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The Pickwick Papers 66







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The Pickwick Papers

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have been seen pacing the churchyard to and fro, while Mr. Pickwick was engaged in combating his companions resolution. Any repetition of his arguments would be useless; for what language could convey to them that energy and force which their great originators manner communicated? Whether Mr. Tupman was already tired of retirement, or whether he was wholly unable to resist the eloquent appeal which was made to him, matters not, he did NOT resist it at last. It mattered little to him, he said, where he dragged out the miserable remainder of his days; and since his friend laid so much stress upon his humble companionship, he was willing to share his adventures. Mr. Pickwick smiled; they shook hands, and walked back to rejoin their companions. It was at this moment that Mr. Pickwick made that immortal discovery, which has been the pride and boast of his friends, and the envy of every antiquarian in this or any other country. They had passed the door of their inn, and walked a little way down the village, before they recollected the precise spot in which it stood. As they turned back, Mr. Pickwicks eye fell upon a small broken stone, partially buried in the ground, in front of a cottage door. He paused. This is very strange, said Mr. Pickwick. What is strange? inquired Mr. Tupman, staring eagerly at every object near him, but the right one. God bless me, whats the matter? This last was an ejaculation of irrepressible astonishment, occasioned by seeing Mr. Pickwick, in his enthusiasm for discovery, fall on his knees before the little stone, and commence wiping the dust off it with his pocket-handkerchief. There is an inscription here, said Mr. Pickwick. Is it possible? said Mr. Tupman. I can discern,continued Mr. Pickwick, rubbing away with all his might, and gazing intently through his spectacles--I can discern a cross, and a 13, and then a T. This is important, continued Mr. Pickwick, starting up. This is some very old inscription, existing perhaps long before the ancient alms-houses in this place. It must not be lost. He tapped at the cottage door. A labouring man opened it. Do you know how this stone came here, my friend? inquired the benevolent Mr. Pickwick. No, I doant, Sir, replied the man civilly. It was here long afore I was born, or any on us. Mr. Pickwick glanced triumphantly at his companion. You--you--are not particularly attached to it, I dare say, said Mr. Pickwick, trembling with anxiety. You wouldnt mind selling it, now? Ah! but whod buy it? inquired the man, with an expression of face which he probably meant to be very cunning. Ill give you ten shillings for it, at once, said Mr. Pickwick, if you would take it up for me. The astonishment of the village may be easily imagined, when (the little stone having been raised with one wrench of a spade) Mr. Pickwick, by dint of great personal exertion, bore it with his own hands to the inn, and after having carefully washed it, deposited it on the table. The exultation and joy of the Pickwickians knew no bounds, when their patience and assiduity, their washing and scraping, were crowned with success. The stone was uneven and broken, and the letters were straggling and irregular, but the following fragment of an inscription was clearly to be deciphered:-- [cross] B I L S T u m P S H I S. M. ARK Mr. Pickwicks eyes sparkled with delight, as he sat and gloated over the treasure he had discovered. He had attained one of the greatest objects of his ambition. In a county known to abound in the remains of the early ages; in a village in which there still existed some memorials of the olden time, he--he, the chairman of the Pickwick Club--had discovered a strange and curious inscription of unquestionable antiquity, which had wholly escaped the observation of the many learned men who had preceded him. He could hardly trust the evidence of

The Pickwick Papers page 65        The Pickwick Papers page 67