I was nearly going away without the pie,
but I was tempted to mount upon a shelf, to look what it was that
was put away so carefully in a covered earthen ware dish in a
corner, and I found it was the pie, and I took it, in the hope that
it was not intended for early use, and would not be missed for some
There was a door in the kitchen, communicating with the forge; I
unlocked and unbolted that door, and got a file from among Joe's
tools. Then, I put the fastenings as I had found them, opened the
door at which I had entered when I ran home last night, shut it,
and ran for the misty marshes.
It was a rimy morning, and very damp. I had seen the damp lying on
the outside of my little window, as if some goblin had been crying
there all night, and using the window for a pocket-handkerchief.
Now, I saw the damp lying on the bare hedges and spare grass, like
a coarser sort of spiders' webs; hanging itself from twig to twig
and blade to blade. On every rail and gate, wet lay clammy; and the
marsh-mist was so thick, that the wooden finger on the post
directing people to our village - a direction which they never
accepted, for they never came there - was invisible to me until I
was quite close under it. Then, as I looked up at it, while it
dripped, it seemed to my oppressed conscience like a phantom
devoting me to the Hulks.
The mist was heavier yet when I got out upon the marshes, so that
instead of my running at everything, everything seemed to run at
me. This was very disagreeable to a guilty mind. The gates and
dykes and banks came bursting at me through the mist, as if they
cried as plainly as could be, "A boy with Somebody-else's pork pie!
Stop him!" The cattle came upon me with like suddenness, staring
out of their eyes, and steaming out of their nostrils, "Holloa,
young thief!" One black ox, with a white cravat on - who even had
to my awakened conscience something of a clerical air - fixed me so
obstinately with his eyes, and moved his blunt head round in such
an accusatory manner as I moved round, that I blubbered out to him,
"I couldn't help it, sir! It wasn't for myself I took it!" Upon
which he put down his head, blew a cloud of smoke out of his nose,
and vanished with a kick-up of his hind-legs and a flourish of his
All this time, I was getting on towards the river; but however fast
I went, I couldn't warm my feet, to which the damp cold seemed
riveted, as the iron was riveted to the leg of the man I was
running to meet. I knew my way to the Battery, pretty straight, for
I had been down there on a Sunday with Joe, and Joe, sitting on an
old gun, had told me that when I was 'prentice to him regularly
bound, we would have such Larks there! However, in the confusion of
the mist, I found myself at last too far to the right, and
consequently had to try back along the river-side, on the bank of
loose stones above the mud and the stakes that staked the tide out.
Making my way along here with all despatch, I had just crossed a
ditch which I knew to be very near the Battery, and had just
scrambled up the mound beyond the ditch, when I saw the man sitting
before me. His back was towards me, and he had his arms folded, and
was nodding forward, heavy with sleep.
I thought he would be more glad if I came upon him with his
breakfast, in that unexpected manner, so I went forward softly and
touched him on the shoulder. He instantly jumped up, and it was not
the same man, but another man!
And yet this man was dressed in coarse grey, too, and had a great
iron on his leg, and was lame, and hoarse, and cold, and was
everything that the other man was; except that he had not the same
face, and had a flat broad-brimmed low-crowned felt that on. All
this, I saw in a moment, for I had only a moment to see it in: he
swore an oath at me, made a hit at me - it was a round weak blow
that missed me and almost knocked himself down, for it made him
stumble - and then he ran into the mist, stumbling twice as he went,
and I lost him.