The Mystery of Edwin Drood HTML version
Mr. Durdles and Friend
JOHN JASPER, on his way home through the Close, is brought to a stand-still by the
spectacle of Stony Durdles, dinner-bundle and all, leaning his back against the iron
railing of the burial-ground enclosing it from the old cloister-arches; and a hideous small
boy in rags flinging stones at him as a well-defined mark in the moonlight. Sometimes
the stones hit him, and sometimes they miss him, but Durdles seems indifferent to either
fortune. The hideous small boy, on the contrary, whenever he hits Durdles, blows a
whistle of triumph through a jagged gap, convenient for the purpose, in the front of his
mouth, where half his teeth are wanting; and whenever he misses him, yelps out 'Mulled
agin!' and tries to atone for the failure by taking a more correct and vicious aim.
'What are you doing to the man?' demands Jasper, stepping out into the moonlight from
'Making a cock-shy of him,' replies the hideous small boy.
'Give me those stones in your hand.'
'Yes, I'll give 'em you down your throat, if you come a-ketching hold of me,' says the
small boy, shaking himself loose, and backing. 'I'll smash your eye, if you don't look out!'
'Baby-Devil that you are, what has the man done to you?'
'He won't go home.'
'What is that to you?'
'He gives me a 'apenny to pelt him home if I ketches him out too late,' says the boy. And
then chants, like a little savage, half stumbling and half dancing among the rags and laces
of his dilapidated boots:-
'Widdy widdy wen! I - ket - ches - Im - out - ar - ter - ten, Widdy widdy wy! Then - E -
don't - go - then - I - shy - Widdy Widdy Wake-cock warning!'
- with a comprehensive sweep on the last word, and one more delivery at Durdles.
This would seem to be a poetical note of preparation, agreed upon, as a caution to
Durdles to stand clear if he can, or to betake himself homeward.
John Jasper invites the boy with a beck of his head to follow him (feeling it hopeless to
drag him, or coax him), and crosses to the iron railing where the Stony (and stoned) One
is profoundly meditating.