John Howard Reid: Edwin Drood; A Comic Conclusion in the Dickensian Spirit!

First published at authorsden.com 

Far worse than a book with a dis­turb­ing or un­sat­is­fac­to­ry end­ing, is a novel with no end­ing at all. The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood was in­tend­ed to in­trigue read­ers for twelve months. Un­for­tu­nate­ly, Dick­ens did not live to see the pro­ject through. The se­ri­al closed with the sixth num­ber (and that was un­der­writ­ten by two pages). What we have there­fore amounts to slight­ly more than half of the planned novel.

Slight­ly more than half, al­though the sixth and last num­ber was two pages short? My math­e­mat­ics are cor­rect. Dick­ens did write an ad­di­tion­al scene, en­ti­tled “How Mr Sapsea Ceased To Be a Mem­ber of the Eight Club, As Told by Him­self”, which was to have been in­sert­ed in one of the later month­ly num­bers. This sketch was pub­lished by Dick­ens’s bi­og­ra­pher, John Forster, who also in­forms us how Dick­ens planned the novel to fin­ish, name­ly with the un­mask­ing of Jasper by Datch­ery (Tar­tar in dis­guise) and the choir­mas­ter’s sub­se­quent con­vic­tion. The final chap­ter was to have been set in the prison where Jasper awaits ex­e­cu­tion.

But let’s not pin Dick­ens down. Like all good au­thors, he may well have changed his mind and de­cid­ed to go all out for com­e­dy in­stead.

So, in­cor­po­rat­ed into this new spoof of a “con­clu­sion”, here you’ll later find the manuscript ac­count of Mr Sapsea’s en­counter at the Eight Club, re­pro­duced al­most ex­act­ly as Dick­ens wrote it, al­though very slight­ly edit­ed and “im­proved”.


CHAP­TER XLVI
A GRIT­TI­ER STATE OF THINGS

“It’s no fun being buried alive,” re­marked Edwin, step­ping into the lamp­light.

If Edwin Drood ex­pect­ed Mr Sapsea to be star­tled out of his wits by his seem­ing­ly spec­tral re-ap­pear­ance, he was sore­ly dis­ap­point­ed. Nei­ther ghosts nor ghosties in­spired much in the way of fear in the mayor’s self-cen­tered breast. Be­sides, all his nat­u­ral in­stincts told him that Edwin was no vis­i­tor from a ghoul­ish un­der­world. Hadn’t he him­self pro­claimed loud and long to an ad­mir­ing Clois­ter­ham that Edwin Drood’s sud­den dis­ap­pear­ance was no mys­tery, but sim­ply the case of a un­tried youth who’d changed his hasti­ly-formed mat­ri­mo­ni­al mind? (In point of fact, to Edwin’s mind, he had sur­vived in­car­cer­a­tion and at­tempt­ed suf­fo­ca­tion sim­ply be­cause the mayor’s os­ten­si­ble friend, Jasper, had proved such a poor hand at smoth­er­ing and chalk throw­ing. Never trust an opium ad­dict).

Al­though Mr Sapsea af­ford­ed him no such in­vi­ta­tion, the ap­pari­tion sat him­self down by the mayor’s fire­place. Fan­tas­ti­cal­ly pieced to­geth­er in scorched, muddy cloth­ing, and shak­ing spas­mod­i­cal­ly from head to foot, Edwin Drood helped his trem­bling frame to a large slice of Sapsea’s toast.

A watch­ful pause.

“But­ter?” asked Edwin, grow­ing im­pa­tient. “I do like a nice piece of but­ter with my bread.”

Sapsea point­ed to­wards the scullery. “Why not join me in sup­per?” he en­quired. “Mut­ton chops, pork sausages, baked pota­toes, mar­row bones, rum tod­dies, a pot of ale?”

“Mr Sapsea,” began Edwin, grow­ing im­pa­tient, “you can deny me but­ter, you can deny me jus­tice, but you can’t deny you are a Block­head.”

“If I was to deny it, dear boy,” sug­gest­ed the mayor, “what would it avail me?”

“Ah, Mr Sapsea!” ex­claimed the ex-in­car­cer­at­ed young man. “I am wrong. Wronged and wrong. Dis­guise from you is im­pos­si­ble. You know al­ready that I come from some­where and am going some­where else.”

“Where have I heard those words be­fore?” ob­served Sapsea, nod­ding his head in a sooth­ing way in a vain en­deav­or to put the specter at his ease. “You are going away. There is no harm in going away.”

“Oh, Mr Sapsea!” cried the specter in a very well-be­haved tone. “Bless you for those words!” And then, as if ashamed at hav­ing given way to his feel­ings, he looked down again at his slice of toast in an ab­stract­ed man­ner. “I’m still wait­ing for the but­ter,” he added by way of af­terthought.

But the mayor was not to be di­vert­ed. The longer he kept Drood sit­ting and eat­ing, the more like­ly it was that one of his con­stituents, Dur­dles or Jasper him­self, might stum­ble into the scene. Yes, he could hear the choir­mas­ter even now, singing in the dis­tance as he ap­proached the Sapsea Mon­u­ment:

Jimmy’s lost his tooth­brush,
His tooth­brush, his tooth­brush,
Jimmy’s teeth will rot-a-tot­ty
Right out of his head.

Jimmy’s lost his tooth­brush,
His tooth­brush, his tooth­brush,
A boy who’s lost his tooth­brush,
May as well be dead!

“Dear old Jasper has been far­ing poor­ly of late,” began Sapsea solemn­ly, in an ef­fort to draw Drood’s at­ten­tion away from the choir­mas­ter’s cho­rus­ing. “What­ev­er per­son­al qual­i­fi­ca­tions may be brought to bear, some­times I think he is far too fond of his pipe. Hark, I pray you to my un­qual­i­fied word of wis­dom: Mod­er­a­tion. M=O=D=E=R=A=S=H=U=N. Mod­er­a­tion in all things, I al­ways say. Not that it mat­ters.”

A knock at the door.

“Come in, dear fel­low. Come in!”

Jasper en­ters.

“You know your nephew, Mr Drood, I think.” Mr Sapsea waved air­i­ly to­wards the ap­pari­tion. “Mr Jasper, Mr Drood. Mr Drood, Mr Jasper.”

“I spy with my lit­tle eye, some­thing be­gin­ning with D,” af­fa­bly re­marked Jasper, nim­bly throw­ing his hat at a peg. (It missed and fell to the floor).

“Oh, goody-goody! Cha­rades!” cried Edwin, start­ing up and quite for­get­ting his un­but­tered toast. “Some­thing be­gin­ning with D? What the dick­ens can it be?”

“What does it mat­ter, dear boy, what does it mat­ter?”

“Oh, Mr Sapsea,” an­swered Edwin, look­ing down at his feet, not dar­ing to look the mayor in the eye, “your cog­nizance is so acute, your glance into the souls of your fel­low men so pen­e­trat­ing, that if I was hardy enough to enter into con­ver­sa­tion with you, you would have me, sir, at a dis­tinct dis­ad­van­tage.”

“But you are con­vers­ing, dear boy!”

“Am I in­deed ad­dress­ing a mere mayor? Are you not ac­tu­al­ly some­one high in Holy Church?”

“Ah-ha! Now I know you, sir­rah!” ex­claimed the mayor, jump­ing up. “Those words! That down­cast air! This, Mr Jasper, is the very youth who ac­cost­ed me in the street that night—that same ill-omened night many nascent moons ago—when I ceased to be a mem­ber of the Eight Club! That night of nights! It has haunt­ed my days, seared my dreams like a hot poker!”

“Haunt­ed?” ques­tioned the choir­mas­ter. “Like the ghost of Christ­mas Past per­haps?”

“You should re­mem­ber my mis­for­tune well, Mr Jasper. It hap­pened ex­act­ly forty-nine nights ago to this very day.”

“As far as I’m aware, Mr Sapsea, I’ve not heard tell of your mis­for­tunes on that par­tic­u­lar fated night.”

“Nor I!” added an in­dig­nant Dur­dles at the door. “Nor I!” he re­peat­ed for em­pha­sis.

“So join the club,” in­vit­ed the mayor, point­ing to an empty chair.


CHAP­TER XLVII
HOW MR SAPSEA CEASED TO BE A MEM­BER OF THE EIGHT CLUB, AS TOLD BY HIM­SELF

Wish­ing to take the air, I pro­ceed­ed by a cir­cuitous route to the Club, it being our week­ly night of meet­ing. I found that we mus­tered our full strength. We were en­rolled under the de­nom­i­na­tion of the Eight Club. We were eight in num­ber; we met at eight o’clock dur­ing eight months of the year; we played eight games of four-hand­ed crib­bage at eight­pence the game; our fru­gal sup­per was com­posed of eight rolls, eight mut­ton chops, eight pork sausages, eight baked pota­toes, eight mar­row-bones, with eight toasts, and eight bot­tles of ale. There may, or may not be a cer­tain har­mo­ny of num­ber in the rul­ing idea of this re­union (to adopt a phrase of our live­ly neigh­bors). In any case, the scheme sprang from my own fer­tile mind.

A some­what pop­u­lar mem­ber of the Eight Club, was a dunce by the name of Kim­ber. By pro­fes­sion, a danc­ing-mas­ter. A com­mon­place, hope­less sort of man, whol­ly des­ti­tute of dig­ni­ty or knowl­edge of the world.

As I en­tered the Club-room, Kim­ber was mak­ing the re­mark: “And Red-beard still half-be­lieves Sapsea to be very high in the Church.”

In the act of hang­ing up my hat on the eighth peg by the door, I caught Kim­ber’s vi­su­al ray. He low­ered it, and passed a re­mark on the next change of the moon. I did not take par­tic­u­lar no­tice of this at the mo­ment, be­cause the world was often pleased to be a lit­tle shy of ec­cle­si­as­ti­cal top­ics in my pres­ence. For I felt that I was picked out (though per­haps only through a co­in­ci­dence) to a cer­tain ex­tent to rep­re­sent what I call our glo­ri­ous con­sti­tu­tion in Church and State. The phrase may be ob­ject­ed to by cap­tious minds; but I own it as mine. I threw it off in ar­gu­ment some lit­tle time back. To be exact, I said: “Our Glo­ri­ous Con­sti­tu­tion in Church and State.”

An­oth­er less­er mem­ber of the Eight Club was Peartree, who some­how had ob­tained a diplo­ma from the Royal Col­lege of Sur­geons. Mr Peartree is not ac­count­able to me for his opin­ions, and I say no more of them here than that he at­tends the poor gratis when­ev­er they want him, al­though he is not the of­fi­cial parish doc­tor. Mr Peartree may jus­ti­fy it to the grasp of his mind thus to do his re­pub­li­can ut­most to bring a duly ap­point­ed parish of­fi­cer into con­tempt. Suf­fice me to re­mark that Mr Peartree can never jus­ti­fy his re­mark­able con­tempt for a fel­low sur­geon to me.

Be­tween Peartree and Kim­ber there was a sick­ly sort of fee­ble-mind­ed al­liance, which came under my par­tic­u­lar no­tice when I sold off Kim­ber by auc­tion. (Goods taken in ex­e­cu­tion). He was a wid­ow­er in a white un­der-waist­coat, and slight shoes with bows, and had two daugh­ters not ill-look­ing. In­deed, the re­verse. Both daugh­ters taught danc­ing in scholas­tic es­tab­lish­ments for Young Ladies — had done so at Mrs Sapsea’s; nay, Twin­kle­ton’s — and both, in giv­ing lessons, pre­sent­ed the un­wom­an­ly spec­ta­cle of hav­ing lit­tle fid­dles tucked under their chins. In spite of which the younger one might, if I am cor­rect­ly in­formed — I will raise the veil so far as to say I know she might — have soared for life from this de­grad­ing taint, but for hav­ing the class of mind al­lot­ted to what I call the com­mon herd.

When I sold off Kim­ber with­out re­serve, Peartree (as poor as he can hold to­geth­er) had sev­er­al prime house­hold lots knocked down to him. I am not to be blind­ed; and of course it was just as plain to me what he in­tend­ed to do with them, as that he was a brown, hulk­ing sort of rev­o­lu­tion­ary fel­low who had been in India with the sol­diers, and ought (for the sake of so­ci­ety) to have his neck broke. I saw the lots short­ly af­ter­wards in Kim­ber’s lodg­ings — through the win­dow — and I eas­i­ly made out that there had been a sneak­ing pre­tence of lend­ing them till bet­ter times. A man with a small­er knowl­edge of the world than my­self might have been led to sus­pect that Kim­ber had held back money from his cred­i­tors, and fraud­u­lent­ly bought the goods him­self. Be­sides, I knew for cer­tain he had no money, as this would in­volve a species of fore­thought on his part, in­com­pat­i­ble with the frivoli­ty of a ca­per­er who in­oc­u­lat­ed other peo­ple with ca­per­ing for his bread.

As it was the first time I had seen ei­ther of these two since the sale, I kept my­self in what I call Abeyance. When sell­ing him up, I had de­liv­ered a few re­marks — shall I say a lit­tle homi­ly? — con­cern­ing Kim­ber, which the world did re­gard as more than usu­al­ly worth no­tice. I had come up into my pul­pit, it was said, un­com­mon­ly like a cer­tain doc­tor of di­vin­i­ty — and a mur­mur of recog­ni­tion had re­peat­ed his (I will not name whose) name, be­fore I spoke. I had then gone on to say that all pre­sent would find, in the first page of the cat­a­logue that was lying be­fore them, in the last para­graph be­fore the first lot, the fol­low­ing words: “Sold in pur­suance of a writ of ex­e­cu­tion is­sued by a cred­i­tor.” I had then pro­ceed­ed to re­mind my friends, that how­ev­er frivolous, not to say con­temptible, the busi­ness by which a man got his goods to­geth­er, still his goods were as dear to him, and as cheap to so­ci­ety (if sold with­out re­serve), as though his pur­suits had been of a char­ac­ter that would bear se­ri­ous con­tem­pla­tion. I had then di­vid­ed my text (if I may be al­lowed so to call it) into three heads: first­ly, Sold; sec­ond­ly, In pur­suance of a writ of ex­e­cu­tion; third­ly, Is­sued by a cred­i­tor; with a few moral re­flec­tions on each, and wind­ing up with, “Now to the first lot!” in a man­ner that was com­pli­ment­ed when I af­ter­wards min­gled with my hear­ers.

So, not being cer­tain on what terms I and Kim­ber stood, I was grave, I was chill­ing. Kim­ber, how­ev­er, mov­ing to me, I moved to Kim­ber. (I was the cred­i­tor who had is­sued the writ. Not that it mat­ters).

“I was al­lud­ing, Mr Sapsea,” said Kim­ber, “to a young, red-beard­ed stranger who en­tered into con­ver­sa­tion with me in the street as I came to the Club. He had been speak­ing to you just be­fore, it seemed, by the church­yard; and though you had told him who you were, I could hard­ly per­suade this os­ten­ta­tious­ly beard­ed youth that you were not high in the Church.”

“Young idiot!” said Peartree.

“Young ass!” agreed Kim­ber.

“Idiot and Ass!” said the other five mem­bers.

“Idiot and Ass, gen­tle­men,” I re­mon­strat­ed, look­ing around me, “are strong ex­pres­sions to apply to a young man of good ap­pear­ance and ad­dress.” My gen­eros­i­ty was roused; I own it.

“You’ll admit he must be a Fool,” said Peartree.

“You can’t deny that he must be a Block­head,” added Kim­ber.

Their tone of dis­gust amount­ed to being of­fen­sive. Why should the young man be so ca­lum­ni­at­ed? What had he done? He had only made an in­no­cent and nat­u­ral mis­take. I con­trolled my gen­er­ous in­dig­na­tion, and said so.

“Nat­u­ral?” re­peat­ed Kim­ber. “He’s a Nat­u­ral!”

The re­main­ing six mem­bers of the Eight Club laughed unan­i­mous­ly. It stung me. It was a scorn­ful laugh. My anger was roused in be­half of an ab­sent, friend­less stranger. I rose (for I had been sit­ting down).

“Gen­tle­men,” I said with dig­ni­ty, “I will not re­main one of this Club, al­low­ing op­pro­bri­um to be cast on an un­of­fend­ing per­son in his ab­sence. I will not so vi­o­late what I call the sa­cred rites of hos­pi­tal­i­ty. Gen­tle­men, until you know how to be­have your­selves bet­ter, I leave you. Gen­tle­men, until then I with­draw from this place of meet­ing what­ev­er per­son­al qual­i­fi­ca­tions I may have brought into it. Gen­tle­men, until then you cease to be the Eight Club, and must make the best you can of be­com­ing the Seven.”

I put on my hat and re­tired. As I went down stairs I dis­tinct­ly heard them give a sup­pressed cheer. Such is the power of my in­nate de­meanor and knowl­edge of mankind. I had forced it out of them.

Now whom should I meet in the dark­ened street, with­in a few yards of the door of the inn where the Club was held, but the self-same, red-beard­ed young man whose cause I had felt it my duty so warm­ly — and I will add so dis­in­ter­est­ed­ly — to take up. “Is it Mayor Sapsea,” he en­quired doubt­ful­ly, “or is it…”

“It is Mr Sapsea,” I replied.

“Par­don me, Mr Sapsea; you ap­pear warm, sir.”

“I have been warm,” I said, “and on your ac­count.'” And hav­ing stat­ed the cir­cum­stances at some length (my gen­eros­i­ty al­most over­pow­ered him), I asked him his name.

“Mr Sapsea,” he an­swered, look­ing down, “your pen­e­tra­tion is so acute, your glance into the souls of your fel­low men is so pen­e­trat­ing, that if I was hardy enough to deny that my name is Poker, what would it avail me?”

I don’t know that I had quite ex­act­ly made out to a frac­tion that his name was Poker, but I dare­say I had been pret­ty near doing it.

“Well, well,” said I, try­ing to put him at his ease by nod­ding my head in a sooth­ing way. “Your name is Poker, and there is no harm in being a being named Poker.”

“Oh, Mr Sapsea!” cried the young man, in a very well-be­haved man­ner. “Bless you for those words!” He then, as if ashamed of hav­ing given way to his feel­ings, looked down at his feet again.

“Come, Poker,” said I, “let me hear more about you. Tell me: Where are you going to, Poker? and where do you come from?”

“Ah, Mr Sapsea!” ex­claimed the young man. “Dis­guise from you is im­pos­si­ble. You know al­ready that I come from some­where, and am going some­where else. If I was to deny it, what would it avail me?”

“Then don’t deny it,” was my re­join­der.

“Or,” pur­sued Poker, in a kind of de­spon­dent rap­ture, “or if I was to deny that I came to this town to see and hear you, sir, what would it avail me? Or if I was to deny…”

At that point, I was but­ton­holed by Dur­dles. At his per­sua­sion, the three of us re­paired to The Jolly Jester. I was hun­gry. Be­tween them, Kim­ber and Peartree had en­gi­neered me out of my sup­per. So I never did learn what the young man wished to deny. But it is now very plain. Name­ly, he wished to deny the very fact that I – with my keen mind and honed wits – seemed on the very point of de­duc­ing. This faith­ful youth was no Poker! He sups be­fore us right now. He is Edwin Drood!


CHAP­TER XLVI­II
ALL PATHS BRIGHT AND BEAU­TI­FUL

“Where am I?” asked Edwin in a weak voice.

“Clois­ter­ham cathe­dral,” was the an­swer.

“Who brought me here?”

“Mayor Sapsea, Mr Jasper and Dur­dles.”

“Why do I feel so weak?”

“You put up a fight. Dur­dles was forced to knock you to the ground. You hit your head against the table. A for­tu­nate ac­ci­dent it seems. The blow has ham­mered some sense into your be­fud­dled brains.”

“Who are you?”

“Sep­ti­mus.”

“Sep­ti­mus?”

The good Minor Canon per­mit­ted Edwin to ex­am­ine his rosy and con­tent­ed face.

“You are Sep­ti­mus Crisparkle,” de­duced Edwin.

The Minor Canon nod­ded in com­plete agree­ment.

“What am I doing here in the cathe­dral?”

“Sleep­ing, to be exact. Clos­et­ed in my own bed. A good place where one can speak with­out in­ter­rup­tion, as I now wish to do,” an­swered the Canon. “In short, in church.”

“Why?”

“Be­cause you are ill. Be­cause you are out of sorts. Be­cause you have traipsed the town under as­sort­ed inane pseudonyms and in child­ish­ly ob­vi­ous dis­guis­es. And foras­much as you have al­lowed your­self to en­gen­der a nox­ious prej­u­dice against your uncle, Mr Jasper.”

“I am in great per­plex­i­ty, sir. Never! I en­ter­tain the great­est re­spect, in­deed af­fec­tion, for my uncle. He is the finest, the most gen­er­ous, the most avun­cu­lar uncle in the whole world.”

“Yet you ac­cuse him of throw­ing you into a chalk pit!”

“Never! I tripped and fell, all by my­self. I re­mem­ber now: It was my gen­er­ous Uncle Jasper who helped me out of the pit. It was my af­fa­ble uncle told me Mayor Sapsea had in­ad­ver­tent­ly en­gi­neered my down­fall. The jack­ass mayor had so plied me with strong drink, quite obliv­i­ous to my well-known fear of depths. Thus was I des­tined to trip and fall into the chalk pit, whilst home­ward bound from The Jolly Jester, singing!”

“What were you singing? One of your uncle’s songs?”

“No, un­for­tu­nate­ly. As it hap­pens, one that Jack­ass Sapsea in­ad­ver­tent­ly taught me. His voice ex­cels in vol­ume. All that it lacks is har­mo­ny. I was forced to lis­ten to him repris­ing the words re­peat­ed­ly. How did they go?

The back is the front,
The front is the back,
Never give tup­pence
When a penn’orth will hack.

Who has a far­thing
Or a ha’penny to spare?
Give it over to me
And you’ll never go bare!”

“No won­der the church col­lec­tion plate is con­sid­er­ably down of late.”

“Blame it all on fruit­less Sapsea!” ex­claimed Edwin.

“Mayor Sapsea has been de­nounced.”

“Never! Not Mayor Sapsea! Not the art­ful auc­tion­eer. Not he who fan­cies him­self Dean with­out a col­lar!”

“You have de­nounced him.”

“Me?”

“That is why we have iso­lat­ed you from all your friends and ac­quain­tances.”

“But I know noth­ing!” protest­ed Edwin. “A host who plies his guests with rum tod­dies is a hero in most eyes.”

“That is why we have quar­an­tined you from all your friends and ac­quain­tances in Clois­ter­ham,” re­peat­ed the Minor Canon. “When Mr Sapsea is ar­raigned for fraud and ex­tor­tion, we will pro­duce true wit­ness­es: Your uncle, Mr Jasper; your lawyer, Mr Grew­gious; your pri­vate de­tec­tive, Mr Tar­tar (alias Dick Datch­ery); your stone­ma­son, Dur­dles; and above all, your fiancée, Miss Rosa.”

On hear­ing their names called off by the Minor Canon, Jasper, Grew­gious, Tar­tar, Dur­dles and Rosa creep soft­ly to Edwin’s bed­side.

“Dur­dles!” ex­claims Edwin, clasp­ing the mason’s dusty hand. “How can I ever repay you for bring­ing me to my sens­es?”

“Think naught of it!”

“I shall… And Rosa, dear Rosa, my Bud of Sum­mer, wilt thou be mine?”

“I shall… If Rev­erend Sep­ti­mus shall an­nounce the bans.”

“He shall.”

“And if Mr Tar­tar shall give me away.”

“Tar­tar! Why Tar­tar?”

“Mr Datch­ery then?”

Tar­tar dons his Datch­ery dis­guise. The co­pi­ous ca­pac­i­ty of Datch­ery’s gray-haired wig swells Tar­tar’s head to such an in­or­di­nate size he re­sem­bles a large ba­boon with the drop­sy.

Edwin eyes him crit­i­cal­ly up and down. “No, he is not ter­ri­bly con­vinc­ing. Ta-ta, Datch­ery. I think we shall ask Tar­tar after all.”

Tar­tar doffs his Datch­ery dis­guise.

“On sec­ond thought…”

•  •  •  •  •  •

So Drood mar­ries his Bud, Crisparkle is el­e­vat­ed to Dean, Dur­dles re­ceives a year’s sup­ply of empty bot­tles where­with to hold his lunch; while Jasper de­cides to leave Clois­ter­ham for Lon­don where he takes up a po­si­tion as pi­anist in his fa­vorite opium den. Present­ly, after Kim­ber, the ca­per­er, is elect­ed mayor of the cathe­dral city, Jasper is joined as ac­com­pa­nist by Ex-May­or Sapsea, who has been forced to de­part Clois­ter­ham under a cloud. No longer can he “dress at” the Dean, and must muf­fle his as­pi­ra­tions in more hum­ble cloth.

Thus we leave these two for­mer pil­lars of the Church, lit­er­al­ly singing for their sup­per with none-too-pop­u­lar dit­ties of their own com­po­si­tion.

From Mr Jasper:

Squeeze your fin­ger
In the wringer;
Squeeze it dry,
Bye-and-bye.

Squeeze your fin­ger
In the man­gle;
Squeeze it tight,
Do it right!

And from Mr Sapsea, that fa­mous au­thor of the eye-catch­ing Sapsea Mon­u­ment which lords it over Clois­ter­ham church­yard to this very day:

Stranger, let us sur­mise,
Let us ask you true:
Canst thou chant it high­er?
Canst thou sing it blue?

Oh, canst thou do like­wise?
Canst thou do the same?
If not, PAUSE, oh stranger!
And with thy blush, RE­TIRE!

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