The Mystery of Edwin Drood HTML version

Both at Their Best
MISS TWINKLETON'S establishment was about to undergo a serene hush. The
Christmas recess was at hand. What had once, and at no remote period, been called, even
by the erudite Miss Twinkleton herself, 'the half;' but what was now called, as being more
elegant, and more strictly collegiate, 'the term,' would expire to-morrow. A noticeable
relaxation of discipline had for some few days pervaded the Nuns' House. Club suppers
had occurred in the bedrooms, and a dressed tongue had been carved with a pair of
scissors, and handed round with the curling tongs. Portions of marmalade had likewise
been distributed on a service of plates constructed of curlpaper; and cowslip wine had
been quaffed from the small squat measuring glass in which little Rickitts (a junior of
weakly constitution) took her steel drops daily. The housemaids had been bribed with
various fragments of riband, and sundry pairs of shoes more or less down at heel, to make
no mention of crumbs in the beds; the airiest costumes had been worn on these festive
occasions; and the daring Miss Ferdinand had even surprised the company with a
sprightly solo on the comb-and-curlpaper, until suffocated in her own pillow by two
flowing-haired executioners.
Nor were these the only tokens of dispersal. Boxes appeared in the bedrooms (where they
were capital at other times), and a surprising amount of packing took place, out of all
proportion to the amount packed. Largess, in the form of odds and ends of cold cream
and pomatum, and also of hairpins, was freely distributed among the attendants. On
charges of inviolable secrecy, confidences were interchanged respecting golden youth of
England expected to call, 'at home,' on the first opportunity. Miss Giggles (deficient in
sentiment) did indeed profess that she, for her part, acknowledged such homage by
making faces at the golden youth; but this young lady was outvoted by an immense
On the last night before a recess, it was always expressly made a point of honour that
nobody should go to sleep, and that Ghosts should be encouraged by all possible means.
This compact invariably broke down, and all the young ladies went to sleep very soon,
and got up very early.
The concluding ceremony came off at twelve o'clock on the day of departure; when Miss
Twinkleton, supported by Mrs. Tisher, held a drawing-room in her own apartment (the
globes already covered with brown Holland), where glasses of white-wine and plates of
cut pound-cake were discovered on the table. Miss Twinkleton then said: Ladies, another
revolving year had brought us round to that festive period at which the first feelings of
our nature bounded in our - Miss Twinkleton was annually going to add 'bosoms,' but
annually stopped on the brink of that expression, and substituted 'hearts.' Hearts; our
hearts. Hem! Again a revolving year, ladies, had brought us to a pause in our studies - let
us hope our greatly advanced studies - and, like the mariner in his bark, the warrior in his
tent, the captive in his dungeon, and the traveller in his various conveyances, we yearned
for home. Did we say, on such an occasion, in the opening words of Mr. Addison's
impressive tragedy: