The Drood Inquiry
Previous / Next

Durdle's Keys

When Mr Sapsea presented the key to his wife’s tomb to the stonemason Durdles, John Jasper appeared to take a great deal of interest not only in that object, but all the keys upon Durdles’s person.

‘Why Durdles!’ exclaims Jasper, looking on amused. ‘You are undermined with pockets!’

‘And I carries weight in ’em too, Mr Jasper. Feel those;’ producing two other large keys.

‘Hand me Mr. Sapsea’s likewise. Surely this is the heaviest of the three.’

‘You’ll find ’em much of a muchness, I expect,’ says Durdles. ‘They all belong to monuments. They all open Durdles’s work. Durdles keeps the keys of his work mostly. Not that they’re much used.’

Mr Jasper weighs the three keys in his hand, lifts his head from his idly stooping attitude over the fire, and delivers the keys to Durdles with an ingenious and friendly face.

When Jasper and Durdles visit the tombs, Durdles finds himself unaccountably drowsy after having drunk most of the wine kindly provided by Jasper, and in his sleep he has a dream:

He dreams of lying there, asleep, and yet counting his companion’s footsteps as he walks to and fro. He dreams that the footsteps die away into distance of time and of space, and that something touches him, and that something falls from his hand. Then something clinks and gropes about, and he dreams that he is alone for so long a time, that the lanes of light take new directions as the moon advances in her court.

When Durdles awoke, he noticed Jasper by his side, and ‘the keys of the crypt door lying close to where he himself lay.’ It has therefore been asked whether Jasper have taken the keys while Durdles slept - and if so, to what purpose. Could it be that Jasper has left something in one of the tombs? Or taken a copy of one of the keys for later use? And if so, which tomb does the key open – the Sapsea tomb, or the Drood tomb?