Ethan Robb: Ending Drood

Jasper, stung by Rosa’s obvious rejection, found himself at the opium den. Princess puffer greeted Jasper. She showed him her new piece of jewelry that she found the other morning under the bed. Jasper looked closely. Attached to a chain around her neck looked familiar. It finally clicked it was Drood’s ring! So, it was true then. Jasper recognized that very ring from his dreams about murdering Edwin. Apparently, those dreams were not just dreams. Jasper took Princess Puffer’s chain with the ring. The crushing realization that Jasper had murdered his own nephew while he was high, sunk in. Princess puffer, finding Jasper inconsolable, laid Jasper on the bed and gave him the opium he had come for. Later, people were informed of Jasper’s unfortunate overdose at the opium den. Drood’s ring, found in Jasper’s possession at the time of his death, was returned to Mr. Grewgious, who informed everyone that Jasper must have stolen the ring after he killed Drood.

Rosa remained in Cloisterham after the town’s discovery, however she didn’t marry. Instead, she stayed at the school with Mrs. Twinkleton and became a schoolteacher for the young girls of Cloisterham.

Helena also continued to live in Cloisterham and stayed great friends with Rosa. Once Rosa found a white wig among Helena’s collection of things, but she decided against asking her about it.

As for Dick Datchery, he removed himself from Cloisterham very quickly after Jasper’s death and murder of Drood were revealed.

Helena’s brother did not have the grand fortune his sister. After the news of his innocence spread, Neville was able to come out of hiding. However, his innocence didn’t last long as his temper caused trouble at a local pub. Neville faced transportation for life after his temper got the best of him.

As the ancient tombs of the cathedral grew warm with the rising sun, the characters still in Cloisterham awoke with a newly found sense of serenity. Now that the mystery was solved, the town watched in anticipation of the rebirth of a new era for Cloisterham. Somewhere down below the cathedral, Durdles occasionally walked past Jasper’s grave.

The cathedral had no joyous song in its rafters this morning. The sound that echoed through the empty church was the muffled cries of a bound and gagged Rosebud, being dragged down the aisle. The unlawful bridegroom was Helena Landless, and the guests from both families were replaced with several score of barrels of gunpowder, all lovingly escorted to their places last night by several strong ushers, paid for by the bridegroom.

Helena lovingly set her bride next to the altar, making sure to brush a stray hair from her face.

“Soon my love, soon we will escape this place and be together forever.”

Her smile was wide and happy, ignoring the panic in her proclaimed love’s face. Rosa was struggling, as any prisoner would, but to no avail. Her former friend had tied her well, and she had no real choice but to be handled as one about to be transported. She tried to speak, but her mouth was as fastly held as her arms.

“Oh, my darling love, do you wish to proclaim your love to me here as well? Very well, I will loosen your gag and hear your declarations of love.”

As soon as the rag was out of her mouth, Rosa took her opportunity. “Why, Helena? Why have you done all these things?”

Her first response was a smile that spoke volumes of the sanity of the wielder. “Oh, my sweet foolish love. How could we be together if there were so many men between our love? Edwin met his wet end, of course. He needed to take his exit first of all, in order for the rest of my plan for our love to come to fruition. The foolish Chiormaster was a simple one; he was so beside his mind on opium it was a wonder he was able to function at all. Framing him for the murders of Edwin and Neville was hardly a challenge at all.”

Rosa gasped, flexing against her bonds in a reflexive attempt to cover her mouth. “But… but your own brother!”

The Cylonese woman stood, a wicked glare in her eyes. “My brother? No, my dearest. Not my brother.” With a quick motion, she grasped her hair and removed her wig. A quick wipe of a sleeve, and enough makeup was removed to reveal the face of Neville Landless! His words were filled with mad anger; unconstrained by civility or kindness any longer. “My sister! No one shall stand in the way of our love, my dearest!” Gently, tenderly, as if she were made from the most delicate of porcelain, Neville rested the object of his mad love against the altar.

“But that does not matter any longer. Soon, we will be on the way to a new life, where the poor memories of this one will be forgotten. That fool with the horrible name, the one who worked the stone, his last act was to show me this hidden passage. The fool,” he spat the name like it was a poor cut of meat as he lifted a stone from the floor, revealing a passage that extended into the darkness, “even said that he was the only one to know of it’s existence. It was as if he was begging to meet his end in the tunnels.” Neville laughed, with any mirth replaced with a wicked bent. “But his folly is our gain, my love. We will destroy this place, and escape. No one could believe we will have survived, and so we will be free to live new lives, away from this place. I may even take you to my homeland, and we will live our days in beauty and love.”

Walking around the altar, Neville produced a string. It seemed simple, but as Rosa followed it with her eyes, she saw it split and fray as it reached further into the church, landing on each of the barrels in the cathedral. Looking back to her captor, she saw that he held a small lighter, covered in gold leaf.

The madman held up the lighter in both hands, as if he were asking for a blessing. “Let this flame extinguish the last obstacle in our way, and let it mark the beginning of a new life for the both of us! Amen!”

Opening the lid on the lighter, Neville stuck it, requiring several attempts to achieve the flame he desired. Slowly, reverently, he brought the flame to the string.

From the far side of the church came a thunderous report, and the strange head that belonged to Dick Datchery came from around a pillar. He held a revolver that had a weak stream of smoke rising from the muzzle. He pointed the weapon at Neville, while slowly approaching the front of the church.

“You just couldn’t contain yourself, could you Neville? Your savagery knew no bounds but to inflict murder most foul? I thought it was my unfortunate uncle who attacked me on that pier, but I should have known that you couldn’t handle letting Rosa go to anyone else.”

He removed his hat, tossing it on the ground without any care. Rosa’s eyes widened, as the voice of the stranger finally made itself known to her recollection. Her suspicion was confirmed as Datchery removed his white hair, and wiped his face with his sleeve, revealing the familiar countenance of Edwin Drood!

Neville’s calm face gave way to horror, as the hand that held the pocket-flame began to shake. All color drained from his face, and what seemed to be a fearful man gave way to a frightened whelp. “You! How… how can this be? I killed you!”

“You did not kill me on the docks that day. You may have knocked the senses out of me, but not the life. It takes more than a single ambush to kill a man like me! I awoke further down the shore, unsure as to what happened, but it was apparent I was no longer wanted in Cloisterham. I took an absence of this place to gather my wits until I remembered that my loving sister Rosa was trapped here. So, I returned, and quickly found help.”

Neville opened his mouth, but a quick motion behind him, a quiet thump, and his eyes rolled into his head. As he fell unconscious, Helena Landless lowered the cudgel she held, with a sad look at her mad brother. When he had fully fallen to the ground, the caring woman ran around to tend to her dearest friend.

By the time she was untied and the embraces were given out, Rosa looked to her saviours. She was speechless, stunned into silence from her good fortune replacing the words in her head. Somehow, she was able to form a simple word: “How?”

Helena answered: “I discovered Edwin had come back when I was walking back to the boarding school. From the posters that Mr. Jasper put up, it was obvious that it was him, wearing a terrible disguise. I confronted him, learned his story, and decided I would help him in his quest for justice. I taught him what I knew about costuming, and we discovered that my brother had been masquerading as me in an attempt to manipulate your feelings. We love you, my dear friend, and so we set out to ensure your safety.”

Rosa looked from Helena to Edwin with a smile. “My dear friends, however could I repay you?”

Edwin looked away from Rosebud’s beauty for a moment, only for his face to become a mask of panic. He saw that the lighter the male Landless had dropped had set the string alight! The small flame was already past the major split in the rope, creating many more small fires that would end their lives as one very large fire, a fire that would take the entire cathedral with it.

Edwin thought quick on his feet, and ushered the women down the tunnel as quickly as they could go. They ran down the tunnel, until they heard and felt the force of the explosion.

Six months after the destruction of the cathedral, Cloisterham was a different place indeed. The town had transformed into a grand construction project, as all efforts went to rebuilding the town’s mainstay.

That is to say, however, almost all efforts went into fixing the town. Minor Canon Crisparkle, now more commonly referred to as Mr. Crisparkle, has left Cloisterham, not having enough loyalty to the church to stay, has taken up residence in London, running a kind of orphanage and school for children like the Landlesses.

John Jasper did not leave prison, even with the added testimony from Edwin to his defence. After the toxins of opium had left his system, a painful process to be sure, he became even more assured of his faith, bringing peace to the other residents of the jail.

Edwin, Rosa, and Helena traveled to Egypt, and once Edwin’s engagement ended, the three of them moved to London to live out their lives. Edwin and Rosa never married, holding fast to their promise they would only be brother and sister. Helena and Rosa were often seen together, in fact it would be more accurate to say that they were rarely seen apart.

Occasionally, on those cold and clear nights that are so suited to reminiscing, the strange household would recall the events that happened in that town that seemed so far away. The terrible truth about Helena’s brother, the events leading up to that fateful day, and the many things Edwin learned about his uncle while observing him. As the night went on, the memories would give way to more recent stories, and then to the future plans, leaving the memories of that small town to the past.

This ending is a radical change from what was anticipated, but there are reasons for this divergent ending. One of the first and most apparent differences is that Neville is the primary antagonist instead of John Jasper. This could be based on the fact that even if the mystery novel was still a fledgling genre, the best way to surprise the audience would be to point all the fingers at one suspect and then have the actual perpetrator be an entirely different person. Combining this with just how much evidence there is against John Jasper, it would almost be too obvious if he was the criminal. Having the main antagonist be Neville captures the element of surprise that makes a good mystery into a great mystery.

Having Neville cross-dress as Helena is not as far-fetched as it sounds. Since the Landlesses are used to cross-dressing (47), or at least Helena was, as well as their seemingly interchangeable gender (44) makes the idea of one of them trying to pass as the other not unlikely.

As for Neville being the villain, Neville himself says something about how it wouldn’t be that hard for him to do so: “I have had… to suppress a bitter and deadly hatred”(49). He goes on to say that he is lacking in an emotion that he does not know the name of. As well as the attack against Edwin, Neville doesn’t seem to know how to manage the stronger emotions he feels, outside of physical expression.

The last idea, of destroying the cathedral, speaks to the theme of the novel: the acceptance of change. A major scene is when Edwin and Rosa break off their engagement. It is an amicable split, and rather forward thinking. They realize they would not be happy together, so they made a decision. They did not think about the past, but rather the future. In the same way, the cathedral seems to represent an oppressive force of the past, haunting all decisions and watching all the actions of the townsfolk. Destroying this force allows the people who want an escape from the city (Crisparkle, Edwin, Rosa, and Helena) to leave and find their own futures.