The Story of the Goblins Who Stole a Sexton
by Charles Dickens
In eight parts. Click here to begin at the beginning.
The goblin grinned a broader grin than before, as he said, “Well, Gabriel, what do you say to this?”
The sexton gasped for breath.
“What do you think of this, Gabriel?” said the goblin, kicking up his feet in the air on either side of the tombstone, and looking at the turned-up points with as much complacency as if he had been contemplating the most fashionable pair of Wellingtons in all Bond Street.
“It’s – it’s – very curious, Sir,” replied the sexton, half dead with fright; “very curious, and very pretty, but I think I’ll go back and finish my work, Sir, if you please.”
“Work!” said the goblin, “what work?”
“The grave, Sir; making the grave,” stammered the sexton.
“Oh, the grave, eh?” said the goblin; “who makes graves at a time when all other men are merry, and takes a pleasure in it?”
Again the mysterious voices replied, “Gabriel Grub! Gabriel Grub!”
“I am afraid my friends want you, Gabriel,” said the goblin, thrusting his tongue farther into his cheek than ever – and a most astonishing tongue it was – “I’m afraid my friends want you, Gabriel,” said the goblin.
“Under favour, Sir,” replied the horror-stricken sexton, “I don’t think they can, Sir; they don’t know me, Sir; I don’t think the gentlemen have ever seen me, Sir.”
“Oh, yes, they have,” replied the goblin; “we know the man with the sulky face and grim scowl, that came down the street to-night, throwing his evil looks at the children, and grasping his burying-spade the tighter. We know the man who struck the boy in the envious malice of his heart, because the boy could be merry, and he could not. We know him, we know him.”
Here, the goblin gave a loud, shrill laugh, which the echoes returned twentyfold; and throwing his legs up in the air, stood upon his head, or rather upon the very point of his sugar-loaf hat, on the narrow edge of the tombstone, whence he threw a Somerset with extraordinary agility, right to the sexton’s feet, at which he planted himself in the attitude in which tailors generally sit upon the shop-board.
“I – I – am afraid I must leave you, Sir,” said the sexton, making an effort to move.
“Leave us!” said the goblin, “Gabriel Grub going to leave us. Ho! ho! ho!”
As the goblin laughed, the sexton observed, for one instant, a brilliant illumination within the windows of the church, as if the whole building were lighted up; it disappeared, the organ pealed forth a lively air, and whole troops of goblins, the very counterpart of the first one, poured into the churchyard, and began playing at leap-frog with the tombstones, never stopping for an instant to take breath, but “overing” the highest among them, one after the other, with the most marvellous dexterity. The first goblin was a most astonishing leaper, and none of the others could come near him; even in the extremity of his terror the sexton could not help observing, that while his friends were content to leap over the common-sized gravestones, the first one took the family vaults, iron railings and all, with as much ease as if they had been so many street-posts. continued Monday