Part 1 out of 6
Transcribed from the Chapman and Hall, 1914 edition by David Price,
THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
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 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 Sultan's 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 flash in the sunlight, and
thrice ten thousand dancing-girls strew flowers. Then, follow
white elephants caparisoned in countless gorgeous colours, and
infinite in number and attendants. Still the Cathedral Tower rises
in the background, where it cannot be, and 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 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 first 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 lean hand, concentrates its
red spark of light, it serves in the dim morning as a lamp to show
him what he sees of her.
'Another?' says this woman, in a querulous, rattling whisper.
He looks about him, with his hand to his forehead.
'Ye've smoked as many as five 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! Here's another
ready for ye, deary. Ye'll remember like a good soul, won'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 accordingly, deary, won't 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! It's nearly ready
for ye, deary. Ah, poor me, poor me, my poor hand shakes like to
drop off! I see ye coming-to, and I ses to my poor self, "I'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-bottles, ye see, deary--this is one--and I fits-in a
mouthpiece, this way, and I takes my mixter out of this thimble
with this little horn spoon; and so I fills, deary. Ah, my poor
nerves! I got Heavens-hard drunk for sixteen year afore I took to
this; but this don't 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 from the bed, lays the pipe upon the hearth-
stone, 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 form of
cheek, eye, and temple, and his colour, 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.
'What visions can SHE have?' the waking man muses, as he turns her
face towards him, and stands looking down at it. '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!--Eh?'
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 fitful 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
'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 floor. As he falls, the Lascar starts into a
half-risen attitude, glares with his eyes, lashes about him
fiercely with his arms, and draws a phantom knife. It then becomes
apparent that the woman has taken possession of this knife, for
safety's 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 flung into the air,
it has had no sense or sequence. Wherefore 'unintelligible!' is
again the comment of the watcher, made with some reassured nodding
of his head, and a gloomy smile. He then lays certain silver money
on the table, finds 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 gray 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 filing 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, 'WHEN THE WICKED MAN--' rise
among groins of arches and beams of roof, awakening muttered
CHAPTER II--A DEAN, AND A CHAPTER ALSO
Whosoever has observed that sedate and clerical bird, the rook, may
perhaps have noticed that when he wings his way homeward towards
nightfall, in a sedate and clerical company, two rooks will
suddenly detach themselves from the rest, will retrace their flight
for some distance, and will there poise and linger; conveying to
mere men the fancy that it is of some occult importance to the body
politic, that this artful couple should pretend to have renounced
connection with it.
Similarly, service being over in the old Cathedral with the square
tower, and the choir scuffling 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 fiery 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 flag-stones, and
through the giant elm-trees as they shed a gust of tears. Their
fallen leaves lie strewn thickly about. 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 flits away with a folio music-book.
'Mr. Jasper was that, Tope?'
'Yes, Mr. Dean.'
'He has stayed late.'
'Yes, Mr. Dean. 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 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.
'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 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-
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,
'My dear Edwin!'
'My dear Jack! So glad to see you!'
'Get off your greatcoat, bright boy, and sit down here in your own
corner. Your feet are not wet? Pull your boots off. Do pull your
'My dear Jack, I am as dry as a bone. Don't moddley-coddley,
there's a good fellow. I like anything better than being moddley-
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 outward
coat, hat, gloves, and so forth. Once for all, a look of
intentness and intensity--a look of hungry, exacting, watchful, and
yet devoted affection--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
'Now I am right, and now I'll take my corner, Jack. Any dinner,
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!' cries the young fellow, with a clap
of his hands. '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! Pussy's!'
Fixed as the look the young fellow meets, is, there is yet in it
some strange power of suddenly including the sketch over the
'Pussy's, 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 Jasper's
shoulder, Jasper cordially and gaily lays a hand on HIS shoulder,
and so Marseillaise-wise they go in to dinner.
'And, Lord! here's Mrs. Tope!' cries the boy. 'Lovelier than
'Never you mind me, Master 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 you, young man, if I was Pussy, as you call her,' Mrs.
Tope blushingly retorts, after being saluted. 'Your uncle's too
much wrapt up in you, that'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 dozen, to make 'em come.'
'You forget, Mrs. Tope,' Mr. Jasper interposes, taking his place at
the 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
'Done like the Dean! Witness, Edwin Drood! Please to carve, Jack,
for I can't.'
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-coloured sherry are placed upon the table.
'I say! Tell me, Jack,' 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 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 difference 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
'Because if it was, I'd take the lead with you, Jack, and be as
wise as Begone, dull Care! that turned a young man gray, and
Begone, dull Care! that turned an old man to clay.--Halloa, Jack!
'Asks why not, on Pussy's birthday, and no Happy returns proposed!
Pussy, Jack, and many of 'em! Happy returns, I mean.'
Laying an affectionate and laughing touch on the boy's 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 finish with, and
all that, understood. Hooray, hooray, hooray!--And now, Jack,
let's have a little talk about Pussy. Two pairs of nut-crackers?
Pass me one, and take the other.' Crack. 'How's Pussy getting on
'With her music? Fairly.'
'What a dreadfully conscientious fellow you are, Jack! But _I_
know, Lord bless you! Inattentive, isn't she?'
'She can learn anything, if she will.'
'IF she will! Egad, that's it. But if she won't?'
Crack!--on Mr. Jasper's part.
'How's she looking, Jack?'
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 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-crackers in
the air: 'Not badly hit off from memory. But I ought to have
caught that expression pretty well, for I have seen it often
Crack!--on Edwin Drood's part.
Crack!--on Mr. Jasper's 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 don't find it on her face, I
leave it there.--You know I do, Miss Scornful Pert. Booh!' With a
twirl of the nut-crackers at the portrait.
Crack! crack! crack. Slowly, on Mr. Jasper's part.
Crack. Sharply on the part of Edwin Drood.
Silence on both sides.
'Have you lost your tongue, Jack?'
'Have you found yours, Ned?'
'No, but really;--isn't it, you know, after all--'
Mr. Jasper lifts his dark eyebrows inquiringly.
'Isn't it unsatisfactory to be cut off 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.'
'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--Devil, I was going to say, if it had been respectful to
their memory--couldn't they leave us alone?'
'Tut, tut, dear boy,' Mr. Jasper remonstrates, in a tone of gentle
'Tut, tut? Yes, Jack, it's 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 surveyor's 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 hasn't been over-carefully
wiped off for YOU--'
'Don't 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! There's a strange
film 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 effects 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
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 fire, but rather strengthening it with a fierce, firm grip upon
his elbow-chair, the elder sits for a few moments rigid, and then,
with thick drops standing on his forehead, and a sharp catch of his
breath, becomes as he was before. On his so subsiding in his
chair, his nephew gently and assiduously tends him while he quite
recovers. When Jasper is restored, he lays a tender hand upon his
nephew's 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 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 calculation, no risk, no change of
place, myself devoted to the art I pursue, my business my
'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
don't like being taught, says there never was such a Master as you
are!), and your connexion.'
'Yes; I saw what you were tending to. I hate it.'
'Hate it, Jack?' (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 place, before me, can 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 life, Jack,'
Edwin Drood returns, astonished, bending forward in his chair to
lay a sympathetic hand on Jasper's knee, and looking at him with an
'I know you thought so. They all think so.'
'Well, I suppose they do,' says Edwin, meditating 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?'
'O, she only said that she had become your pupil, and that you were
made for your vocation.'
The younger man glances at the portrait. The elder sees it in him.
'Anyhow, my dear Ned,' Jasper resumes, as 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 preserved, Jack.'
'I have reposed it in you, because--'
'I feel it, I assure you. Because we are fast friends, and because
you love and trust me, as I love and trust you. Both hands, Jack.'
As each stands looking into the other's eyes, and as the uncle
holds the nephew's hands, the uncle thus proceeds:
'You know now, don't you, that even a poor monotonous chorister and
grinder of music--in his niche--may be troubled with some stray
sort of ambition, aspiration, restlessness, dissatisfaction, what
shall we call it?'
'Yes, dear Jack.'
'And you will remember?'
'My dear Jack, I only ask you, am I likely to forget what you have
said with so much feeling?'
'Take it as a warning, then.'
In the act of having his hands released, and of moving a step back,
Edwin pauses for an instant to consider the application of these
last words. The instant over, he says, sensibly touched:
'I am afraid I am but a shallow, surface kind of fellow, Jack, and
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
events, I hope I have something impressible within me, which feels-
-deeply feels--the disinterestedness of your painfully laying your
inner self bare, as 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 notice, Jack, that it cost you a great effort,
and that you were very much moved, and very unlike your usual self.
Of course I knew that you were extremely fond of me, but I really
was not prepared for your, as I may say, sacrificing yourself to me
in that way.'
Mr. Jasper, becoming a breathing man again without the smallest
stage of transition between the two extreme states, lifts his
shoulders, laughs, and waves his right arm.
'No; don't put the sentiment away, Jack; 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 suffering, and is hard to bear. But let me reassure you,
Jack, as 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 year, you
know, I shall carry Pussy off from school as Mrs. Edwin Drood. I
shall then go engineering into the East, and Pussy with me. And
although we have our little tiffs now, arising out of a certain
unavoidable flatness that attends our love-making, owing to its end
being all settled beforehand, still I have no doubt of our getting
on capitally then, when it's done and can't be helped. In short,
Jack, to 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 sing, so 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 likeness, and paint your music-master
Mr. Jasper, with his hand to his chin, and with an expression of
musing benevolence on his face, has attentively watched every
animated look and gesture attending the delivery of these words.
He remains in that attitude after they, are spoken, as 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 warned, then?'
'You can't be warned, then?'
'No, Jack, not by you. Besides that I don't really consider myself
in danger, I 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' House, and leaving a parcel there? Only gloves
for Pussy; as many pairs of gloves as she is years old to-day.
Rather poetical, Jack?'
Mr. Jasper, still in the same attitude, murmurs: '"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 oyster-
shells, 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 house-
front 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 gate-
bell 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 Twinkleton.'
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.'
'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
'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
'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
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 them, then
and there, and I say "Pekin, Nankin, and Canton." It is the same
with Japan, with Egypt, and 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 now, and said "Spear of Esquimaux make, for
half a pint of pale sherry!"'
'Really? A very remarkable way, Mr. Sapsea, of acquiring a
knowledge of men and things.'
'I mention it, sir,' Mr. Sapsea rejoins, with unspeakable
complacency, 'because, as I say, it don't do to boast of what you
are; but show how you came to be it, and then you prove it.'
'Most interesting. We were to speak of the late Mrs. Sapsea.'
'We were, sir.' Mr. Sapsea fills both glasses, and 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 trifle, and still has required some thought, sir, some little
fever of the brow, I ought perhaps to describe the character of the
late Mrs. Sapsea, now dead three quarters of a year.'
Mr. Jasper, in the act of yawning behind his wineglass, puts 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 of, with watering eyes.
'Half a dozen years ago, or so,' Mr. Sapsea proceeds, 'when I had
enlarged my mind up to--I will not say to what it now is, for that
might seem to aim at too much, but up to the pitch of wanting
another mind to be absorbed in it--I cast my eye about me for a
nuptial partner. Because, as I say, it is not good for man to be
Mr. Jasper appears to commit this original idea to memory.
'Miss Brobity at that time kept, I will not call it the rival
establishment to the establishment at the Nuns' House opposite, but
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 holidays, or in vacation time. The
world did put it about, that she admired my style. The world did
notice that as time flowed by, my style became traceable in the
dictation-exercises of Miss Brobity's pupils. Young man, a whisper
even sprang up in obscure malignity, that 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 at, by 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 mind, seems to refill his
visitor's glass, which is full already; and does really refill his
own, which is empty.
'Miss Brobity's Being, young man, was deeply imbued with homage to
Mind. She revered Mind, when launched, or, as I say, precipitated,
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 words, "O Thou!" meaning
myself. Her limpid blue eyes were fixed upon me, her semi-
transparent hands were clasped together, pallor overspread her
aquiline features, and, though encouraged to proceed, she never did
proceed a word further. I disposed of the parallel establishment
by private contract, and we became as nearly one as could be
expected under the circumstances. But she never could, and she
never did, find 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 them, and says, in unison with the
deepened voice 'Ah!'--rather as if stopping himself on the extreme
verge of adding--'men!'
'I have been since,' says Mr. Sapsea, with 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 say, wasting 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 high, what might the stimulating action have been upon the
Mr. Jasper says, with an appearance of having fallen into
dreadfully low spirits, that he 'supposes it was to be.'
'We can only suppose so, sir,' Mr. Sapsea coincides. 'As I say,
Man proposes, Heaven 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 now, Mr. Jasper,' resumes the auctioneer, producing his scrap
of manuscript, 'Mrs. Sapsea's monument having had full time to
settle and dry, let me take your opinion, as a man of taste, on the
inscription I have (as I before remarked, not 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 complying, sees and reads as follows:
Reverential Wife of
MR. THOMAS SAPSEA,
AUCTIONEER, VALUER, ESTATE AGENT, &c.,
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
fire, for the purpose of observing the effect of these lines on the
countenance of a man of taste, consequently has his face towards
the door, when his serving-maid, again appearing, announces,
'Durdles is come, sir!' He promptly draws forth and fills the
third wineglass, as being now claimed, and replies, 'Show Durdles
'Admirable!' quoth Mr. Jasper, handing back the paper.
'You approve, sir?'
'Impossible not to approve. Striking, characteristic, and
The auctioneer inclines his head, as 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 gravestone, tomb, and
monument way, and 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--which, for aught
that anybody knows, he 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 place, to lock-out
the Cloisterham boy-populace, and sleep off fumes of liquor: he
having ready access to the Cathedral, as contractor for rough
repairs. Be this as it may, he does know much about it, and, in
the demolition of impedimental fragments of wall, buttress, and
pavement, has seen strange sights. He often speaks of himself in
the third person; perhaps, being a little misty as to his own
identity, when he narrates; perhaps impartially adopting the
Cloisterham nomenclature in reference to a character of
acknowledged distinction. Thus he will say, touching 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 eyes, as much as to say, "Is 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 pocket, and
a mason's hammer all but always in his hand, Durdles goes
continually sounding and tapping all about and about the Cathedral;
and whenever he says to Tope: 'Tope, here's another old 'un in
here!' Tope announces it to the Dean as an established discovery.
In a suit of coarse flannel with horn buttons, a yellow neckerchief
with draggled ends, an old hat more russet-coloured than black, and
laced boots of the hue of his stony calling, Durdles leads a hazy,
gipsy sort of life, carrying his dinner about with him in a small
bundle, and 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 it, but
because of its having been, on certain renowned occasions, taken
into custody along with Durdles (as drunk and incapable), and
exhibited before the Bench of justices at the townhall. These
occasions, however, have been few and far apart: Durdles being as
seldom drunk as sober. For the rest, he is an old bachelor, and he
lives in a little antiquated hole of a house that was never
finished: supposed to be built, so far, of stones stolen from the
city wall. To this abode there is an approach, ankle-deep in stone
chips, resembling a petrified grove of tombstones, urns, draperies,
and broken columns, in all stages of sculpture. Herein two
journeymen incessantly chip, while other two journeymen, who face
each other, incessantly saw stone; dipping as regularly in and out
of their sheltering sentry-boxes, as if they were mechanical
figures emblematical of Time and Death.
To Durdles, when he had consumed his glass of port, Mr. Sapsea
intrusts that precious effort of his Muse. Durdles unfeelingly
takes out his two-foot rule, and measures the lines calmly,
alloying them with stone-grit.
'This is for the monument, is it, Mr. 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
servant, Mr. Jasper. Hope I see you well.'
'How are you Durdles?'
'I've got a touch of the Tombatism on me, Mr. Jasper, but that I
'You mean the Rheumatism,' says Sapsea, in a sharp tone. (He is
nettled by having his composition so mechanically received.)
'No, I don't. I mean, Mr. Sapsea, the 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 morning, and
keep on, as the Catechism says, a-walking in the same all the days
of your life, and YOU'LL know what Durdles means.'
'It is a bitter cold place,' Mr. Jasper assents, with an
'And if it's bitter cold for you, up in the chancel, with a lot of
live breath smoking out about you, what the bitterness is to
Durdles, down in the crypt among the earthy damps there, and the
dead breath of the old 'uns,' returns that individual, 'Durdles
leaves you to judge.--Is this to be put in hand at once, Mr.
Mr. Sapsea, with 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.
'Why, man, it is not to be put inside the monument!'
'Durdles knows where it's to be put, Mr. Sapsea; no man better.
Ask 'ere a man in Cloisterham whether Durdles knows his work.'
Mr. Sapsea rises, takes a key from a drawer, unlocks an iron safe
let into the wall, and takes from it another key.
'When Durdles puts a touch or a finish upon his work, no matter
where, inside or outside, Durdles likes to look at his work all
round, and see that his work is a-doing him credit,' Durdles
The key proffered him by the bereaved widower being a large one, he
slips his two-foot rule into a side-pocket of his flannel trousers
made for it, and deliberately opens his flannel coat, and opens the
mouth of a large breast-pocket within it before taking the key to
place it in that repository.
'Why, Durdles!' exclaims Jasper, looking on amused, 'you are
undermined with pockets!'
'And I carries weight in 'em too, Mr. 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 muchness, I 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 say, as he idly
examines the keys, 'I have been going to ask you, many a day, and
have always forgotten. You know they sometimes call you Stony
Durdles, don't you?'
'Cloisterham knows me as Durdles, Mr. Jasper.'
'I am aware of that, of 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 Choir, whether Stony stood for
Tony;' clinking one key against another.
('Take care of the wards, Mr. Jasper.')
'Or whether Stony stood for Stephen;' clinking with a change of
('You can't make a pitch pipe of 'em, Mr. Jasper.')
'Or whether the name comes from your trade. How stands the fact?'
Mr. Jasper weighs the three keys in his hand, lifts his head from
his idly stooping attitude over the fire, and delivers the keys to
Durdles with an ingenuous and friendly face.
But the stony one is a gruff one likewise, and that hazy state of
his is always an uncertain state, highly conscious of its dignity,
and prone to take offence. He drops his two keys back into his
pocket one by one, and 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 carries, by tying the third key up in it,
as though he were an Ostrich, and liked to dine off cold iron; and
he gets out of the room, deigning no word of answer.
Mr. Sapsea then proposes a hit at backgammon, which, seasoned with
his own improving conversation, and terminating in a supper of cold
roast beef and salad, beguiles the golden evening until pretty
late. Mr. Sapsea's wisdom being, in its delivery to mortals,
rather of the diffuse than the epigrammatic order, is by no means
expended even then; but his visitor intimates that he will come
back for more of the precious commodity on future occasions, and
Mr. Sapsea lets him off for the present, to ponder on the
instalment he carries away.
CHAPTER V--MR. DURDLES AND FRIEND
John Jasper, on his way home through the Close, is brought to a
stand-still by the spectacle of Stony Durdles, dinner-bundle and
all, leaning 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 him, and sometimes they miss
him, but Durdles seems indifferent to either fortune. The hideous
small boy, on the contrary, whenever he hits Durdles, blows a
whistle of triumph through a jagged gap, convenient for the
purpose, in the front of his mouth, where half his teeth are
wanting; and whenever he misses him, yelps 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 Jasper, stepping 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.'
'Yes, I'll give 'em you down your throat, if you come a-ketching
hold of me,' says the small boy, shaking himself loose, and
backing. 'I'll smash your eye, if you don't look out!'
'Baby-Devil that you are, what 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 chants, like a little savage, half
stumbling and half dancing among the rags and laces of his
'Widdy widdy wen!
Widdy widdy wy!
Widdy Widdy Wake-cock warning!'
- with a comprehensive sweep on the last word, and one more
delivery at Durdles.
This would seem to be a poetical note of preparation, agreed upon,
as a caution to Durdles to stand clear if he can, or to betake
John Jasper invites the boy with a beck of his head to follow him
(feeling it hopeless to drag him, or coax him), and crosses to the
iron railing where the Stony (and stoned) One is profoundly
'Do you know this thing, this child?' asks Jasper, at a loss for a
word that will define this thing.
'Deputy,' says Durdles, with 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
road, and taking aim, he resumes:-
'Widdy widdy wen!
'Hold your hand,' cries Jasper, 'and don't throw while I stand so
near him, or I'll kill you! Come, Durdles; let me walk home with
you to-night. Shall I carry your bundle?'
'Not on any account,' replies Durdles, adjusting it. 'Durdles was
making his reflections here when you come up, sir, surrounded by
his works, like a poplar Author.--Your own brother-in-law;'
introducing a sarcophagus within the railing, white 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
towel, standing on what might represent the cake of soap. 'Former
pastrycook and Muffin-maker, much respected;' introducing
gravestone. 'All safe and sound here, sir, and all Durdles's work.
Of the common folk, that is merely bundled up in turf and brambles,
the less said the better. A poor lot, soon forgot.'
'This creature, Deputy, is behind us,' says Jasper, looking back.
'Is he to follow us?'
The relations between Durdles and Deputy are of a capricious kind;
for, on Durdles's turning himself about with the slow gravity of
beery suddenness, Deputy makes a pretty wide circuit into the road
and stands on the defensive.
'You never cried Widdy Warning before you begun to-night,' says
Durdles, unexpectedly reminded of, or imagining, an injury.
'Yer lie, I did,' says Deputy, in his only form of polite
'Own brother, sir,' observes Durdles, turning 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 it, sir,' returns Durdles, quite 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 person, not a piece of property, not a winder, not a
horse, nor a dog, nor a cat, nor a bird, nor a fowl, nor a pig, but
what he stoned, for want of an enlightened object. I put that
enlightened object before him, and now he can turn his honest
halfpenny by the three penn'orth a week.'
'I wonder he has no competitors.'
'He has plenty, Mr. Jasper, but he stones 'em all away. Now, I
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 Jasper, looking over his
shoulder; 'is he to follow us?'
'We can't help going round by the Travellers' Twopenny, if we go
the short way, which is the back way,' Durdles answers, 'and we'll
drop him there.'
So they go on; Deputy, as a rear rank one, taking open order, and
invading the silence of the hour and place by stoning every wall,
post, pillar, and other inanimate object, by the deserted way.
'Is there anything new down in the crypt, Durdles?' asks John
'Anything old, I think you mean,' growls Durdles. 'It ain't a spot
'Any new discovery on your part, I 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 walls, and of the steps and doors, by which they come and
went, them 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 often, I should say.'
Without any endeavour to correct the literality of this opinion,
Jasper surveys his companion--covered from head to foot with old
mortar, lime, and stone grit--as though he, Jasper, were getting
imbued with a romantic interest in his weird life.
'Yours is a curious existence.'
Without furnishing the least clue to the question, whether he
receives this as a compliment or as quite the reverse, Durdles
gruffly answers: 'Yours is another.'
'Well! inasmuch as my lot is cast in the same old earthy, chilly,
never-changing place, Yes. But there is much more mystery and
interest in your connection with the Cathedral than in mine.
Indeed, I am beginning to have some idea of asking you to take me
on as a sort of student, or free 'prentice, under you, and to let
me go about with you sometimes, and see some of these odd nooks in
which you pass your days.'
The Stony One replies, in a general way, 'All right. Everybody
knows where to find Durdles, when he's wanted.' Which, if not
strictly true, is approximately so, if taken to express that
Durdles may always be found in a state of vagabondage somewhere.
'What I dwell upon most,' says Jasper, pursuing 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 (Deputy, attentive to all
his movements, immediately skirmishing into the road), and was
looking about for some ledge or corner to place his bundle on, when
thus relieved of it.
'Just you give me my hammer out of that,' says Durdles, 'and I'll
Clink, clink. And his hammer is handed him.
'Now, lookee here. You pitch your note, don't you, Mr. Jasper?'
'So I sound for mine. I take my hammer, and I tap.' (Here he
strikes the pavement, and the attentive Deputy skirmishes at a
rather wider range, as supposing that his head may be in
requisition.) 'I tap, tap, tap. Solid! I go on tapping. Solid
still! Tap again. Holloa! Hollow! Tap again, persevering.
Solid in hollow! Tap, tap, tap, to try it better. Solid in
hollow; and inside solid, hollow again! There you are! Old 'un
crumbled away in stone coffin, in vault!'
'I have even done this,' says Durdles, drawing out his two-foot
rule (Deputy meanwhile skirmishing nearer, as suspecting that
Treasure may be about to be discovered, which may somehow lead to
his own enrichment, and the delicious treat of the discoverers
being hanged by the neck, on his evidence, until 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 thicker, but say Mrs. Sapsea.
Durdles taps, that wall represented by that hammer, and says, after
good sounding: "Something betwixt us!" Sure enough, some 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 Durdles, by no means
receiving the observation in good part. 'I worked it out for
myself. Durdles comes by HIS knowledge through grubbing deep for
it, and having it up by the roots when it don't want to come.--
Holloa you Deputy!'
'Widdy!' is Deputy's shrill response, standing off again.
'Catch that ha'penny. And don't let me see any more of you to-
night, after we come to the Travellers' Twopenny.'
'Warning!' returns Deputy, having caught the halfpenny, and
appearing by this mystic word to express his assent to the
They have but to cross what was once the vineyard, belonging to
what was once the Monastery, to 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
distorted, like the morals of the travellers, with scant remains of
a lattice-work porch over the door, and also of a rustic fence
before its stamped-out garden; by reason of the travellers being so