The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 Next page
Miss Twinkleton rose at her little writing-table, saying, with
general sweetness, as to the polite Universe: 'Will you permit me
'By no means, madam, on my account. I beg that you will not move.'
'I must entreat permission to MOVE,' returned Miss Twinkleton,
repeating the word with a charming grace; 'but I will not withdraw,
since you are so obliging. If I wheel my desk to this corner
window, shall I be in the way?'
'Madam! In the way!'
'You are very kind. - Rosa, my dear, you will be under no
restraint, I am sure.'
Here Mr. Grewgious, left by the fire with Rosa, said again: 'My
dear, how do you do? I am glad to see you, my dear.' And having
waited for her to sit down, sat down himself.
'My visits,' said Mr. Grewgious, 'are, like those of the angels -
not that I compare myself to an angel.'
'No, sir,' said Rosa.
'Not by any means,' assented Mr. Grewgious. 'I merely refer to my
visits, which are few and far between. The angels are, we know
very well, up-stairs.'
Miss Twinkleton looked round with a kind of stiff stare.
'I refer, my dear,' said Mr. Grewgious, laying his hand on Rosa's,
as the possibility thrilled through his frame of his otherwise
seeming to take the awful liberty of calling Miss Twinkleton my
dear; 'I refer to the other young ladies.'
Miss Twinkleton resumed her writing.
Mr. Grewgious, with a sense of not having managed his opening point
quite as neatly as he might have desired, smoothed his head from
back to front as if he had just dived, and were pressing the water
out - this smoothing action, however superfluous, was habitual with
him - and took a pocket-book from his coat-pocket, and a stump of
black-lead pencil from his waistcoat-pocket.
'I made,' he said, turning the leaves: 'I made a guiding
memorandum or so - as I usually do, for I have no conversational
powers whatever - to which I will, with your permission, my dear,
refer. "Well and happy." Truly. You are well and happy, my dear?
You look so.'
'Yes, indeed, sir,' answered Rosa.
'For which,' said Mr. Grewgious, with a bend of his head towards
the corner window, 'our warmest acknowledgments are due, and I am
sure are rendered, to the maternal kindness and the constant care
and consideration of the lady whom I have now the honour to see
This point, again, made but a lame departure from Mr. Grewgious,
and never got to its destination; for, Miss Twinkleton, feeling
that the courtesies required her to be by this time quite outside
the conversation, was biting the end of her pen, and looking
upward, as waiting for the descent of an idea from any member of
the Celestial Nine who might have one to spare.
Mr. Grewgious smoothed his smooth head again, and then made another
reference to his pocket-book; lining out 'well and happy,' as
'"Pounds, shillings, and pence," is my next note. A dry subject
for a young lady, but an important subject too. Life is pounds,
shillings, and pence. Death is - ' A sudden recollection of the
death of her two parents seemed to stop him, and he said in a
softer tone, and evidently inserting the negative as an after-
thought: 'Death is NOT pounds, shillings, and pence.'
His voice was as hard and dry as himself, and Fancy might have
ground it straight, like himself, into high-dried snuff. And yet,
through the very limited means of expression that he possessed, he
seemed to express kindness. If Nature had but finished him off,
kindness might have been recognisable in his face at this moment.
But if the notches in his forehead wouldn't fuse together, and if
his face would work and couldn't play, what could he do, poor man!
'"Pounds, shillings, and pence." You find your allowance always
sufficient for your wants, my dear?'
Rosa wanted for nothing, and therefore it was ample.
'And you are not in debt?'
Rosa laughed at the idea of being in debt. It seemed, to her
inexperience, a comical vagary of the imagination. Mr. Grewgious
stretched his near sight to be sure that this was her view of the
case. 'Ah!' he said, as comment, with a furtive glance towards
Miss Twinkleton, and lining out pounds, shillings, and pence: 'I
spoke of having got among the angels! So I did!'
Rosa felt what his next memorandum would prove to be, and was
blushing and folding a crease in her dress with one embarrassed
hand, long before he found it.
'"Marriage." Hem!' Mr. Grewgious carried his smoothing hand down
over his eyes and nose, and even chin, before drawing his chair a
little nearer, and speaking a little more confidentially: 'I now
touch, my dear, upon the point that is the direct cause of my
troubling you with the present visit. Othenwise, being a
particularly Angular man, I should not have intruded here. I am
the last man to intrude into a sphere for which I am so entirely
unfitted. I feel, on these premises, as if I was a bear - with the
cramp - in a youthful Cotillon.'
His ungainliness gave him enough of the air of his simile to set
Rosa off laughing heartily.
'It strikes you in the same light,' said Mr. Grewgious, with
perfect calmness. 'Just so. To return to my memorandum. Mr.
Edwin has been to and fro here, as was arranged. You have
mentioned that, in your quarterly letters to me. And you like him,
and he likes you.'
'I LIKE him very much, sir,' rejoined Rosa.
'So I said, my dear,' returned her guardian, for whose ear the
timid emphasis was much too fine. 'Good. And you correspond.'
'We write to one another,' said Rosa, pouting, as she recalled
their epistolary differences.
'Such is the meaning that I attach to the word "correspond" in this
application, my dear,' said Mr. Grewgious. 'Good. All goes well,
time works on, and at this next Christmas-time it will become
necessary, as a matter of form, to give the exemplary lady in the
corner window, to whom we are so much indebted, business notice of
your departure in the ensuing half-year. Your relations with her
are far more than business relations, no doubt; but a residue of
business remains in them, and business is business ever. I am a
particularly Angular man,' proceeded Mr. Grewgious, as if it
suddenly occurred to him to mention it, 'and I am not used to give
anything away. If, for these two reasons, some competent Proxy
would give YOU away, I should take it very kindly.'
Rosa intimated, with her eyes on the ground, that she thought a
substitute might be found, if required.
'Surely, surely,' said Mr. Grewgious. 'For instance, the gentleman
who teaches Dancing here - he would know how to do it with graceful
propriety. He would advance and retire in a manner satisfactory to
the feelings of the officiating clergyman, and of yourself, and the
bridegroom, and all parties concerned. I am - I am a particularly
Angular man,' said Mr. Grewgious, as if he had made up his mind to
screw it out at last: 'and should only blunder.'
Rosa sat still and silent. Perhaps her mind had not got quite so
far as the ceremony yet, but was lagging on the way there.
'Memorandum, "Will." Now, my dear,' said Mr. Grewgious, referring
to his notes, disposing of 'Marriage' with his pencil, and taking a
paper from his pocket; 'although. I have before possessed you with
the contents of your father's will, I think it right at this time
to leave a certified copy of it in your hands. And although Mr.
Edwin is also aware of its contents, I think it right at this time
likewise to place a certified copy of it in Mr. Jasper's hand - '
'Not in his own!' asked Rosa, looking up quickly. 'Cannot the copy
go to Eddy himself?'
'Why, yes, my dear, if you particularly wish it; but I spoke of Mr.
Jasper as being his trustee.'
'I do particularly wish it, if you please,' said Rosa, hurriedly
and earnestly; 'I don't like Mr. Jasper to come between us, in any
'It is natural, I suppose,' said Mr. Grewgious, 'that your young
husband should be all in all. Yes. You observe that I say, I
suppose. The fact is, I am a particularly Unnatural man, and I
don't know from my own knowledge.'
Rosa looked at him with some wonder.
'I mean,' he explained, 'that young ways were never my ways. I was
the only offspring of parents far advanced in life, and I half
believe I was born advanced in life myself. No personality is
intended towards the name you will so soon change, when I remark
that while the general growth of people seem to have come into
existence, buds, I seem to have come into existence a chip. I was
a chip - and a very dry one - when I first became aware of myself.
Respecting the other certified copy, your wish shall be complied
with. Respecting your inheritance, I think you know all. It is an
annuity of two hundred and fifty pounds. The savings upon that
annuity, and some other items to your credit, all duly carried to
account, with vouchers, will place you in possession of a lump-sum
of money, rather exceeding Seventeen Hundred Pounds. I am
empowered to advance the cost of your preparations for your
marriage out of that fund. All is told.'
'Will you please tell me,' said Rosa, taking the paper with a