Harry B. Smith: Sherlock Holmes Solves the Mystery of Edwin Drood

Pub­lished in "Mun­sey's Mag­a­zine", Vol. LXXXI­II, Num­ber 3, De­cem­ber 1924

THE FA­MOUS DE­TEC­TIVE AP­PLIES HIS CRIT­I­CAL METHOD TO THE MOST FAS­CI­NAT­ING OF ALL LIT­ER­ARY PUZ­ZLES

I — THE MYS­TERY OF CHARLES DICK­ENS'S LAST NOVEL

I

N the novel which he did not live to fin­ish, Dick­ens had planned a story in which the plot should be the all-im­por­tant thing, crit­ics hav­ing found his other works lack­ing in plot in­ter­est. He de­ter­mined to con­struct a novel in the style of his friend Wilkie Collins, with a plot that would keep the read­er guess­ing. He suc­ceed­ed so well that "The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood" has been a mys­tery for more than fifty years.

The fol­low­ing is a brief out­line of the story as we have it:

Young Edwin Drood and Rosa Bud were be­trothed in in­fan­cy by their par­ents. They are good friends, but do not love each other. Drood has an uncle, John Jasper, a mu­si­cian and a drug ad­dict, who be­comes in­fat­u­at­ed with Rosa. To pre­vent the pre­ar­ranged mar­riage, he plans to mur­der Drood.

Jasper cul­ti­vates the ac­quain­tance of a stone mason, Dur­dles, his in­ten­tion be­ing- to con­ceal Drood's body in a tomb, to which Dur­dles has the key, and to de­stroy the body with quick­lime. He also cre­ates a feud be­tween Drood and a young fel­low named Land­less, on whom he means to cast sus­pi­cion of the mur­der.

Drood dis­ap­pears, and Jasper charges Land­less with mur­der; but no body is found, and there has been much talk of Drood's going to Egypt to work as a civil en­gi­neer. Then, in a very dra­mat­ic scene, Jasper learns from Grew­gious, a lawyer, that his sup­posed mo­tive for the crime did not exist, Edwin and Rosa hav­ing bro­ken off their en­gage­ment.

The first prob­lem is — was Drood mur­dered? Jasper un­doubt­ed­ly be­lieves that he killed his nephew; but he is a drug ad­dict, sub­ject to delu­sions.

Six months later, one Datch­ery, who has ev­i­dent­ly dis­guised him­self, takes lodg­ings near Jasper, to watch him and bring him to jus­tice. The sec­ond prob­lem in the novel is — who is Datch­ery? He might pos­si­bly be any one of six char­ac­ters in the story, in­clud­ing Drood him­self.

There are other mys­ter­ies, less con­spic­u­ous, but more fas­ci­nat­ing to the read­er; and the plot is per­haps the most in­ter­est­ing in all fic­tion, be­cause it re­mains a rid­dle with­out an an­swer — un­less, in­deed, Mr. Sher­lock Holmes's so­lu­tion proves to be cor­rect.

II — SHER­LOCK HOLMES SOLVES THE MYS­TERY

PROV­I­DENT peo­ple whose ar­range­ments for the fu­ture in­clude plans for being ship­wrecked on a desert is­land nat­u­ral­ly give care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion to the se­lec­tion of books that are to be the com­pan­ions of their soli­tude. After mak­ing their lists of the vol­umes that no ship­wrecked gen­tle­man's li­brary should be with­out, they fre­quent­ly com­mu­ni­cate their de­ci­sions to the press, giv­ing the ben­e­fit of their judg­ment to oth­ers who con­tem­plate ocean­ic dis­as­ter and iso­la­tion.

It seems to be a fixed con­di­tion prece­dent that the lit­er­ary. Cru­soe is to be re­strict­ed to ten books — about as many as a sole sur­vivor could be ex­pect­ed to tuck under his arms when a giant wave swamps the life raft. Or per­haps it is as­sumed that the waves can­not be re­lied upon to wash ashore more than ten vol­umes when the good ship goes to pieces on the rocks.

Pre­sum­ably, in the lat­ter case, the cast­away re­cov­ers con­scious­ness, and, with sink­ing heart, re­al­izes the sad­ness of his plight. He be­wails his lone­li­ness, with no com­pan­ions to make up a quar­tet at bridge. Then, sud­den­ly, he finds among the wreck­age on the beach the ten vol­umes of his choice.

"What luck!" he ex­claims. "Here is 'The Sheik'!"

Or, if he be more se­ri­ous­ly in­clined:

"Well, there's al­ways a sil­ver lin­ing. One can never be poor with Adam Smith's 'Wealth of Na­tions,' nor need one re­vert to sav­agery with Buck­le's 'His­to­ry of Civ­i­liza­tion.' "

It may be taken for grant­ed that, if books are sal­vaged, a por­tion of the ship's stores may be tossed up by the surf. Per­son­al­ly, I do not pro­pose to be ship­wrecked with­out food; and this con­di­tion sine qua non being ad­mit­ted in the hy­poth­e­sis, the first vol­ume of my se­lec­tion shall be a cook­ery book. The chap­ters on "One Hun­dred Ways of Prepar­ing Hard­tack" and "What a Good House­keep­er Can Do with Tinned Corned Beef" would pro­vide both men­tal re­lax­ation and va­ri­ety of diet. With an op­ti­mistic imag­i­na­tion, read­ing the recipes for the more del­i­cate and com­pli­cat­ed dish­es might take the place of desserts; though, on the other hand, it might be con­ducive to dis­con­tent and home­sick­ness.

After this first choice, which dif­fers from the lead­ing item in any list that I have seen, I should con­form to tra­di­tion, se­lect­ing the Bible and Shake­speare, as the best sub­sti­tutes for those nec­es­sary in­sti­tu­tions, church and stage. The fourth book on my list would be a novel, and I would choose "The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood," as the only work of fic­tion known to the de­po­nent the in­ter­est in which in­creas­es with every read­ing.

Sev­er­al em­i­nent writ­ers, in their en­thu­si­asm over " A Christ­mas Carol," have boast­ed — or con­fessed — that they read it once a year; but there are Dick­en­sians far gone in Drood­ism who spend most of their leisure time in read­ing Dick­ens's last book. This novel be­comes an ob­ses­sion. It has fas­ci­nat­ed minds as dif­fer­ent as those of An­drew Lang and Richard An­tho­ny Proc­tor, the as­tronomer. Both of these men wrote books and mag­a­zine ar­ti­cles about it.

A few years ago, a num­ber of dis­tin­guished En­glish au­thors held a mock trial of John Jasper for the mur­der of Edwin Drood, Judge G. K. Chester­ton pre­sid­ing, and George Bernard Shaw act­ing as fore­man of the jury. Sir W. Robert­son Nicoll has con­tribut­ed a book to the dis­cus­sion; and the lit­er­a­ture that has been in­spired by the puz­zle of Dick­ens's last plot would re­quire for its ac­com­mo­da­tion at least two of the wide­ly ad­ver­tised five-foot shelves.

Some­what cu­ri­ous­ly, al­though the mys­tery has fas­ci­nat­ed many men of let­ters, no pro­fes­sion­al de­tec­tive has ever been con­sult­ed in the case; yet there are sev­er­al well known in­ves­ti­ga­tors to whom it would be a sim­ple one, com­pared to the baf­fling prob­lems which they are some­times called upon to solve. That the mat­ter should be re­ferred to an ex­pert in crim­i­nol­o­gy is no new idea of the pre­sent writ­er's. It was sev­er­al months be­fore the last of Sher­lock Holmes's lament­ed deaths, as chron­i­cled by his bi­og­ra­pher, that I first thought of ap­ply­ing to that wiz­ard of crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Un­for­tu­nate­ly I had no ac­quain­tance with Mr. Holmes, and I was de­terred by the thought that he might re­sent the pre­sen­ta­tion to his at­ten­tion of a case which ex­ist­ed only in the imag­i­na­tion of a nov­el­ist. Holmes's ad­mir­ing satel­lite, Dr. Wat­son, I knew well — so well, in­deed, that I had shunned his ser­vices as a physi­cian. When I learned re­cent­ly that the fa­mous de­tec­tive had sur­vived the last ap­par­ent­ly suc­cess­ful at­tempt to end his ca­reer, my first step was to en­list the in­ter­est of the ex­cel­lent Wat­son; and this I ac­com­plished by loan­ing him the novel and a num­ber of the books and mag­a­zine ar­ti­cles con­tain­ing the the­o­ries of writ­ers who have at­tempt­ed to elu­ci­date the mys­tery.

The re­sult was pre­cise­ly what I had an­tic­i­pat­ed. Dr. Wat­son be­came in­fat­u­at­ed with the story. In­deed, he de­vot­ed so much of his time to it that he ne­glect­ed his pro­fes­sion­al du­ties, with the con­se­quence that the de­creas­ing death rate in his res­i­den­tial sec­tion was men­tioned in the re­ports of the Board of Health.

One morn­ing Wat­son called upon me, look­ing so pale and hag­gard that I ad­vised him to con­sult a com­pe­tent physi­cian; but he as­sured me that his con­di­tion was due mere­ly to loss of sleep. Hav­ing puz­zled vain­ly over the Drood enig­ma, he said, and hav­ing now de­spaired of a so­lu­tion, he would soon re­cu­per­ate.

"There is a man to whom I should like to refer this case," said Wat­son. "I am sure it would In­ter­est my friend Holmes, and he is quite like­ly to suc­ceed, even where so many have failed."

Nat­u­ral­ly I agreed with a plan so com­plete­ly in ac­cord with my own aim and ob­ject; but I sug­gest­ed that Wat­son should pre­sent the case to Holmes as one of ac­tu­al oc­cur­rence. In that way it would be more like­ly to ap­peal to him as wor­thy of his skill as a de­tec­tive and of his ex­traor­di­nary in­ge­nu­ity in de­duc­tive rea­son­ing. Wat­son con­sid­ered this to be good diplo­ma­cy. As he claimed to have the case "at his fin­gers' ends," as he ex­pressed it, he in­sist­ed upon going at once to in­ter­view his friend, who still oc­cu­pied lodg­ings in Baker Street.

DR. WAT­SON IN­TER­VIEWS HOLMES

On the fol­low­ing day the doc­tor called again, and re­port­ed to me that he had found Holmes in ex­cel­lent health. It ap­peared that the rumor of his death had been in­sti­gat­ed by him­self, in order to avoid the too fre­quent vis­its of a friend of his — whom he did not name to Wat­son, but who had be­come a bore through ex­cess of vac­u­ous ad­mi­ra­tion.

"After con­grat­u­lat­ing him on his sur­vival," said the doc­tor, "I in­formed him that I had late­ly be­come in­ter­est­ed in a very puz­zling case, which I men­tioned to him with a cer­tain dif­fi­dence, be­cause an­oth­er de­tec­tive was en­gaged upon it."

Holmes had re­ceived this in­for­ma­tion with a smile of gen­tle sar­casm, and with his usual com­ment upon the sin­gu­lar in­com­pe­ten­cy of the reg­u­lar force. The in­ter­view, ac­cord­ing to the résumé of it made for my ben­e­fit, pro­ceed­ed thus:

"The in­ves­ti­ga­tor is not con­nect­ed with Scot­land Yard," said Wat­son. "I have rea­son to be­lieve that he has a per­son­al mo­tive in ex­cul­pat­ing one who is sus­pect­ed, and a per­son­al in­ter­est in bring­ing the real cul­prit to jus­tice."

"Ha!" ex­claimed Holmes. "Do you hap­pen to know the young man's name?"

Wat­son looked at him with the blank ex­pres­sion that his friend knew so well.

"How do you know that this in­ves­ti­ga­tor is a young man?" he asked.

"He is ei­ther a young man with no par­tic­u­lar busi­ness of his own, or he is a mid­dle-aged man who has re­tired from ac­tive busi­ness," replied Holmes. "To de­vote much time to am­a­teur de­tec­tive work, one must have abun­dant leisure."

"Upon my word, Holmes!" Wat­son ex­claimed, aghast as usual. "You are ab­so­lute­ly un­can­ny! As a mat­ter of fact, this per­son might be ei­ther. He has a heavy shock of white hair, black eye­brows, and a habit of car­ry­ing his hat in his hand much of the time; but he is be­lieved to be in dis­guise."

"If this white-wigged per­son is on the scent, why come to me?" Holmes asked. "Per­haps, in spite of his dis­guis­ing him­self in a way that would cer­tain­ly at­tract at­ten­tion and would not de­lude a child, he may be equal to an or­di­nary case."

"As far as I know," said the doc­tor, "he has done very lit­tle, aside from learn­ing that the sus­pect has an enemy — an old woman who has rea­sons for hat­ing him. This the in­ves­ti­ga­tor, who­ev­er he may be, thought so im­por­tant that he record­ed it in chalk marks on a door."

"Chalk marks on a door! Ex­traor­di­nary, in­deed!" Holmes com­ment­ed. "A man in dis­guise is in­ves­ti­gat­ing a mur­der, and records the in­for­ma­tion that he ob­tains by mak­ing chalk marks on a door! What door?"

"His own, I sup­pose," Wat­son an­swered.

"But why?"

"He him­self ex­plains it by say­ing that he 'likes the old tav­ern way of keep­ing scores.' He makes a long mark for any­thing im­por­tant that he dis­cov­ers, and a short mark for mat­ters of less con­se­quence. I don't know just what the sys­tem is, but he in­di­cates his dis­cov­er­ies in this way."

"For whose in­for­ma­tion?" in­quired the de­tec­tive.

"His own, I sup­pose."

"Doesn't he know what they are with­out mak­ing chalk marks on a door? Wat­son, I don't think I should care to take the case. It is no plea­sure to me to co­op­er­ate with the sim­ple­tons of the reg­u­lar force, but this white-wigged am­a­teur of yours in­sults my in­tel­li­gence. Good God, Wat­son, I should think he would al­most in­sult yours! Let us for­get this queer case. Kreisler plays at Al­bert Hall this af­ter­noon, and I am cu­ri­ous to learn in what man­ner his in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the Bruch Con­cer­to dif­fers from my own."

"But, my dear Holmes," Wat­son protest­ed, "you have heard noth­ing about the case!"

"I trust it is as re­mark­able as the so-called de­tec­tive," re­turned Holmes. "Sup­pose you give me, in as few words as pos­si­ble, the salient fea­tures of the af­fair."

"Briefly, then," Wat­son began, "the sup­posed mur­dered man was a young fel­low, Edwin Drood by name. He was be­trothed to a Miss Rosa Bud. His uncle, John Jasper, a few years older than him­self, con­ceived a vi­o­lent pas­sion for the young lady, and is thought to have com­mit­ted the mur­der in order to pre­vent the mar­riage."

"In what man­ner was the mur­der com­mit­ted?" Holmes in­quired.

"That is not pos­i­tive­ly known."

"But sure­ly," Holmes in­sist­ed, "there has been an in­quest? The body must have shown some ev­i­dence of the man­ner of death."

"No body has been found."

Holmes ut­tered an ex­cla­ma­tion of im­pa­tience, and reached for his hat and top­coat.

"My good Wat­son," he said, "why be so cer­tain that there has been a mur­der, if no body has been found?"

"Drood has un­ac­count­ably dis­ap­peared."

"Sure­ly, Wat­son, you must know that every day men dis­ap­pear un­ac­count­ably, yet no one imag­ines that they have been mur­dered. This young Drood was to have been mar­ried, you say?"

"He and his fiancée had agreed to break off the en­gage­ment," Wat­son an­swered.

Holmes smoked med­i­ta­tive­ly for sev­er­al min­utes be­fore ask­ing:

"Do you hap­pen to know whether he has con­tem­plat­ed for­eign trav­el? You will ob­serve that I do not use the past tense, for I al­ways as­sume that a man is alive until his body has been found."

"Now that you men­tion it," replied Wat­son, "I re­mem­ber that it was all set­tled that he was to go to Egypt, to enter upon a busi­ness ca­reer."

"And has it not oc­curred to his fam­i­ly — to his for­mer sweet­heart, say — that the young man may have gone about his busi­ness — in Egypt — with­out con­sult­ing his rel­a­tives?"

"As far as we know, he had no rel­a­tives," an­swered the doc­tor, "ex­cept the uncle, John Jasper, who in­sists that Drood was mur­dered."

"The uncle who is under sus­pi­cion?"

"By cer­tain per­sons Jasper is sus­pect­ed; but he is doing his ut­most to es­tab­lish the guilt of a young fel­low, Land­less by name, who re­cent­ly came to Eng­land from Cey­lon, with his twin sis­ter.

"Twins!" ex­claimed Holmes, with re­newed in­ter­est. "The broth­er and sis­ter re­sem­ble each other, I sup­pose, as twins usu­al­ly do?"

"They are very much alike,"

"Where twins are in­volved in a case," re­marked the great de­tec­tive, "they in­tro­duce an el­e­ment of par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est. I have in mind the Hal­berg tragedy in Copen­hagen arid the Sadler af­fair in Cincin­nati. In both the re­sem­blance of twin broth­ers, gave rise to ex­traor­di­nary com­pli­ca­tions. To re­turn to this case of yours, Wat­son — its most pe­cu­liar fea­ture is that the uncle, who is sus­pect­ed, seems to be the one who most strong­ly in­sists that a mur­der was com­mit­ted."

"And vows to de­vote his life to bring­ing the as­sas­sin to jus­tice," said Wat­son. "This Jasper is a some­what ec­cen­tric per­son, He is an opium ad­dict."

Holmes gave a start of sur­prise, and, with a sub­con­scious as­so­ci­a­tion of ideas, thrust his hand into the coat pock­et where­in he ha­bit­u­al­ly kept his fa­vorite sur­gi­cal in­stru­ment.

"My dear Wat­son," he re­marked, "you now in­ter­est me strange­ly. The el­e­ment of opium in a crim­i­nal case is par­tic­u­lar­ly fas­ci­nat­ing to me, as from the time of my ear­li­est ap­pear­ances be­fore the pub­lic I have ex­per­i­ment­ed with hyp­not­ic and nar­cot­ic drugs of every de­scrip­tion."

The em­i­nent in­ves­ti­ga­tor re­clined in his arm­chair, and for some time re­mained lost in med­i­ta­tion.

"Wat­son," he said at last, "this af­fair, as you de­scribe it, has many ab­sur­di­ties, but it pre­sents cer­tain as­pects that ap­peal to my cu­rios­i­ty. A case in which opium is a fac­tor is like­ly to de­vel­op some va­gary of ab­nor­mal psy­chol­o­gy. Such prob­lems dif­fer from all oth­ers, and one's de­duc­tions are ma­te­ri­al­ly af­fect­ed. In fact, Wat­son, I need not tell you, a medi­co, that in such cases, after de­duc­ing from the facts, a cer­tain al­lowance must be made for men­tal con­di­tions ar­ti­fi­cial­ly stim­u­lat­ed or de­pressed. Both the im­me­di­ate in­flu­ences of a drug and its after ef­fects have to be care­ful­ly con­sid­ered."

With the promp­ti­tude that is cus­tom­ary when his in­ter­est is aroused, Holmes slipped a mi­cro­scope and an au­to­mat­ic pis­tol into his pock­ets, and sug­gest­ed going at once to the scene of the crime. In the cir­cum­stances, how­ev­er, the doc­tor was obliged to tem­po­rize.

"If you don't mind, Holmes," he ob­served, u I think that in this par­tic­u­lar case it might be well for you to vary your usual rou­tine of in­ves­ti­ga­tion. This is an af­fair with many re­mark­able fea­tures, and be­fore you visit the lo­cal­i­ties and in­ter­view the per­sons con­cerned I shall place in your hands cer­tain doc­u­men­tary ev­i­dence, it is pos­si­ble that after you have ex­am­ined these pa­pers you may be able to evolve a the­o­ry upon which def­i­nite ac­tion may be taken."

Holmes protest­ed that he could not alter his meth­ods in any case, how­ev­er out of the or­di­nary; but upon Wat­son's threat­en­ing to de­liv­er then and there one of his fa­mil­iar pri­vate lec­tures on the evils of the co­caine habit, the great de­tec­tive re­luc­tant­ly con­sent­ed to meet the doc­tor's wish­es. That same evening Wat­son sent to Holmes a copy of "The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood," to­geth­er with a num­ber of mono­graphs and mag­a­zine ar­ti­cles, the con­tri­bu­tions of var­i­ous writ­ers who have minute­ly stud­ied this strangest prob­lem in the an­nals of imag­i­nary crime and have ar­rived at wide­ly dif­fer­ent con­clu­sions.

A week or more passed be­fore I heard any­thing fur­ther from Wat­son. As the wor­thy doc­tor af­ter­ward in­formed me, he had had a pa­tient suf­fer­ing from that rare and in­sid­i­ous mal­a­dy, coryza (un­pop­u­lar­ly known as cold in the heat), which had wor­ried him great­ly, his pro­fes­sion­al rep­u­ta­tion being at stake. As soon as this in­valid passed over to the great ma­jor­i­ty — of Wat­son's pa­tients, the doc­tor com­mu­ni­cat­ed with Holmes by tele­phone, and im­me­di­ate­ly af­ter­ward called upon me.

"Holmes is enor­mous­ly in­ter­est­ed," he re­port­ed. "I ex­pect­ed that he would re­proach me for wast­ing his time on a case that ex­ists only in a novel; but if I my­self had been mur­dered he could not have dis­played greater en­thu­si­asm. I have an ap­point­ment to call upon him, and I asked per­mis­sion to bring a friend who is fa­mil­iar with all the de­tails of the af­fair."

I MEET THE FA­MOUS DE­TEC­TIVE

I glad­ly wel­comed an op­por­tu­ni­ty to meet the em­i­nent crim­i­nol­o­gist, and after a hasty lun­cheon we pro­ceed­ed by motor bus to his rooms in Baker Street. As we as­cend­ed the stairs, I heard the weird vi­o­lin gym­nas­tics of Pa­gani­ni's "Witch­es' Dance," and I felt in­tu­itive­ly that the Ital­ian mas­ter was turn­ing over in his grave.

Sher­lock Holmes wel­comed us with old-world cour­tesy.

"I am de­light­ed to meet any friend of Dr. Wat­son's," he said, rolling down his sleeve over a sinewy fore­arm, which bore the marks of in­nu­mer­able punc­tures by his trusty nee­dle. "I do not ask you to take any re­fresh­ment, as I per­ceive that you have had lun­cheon — eggs, if I am not mis­tak­en. I also ob­serve, doc­tor, that when com­ing here in a pub­lic con­veyance you sat next to a blond-haired lady. It is well, per­haps, that you came here be­fore going home, as Mrs. Wat­son, I know, is a brunette."

Wat­son laughed at my amaze­ment at these de­duc­tions, which, how­ev­er, were ex­treme­ly sim­ple when Holmes ex­plained them.

"My good friend, the doc­tor," he said, "has brought to my at­ten­tion a fan­tas­tic af­fair which is quite as com­pli­cat­ed as any ac­tu­al crime of re­cent oc­cur­rence. For once, fic­tion has ap­prox­i­mat­ed the in­ter­est of fact"

"And what is your the­o­ry?" I asked, eager to hear the opin­ion of an ac­knowl­edged au­thor­i­ty.

"If I were talk­ing to any of the char­ac­ters in that ad­mirable novel," an­swered Holmes, "I would say: 'My dear sir, or madam, your young friend Edwin Drood may turn up at any mo­ment. He is no more a mur­dered man than I am.' "

"You are not alone in your opin­ion that Drood was not mur­dered," I ven­tured to say.

"I quite re­al­ize that," Holmes agreed. "As I have read all the doc­u­men­tary ev­i­dence that Wat­son kind­ly pro­vid­ed, I know there is no nov­el­ty in the the­o­ry that Drood sur­vived; but I be­lieve that my rea­sons for cer­tain­ty on that point are based upon sci­en­tif­ic de­duc­tions which in this in­stance, sin­gu­lar­ly enough, are not in­con­sis­tent with com­mon sense. Let us con­sid­er the af­fair as if it were an ac­tu­al case, which I am em­ployed to in­ves­ti­gate in the usual course of busi­ness. If a young man has part­ed fi­nal­ly from his fiancée, has no par­tic­u­lar ob­ject in re­main­ing in Eng­land, has long con­tem­plat­ed a ca­reer in a for­eign coun­try — if such a young man sud­den­ly dis­ap­pears, and no trace of him is found, is it not rea­son­able to infer that cir­cum­stances have arisen which de­ter­mined him to carry out his plan to go to that for­eign coun­try?"

"By Heav­en, Holmes," ex­claimed Wat­son, "your pow­ers of de­duc­tion are a source of con­stant amaze­ment to me!"

"I am not amazed at your amaze­ment, my good Wat­son," re­turned Holmes, with his gen­tle and al­most fem­i­nine smile; "but in re­al­i­ty it is quite sim­ple. If Drood was not to go to Egypt, why did the au­thor, Mr. Dick­ens, make such a point of his in­ten­tion to go? The young man has a long talk with Miss Bud, in which she ex­press­es her dis­taste for shar­ing his life in that coun­try, declar­ing that she has no in­ter­est in sphinx­es and pyra­mids. You may say that the au­thor's in­ten­tion in this in­sis­tence was to make read­ers, like our­selves, be­lieve that Drood had gone to Egypt, where­as he was re­al­ly mur­dered. If I had no fur­ther ev­i­dence of Drood's sur­vival, I would agree that all this talk about Egypt might be an au­thor's false clew, in­tend­ed to de­lude his read­ers; but I think I shall be able to con­vince you that Drood did go to Egypt."

"In that case," said Wat­son, "you are in­clined to agree with An­drew Lang, Richard Proc­tor, and oth­ers, who main­tain that Datch­ery, the in­ves­ti­ga­tor in Clois­ter­ham, is Drood in dis­guise."

Holmes's cel­e­brat­ed enig­mat­ic smile be­came frankly iron­ic as he replied:

"My good Wat­son, I re­gard the the­o­ry that Datch­ery is Drood in dis­guise as whol­ly un­ten­able. Datch­ery has an in­ter­view with John Jasper. If he were Drood in dis­guise, it is pre­pos­ter­ous to sup­pose that Jasper would not rec­og­nize him, the dis­guise being, we are told, a white wig, black eye­brows, and a tight­ish blue surtout. Jasper was Drood's uncle, and pre­sum­ably had known the young man all his life. In his ha­tred of his nephew, Jasper had stud­ied him, knew his every ges­ture, and every in­flec­tion of his voice, knew his eyes — which, by the way, are the most dif­fi­cult fea­ture to dis­guise. Drood could not have spo­ken three words with­out Jasper's rec­og­niz­ing his voice. As a mu­si­cian, a singing teach­er, Jasper would have an es­pe­cial­ly keen ear for the de­tec­tion of voic­es. Dick­ens was writ­ing a novel, but a writ­er of fic­tion with a mod­ern, or even a mid-Vic­to­ri­an pe­ri­od, must keep with­in the bounds of prob­a­bil­i­ty. If Datch­ery is Drood in dis­guise, Dick­ens asks his read­ers to be­lieve the im­pos­si­ble. In fact, Jasper, shrewd and sus­pi­cious, would have rec­og­nized any one with whom he was even slight­ly ac­quaint­ed, in such an ob­vi­ous dis­guise. Per­haps, Wat­son, with the alert per­cep­tions for which you are just­ly fa­mous, you can tell me why Drood should be pot­ter­ing around as Datch­ery, know­ing that his friends be­lieve him to be mur­dered, and that an in­no­cent man, Neville Land­less, is under sus­pi­cion?"

Wat­son and I agreed that such con­duct on the part of Drood would be both heart­less and brain­less.

"As I have often told you, doc­tor," Holmes re­sumed, "one must begin an anal­y­sis by elim­i­nat­ing im­pos­si­bil­i­ties. There are other in­di­ca­tions that Datch­ery is not Drood. Datch­ery — with no sug­ges­tion that any one is watch­ing him — can­not find his way to the cathe­dral precincts, where Tope and Jasper live. He asks the vagabond boy, Deputy, to di­rect him, where­as Drood is fa­mil­iar with Clois­ter­ham to­pog­ra­phy."

"It has been sug­gest­ed," I said, "that Datch­ery, if Drood or any one else ac­quaint­ed in Clois­ter­ham, might have pre­tend­ed that he did not know his way about and might have asked Deputy for ef­fect."

"If so," Holmes replied, I must say that Datch­ery is car­ry­ing re­al­is­tic act­ing very far when he tries to im­press a va­grant street boy. Why, gen­tle­men, the book it­self con­tains proof that Datch­ery is not Drood. In Chap­ter XIV Drood meets the opium woman.

" ' Do you eat opium?' is one of the ques­tions he puts to her.

" ' Smokes it,' is her reply.

"In Chap­ter XXIII Datch­ery meets the opium woman, and when she begs him for money to buy ' a medicine as does her good,' he asks:

" ' What's the medicine?'

" ' It's opium,' says the woman, and ' Mr. Datch­ery, with a sud­den change of coun­te­nance, gives her a sud­den look.'

"Now, if Drood be Datch­ery, why the 'sud­den change of coun­te­nance' and the 'sud­den look,' for the opium woman was only telling Datch­ery ex­act­ly what she had told Drood?"

Wat­son turned to me with a tri­umphant smile, tak­ing a vi­car­i­ous pride in the acu­men of his great friend.

"That seems strong ev­i­dence that Drood is not Datch­ery," he said; "but if Drood is alive, why has he not com­mu­ni­cat­ed with his friends and told them not to worry about him, as he is doing very nice­ly in Egypt as an en­gi­neer?"

"Your ques­tion is a per­ti­nent one, doc­tor," replied Holmes. "Like all your ques­tions, it would occur to any one of or­di­nary in­tel­li­gence. Ac­cord­ing to my the­o­ry, Drood was on his way to Egypt be­fore there had been any sug­ges­tion that he had been mur­dered. In fact, the young man might have dis­ap­peared as he did, and there would have been no sus­pi­cion of foul play, had not Jasper him­self raised the hue and cry. Would not his friends have said, quite nat­u­ral­ly:

" ' The boy had a dis­ap­point­ment in love, and has gone to Egypt to fol­low his ca­reer, as he had been plan­ning to do.'

"But Jasper star­tles them all by charg­ing that his nephew has been mur­dered. This, I be­lieve, is one of the el­e­ments of strength and orig­i­nal­i­ty in Dick­ens's plot. The crim­i­nal sounds the alarm and starts in mo­tion the ma­chin­ery that fi­nal­ly con­victs — him­self."

"But of what crime, since you as­sert that Drood is alive?" I ven­tured to in­quire.

"We shall come to that present­ly," said Holmes. "It is an im­por­tant part of my the­o­ry that Drood did com­mu­ni­cate cer­tain cir­cum­stances to one per­son be­fore leav­ing Eng­land."

"To whom?" Wat­son asked, be­wil­dered as usual.

WHY GREW­GIOUS VIS­IT­ED JASPER

"I feel pos­i­tive that Drood com­mu­ni­cat­ed with Grew­gious. That an­gu­lar but good-heart­ed lawyer calls upon Jasper, and the lat­ter falls in a fit when he learns that he did not have to kill his nephew to pre­vent Edwin's mar­riage to Rosa, as the two young peo­ple had agreed to break off their en­gage­ment. Grew­gious's lan­guage, and the man­ner in which he im­parts this in­for­ma­tion to Jasper, prove that he knows some­thing. My de­duc­tion is that Drood has told Grew­gious that his uncle made a mur­der­ous at­tack upon him. Let us re­con­struct the in­ter­view that I be­lieve took place be­tween Drood and the lawyer.

"Jasper's at­tack on Drood oc­curred at about mid­night on Christ­mas Eve. Early on Christ­mas morn­ing, as early as the young man could get to Lon­don from Clois­ter­ham, Grew­gious is sur­prised by a visit from Drood, who is in a state of ex­treme ag­i­ta­tion. He ex­plains to the lawyer that dur­ing the night his uncle made a mur­der­ous as­sault upon him. Drood's re­sis­tance and Jasper's ter­ror on being rec­og­nized — his am­bush fail­ing — caused the as­sailant to fall into one of his ac­cus­tomed fits, su­perin­duced by the opium de­bauch in which, we are in­formed, he in­dulged on the pre­ced­ing night. Drood, hor­ri­fied, rushed from the scene be­fore Jasper re­cov­ered con­scious­ness. He can con­ceive of no rea­son for the at­tempt­ed homi­cide. Grew­gious would sug­gest re­fer­ring the mat­ter to the po­lice. Drood would hes­i­tate to make a charge of as­sault with in­tent to kill against his uncle, who, he thinks, must have be­come in­sane. Clear­ly the young man has noth­ing to make him anx­ious to stay in Eng­land. He has part­ed from his sweet­heart; his only known rel­a­tive has tried to mur­der him; his ca­reer lies in a for­eign land. He leaves Grew­gious to in­ves­ti­gate. If Jasper is in­sane, the lawyer will have him placed in an asy­lum. In the cir­cum­stances, Drood does not care to meet his uncle again. He de­cides to go to Egypt as soon as pos­si­ble."

"It is quite like­ly that a boat was op­por­tune­ly sail­ing," ob­served Wat­son.

"As you say, doc­tor. Boats usu­al­ly are op­por­tune­ly sail­ing in nov­els. Grew­gious was prob­a­bly en­joined to take no ac­tion be­yond hav­ing Jasper watched, for the pur­pose of learn­ing whether his men­tal con­di­tion war­rant­ed his being placed under re­straint; but after Drood has gone on his way, mat­ters take a dif­fer­ent turn. Jasper de­clares that his nephew has been mur­dered, and he tries to in­cul­pate Neville Land­less. Grew­gious hears this. He knows that Jasper him­self was the as­sailant. The lawyer is per­plexed. What kind of a game is the opi­um-smok­ing pre­cen­tor play­ing? He com­mits as­sault with in­tent to kill, and then charges an in­no­cent man with mur­der. The legal mind seeks a mo­tive. At this junc­ture, He­le­na Land­less has an in­ter­view with Grew­gious."

I made the sug­ges­tion that al­most the first words of the lawyer when he vis­its Jasper are:

"I have just left Miss Land­less"

"Sig­nif­i­cant words in­deed!" said Holmes. "Now let us at­tempt to re­con­struct the in­ter­view be­tween He­le­na Land­less and Grew­gious.

" ' Jasper,' says He­le­na, 'charges that my broth­er mur­dered Drood. If any one killed Drood, it was Jasper, whose love for Rosa is a mania.'

"Grew­gious learns from her what Drood did not know — that Jasper is in­fat­u­at­ed with Rosa, who fears him, and over whom he has a kind of mes­mer­ic in­flu­ence. Grew­gious knows now that Drood was wrong in think­ing that Jasper's at­tack might be a sud­den out­break of mad­ness. He knows now that it was an at­tempt to com­mit mur­der, with the mo­tive of jeal­ousy. Jasper meant to kill his nephew be­cause, as he thought, Drood was about to be mar­ried to Rosa."

Wat­son gazed at Holmes in blank as­ton­ish­ment. Ap­par­ent­ly used to that ex­pres­sion on his friend's face, the great de­tec­tive con­tin­ued:

"This new knowl­edge of Grew­gious's es­tab­lish­es the rea­son for the lawyer's oth­er­wise pur­pose­less visit to Jasper. The ob­ject of the lawyer is to test the truth of his the­o­ry that Jasper at­tempt­ed a mur­der with a mo­tive. The lan­guage and man­ner of Grew­gious dur­ing the whole in­ter­view, as de­scribed in the novel, prove this. He rea­sons thus — if Jasper planned to kill his nephew to pre­vent the lat­ter's mar­riage to Rosa, the rev­e­la­tion that there was no ne­ces­si­ty for the crime will be a shock to him. Grew­gious, in a cru­el­ly cold and de­lib­er­ate man­ner, tells Jasper that Edwin and Rosa had de­cid­ed not to marry. He watch­es the ef­fect. He ex­pects the shock. When Jasper shrieks and col­laps­es, 'a heap of torn and miry clothes upon the floor,' Grew­gious, 'not chang­ing his ac­tion even then,' warms his hands at the fire and looks calm­ly down at the un­con­scious form of the man he now knows to be a mur­der­er in in­ten­tion. The sar­don­ic man­ner of Grew­gious through­out the in­ter­view with Jasper is, I be­lieve, proof of the truth of my de­duc­tions."

"But sure­ly," Wat­son com­ment­ed, " hav­ing learned this, Grew­gious would have been jus­ti­fied in going to the au­thor­i­ties and de­mand­ing the ar­rest of Jasper, thus ex­on­er­at­ing Neville?"

"Not so fast, my good Wat­son," said Holmes. "Ad­mirable as your ca­pa­bil­i­ties as a physi­cian may be — I speak from hearsay only, as my own health is unim­paired — your knowl­edge of legal pro­ce­dure is lim­it­ed. Mat­ters rest­ing as I have out­lined, no in­dict­ment could have been found against ei­ther Jasper or Neville Land­less. Jasper him­self is the only per­son who in­sists that there has been a mur­der. Oth­er­wise, in the minds of friends and of the com­mu­ni­ty in gen­er­al, the fate of Drood is in doubt. He has dis­ap­peared. There is no cor­pus delic­ti. The only ev­i­dence even of as­sault is Drood's own story. Jasper's con­duct and the sus­pi­cions of He­le­na and Grew­gious do not con­sti­tute legal ev­i­dence; yet Grew­gious knows that Jasper has done his best to com­mit an atro­cious crime, and is now try­ing to fix the guilt on Neville. There is no ev­i­dence against Neville, but Jasper's en­mi­ty is a men­ace. From this time it is Grew­gious's plan to give Jasper plen­ty of rope and let him hang him­self. This is why Grew­gious de­clares that he has 'a fancy for keep­ing Jasper under his eye.' It is Grew­gious who ar­ranges that the so-called Datch­ery shall keep a close watch of Jasper, liv­ing as his neigh­bor. Grew­gious is play­ing a deep game. Jasper him­self has raised the cry of mur­der, and by leav­ing him to his own de­vices, by art­ful coun­ter­plot­ting, Grew­gious in­tends that Jasper in­stead of in­crim­i­nat­ing an in­no­cent man, shall con­vict him­self."

"Very clev­er­ly rea­soned, Holmes," I said; "but there is a weak link in your chain. You have over­looked the fact that Jasper un­ques­tion­ably be­lieves Drood to be dead."

JASPER THINKS HIM­SELF A MUR­DER­ER

"Nat­u­ral­ly, for Jasper thinks that he him­self mur­dered the young man, and be­lieves him to be safe­ly laid away in quick­lime in the Sapsea vault."

"But you must admit, my dear Mr. Holmes," I urged, "that it is im­pos­si­ble that a man should not know whether he ac­tu­al­ly com­mit­ted a mur­der, or mere­ly led up to it and tailed."

"You might as well as­sert," added Wat­son, "that I, a physi­cian, would per­form an op­er­a­tion with­out know­ing any­thing about it."

"I shall not dis­pute your par­al­lel case, doc­tor," said Holmes; "but I will ask you a ques­tion or two. Why does Dick­ens make his vil­lain an opium ad­dict? Why is he so par­tic­u­lar to es­tab­lish the fact that Jasper has strange fits and weird seizures, in which he 'wan­ders away in a fright­ful sort of dream, in which he threat­ens most'? Why does he speak of hav­ing 'gone the jour­ney' — mean­ing that he has done the deed — 'hun­dreds of thou­sands of times'? Why does Jasper go on an opium spree the night be­fore his at­tack on Drood? Are these things for no pur­pose? I am no lit­er­ary crit­ic, but com­mon sense tells me that an au­thor does not make his vil­lain a mor­phi­no­ma­ni­ac sub­ject to fits in mo­ments of ex­cite­ment, and does not send him on an opium spree just be­fore he com­mits a crime, un­less that au­thor has a good rea­son for doing so."

"And what, in your opin­ion, is this rea­son?" I asked.

"To me it seems clear enough," an­swered Holmes. "In his thoughts and his dreams, Jasper had con­tem­plat­ed the mur­der again and again — so the novel as­sures us. He took a di­a­bol­i­cal de­light in re­hears­ing it in his mind. Let us make an at­tempt to re­con­struct the crime. On Christ­mas Eve, the night of the din­ner at Jasper's, at about mid­night, Drood and Neville Land­less take a walk to­geth­er. We are in­formed that Drood re­turns alone to his uncle's rooms. Jasper makes a sud­den and fe­ro­cious at­tack upon him, and at­tempts to stran­gle him with a heavy silk scarf, to which the au­thor has point­ed­ly al­lud­ed. Now, un­less Jasper were a prac­ticed thug, adept in mur­der by gar­rote, he was not like­ly to avoid a strug­gle. How­ev­er un­ex­pect­ed the as­sault, Drood would have been able to make some re­sis­tance."

"He might have been at­tacked in his sleep," I sug­gest­ed.

"In that case," said Holmes, "he would pre­sum­ably have been mur­dered. If Drood be dead, the story be­comes the com­mon­place one of a man killing a rival and fix­ing the crime on an in­no­cent per­son. Be­fore he began writ­ing the novel, Dick­ens wrote to his friend, John Forster, that he had an idea for his story which he de­scribed as 'cu­ri­ous and new,' 'in­com­mu­ni­ca­ble, strong, though dif­fi­cult to work.' If Drood was ac­tu­al­ly mur­dered, the idea of the novel has none of these qual­i­ties, for .the story be­comes trite and con­ven­tion­al.

"Let us re­turn to my re­con­struc­tion of the at­tack. Drood re­sists suf­fi­cient­ly for him to rec­og­nize his as­sailant. Jasper, re­al­iz­ing that he is caught in an at­tempt to mur­der, has one of his seizures, and col­laps­es just as he does sub­se­quent­ly in his in­ter­view with Grew­gious. Drood is hor­ri­fied and be­wil­dered. He can­not imag­ine any mo­tive for such an at­tack, for he knows noth­ing of Jasper's mad love for Rosa. He thinks the at­tack must be a ma­ni­a­cal out­burst. He has no­ticed Jasper's strange symp­toms on other oc­ca­sions — so the novel tells us. He rush­es from the house, leav­ing Jasper in his swoon, and makes his way to Lon­don. By the way, I find in the first edi­tion of 'Brad­shaw's Rail­way Guide' that there were trains at five and six o'clock in the morn­ing on En­glish rail­ways as early as 1840, and the pe­ri­od of 'Edwin Drood' is cer­tain­ly later than that. Drood tells Grew­gious the facts as I have out­lined them, and takes his de­par­ture for Egypt, as he had planned to do. Why should he re­main in Eng­land? His ca­reer lay else­where; he had part­ed from his be­trothed; his only known rel­a­tive had at­tempt­ed to kill him."

"By Jove, Holmes," ex­claimed Wat­son, "I be­lieve you are right!"

"Thank you, doc­tor," said Holmes. "It's very good of you to con­cur; but nev­er­the­less I be­lieve I am. Now what hap­pens to Jasper? He awak­ens after a rep­e­ti­tion of the dream that he has had 'hun­dreds and thou­sands of times'; and, as Mr. Lang quotes, he 'thinks it all wery cap­i­tal.' He might have thought that he had only dreamed again of the mur­der that was his ob­ses­sion; but there is the ev­i­dence of a strug­gle. There is the scarf. Jasper has dreamed of the crime so often that it is all vivid to him, in­clud­ing the long-planned buri­al of the body in the Sapsea vault. This time he be­lieves that he has ac­com­plished his pur­pose, for Drood has dis­ap­peared."

"Cer­tain pas­sages in the novel," I sug­gest­ed, "seem to hint that Jasper in­tend­ed to kill Drood by throw­ing him from the cathe­dral tower."

"I re­gard that as high­ly im­prob­a­ble," said Holmes. "To throw a man from a church tower would pre­sent some dif­fi­cul­ty to the av­er­age mur­der­er. Drood was a con­fid­ing youth, but even he might have been sus­pi­cious of an uncle who, in a mid­night storm, on Christ­mas Eve, sug­gests climb­ing to the top of a cathe­dral tower. Jasper would re­al­ize that killing a man by throw­ing him from a tower would make a sad mess to be cleared up on Christ­mas morn­ing. If such a crude and prim­i­tive method of mur­der was to be adopt­ed, why was the scarf in­sist­ed on? I ob­serve that the artist who il­lus­trat­ed the book af­firms that Dick­ens told him that Jasper must wear that scarf, as Drood was to be stran­gled with it."

"Sir Luke Fildes was the artist," I said. "By the way, he used this re­mark of the au­thor's as an ar­gu­ment to prove that Drood was ac­tu­al­ly mur­dered."

"It is no ar­gu­ment at all," protest­ed Holmes. "Dick­ens could not be ex­pect­ed to go into all the in­tri­ca­cies of his plot. He told Fildes that Jasper must wear the scarf, as he was to stran­gle Drood with it. One could not ex­pect the nov­el­ist to say that 'he tries to stran­gle Drood, but does not suc­ceed,' and then to ex­plain the whole story, opium and all. The au­thor told the artist all that was nec­es­sary for his pur­pose, and no more."

"That seems plau­si­ble," said Wat­son; "but why did Jasper make his mys­te­ri­ous trip to the top of the tower, ac­com­pa­nied by Dur­dles, the stone mason?"

"In my opin­ion," Holmes replied, "he wished to see if it would be safe for him to con­vey Drood's body to the Sapsea vault, to which he had ob­tained a key by drug­ging Dur­dles. The text says that from the tower Jasper con­tem­plates the scene, 'and es­pe­cial­ly that stillest part of it which the cathe­dral over­shad­ows.' Ref­er­ence is made to the moon­light. When Crisparkle sug­gests that Neville should meet the uncle and nephew for the pur­pose of a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, we are told that Jasper's face in­di­cates 'some close in­ter­nal cal­cu­la­tion.' Is it not like­ly that he was fig­ur­ing on what night the rise of the moon would be most fa­vor­able for his pur­pose? If I have not ac­cu­rate­ly re­con­struct­ed the crime, give me some good rea­son for the nov­el­ist's mak­ing Jasper an opium ad­dict. Why is opium in the story at all, if not for some pur­pose such as I have in­di­cat­ed? To deny that opium is in the novel for a pur­pose is to as­sert that Dick­ens de­vot­ed many pages to an ir­rel­e­vant mat­ter.

"Jasper's next move," con­tin­ued Holmes, "is to de­clare that his nephew has been mur­dered, and he tries to fas­ten the crime upon Neville Land­less. He has al­ready spread the re­port of a feud be­tween Drood and Neville, and he hates the lat­ter for ad­mir­ing Rosa. Drood's watch and pin are ac­count­ed for, being dis­cov­ered by Crisparkle in the weir, where they were placed by Jasper, prob­a­bly with the idea of in­crim­i­nat­ing Neville, whose mid­night walk with Drood was in that vicin­i­ty."

"How did the watch and pin get into Jasper's pos­ses­sion, if Drood was not mur­dered?" asked Wat­son.

"The ques­tion is an in­ge­nious one, doc­tor," an­swered Holmes, "but it con­cerns an unim­por­tant de­tail. Drood may not have been at­tacked until he had start­ed to un­dress. The re­moval of his col­lar and neck­tie would have made the gar­rot­ing with the scarf an eas­i­er mat­ter. Jasper was not like­ly to over­look the fact that gold ar­ti­cles would not be de­stroyed by quick­lime. He would have found some way to get them. It is ex­press­ly stat­ed in the book that he knew his nephew wore no other jew­el­ry. Later in the story, de­lib­er­ate­ly but with an ap­pear­ance of ca­su­al­ness, Grew­gious lets Jasper know that Drood had in his pock­et a ring of ru­bies and di­a­monds, to which the nov­el­ist refers as a link of ev­i­dence pos­sess­ing 'in­vin­ci­ble force to hold and drag.' Jasper con­cludes that this ring is in the quick­lime in the Sapsea vault. It is just the ev­i­dence that he needs. He de­cides to re­cov­er it, and to dis­pose of it in such a man­ner as to in­crim­i­nate Neville. Close watch is kept on Jasper, and the time of his visit to the tomb be­comes known. A trap is set for him. Some­body is placed in the tomb to con­front him. His pres­ence there, open­ing the door with the key that he had made from Dur­dles's key, proves his be­lief that Drood's body is there and his own guilt of as­sault with in­tent to com­mit mur­der."

"Ev­i­dent­ly," I said, "you have stud­ied the pic­to­ri­al cover of the month­ly parts in which the novel was first pub­lished. That is the only au­thor­i­ty for be­liev­ing that there was to be such a scene in the tomb."

"It is the best au­thor­i­ty pos­si­ble," Holmes de­clared. "Dick­ens de­scribed to the artist just what he want­ed on that pic­to­ri­al cover — some of the strik­ing scenes in the story, as he had it out­lined in his mind. The tomb scene, with Jasper, lantern in hand, con­fronting the men­ac­ing fig­ure, is the most im­por­tant fea­ture of the cover de­sign. It was to be the strongest cli­max in the novel."

"And who is it that Jasper sees?" asked Wat­son ea­ger­ly.

"One of two per­sons," Holmes replied. "It might be Drood or it might be Datch­ery — who­ev­er he may be. Ac­cord­ing to the chronol­o­gy of the novel, more than six months have passed since Drood went to Egypt. Grew­gious would have writ­ten to him, telling him that Jasper's at­tack was not an out­break of in­san­i­ty, but a pre­med­i­tat­ed at­tempt to mur­der. Drood might have re­turned. If the man fac­ing Jasper in the tomb is Drood, Dick­ens was de­vel­op­ing an idea which he briefly sug­gest­ed in 'Mar­tin Chuz­zle­wit':

"The dead man might have come out of his grave and not con­found­ed and ap­palled him so.

"Judged by dra­mat­ic val­ues," con­tin­ued Holmes, "the man who con­fronts Jasper in the tomb should be Drood. The would-be mur­der­er and his sup­posed vic­tim face to face — it is a sen­sa­tion­al melo­dra­mat­ic sit­u­a­tion. The man in the tomb bears a strik­ing re­sem­blance to Drood as he ap­pears in an­oth­er pic­ture on the same cover. I be­lieve it is Drood. Cer­tain­ly, if it is any one else, the sit­u­a­tion is not near­ly as strong. There is not much dra­mat­ic value in Jasper's going to the tomb and find­ing a de­tec­tive. The large hat and the over­coat sug­gest Datch­ery, but the face is not the face of an 'el­der­ly buffer' — it is the face of Drood."

THE PROB­LEM OF DATCH­ERY

"And now," said Wat­son, "we come to the sec­ond im­por­tant prob­lem — who is Datch­ery? He might be Neville Land­less, Tar­tar, or Baz­zard, and Mr. Cum­ing Wal­ters and Sir W. Robert­son Nicoll make out quite a good case for He­le­na Land­less."

Holmes leaned back in his arm­chair, placed the tips of his long, del­i­cate fin­gers to­geth­er and smiled a pity­ing smile.

"With all due re­spect to the am­a­teur in­ves­ti­ga­tors who fancy that Datch­ery is He­le­na," he said, "I must ex­clude that young lady from the cal­cu­la­tions. Mr, Wal­ters's ar­gu­ment for He­le­na is based prin­ci­pal­ly upon her broth­er's story that when they ran away to­geth­er in their child­hood, He­le­na 'dressed as a boy and showed the dar­ing of a man.' Mr. Wal­ters also makes much of the fact that when He­le­na is asked if she would not be afraid of Jasper in cer­tain cir­cum­stances, she replies, 'Not under any cir­cum­stances.' On these pas­sages in­di­cat­ing the girl's courage, and on her hav­ing a mo­tive — the ex­cul­pa­tion of her broth­er — Mr. Wal­ters rests his case. He was one of the coun­sels for the pros­e­cu­tion in the mock trial of Jasper in 1914, in which He­le­na's claim that she was Datch­ery was shat­tered by the cross-ex­am­i­na­tion of Mr. Cecil Chester­ton."

"Mr. An­drew Lang," I re­marked, "ex­pressed the opin­ion that 'if He­le­na is Datch­ery, the idea is high­ly lu­di­crous.' "

"And so it is," Holmes agreed. "My own opin­ion is that if Dick­ens in­tend­ed to pre­sent He­le­na to his read­ers as an el­der­ly gen­tle­man wear­ing a white wig and 'but­toned up in a tight­ish blue surtout,' his sense of humor must have been in abeyance, and he was ask­ing his read­ers to have the creduli­ty of a child hear­ing a fairy tale. Here is the nov­el­ist's de­scrip­tion of He­le­na:

"An un­usu­al­ly hand­some, lithe girl, very dark and very rich in color, al­most of the gypsy type; slen­der, sup­ple, quick of eye and limb; half shy, half de­fi­ant, fierce of look.

"You may see the lady, with her 'lus­trous gypsy face,' in the il­lus­tra­tion, which, pre­sum­ably, was ap­proved by Dick­ens. Could such a girl mas­quer­ade as an el­der­ly man with­out being de­tect­ed? Would she, re­cent­ly ar­rived from Cey­lon, make chalk marks on a door to keep score, as they do in tav­erns'? Datch­ery drinks sher­ry and beer, eats a hun­gry man's sub­stan­tial meal, and 'makes a leg' — which, I be­lieve, is a sort of mas­cu­line equiv­a­lent of a curt­sy. He chaffs Sapsea and the boy Deputy. He in­ter­views Jasper, and be­comes his neigh­bor. Would not Mrs. Tope sus­pect the sex of her lodger? Would the cam­ou­flaged He­le­na de­ceive Jasper for a mo­ment?"

"Not un­less he were a greater fool than I am," said Wat­son.

"As I have said, we must elim­i­nate the im­pos­si­ble," Holmes con­tin­ued. "The girl who de­fied Jasper — a girl of un­usu­al ap­pear­ance — lodges near him and talks with him. She close­ly re­sem­bles her broth­er, on whom Jasper is try­ing to fix a crime; yet he, with a sup­posed mur­der on his con­science, watch­ful, sus­pi­cious, sees her in a white wig and a 'tight­ish blue surtout' and does not sus­pect her iden­ti­ty or her sex. Jasper is a singing teach­er, with an ear trained to judge the qual­i­ty of voic­es; yet he can­not tell a woman's voice from that of an el­der­ly man. A 'tall, lithe girl' with a 'lus­trous gypsy face,' white hair 'blow­ing in the breeze,' 'but­toned up in a tight­ish blue surtout,' meets and talks to no fewer than six of the lead­ing char­ac­ters in the story, and none of them sus­pects that she is a woman."

"You must re­mem­ber, Holmes," Wat­son ob­served, "that Shake­speare fre­quent­ly dis­guis­es fe­male char­ac­ters as boys or young men, and, as the Amer­i­cans say, gets away with it."

"Your crit­i­cism is sound," Holmes re­tort­ed — "sound, if noth­ing else; but you over­look the fact that Shake­spears is in the realm of ro­man­tic drama, where the im­pos­si­ble can hap­pen, and gen­er­al­ly does. Mr. Dick­ens was writ­ing a mod­ern novel, in which the plot, char­ac­ters, and in­ci­dents must ap­prox­i­mate real life, must be plau­si­ble and con­vinc­ing. He could hard­ly ask his read­ers to be­lieve that all his char­ac­ters are such im­be­ciles that they can­not tell a mas­querad­ing girl from an el­der­ly man. What is ad­mis­si­ble in the For­est of Arden, or any other fairy­land of fancy, be­comes in­cred­i­ble in ev­ery­day life."

"Now that you men­tion it," re­marked Wat­son, "I have never seen a Viola or a Ros­alind who made me for­get for a mo­ment that she was a lady in dou­blet and hose."

"Which proves your keen pow­ers of ob­ser­va­tion, doc­tor," said Holmes. "The char­ac­ters sur­round­ing these shape­ly ladies be­lieve that they are young men, be­cause in po­et­ic drama char­ac­ters may be asked by their cre­ators to be­lieve any­thing. No writ­er of a mod­ern novel or play would ask read­ers or au­di­tors to be­lieve in a Cal­iban or an Ariel. Sir James Bar­rie can play such pranks; so could Lewis Car­roll; but they deal in the fan­tas­tic. Oc­ca­sion­al­ly, in mod­ern plays, young ac­tress­es are cast for boy char­ac­ters; but such im­per­son­ations carry no con­vic­tion, even in the the­ater."

Wat­son and I men­tioned sev­er­al in­stances of this in our own ex­pe­ri­ence as the­ater­go­ers.

"There is a the­atri­cal tra­di­tion," I said, "that Peg Woff­in­g­ton, play­ing Sir Harry Wildair, re­marked, ' I be­lieve half the men in the au­di­ence think I am a man '- — to which Quin, the vet­er­an actor, made the ob­vi­ous re­tort, rude but witty. Char­lotte Cush­man played Romeo, but no­body ever be­lieved that she was a man, though Miss Cush­man had a voice and a per­son­al­i­ty that gave an un­usu­al de­gree of re­al­ism to mas­cu­line im­per­son­ation. Com­ing near­er to our own time, Sarah Bern­hardt's Ham­let was a very grace­ful and charm­ing Princess of Den­mark."

"There you are," said Holmes. "If He­le­na Land­less be Datch­ery, she is a greater ac­tress than any who has ever ap­peared on the stage. He­le­na, just ar­rived from Cey­lon, where die had al­ways lived, knew noth­ing of the art of make-up, one of the tech­ni­cal­i­ties of the pro­fes­sion — one of the most dif­fi­cult, by the way. Tell me, Wat­son — if an el­der­ly man in a white wig should sud­den­ly be re­vealed as 'a tall, lithe girl with a lus­trous gypsy face,' would it give you the thrill of a strik­ing dra­mat­ic sit­u­a­tion?"

"I fancy I should find it more or less laugh­able," said Wat­son, after pro­longed re­flec­tion.

"I am sure you would," agreed Holmes. "The idea is es­sen­tial­ly comic. Dick­ens, we know, took his plot very se­ri­ous­ly, and the rev­e­la­tion of Datch­ery was to have been his strongest sit­u­a­tion."

"Then, in your opin­ion, who was Datch­ery?" Wat­son asked.

"Be­fore an­swer­ing that ques­tion, doc­tor, I ask you to glance at this book, which has been placed at my dis­pos­al by the pre­sent owner."

Holmes placed in Wat­son's hands a small vol­ume, on the fly­leaf of which I ob­served the fol­low­ing in­scrip­tion:

To Mr. and Mrs. Comyns Carr, from their friend, Kate Pe­rug­i­ni.

I rec­og­nized the name of the donor as that of Charles Dick­ens's daugh­ter.

"That book," said Holmes, "was used by Dick­ens for sev­er­al years, in­clud­ing the pe­ri­od im­me­di­ate­ly pre­ced­ing the writ­ing of 'The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood.' Let me call your at­ten­tion to a note in Dick­ens's au­to­graph, which I think has a de­cid­ed bear­ing upon the ques­tion you have asked me."

Holmes in­di­cat­ed the para­graph, and I read the fol­low­ing note in the nov­el­ist's well known hand:

The two men to be guard­ed against as to their re­venge. One whom I open­ly hold in some se­ri­ous an­i­mos­i­ty, and whom I am at the pains to wound and defy and es­ti­mate as wor­thy of wound­ing and de­fy­ing. The other whom I treat as a sort of in­sect, and con­temp­tu­ous­ly and pleas­ant­ly flick aside with my glove. But it turns out to be the lat­ter who is the re­al­ly dan­ger­ous man, and when I ex­pect the blow from the other, it falls from him.

"That note," said Holmes, "is placed among mem­o­ran­da of ma­te­ri­al used in the later nov­els, and in my opin­ion it refers to the dis­guised per­son­al­i­ty of Datch­ery. It is true that Dick­ens used some­thing like it in 'Hunt­ed Down,' but that was mere­ly a short story writ­ten to order. I be­lieve that in de­pict­ing the im­per­son­ator of Datch­ery, Dick­ens de­vel­oped this idea en­tered in his note­book."

"And who, in re­al­i­ty, is this neg­li­gi­ble and in­signif­i­cant per­son?"

IS DATCH­ERY BAZ­ZARD IN DIS­CUISE?

"Again let me adopt my fa­vorite method of elim­i­na­tion," replied Holmes. "I hope I have con­vinced you that no woman could suc­cess­ful­ly im­per­son­ate an el­der­ly man. Datch­ery can­not be Grew­gious, Crisparkle, Neville, Tar­tar, Dur­dles, Sapsea, or the dean, be­cause they art all con­stant­ly be­fore the read­er, play­ing the roles pro­vid­ed for them. Not one of them dis­ap­pears, so that for any con­sid­er­able pe­ri­od he could be Datch­ery. He would have to be in and out of dis­guise, run­ning up and down be­tween Lon­don and Clois­ter­ham. Aside from Drood — who is prob­a­bly in Egypt, but who may pos­si­bly have re­turned — only one char­ac­ter dis­ap­pears — Baz­zard."

"Baz­zard!" I ex­claimed. "Sure­ly, Holmes, you can­not be­lieve that Grew­gious's un­in­ter­est­ing clerk can be Datch­ery? The Datch­ery-Baz­zard the­o­ry was bro­ken down by Sir W. Robert­son Nicoll, who brought heavy Ger­man guns for­ward to shat­ter the claim. He quotes from Dr. Hugo Eick's book, 'On the Psy­chol­o­gy of Dis­sim­u­la­tion.' The gist of the ar­gu­ment is summed up by an­oth­er writ­er, Pro­fes­sor Jack­son:

Ca­pac­i­ty can ape in­ca­pac­i­ty; but in­ca­pac­i­ty can­not ape ca­pac­i­ty,

"I am the last man in the world to dis­pute sci­en­tif­ic the­o­ries, how­ev­er Ger­man," said Holmes, "but what has all this about ca­pac­i­ty and in­ca­pac­i­ty to do with Baz­zard? Who has im­put­ed in­ca­pac­i­ty to Baz­zard? He is a lawyer's clerk, and while there are lawyer's clerks who are not in­tel­lec­tu­al gi­ants, they are not im­be­ciles as a class. Baz­zard has writ­ten a play. It may not be a good play; but to write even a poor play re­quires in­tel­li­gence of a sort — or so I am cred­i­bly in­formed. As Grew­gious him­self says: 'Now, you know, I couldn't write a play;' and he makes this ad­mis­sion as if he were in­ti­mat­ing that Baz­zard is not such a nonen­ti­ty as he seems."

"Now that you men­tion it," I re­marked, "I have often won­dered why, when Rosa takes refuge with Grew­gious to avoid Jasper's per­se­cu­tion, the lawyer de­votes most of his con­ver­sa­tion to the sub­ject of his ab­sent clerk, just as he does in an ear­li­er in­ter­view with Drood."

"Ob­vi­ous­ly be­cause Baz­zard is des­tined to take some im­por­tant part in the story," Holmes de­clared. "Baz­zard is in­vit­ed to have Christ­mas din­ner with his em­ploy­er. The clerk is rather a surly fel­low, soured, per­haps, by the re­fusal of man­agers to pro­duce his play. He is as­so­ci­at­ed with a group of am­a­teur play­wrights — so we are told. In short, his tastes and af­fil­i­a­tions are the­atri­cal. It might have been shown later that he be­longed to one of the com­pa­nies of am­a­teur ac­tors that Dick­ens was so fond of, both per­son­al­ly and as a writ­er."

"It does seem rather cu­ri­ous," I sug­gest­ed, "that Grew­gious should say to Rosa, 'Let's talk,' and then pro­ceed to talk al­most ex­clu­sive­ly of Baz­zard."

"It is for the rea­son that this is the only chance the nov­el­ist left him­self to es­tab­lish Baz­zard as a char­ac­ter in con­nec­tion with his ap­pear­ance as Datch­ery."

"The prin­ci­pal ar­gu­ment in favor of the Baz­zard-Datch­ery the­o­ry," said Wat­son, "has been Grew gums's re­mark that his clerk 'is off duty here, al­to­geth­er, just at pre­sent, and a firm down­stairs lend me a sub­sti­tute.' "

"And the re­mark is ex­treme­ly sig­nif­i­cant," Holmes com­ment­ed. "Ob­serve, Grew­gious does not say that Baz­zard has left him, but that he is 'off duty just for the pre­sent' — mean­ing that he is tem­porar­i­ly en­gaged on busi­ness away from the of­fice. Grew­gious has bor­rowed a sub­sti­tute, which clear­ly shows that the lawyer ex­pects his clerk to re­turn, and knows why he is away. Grew­gious might have said that Baz­zard was tak­ing a va­ca­tion, or was away be­cause his play was going to be pro­duced, or oth­er­wise ac­count­ed for his ab­sence; but he leaves the rea­son for the clerk's ab­sence vague and mys­te­ri­ous. Datch­ery ap­pears just as Baz­zard is ' off duty' in the novel. All the other char­ac­ters are in ev­i­dence. Neville Land­less has a room en­gaged for him, where he is study­ing law and is vis­it­ed by Crisparkle. He­le­na, we are told, is to be with him to cheer and en­cour­age him. Tar­tar has his rooms in the same build­ing, and does not dis­ap­pear from the story. Baz­zard alone van­ish­es from the scene after the read­er has been told a great deal about him."

"But," I ven­tured to say, "Dick­ens often in­tro­duces char­ac­ters for in­ci­den­tal humor, and soon al­lows them to drop out of the story."

"But Baz­zard is not one of these tran­sient com­e­dy char­ac­ters. He is not comic. He is neg­a­tive, an un­in­ter­est­ing per­son. In fact, he com­plete­ly re­al­izes the type of man re­ferred to in Dick­ens's note­book — 'a sort of in­sect to be brushed aside.' "

"You seem to for­get, Mr. Holmes," I re­mind­ed him, "that He­le­na Land­less is the per­son who has the strongest mo­tive for prov­ing the guilt of Jasper — the es­tab­lish­ing of her broth­er's in­no­cence."

"It is true that He­le­na has a mo­tive; but, in spite of that, the im­prob­a­bil­i­ty — nay, the im­pos­si­bil­i­ty — of a girl's mas­querad­ing as an el­der­ly man and de­ceiv­ing ev­ery­body, in­clud­ing the crim­i­nal him­self, in my opin­ion, nul­li­fies the claim of the He­lenists."

"And what mo­tive could Baz­zard have?" asked Wat­son.

"In the first place, the mo­tive of serv­ing his em­ploy­er, Grew­gious. Sec­ond­ly, the mo­tive of doing work con­ge­nial to a man of the­atri­cal in­cli­na­tions. There is also the mo­tive of help­ing to bring a scoundrel to jus­tice. The only am­bi­tion in­di­cat­ed in Baz­zard is con­nect­ed with the the­ater. If Grew­gious had sug­gest­ed such a melo­dra­mat­ic mis­sion to the clerk who had writ­ten a play, Baz­zard would prob­a­bly have jumped at the chance to try his hand at an em­ploy­ment far more con­ge­nial than law of­fice rou­tine. It would not be dif­fi­cult for him to dis­guise him­self as an el­der­ly man. He would need just enough dis­guise to avoid a chance recog­ni­tion as Grew­gious's clerk."

Holmes ceased, and for a few mo­ments seemed to be lost in thought.

"We are still here," Wat­son re­mind­ed him; and he emerged from his cog­i­ta­tions.

MINOR MYS­TER­IES OF THE NOVEL

"To go fur­ther into Baz­zard's mo­tive for the Datch­ery mas­quer­ade," he said, "I should have to know se­crets that Dick­ens car­ried to his grave. I have given you a fair ex­po­si­tion of my ar­gu­ment to show that Drood was not killed; and it is pos­si­ble that I have con­vinced you, as I have con­vinced my­self, that Datch­ery is Baz­zard. These are the two lead­ing prob­lems in the novel; but it con­tains other mys­ter­ies — enig­mas that will never be sat­is­fac­to­ri­ly solved, and can only be vague­ly guessed. For ex­am­ple, why does the opium woman hate Jasper? She says she knows him 'bet­ter than all the learned par­sons put to­geth­er know him.' Per­haps the fact that Jasper, in her pres­ence and under the in­flu­ence of the drug, has bab­bled of the crime he con­tem­plat­ed is enough to ac­count for that re­mark; but would it be enough to take her to Clois­ter­ham, to look, as she says, 'for a nee­dle in a bun­dle of hay'? She is so poor that she begs three shillings and six­pence on two dif­fer­ent oc­ca­sions, yet she jour­neys twice to a town twen­ty-six miles from Lon­don to trail and spy upon Jasper, whom she often has had at her mercy in her opium den."

"Mr. Cum­ing Wal­ters," I sug­gest­ed, "be­lieves that the opium woman is Jasper's moth­er."

"So I have ob­served," said Holmes, "Mr. Wal­ters also as­serts that 'the opium vice is hered­i­tary' — which it is not, as I hap­pen to know. The opium woman speaks the di­alect of the low­est slums. Jasper is a man of ed­u­ca­tion, a mu­si­cian. If she is his moth­er, she must be old Mrs, Jasper, Drood's ma­ter­nal grand­moth­er. She says she 'got heav­ens-hard drunk for six­teen years' be­fore she took to opium. We are told that Drood's fa­ther was a col­lege man and a pros­per­ous busi­ness man. I see noth­ing in the novel to in­di­cate that he mar­ried the daugh­ter of a dis­rep­utable old hag. It is prob­a­ble that the woman was to be a wit­ness at Jasper's trial.

"Then," con­tin­ued the great de­tec­tive, "there is the imp­ish va­grant boy, Deputy. His noc­tur­nal roam­ings mean some­thing. He and Jasper hate each other. He is re­ferred to in Dick­ens's pre­lim­i­nary notes for the novel — 'Re­mem­ber there is a child,' and 'Keep the boy sus­pend­ed.' Prob­a­bly he, too, was to be a wit­ness at the trial. He saw Jasper and Dur­dles leave the cathe­dral after their mid­night visit to the crypt and the tower. It is like­ly that Datch­ery learns a good deal from the boy, with whom he makes friends."

"One of the in­ter­est­ing sec­ondary mys­ter­ies," I sug­gest­ed, "is Dur­dles's story told to Jasper dur­ing the noc­tur­nal ex­pe­di­tion to the cathe­dral. Dur­dles re­lates that on the pre­ced­ing Christ­mas Eve he was in the crypt, sleep­ing off a de­bauch. He was awak­ened by a 'ter­rif­ic shriek,' fol­lowed by the 'long, dis­mal, woe­ful howl of a dog.' Jasper is ag­i­tat­ed by this in­for­ma­tion, but there is no fur­ther al­lu­sion to it in the novel. Sev­er­al of the writ­ers on the sub­ject think that this in­ci­dent is a sort of oc­cult pre­mo­ni­tion — that the shriek is Jasper's shriek as he falls, or is thrown, from the tower on the Christ­mas Eve fol­low­ing the sup­posed mur­der of Drood."

"Ac­cord­ing to this the­o­ry," an­swered Holmes, "the shriek and the howl would have been pre­mo­ni­tions just two years be­fore their ful­fill­ment. Why should they be heard by Dur­dles, about the last per­son who could be thought to be psy­chic or clair­voy­ant? I fancy that the mason's story is mere­ly a bit of weird de­tail to add to the sug­ges­tion of Jasper's sin­is­ter mo­tive in vis­it­ing the crypt and the tower. If Jasper had been up to any mis­chief in the cathe­dral on the Christ­mas Eve pre­ced­ing the at­tack on Drood — any­thing to cause a shriek and a howl ac­tu­al­ly heard — he would have been fa­mil­iar with the premis­es, and would not have had to go on the re­con­noi­ter­ing ex­pe­di­tion with Dur­dles. Jasper be­comes ner­vous when the mason tells the story. Per­haps he, with a mur­der in con­tem­pla­tion, re­gards the weird noc­tur­nal nois­es as omi­nous."

"There is one more point on which I would like to hear your opin­ion," said Wat­son. "In the last chap­ter writ­ten, Jasper, under the in­flu­ence of opium, speaks of 'a haz­ardous jour­ney, over abysses where a slip would be de­struc­tion. 'Look down, look down!' he says; 'you see what lies at the bot­tom there?' He 'points as though at some imag­i­nary ob­ject far be­neath.' 'And yet I never saw that be­fore,' he says. 'That must be real. It's over!' As Mr. An­drew Lang asked, what can all this mean?"

Holmes thought deeply for a mo­ment.

"I'm damned if I know," he fi­nal­ly replied. "And yet the sci­ence of de­duc­tion is of value even here. The il­lus­tra­tions on the cover are ev­i­dent­ly a pic­to­ri­al sum­ma­ry of the prin­ci­pal in­ci­dents in the novel. They can­not be any­thing else. One of them rep­re­sents three men rush­ing up a cir­cu­lar stair­case — that of the cathe­dral tower, of course. The lead­er points up­ward. It is Neville Land­less. The other men are Crisparkle and Tar­tar. They are pur­su­ing some one. Who could it be but Jasper? The in­fer­ence is that Jasper, dis­cov­ered in his visit to the tomb, rush­es up the tower stair­case. The three watch­ers pur­sue, Neville lead­ing. At the top of the tower he and Jasper strug­gle. Neville is thrown from the tower and killed; so there is an ac­tu­al mur­der, for which Jasper is to pay the penal­ty. 'Look down! I never saw that be­fore. That must be real.' These rav­ings, I be­lieve, are pre­mon­i­to­ry, and refer to Neville's body."

"Your de­duc­tions have in­ter­est­ed me great­ly," I ob­served, help­ing my­self to the very ex­cel­lent Irish whisky prof­fered by our host, "but you have not taken into ac­count the as­ser­tion of John Forster, Dick­ens's bi­og­ra­pher, that the nov­el­ist told him that Drood was to be mur­dered. The son and the daugh­ter of the au­thor made sim­i­lar state­ments."

"I at­tach no im­por­tance what­ev­er to such tes­ti­mo­ny," said Holmes. "My friend Wat­son states in one of his sto­ries that I have no knowl­edge of lit­er­a­ture. I don't deny the charge; but I am sure of one thing — no nov­el­ist with a com­pli­cat­ed plot in his mind is like­ly to go around telling it to his friends and rel­a­tives. Dick­ens guard­ed his plot jeal­ous­ly. He ex­press­ly told Forster, in a let­ter, that the plot was 'in­com­mu­ni­ca­ble.' I don't be­lieve that he re­vealed it to any­body. I am by no means cer­tain that if Dick­ens had lived to com­plete 'The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood,' it would not now be con­sid­ered the best of his nov­els. An ad­mirable crit­ic, the writ­er whose nom de plume is John o' Lon­don, re­cent­ly said of it:

"It is a novel whose very style, so un­usu­al­ly wrought, po­et­ic and haunt­ing in its move­ments and ca­dences, might alone sug­gest that he had formed a fine de­sign."

"One more ques­tion, Holmes," said Wat­son.

The great de­tec­tive dis­played un­mis­tak­able ev­i­dence of im­pa­tience.

"My good Wat­son," he said, "I must re­mind you of the force­ful words of old Fa­ther William in that ex­cel­lent work, 'Alice in Won­der­land ':

" 'I have an­swered three ques­tions, and that is enough,'
Said his fa­ther; 'don't give your­self airs!
Do you think I can lis­ten all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I'll kick you down­stairs!'

"While I do not se­ri­ous­ly med­i­tate any such breach of hos­pi­tal­i­ty, I must re­mind you that I have an­swered many more ques­tions than the three that ex­haust­ed the pa­tience of that es­timable pa­tri­arch."

With this re­mark, Holmes took up a vol­ume, which I rec­og­nized as "The Mys­tery of Edwin Drood," and im­me­di­ate­ly be­came ab­sorbed in it. As he seemed de­ter­mined to ig­nore our pres­ence en­tire­ly, after some fif­teen min­utes of si­lence Wat­son qui­et­ly in­ti­mat­ed to me his own de­duc­tion that the in­ter­view was at an end.