The Indianapolis Journal: Mystery of the Murder of Edwin Drood Solved by Readers

The Indianapolis Journal, Sunday, March 20, 1904.


HE Journal publishes below the prize-winning contributions in the Edwin Drood Mystery Contest. Owing to the unexpectedly large number of contestants the labors of of the Jury of awards have been severe, but they have performed their duty with strict impartiality under the contest conditions. By these conditions it was necessary that the prizes should be awarded to the contributions showing the most plausible ending of Dickens' unfinished novel. The theory upon which the judges acted was that Edwin Drood should be found in one of the Cathedral tombs. The atmosphere of tragedy which marks the story from first to last make it clear, the judges believe, that the author had no intention of resurrecting the hero of the story. The sinister significance which was given by Mr. Dickens to John Jasper's night prowlings In the cathedral, to the incident of Durdle's keys, to the reference to the piles of quick-lime, to the displaced hands of the cathedral clock and, above all, to the horrible ravings of the villain in the opium den, convinced the judges that they must act on the theory that Edwin Drood was murdered and thrown from the cathedral tower, his body concealed in a tomb, covered with quick-lime, and that the hag who presided at the opium den should play an important part in the detectives' efforts to unravel the mystery.

Under this decision a large number of most excellent contributions were necessarily disqualified. About 25 per cent of the solutions received were written on the theory that Drood had either voluntarily disappeared or had been assaulted by Jasper and left for dead but had later recovered. Many of the contestants made the mistake of paying very much more attention to the possible matrimonial alliances of the story than to the unraveling of the mystery of young Drood's disappearance. A considerable number of solutions were disqualified because they largely exceeded the specified space limit. In addition to the prize-winners there was a large number of solutions which were possessed of much merit and the Journal publishes a list of these as having received honorable mention. The contest has aroused great interest throughout the city and State and the Journal wishes to express its thanks to the gentlemen who have acted as Judges for their courtesy and care in the discharge of the duties which they have so cheerfully assumed.

By the terms of the contest the prizes were destributed as follows: First, $50; second, $25; third, $10; fourth, fifth and sixth, $5 each. The Judges of the contest were: William Pinkerton, Chicago; Judge Freemont Alford, Indianapolis; Capt. J. E. Kinney, Indianapolis.

The prize-winning contributions follow:

Mrs. Will Cumbach, Greensburg

Dickens's "Mystery of Edwin Drood" Is a study in the criminal psychology. John Jasper, an artistic voluptuary, is an embryonic criminal, and the use of opium has destroyed his moral sense, so that 'he has no restraining influence in the gratification of desires. In love with Rosa, Drood's betrothed, Jasper murders Drood in the Cathedral tower after midnight Christmas eve, by strangling him with a "black scarf of strong close-woven silk." Jasper takes watch, chain and pin from body and throws body to "that stillest part," the shadow near the crypt door.

Jasper descends through regular cathedral entrance and drags body into crypt and secretes it. Having disfigured body with quicklime, it is never recognized, and only identified by the discovery of Rosa's mother's ring on Drood's person by Durdles and Detective Datchery. Presence of ring was unknown to Jasper, but easily recognized by Datchery, who as Bazzard, witnessed Grewgious's delivery of the ring to Drood.

The story of the murder is at last related by Jasper when under the influence of opium he is manipulated by the keeper of the opium den in the hearing of detectives and officials. Corroborated in essential parts by Deputy. Crisparkle, Grewgious and Landless (for motives apparent) become the most vigorous prosecutors, and Landless loses his life in the untangling of the tragedy in which he, although innocent, has been woven.

Jasper commits suicide in a condemned cell. Crisparkle marries Helena Landless and Tartar marries Rosa, Rosa being in love "for the first time."

-- Proof of Above Theory. --

The above theory comprehends all the mysterious incidents in the story, whether expressed in this proof or not, and can be verified as plausible. It accords also with artistic development of story.

Drood murdered, because his temperament makes a voluntary, mysterious disappearance improbable. His failure to respond to general inquiry. The finding of valuable personal effects in river, thrown there by Jasper when ostensibly searching for Drood. Kidnaping impractical.

Murdered by Jasper. Motive, jealous love for Rosa. Confesses his capability Chapter 19. Guilty dream, "Who did it?" -- Diary record, Chapter 10. Jasper's exaggerated emotion when Grewgious explains broken engagement -- Chapter 15.

His wild guilt Christmas morning. Jasper publishes discord between Drood and Landless before murder; persecutes Landleas immediately after. Opium hag's warning concerning "Ned." Time of murder corroborated by Jeweler's, Jasper's and Landless's testimony.

Cathedral tower best place for murder; no outcry heard; Drood easily decoyed to view scenery. "Fresh winds" sufficient excuse to transfer "scarf" to Drood's neck. Tower staircase too liable to leave tell-tale marks; hence body thrown outside.

Crypt, with windows "bare of glass," untenable. Note repairs on Tower -- Dickens's earmark of tragedy, a storm. Suicide, Jasper's natural sequel. (Dickens never executes criminal.) Durdles's drunken sleep to give Jasper opportunity to take impression of crypt keys and examine "walls." Enough quicklime taken for disfiguring purposes, passed unobserved by Durdles and workmen.

Theory confirmed, Chapters 12-23, and all mysteries. Diasram proves quicklime mound as Drood's burial place untenable.

Joseph A. Davidson, 1525 North Illinois St., Indianapolis

Among all the characters delineated in "The Mystery of Edwin Drood," one only, by the remotest chance, has anything to gain by the murder of Drood, and he only among all is capable of such a crime.

That one is John Jasper.

His mad love of Rosa and his hope of ultimately gaining her is the motive.

His plan begins to unfold that night at Sapsea's when he evinces such a peculiar interest in Durdles and his keys, and especially the Sapsea key, which Durdles ties up in his bundle.

Jasper wants that key.

He encounters Durdles again that evening; becomes curious to know how he does certain things so accurately; Durdles demonstrates; clink, clink, and the key is Jasper's; a wax Impression of it is taken and it Is returned to the bundle then and there. His plan becomes plainer when, on the night he and Durdles ascend the tower he contemplates that "stillest part of the scene," which the cathedral overshadows; then leaves Durdles stupefied by the drugged liquor; goes to the Sapsea tomb and tries the duplicate key made from the wax Impression; finds it operates the lock perfectly, goes to the Durdles home, procures a satisfactory amount of quicklime from the "mound by the yard gate;" conveys to and places it in the tomb; probably returning to the stoneyard the vessels used in conveying it.

This has required much time, for he has been very deliberate; he returns to Durdles and finds him on the point of waking.

His preparations are now complete.

On leaving Landless at Crisparkle's door on the night of Christmas eve. Drood meets Jasper and is induced to ascend to the top of the tower, probably to note the effect of the wind from that point, from whence he is hurled to the ground below, and after being relieved of watch and shirtpin the body is taken to the Sapsea tomb; Jasper becomes heated and removes his silk scarf; carefully covers the body with quicklime, and, locking the door, goes to the river and throws the key he has just used far out into the water.

The watch and pin are deliberately disposed of in the manner mentioned to cast further suspicion on Landless. The conviction of the murderer should be brought about by Datchery (otherwise Bazzard), through the "Princess Puffer" and by the scarf left by him in the tomb.

The identification of the body of Drood should be established by Rosa's ring (given Edwin by Grewgious), which was overlooked by Jasper and which the lime will fail to destroy.

The plot was conceived before Landless came to Cloisterham, and since it was carried out to the letter could not have comprehended him, and he is only implicated to the extent shown. Durdles was to have been the "scapegoat." Durdles had the only known key to the tomb. It was his lime used. He was known to frequent the cathedral at all hours.

Mrs Agnes McCable, Lapel, Madison County

Edwin Drood was killed by Jasper, as the trend of Dickens's story gives promise. His body was buried in the crypt in place of the quicklime mound, for it would have been impossible to carry it from any point of the Presinct through Monks' Vineyard, through the narrow lane, past a Tavern, always lighted and about which loitered the impish Deputies; then into Durdles's yard, where he and workmen were busy every day. He was murdered in the tower and thrown to the ground below, as hinted in Chapters 12-23. Drood would willingly go to the tower to see the city and river in windstorm and moonlight. There is no evidence of snow or rain.

Jasper strangled Drood with the scarf he wore the night of the murder as the most noiseless and bloodless way to take his life. He took all Drood's Jewelry, except the ring Grewgious gave him, of which Jasper was ignorant. By this ring Drood is identified. Jasper threw jewelry into the river after carrying it long enough to let the watch run down, which helps in part to prove when Drood was murdered. Durdles's drunken sleep gives Jasper a chance to make copy of crypt "key that will unlock both doors" and find the place to bury Drood. The opium mixer has learned the secret to make Jasper talk, and for a reward she has Jasper tell on himself the whole story of the dangerous journey up the tower and the danger of slipping when he threw the body down, although the cathedral in a small provincial town is not so high. Jasper takes his own life after murdering Landless, who helps to bring him to Justice.

Deputy, looking out for Durdles, is the only one who sees the body fall to the ground, but is so frightened that he runs without investigating. He thinks next morning it must have been one of the large rocks from the tower. Datchery, who is Bazzard, is sent by Grewgious, as detective. He draws marks like his employer, Grewgious.

Crisparkle marries Miss Landless and Tartar marries Rosa.

Albert C. Small. 128 E. St. Joseph St., Indianapolis

The story was drawing to a close. In three, or at most, four, chapters, with the inevitable and always interesting Dickens sequel, John Jasper's crime would have been exposed. The detective, Dick Dachery, set on by Mr. Grewgious, was beginning to see his way. The "Princess Puffer" had given him a valuable lead. The missing link would be supplied in a visit to the abode of Durdles; supplementary and important evidence being furnished by young Deputy. A search of the subterranean ways beneath the tower of the cathedral, from the top of which Jasper had thrown his all-trusting nephew, would reveal the entombed body of Edwin Drood, all but consumed by quicklime taken from the heap of that corrosive substance against which Durdles warned Jasper on the night of their prowl through the cathedral crypt. Identification, however, would be made complete by the discovery of the jeweled ring (Rosebud's heirloom) which Mr. Grewgious had given Drood during their last interview, and which Jasper, unaware of its existence, had overlooked when he divested his victim of his known bits of jewelry, which he thought to forever destroy by casting into the weir. Mr. Grewgious would identify the ring, thus clearly establishing the fate of Drood. Durdles's thickened memory would recall criminating circumstances, and young Deputy would find gratification of his fued by testifying that he had seen Jasper and Drood enter the cathedral on that fateful night ofter Landless had left Drood at Jasper's door. The tolls thus closed about Jasper, that wretched person would take his own life, very properly relieving all concerned and sparing Cloisterham the disgrace of a hanging.

The motive is clear. Jasper's unholy passion for Rosebud would be thwarted by his trusting nephew's marriage with that graceful creature. Therefore, with conscience seared and moral senses blunted by opium and with the craft of the confirmed "dope fiend," he set about removing the man who stood in his way. The astute Mr. Grewgious received an inkling of this upon noting the effect his revelation of the break between Drood and Rosebud, had upon Jasper.

The gentle Dickens, than whom no master ever established more confidential relations with his readers, has kept us in his confidence throughout. Jasper's cunning in useing Landless's fiery temper as a foil for his crime, and his skill in casting suspicion upon that young man are interesting examples of the Dickens method. The guilt of Jasper is no more convincing than that Rosebud would marry the clearly smitten and gallant Tartar, and that Helena would marry the devoted Mr. Carsprinkle (sic!), all of whom would live happily ever afterward, each vying with the other to make life pleasant for the unhappy Neville, and all proud of the success he achieved at the bar, to which he became wedded, concealing as effectually his love for Rosebud as Mr. Grewgious had concealed his for that young woman's mother.

Mrs. E. H. Athlnson. The Arlington. Indianapolis

Mr. Datchery spends much time in cathedral with Durdles. A messenger is sent post haste to London. In the night coach come Mr. Grewgious, Rosebud, Miss Twinkleton, Paul Landless (sic!) and sister. The next morning a suppressed excitement prevades the town. Groups whispered by crypt door and in front of gatehouse. A grewsome find had been made by Durdles in Mrs. Sapsea's tomb. At the gatehouse the choirmaster lay dying of a drug taken with suicidal intent.

The party that came from London were gathered in rectory parlor, with addition of the dean, rector, mayor, Mr. Datchery and Durdles. Mr. Grewgious, smoothing his head: "We have come not to judge between the dead and dying, but in the interests of the living, that a young man's character may be cleared from unjust suspicion and he restored to the confidence of his fellow-men;" that Bazzard, his clerk, would submit facts adduced from testimony of witnesses present. Whereupon Mr. Datchery removed the shock of white hair, revealing the thin, black locks of "Bazzard" to the amazement of some present. "had come, at the suggestion of Mr. Grewgious, to unravel the mystery of the disappearance of Edwin Drood." He found first that Mr. Jasper had annoyed Miss Bud with attentions, knowing of her betrothal to his ward. Miss Bud had broken engagement to save her lover and herself from his persecutions too late to avert unknown danger feared. Mr. Grewgious, on imparting news of broken betrothal to Jasper, had suspicions aroused. Paul Landless had suspected Jasper of mixing liquors and otherwise promoting quarrel between himself and Drood. A keeper of an opium den had drawn the confession from Jasper that he had hurled "Ned" from tower, heedless of his entreaties or of danger to himself. That stones had been displaced, lead detached from roof rolling like paper and falling Into close below. That these, or the falling body, had torn tho hands from the cathedral clock. That Durdles had discovered body in Mrs. Sapsea's tomb, eaten beyond recognition by quicklime. A piece of coarse black silk, identified by Mrs. Tope as part of scarf worn by Jasper, and a ring case were all that threw any light upon mystery. Opening the case, the jewels gleamed like imprisoned sunshine in the gloom of the rectory parlor. Mr. Grewgious identified ring as one given Edwin to present to Rosa.

"O Eddy, poor, poor Eddy!" walled Rosebud.

And so blindly and blunderingly they stumbled upon the truth at last. Edwin, too generous to suspect the hatred, jealousy and ambition of his guardian, had refused to be warned by him. Mrs. Sapsea's tomb was evidently to have a place in the denouement the key was, taken from Durdles in his drugged half-consciousness in night adventure at which time Durdles had called attention to the quicklime. The cathedral tower is named in the open sentence of the tale and in its shadow and against it the waves of the tragedy beat till the pen falls from the tired hand of the master.

Mrs. Ernest Thomas, Rushville

Mr. Datchery follows "Her Royal Highness" to London, goes to the opium joint and there with the aid of money induces the old woman to tell how "she knows Mr. Jasper better than all the reverend parsons put together." How in his opium delirium he over and over enacted the murder of "Ned," how he entices his nephew up into the cathedral tower on the pretenses of viewing Cloisterham at night and by seeming to accidently lurch against him sends him crashing to his death in the close beneath and then hurrying down into the wild night he approaches the body and finds life gone, and after taking the watch and chain and shirt pin from young Drood's person, he carries the body into the crypt under the cathedral and, passing down the long aisle to a tomb which he had previously selected, he placed the body within. Mr. Datchery and Mr. Grewgious, who has employed the detective, Mr. Datchery, at once go to Cloisterham to search the crypt and verify the old woman's tale. They go to Durdles for the key and by adroit questioning learn of the midnight expedition he had made with Mr. Jasper to the crypt one week before the disappearance' of young Drood and of his (Durdles) strange dream of the keys being taken from him. They searched the tombs and at last came on one which contained a quantity of quicklime which Mr. Datchery poked about in and brought to light some fragments of bones and a ring which Mr. Grewgious at once recognizes as the one he had given Edwin Drood and which his murderer had failed to find, thinking the only Jewelry he possessed a watch and chain and shirt pin, and knowing the lime would not destroy these, had thrown them in the weir, where they were found by Mr. Crisparkle. Durdles recalled how Mr. Jasper had asked particularly about the destroying power of quicklime in his door yard as he was starting with Mr. Jasper on their midnight expedition through the tower and crypt.

Datcher (sic!) then began a search for a locksmith who had made a key from an impression taken to him some time in the week previous to Christmas eve and finally found one in London who had made one for a person whom he described and whom description fitted Jasper exactly. Mr. Jasper was arrested, was very "indignant that he should be accused of murdering his dear "Ned." and yet when a few hours later he was found dead and the small paper on the floor told the story of how the deadly corrosive sublimate had been skillfully concealed on his person for this very emergency, the deed his lips had denied was confirmed by his death.' Mr. Crisparkle marries Helena and Roi:a the brown young seaman.