Chapters 17-20 Summary

Six months have passed, and Mr. Crisparkle is in London to meet with Mr. Honeythunder. They argue heatedly over Mr. Crisparkle’s support of Neville, with Mr. Honeythunder accusing him of not valuing the sanctity of life.

Mr. Crisparkle leaves, feeling that he gave as good as he got, and goes to see Neville. Living in attic rooms, Neville keeps up with his studies. He would like to go far away or even change his name, but that would imply guilt.

Mr. Crisparkle next visits Mr. Grewgious. They see Jasper, who seems to be “slinking around.” After dinner with Mr. Crisparkle, Neville returns home to find a stranger in his room. He introduces himself as his neighbor, Tartar. He is a former naval officer who has retired from the navy. Neville is astonished when Tartar leaves by the window to return to his own lodgings.

Dick Datchery arrives in Cloisterham and announces that he is staying for a month or more. He would like lodgings that are “inconvenient” and finds them at Mrs. Trope’s. He is given a tour of the Cathedral and seems very interested in Jasper and the disappearance of Edwin Drood.

Jasper comes to see Rosa, who is terrified of his presence. She has not seen him since Edwin’s disappearance and does not want to see him now. She agrees to meet him in the garden, not wanting to be shut up with him indoors. Jasper asks her when they can resume their music lessons, but Rosa says that she is done with them forever.

He reaches out to touch her, but she draws back. Angered, Jasper warns her that she might cause harm to others if she rejects him. He confesses to her that he loves her madly and warns her that no other admirer may love her and live, hinting at Neville Landless. He also tells her that her rejection of him may bring harm to her dear friend, Helena Landless. He leaves, and Rosa faints.

When she regains consciousness, Rosa decides she is not safe in Cloisterham. She packs her things, leaves a note to Miss Twinkleton that she had to see her guardian immediately, and leaves for London.

She arrives at Staple Inn, surprising Mr. Grewgious, who thinks she is her dead mother. She tells him about Jasper and his unwanted advances and begs him for protection. As Rosa eats and calms down, Grewgious tells her about his clerk, Bazzard, who feels he is misplaced in an office and hopes to have a tragedy he has written published and performed. Grewgious takes Rosa to Furnival’s Inn, where he arranges rooms for her.