John Jasper,opium-addicted choirmaster at Cloisterham cathedral,lusts after Rosa Bud,schoolgirl betrothed of his nephew Edwin Drood and fantasises about killing the boy. Edwin himself will inherit a fortune if he marries fellow orphan Rosa. Two other orphans,twins Helena and Neville Landless,arrive from Ceylon to complete their education,thanks to kindly vicar Crisparkle and his mother. Helena gets on well with Rosa but there is antipathy between Neville and Edwin who end up brawling. Neville also tells Reverend Crisparkle that he attacked his brutal stepfather and alerts the vicar to Jasper's attitude to Rosa. Edwin is also informed about this obsession by Princess Puffer,who owns the opium den frequented by his uncle,who is disconcerted by her visit. Next evening Jasper invites Neville and Edwin to a drug-fuelled evening at his house,after which the boys walk home together.
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