David N. Saunders: The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Part II, The Solution

When Charles Dickens died in 1870, he left behind him the greatest unsolved mystery in the history of literature. So parsimonious was Dickens with his clues that the most widely accepted “solution” among cognoscenti to this day is that Edwin Drood was killed by his drug-addled uncle, John Jasper. Most readers find this answer emotionally unsatisfactory; the one person we may be sure did not kill Edwin Drood was John Jasper.

Dick­ens died at the height of his pow­ers, yet so sub­tle were the clues he placed in Drood that many be­lieve he had lost con­trol of the novel’s di­rec­tion. He had, in fact, suc­cess­ful­ly hid­den not only the true killer’s iden­ti­ty but an­oth­er mur­der, as well, a mur­der no-one seems to have no­ticed. There are many other small mys­ter­ies scat­tered through­out the text: who is the Princess Puffer, who the hor­rid boy Winks, what ghost did Dur­dles hear while sleep­ing it off? Close ex­am­i­na­tion of the text re­veals that Dick­ens did, in­deed, sprin­kle clues here and there. Not enough clues to recre­ate the full fu­ture of the story but enough, cer­tain­ly, to solve the main puz­zle and most of the less­er ones. Enough to point to a very ex­cit­ing con­clu­sion.




CONTENTS

Chapter 23
Diverse Discussions

Chapter 24
Rounding an Angle

Chapter 25
A Summer Morning

Chapter 26
A Summer Afternoon

Chapter 27
A Shadwell Court

Chapter 28
A Meeting of Two Jackasses

Chapter 29
A Sea Voyage

Chapter 30
Cloisterham

Chapter 31
Rosa’s Birthday

Chapter 32
Durdles’s Birthday

Chapter 33
Jasper’s Birthday

Chapter 34
The Hero of Ceylon

Chapter 35
The Wolf on the Fold

Chapter 36
Maidstone Gaol

Chapter 37
The View from the Tower

Chapter 38
Weddings in Springtime

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CHAP­TER 23
DI­VERSE DIS­CUS­SIONS

“HE­LE­NA,” cried Neville over a late break­fast, “what am I to do? I still love Rosa, yet she is now far­ther from me than ever.”

“We have dis­cussed this be­fore, Neville,” replied He­le­na; “You must put all thought of her out of your mind.”

“You are right, dear sis­ter. Yet I admit, though I admit it only to you, that to see her love an­oth­er is an­guish. In­deed, I can­not de­cide which is worse: to see her be­trothed to a man much her in­fe­ri­or, as was poor Edwin Drood, or to see her smit­ten by a man who is, in every way, good enough to marry her and, in every way, much bet­ter than my­self.”

“Tar­tar is in­deed a fine man but, if he is in any way your su­pe­ri­or, it is only be­cause he choos­es to breath fresh air and feel the sun upon his cheeks. And, would you but seek com­pan­ion­ship, you would find the world full of young ladies many of whom are at least the equal of our pret­ty lit­tle friend. For that mat­ter, I can­not see how you can con­tin­ue to be in­fat­u­at­ed with a girl whom you have seen but once.”

“Twice,” quib­bled Neville, “I saw her cross­ing the yard on Tar­tar's arm after you spoke.” At He­le­na's with­er­ing glare he con­tin­ued, “But you are right, I say again, and I am in love with an image of a woman rather than the woman her­self. You see, He­le­na, I am adapt­ing my­self to this loss; it is, after all, only an­oth­er dis­ap­point­ment in a life­long string of dis­ap­point­ments. Tar­tar is a fine man, and I can hon­est­ly wish them a happy life to­geth­er.”

“I am so pleased to hear you say that,” said He­le­na. “I have pledged to pro­tect Rosa, yet I must also pro­tect you, my broth­er; and you can see what strain this has put me under. It is well you ac­cept Tar­tar, for he is one who may clear the cloud under which you live.”

“A fine man and a wor­thy friend, even did he not hold some promise of sal­va­tion. 'Promise of Sal­va­tion' I make it sound as if he could save my soul, not just my rep­u­ta­tion. Still, he has be­come a friend and I think that, rather than wait for his cus­tom­ary visit here, I should like to call upon him at his home. Do you think this wise?”

He­le­na grant­ing that it was wise, the two soon left his flat for the an­cient wood­en stair­case where he sneezed at the dust and dan­der left by cen­turies of wool mer­chants now as dusty as their stock, and de­scend­ed three flights to ground level. Thence she pro­ceed­ed across the court­yard while he stepped from his al­cove to the next and climbed three more flights of an­cient wood­en stairs back to the level from which he had begun.

“I begin to un­der­stand why Tar­tar is so fond of climb­ing about on roof-tops,” he thought to him­self, slight­ly breathed, as he tapped at Tar­tar's door.

“Wel­come, my friend,” said Tar­tar, open­ing wide the door. “I was about to visit you, so your tim­ing is of the best. Come, visit my lit­tle abode.”

Once again the tidy attic was put upon dis­play. This time it was Neville who was treat­ed to the sight of rooms com­pleat­ly de­void of dirt or clut­ter; of cab­i­netry fit­ted pre­cise­ly to each nook and cran­ny; of trea­sures, value great or lit­tle or none, gath­ered from around the world; of a Hang­ing Gar­den to rival Baby­lon's fa­bled ver­dan­cy. Upon com­ple­tion of the tour (which had upon Neville the salu­tary ef­fect of show­ing him what could be done with his own drab quar­ters), the two young men set­tled down to se­ri­ous con­ver­sa­tion.

“Have you, as yet,” began Neville, “been con­tact­ed by any­one warn­ing you away from me?”

“Not yet,” re­turned Tar­tar, “al­though I think such con­tact will come soon. There is a man I have no­ticed who watch­es your rooms rather close­ly, and I fancy he has now start­ed to watch me, as well. A tall, well-dressed man who looks Bris­tol on first glance, but, I dare-say, would not pass close in­spec­tion.”

“If this is the man I think, He­le­na has es­pied him al­ready. She is quite the huntress, you know.”

“I know,” laughed Tar­tar. “Had I not al­ready de­cid­ed my course, I think I should set my sights on her. Oh, dear me! I am most sorry. I did not think.”

For Tar­tar's quick eyes had spot­ted the shad­ow that crossed Neville's face.

“It is al­right,” said Neville, “al­though, per­haps, it would be wise for us to set­tle this be­tween us now.”

“Quite right,” agreed Tar­tar, won­der­ing just what set­tle­ment was to be es­sayed.

Neville strug­gled with­in him­self for some min­utes, both gath­er­ing the res­o­lu­tion to re­nounce his love and seek­ing out the exact words he would use, then he began again: “Tar­tar, do you love Rosa Bud?”

“Yes,” came the un­equiv­o­cal re­sponse.

“You are aware that I, too, love the young lady?”

“Yes.”

“You are aware that I threat­ened her for­mer fiancé‚ with bod­i­ly vi­o­lence?”

“Yes.” Tar­tar, vet­er­an of navy bat­tle and har­bour brawl, was obliged to keep his face straight at this, not being able to imag­ine how the slen­der Neville Land­less could pos­si­bly harm him.

“You are aware that many peo­ple con­sid­er me to be the mur­der­er of Edwin Drood?”

“Yes.”

“And yet you speak to me as a friend? Know­ing that my evil tem­per could, with­out warn­ing, dash your brain to bits?”

Again, Tar­tar sup­pressed his laugh­ter, un­der­stand­ing that this sub­ject was of the ut­most se­ri­ous­ness to his new young friend. In his gravest man­ner he asked, “Neville, for­give me this ques­tion, but it is one that I must ask. Did you kill Edwin Drood?”

“Bless you,” ex­claimed Neville, “for ask­ing that ques­tion! It is one that no-one has yet asked me, and I have al­ways felt that it was be­cause they were afraid of the an­swer. No, Tar­tar, I did not kill Edwin Drood. My tem­per is hot, I ac­knowl­edge it, and I have been much pro­voked in my youth, but have I never killed any­one.”

“Then I feel safe, in­deed proud, to speak to you as friend.”

“And I, for my part, can as­sure you of this: al­though I con­tin­ue to love Rosa, and I be­lieve I shall through­out the length of my life, I put aside all claim to her. I shall never ap­proach her with my love in any way. And I shall wish noth­ing but bless­ings on your union.”

“Hand­some­ly spo­ken,” said Tar­tar. “Keep your love for Rosa, Neville I shall never re­proach you for that. Time will cure the ache but leave the warmth, and will, too, bring you an­oth­er love.”

“For an­oth­er love I am not yet ready, but I thank you for the words you in­tend to bring com­fort. I have now a sec­ond true friend to add to Mr. Crisparkle.”

“Let us drink, then, as men, to true friend­ships the kind that last a life­time!”

At this he pro­duced from one of his cup­boards a flask of French brandy and lib­er­al­ly filled two crys­tal gob­lets that mag­i­cal­ly ap­peared from an­oth­er.

At the same time as Neville's visit to Tar­tar, Dick Datch­ery was prepar­ing to leave Clois­ter­ham for a quick visit to Lon­don.

“Thank you, Mrs. Tope, a lunch to eat on the train would be most wel­come. No, I shall not re­turn to-night. Prob­a­bly to-mor­row, though per­haps not even then, for I do not know how long my busi­ness in Lon­don will take. So, do not be per­turbed should I not re­turn for two or three days.”

“No, sir, we'll not be pert­erred,” replied the good woman. “It's not as if we have a steady call to let out your premis­es. Ev­ery­thing will be kept as is until you re­turn. But, here! It's that wretched boy from the Trav­ellers' Twopen­ny.”

“Hal­loa, Dick Datchees!” came echo­ing from the street.

“Hal­loa, Winks! Please allow him in, Mrs. Tope. I shall make sure he breaks noth­ing.”

“It's not what he might break that wor­ries me, Mr. Datch­ery, it's what you might find miss­ing when he's gone.”

“I've noth­ing here of value, and I think the boy would find in­su­per­a­ble dif­fi­cul­ties in re­mov­ing your fur­ni­ture. You may admit him, if you please.

“Now, Deputy,” con­tin­ued Mr. Datch­ery, Mrs. Tope re­tir­ing with un­seem­ly haste in the face of the youth­ful bar­bar­ian's ad­vance. “What is it that you want? Have you got for me that opi­um-smok­ing woman's ad­dress?”

“Not 'tire­ly, Mr. Datchees,” said the Im­pi­ous One, mo­men­tar­i­ly hum­bled by being in a prop­er gen­tle­man's quar­ters, how­ev­er unas­sum­ing (and un­prof­itable) they might be.

“Then some other item, per­haps?”

“Aye,” replied the hideous child, “I was re­mem­bered of sum­mat at the Kin­freed­er­el this morn­ing.”

“You were in the Cathe­dral?” ques­tioned Datch­ery, sur­prised that such a trans­gres­sion had not re­sult­ed in the col­lapse of that an­cient ed­i­fice.

“Aye,” as­sent­ed Deputy, “I crawled in to the bit ahind the Choir soes I could see through the brarss bars.” This brought a re-en­act­ment of the strug­gle to dodge Tope the Verg­er while mak­ing steady progress to­ward his ob­jec­tive, the per­for­mance giv­ing Datch­ery time to pon­der what ec­cen­tric met­al­lur­gy turned black, wrought-iron bars into 'brarss'.

“When I sees the Puffer Princess a-shak­ing her fists at Jarsper, I re­mem­bers last win­ter there was a Chayn­er man at the Inn look­ing for a hopeum-puffer what lived 'ere. It wasn't 'til I seen her look­ing at Jarsper this morn­ing that I knewed who the Chayn­er man was arter.”

“Ex­cel­lent work, Deputy,” said Datch­ery, “you have re­al­ly out­done your­self. A shilling's worth, I think.”

“Give 'ere! I did arsk the Princess where she lived,” con­tin­ued Deputy, hop­ing to mine a lit­tle more brarss. “She ar­sked me 'Why's yer want to know, deary?' and I sez 'I wants to smoke hopeum.' Then she tells me 'Don't yer go smok­ing hopeum, deary, it ain't good for young ones like yer. Yer got to be mighty hard done by afore it'll do yer good, but then it'll do yer more good than ought else, deary.' I reck­oned then as how she weren't going to say no more, so I tells her 'There's some­times trav­ellers what comes through here as wants to know where to find hopeum in Lon­don,' so she tells me she lives in Shard­well, nigh the East­ern dock.”

“Half an ad­dress, I'll give you six­pence for it, the other six if you can find her street and build­ing. Fair?” said Datch­ery.

“Fair 'nough, Datchees. Wotch­er.” With this pro­nounce­ment, the lit­tle ab­hor­rence was off.

“Mrs. Tope,” Datch­ery called up the stairs, “do not pack that lunch. I shall not be going to Lon­don to-day, after all.”

“Shad­well,” he thought, “it fits.” And he made for his cup­board with chalk in hand.

Not long after Deputy had fin­ished his busi­ness with Datch­ery, Neville had fin­ished his with Tar­tar, and the two (scan­dalous­ly un­steady as a con­se­quence of seal­ing their eter­nal friend­ship) were care­ful­ly ne­go­ti­at­ing the short dis­tance be­tween one al­cove and the next.

“Should I leave you here, Neville,” asked Tar­tar, “or would you pre­fer my help up the steps?”

“No, shank you, Tar'ar. All is well with me, I'm as ship-shape as a man-o-war, an' I don' wan' He­le­na to s'speck I migh' have had too mush.”

The sailor, being more ex­pe­ri­enced with spir­its than the stu­dent, thought it un­like­ly He­le­na's sharp eyes would fail to no­tice the lat­ter's florid com­plex­ion and wob­bly gait, but, as he felt sure she would know, in her un­can­ny fash­ion, that his con­di­tion was a happy one, he al­lowed Neville to go up the stairs alone. Feel­ing the need him­self for air and ex­er­cise, he pro­ceed­ed across the court to the gate­way, in­tend­ing to walk down to the Tem­ple Stairs to check on his boat. On Chancery Lane, near the Law Courts, he be­came aware through the fog­gi­ness in his mind of a tall man pac­ing him step for step. He turned onto the Strand, the tall man turned; he crossed over to Arun­del, the tall man crossed, as well. At the Em­bank­ment he turned upon his shad­ow.

“What do you want?” he asked, with un­ac­cus­tomed sharp­ness.

“Only a word, Mr. Tar­tar, sir, only a word or two of well-meant ad­vice.”

Tar­tar, who was sober­ing rapid­ly, now rec­og­nized his con­sort to be none other than the man of whom he and Neville had al­ready spo­ken.

“What do you want?” he re­peat­ed.

“You might find it to your ad­van­tage not to as­so­ci­ate too close­ly with that young man in the gar­ret next to yours,” said the other. “He is a man not to be trust­ed.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“This man is a hot-tem­pered for­eign­er. A Bully, if you will. Al­most cer­tain­ly worse than that.”

“How so?”

“You would do ill to walk with him at night, dou­bly so if he finds out your in­ter­est in a cer­tain young lady. Watch your back, Mr. Tar­tar, when you are near him. To stay away from him al­to­geth­er would be bet­ter for you, sir, bet­ter for ev­ery­body.”

With that, the tall man dis­ap­peared back into the busy city streets. And Tar­tar laughed.


CHAP­TER 24
ROUND­ING AN ANGLE

THE SAME bright sun that brought warmth and beau­ty to the stone ruins of Clois­ter­ham did lit­tle for the half-tim­bered ruins of Sta­ple Inn other than re­veal in even greater de­tail their sooti­ness and grit. Per­haps the im­pov­er­ished spar­rows of the court sang a lit­tle more hope­ful­ly, per­haps the scrub­bly leaves of the trees showed a trace of green in their grey. Cer­tain­ly those pedes­tri­ans who found them­selves in the vicin­i­ty found their eyes burn­ing less fear­ful­ly than nor­mal as fewer fires let out their acidic smoke.

Mr. Grew­gious, at home in this drab in­fer­no, found the weath­er pleas­ant and in­vig­o­rat­ing, con­ducive to men­tal labour if not to phys­i­cal, and had eas­i­ly dis­patched most of the day's busi­ness be­fore ten-thir­ty when the clerk (on tem­po­rary loan from the cham­bers below) an­nounced a visit by a most hand­some young lady. This an­nounce­ment pro­duced in Mr. Grew­gious no such re­ac­tion as had ac­com­pa­nied Rosa's visit, as he knew only two young ladies in the world and the one who would be la­belled as 'hand­some' lived no fur­ther away than the op­po­site cor­ner of the court. Nev­er­the­less, (and with­out his knowl­edge) his fea­tures strug­gled to give an im­pres­sion of de­light. This im­pres­sion, upon any other per­son, would have been sug­ges­tive of toothache, but He­le­na Land­less by now knew her broth­er's co-pro­tec­tor well enough to know she was hearti­ly wel­comed.

“My dear Miss Land­less ...”

“He­le­na, please.”

“My dear He­le­na,” con­tin­ued Mr. Grew­gious, flat­tered to be so em­pow­ered, “to what do I owe this hon­our?”

“On such a love­ly day as this, I wish to go about and ex­plore a cor­ner or two of this great­est city of the world and, as my broth­er is vis­it­ing Tar­tar, I thought I might ask you if you would be so kind as to ac­com­pa­ny me.”

“No task could be more wel­come, al­though I am not sure that an An­gu­lar old bach­e­lor such as my­self is ex­act­ly what you wish to be seen with. If all you re­quire is an es­cort and, per­haps, some­one to carry any pur­chas­es for you, I could well del­e­gate that young man who an­nounced you just now. He seems to be a most agree­able chap, more so than Baz­zard, my usual clerk, at any rate,” added Grew­gious.

“No,” He­le­na replied, “I should great­ly value your own com­pa­ny, should you have the time avail­able to grant it.”

Thus the streets of the an­cient city were soon graced with the sight of a cap­ti­vat­ing, though plain­ly-dressed young woman ac­com­pa­nied by an un­cap­ti­vat­ing mid­dle-aged man with ill-fit­ting clothes and ill-fit­ting hair to match.

“Would you think it for­ward of me,” asked He­le­na after a short time, “to ask where it is you get your hair cut?”

“I do it my­self, with scis­sors in front of a mir­ror,” replied Grew­gious. “My hair is such an un­ruly mess that I would feel awk­ward forc­ing a pro­fes­sion­al to have any­thing to do with it.”

He­le­na made no re­sponse to this. After some mo­ments' pause, he re­sumed, “Have I made a mis­take?”

“For­give me, my dear, kind Mr. Grew­gious, but I fear that you have. Would you allow me to steer you into this bar­ber's shop ....”

“Say rather 'hair­dress­er' than 'bar­ber',” opined Grew­gious, sure that he had once read some­thing to that ef­fect.

“Into this hair­dress­er's shop of which I have heard good re­port.” And, in­deed, she had been steer­ing Grew­gious (him all un­aware) in that di­rec­tion since leav­ing Sta­ple Inn.

He­le­na had spent much of the pre­vi­ous sev­er­al days search­ing (by her­self, for, in spite of what she had told Grew­gious, she was quite com­fort­able walk­ing through the city alone - that 'some­thing tiger­ish' in her blood that had seen her safe­ly through a vile child­hood now see­ing her equal­ly safe­ly past Lon­don's vile ruf­fi­ans) among the near­by areas for var­i­ous types of shop and ask­ing ques­tions of any menser­vants at Sta­ple Inn with whom she came in con­tact; nor had any nat­u­ral philoso­pher ever ap­plied a keen­er mind nor a greater clar­i­ty of thought to cat­a­logu­ing the wing mark­ings of the rarest moth of the Celebes than had He­le­na Land­less to find­ing the finest hair­dress­er in Lon­don.

The hair­dress­er (or bar­ber, if you will) whom she had so care­ful­ly sought out was an el­e­gant­ly mus­ta­chioed man who sport­ed an im­prob­a­ble Ital­ian name - im­prob­a­ble, for his clos­est con­tact with Italy had been a sea­far­ing an­ces­tor who had once set foot in Naples. He felt that an Ital­ian name would bring greater recog­ni­tion to his sur­pris­ing­ly gen­uine artis­tic tal­ents.

His im­me­di­ate ac­tion, upon He­le­na and Grew­gious pre­sent­ing them­selves at his door, was to chase the in­vad­ing woman from the sa­cred premis­es. This nec­es­sary pro­tec­tive act done, he placed the trep­i­dat­ing Mr. Grew­gious in a me­chan­i­cal chair ap­par­ent­ly eman­ci­pat­ed from some an­cient sub­ter­ranean tor­ture cham­ber, re­gard­ed him from all an­gles for sev­er­al min­utes, then laid into his head like a dervish. First, all the hair had to be set straight for­ward, then to one side, then to the other, then back, then for­ward again. All the while a tiny, dead­ly pair of scis­sors pur­sued strag­glers from this way­ward herd, pounc­ing here and there to prey upon the weak, the lost, the out­sized. Combs and brush­es dart­ed hith­er and yon over Grew­gious's pate, spray­guns ap­peared from hid­den shelves to anoint him with florid­ly odif­er­ous mists, and all the while great clumps of hair rained upon the floor at his feet until he was cer­tain that not a sin­gle strand would re­main upon his newly baldened head.

And yet, some half-hour later, it was man­i­fest that He­le­na's choice had been cor­rect. No me­dieval mem­ber of the Com­pa­ny of Bar­ber-Sur­geons, even by ap­ply­ing scalpel di­rect­ly to scalp, could have ef­fect­ed a more rad­i­cal im­prove­ment in the ap­pear­ance of the An­gu­lar man than had the tal­ent­ed un-Ital­ian hair­dress­er. Though no trick­ery could alter the granitic lines of his face nor im­prove the spar­si­ty of his to­bac­co-coloured hair, yet now hair seemed to lend dig­ni­ty to face rather than to in­sult it.

“I am most pleased,” said He­le­na, mys­te­ri­ous­ly reap­pear­ing at the door the very in­stant the work was done. “Thank you for al­low­ing me my whim in this.”

The hair­dress­er, equal­ly pleased, al­lowed her to re­main and show­er him with the com­pli­ments and ap­pre­ci­a­tion that were his due. For Grew­gious, how­ev­er, the ef­fect was prob­lem­at­ic. Since not the slight­est hint had ever en­tered his mind that he might be any­thing other than An­gu­lar, the sight, in a mir­ror, of a pre­sentable (though, ad­mit­ted­ly, not unas­sail­ably hand­some) gen­tle­man look­ing back was an un­fath­omable puz­zle.

“Come, Mr. Grew­gious, it is time we were get­ting back,” con­tin­ued He­le­na.

As they walked, He­le­na found the op­por­tu­ni­ty to broach a new sub­ject.

“Have you no­ticed, my dear Mr. Grew­gious, that most peo­ple, when they walk, move their arms? Per­haps you could try ... ah! ... per­haps with a lit­tle less en­thu­si­asm? ... much bet­ter ... now, if you could try swing­ing them op­po­site to the move­ment of your legs, like this? ... Ex­cel­lent! You must re­al­ize, Mr. Grew­gious, that you have with­in you the ca­pac­i­ty to move with el­e­gance and grace.”

The last state­ment was such a con­spic­u­ous lie as to cause poor Grew­gious to stop swing­ing both his arms and his legs al­to­geth­er. When he at­tempt­ed to re­cov­er, his an­guished self-aware­ness re­sult­ed in him try­ing to move all four at once.

“My poor fel­low! Did your par­ents never teach you to walk?” As this odi­ous com­ment es­caped He­le­na's lips, she, like so many oth­ers be­fore, craved some bod­i­ly way to pull them back. Like so many oth­ers be­fore, she found none.

“My par­ents were of ad­vanced years when they begot me, Miss Land­less.” Grew­gious took no ill from her words. Per­haps he had not no­ticed their in­deco­rum. Per­haps he for­gave it. “Both were some­what in­firm and I fear that, when other chil­dren learned first to crawl and then to walk, I learned to hob­ble. But let me prac­tise; I shall walk prop­er­ly be­fore we re­turn to Sta­ple Inn.”

He­le­na now peered rather close­ly at Grew­gious's feet, dis­con­cert­ing him once again.

“Am I mis­tak­en, Mr. Grew­gious, or do your boots pinch your feet when you walk?”

This ques­tion con­front­ed Grew­gious with an en­tire­ly new quandary; boots, in his ex­pe­ri­ence, were great, awk­ward mass­es of leather into which one forced one's feet re­gard­less of size, shape, or pain - hav­ing never had boots that did not pinch, it had never oc­curred to him that such things might exist. Soon He­le­na had di­rect­ed him to a qual­i­ty boot­mak­er which, en­tire­ly by co­in­ci­dence, hap­pened to lie on the route she had cho­sen.

“My dear Miss Land­less,” said Grew­gious later, as they en­tered the con­fines of Sta­ple Inn, “I had never thought such boots as these ex­ist­ed un­less in a fairy tale. My feet are as well pro­tect­ed from the rub­ble in the street as by ar­mour, yet they feel so free that I can scarce­ly tell where the boots touch them!

“I count that three sep­a­rate im­prove­ments you have made to me in the course of a sin­gle morn­ing,” he con­tin­ued, “hair, gait, and boots. What can I pos­si­bly do to repay you?”

“It is I, sir,” replied He­le­na with the great­est sin­cer­i­ty, “who am try­ing to repay you. With­out your kind­ness, and that of the Rev­erend Crisparkle, my broth­er's life would be in­tol­er­a­ble! I beg you to for­give my med­dling, but do un­der­stand I do it from a de­sire to bring plea­sure into your life. I trust that I have not too deeply upset the bal­ance of your fi­nances?”

“No, He­le­na,” replied Grew­gious, “my in­come is more than suf­fi­cient for my mod­est needs, and al­ways has been.”

Great­ly dar­ing, he haz­ard­ed what he con­sid­ered might be a joke, “I have al­ways en­vied the spendthrift his knowl­edge of what is so de­sir­able that one must spend so much to at­tain it.”

As this elicit­ed no re­sponse from He­le­na (who had not heard it, her at­ten­tion being di­vert­ed to one of Sta­ple Inn's sick­ly trees) he re­sumed his usual arid man­ner.

“Once again, I must thank you for lead­ing me about like a child. How­ev­er much I have en­joyed this morn­ing, I must in­sist that you spend no more time upon this dry, old stick. There are a great many men around far bet­ter suit­ed to es­cort one such as your­self. Why, just look over there by the tree: now there is what I should call a very su­pe­ri­or-look­ing young man, and he, if I am not very much mis­tak­en, would call you a very su­pe­ri­or-look­ing young lady.”

“It amus­es me that you refer to that per­son as su­pe­ri­or,” said He­le­na. “'Su­pe­ri­or' is the name given him by the ser­vants here. You are aware of the Bar­ris­ter, Lawrence Brough?”

“Sure­ly that is not he!” squint­ed Grew­gious. “I have had op­por­tu­ni­ty to meet with Lawrence Brough in the course of busi­ness, and he is a much older man.”

“Older, in­deed,” replied He­le­na, “and much more re­spectable.”

It hap­pened, He­le­na ex­plained, that Lawrence Brough, Bar­ris­ter, oc­cu­pied the first floor set op­po­site Grew­gious (a fact of which Grew­gious, in spite of near­ly two decades prox­im­i­ty, was com­pleat­ly un­aware). Some­what over a year pre­vi­ous, when, in the nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion of the pre­vi­ous ten­ant's life, the sec­ond floor set be­came avail­able, the first gen­tle­man to de­clare in­ter­est in the rooms was none other than he whom Grew­gious had point­ed out. That gen­tle­man being well-dressed and ap­par­ent­ly well-sup­plied with as­sets, Sta­ple Inn was quick to wel­come him. It was not until the pa­pers were signed that it was dis­cov­ered his name, too, was Lawrence Brough. Now, a year later, Lawrence Brough, Bar­ris­ter, re­mained a well-re­spect­ed man at the Sta­ple Inn, even some­what well-liked, but his name­sake was not. Let it not be said that he was a cad, a rake, or a ne'er-do-well; for cads, rakes, and ne'er-do-wells are not wel­come at Sta­ple Inn. But, through his un­known source of in­come, his world­li­ness, and his par­si­mo­nious, dom­i­neer­ing way with the ser­vants, the new Lawrence Brough was uni­ver­sal­ly re­gard­ed as much in­fe­ri­or to the old Lawrence Brough in every as­pect ex­cept lo­ca­tion. Thus, to avoid any con­fu­sion with the Bar­ris­ter, and in ac­cord with the cus­tom that any clar­i­fi­ca­tion was the bet­ter for ob­fus­cat­ing its sub­ject, he be­came known as the Su­pe­ri­or Lawrence Brough.

“What is more,” con­tin­ued He­le­na, “I be­lieve him to be the spy we seek.”

“Umps?” in­quired Mr. Grew­gious.

“I am not so re­tir­ing as my broth­er, Mr. Grew­gious, and have made some in­quiries of the staff. Of course, we must wait for Tar­tar's re­port to con­firm this. Now, as it would ap­pear we are in the pres­ence of the enemy, could I im­pose upon you to ac­com­pa­ny me to the top floor or have I al­ready tired you too much?”

“These new boots are a de­light,” en­thused Grew­gious, “and I do be­lieve I could fly to heav­en in them. Even if they were not, I am not such a cur as to aban­don a lady, as you have put it, 'in the pres­ence of the enemy'.”

“Then, be­fore we go up,” here she paused at the en­trance to the al­cove, “there is some­thing which I must dis­cuss with you alone. I know but lit­tle of this man, Tar­tar, and I must know all there is to know. Rosa, whom I have sworn to pro­tect as you have, dear lit­tle Rosa is in love with the man. You do know Rosa is in love with him, do you not?”

“Umps,” af­firmed Grew­gious.

“Then tell me what you know of him,” de­mand­ed He­le­na.

“Of per­son­al knowl­edge,” said Grew­gious, “I have none, hav­ing but just met the man. But Sep­ti­mus Crisparkle, a man whose judge­ment I trust whol­ly, and of whose judge­ment I be­lieve you have the same opin­ion, has the high­est re­gards for him. Ap­par­ent­ly, they not only knew each other in school, but Tar­tar fagged for Crisparkle. The only pos­si­ble reser­va­tion I can see is that Crisparkle's judge­ment might be in­flu­enced by Tar­tar hav­ing once saved his life. And, if that is grounds for mis­trust­ing one's judge­ment, then I can think of lit­tle means of gain­ing trust. Does this sat­is­fy you, Miss Land­less?”

“It does, Mr. Grew­gious, but I fear what I must tell my poor broth­er.”

“Tell him, Miss Land­less, that he, like many oth­ers be­fore him, must learn to stand qui­et­ly aside when the love of his life choos­es an­oth­er.” He­le­na chose not to re­mark the melan­choly that gnawed at Grew­gious's face like a bee­tle gnaw­ing at an oak as he said this.

Upon their re­turn to the Land­less's attic, He­le­na's eval­u­a­tion of Lawrence Brough, Su­pe­ri­or, was proven cor­rect. Tar­tar, his boat well cared for and his mind cleared by the ex­er­tion, had cho­sen to re­turn to Neville to ac­quaint him with the morn­ing's vis­i­ta­tion, and re­mained there still when Grew­gious and He­le­na ap­peared. He now must needs re­count the story again.

“No, Grew­gious,” he con­clud­ed, an­swer­ing that gen­tle­man's in­quiry, “no kind of threat against my­self. Just the im­pli­ca­tion that Neville is a crim­i­nal and prob­a­bly a mur­der­er.”

“Ahem,” said Grew­gious. “As it seems He­le­na's idea to flush the spy has worked out here, per­haps she has an­oth­er, equal­ly bril­liant idea about what to do with him, for I must admit I have none.”

“As the Bard said,” mused He­le­na, “'Only a ban­dit can catch a ban­dit.'“

“Did the Bard say that?” asked Tar­tar. “I thought it was 'Only a thief can catch a thief.'“

“It is an an­cient proverb,” as­sert­ed Grew­gious. “'Set a thief to take a thief.' Are you cer­tain it was Shake­speare?”

“Who else could it have been?” asked Tar­tar. “The Bible?”

“No, much more like­ly Bard than Bible,” said Grew­gious, “but I take He­le­na's point. Let us set a spy to take a spy. If Mr. Tar­tar would be will­ing to pub­licly dis­tance him­self from us, while re­tain­ing dis­crete con­tact across the rooftop, then he could bet­ter ac­quaint him­self with Brough. If he is able to dis­cov­er Brough's em­ploy­er, he could learn if it is truly Jasper - re­mem­ber, we have as­sumed that it is Jasper, but we have no proof who is be­hind this at­tack. He could then dis­cov­er what, ex­act­ly, is al­leged against Neville; what knowl­edge Jasper has of the dis­ap­pear­ance that we have not; and even what his plans are.”

“I re­main ut­ter­ly at your dis­pos­al,” said Tar­tar. “But how might I best in­sin­u­ate my­self into his con­fi­dence?”

“This Brough seems a low fel­low,” en­tered Grew­gious. “Flat­ter him and he will boast of his du­plic­i­ties.”

“I ex­pect,” sug­gest­ed He­le­na, “you could eas­i­ly in­gra­ti­ate your­self with him for the price of a drink.”

“Drinks and flat­tery. So eas­i­ly will he be bought. So eas­i­ly was I bought.” But Neville kept these thoughts to him­self.


CHAP­TER 25
A SUM­MER MORN­ING

JOE, gath­er­ing pas­sen­gers for the morn­ing train, was a lit­tle put out to dis­cov­er his om­nibus would have but two cus­tomers on this fine sum­mer's day. The first was the fa­mil­iar fig­ure of John Jasper, now a fre­quent trav­eller to Lon­don where he pur­sued his in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Drood's dis­ap­pear­ance; the sec­ond, the still mys­te­ri­ous new­com­er, Dick Datch­ery, who had for­got­ten, once again, to place his over-sized hat on his over-sized head.

“My new neigh­bour,” said Jasper, po­lite­ly in­clin­ing his head.

“Mr. Jasper,” re­turned Datch­ery, equal­ly po­lite­ly, “I must thank you for your rec­om­men­da­tion of the Topes: they have worked out quite splen­did­ly, as has my odd lit­tle room.”

“I think you will find it drafty, come win­ter.”

“I think you will find it empty, come win­ter.”

“You are leav­ing?”

“Not today I am just on my way up to Lon­don to visit my emp..., uh, an ac­quain­tance but I have ab­sorbed most of the local colour, so to speak, that I came for, and it is time I moved on to other things.”

“Other things. Would I be mis­tak­en in as­sum­ing that you are a writ­er?” in­quired Jasper, just a hint of dark­ness in his face.

“The mer­est dilet­tante, sir, a scrib­bler of no tal­ent,” mod­est­ly replied Datch­ery.

“And would I be mis­tak­en in as­sum­ing that your sub­ject con­cerns my ill-fat­ed nephew?” The dark­ness spread.

“His dis­ap­pear­ance did cre­ate some­thing of a stir, here­abouts and in Lon­don, too. Of course, if you find the sub­ject too ap­palling,” of­fered Datch­ery, “I could put it away for some fu­ture year, or aban­don it al­to­geth­er. But I thought a lit­tle no­to­ri­ety, putting the facts plain­ly, so to speak, might flush out some ad­di­tion­al clue or idea that might lead to the so­lu­tion of the case. So, I ask you plain­ly, sir: shall I go ahead or drop the mat­ter?”

Jasper thought on this for a long time, so long, in fact, that Datch­ery con­sid­ered the mat­ter dropped. The train depot was in sight be­fore he said, “Go ahead.”

“Might you be will­ing to ad­vance my in­quiries by . . . ?”

“NO!” shout­ed Jasper. Then he re­lent­ed, “When you are ready to pub­lish, come to see me with what you have. I shall cor­rect any mis­takes for you, and add what­ev­er I have that you may have missed. That way we can ap­proach the prob­lem sep­a­rate­ly: if our con­clu­sions are the same, they shall carry more weight. Good day to you, Mr. Datch­ery.”

He wait­ed to see which car Datch­ery chose, then took an­oth­er. In Lon­don, after once again fend­ing off Datch­ery with point­ed rude­ness, Jasper made his way to the Lon­don chief of­fices of the Haven for Phi­lan­thropy. There, among the pitiable and the piti­less, he met with the lord of the mer­ci­less, Luke Hon­eythun­der.

“Well, sir,” began Hon­eythun­der be­fore Jasper had so much as opened his mouth, “are you here about that rogue Land­less. 'Land­less' he is called and, by Jove, land­less he will re­main if I have any­thing to say in the mat­ter, land­less and mon­ey­less and head­less, too. I knew him for a rogue be­fore I ever set eyes upon the man; knew it, for his step-fa­ther - a noble and wor­thy man, if ever I saw one - his step-fa­ther, as I say, had writ­ten to me often telling me what evil this cur and his sis­ter had wrought over­seas.”

“I was . . .” Jasper start­ed to say, be­fore being over­whelmed.

“That man in Cey­lon was a long-time Phi­lan­thropist. I ask you sir, who but a Phi­lan­thropist - a Pro­fess­ing Phi­lan­thropist, mind you - who but a Pro­fess­ing Phi­lan­thropist would both­er to take in a cou­ple of stray or­phans - no re­la­tions of his own, mind you - or­phans to make his very ex­is­tence a con­tin­u­al tor­ment.”

Jasper for­bore to point out that, as the or­phans were the chil­dren of the de­ceased man's wife, to refer to them as 'no re­la­tions of his own' was stretch­ing a point.

“Have you come here to plead on their be­half,” bel­lowed Hon­eythun­der, “to tell me what sweet and in­no­cent or­phans these black-skinned dev­ils are? For, if you have, sir, by St. George and his fiery drag­on I'll have the hide off you.”

“In­no­cent? Not at all! I have no doubt, Mr. Hon­eythun­der,” pro­nounced Jasper, “no doubt what­so­ev­er, that Neville Land­less mur­dered my nephew and that his sis­ter is his cold-blood­ed ac­com­plice in the crime.”

“Ah,” said Hon­eythun­der, pleased by think­ing that so par­al­leled his own, “I see I have mis­judged you, sir. Mis­tak­en you for an­oth­er like that lily-liv­ered Canon Crosspick­le who should be de­prived of his po­si­tion for his poor judge­ment and in­so­lence. D'you know that per­son, Crasspuck­le, came in here de­mand­ing that he be kept on stipend to ed­u­cate Land­less? Crisparkle? That is what I said! Now tell me, Mr. ...?”

“Jasper,” en­tered Jasper.

“Jasper a fine name that; a good hon­est stone, jasper; solid, sir, solid, not like your chalk or Crisparkle (what sort of name is Crisparkle, any­way, is that a stone, too? Sounds like a mica; flake away at a touch.) now tell me, Jade, how can the Haven of Phi­lan­thropy help to de­nounce this fiend, Land­less?” asked Hon­eythun­der in his best phi­lan­throp­ic fash­ion.

John Jasper had found his mood im­prov­ing from the mo­ment he met the wor­thy man.

“There are sev­er­al ways in which you can help, sir. First, I need to know ev­ery­thing you know re­lat­ing to the Land­less's back­ground. Sec­ond, would you be will­ing to trav­el with me to Clois­ter­ham to meet with the Mayor (a stout fel­low, much like your­self. I know you will ap­prove of him) where you may help me per­suade the Mayor to lay charges against Neville. Third, and this is most im­por­tant, I may need you to tes­ti­fy in the case, as a wit­ness against Neville Land­less's evil char­ac­ter. Are you will­ing to do these things, sir, even though they will cause you some hard­ship?”

“Hard­ship, sir?” re­turned Hon­eythun­der. “Hard­ship will never stop a Pro­fess­ing Phi­lan­thropist from de­stroy­ing a man's rep­u­ta­tion or the man him­self, for that mat­ter. 'No greater cause', sir, 'no greater cause'. This Haven, and all its re­sources, are at your dis­pos­al.”

“Thank, you. Let us begin: when did you first hear of Neville and He­le­na Land­less?”

“As I said, sir, their step-fa­ther was a Phi­lan­thropist. A fine man, I signed him into the Broth­er­hood while he vis­it­ed Lon­don, be­fore he re­turned to Africa.”

“Africa?” asked Jasper.

“Where Cey­lon is, you dolt!” in­formed Hon­eythun­der, in his kind­ly way. “Their step-fa­ther was one of the finest men it has ever been my plea­sure to know. I knew no good would come of it when he mar­ried a widow with chil­dren.”

“Do you know how she be­came a widow?”

“Tiger et her hus­band, I be­lieve. Or lion, or hip­po­sta­timus. Some mon­ster God never in­tend­ed for hon­est En­glish­men to meet, at any rate.”

As it hap­pened, Jasper had al­ready per­formed much re­search by writ­ing to var­i­ous agen­cies in Cey­lon; in this way he had un­cov­ered the facts that the twin's fa­ther (one Jere­my Land­less, of Whit­by) had died of an ague while build­ing the rail­road through the moun­tains to Kandy; that it was wide­ly held that the sec­ond hus­band (Rob Dougal­son, born aboard a ship in Goa) had beat­en their moth­er (Marigold Ellsworth, also of Whit­by, where she had mar­ried Jere­my Land­less) to death in a drunk­en rage; that Dougal­son was every bit as bru­tal a man as Neville claimed, unloved by Cin­galese and En­glish alike; and that, con­se­quent­ly, his own, sud­den death had scarce­ly been in­ves­ti­gat­ed. This did not stop Jasper from hav­ing a lit­tle fun.

“Yes, I have been given to un­der­stand that a hip­po­sta­timus is one of the most dan­ger­ous an­i­mals in Africa. The name 'Land­less', did that be­long to the first or sec­ond hus­band?”

“First, un­less it was her maid­en name, which it might have been - I know noth­ing of any 'Land­less­es' ex­cept these two dev­ils. Shouldn't won­der but their fa­ther was some shift­less na­tive, it would ac­count for their black skin. My Broth­er Phi­lan­thropist was Rob Dougal­son. He had no busi­ness mar­ry­ing that woman, Jasper bet­ter he had let her and her brood starve.”

“Much more Phi­lan­throp­ic,” agreed Jasper. “You men­tioned ear­li­er that these two had caused trou­ble over­seas.”

“Treach­er­ous, the pair of them. Dougal­son was al­ways writ­ing to me about how, no mat­ter how well he treat­ed them, they would per­form lit­tle or no work around the place and com­plained con­stant­ly of need­ing cloth­ing or food or books. He was too soft! Whip­ping, day and night, until they show prop­er grat­i­tude! Only way to han­dle chil­dren, by George, the only way.”

“Quite so; I shall bear your wise ad­vice in mind should I ever be so blessed. Where did they live?”

“Cey­lon, of course! Africa!”

“I meant where in that coun­try; did they live in the city, or on a farm, per­haps?”

“Tea plan­ta­tion, up in the hills. Odd, re­al­ly, I thought cof­fee came from Africa, not tea.”

“What sort of work could Mr. Dougal­son have ex­pect­ed small chil­dren to do on a tea plan­ta­tion?” asked Jasper.

“Pick tea, of course!” brayed Hon­eythun­der. “Hill­sides are too steep for a grown man. They have women climb up and down, pick­ing the ripe leaves and putting them in bas­kets. Dougal­son wrote all about it to me when he first took charge in the area. Only white man for miles, sur­round­ed by black can­ni­bals. Mir­a­cle he wasn't mur­dered and eaten.”

“Or car­ried away by a Roc,” added Jasper.

“Eh? What's that? You didn't try a joke, did you? Does no good with me, you know - never un­der­stand them; jokes, I mean.”

“A joke, sir? I never joke! I just re­ferred to one of the more com­mon dan­gers in that part of the world. Rocs are for­ev­er car­ry­ing the na­tives off.” Jasper's mood was no longer im­prov­ing. “I do be­lieve they make good hunt­ing, how­ev­er.”

At the same time Jasper en­tered the Haven of Phi­lan­thropy, an el­der­ly gen­tle­man with a youth­ful step, a ridicu­lous hat, and a shock of white hair around his over­ly large head passed the door­way guard­ed by P. J. T. since 1747. Once in­side, he shed hat and er­mine locks with equal fa­cil­i­ty.

“Baz­zard,” Grew­gious stat­ed drily, be­liev­ing him­self to be ex­press­ing cheer, “what a plea­sure to have you back again.”

“A new suit, sir?” replied Baz­zard, some­what oblique­ly.

“What? Oh, yes. Miss Land­less rather in­sist­ed that the old one was a bit thread­bare (I thought to make it right sim­ply by patch­ing the el­bows) and ac­com­pa­nied me to a tai­lor of which she had heard. Do you know,” asked Grew­gious, “they can make sleeves to fit one's arms? And trousers to fit one's legs. As­tound­ing!”

“As­tound­ing,” agreed Baz­zard, won­der­ing if he should ded­i­cate his next play to his em­ploy­er. “Not this one; a com­e­dy,” he thought. “Bet­ter, a farce.”

“Now, Baz­zard,” said Grew­gious, “you must tell me what your in­quiries have un­cov­ered.”

“I should say that, al­though my dis­cov­er­ies do not con­sti­tute proof, they cer­tain­ly do add up to a strong case against Jasper. Enough, I should war­rant, to bring charges against him. But let us wait until this af­ter-noon, for I have asked Mr. Sep­ti­mus Crisparkle to join us in a Coun­cil of War.”

“Ex­cel­lent idea,” said Grew­gious, “As there are more par­ties than our­selves in­volved, I shall ask the Land­less­es to jour­ney with us over to Mrs. Bil­lickin's, where Rosa and Miss Twin­kle­ton are en­sconced.”

“Sir, while I look for­ward to meet­ing the young lady whose beau­ty has caused so much trou­ble,” spoke the play­wright, “I think the fewer peo­ple who know my true iden­ti­ty, the fewer chances of it being ex­posed by mis­chance. I had bet­ter at­tend as old layabout than as young clerk.”

“Tell me, Baz­zard, does Crisparkle know?”

“He does not.”

“Ex­cel­lent. Let us then con­tin­ue our lit­tle pre­ten­sion. I pray you re­sume your cos­tume while we lunch and I shall refer to you as Digby.”

“Datch­ery, sir.”

“Datch­ery, of course. Have no fear, I'll not fum­ble it a sec­ond time.”

“Crisparkle, you have met Mr. Dougher­ty?” fum­bled Grew­gious after lun­cheon.

“My dear Grew­gious, were you the model of a con­spir­a­tor, Cae­sar would be with us yet. But noth­ing is lost. I had al­ready sur­mised from his in­vi­ta­tion that this Dick Datch­ery of my ac­quain­tance is none other than your miss­ing clerk, Baz­zard. You might do well, how­ev­er, not to pro­claim your affin­i­ty so loud­ly. Were I your agent in Clois­ter­ham, I should hes­i­tate to be seen here at all.”

“Quite so, Mr. Crisparkle,” said Baz­zard turn­ing to his em­ploy­er. “Per­haps it would be best were I to re­port what I know di­rect­ly to you now and not at­tend the meet­ing this af­ter­noon. Let us at least main­tain the pre­tense that Dick Datch­ery has no more than a pass­ing in­ter­est in the case.”

He re­turned his at­ten­tion to the Minor Canon. “Allow me, as I no longer have the au­di­ence for which I re­hearsed, my flam­boy­ant self-in­tro­duc­tion: 'Dick Datch­ery, De­tec­tive, De­fend­er of the Weak, Ter­ror of the Wicked, Fear­less Righter of all Wrongs' and, by no means least, erst­while neigh­bour of one John Jasper, sus­pect vil­lain.”

He ac­com­pa­nied this dec­la­ra­tion by first draw­ing him­self up to his full, mod­est height and adopt­ing an or­a­tor­i­cal pose re­mark­ably sim­i­lar, save for the lack of a ham­mer, to the stat­ue of the elder Sapsea found above the door­way of Clois­ter­ham's auc­tion house then, for the lat­ter clause, lean­ing to­ward his au­di­ence while af­fect­ing a con­spir­a­to­ri­al leer and a stage whis­per.

“Per­haps, in Chris­tian char­i­ty,” en­joined Crisparkle, the Chris­tian spokesman among them, “we ought not to take such plea­sure in the per­se­cu­tion of one who may yet prove to be com­pleat­ly in­no­cent.”

Baz­zard de­flat­ed from his pose but re­cov­ered swift­ly. “In­no­cent, Mr. Crisparkle? I think not, nor, I be­lieve, will ei­ther you or my em­ploy­er once you have heard my dis­cov­er­ies. I trust that nei­ther of you will find it a sur­prise that John Jasper has been (for some years, I be­lieve) a user of opium.”

They were sur­prised, in­deed. Minor Canon Crisparkle, well shel­tered by his own in­nate good­ness, had not thought upon the ev­i­dence. For his part, al­though through long ac­quain­tance deal­ing with the courts of law Grew­gious was fa­mil­iar, in his ab­stract way, with most human vices, he sel­dom con­nect­ed such vices with real peo­ple.

“Opium use,” con­tin­ued Baz­zard, pleased with the stir he had caused, “caused, as we have al­ready seen, by his un­holy lust for Miss Bud. I have spo­ken with the woman who sup­plies him with the drug, and she has in­ti­mat­ed to me her be­lief that Jasper killed a young man she knew only as 'Ned', that being, of course, a term he re­served sole­ly for his nephew. I have, also, tes­ti­mo­ny that he had the Cathe­dral work­man, one Stony Dur­dles, con­duct him through the dark­est, most an­cient­ly-aban­doned cor­ri­dors of that Cathe­dral where he drugged the man and stole from him the key to its strongest tomb. No doubt, should we enter that tomb, we should find there the body of Edwin Drood.”

After his meet­ing with Hon­eythun­der, Jasper went to the hotel in Alder­s­gate Street where he kept a room. The meet­ing, fu­elled by Hon­eythun­der's won­drous com­bi­na­tion of ig­no­rance, ar­ro­gance, and bile, had con­tin­ued rather longer than Jasper had fore­seen and, the longer he was forced to be agree­able to the Phi­lan­thropist, the fouler his tem­per had be­come. In­side the hotel room, he found two men wait­ing for him. One was Lawrence Brough, Su­pe­ri­or.

“Who the Devil is this?” de­mand­ed Jasper.

“Allow me to in­tro­duce Mr. Tar­tar,” ob­se­quiat­ed Brough, Su­pe­ri­or, “a neigh­bour of Neville Land­less ....”

“Why the Devil should you bring him here?”

“... and, I be­lieve, his only friend other than what we might re­gard as the 'enemy' party,” con­clud­ed Brough.

“Ah,” said Jasper.

“It oc­curred to me,” con­tin­ued Brough, “that Mr. Tar­tar and let me state now, so that there be no mis­un­der­stand­ings amongst us, that Mr. Tar­tar's only in­ter­est is to see jus­tice done, he being what you call 'of in­de­pen­dent means', and a true gen­tle­man (not to men­tion a wealthy one) it oc­curred to me that we might use Mr. Tar­tar's in­flu­ence with young Mr. Land­less to find out from the young man what his ac­tions were on the night in ques­tion (that being when your nephew, Mr. Drood, dis­ap­peared): what he did, and what they were talk­ing about both be­fore your ar­rival and after their exit to pe­ruse the storm.”

“Ah,” re­peat­ed Jasper, in­trigued by the idea and be­mused by the man­ner of its pre­sen­ta­tion.

Tar­tar felt it was time to speak up for him­self. “Mr. Jasper, Mr. Brough, here, has ac­quaint­ed me with some of the facts of what ap­pears to be a mur­der com­mit­ted by my new neigh­bour. If and let me re­peat, if this is truly what hap­pened, then it would be my duty to find him out for the law. If not, it would be equal­ly my duty to prove his in­no­cence.”

“Well spo­ken, Mr. Tar­tar!” replied Jasper. “If Neville Land­less is in­no­cent, then I, too, shall pro­claim that to the world. Brough, would you be so kind as to re­sume your surveil­lance? I shall in­ter­ro­gate our new ally.

“Please un­der­stand I must in­quire after all sorts of mat­ters in my pur­suit of the truth,” Jasper con­tin­ued, after Brough had left. “I should be much obliged to know your name.”

“All the world calls me Tar­tar,” said he. “That was the name I was known by at school, that was the name I was known by in the navy. It was even what my moth­er called me, though usu­al­ly pre­fixed with 'You lit­tle ...'. In truth, my Chris­tian name was so ill-con­sid­ered that I have tried to for­get its very ex­is­tence. One some­times won­ders what fa­thers are think­ing of!”

“In­deed,” agreed Jasper. “I shall allow you to keep your name to your­self since you find the sub­ject un­pleas­ant.”

“Not so much un­pleas­ant as amus­ing. My ini­tials are M. A.”

“Michael An­drew?”

“Melchizadek Abed­nego. Now do feel free to laugh. I shall take not the slight­est of­fense.”

“Tar­tar,” Jasper con­tin­ued with an as­phyx­i­at­ed look upon his face, but no laugh­ter, “let me apol­o­gize for hav­ing to em­ploy such a re­pug­nant fel­low as that. He is an ill sort, a paid spy, and I have no con­fi­dence in any­thing he has to say to me. Now, are you pre­pared to spy for me, know­ing that I want to hear only the truth and all of it, the whole truth, as lawyers are wont to say?”

“I am, Jasper, but I must admit to a cer­tain puz­zle­ment. I had thought to hear you want­ed proof against Neville, no mat­ter how con­trived.”

“I do want proof against Neville, Tar­tar. Proof, but only gen­uine proof as my very soul de­pends on it, for I know that only two peo­ple in the world had cause to see Edwin Drood dead, and if it was not the one who killed him, then it must be the other.”

“Clear­ly so. But who is the other, and why are you so keen to see Neville proven guilty?”

“Why? Be­cause the other is my­self! I see I have shocked you. To ex­plain my­self, I must con­fess to a ter­ri­ble weak­ness. Do I im­pose my­self too much upon you?”

“You place a great deal of con­fi­dence in me, based as it is only upon the word of a scoundrel.”

“It is not. I in­ves­ti­gat­ed many in­hab­i­tants of Sta­ple Inn be­fore I chose Brough the In­fe­ri­or as my spy,” con­fessed Jasper. “I had al­ready heard good re­port of you, but saw no means to bring you into my sphere.”

“Then, if you are will­ing to con­fide in me, I in­vite your con­fi­dence,” said Tar­tar, echo­ing the sen­ti­ments Minor Canon Crisparkle had given Neville Land­less al­most a year be­fore.

“In trust?”

“You may trust me, sir,” said Tar­tar, not at all trou­bled by the lie.

“Then lend me an ear. My nephew, Edwin Drood, was be­trothed lit­tle past his in­fan­cy to an­oth­er in­fant named Rosa Bud. Through trag­ic cir­cum­stances, both be­came or­phans in early child­hood, and Edwin, being but six years my ju­nior, was raised as my broth­er. My child­hood, prior to that, had been lone­ly - grievous­ly un­hap­py - and, when Edwin be­came a mem­ber of our fam­i­ly, it began the hap­pi­est pe­ri­od of my life. When, a few years ago, my par­ents, too, died, I was able to en­roll Edwin in a fine school of en­gi­neer­ing - he hav­ing an un­usu­al ap­ti­tude in that field which more than com­pen­sat­ed for, I blush for his sake but it is true, a com­pleat lack of ap­ti­tude in any other. When­ev­er he had time off from school, it was to Clois­ter­ham he would come, to my cham­bers where a room was set aside for his sole usage. I think it fair to say no fa­ther ever doted on his favourite son more than I doted on Edwin. I even had a spe­cial name for him which I have not spo­ken since his dis­ap­pear­ance.”

“Should I know it?” asked Tar­tar.

“Ned.” Jasper was obliged to wait a few sec­onds be­fore con­tin­u­ing. “All was well be­tween us. I watched Edwin grow and ma­ture, and, at the same time, I watched his be­trothed, Rosa, grow. She was an en­chant­ing child, al­though al­ways the small­est of her class, and, I must admit, hope­less­ly spoiled by the kind­ness and con­stant at­ten­tion of oth­ers. Do not think this any great crit­i­cism! She, her­self, was kinder than any, more thought­ful, al­ways the first to spot sad­ness in her com­pan­ions and to cure it. I know all of these things, for I taught music at the school where she lived, and what I did not see for my­self, I learned about her from the other mas­ters. As she grew - and as Edwin should have grown to love her but did not - so I grew to love her.

“Tar­tar, lis­ten to me: this con­flict cre­at­ed such tor­ment in my heart that I turned to opium to re­lieve it!”

“No!” cried Tar­tar, aghast, “I have seen what opium has done to sailors and na­tives alike in ports to which I have sailed. Tell me you have for­sak­en it!”

“It is not so easy to for­sake, but I near­ly ac­com­plished it. But let me re­turn to my ac­count. At first I found the splen­did dreams of which De Quincey and oth­ers have writ­ten; but then a hor­ri­ble thought crept, all-un­want­ed, into my mind: if Edwin were no more, then I could pur­sue Rosa with the love to which she was en­ti­tled. Later the thought changed to: if I were to re­move Edwin .... Oh, Tar­tar, you, who have not smoked opium, can­not know how pow­er­ful­ly its dreams grip. 'Thou hast the keys of Par­adise, oh just, sub­tle, and mighty opium!' A thou­sand times I smoked the drug, a thou­sand times I mur­dered my poor nephew in my mind. Half a thou­sand times I died of re­morse when I awoke. But then! Hor­rid dreams be­came wel­come. Mur­der be­came my com­pan­ion. I planned his death, Tar­tar. I searched out the very spot in the cathe­dral tower from which to dash his body to the ground ... but I had not the bold­ness to do it, nor did my bit­ter­ness ever com­pleat­ly over­pow­er my love for Edwin.

“Then came Neville. It was clear to me, if not to my poor nephew, that Neville loved Rosa at first glance and who can blame him? Not I, nor most of the men in Clois­ter­ham who had seen her,” here Tar­tar felt the cold prick­ings of con­science; he, too, could not blame Neville, or John Jasper, “and that he held Edwin in no re­gard what­so­ev­er. I, too cow­ard­ly to mur­der Edwin my­self, sought to ex­ac­er­bate their mu­tu­al ha­tred. If Neville killed Edwin, my way was clear. If Edwin killed Neville, that was even bet­ter, for Edwin would be dis­cred­it­ed in Rosa's eyes, even be­fore he was hanged.

“At their first meet­ing, alone, ex­cept for my­self, in my quar­ters, I drugged their wine with some­thing to in­flame their pas­sions. It was my plan to bring them to­geth­er as often as need­ed until one killed the other.

“Tar­tar, be­lieve this much good of me. After the first ar­gu­ment, when the ef­fects of the opium had left me, I strove to keep them apart. I was con­fused; some­times I would con­tin­ue my plan­ning, other times I would strug­gle against my­self once again. Fi­nal­ly, in the early part of last win­ter, I vis­it­ed a pur­vey­or of opium other than my nor­mal. This per­son, known as Jack the Chi­na­man, told me that, sim­ply by chew­ing upon cer­tain leaves which he sold me, I could rid my­self of the need for opium.

“It worked ... for a time. When Edwin and Neville met to re­solve their dif­fer­ences, I was in good spir­its and had for­sworn my own love for Rosa for my nephew's sake. Then he dis­ap­peared! Can you imag­ine the ef­fect upon me? I did not know, then - I do not know, now! - whether Neville killed him or whether some in­flu­ence of the opium re­turned to me and I killed him all un­aware!”

Thus ad­dressed, Tar­tar had no re­course but to sit, stunned, for sev­er­al mo­ments.

“John Jasper,” he spoke, for­mal­ly, “I do not know if I will be able to help you or not. This I can, and do, promise: what­ev­er I find out about Neville's guilt, whether he be the mur­der­er or not, I shall tell you the truth and all of it.

“I see,” he con­tin­ued, “why you could place no trust in that Brough fel­low. He would, with­out any doubt, fab­ri­cate ev­i­dence to prove the guilt of whom­so­ev­er it was to his best ad­van­tage to have guilty. If he knew of your pipe-dreams, he would black­mail you with­out mercy.

“Look to the good, though. At least you have bro­ken your opium habit.”

“No,” said Jasper, “it once again has me in its grip. With all my hopes dashed, I no longer have any strength to fight it.”

“I beg of you, man: do fight it! I have in my em­ploy an ex­cel­lent fel­low, Lob­ley, who has saved many a sailor en­slaved to the drug. Let me send him to your side and he may help you against the poi­son.”

“Bless you, Tar­tar! You are a gen­tle­man of the finest sort. I know my con­fi­dences are safe with you.”


CHAP­TER 26
A SUM­MER AF­TER­NOON

NEVILLE,” said He­le­na, spot­ting the Canon from her win­dow, “be­stir your­self from those books and put on those new clothes I bought for you. It is time for us to leave this place, and we must do so with­out being spot­ted.”

“I am pre­pared to go, He­le­na, but I an­tic­i­pate with dread spend­ing an hour in the pres­ence of she whom I have so much wronged.”

“Bear up, my broth­er! Once your name has been cleared, thou­sands of young ladies - a city full, many as at­trac­tive as young Rosa - await your at­ten­tion. Here, this mous­tache. Now, are you pre­pared to exit here in Tar­tar's ac­ro­bat­ic man­ner?”

“Yes,” replied Neville with mixed hu­mour. “But wait awhile and watch as I go. A mis­take, and ev­ery­one's ef­forts to help me will be­come ab­stract.”

In spite of his words, the young man ne­go­ti­at­ed the way with lit­tle more dif­fi­cul­ty than his sailor men­tor. Upon wit­ness­ing his safe ar­rival, He­le­na calm­ly walked across the quad­ran­gle to P. J. T.'s arch­way, joined the two gen­tle­men await­ing her, and led them out to the cor­ner of Chancery Lane where Neville watched for his un­holy dis­ci­ple. Thus the lit­tle party reached Blooms­bury Square undis­cov­ered.

“Mr. Grew­gious,” wheezed Mrs. Bil­lickin, emerg­ing from her back par­lour care­ful­ly wrapped in her shawl, “I can­not prop­er­ly hex­press my­self as to what a plea­sure it is to see a gen­tle­man such as your­self come to visit that poor, lit­tle dear as has taken my first floor. I shall make no se­cret of my opin­ion; she was not well when she came here, you must know. Not prop­er­ly fed nor cared for, in my hum­ble opin­ion. Ne­glect­ed, Mr. Grew­gious, ne­glect­ed.”

Grew­gious took care to con­ceal his own hum­ble opin­ion, that Rosa Bud was less ne­glect­ed than sev­er­al mem­bers of the Royal Fam­i­ly.

“Do I find you well, Ma'am?”

“As well as might be hex­pect­ed,” al­lowed the Bil­lickin. “Let me admit, for I shall not dis­sem­ble my dis­like of a cer­tain per­son what re­sides under my roof, that you should find me some­what bet­ter for hav­ing that sweet girl as my guest had you not also seen fit to bring along that 'arpy what, no doubt, has been the cause of much 'eartache for the young lady.

“You, young lady,” she con­tin­ued, turn­ing abrupt­ly, “must be He­le­na Land­less. Tell me, and I beg of you to be h'onest with me as I would be h'onest with you,” haspi­rat­ing the 'h's in 'hon­est', “did you find the food at your board­ing school up to snuff?”

“When Neville and I were young,” replied the ev­er-diplo­mat­ic He­le­na, “our cus­tom­ary fare was a bowl of rice and some cur­ried veg­eta­bles. As I am only now be­com­ing ac­cus­tomed to your sub­stan­tial En­glish foods, I have lit­tle with which to com­pare and noth­ing of which to com­plain. I must say, how­ev­er, that I found the fare at the Nun's House prefer­able to that which char­ac­ter­ized a good por­tion of my child­hood.”

“She refers,” ex­plained Neville, “to those pe­ri­ods when our step-fa­ther starved us com­pleat­ly, some­times for days at a time, hop­ing we would die and he would be rid of us.”

“Hit will not do! I shall not have it! That woman is a mon­ster to so mis­treat her stu­dents.” Mrs. Bil­lickin, whose grasp of ge­og­ra­phy was frag­men­tary, had some­how con­fused Clois­ter­ham school-mis­tress with Cey­lon tea-planter.

“Might we go up, now?” asked Grew­gious, fore­stalling more ar­gu­ment.

“You can, Mr. Grew­gious,” Mrs. Bil­lickin, quick­ly re­turn­ing to her cus­tom­ary de­meanour, con­fid­ed this se­cret knowl­edge with utter grav­i­ty. “I will not de­ceive you, you and your party are hex­pect­ed, and you can go up. But take care, Mr. Grew­gious, take care. That woman is mean: she would make a far­thing do a shillings work.”

Miss Twin­kle­ton, un­like her land­la­dy, was in high spir­its.

“Come in, gen­tle­men. He­le­na, what a plea­sure to see you again! I do look for­ward to you re­sum­ing your res­i­dence at my es­tab­lish­ment. (You will, of course? Won­der­ful!) Mr. Grew­gious, Mr. Crisparkle. Neville, you young rogue,” she chid­ed, gen­tly, “if you were one of my stu­dents, I should have kept such a tight eye on you that no-one could pos­si­bly ac­cuse you of any­thing.”

If Miss Twin­kle­ton looked de­light­ed to be the host­ess for the group, what to make of a cer­tain dis­ap­point­ment ev­i­dent on the face of poor, lit­tle Rosa Bud? Was one hoped-for face not there? A sun-burnt face, ex­cept at the top, where it was pro­tect­ed by a sailor's hat? And what to make of the de­jec­tion ev­i­dent on the face of Neville Land­less? Should not his face have been full of en­thu­si­asm, even ex­hil­a­ra­tion, that he might soon take ac­tion against his op­pres­sor?

“I be­lieve there are seats enough for all? Good. Shall I send for tea, Mr. Grew­gious?” hint­ed Miss Twin­kle­ton.

“Umph!” replied Grew­gious, drift­ing away from his cus­tom­ary 'Umps', “Allow me, Miss Twin­kle­ton. No ex­pen­di­tures in this mat­ter shall come out of your purse.

“Now,” he con­tin­ued, that task being done, “there are a few facts of which we have re­cent­ly be­come aware which would ap­pear to be per­ti­nent to the case at hand. First, and I should warn you, Rosa, that this is some­thing I would not nor­mal­ly dis­cuss in front of some­one of your ten­der years but I feel that, if ever again you may find your­self alone with John Jasper, you had best be aware of the per­son­al devil with which he con­tends ... , uh, Sep­ti­mus, what was I about to say?”

“I think you were about to in­form ev­ery­one that John Jasper is a user of opium.”

Once again, this in­for­ma­tion pro­voked a stir. Rosa, in her pro­tect­ed lit­tle life, was al­most un­aware of such things, but Miss Twin­kle­ton, who had even longer ac­quain­tance deal­ing with young ladies and the va­ri­ety of men come to pray for or prey upon them than had Grew­gious with the law, looked as if she had mere­ly had a sus­pi­cion con­firmed. He­le­na Land­less looked not at all per­turbed, while Neville looked un­in­ter­est­ed. In fact, he showed an un­be­com­ing dis­in­cli­na­tion to take any part in the pro­ceed­ings.

“Opium use,” con­tin­ued Grew­gious, “caused, as we have al­ready seen, by his un­holy lust for Miss Bud. We know the woman who sup­plies him with the drug and we know that she fol­lowed him to Clois­ter­ham al­though we do not know why. We know she met there, ap­par­ent­ly by chance, with Edwin Drood the night of his dis­ap­pear­ance. We know, also, that he had Stony Dur­dles guide him through the Cathe­dral at night, that he drugged this poor man, and that he stole from him the key to one of the crypts. Should we enter that crypt, I ex­pect we should find there the re­mains of poor Edwin Drood. Good Heav­ens! I am sorry, Miss Bud. I fear I have ac­quired my clerk's dra­mat­ic bent and can­not help my­self giv­ing facts with flare.”

The hor­rid pic­ture that had risen all un­want­ed in Rosa's mind was van­quished by the merry non­sense of Grew­gious hav­ing a flare for the dra­mat­ic and Rosa start­ed to re­cov­er from her faint even as He­le­na stepped to her side.

“Grew­gious,” said Crisparkle, “I fear your dra­mat­ic bent, as you call it, has taxed Rosa be­yond en­dur­ing. I fear, also, that it is lead­ing us to make un­war­rant­ed as­sump­tions based on what facts we know. We know Jasper loves Rosa, but to love one who does not love you is nei­ther crim­i­nal nor im­moral - if it were, who among us would ever walk free? We know now, too, that Jasper has fall­en a vic­tim to opium but that, again, should elic­it our sym­pa­thy, not our rep­re­hen­sion. The sus­pi­cions of an opi­um-sell­er - and an­oth­er opi­um-us­er, I'll war­rant - are of no worth, what­so­ev­er. If he had a work­man show him about the Cathe­dral, what of it? Dur­dles is a mar­vel­lous char­ac­ter, quite worth an evening's at­ten­tion. And where is our proof that he, not some other, drugged and robbed the man? No, my dear fel­low, it is not enough to ar­rest a man nor, I think, to so in­trude upon Mr. Sapsea's pri­va­cy (the crypt to which you refer is his, I am cer­tain) as to ask him to open his wife's tomb.”

“You are right, sir,” re­turned Grew­gious, chas­tened. “Then may I pro­pose that we mount a lit­tle ex­pe­di­tion of our own, to Shad­well, where I have been told we may find the opium den of his use and, pos­si­bly, more sub­stan­tial ev­i­dence?”

At this time, the maids en­tered, bear­ing with them tea, pas­tries, and Mrs. Bil­lickin. Ladies of the Bil­lickin's sta­tion do not press their ears to key­holes, nor do they lis­ten to tales from maids who do, but Mrs. Bil­lickin al­ways knew ev­ery­thing of con­se­quence that hap­pened in her house.

“I beg your par­don, g'hentle­men,” she said, caus­ing Grew­gious to won­der if there were any limit to what she could as­pi­rate, “but if, as I fears, you are plan­ning to take some sort of ac­tion against a per­son un­known to my­self, I feel that I must ask you to do your plan­ning in some place other than my first floor par­lior. It is a legal mat­ter, you see; I can­not have you con­spir­ing against an­oth­er on my premis­es, lest I be li­able, my­self. You must go - must, I say - ei­ther you go or, as you are a party of gen­tle­men only, with two young, in­hex­pe­ri­enced ladies, I might sug­gest you would do well to in­clude among your num­ber a woman what has great hin­tel­li­gence of the world and, if any here should think you al­ready have among your num­ber such a one as that, then I must reply that that one among you is a per­son huv lit­tle or no con­se­quence, being con­fined, as she is, to a pal­try ex­is­tence on the fringe of so­ci­ety. You might find a woman's per­spec­tive on things gives you a clear­er idear of what is re­al­ly hap­pen­ing with­out, has I say, 'aving to re­sort to con­spir­a­cy.”

“If it should be the wish of this group to in­clude an­oth­er per­son­age, let me ob­serve that, while I fail to see how a com­mon land­la­dy could have much use­ful knowl­edge of the wor­thi­er as­pects of the world, yet I can see how she might be fa­mil­iar with cer­tain lower class­es of peo­ple with whom I, my girls, and you gen­tle­men would not be con­ver­sant. Let this per­son bring to our group her knowl­edge of so­ci­ety's dregs.” Thus gra­cious­ly did Miss Twin­kle­ton ac­cede to Mrs. Bil­lickin's re­quest.

“Now I can­not pre­tend,” said the Bil­lickin, “nor shall I do so, that I un­der­stand the case at hand. It is not in the na­ture of knowl­edge, and this is es­pe­cial­ly true of con­fi­den­tial knowl­edge, that it spon­ta­neous­ly ap­pears when you re­quire it, and I will not have you hold­ing that it is. In short, gen­tle­men, I re­quire a hex­pla­na­tion.”

Minor Canon Crisparkle, fear­ing that to hear the events re­peat­ed in Grew­gious's mono­tone would put the en­tire as­sem­blage to sleep, re­count­ed the story of Edwin and Rosa's be­trothal, the ap­pear­ance of the Land­less­es, the sub­se­quent ar­gu­ment, and Drood's later, mys­te­ri­ous dis­ap­pear­ance. Just as he began, Tar­tar en­tered and was able to lis­ten to the en­tire story again, this time from the other side. Oh, how Rosa's eyes lit up when he en­tered! Oh, how Miss Twin­kle­ton's eyes cloud­ed up when she saw this!

“Now, Mrs. Bil­lickin,” con­clud­ed Crisparkle, “you are as up to date as our­selves. You see our prob­lem; we know Neville Land­less to be in­no­cent, but do not know how to prove it.”

Mrs. Bil­lickin looked strong­ly at Neville as he sat silent­ly in the fur­thest cor­ner of the room from Rosa, and said noth­ing. Did her ex­pe­ri­enced woman's view­point see some­thing the oth­ers did not? Or was she just pru­dent­ly silent until she was bet­ter ac­quaint­ed with the case? Miss Twin­kle­ton, for her part, looked strong­ly at the new­com­er still stand­ing in the en­trance­way. Grew­gious piped up now, un­in­ten­tion­al­ly fill­ing what might oth­er­wise have be­come an un­com­fort­able si­lence. “Miss Twin­kle­ton, Mrs. Bil­lickin, allow me to in­tro­duce the lat­est ad­di­tion to our group, Tar­tar. Mr. Tar­tar, will you now fill us in on what you have dis­cov­ered about Mr. Jasper?”

“I have found out lit­tle, but it is a use­ful lit­tle,” lied Tar­tar, much torn by con­science. A man of ac­tion, he had ex­pect­ed noth­ing more than to make a bold foray into the enemy en­camp­ment. In­stead he had be­come the un­will­ing con­fi­dant of a tor­tured man. Worse, while he now knew Jasper was not a vil­lain, he still might be the vil­lain. “Brough the Su­pe­ri­or's su­pe­ri­or is in­deed Jasper. And Jasper has lit­tle ev­i­dence against Neville, pur­su­ing him, I think, for lack of a bet­ter al­ter­na­tive.”

“And did you dis­cov­er, as we have just now, that he is an opi­um-us­er?”

“Yes. I have sent my man, Lob­ley, to watch over him. Jasper wish­es to quit this evil vice, but lacks the strength. As no-one is more fa­mil­iar with vice than a sailor, Lob­ley is the best pos­si­ble choice for this.” He mum­bled the last words in hor­ror as he re­al­ized what he had just ad­mit­ted in front of Rosa, but she seemed not to have heard a word he said (an ap­pear­ance Tar­tar would later learn, rue­ful­ly, to be com­pleat­ly wrong). In­stead, she stared at the manly sailor, cap­ti­vat­ed as a moth by a can­dle.

“Grew­gious pro­pos­es an ex­pe­di­tion to Shad­well, to in­quire fur­ther into Jasper's vices. What say you, is it a good plan?”

“Yes, I think so. But wait until I hear from Lob­ley. It would be ill if you were to run across the man in his den of in­iq­ui­ty, as it were.”

“Mr. Tar­tar,” said Miss Twin­kle­ton, “you look un­com­fort­able stand­ing there. Why do you not go up­stairs to the sec­ond floor par­lour and bring down an­oth­er chair?” There was that in her mien that made re­fusal of this re­quest un­think­able.

As soon as he had gone, Miss Twin­kle­ton turned to Crisparkle and asked, very qui­et­ly so that Rosa could not over­hear, “Who is this man? Is he to be trust­ed with my dear lit­tle Rosa?”

Crisparkle had just enough time to re­as­sure her be­fore Tar­tar re­turned, bear­ing two ad­di­tion­al chairs, the sec­ond for Mrs. Bil­lickin (for it had not oc­curred to any of the nor­mal­ly punc­til­ious gen­tle­men pre­sent to offer a seat to the mis­tress of the house). Miss Twin­kle­ton con­tin­ued her hawk-like pe­rusal of Tar­tar, with just a hint less an­tag­o­nism. Strange­ly, the Bil­lickin also re­gard­ed Tar­tar with the same air of de­fend­ing her help­less young against a dan­ger­ous preda­tor. “Per­haps we have taken to-day's dis­cus­sion as far as hit can go, for now,” she said, nei­ther ac­cept­ing her seat nor al­low­ing Tar­tar to take his. “Mr. Tar­tar and Mr. Grew­gious may plan their hex­cur­sion to that dis­rep­utable part of the city though I feel Mr. Grew­gious might be a bit out of place there and the Land­less­es must re­turn home. Dear He­le­na, do feel free to re­turn here to visit. Mr. Crisparkle, I be­lieve you still have some time be­fore you must meet your train. Would you care to re­main here with these ladies and my­self for a while. I shall have an early din­ner brought up.”

Miss Twin­kle­ton adding her en­dear­ments, Crisparkle had no choice but to com­ply. None of the other men seemed to find it odd that they had been sum­mar­i­ly dis­missed; He­le­na, as al­ways, seemed amused.

Crisparkle found din­ner a som­bre af­fair, with Rosa dream­ing to her­self and the two older women not speak­ing a word until the last plates were cleared.

“Rosa, my dear,” asked Mrs. Bil­lickin then, “would you mind going down to the kitchen and ask­ing the cook to pre­pare her spe­cial dessert?”

“You might wish to stay and see how it is done,” added Miss Twin­kle­ton. “A young lady can never be too good a cook.”

Crisparkle, find­ing him­self alone with the two el­der­ly ladies, start­ed won­der­ing if some ves­tige of that In­di­an cult who mur­dered for their god­dess had some­how pen­e­trat­ed into Lon­don so­ci­ety.

“Mr. Crisparkle,” the tyr­an­nized Canon, scru­ti­nized by two strong-willed women work­ing in uni­son, found him­self un­able to dis­cern which one so ad­dressed him. “Rosa Bud is clear­ly en­thralled by this man Tar­tar. We will have from you ev­ery­thing you know about him. Ev­ery­thing! Is this clear?”

“Yes, Ma'am.”

“How long have you known him?”

“Since I was a se­nior at school, Ma'am. He was my fag.”

“How did he per­form at school?” This ques­tion clear­ly was from Miss Twin­kle­ton, who leaned clos­er.

“I can­not re­call his marks after all this time, but he never ran into any dif­fi­cul­ties that I was aware of. A good stu­dent - bet­ter than most.”

“And what sort of a per­son was he?” asked the Bil­lickin, her­self lean­ing clos­er.

“Al­ways a gen­tle­man po­lite to his bet­ters, kind to the weak ones in his class.” Crisparkle leaned back­ward in his chair. “I know he fought more than one bully to de­fend his friends.”

“What else, Mr. Crisparkle? You have still not to­tal­ly con­fid­ed in us!” Both ladies hov­ered in front of his face.

“He saved my life!” shrieked Crisparkle, con­sumed by child­hood mem­o­ries of dread in the face of au­thor­i­ty, “I fell in the river - I could not swim - and he jumped in to pull me out, though I was twice his size. Said af­ter­ward, if he had known it was me, he would have let me drown. He was jok­ing, I know: he saw me fall in.”

Bil­lickin and Twin­kle­ton re­gard­ed each other, War for­got­ten in the need to pro­tect their Rosa. Good stu­dent, po­lite, hon­ourable, sense of hu­mour. Brave and ac­tive as he was hand­some. There was one more ques­tion that must be need­ed to be an­swered:

“What are Mr. Tar­tar's prospects?”

“Had he re­mained in the Navy, I doubt not that he would have risen high, pos­si­bly a fleet com­mand or an of­fice in White­hall. How­ev­er, he has re­cent­ly come into an in­her­i­tance, a very sub­stan­tial one, that re­quired him to for­sake the ser­vice.”

“Thank you, Mr. Crisparkle,” said Mrs. Bil­lickin, with­draw­ing. “I be­lieve your train is due. Please do call again when next you are in Lon­don.”

“Rosa and I look for­ward to see­ing you again in Clois­ter­ham in a few weeks time,” agreed Miss Twin­kle­ton. “Do take care.”

Rosa was puz­zled, when she re­turned, to find four plates of cook's spe­cial dessert must be shared be­tween only Miss Twin­kle­ton and her­self.


CHAP­TER 27
A SHAD­WELL COURT

RAT­CLIFF! What spec­tres does such a name evoke? Does it bring forth im­ages of those in­fa­mous Nor­we­gian ro­dents in­tent on fling­ing them­selves into the sea? Do shang­haied sailors from far-dis­tant lands not in­stinc­tive­ly crawl north from the docks to Rat­cliff Street, there to com­mit their sui­cides more slow­ly but just as cer­tain­ly as do the lem­mings? If Shad­well be the Well of Shades, the en­trance to Hell, then Rat­cliff Street is sure­ly the bot­tom-most pit of that Hell. Where is the Cer­berus to guard the gates of this dark­est of Hells from mor­tal eyes? Cer­tain­ly Rat­cliff has but one en­trance (guard­ed by an un­mov­ing fig­ure upon a bed in a black hutch under the stairs) but, if the fig­ure is truly that guardian dog, then all three of its heads must sleep this morn­ing, for none take any no­tice of the strangers who ap­proach.

“This one, I think,” said Baz­zard, stop­ping be­fore the ramshack­le gate. “This looks like what that Chi­nese sailor said.”

“How can you tell?” re­turned Tar­tar. “I could not un­der­stand a word of what he said, my­self.”

“It takes a quick ear to be a suc­cess­ful play­wright,” boast­ed the un­suc­cess­ful play­wright. Grew­gious, tak­ing the Bil­lickin’s ad­vice to heart had re­mained at Sta­ples Inn but, re­al­iz­ing his in­ves­ti­ga­tor must have ac­cess to as many facts as pos­si­ble while also re­al­iz­ing that a strong-willed and stout-heart­ed es­cort would be of im­mea­sur­able help, had in­creased by one the num­ber of the group to know Datch­ery’s true iden­ti­ty. Tar­tar, with com­pleat faith in and re­liance on his man Lob­ley, had im­me­di­ate­ly in­creased the num­ber yet again.

“This be it, right enough, sirs,” com­ment­ed Lob­ley. “Jarsper showed it me when I took ’im about larst night. The woman ’as got her room at top o’ yon stairs, ’n Jack Chi­na­man is up over yon­der. Which’un do you want to go see first?”

“The prin­ci­ple ‘Ladies first’ will serve suf­fi­cient­ly well to-day,” said Baz­zard. “Lead us to the lady, Lob­ley.”

“Cor, what a stink,” mur­mured Tar­tar. “Worse than a mews — worse than that slaver we took com­ing out of the Camer­oun; am I right, Lob­ley?”

“Never thought to smell ought worse ’n that, sir, but this be it.”

“Look about you,” replied Baz­zard. “This court­yard can­not have been swept since it was built. Heav­en only knows what filth is lying here. Up the steps, quick­ly; per­haps the air is fresh­er near the top where our lady lives!”

“Lady?” in­quired Tar­tar, as they climbed.

“Very much so,” replied Baz­zard, “al­though not by or­tho­dox cri­te­ri­ons. Still, an im­pres­sive per­son — bound to make her own way, ask­ing noth­ing (well, no more than three-and-six) from any­one. Watch out — that step is cracked clear through!”

An ap­palling cough from an open door­way led them to the right room.

“Hal­loa,” began Baz­zard. “Might we come in? We talked the other day in Clois­ter­ham.”

“Yes, I rec­og­nize you, though your head be dif­fer­ent — your hair ’as colour in it, now,” said the hag. “You were the gen­tle­man what gave me three-and-six. Bless ye, deary. Can I fix ye a pipe? And for ye’r friends?”

“No, thank you, Ma’am,” replied Baz­zard, though not quick­ly enough to pre­vent her from reach­ing for an empty ink bot­tle. “My name is Datch­ery, and these are my friends: Tar­tar and Lob­ley.” The lat­ter two blanched when he said their names but Baz­zard, from a world where gen­tle­men in­tro­duced them­selves, failed to no­tice. “When you came to Clois­ter­ham, you were in­ter­est­ed in John Jasper. You seemed to think that he had been in­volved in some sort of crime. Could you ex­pand upon that for us?”

“Crime? Mur­der, more like. Busi­ness is dr­ef­fle slow, right now, deary,” she coughed while fill­ing a metal bowl. “Could ye see yer way? Bless ye, again, for help­ing a mis­er­able soul make her way in the world. Now, if I was to tell ye what I know o’ John Jarsper, I think it might be worth more ’n three-and-six.”

“What makes you think that?” asked Baz­zard, the af­fec­tion in his voice puz­zling his com­pan­ions (who were not seek­ing char­ac­ters for plays).

“Oh, but my hands do shake so. Can you light this match, deary? I’ve got the shakes some­thing dr­ef­fle this day. Aye, now hold it over the bowl. Ah,” she in­haled and quick­ly calmed down. “Why would three gen­tle­men such as yer­selves come to Shad­well nor ye be arter sum­mat im­por­tant?”

“Aye, you have us there,” agreed Tar­tar. “How about we give you a pound — see here; a brand new one pound note, fetched from the Bank of Eng­land just for you.”

“No, deary, I don’t want no pound note. If I tries to cash it, some’un ’ll just take it from me. Give me shillings and pence, in­stead — that’s what peo­ple ’spect from me: shillings and pence.”

“Al­right,” said Baz­zard, “I think we can scrape up enough change. Tar­tar, what have you? Lob­ley? Don’t worry, you’ll get it back. Right — six­teen, sev­en­teen shillings, five six­pences, and enough pen­nies and half-pen­nies to make up the rest. No won­der an En­glish­man’s trousers never hang straight. Here, take these, as well. What value could there ever have been in a far­thing? Now, how long has Jasper been com­ing here?”

“More nor a year ’n less’n two. ’E come in at first with some swells, just the usual young men try­ing to find an­oth­er way to rise ’ell and cause trou­ble. But ’e con­tin­ued to come arter the oth­ers left for good — he’d smoke ’is pipe and sing sweet like a bird.”

“How often?” Baz­zard con­tin­ued the in­quiry.

“At first, once in a month or two; later, every week. It’s the way the drug works, deary. Smoke it the one time ’n it’ll do ye no ’arm — but ye’ll feel like a fool and ye will be wantin’ for more. Arter a while, ye’ll want it all the time. Jarsper was com­ing two or three times a week by last au­tumn. I re­mem­ber, be­cause he was one of my most reg’lar cus­tomers. Most cus­tomers, ye see, deary, they are sailors come from the docks and when there be no ships, which there be few or none in win­ter, there be lit­tle cus­tom.”

“Last au­tumn? What about after that?”

“No, he stopped com­ing. I thought mebbe he’d got him­self dead, or tried to mix the stuff his­self. It ain’t no good if you mix it your­self, deary. It ain’t good for trade and it ain’t good for you. Best to leave it to me: I got the se­cret o’ mix­ing it right — you get the best dreams from my re­ceipt.”

“Do you have any­thing else be­sides opium?” asked Tar­tar.

“What d’ye mean, deary? I got the se­cret o’ mix­ing opium bet­ter ’n any­one in the docks. No-one who wants ought else comes to me.”

“What hap­pened to Jasper after last au­tumn?” in­quired Baz­zard. “When did you see him again?”

“Not ’til just t’other day, deary. ’E came back to me — they all come back to me soon­er or later. Heh, heh, I got the se­cret. Bet­ter ’n any other.”

Baz­zard was re­quired to wait for a few min­utes while an­oth­er spasm of cough­ing took the an­cient-ap­pear­ing crone.

“Tell me about the last time he vis­it­ed.”

“Aye. I learned an­oth­er trick o’ mix­ing whilst ’e was gorne: learned ’ow to make peo­ple talk even when they don’t want to. Give ’im that when ’e come. Ye see, deary, I knowed al­ready that Jarsper were plan­nin’ sum­mat bad — a mur­der, I think. I reck­oned as I could make a good bit o’ coin by find­in’ out ’is plans and warnin’ ’is vic­tim. So’s I went to Clois­ter­ham last win­ter lookin’ for a man what’s named ‘Ned’ but I could no’ find ’im. Arter that, I reck­oned to make money di­rect from Jarsper by find­in’ out what ’e done and makin’ ’im pay to keep quiet.”

“That is called ‘Black­mail’,” said Baz­zard, aus­tere­ly “Be glad you did not get in­volved for, even if Jasper had not killed you, the law would pun­ish you for it.”

“Aye,” said the woman. “Well, I though bet­ter on it arter I saw ’im in the choir (and thank you, sir, for teach­ing me that word). It’s not that I thought ’im a bet­ter man for it, but I began to be afraid of him. Ain’t nach’ral a man can rot ’is soul in ’ere ’n then sing be­fore God.”

“Now, my dear woman,” de­clared Baz­zard, “it is time for you to tell us what you know of Jasper’s evil plans.”

“It were larst sum­mer, sirs,” replied the woman. “Jarsper is one ’ut mum­bles a lot when ’e smokes ’is opium. I likes to lis­ten to them as does that, for I can tell what dreams they are ’avin’ and ad­just my mix­ture to make ’em ’ap­pi­er. Good for busi­ness, ye see, gen­tle­men. Busi­ness is dr­ef­fle slow, just now.

“Jarsper’s dreams were usu­al­ly about palaces and ele­phants (I see’d a ele­phant oncet; reck­on I would like to go to where such things is) but larst sum­mer ’e begun to dream a wicked dream afore the other. ’E would dream of killin’ some poor soul named ‘Ned’. Al­ways ’e would lead Ned up to the top o’ some tower, then throw ’im off. Then ’e’d go ahead with ’is other dream, about the palaces ’n ’is favourite ele­phant name of Gash or Gonsh.”

“Goshen? The Bib­li­cal land?”

“No, ’t’ain’t that. But t’other night when ’e come in, ’e dreamed the same dream, but ’e dreamed it dif­fer­ent. I don’t know who Ned is, but I will lay every one o’ those twen­ty shillings what yer give me that Ned is dead. Poor Ned. Dead Ned.”

The woman’s eye­lids were droop­ing. Baz­zard and Tar­tar re­gard­ed each other silent­ly.

“Ma’am,” said Baz­zard, qui­et­ly, al­most rev­er­ent­ly, “would you be will­ing to tes­ti­fy in a court of law?”

“Tes­ti­fy!” she cack­led un­wise­ly (for it evolved into a har­row­ing, hack­ing cough). “Aye, that I would — it would be quite a change fer me to be on t’other side, with the law.”

“Now there is one other thing: do you re­mem­ber where Jasper lives?”

She nod­ded, choos­ing not to speak as an­oth­er fit was com­ing on.

“Should you dis­cov­er or re­mem­ber some­thing new that you think will in­ter­est me, you may find me in that same arch­way, but below the stairs. There will be many more shillings await­ing you.”

“I ’ope I ’elped ye, gen­tle­men” fin­ished the wast­ed woman. “Catch that wicked man, Jarsper, for me. ’E’s no good — threat­ens me, at­tacks me, worse, ’e in­sults me. Says I can­not dream o’ more nor cred­it and ale hous­es. Mr. Datch­ery, you al­ways been a gen­tle­man to me; un­der­stand I wasn’t al­ways like this and I don’t al­ways mean to be. I can dream, too. I dream o’ bein’ free o’ the city; o’ trav­el­lin’ to them far off places where you don’t need opium to see the ele­phants and the magic; o’ bein’ young and pret­ty (I was awful pret­ty when I was a slip of a girl, Mr. Datch­ery, but it don’t do to be a pret­ty girl in this part o’ the city, not when you has no money); most of all, I dream o’ bein’ in love and mar­ried and havin’ a fam­i­ly — don’t laugh at me, gen­tle­men. I knows they are just dreams, but I’m en­ti­tled to my dreams as you are to yours. Oh, my lungs is dr­ef­fle bad,” and she slipped, cough­ing, into her rever­ie.

The three men re­tired qui­et­ly, each think­ing on his own, pri­vate dreams and how ridicu­lous they would sound re­vealed to a stranger.

“You sur­prised me, Baz­zard,” Tar­tar broke the si­lence as they de­scend­ed the rick­ety stair­case. “I should have thought the first thing you would ask was the woman’s name.”

“Fool that I am, I for­got to ask.” To hide his em­bar­rass­ment, he turned to Lob­ley and asked, “What did you and Jasper get up to last night?”

“Best not arsk, sir,” re­turned Lob­ley. “I was want­ing to fix up his bro­ken ’eart; feeled that were the source o’ his malaise, so to speak. A sip o’ rum ’n the at­ten­tions of a af­fec­tion­ate lady done ’im the world o’ good.”

“Don’t worry about Lob­ley, Baz­zard: he’s been tak­ing care of heart­bro­ken sailors for years,” re­marked Tar­tar. “Any port in the world, he could find a bit of so­lace for his lone­ly ship­mates.

“Aye, sir. ‘Any port in the world.’ We got around a good bit back then, we did,” lament­ed the sailor. “Now, I don’ re­al­ly miss the Navy, ’spe­cial­ly not the vit­tels, but I do miss the trav­el. D’ye think you’ll be takin’ the yacht about any? Spain, say, or Mo­rock­er? They’s not too far and they’ve some right pret­ty ports. And right pret­ty lass­es in the ports.”

“Sorry, Lob­ley,” replied Tar­tar. “It looks like I may soon be tied pret­ty firm­ly to the shore.”

“What say about takin’ the Missy for a lit­tle sail?” sug­gest­ed Lob­ley. “May be she’ll set her mind on trav­el.”

“Ex­cel­lent idea! I shall speak to her guardian drag­on about it. Now, is this the Chi­na­man’s room?”

It was.

The Chi­na­man’s room showed ev­i­dence of a greater pros­per­i­ty than did that which they had just quit­ted. It was larg­er, and fit­ted with two filthy beds — both up­right — for the con­ve­nience of the cus­tomers. Jack Chi­na­man him­self sat in an up­hol­stered chair, though what the na­ture of the up­hol­stery might be was be­yond guess­ing.

“You no gi’ me trou­ble,” he spoke, alarmed at three healthy men en­ter­ing his es­tab­lish­ment. “I hon­est man — allus give hon­est mea­sure — allus good mix­ture, no mess wit’ tabacky. You leave me ’lone. I hon­est man. No trou­ble wit’ po­lice. No trou­ble any­one!”

“Do not be alarmed,” said Tar­tar, “we only wish to ask a few ques­tions.”

“No ques­tions,” replied the Chi­na­man. “I no an­swer ques­tions. It no good for busi­ness — cus­tomers no come back.”

“Is money good for busi­ness?” asked Tar­tar. “Twen­ty shillings for our an­swers — that is what we gave the woman over yon­der.”

“Woman stupid — she lose all her cus­tomers. She not make good mix — her cus­tomers come to me. Now she talk — she lose all rest her cus­tomers. Me no talk.”

“Two pounds?”

“No talk — lose all cus­tomers.”

“Five pounds? And we let no-one know where we got our an­swers.”

“Jack Chi­na­man no talk ’bout his cus­tomers!”

“Lob­ley,” said Tar­tar, light­ly, “Mr. Datch­ery and I shall step out­side for a breath of air. I re­al­ly find it quite stuffy in here, don’t you, Datch­ery?”

“Stop! I talk — you no leave me ’lone wit’ dat man. You give me ten pound; I talk.”

“Don’t be ab­surd, man. Five was my last offer. And then only if you an­swer ev­ery­thing I ask.”

“I talk. You gimme money now.”

“After.”

“You show me money now. How I know you got?”

“Yes,” agreed Tar­tar. “Here it is: five new one pound notes. You can buy all the opium in Lon­don with it. Baz-Datch­ery, you may begin.”

“We wish to in­quire about a cer­tain gen­tle­man named John Jasper,” Baz­zard began. “Your deal­ings with oth­ers do not con­cern us. Have you dealt with this man?”

“No. You give me money now and you go ’way!”

“Lob­ley,” said Tar­tar, “hit him.”

But the Chi­nese mer­chant spoke even as Lob­ley lift­ed his ample right arm: “Jasper.” He had dif­fi­cul­ty with the name. “I know him, yes.”

“When did you first deal with him?”

“In au­tumn. He want stop opium. I tell him how.”

“I did not know it was pos­si­ble to stop that mon­strous drug with­out being chained up until it clears your sys­tem,” re­marked Tar­tar.

“Oh, yes! I sell him cuca leafs to chew. You chew leafs when pain start, make pain go ’way. I got many medicines.”

“Does that re­al­ly work?”

“Work for while. No work for ever’one — cus­tomer chew too much cuca leafs want cuca much as opium. But work good if you care­ful.”

“What other medicines? Opium for dreams, leaves for opium, what else?”

“I got medicines make you work hard­er. Got medicines help you wit’ woman — very pop’lar, you like try?”

“No, thank you,” replied Baz­zard, drily. “What else?”

“Got medicines make you happy, make you sad. Make you brave, make you ’fraid. Make you like ever’one, make you hate ever’one. You tell me what you want, I tell you if I got medicines to do it.”

“The woman across the court . . . .” start­ed Baz­zard.

“She got opium. I got ever’t’ing.” the Chi­na­man spoke with un­mis­tak­able pride.

“That woman, what is her name?”

“She ca’ Sarry. Sairahs all ca’ her Ras­car Sarry.”

“Ras­car Sarry. Las­car Sally?”

“Yes. I no speak En­gr­ish so good. You speak Can­tonese, Shang­hainese, and Fukienese good, then you laugh at me.”

“Your En­glish is very fine. Do you have a last name for her? For Sally?”

“Prop’ty.”

“Prop­er­ty? She was your prop­er­ty? You owned her?”

“Yes, Jack buy her. Put to work. She no good now. Ugly and stupid.”

“I fear I must agree. Never mind, it is not im­por­tant. What did Jasper buy from you?”

“He buy lots t’ings: leafs to stop opium, medicines to make brave, medicines to make angry. He want to buy poi­son, but I no sell. Jack no want trou­ble wit’ po­lice.”

“If we re­quire you to tes­ti­fy in court . . . ?”

“NO! No talk in court. Jack Chi­na­man be dead Chi­na­man if any­one see him in court! I tell you what you want — you give me money and go now. No talk more.”

And with that, the diminu­tive Chi­nese took hold of Lob­ley’s im­mense arm and lugged the amused man out of his door.

“Is that crea­ture on the bed alive or dead?” in­quired Baz­zard as they left the ran­cid court. “It hasn’t moved since we ar­rived.”

“Alive, sir,” replied Lob­ley. “No doubt on that.”

“How can you say?” asked Tar­tar.

“If ’e be dead, ’is bed ’ud be stolen in an in­stant.”

“Lob­ley, get us away from this awful place!”


CHAP­TER 28
A MEET­ING OF TWO JACK­ASS­ES

WHILE our Three Wise Men seek en­light­en­ment in the drab courts of Shad­well, Jasper has spent the morn­ing al­ter­nat­ing be­tween sleep, a des­per­ate need to sleep, queasi­ness, and, of all things, ela­tion. Let the world know that Bosun Lob­ley has, once again, shown his in­stinc­tive un­der­stand­ing of a ship­mate’s true needs. John Jasper, erst­while vil­lain, is this morn­ing rec­on­ciled to life with­out one Rosa Bud who is, after all, just an­oth­er woman. And that Rose­bud of whom Jasper is en­am­oured, the idea pounds into his head dur­ing its oc­ca­sion­al flash­es of lu­cid­i­ty, ex­ists more in Jasper’s imag­i­na­tion than in Rosa Bud’s re­al­i­ty. Even did he win her, the real Rosa would no more mea­sure up to his ex­pec­ta­tions than some com­mon sailor’s woman of the docks — al­though, one would hope, falling short in a much dif­fer­ent man­ner. No, Jasper is cured — of love, of opium, even of ha­tred to Neville Land­less — cured, and ready to re­turn to his quiet, con­tem­pla­tive ex­is­tence in his quiet, an­cient city.

The cure lasts through the morn­ing and through a scanty noon­time break­fast which he is just able to hold down. It does not last through his first en­counter of the day for the Su­pe­ri­or edi­tion of Lawrence Brough has ar­rived in a mood as Su­pe­ri­or as his moniker.

“Like your new spy, do you, Mr. Jasper?” asks the old one. “Trust him, do you? Bet­ter than you trust me, at any rate.”

“I do,” re­turns Jasper, grumpi­ly, for he is much out of sorts to-day. “Mr. Tar­tar is a gen­tle­man; you even said so your­self. He watch­es Neville for me for the sake of jus­tice, not be­cause he ex­pects a re­ward. I can trust him to tell me ev­ery­thing truth­ful­ly and hon­est­ly, al­though I no longer care very much for the case.”

“‘Truth­ful­ly and hon­est­ly’ is it? Yes, I doubt not he re­ports truth­ful­ly and hon­est­ly enough — but not to you.”

“What do you mean?”

“Yes­ter­day, in­stead of watch­ing that silly young pup, Land­less, I fol­lowed your gen­tle­man Tar­tar.” Brough’s de­meanour this af­ter­noon was no longer ob­se­quious. A man sel­dom in the right, now that he had found him­self in this un­wont­ed po­si­tion, his dig­ni­ty would brook no af­front. “When he left here, he went to Southamp­ton Street, to a lodg­ing house owned, ac­cord­ing to its sign, by one Mr. Bil­lickin. I watched from out­side until he left and who did I see com­ing out with him? None other than your good friends Grew­gious, Neville Land­less, and his sis­ter. And more; I caught a quick glimpse of one of the lodgers gaz­ing out the first floor win­dow as they left. A beau­ty she was: short and tiny and as blond as all Nor­way; she cast a long­ing look after your friend Tar­tar. I’ve ru­ined the rep­u­ta­tions of enough young ladies to know love when I see it. I’ve kept watch on that win­dow since — Rosa Bud shares her flat with a hideous old witch. I think we have the an­swer to what hap­pened to Clois­ter­ham’s Miss Twin­kle­ton. Now who is truth­ful and hon­est? I may be only a bought spy, but I am an hon­est one — I stay bought so long as I stay paid.”

“Damn him!” roared Jasper, who then whim­pered from the pain that shot through his head. “Damn him to Hell!” he whis­pered now in anger, “I trust­ed Tar­tar; told him my dark­est se­crets. Now he has be­trayed me to my en­e­mies. I shall have Neville’s head for this treach­ery — and Tar­tar can burn in his own Hell the way I burn in mine.”

Late af­ter­noon found the Lon­don of­fices of the Haven of Phi­lan­thropy very near­ly de­sert­ed on this hot day, and Jasper was soon grant­ed au­di­ence with Luke Hon­eythun­der

“Pros­per,” boomed Hon­eythun­der in greet­ing, “pleased to see you. How goes your in­ves­ti­ga­tion of those foul mur­der­ers, Land­less and Cresspuck­le? If you haven’t found proof yet, no mat­ter. It’s easy enough to cre­ate; we do it here all the time. Why just this morn­ing I found it nec­es­sary to alter cer­tain fi­nan­cial records to prove the guilt of a de­spi­ca­ble fel­low I’ve long sus­pect­ed of skim­ming from the till at a to­bac­conist shop in which I hap­pen to have a small in­ter­est. Larce­ny runs in that fam­i­ly, Casper, I had to ruin his fa­ther when an­oth­er shop of mine that he ran did not turn the prof­it I ex­pect­ed.”

“I’ve al­ready a chap in my em­ploy who would be a first-rate false wit­ness and I dare say he or some­one of his ac­quain­tance is quite ca­pa­ble of man­u­fac­tur­ing any proof I need, thank you. Few things, in­deed, would ac­cord him greater plea­sure. But I come on an­oth­er mat­ter. I had men­tioned, when last we met, that I wished you once again to un­der­take the trip to visit our quiet lit­tle town.”

“Ah. Shall we be get­ting on to Clois­ter­ham, then. Ex­cel­lent! I need a taste of fresh coun­try air; this Lon­don grime sti­fles me. Fit only for mis­cre­ants — who­ev­er is re­spon­si­ble for the con­di­tion of this air ought to be shut away in prison! Hanged! Bet­ter yet, made to breath it!” In all his life, Luke Hon­eythun­der never said any­thing truer than that. “And I wish to meet this Mayor of yours, see how he mea­sures up. Your Canon, that Mica chap, he was a se­vere dis­ap­point­ment to me even be­fore this sad af­fair. Weak: no back­bone!”

“You need not fear,” replied Jasper, truth­ful­ly, “Mr. Sapsea is as dif­fer­ent from Crisparkle as night from day. I think you will find him very much your sort of per­son.”

Some hours later, Mr. Joshua Sapsea, revered Mayor of Clois­ter­ham, was de­light­ed to have in his par­lour the most out­stand­ing, dis­tin­guished guest he had ever en­ter­tained. John Jasper, head pound­ing as the sole re­cip­i­ent of Hon­eythun­der’s gar­ruli­ty, was equal­ly de­light­ed.

“I agree with you, Mr. Hon­eythun­der,” said Sapsea. “Never trust­ed that Land­less fel­low one bit — not En­glish, you see. Not to be trust­ed. And I am grate­ful to you for point­ing out what I missed (not that it would have es­caped me for long, you un­der­stand, it is just that I have hard­ly set eyes on the wretch) — his black skin is a cer­tain in­di­ca­tion of mixed blood.”

In truth, Sapsea had met Neville Land­less only once, when he had been ar­rest­ed Christ­mas Day. At that time, after months away from the trop­ic sun, Neville was no dark­er than John Jasper — a fact Jasper knew well.

“No doubt about it, their moth­er was a wild one, ca­vort­ing with the na­tive el­e­ments at their trib­al or­gies. You have done right to come to me with your sus­pi­cions for, with my vast knowl­edge of the world cou­pled to your spe­cif­ic un­der­stand­ing of the ways of these vile brutes, we can­not fail to place the blame for this crime square­ly on their shoul­ders.”

“Could your knowl­edge of the world,” in­quired Jasper, af­fect­ing an oth­er-world­ly in­no­cence, “give us a quick in­tro­duc­tion to Cey­lon. I find it fas­ci­nat­ing to en­counter peo­ple from such an ex­ot­ic lo­ca­tion — Africa! Imag­ine that — in the heart of Eng­land.”

“Of course,” Sapsea replied, bridling with pride at the chance to dis­play his world­ly knowl­edge even as he picked up on the hint­ed Africa. “The land is most­ly desert, with patch­es of jun­gle where the Nile flows. Na­tives are Hin­doos, who ride ele­phants and gi­raffes into bat­tle and sac­ri­fice their cap­tives to the god Baal. I once had a pea­cock fan through here — told me ev­ery­thing I could want to know about the place.”

“And the Ama­zons,” asked Jasper, seraph­i­cal­ly guilt­less, “you were going to tell us about the Ama­zons.”

“Glad you re­mind­ed me,” replied the idiot. “Herodotus de­scribed them in his his­to­ry of the Pelo­pon­nesian War. War­rior women, uni­ver­sal­ly feared; they used to boil their cap­tives for din­ner; in fact, they were the model for all the can­ni­bals since then. Bye-the-bye, did you know that can­ni­bals used to be called ‘an­thro­popha­gi’, which is to say ‘man eaters’, be­fore the Span­ish — curse their un-En­glish hides — dis­cov­ered a tribe of man eaters in the Caribbean Ocean. Caribs or Can­nibs — Span­ish couldn’t make up their minds; that’s why I say curse them and their un-En­glish ways.”

“Hear, Hear!” added Hon­eythun­der, pa­tri­ot­i­cal­ly, hav­ing ig­nored ev­ery­thing but the ‘un-En­glish’. “Nice to have a man about who can so en­light­en one on an ab­struse sub­ject.”

“If the Land­less twins fell in with Ama­zons, it would ex­plain how they came to be as dan­ger­ous as they are. Why, not one of us but could have been mur­dered in our sleep. The Ama­zons are not with us any longer, I am pleased to add,” con­clud­ed Clois­ter­ham’s mer­i­to­ri­ous Mayor, not ex­plain­ing how the Land­less­es could have met a van­ished race. “Can’t have En­glish troops fight­ing women; it’s just not sport­ing.”

Hon­eythun­der, for his part, was as im­pressed by Joshua Sapsea as Sapsea was im­pressed by Luke Hon­eythun­der, which is to say each was very near­ly as im­pressed by the other as by him­self. The two fine gen­tle­men were of an im­me­di­ate un­der­stand­ing with each other: each see­ing in the other the finest ex­am­ple of En­glish virtue and in­tegri­ty to be found any­where other than re­flect­ed in a mir­ror.

“Sapsea,” blared Hon­eythun­der in his friendli­est roar, “I can tell you what this city needs. It is a fine city, Sapsea, does you cred­it as its Mayor, but what it lacks is a Haven, Sapsea, a Haven of Phi­los­o­phy.”

“Ex­cel­lent sug­ges­tion, my good fel­low,” replied Sapsea. “I shall get right on it, line up some of the city’s most re­spectable cit­i­zens. What d’you say, Jasper? Good idea, what?”

“Ah, per­haps it is some­thing best looked into after the mat­ter at hand has been dis­posed of?” replied the Choir Mas­ter, ap­palled at the thought of Hon­eythun­der be­com­ing a reg­u­lar vis­i­tor to Clois­ter­ham.

“Non­sense,” roared Hon­eythun­der, “no bet­ter time to start than right now.”

“Ex­act­ly so, Hon­eythun­der,” roared Sapsea, “I shall call upon some im­por­tant peo­ple to­mor­row. Don’t you worry, Jasper — there’s noth­ing to stop me from pros­e­cut­ing this case while I found a Phi­lan­throp­ic Haven. Will you stay over for the night, Hon­eythun­der? Plen­ty of room and glad for a bit of in­tel­li­gent con­ver­sa­tion with an equal for a change. Jasper, here, is al­right, but the rest of this city is de­cid­ed­ly lack­ing, sir, lack­ing in re­fine­ment and depth of per­spicu­ity.”

That evening, Minor Canon Sep­ti­mus Crisparkle, on his evening per­am­bu­la­tions, was sur­prised to be ac­cost­ed by Jasper mak­ing his way back to the Gate House.

“For­give me, Crisparkle,” said the choir­mas­ter, a glint in his eye, “I know not what I do.”


CHAP­TER 29
A SEA VOY­AGE

GREW­GIOUS sits per­pen­dic­u­lar­ly in his win­dow, watch­ing the com­ings and go­ings of his beloved Sta­ple Inn. Here comes Brough, Su­pe­ri­or, skulk­ing about the en­trance way where he can watch for Neville. There goes He­le­na to shop, in­sult­ing­ly march­ing past Brough with the cold­est in­dif­fer­ence. Down from his nau­ti­cal eyrie comes Tar­tar, strid­ing bold­ly to the gate. Is he, too, going out to the shops for some need­ed item of sus­te­nance? Or is he, per­haps, on his way to the Tem­ple Stairs to speak to Lob­ley about his yacht? No, the watch­er in the win­dow is quite sure of his des­ti­na­tion; and amused and pleased by it. Alas, thinks Grew­gious, had he but the di­a­mond and ruby ring to place in Tar­tar’s care until such time as it should prop­er­ly be pre­sent­ed to its for­mer owner’s daugh­ter.

From High Hol­born Street to Blooms­bury Square took the healthy young man but a mo­ment. With­in, Tar­tar was ush­ered di­rect­ly to the first floor par­lour where he found Miss Twin­kle­ton await­ing.

“I find you well, madam?”

“Quite, Mr. Tar­tar,” replied Miss Twin­kle­ton. “Rosa will be with us in a mo­ment. You are tak­ing her to the Mu­se­um?”

“Rather, she is tak­ing me,” cor­rect­ed the erst­while sailor, “for she finds my ed­u­ca­tion want­ing in some re­spects and I am most glad to cor­rect it with such a teach­er. Miss Twin­kle­ton, while we are alone, there is a sub­ject which I wish to raise. I raise it pri­vate­ly with you lest you should find it nec­es­sary to say no and it should dash any hopes which had arisen in her.”

“If you mean mar­riage ...,” began Miss Twin­kle­ton.

“No, no!” stum­bled Tar­tar. “Not yet, at any rate; it is too soon after poor Drood’s dis­ap­pear­ance to raise the prospect. I wish to ask about some­thing much more mun­dane: at that time when you and Rosa re­turn to Clois­ter­ham, would you con­sid­er trav­el by sea rather than by rail? I have a yacht in Green­hithe . . . just a lit­tle boat, re­al­ly, but it is ca­pa­ble of the voy­age . . . safe enough for Miss Bud.”

“Do stop driv­el­ling, Tar­tar,” rep­ri­mand­ed Miss Twin­kle­ton, “you re­mind me of my stu­dents. If I re­call cor­rect­ly, Green­hithe is al­ready half-way to Clois­ter­ham, so tak­ing your yacht from there will hard­ly en­hance the speed of our voy­age. Rather delay it, I should think.”

“Yes, but the rail­way runs thus far; after that you must take the ....”

“Do not in­ter­rupt, young man! I was about to say that I see noth­ing wrong with spend­ing an en­tire day in a voy­age that can be done in three hours pro­vid­ing the jour­ney be pleas­ant and whole­some. You may take Rosa, but there is one stip­u­la­tion upon which I must in­sist.”

“If you mean that you will be join­ing us,” choked Tar­tar, “I had never thought oth­er­wise. Rosa’s rep­u­ta­tion means as much to me as to your­self. And you would be quite wel­come as a guest even with­out Miss Bud.”

“Oh, Tar­tar, you do make me laugh,” replied the school-mis­tress, “I know well how wel­come I would be with­out my young charge. Now, here is young Rosa. You may ask her your ques­tion while we walk. Rosa! Do not blush so; his ques­tion is quite an in­no­cent one.”

Some hours later, Miss Twin­kle­ton might have re­marked that nei­ther Rosa nor Tar­tar had ob­served a sin­gle thing in that foun­da­tion of which the En­glish peo­ple are so jus­ti­fi­ably proud, nor had a sin­gle one of Miss Twin­kle­ton’s per­cep­tive com­ments about var­i­ous items from an­tiq­ui­ty been heard. The ven­er­a­ble lady, how­ev­er, pre­tend­ed to take no no­tice of what dis­cus­sions went on in the ven­er­a­ble in­sti­tu­tion, seek­ing only to prove a shield against any petty in­sin­u­a­tions that might later arise in the con­fined area of Clois­ter­ham. And so the lit­tle party re­turned to Blooms­bury Square where they dined sump­tu­ous­ly well, Mrs. Bil­lickin and her cook both hold­ing the same lofty opin­ion of Tar­tar as did Miss Twin­kle­ton.

When Tar­tar, re­plete in mind and body, re­turned to Sta­ple Inn that evening, he was called by Mr. Grew­gious from the win­dow whence one might sup­pose he had not moved through­out the day.

“Tar­tar, come up here.”

On Tar­tar’s ar­rival in his room, Grew­gious con­tin­ued:

“Neville has been ar­rest­ed. They came for him this af­ter-noon while you were with Rosa.”

“You should have sent for me at once.”

“No need,” replied Grew­gious. “He is in no im­mi­nent dan­ger; our renowned local gaol is well-con­trolled if not at all com­fort­able — I have had oc­ca­sion to visit it in the past — and I was able to ac­com­pa­ny him for the most part of the trip, re­as­sur­ing him that there is no pos­si­bil­i­ty of his being found guilty. I thought to leave you and Rosa a last af­ter­noon of plea­sure be­fore you felt the weight of this per­se­cu­tion. What puz­zles me is why Jasper should move now? I had thought, after your ac­count, that he had noth­ing to go on and seemed to be los­ing his de­sire to hound after Neville.”

“I think I may know,” said Tar­tar som­bre­ly. “That scoundrel Brough must have re­marked my con­nec­tion with you and no­ti­fied Jasper. Jasper would take it as be­tray­al: there is a great deal that he told me in con­fi­dence that I have felt un­able to re­peat to you.”

“Oh, dear,” said Grew­gious. “You must let your con­science guide you whether or not to relay this in­for­ma­tion now.”

“I can tell you this with­out com­pro­mis­ing my­self,” re­turned Tar­tar, “I am by no means as con­vinced of Jasper’s guilt as the rest of you. I sus­pect him to be as in­no­cent of this crime as Neville, him­self. For­give me, Grew­gious, if I do not ex­plain my­self fur­ther — I feel I should not until I have de­cid­ed to con­fide all.

“Oh, my!” he con­tin­ued as the thought struck him, “He­le­na; how is He­le­na han­dling this?”

“She is bear­ing up re­mark­ably well,” replied Grew­gious. “Truly a Stoic; I could wish that most of the men I know were the man she is. I could wish my­self half the man!”

“I can­not imag­ine what hard­ships they bore in Cey­lon to make her so in­vul­ner­a­ble now — I can only swear that no child of mine shall ever suf­fer as they have.”

“And no child under my care, Tar­tar.”

With that, Tar­tar made his way up to his attic, after first vis­it­ing He­le­na to make sure she was, in­deed, al­right.

The next days brought much to-do for Grew­gious, He­le­na, and Crisparkle, but they seemed not to af­fect Rosa or Tar­tar at all. The two lived in a world un­touched by ha­tred, crime, or mur­der; a world where the sun shone every day and the stars sparkled every night, where every wind brought with it the scent of wild­flow­ers and every cor­ner opened into a vista of un­sur­pass­able love­li­ness. Those who loved them be­grudged them not a sec­ond of their hap­pi­ness, for all knew how short would be its du­ra­tion.

But days be­come weeks, and so soon is the sum­mer over.

“Miss,” stat­ed Miss Twin­kle­ton to the maid one af­ter-noon, ig­nor­ing the land­la­dy be­side her, “would you be so kind as to in­form the pro­pri­etress of this es­tab­lish­ment that I shall be out for the af­ter-noon, and to re­quest her not to allow Mr. Tar­tar to be alone with my ward?”

“Kind­ly in­form a cer­tain per­son what oc­cu­pies my first floor set,” came the frosty reply, “that I am not some hea­then nor yet a hin­no­cent child as needs to be hed­u­cat­ed to keep sailors away from my young fe­male ten­ants. Of course, if one were to come call­ing for a cer­tain per­son, I should be quite will­ing to make a hex­cep­tion — any sailor what would want her is quite wel­come to her, though Heav­en help the Navy if it has sailors that des­per­ate.”

A walk of a few min­utes brought Miss Twin­kle­ton to Sta­ple Inn and through the en­trance way to where Grew­gious now feared Per­haps Jasper Tri­umphs.

“Mr. Grew­gious,” said Miss Twin­kle­ton, “I have en­deav­oured to pro­tect Miss Bud as best I am able since I was sum­moned, and I think I have done an ac­cept­able job of it (she seems calm now, no longer trou­bled by John Jasper, at any rate), but the time has come when I can no longer put off those du­ties which are in­cum­bent upon me as head of the Sem­i­nary for Young Ladies. I have seen the par­ents of many prospec­tive stu­dents while here in Lon­don, and I am de­light­ed to say that Rosa (who has al­ways been my most pop­u­lar pupil, if not al­ways my best) has been a great help in these meet­ings, but there are many tasks which await me in Clois­ter­ham and I can­not del­e­gate all of them to Mrs. Tish­er. As you can plain­ly see, it will be nec­es­sary for me to re­turn with­in a few days and, be­fore that can be done, we must de­cide what to do with Miss Rosa.”

“I quite agree,” agreed Grew­gious, “and I thank you for tak­ing time to warn me in ad­vance — it does make it eas­i­er to de­cide her fu­ture when Fa­ther Time is not hov­er­ing over us, breath­ing down our necks, and be­fog­ging our minds.”

Miss Twin­kle­ton stared at Grew­gious as at a stu­dent be­yond sal­va­tion, then con­tin­ued with the sub­ject of her visit.

“I ex­pect that if we put it to the young lady, she would de­clare for im­me­di­ate mar­riage to Mr. Tar­tar. I hope you agree with me that, no mat­ter how fine a man he may be, they have not known each other long enough to take such an ir­re­vo­ca­ble step.”

“Quite so,” agreed Grew­gious, hop­ing a short, con­ven­tion­al reply would avert Miss Twin­kle­ton’s bane­ful glare.

“Fur­ther,” con­tin­ued Miss Twin­kle­ton, “it would be an af­front to the mem­o­ry of poor Mr. Drood.”

“Quite so,” agreed Grew­gious; hav­ing found an ac­cept­able reply, he had no in­ten­tion of vary­ing from it until nec­es­sary.

“So, I have de­cid­ed that it would be best for Rosa to re­turn with me to Clois­ter­ham if you agree, Mr. Grew­gious. I should like He­le­na to re­turn, as well, but un­der­stand her de­sire to re­main here while her broth­er is in such dif­fi­cul­ty.”

“On the lat­ter mat­ter,” stum­bled Grew­gious, “uh, the lat­ter sit­u­a­tion, I feel there is no cause for con­cern: one of Lon­don’s finest bar­ris­ters, Mr. Lawrence Brough, who lives op­po­site, has un­der­tak­en Neville’s de­fence gratis as a re­buke to his up­stairs neigh­bour whom he dis­likes in­tense­ly.”

“The spy?”

“The spy. Ap­par­ent­ly Mr. Brough has never for­giv­en the man­age­ment of Sta­ple Inn for al­low­ing the black­guard in. In any event, he has dis­closed to me that the ear­li­est in­quiries of his staff have all but af­firmed Neville’s in­no­cence and the mat­ter awaits only the start of pros­e­cu­tion by Jasper’s cronies be­fore it will be re­solved. Ac­cord­ing­ly, you may ex­pect Miss Land­less to re­sume her stud­ies with­in a few weeks. As for that dear child, Rosa,” here Grew­gious sighed so ap­peal­ing­ly that Miss Twin­kle­ton re­solved to over­look his in­evitable next faux-pas, “yes, take her. I am sure Jasper would not dare to in­trude upon your premis­es again, nor will he have any in­flu­ence upon her now that his dark se­cret is out.”

“There is an­oth­er mat­ter, rather del­i­cate, that I hes­i­tate to bring up.”

For once, Grew­gious was quick on the up­take.

“Of course,” he replied, fill­ing out a cheque. “Will that be suf­fi­cient for your trou­bles?”

“Most gen­er­ous, Mr. Grew­gious. I shall in­form Rosa of our de­ci­sion this af­ter­noon and I be­lieve it will please her, for young Tar­tar has of­fered us the use of his yacht to con­vey us thith­er. I could al­most wish you were ac­com­pa­ny­ing us; I find a boat voy­age is one of life’s great­est plea­sures.”

“I find the op­po­site,” chuck­led Mr. Grew­gious. “My stom­ach is de­cid­ed­ly a land-lub­ber. But I wish you a fair wind and a hearty voy­age.”

So it be­fell that, on the third day after this meet­ing, Tar­tar’s yacht was tied up at the Billings­gate Mar­ket whence it was un­able to pro­ceed fur­ther up­stream. While the dis­tance from Blooms­bury Square to Billings­gate was triv­ial, being some­what less than two miles, noth­ing would do but for the yacht’s mas­ter to lay on a coach car­riage to whisk his beloved (and her chap­er­one) ef­fort­less­ly thence.

“You will write, Rosa,” re­peat­ed the Bil­lickin for the hun­dredth time that morn­ing, “to re­as­sure me that a cer­tain, un­named per­son what I am glad to see the back of is up­hold­ing her re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and feed­ing you prop­er?”

At the same time, Miss Twin­kle­ton was lec­tur­ing Tar­tar on the sub­ject of her lug­gage, which was being sent ahead by train: “You are quite sure this young man is ca­pa­ble of han­dling it all?”

“Oh, dear Mrs. Bil­lickin,” said Rosa, “you have been ever so kind to me. I shall not fail to write, every week.”

“Jenk­ins has been with me for years,” lied Tar­tar. “I rely on him com­pleat­ly.”

“Be sure she feeds you prop­er.”

“He does know the way?”

“I’ll not have you starved again, like you were when I first saw you!”

“No fear, Ma’am, I once steered a sloop-o’-war through the false pas­sage in the Grenadines, in pur­suit of a smug­gler,” said the well-coached Jenk­ins, whose longest ever sea voy­age was in his moth­er’s arms as pas­sen­ger to the Isle of Wight.

“No-one else could pos­si­bly feed me so well as your­self.”

“And I put not a scratch on her keel.”

“And be sure the food is of good qual­i­ty.”

“He will not lose count?”

“None of her scrawny chick­ens.”

“There are twen­ty-three pieces there, quite enough for a man to lose track of.”

“I am re­al­ly very fond of chick­en.”

“He has a chart, full in­struc­tions, and more than suf­fi­cient funds for any even­tu­al­i­ty.”

“The smug­gler ripped his belly out on the coral.”

“Lamb’s fries are no fit food for grow­ing girls.”

“To the Nuns’ House, young man. Any­one in town can tell you where it is.”

“Aye-aye, Ma’am. We’ll be there long afore yer, all pre­sent and cor­rect.”

“Just what are lamb’s fries?” asked Rosa, there­by bring­ing the poly­cephal­ic con­ver­sa­tion to a halt.

Among nu­mer­ous hugs and kiss­es good-bye, Rosa man­aged to im­plant one upon the would-be sailor Jenk­ins, which pleased him great­ly, while Tar­tar found him­self kissed by both Miss Twin­kle­ton and Mrs. Bil­lickin, which pleased him not at all.

When the coach car­riage picked its way past Lon­don Bridge not long after high tide, the two ladies aboard were vouch­safed their first glimpse of Tar­tar’s ‘lit­tle boat’.

“Oh, the name!” squealed Rosa with de­light.

“Why,” re­turned Tar­tar, “should there be some­thing wrong with call­ing a boat Rose­bud? Es­pe­cial­ly when it is the pret­ti­est boat in Eng­land.”

“Brig­an­tine?” asked Miss Twin­kle­ton, ed­u­cat­ed by her sum­mer’s read­ing.

“You im­press me, Ma’am,” replied Tar­tar, “but no, she is not a brig­an­tine, being in­stead what is called a ‘top-sail schooner’.”

“I see. The dif­fer­ence, then, would be that a brig­an­tine would carry square sails ex­clu­sive­ly upon the fore-mast, while your schooner is fore-and-aft rigged on both main- and fore-masts, with but the one square sail at the fore-mast­head.”

To this dis­play of mar­itime eru­di­tion, Tar­tar could but agree.

“I see we have an­oth­er able-bod­ied sea­man come aboard.”

“I was not al­ways old, Mr. Tar­tar,” re­turned Miss Twin­kle­ton, “nor al­ways a school-mis­tress. Give me a chance at the helm and I may sur­prise you yet again.”

“Ma’am, you shall have it. Lob­ley,” he cried, “have the crew pa­rade.”

“Aye, sir,” re­turned Tar­tar’s first mate. The nec­es­sary or­ders being given, he con­tin­ued, “That Amer­i­can yacht, Rap­per­han­ner, as was tied up along­side us, ’er cap’n ’eard as we was ’ead­ing for Clois­ter­ham and ’e wants to chal­lenge us to a race.”

“That is Rap­pa­han­nock, Lob­ley.”

“’S’wot I said, sir.”

“Her cap­tain will have to wait for his sport, for we have more im­por­tant things to which to at­tend.”

“We do not!” ex­claimed Miss Twin­kle­ton. “I’ll not have you let­ting some Amer­i­can claim an En­glish ves­sel was afraid to race him. Mr. Lob­ley, what are the terms?”

“Ten guineas, Ma’am, from Green­hithe to where the Med­way opens up below Clois­ter­ham.”

“Miss Twin­kle­ton,” said Tar­tar, “I had best warn you; Amer­i­can boats are very fast, es­pe­cial­ly off the wind — and our course is most­ly down-wind. This wager should be . . . .”

“Ac­cept­ed! As Dr. John­son said; ‘I am will­ing to love all mankind, ex­cept an Amer­i­can.’” Miss Twin­kle­ton re­mem­bered keen­ly her coun­try’s sense of be­tray­al when the Unit­ed States took ad­van­tage of Eng­land’s en­tan­gle­ment with Napoleon to try to seize the Canadas. “Now, Tar­tar, show us about this fine yacht of yours.”

And a fine yacht it was: forty or fifty tons bur­then; fresh from the dock­yards in Chatham, where it had been built along­side three-decked men-of-war; with ma­hogany planks and teak decks bent over oak frames; var­nished spruce spars; bronze fit­tings ev­ery­where, ex­cept where brass would do bet­ter; gleam­ing white linen sails; and gold­en-yel­low hemp ropes im­port­ed from half-way around the world — ropes ev­ery­where, it seemed: ropes to hoist the sails, ropes to pull in the sails, ropes to keep the masts up­right, ropes for the sailors to climb, ropes to tie up to shore, ropes to hold the an­chors above the water, ropes to lower the an­chors into the water, ropes to hold the boats on deck, ropes to tie the boats along­side, ropes to lower the ship’s lad­der (aboard which the happy party had come), even a rope to ring the ship’s bell (“That ’un be the only line aboard what be called a ‘rope’,” Lob­ley re­vealed to Miss Twin­kle­ton).

“She seems ever so nar­row,” said Rosa, trem­bling so that Tar­tar clung pro­tec­tive­ly to her until warned off by a cold glare from Miss Twin­kle­ton, “what keeps her from falling over?”

“She is what is called a ‘plank-on-edge’ de­sign, Rosa. The hull is very deep, with a great deal of weight car­ried low as bal­last. If some giant were to turn her up­side down and dunk her in the water, she would im­me­di­ate­ly right her­self. Un­less the hull is stove in, which is doubt­ful as she is very strong, there is no pos­si­bil­i­ty of dan­ger.”

“Why so many sails?”

“Be­cause the larg­er a sail gets, the more dif­fi­cult it is to con­trol. Also, it gives us a bet­ter abil­i­ty to work our way into the wind.”

“Ooh! You can do that? I thought you could only be blown be­fore the wind,” pre­var­i­cat­ed Rosa, vet­er­an read­er of so many nau­ti­cal ro­mances.

“The deep keel fea­tures here, as well,” ex­plained Tar­tar. “It keeps water from mov­ing side­ways under the hull, so we go where we point, not where the wind blows.”

While this ado­les­cent dis­cus­sion was going on, Miss Twin­kle­ton ma­noeu­vered her­self to the quar­ter deck where she took con­trol as quick­ly and thor­ough­ly as Black­beard.

“Lob­ley,” she charged, “see to it that those two are never out of sight — your mas­ter will be glad of it later, though he be fu­ri­ous with you now (I know sailors). You,” she turned to the helms­man, a heavy-set, pow­er­ful man of fifty, “what is your name?”

“Thorn­ton, Ma’am,” replied he in a mid­lands ac­cent, “Abra­ham Thorn­ton.”

She glanced at him, then began is­su­ing in­struc­tions.

“I’ll have the fore-sail to ease us off this dock, Mr. Lob­ley.”

“RAISE FORS’L,” bel­lowed the lat­ter. “The board­ing lad­der?” he hint­ed.

“Your as­sis­tance will be ap­pre­ci­at­ed, for I’ve not been aboard a ship for many a year.”

“HOIST THE LAD­DER — LOOSE FORE-LINES — LOOSE AFT. Might I sug­gest, Ma’am, we keep but the sin­gle sail on ’er until we clear the Isle o’ Dogs. It’ll give us steer­age-way, ’n we don’t want to get up speed along this stretch.”

“Thank you, Lob­ley. Might I ask: why were you fac­ing down­stream when every other ship I see faces up­stream?”

“Cap’n were afraid we’d make a muck of it, turn­ing about. ’E didn’t want to em­bar­rass him­self in front of the missy.”

“Would you have made a muck of it?”

“Cor, no! Ex­cuse my lan­guage, Ma’am. This crew is the cream of the Navy, every one hand-picked by Mr. Tar­tar or me.”

“Ex­cel­lent. Thorn­ton, how is she han­dling?”

“Like a thor­ough­bred, Ma’am. Would you care to try the helm?”

“Not yet; I shall wait until I have room for error. Is this Lime­house Reach, al­ready?”

Min­utes later, the fine ves­sel round­ed Black­wall Point and Lob­ley, after gain­ing per­mis­sion from Miss Twin­kle­ton — for his reg­u­lar mas­ter seemed ut­ter­ly pre-oc­cu­pied this morn­ing — raised the main-sail and two small­er sails that stretched for­ward onto the bowsprit. Rose­bud leapt ahead.

“The front one be called the jib,” Thorn­ton replied to Miss Twin­kle­ton’s query, “and the back one be a stay-sail — you can see it be set from the stay what keep the mast from falling back­wards. There be an­oth­er what goes in front of the jib, it being the fly­ing-jib.”

“I shall try the wheel now,” said Miss Twin­kle­ton to Thorn­ton, as they raced past the Plum­stead Marsh­es. “Please stand by me, lest my strength not be up to the task. My! She is a de­light!”

“Steer her back-and-forth to get the feel of her. Aye, Ma’am, you’ve got a prop­er touch at the helm. Plea­sure to sail with you.”

“Thorn­ton,” asked Miss Twin­kle­ton qui­et­ly, for Lob­ley had gone for­ward to help the hands trim a re­cal­ci­trant jib and Tar­tar and Rosa were amid­ships gaz­ing dream­i­ly at the pass­ing shore, “how long have you been with Tar­tar?”

Thorn­ton said noth­ing.

“When you were in the Navy?”

Again, Thorn­ton said noth­ing.

“Since the Navy, then. Years? Months?”

“Days, Ma’am,” came the very quiet reply.

“And the rest of the crew?”

“We’ve all been hired on to do this trip, Ma’am.”

“All of you?”

“Ex­cept Lob­ley, Ma’am. Those two been to­geth­er don­key’s years.”

“But are you com­pe­tent?”

“Aye, Ma’am. We’re all ex-Navy, ’cept that one Tar­tar ’ired to carry your lug­gage. ’E was ex-ar­tillery. Lob­ley reck­oned he would be best with the horse and wagon.”

“’Ere, now,” broke in Lob­ley, re­turn­ing to the quar­ter­deck, “’as Thorn­ton been both­er­ing you, Ma’am?”

“Quite the op­po­site, Mr. Lob­ley, Mr. Thorn­ton and I have had a most re­ward­ing ses­sion com­par­ing mem­o­ries from times past; a dis­trac­tion which you, too, will un­der­take when you reach our ad­vanced years.”

Noon finds Rose­bud on the Long Reach ap­proach­ing Green­hithe, swept along as much by the re­ced­ing tide as by her sails. Lob­ley has pen­nants raised ad­vis­ing Rap­pa­han­nock that her chal­lenge has been ac­cept­ed. Miss Twin­kle­ton, cast­ing about for her ad­ver­sary, turns pale when ad­vised that it is to be a mon­strous great schooner that has been abid­ing, moored mid­stream, with all sails upon her wait­ing to be clewed down, and which casts off at the first sight of Rose­bud. Briefly, Rose­bud draws abreast of Rap­pa­han­nock, then the lat­ter ves­sel pulls ahead.

“Lob­ley,” cries Miss Twin­kle­ton, “why is that Amer­i­can so much faster than our­selves?”

“It’s their coast, Ma’am. They’ve this great bay called the Chesa­peake where they do most o’ their sail­ing, and it’s big­ger nor all Eng­land,” sailors are only marginal­ly less prone than fish­er­men to ex­ag­ger­a­tion, “but shal­low from the one side to t’other. So they makes their ships shal­low o’ draught, then they makes ’em broad o’ beam so’s they’ll not tip o’er, and they can skip across the top o’ the water like a stone where we cuts through it.”

“I’ll not give in, damn it!” cries Miss Twin­kle­ton, startling Rose­bud’s crew, who have been stern­ly lec­tured to mind their tongues while the ladies are aboard. “Set that top-sail, Mr. Lob­ley, we are not done yet! And the fly­ing jib.”

“HANDS TO THE FORE-MAST. LOOSE THE TOPS’L,” bel­lows Lob­ley.

But still, round the Swanscombe Marsh­es, Rap­pa­han­nock is fully a cable in the lead.

“Thorn­ton, how goes your helm?”

“I can han­dle her, Ma’am.”

“Let me feel ... why, you must strug­gle with it! Never mind your pride, man; it is act­ing as a brake to slow our progress. Lob­ley, once we have turned to port ahead, hike the fore-sail across to wind­ward . . . and I’ll have a spar on the jib’s clew and set it to wind­ward, as well. Is there a sail to set be­tween the masts? Set it! And get that fly­ing jib up now!

“Now, Thorn­ton,” asks Miss Twin­kle­ton, as the ships dash to­ward Gravesend, “how is the helm? Good!”

These changes ef­fect­ed, Rose­bud no longer loses ground to her op­po­nent at such a great rate but, still, the Amer­i­can creeps ahead.

“Not to worry, Ma’am,” con­soles Lob­ley. “That same shal­low draught that makes Rap­per­han­ner so fast down wind will pre­vent ’er from sail­ing so fine into the wind as Rose­bud once we come about.” He might as well ad­dress the bit­ter post for all Miss Twin­kle­ton’s re­sponse.

“Ten shillings,” she whis­pers de­spair­ing­ly to her­self, “ten shillings. Half a pound!”

Thorn­ton and Lob­ley turn as­ton­ished glances on each other; the for­mer in­di­cat­ing to the lat­ter that it is the first mate’s re­spon­si­bil­i­ty, the lat­ter pray­ing that the older helms­man will use his un­ex­pect­ed fel­low­ship with the lady to tell her. Fi­nal­ly, Lob­ley ac­qui­esces.

“Ma’am,” he says in as quiet and friend­ly a voice as he can muster, “the bet ... twas not shillings, ma’am, but guineas ... Catch her, Thorn­ton! I’ve the wheel!”

“Guineas?” Her re­sponse is too de­spon­dent to be called a shriek. “I thought you said the bet was ten shillings!”

“Fear noth­ing, ma’am,” soothes Lob­ley, “So long as we can keep Rap­per­han­ner in sight ‘til the Isle o’ Grain, your guineas are safe.”

“Buck up, Ma’am,” soothes Thorn­ton, “Lob­ley is right; we’ll catch that Yan­kee be­fore the day is through.”

“Do you think,” asks Miss Twin­kle­ton, who is as­sev­er­at­ing a glo­ri­ous, if coun­ter­feit, calm as they pass Gravesend, “the Amer­i­cans know their In­di­an princess is buried over there? Poc­a­hon­tas?” Then: “Good Heav­ens! What is that?”

‘That’ proves to be Lord Yarbor­ough’s Fal­con, at 351 tons the largest yacht in the world, a full-rigged ship fit­ted to carry twen­ty guns.

“Bit of a pi­rate, Yarbor­ough,” ap­proves Thorn­ton to Lob­ley’s re­prov­ing look.

The race is still scarce-be­gun, and still down-wind. Due east gives way to north-north-east, then back to east, sails must be gybed and gybed, again, as the Thames widens and the hours pass. All the while Rap­pa­han­nock draws ahead and Miss Twin­kle­ton draws more tight­ly into her grief. By the time a man emerges from below with mugs of thick soup, Miss Twin­kle­ton finds the empti­ness of her stom­ach over­come by the un­ease with­in her stom­ach. For the tide, age­less and eter­nal ser­vant of moon and sun, is turn­ing from ebb to flood and east­ward flow of fresh river now con­tests with west­ward flow of salt sea and Rose­bud pitch­es up and down like a horse pranc­ing in its traces. But the crew, vet­er­ans all of ocean gale, glad­ly drain their mugs for they know the most ar­du­ous part of their task lies ahead.

Miss Twin­kle­ton, aping the crew’s wis­dom, ac­cepts some soup but, be­fore putting it to her lips, cries out in an­guish, “It’s gone! Rap­pa­han­nock is gone!”

In­deed, Rap­pa­han­nock, now lead­ing by a mile and more, has dis­ap­peared around the Isle of Grain and, yet again, Miss Twin­kle­ton de­spairs for Rose­bud’s hon­our — and her own ten guineas.

“’Ave no fear, Ma’am,” again con­soles Lob­ley, for his ear­li­er as­sur­ance is long for­got­ten, “we’ve all but won this race and yon Amer­i­cans know it. You’ll not be see­ing them for a bit, now, for they will be ‘ug­ging the coast for so long as they might but, when you do, you will not see them where you think to look.”

“If they are ‘hug­ging the coast’ as you say,” asked Miss Twin­kle­ton, “why are we not?”

“We cap­ture a stronger wind out ‘ere, ‘t’will take us south faster than if we stay near shore. And, when we come into the wind, we will suf­fer less for it than would the Yanks.” Miss Twin­kle­ton is baf­fled by his ex­pla­na­tion but soothed by his tone.

In­deed, as Rose­bud’s course curves slow­ly to due south, there is no sign of Rap­pa­han­nock until they have com­pleat­ly cleared the Isle of Grain. Then Miss Twin­kle­ton spots her as she comes about off the south coast of that unin­su­lar is­land much less than a mile to their west.

“Why are they still there, Lob­ley?”

“They will have crossed over to the south side as we now must do and re­turned.”

“So they are re­al­ly just as far ahead as be­fore,” com­plains the lady, “for when we re­turn we shall be just where they are now.”

“Not so, Miss,” comes the con­fi­dent reply. “I told you be­fore we had the mea­sure of them up wind — when we fin­ished our tack, Rap­per­han­ner will be no more than a half mile ahead.”

And so it proves but, when Rap­pa­han­nock sets out on its third south­ward tack, it is able — just — to clear an is­land that here forms the south side of the chan­nel and con­tin­ue its run. Rose­bud, fail­ing to clear that same is­land on her sec­ond tack, heads to the north-west, ap­pear­ing to Miss Twin­kle­ton to allow its rival to pull away. To her un­hap­py ex­pres­sion Lob­ley turns his sun­beam smile: all will be set right — now.

“READY ABOUT,” he calls.

“But we are no more than halfway across,” ques­tions the lady, to be an­swered again by the sun­beam smile. Half an hour later all be­comes clear as Rose­bud reach­es the en­trance to a pas­sage be­tween two small is­lands just as Rap­pa­han­nock reach­es the same point from the south. Both yachts enter the chan­nel at the same in­stant but Rose­bud claws for­ward faster and at a steep­er angle than the shal­low-draugh­t­ed Amer­i­can ves­sel can man­age. As the boats con­verge, the for­eign crew can be seen crowd­ing more can­vas aloft as Rose­bud’s crew had done ear­li­er in a des­per­ate at­tempt to re­gain her speed.

“Fool­ish, that,” com­ments Thorn­ton to Lob­ley, “a puff of wind will cap­size her.”

Sure enough, a sud­den gust comes from the south. Rose­bud heels over thrilling­ly then re­gains her com­po­sure but Rap­pa­han­nock tilts until water comes pour­ing over her deck. Then her crew loose the main and fore sheets and she comes up­right again, dead in the water.

“AHOY, RAP­PER­HAN­NER,” bel­lows Lob­ley, “D’YE NEED AS­SIS­TANCE?”

“No, thank you, Rose­bud,” the reply is faint in the wind, “but we ac­knowl­edge the race is yours. Con­grat­u­la­tions to skip­per and crew.”


CHAP­TER 30
CLOIS­TER­HAM

MISS TWIN­KLE­TON, hav­ing dealt with a colos­sal amount of ac­cu­mu­lat­ed busi­ness over the course of an over-long day, and spy­ing from her win­dow the ec­cle­si­as­tic coat-tails of Joshua Sapsea, meta­mor­phoses into her sprightli­er self, ap­pro­pri­ates the com­pa­ny of Mrs. Tish­er (al­though no-one could pos­si­bly have con­ceived of a ro­man­tic in­ter­est be­tween Miss Twin­kle­ton and Mr. Sapsea — or be­tween Miss Twin­kle­ton and any-one else, for that mat­ter — still, Cae­sar’s wife must be seen to be in­no­cent) and cross­es over to the Auc­tion House.

“Ah, Miss Twin­kle­ton, Mrs. Tish­er,” says the Dean, his being the ec­cle­si­as­tic coat-tails she had mis­tak­en for Sapsea’s, “what a plea­sure to see you here. Sapsea has just stepped into the the­atre to look at some es­pe­cial­ly valu­able item of fur­ni­ture, but I am sure he will not mind if I pour you a sher­ry?”

“Thank you, most kind,” re­turns Miss Twin­kle­ton, it being Mrs. Tish­er’s habit on these oc­ca­sions never to utter a word.

“I be­lieve you al­ready know Minor Canon Crisparkle and the Verg­er, Mr. Tope?”

“I know both gen­tle­men very well, in­deed. I am afraid, your Rev­er­ence, that I mis­took you for the Mayor.”

“You are not the first to have done so,” says the Dean, as al­ways a bit put out to be con­fused with Clois­ter­ham’s pre-em­i­nent jack­ass, “al­though you may prove to be the last. I must con­grat­u­late you on win­ning your race, yes­ter­day . . . talk of the town, how you hum­bled one of those ar­ro­gant rebels — you have done us proud. I wish I had been about when he learned he had been best­ed by a lady, and a land-bound lady, at that.”

Miss Twin­kle­ton blush­es charm­ing­ly at the at­ten­tion. More to pre­serve her mod­esty than for any other rea­son, Crisparkle re­marks: “Per­haps, Your Em­i­nence, you would care to elab­o­rate for Miss Twin­kle­ton the rea­son for our visit?”

“Very good, Sep­ti­mus. We have come here, Miss Twin­kle­ton, to dis­cuss with Mr. Sapsea the suit he has brought against Neville Land­less, in the hope that he might be per­suad­ed to drop it.”

“I am just an old maid,” ut­ters Miss Twin­kle­ton, “a silly old biddy, re­al­ly, noth­ing more, and I ask in ad­vance your for­give­ness for dar­ing to in­tro­duce a thought that you will find as silly as its source, but — might it not be wiser to let the suit pro­ceed? Then Neville’s in­no­cence will be es­tab­lished once and for all — un­less (and I am sorry, but I must say this) he is found to be guilty.”

The Dean turns a pained look at Crisparkle, who re­turns an equal­ly pained look at the Dean, then both turn to look pained­ly at Tope (who is not look­ing at any­body), then they once again look at each other and fi­nal­ly turn back to Miss Twin­kle­ton. “Miss Twin­kle­ton,” says the Dean, “how­ev­er should men sur­vive with­out the wis­dom of women? Not one of us would ever have con­sid­ered so sim­ple a method of clear­ing this ob­sta­cle. Ah, here is Sapsea now.”

The lat­ter gen­tle­man, who has just ap­peared at the inner door that leads to the Auc­tion The­atre, no longer dress­es at the Dean, for his new cyno­sure, as is quite prop­er for the Chair Ad Hoc of the Con­vened Chief Com­pos­ite Com­mit­tee of Clois­ter­ham’s new Dis­trict Haven of Phi­lan­thropy, is none other than Luke Hon­eythun­der.

“Miss Twin­kle­ton,” quoth Clois­ter­ham’s revered Mayor, ig­nor­ing Mrs. Tish­er to whose non-pres­ence he is ac­cus­tomed, “I am so pleased to have you back — let me know what is hap­pen­ing about town, eh? — what the world is putting about these days. D’you know, your Very Rev­erend the Dean, if it weren’t for Miss Twin­kle­ton, here, I would never have known that my dear Ethe­lin­da, may her mem­o­ry be blessed, was so much taken with me. I see you have al­ready made your­self at home (as well you might, being an al­ways wel­comed guest in my hum­ble home, and you know I do not say that to just any­body) — let me get you some more sher­ry. Ma’am, you must tell me every word of your ad­ven­tures in Lon­don.”

“And so I shall,” re­turns Miss Twin­kle­ton, “but not until you have brought me up to date with ev­ery­thing that has hap­pened in this city since I left. You see, Mr. Dean,” she con­tin­ues, turn­ing to him, “I am re­al­ly just a gos­sipy old maid, al­ways nat­ter­ing on about every triv­ial oc­cur­rence about town.”

“Not an un­usu­al oc­cu­pa­tion be­tween neigh­bours, Miss Twin­kle­ton,” al­lows the Dean. “Would you be in­con­ve­nienced if we were to con­duct our busi­ness with Mr. Sapsea be­fore you get down to yours? Thank you. Mr. Sapsea, we have come by to let you know that, while we ap­prove com­pleat­ly of your ac­tion against Neville Land­less, as his coun­sel, Minor Canon Crisparkle will re­quire you to give him some idea of your grounds (this, of course, is in the in­ter­est of a fair trial, it being a firm­ly es­tab­lished cus­tom in this isle that even the black­est of rogues must be given a chance to prove his in­no­cence).”

“Fair trial?” har­rumphs Sapsea who, in nec­es­sary prepa­ra­tion for his po­si­tion as Mayor, has care­ful­ly main­tained his utter ig­no­rance of legal re­quire­ment. Then he sees the light: “Of course! Must al­ways have a fair trial be­fore a hang­ing — oth­er­wise we should lose most of the fun. Would it be ac­cept­able if I were to con­sult with my co-ac­cusers to-mor­row; then I could send you, Crisparkle, writ­ten no­tice of our grounds.”

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