Chapter 466407

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Chapter NumberXVII - XVIII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article70466407
Full Date1871-05-06
Page Number19
Corrections8
Word Count7503
IllustratedN
Last Corrected2018-04-23
Newspaper TitleAustralian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907)
Trove TitleThe Mystery of Edwin Drood
article text

THE NOVELIST.

THE MYSTERY OF

EDWIN DROOD.

BY CHARLES DICKENS.

"Then who do you make out did the deed?" asked Mr. Honeythunder, turning on him abruptly.

"Heaven forbid," said Mr. Crisparkle, " that in my desire to clear one man I should lightly criminate

another! I accuse no one."

"Tcha!" ejaculated Mr. Honeythunder with great disgust; for this was by no means the principle on which the Philanthropic Brotherhood usually pro- ceeded. "And, sir, you are not a disinterested witness, we must bear in mind."

"How am I an interested one?" inquired Mr Crisparkle, smiling innocently, at a loss to imagine.

"There was a certain stipend, sir, paid to you for your pupil, which may have warped your judgment a bit," said Mr. Honeythunder, coarsely.

"Perhaps I expect to retain it still?" Mr. Crisparkle returned, enlightened; "do you mean that too?""

"Well, sir," returned the professional Philanthro- pist, getting up, and thrusting his hands down into

his trousers pockets; "I don't go about measuring people for caps. If people find I have any about me that fit 'em, they can put 'em on and wear 'em, if they

like. That's their look out: not mine."

Mr. Crisparkle eyed him with a just indignation, and

took him to task thus :

" Mr. Honeythunder, I hoped when I came in here that I might be under no necessity of commenting on the introduction of platform manners or platform manoeuvres among the decent forbearances of private life. But you have given me such a specimen of both that I should be a fit subject for both if I remained silent respecting them. They are detestable."

"They don't suit you, I daresay, sir."

"They are," repeated Mr. Crisparkle, without notic- ing the interruption, " detestable. They violate equally the justice that should belong to Christians, and the restraints that should belong to gentlemen. You assume a great crime to have been committed by one whom I, acquainted with the attendant cir- cumstances, and having numerous reasons on my side, devoutly believe to be innocent of it. Because I differ from you on that vital point, what is your platform resource ? Instantly to turn upon me, charging that I have no sense of the enormity of the crime itself, but am its aider and abettor ! So, another time-taking me as representing your opponent in other cases you set up a platform credulity : a moved and seconded and carried unanimously profession of faith in some ridiculous delusion or mischievous imposition. I decline to believe it, and you fall back upon your platform resource of pro- claiming that I believe nothing ; that because I will not bow down to a false God of our making, I deny the true God ! Another time, you make the platform dis- covery that War is a calamity, and you propose to abolish it by a string of twisted resolutions tossed into the air like the tail of a kite. I do not admit the dis- covery to be yours in the least, and I have not a grain of faith in your remedy. Again, your platform resource of representing me as revelling in the horrors of a battle field like a fiend incarnate ! Another time, in another of your undiscriminating platform rushes, you would punish the sober for the drunken. I claim consideration for the comfort, convenience, and refreshment, of the sober ; and you presently make platform proclamation that I have a depraved desire to turn heaven's

creatures into swine and wild beasts ! In all such cases your movers, and your seconders, and your sup- porters-your regular professors of all degrees-run amuck like so many mad Malays ; habitually attribut- ing the lowest and basest motives with the utmost reck- lessness (let me call your attention to a recent instance in yourself for which you should blush), and quoting figures which you know to be as wilfully one-sided as a statement of any complicated account that should be all creditor side and no debtor, or all debtor side and no creditor. Therefore it is, Mr. Honeythunder, that I consider the platform a sufficiently bad example, and a sufficiently bad school, even in public life ; but hold that, carried into public life, it becomes an unendurable

nuisance.

"These are strong words, sir" exclaimed the Philanthropist.

" I hope so," said Mr. Crisparkle. " Good-morning." He walked out of the Haven at a great rate, but soon fell into his regular brisk pace, and soon had a smile upon his face as he went along, wondering what the china shepherdess would have sald if she had seen him pounding Mr. Honeythunder in the late little

lively affair. For Mr. Crisparkle had just enough of harmless vanity to hope that he had hit hard, and to glow with the belief that he had trimmed the Philan- thropic jacket pretty handsomely.

He took himself to Staple Inn, but not to P. J. T. and Mr. Grewgious. Full many a creaking stair he climbed before he reached some attic rooms in a corner, turned the latch of their unbolted door, and stood beside the table of Neville Landless.

An air of retreat and solitude ' hung about the rooms, and about their inhabitant. He was much worn, and so were they. Their sloping ceilings, cumbrous rusty looks and grates, and heavy wooden bins and beams, slowly mouldering withal, had a prisonous look, and he had the haggard face of a prisoner. Yet the sunlight shone in at the ugly garret window which had a penthouse to itself thrust out among the tiles ; and on the cracked and smoke blackened parapet beyond, some of the deluded spar- rows of the place rheumatically hopped, like little feathered cripples who had left their crutches in their nests ; and there was a play of living leaves at hand that changed the air, and made an imperfect sort of music in it that would have been melody in the

country.

The rooms were sparely furnished, but with good store of books. Everything expressed the abode of a poor student. .That Mr. Crisparkle had been either chooser, lender, or donor of the books, or that he com- bined the three characters, might have been easily seen in the friendly beam of his eyes upon them as he

entered.

" How goes it, Neville ?"

"I am in good heart, Mr. Crisparkle, and working

away."

" I wish your eyes were not quite so large, and not quite so bright," said the Minor Canon, slowly releasing the hand he had taken in his.

"They brighten at the sight of you," returned Neville. "If you were to fall away from me, they would soon be dull enough."

"Rally, rally !" urged the other, in a stimulating tone, " Fight for it, Neville !"

"If I were dying, I feel as if a word from you would rally me ; if my pulse had stopped, I feel as if your touch would make it beat again," said Neville. " But I have rallied, and am doing famously."

Mr. Crisparkle turned him with his face a little more towards the light.

" I want to see a ruddier touch here, Neville," he said, indicating his own healthy cheek by way of pattern ; "I want more sun to shine upon you."

Neville drooped suddenly as he replied in a lowered voice : "I am not hardy enough for that, yet. I may become so, but I cannot bear it yet. If you had gone through those Cloisterham streets as I did ; if you had seen, as I did, those averted eyes, and the better sort of people silently giving me too much room to pass, that I might not touch them or come near them, you wouldn't think it quite unreasonable that I cannot go about in the daylight."

" My poor fellow !" said the Minor Canon, in a tone so purely sympathetic that the young man caught his

hand : " I never said it was unreasonable : never

thought so. But I should like you to do it."

" And that would give me the strongest motive to do it. But I cannot yet. I oannot persuade myself that the eyes of even the stream of strangers I pass in this vast city look at me without suspicion. I feel marked and tainted, even when I go out-as I do only -at night. But the darkness covers me then, and I take courage from it."

Mr. Crisparkle laid a hand upon his shoulder, and stood looking down at him.

" If I could have changed my name," said Neville, "I would have done so. But as you wisely pointed out to me, I can't do that, for it would look like guilt. If

I could have gone to some distant place, I might have found relief in that, but the thing is not to be thought of, for the same reason. Hiding and escaping would be the construction in either case. It seems a little hard to be so tied to a stake, and innocent ; but I don't complain.

"And you must expect no miracle to help you, Neville," said Mr. Crisparkle, compassionately.

"No, sir, I know that. Tho ordinary fulness of time and circumstance is all I have to trust to."

" It will right you at last, Neville."

" So I believe, and I hope I may live to know it."

But perceiving that the despondent mood into which he was falling cast a shadow on the Minor Canon, and (it may be) feeling that the broad hand upon his shoulder was not then quite as steady as its own natural strength had rendered it when it first touched him just now, he brightened and said :

"Excellent circumstances for study, anyhow ! and you know, Mr. Crisparkle, what need I have of study in all ways. Not to mention that you have advised me to study for the difficult profession of the law, specially,

and that of course I am guiding myself by the advice of such a friend and helper. Such a good friend and helper !"

He took the fortifying hand from his shoulder, and kissed it. Mr. Crisparkle beamed at the books, but not so brightly as when he had entered.

" I gather from your silence on the subject that my late guardian is adverse, Mr. Crisparkle?"

The Minor Canon answered: " Your late guardian is a-a most unreasonable person, and it signifies nothing to any reasonable person whether he is adverse or per- verse, or the reverse."

" Well for me that I have enough with economy to live upon," sighed Neville, half wearily and half cheerily, " while I wait to be learned, and wait to be righted ! Else I might have proved the proverb that while the grass grows the steed starves !"

He opened some books as he said it, and was soon immersed in their interleaved and annotated passages, while Mr. Crisparkle sat beside him, expounding, cor- recting, and advising. The Minor Canon's cathedral duties made these visits of his difficult to accomplish, and only to be compassed at intervals of many weeks. But they were as serviceable as they were precious to

Neville Landless.

When they had got through such studies as they had in hand, they stood leaning on the window-sill, and looking down upon the patch of garden. " Next week," said Mr. Crisparkle, " you will cease to be alone, and will have a devoted companion."

" And yet," returned Neville, " this seems an uncongenial place to bring my sister to !"

" I don't think so," said the Minor Canon. " There is duty to be done here ; and there are womanly feel- ing, sense, and courage wanted here."

I meant," explained Neville, " that the surround- ings are so dull and unwomanly, and that Helena can have no suitable friend or society here."

" You have only to remember," said Mr. Crisparkle, " that you are here yourself, and that she has to draw you into the sunlight."

They were silent for a little while, and then Mr. Crisparkle began anew.

" When we first spoke together, Neville, you told me that your sister had risen out of the disadvantages of your past lives as superior to you as the tower of Cloisterham Cathedral is higher than the chimneys of Minor Canon Corner. Do you remember that ?"

" Right well !" , .

" I was inclined to think it at the time an enthusias- tic flight, No matter what I think it now. What I would emphasize is,' that under the head of Pride your sister is a great and opportune example to you,"

" Under all heads that are included in the compo- sition of a fine character, she is."

" Say so ; but take this one. Your sister has learnt how to govern what is proud in her nature. She can dominate it even when it is wounded through her sympathy with you. No doubt she has suffered deeply in those same streets where you suffered deeply. No doubt her life is darkened by the cloud that darkens yours. But bending her pride into a grand composure that is not haughty ;or aggressive, but is a sustained confidence in you, and in the truth, she has won her way through those streets until she passes along them as high in the general respect as any one who treads them. Everyday and hour of her life since Edwin Drood's disappearance, she has faced malignity and folly-for you- as only a brave nature well directed can. So it will be with her to the end. Another and weaker kind of pride might sink broken-hearted, but never such a pride as hers ; which knows no shrinking, and can get no mastery over her."

The pale cheek beside him flushed under the com- parison and the hint implied in it. . *' I will do all I can to imitate her," said Neville.

" Do so, and be a truly brave man as she is a truly brave woman," answered Mr. Crisparkle, stoutly. " lt is growing dark. Will you go my way with me, when it is quite dark ? Mind ! It is not I who wait for darkness."

Neville replied that he would accompany him directly. But Mr. Crisparkle said he had a moment's call to make on Mr. Grewgious, as an act of courtesy, and would run across to that gentleman's chambers, and rejoin Neville on his own doorstep if he would come

down there to meet him.

Mr. Grewgious, bolt upright as usual, sat taking his wine in the dusk at his open window ; his wineglass and decanter as usual on the round table at his elbow; himself and his legs on the windowseat ; only one hinge in his whole body like a bootjack.

" How do you do, reverend sir?" said Mr. Grew- gious, with abundant offers of hospitality which were as cordially declined as made. "And how is your charge getting on over the way in the set that I had the pleasure of recommending; to you as vacant and eligible?"

Mr. Crisparkle replied suitably.

" I am glad you approve of them," said Mr. Grew- gious, "because I entertain a sort of fancy for having him under my eye."

As Mr. Grewgious had to turn his eye up consider- ably, before he could see the chambers, the phrase was to be taken figuratively and not literally.

" And how did you leave Mr. Jasper, reverend, sir ?" said Mr. Grewgious.

Mr. Crisparkle had left him pretty well.

" And where did you leave Mr. Jasper, reverend sir?"

Mr. Crisparkle had left him at Cloisterham.

"And when did you leave Mr. Jasper, reverend

sir ?"

That morning.

" Umps !" said Mr. Grewgious. *' He didn't say he was coming, perhaps?"

" Coming where ?"

" Anywhere, for instance?" said Mr. Grewgious.

"No."

" Because here he is," said Mr. Grewgious, who had asked all these questions, with his preoccupied glance directed out at window. "And he don't look agree- able, does he?"

' Mr. Crisparkle was craning towards the window, when Mr. Grewgious added :

" If you will kindly step round here behind me, in the gloom of the room, and will cast your eye at the second floor landing window, in yonder house, I think you will hardly fail to see a slinking individual in whom I recognize our local friend."

" You are right !" cried Mr. Crisparkle.

" Umps !" said Mr. Grewgious. Then he added, turning his face so abruptly that his head nearly came into collision with Mr. Crisparkle's ; " what should you say that our local friend was up to?"

The last passage he had been shown in the Diary returned on Mr. Crisparkle's mind with the force of a strong recoil, and he asked Mr. Grewgious if he thought it possible that Neville was to be harrassed by the keeping of a watch, upon him ?

" A watch," repeated Mr. Grewgious, musingly. "Ay!"

"Which would not only of itself haunt and torture his life, said Mr. Crisparkle, warmly, " but would expose him to the torment of a perpetually reviving suspicion, whatever he might do, or wherever he might go."

" Ay !" said Mr. Grewgious, musingly still. " Do I see him waiting for you ?"

" No doubt you do."

" Then would you have the goodness to excuse my getting up to see you out, and to go out to join him, and to go the way that you were going, and to take no notice of our local friend?;" said Mr. Grewgious. "I entertain a sort of fancy for having him under my eye to-night, do you know;"

Mr. Crisparkle, with a significant nod, complied, and, rejoining Neville, went away with him. They dined together, and parted at the yet unfinished and undeveloped railway station-Mr. Crisparkle to get home ; Neville to walk the streets, cross the bridges, make a wide round of the city in the friendly darkness, and tire himself out.

It was midnight when he returned from his solitary expedition, and climbed his staircase. The night was hot, and the windows of the staircase were all wide open. Coming to the top, it gave him passing chill of surprise (there being no rooms but his up there) to find a stranger sitting on the window-sill, more after the manner of a ventursome glazier than an amateur ordinarily careful of his neck; in fact, so much more outside the window than inside, as to suggest the thought that he must have come up by the water- spout instead of the stairs.

The stranger said nothing until Neville put his key in his door ; then, seeming to make sure of his identity from the action, he spoke : .

" I beg your pardon," he said, coming from the window with a frank and smiling air, and a prepossess- ing address; "the beans."

Neville was quite at a loss.

"Runners," said the visitor. "Scarlet. Next door at the back."

" Oh !" returned Neville. " And the mignonette and wallflower."

"The same," said the visitor. "Pray walk in." "Thank you."

Neville lighted his candles, and the visitor sat down. A handsome gentleman, with a young face, but an older figure in its robustness and its breadth of shoulder ; say a man of eight-and-twenty, or at the utmost thirty ; so extremely sunburnt that the con- trast between his brown visage and the white forehead shaded out of doors by his hat, and the glimpses of white throat below the neckerchief, would have been almost ludicrous but for his broad temples, bright blue eyes, clustering brown hair, and laughing teeth.

" I have noticed," said he; "-my name Ís Tartar." Neville inclined his head.

" I have noticed (excuse me) that you shut yourself up a good deal, and that you seem to like my garden aloft here. If you would like a little more. of it, I could throw out a few lines and stays between my windows and yours, which the runners would take to

directly. And I have some boxes, both of mignonette and wallflower, that I could shove on along the gutter (with a boat-hook I have by me) to your windows, and draw back again when they wanted watering or garden- ing, and shove on again when they were ship-shape, so that they would cause you no trouble. I couldn't take this liberty without asking your permission, so I venture to ask it. Tartar, corresponding set, next

door."

" You are very kind."

" Not at all. I ought to apologise for looking in so late. But having noticed (excuse me) that you gene- rally walk out at night, I thought I should incon- venience you least by awaiting your return. I am always afraid of inconveniencing busy men, being an

idle man."

" I should not have thought so from your appear-

ance."

"No? I take it as a compliment. In fact, I was bred in the Royal Navy, and was First Lieutenant when I quitted it. But, an uncle disappointed in the service leaving me his property on condition that I left the Navy, I accepted the fortune and resigned my com- mission." .

" Lately, I presume."

" Well, I had had twelve or fifteen years of knock- ing about first. I came here some nine months before you ; I had had one crop before you came. I chose this place, because, haying served last in a little Cor- vette, I knew I should feel more at home where I had a constant opportunity of knocking my head against the ceiling. Besides, it would never do for a man who had been aboard ship from his boyhood to turn luxuri- ous all at once. Besides, again : having been accustomed to a very short allowance of land all my life, I thought I'd feel my. way to the command of a landed estate, by beginning in boxes."

Whimsically as this was said, there was a touch

of merry earnestness in it that made it doubly

whimsical.

"However," said the Lieutenant, "I have talked quite enough about myself. It is not my way I hope ; it has merely been to present myself to you naturally. If you will allow me to take the liberty I have described, it will be a charity, for it will give me something more to do. And you are not to suppose that it will entail any interruption or intrusion on you, for that is far from my intention."

Neville replied that he was greatly obliged, and that he thankfully accepted the kind proposal,

"I am very glad to take your windows in tow," said the Lieutenant. " From what I have seen of you when I have been gardening at mine, and you have been look- ing on, I have thought you (excuse me) rather too studious and delicate! May I ask, is your health at

all affected?"

"I have undergone some mental distress," said Neville, confused, "which has stood me in the stead

of illness."

" Pardon me," said Mr. Tartar.

With the greatest delicacy he shifted his ground to the windows again, and asked if he could look at one of them. On Neville's opening it, he immediately sprang out, as if he were going aloft with a whole watch in an emergency, and were setting a bright example. .

"For Heaven's sake !" cried Neville, " don't do that ! Where are you going, Mr. Tartar ? You'll be dashed to pieces !"

" All well !" said the Lieutenant, coolly looking about him on the housetop. " All taut and trim here. Those lines and stays shall be rigged before you turn out in the morning. May I take this short cut home and say, good-night?"

" Mr. Tartar !" urged Neville. " Pray ! It makes me giddy to see you !"

But Mr. Tartar, with a wave of his hand and the deftness of a cat, had already dipped through his scuttle of scarlet runners without breaking a leaf, and *' gone below."

Mr. Grewgious, his bedroom window-blind held aside with his hand, happened at that moment to have Neville's chambers under his eye for the last time that night. Fortunately his eye was on the front of the house and not the back, or this remarkable appearance and disappearance might have broken his rest as a pheno- menon. But, Mr. Grewgious seeing nothing there, not even a light in the windows, his gaze wandered from the windows to the stars, as if he would have read in them something that was hidden from him. Many of us would, if we could ; but none of us so much as know our letters in the stars yet- or seem likely to do it, in this state of existence-and few languages can be read until their alphabets are mastered.

" CHAPTER XVIII.- A SETTLER IN CLOISTERHAM.

, At about this time, a stranger appeared in Cloister- ham; a white haired personage with black eyebrows. Being buttoned up in a tightish blue surtout, with a buff waistcoat and grey trousers, he had something of a military air ; but he announced himself at the Crozier (the orthodox hotel, where he put up with a portman- teau) as an idle dog who lived upon his means ; and he further announced that he had a mind to take a lodg- ing in the picturesque old city for a month or two, with a view of settling down there altogether. Both announcements were made in the coffee-room of the Crozier, to all whom it might, or might not concern, by the stranger as he stood with his back to the empty fireplace, waiting for his fried sole, veal cutlet, and pint of sherry. And the waiter (business being chroni- cally slack at the Crozier) represented all whom it might or might not concern, and absorbed the whole of the

information.

This gentleman's white head was unusually large, and his shock of white hair was unusually thick and ample. " I suppose, waiter," he said, shaking his shook of hair, as a Newfoundland dog might shake his before sitting down to dinner, " that a fair lodging for a single buffer might be found in these parts,

eh?"

The waiter had no doubt of it.

" Something old," said the gentleman. " Take my hat down for a moment from that peg, will you ? No, I don't want it ; look into it. What do you see written

there?"

The waiter read : " Datchery."

" Now you know my name," said the gentleman ; " Dick Datchery. Hang it up again. I was saying something old is what I should prefer, something odd and out of the way ; something venerable, architectu- ral, and inconvenient."

" We have a good choice of inconvenient lodgings in the town, sir, I think," replied the waiter, with modest confidence in its resources that way; "indeed, I have no doubt, that we could suit you that far, however particular you might be. But a architectural lodging!" That seemed to trouble tho waiter's head, and he shook it.

" Anything Cathedraly now," Mr. Datchery sug-

gested.

" Mr. Tope," said the waiter, brightening, as he rubbed his chin with his hand, " would be the likeliest party to inform in that line."

" Who is Mr. Tope ?" inquired Diok.Datchery.

The waiter explained that he was the Verger, and that Mrs. Tope had indeed once upon a time let lodgings herself-or offered to let them ; but that as nobody had ever taken them, Mrs. Tope's window-bill, long a Cloisterham Institution, had disappeared ; probably had tumbled down one day, and never been put up again. *

"I'll call on Mrs. Tope," said Mr. Datchery

after dinner."

So when he had done his dinner, he was

directed to the spot, and sallied out for it. But the Crozier being an hotel of a most retiring disposition, and the waiter's directions being fatally precise, he soon became bewildered, and went boggling about and about the Cathedral Tower, whenever he could catch a glimpse of it, with a general impression on his mind that Mrs. Tope's was somewhere very near it, and that like the children in the game of hot boiled beans and very good butter, he was warm in his search when he saw the Tower, and cold when he didn't see it.

He was getting very cold indeed when he came upon a fragment of burial ground in which an unhappy sheep was grazing. Unhappy, because a hideous small boy was stoning it through the railings, and had already lamed it in one leg, and was much excited by benevolent sportsmanlike purpose of breaking its other three legs, and bringing it down.

" It 'im agin !" cried the boy, as the poor creature leaped ; " and made a dint in his wool !"

" Let him be !" said Mr. Datohery. " Don't you see you have lamed him ?"

" Yer lie," returned the sportsman. " E went and lamed itself. I see 'im do it, and I giv' 'im a shy as a Widdy-warning to 'im not to go a bruisin' 'is master's

mutton any more."

" Come here."

" I won't ; I'll come when yer can ketch me."

"Stay there then, and show me which is Mr.

Tope's,"

"'Ow can I stay here and show you whioh is Top- seses, when Topeseses is t'other side the Kinfreederal, and over the crossings, and round over so many corners ? Stoo-pid ! Ya-a-ah !"

"Show me where it is, and I'll give you some-

thing."

" Come on, then !"

This brisk dialogue concluded, the boy led the way, and by-and-by stopped at some distance from an arched passage, pointing. .

" Lookie yonder. You see that there winder and

door?"

" That's Tope's?"

" Yer lie ; it ain't. That's Jarsper's."

" Indeed ?" said Mr. Datchery, with a second look

of some interest.

" Yes, and I ain't agoin no nearer 'Im, I tell yer."

"Why not?"

" 'Cos I ain' a going to be lifted off my legs and 'ave my braces bust and be choked : not if I knows it and not by 'Im. Wait till I set a jolly good flint a flyin at the back o' 'is jolly old 'ed some day ! Now look t'other side the harch; not the side where Jarsper's door is ;

t'other side."

"I see."

"A. little way in, o' that side, there's a low door two steps. That's Topeseses with 'is name on a hoval

plate."

"Good. See here," said Mr. Datchery, producing a shilling. " You owe me half of this."

" Yer lie ; I don't owe yer nothing ; I never seen

yer."

" I tell you you owe me half of this, because I have no sixpence in my pocket. So the next time you meet me you shall do something else for me, to pay me."

"All right, give us 'old."

" What is your name, and where do you live?"

"Deputy. Travellers' Twopenny, 'cross the green." The boy instantly darted off with the shilling, lest Mr. Datchery should repent, but stopped at a safe distance, on the happy chance of his being uneasy in his mind about it, to goad him with a demon dance expressive of its irrevocability.

Mr. Datchery, taking off his hat to give that shock of white hair of his another shake, seemed quite resigned, and betook himself whither he had been

directed.

Mr. Tope's official dwelling, communicating by an upper stair with Mr. Jasper's (hence Mrs. Tope's attendance on that gentleman), was of very modest proportions, and partook of the character of a cool

dungeon. Its ancient walls were massive and its rooms rather seemed to have been dug out of them, than to have been designed beforehand with any reference to

them. The main door opened at once on a chamber of no describable shape, with a groined roof, which in its turn opened on another chamber of no describable shape, with another groined roof; their windows small, and in the thickness of the walls. These two chambers, close as to their atmosphere and swarthy, as to their illumination by natural light, were the apart- ments which Mrs. Tope had so long offered to an unap- preciative city. Mr. Datchery, however, was more appreciative. He found that if he sat with the main door open he would enjoy the passing society of all comers to and fro by the gateway, and would have light enough. He found that if Mr. and Mrs. Tope living overhead, used for their own egress and ingress a little side stair that came plump into the Precincts by a door opening outward, to the surprise and incon- venience of a limited public of pedestrians in a narrow way, he would be alone, as in a separate residence. He found the rent moderate, and everything as quaintly inconvenient as he could desire. He agreed therefore to take the lodging then and there, and money down possession to be had next evening on condition that reference was permitted him to Mr. Jasper as oocupy- ing the Gate House, of which, on the other side of the gate the Verger's hole in the wall was an appanage or

subsidiary part.

The poor dear gentleman was very solitary and very sad, Mrs. Tope said, but she had no doubt he would "speak for her." Perhaps Mr. Datchery had heard something of what had occurred there last winter?

Mr. Datchery had as confused a knowledge of the event in question, on trying to recall it, as he well could have. He begged Mrs. Tope's pardon when she found it incumbent on her to correct him in every detail of his summary of the facts, but pleaded that he was merely a single buffer getting through life upon his means as idly as he could, and that so many peopie were so constantly making away with so many other people, as to render it difficult for a buffer of an easy temper to preserve the circumstances of the several

cases unmixed in his mind. *

Mr. Jasper proving willing to speak for Mrs. Tope, Mr. Datchery, who had sent up his card, was invited to ascend the postern staircase. The Mayor was there, Mrs. Tope said ; but he was not to be regarded in the light of company, as he and Mr. Jasper were great

friends.

"I beg pardon," said Mr. Datchery, making a leg with his hat under his arm, as he addressed himself equally to both gentleman : " a selfish precaution on my part and not personally interesting to anybody but myself. But as a buffer living on his means, and having an idea of doing it in this lovely place in peace and quiet, for the remaining span of life, beg to ask if the Tope family are quite respectable ?"

Mr. Jasper could answer for that without the

slightest hesitation.

" That is enough, sir," said Mr. Datchery.

" My friend the Mayor," added Mr. Jasper, present- ing Mr, Datchery with a courtly motion of his hand towards that potentate ; " whose recommendation is actually much more important to a stranger than that of an obscure person like myself, will testify in their

behalf, I am sure."

The Worshipful the Mayor," said Mr. Datchery, .with a low bow, " places me under an infinite obligation."

"Very good people, sir, Mr. and Mrs. Tope," said Mr. Sapsea, with condescension, "Very good opinions. Very well behaved. Very respectful. Much approved by the Dean and Chapter."

" The Worshipful the Mayor gives them a character,' said Mr. Datchery, "of which they may indeed be proud. I would ask His Honor (If I might be per- mitted) whether there are not many objects of great interest in this city which is under his benificent sway?" .

" We are, sir," returned Mr. Sapsea, " an ancient city, and an ecclesiastical city. We are a constitu- tional city, as it becomes such a city to be, and we uphold and maintain our glorious privileges. "

"His Honor," said Mr. Datchery, bowing, "inspires me with a desire to know more of the city, and confirms me in my inclination to end my days in the city."

"Retired from the Army, sir?" suggested Mr, Sapsea.

" His Honor the Mayor does me too much credit,'

returned Mr. Datohery.

" Navy, sir ? " suggested Mr. Sapsea.

"Again," repeated Mr. Datchery, " His Honor the Mayor does me too much oredit."

" Diplomacy is a fine profession," said Mr. Sapsea as a general remark.

"There, I confess, his Honor the Mayor, is too many for me," said Mr. Datchery, with an ingenious smile and bow ; " even a diplomatic bird must fall to

such a gun."

Now, this was very soothing. Here was a gentleman of a great not to say a grand-address, accustomed to rank and dignity, really setting a fine example how to behave to a Mayor. There was something in that third person style of being spoken to, that Mr. Sapsea found particularly recognisant of his merits and position.

"But I crave pardon," said Mr. Datchery. "His Honor the Mayor will bear with me, if for a moment I have been deluded into occupying his time, and have forgotten the humble claims upon my own, of my

hotel, the Crozier."

" Not at all, sir," said Mr. Sapsea. " I am return- ing home, and if you would like to take the exterior of our cathedral in your way, I shall be glad* to point

it out."

"His Honor the Mayor," said Mr. Datchery, "is

more than kind and gracious."

As Mr. Datchery, when he made his acknowledg- ments to Mr. Jasper, could not be induced to go out of the room before the Worshipful, the Worshipful led the way down stairs ; Mr. Datchery following with his hat under his arm, and his shock of white hair streaming in the evening breeze.

"Might I ask His Honor," said Mr. Datchery, "whether that gentleman we have just left is the gentleman of whom I have heard in the neighbourhood as being much afflicted by the loss of a nephew, and con- centrating his life on avenging the loss?"

" That is the gentleman. John Jasper, sir."

" Would His Honor allow me to inquire whether there are strong suspicions of any one ?"

"More than suspicions sir," returned Mr. Sapsea, all

but certainties."

," Only think now !" cried Mr. Datchery.

" But proof, sir, proof, must be built up stone by stone," said the Mayor. " As I say, the end crowns the work. It is not enough that justice should be morally certain ; she must be immorally certain legally, that is."

" His Honor," said Mr. Datchery, " reminds me of the nature of the law. Immortal. How true !"

" As I say, sir" pompously went on the Mayor, " the arm of the law is a strong arm and a long arm. That is the way I put it. A strong arm and a long arm."

"How forcible! - And yet, again, how true!" murmured Mr. Datchery.

"And without betraying what l call the secrets of the prison-house," said Mr. Sapsea ; "the secrets of the prison house is the term I used on the bench,"

"And what other term than His Honor's would express it ?" said Mr. Datchery.

" Without, I say, betraying them, I predict to you, knowing the iron will of the gentleman we have just left (I take the bold step of calling it iron, on account of its strength), that in this case the long arm will reach, and the strong arm will strike.-This is our cathedral, sir. The best judges are pleased to admire it, and the best among our townsmen own to being a

little vain of it."

All this time Mr. Datchery had walked with his hat under his arm, and his white hair streaming. He had an odd momentary appearance upon him of having for gotten his hat, when Mr. Sapsea now touched it ; and he clapped his hand up to his head as if with some vague expectation of finding another hat upon it.

" Pray be covered, sir," entreated Mr. Sapsea ; magnificently implying : "I shall not mind it, I assure you."

" His Honor is very good, but I do it for coolness," said Mr. Datchery.

Then Mr. Datchery admired the cathedral, and Mr. Sapsea pointed it out as if he himself had invented and built it ; there were a few details indeed of which he did not approve, but those he glossed over, as if the workmen had made mistakes in his absence. The cathedral disposed of, he led the way by the churchyard, and stopped to extol the beauty of the evening-by chance-in the immediate vicinity of Mrs. Sapsea's epitaph,

" And by-the-by," said Mr. Sapsea, appearing to descend from an elevation to remember it all of a sudden ; like Apollo shooting down from Olympus to pick up his forgotten lyre ; " that is one of our small lions. The partiality of our people has made it so, and strangers have been seen taking a copy of it now and then. l am not a judge of it myself, for it is a work of my own. But it was troublesome to turn, sir ; I may say, difficult to turn with elegance."

Mr. Datchery became so ecstatic over Mr. Sapsea's composition that, in spite of his intention to end his days in Cloisterham, and therefore his probably having in reserve many opportunities of copying it, he would have transcribed it into his pocket-book on the spot, but for the slouching towards them of its material producer and perpetuator, Durdles, whom Mr. Sapsea

hailed, not sorry to show him a bright example of behaviour to superiors,

"Ah, Durdles! This is the mason, sir; one of our Cloisterham worthies ; everybody here knows Durdles. Mr. Datohery, Durdles; a gentleman who is going to settle here,"

" I wouldn't do it if I was him," growled Durdles. " We're a heavy lot."

" You surely don't speak for yourself, Mr. Durdles," returned Mr. Datchery, "any more than for His

Honor."

" Who's His Honor?" demanded Durdles. "His Honor the Mayor."

" I never was brought afore him," sald Durdles, with anything but the look of a loyal subject of the mayoralty, " and it'll be time enough for me to Honor him when I am. "Until which, and when, and where :

"Mister Sapsea is his name,

England is his nation,

Cloisterham's his dwelllng place,

Aukshneer's his occupation,"

Here, Deputy (preceded by a flying oyster-shell) appeared upon the scene, and requested to have the sum of threepence instantly "chucked" to him by Mr. Durdles, whom he had been vainly seeking up and down, as lawful wages overdue. While that gentleman, with his bundle under his arm, slowly found and counted out the money, Mr, Sapsea informed

. the new settler of Durdles's (habits, pursuits, abode, . and reputation. " I suppose a curious stranger might come to see you, and your works, Mr. Durdles, at any

odd time ?" said Mr. Datchery upon that.

" Any gentleman is welcome to come and see me any evening if he brings liquor for two with him," returned Durdles, with a penny between his teeth and certain halfpence in his hands. " Or if he likes to make it twice two, he'll be doubly welcome."

" I shall come. Master Deputy, what do you owe

me?"

"A job."

" Mind you pay me honestly with the job of showing me Mr. Durdles's house when I want to get there."

Deputy, with a piercing broadside of whistle through the whole gap of his mouth, as a receipt in full of all arrears, vanished.

The Worshipful and the Worshipper then passed on until they parted, with many ceremonies, at the Worshipful's door ; even then, the Worshipper carried his hat under his arm, and gave his streaming white

hair to the breeze,

Said Mr. Datchery to himself that night, as he looked at his white hair in the gas-lighted looking-glass over the coffee-room chimney piece at the Crozier, and shook it out : " For a single buffer, of an easy temper, living idly on his means, I have had a rather busy after-

noon."

(TO BE CONTINUED)