The Mystery of Edwin Drood
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themselves to the idle and impertinent, have taken themselves away,
and been long unheard of.'
'I believe such things have happened,' said Mr. Grewgious,
'When I had, and could have, no suspicion,' pursued Jasper, eagerly
following the new track, 'that the dear lost boy had withheld
anything from me - most of all, such a leading matter as this -
what gleam of light was there for me in the whole black sky? When
I supposed that his intended wife was here, and his marriage close
at hand, how could I entertain the possibility of his voluntarily
leaving this place, in a manner that would be so unaccountable,
capricious, and cruel? But now that I know what you have told me,
is there no little chink through which day pierces? Supposing him
to have disappeared of his own act, is not his disappearance more
accountable and less cruel? The fact of his having just parted
from your ward, is in itself a sort of reason for his going away.
It does not make his mysterious departure the less cruel to me, it
is true; but it relieves it of cruelty to her.'
Mr. Grewgious could not but assent to this.
'And even as to me,' continued Jasper, still pursuing the new
track, with ardour, and, as he did so, brightening with hope: 'he
knew that you were coming to me; he knew that you were intrusted to
tell me what you have told me; if your doing so has awakened a new
train of thought in my perplexed mind, it reasonably follows that,
from the same premises, he might have foreseen the inferences that
I should draw. Grant that he did foresee them; and even the
cruelty to me - and who am I! - John Jasper, Music Master,
Once more, Mr. Grewgious could not but assent to this.
'I have had my distrusts, and terrible distrusts they have been,'
said Jasper; 'but your disclosure, overpowering as it was at first
- showing me that my own dear boy had had a great disappointing
reservation from me, who so fondly loved him, kindles hope within
me. You do not extinguish it when I state it, but admit it to be a
reasonable hope. I begin to believe it possible:' here he clasped
his hands: 'that he may have disappeared from among us of his own
accord, and that he may yet be alive and well.'
Mr. Crisparkle came in at the moment. To whom Mr. Jasper repeated:
'I begin to believe it possible that he may have disappeared of his
own accord, and may yet be alive and well.'
Mr. Crisparkle taking a seat, and inquiring: 'Why so?' Mr. Jasper
repeated the arguments he had just set forth. If they had been
less plausible than they were, the good Minor Canon's mind would
have been in a state of preparation to receive them, as exculpatory
of his unfortunate pupil. But he, too, did really attach great
importance to the lost young man's having been, so immediately
before his disappearance, placed in a new and embarrassing relation
towards every one acquainted with his projects and affairs; and the
fact seemed to him to present the question in a new light.
'I stated to Mr. Sapsea, when we waited on him,' said Jasper: as
he really had done: 'that there was no quarrel or difference
between the two young men at their last meeting. We all know that
their first meeting was unfortunately very far from amicable; but
all went smoothly and quietly when they were last together at my
house. My dear boy was not in his usual spirits; he was depressed
- I noticed that - and I am bound henceforth to dwell upon the
circumstance the more, now that I know there was a special reason
for his being depressed: a reason, moreover, which may possibly
have induced him to absent himself.'
'I pray to Heaven it may turn out so!' exclaimed Mr. Crisparkle.
'I pray to Heaven it may turn out so!' repeated Jasper. 'You know
- and Mr. Grewgious should now know likewise - that I took a great
prepossession against Mr. Neville Landless, arising out of his
furious conduct on that first occasion. You know that I came to
you, extremely apprehensive, on my dear boy's behalf, of his mad
violence. You know that I even entered in my Diary, and showed the
entry to you, that I had dark forebodings against him. Mr.
Grewgious ought to be possessed of the whole case. He shall not,
through any suppression of mine, be informed of a part of it, and
kept in ignorance of another part of it. I wish him to be good
enough to understand that the communication he has made to me has
hopefully influenced my mind, in spite of its having been, before
this mysterious occurrence took place, profoundly impressed against
This fairness troubled the Minor Canon much. He felt that he was
not as open in his own dealing. He charged against himself
reproachfully that he had suppressed, so far, the two points of a
second strong outbreak of temper against Edwin Drood on the part of
Neville, and of the passion of jealousy having, to his own certain
knowledge, flamed up in Neville's breast against him. He was
convinced of Neville's innocence of any part in the ugly
disappearance; and yet so many little circumstances combined so
wofully against him, that he dreaded to add two more to their
cumulative weight. He was among the truest of men; but he had been
balancing in his mind, much to its distress, whether his
volunteering to tell these two fragments of truth, at this time,
would not be tantamount to a piecing together of falsehood in the
place of truth.
However, here was a model before him. He hesitated no longer.
Addressing Mr. Grewgious, as one placed in authority by the
revelation he had brought to bear on the mystery (and surpassingly
Angular Mr. Grewgious became when he found himself in that
unexpected position), Mr. Crisparkle bore his testimony to Mr.
Jasper's strict sense of justice, and, expressing his absolute
confidence in the complete clearance of his pupil from the least
taint of suspicion, sooner or later, avowed that his confidence in
that young gentleman had been formed, in spite of his confidential
knowledge that his temper was of the hottest and fiercest, and that
it was directly incensed against Mr. Jasper's nephew, by the
circumstance of his romantically supposing himself to be enamoured
of the same young lady. The sanguine reaction manifest in Mr.
Jasper was proof even against this unlooked-for declaration. It
turned him paler; but he repeated that he would cling to the hope
he had derived from Mr. Grewgious; and that if no trace of his dear
boy were found, leading to the dreadful inference that he had been
made away with, he would cherish unto the last stretch of
possibility the idea, that he might have absconded of his own wild
Now, it fell out that Mr. Crisparkle, going away from this
conference still very uneasy in his mind, and very much troubled on
behalf of the young man whom he held as a kind of prisoner in his
own house, took a memorable night walk.
He walked to Cloisterham Weir.
He often did so, and consequently there was nothing remarkable in
his footsteps tending that way. But the preoccupation of his mind
so hindered him from planning any walk, or taking heed of the
objects he passed, that his first consciousness of being near the
Weir, was derived from the sound of the falling water close at
'How did I come here!' was his first thought, as he stopped.
'Why did I come here!' was his second.
Then, he stood intently listening to the water. A familiar passage
in his reading, about airy tongues that syllable men's names, rose
so unbidden to his ear, that he put it from him with his hand, as
if it were tangible.
It was starlight. The Weir was full two miles above the spot to
which the young men had repaired to watch the storm. No search had
been made up here, for the tide had been running strongly down, at
that time of the night of Christmas Eve, and the likeliest places
for the discovery of a body, if a fatal accident had happened under
such circumstances, all lay - both when the tide ebbed, and when it
flowed again - between that spot and the sea. The water came over
the Weir, with its usual sound on a cold starlight night, and
little could be seen of it; yet Mr. Crisparkle had a strange idea
that something unusual hung about the place.
He reasoned with himself: What was it? Where was it? Put it to
the proof. Which sense did it address?
No sense reported anything unusual there. He listened again, and
his sense of hearing again checked the water coming over the Weir,
with its usual sound on a cold starlight night.
Knowing very well that the mystery with which his mind was
occupied, might of itself give the place this haunted air, he
strained those hawk's eyes of his for the correction of his sight.
He got closer to the Weir, and peered at its well-known posts and
timbers. Nothing in the least unusual was remotely shadowed forth.
But he resolved that he would come back early in the morning.
The Weir ran through his broken sleep, all night, and he was back
again at sunrise. It was a bright frosty morning. The whole
composition before him, when he stood where he had stood last
night, was clearly discernible in its minutest details. He had
surveyed it closely for some minutes, and was about to withdraw his
eyes, when they were attracted keenly to one spot.
He turned his back upon the Weir, and looked far away at the sky,
and at the earth, and then looked again at that one spot. It
caught his sight again immediately, and he concentrated his vision
upon it. He could not lose it now, though it was but such a speck
in the landscape. It fascinated his sight. His hands began
plucking off his coat. For it struck him that at that spot - a
corner of the Weir - something glistened, which did not move and
come over with the glistening water-drops, but remained stationary.
He assured himself of this, he threw off his clothes, he plunged
into the icy water, and swam for the spot. Climbing the timbers,
he took from them, caught among their interstices by its chain, a
gold watch, bearing engraved upon its back E. D.
He brought the watch to the bank, swam to the Weir again, climbed
it, and dived off. He knew every hole and corner of all the
depths, and dived and dived and dived, until he could bear the cold
no more. His notion was, that he would find the body; he only
found a shirt-pin sticking in some mud and ooze.
With these discoveries he returned to Cloisterham, and, taking
Neville Landless with him, went straight to the Mayor. Mr. Jasper