The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Oxford Worlds Classics)

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Two other characters suspect him of murder. Throughout the novel he lives in shadows, wholeheartedly, though secretly, the Wicked Man, the last in the line of gures Philip Collins traces from Sikes and Rudge to Jonas Chuzzlewit, Slinkton and Bradley Headstone. This pedigree extends, Collins reminds us, from members of the criminal classes like Bill Sikes and Fagin, to the middleclass citizen apparently of the utmost propriety. Where Jasper diers from his predecessors is in his intelligence, his respectability, his psychological complexity and in the greater ambiguity of his relation to society.

Lacking the second half of the novel, we are in no position to deduce the reasons for Jaspers behaviour. But what the rst half successfully conveys is the narrators unequivocal view that someone like Jasper is a horrible wonder apart. Where people err, including even the professed students of the criminal intellect, is in attempting to reconcile the behaviour of men like Jasper with the average intellect of average men ch. What baes Rosa and presumably others as she recoils from Jaspers assault in the sun-dial scene is her inability to reconcile what he says on that occasion with her own suspicions.

If Jasper had committed the deed, why did he persist in treating his nephews disappearance as murder? If he really were introduction xxv guilty, would he have admitted that, had the ties between him and his dear boy been one silken thread less strong ch. Could he have feigned the desire for vengeance he expressed in his anxiety to apprehend Edwins murderer?

To Rosa the diculties inherent in her questions suggest innocence rather than guilt, prompting her to ignore the fancy that scarcely dared to hint itself. Am I so wicked in my thoughts, she reects, as to conceive a wickedness that others cannot imagine? To those skilled at reading the human countenance, interpreting Jaspers behaviour in the quaint old garden of the Nuns House proves less daunting. Dickens narrator, for example, calls attention to Jaspers cunning in making his vehement declaration of love where Rosa can be seen and heard.

I do not forget how many windows command a view of us, he says glancing towards them. Sit down, and there will be no mighty wonder in your music-masters leaning idly against a pedestal and speaking with you. Sit down, my beloved. True to the posture he adopts, Jasper preserves an easy attitude all the more terrifying given the frightful vehemence of the man as his words build to a climax.

I love you, love you, love you. If you were to cast me o 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. But for all his assumed ease, this wicked man fails to control one sign whose signicance is not lost on the narrator. Throughout the interview, his violent confession renders his features and hands convulsive [and] absolutely diabolical ch. Two analogies exist for Jaspers behaviour in the walled garden of the Nuns House.

The rst is ctional and has been noted by others. The topographical settings, each emphasizing enclosure, impart a sense of claustrophobia all the more extreme on account of the words of the two suitors. Both speak in equally absolute terms. You know what I am going to xxvi ironucio say. I love you. I am under the inuence of some tremendous attraction which I have resisted in vain, and which overmasters me. You could draw me to re, you could draw me to water, you could draw me to the gallows, he continues, as a prelude to proposing marriage Book the Second, ch.

I dont ask for your love; give me yourself and your hatred. An equally wild energy characterizes the lovers gestures, seen particularly in the passionate action of their nervous hands as each vents homicidal threats against his rival. In both cases the young women shrink from the slightest touch, nding their admirers totally repugnant.

The second parallel requires a broader context. To explore it we must turn to Dickenss journalism and to real crimes committed by members of the vermin-race, whose scarlet deeds, so widely reported, featured prominently in Victorian public life. This thread of the novel also connects us with something we have noticed already: Dickenss admiration for the detective police.

Of particular relevance in the case of Jasper is Dickenss interest in the willingness of good ocers to admit the need for caution when judging appearances. Under suspicion, innocence may assume the appearance of guilt. By the same token, clever felons can mislead the unwary. Nothing is so common or deceptive as such appearances at rst, Dickens proposed, as he burrowed for information on a series of points related to the art of detection.

And, he might have added, if the ocers of keen observa- tion and quick perception he assembled one evening rose to the level of William Hogarth, the eighteenth-century painter and engraver whose fertility of mind Dickens most admired, they would employ the attentive eyes that saw the manners in the face. The prosecution of Dr William Palmer for murder in May. Palmers behaviour during the trial, moreover, was of particular concern to Dickens. For twelve days the accused a respectable surgeon faced a parade of hostile witnesses.

And for twelve days damaging evidence about the introduction xxvii deaths of several family members and one gambling associate, all of whom had been under Palmers care, failed to upset the calm demean- our he projected. Neither did sharp questions from prominent col- leagues about the use of poison, nor medical testimony related to the deadly eects of arsenic, unsettle him. The man in the dock, newspaper readers were told, retained an air of tranquillity and gazed calmly and politely at his accusers as he confronted one witness after another.

Asked how he pleaded when charged with murder, Palmer responded in a clear, low, but perfectly audible and distinct tone, Not guilty. More subjectively, it was reported that there are no marks of care about Palmers face. The countenance of the prisoner is clear and open, the forehead high, the complexion ruddy, and the general impression one would form from his appearance would be favourable rather than otherwise.

Day followed day, eight hours of gruelling testimony at a stretch. Yet throughout Palmer maintained an extra- ordinary sense of composure. Some sense of the sympathy his innocent demeanour evoked may be inferred fromthe response to the conclusion of the defence entered by the physicians counsel. Notes The Timess reporter on :: May, when Mr Serjeant Shea nished his eight-hour summing up: There were some slight indications of an attempt to applaud at the close, but they were instantly hushed. Interpretative comments like these framing the publication of com- plete transcripts of each days proceedings in The Times provoked a public response from Dickens.

He wrote The Demeanour of Mur- derers for Household Words, he explained to Miss Burdett Coutts, as a quiet protest against the misinformed accounts of Palmers bearing during the trial by members of the press. Newspaper depictions of the surgeon at the Old Bailey as cool, collected and self-possessed, Dickens thought, are harmful to the public at large, and are even in themselves, altogether blind and wrong.

Dickens opens his essay by noting the uniformity of opinion expressed by reporters covering the case. All the accounts of Palmers behaviour in court that he had read, Dickens states, agree in more or less suggesting that there is something admirable, and dicult to reconcile with guilt, in the bearing so elaborately set forth. For his part, however, Dickens expresses a belief that Nature never writes a xxviii ironucio bad hand, and that her writing, as it may be read in the human countenance, is invariably legible, if we come at all trained to the reading of it.

Continuing in words remarkably close to those of the narrator commenting on Rosas confused state when the possibility crosses her mind that Jasper might have committed the murder, Dickens writes: Some little weighing and comparing are necessary. It is not enough in turning our eyes on the demon in the Dock, to say that he has fresh color, or a high head, or a blu manner, or what not, and therefore he does not look like a murderer, and we are surprised and shaken. The physiognomy and confor- mation of the Poisoner whose trial occasions these remarks, were exactly in accordance with his deeds; and every guilty consciousness he had gone on storing up in his mind, had set its mark upon him.

The challenge to experts, as this passage suggests, is to discern the marks set on a countenance so seemingly at odds with guilt. How does one reconcile Palmers studied coolness, composure and cond- ence with the capacity for cruelty and insensibility necessary to any carefully planned murder? For the doctor to have dispatched as many victims as he did, there can be no question in Dickenss mind about the signicance of the absence of any lingering traces of sensibility in the man who betrayed his Hippocratic oath by making it his trade to be learned in poisons.

If I had any natural human feeling for my face to express, do you imagine that those medicines of my prescribing and administering would ever have been taken from my hand? The text of the novel oers good reasons to assume that John Jasper has a similar aptitude both for meticulous preparation and for sustained deception. How else are we to explain actions whose cumulative signicance attests to the implementation of a carefully laid plan to dispose of a rival?

Relevant considerations include Jaspers interest in quicklime, the midnight exploration of the Cathedral crypt and the quarrel he foments between Neville Landless and Edwin Drood. Dickens contends that demons like Palmer evince studied coolness because they lack any capacity for pity or sentiment. Devoid of any natural human feeling, what else do you expect such ends to express?

Yet in one respect such monsters are Distinctly not quite composed. At one time, he was incessantly pulling on and pulling o his glove; at another time, his hand was constantly passing over and over his face. Returning to Jaspers interview with Rosa in the garden, we see similar compulsive behaviour uncannily suggestive of Palmers in the dock. For all the privacy the walled garden of the Nuns House aords, its enclosed space is, as we have noted, overlooked by many of the schools own windows. This layout, not unlike the conned court space of the former Old Bailey, encourages rather than inhibits Jasper.

But one action links him with evil men like Palmer and oers a glimpse of the agitation his professed calmness belies: the movement of his convulsive hands. Repeatedly, as he lays one wild declaration after another before the terried Rosa, the narrator notes how each is punctuated by an action of the hands, as though he cast down something precious ch. Anticipating an objection to some slight ingenuity in his endeavour to interpret the demeanour of Palmer and his kind, Dickens hastens to assure readers of Household Words that he can nd parallels by the score to sustain his point.

Most telling is the case of John Thurtell, one of the murderers best remembered in England, Dickens asserts. His collected and resolute behaviour during his trial was exactly that of the Poisoners. Granting that the circumstances of Thurtells guilt were not comparable in atrocity with those of Palmer, Dickens sketches the points of strong resemblance between the two men in terms that curiously anticipate his ctional portrait of the murderous choirmaster of Cloisterham: Each was born in a fair station, and educated in conformity with it; each murdered a man with whom he had been on terms of intimate association, and for whom he professed a friendship at the time of the murder; both were members of that vermin-race of outer betters and blacklegs [betting brokers and turf swindlers].

Students of the novel would have been spared much contentious speculation about Jaspers evident guilt or xxx ironucio innocence and his nephews ultimate fate murdered or alive. They would also have a clearer idea of how the novel relates to tensions that predominate in Dickenss writing. Of these, we can distinguish several running through all his ction to which this last unnished novel is no exception. Not unlike John Keats, whose imagination Walter Jackson Bate describes as Januslike in the nal year of his writing, Dickenss fancy characteristically looked two ways. On the one hand, we see his mind turned inwards to reverie and dream; on the other, outwards, to the concrete, external world.

Dickens himself provides a succinct introduction to his inward orientation in Nurses Stories. As one of seventeen essays published originally as part of his Uncommercial Traveller series in All the Year Round, it oers interesting autobiographical reections on the role ction played in Dickenss life. Throughout his life he maintained a habit developed in childhood of deriving comfort, support and imaginative consolation from ction. There are not many places that I nd it more agreeable to revisit when I am in an idle mood, the essay opens, than some places to which I have never been.

This idle mood, a pre-condition to accepting the nourishment Dickens thought ction could and should provide, has a related side which the essay also explores: the ability of story-tellers to force readers into the dark corners of the mind, against their will. Introduced to such ction by his nurse as a child, a taste for forcing himself to go back to places he was reluctant to visit, and for taking readers with him, forms another of Dickenss characteristic strategies.

This dual agenda combines with a further primary element: Dickenss commitment to recording the contours of the everyday world around him. As Walter Bagehot aptly characterized this aspect of Dickenss genius in. The amount of detail which there is in them is something amazing, to an ordinary writer something incredible. But they are unequally represented owing to the novels unnished state. Had Dickens lived to complete the second half, a counter theme to the oppressive darkness associated with John Jasper would have emerged. Dickens carefully lays the ground for this development in various ways.

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Take the two pairs of characters destined to play an important role later in the book: Septimus Crisparkle and Lieutenant Tartar, and Rosa Bud and Helena Landless. All four are youthful, energetic and engagingly attractive the men, one a canon active in the Church, the other a former First Lieutenant in the Royal Navy; the women, two pupils resident at Miss Twinkletons Seminary for Young Ladies.

Each, too, is capable of surprising readers in convincing ways, to employ E. Forsters old-fashioned test of a round character. Their ability to do so is perhaps most evident in the capacity the four show for crossing boundaries and defying readerly expectations. In a telling phrase, the narrator notes how Crisparkle, the man of the Church, occupies a Christian beat, on which course he polices in a variety of ways ch. Vigilant as a tutor and student of language, he corrects Mr Topes faulty grammar; physically conditioned by daily bouts of shadow-boxing and plunges into the local weir, he scales heights without trouble.

He can also perform, if necessary, the task of taking refractory individuals into custody with the skill of a Police Expert ch. The former naval ocer, Crisparkles junior and friend from school, is equally agile and strong. Yet Tartar, this robust and manly man who has knocked about the world for twelve or fteen years in the tough conditions to which Englands ghting men at sea were subject, has skills in household management equal to those of Esther Summerson in Bleak House.

Tartar has only to touch a spring-laden knob in his neat chambers and a dazzling enchanted repast appears before his guests; on land he tends a ower garden, the envy of even a professional horticulturist ch. Crisparkle and Tartar, moreover, hold an aection for each other which they express for Englishmen in a very un-English way. When they unexpectedly meet after an interval of many years, they look joyfully into each others face and shake hands with great earnestness, xxxii ironucio demonstrating a warmth of feeling evidently outside the national norm ch.

Not to be outdone in unconventionality, Rosa Bud and Helena Landless test expectations commonly associated with female characters. The diminutive Rosa pet pupil. Equally unusual and certainly an imaginative stretch for Dickens is the intrepid Helena Landless. Adept at disguising herself, bravely resistant to pain as a child and evidently in command of telepathic and perhaps mesmeric powers, she represents a gure outside his usual range.

Also a departure is the introduction of the intimacy between Rosa and Helena. In an interesting extension of the relation- ship between Lizzie Hexam and Bella Wilfer in Our Mutual Friend, Dickens presents in the novel that followed it a more sustained portrait of two women who see strength and virtue in each other. Friendship between women, as Wendy Jacobson has remarked, represents a topic previously untreated in the Victorian novel. A prevailing thread in the imagery supports these motifs of change and development, all of which serve as variant antidotes to the novels initially sombre colours and pervading sense of darkness.

While the story opens as both the day and the year wane, with the low sun ery yet cold behind the monastery ruin ch. Hours before Dickens slipped from consciousness he wrote one of the most beautiful passages in his career. I refer to the description of the brilliant summer morning in Chapter :,, which shines on the old city and imparts a surpassing beauty to its antiquities and ruins.

For all the unsettling words about the Cathedral in the opening chapters, the ctional building based on Rochesters cathedral church of St Andrew nevertheless retains a capacity for regeneration.

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Like the autumn wind that brings darkness in Shelleys Ode to the West Wind.. The brilliant morning subdues the earthy odour of the Cathedrals cold stones. The tombs of centuries grow warm and the glorious light preaches the Resurrection and the Life. This eloquent description clearly serves as the prelude to a movement in the novel that Dickens did not live to write. The other important component of the novel proves less elusive. I refer to the Dickens who, in Bagehots memorable phrase, describes London like a special correspondent for posterity.

True to the etymology of the word itself, this novel bristles with information.

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In a typically Dickensian fashion old news and new news are blended against a telling time slightly out of joint with the now of the narration. If animal magnetism, Muscular Christianity, misdirected phil- anthropy and the introduction of rail travel belong to the metropolis of the mid-century, then news about Egypt, the Suez Canal, Governor Eyre and the world abroad belongs to the second half of the nineteenth century.

A growing interest in smoking opium rather than taking it orally as laudanum represents another late development. Characteristically, Dickens the journalist, with an eye for those aspects of Englands national life within what Bagehot calls the limits which social morality prescribes to social art, brings together all the latest developments, refracted through his cosmological eye, the eye of a superb story-teller.

In these various respects, The Mystery of Edwin Drood for all its fragmentary nature partakes in the full range of imaginative expression evident in each of Dickenss nished novels. Smaller in scope than any of the ve he published in weekly instalments, diminutive in compari- son with the panoramic novels of his maturity, Dickenss last fragment nevertheless carries the signature of his greatest ction. What an accomplishment, one might exclaim, what wholeness when so much is missing, what totality hinted at and yet unfullled.

Like the lovers on Keatss Grecian Urn.. Detective Police, Household Words :- July.

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David Pascoe Harmondsworth,. Cited in the notes below as Journalism. Charles Dickens Book of Memoranda, ed. Fred Kaplan New York,. Cited in the notes below as Forster, by volume and page number. The Letters of Charles Dickens, ed. Walter Dexter, the Nonesuch Edition, , vols. Cited in the notes below as Nonesuch, by volume and page number. Forster, :. Proponents of the theory that Edwin did not die can point to no comparable proof to support their hypothesis. True, Dickens could have changed his plan for the story in the next monthly number. But the champions of Edwins survival stand on imsy ground.

Some choose fanciful solutions by importing exotic matter wholly extraneous to the existing fragment, thereby turning the novel into a guessing game see Further Reading, Aylmer, Dueld, Proctor, Walters. Others reduce the text to the evidentiary rules and procedures of a court of law in an attempt to try Jasper and win a verdict see Further Reading, Ley, Patterson. Recent and more sophisticated arguments for Edwins survival rest on an analysis of images of rebirth, salvation and resurrection implicit in the novels undevel- oped counter-movement see Further Reading, Manheim, Parker, Perkins, Sanders, Thomas, Thurley.

Margaret Cardwell Oxford,. All further references to this edition will appear in the notes below as Cardwell. Nonesuch, ,. Cardwell, pp. Robert L. Quoted in ibid. See note. Lono, Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins, pp. Meckier, Hidden Rivalries in Victorian Fiction, pp. Philip Collins, Dickens and Crime London,. Demeanour of Murderers, Household Words. Detective Police, Household Words :- July and. Samuel Johnsons epitaph on Hogarth, quoted by Dickens with fervid xxxvi ironucio energy and feeling one day, as he paused at the set of Hogarth engravings displayed on the stairs at Gads Hill.

See James T. For the coverage of the trial by The Times, see the verbatim accounts published on. Demeanour of Murderers, in Journalism, p. Walter Jackson Bate, John Keats. Philip Collins London,. Forster, Aspects of the Novel, ed. June :oo. See Notes for brief entries on these and other topics and Appendix , for opium smoking in Victorian England. Cardwell, Margaret ed. Cohen, Jane R. Collins, Philip ed. Dexter, Walter ed. Jacobson, Wendy S. New York, Simon and Schuster,. Kaplan, Fred ed. Stone, Harry ed.

Baker, Richard M. Collins, Philip, Dickens and Crime. Steven Connor London, Dent,. Steven Connor, pp. Ley London, Chapman and Hall,. London trial of Jasper. Manheim, Leonard F. The latter, who believes he has committed the crime, murders Neville to cover his imagined murder. Patterson, John M. Proctor, Richard A. Robson, W. Frazers The Golden Bough. Each number, consisting of thirty-two pages and two illustrations, would cost a shilling and would run from April. Of the twelve instalments contracted only six appeared, three during Dickenss lifetime April to June and three posthumously July to September , after his death on , June.

The following announcement dated. Its last entire page had not been written two hours when the event occurred which one very touching passage in it grave and sad but also cheerful and reassuring might seem almost to have anticipated. The only notes in reference to the story that have since been found concern that portion of it exclusively, which is treated in the earlier Numbers.

Beyond the clues therein aorded to its conduct or catastrophe, nothing whatever remains; and it is believed that what the author would himself have most desired is done, in placing before the reader without further notice or suggestion the fragment of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. The published part-divisions were as follows: I April. II May. Dickenss death almost exactly halfway through the novel created a note in the text xliii problems for subsequent editors.

Two of the remaining parts four and ve he had read in proof while the sixth, almost complete, existed only in manuscript. Faced with the responsibility of making available as much of the fragment as he could, Dickenss literary executor, John Forster, decided as follows:. The changes thus increased the total number of chapters by one and introduced two new chapter titles: A Flight and A Recognition. This edition combines Forsters solution with the text of the novel prepared for Penguin Books by Arthur J.

Cox in. Coxs text is based on a comparison of the manuscript and partial proofs of the novel in the Forster Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum with the text of the rst edition published serially in. I have retained Coxs version of the nal chapters based on his reading of the manuscript. But I have not adopted, as he did, Dickenss chapter titles and divisions for the original Chapters :. Double quotation marks have been replaced by singles ones, and the full point after Mr, Mrs, Dr and St has been omitted.

Em-rules have been replaced by spaced en-rules. Daggers Drawn -: , Birds in the Bush :. A Picture and a Ring.. A Settler in Cloisterham :o:. Mr Grewgious experiences a new sensation ::r Up the river : Sleeping it o :r: Sketch for the wrapper of monthly parts, by Charles Collins :,r Monthly wrapper, by Luke Fildes :,. How can the ancient English Cathedral town be here! The well-known massive grey square tower of its old Cathedral? How can that be here! There is no spike of rusty iron in the air, between the eye and it, from any point of the real prospect.

What is the spike that intervenes, and who has set it up? Maybe, it is set up by the Sultans orders for the impaling of a horde of Turkish robbers, one by one. It is so, for cymbals clash, and the Sultan goes by to his palace in long procession. Ten thousand scimitars ash in the sunlight, and thrice ten thousand dancing-girls strew owers. Then, follow white elephants caparisoned in countless gorgeous colors, and innite in number and attendants.

Still, the Cathedral tower rises in the background, where it cannot be, and still no writhing gure is on the grim spike. 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 foot, the man whose scattered consciousness has thus fantastically pieced itself together, at length rises, supports his trembling frame upon his arms, and looks around.

He is in the meanest and closest of small rooms. Through the ragged window- curtain, the light of early day steals in from a miserable court. He lies, dressed, across a large unseemly bed, upon a bedstead that has indeed given way under the weight upon it. Lying, also dressed and also across the bed, not longwise, are a Chinaman, a Lascar, and a haggard woman. The two rst are in a sleep or stupor; the last is blowing at a kind of pipe, to kindle it. And as she blows, and shading it with her. Have another? He looks about him, with his hand to his forehead. Yeve smoked as many as ve since ye come in at midnight, the woman goes on, as she chronically complains.

Poor me, poor me, my head is so bad. Them two come in after ye. Ah, poor me, the business is slack, is slack! Few Chinamen about the Docks, and fewer Lascars, and no ships coming in, these say!


Cover to Cover Audio Books. No whirl and uproar around me, no distracting commerce or calculation, no risk, no change of place, myself devoted to the art I pursue, my business my pleasure. Finding libraries that hold this item Because we are fast friends, and because you love and trust me, as I love and trust you. The topographical settings, each emphasizing enclosure, impart a sense of claustrophobia all the more extreme on account of the words of the two suitors. Country of delivery:.

Heres another ready for ye, deary. Yell remember like a good soul, wont ye, that the market price is dree high just now? More nor three shillings and sixpence for a thimbleful! And yell remember that nobody but me and Jack China- man tother side the court; but he cant do it as well as me has the true secret of mixing it? Yell pay up according, deary, wont ye? She blows at the pipe as she speaks, and, occasionally bubbling at it, inhales much of its contents.

O me, O me, my lungs is weak, my lungs is bad! Its nearly ready for ye, deary. Ah, poor me, poor me, my poor hand shakes like to drop o! I see ye coming-to, and I ses to my poor self, Ill have another ready for him, and hell bear in mind the market price of opium, and pay according. O my poor head! I makes my pipes of old penny ink-bottles, ye see, deary this is one and I ts in a mouthpiece, this way, and I takes my mixter out of this thimble with this little horn spoon; and so I lls, deary.

Ah, my poor nerves! I got Heavens-hard drunk for sixteen year afore I took to this; but this dont hurt me, not to speak of. And it takes away the hunger as well as wittles, deary. She hands him the nearly-emptied pipe, and sinks back, turning over on her face. He rises unsteadily fromthe bed, lays the pipe upon the hearthstone, draws back the ragged curtain, and looks with repugnance at his three companions.

He notices that the woman has opium-smoked herself into a strange likeness of the Chinaman. His formof cheek, eye, and temple, and his color, are repeated in her. Said Chinaman convulsively wrestles with one of his many Gods, or Devils, perhaps, and snarls horribly. The Lascar laughs and dribbles at the mouth. The hostess is still.

Visions of many butchers shops, and public-houses, and much credit? Of an increase of hideous customers, and this horrible bedstead set upright again, and this horrible court swept clean? What can she rise to, under any quantity of opium, higher than that! He bends down his ear, to listen to her mutterings. As he watches the spasmodic shoots and darts that break out of her face and limbs, like tful lightning out of a dark sky, some contagion in them seizes upon him: insomuch that he has to withdraw himself to a lean arm-chair by the hearth placed there, perhaps, for such emergencies and to sit in it, holding tight, until he has got the better of this unclean spirit of imitation.

Then he comes back, pounces on the Chinaman, and, seizing him with both hands by the throat, turns him violently on the bed. The Chinaman clutches the aggressive hands, resists, gasps, and protests. What do you say? A watchful pause. Slowly loosening his grasp as he listens to the incoherent jargon with an attentive frown, he turns to the Lascar and fairly drags him forth upon the oor. As he falls, the Lascar starts into a half-risen attitude, glares with his eyes, lashes about him ercely with his arms, and draws a phantom knife.

It then becomes apparent that the woman has taken possession of his knife, for safetys sake; for, she too starting up, and restraining and expostulating with him, the knife is visible in her dress, not in his, when they drowsily drop back, side by side. There has been chattering and clattering enough between them, but to no purpose. When any distinct word has been ung into the air, it has had no sense or sequence. Wherefore unintelligible! He then lays certain silver money on the table, nds his hat, gropes his way down the broken stairs, gives a good morning to some rat-ridden doorkeeper, in bed in a black hutch beneath the stairs, and passes out.

That same afternoon, the massive grey square tower of an old Cathedral rises before the sight of a jaded traveller. The bells are going for daily vesper service, and he must needs attend it, one would say, from his haste to reach the open Cathedral door. The choir are getting on their sullied white robes, in a hurry, when he arrives among them, gets on his own robe, and falls into the procession ling in to service.

Then, the Sacristan locks the iron-barred gates that divide the sanctuary from the chancel, and all of the procession having scuttled into their places, hide their faces; and then the intoned words, Wur ur Wicxrn Mx rise among groins of arches and beams of roof, awakening muttered thunder. Similarly, service being over in the old Cathedral with the square tower, and the choir scuing out again, and divers venerable persons of rook-like aspect dispersing, two of these latter retrace their steps, and walk together in the echoing Close.

Not only is the day waning, but the year. The low sun is ery and yet cold behind the monastery ruin, and the Virginia creeper on the Cathedral wall has showered half its deep-red leaves down on the pavement. There has been rain this afternoon, and a wintry shudder goes among the little pools on the cracked uneven ag-stones, and through the giant elm trees as they shed a gust of tears. Their fallen. Some of these leaves, in a timid rush, seek sanctuary within the low arched Cathedral door; but two men coming out, resist them, and cast them forth again with their feet; this done, one of the two locks the door with a goodly key, and the other its away with a folio music book.

Mr Jasper was that, Tope? Yes, Mr Dean. He has stayed late. I have stayed for him, your 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 oer bad grammar to the laity, or the humbler clergy, not to the Dean. 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? Not English to the Dean. Breathed to that extent, the Dean not unattered by this indirect homage condescendingly remarks, would be preferable. Mr Jaspers breathingwas soremarkablyshort thus discreetlydoes 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 t on him after a little.

His memory grew Dxzrn. 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 himas strange as ever I saw: though he didnt seem to mind it particularly, himself. However, a little time and a little water brought himout of his Dxzr. Mr Tope repeats the word and its empha- sis, with the air of saying: As I have made a success, Ill make it again. Your Reverence, he has gone home quite himself. And Im glad to see hes having his re kindled up, for its 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 re shines out upon the fast-darkening scene, involving in shadow the pendent masses of ivy and creeper covering the buildings 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 Jaspers nephew with him? No, sir, replies the Verger, but expected. Theres 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 curtains now. Well, well, says the Dean, with a sprightly air of breaking up the little conference, I hope Mr Jaspers heart may not be too much set upon his nephew. Our aections, however laudable, in this transitory world, should never master us; we should guide them, guide them.

I nd 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? Aye; do so, do so. Wished to know how he was. By all means. 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 Miss Dean.

Mr Crisparkle, Minor Canon, fair and rosy, and perpetually pitch- ing himself head-foremost into all the deep running water in the. Sorry to hear from Tope that you have not been well, Jasper. Oh, it was nothing, nothing! You look a little worn. Oh, I dont think so. What is better, I dont feel so. Tope has made too much of it, I suspect. Its 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.

Im glad to hear that you expect young Drood. I expect the dear fellow every moment. He will do you more good than a doctor, Jasper. More good than a dozen doctors. For I love him dearly, and I dont love doctors, or doctors stu. Mr Jasper is a dark man of some six-and-twenty, with thick, lustrous, well-arranged black hair and whisker. He looks older than he is, as dark men often do.

His voice is deep and good, his face and gure are good, his manner is a little sombre. His room is a little sombre, and may have had its inuence in forming his manner.

Charles Dickens the Mystery of Edwin Drood Penguin Classics 2002

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 bookshelves on the wall, or the unnished picture of a blooming schoolgirl hanging over the chimneypiece; her owing 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 a dean, and a chapter also. God bless you! Tell me, shep-herds, te-e-ell me; tell me-e-e, have you seen have you seen, have you seen, have you seen my-y-y Flo-o-ora-a pass this way! Melodiously good Minor Canon the Reverend Septimus Crisparkle thus delivers himself, in musical rhythm, as he withdraws his amiable face from the doorway and conveys it down stairs.

Sounds of recognition and greeting pass between the Reverend Septimus and somebody else, at the stair-foot. Mr Jasper listens, starts from his chair, and catches a young fellow in his arms, exclaiming: My dear Edwin! My dear Jack! So glad to see you! Get o your greatcoat, bright boy, and sit down here in your own corner. Your feet are not wet? Pull your boots o. Do pull your boots o. My dear Jack, I am as dry as a bone. Dont moddley-coddley, theres a good fellow.

I like anything better than being moddley- coddleyed. With the check upon him of being unsympathetically restrained in a genial outburst of enthusiasm, Mr Jasper stands still, and looks on intently at the young fellow, divesting himself of his outer coat, hat, gloves, and so forth. Once for all, a look of intentness and intensity a look of hungry, exacting, watchful, and yet devoted aection is always, now and ever afterwards, on the Jasper face whenever the Jasper face is addressed in this direction. And whenever it is so addressed, it is never, on this occasion or on any other, dividedly addressed; it is always concentrated.

Now I am right, and now Ill take my corner, Jack. Any dinner, Jack? Mr Jasper opens a door at the upper end of the room, and discloses a small inner room pleasantly lighted and prepared, wherein a comely dame is in the act of setting dishes on table. What a jolly old Jack it is! Look here, Jack; tell me; whose birthday is it? Not yours, I know, Mr Jasper answers, pausing to consider.

Not mine, you know? No; not mine, I know! Fixed as the look the young fellow meets is, there is yet in it some. Pussys, Jack! 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 Jaspers shoulder, Jasper cordially and gaily lays a hand on his shoulder, and so Marseillaise-wise they go in to dinner. And, Lord! Heres Mrs Tope! Lovelier than ever! Never you mind me, Master Edwin, retorts the Vergers wife; I can take care of myself.

You cant. Youre much too handsome. Give me a kiss, because its Pussys birthday. Id Pussy you, young man, if I was Pussy, as you call her, Mrs Tope blushingly retorts, after being saluted. Your uncles too much wrapt up in you, thats where it is. He makes so much of you, that its my opinion you think youve only to call your Pussys by the dozen, to make em come.

You forget, Mrs Tope, Mr Jasper interposes, taking his place at table with a genial smile, and so do you, Ned, that Uncle and Nephew are words prohibited here by common consent and express agreement. For what we are going to receive His holy name be praised! Done like the Dean! Witness, Edwin Drood! Please to carve, Jack, for I cant. This sally ushers in the dinner. Little to the present purpose, or to any purpose, is said, while it is in course of being disposed of.

At length the cloth is drawn, and a dish of walnuts and a decanter of rich-colored sherry are placed upon the table. I say! Tell me, Jack, the young fellow then ows on: do you really and truly feel as if the mention of our relationship divided us at all? I dont. Uncles as a rule, Ned, are so much older than their nephews, is the reply, that I have that feeling instinctively.

As a rule? Ah, may-be! But what is a dierence in age of half a dozen years or so? And some uncles, in large families, are even younger than their nephews. By George, I wish it was the case with us! Halloa, Jack! Dont drink. Why not? Asks why not, on Pussys birthday, and no Happy Returns pro- posed!

Pussy, Jack, and many of em! Happy returns, I mean. Laying an aectionate and laughing touch on the boys extended hand, as if it were at once his giddy head and his light heart, Mr Jasper drinks the toast in silence. Hip, hip, hip, and nine times nine, and one to nish with, and all that, understood. Hooray, hooray, hooray! And now, Jack, lets have a little talk about Pussy. Two pairs of nut-crackers? Pass me one, and take the other. Hows Pussy getting on, Jack? With her music? What a dreadfully conscientious fellow you are, Jack. But I know, Lord bless you!

Inattentive, isnt she? She can learn anything, if she will. If she will! Egad, thats it. But if she wont? On Mr Jaspers part. Hows she looking, Jack? Mr Jaspers concentrated face again includes the portrait as he returns: Very like your sketch indeed. I am a little proud of it, says the young fellow, glancing up at the sketch with complacency, and then shutting one eye, and taking a corrected prospect of it over a level bridge of nut-cracker in the air: Not badly hit o from memory. But I ought to have caught that expression pretty well, for I have seen it often enough.

On Edwin Droods part. In point of fact, the former resumes, after some silent dipping among his fragments of walnut with an air of pique, I see it whenever I go to see Pussy. If I dont nd it on her face, I leave it there. You know I do, Miss Scornful Pert. With a twirl of the nut-crackers at the portrait. Slowly, on Mr Jaspers part. Sharply, on the part of Edwin Drood. Have you lost your tongue, Jack? Have you found yours, Ned? No, but really; isnt it, you know, after all? Mr Jasper lifts his dark eyebrows enquiringly. Isnt it unsatisfactory to be cut o from choice in such a matter?

There, Jack! I tell you! If I could choose, I would choose Pussy from all the pretty girls in the world. But you have not got to choose. Thats what I complain of. My dead and gone father and Pussys dead and gone father must needs marry us together by anticipation. Why the Devil, I was going to say, if it had been respectful to their memory couldnt they leave us alone? Tut, tut, dear boy, Mr Jasper remonstrates, in a tone of gentle deprecation. Tut, tut? Yes, Jack, its all very well for you.

You can take it easily. Your life is not laid down to scale, and lined and dotted out for you, like a surveyors plan. You have no uncomfortable suspicion that you are forced upon anybody, nor has anybody an uncomfortable suspicion that she is forced upon you, or that you are forced upon her. You can choose for yourself. Life, for you, is a plum with the natural bloom on; it hasnt been over-carefully wiped o for you Dont stop, dear fellow. Go on. Can I anyhow have hurt your feelings, Jack? How can you have hurt my feelings? Good Heaven, Jack, you look frightfully ill! Theres a strange lm come over your eyes.

Mr Jasper, with a forced smile, stretches out his right hand, as 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 eects of the medicine steal over me like a blight or a cloud, and pass. You see them in the act of passing; they will be gone directly. Look away from me.

They will go all the sooner. With a scared face, the younger man complies, by casting his eyes downward at the ashes on the hearth. Not relaxing his own gaze at the a dean, and a chapter also. On his so subsiding in his chair, his nephew gently and assiduously tends himwhile he quite recovers. When Jasper is restored, he lays a tender hand upon his nephews shoulder, and, in 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 mine, dear Ned.

Upon my life, Jack, I did think so. However, when I come to consider that even in Pussys 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 calculation, no risk, no change of place, myself devoted to the art I pursue, my business my pleasure. I really was going to say something of the kind, Jack; but you see, you, speaking of yourself, almost 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 Precentor, or Lay Clerk, or whatever you call it, of this Cathedral; your enjoying the reputation of having done such wonders with the choir; your choosing your society, and holding such an independent position in this queer old place; your gift of teaching why, even Pussy, who dont like being taught, says there never was such a Master as you are! Yes; I saw what you were tending to. I hate it. Hate it, Jack? Much bewildered. The cramped monotony of my existence grinds me away by the grain.

How does our service sound to you? 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 place, before me, can have been more tired of it than I :o ur xssrrs or rnwi nroon 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 life, Jack, Edwin Drood returns, astonished, bending forward in his chair to lay a sympathetic hand on Jaspers knee, and looking at him with an anxious face.

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