Kelsey Langlitz: The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Solved At Last

The following excerpt was discovered among a box of Charles Dickens’ letters and other documents that until recently were hidden. The box contained letters to friends, drafts and ideas, and the concluding chapters of his famous unfinished novel. Below is the final page of the work, with a literary analysis by Kelsey Langlitz.

In the end, he was alone. Of course, that had been his plan. His self sacrifice for their lives. Their happiness. But he had never intended for it to unfold this way.

In the dark of the night, the shadowed man marched solemnly along the edge of the water. Almost tenderly, he stroked the brim of his hat. He had been wearing it for so long now, it almost felt like it had become a part of him. He was losing himself day after day to white wigs and grief and lies. He might as well have died that day. The person he once knew himself to be was gone. He stopped and spared a glance at his surroundings. It was nothing but moon speckled darkness. At least it was not the kind of utter blackness that swallowed a person whole. Instead, it was a shadowy world painted in grey.

With a nod and a flick of his wrist, the hat and white hair fell to the ground at his feet. His hand reached into his coat pocket, producing a small piece of jewelry. The only remnant of his past life. The only thing that had reminded him to keep up this charade. Leaning forward, he stared down into his reflection in the river where he died. A pale, sunken countenance gazed back up at him through the water.

He could recall the river. The icy thrill as his body was pushed off the bank. Struggling to hold his breath as he floated away, not wanting his killer to realize this corpse was still breathing.

Not wanting his uncle to know.

No one was more surprised than Edwin Drood to find himself being confronted by a madman in the form of his uncle. After having left Neville, Edwin had chosen to go out once more and take one last walk. One he would later regret. Stumbling upon his muttering and raving uncle was a shock. Being thusly attacked by the older man, even more so. As Jasper tightened his necktie around his nephew’s throat. Edwin had had the sense to feign his own demise. He allowed his body to slump, and for his uncle to loosen his hold once he imagined his dark task was complete.

Drood had returned to learn why his uncle had attempted to murder his own family, and to protect anyone else he could from the man. In that, he failed. The detective hadn’t been quick enough. Had learned of the opium addiction too late. Had hesitated too long. And in that hesitation, Jasper had killed Neville. Drood hadn’t imagined that Neville would come under suspicion for his death. Nor had he imagined that the two men would confront each other. In the end, Neville had gotten in enough of his own blows to bring about a slow death from his opponent.

With the danger disposed of, Edwin would have finally been free to reveal himself and resolve the mystery. Time refused to stand on his side yet again. While Edwin busied himself lamenting his mistakes, Helena and Rosa fled the town. The gossip was that they ran off to Ceylon to escape their shared grief.

No one was ever going to learn the truth of what happened that night to Edwin Drood. In the end, it wasn’t his death or disappearance that was important. Death is a mystery. The impact a life has on those around it, is not. Edwin Drood caught a rare glimpse of life after his own death. Hopefully the rest of us will not be so unlucky.

The ripples from the tossed ring into the river were still gently flowing outward after the lonely man had secured his hat and headed back into town.