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Summary Chapter 20

Mr. Cruncher and his son are watching the traffic in front of Tellsons Bank. Mr. Cruncher supplements his salary from assisting women who come to Tellsons. Though they are usually elderly matrons, he often compliments them since it leads to a generous tip.

Lately, he has not been very prosperous. The crowd has decreased, the women are fewer, and his other line of work has not been profitable. He blames his wife for jinxing him with her prayers.

Two enormous processions pass by, going in opposite directions. One is a funeral. The other is a bunch of people who are harassing the hearse. The crowd is shouting that the deceased was a spy. Mr. Cruncher, who always finds funerals exciting, tries to find out who the deceased was. Most of the mob doesn’t know, but finally he comes across one person who does. The funeral is for Roger Cly, an Old Bailey spy. Mr. Cruncher remembers Mr. Cly from Charles Darnay’s trial.

The crowd assaults the one mourner, though he manages to get away. The tradespeople, knowing how dangerous the mob can be, close up their shops. The crowd then decides to hijack the hearse. The undertakers try to protest, but they quickly back down when they are threatened. Jerry Cruncher assists, though he is careful to remain out of view from Tellsons.

The hearse is driven to a church cemetery, where the mob buries Roger Cly in their own way. They then start assaulting innocent passerbyers on the road for being Old Bailey spies. The mob progresses to vandalism and looting. They finally disperse when a rumor goes around that the guards are coming.

Mr. Cruncher has remained behind at the cemetery and not participated in the later activities. He talks to the undertakers. He remarks on how strong and young Mr. Cly had been. Afterwards, he pays a visit to a physician. At quitting time, he and his son go home.

Mr. Cruncher informs his wife that if another deal goes awry, he will know she is praying against him. He confirms that he will be going out that night to go “fishing.” He warns his wife that if he is successful, she is not to deprive him out of meat or beer due to conscious of where their money comes from. She should think of her son, who is very thin.

In the very early morning hours, Mr. Cruncher sets out. His son, who was feigning sleep, follows him—curious as to what his father does. Two other men join Mr. Cruncher. They go to a graveyard. Jerry Jr. realizes his father is a grave robber. Fearing the corpse is chasing him, he runs home.

The next morning, he hears his father yelling and beating his mother, accusing her of interfering with his business. On the way to work, Jerry Jr. asks his father what a Resurrection Man is. His father replies that he is a tradesman that sells dead bodies to science. The boy, much braver in daylight, says he wants to become a Resurrection Man. His father cautions him on how he develops his talents, and to never say more to anyone than what is necessary. However, Mr. Cruncher Sr. is pleased with his son.

Charles Dickens