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A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens
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A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens

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A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Part of our new Christmas series of ebooks. Gloucester, Virginia Links and News website. Merry Christmas. Visit us.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Part of our new Christmas series of ebooks. Gloucester, Virginia Links and News website. Merry Christmas. Visit us.

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  • 1. A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
  • 2. VI. A CHRISTMAS CAROL. STAVE ONE. marley's ghost. [We hardly know recommend of anything better to than the following exquisite masterpiece of Dickens, for hearts that have grown dull to the real joy of Christmas tide.] Marley was dead, to begin with. doubt whatever about burial The that. There was signed by the clergyman, the the undertaker, and the chief mourner. signed And it. Scrooge's is no register of his clerk, Scrooge name was good upon 'Change for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as Mind! my own I don't mean a door-nail. to say that knowledge, what there dead about a door-nail. inclined, myself, I is I know, of particularly might have been to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. the wisdom my unhallowed hands of our ancestors country's done for. is in shall not disturb You 8i But the simile; and it, will therefore or the permit
  • 3. . 81 Christmas - Tide me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail. Scrooge knew he was dead? did. How could were partners for Of course he be otherwise? Scrooge and he it don't I know how many years. Scrooge was his sole executor, his sole administrator, his sole assign, his sole residuary legatee, And and sole mourner. his sole friend, even Scrooge was not so dreadfully cut up by the sad man event but that he was an excellent of busi- ness on the very day of the funeral, and solemnized it with an undoubted bargain. The mention of Marley's funeral brings back to the point I doubt that Marley was dead. come were or understood, tinctly of the story not nothing wonderful am going to I convinced perfectly relate. can If we Hamlet's that father died before the play began, there be nothing more remarkable at night, in me There is no This must be dis- started from. would in his taking a stroll an easterly wind, upon his own ram- would be parts, than there in any other middle- aged gentleman rashly turning out after dark a breezy spot instance — — say Saint Paul's churchyard, literally to astonish his son's in for weak mind. Scrooge name. never There it painted out old Marley's stood, years afterwards, above
  • 4. A Christmas Carol. 83 The Some- the warehouse door: Scrooge and Marley. firm was known as Scrooge new people times and Marley. business the to called Scrooge, Scrooge, and sometimes Marley, but he answered to both names. It was all same the to him. Oh, but he was a grindstone, Scrooge! hand tight-fisted a squeezing, at the wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sin- Hard and sharp as flint, from which no had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, ner! steel nipped his pointed nose, shriveled his cheek, stiffened his gait; A voice. made his eyes red, and spoke out shrewdly lips blue; frosty rime his eyebrows, and his was on his thin in his grating his head, wiry chin. and on He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog-days, and didn't it one degree at External heat and cold had Scrooge. weather little influence on No warmth could warm, no wintry chill him. No wind that blew was bit- terer than he, upon thaw Christmas. no falling snow was more intent its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty. Foul weather didn't know where to have him. The heaviest rain, and snow, and
  • 5. , Christmas-Tide. 84 hail, over and could boast of the advantage sleet, him one only in respect — they often "came down" handsomely, and Scrooge never did. Nobody ever stopped him with gladsome looks, "My in the street to say, how dear Scrooge, When will you come to see me?" No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no children asked him what it was o'clock, no man or are you? woman ever once in to such way Even his life inquired the all and such a place, of Scrooge. the blind men's dogs appeared to know him; and when they saw him coming on, would tug their owners then would "No into wag eye at is all doorways and up courts; and though they their tails as said, better than an evil eye, dark master!" But what did Scrooge care! thing he To edge It was the very way along the warning all human sym- liked. his crowded paths of life, pathy to keep its distance, was what the knowing ones call "nuts" to Scrooge. Once upon a time — of the year, on Christmas busy in his counting-house. biting weather, all Eve the good days in — old Scrooge sat It was cold, bleak, foggy withal, and he could hear the people in the court outside go wheezing up and down, beating their hands upon their breasts,
  • 6. — A and stamping stones to just it Christmas Carol. them. gone three, but had not been upon the pavement city clocks had only- feet their warm it 85 The was quite dark already day and candles were — light all windows of the neighboring offices, like ruddy smears upon the palpable brown air. The fog came pouring in at every chink and keyhole, and was so dense without, that although the court was of the narrowest, the houses opposite were mere phantoms. To see the dingy flaring in the cloud come drooping down, obscuring everything, one might have thought that nature lived hard by, and was brewing on a The door large scale. of Scrooge's counting-house was open that he might keep his eye who beyond, a sort of tank, in a dismal little cell was copying fire, that letters. but the clerk's it fire it, for own room; and his clerk, Scrooge had a very small was so very much smaller looked like one coal. replenish upon But he couldn't Scrooge kept the coal-box so surely as the clerk with the shovel, the master predicted that be necessary for them to part. in his came it in would Wherefore the clerk put on his white comforter, and tried to warm himself at the candle; in which effort, not being a "A man of a strong imagination, he failed. merry Christmas, you!" cried a cheerful uncle! voice. It God save was the voice
  • 7. ' Christmas - Tide. 86 of Scrooge's nephew, who came upon him quickly that this was the first so intimation he had of his approach. "Bah!" He "Humbug!" said Scrooge, had so heated himself with rapid walking and frost, this nephew of Scrooge's, was all in a glow; his face was ruddy and handsome; his eyes sparkled, and his breath smoked again. "Christmas a humbug, uncle!" said Scrooge's in the fog that he "You nephew. "I do," What right don't mean said Scrooge. have you to be merry? "Come, then," returned right What have you to sure." reason the nephew, gayly. be dismal.? reason have you to be morose.? enough. am You're poor enough." have you to be merry.? "What that, I "Merry Christmas! What You're rich ' Scrooge having no better answer ready on the spur of the moment, said followed "Don't be "What "when I "Bah!" again; and up with "Humbug!" it cross, uncle!" said the else live can in I nephew. be," returned the uncle, such a world of fools as this.? Merry Christmas! Out upon merry Christmas! What's Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer; a
  • 8. A Christmas Carol. 87 time for balancing your books and having every item in 'em through a round dozen of months presented dead against you? my will," Scrooge, said If could work I "every indignantly, who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, idiot his and buried with a stake of holly through He heart. his should!" "Uncle!" pleaded the nephew, "Nephew!" returned "keep Christmas keep it in mine." "Keep the "but you don't keep "Let me leave it "Much good may it sternly, let me nephew, Scrooge's repeated it," uncle, your own way, and in it." alone, then," said Scrooge. Much good do you! it has ever done you!" "There are many things from which have derived good, by which I I might dare say," returned the nephew, "Christmas among But the rest. I am sure I thought of Christmas time, when round — apart sacred it I have not profited, name and forgiving, only time year, I has come from the veneration due to origin, if can be apart from that kind, have always it — as charitable, know of, in its anything belonging to a good time; a pleasant time; the the long calendar of the when men and women seem by one con-
  • 9. ' Christmas- Tide. sent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. therefore, uncle, though of gold or silver in has done me my it pocket, good, and will do God bless it!" The clerk in the And has never put a scrap I believe that me good; and it I say, tank involuntarily applauded. Becoming immediately sensible of the impropriety, he poked the fire, and extinguished the last frail spark forever. "Let me hear another sound from you,'' said Scrooge, "and you'll keep your Christmas by losing your situation! speaker, ' sir, You're quite a powerful he added, turning to his nephew. ' "I wonder you don't go into Parliament." "Don't be angry, uncle. Come dine with us to-morrow. ' Scrooge said that he would see him — yes, He went the whole length of the expression, and said that he would see him indeed he did. in that extremity first. "But why?" cried Scrooge's nephew. "Why?" "Why did you get married?" said Scrooge, "Because I fell in love." "Because you fell in love!" growled Scrooge,
  • 10. A as were the only one thing that if more Christmas Carol. ridiculous than a world in the ' merry Christmas. ' Good afternoon!" "Nay, you never came uncle, but Why before that happened. for not give why cannot we be I ask nothing of friends?" "Good afternoon," said Scrooge. "I am sorry, with all We so resolute. which the my me afternoon," said Scrooge. "I want nothing from you; to to see as a reason coming now.?" "Good you; it my have been a party. I heart, to find But I have made homage to Christmas, and Christmas humor to the last. So, in trial you have never had any quarrel, I'll keep merry a Christmas, uncle!" "Good "And afternoon!" said Scrooge. a happy His nephew word, New left the Year!" room without an angry He notwithstanding. stopped at the outer door to bestow the greetings of the season on the clerk, who, cold as he was, was warmer than Scrooge; for he returned them cordially. "There's another fellow," muttered Scrooge, who overheard him: shillings a "my about a merry Christmas, lam." clerk, with fifteen week, and a wife and family, talking I'll retire to Bed-
  • 11. ' Christmas- Tide. 90 This lunatic, in letting Scrooge's nephew out, had let two other people They were now in. gentlemen, pleasant to behold, and with their hats off, in had books and papers Scrooge's in their portly stood, They bowed office. hands, and to him. "Scrooge andMarley's, I believe," said one of the gentlemen, referring to his I list. the pleasure of addressing Mr. "Have Scrooge, or Mr. Marley.?" "Mr. Marley has been dead these seven years," Scrooge replied. "He died seven years ago, this very night." "We have no doubt his liberality is well sented by his surviving partner, man, presenting It certainly dred spirits. this ' repre- said the gentle- his credentials. was; for they had been two kin- At the ominous word Scrooge frowned, and shook handed the credentials back. "At ' festive ' ' liberality, ' head, and season of the year, Mr. his Scrooge," said the gentleman, taking up a pen, "it is more than usually desirable that we should make some provision for the poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are comforts, sir." in want of common
  • 12. A "Are Christmas Carol. there no prisons?" asked Scrooge. "Plenty of prisons," laying down "And gentleman, the Union workhouses?" demanded "Are "They "The said the pen again. the they are. Still," returned the Scrooge. "I wish 91 I still in operation?" gentleman, could say they were not." Treadmill and the Poor Law ,. are in full then?" said Scrooge. vigor, "Both very busy, sir." "Oh! I was afraid, from what you first, in that something their useful had occurred said at to stop course," said Scrooge. them "I'm very glad to hear it." "Under the impression that furnish Christian cheer of they scarcely mind or body multitude," returned the gentleman, to the "a few of us are endeavoring to raise a fund to buy the poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because others, when want is keenly it felt, is a time, of all and abundance What shall I put you down for?" "Nothing!" Scrooge replied. "You wish to be anonymous?" "I wish to be left alone," said Scrooge. "Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don't make merry myself at Christmas, and I can't afford to make idle rejoices.
  • 13. ' Christmas - Tide. 92 people merry. ments those I I help to support the establish- who are badly off "Many rather die. — they cost enough; and must go there." can't go there, and many would have mentioned ' "If they would rather die," said Scrooge, "they had beter do population. Besides it, and decrease the surplus — excuse me — I don't know that." "But you might know it," observed the gentleman. "It's not my business," Scrooge returned. "It's enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people's. Mine occupies me constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen!" Seeing clearly that pursue their point, Scrooge resumed his it the would be useless to gentlemen withdrew. labors with an improved opinion of himself, and in a more facetious tem- per than was usual with him. Meanwhile the fog and darkness thickened so that people ran about with flaring links, proffering their services to go before horses in carriages, and conduct them on their way. The ancient tower of a church, whose gruff old bell was always peeping slily down at Scrooge out of a gothic window in the wall, became invisible.
  • 14. A Christmas Carol. and struck the hours and quarters with tremulous vibrations teeth were chattering in The at cold became 93 in the clouds, afterwards as its if frozen head up there. its In the main street, intense. the corner of the court, some laborers were repairing the gas-pipes, and had lighted a great fire in a brazier, round which a party of ragged men and boys were gathered, warming their hands and winking their eyes before the blaze rapture. The water-plug being in left in solitude, its overflowings sullenly congealed, and turned to misanthropic The ice. brightness the of shops where holly sprigs and berries crackled in windows made pale faces ruddy as they passed. Poulterers' and grocers' trades became a splendid joke: a glorious pageant, with which it was next to impossible to the lamp heat of the believe that such dull principles as bargain and sale had anything to do. The Lord Mayor, in the stronghold of the mighty Mansion House, gave orders to his fifty cooks and butlers to keep Christmas as a Lord Mayor's household should; and even the shillings little tailor, whom he had fined five on the previous Monday for being drunk and bloodthirsty in morrow's pudding the streets, stirred up to- in his garret, while his lean wife and the baby sallied out to buy the beef. Foggier yet, and colder! Piercing, search-
  • 15. Christmas- Tide. 94 If the ing, biting cold. but nipped the such weather as good Saint Dunstan had spirit's evil nose with a touch of that, instead of using his familiar weapons, then indeed he would have roared to The owner of one scant young lusty purpose. gnawed and mumbled by the hungry cold gnawed by dogs, stooped down at Scrooge's keyhole to regale him with a Christ- nose, as bones are mas carol; but at the first sound of "God bless you, merry gentleman! May nothing you dismay!" Scrooge seized the ruler with such energy of action that the singer fled in terror, leaving the keyhole to the fog and even more congenial At With an ing-house arrived. mounted from to fact frost. length the hour of shutting up the count- his stool, and ill Scrooge will tacitly the expectant clerk in the tank, instantly snuffed his candle out, dis- admitted the who and put on his hat. "You'll want all day t©-morrow, I suppose?" said Scrooge. "If quite convenient, sir." "It's not convenient," said Scrooge, "and it's it, not fair. If I was you'd think yourself The to stop half-a-crown for ill used, I'll be bound?" clerk smiled faintly. "And yet," said Scrooge, "you don't think
  • 16. ' ' A me ill work. Christmas Carol. used when I 95 pay a day's wages for no ' The clerk observed that was only once a it year. "A poor excuse for picking a man's pocket every twenty-fifth of December!" said Scrooge, "But I supBe here buttoning his greatcoat to the chin. pose you must have the whole day. all the earlier next morning. The clerk promised ' was closed in a twinkling, and he would; that The Scrooge walked out with a growl. and the office clerk, with the long ends of his white comforter dangling below his waist (for down he boasted no greatcoat), went a slide on Cornhill, at the end of a lane of boys, twenty times, in honor of mas Eve, and then ran home its to being Christ- Camden Town as hard as he could pelt, to play at blindman'sbuff. Scrooge took his melancholy dinner in his all the usual melancholy tavern; and having read newspapers, and beguiled the rest of the evening with his banker' s-book, went home to bed. He chambers which had once belonged to deceased partner. They were a gloomy suite lived in his of rooms, in a lowering pile of building yard, where it had so little up a business to be that one could scarcely help fancying it must have
  • 17. Christmas - Tide. 96 run there when it was young house, playing a at hide-and-seek with other houses, and forgotten way the out again. It was old enough now, and dreary enough, for nobody lived in the other rooms being all let it but Scrooge, The who knew out as offices. yard was so dark that even Scrooge, its every stone, was fain to grope with his hands. The fog and frost so hung about the black old gateway of the house that Genius of the Weather seemed as the if mournful medita- on the threshold. tion Now, all it sat in was nothing a fact that there is it particular about the knocker on except that it that Scrooge was very large. had seen it, at the door, also a fact It is night and morning, during his whole residence in that place; also that Scrooge had as about him as any even including little man —which of what in the is a bold poration, aldermen, and livery. borne in mind that Scrooge And how seven-years' then let any called fancy word London, Let —the it cor- also be had not bestowed one thought on Marley since his his is city of last mention of dead partner that afternoon. man explain to me, if he can^ happened that Scrooge, having his key in the lock of the door, saw in the knocker, without undergoing any intermediate process of its it change —not a knocker, but Marley' s face.
  • 18. A Christmas Carol. Marley's face. shadow but had It was not in 97 impenetrable as the other objects in the yard were, it, like a bad lobster was not angry or ferocious, but looked at Scrooge as Marley used to look, with ghostly spectacles turned up on its ghostly forehead. The hair was curiously stirred, as if by breath or hot air; and though the eyes were wide open, they were perfectly motionless. That, a dismal light about dark in a cellar. It and seemed made its livid color, ror its to be it horrible; but its hor- in spite of the face control, rather than a part of its As Scrooge non, it To was and beyond own expression. looked fixedly at this phenome- a knocker again. say that he was not startled, or that his blood was not conscious of a terrible sensation to which it had been a stranger from infancy, would But he put his hand upon the key be untrue. he had relinquished, turned in, it sturdily, walked and lighted his candle. He did pause, with a moment's irresolution, before he shut the door; and he did look cautiously behind at terrified first, as if he half-expected to be with the sight of Marley's pigtail stick- But there was nothing on ing out into the hall. the back of the door, except the screws and nuts that held the knocker on, so he said, "Pooh, pooh!" and closed it with a bang.
  • 19. Christmas - Tide. 98 The sound resounded through the house Hke Every room above, and every cask in thunder. the wine-merchant's cellars below, appeared to have a separate peal Scrooge was not He echoes. a of man fastened echoes of to the its own. be frightened by door and walked across the hall, and up the stairs, slowly too, trimming his candle as You may he went. talk vaguely about driving a coach- and-six up a good old flight of stairs, or through a bad young act of Parliament; but I mean say you might have got a hearse up that case, and taken to stair- broadwise, with the splinter- it bar towards the wall and the door towards the balustrades, and done it easy. There was plenty and room to spare; which of width for that, perhaps the reason is why Scrooge thought he saw a locomotive hearse going on before him in the Half-a-dozen gas-lamps out of the street gloom. wouldn't have lighted the entry too well, so you may suppose that it was pretty dark with Scrooge's dip. Up Scrooge went, not caring a button for Darkness that. is cheap, and Scrooge liked it. But before he shut his heavy door, he walked He through his rooms to see that all was right. had to just do enough recollection of the face that. to desire
  • 20. A Christmas Carol. bedroom, Sitting-room, as they should All lum'ber-room. Nobody under be. 99 the table; nobody under the sofa; a small fire in the grate; spoon and basin ready; and the little sauce-pan of gruel (Scrooge had a cold in his head) upon the hob. Nobody under the bed; nobody in the closet; nobody in his dressing-gown, which was hanging up in a suspicious attitude against the Lumber-room wall. as usual. Old fire-guard, two fish-baskets, washing-stand on old shoes, three legs, and a poker. Quite himself satisfied, in; Thus secured not his custom. he took and off his cravat; slippers, before the It and was a very low sensation of of fuel. The which was put on his dressing-gown night-cap, and sat fire down indeed; nothing on such He was and brood over least his in, against surprise, take his gruel. fire to a bitter night. it, he closed his door, and locked double-locked himself it obliged to sit close to before he could extract the warmth from such a handful was an old one, built by fireplace some Dutch merchant long ago, and paved all round with quaint Dutch tiles, designed to illusThere were Cains and trate the Scriptures. Abels, Pharaoh's daughters, Queens of Sheba, Angelic messengers descending through the on clouds like feather-beds, air Abrahams, Belshaz-
  • 21. I oo Chrtstfnas - Tide. Apostles putting zars, hundreds of figures off to sea in butter-boats, to attract his thoughts; like the ancient whole. the blank on Prophet's rod, and swallowed up If at first, and came yet that face of Marley, seven years dead, each smooth had been tile a with power to shape some picture surface from the disjointed fragments of its his thoughts, there would have been a copy of old Marley's head on every one. "Humbug!" said Scrooge, and walked across the room. After several turns, he sat down again. he threw his head back happened hung to rest in the upon As in the chair, his glance a bell, a disused bell that room, and communicated, for some purpose now forgotten, with a chamber highest story of the building. It in the was with great astonishment, and with a strange, inexplicable dread, that as he looked, he saw this bell begin to swing. it scarcely loudly, It swung so softly in the made a sound, but soon and so did every outset that it rang out bell in the house. This might have lasted half a minute, or a minute, but it seemed an The bells They were deep down below, hour. ceased as they had begun, together. succeeded by a clanking noise, as if some person were dragging a heavy chain over the casks in the wine merchant's cellar.
  • 22. A Christmas Carol. Scrooge then remembered to have heard that ghosts in haunted houses were described as drag- ging chains. The cellar door flew open with a booming much louder on the floors below; then coming up the then coming straight towards his door. stairs; sound, and then he heard the noise humbug, "It's still!" said "I Scrooge. won't believe it." His color changed though, when, without a it came on through the heavy door, and pause, Upon passed into the room before his eyes. coming it in the cried, its dying flame leaped up, as though "I know him; Marley's Ghost!" and again. fell The same pigtail, his Marley face; the very same. usual waistcoat, tights, in and boots; the tassels on the latter bristling, like his pigtail, and the hair upon and his coat-skirts, The chain he drew was clasped about his mid- dle. tail It ; and his head. was long, and wound about him like a it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely) of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel. body was transparent: so ing him, His that Scrooge, observ- and looking through his waistcoat, could see the two buttons on his coat behind. Scrooge had often heard it said that Marley
  • 23. " 1 02 Christmas- Tide. had no bowels, but he had never beheved until it now. No, nor did he believe it even now. Though he looked the phantom through and through, and saw standing before him, though he it influence of chilling his felt death-cold eyes, the and marked the very texture of the folded 'kerchief bound about its head and chin, which wrapper he had not observed before, he was still incredulous, and fought against "How now!" his senses. said Scrooge, caustic and cold "What do you want with me?" "Much!" Marley's voice, no doubt as ever. — about it. "Who are you?" "Ask me who I zvas.''^ "Who 7£'rr<ryou, He was tuted this, "In then?" said Scrooge, raising "You're particular, for a shade." going to say "/^ a shade," but substi- his voice. more appropriate. was your partner, Jacob Marley. you can you sit down?" asked as life I — "Can Scrooge, looking doubtfully at him. "I can." "Do it, then." Scrooge asked the question because he didn't know whether a ghost so transparent might find himself in a condition to take a chair; and felt
  • 24. A Christmas Carol. that in the event of its 103 being impossible, it might involve the necessity of an embarrassing explanation. But the Ghost sat side of the fireplace, as to down on if the opposite he were quite used it. "You don't believe in me," observed the Ghost. "I don't," "What said Scrooge. evidence would you have of my real- beyond that of your senses?" "I don't know," said Scrooge. "Why do you doubt your senses?" "Because," said Scrooge, "a little thing A slight disorder of the stomach affects them. ity makes them cheats. bit of beef, a blot of You may be an undigested mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are." Scrooge was not much in the habit of cracking jokes, nor did he feel, in his heart, by any means waggish then. The truth is, that he tried to be smart, as a means of distracting his own attention and keeping down his terror; for the Specter's voice disturbed the very marrow in his bones. To sit staring at those fixed, glazed eyes in silence for a moment would play, Scrooge felt.
  • 25. ' 1 Christmas - Tide. 04 the very deuce with him. very awful, too, in the There was something Specter's being provided with an infernal atmosphere of could not feel it its own, Scrooge was clearly the himself, but this case; for though the Ghost sat perfectly motion- and skirts, and tassels were by the hot vapor from an oven. less, its hair, agitated as "You see this toothpick.-"' still Scrooge, said returning quickly to the charge, for the reason just assigned, and wishing, though were only it for a second, to divert the vision's stony gaze from himself. "I do," "You "But standing. replied the Ghost. are not looking at it," said Scrooge. I see it," said the Ghost, "notwith- ' "Well," returned Scrooge, "I have but swallow this, and be for the rest persecuted by a legion of goblins, creation. At shook Humbug, I tell you! all Humbug!" this the spirit raised a frightful cry, its to my days of my own of and chain with such a dismal and appalling noise that Scrooge held on tight to his chair to save himself from falling in a swoon. much But how was his horror when the phantom taking off the bandage round its head, as if it were too warm to wear indoors, its lower jaw dropped down upon its breast! greater
  • 26. — A Scrooge fell Christmas Carol. upon hands before his his knees, 105 and clasped "Mercy!" he said. "Dreadful why do you trouble me?" "Man Ghost, of worldly mind," the "do you his face. believe in me apparition, replied the or not?" "I do," do to spirits said Scrooge. "I must. But why walk the earth, and why do they come me?" "It is required of every man," the Ghost him should walk fellowmen, and travel far and returned, "that the spirit within abroad among his wide; and if that spirit goes not forth in condemned to do to wander through is and witness what it so after death. the world — oh, It is woe life, it doomed is me! cannot share, but might have shared on earth, and turned to happiness!" Again the Specter raised a cry and shook wrung its shadowy hands. its chain and "You are fettered," me why?" said Scrooge, trembling. "Tell "I wear the chain I forged in life," replied "I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and the Ghost. of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to j/onf" Scrooge trembled more and more. "Or would you know, " pursued the Ghost,
  • 27. 1 06 Christmas - Tide. "the weight and length of the strong coil you It was full as heavy and as long bear yourself? as this seven Christmas labored on since. it Eves You have ago. a ponderous chain!" It is Scrooge glanced about him on the floor, in the expectation of finding himself surrounded by some fifty or sixty fathoms of iron cable; but he could see nothing. "Jacob," he Marley, tell said, imploringly, me more. "old Jacob Speak comfort to me, Jacob!" ' ' I have none to give, ' the Ghost replied. ' "It comes from other regions, Ebenezer Scrooge, and conveyed is kinds of men. A very cannot little rest, My where. by other ministers, to other Nor can I tell you what I would. more is all permitted to me. I cannot stay, I spirit counting-house I cannot linger any- never walked beyond our — mark me! — in life my spirit never roved beyond the narrow limits of our money-changing before hole, and weary journeys lie me!" It was a habit with Scrooge, whenever he became thoughtful, to put his hands in his breeches pockets. had said, Pondering on what the Ghost lifting up have been very slow about it, he did so now, but without his eyes or getting off his knees. "You must
  • 28. ' A 107 Christmas Carol. Jacob," Scrooge observed, in a business-like manner, though with humihty and deference. "Slow!" the Ghost repeated. "Seven years dead," mused Scrooge, "and traveling all the time!" "The whole time," said the Ghost. "No Incessant torture of remorse. no peace. rest, ' "You travel fast?" said Scrooge. "On the wings of the wind," replied the Ghost. "You might have got over a great quantity ' of ground in seven years, ' The Ghost, on hearing cry, and clanked its said Scrooge. this, set dead silence of the night that the have been "Oh, justified in indicting captive, cried the phantom, incessant labor, earth must pass which know it is that its little up another chain so hideously in the it Ward would for a nuisance. bound and double-ironed!" "not to know that ages of by immortal creatures, for this into eternity before the susceptible is all any Christian sphere, whatever spirit it good of Not to working kindly in developed. may be, will find its too short for its vast means of usefulNot to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life's opportunity misused! Yet such was I! Oh, such was I!" "But you were always a good man of busi- mortal ness. life
  • 29. I o8 Christmas - Tide. ness, Jacob," faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself. "Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing "Mankind was my hands again. common welfare was my business; its The business. charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were my The business. but a drop of water of my dealings of in the my all trade were comprehensive ocean business!" It held up its chain at arm's-length, as if that were the cause of all its unavailing grief, and flung it heavily upon the ground again. "At this time of the rolling year," the Spec- "I Why I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes them to that ter said, turned down, suffer most. and never raise did Wise Men to a poor no poor homes to which its blessed Star which led the abode! light Were there would have conducted Scrooge was very Specter going on mef much dismayed at this rate, to hear the and began to quake exceedingly. "Hear me!" cried the Ghost. "My time is nearly gone." "I will," said Scrooge. "But don't be hard upon me! Don't be flowery, Jacob, pray!" "How it is that I appear before you in a I have shape that you can see, I may not tell.
  • 30. ' ' A sat 109 many and many you beside invisible day. Christmas Carol. a ' It was an not agreeable idea. shivered and wiped the perspiration Scrooge from his brow. my penance," pur"I am here to-night to warn you, that you have yet a chance and hope of escaping my fate. A chance and hope of my "That is no light part of sued the Ghost. procuring, Ebenezer. ' "You were always a good " Thank 'ee!" Scrooge. "You "by will friend to me, " said be haunted," resumed the Ghost, three spirits." Scrooge's countenance almost as low as fell the Ghost's had done. "Is that the chance and hope you mentioned, Jacob?" he demanded, "It is." "I — I in a faltering voice. think I'd rather not," said Scrooge. "Without their visits," said the Ghost, "you cannot hope to shun the path I tread. Expect the first to-morrow, when the "Couldn't I take 'em bell tolls one. all at once and have Jacob?" hinted Scrooge. "Expect the second on the next night it over, same hour. The third at the upon the next night when the last stroke of twelve has ceased to vibrate.
  • 31. 1 1 o Christmas- Tide. Look to see me no more; and look that, for your own sake, you remember what has passed between us!" When it had said these words the Specter wrapper from the table and bound it Scrooge knew this round its head as before. by the smart sound its teeth made when the took its jaws were brought He together by the bandage. ventured to raise his eyes again, and found his supernatural visitor erect about its with attitude, The at confronting him in an chain wound over and arm. apparition walked backward from every step little, its so that it took the window raised when the Specter reached him and itself it, it a was wide open. beckoned Scrooge to approach which he they were within two paces of each other, Marley's Ghost held up its hand, warning him to come no nearer. Scrooge stopped. It did. When Not so much fear; for in obedience as in surprise and on the raising of the hand, he became sensible of confused noises in the air; incoherent sounds of lamentation and regret; wailings expressibly sorrowful and self-accusatory. Specter, after listening for a the mournful dirge, bleak, dark night. in- The moment, joined in and floated out upon the
  • 32. A m Christmas Carol Scrooge followed to the window, desperate He in his curiosity. The air was filled looked out. with phantoms, wandering moaning Every one of them wore chains like Marley's Ghost; some few (they might be guilty governments) were linked together; none were free. Many had been personally known He had been quite to Scrooge in their lives. hither and thither in restless haste, and as they went. familiar with one old ghost in a white waistcoat, with a monstrous iron safe attached to who wretched woman with an infant, was whom it saw The misery with them below, upon a door-step. all ankle, its cried piteously at being unable to assist a clearly that they sought to interfere, for good, in human matters, and had lost the power forever. Whether these creatures faded into mist, or mist enshrouded them, he could not they and their the night spirit became as tell. But voices faded together, and it had been when he walked home. Scrooge closed the window, and examined the door by which the Ghost had entered. was double-locked, own hands, and the as he bolts it It with his were undisturbed. He "Humbug!" but stopped at the first And being from the emotion he had tried to say syllable. had locked —
  • 33. 112 Christmas - Tide. undergone, or the fatigues of the day, or his glimpse of the invisible world, or the dull conversation of the Ghost, or the lateness of the — hour much in need of repose, went straight to bed without undressing, and fell asleep upon the instant. STAVE TWO. THE FIRST OF THE THREE When Scrooge awoke it SPIRITS. was so dark that, looking out of bed, he could scarcely distinguish window from the opaque walls He was endeavoring to pierce darkness with his ferret eyes when the the transparent of his chamber. the chimes of a neighboring church struck the four quarters. So he To great listened for the hour. astonishment the heavy bell went on from six to seven, and from seven to eight, and regularly up to twelve; then stopped. Twelve! It was past two when he went to bed. The clock was wrong. An icicle must have got into the works. Twelve! He his touched the spring of his repeater to cor- most preposterous clock. rect this little rapid pulse beat twelve, and stopped. "Why, I it isn't possible," said Its Scrooge, "that can have slept through a whole day and far into another night. It isn't possible that any-
  • 34. A Christmas 113 Carol. thing has happened to the sun, and this at is twelve noon!" The idea being an alarming one, he scrambled out of bed, and groped his He was way to the window. obliged to rub the frost off with the sleeve of his dressing-gown before he could see anything; and could see very could make out was, that it little was then. still All he very foggy and extremely cold, and that there was no noise and making a great would have been if night had beaten off bright day and taken possession of the world. This was a great relief, of people running to stir, and fro, as there unquestionably because "three days after sight of Exchange pay this First of Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge or his order," and so forth, would have become a mere to United States' security if there were no days to count by. Scrooge went to bed again and thought and thought, and thought it over and over and over, and could make nothing of it. The more he more perplexed he was; and the more he endeavored not to think, the more he thought, the thought. Marley's Ghost bothered him exceedingly. Every time he resolved within himself, after mature inquiry, that it was all a dream, his mind flew back again, like a strong spring released to
  • 35. Christmas- Tide. position, its first lem to be worked and presented the same proball through, "Was it dream a or not?" Scrooge lay in this state until the chime had gone three-quarters more, when he remembered, on a sudden, that the Ghost had warned him of a visitation when the bell tolled one. He re- was passed; and considering that he could no more go to sleep than go to heaven, this was perhaps the solved to lie awake until the hour wisest resolution in his power. more quarter was so long that he was The than once convinced he must have sunk into a doze unconsciously, and missed the clock. length it broke upon his listening At ear. "Ding, dong!" "A quarter past," said Scrooge, counting. "Ding, dong!" "Half-past!" said Scrooge. "Ding, dong!" "A quarter to it," said Scrooge. "Ding, dong!" "The hour phantly, He it now itself," "and nothing Scrooge, said trium- else!" spoke before the hour bell sounded, which did with a deep, dull, hollow, melancholy ONE. instant, Light flashed up room upon the bed were drawn. in the and the curtains of his
  • 36. A The tell 115 Christinas Carol. were drawn Not the curtains at curtains of his bed you, by a hand. aside, I his feet, at his back, but those to which was addressed. The curtains of his bed were drawn aside; and Scrooge, starting up into nor the curtains his face a half-recumbent attitude, found himself face to face with the unearthly visitor as close to it as I am now to who drew them, I am stand- you, and ing in the spirit at your elbow. was a strange It figure — yet not like a child; man, viewed through some supernatural medium, which gave him the appearance of having receded from the so a like as like child an old view, and being diminished to a child's proporIts hair, tions. down its which hung about back, was white as if neck and its with age; and yet it, and the tenderbloom was on the skin. The arms were very long and muscular; the hands the same, as if its Its legs and hold were of uncommon strength. the face had not a wrinkle in est feet, most delicately formed, upper members, bare. were, those like wore a tunic of the purest white; and round its waist was bound a lustrous belt, the sheen of which was beautiful. It It held a branch of fresh, green holly in and in singular emblem, had flowers. its contradiction of its dress trimmed with hand, wintry that summer But the strangest thing about it was,
  • 37. 6 ' Christmas- Tide. 1 1 that from the crown of and which was doubtless the occasion of visible; its head there sprung a by which all this was its bright, clear jet of Hght, using, in its duller moments, guisher for a cap, which now a great extin- held under its when Scrooge looked at it arm. Even though, this, with increasing steadiness, was not it For gest quality. tered now what was in as its its belt sparkled stran- and glit- one part and now in another, and light one instant, at another time was dark, so the figure itself fluctuated in its distinct- now a thing with one arm, now with one leg, now with twenty legs, now a pair of legs without a head, now a head without a body, ness; being which dissolving parts no outline would be of visible in the And away. be itself dense gloom wherein they melted in the very wonder of this, it would again; distinct and clear as ever. "Are you the Spirit, sir, whose coming was me?" asked Scrooge. "I am!" The voice was soft and gentle. Singularly foretold to low, as it were if, instead of being so close beside him, at a distance. "Who and what are you.-'" manded. " I am the Ghost of Christmas Scrooge dePast. '
  • 38. A "Long of 117 Christmas Carol. past?" inquired Scrooge, observant dwarfish stature. its "No; your past." Perhaps Scrooge could not have told anybody why if anybody could have asked him, but he had a special desire to see the Spirit in his cap, and begged him to be covered. "What!" exclaimed the Ghost, "would you so soon put out, with worldly hands, the light give? Is it whose passions made this and force cap, through whole trains of years to wear my I not enough that you are one of those it me low upon brow!" Scrooge reverently disclaimed offend or intention to all having willfully any knowledge of any period of "bonneted" the Spirit at He bold to inquire what business then made his life. brought him there. "Your welfare!" said the Ghost. Scrooge expressed himself much obliged, but could not help thinking that a night of unbroken rest end. would have been more conducive to that The Spirit must have heard him think- ing, for then. It it said immediately, "Your reclamation, Take heed!" put out its strong hand as clasped him gently by the arm. "Rise, and walk with me!" it spoke, and
  • 39. 8 Christmas - Tide. 1 1 It would have been Scrooge to in vain for plead that the weather and the hour were not adapted to pedestrian purposes; that the bed was warm, and the thermometer a long way below freezing; that he was clad but lightly in his slippers, dressing-gown, and night-cap; and had a cold upon him at that time. The grasp, though gentle as a woman's hand, was He rose; but finding that not to be resisted. the Spirit made towards the window, clasped his that he robe in supplication. "I am a mortal," Scrooge remonstrated, "and liable to fall." "Bear but a touch of my hand there,'' said the Spirit, laying it upon his heart, "and you shall be upheld in more than this!" As the words were spoken, they passed through the wall, and stood upon an open coun- The city on either hand. Not a vestige of it was had entirely vanished. The darkness and the mist had to be seen. vanished with it, for it was a clear, cold, winter try road, with fields day, with snow upon the ground. "Good heaven!" said Scrooge, clasping his "I hands together as he looked about him. I was a boy here!" was bred in this place. The Spirit gazed touch, though it upon him mildly. had been light Its gentle and instantane-
  • 40. " A ous, appeared present to the old man's sense still He was of feeling. 119 Christmas Carol. odors floating in the conscious of a thousand air, each one connected with a thousand thoughts, and hopes, and joys, and cares, long, long forgotten! "Your "And trembling," said the Ghost. lip what is is that upon your cheek?" Scrooge muttered, with an unusual catching in was a pimple; and begged the Ghost to lead him where he would. "You recollect the way?" inquired the Spirit. his voice, that it "Remember it!" cried Scrooge, with fervor; "I could walk it blindfold. "Strange to have forgotten observed years!" the walked along the it many for so "Let Ghost. us go on." They Scrooge road. recognizing every gate, and post, and tree, until a market-town appeared little with its bridge, Some shaggy in the distance, church, and winding river. its now were seen ponies trotting towards them with boys upon their backs, who called to other boys in country gigs spirits, fields air and shouted to each other, were so full of laughed to hear "These and carts, All these boys were in great driven by farmers. until the merry music that the broad crisp it. are but shadows of the things that
  • 41. ' 1 2o Christmas - Tide. "They have no have been," said the Ghost. consciousness of us. The jocund ' came travelers on; and as they came, Scrooge knew and named them every one. Why was he Why them! rejoiced beyond all bounds Why heart leap up as they went past! filled to see did his cold eye glisten, and his was he when he heard them with gladness give each other Merry Christmas, as they parted at cross-roads homes! and by-ways, What was merry for their several Christmas to Scrooge Out upon merry Christmas! What good had .-* it ever done to him? "The school "A Ghost. is not quite deserted," said the solitary child, neglected by his friends, is left there still." Scrooge said he knew They left the it. And he sobbed. high-road by a well-remem- bered lane and soon approached a mansion of dull red brick, with a little weather-cock-sur- mounted cupola on the roof, and a bell hanging It was a large house, but one of broken in it. fortunes, used, for the their walls spacious offices were were damp and mossy, little their windows broken, and their gates decayed. Fowls clucked and strutted in the stables, and the coach-houses and sheds were overrun with Nor was it more retentive of its ancient grass.
  • 42. — A 121 Christmas Carol, state within; for entering the dreary hall, glancing through the open doors of many and rooms, chilly them poorly furnished, cold, and There was an earthy savor in the air, a bareness in the place, which associated itself somehow with they found vast. candle-light, much too getting up by and not too much to They went, eat. the Ghost and Scrooge, across the hall, to a door at the back of the house. It opened before them, and disclosed a long, bare, melancholy room, made barer still by lines of At one plain deal forms and desks. of these a boy was reading near a feeble fire, and Scrooge sat down upon a form, and wept to see lonely poor forgotten his Not a and self as he used to be. squeak latent echo in the house, not a scuffle from the mice behind the paneling, not a drip from the half-thawed water-spout in the dull yard behind, not a sigh among the leaf- less boughs of one despondent poplar, not the idle swinging of an empty store-house door, no, not a clicking in the fire, but fell upon the head of Scrooge with a softening influence, and gave a freer passage to his tears. The Spirit touched him on the arm, pointed to his younger ing. self, Suddenly a man, in intent upon and his read- foreign garments wonderfully real and distinct to look at — stood
  • 43. 122 Christmas- Tide. outside the window, with an axe stuck in his belt, and leading by the bridle an ass laden with wood. "Why, in ecstasy. yes, I "It's dear old honest Ali Baba! Yes, One Chrismas know! was child solitary Ali Baba!" Scrooge exclaimed, it's come, for the And boy! wild first And down by head! all when yonder alone, he did time, just like that. Orson; brother, they there who was put down ers, asleep, at the side time, here Poor Valentine," said Scrooge, "and his what's his name, see him? left And draw- Gate of Damascus; don't you the Sultan's Groom the Genii; there he Serve him go! in his right. I'm glad turned upis of upon it. his What business had he to be married to the Princess!" To hear Scrooge expending all the earnest- ness of his nature on such subjects, in a most extraordinary voice between laughing and cry- and to see his heightened and excited face, would have been a surprise to his business ing, friends in the city, indeed. "There's the parrot!" "Green body and yellow tail, cried Scrooge. with a thing like a lettuce growing out of the top of his head; there he is! Poor Robin Crusoe, he called him, when he came home the island. again after sailing round 'Poor Robin Crusoe, where have you been, Robin Crusoe.-" The man thought he
  • 44. ' A 123 Christmas Carol. was dreaming, but he wasn't. It was the parThere goes Friday, running for rot, you know. Hoop! Halloa! his life to the Httle creek! Halloo!" Then, with a rapidity of transition very for- eign to his usual character, he said, in pity for former his self, "Poor boy!" and cried again. "I wish," Scrooge muttered, putting his hand in his pocket, and looking about him, after but it's too late drying his eyes with his cuff, " — now. ' "What is the matter?" asked the Spirit. "Nothing," said Scrooge. "Nothing. There was a boy singing a Christmas carol at my door last night. I should like to have given him something; that's all." The Ghost its waved smiled, thoughtfully, and hand, saying as it did so, "Let us see another Christmas!" Scrooge's former self grew larger words, and the room became a more dirty. cracked; ceiling, The little at the darker and panels shrunk, the windows fragments of plaster fell out of the and the naked laths were shown instead; how all this was brought about, Scrooge knew no more than you do. He only knew that but it was quite pened so; correct; that everything had hap- that there he was, alone again, when
  • 45. 1 Christmas- Tide. 24 all the other boys had gone home for the jolly holidays- He was down not reading now, but walking up and Scrooge looked despairingly. and with a mournful shaking of at the Ghost, his head, glanced anxiously towards the door. It opened, and a much younger girl, little than the boy, came darting and putting her in, arms about his neck, and often kissing him, addressed him as her "Dear, dear brother." come "I have home, bring you to dear brother!" said the child, clapping her tiny hands, and bending down "To to laugh. bring you home, home, home!" "Home, little "Yes!" said "Home ever. to for Fan?" returned the boy. the good and Father is so be that home's me child, all. much like brimful Home, of glee. forever and kinder than he used He heaven! one dear night when spoke so was going to bed, that I was not afraid to ask him once more if you might come home; and he said yes, you gently to should; and sent And ing her eyes, but first, long, me you're to be a "and I in a coach to bring you. man," said the child, open- are never to we're to be together come back all and have the merriest time world." here; the Christmas in all the
  • 46. A "You 125 Christmas Carol. are quite a woman, Fan!" little ex- claimed the boy. She clapped her hands and laughed, and to touch his head; but being too tried laughed and stood on tiptoe to embrace him. again, Then she began to drag him, eagerness, towards the door; loth to go, A little, accompanied in her. voice in the hall terrible down Master Scrooge's her childish and he, nothing cried, "Bring box, there!" and in the appeared the school-master himself, who hall glared on Master Scrooge with a ferocious condescension, and threw him into a dreadful state of mind by shaking hands with him. conveyed him and well of seen, then a shivering best parlor that ever was where the maps upon the celestial He his sister into the veriest old and terrestrial globes were waxy with cold. wall, in the and the windows, Here he produced a decanter of curiously light wine and a block of curiously heavy cake, and administered instalof those dainties to the young people; at same time sending out a meager servant to offer a glass of "something" to the post-boy, ments the who answered that he thanked the gentleman, was the same tap as he had tasted beMaster Scrooge's fore, he had rather not. trunk being by this time tied onto the top of the but if it
  • 47. 1 16 Christmas- Tide. bade children chaise, the good by right willingly, gayly down the school-master and getting into it drove the garden sweep; the quick wheels dashing the hoar-frost and snow from off the dark leaves of the evergreens "Always like spray. whom a delicate creature, a breath "But might have withered," said the Ghost. she had a large heart!" "So right. had," she I "You're Scrooge. cried not gainsay will it. God Spirit. for- bid!" "She had, as I "One died a woman," said the Ghost, "and think, children." child," Scrooge returned. "True," said the Ghost. Scrooge seemed uneasy swered, briefly, "Your nephew!" in his mind, and an- "Yes." Although they had but that moment school behind them, they were thoroughfares of a city, now left in the the busy where shadowy passen- gers passed and repassed; where shadowy carts and coaches battled for the way, and all the strife It was made and tumult of a real city were. plain enough, by the dressing of the shops, that here, too, it was Christmas time again; but it was evening, and the streets were lighted up. The Ghost stopped at a certain warehouse door, and asked Scrooge if he knew it.
  • 48. A Christmas Carol. "Know it!" 117 "Was said Scrooge. appren- I ticed here!" They went in. At sight of an old gentleman Welsh wig, sitting behind such a high desk in a that he had been two inches if have knocked Scrooge cried Fezziwig! old head his taller he must the ceiling, against excitement, in great Bless his heart; "Why, it's it's Fezziwig alive again!" Old Fezziwig up at the his capacious waistcoat; laughed from pen and looked which pointed to the hour of rubbed his hands; adjusted his He seven. down laid clock, his shoes to his all over himself, organ of benevolence; and called out in a comfortable, oily, rich, fat, jovial voice, "Yo Ebenezer! ho, there! Scrooge's former man, came briskly self, in, Dick!" now grown a accompanied by young his fel- low- 'prentice. "Dick Wilkins, the Ghost. to be sure!" said Scrooge to There he is. He "Bless me, yes. was very much attached "Yo more to me, was Dick. Poor Dear, dear!" Dick! ho, work my boys!" said Fezziwig. "No Christmas Eve, Dick. to-night. Christmas, Ebenezer! Let's have the shutters up," cried old Fezziwig, with a sharp clap of his hands, "before a man can say Jack Robinson!"
  • 49. 128 Christmas - Tide. You went how those two fellows They charged into the street with wouldn't believe at it! — two, — pinned 'em — seven, the shutters one, their places four, —had 'em up —barred 'em and nine — and came back three in six five, eight, before you could have got to twelve, panting like race-horses. "Hilli-ho!" down from "Clear away, room here! Fezziwig, old cried skipping the high desk, with wonderful agility. my lads, and Hilli-ho, Dick! let's have lots of Chirrup, Ebenezer!" There was nothing they wouldn't or couldn't have cleared away, with old Fezziwig looking on. It was Every movable was packed done in a minute. Clear away! have cleared off, as if it away, were dismissed from public life for- was swept and watered, the lamps were trimmed, fuel was heaped upon the fire; and the warehouse was as snug, and warm, and dry, and bright a ball-room as you would desire to see upon a winter's night. In came a fiddler with a music-book, and went up to the lofty desk, and made an orchestra evermore, the out of and tuned it, floor like fifty stomachaches. came Mrs. Fezziwig, one vast, substantial In came the three Miss Fezziwigs, smile. In came the six young beaming and lovable. In came all followers whose hearts they broke. In
  • 50. A Christmas Carol. 129 young men and women employed in the In came the housemaid, with her In came the cook, with her cousin, the baker. the business. particular brother's came friend, the the boy from over the way, milkman. In who was sus- pected of not having board enough from his master; trying to hide himself behind the girl from next door but one, who was proved to had her ears pulled by her mistress. In they all have came, one after another; some shyly, some some gracefully, some awkwardly, some some pulling; in they all came, anyhow boldly, pushing, Away and everyhow. they all went, twenty couple at once; hands half round and back again the other way; down round and round the middle and up again; in various stages of affectionate grouping; old top couple always turning up in the wrong place; new top couple starting off again, as soon as they got there; at last, When all top couples and not a bottom one to help them! this result was brought about, old Fezzi- wig, clapping his hands to stop the dance, cried out, "Well done!" and the fiddler plunged his hot face into a pot of porter especially provided for that purpose. But scorning rest, reappearance, he instantly began again — upon his —though as if the other fiddler there were no dancers yet had been carried home, exhausted, on a shutter,
  • 51. Christmas- Tide. 130 and he were a brand-new man, resolved to beat him out of sight or perish. There were more dances, and there were forfeits, and more dances, and there was cake, and there was negus, and there was a great piece of cold roast, and there was a great piece of cold boiled, and there were mince-pies, and plenty of beer. But the great effect of the evening came after the roast artful and boiled, when the fiddler (an dog, mind! The sort of man who knew you or I could have told it him!) struck up "Sir Roger de Coverley." Then old Fezziwig stood out to dance with Mrs. his business better than Fezziwig. piece of Top couple, too, with a good, work cut out for stiff them; three or four and twenty pair of partners; people who were not to be trifled with; people who zuould dance, and had no notion of walking. But if they had been twice as many ah, four times old Fezziwig would have been a match — — As to and so would Mrs, Fezziwig. was worthy to be his partner in every for them, her, she sense of the term. tell me higher and If I'll that's not high praise, use it. A positive light appeared to issue from Fezziwig' s calves. shone in every part of the dance like They moons. You couldn't have predicted, at any given time, what would have become of them next. And
  • 52. A when all Christmas Carol. 131 old Fezziwig and Mrs. Fezziwig had gone through the dance — advance and retire, both hands to your partner, bow and curtsey, corkscrew, thread-the-needle, and back again to your place — Fezziwig "cut" —cut appeared to wink with his so deftly that he legs, and came up on his feet again without a stagger. When ball the clock struck eleven, this domestic broke up. their stations, Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig took one on either side of the door, and shaking hands with every person individually as he or she went out, wished him or her a Merry Christmas. When everybody had retired but the two 'prentices, they did the same to them; and thus the cheerful voices died away, and the lads were left to their beds, which were under a counter in the back shop. During the whole acted like a soul He were in man of this time Scrooge had His heart and the scene, and with his former self. out of his wits. corroborated everything, remembered every- and underwent the was not until now, when the bright faces of his former self and Dick were turned from them, that he remembered the Ghost, and became conscious that it was looking full upon him, while the light upon its head thing, enjoyed everything, strangest agitation. burnt very clear. It
  • 53. ' T Christmas - Tide. 32 "A small these matter," said the Ghost, "to make so full of gratitude. silly folks "Small!" echoed Scrooge. The spirit signed to him to listen to the two apprentices, who were pouring out their hearts in praise of Fezziwig; and when he had done so, "Why, said, is He not? it has spent but a — few pounds of your mortal money three or four, Is that so much that he deserves this perhaps. praise?" "It former, not Spirit. He speaking unconsciously and his latter make our some; a pleasure or a that it is in is He quite as great as felt "What his like isn't that, Say that his power things so slight and and impossible to add count 'em up: what then? gives "It service light or burden- toil. words and looks; insignificant self. has the pov/er to render us happy or unhappy; to lies in Scrooge, heated by the isn't that," said remark, if it The happiness he cost a fortune. ' the Spirit's glance, and stopped. is the matter?" asked the Ghost. "Nothing particular," said Scrooge. "Something, I think?" the Ghost insisted. ' I should like to No, said Scrooge, No. be able to say a word or two to my clerk just ' ' ' now. ' ' That's all." His former self turned down the lamps as he
  • 54. A Christmas Carol. 133 gave utterance to the wish; and Scrooge and the Ghost again stooci side by side in the open air. "My time grows short, "Quick!" This was not addressed whom one mediate he could Spirit. to Scrooge, or to see, but any produced an im- it For again Scrooge saw himself. man in the prime of life. effect. He was " observed the older now; a His face had not the harsh and rigid lines of but it had begun to wear the signs later years, and avarice. care of There was an eager, greedy, restless motion in the eye, which showed the passion that had taken root, and where the shadow of the He was young fair growing tree would fall. not alone, but sat by the side of a girl in a mourning dress, in whose eyes there were tears which sparkled in the light that shone out of the Ghost of Christmas Past. " she' said, softly. "To Another idol has displaced me, you, very little. and if it can cheer and comfort you in time to come as I would have tried to do, I have no just "It matters little, cause to grieve." "What "A "This world!" he it is idol has displaced you.''" he rejoined. golden one." is the said. even-handed dealing of "There is the nothing on which so hard as poverty; and there is nothing it
  • 55. ' 1 ' ' Christmas- Tide. 34 condemn with such professes to severity as the pursuit of wealth!" "You swered, merged of its fear the world too much," she an- "All your other hopes have the hope of being beyond the chance gently. into sordid reproach. aspirations fall off have seen your nobler I one by one, until the master- Have I not?" "What then?" he retorted. "Even if I have grown so much wiser, what then? I am passion. Gain, engrosses you. not changed towards you. ' She shook her head. "Am I?" "Our contract is an old one. It was made when we were both poor and content to be so, until, in good season, we could improve our You worldly fortune by our patient industry. When are changed. another man. it was made, you were ' "I was a boy," he "Your own said, impatiently. feeling tells you that you were "I am. what you are," she returned. That which promised happiness when we were not one in heart, is fraught are two. How thought of that I this, I will liave thought of "Have I now how keenly with misery often and not say. it, It is that I we have enough and can release you. ever sought release?" '
  • 56. " A — ' Christmas Carol. "In words. No, "In what, then?" 135 never. In a changed nature; in an altered another atmosphere of great end. life; spirit; in another hope as its made my In everything that any worth or value in your ever been between us," said the mildly, but with steadiness would you seek Ah, no!" He seemed me upon him, "You me, me now? But he said, with think not." "I would gladly think otherwise learned a truth like it "tell to yield to the justice of this sup- she answered, "heaven knows! irresistible had looking girl, out and try to win position, in spite of himself. a struggle, love of If this sight. must this, be. I know how But if could," I if When / have strong and you were free to-day, to-morrow, yesterday, can even I believe — you would choose a dowerless girl you who, in your very confidence with her, weigh that everything by gain; moment you were or choosing her, if for a enough to your one guiding principle to do so, do I not know that your repentance and regret would surely follow? I do; and I release you, with a full heart, for the the love of him you once were. He was about to speak; but with her head false ' turned from him, she resumed. "You may
  • 57. 1 Christmas - Tide. 36 memory the you will of what is —have pain past half makes me hope A very, very brief in this. time, and you will dismiss the recollection of it from which it gladly, as an unprofitable dream, you awoke. May you be you have chosen!" happened well that happy in the life She left him and they parted. "show me no more! "Spirit!" said Scrooge, Conduct torture me home. Why do you delight to me?" "One shadow more!" "No more!" exclaimed the Ghost. cried Scrooge. don't wish to see "No more. I Show me no more!" it. But the relentless Ghost pinioned him his arms, in both and forced him to observe what hap- pened next. They were another scene and in place; room, not very large or handsome, but full a of Near to the winter fire sat a beautiful comfort. young girl, so like that last that Scrooge believed it was the same, until he saw her, now a comely matron, sitting opposite her daughter. The room was perfectly tumultuous, for there were more children there than Scrooge in his agitated state of mind could count; and unlike the celebrated herd in the poem, there were noise in this not forty children conducting themselves one, but every child was conducting itself like like
  • 58. A yond 137 The consequences were uproarious forty. Christmas Carol. be- but no one seemed to care; on the belief; mother and the contrary, and enjoyed heartily, daughter laughed very much; it and the soon beginning to mingle in the sports, latter, got pillaged by the young brigands most ruth- What would lessly. Though of them. rude, no, no! I not have given to be one I never could have been so wouldn't for the wealth of I all the world have crushed that braided hair and torn down; and it for the precious wouldn't have plucked to save my As life. it to sport, as they did, bold have done have grown round come straight dearly liked, I God little bless it for a punishment, again. shoe, my And yet I I I soul! measuring her waist young brood, should have expected I it; off, in couldn't my arm to and never should have own, to have touched her lips; to have questioned her, that she might have opened them; to have looked upon the lashes of her downcast eyes, and never raised a blush; to have let loose waves of hair, an inch of be a keepsake beyond price; have liked, I which would in short, I should do confess, to have had the lightest license of a child, and yet to have been enough to know man value. its But now a knocking at the door was heard, and such a rush immediately ensued that she.
  • 59. Christmas -Tide. 138 with laughing face and borne towards it, plundered dress, was the center of a flushed and boisterous group, just in time to greet the father, who came home attended by man laden with Then the shout- a Christmas toys and presents. ing and the struggling, afid the onslaught that was made on the defenseless porter! The scaling him with chairs for ladders to dive into his pockets, despoil him of brown paper parcels, hold on tight by his cravat, hug him round his neck, pommel his back, pressible affection! and kick The his legs in irre- shouts of wonder and delight with which the development package was received! ment that the The terrible baby had been taken of every announce- in the act of putting a doll's frying-pan into his mouth, and was more than suspected of having swallowed a The immense relief of finding this a false alarm! The joy, and gratitude, and ecstasy! They are fictitious all turkey glued on a wooden platter! indescribable alike. It is enough that by degrees the children and their emotions got out of the parlor, and by one stair at a time, up to the top of the house, where they went to bed, and so subsided. And now Scrooge looked on more attentively than ever, when the master of the house, having his daughter leaning fondly on him, sat down
  • 60. ' A Christmas Carol. own with her and her mother at his when he thought that 139 and fireside; another creature, such quite as graceful and as full of promise, might have called him father, and been a springtime in the haggard winter of his life, his sight grew very dim indeed. "Belle," said the husband, turning to his I saw an old friend of yours ' wife, with a smile, ' afternoon." this "Who was "Guess!" "How added, it?" can Tut, I? the in same "Mr. Scrooge window, and as candle inside, His partner I lies and there he I I know," she laughing as he "Mr. Scrooge." laughed. world, don't breath, it it was. I passed his office was not shut up and he had a could scarcely help seeing him. upon the point alone. sat do believe. of death, Quite alone I hear, in the ' "Spirit!" said Scrooge, in a broken voice, "remove me from ' this place." you these were shadows of the things "That they that have been," said the Ghost. are what they are, do not blame me!" "Remove me!" Scrooge exclaimed, "I can' I told not bear it!" He turned upon the Ghost, and seeing that it
  • 61. 140 Christinas -Tide. looked upon him with a face, in which in some way strange faces it there were fragments of had shown him, wrestled with "Leave me! Take me back. the all it. Haunt me no longer!" In the struggle, if that can be called a strug- no visible resistance was undisturbed by any effort of adversary, Scrooge observed that its light was gle in which the Ghost with on its its own part burning high and bright, and dimly connecting that with its influence over him, he seized the extinguisher-cap, and by a sudden action pressed it down upon its head. The Spirit dropped beneath extinguisher covered Scrooge pressed it its it, so that the whole form; but though down with all his force, he could not hide the light which streamed from under it in He was an unbroken flood upon the ground. conscious of being exhausted, and overcome by an irresistible further, of being in his the cap a drowsiness; and He gave own bedroom. parting squeeze, in which his hand relaxed, and had barely time to reel to fore he sank into a heavy sleep. bed be-
  • 62. A Christmas Carol. 141 STAVE THREE. THE SECOND OF THE THREE Awaking snore, and in the sitting SPIRITS. middle of a prodigiously tough up in bed to get his thoughts together, Scrooge had no occasion to be told that the bell felt was again upon the stroke of one. He was restored to consciousness in the that he right nick of time, for the especial purpose of holding a conference with the second messenger despatched to him through Jacob Marley's tervention. in- But finding that he turned uncom- when he began to wonder which of new specter would draw back, he put them every one aside with his own hands, and lying down again, established a sharp lookfortably cold his curtains this out all round the bed. lenge the Spirit on the For he wished moment of its to chal- appearance, and did not wish to be taken by surprise, and made nervous. Gentlemen of the free-and-easy sort, who plume themselves on being acquainted with a move or two, and being usually equal to the time of day, express the wide range of their capacity by observing that they are good for anything from pitch-and-toss to manslaughter, between which opposite extremes, no doubt, for adventure
  • 63. 14^ Christmas-Tide. there tolerably wide a lies range of and comprehensive Without venturing for subjects. Scrooge quite as hardily as this, I don't mind on you to believe that he was ready for a good, broad field of strange appearances, and calling nothing between a baby and rhinoceros would have astonished him very much. that Now, being prepared for almost anything, he was not by any means prepared for nothing; and consequently, when the bell struck one, and no shape appeared, he was taken with a violent Five minutes, trembling. of minutes, ten fit a quarter of an hour went by, yet nothing came. All this time he lay upon his bed, the very core and center of streamed upon a it blaze when of ruddy and which, being only hour, light which the clock proclaimed the light, was more alarming than a dozen ghosts, as he was powerless to make out what it meant, or would be at, and was sometimes apprehensive that he might be that very moment an interesting case of spontaneous combustion, without having the consolation of knowing it. At last, however, he began as you or I would have thought at to think — for it first, is always the person not in the pre- dicament who knows what ought to have been done it, in too — it, and would unquestionably have done at last, I say, he began to think that the
  • 64. A Christmas Carol. 143 source and secret of this ghostly Hght might be in the adjoining tracing full room, from whence, on further seemed it it, This idea taking to shine. possession of his mind, he got up softly and shuffled in his slippers to the door. The moment Scrooge's hand was on the lock, a strange voice called him by his name, and bade him He enter. obeyed. own room. transformation. There was no doubt had undergone a surprising The walls and ceiling were so hung with green that It was his But about that. living it it looked a perfect grove, from every part of which bright gleaming berries glistened. so many The crisp leaves of and ivy reflected back the mistletoe, little holly, light as if mirrors had been scattered there, and such a mighty blaze went roaring up the chimney as that dull petrifaction of a hearth had never known in Scrooge's time, or Marley's, or many and many a winter season gone. Heaped up on the floor, to form a kind of for were throne, turkeys, geese, game, poultry, brawn, great joints of meat, sucking pigs, long wreaths of sausages, mince-pies, plum-puddings, barrels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, cherry- cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious pears, immense twelfth-cakes, punch, that made the and seething bowls of chamber dim with their
  • 65. Christmas-Tide. 144 In easy state upon this couch, delicious steam. who bore there sat a jolly giant, glorious to see, a glowing torch, horn, and held it shape not unlike Plenty's in up, high up, to shed its light on Scrooge as he came peeping round the door. "Come "Come in!" exclaimed the Ghost. me and know in! better, man!" Scrooge entered, timidly, and hung his head was not the dogged Scrooge he had been, and though the Spirit's eyes were clear and kind, he did not like to meet before this He Spirit. them. "I am the Ghost of Christmas Present," said "Look upon me!" the Spirit. Scrooge reverently did so. It was clothed in one simple green robe, or mantle, bordered with This garment hung so loosely on the white fur. figure that capacious breast was bare, as its if disdaining to be warded or concealed by any artifice. Its feet, observable beneath the ample were also bare, and on its wore no other covering than a holly wreath, set here and there with shining icicles. Its dark brown curls were long and free free as folds of the garment, head it — its genial face, its and its cheery voice, its joyful air. sparkling eye, its its unconstrained Girded round its open hand, demeanor, middle was an antique scabbard, but no sword was in it,
  • 66. ' A Christmas Carol and the ancient was sheath 145 eaten up with rust. "You have never seen the exclaimed the like of me before!" Spirit. "Never!" Scrooge made answer "Have members young) to it. never walked forth with the younger my of my family, meaning (for I am elder brothers born in these very later years?" pursued the Phantom. "I don't think am afraid I "I have," said Scrooge. I Have you had many have not. brothers, Spirit?" "More than hundred," eighteen said the Ghost. "A tremendous family to provide for!" mut- tered Scrooge. The Ghost of Christmas Present rose. "Spirit," said Scrooge, submissively, "con- me where you duct will. on compulsion, and working now. I To-night, me went forth learnt a lesson I if which is you have aught to by it." Scrooge did as he was told, teach me, ' ' let Touch Holly, my profit robe ! ' mistletoe, and held red berries, geese, game, poultry, ivy, vanished instantly. it fast. turkeys, brawn, meat, pigs, sau- and punch So did the room, the sages, oysters, pies, puddings, fruit, all last night
  • 67. — 1 46 fire, Christmas - Tide. the ruddy glow, the hour of night, and they stood in the city streets on Christmas morning, where made (for the weather was severe) the people a rough, but brisk and not unpleasant kind snow from the pave- of music in scraping the ment in front of their dwellings, and tops of their houses, to the boys to see it from the whence it was mad delight come plumping down into the road below, and splitting into artificial little snow-storms. The house windows the and fronts looked black enough, blacker, contrasting with the smooth, white sheet of snow upon the roofs, and with the dirtier snow upon the ground; which deposit had been ploughed up in deep fur- last rows by the heavy wheels of carts and wagons furrows that crossed and re-crossed each other hundreds of branched off, times where and made the great streets intricate channels hard to trace in the thick, yellow mud The sky was gloomy and the shortest streets and icy water. were choked up with a dingy mist, half thawed, half frozen, whose heavier particles descended in a shower of sooty atoms, as if all the chimneys in Great Britain had, by one consent, caught fire, and were blazing away to their dear hearts' There was nothing very cheerful the climate of the town, and yet was there an content. in air
  • 68. A Christmas Carol. 147 of cheerfulness abroad that the clearest summer and brightest summer sun might have endeavFor the people who ored to diffuse in vain. air were shoveling away on the housetops were jovial and of full exchanging a facetious snowball missile far than heartily if it many went out calling glee; jest and not right, one —better-natured wordy a to now and then another from the parapets, and —laughing less heartily The poulterers' shops were went wrong. and the fruiterers' were radiant There were great, round, potin their glory. bellied baskets of chestnuts, shaped like the if it still half open, waistcoats of jolly old gentlemen, lolling at the doors, and tumbling out into the street in their There were ruddy, brown- apoplectic opulence. broad-girthed faced, in the friars, fatness of Spanish onions, growth their like shining Spanish and winking from their shelves in wanton went by, and glanced slyness at the girls as they demurely at the hung-up mistletoe. There were and apples clustered high in blooming pyramids; there were bunches of grapes made, pears in the shopkeepers' benevolence, to dangle from conspicuous hooks, that people's mouths might water gratis as they passed; there were piles of filberts, mossy and brown, fragrance, ancient walks recalling, among in their the woods, and
  • 69. 1 48 Christmas - Tide. pleasant shufflings ankle deep through withered leaves; there were Norfolk Biffins, squab and swarthy, setting off the yellow of the oranges and lemons, and in the great compactness of their juicy persons, urgently entreating to be carried home and beseeching paper bags and eaten after The very gold and dinner. among in silver fish, set forth these choice fruits in a bowl, though mem- bers of a dull and stagnant blooded race, appeared to know that there to a fish world little The was something going on, went gasping round and round in and their slow and passionless excitement. grocers'! oh the grocers'! nearly closed, with perhaps two shutters down, or one; through those gaps such glimpses! It but was not alone that the scales descending on the counter made a merry sound, roller parted or company that the twine so briskly, or up and down and that the canisters were tricks, or even that the blended scents of tea and coffee the rattled were so grateful raisins were so to the nose, or even that and plentiful almonds so extremely white, the mon like juggling pure, so long and straight, the other spices so delicious, the candied fruits so with molten sugar as to make caked and spotted the coldest look- ers-on feel faint and subsequently bilious. was the sticks of cinna- it that the figs Nor were moist and pulpy, or that
  • 70. A Christmas Carol. 149 the French plums blushed in modest tartness from their highly decorated boxes, or that everything was good to eat and in but the customers were its Christmas dress; and so so hurried all eager in the hopeful promise of the day, that they tumbled up against each other at the door, and crashing their wicker baskets wildly, left upon the counter, and came runfetch them, and committed hun- their purchases ning back to dreds of the like mistakes, in the best humor possible; while the grocer and his people were so frank and fresh that the polished hearts with which they fastened their aprons behind might have been their own, worn outside for general inspection, and for Christmas daws to peck at if they chose. But soon the steeples called good people all and chapel, and away they came, flocking through the streets in their best clothes, and to church with their gayest faces. emerged from scores At the same time there of by-streets, lanes, and nameless turnings, innumerable people, carrying their dinners to the bakers' shops. these poor revelers appeared to Spirit very much, for he The sight of interest the stood with Scrooge beside him in a baker's doorway, and taking off the covers as their bearers passed, sprinkled incense on their dinners from his torch. And
  • 71. Christmas - Tide. 150 was a very uncommon kind of torch, for once when there were angry words between some dinner-carriers who had jostled each other, he shed a few drops of water on them from it, and their good humor was restored directly, for they said, it was a shame to quarrel upon it or twice And Christmas Day. so it so it was! God love it, was! In time the bells ceased and the bakers were shut up; and yet there was a genial shadowing forth of these dinners and the progress of all their cooking in the thawed blotch of wet above each baker's oven, where the pavement smoked as the stones were cooking, too. if ' ' Is there a peculiar flavor in what you sprinkle from your torch?" asked Scrooge. "There my own." is; "Would apply to any kind of dinner on it day?" asked Scrooge. "To any kindly given. this To a poor one most." "Why poor one most?" asked Scrooge. to a "Because "Spirit," it needs said it most." Scrooge, thought, "I wonder you, of many worlds about us, after all a moment's the beings in the should desire to cramp these people's opportunities of innocent enjoy- ment."
  • 72. ' A "I!" Christmas Carol. 151 cried the Spirit. "You would means deprive them of their of dining every seventh day, often the only day on which they can be said to dine said all," at Scrooge, "wouldn't you?" "I!" cried the Spirit. "You seek to close these places on the sev- enth day," said Scrooge, same thing. "/ seek!" exclaimed the me "Forgive done "and in it comes to the ' if I Spirit. am wrong. your name, or at least It has been in that of your family," said Scrooge. • "There are some upon returned the Spirit, and who do hatred, their envy, "who this earth of lay claim to deeds of passion, pride, bigotry, and selfishness name, who are as strange to us and and kin as that, if they had never lived. all yours," know us, ill-will, in our our kith Remember and charge their doings on themselves, not us." Scrooge promised that he would, and they went on, invisible, as they the suburbs of the town. quality of the Ghost (which Scrooge had observed at the baker's), that size, had been before, into It was a remarkable notwithstanding his gigantic he could accommodate himself to any place with easCj and that he stood beneath a low roof
  • 73. 1 Christmas - Tide. 52 quite as gracefully and like a supernatural crea- ture as was possible he could have done it in any lofty hall. And else it ture, led perhaps had Spirit was and him was the pleasure the good off this power of his, or it showing in his own kind, generous, hearty na- sympathy with his all poor men, that straight to Scrooge's clerk's; for there he went, and took Scrooge with him, holding to his robe; and on the threshold of the door the Spirit smiled, and stopped to bless Bob Cratchit's dwelling with the sprinklings of his torch. Think of that! Bob had but fifteen "Bob" a-week himself; he pocketed on Saturdays but fifteen copies of his Christian name; and yet the Ghost of Christmas Present blessed his fourroomed house! Then up rose Mrs. Cratchit, Cratchit's wife, dressed out but poorly in a twice-turned gown, but brave in ribbons, which are cheap and make a goodly show for sixpence; and she laid the cloth, assisted by Belinda Cratchit, second of her daughters, also brave in ribbons; while Master Peter Cratchit plunged a fork into the saucepan of potatoes, and getting the corners of his mon- strous shirt collar (Bob's private property, con- ferred upon into his his son and heir in honor of the day) mouth, rejoiced to find himself so gal-
  • 74. ' A lantly attired, Christmas Carol. and yearned to show the fashionable parks. Cratchits, boy and girl, 153 his linen in And now two came tearing in, smaller scream- ing that outside the baker's they had smelt the goose and known it for their own, and basking in luxurious thoughts of sage and onion, these young Cratchits danced about the and table, exalted Master Peter Cratchit to the skies, while he (not proud, although his collars nearly choked him) blew the fire until the slow potatoes bub- bling up knocked loudly at the saucepan lid to be led out and peeled. "What has ever got your precious father then?" said Mrs. Cratchit. And Martha Tiny Tim! Christmas Day by "And your brother, warn't as late half an hour. "Here's Martha, mother!" last ' said a girl, ap- pearing as she spoke. "Here's Martha, mother!" cried the two young Cratchits. "Hurrah! There's such a goose, Martha!" "Why, bless your heart alive, my dear, how you are!" said Mrs. Cratchit, kissing her a dozen times, and taking off her shawl and bonlate net for her with officious zeal. "We'd replied the work to finish up last night," "and had to clear away this a deal of girl, morning, mother!"
  • 75. " 1 Christmas - Tide. 54 "Well, never mind so long as you are come, "Sit ye down before the and have a warm. Lord bless said Mrs. Cratchit. fire, my dear, ye!" "No, no! There's father coming," cried young Cratchits, who were everywhere at once. "Hide, Martha, hide!" So Martha hid herself, and in came little Bob, the father, with at least three feet of com- the two forter, exclusive of the fringe, hanging down before him, and his threadbare clothes darned up and brushed to look seasonable, and Tiny Tim upon his shoulder. Alas for Tiny Tim, he bore a little crutch and had his limbs supported by an iron frame! "Why, Where's our Martha.'"' cried Bob Cratchit, looking round. "Not coming," said Mrs. Cratchit. "Not coming!" said Bob, with a sudden declension in his high spirits, for he had been Tim's blood horse all the way from church, and had come home rampant; "not coming upon Christmas Day!" Martha didn't like to see him disappointed, were only a joke, so she came out prematurely from behind the closet door and ran into his arms, while the two young Cratchits hustled Tiny Tim and bore him off into the wash-house. if it
  • 76. ' A that he Christmas Carol. 155 might hear the pudding singing in the copper. "And how did little Tim behave?" asked Mrs. Cratchit, when she had credulity, rallied and Bob had hugged his Bob on his daughter to his heart's content. "As good Somehow he as gold," said Bob, "and better. by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me coming home that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day who made lame beggars walk and blind men see. gets thoughtful, sitting ' Bob's voice was tremulous when he told them this, and trembled more when he said that Tiny Tim was growing strong and hearty. His active little crutch was heard upon the floor, and back came Tiny Tim before another word was spoken, escorted by his brother sister to his stool before the fire, turning up his cuffs and and while Bob, — as if, poor fellow, they were capable of being made more shabby compounded some hot mixture in a jug with gin and lemons, and stirred it it — round and round and put on the hob to simmer, Master Peter and the two ubiquitous young Cratchits went to fetch the
  • 77. 1 Christmas - Tide. 56 goose, with which they soon returned in high procession. Such a bustle ensued you might have that thought a goose the rarest of birds; a feath- all ered phenomenon, to which a black swan was a matter of course very like it — and in truth the gravy (ready beforehand in a hissing hot; Master Peter with incredible vigor; was something it Mrs. Cratchit made in that house. little mashed saucepan) the potatoes Miss Belinda sweetened up the apple sauce; Martha dusted the hot plates; Bob took Tiny Tim beside him in a tiny corner at the table; the two young Cratchits set chairs for everybody, not forgetting themselves, and mounting guard upon their posts, crammed spoons into their mouths, lest for goose before their turn At last said. they should shriek came It was succeeded by as Mrs. Cratchit, when she did, looking slowly all all it along the in the breast; and when the long-expected gush of stuffing issued delight arose was a breathless pause, carving-knife, prepared to plunge but be helped. to the dishes were set on, and grace forth, one murmur of round the board, and even Tiny Tim, excited by the two young Cratchits, beat on the table with the handle of his knife, and feebly cried Hurrah! There never was such a goose. Bob said he
  • 78. A Christmas Carol. there believe didn't cooked. ever was tenderness Its and 157 such a goose size flavor, and cheapness, were the themes of universal admira- Eked tion. potatoes it sauce and mashed out by apple was a sufficient dinner for the whole family; indeed, as Mrs. Cratchit said with great delight (surveying one small atom the dish), they hadn't ate it every one had had enough, of a all at bone upon Yet last! and the youngest Cratchits in particular were steeped in sage and But now, the plates onion to the eyebrows! being changed by Miss Belinda, Mrs. Cratchit the left nesses — room alone to take —too nervous to bear wit- the pudding up and bring it in. Suppose it should not be done enough! Suppose it should break in turning out! Suppose somebody should have got over the wall of the back yard and stolen it while they were merry with the goose a supposition at which — the two young Cratchits of horrors Hallo! became A All sorts washing-day! The pud- great deal of steam! ding was out of the copper. like livid! were supposed. That was the A smell like a cloth. A smell an eating-house and a pastry-cook's next door to each other, with a laundress's next door to that! That was the pudding. In half a min-
  • 79. 1 Christmas - Tide. 58 ute Mrs. Cratchit entered proudly —with — flushed, but smiling pudding, the like speckled a canon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top. Oh, said, a wonderful and calmly, Bob pudding! too, that Cratchit he regarded it as the greatest success achieved by Mrs. Cratchit since Mrs. Cratchit said that now the their marriage. weight was off her mind, she would confess she had had her doubts about the quantity of flour. Everybody had something to say about it, but nobody said or thought it was at all a small pudding for a large family. It would have been flat heresy to do so. Any Cratchit would have blushed to hint At last the such a thing. at dinner was all done, the cloth was made cleared, the hearth swept, and the The compound being tasted and con- in the jug apples and sidered perfect, upon the the fire. Then meaning up. oranges were put and a shovelful of chestnuts on table, round the hearth, circle, fire all in the half a one, elbow stood the Cratchit family drew what Bob Cratchit called a and at Bob Cratchit's family display of glass: two tumblers and a custard-cup without a handle. These held the hot stuff from the ever, as well as golden goblets jug, how- would have done;
  • 80. ' ' A Christmas and Bob served it Carol. 159 out with beaming looks, while the chestnuts on the fire sputtered and cracked "God He my all, Merry Christ- bless us!" the family re-echoed. all Tiny Tim, all. sat very close to his father's side upon Bob held little stool. in his, as God dears. bless us every one!" said the last of his "A Then Bob proposed: noisily. mas to us Which if keep him by his withered little his side, hand and wished to and dreaded that he might he loved the child, be taken from him. "Spirit," said Scrooge, with an interest he had never felt me before, "tell if Tiny Tim will live." "I see a vacant seat," replied the Ghost, "in the poor chimney-corner, and a crutch with- an owner, carefully preserved. If these shadows remain unaltered by the future, the out child will die. ' "No, no," Spirit! said "Oh, Scrooge. no, kind say he will be spared." "If these shadows remain unaltered by the future, none other of my race," returned the What Ghost, "will find him here. he be like to die, he had better do crease the surplus population. then? it, If and de- ' Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words
  • 81. 1 6o Christmas - Tide. quoted by the Spirit, and was overcome with penitence and grief. "Man," heart, until man you be said the Ghost, "if in not adamant, forbear that wicked cant you have discovered What the surplus is, is it. Will you decide what men live, what men shall die? It may be that, and Where shall in the sight of and less man's fit heaven, you are more worthless to live than millions like this poor Oh, God, child. to hear the insect the leaf pronouncing on the too hungry brothers his Scrooge bent in the before much life on among dust!" the Ghost's rebuke, and trembling, cast his eyes upon the ground. But he raised them speedily on hearing his own name. "Mr. Scrooge!" said Bob; "I'll give you Mr. Scrooge, the founder of the feast!" "The founder of the feast, indeed!" cried "I wish I had him here. I'd give him a piece of my mind to feast upon, and I hope he'd have a good appetite for Mrs. Cratchit, reddening. it." "My dear," said Bob, "the children! Christ- mas Day." "It should be Christmas Day, said she, "on which one I am sure," drinks the health of such an odious, stingy, hard, unfeeling man as
  • 82. A i6i Christmas Carol. Mr. Scrooge. You know he is, Robert! Nobody knows it better than you do, poor fellow!" "My dear, " was Bob's mild answer, "Christ- mas Day." "I'll drink his health for your sake and the day's," said Mrs. Cratchit, "not for Long his. A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! He'll be very merry and very happy, I have no doubt!" The children drank the toast after her. It was the first of their proceedings which had no heartiness. Tiny Tim drank it last of all, but Scrooge was the he didn't care twopence for it. Ogre of the family. The mention of his name cast a dark shadow on the party, which was not life to him! dispelled for full five minutes. After it had passed away, they were ten times merrier than before, from the mere relief of Scrooge the baleful being eye for Bob done with. them how he had a situation Master Peter, which would bring Cratchit told in his in, if weekly. The two young Cratchits laughed tremendously at the obtained, full five-and-sixpence idea of Peter's being a man of business; and Peter himself looked thoughtfully at the between his collars, as if fire what particular investments he should when he came from he were deliberating favor into the receipt of that bewilder-
  • 83. 1 Christmas - Tide. 62 Martha, ing income. at a milliner's, who was a poor apprentice then told them what kind of work she had to do, and how many hours she worked at a stretch, and how she meant to lie abed to-morrow morning for a good long rest; to-morrow being a holiday she passed at home. Also how she had seen a countess and a lord some days about as up before, and how the lord "was much as Peter"; at which Peter pulled tall his collars so high that seen his head if you couldn't have you had been there. All this time the chestnuts and the jug went round and round, and by and by they had a song, about a lost child traveling in the snow, from Tiny Tim, who had voice, a plaintive little and sang it very well indeed. There was nothing of high mark in this. not a handsome family; they were not well dressed; their shoes were far from being waterproof; their clothes were scanty; They were and Peter might have known, and very likely But they did, the inside of a pawnbroker's. were happy, grateful, pleased with and contented with the time; faded and looked happier yet lings of the had Tim, his eye one another, and when they in the bright sprink- Spirit's torch at parting, upon them, and until the last. Scrooge especially on Tiny
  • 84. — A By this Christmas Carol. time it 163 was getting dark and snowing pretty heavily, and as Scrooge and the Spirit went along the streets, the brightness of the roaring tires in kitchens, parlors, and sorts all Here the flickering rooms was wonderful. of the blaze showed preparations for a cozy dinner, with hot plates baking through and through of before the fire, and deep red curtains, ready to There be drawn to shut out cold and darkness. the children of the house were running out all into the snow meet to their married sisters, brothers, cousins, uncles, aunts, and be the first to greet them. Here, again, were shadows on windowblind of the there a group of fur-booted, and all and hooded and assembling; guests handsome girls, all chattering at once, tripped some near neighbor's house, where, woe upon the single man who saw them enter artful witches, well they knew it in a glow! But if you had judged from the numbers of people on their way to friendly gatherings, you might have thought that no one was at home to give them welcome when they got there, instead lightly off to — of every house expecting up its fires how the company, and half-chimney high. Ghost exulted. breadth of breast, piling Blessings on How and opened it its bared it, its capacious palm, and floated on, outpouring, with a gener-
  • 85. 1 Christmas- Tide. 64 ous hand, its thing within who bright and harmless mirth on every- The very reach! its lamplighter, ran on before, dotting the dusky street with specks of light, and who was dressed to spend the evening somewhere, laughed out loudly as the though passed, Spirit lamplighter kenned the company but little had he that any Christmas! And now, without a word of warning from upon a bleak and desert the Ghost, they stood moor, where monstrous masses of rude stone were cast about, as though it were the burial- place of giants, and water spread itself whereso- ever it listed, or would have done so, but for the frost that held moss and in prisoner; and nothing it furze, grew but Down and coarse, rank grass. the west the setting sun had left a streak of fiery red, which glared upon the desolation for an instant like a sullen eye, lower, lower yet, was and frowning lower, lost in the thick gloom of darkest night. "What place is "A place where this?" asked Scrooge. miners live, who bowels of the earth," returned the they know me. A light swiftly labor in the Spirit. "But See!" shone from the window of a hut, and they advanced through the wall of towards mud and it. Passing stone, they found a
  • 86. — A cheerful fire. Christmas Carol. 165 company assembled round a glowing old, old man and woman, with their An children and their children's children, and another generation beyond that, all The their holiday attire. decked out gayly in old man, in a voice seldom rose above the howling of the wind upon the barren waste, was singing them a Christmas song it had been a very old song when he was a boy and from time to time they So surely as they all joined in the chorus. that — — raised their voices, the old man got quite blithe and loud, and so surely as they stopped, his vigor sank again. The Spirit did not tarry here, but bade Scrooge hold his robe, and passing on above the moor, sped To —whither? Not to sea.-* To sea. Scrooge's horror, looking back, he saw the last of the land, a frightful range of rocks behind them, and his ears were deafened by the thundering of water, as among it rolled and roared, and raged the dreadful caverns fiercely tried to undermine the it had worn, and earth. Built upon a dismal reef of sunken rocks, some league or so from shore, on which the waters chafed and dashed, the wild year through, Great heaps seaweed clung to its base, and storm birds born of the wind one might suppose, as seaweed there stood a solitary lighthouse. of
  • 87. 1 Christmas- Tide. 66 — rose and fell about it, like the waves they skimmed. But even here, two men who watched the light had made a fire, that through the loophole of the water shed out a ray of bright- in the thick stone wall on the awful ness Joining sea. hands over the rough table their horny which they at sat, they wished each other Merry Christmas in their can of grog; and one of them with his face all —the elder, too, damaged and scarred with hard weather, as the figurehead of an old ship might be — struck up a sturdy song that was like a gale in itself. Again the Ghost sped and heaving sea — on, on — on, above the black until, being far away, as he told Scrooge, from any shore, they lighted on a ship. They stood beside the helmsman at the wheel, the lookout in the bow, the officers who had their the watch several — dark, stations; but ghostly figures in every them hummed a Christmas man among tune, had a or Christmas thought, or spoke below his breath to his companion of some bygone Christmas Day, with homeward hopes belonging every man on to it. And board, waking or sleeping, good or bad, had had a kinder word for another on that day than on any day shared to some extent in in the year; and had its festivities; and had
  • 88. — A 167 Christmas Carol. remembered those he cared for at a distance; and had known that they delighted to remember him. was a great surprise to Scrooge, while moaning of the wind, and thinking what a solemn thing it was to move on through the lonely darkness over an unknown It listening to the whose depths were secrets as profound as it was a great surprise to Scrooge, while It was a thus engaged to hear a hearty laugh. abyss, death, much it greater surprise to Scrooge to recognize own nephew's and as his dry, bright, to find himself in a gleaming room, with the Spirit standing smiling by his side, and looking at that same nephew with approving "Ha, ha!" "Ha, ha, ha!" laughed affability! Scrooge's nephew. you should happen, by any unlikely chance, a man more blest in a laugh than Scrooge's nephew, all I can say is, I should like Introduce him to me, and to know him, too. If to I'll know cultivate his acquaintance. It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there and sorrow, there sistibly When is is infection in disease nothing in the world so irre- contagious as laughter and good humor. Scrooge's nephew laughed in this way holding his sides, rolling his head, and twisting
  • 89. — 1 Christmas - Tide. 68 his face into the most extravagant contortions Scrooge's niece, by marriage, laughed as heartily and as he, assembled friends being not their a bit behindhand, roared out "Ha, "He ha! Ha, ha, ha, lustily. ha!" said that Christmas was a it, humbug, "He live!" cried Scrooge's nephew. as I believed too!" "More shame for him, Fred!" said Scrooge's those Bless indignantly. niece, women; they never do anything by halves, they are always in earnest. She was very With a exceedingly pretty. pretty, a dimpled, surprised-looking, capital face; ripe little mouth that as no doubt kissed, it seemed made was; all to be kinds of good dots about her chin that melted into one little another when she laughed; and the sunniest pair you ever saw in any little creature's Altogether she was what you would have provoking, you know; but satisfactory, of eyes head. called too. Oh, perfectly "He's satisfactory. a comical old fellow," said Scrooge's nephew, "that's the as he might be. their truth, and not so pleasant However, his offenses carry own punishment, and against I have nothing to say him." "I'm sure he is very rich, Fred," hinted
  • 90. ' ' A Christmas Carol "At Scrooge's niece. least 169 you always tell 7ne so." "What my of that, "His wealth nephew. don't do any good with comfortable with self — faction of thinking dear!" said Scrooge's is no use to him. He He don't make himHe hasn't the satis- of it. it. ha, ha, ha! going to benefit us with — that he is ever ' it. "I have no patience with him," observed Scrooge's niece's sisters and Scrooge's niece. all the other ladies, expressed the "Oh, I am sorry for him; if I tried. self, same opinion. "I have!" said Scrooge's nephew, I couldn't be angry with him Who. suffers by his Here, he takes always. whims! Him- into his ill it head to and he won't come and dine with us. What's the consequence? He don't lose much dislike us, of a dinner. ' "Indeed, I think he loses a very good din- ner," interrupted Scrooge's niece. else said the same, Everybody and they must be allowed to have been competent judges, because they had just had dinner, and with the dessert upon the table, were clustered round the fire, by lamplight. "Well, I'm very glad Scrooge's nephew, hear it," to "because I faith in these young housekeepers. you Topper?" say. said haven't great What do
  • 91. I yo Christmas - Tide. Topper had clearly got his eye Scrooge's niece's bachelor was a wretched outcast, Whereas Scrooge's of who had no an opinion on the express to right upon one he answered that a sisters, for niece's sister subject. — the plump one with the lace tucker; not the one with the roses — blushed. "Do go on, Fred," said Scrooge's "He clapping her hands. he begins to say; he niece, never finishes what such a ridiculous fellow!" is Scrooge's nephew reveled in another laugh, and as it was impossible to keep the infection though the plump sister tried hard to do it off — — his example was unanimously followed. "I was only going to say," said Scrooge's nephew, "that the consequence of his taking a with aromatic vinegar dislike to us, as and not making merry with think, that he loses I which could do him no harm. loses pleasanter his own it — he I is, am sure he find in thoughts, either in his moldy old office same chance every till I companions than he can or his dusty chambers. not, for us, some pleasant moments I pity him. dies, year, I mean to give whether he He may rail at him the likes it or Christmas but he can't help thinking better of defy him — if good temper, year he finds me after year, going there, in and saying. Uncle
  • 92. ' A Scrooge, how Christmas Carol. are you? If it 171 only puts him in the vein to leave his poor clerk fifty pounds, that's something, and day. I think I shook him yester- ' It was their turn to laugh good-natured, and not laughed at the notion much caring what they they laughed at any rate, he at so that encouraged them now, But being thoroughly of his shaking Scrooge, in their merriment and passed the bottle joyously. After tea, they had some music, for they were a musical family, and knew what they were about, when they sung a Glee or Catch, I can assure you, especially Topper, away in the bass like a who could growl good one, and never swell the large veins in his forehead, or get red in the face over it. Scrooge's niece played well upon the harp, and played little air (a whistle it among other tunes a simple — mere nothing you might learn to in two minutes), which had been familiar to the child who fetched Scrooge from the boarding-school, as he had been reminded by the Ghost of Christmas Past. When the strain of music sounded, all the things that Ghost had shown him came upon his mind, he softened more and more, and thought that if he could have listened to it often years ago, he might have cultivated the kindness of life for his own
  • 93. 1 72 Christinas - Tide. happiness with his own hands, without resorting to the sexton's spade that buried Jacob Marley. But they didn't devote the whole evening to After a while they played at music. for it is good to forfeits, be children sometimes, and at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself. Stop! There was first a game at blind-man's buff. Of course And I no more believe that Topper there was. was really blind than I believe he had eyes in his My opinion is that it was a done thing boots. between him and Scrooge's nephew, and that never better than the Ghost of Christmas Present way he went after that plump knew it. The sister in the lace tucker was an outrage on the credulity of human Knocking down the fire-irons, tumbling over the chairs, bumping against the piano, nature. smothering himself among the curtains, wherever she went, there went he! He always knew He wouldn't catch where the plump sister was. If you had fallen up against him anybody else. (as some of them did on purpose), he would have made a feint of endeavoring to seize you, which would have been an affront to your understanding, and would instantly have sidled off in the She often cried direction of the plump sister. out that it wasn't fair, and it really was not. But when at last he caught her; when, in spite
  • 94. A of Christmas Carol. 173 her silken rustlings, and her rapid flutter- all whence was no escape; then his conduct was the For his pretending not to know most execrable. her, his pretending that it was necessary to touch ings past him, he got her into a corner there her head-dress, and further to assure himself of her identity by pressing a certain ring upon her finger, vile, and a certain chain about her neck, was No doubt she told him her monstrous! opinion of office, when, another blind it, man being in they were so very confidential together behind the curtains. Scrooge's niece was not one of the blind- man's buff party, but was made comfortable with a large chair and a footstool, in a snug corner, where the Ghost and Scrooge were close But she joined in the forfeits and behind her. loved her love to admiration with of the alphabet. Likewise all the letters game at the When, and Where, she was very of great, How, and to the secret joy of Scrooge's nephew, beat her sisters hollow, as though they were sharp Topper could have told you. girls, too, There might have been twenty people there, young and but they all played, wholly forgetting, was going in the interest on, that his voice their ears, he old, and so did Scrooge, for he had in what made no sound sometimes came out with in his guess
  • 95. Christmas- Tide. 174 quite loud, and very often guessed quite right, too; for the sharpest needle, best Whitechapel, warranted not to cut in the eye, was not sharper than Scrooge; blunt as he took it in his head to be. The Ghost was greatly pleased to find him in mood, and looked upon him with such favor that he begged like a boy to be allowed to stay But this the Spirit until the guests departed. said could not be done. "Here is a new game, " said Scrooge. "One half-hour, Spirit, only one!" It was a game called Yes and No, where Scrooge's nephew had to think of something, and the rest must find out what; he only answer- this ing to their questions yes or no, as the case was. The brisk fire of questioning to which he exposed elicited was from him that he was thinking of an animal, a live animal, rather a disagreeable animal, a savage animal, an animal that growled and grunted sometimes, and talked sometimes, and lived in London, and walked about the and wasn't made a show of, and wasn't by anybody, and didn't live in a menagerie, and was never killed in a market, and was not streets, led a horse, or an ass, or a cow, or a bull, or a tiger, or a dog, or a pig, or a cat, or a bear. At every fresh question that was put to him,
  • 96. A Christmas Carol. nephew burst this 175 into a fresh roar of laughter, and was so inexpressibly tickled that he was At obliged to get up off the sofa and stamp. plump sister, falling "I have found it I know what it Fred! last the into a similar state, cried out, out! it is, is!" "What is I know what it?" cried Fred. "It's your Uncle Scro-o-o-o-oge!" Which it Admiration was the certainly was. some objected universal sentiment, though the reply to "Is it that a bear?" ought to have been "Yes," inasmuch as an answer in the negative was sufficient to have diverted their thoughts from Mr. Scrooge, supposing they had ever had any tendency that way. "He has given us plenty of merriment, sure," said Fred, "and not it to drink his health. I am would be ungrateful Here mulled wine ready to our hand " and I say, 'Uncle Scrooge!' is a glass of at the moment; "Well! Uncle Scrooge!" they cried. "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to the old man, v/hatever he is!" said Scrooge's "He wouldn't take it from me, but nephew. may he have it, nevertheless. Uncle Scrooge!" Uncle Scrooge had imperceptibly become so gay and light of heart that he would have pledged the unconscious company in return, and
  • 97. 1 Christmas - Tide. 76 thanked them in an inaudible speech if the Ghost had given him time. But the whole scene passed off in the breath of the last word spoken by his nephew, and he and the were again upon Spirit their travels. Much they saw, and far they went, and homes they The end. visited, many but always with a happy and sick beds, Spirit stood beside they were cheerful; on foreign lands, and they were close at home; by struggling men, and they were patient in their greater hope; by poverty, In almshouse, hospital, and and it was rich. jail, in misery's every refuge, where vain man in had not made his little brief authority door and barred the Spirit out, he fast the left his bless- ing and taught Scrooge his precepts. It was a long night, if it were only a night; but Scrooge had his doubts of this, because the Christmas holidays appeared to be condensed into the space of time they passed together. was strange, too, that while It Scrooge remained unaltered in his outward form, the Ghost grew older, clearly older. Scrooge had observed change, but never spoke of it until children's Twelfth-Night party, at the they "Are its hair a when, looking Spirit as they stood together in an place, he noticed that this left open was gray. spirits' lives so short.'"' asked Scrooge.
  • 98. ' A "My ' Christmas Carol. upon life plied the Ghost. this ' It ' globe is 177 very brief," re- ends to-night. ' "To-night!" cried Scrooge. "To-night The chimes were past eleven at that me "Forgive ask," is ringing the three-quarters moment. am I if "but Spirit's robe, not justified in what looking Scrooge, said The time Hark! at midnight. ' drawing near. intently I the at see something strange, and I not belonging to yourself, protruding from your Is skirts. it a foot or a claw?" "It might be a claw, for the flesh there upon was the it," "Look here." From the foldings children, wretched, They miserable. of its robe abject, look its here. at is reply. brought two it frightful, down knelt clung upon the outside of "Oh, man! sorrowful Spirit's its hideous, feet, and garment. Look, look down here!" exclaimed the Ghost. They were a boy and Yellow, meager, girl. ragged, scowling, wolfish, but prostrate, too, in their humility. have with filled its Where graceful their features out freshest tints, youth should and touched them a stale and shriveled hand, like that of age, had pinched and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where
  • 99. 1 Christmas - Tide, 78 angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked No and glared out menacing. change, no degra- no perversion of humanity dation, through any grade, in the mysteries of wonderful creation, all has monsters half so horrible and dread. Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shov/n to him in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves rather than be parties to a of such lie enormous magnitude. they yours?" are "Spirit, Scrooge could say no more. "They are man's," said the down upon them, "and they and This this boy, for is Doom, the towards the Admit ye! make it on his Want. brow I to is city. it worse. "Have Spirit, for me, Igno- Beware them both, of all beware most see that written which unless the writing be erased. cried it!" girl is of their degree, but all cling This boy appealing from their fathers. rance. Spirit, looking stretching out its "Slander those who Deny hand tell it your factious purposes, and And abide the end!" they no refuge or resource.''" cried Scrooge. "Are there no prisons?" said the Spirit, turn- ing on him "Are there no workhouses?" for the last time with his own words.
  • 100. A The Christfnas Carol. 179 bell struck twelve. Scrooge looked about him for the Ghost, and saw not. it As the last stroke ceased to vibrate, remembered the prediction of old Jacob Marley, and lifting up his eyes, beheld a solemn Phantom, draped and hooded, coming like a mist he along the ground towards him. STAVE FOUR. THE LAST OF THE The Phantom proached. down upon bent through which gravely, slowly, When it silently ap- came near him, Scrooge his knee; for in the very air moved Spirit this SPIRITS. it seemed to gloom and mystery. was shrouded in a deep, black garment, scatter It which concealed nothing of left But for hand. visible this it its face, felt that it was came beside him, and ence filled him with no more, for the "I am in a tall difficult that was surrounded. it and its stately it He knew spoke nor moved. presence of Come?" when mysterious pres- solemn dread. Spirit neither the Christmas Yet to form, and would have been from the darkness by which He its save one outstretched from the night, and separate to detach its figure it head, its it the Ghost of said Scrooge.
  • 101. 1 8o Christmas - Tide. The with its Spirit answered not, but pointed onward hand. "You me shadows show are about to of the things that have not happened, but will happen in the time before us," Scrooge pursued. "Is that so, Spirit.-"' The upper portion of the garment tracted for an instant in had inclined its its folds, as if was conthe Spirit That was the only answer head. he received. Although well used time, this much to ghostly Scrooge feared the company by silent shape so that his legs trembled beneath him, and he found that he could hardly stand when he prepared to follow it. The Spirit paused a moment, as observing his condition, and giving him time to recover. It But Scrooge was all the worse for this. thrilled him with a vague uncertain horror to know that behind the dusky shroud there were ghostly eyes intently fixed upon him, while he, though he stretched his own to the utmost, could see nothing but a spectral hand and one great heap of black. "Ghost of the Future!" he exclaimed, "I you more than any specter I have seen. fear But as I know your purpose and as I hope to live to be is to do another me good, man from
  • 102. A what was, I and do I Christmas Carol. am prepared to bear with a thankful heart. it you company, Will you not speak to me?" It gave him no reply. The hand was pointed straight before them. **Lead on!" said Scrooge. "Lead on! The waning fast, and it is precious time to Lead on. Spirit!" me, I know. The Phantom moved away as it had come night is towards him. of its Scrooge followed in the shadow which bore him up, he thought, and dress, him along. carried They seemed to enter the city, for seemed to spring up about them But there and encompass them of its own act. they were in the heart of it, on 'Change, amongst the merchants, who hurried up and down, and scarcely the city rather chinked the in money in their pockets, and conversed groups, and looked at their watches, and trifled thoughtfully with their great gold seals, and so forth, as The Scrooge had seen them often. Spirit stopped beside business men. one little knot of Observing that the hand was pointed to them, Scrooge advanced to listen to their talk. "No, " chin, I said a great fat man with "I don't know much about only know he's dead." it, a monstrous either way.
  • 103. 1 Christmas- Tide. 82 "When "Last did he die?" inquired another. night, I believe." "Why, what was asked a the matter with him?" third, taking a vast quantity of snuff out of a very large snuff-box. "I thought he'd never die." "God knows," said the first, with a yawn. "What has he done with his money?" asked a red-faced gentleman with a pendulous excres- cence on the end of his nose, that shook gills of like the a turkey-cock. "I haven't heard," said the man with the "Left it to his comyawning again. large chin, pany, perhaps. all I He hasn't left it to inc. That's know." This pleasantry was received with a general laugh. "It's likely to be a very cheap funeral," said same speaker; "for upon my life I don't Suppose we make of anybody to go to it. the know up a party and volunteer?" "I don't mind going if a lunch is provided," observed the gentleman with the excrescence on "But I must be fed, if I make one." his nose. Another laugh. "Well, I am the most disinterested among you, after all," said the first speaker, "for never wear black gloves, and I I never eat lunch.
  • 104. A But I Christmas Carol. offer to go, I'll come to think of if it, anybody I'm not 183 else will. wasn't his most particular friend, for stop and speak whenever we When sure that at all we used I to By-by!" met. away and Scrooge knew the mixed with other groups. men, and looked towards the Spirit for an explaSpeakers and listeners strolled nation. The Phantom finger pointed to listened thinking again, might glided on into a street. Its two persons meeting. Scrooge that the explanation here. lie He knew were men these men, also, perfectly. business, of He great importance. very wealthy, They and of had made a point always of standing well in their esteem, in a business point of view; that is, strictly in a business point of view. "How "How are "Well!" got his own "So "Cold, you?" said one. you?" returned the are I said the first at last, am other, "Old Scratch has hey?" told," returned the second. time. You're isn't it?" "Seasonable for Christmas not a skater, "No, no. morning!" I suppose?" Something else to think of. Good
  • 105. Christmas- Tide. That was Not another word. Scrooge was their meeting, and their parting. their conversation, be surprised at first inclined to that the Spirit should attach importance to con- apparently versations so but trivial, feeling assured that they must have some hidden purpose, he set himself to consider what They could to be. scarcely be it was likely supposed to have any bearing on the death of Jacob, his old partner, for that was Past, of and this Ghost's Nor could he province was the Future. think any one immediately connected with himself to whom he could apply them. But nothing doubting that to whomsoever they applied they had some latent moral for his own improvement, he resolved to treasure up every word he heard and everything he saw, and especially to observe the shadow of himself when it appeared. For he had an expectation that the conduct of his future self would give him the clue he missed, and would render the solution He of these riddles easy. looked about in that very place for his own image, but another man tomed his usual time of day for being there, he saw no likeness of himself poured stood in his accus- corner, and though the clock pointed to in among the multitudes that through the porch. surprise, however, for he It gave him little had been revolving in
  • 106. A his Christfjtas Carol. mind a change of life, 185 and thought and hoped he saw his new-born resolutions carried out in this. Quiet and dark beside him stood the Phanwith tom, When he quest, hand. outstretched its roused himself from his thoughtful he fancied from the turn of the hand, and ation in reference to himself, that the unseen eyes were looking at him keenly. shudder and They its situ- feel left made him It very cold. the busy scene and went into an obscure part of the town where Scrooge had never penetrated before, although he recognized its situation and its The ways were bad repute. and narrow, the shops and houses wretched, foul the people half-naked, drunken, slipshod, ugly. Alleys and archways, like so many cesspools, disgorged their offenses of smell, and upon the straggling life quarter reeked with crime, with Far in this dirt, and and the whole streets, filth, and misery. den of infamous resort there was a low-browed, beetling shop below a pent-house roof, where greasy iron, old rags, bottles, were bought. offal, Upon the were piled up heaps of rusty keys, hinges, all files, kinds. nize scales, weights, bones, and floor within nails, chains, and refuse iron of Secrets that few would like to scruti- were bred and hidden in mountains of
  • 107. 1 Christmas - Tide. 86 unseemly masses of corrupted rags, sepulchers bones. of Sitting in, by a charcoal was a gray-haired wares he dealt old bricks, seventy years of age, from the cold air rascal, nearly who had screened himself without by a frowsy curtaining of miscellaneous tatters smoked and fat, among the stove made of in his pipe in all hung upon a line, and the luxury of calm retire- ment. Scrooge and the Phantom came into the pres- man ence of this just as a bundle slunk into the shop. man similarly laden, and she was closely followed by a in too, in with a heavy But she had scarcely when another woman, entered came woman who was no less startled by them than they had been upon the faded black, the sight of recognition of each other. After a short period of blank astonishment, in which the old the pipe had joined them, they man with three burst all into a laugh. "Let cried she charwoman alone who had entered first. the be the first!" to ' ' dress alone to be the second, and taker's old man Joe, Let the laun- let alone to be the third. here's a chance! If we the under- Look here, haven't all met here without meaning it!" "You couldn't have met in a better place," three said old Joe, removing his pipe from his mouth.
  • 108. ' A "Come it ' Christmas Carol. 187 You were made into the parlor. free of long ago, you know, and the other two an't I shut the door of the shop. skreeks! There an't such a rusty Stop strangers. How it Ah! till of metal in the place as bit believe, its own We're Ha, ha! here as mine. all The I Come parlor The of rags. into the parlor. suitable to Come our calling, we're well matched. parlor. hinges, and I'm sure there's no such old bones into the ' was the space behind the screen old man raked the together fire with an old stair-rod, and having trimmed his smoky lamp was night) with the stem of mouth again. While he did this, the woman who had already spoken threw her bundle on the floor and sat down in a flaunting manner on a stool, crossing her elbows on her knees, and looking with a bold (for his pipe, put it it in his defiance at the other two. "What odds then! What odds, said the take care of themselves. "That's true, "No man more "Why, was afraid, then, Mrs. Dilber?" "Every person has woman. He a right to always did. ' indeed!" said the laundress. so." don't stand staring as woman; who's the wiser? if you We're not going to pick holes in each other's coats, suppose.-"' I
  • 109. ' Christmas- Tide. "No, indeed!" "We together. "Very said Mrs, Dilber and the man should hope not." well, then!" cried woman. the "That's enough. Who's the worse for the loss of a few things like these. Not a dead man, I -' suppose. ' "No, indeed," said Mrs. Dilber, laughing. "If he wanted to keep 'em after he was dead, a wicked old screw," pursued the wasn't he natural been, woman, "why lifetime? in his If he had he'd have had somebody to look after him when he was struck with death, instead of lying gasping out his last there, alone, by him- self." "It's the truest word that ever was spoke," "It's a judgment on him." was a little heavier judgment," replied the woman, "and it should have been, you depend upon it, if I could have laid my said Mrs. Dilber. "I wish it hands on anything Joe, and out plain. let else. me know Open that bundle, old the value of I'm not afraid to it. be the Speak first nor them to see it. We knew pretty well that we were helping ourselves before we met It's no sin. here, I believe. Open the bundle, afraid for Joe." But the gallantry of her friends would not this, and the man in faded black, mount- allow of
  • 110. ' A ing the breach was not Christmas Carol. first, produced his plunder. A seal or two, extensive. 189 It a pencil-case, and a brooch of no a pair of sleeve-buttons, They were severally examined and appraised by old Joe, who chalked the sums he was disposed to give for each upon the wall, and added them up into a total when he found there was nothing more to come. "That's your account," said Joe, "and I wouldn't give another sixpence if I was to be Who's next?" boiled for not doing it. great value, were all. Sheets and towels, Mrs. Dilber was next. a little wearing apparel, two old-fashioned silver teaspoons, a pair of sugar-tongs, a few boots. Her account was stated on the wall in the same manner. "I always give too much to ladies. It's a weakness of mine, and that's the way I ruin "That's your account. myself," said old Joe. If you asked me for another penny and made an open question, I'd repent of being so and knock off half-a-crown. "And now undo my first it liberal ' bundle, Joe," said the woman. down on knees for the greater and having unfastened a great many knots, dragged out a large and heavy roll of some dark stuff. Joe went convenience of opening his it,
  • 111. ' 1 90 Christmas- Tide. "What do you "Bed- call this?" said Joe. curtains!" "Ah," returned the woman, forward on her crossed leaning laughing and "bed- arms, curtains!" "You rings an don't all, "Yes I mean to say you took 'em down, with him lying there?" said Joe. "Why do," replied the woman. not?" "You were said Joe, "I "and born to make your fortune," you'll certainly certainly sha'n't hold get anything in of such a man it by reaching as he was, it." it I can out, for the sake ' I returned the woman, coolly, oil do my hand, when promise you, Joe, "Don't drop that upon the blankets, now." "His blankets?" asked "Whose woman. 'em, I else's "He isn't likely to take cold without dare say." "I hope he didn't Eh?" Joe. do you think?" replied the said old Joe, die of anything catching? stopping in his work and looking up. "Don't you be afraid of that," returned the woman. "I an't so fond of his company that I'd loiter about him for such things if he did. Ah! you may look through that shirt till your eyes ache, but you won't find a hole in it, nor a
  • 112. A It's the best threadbare place. one, fine he had, and a They'd have wasted too. if it, it me." hadn't been for "What 191 Christmas Carol. do you call wasting of it?" asked old Joe. "Putting sure," on him it the replied '"Somebody was it It's quite be buried with to in, a be laugh. enough to do it, but I took good enough for such If calico an't off again. a purpose, fool to woman, it as good enough for anything. He unbecoming to the body. isn't can't look uglier than he did in that one." Scrooge listened to As dialogue in horror. this they sat grouped about their spoil in the scanty light afforded by the old man's lamp, he a detestation and disgust which could hardly have been greater, though they had been obscene demons, marketing the viewed them with corpse itself. same woman, when bag with money in it, told out their several gains upon the ground. "This is the end of it, you see! He frightened every one away from him when he was alive, to Ha, ha, ha!" profit us when he was dead! "Ha, ha!" laughed the old Joe, producing a flannel "Spirit!" head to foot. said "I Scrooge, see, I see. unhappy man might be my shuddering The own. from case of this My life tends
  • 113. a Christmas- Tide. 192 way that now. what heaven, Merciful is this!" He recoiled changed, and in uncurtained bed bare, the for terror, — on which, had scene now he almost touched a bed — beneath a ragged sheet there lay a something covered up, which, though it was dumb, announced itself in awful language. The room was very glanced round it, pulse, anxious to A dark, in obedience to a secret im- know what kind pale light rising in the outer upon the bed, and on it, of room air, fell it was. straight plundered and bereft, unwatched, unwept, uncared of this too dark to be though Scrooge any accuracy, observed with for, was the body man. Scrooge glanced toward the Phantom. steady hand was pointed to the head. was so of it, to do veil carelessly adjusted that the slightest rais- the motion of a finger upon Scrooge's would have disclosed the face. He thought felt how easy it would be to do, and longed ing of part, Its The cover it, it, but had no more power to withdraw the than to dismiss the specter at his side. Oh cold, cold, rigid, dreadful Death, set thine altar here, and dress as thou hast at thy dominion! But of it command, the up with such terrors loved, for this revered, is thy and
  • 114. A i93 Christmas Carol. honored head, thou canst not turn one hair to make one thy dread purposes, or It is not that the hand down when pulse are released, but still, it is is feature odious. heavy and will fall not that the heart and that the hand was open, generous, and true; the heart brave, warm, and Strike, Shadow, good deeds springing sow the world with life tender; and the pulse a man's. strike! And see his from the wound, to immortal! No voice pronounced these words in Scrooge's and yet he heard them when he looked He thought if this man could be upon the bed. raised up now, what would be his foremost ears, thoughts? Avarice, hard-dealing, griping cares? They have brought him He to a rich end, truly! empty house with not a man, a woman, or a child to say that he was kind to me in this or that, and for the memory of one lay in the dark, kind word I will A cat was was a sound of be kind to him. tearing at the door, and there gnawing rats beneath the hearthstone. What they wanted in the room of death, and why they were so restless and disturbed, Scrooge did not dare to think. "Spirit," he said, "this In leaving me. it, I is a fearful place. shall not leave its lesson, trust Let us go!"
  • 115. ' 1 Christmas - Tide. 94 Still the Ghost pointed with an unmoved fin- ger to the head. I "I understand you," Scrooge returned, "and I could. But I have not the it, if would do power, Spirit. Again I have not the power. seemed ' upon him. If there is any person in the town who emotion caused by this man's death," it to look ' ' feels said Scrooge quite agonized, "show that person to me. beseech you!" Spirit, I The Phantom spread its dark robe before him for a moment like a wing, and withdrawing it, revealed a room by daylight, where a mother and her children were. She was expecting some one, and with anxious eagerness, for she walked up and started at every sound, window, glanced to at the looked down the room, out from the clock, tried but in vain work with her needle, and could hardly bear the voices of the children in their play. At length the long-expected knock was heard. She hurried to the door and met her husband, a man whose face was careworn and depressed, though he was young. There was a remarkable expression in which he felt it now, a kind of serious delight, of ashamed and which he struggled to repress. He sat down to the dinner that had been
  • 116. " ' A Christmas Carol. hoarding for him by the 195 and when she asked fire, what news (which was not until after a long silence), he appeared embarrassed how to him faintly answer. "Is it good," she said, "or bad?" — to help him. "Bad," he answered. "We "No; are quite ruined?" there is hope yet, Caroline." "If he relents," she Nothing is past hope, if said, amazed, "there is! such a miracle has hap- pened. "He is past "He is dead." relenting," said her husband. She was a mild and patient creature, if her was thankful in her face spoke truth, but she soul to hear it, and she said so, with clasped She prayed forgiveness the next moment, and was sorry, but the first was the emo- hands. tion of her heart. "What the half-drunken woman whom I told you of last night said to me when I tried to see him and obtain a week's delay, and what I thought was a mere excuse to avoid me, turns He was not only out to have been quite true. very ill, but dying then. "To whom will ' our debt be transferred?" "I don't know. But before that time we
  • 117. ChrisUnas- Tide. 196 shall be ready with the money, and even though we were not, it would be a bad fortune indeed to find so merciless a creditor in his successor. We may sleep to-night with light hearts, Caro- line!" Yes; were soften lighter. as they would, it The their hearts children's faces, hushed and clustered round to hear what they so stood, were and brighter, man's death! for this little under- was a happier house it The only emotion that the Ghost could show him, caused by the event, was one of pleasure. "Let me see some tenderness connected with a death," said Scrooge; "or that dark chamber, Spirit, which we present to left just now will be forever me." The Ghost conducted him through along, several and as they went streets familiar to his feet, Scrooge looked here and there to find They nowhere was he to be seen. himself, but entered poor Bob Cratchit's house, the dwelling he had visited before, and found the mother and children seated round the Quiet; very quiet. were as still fire. The noisy little as statues in one corner, looking up at Peter, who had Cratchits and sat a book before him; the mother and her daughters were engaged in sewing. But surely they were very quiet!
  • 118. ' ' A Christmas " 'And He took a midst of them. I ' Carol. child, and 197 set him in the ' ' Where had Scrooge heard those words? He The boy must have had not dreamed them. read them out, as he and the Spirit crossed the Why threshold. The mother did he not go on? laid her work upon the table, and put her hand up to her face. "The The color hurts my eyes," she said. Ah, poor Tiny Tim! color? "They're better now again," said Cratchit's "It makes them weak by candlelight, and I wouldn't show weak eyes to your father when he comes home for the world. It must be wife. near his time. "Past up it ' rather," Peter answered, his book. "But I shutting think he has walked a little slower than he used, these few ings, mother." They were very said, and in a quiet again. last At even- last I have known him walk with have known him walk with Tiny Tim upon faltered once, ' * shoulder, very fast indeed. "And "And had so she steady, cheerful voice, that only — his ' have I!" cried Peter; "often." so have I!" exclaimed another. So all. "But he was very light to carry," she re-
  • 119. Christmas- Tide. 198 sumed, intent upon her work, "and loved him so that And there was no it your father is at the his father no trouble. trouble; door!" meet him, and little Bob he had need of it, poor felin his comforter His tea was ready for him on low came in. the hob, and they all tried who should help him to She hurried out — — it most. Then the two knees and his to against his face, as father; don't if little cheek they said, "Don't mind it, be grieved!" Bob was very pleasantly to young Cratchits got up on each child a laid all work upon the cheerful with them, and spoke the family. table, He looked at the and praised the industry They and speed of Mrs. Cratchit and the girls. would be done long before Sunday he said. "Sunday! You went to-day, then, Robert?" said his wife. "Yes, my dear," returned Bob. "I wish It would have done you you could have gone. But you'll good to see how green a place it is. I promised him that I would walk see it often. My little, there on a Sunday. "My Bob. He help child it. little broke down If little child!" cried child!" all at once. he could have helped He it couldn't he and his would have been farther apart perhaps than they were.
  • 120. A i99 Christmas Carol. He left the room and went upstairs into the room above, which was lighted cheerfully, and hung with Christmas. There was a chair set loose beside the child and there were signs of some one having been there lately. Poor Bob sat down in it, and when he had thought a little and composed himself, he kissed the little face. He was reconciled to what had happened, and went down again quite happy. They drew about the fire and talked; the girls and mother working still. Bob told them of the extraordinary kindness of Mr. Scrooge's nephew, whom he had scarcely seen but once, and who, meeting him seeing that he down you know, happened ' ' Bob, "for he it, knew — "just said Bob, inquired "On a and little what had which," said the pleasantest-spoken gentle- is heard, I told him. Mr. Cratchit, sorry for your good wife. ever little to distress him. man you ever sorry for in the street that day, looked a that, I "Knew what, "Why, that don't my ' he ' 'I said, By am heartily 'and heartily the by, how he know." dear?" you were a good wife," replied Bob. "Everybody knows that!" said Peter. "Very well observed, my boy!" cried Bob. "I hope they do. 'Heartily sorry,' he said, 'for
  • 121. ' 2 oo . Christmas - Tide your good wife. in — ' any way,' he where can be of service to you I me his card, 'that's Pray come to me.' live. I If said, giving Now, it wasn't," cried Bob, "for the sake of anything he might be able to do for kind way, really and that seemed felt this as with us. "I'm if much us, so as for his was* quite delightful. It he had known our Tiny Tim, ' sure he's good soul!" said Mrs. a Cratchit. "You would be surer of my it, dear," re- turned Bob, "if you saw and spoke to him. shouldn't be at if all surprised he got Peter a better "Only hear "And that, —mark what situation. I I say! ' Peter," said Mrs. Cratchit. then," cried one of the "Peter girls, be keeping company with some one, and will setting up for himself." "Get along with you!" retorted Peter, grin- ning. "It's just likely as not," said Bob, these days; that, my dear. of us forget poor we we shall none shall we or this was among us?" am Tiny Tim parting that there I sure — "Never, father!" cried they "And I of But, however and whenever part from one another, first "one though there's plenty of time for know," said Bob, — all. "I know, my
  • 122. A 201 Christmas Carol. dears, that when we recollect how patient and how mild he was, although he was a little, little child, we shall not quarrel easily among ourselves and forget poor Tiny Tim in doing it." "No, never, father!" they am ''I very happy," said all cried again. little Bob; "I am very happy!" Mrs. Cratchit kissed him, daughters his kissed him, the two young Cratchits kissed him, and Peter and himself shook hands. Tiny Tim, thy "Specter," me forms I know man said moment is at hand. know not how. Tell me what was whom we saw lying dead?" it, that Spirit of was from God. Scrooge, "something in- childish essence that our parting but The Ghost I of Christmas veyed him, as before time, he thought, indeed, there to Come at Yet — though a con- different seemed no order were in the in these latter visions, save that they future — into the resorts of business showed him not himself. men, but Indeed, the Spirit did not stay for anything, but went straight on, as to the end just now desired, until besought by Scrooge to tarry for a moment. "This court," we hurry now, is, is said Scrooge, where my "through which place of occupation and has been for a length of time. I see the
  • 123. 202 Christmas-Tide. Let house. to me behold what come!" The Spirit stopped, I shall the hand be in days was pointed elsewhere. "The house "Why The is yonder," Scrooge exclaimed. do you point away?" inexorable finger underwent no change. Scrooge hastened to the window of his office was an office still, but not his. The furniture was not the same, and the The Phanfigure in the chair was not himself. tom pointed as before. and looked It in. He joined it once again, and wondering why and whither he had gone, accompanied it until He paused to look they reached an iron gate. round before entering. A churchyard. Here, man whose name then, the wretched he had now to learn lay under- It was a worthy place: ground. by houses; overrun by grass and weeds, the growth of vegetation's death, not life; choked up with too much burying; fat with neath the walled in replete appetite. A worthy place! among the graves, and down to one. He advanced towards it, The Phantom was exactly as it had trembling. been, but he dreaded that he saw new meaning The Spirit stood pointed in its solemn shape.
  • 124. A Christmas 203 Carol. Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point," said Scrooge, "answer me one question. Are these the shadows of the things that will be, or are they shadows of things that may * * be only?" Still downward the Ghost pointed by which it "Men's to which, if to the grave stood. courses will foreshadow certain ends, persevered Scrooge; "but if in, they must lead, ' ' said the course be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!" The Spirit was immovable as ever. Scrooge crept towards it, trembling as he went, and following the finger, read upon the stone of the neglected Ebenezer Scrooge. "Am / that man who cried, upon The grave his lay own name, upon the bed?" he his knees. finger pointed from the grave to him, and back again. "No, Spirit! Oh, no, no!" The finger still was there. "Spirit!" he cried, tight clutching at its robe, "hear me! I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I must have been but for this intercourse. Why show me this, if I am past all hope!" For the first time the hand appeared to shake.
  • 125. Christmas- Tide. 204 down upon "your nature interAssure me that I cedes for me, and pities me. yet may change these shadows you have shown "Good Spirit," he pursued, as the ground he fell me, by an altered before it, life!" The kind hand trembled. "I to will keep honor Christmas it all the year. my in I will The the Present, and the Future. three shall within me. strive heart, Spirits of will I Oh, out the lessons that they teach. may sponge away and try live in the Past, tell me entreaty, I the writing on this stone!" In his agony he caught the spectral hand. sought to free all not shut itself, It but he was strong in his and detained The it. Spirit, stronger yet, repulsed him. Holding up his hands his fate reversed, in a last prayer to have he saw an alteration Phantom's hood and dress. and dwindled down in the into a bedpost. STAVE It shrunk, collapsed, FIVE. THE END OF IT. Yes, and the bedpost was his own. was his own. happiest of The room was all, the own, to make amends his own. The bed Best and time before him was his in!
  • 126. A "I Christmas Carol. 205 will live in the Past, the Present, Future!" and the Scrooge repeated, as he scrambled "The out of bed. of spirits all three shall Oh, Jacob Marley! Heaven and the Christmas time be praised for this! I say it on my knees, old Jacob, on my knees!" strive within He me. was so and so glowing with fluttered good intentions that scarcely answer to his his He call. had been sob- bing violently in his conflict with the his face was wet with "They his broken voice would Spirit, and tears. are not torn down," cried Scrooge, folding one of his bed-curtains in his arms, "they are not torn down, here that — I am here- rings — the and would have been may be will be! I know they all. They are shadows of the things dispelled. They will!" His hands were busy with his garments all them inside out, putting them this time, turning on upside down, tearing them, mislaying them, making them parties to every kind of extrava- gance. "I don't know what to do!" cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath, and making a perfect Laocoon of himself with his "I am as light as a feather, I am as stockings. happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolI am as giddy as a drunken man. boy. A
  • 127. 2o6 Christmas -Tide. Merry Christmas to everybody! A Happy New Year to all the world. Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!" He had now frisked into the sitting-room, and was standing there, perfectly winded. "There's the saucepan that the gruel was in!" cried Scrooge, starting off again, and going round the which the "There's the fireplace. Ghost of door by Marley entered! Jacob There's the corner where the Ghost of Christ- mas There's the window where Present sat! saw the wandering all true, ha, all many years, I right, it's ha!" man who had been Really, for a tice for so Ha, happened. it all It's Spirits! out of prac- was a splendid laugh, it The a most illustrious laugh. father of a long, long line of brilliant laughs! "I don't know what day of the month it is!" "I don't know how long I've said Scrooge. been among the spirits. I don't know anything. Never mind. I don't care. I'm quite a baby. Hallo! Whoop! Hallo I'd rather be a baby. here!" He was checked in his transports by the churches ringing out the lustiest peals he had ever heard. bell. Bell, Clash, clang, hammer; ding, dong, dong, ding; hammer, clang, clash! Oh, glorious, glorious!
  • 128. A Running Christmas Carol. to the fog, dance to sweet fresh no mist; —golden sunlight; merry air; and put bright, cold, piping for the blood jovial, stirring, cold; to it clear, window, he opened No out his head. 207 heavenly sky; Oh, bells. glorious! Glorious! "What's to-day?" cried Scrooge, calling downward to a boy in Sunday clothes, who perhaps had loitered "Eh?" in to look about him. returned the boy, with all might his of wonder. "What's to-day, my fine fellow?" said Scrooge. "To-day! replied the boy. "Why, Christ- mas Day." Day!" said Scrooge to him"I haven't missed it. The Spirits have They can do anything done it all in one night. "It's Christmas self. they like. can. Of course they Hallo, my can. Of course they fine fellow!" "Hallo!" returned the boy. "Do you know the poulterer's, in the next Scrooge inquired. street but one, at the corner?" "I should hope "An I intelligent remarkable boy! sold the there? —not the prize did," replied the lad. boy!" said Scrooge. Do you know whether turkey that little was prize turkey "A they've hanging up —the big one?"
  • 129. " 2o8 Christmas - Tide. "What, the one as big as me?" returned the boy. "What "It's a a boy!" delightful pleasure to talk to Scrooge. said him. Yes, my buck!" "It's hanging there now," replied the boy. "Go and buy it." "Walk-er!" exclaimed the boy. "No, no," said Scrooge, "I am in earnest. Go and buy it, and tell 'em to bring it here, that I may give them the direction where to take it. Come back with the man and I'll give you a Come back with him in less than five shilling. minutes and I'll give you half-a-crown The boy was off like a shot. He must have had a steady hand at a trigger who could have "Is it?" said Scrooge. ! got a shot off half so fast. "I'll send it to Bob Cratchit's!" whispered Scrooge, rubbing his hands and splitting with a laugh. "He sha'n't know who sends twice the size of Tiny Tim. it. It's Joe Miller never made such a joke as sending it to Bob's will be!" The hand in which he wrote the address was not a steady one, but write it he did, somehow, and went downstairs to open the street door, ready for the coming of the poulterer's man. Ashe stood there waiting his arrival, the knocker caught his eye.
  • 130. A Christmas Carol. "I love shall Scrooge, patting ever looked at pression it it as long as it I What before. has in its face! live!" cried "I scarcely with his hand. it 209 an honest ex- It's a wonderful Here's the turkey. Hallo! are you! Merry Christmas!" knocker! How It was He a turkey! Whoop! never could have stood upon his legs, that bird. He would have snapped 'em short off in a minute, like sticks of sealing wax. "Why, it's impossible to carry that to "You must den Town," said Scrooge. Cam- have a cab." The chuckle with which he said this, and the chuckle with which he paid for the turkey, and the chuckle with which he paid for the cab, and the chuckle with which he recompensed the boy, were only which he to sat and chuckled be exceeded by the chuckle with down till breathless in his chair again, he cried. Shaving was not an easy task, for his hand continued to shake very much, and shaving requires attention, while you are at even when it. But if you don't dance he had cut the end would have put a piece of it, and been quite satisfied. He dressed himself "all in his best," and at The people were last got out into the streets. of his nose off, he sticking-plaster over
  • 131. aio by Christmas -Tide. time pouring forth, as he had seen them this with the Ghost of Christmas Present, and walking with his hands behind him, Scrooge regarded He every one with a delighted smile. looked so irresistibly pleasant, in a word, that three or four good-humored fellows said, ing, A sir! merry Christmas to "Good mornyou!" And Scrooge said often afterwards, that of all the blithe sounds he had ever heard, those were the blithest in his ears. He had not gone far, when coming on towards him he beheld a portly gentleman who had walked into his counting-house the day before "Scrooge and Marley's I believe?" It sent a pang across his heart to think how this old gentleman would look upon him when they met, but he knew what path lay straight before and said, him, and he took "My it. dear sir," said Scrooge, quickening his pace, and taking the old gentleman by both his hands, "how do you ceeded yesterday. It I hope you sucdo? was very kind of you. A merry Christmas to you, "Mr. Scrooge?" "Yes," and me I fear to ask goodness" it said may Scrooge, "that is my not be pleasant to you. your pardon. — here sir!" And will name, Allow you have the Scrooge whispered in his ear.
  • 132. " A "Lord 211 Christmas Carol. me!" bless cried the gentleman, as if was taken away. "My dear Mr. Scrooge, are you serious?" Not a farsaid Scrooge. If you please, thing less. A great many back payments are inWill you do me that cluded in it, I assure you. his breath ' ' ' ' * ' favor?" "My dear sir," the said other, shaking hands with him, "I don't know what to say to such munifi — "Don't Scrooge. say "Come anything, please," and see me. retorted Will you come and see me?" "I will!" cried the old gentleman. And it was clear that he meant to do it. " Thank' ee," said Scrooge. "I am much Bless I thank you fifty times. obliged to you. you!" He went to church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and fro, and patted children on the head, and ques- tioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens and up to the windows, and found He that everything could yield him pleasure. had never dreamed that any walk that anyof houses, thing —could — give him so much happiness. In the afternoon he turned his steps towards his nephew's house.
  • 133. 1 2 ' ChrisUnas- Tide. 2 He passed the door a dozen times before he had the courage to go up and knock; but he made a dash, and did it. "Is your master at home, my dear?" said Nice girl! Very. Scrooge to the girl. "Yes, sir." "Where "He's he, is my love.?" said Scrooge. the dining-room, in along with sir, show you upstairs, if you please. " Thank' ee. He knows me," said Scrooge, with his hand already on the dining-room lock. "I'll go in here, my dear." ' mistress. He I' 11 turned it round the door. and sidled his face gently, They were looking in, at the table (which was spread out in great array), for these young housekeepers are always nervous on such and points, like to see that everything "Fred!" said Scrooge. Dear heart alive, how his started is right. niece by marriage Scrooge had forgotten, for the moment, ! about her sitting in the corner with the footstool, or he wouldn't have done "Why, bless my it on any account. soul!" cried Fred, "who's that?" " It's I. to dinner. Let him his arm off. Your Uncle Scrooge. Will you in! It let is He was me a at in, mercy he home I have come Fred?" didn't shake in five minutes.
  • 134. ' A Christmas Carol. 213 heartier. His niece looked So did Topper when he came. So did the plump sister when sJie came. So did every one when they came. Wonderful party, wonderful games, wonderful unanimity, won- Nothing could be same. just the derful happiness! But he was early at the office Oh, he was early there. next morning. he could only be If first, and catch Bob Cratchit coming late! That was the thing he had set his heart upon. there And he No did He was full his time. it; A clock struck No quarter past. Bob. eighteen minutes and a half behind Scrooge that he might see His hat was sat with his him come off driving door wide open, into the tank. before he opened the door; He was his comforter, too. jiffy, The yes, he did! Bob. nine. away with on his stool in a his pen, as if he were trying to overtake nine o'clock. "Hallo!" growled Scrooge, in his voice, as near as he could feign you mean by coming here "I'm very behind my "You sorry, at this accustomed "What do it. time of day?" said Bob. sir," "I am time." "Yes, you please. are?" repeated Scrooge. think you are. Step this way, sir, if I ' "It's only once a year, sir," pleaded Bob, appearing from the tank. * ' It shall not be re-
  • 135. 214 Christmas-Tide. peated. was making rather merry yesterday, I sir." "Now, I'll Scrooge, "I my you what, tell am friend," said not going to stand this sort of And thing any longer. therefore, ' ' he contin- ued, leaping from his stool, and giving a dig in the waistcoat that he "and into the tank again, to raise Bob such staggered back therefore I am about your salary!" Bob trembled, and got a little nearer to the He had a momentary idea of knocking Scrooge down with it, holding him, and calling ruler. to the people in the court for help and a straight- waistcoat. "A Merry Christmas, Bob!" said Scrooge, with an earnestness that could not be mistaken, him on the back. "A merrier my good fellow, than I have as he clapped Christmas, Bob, given you for ary, ily, many and endeavor to and we will a year! assist I'll coal-scuttle your sal- discuss your affairs this very afternoon over a Christmas bishop, Bob! raise your struggling fam- Make up before bowl of smoking the fires and you dot buy another i, Bob another Cratchit!" Scrooge was better than his word. it all, and infinitely did not die, he He did more; and to Tiny Tim, who was a second father. He be-
  • 136. A Christmas Carol. 215 came as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough in the Some good old world. people laughed to see little them laugh, and heeded them, for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever the alteration in him, but he let for good, their fill at up this globe, knowing would be blind anyway, he of laughter in the outset, and that such as these thought happened on which some people did not have it quite as well that they should wrinkle have the malady in less His own heart laughed, and that was quite enough for him. their eyes in grins, as attractive forms. He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle ever afterwards, and that he man knew how to it was always alive possessed the be truly said of us, said of him, keep Christmas and knowledge. all of us! Tiny Tim observed, God bless us, well, if any May that And so, as every one!

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