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monstrous giant. They did not creep far, before they stopped and
stood upright. And then they began to fish.
They fished with a spade, at first. Presently the honoured parent
appeared to be adjusting some instrument like a great corkscrew.
Whatever tools they worked with, they worked hard, until the
awful striking of the church clock so terrified Young Jerry, that he
made off, with his hair as stiff as his father’s.
But, his long-cherished desire to know more about these matters,
not only stopped him in his running away, but lured him back
again. They were still fishing perseveringly, when he peeped in at
the gate for the second time; but, now they seemed to have got a
bite. There was a screwing and complaining sound down below,
and their bent figures were strained, as if by a weight. By slow
degrees the weight broke away the earth upon it, and came to the
surface. Young Jerry very well knew what it would be; but, when
he saw it, and saw his honoured parent about to wrench it open, he
was so frightened, being new to the sight, that he made off again,
and never stopped until he had run a mile or more.
He would not have stopped then, for anything less necessary than
breath, it being a spectral sort of race that he ran, and one highly
desirable to get to the end of. He had a strong idea that the coffin
he had seen was running after him; and, pictured as hopping on
behind him, bolt upright, upon its narrow end, always on the point
of overtaking him and hopping on at his side-perhaps taking his
arm-it was a pursuer to shun. It was an inconsistent and
ubiquitous fiend too, for, while it was making the whole night
behind him dreadful, he darted out into the roadway to avoid dark
alleys, fearful of its coming hopping out of them like a dropsical
boy’s-Kite without tail and wings. It hid in doorways too, rubbing
its horrible shoulders against doors, and drawing them up to its
ears, as if it were laughing. It got into shadows on the road, and lay
cunningly on its back to trip him up. All this time it was
incessantly hopping on behind and gaining on him, so that when
the boy got to his own door he had reason for being half dead. And
even then it would not leave him, but followed him upstairs with a
bump on every stair, scrambled into bed with him, and bumped
down, dead and heavy, on his breast when he fell asleep.
From his oppressed slumber, Young Jerry in his closet was
awakened after daybreak and before sunrise, by the presence of his
father in the family room.
Something had gone wrong with him; at least, so Young Jerry
inferred, from the circumstance of his holding Mrs. Cruncher by
the ears, and knocking the back of her head against the head-board
of the bed.