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The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Philanthropy in Minor Canon Corner
THE Reverend Septimus Crisparkle (Septimus, because six little brother Crisparkles
before him went out, one by one, as they were born, like six weak little rushlights, as they
were lighted), having broken the thin morning ice near Cloisterham Weir with his
amiable head, much to the invigoration of his frame, was now assisting his circulation by
boxing at a looking-glass with great science and prowess. A fresh and healthy portrait the
looking- glass presented of the Reverend Septimus, feinting and dodging with the utmost
artfulness, and hitting out from the shoulder with the utmost straightness, while his
radiant features teemed with innocence, and soft-hearted benevolence beamed from his
boxing- gloves.
It was scarcely breakfast-time yet, for Mrs. Crisparkle - mother, not wife of the Reverend
Septimus - was only just down, and waiting for the urn. Indeed, the Reverend Septimus
left off at this very moment to take the pretty old lady's entering face between his boxing-
gloves and kiss it. Having done so with tenderness, the Reverend Septimus turned to
again, countering with his left, and putting in his right, in a tremendous manner.
'I say, every morning of my life, that you'll do it at last, Sept,' remarked the old lady,
looking on; 'and so you will.'
'Do what, Ma dear?'
'Break the pier-glass, or burst a blood-vessel.'
'Neither, please God, Ma dear. Here's wind, Ma. Look at this!' In a concluding round of
great severity, the Reverend Septimus administered and escaped all sorts of punishment,
and wound up by getting the old lady's cap into Chancery - such is the technical term
used in scientific circles by the learned in the Noble Art - with a lightness of touch that
hardly stirred the lightest lavender or cherry riband on it. Magnanimously releasing the
defeated, just in time to get his gloves into a drawer and feign to be looking out of
window in a contemplative state of mind when a servant entered, the Reverend Septimus
then gave place to the urn and other preparations for breakfast. These completed, and the
two alone again, it was pleasant to see (or would have been, if there had been any one to
see it, which there never was), the old lady standing to say the Lord's Prayer aloud, and
her son, Minor Canon nevertheless, standing with bent head to hear it, he being within
five years of forty: much as he had stood to hear the same words from the same lips when
he was within five months of four.
What is prettier than an old lady - except a young lady - when her eyes are bright, when
her figure is trim and compact, when her face is cheerful and calm, when her dress is as
the dress of a china shepherdess: so dainty in its colours, so individually assorted to
herself, so neatly moulded on her? Nothing is prettier, thought the good Minor Canon
frequently, when taking his seat at table opposite his long-widowed mother. Her thought
 
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