The Mystery of Edwin Drood
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on at the flying waiter while he set the clean glasses round,
directed a valedictory glance towards Mr. Grewgious, conveying:
'Let it be clearly understood between us that the reward is mine,
and that Nil is the claim of this slave,' and pushed the flying
waiter before him out of the room.
It was like a highly-finished miniature painting representing My
Lords of the Circumlocution Department, Commandership-in-Chief of
any sort, Government. It was quite an edifying little picture to
be hung on the line in the National Gallery.
As the fog had been the proximate cause of this sumptuous repast,
so the fog served for its general sauce. To hear the out-door
clerks sneezing, wheezing, and beating their feet on the gravel was
a zest far surpassing Doctor Kitchener's. To bid, with a shiver,
the unfortunate flying waiter shut the door before he had opened
it, was a condiment of a profounder flavour than Harvey. And here
let it be noticed, parenthetically, that the leg of this young man,
in its application to the door, evinced the finest sense of touch:
always preceding himself and tray (with something of an angling air
about it), by some seconds: and always lingering after he and the
tray had disappeared, like Macbeth's leg when accompanying him off
the stage with reluctance to the assassination of Duncan.
The host had gone below to the cellar, and had brought up bottles
of ruby, straw-coloured, and golden drinks, which had ripened long
ago in lands where no fogs are, and had since lain slumbering in
the shade. Sparkling and tingling after so long a nap, they pushed
at their corks to help the corkscrew (like prisoners helping
rioters to force their gates), and danced out gaily. If P. J. T.
in seventeen-forty-seven, or in any other year of his period, drank
such wines - then, for a certainty, P. J. T. was Pretty Jolly Too.
Externally, Mr. Grewgious showed no signs of being mellowed by
these glowing vintages. Instead of his drinking them, they might
have been poured over him in his high-dried snuff form, and run to
waste, for any lights and shades they caused to flicker over his
face. Neither was his manner influenced. But, in his wooden way,
he had observant eyes for Edwin; and when at the end of dinner, he
motioned Edwin back to his own easy-chair in the fireside corner,
and Edwin sank luxuriously into it after very brief remonstrance,
Mr. Grewgious, as he turned his seat round towards the fire too,
and smoothed his head and face, might have been seen looking at his
visitor between his smoothing fingers.
'Bazzard!' said Mr. Grewgious, suddenly turning to him.
'I follow you, sir,' returned Bazzard; who had done his work of
consuming meat and drink in a workmanlike manner, though mostly in
'I drink to you, Bazzard; Mr. Edwin, success to Mr. Bazzard!'
'Success to Mr. Bazzard!' echoed Edwin, with a totally unfounded
appearance of enthusiasm, and with the unspoken addition: 'What
in, I wonder!'
'And May!' pursued Mr. Grewgious - 'I am not at liberty to be
definite - May! - my conversational powers are so very limited that
I know I shall not come well out of this - May! - it ought to be
put imaginatively, but I have no imagination - May! - the thorn of
anxiety is as nearly the mark as I am likely to get - May it come
out at last!'
Mr. Bazzard, with a frowning smile at the fire, put a hand into his
tangled locks, as if the thorn of anxiety were there; then into his
waistcoat, as if it were there; then into his pockets, as if it
were there. In all these movements he was closely followed by the
eyes of Edwin, as if that young gentleman expected to see the thorn
in action. It was not produced, however, and Mr. Bazzard merely
said: 'I follow you, sir, and I thank you.'
'I am going,' said Mr. Grewgious, jingling his glass on the table
with one hand, and bending aside under cover of the other, to
whisper to Edwin, 'to drink to my ward. But I put Bazzard first.
He mightn't like it else.'
This was said with a mysterious wink; or what would have been a
wink, if, in Mr. Grewgious's hands, it could have been quick
enough. So Edwin winked responsively, without the least idea what
he meant by doing so.
'And now,' said Mr. Grewgious, 'I devote a bumper to the fair and
fascinating Miss Rosa. Bazzard, the fair and fascinating Miss
'I follow you, sir,' said Bazzard, 'and I pledge you!'
'And so do I!' said Edwin.
'Lord bless me,' cried Mr. Grewgious, breaking the blank silence
which of course ensued: though why these pauses SHOULD come upon
us when we have performed any small social rite, not directly
inducive of self-examination or mental despondency, who can tell?
'I am a particularly Angular man, and yet I fancy (if I may use the
word, not having a morsel of fancy), that I could draw a picture of
a true lover's state of mind, to-night.'
'Let us follow you, sir,' said Bazzard, 'and have the picture.'
'Mr. Edwin will correct it where it's wrong,' resumed Mr.
Grewgious, 'and will throw in a few touches from the life. I dare
say it is wrong in many particulars, and wants many touches from
the life, for I was born a Chip, and have neither soft sympathies
nor soft experiences. Well! I hazard the guess that the true
lover's mind is completely permeated by the beloved object of his
affections. I hazard the guess that her dear name is precious to
him, cannot be heard or repeated without emotion, and is preserved
sacred. If he has any distinguishing appellation of fondness for
her, it is reserved for her, and is not for common ears. A name
that it would be a privilege to call her by, being alone with her
own bright self, it would be a liberty, a coldness, an
insensibility, almost a breach of good faith, to flaunt elsewhere.'
It was wonderful to see Mr. Grewgious sitting bolt upright, with
his hands on his knees, continuously chopping this discourse out of
himself: much as a charity boy with a very good memory might get
his catechism said: and evincing no correspondent emotion
whatever, unless in a certain occasional little tingling
perceptible at the end of his nose.
'My picture,' Mr. Grewgious proceeded, 'goes on to represent (under
correction from you, Mr. Edwin), the true lover as ever impatient
to be in the presence or vicinity of the beloved object of his
affections; as caring very little for his case in any other
society; and as constantly seeking that. If I was to say seeking
that, as a bird seeks its nest, I should make an ass of myself,
because that would trench upon what I understand to be poetry; and
I am so far from trenching upon poetry at any time, that I never,
to my knowledge, got within ten thousand miles of it. And I am
besides totally unacquainted with the habits of birds, except the
birds of Staple Inn, who seek their nests on ledges, and in gutter-
pipes and chimneypots, not constructed for them by the beneficent
hand of Nature. I beg, therefore, to be understood as foregoing
the bird's-nest. But my picture does represent the true lover as
having no existence separable from that of the beloved object of
his affections, and as living at once a doubled life and a halved
life. And if I do not clearly express what I mean by that, it is
either for the reason that having no conversational powers, I
cannot express what I mean, or that having no meaning, I do not
mean what I fail to express. Which, to the best of my belief, is
not the case.'
Edwin had turned red and turned white, as certain points of this
picture came into the light. He now sat looking at the fire, and
bit his lip.
'The speculations of an Angular man,' resumed Mr. Grewgious, still
sitting and speaking exactly as before, 'are probably erroneous on
so globular a topic. But I figure to myself (subject, as before,
to Mr. Edwin's correction), that there can be no coolness, no
lassitude, no doubt, no indifference, no half fire and half smoke
state of mind, in a real lover. Pray am I at all near the mark in
As abrupt in his conclusion as in his commencement and progress, he
jerked this inquiry at Edwin, and stopped when one might have
supposed him in the middle of his oration.
'I should say, sir,' stammered Edwin, 'as you refer the question to
me - '
'Yes,' said Mr. Grewgious, 'I refer it to you, as an authority.'
'I should say, then, sir,' Edwin went on, embarrassed, 'that the
picture you have drawn is generally correct; but I submit that
perhaps you may be rather hard upon the unlucky lover.'
'Likely so,' assented Mr. Grewgious, 'likely so. I am a hard man
in the grain.'
'He may not show,' said Edwin, 'all he feels; or he may not - '
There he stopped so long, to find the rest of his sentence, that
Mr. Grewgious rendered his difficulty a thousand times the greater
by unexpectedly striking in with:
'No to be sure; he MAY not!'
After that, they all sat silent; the silence of Mr. Bazzard being
occasioned by slumber.
'His responsibility is very great, though,' said Mr. Grewgious at
length, with his eyes on the fire.
Edwin nodded assent, with HIS eyes on the fire.
'And let him be sure that he trifles with no one,' said Mr.
Grewgious; 'neither with himself, nor with any other.'
Edwin bit his lip again, and still sat looking at the fire.
'He must not make a plaything of a treasure. Woe betide him if he
does! Let him take that well to heart,' said Mr. Grewgious.
Though he said these things in short sentences, much as the
supposititious charity boy just now referred to might have repeated
a verse or two from the Book of Proverbs, there was something
dreamy (for so literal a man) in the way in which he now shook his
right forefinger at the live coals in the grate, and again fell