His face turned black, the gore rushed from his mouth and nose, and dyed the grass a deep, dark red, as he staggered and fell. He had ruptured a blood-vessel, and he was a dead man before his son could raise him. 'In that corner of the churchyard,' said the old gentleman, after a silence of a few moments, 'in that corner of the churchyard of which I have before spoken, there lies buried a man who was in my employment for three years after this event, and who was truly contrite, penitent, and humbled, if ever man was. No one save myself knew in that man's lifetime who he was, or whence he came--it was John Edmunds, the returned convict.'
CHAPTER VII HOW Mr. WINKLE, INSTEAD OF SHOOTING AT THE PIGEON AND KILLING THE CROW, SHOT AT THE CROW AND WOUNDED THE PIGEON; HOW THE DINGLEY DELL CRICKET CLUB PLAYED ALL-MUGGLETON, AND HOW ALL- MUGGLETON DINED AT THE DINGLEY DELL EXPENSE; WITH OTHER INTERESTING AND INSTRUCTIVE MATTERS
The fatiguing adventures of the day or the somniferous influence of the clergyman's tale operated so strongly on the drowsy tendencies of Mr. Pickwick, that in less than five minutes after he had been shown to his comfortable bedroom he fell into a sound and dreamless sleep, from which he was only awakened by the morning sun darting his bright beams reproachfully into the apartment. Mr. Pickwick was no sluggard, and he sprang like an ardent warrior from his tent-bedstead.
'Pleasant, pleasant country,' sighed the enthusiastic gentleman, as he opened his lattice window. 'Who could live to gaze from day to day on bricks and slates who had once felt the influence of a scene like this? Who could continue to exist where there are no cows but the cows on the chimney-pots; nothing redolent of Pan but pan-tiles; no crop but stone crop? Who could bear to drag out a life in such a spot? Who, I ask, could endure it?' and, having cross-examined solitude after the most approved precedents, at considerable length, Mr. Pickwick thrust his head out of the lattice and looked around him.
The rich, sweet smell of the hay-ricks rose to his chamber window; the hundred perfumes of the little flower-garden beneath scented the air around; the deep-green meadows shone in the morning dew that glistened on every leaf as it trembled in the gentle air; and the birds sang as if every sparkling drop were to them a fountain of inspiration. Mr. Pickwick fell into an enchanting and delicious reverie.
'Hollo!' was the sound that roused him.
He looked to the right, but he saw nobody; his eyes wandered to the left, and pierced the prospect; he stared into the sky, but he wasn't wanted there; and then he did what a common mind would have done at once--looked into the garden, and there saw Mr. Wardle. 'How are you?' said the good-humoured individual, out of breath with his own anticipations of pleasure.'Beautiful morning, ain't it? Glad to see you up so early. Make haste down, and come out. I'll wait for you here.' Mr. Pickwick needed no second invitation. Ten minutes sufficed for the completion of his toilet, and at the expiration of that time he was by the old gentleman's side.
'Hollo!' said Mr. Pickwick in his turn, seeing that his companion was armed with a gun, and that another lay ready on the grass; 'what's going forward?'
'Why, your friend and I,' replied the host, 'are going out rook- shooting before breakfast. He's a very good shot, ain't he?'
'I've heard him say he's a capital one,' replied Mr. Pickwick, 'but I never saw him aim at anything.'
'Well,' said the host, 'I wish he'd come. Joe--Joe!'
The fat boy, who under the exciting influence of the morning did not appear to be more than three parts and a fraction asleep, emerged from the house.
'Go up, and call the gentleman, and tell him he'll find me and Mr. Pickwick in the rookery. Show the gentleman the way there; d'ye hear?'
The boy departed to execute his commission; and the host, carrying both guns like a second Robinson Crusoe, led the way from the garden.
'This is the place,' said the old gentleman, pausing after a few minutes walking, in an avenue of trees.