The Mystery of Edwin Drood
A Dean, and a Chapter Also
WHOSOEVER has observed that sedate and clerical bird, the rook, may perhaps have
noticed that when he wings his way homeward towards nightfall, in a sedate and clerical
company, two rooks will suddenly detach themselves from the rest, will retrace their
flight for some distance, and will there poise and linger; conveying to mere men the fancy
that it is of some occult importance to the body politic, that this artful couple should
pretend to have renounced connection with it.
Similarly, service being over in the old Cathedral with the square tower, and the choir
scuffling out again, and divers venerable persons of rook-like aspect dispersing, two of
these latter retrace their steps, and walk together in the echoing Close.
Not only is the day waning, but the year. The low sun is fiery and yet cold behind the
monastery ruin, and the Virginia creeper on the Cathedral wall has showered half its
deep-red leaves down on the pavement. There has been rain this afternoon, and a wintry
shudder goes among the little pools on the cracked, uneven flag-stones, and through the
giant elm-trees as they shed a gust of tears. Their fallen leaves lie strewn thickly about.
Some of these leaves, in a timid rush, seek sanctuary within the low arched Cathedral
door; but two men coming out resist them, and cast them forth again with their feet; this
done, one of the two locks the door with a goodly key, and the other flits away with a
'Mr. Jasper was that, Tope?'
'Yes, Mr. Dean.'
'He has stayed late.'
'Yes, Mr. Dean. I have stayed for him, your Reverence. He has been took a little poorly.'
'Say "taken," Tope - to the Dean,' the younger rook interposes in a low tone with this
touch of correction, as who should say: 'You may offer bad grammar to the laity, or the
humbler clergy, not to the Dean.'
Mr. Tope, Chief Verger and Showman, and accustomed to be high with excursion parties,
declines with a silent loftiness to perceive that any suggestion has been tendered to him.
'And when and how has Mr. Jasper been taken - for, as Mr. Crisparkle has remarked, it is
better to say taken - taken - ' repeats the Dean; 'when and how has Mr. Jasper been Taken
'Taken, sir,' Tope deferentially murmurs.
' - Poorly, Tope?'