The Mystery of Edwin Drood HTML version

Birds in the Bush
ROSA, having no relation that she knew of in the world, had, from the seventh year of
her age, known no home but the Nuns' House, and no mother but Miss Twinkleton. Her
remembrance of her own mother was of a pretty little creature like herself (not much
older than herself it seemed to her), who had been brought home in her father's arms,
drowned. The fatal accident had happened at a party of pleasure. Every fold and colour in
the pretty summer dress, and even the long wet hair, with scattered petals of ruined
flowers still clinging to it, as the dead young figure, in its sad, sad beauty lay upon the
bed, were fixed indelibly in Rosa's recollection. So were the wild despair and the
subsequent bowed- down grief of her poor young father, who died broken-hearted on the
first anniversary of that hard day.
The betrothal of Rosa grew out of the soothing of his year of mental distress by his fast
friend and old college companion, Drood: who likewise had been left a widower in his
youth. But he, too, went the silent road into which all earthly pilgrimages merge, some
sooner, and some later; and thus the young couple had come to be as they were.
The atmosphere of pity surrounding the little orphan girl when she first came to
Cloisterham, had never cleared away. It had taken brighter hues as she grew older,
happier, prettier; now it had been golden, now roseate, and now azure; but it had always
adorned her with some soft light of its own. The general desire to console and caress her,
had caused her to be treated in the beginning as a child much younger than her years; the
same desire had caused her to be still petted when she was a child no longer. Who should
be her favourite, who should anticipate this or that small present, or do her this or that
small service; who should take her home for the holidays; who should write to her the
oftenest when they were separated, and whom she would most rejoice to see again when
they were reunited; even these gentle rivalries were not without their slight dashes of
bitterness in the Nuns' House. Well for the poor Nuns in their day, if they hid no harder
strife under their veils and rosaries!
Thus Rosa had grown to be an amiable, giddy, wilful, winning little creature; spoilt, in
the sense of counting upon kindness from all around her; but not in the sense of repaying
it with indifference. Possessing an exhaustless well of affection in her nature, its
sparkling waters had freshened and brightened the Nuns' House for years, and yet its
depths had never yet been moved: what might betide when that came to pass; what
developing changes might fall upon the heedless head, and light heart, then; remained to
be seen.
By what means the news that there had been a quarrel between the two young men
overnight, involving even some kind of onslaught by Mr. Neville upon Edwin Drood, got
into Miss Twinkleton's establishment before breakfast, it is impossible to say. Whether it
was brought in by the birds of the air, or came blowing in with the very air itself, when
the casement windows were set open; whether the baker brought it kneaded into the
bread, or the milkman delivered it as part of the adulteration of his milk; or the