Sven Karsten: The Mystery of Edwin Drood. The Solution

I. Prehistory

1816. John Jasper was born.

1822. Edwin Drood was born. His mother (John’s sister) dies giving him birth (?).

1825. Rosa Bud was born.

1831. Mr. Bud is jealous of his wife of probably having an affair with Mr. Grewgious accuses her of betrayal. Mrs. Bud is so desperate, that she takes a betrothal-ring and gets herself drowned. Mr. Bud realizes that his jealousy was vain curses both himself and that evil suspicion in him. He doesn’t want to live any longer.

1832. Mr. Bud feeling the death is near comes to his friend Mr. Drood and they make an agreement for the marriage of Bud’s daughter Rosa and Mr. Drood’s son Edwin when they come of age. Mr. Bud passes his late wife’s betrothal-ring to Mr. Grewgious and leaves a testament, containing the following two articles:

1. Rosa is to be Edwin’s wife. After the marriage all her inheritance passes to her husband.

2. Grewgious is to be Rosa’s guardian.

1832. Mr. Bud dies (commits suicide?) on the first anniversary of his wife’s death.

1837. John Jasper comes of age.

October, 1841. Mr. Drood makes a testament. The testaments includes the following articles:

1. The whole inheritance passes to Edwin. John Jasper gets nothing.

2. Edwin to be Rosa’s husband.

3. In case Edwin’s death before he marries Rosa, the whole Drood's inheritance passes to Rosa, but not Jasper. (This article was the main reason for the homicide)

4. Jasper is to be Edwin’s guardian.

November, 1841. Mr. Drood dies. He is buried at the Cloisterham Graveyard.

December’ 18th 1841. Durdles eventually falls asleep while hiding from street-boys in the Cathedral crypt. John Jasper reads Drood’s testimony in the cathedral library for the first time and finds out he received nothing. He cries desperately and that terrible shriek causes Durdles to wake up.

December’ 24th 1841. Ethelinda Sapsea dies. She is buried in a monument next to Mr. Drood’s grave. Durdles’s workers leave a mess of building materials including quicklime in the monument.

January, 1842. John Jasper becomes Edwin’s guardian. They meet for the first time, Jasper is extremely kind to his nephew, while secretly envies of his wealth.

Jasper becomes possessed with the idea of taking possession of both Rosa’s and Edwin’s inheritance by following a simple plan:

1. Kill Edwin faking his suicide by drowning. In this case Edwin’s inheritance passes to Rosa Bud. No one will accuse him with the absence of motive. In order to fake Edwin’s suicide he must disrobe the corpse and put the clothes on a river bank. The corpse then should be hidden in Drood Senior’s sarcophagus in order to conceal the vestiges of a crime.

2. Marry Rosa Bud after few months and get his hands on both parts of the inheritance.

Jasper starts smoking opium in order to get rid of murderous thoughts.

September, 1842. The beginning of a new school year at Mrs. Twinkleton’s School. Jasper teaches Rosa music trying to attract her attention, though she is not happy with his intentions considering them treacherous to his nephew.


II. The Novel

Chapter I.

October, 1842. Jasper spends a night at a London opium den. He speaks ‘unintelligible’ about murder while in his opium stupor. However, the mistress is sober enough to understand his evil intentions from his incoherent speech that he might be going to kill his own nephew. So she decides to follow him, but then loses his track while he takes an omnibus to Cloisterham.

Chapter II.

Edwin pays a visit to his uncle Jasper. Jasper treats him with a great care, being afraid that his intentions might be somehow revealed. Edwin complains about him being cut off his choice and forced to marry Rosa Bud, while his uncle Jasper is free to live a life according his own determination. Jasper, who was so envious about Edwin’s smooth life and wealth, starts to reconsider his plan of murder for the first time, that night.

Chapter III.

Edwin and Rosa have a date, however they always quarrel do not get along well and unable of building their relationships. Rosa is intended to break up with Edwin, despite them being engaged from the very young age. Also she becomes worried about Jasper’s suddenly aroused affection toward herself. However, she confesses neither of this to her fiancé.

Chapter IV.

Mr. Sapsea invites Japer for dinner. Meanwhile Durdles comes for a key to the Mrs. Sapsea's monument, which catches John Jasper’s attention as he thinks that this monument would be extremely suitable for a murder, also comfortable enough to disrobe a dead corpse. So he follows Durdles in order to learn the location he keeps the key at and also to buy his friendship.

Chapter V.

After a walk with Durdles, Jasper returns home. He becomes more confident in his murderous intention after watching Edwin sleeping sound and untroubled.

Chapter VI.

The Landlesses arrive at Cloisterham, where they are sent for education.

Chapter VII.

Neville Landless confesses Minor Canon of his tiger blood and fierce temper. Neville meets Rosa, which provokes love from the first sight in him, so he becomes jealous of Edwin.

Chapter VIII.

Neville initiates an argument with Edwin. Jasper thinks it would be nice if Neville did the job for him killing Edwin in a fight. He pretends to settle down the conflict, however he encourages them to drink wine (which seems to contain opium, since Neville becomes woozy, despite having very little of it). Neville retreats and runs away, while Jasper starts spreading rumours about Neville’s violent temper.

Chapter IX.

Rosa has a conversation with her guardian Grewgious, who talks to her about marriage and possibility of betrothal termination.

Jasper is afraid that Grewgious can prevent the first part of his plan. In case betrothal termination Rosa won’t get Edwin’s inheritance. Grewgious smoothes Jasper telling Rosa doesn’t want him to be a part of wedding preparations. Jasper gets angry.

Chapter X.

Neville tells Mr. Crisparkle about his admiration to Rosa and his hatred towards Edwin and Jasper. Mr. Crisparkle comes to Jasper to ask for his help in establishing peace between Edwin and Neville. Jasper immediately changes his plan under these circumstances, now Neville is to coax Edwin outside. Jasper decides to commit murder according to his former plan by faking Edwin’s suicide.

Chapter XI.

Edwin pays a visit to Mr. Grewgious office, where he receives ‘a rose of diamonds and rubies delicately set in gold’, which was a ring belonging to Rosa’s mother. Bazzard witnesses the transaction. (The latter is important for the future trial)

Chapter XII.

Japer makes the way to Mrs. Sapsea’s monument accessible to him. Jasper provides Durdles with a bottle of potent wine (containing opium?) which makes him lose his consciousness. He then steals the key to the monument, opens the monument's door leaving it shut, but unlocked. When Durdles wakes up he finds the key lying on the ground next to him. As they return from the Cathedral's crypt, they encounter Deputy, and Jasper, thinking he was spying on them, takes him by the throat, but then lets him go.

Chapter XIII.

Edwin meets Rosa and they agree on terminating their betrothal. Jasper sees them kissing fervently before partying. Their marriage is important to him, according to the first part of his plan Rosa is to inherit Edwin’s wealth.

Chapter XIV.

Neville buys a staff of iron wood, too heavy for its purpose. Edwin turns into the Jeweler's shop to have his watch wound and set. The jeweler sets his watch at 2:20 (Edwin’s pocket watch runs for twelve hours). The jeweler admits that Jasper knows every single item belonging to his nephew. Edwin then meets an old lady, who gives him a warning. Jasper tells Mr. Crisparkle that Neville is no danger for Edwin, which means he is going to murder Edwin himself.

Night comes with a boisterous gale.


During the Christmas Eve:

Jasper sends Neville and Edwin to the river.

Jasper goes out and hides next to Mrs. Sapsea’s monument wearing a black scarf of strong close-woven silk.

Edwin follows Neville to Minor Canon’s house. Neville enters the house long before 2:20 AM, that could be latter confirmed by Mr. Crisparkle who himself opens the door to him. However, Mr. Crisparkle couldn’t see Edwin. Edwin is returning home passing by the Mrs. Sapsea's monument.

Jasper calls Edwin from behind the precincts of the graveyard. Edwin comes closer.

Jasper offers Edwin his scarf to help his freezing, he puts it around his neck and strangles. Edwin faints.

Jasper carries Edwin into Mrs. Sapsea’s monument and disrobes all his clothes.

Jasper takes off his coat and a hat and puts Edwin’s coat and a hat on. He conceals the other clothes under his coat. It is important not to be caught with a bundle in his hands. Thus, he might be taken for Edwin.

Jasper checks whether he took all Edwin’s clothes. He doesn’t notice a ring box, which falls out the pocket and the black scarf, which also remains in the monument.

Edwin is left lying on a pile of building material including quicklime. Jasper leaves the monument.

Jasper in Edwin’s clothes goes to Weir. He puts Edwin’s clothes on its bank (next to its deepest area) thus faking his suicide. Edwin’s watch remains in the pocket of his jacket.

Meanwhile, the painful effect of quicklime brings Edwin to consciousness. He finds himself naked in a monument with Jasper’s coat and scarf on the ground. Edwin gets out of that monument wearing coat and the hat. Scared by the prophecy he runs away from that dangerous place and his murderer uncle. Edwin leaves the city for London to get help from Grewgious.

Jasper returns to the monument in order to conceal Edwin’s corpse in Drood Senior’s grave. However the monument is empty by the time he comes, there is neither corpse nor the coat with the hat. Jaspers thinks Neville might have seen the murder and taken the corpse. Jasper runs home in awe and sits waiting for a dreadful morning.

By four o’clock Edwin’s clothes are blown by the gale into the water, it drowns, except for the watch that sticks to a beam of the Weir.

Neville sets off for a walk early in the morning. Few moments later Jasper without coat and a hat this time comes running to Minor Canon’s house looking for Edwin. He’s afraid that Neville might have taken the corpse into Mr. Crisparkle’s house, but the corpse is not here.

Chapter XV.

Neville is followed and eventually stopped by eight men. Jasper points to stains of blood on Neville’s coat, thinking he got the stains while hiding Edwin’s corpse.

Jasper decides, that Neville might have dropped the corpse into the river, since there is no copse in Mr. Crisparkle’s house, and searches the river. However, no body is found.


Meanwhile in London:

Edwin gets to Staple Inn in Jasper’s hat and coat and knocks Mr. Grewgious’s doorway. Bazzard with a lantern in his hand comes down to the tapping. (The same scene was illustrated on the book cover.)

Edwin tells Grewgious and Bazzard about the termination of betrothal, about loss of the ring, about prophetic old lady, about his uncle’s madness, about attempted murder and asks Grewgious to conceal him. Moreover, he suffers from skin burns caused by quicklime and exposure to cold.

Bazzard takes Edwin giving him his own clothes to a Norfolk farm, where Bazzard Senior resides. Jasper’s coat and hat are left in Grewgious’s room.

After they both left, Grewgious realizes that it wasn’t madness, that drove Jasper, but he did it on purpose in order to take this hand on both Rosa’s and Edwin’s inheritance. However, he hasn’t got sufficient evidences for Jasper to be taken to the trial.

December’ 26th. Grewgious arrives at Cloisterham. He meets Jasper to tell him about the termination of betrothal and see his reaction.

Grewgious tells Jasper about the termination of betrothal. Jasper realizes Edwin’s inheritance will not pass to Rosa and he will never be able to take possession of it. He falls into a swoon with a terrible shriek. Such a reaction proves Grewgious’s suspicions regarding Jasper, but he still has no evidence.

Chapter XVI.

Jasper recovers from a swoon, and realizes that he could not be accused. He still has an opportunity to marry Rosa and take possession of her inheritance.

Mr. Crisparkle comes, confessing about Neville supposing himself romantically enamoured of Rosa. Jasper gets pale, thinking that might be the reason of Neville’s silence.

Mr. Crisparkle finds Edwin’s pocket watch on a beam of the Cloisterham weir. He brings the watch to Jasper. John Jasper realizes that Edwin’s clothes were blown by wind into the river and it doesn’t look like a suicide anymore. But that doesn’t really matter, since the betrothal has been terminated. Jasper wants to know where Neville hid the corpse. However, finding of a watch is important for Neville, it proves him innocent since he returned home before 2:20 AM.

Neville is detained and then re-detained, never hinting of Jasper’s guilt. Jasper is expecting himself to be accused of the murder and Neville to come up with the corpse and his black scarf, but that never happens, which remains a mystery to Jasper. Jasper is still sure of Edwin’s death.

Jasper realizing he is not able to find Edwin’s corpse decides to send Neville under the jail by all means. Jasper makes a note in his diary, where he takes a vow to find the murder, which was a vow to destroy Neville—a man who concealed the corpse according to his suspicion. Jasper considers Neville a danger to him, he doesn’t want to be accused of the murder.


During the following six months:

Rosa refuses to take John Jasper’s music lessons.

Bazzard takes a vacation to spend it at home, at a Norfolk farm. Edwin Drood is helping Bazzard Senior in the field after recovery, still thinking of his uncle’s attempted murder. However, he doesn’t possess enough evidence for the trial. Bazzard Senior volunteers to help him in finding evidences.

Bazzard Senior goes to London and tells Grewgious of his plan. Grewgious accept his help thankfully. He then suggests to make Jasper nervous, letting him think he’s being shadowed, which might cause his error. Grewgious gives Jasper’s hat for that purpose, which can’t remain unnoticed. However the name of Jasper on its lining is changed to ‘Datchery’.

Chapter XVII.

Mr. Grewgious notices Jasper, spying for Neville in Staple Inn.

Chapter XVIII.

Bazzard Senior disguised under the name of Dick Datchery appears in Cloisterham. He’s got an too tiny hat, belonging to Jasper, so he has to carry it under his arm. He rents lodging as close as possible to John Jasper, whom he pays a visit right after the arrival. Datchery tries to catch Jasper’s attention to the hat. Jasper recognizes the hat standing numb while Datchery is talking to Mr. Sapsea.

Chapter XIX.

The hat trick affects Jasper. Thinking Datchery was sent by Neville, Jasper proceeds to the second part of his plan—getting his hand on Rosa’s inheritance. He sets off to persuade Rosa to resume her music lessons with him. Considering this might be the last opportunity for Rosa might even refuse to listen to him, so he confesses his feelings, telling he loves her madly and tells that she is desired even with her hatred and disdain. Rosa rejects his proposal again trying to escape. Jasper asks if there is another young man, being suspicious of Neville Landless, but Rosa denies it. Then Jasper says he would pursue her to death not letting anyone come between them.

Chapter XX.

Rosa escapes to London. Mr. Grewgious understands Jasper is intended to get his hands on Rosa’s inheritance as a part of his plan. There is still menace of Jasper kidnapping Rosa in order to take her to Scotland, where they can get married easily through a simplified procedure according to their local legislation. Therefore, Rosa is being locked behind the walls of Furnival Inn.

Chapter XXI.

Mr. Crisparkle resumes communication with Tartar giving him valuable recommendations. Mr. Grewgious says: “When one is in a difficulty or at a loss, one never knows in what direction a way out may chance to open”, hinting to Bazzard Senior, he also suggest Tartar to take a good care of Neville. Tartar is very polite with Rosa, who on the other hand, is very impressed with his courage.

Chapter XXII.

Rosa talks to Helen out of a window. Helen asks for Grewgious and Crisparkle’s permission to get Tartar ready to help them against Jasper. Rosa tells her, that: “Tartar declared his readiness to act as she had suggested, and to enter on his task that very day.”

Rosa moves to Mrs. Billickin’s apartment. Tartar takes Rosa for a picnic up the river and then disappears for a couple of days.

Chapter XXIII.

Jasper spends a night at a London opium den. He imagines himself confessing his love to Rosa while in the opium intoxication. The mistress follows Jasper to his house in Cloisterham where she meets Dick Datchery. She begs money, telling him how she once met Edwin six months ago. Datchery knows it is the prophetic old lady, whom Edwin described. Datchery then finds Deputy giving him a mission to find that old lady’s address. Datchery takes a chalk and adds a moderate stroke on the door of his cupboard, because a prophecy is not sufficient for the trial. In the morning he finds out that the old lady truly hates Jasper and knows him very well. Then he adds one thick stroke from the top to the bottom—a witness has been found.

Translated by Lucius Tellus