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First published in Munsey's Magazine, December 1924

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Munseys Magazine, December 1924, with
"Sherlock Holmes Solves the Mystery of Edwin Drood"



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Cover of magazine with part of "The Mystery of Edwin Drood," 1870


IN the novel which he did not live to finish, Dickens had planned a story in which the plot should be the all-important thing, critics having found his other works lacking in plot interest. He determined to construct a novel in the style of his friend Wilkie Collins, with a plot that would keep the reader guessing. He succeeded so well that "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" has been a mystery for more than fifty years.

The following is a brief outline of the story as we have it:

Young Edwin Drood and Rosa Bud were betrothed in infancy by their parents. They are good friends, but do not love each other. Drood has an uncle, John Jasper, a musician and a drug addict, who becomes infatuated with Rosa. To prevent the prearranged marriage, he plans to murder Drood.

Jasper cultivates the acquaintance of a stone mason, Durdles, his intention being to conceal Drood's body in a tomb, to which Durdles has the key, and to destroy the body with quicklime. He also creates a feud between Drood and a young fellow named Landless, on whom he means to cast suspicion of the murder.

Drood disappears, and Jasper charges Landless with murder; but no body is found, and there has been much talk of Drood's going to Egypt to work as a civil engineer. Then, in a very dramatic scene, Jasper learns from Grewgious, a lawyer, that his supposed motive for the crime did mot exist, Edwin and Rosa having broken off their engagement.

The first problem is—was Drood murdered? Jasper undoubtedly believes that he killed his nephew; but he is a drug addict, subject to delusions.

Six months later, one Datchery, who has evidently disguised himself, takes lodgings near Jasper, to watch him and bring him to justice.

The second problem in the novel is—who is Datchery? He might possibly be any one of six characters in the story, including Drood himself.

There are other mysteries, less conspicuous, but more fascinating to the reader; and the plot is perhaps the most interesting in all fiction, because it remains a riddle without an answer—unless, indeed, Mr. Sherlock Holmes's solution proves to be correct.


PROVIDENT people whose arrangements for the future include plans for being shipwrecked on a desert island naturally give careful consideration to the selection of books that are to be the companions of their solitude. After making their lists of the volumes that no shipwrecked gentleman's library should be without, they frequently communicate their decisions to the press, giving the benefit of their judgment to others who contemplate oceanic disaster and isolation.

It seems to be a fixed condition precedent that the literary Crusoe is to be restricted to ten books—about as many as a sole survivor could be expected to tuck under his arms when a giant wave swamps the life-raft. Or perhaps it is assumed that the waves cannot be relied upon to wash ashore more than ten volumes when the good ship goes to pieces on the rocks. Presumably, in the latter case, the castaway recovers consciousness, and, with sinking heart, realizes the sadness of his plight. He bewails his loneliness, with no companions to make up a quartet at bridge. Then, suddenly, he finds among the wreckage on the beach the ten volumes of his choice.

"What luck!" he exclaims. "Here is 'The Sheik'!"

Or, if he be more seriously inclined:

"Well, there's always a silver lining. One can never be poor with Adam Smith's 'Wealth of Nations,' nor need one revert to savagery with Buckle's 'History of Civilization.'"

It may be taken for granted that, if books are salvaged, a portion of the ship's stores may be tossed up by the surf. Personally, I do not propose to be shipwrecked without food; and this condition sine qua non being admitted in the hypothesis, the first volume of my selection shall be a cookery book. The chapters on "One Hundred Ways of Preparing Hardtack" and "What a Good Housekeeper Can Do with Tinned Corned Beef" would provide both mental relaxation and variety of diet. With an optimistic imagination, reading the recipes for the more delicate and complicated dishes might take the place of desserts; though, on the other hand, it might be conducive to discontent and homesickness.

After this first choice, which differs from the leading item in any list that I have seen, I should conform to tradition, selecting the Bible and Shakespeare, as the best substitutes for those necessary institutions, church and stage. The fourth book on my list would be a novel, and I would choose "The Mystery of Edwin Drood," as the only work of fiction known to the deponent the interest in which increases with every reading.

Several eminent writers, in their enthusiasm over "A Christmas Carol," have boasted—or confessed—that they read it once a year; but there are Dickensians far gone in Droodism who spend most of their leisure time in reading Dickens's last book. This novel becomes an obsession. It has fascinated minds as different as those of Andrew Lang and Richard Anthony Proctor, the astronomer. Both of these men wrote books and magazine articles about it.

A few years ago, a number of distinguished English authors held a mock trial of John Jasper for the murder of Edwin Drood, Judge G.K. Chesterton presiding, and George Bernard Shaw acting as foreman of the jury. Sir W. Robertson Niooll has contributed a book to the discussion; and the literature that has been inspired by the puzzle of Dickens's last plot would require for its accommodation at least two of the widely advertised five-foot shelves.

Somewhat curiously, although the mystery has fascinated many men of letters, no professional detective has ever been consulted in the case; yet there are several well-known investigators to whom it would be a simple one, compared to the baffling problems which they are sometimes called upon to solve. That the matter should be referred to an expert in criminology is no new idea of the present writer's. It was several months before the last of Sherlock Holmes's lamented deaths, as chronicled by his biographer, that I first thought of applying to that wizard of criminal investigation.

Unfortunately I had no acquaintance with Mr. Holmes, and I was deterred by the thought that he might resent the presentation to his attention of a case which existed only in the imagination of a novelist. Holmes's admiring satellite, Dr. Watson, I knew well—so well, indeed, that I had shunned his services as a physician. When I learned recently that the famous detective had survived the last apparently successful attempt to end his career, my first step was to enlist the interest of the excellent Watson; and this I accomplished by loaning him the novel and a number of the books and magazine articles containing the theories of writers who have attempted to elucidate the mystery.

The result was precisely what I had anticipated. Dr. Watson became infatuated with the story. Indeed, he devoted so much of his time to it that be neglected his professional duties, with the consequence that the decreasing death rate in his residential section was mentioned in the reports of the Board of Health.

One morning Watson called upon me, looking so pale and haggard that I advised him to consult a competent physician; but he assured me that his condition was due merely to loss of sleep. Having puzzled vainly over the Drood enigma, he said, and having now despaired of a solution, he would soon recuperate.

"There is a man to whom I should like to refer this case," said Watson. "I an sure it would interest my friend Holmes, and he is quite likely to succeed, even where so many have failed."

Naturally I agreed with a plan so completely in accord with my own aim and object; but I suggested that Watson should present the case to Holmes as one of actual occurrence. In that way it would be more likely to appeal to him as worthy of his skill as a detective and of his extraordinary ingenuity in deductive reasoning. Watson considered this to be good diplomacy. As he claimed to have the case "at his fingers' ends," as he expressed it, he insisted upon going at once to interview his friend, who still occupied lodgings in Baker Street.


ON the following day the doctor called again, and reported to me that he had found Holmes in excellent health. It appeared that the rumor of his death had been instigated by himself, in order to avoid the too frequent visits of a friend of his—whom he did not name to Watson, but who had become a bore through excess of vacuous admiration.

"After congratulating him on his survival," said the doctor, "I informed him that I had lately become interested in a very puzzling case, which I mentioned to him with a certain diffidence, because another detective was engaged upon it."

Holmes had received this information with a smile of gentle sarcasm, and with his usual comment upon the singular incompetency of the regular force. The interview, according to the résumé of it made for my benefit, proceeded thus:

"The investigator is not connected with Scotland Yard," said Watson. "I have reason to believe that he has a personal motive in exculpating one who is suspected, and a personal interest in bringing the real culprit to justice."

"Ha!" exclaimed Holmes. "Do you happen to know the young man's name?"

Watson looked at him with the blank expression that his friend knew so well.

"How do you know that this investigator is a young man?" he asked.

"He is either a young man with no particular business of his own, or he is a middle-aged man who has retired from active business," replied Holmes. "To devote much time to amateur detective work, one must have abundant leisure."

"Upon my word, Holmes!" Watson exclaimed, aghast as usual. "You are absolutely uncanny! As a matter of fact, this person might be either. He has a heavy shock of white hair, black eyebrows, and a habit of carrying his hat in his hand much of the time; but he is believed to be in disguise."

"If this white-wigged person is on the scent, why come to me?" Holmes asked. "Perhaps, in spite of his disguising himself in a way that would certainly attract attention and would not delude a child, he may be equal to an ordinary case."

"As far as I know," said the doctor, "he has done very little, aside from learning that the suspect has an enemy—an old woman who has reasons for hating him. This the investigator, whoever he may be, thought so important that he recorded it in chalk marks on a door."

"Chalk marks on a door! Extraordinary, indeed!" Holmes commented. "A man in disguise is investigating a murder, and records the information that he obtains by making chalk marks on a door! What door?"

"His own, I suppose," Watson answered.

"But why?"

"He himself explains it by saying that he 'likes the old tavern way of keeping scores.' He makes a long mark for anything important that he discovers, and a short mark for matters of less consequence. I don't know just what the system is, but he indicates his discoveries in this way."

"For whose information?" inquired the detective.

"His own, I suppose."

"Doesn't he know what they are without making chalk marks on a door? Watson, I don't think I should care to take the case. It is no pleasure to me to cooperate with the simpletons of the regular force, but this white-wigged amateur of yours insults my intelligence. Good God, Watson, I should think he would almost insult yours! Let us forget this queer case. Kreisler plays at Albert Hall this afternoon, and I am curious to learn in what manner his interpretation of the Bruch Concerto differs from my own."

"But, my dear Holmes," Watson protested, "you have heard nothing about the case!"

"I trust it is as remarkable as the so-called detective," returned Holmes. "Suppose you give me, in as few words as possible, the salient features of the affair."

"Briefly, then," Watson began, "the supposed murdered man was a young fellow, Edwin Drood by name. He was betrothed to a Miss Rosa Bud. His uncle, John Jasper, a few years older than himself, conceived a violent passion for the young lady, and is thought to have committed the murder in order to prevent the marriage."

"In what manner was the murder committed?" Holmes inquired.

"That is not positively known."

"But surely," Holmes insisted, "there has been an inquest? The body must have shown some evidence of the manner of death."

"No body has been found."

Holmes uttered an exclamation of impatience, and reached for his hat and topcoat.

"My good Watson," he said, "why be so certain that there has been a murder, if no body has been found?"

"Drood has unaccountably disappeared."

"Surely, Watson, you must know that every day men disappear unaccountably, yet no one imagines that they have been murdered. This young Drood was to have been married, you say?"

"He and his fiance had agreed to break off the engagement," Watson answered.

Holmes smoked meditatively for several minutes before asking:

"Do you happen to know whether he has contemplated foreign travel? You will observe that I do not use the past tense, for I always assume that a man is alive until his body has been found."

"Now that you mention it," replied Watson, "I remember that it was all settled that he was to go to Egypt, to enter upon a business career."

"And has it not occurred to his family—to his former sweetheart, say—that the young man may have gone about his business—in Egypt—without consulting his relatives?"

"As far as we know, he had no relatives," answered the doctor, "except the uncle, John Jasper, who insists that Drood was murdered."

"The uncle who is under suspicion?"

"By certain persons Jasper is suspected; but he is doing his utmost to establish the guilt of a young fellow, landless by name, who recently came to England from Ceylon, with his twin sister.

"Twins!" exclaimed Holmes, with renewed interest. "The brother and sister resemble each other, I suppose, as twins usually do?"

"They are very much alike."

"Where twins are involved in a case," remarked the great detective, "they introduce an element of particular interest. I have in mind the Halberg tragedy in Copenhagen and the Sadler affair in Cincinnati. In both the resemblance of twin brothers gave rise to extraordinary complications. To return to this case of yours, Watson—its most peculiar feature is that the uncle, who is suspected, seems to be the one who most strongly insists that a murder was committed."

"And vows to devote his life to bringing the assassin to justice," said Watson. "This Jasper is a somewhat eccentric person. He is an opium addict."

Holmes gave a start of surprise, and, with a subconscious association of ideas, thrust his hand into the coat pocket wherein he habitually kept his favorite surgical instrument.

"My dear Watson," he remarked, "you now interest me strangely. The element of opium in a criminal case is particularly fascinating to me, as from the time of my earliest appearances before the public I have experimented with hypnotic and narcotic drugs of every description."

The eminent investigator reclined in his armchair, and for some time remained lost in meditation.

"Watson," he said at last, "this affair, as you describe it, has many absurdities, but it presents certain aspects that appeal to my curiosity. A case in which opium is a factor is likely to develop some vagary of abnormal psychology. Such problems differ from all others, and one's deductions are materially affected. In fact, Watson, I need not tell you, a medico, that in such cases, after deducing from the facts, a certain allowance must be made for mental conditions artificially stimulated or depressed. Both the immediate influences of a drug and its after-effects have to be carefully considered."

With the promptitude that is customary when his interest is aroused, Holmes slipped a microscope and an automatic pistol into his pockets, and suggested going at once to the scene of the crime. In the circumstances, however, the doctor was obliged to temporize.

"If you don't mind, Holmes," he observed, "I think that in this particular case it might be well for you to vary your usual routine of investigation. This is an affair with many remarkable features, and before you visit the localities and interview the persons concerned I shall place in your hands certain documentary evidence. It is possible that after you have examined these papers you may be able to evolve a theory upon which definite action may be taken."

Holmes protested that he could not alter his methods in any case, however out of the ordinary; but upon Watson's threatening to deliver then and there one of his familiar private lectures on the evils of the cocaine habit, the great detective reluctantly consented to meet the doctor's wishes.

That same evening Watson sent to Holmes a copy of "The Mystery of Edwin Drood," together with a number of monographs and magazine articles, the contributions of various writers who have minutely studied this strangest problem in the annals of imaginary crime and have arrived at widely different conclusions.

A WEEK or more passed before I heard anything further from Watson. As the worthy doctor afterward informed me, he had had a patient suffering from that rare and insidious malady, coryza*, which had worried him greatly, his professional reputation being at stake. As soon as this invalid passed over to the great majority of Watson's patients, the doctor communicated with Holmes by telephone, and immediately afterward called upon me.

* Unpopularly known as cold in the head.

"Holmes is enormously interested," he reported. "I expected that he would reproach me for wasting his time on a case that exists only in a novel; but if I myself had been murdered he could not have displayed greater enthusiasm. I have an appointment to call upon him, and I asked permission to bring a friend who is familiar with all the details of the affair."


I GLADLY welcomed an opportunity to meet the eminent criminologist, and after a hasty luncheon we proceeded by motor-bus to his rooms in Baker Street. As we ascended the stairs, I heard the weird violin gymnastics of Paganini's "Witches' Dance," and I felt intuitively that the Italian master was turning over in his grave.

Sherlock Holmes welcomed us with old-world courtesy.

"I am delighted to meet any friend of Dr. Watson's," he said, rolling down his sleeve over a sinewy forearm, which bore the marks of innumerable punctures by his trusty needle. "I do not ask you to take any refreshment, as I perceive that you have had luncheon—eggs, if I am not mistaken. I also observe, doctor, that when coming here in a public conveyance you sat next to a blond-haired lady. It is well, perhaps, that you came here before going home, as Mrs. Watson, I know, is a brunette."

Watson laughed at my amazement at these deductions, which, however, were extremely simple when Holmes explained them.

"My good friend, the doctor," he said, "has brought to my attention a fantastic affair which is quite as complicated as any actual crime of recent occurrence. For once, fiction has approximated the interest of fact."

"And what is your theory?" I asked, eager to hear the opinion of an acknowledged authority.

"If I were talking to any of the characters in that admirable novel," answered Holmes, "I would say: 'My dear sir, or madam, your young friend Edwin Drood may turn up at any moment. He is no more a murdered man than I am.'"

"You are not alone in your opinion that Drood was not murdered," I ventured to say.

"I quite realize that," Holmes agreed. "As I have read all the documentary evidence that Watson kindly provided, I know there is no novelty in the theory that Drood survived; but I believe that my reasons for certainty on that point are based upon scientific deductions which in this instance, singularly enough, are not inconsistent with common sense. Let us consider the affair as if it were an actual case, which I am employed to investigate in the usual course of business. If a young man has parted finally from his fiance, has no particular object in remaining in England, has long contemplated a career in a foreign country—if such a young man suddenly disappears, and no trace of him is found, is it not reasonable to infer that circumstances have arisen which determined him to carry out his plan to go to that foreign country?"

"By Heaven, Holmes," exclaimed Watson, "your powers of deduction are a source of constant amazement to me!"

"I am not amazed at your amazement, my good Watson," returned Holmes, with his gentle and almost feminine smile; "but in reality it is quite simple. If Drood was not to go to Egypt, why did the author, Mr. Dickens, make such a point of his intention to go? The young man has a long talk with Miss Bud, in which she expresses her distaste for sharing his life in that country, declaring that she has no interest in sphinxes and pyramids. You may say that the author's intention in this insistence was to make readers, like ourselves, believe that Drood had gone to Egypt, whereas he was really murdered. If I had no further evidence of Drood's survival, I would agree that all this talk about Egypt might be an author's false clew, intended to delude his readers; but I think I shall be able to convince you that Drood did go to Egypt."

"In that case," said Watson, "you are inclined to agree with Andrew Lang, Richard Proctor, and others, who maintain that Datchery, the investigator in Cloisterham, is Drood in disguise."

Holmes's celebrated enigmatic smile became frankly ironic as he replied:

"My good Watson, I regard the theory that Datchery is Drood in disguise as wholly untenable. Datchery has an interview with John Jasper. If he were Drood in disguise, it is preposterous to suppose that Jasper would not recognize him, the disguise being, we are told, a white wig, black eyebrows, and a tightish blue surtout. Jasper was Drood's uncle, and presumably had known the young man all his life. In his hatred of his nephew, Jasper had studied him, knew his every gesture, and every inflection of his voice, knew his eyes—which, by the way, are the most difficult feature to disguise. Drood could not have spoken three words without Jasper's recognizing his voice. As a musician, a singing teacher, Jasper would have an especially keen ear for the detection of voices. Dickens was writing a novel, but a writer of fiction with a modern, or even a mid-Victorian period, must keep within the bounds of probability. If Datchery is Drood in disguise, Dickens asks his readers to believe the impossible. In fact, Jasper, shrewd and suspicious, would have recognized any one with whom he was even slightly acquainted, in such an obvious disguise. Perhaps, Watson, with the alert perceptions for which you are justly famous, you can tell me why Drood should be pottering around as Datchery, knowing that his friends believe him to be murdered, and that an innocent man, Neville Landless, is under suspicion?"

Watson and I agreed that such conduct on the part of Drood would be both heartless and brainless.

"As I have often told you, doctor," Holmes resumed, "one must begin an analysis by eliminating impossibilities. There are other indications that Datchery is not Drood. Datchery—with no suggestion that any one is watching him—cannot find his way to the cathedral precincts, where Tope and Jasper live. He asks the vagabond boy, Deputy, to direct him, whereas Drood is familiar with Cloisterham topography."

"It has been suggested," I said, "that Datchery, if Drood or any one else acquainted in Cloisterham, might have pretended that he did not know his way about and might have asked Deputy for effect."

"If so," Holmes replied, "I must say that Datchery is carrying realistic acting very far when he tries to impress a vagrant street boy. Why, gentlemen, the book itself contains proof that Datchery is not Drood. In Chapter XIV Drood meets the opium woman.

"'Do you eat opium?' is one of the questions he puts to her.

"'Smokes it,' is her reply.

"In Chapter XXIII Datchery meets the opium woman, and when she begs him for money to buy 'a medicine as does her good,' he asks:

"'What's the medicine?'

"'It's opium,' says the woman, and 'Mr. Datchery, with a sudden change of countenance, gives her a sudden look.'

"Now, if Drood be Datchery, why the sudden change of countenance' and the 'sudden look,' for the opium woman was only telling Datchery exactly what she had told Drood?"

Watson turned to me with a triumphant smile, taking a vicarious pride in the acumen of his great friend.

"That seems strong evidence that Drood is not Datchery," he said; "but if Drood is alive, why has he not communicated with his friends and told them not to worry about him, as he is doing very nicely in Egypt as an engineer?"

"Your question is a pertinent one, doctor," replied Holmes. "Like all your questions, it would occur to any one of ordinary intelligence. According to my theory, Drood was on his way to Egypt before there had been any suggestion that he had been murdered. In fact, the young man might have disappeared as he did, and there would have been no suspicion of foul play, had not Jasper himself raised the hue and cry. Would not his friends have said, quite naturally:

"'The boy had a disappointment in love, and has gone to Egypt to follow his career, as he had been planning to do.'

"But Jasper startles them all by charging that his nephew has been murdered. This, I believe, is one of the elements of strength and originality in Dickens's plot. The criminal sounds the alarm and starts in motion the machinery that finally convicts—himself."

"But of what crime, since you assert that Drood is alive?" I ventured to inquire.

"We shall come to that presently," said Holmes. "It is an important part of my theory that Drood did communicate certain circumstances to one person before leaving England."

"To whom?" Watson asked, bewildered as usual.


"I FEEL positive that Drood communicated with Grewgious. That angular but good-hearted lawyer calls upon Jasper, and the latter falls in a fit when he learns that he did not have to kill his nephew to prevent Edwin's marriage to Rosa, as the two young people had agreed to break off their engagement. Grewgious's language, and the manner in which he imparts this information to Jasper, prove that he knows something. My deduction is that Drood has told Grewgious that his uncle made a murderous attack upon him. Let us reconstruct the interview that I believe took place between Drood and the lawyer.

"Jasper's attack on Drood occurred at about midnight on Christmas Eve. Early on Christmas morning, as early as the young man could get to London from Cloisterham, Grewgious is surprised by a visit from Drood, who is in a state of extreme agitation. He explains to the lawyer that during the night his uncle made a murderous assault upon him. Drood's resistance and Jasper's terror on being recognized—his ambush failing—caused the assailant to fall into one of his accustomed fits, superinduced by the opium debauch in which, we are informed, he indulged on the preceding night. Drood, horrified, rushed from the scene before Jasper recovered consciousness. He can conceive of no reason for the attempted homicide. Grewgious would suggest referring the matter to the police. Drood would hesitate to make a charge of assault with intent to kill against his uncle, who, he thinks, must have become insane. Clearly the young man has nothing to make him anxious to stay in England. He has parted from his sweetheart; his only known relative has tried to murder him; his career lies in a foreign land. He leaves Grewgious to investigate. If Jasper is insane, the lawyer will have him placed in an asylum. In the circumstances, Drood does not care to meet his uncle again. He decides to go to Egypt as soon as possible."

"It is quite likely that a boat was opportunely sailing," observed Watson.

"As you say, doctor. Boats usually are opportunely sailing in novels. Grewgious was probably enjoined to take no action beyond having Jasper watched, for the purpose of learning whether his mental condition warranted his being placed under restraint; but after Drood has gone on his way, matters take a different turn. Jasper declares that his nephew has been murdered, and he tries to inculpate Neville Landless. Grewgious hears this. He knows that Jasper himself was the assailant. The lawyer is perplexed. What kind of a game is the opium-smoking precentor playing? He commits assault with intent to kill, and then charges an innocent man with murder. The legal mind seeks a motive. At this juncture, Helena Landless has an interview with Grewgious."

I made the suggestion that almost the first words of the lawyer when he visits Jasper are: "I have just left Miss Landless".

"Significant words indeed!" said Holmes. "Now let us attempt to reconstruct the interview between Helena Landless and Grewgious.

"'Jasper,' says Helena, 'charges that my brother murdered Drood. If any one killed Drood, it was Jasper, whose love for Rosa is a mania.'

"Grewgious learns from her what Drood did not know—that Jasper is infatuated with Rosa, who fears him, and over whom he has a kind of mesmeric influence. Grewgious knows now that Drood was wrong in thinking that Jasper's attack might be a sudden outbreak of madness. He knows now that it was an attempt to commit murder, with the motive of jealousy. Jasper meant to kill his nephew because, as he thought, Drood was about to be married to Rosa."

Watson gazed at Holmes in blank astonishment. Apparently used to that expression on his friend's face, the great detective continued:

"This new knowledge of Grewgious's establishes the reason for the lawyer's otherwise purposeless visit to Jasper. The object of the lawyer is to test the truth of his theory that Jasper attempted a murder with a motive. The language and manner of Grewgious during the whole interview, as described in the novel, prove this. He reasons thus—if Jasper planned to kill his nephew to prevent the latter's marriage to Rosa, the revelation that there was no necessity for the crime will be a shock to him. Grewgious, in a cruelly cold and deliberate manner, tells Jasper that Edwin and Rosa had decided not to marry. He watches the effect. He expects the shock. When Jasper shrieks and collapses, 'a heap of torn and miry clothes upon the floor,' Grewgious, not changing his action even then, warms his hands at the fire and looks calmly down at the unconscious form of the man he now knows to be a murderer in intention. The sardonic manner of Grewgious throughout the interview with Jasper is, I believe, proof of the truth of my deductions."

"But surely," Watson commented, "having learned this, Grewgious would have been justified in going to the authorities and demanding the arrest of Jasper, thus exonerating Neville?"

"Not so fast, my good Watson," said Holmes. "Admirable as your capabilities as a physician may be—I speak from hearsay only, as my own health is unimpaired—your knowledge of legal procedure is limited. Matters resting as I have outlined, no indictment could have been found against either Jasper or Neville Landless. Jasper himself is the only person who insists that there has been a murder. Otherwise, in the minds of friends and of the community in general, the fate of Drood is in doubt. He has disappeared. There is no corpus delicti. The only evidence even of assault is Drood's own story. Jasper's conduct and the suspicions of Helena and Grewgious do not constitute legal evidence; yet Grewgious knows that Jasper has done his best to commit an atrocious crime, and is now trying to fix the guilt on Neville. There is no evidence against Neville, but Jasper's enmity is a menace. From this time it is Grewgious's plan to give Jasper plenty of rope and let him hang himself. This is why Grewgious declares that he has a fancy for keeping Jasper under his eye. It is Grewgious who arranges that the so-called Datchery shall keep a close watch of Jasper, living as his neighbor. Grewgious is playing a deep game. Jasper himself has raised the cry of murder, and by leaving him to his own devices, by artful counterplotting, Grewgious intends that Jasper, instead of incriminating an innocent man, shall convict himself."

"Very cleverly reasoned, Holmes," I said; "but there is a weak link in your chain. You have overlooked the fact that Jasper unquestionably believes Drood to be dead."


"NATURALLY, for Jasper thinks that he himself murdered the young man, and believes him to be safely laid away in quicklime in the Sapsea vault."

"But you must admit, my dear Mr. Holmes," I urged, "that it is impossible that a man should not know whether he actually committed a murder, or merely led up to it and failed."

"You might as well assert," added Watson, "that I, a physician, would perform an operation without knowing anything about it."

"I shall not dispute your parallel case, doctor," said Holmes; "but I will ask you a question or two. Why does Dickens make his villain an opium addict? Why is he so particular to establish the fact that Jasper has strange fits and weird seizures, in which he 'wanders away in a frightful sort of dream, in which he threatens most'? Why does he speak of having 'gone the journey'—meaning that he has done the deed—'hundreds of thousands of times'? Why does Jasper go on an opium spree the night before his attack on Drood? Are these things for no purpose? I am no literary critic, but common sense tells me that an author does not make his villain a morphinomaniac subject to fits in moments of excitement, and does not send him on an opium spree just before he commits a crime, unless that author has a good reason for doing so."

"And what, in your opinion, is this reason?" I asked.

"To me it seems clear enough," answered Holmes. "In his thoughts and his dreams, Jasper had contemplated the murder again and again—so the novel assures us. He took a diabolical delight in rehearsing it in his mind. Let us make an attempt to reconstruct the crime. On Christmas Eve, the night of the dinner at Jasper's, at about midnight, Drood and Neville Landless take a walk together. We are informed that Drood returns alone to his uncle's rooms. Jasper makes a sudden and ferocious attack upon him, and attempts to strangle him with a heavy silk scarf, to which the author has pointedly alluded. Now, unless Jasper were a practiced thug, adept in murder by garrote, he was not likely to avoid a struggle. However unexpected the assault, Drood would have been able to make some resistance."

"He might have been attacked in his sleep," I suggested.

"In that case," said Holmes, "he would presumably have been murdered. If Drood be dead, the story becomes the commonplace one of a man killing a rival and fixing the crime on an innocent person. Before he began writing the novel, Dickens wrote to his friend, John Forster, that he had an idea for his story which he described as 'curious and new', 'incommunicable, strong, though difficult to work.' If Drood was actually murdered, the idea of the novel has none of these qualities, for the story becomes trite and conventional.

"Let us return to my reconstruction of the attack. Drood resists sufficiently for him to recognize his assailant. Jasper, realizing that he is caught in an attempt to murder, has one of his seizures, and collapses just as he does subsequently in his interview with Grewgious. Drood is horrified and bewildered. He cannot imagine any motive for such an attack, for he knows nothing of Jasper's mad love for Rosa. He thinks the attack must be a maniacal outburst. He has noticed Jasper's strange symptoms on other occasions—so the novel tells us. He rushes from the house, leaving Jasper in his swoon, and makes his way to London. By the way, I find in the first edition of 'Bradshaw's Railway Guide' that there were trains at five and six o'clock in the morning on English railways as early as 1840, and the period of 'Edwin Drood' is certainly later than that. Drood tells Grewgious the facts as I have outlined them, and takes his departure for Egypt, as he had planned to do. Why should he remain in England? His career lay elsewhere; he had parted from his betrothed; his only known relative had attempted to kill him."

"By Jove, Holmes," exclaimed Watson, "I believe you are right!"

"Thank you, doctor," said Holmes. "It's very good of you to concur; but nevertheless I believe I am. Now what happens to Jasper? He awakens after a repetition of the dream that he has had 'hundreds and thousands of times'; and, as Mr. Lang quotes, he 'thinks it all wery capital.' He might have thought that he had only dreamed again of the murder that was his obsession; but there is the evidence of a struggle. There is the scarf. Jasper has dreamed of the crime so often that it is all vivid to him, including the long-planned burial of the body in the Sapsea vault. This time he believes that he has accomplished his purpose, for Drood has disappeared."

"Certain passages in the novel," I suggested, "seem to hint that Jasper intended to kill Drood by throwing him from the cathedral tower."

"I regard that as highly improbable," said Holmes. "To throw a man from a church tower would present some difficulty to the average murderer. Drood was a confiding youth, but even he might have been suspicious of an uncle who, in a midnight storm, on Christmas Eve, suggests climbing to the top of a cathedral tower. Jasper would realize that killing a man by throwing him from a tower would make a sad mess to be cleared up on Christmas morning. If such a crude and primitive method of murder was to be adopted, why was the scarf insisted on? I observe that the artist who illustrated the book affirms that Dickens told him that Jasper must wear that scarf, as Drood was to be strangled with it."

"Sir Luke Fildes was the artist," I said. "By the way, he used this remark of the author's as an argument to prove that Drood was actually murdered."

"It is no argument at all," protested Holmes. "Dickens could not be expected to go into all the intricacies of his plot. He told Fildes that Jasper must wear the scarf, as he was to strangle Drood with it. One could not expect the novelist to say that 'he tries to strangle Drood, but does not succeed,' and then to explain the whole story, opium and all. The author told the artist all that was necessary for his purpose, and no more."

"That seems plausible," said Watson; "but why did Jasper make his mysterious trip to the top of the tower, accompanied by Durdles, the stone mason?"

"In my opinion," Holmes replied, "he wished to see if it would be safe for him to convey Drood's body to the Sapsea vault, to which he had obtained a key by drugging Durdles. The text says that from the tower Jasper contemplates the scene, 'and especially that stillest part of it which the cathedral overshadows.' Reference is made to the moonlight. When Crisparkle suggests that Neville should meet the uncle and nephew for the purpose of a reconciliation, we are told that Jasper's face indicates 'some close internal calculation.' Is it not likely that he was figuring on what night the rise of the moon would be most favorable for his purpose? If I have not accurately reconstructed the crime, give me some good reason for the novelist's making Jasper an opium addict Why is opium in the story at all, if not for some purpose such as I have indicated? To deny that opium is in the novel for a purpose is to assert that Dickens devoted many pages to an irrelevant matter.

"Jasper's next move," continued Holmes, "is to declare that his nephew has been murdered, and he tries to fasten the crime upon Neville Landless. He has already spread the report of a feud between Drood and Neville, and he hates the latter for admiring Rosa. Drood's watch and pin are accounted for, being discovered by Crisparkle in the weir, where they were placed by Jasper, probably with the idea of incriminating Neville, whose midnight walk with Drood was in that vicinity."

"How did the watch and pin get into Jasper's possession, if Drood was not murdered?" asked Watson.

"The question is an ingenious one, doctor," answered Holmes, "but it concerns an unimportant detail. Drood may not have been attacked until he had started to undress. The removal of his collar and necktie would have made the garroting with the scarf an easier matter. Jasper was not likely to overlook the fact that gold articles would not be destroyed by quicklime. He would have found some way to get them. It is expressly stated in the book that he knew his nephew wore no other jewelry. Later in the story, deliberately but with an appearance of casualness, Grewgious lets Jasper know that Drood had in his pocket a ring of rubies and diamonds, to which the novelist refers as a link of evidence possessing 'invincible force to hold and drag' Jasper concludes that this ring is in the quicklime in the Sapsea vault. It is just the evidence that he needs. He decides to recover it, and to dispose of it in such a manner as to incriminate Neville. Close watch is kept on Jasper, and the time of his visit to the tomb becomes known. A trap is set for him. Somebody is placed in the tomb to confront him. His presence there, opening the door with the key that he had made from Durdles's key, proves his belief that Drood's body is there and his own guilt of assault with intent to commit murder."

"Evidently," I said, "you have studied the pictorial cover of the monthly parts in which the novel was first published. That is the only authority for believing that there was to be such a scene in the tomb."

"It is the best authority possible," Holmes declared. "Dickens described to the artist just what he wanted on that pictorial cover—some of the striking scenes in the story, as he had it outlined in his mind. The tomb scene, with Jasper, lantern in hand, confronting the menacing figure, is the most important feature of the cover design. It was to be the strongest climax in the novel."

"And who is it that Jasper sees?" asked Watson eagerly.

"One of two persons," Holmes replied. "It might be Drood or it might be Datchery—whoever he may be. According to the chronology of the novel, more than six months have passed since Drood went to Egypt. Grewgious would have written to him, telling him that Jasper's attack was not an outbreak of insanity, but a premeditated attempt to murder. Drood might have returned. If the man facing Jasper in the tomb is Drood, Dickens was developing an idea which he briefly suggested in Martin Chuzzlewit:

"The dead man might have come out of his grave and not confounded and appalled him so.

"Judged by dramatic values," continued Holmes, "the man who confronts Jasper in the tomb should be Drood. The would-be murderer and his supposed victim face to face—it is a sensational melodramatic situation. The man in the tomb bears a striking resemblance to Drood as he appears in another picture on the same cover. I believe it is Drood. Certainly, if it is any one else, the situation is not nearly as strong. There is not much dramatic value in Jasper's going to the tomb and finding a detective. The large hat and the overcoat suggest Datchery, but the face is not the face of an 'elderly buffer'—it is the face of Drood."


"AND now," said Watson, "we come to the second important problem—who is Datchery? He might be Neville, Landless, Tartar, or Bazzard, and Mr. Cuming Walters and Sir W. Robertson Nicoll make out quite a good case for Helena Landless."

Holmes leaned back in his armchair, placed the tips of his long, delicate fingers together and smiled a pitying smile.

"With all due respect to the amateur investigators who fancy that Datchery is Helena," he said, "I must exclude that young lady from the calculations. Mr. Walters's argument for Helena is based principally upon her brother's story that when they ran away together in their childhood, Helena 'dressed as a boy and showed the daring of a man.' Mr. Walters also makes much of the fact that when Helena is asked if she would not be afraid of Jasper in certain circumstances, she replies, 'Not under any circumstances.' On these passages indicating the girl's courage, and cm her having a motive—the exculpation of her brother—Mr. Walters rests his case. He was one of the counsel for the prosecution in the mock trial of Jasper in 1914, in which Helena's claim that she was Datchery was shattered by the cross-examination of Mr. Cecil Chesterton."

"Mr. Andrew Lang," I remarked, "expressed the opinion that 'if Helena is Datchery, the idea is highly ludicrous.'"

"And so it is," Holmes agreed. "My own opinion is that if Dickens intended to present Helena to his readers as an elderly gentleman wearing a white wig and 'button-up in a lightish blue surtout,' his sense of humor must have been in abeyance, and he was asking his readers to have the credulity of a child hearing a fairy tale. Here is the novelist's description of Helena:

"An unusually handsome, lithe girl, very dark and very rich in color, almost of the gypsy type; slender, supple, quick of eye and limb; half shy, half defiant, fierce of look.

"You may see the lady, with her 'lustrous gypsy face,' in the illustration, which, presumably, was approved by Dickens. Could such a girl masquerade as an elderly man without being detected? Would she, recently arrived from Ceylon, make chalk marks on a door to 'keep score, as they do in taverns'? Datchery drinks sherry and beer, eats a hungry man's substantial meal, and 'makes a leg'—which, I believe, is a sort of masculine equivalent of a curtsy. He chaffs Sapsea and the boy Deputy. He interviews Jasper, and becomes his neighbor. Would not Mrs. Tope suspect the sex of her lodger? Would the camouflaged Helena deceive Jasper for a moment?"

"Not unless he were a greater fool than I am," said Watson.

"As I have said, we must eliminate the impossible," Holmes continued. "The girl who defied Jasper—a girl of unusual appearance—lodges near him and talks with him. She closely resembles her brother, on whom Jasper is trying to fix a crime; yet he, with a supposed murder on his conscience, watchful, suspicious, sees her in a white wig and a 4 tightish blue surtout' and does not suspect her identity or her sex. Jasper is a singing teacher, with an ear trained to judge the quality of voices; yet he cannot tell a woman's voice from that of an elderly man. A 'tall, lithe girl' with a 'lustrous gypsy face,' white hair 'blowing in the breeze,' 'buttoned up in a tightish blue surtout,' meets and talks to no fewer than six of the leading characters in the story, and none of them suspects that she is a woman."

"You must remember, Holmes," Watson observed, "that Shakespeare frequently disguises female characters as boys or young men, and, as the Americans say, gets away with it."

"Your criticism is sound," Holmes retorted—"sound, if nothing else; but you overlook the fact that Shakespeare is in the realm of romantic drama, where the impossible can happen, and generally does. Mr. Dickens was writing a modern novel, in which the plot, characters, and incidents must approximate real life, must be plausible and convincing. He could hardly ask his readers to believe that all his characters are such imbeciles that they cannot tell a masquerading girl from an elderly man. What is admissible in the Forest of Arden, or any other fairyland of fancy, becomes incredible in everyday life."

"Now that you mention it," remarked Watson, "I have never seen a Viola or a Rosalind who made me forget for a moment that she was a lady in doublet and hose."

"Which proves your keen powers of observation, doctor," said Holmes. "The characters surrounding these shapely ladies believe that they are young men, because in poetic drama characters may be asked by their creators to believe anything. No writer of a modern novel or play would ask readers or auditors to believe in a Caliban or an Ariel. Sir James Barrie can play such pranks; so could Lewis Carroll; but they deal in the fantastic. Occasionally, in modern plays, young actresses are cast for boy characters; but such impersonations carry no conviction, even in the theater."

Watson and I mentioned several instances of this in our own experience as theatergoers.

"There is a theatrical tradition," I said, "that Peg Woffington, playing Sir Harry Wildair, remarked, 'I believe half the men in the audience think I am a man'—to which Quin, the veteran actor, made the obvious retort, rude but witty. Charlotte Cushman played Romeo, but nobody ever believed that she was a man, though Miss Cushman had a voice and a personality that gave an unusual degree of realism to masculine impersonation. Coming nearer to our own time, Sarah Bernhardt's Hamlet was a very graceful and charming Princess of Denmark."

"There you are," said Holmes. "If Helena Landless be Datchery, she is a greater actress than any who has ever appeared on the stage. Helena, just arrived from Ceylon, where she had always lived, knew nothing of the art of make-up, one of the technicalities of the profession—one of the most difficult, by the way. Tell me, Watson—if an elderly man in a white wig should suddenly be revealed as 'a tall, lithe girl with a lustrous gypsy face,' would it give you the thrill of a striking dramatic situation?"

"I fancy I should find it more or less laughable," said Watson, after prolonged reflection.

"I am sure you would," agreed Holmes. "The idea is essentially comic. Dickens, we know, took his plot very seriously, and the revelation of Datchery was to have been his strongest situation."

"Then, in your opinion, who was Datchery?" Watson asked.

"Before answering that question, doctor, I ask you to glance at this book, which has been placed at my disposal by the present owner."

Holmes placed in Watson's hands a small volume, on the flyleaf of which I observed the following inscription:

To Mr. and Mrs. Comyns Carr, from their friend, Kate Perugini.

I recognized the name of the donor as that of Charles Dickens's daughter.

"That book," said Holmes, "was used by Dickens for several years, including the period immediately preceding the writing of 'The Mystery of Edwin Drood.' Let me call your attention to a note in Dickens's autograph, which I think has a decided bearing upon the question you have asked me."

Holmes indicated the paragraph, and I read the following note in the novelist's well known hand:

The two men to be guarded against as to their revenge. One whom I openly hold in some serious animosity, and whom I am at the pains to wound and defy and estimate as worthy of wounding and defying. The other whom I treat as a sort of insect, and contemptuously and pleasantly flick aside with my glove. But it turns out to be the latter who is the really dangerous man, and when I expect the blow from the other, it falls from him.

"That note," said Holmes, "is placed among memoranda of material used in the later novels, and in my opinion it refers to the disguised personality of Datchery. It is true that Dickens used something like it in 'Hunted Down' but that was merely a short story written to order. I believe that in depicting the impersonator of Datchery, Dickens developed this idea entered in his notebook."

"And who, in reality, is this negligible and insignificant person?"


"AGAIN let me adopt my favorite method of elimination," replied Holmes. "I hope I have convinced you that no woman could successfully impersonate an elderly man. Datchery cannot be Grewgious, Crisparkle, Neville Tartar, Durdles, Sapsea, or the dean, because they are all constantly before the reader, playing the roles provided for them. Not one of them disappears, so that for any considerable period he could be Datchery. He would have to be in and out of disguise, running up and down between London and Cloisterham. Aside from Drood—who is probably in Egypt, but who may possibly have returned—only one character disappears—Bazzard."

"Bazzard!" I exclaimed. "Surely, Holmes, you cannot believe that Grewgious's uninteresting clerk can be Datchery! The Datchery-Bazzard theory was broken down by Sir W. Robertson Nicoll, who brought heavy German guns forward to shatter the claim. He quotes from Dr. Hugo Eick's book, 'On the Psychology of Dissimulation' The gist of the argument is summed up by another writer, Professor Jackson:

"'Capacity can ape incapacity; but incapacity cannot ape capacity.'"

"I am the last man in the world to dispute scientific theories, however German," said Holmes; "but what has all this about capacity and incapacity to do with Bazzard? Who has imputed incapacity to Bazzard? He is a lawyer's clerk, and while there are lawyer's clerks who are not intellectual giants, they are not imbeciles as a class. Bazzard has written a play. It may not be a good play; but to write even a poor play requires intelligence of a sort—or so I am credibly informed. As Grewgious himself says: 'Now, you know, I couldn't write a play;' and he makes this admission as if he were intimating that Bazzard is not such a nonentity as he seems."

"Now that you mention it," I remarked, "I have often wondered why, when Rosa takes refuge with Grewgious to avoid Jasper's persecution, the lawyer devotes most of his conversation to the subject of his absent clerk, just as he does in an earlier interview with Drood."

"Obviously because Bazzard is destined to take some important part in the story," Holmes declared. "Bazzard is invited to have Christmas dinner with his employer. The clerk is rather a surly fellow, soured, perhaps, by the refusal of managers to produce his play. He is associated with a group of amateur playwrights—so we are told. In short, his tastes and affiliations are theatrical. It might have been shown later that he belonged to one of the companies of amateur actors that Dickens was so fond of, both personally and as a writer."

"It does seem rather curious," I suggested, "that Grewgious should say to Rosa, 'Let's talk,' and then proceed to talk almost exclusively of Bazzard."

"It is for the reason that this is the only chance the novelist left himself to establish Bazzard as a character in connection with his appearance as Datchery."

"The principal argument in favor of the Bazzard-Datchery theory," said Watson, "has been Grewgious's remark that his clerk 'is off duty here, altogether, just at present, and a firm downstairs lent me a substitute'."

"And the remark is extremely significant," Holmes commented. "Observe, Grewgious does not say that Bazzard has left him, but that he is 'off duty just for the present'—meaning that he is temporarily engaged on business away from the office. Grewgious has borrowed a substitute, which clearly shows that the lawyer expects his clerk to return, and knows why he is away. Grewgious might have-said that Bazzard was taking a vacation, or was away because his play was going to be produced, or otherwise accounted for his absence; but he leaves the reason for the clerk's absence vague and mysterious. Datchery appears just as Bazzard is 'off duty' in the novel. All the other characters are in evidence. Neville Landless has a room engaged for him, where he is studying law and is visited by Crisparkle. Helena, we are told, is to be with him to cheer and encourage him. Tartar has his rooms in the same building, and does not disappear from the story. Bazzard alone vanishes from the scene after the reader has been told a great deal about him."

"But," I ventured to say, "Dickens often introduces characters for incidental humor, and soon allows them to drop out of the story."

"But Bazzard is not one of these transient comedy characters. He is not comic. He is negative, an uninteresting person. In fact, he completely realizes the type of man referred to in Dickens's notebook—a sort of insect to be brushed aside.'"

"You seem to forget, Mr. Holmes," I reminded him, "that Helena Landless is the person who has the strongest motive for proving the guilt of Jasper—the establishing of her brother's innocence."

"It is true that Helena has a motive; but, in spite of that, the improbability—nay, the impossibility—of a girl's masquerading as an elderly man and deceiving everybody, including the criminal himself, in my opinion, nullifies the claim of the Helenists."

"And what motive could Bazzard have?" asked Watson.

"In the first place, the motive of serving his employer, Grewgious. Secondly, the motive of doing work congenial to a man of theatrical inclinations. There is also the motive of helping to bring a scoundrel to justice. The only ambition indicated in Bazzard is connected with the theater. If Grewgious had suggested such a melodramatic mission to the clerk who had written a play, Bazzard would probably have jumped at the chance to try his hand at an employment far more congenial than law office routine. It would not be difficult for him to disguise himself as an elderly man. He would need just enough disguise to avoid a chance recognition as Grewgious's clerk."

Holmes ceased, and for a few moments seemed to be lost in thought.

"We are still here," Watson reminded him; and he emerged from his cogitations.


"TO go further into Buzzard's motive for the Datchery masquerade," he said, "I should have to know secrets that Dickens carried to his grave. I have given you a fair exposition of my argument to show that Drood was not killed; and it is possible that I have convinced you, as I have convinced myself, that Datchery is Bazzard. These are the two leading problems in the novel; but it contains other mysteries—enigmas that will never be satisfactorily solved, and can only be vaguely guessed. For example, why does the opium woman hate Jasper? She says she knows him 'better than all the learned parsons put together know him.' Perhaps the fact that Jasper, in her presence and under the influence of the drug, has babbled of the crime he contemplated is enough to account for that remark; but would it be enough to take her to Cloisterham, to look, as she says, 'for a needle in a bundle of hay'? She is so poor that she begs three shillings and sixpence on two different occasions, yet she journeys twice to a town twenty-six miles from London to trail and spy upon Jasper, whom she often has had at her mercy in her opium den."

"Mr. Cuming Walters," I suggested, "believes that the opium woman is Jasper's mother."

"So I have observed," said Holmes. "Mr. Walters also asserts that 'the opium vice is hereditary'—which it is not, as I happen to know. The opium woman speaks the dialect of the lowest slums. Jasper is a man of education, a musician. If she is his mother, she must be old Mrs. Jasper, Drood's maternal grandmother. She says she 'got heavens-hard drunk for sixteen years' before she took to opium. We are told that Drood's father was a college man and a prosperous business man. I see nothing in the novel to indicate that he married the daughter of a disreputable old hag. It is probable that the woman was to be a witness at Jasper's trial.

"Then," continued the great detective, "there is the impish vagrant boy, Deputy. His nocturnal roamings mean something. He and Jasper hate each other. He is referred to in Dickens's preliminary notes for the novel—'Remember there is a child,' and 'Keep the boy suspended.' Probably he, too, was to be a witness at the trial. He saw Jasper and Durdles leave the cathedral after their midnight visit to the crypt and the tower. It is likely that Datchery learns a good deal from the boy, with whom he makes friends."

"One of the interesting secondary mysteries," I suggested, "is Durdles's story told to Jasper during the nocturnal expedition to the cathedral. Durdles relates that on the preceding Christmas Eve he was in the crypt, sleeping off a debauch. He was awakened by a 'terrific shriek' followed by the 'long, dismal, woeful howl of a dog.' Jasper is agitated by this information, but there is no further allusion to it in the novel. Several of the writers on the subject think that this incident is a sort of occult premonition—that the shriek is Jasper's shriek as he falls, or is thrown, from the tower on the Christmas Eve following the supposed murder of Drood."

"According to this theory," answered Holmes, "the shriek and the howl would have been premonitions just two years before their fulfillment Why should they be heard by Durdles, about the last person who could be thought to be psychic or clairvoyant? I fancy that the mason's story is merely a bit of weird detail to add to the suggestion of Jasper's sinister motive in visiting the crypt and the tower. If Jasper had been up to any mischief in the cathedral on the Christmas Eve preceding the attack on Drood—anything to cause a shriek and a howl actually heard—he would have been familiar with the premises, and would not have had to go on the reconnoitering expedition with Durdles. Jasper becomes nervous when the mason tells the story. Perhaps he, with a murder in contemplation, regards the weird nocturnal noises as ominous."

"There is one more point on which I would like to hear your opinion," said Watson. "In the last chapter written, Jasper, under the influence of opium, speaks of 'a hazardous journey, over abysses where a slip would be destruction.' 'Look down, look down!' he says; 'you see what lies at the bottom there?' He 'points as though at some imaginary object far beneath.' 'And yet I never saw that before.' he says. 'That must be real. It's over!' As Mr. Andrew Lang asked, what can all this mean?"

Holmes thought deeply for a moment.

"I'm damned if I know," he finally replied. "And yet the science of deduction is of value even here. The illustrations on the cover are evidently a pictorial summary of the principal incidents in the novel. They cannot be anything else. One of them represents three men rushing up a circular staircase—that of the cathedral tower, of course. The leader points upward. It is Neville Landless. The other men are Crisparkle and Tartar. They are pursuing some one. Who could it be but Jasper? The inference is that Jasper, discovered in his visit to the tomb, rushes up the tower staircase. The three watchers pursue, Neville leading. At the top of the tower he and Jasper struggle. Neville is thrown from the tower and killed; so there is an actual murder, for which Jasper is to pay the penalty. 'Look down! I never saw that before. That must be real.' These ravings, I believe, are premonitory, and refer to Neville's body."

"Your deductions have interested me greatly," I observed, helping myself to the very excellent Irish whisky proffered by our host; "but you have not taken into account the assertion of John Forster, Dickens's biographer, that the novelist told him that Drood was to be murdered. The son and the daughter of the author made similar statements."

"I attach no importance whatever to such testimony," said Holmes. "My friend Watson states in one of his stories that I have no knowledge of literature. I don't deny the charge; but I am sure of one thing—no novelist with a complicated plot in his mind is likely to go around telling it to his friends and relatives. Dickens guarded his plot jealously. He expressly told Forster, in a letter, that the plot was 'incommunicable.' I don't believe that he revealed it to anybody. I am by no means certain that if Dickens had lived to complete 'The Mystery of Edwin Drood,' it would not now be considered the best of his novels. An admirable critic, the writer whose nom de plume is John o' London, recently said of it:

"'It is a novel whose very style, so unusually wrought, poetic and haunting in its movements and cadences, might alone suggest that he had formed a fine design.'"

"One more question, Holmes," said Watson.

The great detective displayed unmistakable evidence of impatience.

"My good Watson," he said, "I must remind you of the forceful words of old Father William in that excellent work, 'Alice in Wonderland:'

"'I have answered three questions, and that is enough,'
Said his father; 'don't give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I'll kick you downstairs!'

"While I do not seriously meditate any such breach of hospitality, I must remind you that I have answered many more questions than the three that exhausted the patience of that estimable patriarch."

With this remark, Holmes took up a volume, which I recognized as "The Mystery of Edwin Drood," and immediately became absorbed in it. As he seemed determined to ignore our presence entirely, after some fifteen minutes of silence Watson quietly intimated to me his own deduction that the interview was at an end.


Charles Dickens (1812-1870)



In the Court.


Under the Tree.


At the Piano.


On Dangerous Ground.


Mr. Crisparkle is Overpaid.


Durdles Cautions Mr. Sapsea Against Boasting.


"Good-bye, Rosebud, Darling!"


Mr. Grewgious Has His Suspicions.


Jasper's Sacrifices.


Mr. Grewgious Experience a New Senstation.


On the River.


Sleeping It Off.


Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
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