The young man, Clarence, was a coward. He would not meet the fury in Mr Coombes’s eyes. Coombes rushed at him, fungi in hand. Jennie gave a shriek like a ghost and ran for the door, trying to escape. Mr Coombes followed her, but Clarence got in the way. With a crash, the tea table fell over as Coombes grabbed Clarence by the collar and tried to push the fungus into Clarence’s mouth. Clarence struggled free, happy to leave his collar in Mr Coombes’s hand as he escaped into the hall.
‘Run!’ Mrs Coombes cried. She wanted to shut the living room door, but her legs would not move. Jennie saw the shop door open at the back of the house. She ran in there and locked the door behind her. At the same time, Clarence ran into the kitchen, and Mrs Coombes ran upstairs and locked herself in the spare bedroom.
Standing in the hall, Mr Coombes hesitated. With a hat full of fungus under his arm, he considered where to go first. He decided on the kitchen. Clarence was still trying to lock the door. He heard Mr Coombes coming and ran for the back door. Mr Coombes caught Clarence before he could open the door to the yard. Mr Coombes told him that his face was a mess and dragged him to the kitchen sink and scrubbed his head under the tap with a hard black brush. After this, he gave Clarence his coat and Clarence was allowed to leave. Jennie was still locked in the shop, and she stayed there the rest of the evening.
Mr Coombes returned to the kitchen and drank the five bottles of beer that Mrs Coombes kept for ‘medical’ purposes. Then Mr Coombes ended that Sunday evening by having a long and peaceful sleep in the coal shed.