On a summer’s day, John Jasper has come to call on Rosa Bud much to her horror. “If he had chosen his time for finding her at a disadvantage, he could have done no better. Perhaps he has chosen it.” Rosa was utterly alone.
Reluctantly, she resolves to meet him in the garden. There by the sun-dial she is drawn to him. “He would begin by touching her hand. She feels the intention, and draws her hand back. His eyes are then fixed upon her, she knows, though her own see nothing by the grass.”
Jasper wishes her to resume her music studies with him, but she is resolved to leave off that study. It’s not long after that Jasper confesses what Rosa has sensed all along.
“Even when my dear boy was affianced to you, I loved you madly; even when I thought his happiness in having you for his wife was certain, I loved you madly.”
Rosa accuses him of having been false in presumably hiding this “secret.”
Further Jasper elucidates, “Judge for yourself whether any other admirer shall love you and live, whose live is in my hand.” There is a thinly veiled intimation that Jasper might have swept Drood from her side and my condemn Neville for the crime.
“Circumstance may accumulate so strongly even against an innocent man, that, directed, sharpened, and pointed, they may slay him.”
Whether guilty or not of murder, Chapter Nineteen fully establishes Jasper’s villainy and intentions toward Rosa Bud. “No one should come between us. I would pursue you to the death.”
Rosa’s plight continues in Chapter Twenty. “But where could she take refuge, and how could she go?”
She recognizes Jasper’s “self-absorption in his nephew when he was alive, and his unceasing pursuit of the inquiry how he came by his death, if he were dead, were themes so rife in the place, that no one appeared able to suspect the possibility of foul play at his hands.” She reasons out his likely guilt and the reasons for it all being to possess her.
She hastens to London and to her guardian, Hiram Grewgious, who vows to protect her. She relates to him what had transpired between her and Jasper in the garden. Grewgious in turn alleviates her anxieties and sets her up with lodgings in London under his protection.
On a side note: Grewgious makes mention of his clerk, Bazzard. “He is off duty here, altogether, just at present.” This allows for the possibility of Bazzard being employed by Grewgious as the mysterious Datchery.
These two chapters would make it seem more than ever that Jasper is the killer of his nephew, but would Jasper’s villainy entail taking credit for someone else’s crimes to further his own ends?
Stop by next week for Chapters Twenty-One and Twenty-Two.