Helena MAY be Datchery, and yet Drood may be alive and biding his time; but I have disproved my old objection that there was no reason why Drood, if alive, should go spying about in disguise. There were good Dickensian reasons. Mr. Cuming Walters argues that the story is very tame if Edwin is still alive, and left out of the marriages at the close.
Datchery drops some money, stoops to pick it up, and reddens with the exertion as he asks: 'How do you know the young gentleman's name? 'I asked him for it, and he told it me. I only asked him the two questions, what was his Chris'en name, and whether he'd a sweetheart? And he answered, Edwin, and he hadn't. Mr.
Jasper "never saw THAT" the dead body below the height before. THIS vision, I think, is of the future, not of the past, and is meant to bewilder the reader who thinks that the whole represents the slaying of Drood. The tale is rich in "warnings" and telepathy. The hag now tracks Jasper home to Cloisterham. Here she meets Datchery, whom she asks how she can see Jasper?
The disguise of a woman as a man is as ancient as the art of fiction: yet Helena MAY be Datchery, though nobody guessed it before Mr. Cuming Walters. She ought not to be Datchery; she is quite out of keeping in her speech and manner as Datchery, and is much more like Drood. There are no new ideas in plots. "All the stories have been told," and all the merit lies in the manner of the telling.
But to make the spy A YOUNG man, whether the spy was Drood or Helena Landless, was too difficult; and therefore Dickens makes Datchery "an elderly buffer" in a white wig. If I am right, it was easier for Helena, a girl, to pose as a young man, than for Drood to reappear as a young man, not himself.
It is not enough that justice should be morally certain; she must be immorally certain legally, that is. 'His Honour, said Mr. Datchery, 'reminds me of the nature of the law. Immoral. How true! 'As I say, sir, pompously went on the Mayor, 'the arm of the law is a strong arm, and a long arm. That is the may I put it. A strong arm and a long arm. 'How forcible!
Jasper could answer for that without the slightest hesitation. 'That is enough, sir, said Mr. Datchery. 'My friend the Mayor, added Mr. Jasper, presenting Mr. Datchery with a courtly motion of his hand towards that potentate; 'whose recommendation is actually much more important to a stranger than that of an obscure person like myself, will testify in their behalf, I am sure.
The doom of Landless is conspicuously fixed, and why is Landless to be killed by Jasper? Merely to have a count on which to hang Jasper! He cannot be hanged for killing Drood, if Drood is alive. Mr. Proctor next supposes that Datchery and others, by aid of the opium hag, have found out a great deal of evidence against Jasper.
If Helena is Datchery, the "assumption" or personation is in the highest degree improbable, her whole bearing is quite out of her possibilities, and the personation is very absurd. Here the story ends. We have some external evidence as to Dickens's solution of his own problem, from Forster.
Datchery pauses with the selected coins in his hand, rather as if he were falling into a brown study of their value, and couldn't bear to part with them. The woman looks at him distrustfully, and with her anger brewing for the event of his thinking better of the gift; but he bestows it on her as if he were abstracting his mind from the sacrifice, and with many servile thanks she goes her way.