The Mystery of Edwin Drood HTML version
Shadow on the Sun-Dial
AGAIN Miss Twinkleton has delivered her valedictory address, with the
accompaniments of white-wine and pound-cake, and again the young ladies have
departed to their several homes. Helena Landless has left the Nuns' House to attend her
brother's fortunes, and pretty Rosa is alone.
Cloisterham is so bright and sunny in these summer days, that the Cathedral and the
monastery-ruin show as if their strong walls were transparent. A soft glow seems to shine
from within them, rather than upon them from without, such is their mellowness as they
look forth on the hot corn-fields and the smoking roads that distantly wind among them.
The Cloisterham gardens blush with ripening fruit. Time was when travel-stained
pilgrims rode in clattering parties through the city's welcome shades; time is when
wayfarers, leading a gipsy life between haymaking time and harvest, and looking as if
they were just made of the dust of the earth, so very dusty are they, lounge about on cool
door-steps, trying to mend their unmendable shoes, or giving them to the city kennels as a
hopeless job, and seeking others in the bundles that they carry, along with their yet
unused sickles swathed in bands of straw. At all the more public pumps there is much
cooling of bare feet, together with much bubbling and gurgling of drinking with hand to
spout on the part of these Bedouins; the Cloisterham police meanwhile looking askant
from their beats with suspicion, and manifest impatience that the intruders should depart
from within the civic bounds, and once more fry themselves on the simmering high-
On the afternoon of such a day, when the last Cathedral service is done, and when that
side of the High Street on which the Nuns' House stands is in grateful shade, save where
its quaint old garden opens to the west between the boughs of trees, a servant informs
Rosa, to her terror, that Mr. Jasper desires to see her.
If he had chosen his time for finding her at a disadvantage, he could have done no better.
Perhaps he has chosen it. Helena Landless is gone, Mrs. Tisher is absent on leave, Miss
Twinkleton (in her amateur state of existence) has contributed herself and a veal pie to a
'O why, why, why, did you say I was at home!' cried Rosa, helplessly.
The maid replies, that Mr. Jasper never asked the question.
That he said he knew she was at home, and begged she might be told that he asked to see
'What shall I do! what shall I do!' thinks Rosa, clasping her hands.
Possessed by a kind of desperation, she adds in the next breath, that she will come to Mr.
Jasper in the garden. She shudders at the thought of being shut up with him in the house;