imagine whereand your own plate comes
down so miserably skin-and-bony! Try againMiss. Think more of
yourselfand less of others. A dish of sweetbreads nowor a bit
of mutton. Something at which you can get your equal chance.'
Occasionally the game would wax very brisk indeedand would be
kept up with a smartness rendering such an encounter as this quite
tame. But the Billickin almost invariably made by far the higher
score; and would come in with side hits of the most unexpected and
extraordinary descriptionwhen she seemed without a chance.
All this did not improve the gritty state of things in Londonor
the air that London had acquired in Rosa's eyes of waiting for
something that never came. Tired of workingand conversing with
Miss Twinkletonshe suggested working and reading: to which Miss
Twinkleton readily assentedas an admirable readerof tried
powers. But Rosa soon made the discovery that Miss Twinkleton
didn't read fairly. She cut the love-scenesinterpolated passages
in praise of female celibacyand was guilty of other glaring pious
frauds. As an instance in pointtake the glowing passage: 'Ever
dearest and best adored- said Edwardclasping the dear head to
his breastand drawing the silken hair through his caressing
fingersfrom which he suffered it to fall like golden rain- ever
dearest and best adoredlet us fly from the unsympathetic world
and the sterile coldness of the stony-heartedto the rich warm
Paradise of Trust and Love.' Miss Twinkleton's fraudulent version
tamely ran thus: 'Ever engaged to me with the consent of our
parents on both sidesand the approbation of the silver-haired
rector of the district- said Edwardrespectfully raising to his
lips the taper fingers so skilful in embroiderytambourcrochet
and other truly feminine arts- let me call on thy papa ere tomorrow's
dawn has sunk into the westand propose a suburban
establishmentlowly it may bebut within our meanswhere he will
be always welcome as an evening guestand where every arrangement
shall invest economyand constant interchange of scholastic
acquirements with the attributes of the ministering angel to
As the days crept on and nothing happenedthe neighbours began to
say that the pretty girl at Billickin'swho looked so wistfully
and so much out of the gritty windows of the drawing-roomseemed
to be losing her spirits. The pretty girl might have lost them but
for the accident of lighting on some books of voyages and seaadventure.
As a compensation against their romanceMiss
Twinkletonreading aloudmade the most of all the latitudes and
statistics (which she felt to be none the less improving because
they expressed nothing whatever to her); while Rosalistening
intentlymade the most of what was nearest to her heart. So they
both did better than before.
CHAPTER XXIII - THE DAWN AGAIN
ALTHOUGH Mr. Crisparkle and John Jasper met daily under the
Cathedral roofnothing at any time passed between them having
reference to Edwin Droodafter the timemore than half a year
gone bywhen Jasper mutely showed the Minor Canon the conclusion
and the resolution entered in his Diary. It is not likely that
they ever metthough so oftenwithout the thoughts of each
reverting to the subject. It is not likely that they ever met
though so oftenwithout a sensation on the part of each that the
other was a perplexing secret to him. Jasper as the denouncer and
pursuer of Neville Landlessand Mr. Crisparkle as his consistent
advocate and protectormust at least have stood sufficiently in
opposition to have speculated with keen interest on the steadiness
and next direction of the other's designs. But neither ever
broached the theme.
False pretence not being in the Minor Canon's naturehe doubtless
displayed openly that he would at any time have revived the
subjectand even desired to discuss it. The determined reticence
of Jasperhoweverwas not to be so approached. Impassivemoody
solitaryresoluteso concentrated on one ideaand on its
attendant fixed purposethat he would share it with no fellowcreature
he lived apart from human life. Constantly exercising an
Art which brought him into mechanical harmony with othersand
which could not have been pursued unless he and they had been in
the nicest mechanical relations and unisonit is curious to
consider that the spirit of the man was in moral accordance or
interchange with nothing around him. This indeed he had confided
to his lost nephewbefore the occasion for his present
That he must know of Rosa's abrupt departureand that he must
divine its causewas not to be doubted. Did he suppose that he
had terrified her into silence? or did he suppose that she had
imparted to any one - to Mr. Crisparkle himselffor instance - the
particulars of his last interview with her? Mr. Crisparkle could
not determine this in his mind. He could not but admithowever
as a just manthat it was notof itselfa crime to fall in love
with Rosaany more than it was a crime to offer to set love above
The dreadful suspicion of Jasperwhich Rosa was so shocked to have
received into her imaginationappeared to have no harbour in Mr.
Crisparkle's. If it ever haunted Helena's thoughts or Neville's
neither gave it one spoken word of utterance. Mr. Grewgious took
no pains to conceal his implacable dislike of Jasperyet he never
referred ithowever distantlyto such a source. But he was a
reticent as well as an eccentric man; and he made no mention of a
certain evening when he warmed his hands at the gatehouse fireand
looked steadily down upon a certain heap of torn and miry clothes
upon the floor.
Drowsy Cloisterhamwhenever it awoke to a passing reconsideration
of a story above six months old and dismissed by the bench of
magistrateswas pretty equally divided in opinion whether John
Jasper's beloved nephew had been killed by his treacherously
passionate rivalor in an open struggle; or hadfor his own
purposesspirited himself away. It then lifted up its headto
notice that the bereaved Jasper was still ever devoted to discovery
and revenge; and then dozed off again. This was the condition of
mattersall roundat the period to which the present history has
The Cathedral doors have closed for the night; and the Choirmaster
on a short leave of absence for two or three servicessets
his face towards London. He travels thither by the means by which
Rosa travelledand arrivesas Rosa arrivedon a hotdusty
His travelling baggage is easily carried in his handand he
repairs with it on footto a hybrid hotel in a little square
behind Aldersgate Streetnear the General Post Office. It is
hotelboarding-houseor lodging-houseat its visitor's option.
It announces itselfin the new Railway Advertisersas a novel
enterprisetimidly beginning to spring up. It bashfullyalmost
apologeticallygives the traveller to understand that it does not
expect himon the good old constitutional hotel planto order a
pint of sweet blacking for his drinkingand throw it away; but
insinuates that he may have his boots blacked instead of his
stomachand maybe also have bedbreakfastattendanceand a
porter up all nightfor a certain fixed charge. From these and
similar premisesmany true Britons in the lowest spirits deduce
that the times are levelling timesexcept in the article of high
roadsof which there will shortly be not one in England.
He eats without appetiteand soon goes forth again. Eastward and
still eastward through the stale streets he takes his wayuntil he
reaches his destination: a miserable courtspecially miserable
among many such.
He ascends a broken staircaseopens a doorlooks into a dark
stifling roomand says: 'Are you alone here?'
'Alonedeary; worse luck for meand better for you' replies a
croaking voice. 'Come income inwhoever you be: I can't see
you till I light a matchyet I seem to know the sound of your
speaking. I'm acquainted with youain't I?'
'Light your matchand try.'
'So I willdearyso I will; but my hand that shakesas I can't
lay it on a match all in a moment. And I cough sothatput my
matches where I mayI never find 'em there. They jump and start
as I cough and coughlike live things. Are you off a voyage
'Wellthere's land customersand there's water customers. I'm a
mother to both. Different from Jack Chinaman t'other side the
court. He ain't a father to neither. It ain't in him. And he
ain't got the true secret of mixingthough he charges as much as
me that hasand more if he can get it. Here's a matchand now
where's the candle? If my cough takes meI shall cough out twenty
matches afore I gets a light.'
But she finds the candleand lights itbefore the cough comes on.
It seizes her in the moment of successand she sits down rocking
herself to and froand gasping at intervals: 'Omy lungs is
awful bad! my lungs is wore away to cabbage-nets!' until the fit is
over. During its continuance she has had no power of sightor any
other power not absorbed in the struggle; but as it leaves hershe
begins to strain her eyesand as soon as she is able to
'Are you so surprised to see me?'
'I thought I never should have seen you againdeary. I thought
you was deadand gone to Heaven.'
'I didn't suppose you could have kept awayaliveso longfrom
the poor old soul with the real receipt for mixing it. And you are
in mourning too! Why didn't you come and have a pipe or two of
comfort? Did they leave you moneyperhapsand so you didn't want
'Who was they as dieddeary?'
'Died of whatlovey?'
'We are short to-night!' cries the womanwith a propitiatory
laugh. 'Short and snappish we are! But we're out of sorts for
want of a smoke. We've got the all-overshaven't usdeary? But
this is the place to cure 'em in; this is the place where the allovers
is smoked off.'
'You may make readythen' replies the visitor'as soon as you
He divests himself of his shoesloosens his cravatand lies
across the foot of the squalid bedwith his head resting on his
'Now you begin to look like yourself' says the woman approvingly.
'Now I begin to know my old customer indeed! Been trying to mix
for yourself this long timepoppet?'
'I have been taking it now and then in my own way.'
'Never take it your own way. It ain't good for tradeand it ain't
good for you. Where's my ink-bottleand where's my thimbleand
where's my little spoon? He's going to take it in a artful form
nowmy deary dear!'
Entering on her processand beginning to bubble and blow at the
faint spark enclosed in the hollow of her handsshe speaks from
time to timein a tone of snuffling satisfactionwithout leaving
off. When he speakshe does so without looking at herand as if
his thoughts were already roaming away by anticipation.
'I've got a pretty many smokes ready for youfirst and last
'A good many.'
'When you first comeyou was quite new to it; warn't ye?'
'YesI was easily disposed ofthen.'
'But you got on in the worldand was able by-and-by to take your
pipe with the best of 'emwarn't ye?'
'Ah; and the worst.'
'It's just ready for you. What a sweet singer you was when you
first come! Used to drop your headand sing yourself off like a
bird! It's ready for you nowdeary.'
He takes it from her with great careand puts the mouthpiece to
his lips. She seats herself beside himready to refill the pipe.
After inhaling a few whiffs in silencehe doubtingly accosts her
'Is it as potent as it used to be?'
'What do you speak ofdeary?'
'What should I speak ofbut what I have in my mouth?'
'It's just the same. Always the identical same.'
'It doesn't taste so. And it's slower.'
'You've got more used to ityou see.'
'That may be the causecertainly. Look here.' He stopsbecomes
dreamyand seems to forget that he has invited her attention. She
bends over himand speaks in his ear.
'I'm attending to you. Says you just nowLook here. Says I now
I'm attending to ye. We was talking just before of your being used
'I know all that. I was only thinking. Look here. Suppose you
had something in your mind; something you were going to do.'
'Yesdeary; something I was going to do?'
'But had not quite determined to do.'
'Might or might not doyou understand.'
'Yes.' With the point of a needle she stirs the contents of the
'Should you do it in your fancywhen you were lying here doing
She nods her head. 'Over and over again.'
'Just like me! I did it over and over again. I have done it
hundreds of thousands of times in this room.'
'It's to be hoped it was pleasant to dodeary.'
'It WAS pleasant to do!'
He says this with a savage airand a spring or start at her.
Quite unmoved she retouches and replenishes the contents of the
bowl with her little spatula. Seeing her intent upon the
occupationhe sinks into his former attitude.
'It was a journeya difficult and dangerous journey. That was the
subject in my mind. A hazardous and perilous journeyover abysses
where a slip would be destruction. Look downlook down! You see
what lies at the bottom there?'
He has darted forward to say itand to point at the groundas
though at some imaginary object far beneath. The woman looks at
himas his spasmodic face approaches close to hersand not at his
pointing. She seems to know what the influence of her perfect
quietude would be; if soshe has not miscalculated itfor he
'Well; I have told you I did it here hundreds of thousands of
times. What do I say? I did it millions and billions of times. I
did it so oftenand through such vast expanses of timethat when
it was really doneit seemed not worth the doingit was done so
'That's the journey you have been away upon' she quietly remarks.
He glares at her as he smokes; and thenhis eyes becoming filmy
answers: 'That's the journey.'
Silence ensues. His eyes are sometimes closed and sometimes open.
The woman sits beside himvery attentive to the pipewhich is all
the while at his lips.
'I'll warrant' she observeswhen he has been looking fixedly at
her for some consecutive momentswith a singular appearance in his
eyes of seeming to see her a long way offinstead of so near him:
'I'll warrant you made the journey in a many wayswhen you made it
'Noalways in one way.'
'Always in the same way?'
'In the way in which it was really made at last?'
'And always took the same pleasure in harping on it?'
For the time he appears unequal to any other reply than this lazy
monosyllabic assent. Probably to assure herself that it is not the
assent of a mere automatonshe reverses the form of her next
'Did you never get tired of itdearyand try to call up something
else for a change?'
He struggles into a sitting postureand retorts upon her: 'What
do you mean? What did I want? What did I come for?'
She gently lays him back againand before returning him the
instrument he has droppedrevives the fire in it with her own
breath; then says to himcoaxingly:
'Suresuresure! Yesyesyes! Now I go along with you. You
was too quick for me. I see now. You come o' purpose to take the
journey. WhyI might have known itthrough its standing by you
He answers first with a laughand then with a passionate setting
of his teeth: 'YesI came on purpose. When I could not bear my
lifeI came to get the reliefand I got it. It WAS one! It WAS
one!' This repetition with extraordinary vehemenceand the snarl
of a wolf.
She observes him very cautiouslyas though mentally feeling her
way to her next remark. It is: 'There was a fellow-traveller
'Hahaha!' He breaks into a ringing laughor rather yell.
'To think' he cries'how often fellow-travellerand yet not know
it! To think how many times he went the journeyand never saw the
The woman kneels upon the floorwith her arms crossed on the
coverlet of the bedclose by himand her chin upon them. In this
crouching attitude she watches him. The pipe is falling from his
mouth. She puts it backand laying her hand upon his chestmoves
him slightly from side to side. Upon that he speaksas if she had
'Yes! I always made the journey firstbefore the changes of
colours and the great landscapes and glittering processions began.
They couldn't begin till it was off my mind. I had no room till
then for anything else.'
Once more he lapses into silence. Once more she lays her hand upon
his chestand moves him slightly to and froas a cat might
stimulate a half-slain mouse. Once more he speaksas if she had
'What? I told you so. When it comes to be real at lastit is so
short that it seems unreal for the first time. Hark!'
'Yesdeary. I'm listening.'
'Time and place are both at hand.'
He is on his feetspeaking in a whisperand as if in the dark.
'Timeplaceand fellow-traveller' she suggestsadopting his
toneand holding him softly by the arm.
'How could the time be at hand unless the fellow-traveller was?
Hush! The journey's made. It's over.'
'That's what I said to you. So soon. Wait a little. This is a
vision. I shall sleep it off. It has been too short and easy. I
must have a better vision than this; this is the poorest of all.
No struggleno consciousness of perilno entreaty - and yet I
never saw THAT before.' With a start.
'Look at it! Look what a poormeanmiserable thing it is! THAT
must be real. It's over.'
He has accompanied this incoherence with some wild unmeaning
gestures; but they trail off into the progressive inaction of
stuporand he lies a log upon the bed.
The womanhoweveris still inquisitive. With a repetition of her
cat-like action she slightly stirs his body againand listens;
stirs againand listens; whispers to itand listens. Finding it
past all rousing for the timeshe slowly gets upon her feetwith
an air of disappointmentand flicks the face with the back of her
hand in turning from it.
But she goes no further away from it than the chair upon the
hearth. She sits in itwith an elbow on one of its armsand her
chin upon her handintent upon him. 'I heard ye say once' she
croaks under her breath'I heard ye say oncewhen I was lying
where you're lyingand you were making your speculations upon me
Unintelligible!I heard you say soof two more than me. But
don't ye be too sure always; don't be ye too surebeauty!'
Unwinkingcat-likeand intentshe presently adds: 'Not so
potent as it once was? Ah! Perhaps not at first. You may be more
right there. Practice makes perfect. I may have learned the
secret how to make ye talkdeary.'
He talks no morewhether or no. Twitching in an ugly way from
time to timeboth as to his face and limbshe lies heavy and
silent. The wretched candle burns down; the woman takes its
expiring end between her fingerslights another at itcrams the
guttering frying morsel deep into the candlestickand rams it home
with the new candleas if she were loading some ill-savoured and
unseemly weapon of witchcraft; the new candle in its turn burns
down; and still he lies insensible. At length what remains of the
last candle is blown outand daylight looks into the room.
It has not looked very longwhen he sits upchilled and shaking
slowly recovers consciousness of where he isand makes himself
ready to depart. The woman receives what he pays her with a
grateful'Bless yebless yedeary!' and seemstired outto
begin making herself ready for sleep as he leaves the room.
But seeming may be false or true. It is false in this case; for
the moment the stairs have ceased to creak under his treadshe
glides after himmuttering emphatically: 'I'll not miss ye
There is no egress from the court but by its entrance. With a
weird peep from the doorwayshe watches for his looking back. He
does not look back before disappearingwith a wavering step. She
follows himpeeps from the courtsees him still faltering on
without looking backand holds him in view.
He repairs to the back of Aldersgate Streetwhere a door
immediately opens to his knocking. She crouches in another
doorwaywatching that oneand easily comprehending that he puts
up temporarily at that house. Her patience is unexhausted by
hours. For sustenance she canand doesbuy bread within a
hundred yardsand milk as it is carried past her.
He comes forth again at noonhaving changed his dressbut
carrying nothing in his handand having nothing carried for him.
He is not going back into the countrythereforejust yet. She
follows him a little wayhesitatesinstantaneously turns
confidentlyand goes straight into the house he has quitted.
'Is the gentleman from Cloisterham indoors?
'Just gone out.'
'Unlucky. When does the gentleman return to Cloisterham?'
'At six this evening.'
'Bless ye and thank ye. May the Lord prosper a business where a
civil questioneven from a poor soulis so civilly answered!'
'I'll not miss ye twice!' repeats the poor soul in the streetand
not so civilly. 'I lost ye lastwhere that omnibus you got into
nigh your journey's end plied betwixt the station and the place. I
wasn't so much as certain that you even went right on to the place.
Now I know ye did. My gentleman from CloisterhamI'll be there
before yeand bide your coming. I've swore my oath that I'll not
miss ye twice!'
Accordinglythat same evening the poor soul stands in Cloisterham
High Streetlooking at the many quaint gables of the Nuns' House
and getting through the time as she best can until nine o'clock; at
which hour she has reason to suppose that the arriving omnibus
passengers may have some interest for her. The friendly darkness
at that hourrenders it easy for her to ascertain whether this be
so or not; and it is sofor the passenger not to be missed twice
arrives among the rest.
'Now let me see what becomes of you. Go on!'
An observation addressed to the airand yet it might be addressed
to the passengerso compliantly does he go on along the High
Street until he comes to an arched gatewayat which he
unexpectedly vanishes. The poor soul quickens her pace; is swift
and close upon him entering under the gateway; but only sees a
postern staircase on one side of itand on the other side an
ancient vaulted roomin which a large-headedgray-haired
gentleman is writingunder the odd circumstances of sitting open
to the thoroughfare and eyeing all who passas if he were tolltaker
of the gateway: though the way is free.
'Halloa!' he cries in a low voiceseeing her brought to a standstill:
'who are you looking for?'
'There was a gentleman passed in here this minutesir.'
'Of course there was. What do you want with him?'
'Where do he livedeary?'
'Live? Up that staircase.'
'Bless ye! Whisper. What's his namedeary?'
'Surname JasperChristian name John. Mr. John Jasper.'
'Has he a callinggood gentleman?'
'Calling? Yes. Sings in the choir.'
'In the spire?'
Mr. Datchery rises from his papersand comes to his doorstep. 'Do
you know what a cathedral is?' he asksjocosely.
The woman nods.
'What is it?'
She looks puzzledcasting about in her mind to find a definition
when it occurs to her that it is easier to point out the
substantial object itselfmassive against the dark-blue sky and
the early stars.
'That's the answer. Go in there at seven to-morrow morningand
you may see Mr. John Jasperand hear him too.'
'Thank ye! Thank ye!'
The burst of triumph in which she thanks him does not escape the
notice of the single buffer of an easy temper living idly on his
means. He glances at her; clasps his hands behind himas the wont
of such buffers is; and lounges along the echoing Precincts at her
'Or' he suggestswith a backward hitch of his head'you can go
up at once to Mr. Jasper's rooms there.'
The woman eyes him with a cunning smileand shakes her head.
'O! you don't want to speak to him?'
She repeats her dumb replyand forms with her lips a soundless
'You can admire him at a distance three times a daywhenever you
like. It's a long way to come for thatthough.'
The woman looks up quickly. If Mr. Datchery thinks she is to be so
induced to declare where she comes fromhe is of a much easier
temper than she is. But she acquits him of such an artful thought
as he lounges alonglike the chartered bore of the citywith his
uncovered gray hair blowing aboutand his purposeless hands
rattling the loose money in the pockets of his trousers.
The chink of the money has an attraction for her greedy ears.
'Wouldn't you help me to pay for my traveller's lodgingdear
gentlemanand to pay my way along? I am a poor soulI am indeed
and troubled with a grievous cough.'
'You know the travellers' lodgingI perceiveand are making
directly for it' is Mr. Datchery's bland commentstill rattling
his loose money. 'Been here oftenmy good woman?'
'Once in all my life.'
They have arrived at the entrance to the Monks' Vineyard. An
appropriate remembrancepresenting an exemplary model for
imitationis revived in the woman's mind by the sight of the
place. She stops at the gateand says energetically:
'By this tokenthough you mayn't believe itThat a young
gentleman gave me three-and-sixpence as I was coughing my breath
away on this very grass. I asked him for three-and-sixpenceand
he gave it me.'
'Wasn't it a little cool to name your sum?' hints Mr. Datchery
still rattling. 'Isn't it customary to leave the amount open?
Mightn't it have had the appearanceto the young gentleman - only
the appearance - that he was rather dictated to?'
'Look'ee heredeary' she repliesin a confidential and
persuasive tone'I wanted the money to lay it out on a medicine as
does me goodand as I deal in. I told the young gentleman soand
he gave it meand I laid it out honest to the last brass farden.
I want to lay out the same sum in the same way now; and if you'll
give it meI'll lay it out honest to the last brass farden again
upon my soul!'
'What's the medicine?'
'I'll be honest with you beforehandas well as after. It's
Mr. Datcherywith a sudden change of countenancegives her a
'It's opiumdeary. Neither more nor less. And it's like a human
creetur so farthat you always hear what can be said against it
but seldom what can be said in its praise.'
Mr. Datchery begins very slowly to count out the sum demanded of
him. Greedily watching his handsshe continues to hold forth on
the great example set him.
'It was last Christmas Evejust arter darkthe once that I was
here aforewhen the young gentleman gave me the three-and-six.'
Mr. Datchery stops in his countingfinds he has counted wrong
shakes his money togetherand begins again.
'And the young gentleman's name' she adds'was Edwin.'
Mr. Datchery drops some moneystoops to pick it upand reddens
with the exertion as he asks:
'How do you know the young gentleman's name?'
'I asked him for itand he told it me. I only asked him the two
questionswhat was his Chris'en nameand whether he'd a
sweetheart? And he answeredEdwinand he hadn't.'
Mr. Datchery pauses with the selected coins in his handrather as
if he were falling into a brown study of their valueand couldn't
bear to part with them. The woman looks at him distrustfullyand
with her anger brewing for the event of his thinking better of the
gift; but he bestows it on her as if he were abstracting his mind
from the sacrificeand with many servile thanks she goes her way.
John Jasper's lamp is kindledand his lighthouse is shining when
Mr. Datchery returns alone towards it. As mariners on a dangerous
voyageapproaching an iron-bound coastmay look along the beams
of the warning light to the haven lying beyond it that may never be
reachedso Mr. Datchery's wistful gaze is directed to this beacon
His object in now revisiting his lodging is merely to put on the
hat which seems so superfluous an article in his wardrobe. It is
half-past ten by the Cathedral clock when he walks out into the
Precincts again; he lingers and looks about himas thoughthe
enchanted hour when Mr. Durdles may be stoned home having struck
he had some expectation of seeing the Imp who is appointed to the
mission of stoning him.
In effectthat Power of Evil is abroad. Having nothing living to
stone at the momenthe is discovered by Mr. Datchery in the unholy
office of stoning the deadthrough the railings of the churchyard.
The Imp finds this a relishing and piquing pursuit; firstly
because their resting-place is announced to be sacred; and
secondlybecause the tall headstones are sufficiently like
themselveson their beat in the darkto justify the delicious
fancy that they are hurt when hit.
Mr. Datchery hails with him: 'HalloaWinks!'
He acknowledges the hail with: 'HalloaDick!' Their acquaintance
seemingly having been established on a familiar footing.
'ButI say' he remonstrates'don't yer go a-making my name
public. I never means to plead to no namemind yer. When they
says to me in the Lock-upa-going to put me down in the book
What's your name?I says to themFind out.Likewise when they
saysWhat's your religion?I saysFind out.'
Whichit may be observed in passingit would be immensely
difficult for the Statehowever statisticalto do.
'Asides which' adds the boy'there ain't no family of Winkses.'
'I think there must be.'
'Yer liethere ain't. The travellers give me the name on account
of my getting no settled sleep and being knocked up all night;
whereby I gets one eye roused open afore I've shut the other.
That's what Winks means. Deputy's the nighest name to indict me
by: but yer wouldn't catch me pleading to thatneither.'
'Deputy be it alwaysthen. We two are good friends; ehDeputy?'
'I forgave you the debt you owed me when we first became
acquaintedand many of my sixpences have come your way since; eh
'Ah! And what's moreyer ain't no friend o' Jarsper's. What did
he go a-histing me off my legs for?'
'What indeed! But never mind him now. A shilling of mine is going
your way to-nightDeputy. You have just taken in a lodger I have
been speaking to; an infirm woman with a cough.'
'Puffer' assents Deputywith a shrewd leer of recognitionand
smoking an imaginary pipewith his head very much on one side and
his eyes very much out of their places: 'Hopeum Puffer.'
'What is her name?'
''Er Royal Highness the Princess Puffer.'
'She has some other name than that; where does she live?'
'Up in London. Among the Jacks.'
'I said so; Jacks; and Chayner men: and hother Knifers.'
'I should like to knowthrough youexactly where she lives.'
'All right. Give us 'old.'
A shilling passes; andin that spirit of confidence which should
pervade all business transactions between principals of honour
this piece of business is considered done.
'But here's a lark!' cries Deputy. 'Where did yer think 'Er Royal
Highness is a-goin' to to-morrow morning? Blest if she ain't agoin'
to the KIN-FREE-DER-EL!' He greatly prolongs the word in his
ecstasyand smites his legand doubles himself up in a fit of
'How do you know thatDeputy?'
'Cos she told me so just now. She said she must be hup and hout o'
purpose. She sesDeputy, I must 'ave a early wash, and make
myself as swell as I can, for I'm a-goin' to take a turn at the
KIN-FREE-DER-EL!' He separates the syllables with his former
zestandnot finding his sense of the ludicrous sufficiently
relieved by stamping about on the pavementbreaks into a slow and
stately danceperhaps supposed to be performed by the Dean.
Mr. Datchery receives the communication with a well-satisfied
though pondering faceand breaks up the conference. Returning to
his quaint lodgingand sitting long over the supper of bread-andcheese
and salad and ale which Mrs. Tope has left prepared for him
he still sits when his supper is finished. At length he rises
throws open the door of a corner cupboardand refers to a few
uncouth chalked strokes on its inner side.
'I like' says Mr. Datchery'the old tavern way of keeping scores.
Illegible except to the scorer. The scorer not committedthe
scored debited with what is against him. Hum; ha! A very small
score this; a very poor score!'
He sighs over the contemplation of its povertytakes a bit of
chalk from one of the cupboard shelvesand pauses with it in his
handuncertain what addition to make to the account.
'I think a moderate stroke' he concludes'is all I am justified
in scoring up;' sosuits the action to the wordcloses the
cupboardand goes to bed.
A brilliant morning shines on the old city. Its antiquities and
ruins are surpassingly beautifulwith a lusty ivy gleaming in the
sunand the rich trees waving in the balmy air. Changes of
glorious light from moving boughssongs of birdsscents from
gardenswoodsand fields - orratherfrom the one great garden
of the whole cultivated island in its yielding time - penetrate
into the Cathedralsubdue its earthy odourand preach the
Resurrection and the Life. The cold stone tombs of centuries ago
grow warm; and flecks of brightness dart into the sternest marble
corners of the buildingfluttering there like wings.
Comes Mr. Tope with his large keysand yawningly unlocks and sets
open. Come Mrs. Tope and attendant sweeping sprites. Comein due
timeorganist and bellows-boypeeping down from the red curtains
in the loftfearlessly flapping dust from books up at that remote
elevationand whisking it from stops and pedals. Come sundry
rooksfrom various quarters of the skyback to the great tower;
who may be presumed to enjoy vibrationand to know that bell and
organ are going to give it them. Come a very small and straggling
congregation indeed: chiefly from Minor Canon Corner and the
Precincts. Come Mr. Crisparklefresh and bright; and his
ministering brethrennot quite so fresh and bright. Come the
Choir in a hurry (always in a hurryand struggling into their
nightgowns at the last momentlike children shirking bed)and
comes John Jasper leading their line. Last of all comes Mr.
Datchery into a stallone of a choice empty collection very much
at his serviceand glancing about him for Her Royal Highness the
The service is pretty well advanced before Mr. Datchery can discern
Her Royal Highness. But by that time he has made her outin the
shade. She is behind a pillarcarefully withdrawn from the Choirmaster's
viewbut regards him with the closest attention. All
unconscious of her presencehe chants and sings. She grins when
he is most musically fervidand - yesMr. Datchery sees her do
it! - shakes her fist at him behind the pillar's friendly shelter.
Mr. Datchery looks againto convince himself. Yesagain! As
ugly and withered as one of the fantastic carvings on the under
brackets of the stall seatsas malignant as the Evil Oneas hard
as the big brass eagle holding the sacred books upon his wings
(andaccording to the sculptor's representation of his ferocious
attributesnot at all converted by them)she hugs herself in her
lean armsand then shakes both fists at the leader of the Choir.
And at that momentoutside the grated door of the Choirhaving
eluded the vigilance of Mr. Tope by shifty resources in which he is
an adeptDeputy peepssharp-eyedthrough the barsand stares
astounded from the threatener to the threatened.
The service comes to an endand the servitors disperse to
breakfast. Mr. Datchery accosts his last new acquaintance outside
when the Choir (as much in a hurry to get their bedgowns offas
they were but now to get them on) have scuffled away.
'Wellmistress. Good morning. You have seen him?'
'I'VE seen himdeary; I'VE seen him!'
'And you know him?'
'Know him! Better far than all the Reverend Parsons put together
Mrs. Tope's care has spread a very neatclean breakfast ready for
her lodger. Before sitting down to ithe opens his cornercupboard
door; takes his bit of chalk from its shelf; adds one
thick line to the scoreextending from the top of the cupboard
door to the bottom; and then falls to with an appetite.