Welcome to Dover, England!
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Arrivals from Calais refer to this column:
When you finally arrive in Dover, England, you almost don't want to leave the ship due to the rich fellowship and discussion taking place with so many like-minded intellectuals and scholars. Who would have thought that the HMS Beagle would have so many interesting travellers to meet? However, your hesitancy to leave quickly dissipates when you open the door to your cabin because right in front of you, on the floor, lays an all too familiar postcard, but this time with a different message:
Arrivals from Dunkerque refer to this column:
You arrive in Dover, England first thing that morning on Thursday, 9 March, and immediately you exit the HMS Corgi and are awed by the sights of so many ships and people coming and going in a constant commotion of activitiy. When you step off the ship, a piece paper scuttles across the cobble stone sidewalk, eventually settling just at your feet. Looking down, you notice it's an ad promoting none other than "Boz" himself:
What a peculiar message! Cognomen? What could it mean? Immediately after reading it, you look left, then right, to see if anyone was nearby. All the way down the passenger hallway you see a woman walking speedily away, her back to you. You call to her to no success just as she rounds the corner and vanishes out of sight. Did she leave you this message? You decide to tuck the postcard into your front pocket before pursuing the mysterious woman. As you exit the HMS Beagle, you scan the crowd of travellers, sailors, and merchants, but she's nowhere to be found. It's a little past noon, so you decide to stop at one of the port cafes for a light lunch of cold meats, fruit, and something sweet. After feeling renewed and nourished, you make plans to proceed to the train station to determine what ticket to purchase to continue your journey to Northern England.
As you exit the cafe and turn towards the train station, a man comes running up behind shouting, "Excuse me! You there! You were on the HMS Beagle, correct?!? Cabin 15, right?" You turn around, confused and a bit startled. "Excuse me? Were you talking to me?" The man, catching his breath, replies, "Yes. You were a passenger in Cabin 15, no?" "Yes, that is true. How can I help you?" The man hands you a box with a mysterious lock whose combination must be a sequence of letters. "You left this in your room. I'm glad I caught you before it was too late." Perplexed, you look down at the box and stare at it intently for a brief moment. "But I didn't bring a box..." You stop mid-sentence once you look up to discover the man already was sprinting back to the dock, and there you were, box in hand, unable to make sense of what just happened.
Then something really strange happens. Someone walking by says with a smirking grin: "Check the postcard! The message contains the clue to the combination." What? How did they know you had a postcard? Were they... Dumbfounded, you speechlessly watch the passerby move into the distance without exchanging another word. The postcard! Yes, the postcard! Of course! Immediately, you return to the cafe, sit down, and order a refreshing beverage. You stare intently at the box in front of you along with the details of the peculiar lock that secures its contents. What if the answer to the riddle on the postcard is the key to opening the lock? Immediately, your mind races through possible responses to the cryptic riddle. Eventually you narrow it down to a handful of possible answers:
Curious! The same man you just finished learning about is giving a public reading in Dover the same day you disembarked from the HMS Corgi. What a coincidence! Or was it? You decide to delay travelling to the train station to attend the public appearance of one of England's more popular writers of the day. The discarded poster advertises that he'll be reading from his latest novel, David Copperfield.
When you enter the newly built Lord Warton Hotel, there is a crowd of people all fighting for a view of the celebrity writer as he reads from a passage about a character named Wilkins Micawber: "Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds nought and six, result misery." The author dramatically projects the words with a loud, animated voice that kept captive the attention of the standing-room-only audience. The line especially catches your attention because here was a man who had spent some time thinking about the secrets to human happiness. What might you learn from a writer like Charles Dickens about the most essential questions of human social existence? You were intrigued, and therefore decided there was no time to waste. Coketown was calling. The Congress of Conspirators would be convening soon (or would they? And who is "they"?), and you knew you couldn't miss out on the moment.
Before exiting, you decide to purchase a copy of the newly published, complete edition of the Dickens's latest novel to learn more about this Wilkins Micawber fellow (Read about him briefly before moving on).
His story reminded you of what you learned about John Dickens, and you were eager to share this knowledge and discuss its significance with someone soon! Perhaps there would be more fascinating company on the train you needed to catch to make your way to coketown.
As you head to the train station you notice a person outside a cafe near the docks holding a box, similar to the one you found, with the very same kind of lock. The person's expression is one of confusion. Playfully, you decide to say, "Check the postcard! The message contains the clue to the combination." The person looks up at you, speechless and taken aback, but you hurry along, chuckling to yourself. "I bet that person thinks I've lost my mind..."