Although Mr. Crisparkle and John Jasper met daily under the Cathedral roof, nothing at any time passed between them having reference to Edwin Drood, afte_he time, more than half a year gone by, when Jasper mutely showed the Mino_anon the conclusion and the resolution entered in his Diary. It is not likel_hat they ever met, though so often, without the thoughts of each reverting t_he subject. It is not likely that they ever met, though so often, without _ensation on the part of each that the other was a perplexing secret to him.
Jasper as the denouncer and pursuer of Neville Landless, and Mr. Crisparkle a_is consistent advocate and protector, must at least have stood sufficientl_n opposition to have speculated with keen interest on the steadiness and nex_irection of the other's designs. But neither ever broached the theme.
False pretence not being in the Minor Canon's nature, he doubtless displaye_penly that he would at any time have revived the subject, and even desired t_iscuss it. The determined reticence of Jasper, however, was not to be s_pproached. Impassive, moody, solitary, resolute, so concentrated on one idea, and on its attendant fixed purpose, that he would share it with no fellow- creature, he lived apart from human life. Constantly exercising an Art whic_rought him into mechanical harmony with others, and which could not have bee_ursued unless he and they had been in the nicest mechanical relations an_nison, it is curious to consider that the spirit of the man was in mora_ccordance or interchange with nothing around him. This indeed he had confide_o his lost nephew, before the occasion for his present inflexibility arose.
That he must know of Rosa's abrupt departure, and that he must divine it_ause, was not to be doubted. Did he suppose that he had terrified her int_ilence? or did he suppose that she had imparted to any one — to Mr.
Crisparkle himself, for instance — the particulars of his last interview wit_er? Mr. Crisparkle could not determine this in his mind. He could not bu_dmit, however, as a just man, that it was not, of itself, a crime to fall i_ove with Rosa, any more than it was a crime to offer to set love abov_evenge.
The dreadful suspicion of Jasper, which Rosa was so shocked to have receive_nto her imagination, appeared to have no harbour in Mr. Crisparkle's. If i_ver haunted Helena's thoughts or Neville's, neither gave it one spoken wor_f utterance. Mr. Grewgious took no pains to conceal his implacable dislike o_asper, yet he never referred it, however distantly, to such a source. But h_as a reticent as well as an eccentric man; and he made no mention of _ertain evening when he warmed his hands at the gatehouse fire, and looke_teadily down upon a certain heap of torn and miry clothes upon the floor.
Drowsy Cloisterham, whenever it awoke to a passing reconsideration of a stor_bove six months old and dismissed by the bench of magistrates, was prett_qually divided in opinion whether John Jasper's beloved nephew had bee_illed by his treacherously passionate rival, or in an open struggle; or had, for his own purposes, spirited himself away. It then lifted up its head, t_otice that the bereaved Jasper was still ever devoted to discovery an_evenge; and then dozed off again. This was the condition of matters, al_ound, at the period to which the present history has now attained.
The Cathedral doors have closed for the night; and the Choir- master, on _hort leave of absence for two or three services, sets his face toward_ondon. He travels thither by the means by which Rosa travelled, and arrives, as Rosa arrived, on a hot, dusty evening.
His travelling baggage is easily carried in his hand, and he repairs with i_n foot, to a hybrid hotel in a little square behind Aldersgate Street, nea_he General Post Office. It is hotel, boarding-house, or lodging-house, at it_isitor's option. It announces itself, in the new Railway Advertisers, as _ovel enterprise, timidly beginning to spring up. It bashfully, almos_pologetically, gives the traveller to understand that it does not expect him, on the good old constitutional hotel plan, to order a pint of sweet blackin_or his drinking, and throw it away; but insinuates that he may have his boot_lacked instead of his stomach, and maybe also have bed, breakfast, attendance, and a porter up all night, for a certain fixed charge. From thes_nd similar premises, many true Britons in the lowest spirits deduce that th_imes are levelling times, except in the article of high roads, of which ther_ill shortly be not one in England.
He eats without appetite, and soon goes forth again. Eastward and stil_astward through the stale streets he takes his way, until he reaches hi_estination: a miserable court, specially miserable among many such.
He ascends a broken staircase, opens a door, looks into a dark stifling room, and says: 'Are you alone here?'
'Alone, deary; worse luck for me, and better for you,' replies a croakin_oice. 'Come in, come in, whoever you be: I can't see you till I light _atch, yet I seem to know the sound of your speaking. I'm acquainted with you, ain't I?'
'Light your match, and try.'
'So I will, deary, so I will; but my hand that shakes, as I can't lay it on _atch all in a moment. And I cough so, that, put my matches where I may, _ever find 'em there. They jump and start, as I cough and cough, like liv_hings. Are you off a voyage, deary?'
'Well, there's land customers, and there's water customers. I'm a mother t_oth. Different from Jack Chinaman t'other side the court. He ain't a fathe_o neither. It ain't in him. And he ain't got the true secret of mixing, though he charges as much as me that has, and more if he can get it. Here's _atch, and now where's the candle? If my cough takes me, I shall cough ou_wenty matches afore I gets a light.'
But she finds the candle, and lights it, before the cough comes on. It seize_er in the moment of success, and she sits down rocking herself to and fro, and gasping at intervals: 'O, my lungs is awful bad! my lungs is wore away t_abbage-nets!' until the fit is over. During its continuance she has had n_ower of sight, or any other power not absorbed in the struggle; but as i_eaves her, she begins to strain her eyes, and as soon as she is able t_rticulate, she cries, staring:
'Why, it's you!'
'Are you so surprised to see me?'
'I thought I never should have seen you again, deary. I thought you was dead, and gone to Heaven.'
'I didn't suppose you could have kept away, alive, so long, from the poor ol_oul with the real receipt for mixing it. And you are in mourning too! Wh_idn't you come and have a pipe or two of comfort? Did they leave you money, perhaps, and so you didn't want comfort?'
'Who was they as died, deary?'
'Died of what, lovey?'
'We are short to-night!' cries the woman, with a propitiatory laugh. 'Shor_nd snappish we are! But we're out of sorts for want of a smoke. We've got th_ll-overs, haven't us, deary? But this is the place to cure 'em in; this i_he place where the all- overs is smoked off.'
'You may make ready, then,' replies the visitor, 'as soon as you like.'
He divests himself of his shoes, loosens his cravat, and lies across the foo_f the squalid bed, with his head resting on his left hand.
'Now you begin to look like yourself,' says the woman approvingly. 'Now _egin to know my old customer indeed! Been trying to mix for yourself thi_ong time, poppet?'
'I have been taking it now and then in my own way.'
'Never take it your own way. It ain't good for trade, and it ain't good fo_ou. Where's my ink-bottle, and where's my thimble, and where's my littl_poon? He's going to take it in a artful form now, my deary dear!'
Entering on her process, and beginning to bubble and blow at the faint spar_nclosed in the hollow of her hands, she speaks from time to time, in a ton_f snuffling satisfaction, without leaving off. When he speaks, he does s_ithout looking at her, and as if his thoughts were already roaming away b_nticipation.
'I've got a pretty many smokes ready for you, first and last, haven't I, chuckey?'
'A good many.'
'When you first come, you was quite new to it; warn't ye?'
'Yes, I was easily disposed of, then.'
'But you got on in the world, and was able by-and-by to take your pipe wit_he best of 'em, warn't ye?'
'Ah; and the worst.'
'It's just ready for you. What a sweet singer you was when you first come!
Used to drop your head, and sing yourself off like a bird! It's ready for yo_ow, deary.'
He takes it from her with great care, and puts the mouthpiece to his lips. Sh_eats herself beside him, ready to refill the pipe.
After inhaling a few whiffs in silence, he doubtingly accosts her with:
'Is it as potent as it used to be?'
'What do you speak of, deary?'
'What should I speak of, but what I have in my mouth?'
'It's just the same. Always the identical same.'
'It doesn't taste so. And it's slower.'
'You've got more used to it, you see.'
'That may be the cause, certainly. Look here.' He stops, becomes dreamy, an_eems to forget that he has invited her attention. She bends over him, an_peaks in his ear.
'I'm attending to you. Says you just now, Look here. Says I now, I'm attendin_o ye. We was talking just before of your being used to it.'
'I know all that. I was only thinking. Look here. Suppose you had something i_our mind; something you were going to do.'
'Yes, deary; something I was going to do?'
'But had not quite determined to do.'
'Might or might not do, you understand.'
'Yes.' With the point of a needle she stirs the contents of the bowl.
'Should you do it in your fancy, when you were lying here doing this?'
She nods her head. 'Over and over again.'
'Just like me! I did it over and over again. I have done it hundreds o_housands of times in this room.'
'It's to be hoped it was pleasant to do, deary.'
'It was pleasant to do!'
He says this with a savage air, and a spring or start at her. Quite unmove_he retouches and replenishes the contents of the bowl with her littl_patula. Seeing her intent upon the occupation, he sinks into his forme_ttitude.
'It was a journey, a difficult and dangerous journey. That was the subject i_y mind. A hazardous and perilous journey, over abysses where a slip would b_estruction. Look down, look down! You see what lies at the bottom there?'
He has darted forward to say it, and to point at the ground, as though at som_maginary object far beneath. The woman looks at him, as his spasmodic fac_pproaches close to hers, and not at his pointing. She seems to know what th_nfluence of her perfect quietude would be; if so, she has not miscalculate_t, for he subsides again.
'Well; I have told you I did it here hundreds of thousands of times. What do _ay? I did it millions and billions of times. I did it so often, and throug_uch vast expanses of time, that when it was really done, it seemed not wort_he doing, it was done so soon.'
'That's the journey you have been away upon,' she quietly remarks.
He glares at her as he smokes; and then, his eyes becoming filmy, answers:
'That's the journey.'
Silence ensues. His eyes are sometimes closed and sometimes open. The woma_its beside him, very attentive to the pipe, which is all the while at hi_ips.
'I'll warrant,' she observes, when he has been looking fixedly at her for som_onsecutive moments, with a singular appearance in his eyes of seeming to se_er a long way off, instead of so near him: 'I'll warrant you made the journe_n a many ways, when you made it so often?'
'No, always in one way.'
'Always in the same way?'
'In the way in which it was really made at last?'
'And always took the same pleasure in harping on it?'
For the time he appears unequal to any other reply than this lazy monosyllabi_ssent. Probably to assure herself that it is not the assent of a mer_utomaton, she reverses the form of her next sentence.
'Did you never get tired of it, deary, and try to call up something else for _hange?'
He struggles into a sitting posture, and retorts upon her: 'What do you mean?
What did I want? What did I come for?'
She gently lays him back again, and before returning him the instrument he ha_ropped, revives the fire in it with her own breath; then says to him, coaxingly:
'Sure, sure, sure! Yes, yes, yes! Now I go along with you. You was too quic_or me. I see now. You come o' purpose to take the journey. Why, I might hav_nown it, through its standing by you so.'
He answers first with a laugh, and then with a passionate setting of hi_eeth: 'Yes, I came on purpose. When I could not bear my life, I came to ge_he relief, and I got it. It was one! It was one!' This repetition wit_xtraordinary vehemence, and the snarl of a wolf.
She observes him very cautiously, as though mentally feeling her way to he_ext remark. It is: 'There was a fellow-traveller, deary.'
'Ha, ha, ha!' He breaks into a ringing laugh, or rather yell.
'To think,' he cries, 'how often fellow-traveller, and yet not know it! T_hink how many times he went the journey, and never saw the road!'
The woman kneels upon the floor, with her arms crossed on the coverlet of th_ed, close by him, and her chin upon them. In this crouching attitude sh_atches him. The pipe is falling from his mouth. She puts it back, and layin_er hand upon his chest, moves him slightly from side to side. Upon that h_peaks, as if she had spoken.
'Yes! I always made the journey first, before the changes of colours and th_reat landscapes and glittering processions began. They couldn't begin till i_as off my mind. I had no room till then for anything else.'
Once more he lapses into silence. Once more she lays her hand upon his chest, and moves him slightly to and fro, as a cat might stimulate a half-slai_ouse. Once more he speaks, as if she had spoken.
'What? I told you so. When it comes to be real at last, it is so short that i_eems unreal for the first time. Hark!'
'Yes, deary. I'm listening.'
'Time and place are both at hand.'
He is on his feet, speaking in a whisper, and as if in the dark.
'Time, place, and fellow-traveller,' she suggests, adopting his tone, an_olding him softly by the arm.
'How could the time be at hand unless the fellow-traveller was? Hush! Th_ourney's made. It's over.'
'That's what I said to you. So soon. Wait a little. This is a vision. I shal_leep it off. It has been too short and easy. I must have a better vision tha_his; this is the poorest of all. No struggle, no consciousness of peril, n_ntreaty — and yet I never saw that before.' With a start.
'Saw what, deary?'
'Look at it! Look what a poor, mean, miserable thing it is! That must be real.
He has accompanied this incoherence with some wild unmeaning gestures; bu_hey trail off into the progressive inaction of stupor, and he lies a log upo_he bed.
The woman, however, is still inquisitive. With a repetition of her cat-lik_ction she slightly stirs his body again, and listens; stirs again, an_istens; whispers to it, and listens. Finding it past all rousing for th_ime, she slowly gets upon her feet, with an air of disappointment, and flick_he face with the back of her hand in turning from it.
But she goes no further away from it than the chair upon the hearth. She sit_n it, with an elbow on one of its arms, and her chin upon her hand, inten_pon him. 'I heard ye say once,' she croaks under her breath, 'I heard ye sa_nce, when I was lying where you're lying, and you were making you_peculations upon me, "Unintelligible!" I heard you say so, of two more tha_e. But don't ye be too sure always; don't be ye too sure, beauty!'
Unwinking, cat-like, and intent, she presently adds: 'Not so potent as it onc_as? Ah! Perhaps not at first. You may be more right there. Practice make_erfect. I may have learned the secret how to make ye talk, deary.'
He talks no more, whether or no. Twitching in an ugly way from time to time, both as to his face and limbs, he lies heavy and silent. The wretched candl_urns down; the woman takes its expiring end between her fingers, light_nother at it, crams the guttering frying morsel deep into the candlestick, and rams it home with the new candle, as if she were loading some ill-savoure_nd unseemly weapon of witchcraft; the new candle in its turn burns down; an_till he lies insensible. At length what remains of the last candle is blow_ut, and daylight looks into the room.
It has not looked very long, when he sits up, chilled and shaking, slowl_ecovers consciousness of where he is, and makes himself ready to depart. Th_oman receives what he pays her with a grateful, 'Bless ye, bless ye, deary!'
and seems, tired out, to begin making herself ready for sleep as he leaves th_oom.
But seeming may be false or true. It is false in this case; for, the momen_he stairs have ceased to creak under his tread, she glides after him, muttering emphatically: 'I'll not miss ye twice!'
There is no egress from the court but by its entrance. With a weird peep fro_he doorway, she watches for his looking back. He does not look back befor_isappearing, with a wavering step. She follows him, peeps from the court, sees him still faltering on without looking back, and holds him in view.
He repairs to the back of Aldersgate Street, where a door immediately opens t_is knocking. She crouches in another doorway, watching that one, and easil_omprehending that he puts up temporarily at that house. Her patience i_nexhausted by hours. For sustenance she can, and does, buy bread within _undred yards, and milk as it is carried past her.
He comes forth again at noon, having changed his dress, but carrying nothin_n his hand, and having nothing carried for him. He is not going back into th_ountry, therefore, just yet. She follows him a little way, hesitates, instantaneously turns confidently, and goes straight into the house he ha_uitted.
'Is the gentleman from Cloisterham indoors?
'Just gone out.'
'Unlucky. When does the gentleman return to Cloisterham?'
'At six this evening.'
'Bless ye and thank ye. May the Lord prosper a business where a civi_uestion, even from a poor soul, is so civilly answered!'
'I'll not miss ye twice!' repeats the poor soul in the street, and not s_ivilly. 'I lost ye last, where that omnibus you got into nigh your journey'_nd plied betwixt the station and the place. I wasn't so much as certain tha_ou even went right on to the place. Now I know ye did. My gentleman fro_loisterham, I'll be there before ye, and bide your coming. I've swore my oat_hat I'll not miss ye twice!'
Accordingly, that same evening the poor soul stands in Cloisterham Hig_treet, looking at the many quaint gables of the Nuns' House, and gettin_hrough the time as she best can until nine o'clock; at which hour she ha_eason to suppose that the arriving omnibus passengers may have some interes_or her. The friendly darkness, at that hour, renders it easy for her t_scertain whether this be so or not; and it is so, for the passenger not to b_issed twice arrives among the rest.
'Now let me see what becomes of you. Go on!'
An observation addressed to the air, and yet it might be addressed to th_assenger, so compliantly does he go on along the High Street until he come_o an arched gateway, at which he unexpectedly vanishes. The poor sou_uickens her pace; is swift, and close upon him entering under the gateway; but only sees a postern staircase on one side of it, and on the other side a_ncient vaulted room, in which a large-headed, gray-haired gentleman i_riting, under the odd circumstances of sitting open to the thoroughfare an_yeing all who pass, as if he were toll- taker of the gateway: though the wa_s free.
'Halloa!' he cries in a low voice, seeing her brought to a stand- still: 'wh_re you looking for?'
'There was a gentleman passed in here this minute, sir.'
'Of course there was. What do you want with him?'
'Where do he live, deary?'
'Live? Up that staircase.'
'Bless ye! Whisper. What's his name, deary?'
'Surname Jasper, Christian name John. Mr. John Jasper.'
'Has he a calling, good gentleman?'
'Calling? Yes. Sings in the choir.'
'In the spire?'
Mr. Datchery rises from his papers, and comes to his doorstep. 'Do you kno_hat a cathedral is?' he asks, jocosely.
The woman nods.
'What is it?'
She looks puzzled, casting about in her mind to find a definition, when i_ccurs to her that it is easier to point out the substantial object itself, massive against the dark-blue sky and the early stars.
'That's the answer. Go in there at seven to-morrow morning, and you may se_r. John Jasper, and hear him too.'
'Thank ye! Thank ye!'
The burst of triumph in which she thanks him does not escape the notice of th_ingle buffer of an easy temper living idly on his means. He glances at her; clasps his hands behind him, as the wont of such buffers is; and lounges alon_he echoing Precincts at her side.
'Or,' he suggests, with a backward hitch of his head, 'you can go up at onc_o Mr. Jasper's rooms there.'
The woman eyes him with a cunning smile, and shakes her head.
'O! you don't want to speak to him?'
She repeats her dumb reply, and forms with her lips a soundless 'No.'
'You can admire him at a distance three times a day, whenever you like. It's _ong way to come for that, though.'
The woman looks up quickly. If Mr. Datchery thinks she is to be so induced t_eclare where she comes from, he is of a much easier temper than she is. Bu_he acquits him of such an artful thought, as he lounges along, like th_hartered bore of the city, with his uncovered gray hair blowing about, an_is purposeless hands rattling the loose money in the pockets of his trousers.
The chink of the money has an attraction for her greedy ears. 'Wouldn't yo_elp me to pay for my traveller's lodging, dear gentleman, and to pay my wa_long? I am a poor soul, I am indeed, and troubled with a grievous cough.'
'You know the travellers' lodging, I perceive, and are making directly fo_t,' is Mr. Datchery's bland comment, still rattling his loose money. 'Bee_ere often, my good woman?'
'Once in all my life.'
They have arrived at the entrance to the Monks' Vineyard. An appropriat_emembrance, presenting an exemplary model for imitation, is revived in th_oman's mind by the sight of the place. She stops at the gate, and say_nergetically:
'By this token, though you mayn't believe it, That a young gentleman gave m_hree-and-sixpence as I was coughing my breath away on this very grass. _sked him for three-and-sixpence, and he gave it me.'
'Wasn't it a little cool to name your sum?' hints Mr. Datchery, stil_attling. 'Isn't it customary to leave the amount open? Mightn't it have ha_he appearance, to the young gentleman — only the appearance — that he wa_ather dictated to?'
'Look'ee here, deary,' she replies, in a confidential and persuasive tone, '_anted the money to lay it out on a medicine as does me good, and as I dea_n. I told the young gentleman so, and he gave it me, and I laid it out hones_o the last brass farden. I want to lay out the same sum in the same way now; and if you'll give it me, I'll lay it out honest to the last brass farde_gain, upon my soul!'
'What's the medicine?'
'I'll be honest with you beforehand, as well as after. It's opium.'
Mr. Datchery, with a sudden change of countenance, gives her a sudden look.
'It's opium, deary. Neither more nor less. And it's like a human creetur s_ar, that you always hear what can be said against it, but seldom what can b_aid in its praise.'
Mr. Datchery begins very slowly to count out the sum demanded of him. Greedil_atching his hands, she continues to hold forth on the great example set him.
'It was last Christmas Eve, just arter dark, the once that I was here afore, when the young gentleman gave me the three-and-six.' Mr. Datchery stops in hi_ounting, finds he has counted wrong, shakes his money together, and begin_gain.
'And the young gentleman's name,' she adds, 'was Edwin.'
Mr. Datchery drops some money, stoops to pick it up, and reddens with th_xertion as he asks:
'How do you know the young gentleman's name?'
'I asked him for it, and he told it me. I only asked him the two questions, what was his Chris'en name, and whether he'd a sweetheart? And he answered, Edwin, and he hadn't.'
Mr. Datchery pauses with the selected coins in his hand, rather as if he wer_alling into a brown study of their value, and couldn't bear to part wit_hem. The woman looks at him distrustfully, and with her anger brewing for th_vent of his thinking better of the gift; but he bestows it on her as if h_ere abstracting his mind from the sacrifice, and with many servile thanks sh_oes her way.
John Jasper's lamp is kindled, and his lighthouse is shining when Mr. Datcher_eturns alone towards it. As mariners on a dangerous voyage, approaching a_ron-bound coast, may look along the beams of the warning light to the have_ying beyond it that may never be reached, so Mr. Datchery's wistful gaze i_irected to this beacon, and beyond.
His object in now revisiting his lodging is merely to put on the hat whic_eems so superfluous an article in his wardrobe. It is half-past ten by th_athedral clock when he walks out into the Precincts again; he lingers an_ooks about him, as though, the enchanted hour when Mr. Durdles may be stone_ome having struck, he had some expectation of seeing the Imp who is appointe_o the mission of stoning him.
In effect, that Power of Evil is abroad. Having nothing living to stone at th_oment, he is discovered by Mr. Datchery in the unholy office of stoning th_ead, through the railings of the churchyard. The Imp finds this a relishin_nd piquing pursuit; firstly, because their resting-place is announced to b_acred; and secondly, because the tall headstones are sufficiently lik_hemselves, on their beat in the dark, to justify the delicious fancy tha_hey are hurt when hit.
Mr. Datchery hails with him: 'Halloa, Winks!'
He acknowledges the hail with: 'Halloa, Dick!' Their acquaintance seemingl_aving been established on a familiar footing.
'But, I say,' he remonstrates, 'don't yer go a-making my name public. I neve_eans to plead to no name, mind yer. When they says to me in the Lock-up, a-going to put me down in the book, "What's your name?" I says to them, "Fin_ut." Likewise when they says, "What's your religion?" I says, "Find out."'
Which, it may be observed in passing, it would be immensely difficult for th_tate, however statistical, to do.
'Asides which,' adds the boy, 'there ain't no family of Winkses.'
'I think there must be.'
'Yer lie, there ain't. The travellers give me the name on account of m_etting no settled sleep and being knocked up all night; whereby I gets on_ye roused open afore I've shut the other. That's what Winks means. Deputy'_he nighest name to indict me by: but yer wouldn't catch me pleading to that, neither.'
'Deputy be it always, then. We two are good friends; eh, Deputy?'
'I forgave you the debt you owed me when we first became acquainted, and man_f my sixpences have come your way since; eh, Deputy?'
'Ah! And what's more, yer ain't no friend o' Jarsper's. What did he g_-histing me off my legs for?'
'What indeed! But never mind him now. A shilling of mine is going your way to- night, Deputy. You have just taken in a lodger I have been speaking to; a_nfirm woman with a cough.'
'Puffer,' assents Deputy, with a shrewd leer of recognition, and smoking a_maginary pipe, with his head very much on one side and his eyes very much ou_f their places: 'Hopeum Puffer.'
'What is her name?'
Er Royal Highness the Princess Puffer.'
'She has some other name than that; where does she live?'
'Up in London. Among the Jacks.'
'I said so; Jacks; and Chayner men: and hother Knifers.'
'I should like to know, through you, exactly where she lives.'
'All right. Give us 'old.'
A shilling passes; and, in that spirit of confidence which should pervade al_usiness transactions between principals of honour, this piece of business i_onsidered done.
'But here's a lark!' cries Deputy. 'Where did yer think 'Er Royal Highness i_-goin' to to-morrow morning? Blest if she ain't a- goin' to the KIN-FREE-DER- EL!' He greatly prolongs the word in his ecstasy, and smites his leg, an_oubles himself up in a fit of shrill laughter.
'How do you know that, Deputy?'
'Cos she told me so just now. She said she must be hup and hout o' purpose.
She ses, "Deputy, I must 'ave a early wash, and make myself as swell as I can, for I'm a-goin' to take a turn at the KIN-FREE-DER-EL!"' He separates th_yllables with his former zest, and, not finding his sense of the ludicrou_ufficiently relieved by stamping about on the pavement, breaks into a slo_nd stately dance, perhaps supposed to be performed by the Dean.
Mr. Datchery receives the communication with a well-satisfied though ponderin_ace, and breaks up the conference. Returning to his quaint lodging, an_itting long over the supper of bread-and- cheese and salad and ale which Mrs.
Tope has left prepared for him, he still sits when his supper is finished. A_ength he rises, throws open the door of a corner cupboard, and refers to _ew uncouth chalked strokes on its inner side.
'I like,' says Mr. Datchery, 'the old tavern way of keeping scores. Illegibl_xcept to the scorer. The scorer not committed, the scored debited with wha_s against him. Hum; ha! A very small score this; a very poor score!'
He sighs over the contemplation of its poverty, takes a bit of chalk from on_f the cupboard shelves, and pauses with it in his hand, uncertain wha_ddition to make to the account.
'I think a moderate stroke,' he concludes, 'is all I am justified in scorin_p;' so, suits the action to the word, closes the cupboard, and goes to bed.
A brilliant morning shines on the old city. Its antiquities and ruins ar_urpassingly beautiful, with a lusty ivy gleaming in the sun, and the ric_rees waving in the balmy air. Changes of glorious light from moving boughs, songs of birds, scents from gardens, woods, and fields — or, rather, from th_ne great garden of the whole cultivated island in its yielding time — penetrate into the Cathedral, subdue its earthy odour, and preach th_esurrection and the Life. The cold stone tombs of centuries ago grow warm; and flecks of brightness dart into the sternest marble corners of th_uilding, fluttering there like wings.
Comes Mr. Tope with his large keys, and yawningly unlocks and sets open. Com_rs. Tope and attendant sweeping sprites. Come, in due time, organist an_ellows-boy, peeping down from the red curtains in the loft, fearlessl_lapping dust from books up at that remote elevation, and whisking it fro_tops and pedals. Come sundry rooks, from various quarters of the sky, back t_he great tower; who may be presumed to enjoy vibration, and to know that bel_nd organ are going to give it them. Come a very small and stragglin_ongregation indeed: chiefly from Minor Canon Corner and the Precincts. Com_r. Crisparkle, fresh and bright; and his ministering brethren, not quite s_resh and bright. Come the Choir in a hurry (always in a hurry, and strugglin_nto their nightgowns at the last moment, like children shirking bed), an_omes John Jasper leading their line. Last of all comes Mr. Datchery into _tall, one of a choice empty collection very much at his service, and glancin_bout him for Her Royal Highness the Princess Puffer.
The service is pretty well advanced before Mr. Datchery can discern Her Roya_ighness. But by that time he has made her out, in the shade. She is behind _illar, carefully withdrawn from the Choir- master's view, but regards hi_ith the closest attention. All unconscious of her presence, he chants an_ings. She grins when he is most musically fervid, and — yes, Mr. Datcher_ees her do it! — shakes her fist at him behind the pillar's friendly shelter.
Mr. Datchery looks again, to convince himself. Yes, again! As ugly an_ithered as one of the fantastic carvings on the under brackets of the stal_eats, as malignant as the Evil One, as hard as the big brass eagle holdin_he sacred books upon his wings (and, according to the sculptor'_epresentation of his ferocious attributes, not at all converted by them), sh_ugs herself in her lean arms, and then shakes both fists at the leader of th_hoir.
And at that moment, outside the grated door of the Choir, having eluded th_igilance of Mr. Tope by shifty resources in which he is an adept, Deput_eeps, sharp-eyed, through the bars, and stares astounded from the threatene_o the threatened.
The service comes to an end, and the servitors disperse to breakfast. Mr.
Datchery accosts his last new acquaintance outside, when the Choir (as much i_ hurry to get their bedgowns off, as they were but now to get them on) hav_cuffled away.
'Well, mistress. Good morning. You have seen him?'
'I've seen him, deary; I've seen him!'
'And you know him?'
'Know him! Better far than all the Reverend Parsons put together know him.'
Mrs. Tope's care has spread a very neat, clean breakfast ready for her lodger.
Before sitting down to it, he opens his corner- cupboard door; takes his bi_f chalk from its shelf; adds one thick line to the score, extending from th_op of the cupboard door to the bottom; and then falls to with an appetite.