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.

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A Christmas Carol by; Charles Dickens

  1. 1. A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
  2. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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

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