Involving another journey, and an antiquarian discovery. Recording Mr. Pickwick's determination to be present at an election; and containing a manuscript of the old clergyman's
A NIGHT of quiet and repose in the profound silence of Dingley Dell, and an hour's breathing of its fresh and fragrant air on the ensuing morning, completely recovered Mr. Pickwick from the effects of his late fatigue of body and anxiety of mind. That illustrious man had been separated from his friends and followers, for two whole days; and it was with a degree of pleasure and delight, which no common imagination can adequately conceive, that he stepped forward to greet Mr. Winkle and Mr. Snodgrass, as he encountered those gentlemen on his return from his early walk. The pleasure was mutual; for who could ever gaze on Mr. Pickwick's beaming face without experiencing the sensation? But still a cloud seemed to hang over his companions which that great man could not but be sensible of, and was wholly at a loss to account for. There was a mysterious air about them both, as unusual as it was alarming.
"And how," said Mr. Pickwick, when he had grasped his followers by the hand, and exchanged warm salutations of welcome; "how is Tupman?"
Mr. Winkle, to whom the question was more peculiarly addressed, made no reply. He turned away his head, and appeared absorbed in melancholy reflections.
"Snodgrass," said Mr. Pickwick, earnestly, "How is our friend--he is not ill?"
"No," replied Mr. Snodgrass; and a tear trembled on his sentimental eye-lid, like a rain-drop on a window- frame. "No; he is not ill."
Mr. Pickwick stopped, and gazed on each of his friends in turn.
"Winkle--Snodgrass," said Mr. Pickwick: "what does this mean? Where is our friend? What has happened? Speak--I conjure, I entreat--nay, I command you, speak."
There was a solemnity--a dignity--in Mr. Pickwick's manner, not to be withstood.
"He is gone," said Mr. Snodgrass.
"Gone!" exclaimed Mr. Pickwick. "Gone!"
"Gone," repeated Mr. Snodgrass.
"Where!" ejaculated Mr. Pickwick.
"We can only guess from that communication," replied Mr. Snodgrass, taking a letter from his pocket, and placing it in his friend's hand. "Yesterday morning, when a letter was received from Mr. Wardle, stating that you would be home with his sister at night, the melancholy which had hung over our friend during the whole of the previous day, was observed to increase. He shortly afterwards disappeared: he was missing during the whole day, and in the evening this letter was brought by the hostler from the Crown, at Muggleton. It had been left in his charge in the morning, with a strict injunction that it should not be delivered until night."
Mr. Pickwick opened the epistle. It was in his friend's handwriting, and these were its contents:--
"My dear Pickwick,
"You, my dear friend, are placed far beyond the reach of many mortal frailties and weaknesses which ordinary people cannot overcome. You do not know what it is, at one blow, to be deserted by a lovely and fascinating creature, and to fall a victim to the artifices of a villain, who hid the grin of cunning, beneath the mask of friendship. I hope you never may.
"Any letter, addressed to me at the Leather Bottle, Cobham, Kent, will be forwarded--supposing I still exist. I hasten from the sight of that world, which has become odious to me. Should I hasten from it altogether, pity--forgive me. Life, my dear Pickwick, has become insupportable to me. The spirit which
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