The Mystery of Edwin Drood
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stood on P. J. T.'s doorsteps, wondering what P. J. T. had done
with his street-door.
Guided by the painted name of Mr. Grewgious, she went up-stairs and
softly tapped and tapped several times. But no one answering, and
Mr. Grewgious's door-handle yielding to her touch, she went in, and
saw her guardian sitting on a window-seat at an open window, with a
shaded lamp placed far from him on a table in a corner.
Rosa drew nearer to him in the twilight of the room. He saw her,
and he said, in an undertone: 'Good Heaven!'
Rosa fell upon his neck, with tears, and then he said, returning
'My child, my child! I thought you were your mother! - But what,
what, what,' he added, soothingly, 'has happened? My dear, what
has brought you here? Who has brought you here?'
'No one. I came alone.'
'Lord bless me!' ejaculated Mr. Grewgious. 'Came alone! Why
didn't you write to me to come and fetch you?'
'I had no time. I took a sudden resolution. Poor, poor Eddy!'
'Ah, poor fellow, poor fellow!'
'His uncle has made love to me. I cannot bear it,' said Rosa, at
once with a burst of tears, and a stamp of her little foot; 'I
shudder with horror of him, and I have come to you to protect me
and all of us from him, if you will?'
'I will,' cried Mr. Grewgious, with a sudden rush of amazing
energy. 'Damn him!
"Confound his politics!
Frustrate his knavish tricks!
On Thee his hopes to fix?
Damn him again!"'
After this most extraordinary outburst, Mr. Grewgious, quite beside
himself, plunged about the room, to all appearance undecided
whether he was in a fit of loyal enthusiasm, or combative
He stopped and said, wiping his face: 'I beg your pardon, my dear,
but you will be glad to know I feel better. Tell me no more just
now, or I might do it again. You must be refreshed and cheered.
What did you take last? Was it breakfast, lunch, dinner, tea, or
supper? And what will you take next? Shall it be breakfast,
lunch, dinner, tea, or supper?'
The respectful tenderness with which, on one knee before her, he
helped her to remove her hat, and disentangle her pretty hair from
it, was quite a chivalrous sight. Yet who, knowing him only on the
surface, would have expected chivalry - and of the true sort, too;
not the spurious - from Mr. Grewgious?
'Your rest too must be provided for,' he went on; 'and you shall
have the prettiest chamber in Furnival's. Your toilet must be
provided for, and you shall have everything that an unlimited head
chambermaid - by which expression I mean a head chambermaid not
limited as to outlay - can procure. Is that a bag?' he looked hard
at it; sooth to say, it required hard looking at to be seen at all
in a dimly lighted room: 'and is it your property, my dear?'
'Yes, sir. I brought it with me.'
'It is not an extensive bag,' said Mr. Grewgious, candidly, 'though
admirably calculated to contain a day's provision for a canary-
bird. Perhaps you brought a canary-bird?'
Rosa smiled and shook her head.
'If you had, he should have been made welcome,' said Mr. Grewgious,
'and I think he would have been pleased to be hung upon a nail
outside and pit himself against our Staple sparrows; whose
execution must be admitted to be not quite equal to their
intention. Which is the case with so many of us! You didn't say
what meal, my dear. Have a nice jumble of all meals.'
Rosa thanked him, but said she could only take a cup of tea. Mr.
Grewgious, after several times running out, and in again, to
mention such supplementary items as marmalade, eggs, watercresses,
salted fish, and frizzled ham, ran across to Furnival's without his
hat, to give his various directions. And soon afterwards they were
realised in practice, and the board was spread.
'Lord bless my soul,' cried Mr. Grewgious, putting the lamp upon
it, and taking his seat opposite Rosa; 'what a new sensation for a
poor old Angular bachelor, to be sure!'
Rosa's expressive little eyebrows asked him what he meant?
'The sensation of having a sweet young presence in the place, that
whitewashes it, paints it, papers it, decorates it with gilding,
and makes it Glorious!' said Mr. Grewgious. 'Ah me! Ah me!'
As there was something mournful in his sigh, Rosa, in touching him
with her tea-cup, ventured to touch him with her small hand too.
'Thank you, my dear,' said Mr. Grewgious. 'Ahem! Let's talk!'
'Do you always live here, sir?' asked Rosa.
'Yes, my dear.'
'And always alone?'
'Always alone; except that I have daily company in a gentleman by
the name of Bazzard, my clerk.'
'HE doesn't live here?'
'No, he goes his way, after office hours. In fact, he is off duty
here, altogether, just at present; and a firm down-stairs, with
which I have business relations, lend me a substitute. But it
would be extremely difficult to replace Mr. Bazzard.'
'He must be very fond of you,' said Rosa.
'He bears up against it with commendable fortitude if he is,'
returned Mr. Grewgious, after considering the matter. 'But I doubt
if he is. Not particularly so. You see, he is discontented, poor
'Why isn't he contented?' was the natural inquiry.
'Misplaced,' said Mr. Grewgious, with great mystery.
Rosa's eyebrows resumed their inquisitive and perplexed expression.
'So misplaced,' Mr. Grewgious went on, 'that I feel constantly
apologetic towards him. And he feels (though he doesn't mention
it) that I have reason to be.'
Mr. Grewgious had by this time grown so very mysterious, that Rosa
did not know how to go on. While she was thinking about it Mr.
Grewgious suddenly jerked out of himself for the second time:
'Let's talk. We were speaking of Mr. Bazzard. It's a secret, and
moreover it is Mr. Bazzard's secret; but the sweet presence at my
table makes me so unusually expansive, that I feel I must impart it
in inviolable confidence. What do you think Mr. Bazzard has done?'
'O dear!' cried Rosa, drawing her chair a little nearer, and her
mind reverting to Jasper, 'nothing dreadful, I hope?'
'He has written a play,' said Mr. Grewgious, in a solemn whisper.
Rosa seemed much relieved.
'And nobody,' pursued Mr. Grewgious in the same tone, 'will hear,
on any account whatever, of bringing it out.'
Rosa looked reflective, and nodded her head slowly; as who should
say, 'Such things are, and why are they!'
'Now, you know,' said Mr. Grewgious, 'I couldn't write a play.'
'Not a bad one, sir?' said Rosa, innocently, with her eyebrows
again in action.
'No. If I was under sentence of decapitation, and was about to be
instantly decapitated, and an express arrived with a pardon for the
condemned convict Grewgious if he wrote a play, I should be under
the necessity of resuming the block, and begging the executioner to
proceed to extremities, - meaning,' said Mr. Grewgious, passing his
hand under his chin, 'the singular number, and this extremity.'
Rosa appeared to consider what she would do if the awkward
supposititious case were hers.
'Consequently,' said Mr. Grewgious, 'Mr. Bazzard would have a sense
of my inferiority to himself under any circumstances; but when I am
his master, you know, the case is greatly aggravated.'
Mr. Grewgious shook his head seriously, as if he felt the offence
to be a little too much, though of his own committing.
'How came you to be his master, sir?' asked Rosa.
'A question that naturally follows,' said Mr. Grewgious. 'Let's
talk. Mr. Bazzard's father, being a Norfolk farmer, would have
furiously laid about him with a flail, a pitch-fork, and every
agricultural implement available for assaulting purposes, on the
slightest hint of his son's having written a play. So the son,
bringing to me the father's rent (which I receive), imparted his
secret, and pointed out that he was determined to pursue his
genius, and that it would put him in peril of starvation, and that
he was not formed for it.'
'For pursuing his genius, sir?'
'No, my dear,' said Mr. Grewgious, 'for starvation. It was
impossible to deny the position, that Mr. Bazzard was not formed to
be starved, and Mr. Bazzard then pointed out that it was desirable
that I should stand between him and a fate so perfectly unsuited to