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Drood Summary: Installment 2 (Chapters VI-IX)

Prepared by Cindy Kogut

Drood Summary: Installment 2 (Chapters VI-IX)

Chapter VI introduces the reader to the home life 
of the Reverend Septimus Crisparkle, a kindly man of 
about 35 who lives in Minor Canon Corner with his 
elderly mother. At breakfast, Mrs. Crisparkle reads 
a letter from Mr. Honeythunder, a Philanthropist 
(most definitely with a capital "P") who informs 
them that he is sending his wards, Neville and 
Helena Landless, to Cloisterham to remedy their 
defective education. Neville will study with 
Mr. Crisparkle and board at Minor Canon Corner, 
while Helena will go to the Nuns' House.

Mr. Crisparkle plans a dinner party for welcoming 
the two young people. The guests are to be 
Edwin Drood, Rosa Bud, and Miss Twinkleton (the 
head of the girls' seminary).  John Jasper is also 
invited, since he is Drood's uncle.  Unfortunately, 
Mr. Honeythunder decides to accompany his wards on 
the trip to Cloisterham and must be invited to dinner 
as well:  "Always something in the nature of a Boil 
upon the face of society, Mr. Honeythunder expanded 
into an inflammatory Wen in Minor Canon Corner."  The 
others conspire to rid themselves of him at the 
earliest opportunity,  and Neville and Mr. Crisparkle 
take him back to the omnibus he needs to catch "with 
still half-an-hour to spare."

As Neville and Mr. Crisparkle are walking back, 
Neville confides his past to the latter. He explains 
that he and his sister are from Ceylon, where they 
had a wretched existence. Their mother died when they 
were young and they lived with a cruel stepfather, 
who beat Helena.  Upon the death of the stepfather, 
they discovered that he had passed their guardianship 
over to Mr. Honeythunder, a man they did not know.
Neville opens up to Mr. Crisparkle and tells him 
that the need to "suppress a deathly and bitter hatred" 
toward the stepfather has left him "secret and 
revengeful" and wanting in civilized emotions or 
instincts. Neville further describes how his sister 
was never subdued by their existence and indeed took 
the lead in planning and leading their many attempts 
to escape the stepfather. "Each time, she dressed 
as a boy, and showed the daring of a man." He tells 
Crisparkle that the two of them have such a complete 
understanding of each other that they can communicate 
without words. After these revelations, he asks Crisparkle 
about the situation between Drood and Rosa, and 
comments to himself about now understanding Drood's
"air of proprietorship" concerning Rosa.

Neville and Crisparkle re-enter the house and rejoin 
the dinner party. Rosa is singing to Jasper's piano 
accompaniment.  He is intently staring at her lips 
as he plays. Helena stands with her arm around Rosa, 
observing Jasper.  Suddenly, Rosa bursts into tears 
and says that she is frightened and wants to leave.  
Helena attends to Rosa.  Drood puts her fears down 
to nervousness at having an audience plus Jasper 
expecting too much from his pupil. The party breaks up.

At the Nuns' House, Helena and Rosa prepare for bed 
and exchange confidences. They promise each other 
friendship.  Rosa tells Helena of her situation with 
Drood, and admits, on Helena's questioning, that she 
knows that Jasper loves her. Jasper has never 
mentioned this to her directly, but she feels that 
"he has forced [her] to understand him; and forced 
[her] to keep silence, without his uttering a word." 
She feels threatened by him, but can't tell Drood 
about the problem because Drood is devoted to his 
uncle. Helena hugs her protectively.

Drood and Neville walk back from the Nuns' House
together after having escorted the ladies home.  The 
two talk about Drood's betrothal and the conversation 
begins to become heated. The "secret springs" of 
their discord arise from Neville's admiration for 
Rosa, and hence his indignant feeling that Drood is 
far below her and  doesn't appreciate his good 
fortune enough, as well as Drood's admiration 
of Helena and his indignation that her brother 
has "put him out of the way so entirely." 

While they are quarreling, Jasper appears behind 
them and gets them to declare a truce, afterwards 
inviting them both to his place for a drink.  
Jasper calls their attention to the portrait of 
Rosa (painted by Drood) that hangs in his rooms, 
which effectively restarts their quarrel. Jasper 
then prepares some mulled wine, "which seems to 
require much mixing and compounding," and they 
all drink.  The quarreling escalates, and Neville 
accuses Drood of being vain and "a common boaster." 
Drood makes an insulting allusion to Neville's 
dark skin, which infuriates Neville so much that 
he flings his wine dregs at Drood and tries to 
throw the goblet at him as well. Jasper prevents 
this, whereupon Neville throws the goblet into 
the grate and storms out of the house. 

After a few moment, Neville goes back to Minor 
Canon Corner and tells Mr. Crisparkle what has 
occurred. He states that he had very little to 
drink "and that it overcame [him] in the strangest 
and most sudden manner" and believes that the same 
was true of Drood. Neville states that Drood 
goaded him beyond endurance, and that he wanted
 to cut him down.  Mr. Crisparkle listens without 
comment and shows Neville to his bedroom, where 
Neville throws himself into a chair and bows 
his head "with an air of wretched self-reproach."  
Jasper then knocks on the outer door. He is there 
to return Neville's hat, and tells Crisparkle his 
version of the recent events.  Jasper declares 
that Neville was "murderous" and that he fears 
for his nephew's safety if the two are ever 
alone together again.

The next day, the rumor of what happened between 
Drood and Neville has gone through the whole town 
and "got into Miss Twinkleton's establishment 
before breakfast."  The account of the quarrel 
has been blown out of proportion, and Neville is 
accused of having thrown various and sundry articles 
(including a knife) at Drood.  Helena goes to talk 
with her brother and find out the truth of the 
matter, which she passes on to Rosa in a somewhat 
edited fashion, leaving out Rosa as a cause of 
the quarrel. She also tells Rosa that Neville 
has begged Rosa's forgiveness.

Later that day, Rosa's guardian, Mr. Grewgious, 
comes to visit her and discuss the terms of her 
father's will and her impending marriage.  Grewgious 
is "a man of incorruptible integrity," but one who 
feels uncomfortable with emotions and social 
relations. He gives Rosa a certified copy of her 
father's will and tells her that he proposes to 
give one to Jasper as well, as Drood's trustee. 
Rosa objects to this and says she doesn't want 
Jasper to come between her and Drood in any way.  

Rosa then questions Grewgious as to the legal status
of her and Edwin's "betrothal." He explains that 
it is simply a wish that the two fathers had, and 
that two young people can only be betrothed of their 
own free will.  There will be no adverse effects 
if either of them decide not to go through 
with the marriage. 

Grewgious asks Rosa if there's anything he can do 
for her concerning her affairs. She replies that she 
wants to settle them with Eddy first. He has apparently 
left Cloisterham that morning, but would return at 
Christmas, when everything would be wrapped up 
between them. Rosa asks Grewgious if she could 
ask him to come see her at Christmas if she had 
anything particular to say to him. He agrees, 
seeming honored by her request. 

Upon leaving the Nuns' House, Grewgious encounters 
Jasper, who tries to find out from him why he is 
in town. Grewgious explains that it was his duty 
to explain to Rosa that the betrothal could not be 
considered binding if either party wished to 
terminate it. Jasper summarizes what he has learned 
from Grewgious: "I understand that at Christmas they 
will complete their preparations for May, and that 
their marriage will be put in final train by 
themselves," leaving Jasper and Grewgious out of 
the planning.  Grewgious agrees with this summary. 
He prepares to take his leave of Jasper, saying "God 
bless them both!"  Jasper replies, "God save them both!"