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Charles Dickens > The Mystery of Edwin Drood > Chapter XII

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Chapter XII


When Mr. Sapsea has nothing better to do, towards evening, and
finds the contemplation of his own profundity becoming a little
monotonous in spite of the vastness of the subject, he often takes
an airing in the Cathedral Close and thereabout. He likes to pass
the churchyard with a swelling air of proprietorship, and to
encourage in his breast a sort of benignant-landlord feeling, in
that he has been bountiful towards that meritorious tenant, Mrs.
Sapsea, and has publicly given her a prize. He likes to see a
stray face or two looking in through the railings, and perhaps
reading his inscription. Should he meet a stranger coming from the
churchyard with a quick step, he is morally convinced that the
stranger is 'with a blush retiring,' as monumentally directed.

Mr. Sapsea's importance has received enhancement, for he has become
Mayor of Cloisterham. Without mayors, and many of them, it cannot
be disputed that the whole framework of society--Mr. Sapsea is
confident that he invented that forcible figure--would fall to
pieces. Mayors have been knighted for 'going up' with addresses:
explosive machines intrepidly discharging shot and shell into the
English Grammar. Mr. Sapsea may 'go up' with an address. Rise,
Sir Thomas Sapsea! Of such is the salt of the earth.

Mr. Sapsea has improved the acquaintance of Mr. Jasper, since their
first meeting to partake of port, epitaph, backgammon, beef, and
salad. Mr. Sapsea has been received at the gatehouse with kindred
hospitality; and on that occasion Mr. Jasper seated himself at the
piano, and sang to him, tickling his ears--figuratively--long
enough to present a considerable area for tickling. What Mr.
Sapsea likes in that young man is, that he is always ready to
profit by the wisdom of his elders, and that he is sound, sir, at
the core. In proof of which, he sang to Mr. Sapsea that evening,
no kickshaw ditties, favourites with national enemies, but gave him
the genuine George the Third home-brewed; exhorting him (as 'my
brave boys') to reduce to a smashed condition all other islands but
this island, and all continents, peninsulas, isthmuses,
promontories, and other geographical forms of land soever, besides
sweeping the seas in all directions. In short, he rendered it
pretty clear that Providence made a distinct mistake in originating
so small a nation of hearts of oak, and so many other verminous

Mr. Sapsea, walking slowly this moist evening near the churchyard
with his hands behind him, on the look-out for a blushing and
retiring stranger, turns a corner, and comes instead into the
goodly presence of the Dean, conversing with the Verger and Mr.
Jasper. Mr. Sapsea makes his obeisance, and is instantly stricken
far more ecclesiastical than any Archbishop of York or Canterbury.

'You are evidently going to write a book about us, Mr. Jasper,'
quoth the Dean; 'to write a book about us. Well! We are very
ancient, and we ought to make a good book. We are not so richly
endowed in possessions as in age; but perhaps you will put THAT in
your book, among other things, and call attention to our wrongs.'

Mr. Tope, as in duty bound, is greatly entertained by this.

'I really have no intention at all, sir,' replies Jasper, 'of
turning author or archaeologist. It is but a whim of mine. And
even for my whim, Mr. Sapsea here is more accountable than I am.'

'How so, Mr. Mayor?' says the Dean, with a nod of good-natured
recognition of his Fetch. 'How is that, Mr. Mayor?'

'I am not aware,' Mr. Sapsea remarks, looking about him for
information, 'to what the Very Reverend the Dean does me the honour
of referring.' And then falls to studying his original in minute
points of detail.

'Durdles,' Mr. Tope hints.

'Ay!' the Dean echoes; 'Durdles, Durdles!'

'The truth is, sir,' explains Jasper, 'that my curiosity in the man
was first really stimulated by Mr. Sapsea. Mr. Sapsea's knowledge
of mankind and power of drawing out whatever is recluse or odd
around him, first led to my bestowing a second thought upon the
man: though of course I had met him constantly about. You would
not be surprised by this, Mr. Dean, if you had seen Mr. Sapsea deal
with him in his own parlour, as I did.'

'O!' cries Sapsea, picking up the ball thrown to him with ineffable
complacency and pomposity; 'yes, yes. The Very Reverend the Dean
refers to that? Yes. I happened to bring Durdles and Mr. Jasper
together. I regard Durdles as a Character.'

'A character, Mr. Sapsea, that with a few skilful touches you turn
inside out,' says Jasper.

'Nay, not quite that,' returns the lumbering auctioneer. 'I may
have a little influence over him, perhaps; and a little insight
into his character, perhaps. The Very Reverend the Dean will
please to bear in mind that I have seen the world.' Here Mr.
Sapsea gets a little behind the Dean, to inspect his coat-buttons.

'Well!' says the Dean, looking about him to see what has become of
his copyist: 'I hope, Mr. Mayor, you will use your study and
knowledge of Durdles to the good purpose of exhorting him not to
break our worthy and respected Choir-Master's neck; we cannot
afford it; his head and voice are much too valuable to us.'

Mr. Tope is again highly entertained, and, having fallen into
respectful convulsions of laughter, subsides into a deferential
murmur, importing that surely any gentleman would deem it a
pleasure and an honour to have his neck broken, in return for such
a compliment from such a source.

'I will take it upon myself, sir,' observes Sapsea loftily, 'to
answer for Mr. Jasper's neck. I will tell Durdles to be careful of
it. He will mind what _I_ say. How is it at present endangered?'
he inquires, looking about him with magnificent patronage.

'Only by my making a moonlight expedition with Durdles among the
tombs, vaults, towers, and ruins,' returns Jasper. 'You remember
suggesting, when you brought us together, that, as a lover of the
picturesque, it might be worth my while?'

'I remember!' replies the auctioneer. And the solemn idiot really
believes that he does remember.

'Profiting by your hint,' pursues Jasper, 'I have had some day-
rambles with the extraordinary old fellow, and we are to make a
moonlight hole-and-corner exploration to-night.'

'And here he is,' says the Dean.

Durdles with his dinner-bundle in his hand, is indeed beheld
slouching towards them. Slouching nearer, and perceiving the Dean,
he pulls off his hat, and is slouching away with it under his arm,
when Mr. Sapsea stops him.

'Mind you take care of my friend,' is the injunction Mr. Sapsea
lays upon him.

'What friend o' yourn is dead?' asks Durdles. 'No orders has come
in for any friend o' yourn.'

'I mean my live friend there.'

'O! him?' says Durdles. 'He can take care of himself, can Mister

'But do you take care of him too,' says Sapsea.

Whom Durdles (there being command in his tone) surlily surveys from
head to foot.

'With submission to his Reverence the Dean, if you'll mind what
concerns you, Mr. Sapsea, Durdles he'll mind what concerns him.'

'You're out of temper,' says Mr. Sapsea, winking to the company to
observe how smoothly he will manage him. 'My friend concerns me,
and Mr. Jasper is my friend. And you are my friend.'

'Don't you get into a bad habit of boasting,' retorts Durdles, with
a grave cautionary nod. 'It'll grow upon you.'

'You are out of temper,' says Sapsea again; reddening, but again
sinking to the company.

'I own to it,' returns Durdles; 'I don't like liberties.'

Mr. Sapsea winks a third wink to the company, as who should say:
'I think you will agree with me that I have settled HIS business;'
and stalks out of the controversy.

Durdles then gives the Dean a good evening, and adding, as he puts
his hat on, 'You'll find me at home, Mister Jarsper, as agreed,
when you want me; I'm a-going home to clean myself,' soon slouches
out of sight. This going home to clean himself is one of the man's
incomprehensible compromises with inexorable facts; he, and his
hat, and his boots, and his clothes, never showing any trace of
cleaning, but being uniformly in one condition of dust and grit.

The lamplighter now dotting the quiet Close with specks of light,
and running at a great rate up and down his little ladder with that
object--his little ladder under the sacred shadow of whose
inconvenience generations had grown up, and which all Cloisterham
would have stood aghast at the idea of abolishing--the Dean
withdraws to his dinner, Mr. Tope to his tea, and Mr. Jasper to his
piano. There, with no light but that of the fire, he sits chanting
choir-music in a low and beautiful voice, for two or three hours;
in short, until it has been for some time dark, and the moon is
about to rise.

Then he closes his piano softly, softly changes his coat for a pea-
jacket, with a goodly wicker-cased bottle in its largest pocket,
and putting on a low-crowned, flap-brimmed hat, goes softly out.
Why does he move so softly to-night? No outward reason is apparent
for it. Can there be any sympathetic reason crouching darkly
within him?

Repairing to Durdles's unfinished house, or hole in the city wall,
and seeing a light within it, he softly picks his course among the
gravestones, monuments, and stony lumber of the yard, already
touched here and there, sidewise, by the rising moon. The two
journeymen have left their two great saws sticking in their blocks
of stone; and two skeleton journeymen out of the Dance of Death
might be grinning in the shadow of their sheltering sentry-boxes,
about to slash away at cutting out the gravestones of the next two
people destined to die in Cloisterham. Likely enough, the two
think little of that now, being alive, and perhaps merry. Curious,
to make a guess at the two;--or say one of the two!

'Ho! Durdles!'

The light moves, and he appears with it at the door. He would seem
to have been 'cleaning himself' with the aid of a bottle, jug, and
tumbler; for no other cleansing instruments are visible in the bare
brick room with rafters overhead and no plastered ceiling, into
which he shows his visitor.

'Are you ready?'

'I am ready, Mister Jarsper. Let the old 'uns come out if they
dare, when we go among their tombs. My spirit is ready for 'em.'

'Do you mean animal spirits, or ardent?'

'The one's the t'other,' answers Durdles, 'and I mean 'em both.'

He takes a lantern from a hook, puts a match or two in his pocket
wherewith to light it, should there be need; and they go out
together, dinner-bundle and all.

Surely an unaccountable sort of expedition! That Durdles himself,
who is always prowling among old graves, and ruins, like a Ghoul--
that he should be stealing forth to climb, and dive, and wander
without an object, is nothing extraordinary; but that the Choir-
Master or any one else should hold it worth his while to be with
him, and to study moonlight effects in such company is another
affair. Surely an unaccountable sort of expedition, therefore!

''Ware that there mound by the yard-gate, Mister Jarsper.'

'I see it. What is it?'


Mr. Jasper stops, and waits for him to come up, for he lags behind.
'What you call quick-lime?'

'Ay!' says Durdles; 'quick enough to eat your boots. With a little
handy stirring, quick enough to eat your bones.'

They go on, presently passing the red windows of the Travellers'
Twopenny, and emerging into the clear moonlight of the Monks'
Vineyard. This crossed, they come to Minor Canon Corner: of which
the greater part lies in shadow until the moon shall rise higher in
the sky.

The sound of a closing house-door strikes their ears, and two men
come out. These are Mr. Crisparkle and Neville. Jasper, with a
strange and sudden smile upon his face, lays the palm of his hand
upon the breast of Durdles, stopping him where he stands.

At that end of Minor Canon Corner the shadow is profound in the
existing state of the light: at that end, too, there is a piece of
old dwarf wall, breast high, the only remaining boundary of what
was once a garden, but is now the thoroughfare. Jasper and Durdles
would have turned this wall in another instant; but, stopping so
short, stand behind it.

'Those two are only sauntering,' Jasper whispers; 'they will go out
into the moonlight soon. Let us keep quiet here, or they will
detain us, or want to join us, or what not.'

Durdles nods assent, and falls to munching some fragments from his
bundle. Jasper folds his arms upon the top of the wall, and, with
his chin resting on them, watches. He takes no note whatever of
the Minor Canon, but watches Neville, as though his eye were at the
trigger of a loaded rifle, and he had covered him, and were going
to fire. A sense of destructive power is so expressed in his face,
that even Durdles pauses in his munching, and looks at him, with an
unmunched something in his cheek.

Meanwhile Mr. Crisparkle and Neville walk to and fro, quietly
talking together. What they say, cannot be heard consecutively;
but Mr. Jasper has already distinguished his own name more than

'This is the first day of the week,' Mr. Crisparkle can be
distinctly heard to observe, as they turn back; 'and the last day
of the week is Christmas Eve.'

'You may be certain of me, sir.'

The echoes were favourable at those points, but as the two
approach, the sound of their talking becomes confused again. The
word 'confidence,' shattered by the echoes, but still capable of
being pieced together, is uttered by Mr. Crisparkle. As they draw
still nearer, this fragment of a reply is heard: 'Not deserved
yet, but shall be, sir.' As they turn away again, Jasper again
hears his own name, in connection with the words from Mr.
Crisparkle: 'Remember that I said I answered for you confidently.'
Then the sound of their talk becomes confused again; they halting
for a little while, and some earnest action on the part of Neville
succeeding. When they move once more, Mr. Crisparkle is seen to
look up at the sky, and to point before him. They then slowly
disappear; passing out into the moonlight at the opposite end of
the Corner.

It is not until they are gone, that Mr. Jasper moves. But then he
turns to Durdles, and bursts into a fit of laughter. Durdles, who
still has that suspended something in his cheek, and who sees
nothing to laugh at, stares at him until Mr. Jasper lays his face
down on his arms to have his laugh out. Then Durdles bolts the
something, as if desperately resigning himself to indigestion.

Among those secluded nooks there is very little stir or movement
after dark. There is little enough in the high tide of the day,
but there is next to none at night. Besides that the cheerfully
frequented High Street lies nearly parallel to the spot (the old
Cathedral rising between the two), and is the natural channel in
which the Cloisterham traffic flows, a certain awful hush pervades
the ancient pile, the cloisters, and the churchyard, after dark,
which not many people care to encounter. Ask the first hundred
citizens of Cloisterham, met at random in the streets at noon, if
they believed in Ghosts, they would tell you no; but put them to
choose at night between these eerie Precincts and the thoroughfare
of shops, and you would find that ninety-nine declared for the
longer round and the more frequented way. The cause of this is not
to be found in any local superstition that attaches to the
Precincts--albeit a mysterious lady, with a child in her arms and a
rope dangling from her neck, has been seen flitting about there by
sundry witnesses as intangible as herself--but it is to be sought
in the innate shrinking of dust with the breath of life in it from
dust out of which the breath of life has passed; also, in the
widely diffused, and almost as widely unacknowledged, reflection:
'If the dead do, under any circumstances, become visible to the
living, these are such likely surroundings for the purpose that I,
the living, will get out of them as soon as I can.' Hence, when
Mr. Jasper and Durdles pause to glance around them, before
descending into the crypt by a small side door, of which the latter
has a key, the whole expanse of moonlight in their view is utterly
deserted. One might fancy that the tide of life was stemmed by Mr.
Jasper's own gatehouse. The murmur of the tide is heard beyond;
but no wave passes the archway, over which his lamp burns red
behind his curtain, as if the building were a Lighthouse.

They enter, locking themselves in, descend the rugged steps, and
are down in the Crypt. The lantern is not wanted, for the
moonlight strikes in at the groined windows, bare of glass, the
broken frames for which cast patterns on the ground. The heavy
pillars which support the roof engender masses of black shade, but
between them there are lanes of light. Up and down these lanes
they walk, Durdles discoursing of the 'old uns' he yet counts on
disinterring, and slapping a wall, in which he considers 'a whole
family on 'em' to be stoned and earthed up, just as if he were a
familiar friend of the family. The taciturnity of Durdles is for
the time overcome by Mr. Jasper's wicker bottle, which circulates
freely;--in the sense, that is to say, that its contents enter
freely into Mr. Durdles's circulation, while Mr. Jasper only rinses
his mouth once, and casts forth the rinsing.

They are to ascend the great Tower. On the steps by which they
rise to the Cathedral, Durdles pauses for new store of breath. The
steps are very dark, but out of the darkness they can see the lanes
of light they have traversed. Durdles seats himself upon a step.
Mr. Jasper seats himself upon another. The odour from the wicker
bottle (which has somehow passed into Durdles's keeping) soon
intimates that the cork has been taken out; but this is not
ascertainable through the sense of sight, since neither can descry
the other. And yet, in talking, they turn to one another, as
though their faces could commune together.

'This is good stuff, Mister Jarsper!'

'It is very good stuff, I hope.--I bought it on purpose.'

'They don't show, you see, the old uns don't, Mister Jarsper!'

'It would be a more confused world than it is, if they could.'

'Well, it WOULD lead towards a mixing of things,' Durdles
acquiesces: pausing on the remark, as if the idea of ghosts had
not previously presented itself to him in a merely inconvenient
light, domestically or chronologically. 'But do you think there
may be Ghosts of other things, though not of men and women?'

'What things? Flower-beds and watering-pots? horses and harness?'

'No. Sounds.'

'What sounds?'


'What cries do you mean? Chairs to mend?'

'No. I mean screeches. Now I'll tell you, Mr. Jarsper. Wait a
bit till I put the bottle right.' Here the cork is evidently taken
out again, and replaced again. 'There! NOW it's right! This time
last year, only a few days later, I happened to have been doing
what was correct by the season, in the way of giving it the welcome
it had a right to expect, when them town-boys set on me at their
worst. At length I gave 'em the slip, and turned in here. And
here I fell asleep. And what woke me? The ghost of a cry. The
ghost of one terrific shriek, which shriek was followed by the
ghost of the howl of a dog: a long, dismal, woeful howl, such as a
dog gives when a person's dead. That was MY last Christmas Eve.'

'What do you mean?' is the very abrupt, and, one might say, fierce

'I mean that I made inquiries everywhere about, and, that no living
ears but mine heard either that cry or that howl. So I say they
was both ghosts; though why they came to me, I've never made out.'

'I thought you were another kind of man,' says Jasper, scornfully.

'So I thought myself,' answers Durdles with his usual composure;
'and yet I was picked out for it.'

Jasper had risen suddenly, when he asked him what he meant, and he
now says, 'Come; we shall freeze here; lead the way.'

Durdles complies, not over-steadily; opens the door at the top of
the steps with the key he has already used; and so emerges on the
Cathedral level, in a passage at the side of the chancel. Here,
the moonlight is so very bright again that the colours of the
nearest stained-glass window are thrown upon their faces. The
appearance of the unconscious Durdles, holding the door open for
his companion to follow, as if from the grave, is ghastly enough,
with a purple hand across his face, and a yellow splash upon his
brow; but he bears the close scrutiny of his companion in an
insensible way, although it is prolonged while the latter fumbles
among his pockets for a key confided to him that will open an iron
gate, so to enable them to pass to the staircase of the great

'That and the bottle are enough for you to carry,' he says, giving
it to Durdles; 'hand your bundle to me; I am younger and longer-
winded than you.' Durdles hesitates for a moment between bundle
and bottle; but gives the preference to the bottle as being by far
the better company, and consigns the dry weight to his fellow-

Then they go up the winding staircase of the great tower,
toilsomely, turning and turning, and lowering their heads to avoid
the stairs above, or the rough stone pivot around which they twist.
Durdles has lighted his lantern, by drawing from the cold, hard
wall a spark of that mysterious fire which lurks in everything,
and, guided by this speck, they clamber up among the cobwebs and
the dust. Their way lies through strange places. Twice or thrice
they emerge into level, low-arched galleries, whence they can look
down into the moon-lit nave; and where Durdles, waving his lantern,
waves the dim angels' heads upon the corbels of the roof, seeming
to watch their progress. Anon they turn into narrower and steeper
staircases, and the night-air begins to blow upon them, and the
chirp of some startled jackdaw or frightened rook precedes the
heavy beating of wings in a confined space, and the beating down of
dust and straws upon their heads. At last, leaving their light
behind a stair--for it blows fresh up here--they look down on
Cloisterham, fair to see in the moonlight: its ruined habitations
and sanctuaries of the dead, at the tower's base: its moss-
softened red-tiled roofs and red-brick houses of the living,
clustered beyond: its river winding down from the mist on the
horizon, as though that were its source, and already heaving with a
restless knowledge of its approach towards the sea.

Once again, an unaccountable expedition this! Jasper (always
moving softly with no visible reason) contemplates the scene, and
especially that stillest part of it which the Cathedral
overshadows. But he contemplates Durdles quite as curiously, and
Durdles is by times conscious of his watchful eyes.

Only by times, because Durdles is growing drowsy. As aeronauts
lighten the load they carry, when they wish to rise, similarly
Durdles has lightened the wicker bottle in coming up. Snatches of
sleep surprise him on his legs, and stop him in his talk. A mild
fit of calenture seizes him, in which he deems that the ground so
far below, is on a level with the tower, and would as lief walk off
the tower into the air as not. Such is his state when they begin
to come down. And as aeronauts make themselves heavier when they
wish to descend, similarly Durdles charges himself with more liquid
from the wicker bottle, that he may come down the better.

The iron gate attained and locked--but not before Durdles has
tumbled twice, and cut an eyebrow open once--they descend into the
crypt again, with the intent of issuing forth as they entered.
But, while returning among those lanes of light, Durdles becomes so
very uncertain, both of foot and speech, that he half drops, half
throws himself down, by one of the heavy pillars, scarcely less
heavy than itself, and indistinctly appeals to his companion for
forty winks of a second each.

'If you will have it so, or must have it so,' replies Jasper, 'I'll
not leave you here. Take them, while I walk to and fro.'

Durdles is asleep at once; and in his sleep he dreams a dream.

It is not much of a dream, considering the vast extent of the
domains of dreamland, and their wonderful productions; it is only
remarkable for being unusually restless and unusually real. He
dreams of lying there, asleep, and yet counting his companion's
footsteps as he walks to and fro. He dreams that the footsteps die
away into distance of time and of space, and that something touches
him, and that something falls from his hand. Then something clinks
and gropes about, and he dreams that he is alone for so long a
time, that the lanes of light take new directions as the moon
advances in her course. From succeeding unconsciousness he passes
into a dream of slow uneasiness from cold; and painfully awakes to
a perception of the lanes of light--really changed, much as he had
dreamed--and Jasper walking among them, beating his hands and feet.

'Holloa!' Durdles cries out, unmeaningly alarmed.

'Awake at last?' says Jasper, coming up to him. 'Do you know that
your forties have stretched into thousands?'


'They have though.'

'What's the time?'

'Hark! The bells are going in the Tower!'

They strike four quarters, and then the great bell strikes.

'Two!' cries Durdles, scrambling up; 'why didn't you try to wake
me, Mister Jarsper?'

'I did. I might as well have tried to wake the dead--your own
family of dead, up in the corner there.'

'Did you touch me?'

'Touch you! Yes. Shook you.'

As Durdles recalls that touching something in his dream, he looks
down on the pavement, and sees the key of the crypt door lying
close to where he himself lay.

'I dropped you, did I?' he says, picking it up, and recalling that
part of his dream. As he gathers himself up again into an upright
position, or into a position as nearly upright as he ever
maintains, he is again conscious of being watched by his companion.

'Well?' says Jasper, smiling, 'are you quite ready? Pray don't

'Let me get my bundle right, Mister Jarsper, and I'm with you.' As
he ties it afresh, he is once more conscious that he is very
narrowly observed.

'What do you suspect me of, Mister Jarsper?' he asks, with drunken
displeasure. 'Let them as has any suspicions of Durdles name 'em.'

'I've no suspicions of you, my good Mr. Durdles; but I have
suspicions that my bottle was filled with something stiffer than
either of us supposed. And I also have suspicions,' Jasper adds,
taking it from the pavement and turning it bottom upwards, 'that
it's empty.'

Durdles condescends to laugh at this. Continuing to chuckle when
his laugh is over, as though remonstrant with himself on his
drinking powers, he rolls to the door and unlocks it. They both
pass out, and Durdles relocks it, and pockets his key.

'A thousand thanks for a curious and interesting night,' says
Jasper, giving him his hand; 'you can make your own way home?'

'I should think so!' answers Durdles. 'If you was to offer Durdles
the affront to show him his way home, he wouldn't go home.

Durdles wouldn't go home till morning;
And THEN Durdles wouldn't go home,

Durdles wouldn't.' This with the utmost defiance.

'Good-night, then.'

'Good-night, Mister Jarsper.'

Each is turning his own way, when a sharp whistle rends the
silence, and the jargon is yelped out:

Widdy widdy wen!
Widdy widdy wy!
Then--E--don't --go--then--I--shy -
Widdy Widdy Wake-cock warning!'

Instantly afterwards, a rapid fire of stones rattles at the
Cathedral wall, and the hideous small boy is beheld opposite,
dancing in the moonlight.

'What! Is that baby-devil on the watch there!' cries Jasper in a
fury: so quickly roused, and so violent, that he seems an older
devil himself. 'I shall shed the blood of that impish wretch! I
know I shall do it!' Regardless of the fire, though it hits him
more than once, he rushes at Deputy, collars him, and tries to
bring him across. But Deputy is not to be so easily brought
across. With a diabolical insight into the strongest part of his
position, he is no sooner taken by the throat than he curls up his
legs, forces his assailant to hang him, as it were, and gurgles in
his throat, and screws his body, and twists, as already undergoing
the first agonies of strangulation. There is nothing for it but to
drop him. He instantly gets himself together, backs over to
Durdles, and cries to his assailant, gnashing the great gap in
front of his mouth with rage and malice:

'I'll blind yer, s'elp me! I'll stone yer eyes out, s'elp me! If
I don't have yer eyesight, bellows me!' At the same time dodging
behind Durdles, and snarling at Jasper, now from this side of him,
and now from that: prepared, if pounced upon, to dart away in all
manner of curvilinear directions, and, if run down after all, to
grovel in the dust, and cry: 'Now, hit me when I'm down! Do it!'

'Don't hurt the boy, Mister Jarsper,' urges Durdles, shielding him.
'Recollect yourself.'

'He followed us to-night, when we first came here!'

'Yer lie, I didn't!' replies Deputy, in his one form of polite

'He has been prowling near us ever since!'

'Yer lie, I haven't,' returns Deputy. 'I'd only jist come out for
my 'elth when I see you two a-coming out of the Kin-freederel. If


(with the usual rhythm and dance, though dodging behind Durdles),
'it ain't ANY fault, is it?'

'Take him home, then,' retorts Jasper, ferociously, though with a
strong check upon himself, 'and let my eyes be rid of the sight of

Deputy, with another sharp whistle, at once expressing his relief,
and his commencement of a milder stoning of Mr. Durdles, begins
stoning that respectable gentleman home, as if he were a reluctant
ox. Mr. Jasper goes to his gatehouse, brooding. And thus, as
everything comes to an end, the unaccountable expedition comes to
an end--for the time.

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