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

time.

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.

Chapter 3

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

tail.

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.

Charles Dickens
Classic Literature Library
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