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A Christmas Carol
I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it. Their faithful Friend and Servant, C. D. December, 1843.
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A Christmas Carol
Stave 1: Marley’s Ghost
Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it. And Scrooge’s name was good upon ‘Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail. Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a doornail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffinnail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country’s done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail. Scrooge knew he was dead? Of course he did. How could it be otherwise? Scrooge and he were partners for I don’t know how many years. Scrooge was his sole executor, his sole administrator, his sole assign, his sole residuary legatee, his sole friend, and sole mourner. And even Scrooge was not so dreadfully cut up by the sad
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clutching. old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint. upon his own ramparts. Sometimes people new to the business called Scrooge Scrooge. there would be nothing more remarkable in his taking a stroll at night. above the warehouse door: Scrooge and Marley. years afterwards.stone. in an easterly wind. It was all the same to him. than there would be in any other middle-aged gentleman rashly turning out after dark in a breezy spot — say Saint Paul’s Churchyard for instance — literally to astonish his son’s weak mind. Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grind. covetous. There it stood. and solemnised it with an undoubted bargain. but that he was an excellent man of business on the very day of the funeral. scraping. or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate. 4 of 138 . grasping. There is no doubt that Marley was dead. but he answered to both names. Scrooge! a squeezing. The mention of Marley’s funeral brings me back to the point I started from. Scrooge never painted out Old Marley’s name. and sometimes Marley. The firm was known as Scrooge and Marley. wrenching. This must be distinctly understood. If we were not perfectly convinced that Hamlet’s Father died before the play began. from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire.A Christmas Carol event.
and hail. and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. and his wiry chin. no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose. nipped his pointed nose. no children asked him what it was o’clock. The cold within him froze his old features. no pelting rain less open to entreaty. of Scrooge. The heaviest rain.A Christmas Carol secret. Even the blind men’s dogs appeared to know him. Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say. No warmth could warm. could boast of the advantage over him in only one respect. He carried his own low temperature always about with him. no wintry weather chill him. External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. how are you? When will you come to see me?’ No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle. he iced his office in the dogdays. his thin lips blue. made his eyes red. would tug their owners into doorways 5 of 138 . no man or woman ever once in all his life inquired the way to such and such a place. and self-contained. A frosty rime was on his head. stiffened his gait. with gladsome looks. ‘My dear Scrooge. and on his eyebrows. They often ‘came down’ handsomely. and when they saw him coming on. and snow. and sleet. and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas. and Scrooge never did. No wind that blew was bitterer than he. Foul weather didn’t know where to have him. shrivelled his cheek. and solitary as an oyster.
The city clocks had only just gone three. warning all human sympathy to keep its distance. and stamping their feet upon the pavement stones to warm them. To edge his way along the crowded paths of life. like ruddy smears upon the palpable brown air. that although the court was of the narrowest. was what the knowing ones call ‘nuts’ to Scrooge. and was so dense without. but it was quite dark already — it had not been light all day — and candles were flaring in the windows of the neighbouring offices. on Christmas Eve — old Scrooge sat busy in his countinghouse. To see the dingy cloud come drooping down. ‘No eye at all is better than an evil eye. obscuring everything. Once upon a time — of all the good days in the year. 6 of 138 . and then would wag their tails as though they said. biting weather: foggy withal: and he could hear the people in the court outside. bleak. beating their hands upon their breasts. dark master!’ But what did Scrooge care! It was the very thing he liked. one might have thought that Nature lived hard by. and was brewing on a large scale. the houses opposite were mere phantoms. go wheezing up and down. The fog came pouring in at every chink and keyhole. It was cold.A Christmas Carol and up courts.
Wherefore the clerk put on his white comforter. Scrooge had a very small fire. and so surely as the clerk came in with the shovel. this nephew of Scrooge’s. ‘Bah!’ said Scrooge. a sort of tank. ‘Christmas a humbug. in which effort. he failed. uncle! God save you!’ cried a cheerful voice. who came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation he had of his approach.A Christmas Carol The door of Scrooge’s counting-house was open that he might keep his eye upon his clerk. that he was all in a glow. I am sure?’ 7 of 138 . It was the voice of Scrooge’s nephew. uncle!’ said Scrooge’s nephew. and tried to warm himself at the candle. for Scrooge kept the coal-box in his own room. ‘You don’t mean that. not being a man of a strong imagination. But he couldn’t replenish it. ‘Humbug!’ He had so heated himself with rapid walking in the fog and frost. his eyes sparkled. his face was ruddy and handsome. and his breath smoked again. but the clerk’s fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one coal. the master predicted that it would be necessary for them to part. was copying letters. who in a dismal little cell beyond. ‘A merry Christmas.
’ ‘Come.’ returned the nephew gaily. but not an hour richer. ‘every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips. and let me keep it in mine.’ ‘Don’t be cross.’ 8 of 138 . uncle!’ said the nephew. ‘Nephew!’ returned the uncle sternly. and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. ‘What else can I be. ‘Merry Christmas! What right have you to be merry? What reason have you to be merry? You’re poor enough. then. said ‘Bah!’ again.’ said Scrooge. should be boiled with his own pudding. a time for finding yourself a year older.’ Scrooge having no better answer ready on the spur of the moment.’ said Scrooge indignantly. He should!’ ‘Uncle!’ pleaded the nephew.A Christmas Carol ‘I do. and followed it up with ‘Humbug.’ returned the uncle. ‘What right have you to be dismal? What reason have you to be morose? You’re rich enough. a time for balancing your books and having every item in ‘em through a round dozen of months presented dead against you? If I could work my will. ‘keep Christmas in your own way. ‘when I live in 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.
and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave. and will do me good.A Christmas Carol ‘Keep it!’ repeated Scrooge’s nephew. though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket. forgiving. 9 of 138 . God bless it!’ The clerk in the Tank involuntarily applauded. Becoming immediately sensible of the impropriety. ‘Much good may it do you! Much good it has ever done you!’ ‘There are many things from which I might have derived good. uncle. charitable. I dare say. and I say. when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely. ‘But you don’t keep it. if anything belonging to it can be apart from that — as a good time.’ said Scrooge. and extinguished the last frail spark for ever.’ ‘Let me leave it alone. I believe that it has done me good. a kind. And therefore. he poked the fire. in the long calendar of the year. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time. when it has come round — apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin. then. by which I have not profited.’ returned the nephew. and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. ‘Christmas among the rest. pleasant time: the only time I know of.
sir. ‘Good afternoon!’ ‘Nay.A Christmas Carol ‘Let me hear another sound from you. ‘I wonder you don’t go into Parliament. uncle. to find you so resolute. as if that were the only one thing in the world more ridiculous than a merry Christmas.’ said Scrooge. ‘Why?’ ‘Why did you get married?’ said Scrooge. ‘I am sorry. ‘and you’ll keep your Christmas by losing your situation! You’re quite a powerful speaker. turning to his nephew.’ said Scrooge. indeed he did. with all my heart.’ ‘Don’t be angry. But I have made the trial in homage to Christmas. ‘But why?’ cried Scrooge’s nephew. I ask nothing of you. ‘Because I fell in love. He went the whole length of the expression. Why give it as a reason for not coming now?’ ‘Good afternoon. to which I have been a party. but you never came to see me before that happened. We have never had any quarrel. why cannot we be friends?’ ‘Good afternoon. uncle.’ he added.’ ‘Because you fell in love!’ growled Scrooge.’ Scrooge said that he would see him — yes. Come! Dine with us tomorrow.’ said Scrooge. and said that he would see him in that extremity first. 10 of 138 . ‘I want nothing from you.
‘Scrooge and Marley’s.’ Scrooge replied.’ This lunatic. Marley has been dead these seven years. ‘He died seven years ago. and a wife and family. referring to his list. for he returned them cordially. I believe. and now stood. I’ll retire to Bedlam. uncle!’ ‘Good afternoon. They were portly gentlemen. ‘And A Happy New Year!’ ‘Good afternoon. Marley?’ ‘Mr.’ said Scrooge.’ said one of the gentlemen.A Christmas Carol and I’ll keep my Christmas humour to the last. and bowed to him.’ muttered Scrooge. notwithstanding. this very night. pleasant to behold. They had books and papers in their hands. was warmer than Scrooge. ‘There’s another fellow. ‘Have I the pleasure of addressing Mr. He stopped at the outer door to bestow the greetings of the season on the clerk. had let two other people in. with fifteen shillings a week. with their hats off. who cold as he was. Scrooge. So A Merry Christmas. in letting Scrooge’s nephew out. talking about a merry Christmas.’ 11 of 138 . who overheard him: ‘my clerk.’ said Scrooge. in Scrooge’s office. or Mr. His nephew left the room without an angry word.
who suffer greatly at the present time. and shook his head.’ ‘Are there no prisons?’ asked Scrooge.’ Scrooge frowned. sir. presenting his credentials. laying down the pen again.’ said the gentleman. ‘Both very busy. At the ominous word ‘liberality.’ ‘The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour. ‘Are they still in operation?’ ‘They are. It certainly was. ‘it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute.A Christmas Carol ‘We have no doubt his liberality is well represented by his surviving partner. taking up a pen. and handed the credentials back. Still. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries.’ said the gentleman.’ returned the gentleman. sir. hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts. ‘And the Union workhouses?’ demanded Scrooge.’ 12 of 138 . then?’ said Scrooge. ‘Plenty of prisons. for they had been two kindred spirits.’ said the gentleman. Scrooge. Mr. ‘I wish I could say they were not. ‘At this festive season of the year.
‘You wish to be anonymous?’ ‘I wish to be left alone. and Abundance rejoices. 13 of 138 .’ observed the gentleman. and means of warmth.’ ‘Many can’t go there.’ said Scrooge.’ said Scrooge. ‘Since you ask me what I wish. and decrease the surplus population. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned — they cost enough. when Want is keenly felt.’ said Scrooge. that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course.’ returned the gentleman. ‘a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink. of all others. because it is a time. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. Besides — excuse me — I don’t know that. What shall I put you down for?’ ‘Nothing!’ Scrooge replied. We choose this time.’ ‘But you might know it. ‘I’m very glad to hear it.’ ‘Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude.’ ‘If they would rather die. ‘they had better do it. and those who are badly off must go there. gentlemen. from what you said at first. and many would rather die.A Christmas Carol ‘Oh! I was afraid. that is my answer.
and struck the hours and quarters in the clouds. proffering their services to go before horses in carriages. In the main street at the corner of the court. The ancient tower of a church. Scrooge returned his labours with an improved opinion of himself. its overflowing sullenly congealed. and turned to misanthropic ice. Good afternoon. with tremulous vibrations afterwards as if its teeth were chattering in its frozen head up there. ‘It’s enough for a man to understand his own business. The cold became intense. and in a more facetious temper than was usual with him. that people ran about with flaring links. round which a party of ragged men and boys were gathered: warming their hands and winking their eyes before the blaze in rapture. Meanwhile the fog and darkness thickened so.’ Scrooge returned. Mine occupies me constantly.A Christmas Carol ‘It’s not my business. gentlemen!’ Seeing clearly that it would be useless to pursue their point. some labourers were repairing the gas-pipes. The water-plug being left in solitude. became invisible. and not to interfere with other people’s. The brightness of the shops where holly 14 of 138 . whose gruff old bell was always peeping slily down at Scrooge out of a Gothic window in the wall. and had lighted a great fire in a brazier. and conduct them on their way. the gentlemen withdrew.
and even the little tailor. merry gentleman! May nothing you dismay!’ 15 of 138 . while his lean wife and the baby sallied out to buy the beef. Foggier yet. instead of using his familiar weapons. a glorious pageant. searching. If the good Saint Dunstan had but nipped the Evil Spirit’s nose with a touch of such weather as that. stirred up to-morrow’s pudding in his garret. biting cold. with which it was next to impossible to believe that such dull principles as bargain and sale had anything to do. The Lord Mayor. Poulterers’ and grocers’ trades became a splendid joke. made pale faces ruddy as they passed. in the stronghold of the mighty Mansion House. The owner of one scant young nose. whom he had fined five shillings on the previous Monday for being drunk and bloodthirsty in the streets. gnawed and mumbled by the hungry cold as bones are gnawed by dogs. stooped down at Scrooge’s keyhole to regale him with a Christmas carol: but at the first sound of ‘God bless you. then indeed he would have roared to lusty purpose.A Christmas Carol sprigs and berries crackled in the lamp heat of the windows. gave orders to his fifty cooks and butlers to keep Christmas as a Lord Mayor’s household should. and colder! Piercing.
’ ‘It’s not convenient. sir. and Scrooge walked out with a growl. ‘you don’t think me ill-used. ‘But I suppose you must have the whole day. Be here all the earlier next morning. At length the hour of shutting up the counting. ‘If quite convenient.’ The clerk observed that it was only once a year. I’ll be bound?’ The clerk smiled faintly. who instantly snuffed his candle out. ‘A poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every twenty-fifth of December!’ said Scrooge.’ The clerk promised that he would.’ said Scrooge. ‘You’ll want all day to-morrow. The office was closed in a twinkling. buttoning his great-coat to the chin. I suppose?’ said Scrooge. ‘And yet. and put on his hat. If I was to stop half-a-crown for it. ‘and it’s not fair. that the singer fled in terror. leaving the keyhole to the fog and even more congenial frost.’ said Scrooge. when I pay a day’s wages for no work. and tacitly admitted the fact to the expectant clerk in the Tank. With an ill-will Scrooge dismounted from his stool. 16 of 138 . you’d think yourself illused.house arrived.A Christmas Carol Scrooge seized the ruler with such energy of action.
and having read all the newspapers. went home to bed. The fog and frost so hung about the black old gateway of the house. that one could scarcely help fancying it must have run there when it was a young house. to play at blindman’s-buff. that it seemed as if the Genius of the Weather sat in mournful meditation on the threshold. twenty times. and dreary enough. in honour of its being Christmas Eve. and then ran home to Camden Town as hard as he could pelt. went down a slide on Cornhill. with the long ends of his white comforter dangling below his waist (for he boasted no great-coat). and beguiled the rest of the evening with his banker’sbook. at the end of a lane of boys. playing at hide-and-seek with other houses. The yard was so dark that even Scrooge. They were a gloomy suite of rooms. and forgotten the way out again. was fain to grope with his hands. for nobody lived in it but Scrooge. the other rooms being all let out as offices. in a lowering pile of building up a yard.A Christmas Carol and the clerk. He lived in chambers which had once belonged to his deceased partner. 17 of 138 . who knew its every stone. Scrooge took his melancholy dinner in his usual melancholy tavern. where it had so little business to be. It was old enough now.
but Marley’s face. Marley’s face. It was not angry or ferocious. having his key in the lock of the door. except that it was very large. and its livid colour. made it horrible.A Christmas Carol Now. but looked at Scrooge as Marley used to look: with ghostly spectacles turned up on its ghostly forehead. if he can. without its undergoing any intermediate process of change — not a knocker. That. and livery. And then let any man explain to me. saw in the knocker. that there was nothing at all particular about the knocker on the door. it is a fact. during his whole residence in that place. since his last mention of his seven years’ dead partner that afternoon. even including — which is a bold word — the corporation. though the eyes were wide open. It was not in impenetrable shadow as the other objects in the yard were. The hair was curiously stirred. that Scrooge had seen it. but its horror seemed to be in spite of the face 18 of 138 . how it happened that Scrooge. aldermen. also that Scrooge had as little of what is called fancy about him as any man in the city of London. like a bad lobster in a dark cellar. but had a dismal light about it. night and morning. they were perfectly motionless. as if by breath or hot air. It is also a fact. and. Let it also be borne in mind that Scrooge had not bestowed one thought on Marley.
and up the stairs. Every room above. Scrooge was not a man to be frightened by echoes. and walked across the hall. with a moment’s irresolution. But he put his hand upon the key he had relinquished. it was a knocker again. or that his blood was not conscious of a terrible sensation to which it had been a stranger from infancy. pooh!’ and closed it with a bang. He fastened the door. But there was nothing on the back of the door. except the screws and nuts that held the knocker on. He did pause. slowly too: trimming his candle as he went. appeared to have a separate peal of echoes of its own. walked in. turned it sturdily. and every cask in the wine-merchant’s cellars below. The sound resounded through the house like thunder. as if he half-expected to be terrified with the sight of Marley’s pigtail sticking out into the hall. and he did look cautiously behind it first. To say that he was not startled. would be untrue. As Scrooge looked fixedly at this phenomenon. before he shut the door. so he said ‘Pooh. rather than a part or its own expression.A Christmas Carol and beyond its control. and lighted his candle. 19 of 138 .
so you may suppose that it was pretty dark with Scrooge’s dip. lumber-room. He had just enough recollection of the face to desire to do that. But before he shut his heavy door. All as they should be. nobody in his dressing-gown. or through a bad young Act of Parliament. which is perhaps the reason why Scrooge thought he saw a locomotive hearse going on before him in the gloom. and room to spare. nobody in the closet. and taken it broadwise. Nobody under the table. Sitting-room. nobody under the sofa. bedroom. Nobody under the bed. he walked through his rooms to see that all was right. Up Scrooge went. spoon and basin ready. and the little saucepan of gruel (Scrooge had a cold in his head) upon the hob. Darkness is cheap. but I mean to say you might have got a hearse up that staircase. a small fire in the grate. which was hanging up in a suspicious attitude against the wall. Lumber-room 20 of 138 . Half a dozen gas-lamps out of the street wouldn’t have lighted the entry too well.A Christmas Carol You may talk vaguely about driving a coach-and-six up a good old flight of stairs. with the splinterbar towards the wall and the door towards the balustrades: and done it easy. not caring a button for that. There was plenty of width for that. and Scrooge liked it.
there would have been a copy of old Marley’s head on every one. and brood over it. hundreds of figures to attract his thoughts — and yet that face of Marley. he took off his cravat. and locked himself in. Old fire-guards. and swallowed up the whole. double-locked himself in. Queens of Sheba. He was obliged to sit close to it. and sat down before the fire to take his gruel. two fish-baskets. Belshazzars. put on his dressing-gown and slippers. It was a very low fire indeed. Apostles putting off to sea in butter-boats. The fireplace was an old one. Angelic messengers descending through the air on clouds like feather-beds. old shoes. he closed his door. and his nightcap. and a poker. with power to shape some picture on its surface from the disjointed fragments of his thoughts. Quite satisfied. which was not his custom. Abrahams. If each smooth tile had been a blank at first. seven years dead. before he could extract the least sensation of warmth from such a handful of fuel. designed to illustrate the Scriptures. washing-stand on three legs.A Christmas Carol as usual. nothing on such a bitter night. 21 of 138 . Thus secured against surprise. built by some Dutch merchant long ago. Pharaohs’ daughters. came like the ancient Prophet’s rod. There were Cains and Abels. and paved all round with quaint Dutch tiles.
or a minute. but it seemed an hour. a disused bell. without a pause. They were succeeded by a clanking noise. then coming straight towards his door. he saw this bell begin to swing. on the floors below.A Christmas Carol ‘Humbug!’ said Scrooge. After several turns. deep down below.’ His colour changed though. ‘It’s humbug still!’ said Scrooge. he sat down again. Scrooge then remembered to have heard that ghosts in haunted houses were described as dragging chains. It swung so softly in the outset that it scarcely made a sound. ‘I won’t believe it. when. and communicated for some purpose now forgotten with a chamber in the highest story of the building. and walked across the room. that hung in the room. and then he heard the noise much louder. and passed into the 22 of 138 . The bells ceased as they had begun. it came on through the heavy door. The cellar-door flew open with a booming sound. but soon it rang out loudly. and with a strange. his glance happened to rest upon a bell. It was with great astonishment. then coming up the stairs. that as he looked. and so did every bell in the house. together. As he threw his head back in the chair. inexplicable dread. as if some person were dragging a heavy chain over the casks in the wine merchant’s cellar. This might have lasted half a minute.
padlocks. which wrapper he had not observed before. and his coat-skirts. Marley in his pigtail. the tassels on the latter bristling. No. His body was transparent. tights and boots. and marked the very texture of the folded kerchief bound about its head and chin. nor did he believe it even now. keys. observing him. and fought against his senses. and saw it standing before him. so that Scrooge. usual waistcoat. as though it cried ‘I know him. but he had never believed it until now. like his pigtail. and it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely) of cashboxes. could see the two buttons on his coat behind. deeds. ‘What do you want with me?’ 23 of 138 . and looking through his waistcoat. Though he looked the phantom through and through. The chain he drew was clasped about his middle. The same face: the very same. though he felt the chilling influence of its death-cold eyes. and wound about him like a tail. ledgers. ‘How now!’ said Scrooge. Marley’s Ghost!’ and fell again. and heavy purses wrought in steel. he was still incredulous. It was long. and the hair upon his head.A Christmas Carol room before his eyes. the dying flame leaped up. Upon its coming in. caustic and cold as ever. Scrooge had often heard it said that Marley had no bowels.
’ but substituted this. ‘I don’t. Jacob Marley. ‘In life I was your partner. raising his voice. it might involve the necessity of an embarrassing explanation.’ Scrooge asked the question. But the ghost sat down on the opposite side of the fireplace. as if he were quite used to it.’ said Scrooge.’ He was going to say ‘to a shade. ‘You’re particular.A Christmas Carol ‘Much!’ — Marley’s voice. ‘Why do you doubt your senses?’ 24 of 138 .’ observed the Ghost. for a shade. ‘You don’t believe in me.’ said Scrooge.’ ‘Do it. ‘I can. and felt that in the event of its being impossible. ‘What evidence would you have of my reality beyond that of your senses?’ ‘I don’t know. looking doubtfully at him. ‘Who are you?’ ‘Ask me who I was. no doubt about it.’ ‘Who were you then?’ said Scrooge. then. because he didn’t know whether a ghost so transparent might find himself in a condition to take a chair. as more appropriate.’ ‘Can you — can you sit down?’ asked Scrooge.
staring at those fixed glazed eyes. by any means waggish then. To sit. The truth is. would play.’ said Scrooge. for though the Ghost sat perfectly motionless. in silence for a moment. the very deuce with him. for the reason just assigned. and keeping down his terror. its hair. a crumb of cheese. Scrooge could not feel it himself. and wishing. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. though it were only for a second. a fragment of an underdone potato. Scrooge felt. There’s more of gravy than of grave about you. and tassels. returning quickly to the charge. that he tried to be smart. to divert the vision’s stony gaze from himself. ‘a little thing affects them. for the spectre’s voice disturbed the very marrow in his bones. 25 of 138 . were still agitated as by the hot vapour from an oven. There was something very awful. in his heart. a blot of mustard. ‘You see this toothpick?’ said Scrooge. but this was clearly the case. in the spectre’s being provided with an infernal atmosphere of its own. as a means of distracting his own attention. too. whatever you are!’ Scrooge was not much in the habit of cracking jokes.A Christmas Carol ‘Because. nor did he feel. and skirts. You may be an undigested bit of beef.
’ said Scrooge. But how much greater was his horror. ‘But I see it. Humbug. its lower jaw dropped down upon its breast! Scrooge fell upon his knees. ‘I have but to swallow this.’ the Ghost returned. as if it were too warm to wear indoors. But why do spirits walk the earth. ‘I must.’ replied the Ghost. ‘notwithstanding.A Christmas Carol ‘I do. when the phantom taking off the bandage round its head.’ ‘Well!’ returned Scrooge. ‘do you believe in me or not?’ ‘I do. and why do they come to me?’ ‘It is required of every man.’ said the Ghost. and shook its chain with such a dismal and appalling noise. ‘You are not looking at it. ‘Dreadful apparition. that Scrooge held on tight to his chair. all of my own creation. ‘that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his 26 of 138 .’ said Scrooge. and clasped his hands before his face. why do you trouble me?’ ‘Man of the worldly mind!’ replied the Ghost. and be for the rest of my days persecuted by a legion of goblins. ‘Mercy!’ he said. to save himself from falling in a swoon. I tell you! humbug!’ At this the spirit raised a frightful cry.
in the expectation of finding himself surrounded by some fifty or sixty fathoms of iron cable: but he could see nothing. It is doomed to wander through the world — oh.’ replied the Ghost. and if that spirit goes not forth in life. and turned to happiness!’ Again the spectre raised a cry. ‘You are fettered. and of my own free will I wore it. and travel far and wide. tell me more. You have laboured on it. Speak comfort to me. ‘the weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself? It was full as heavy and as long as this. since. ‘Jacob. and shook its chain and wrung its shadowy hands. ‘Tell me why?’ ‘I wear the chain I forged in life. ‘Old Jacob Marley.A Christmas Carol fellowmen. ‘Or would you know. imploringly.’ said Scrooge. woe is me! — and witness what it cannot share. ‘I made it link by link. Is its pattern strange to you?’ Scrooge trembled more and more. Jacob!’ 27 of 138 . I girded it on of my own free will.’ pursued the Ghost. trembling.’ he said. It is a ponderous chain!’ Scrooge glanced about him on the floor. it is condemned to do so after death. but might have shared on earth. seven Christmas Eves ago. and yard by yard.
no peace. to other kinds of men. is all permitted to me. 28 of 138 . ‘Seven years dead. I cannot stay. ‘No rest. he did so now.’ replied the Ghost. in a business-like manner. ‘On the wings of the wind. whenever he became thoughtful. Ebenezer Scrooge. Pondering on what the Ghost had said.’ mused Scrooge. or getting off his knees. I cannot linger anywhere. A very little more. though with humility and deference.’ the Ghost replied. Incessant torture of remorse. ‘You must have been very slow about it. but without lifting up his eyes. My spirit never walked beyond our counting-house — mark me! — in life my spirit never roved beyond the narrow limits of our money-changing hole.’ said the Ghost. ‘It comes from other regions. ‘Slow!’ the Ghost repeated. Jacob. to put his hands in his breeches pockets. and is conveyed by other ministers. Nor can I tell you what I would.’ ‘You travel fast?’ said Scrooge. I cannot rest.’ Scrooge observed. and weary journeys lie before me!’ It was a habit with Scrooge.A Christmas Carol ‘I have none to give. ‘And travelling all the time!’ ‘The whole time.
that the Ward would have been justified in indicting it for a nuisance. ‘Mankind was my business.’ cried the phantom.A Christmas Carol ‘You might have got over a great quantity of ground in seven years. ‘not to know. all. The Ghost. wringing its hands again. my business. and clanked its chain so hideously in the dead silence of the night. charity. mercy. forbearance. and benevolence. set up another cry. by immortal creatures. and double-ironed. bound. ‘Oh! captive. Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere. ‘Business!’ cried the Ghost.’ faltered Scrooge. for this earth must pass into eternity before the good of which it is susceptible is all developed.’ said Scrooge. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!’ 29 of 138 . Jacob. who now began to apply this to himself. The common welfare was my business. that ages of incessant labour. whatever it may be. will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness. on hearing this. were. Not 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 business.
’ the spectre said ‘I suffer most.’ pursued the Ghost.’ said Scrooge. and wiped the perspiration from his brow. and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode! Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me!’ Scrooge was very much dismayed to hear the spectre going on at this rate.A Christmas Carol It held up its chain at arm’s length. ‘At this time of the rolling year.’ ‘I will. and began to quake exceedingly. Jacob! Pray!’ ‘How it is that I appear before you in a shape that you can see. A chance and hope of my procuring. I have sat invisible beside you many and many a day.’ ‘You were always a good friend to me. Why did I walk through crowds of fellowbeings with my eyes turned down. that you have yet a chance and hope of escaping my fate.’ said Scrooge. as if that were the cause of all its unavailing grief. Scrooge shivered. and flung it heavily upon the ground again. I may not tell. ‘Hear me!’ cried the Ghost. Ebenezer. ‘But don’t be hard upon me! Don’t be flowery.’ It was not an agreeable idea. ‘My time is nearly gone. ‘I am here to-night to warn you. ‘Thank ‘ee!’ 30 of 138 . ‘That is no light part of my penance.
‘It is. ‘by Three Spirits. ‘you cannot hope to shun the path I tread. and bound it round its head. and look that. by the smart sound its teeth made.’ ‘I — I think I’d rather not. the spectre took its wrapper from the table.’ said the Ghost. and have it over. as before. Jacob?’ he demanded.A Christmas Carol ‘You will be haunted.’ resumed the Ghost. The third upon the next night when the last stroke of Twelve has ceased to vibrate.’ ‘Couldn’t I take ‘em all at once.’ said Scrooge. when the jaws were brought together by the bandage. ‘Is that the chance and hope you mentioned.’ Scrooge’s countenance fell almost as low as the Ghost’s had done. Look to see me no more. and found 31 of 138 . in a faltering voice. for your own sake. He ventured to raise his eyes again. ‘Expect the second on the next night at the same hour. Jacob?’ hinted Scrooge. you remember what has passed between us!’ When it had said these words. Scrooge knew this. Expect the first tomorrow. when the bell tolls One. ‘Without their visits.
incoherent sounds of lamentation and regret. The air was filled with phantoms. joined in the mournful dirge. and at every step it took. after listening for a moment. and floated out upon the bleak. he became sensible of confused noises in the air. Scrooge followed to the window: desperate in his curiosity. the window raised itself a little. it was wide open. Scrooge stopped. Not so much in obedience. The spectre.A Christmas Carol his supernatural visitor confronting him in an erect attitude. warning him to come no nearer. some few (they might be guilty governments) were linked together. Many had been personally known to Scrooge in their lives. Marley’s Ghost held up its hand. and moaning as they went. as in surprise and fear: for on the raising of the hand. Every one of them wore chains like Marley’s Ghost. He looked out. It beckoned Scrooge to approach. with its chain wound over and about its arm. When they were within two paces of each other. He had been quite familiar with one 32 of 138 . none were free. which he did. wandering hither and thither in restless haste. The apparition walked backward from him. so that when the spectre reached it. wailings inexpressibly sorrowful and self-accusatory. dark night.
The misery with them all was. went straight to bed.A Christmas Carol old ghost. Scrooge closed the window. in a white waistcoat. with a monstrous iron safe attached to its ankle. Whether these creatures faded into mist. and fell asleep upon the instant. as he had locked it with his own hands. 33 of 138 . and had lost the power for ever. or his glimpse of the Invisible World. for good. or the fatigues of the day. in human matters. without undressing. He tried to say ‘Humbug!’ but stopped at the first syllable. or mist enshrouded them. It was double-locked. But they and their spirit voices faded together. clearly. he could not tell. And being. whom it saw below. and the bolts were undisturbed. much in need of repose. or the dull conversation of the Ghost. and the night became as it had been when he walked home. and examined the door by which the Ghost had entered. or the lateness of the hour. upon a door-step. that they sought to interfere. from the emotion he had undergone. who cried piteously at being unable to assist a wretched woman with an infant.
when the chimes of a neighbouring church struck the four quarters. to correct this most preposterous clock. and this is twelve at noon. It isn’t possible that anything has happened to the sun. He was obliged to rub the frost off with the sleeve of his dressing-gown 34 of 138 . So he listened for the hour. To his great astonishment the heavy bell went on from six to seven. he could scarcely distinguish the transparent window from the opaque walls of his chamber.’ said Scrooge. ‘Why. it was so dark. It was past two when he went to bed. then stopped.A Christmas Carol Stave 2: The First of the Three Spirits When Scrooge awoke. that looking out of bed. An icicle must have got into the works. and from seven to eight. he scrambled out of bed. and groped his way to the window.’ The idea being an alarming one. Its rapid little pulse beat twelve: and stopped. He touched the spring of his repeater. and regularly up to twelve. it isn’t possible. The clock was wrong. He was endeavouring to pierce the darkness with his ferret eyes. Twelve. ‘that I can have slept through a whole day and far into another night. Twelve.
and thought it over and over. the more perplexed he was. and. and thought. Ebenezer Scrooge on his order. ‘Was it a dream or not?’ Scrooge lay in this state until the chime had gone three-quarters more. like a strong spring released. because ‘Three days after sight of this First of Exchange pay to Mr.’ and so forth. and making a great stir.A Christmas Carol before he could see anything. and could make nothing of it. The more he thought. after mature inquiry that it was all a dream. on a sudden. This was a great relief. would have become a mere United States security if there were no days to count by. the more he thought. his mind flew back again. andpresented the same problem to be worked all through. and that there was no noise of people running to and fro. that the Ghost hadwarned him of a visitation when the 35 of 138 . the more he endeavoured not to think. and taken possession of the world. Marley’s Ghost bothered him exceedingly. Every time he resolved within himself. and could see very little then. when he remembered. All he could make out was. that it was still very foggy and extremely cold. to its first position. as there unquestionably would have been if night had beaten off bright day. Scrooge went to bed again. and thought.
‘and nothing else!’ He spoke before the hour bell sounded. dong!’ ‘The hour itself. ‘Ding. Not the curtains at his feet. and the curtains of his bed were drawn. dull. but those to which his face was addressed. hollow. melancholy ONE. considering that he could no more go to sleep than go to heaven. Light flashed up in the room upon the instant. this was. dong!’ ‘Half past. I tell you. dong!’ ‘A quarter to it. by a hand. which it now did with a deep. and. and missed the clock. ‘Ding. and Scrooge.A Christmas Carol bell tolled one. ‘Ding. He resolved to lie awake until the hour was passed. nor the curtains at his back. dong!’ ‘A quarter past. The quarter was so long. ‘Ding. At length it broke upon his listening ear.’ said Scrooge. counting. perhaps. the wisest resolution in his power. The curtains of his bed were drawn aside. that he was more than once convinced he must have sunk into a doze unconsciously.’ said Scrooge. The curtains of his bed were drawn aside.’ said Scrooge.’ said Scrooge triumphantly. starting 36 of 138 .
had its dress trimmed with summer flowers. and I am standing in the spirit at your elbow. 37 of 138 . most delicately formed. a great extinguisher for a cap. and being diminished to a child’s proportions. It wore a tunic of the purest white. in its duller moments. which hung about its neck and down its back. viewed through some supernatural medium. in singular contradiction of that wintry emblem. and. It held a branch of fresh green holly in its hand. that from the crown of its head there sprung a bright clear jet of light. Its hair. bare. as if its hold were of uncommon strength. was white as if with age. and yet the face had not a wrinkle in it. But the strangest thing about it was. the sheen of which was beautiful. by which all this was visible.A Christmas Carol up into a half-recumbent attitude. Its legs and feet. and the tenderest bloom was on the skin. which it now held under its arm. found himself face to face with the unearthly visitor who drew them: as close to it as I am now to you. and which was doubtless the occasion of its using. The arms were very long and muscular. like those upper members. the hands the same. were. and round its waist was bound a lustrous belt. which gave him the appearance of having receded from the view. It was a strange figure — like a child: yet not so like a child as like an old man.
A Christmas Carol
Even this, though, when Scrooge looked at it with increasing steadiness, was not its strangest quality. For as its belt sparkled and glittered now in one part and now in another, and what was light one instant, at another time was dark, so the figure itself fluctuated in its distinctness: being 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: of which dissolving parts, no outline would be visible in the dense gloom wherein they melted away. And in the very wonder of this, it would be itself again; distinct and clear as ever. ‘Are you the Spirit, sir, whose coming was foretold to me.’ asked Scrooge. ‘I am.’ The voice was soft and gentle. Singularly low, as if instead of being so close beside him, it were at a distance. ‘Who, and what are you.’ Scrooge demanded. ‘I am the Ghost of Christmas Past.’ ‘Long Past.’ inquired Scrooge: observant of its dwarfish stature. ‘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. 38 of 138
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‘What.’ exclaimed the Ghost, ‘would you so soon put out, with worldly hands, the light I give. Is it not enough that you are one of those whose passions made this cap, and force me through whole trains of years to wear it low upon my brow.’ Scrooge reverently disclaimed all intention to offend or any knowledge of having wilfully bonneted the Spirit at any period of his life. He then made bold to inquire what business brought him there. ‘Your welfare.’ said the Ghost. Scrooge expressed himself much obliged, but could not help thinking that a night of unbroken rest would have been more conducive to that end. The Spirit must have heard him thinking, for it said immediately: ‘Your reclamation, then. Take heed.’ It put out its strong hand as it spoke, and clasped him gently by the arm. ‘Rise. and walk with me.’ It would have been in vain for Scrooge to plead that the weather and the hour were not adapted to pedestrian purposes; that bed was warm, and the thermometer a long way below freezing; that he was clad but lightly in his slippers, dressing-gown, and nightcap; and that he had a cold upon him at that time. The grasp, though gentle as a 39 of 138
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woman’s hand, was not to be resisted. He rose: but finding that the Spirit made towards the window, clasped his robe in supplication. ‘I am 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 country road, with fields on either hand. The city had entirely vanished. Not a vestige of it was to be seen. The darkness and the mist had vanished with it, for it was a clear, cold, winter day, with snow upon the ground. ‘Good Heaven!’ said Scrooge, clasping his hands together, as he looked about him. ‘I was bred in this place. I was a boy here.’ The Spirit gazed upon him mildly. Its gentle touch, though it had been light and instantaneous, appeared still present to the old man’s sense of feeling. He was conscious of a thousand odours floating in the air, each one connected with a thousand thoughts, and hopes, and joys, and cares long, long, forgotten. ‘Your lip is trembling,’ said the Ghost. ‘And what is that upon your cheek.’ 40 of 138
and as they came. Why did his cold eye glisten. and shouted to each other. ‘Let us go on. until a little market-town appeared in the distance. who called to other boys in country gigs and carts. and post. Why was he rejoiced beyond all bounds to see them. its church.’ inquired the Spirit. ‘I could walk it blindfold. with its bridge. ‘They have no consciousness of us. and winding river.’ The jocund travellers came on. Some shaggy ponies now were seen trotting towards them with boys upon their backs.’ They walked along the road.’ said the Ghost. that it was a pimple. and tree. until the broad fields were so full of merry music. driven by farmers.’ observed the Ghost. Scrooge recognising every gate.A Christmas Carol Scrooge muttered. All these boys were in great spirits.’ cried Scrooge with fervour. ‘These are but shadows of the things that have been. that the crisp air laughed to hear it. Scrooge knew and named them every one. ‘Remember it.’ ‘Strange to have forgotten it for so many years. and begged the Ghost to lead him where he would. with an unusual catching in his voice. and his heart leap up as they went past. ‘You recollect the way. Why was he filled with gladness when he heard them give each 41 of 138 .
for their several homes. There was an earthy savour in the air. What good had it ever done to him. within. ‘The school is not quite deserted. they found them poorly furnished. and the coach-houses and sheds were over-run with grass. by a well-remembered lane. Out upon merry Christmas. is left there still. and glancing through the open doors of many rooms. and 42 of 138 . their walls were damp and mossy. on the roof. They went. Nor was it more retentive of its ancient state. and soon approached a mansion of dull red brick. for the spacious offices were little used. What was merry Christmas to Scrooge. with a little weathercock-surmounted cupola. and their gates decayed. a chilly bareness in the place.’ said the Ghost. It was a large house.’ Scrooge said he knew it. for entering the dreary hall. but one of broken fortunes. neglected by his friends. They left the high-road. and a bell hanging in it. ‘A solitary child. and not too much to eat. to a door at the back of the house. across the hall. their windows broken.A Christmas Carol other Merry Christmas. cold. which associated itself somehow with too much getting up by candle-light. And he sobbed. as they parted at cross-roads and bye-ways. the Ghost and Scrooge. It opened before them. Fowls clucked and strutted in the stables. and vast.
and gave a freer passage to his tears. One Christmas time. And Valentine. not a clicking in the fire. made barer still by lines of plain deal forms and desks. not a drip from the half-thawed water-spout in the dull yard behind. with an axe stuck in his belt. I know. intent upon his reading. and wept to see his poor forgotten self as he used to be. melancholy room.’ Scrooge exclaimed in ecstasy. Poor boy. ‘Why. Orson. and pointed to his younger self. not a sigh among the leafless boughs of one despondent poplar. yes. when yonder solitary child was left here all alone. he did come. who 43 of 138 . And what’s his name.’ and his wild brother. it’s Ali Baba. but fell upon the heart of Scrooge with a softening influence. for the first time.A Christmas Carol disclosed a long. At one of these a lonely boy was reading near a feeble fire. Yes. bare. not the idle swinging of an empty store-house door. Suddenly a man. Not a latent echo in the house. ‘It’s dear old honest Ali Baba. in foreign garments: wonderfully real and distinct to look at: stood outside the window. there they go. and Scrooge sat down upon a form. no.’ said Scrooge. The Spirit touched him on the arm. not a squeak and scuffle from the mice behind the panelling. and leading by the bridle an ass laden with wood. just like that.
‘Poor boy. in a most extraordinary voice between laughing and crying. but he wasn’t. Hoop. What business had he to be married to the Princess. in pity for his former self. Robin Crusoe. asleep. And the Sultan’s Groom turned upside down by the Genii. Serve him right. ‘There’s the Parrot. 44 of 138 .’ To hear Scrooge expending all the earnestness of his nature on such subjects. Poor Robin Crusoe. you know. when he came home again after sailing round the island.’ cried Scrooge. don’t you see him.A Christmas Carol was put down in his drawers. I’m glad of it. where have you been. there he is. he called him. ‘Green body and yellow tail. ‘Poor Robin Crusoe. he said. indeed. would have been a surprise to his business friends in the city. Hallo. It was the Parrot. there he is upon his head.’ and cried again. There goes Friday. Halloa. with a rapidity of transition very foreign to his usual character. with a thing like a lettuce growing out of the top of his head.’ Then.’ The man thought he was dreaming. running for his life to the little creek. at the Gate of Damascus. and to see his heightened and excited face.
much younger than the boy.’ Scrooge’s former self grew larger at the words. and waved its hand: saying as it did so. the windows cracked. when all the other boys had gone home for the jolly holidays.A Christmas Carol ‘I wish. ‘Nothing. I should like to have given him something: that’s all. and the naked laths were shown instead.’ said Scrooge. and with a mournful shaking of his head. Scrooge looked at the Ghost. ‘Let us see another Christmas. came darting in. that everything had happened so. and 45 of 138 .’ ‘What is the matter. and a little girl. There was a boy singing a Christmas Carol at my door last night. ‘Nothing. and the room became a little darker and more dirty. The panels shrunk. but walking up and down despairingly. He was not reading now. It opened. alone again. and putting her arms about his neck.’ Scrooge muttered. after drying his eyes with his cuff: ‘but it’s too late now. but how all this was brought about.’ The Ghost smiled thoughtfully. Scrooge knew no more than you do. putting his hand in his pocket. He only knew that it was quite correct. and looking about him. that there he was.’ asked the Spirit. fragments of plaster fell out of the ceiling. glanced anxiously towards the door.
little Fan.’ ‘You are quite a woman.’ and are never to come back here. dear brother.’ ‘I have come to bring you home. Father is so much kinder than he used to be. for ever and ever.’ exclaimed the boy. towards the door. in her childish eagerness. addressed him as her ‘Dear. and bending down to laugh. home. ‘Yes. we’re to be together all the Christmas long. you should. little Fan. dear brother. ‘Bring down Master Scrooge’s box. home. there. He spoke so gently to me one dear night when I was going to bed. and tried to touch his head. brimful of glee. but first.’ and in the hall appeared the 46 of 138 . and he. Home. She clapped her hands and laughed. ‘Home. nothing loth to go. A terrible voice in the hall cried. and stood on tiptoe to embrace him.A Christmas Carol often kissing him. and he said Yes. but being too little.’ ‘Home. ‘To bring you home.’ returned the boy. for good and all. And you’re to be a man.’ said the child. opening her eyes. Then she began to drag him. laughed again. that I was not afraid to ask him once more if you might come home. accompanied her.’ said the child. and sent me in a coach to bring you.’ said the child. clapping her tiny hands. and have the merriest time in all the world. that home’s like Heaven.
who glared on Master Scrooge with a ferocious condescension. and a block of curiously heavy cake.’ 47 of 138 . who answered that he thanked the gentleman. and the celestial and terrestrial globes in the windows.’ said the Ghost.A Christmas Carol schoolmaster himself. but if it was the same tap as he had tasted before. and administered instalments of those dainties to the young people: at the same time. the children bade the schoolmaster good-bye right willingly. ‘You’re right.’ ‘So she had. ‘Always a delicate creature.’ cried Scrooge. Spirit. He then conveyed him and his sister into the veriest old well of a shivering best-parlour that ever was seen. God forbid. ‘But she had a large heart. drove gaily down the garden-sweep: the quick wheels dashing the hoar-frost and snow from off the dark leaves of the evergreens like spray. he had rather not. Here he produced a decanter of curiously light wine. and threw him into a dreadful state of mind by shaking hands with him. were waxy with cold. I will not gainsay it. where the maps upon the wall. whom a breath might have withered. sending out a meagre servant to offer a glass of something to the postboy. and getting into it. Master Scrooge’s trunk being by this time tied on to the top of the chaise.
’ Scrooge returned. At sight of an old gentleman in a Welsh wig. sitting behind such a high desk. It was made plain enough. ‘Yes. and asked Scrooge if he knew it. ‘and had. Scrooge cried in great excitement: ‘Why. ‘True. and answered briefly. that here too it was Christmas time again. where shadowy passengers passed and repassed. ‘I was apprenticed here. and the streets were lighted up.’ said Scrooge. children. and all the strife and tumult of a real city were. but it was evening. it’s old Fezziwig.’ said the Ghost. as I think.A Christmas Carol ‘She died a woman. that if he had been two inches taller he must have knocked his head against the ceiling.’ Although they had but that moment left the school behind them. ‘Know it.’ 48 of 138 .’ said the Ghost.’ They went in. it’s Fezziwig alive again. The Ghost stopped at a certain warehouse door. Bless his heart.’ ‘One child. where shadowy carts and coaches battle for the way. by the dressing of the shops.’ Scrooge seemed uneasy in his mind. ‘Your nephew. they were now in the busy thoroughfares of a city.
three — had them up in their places — four. There he is. skipping down from the high desk. and looked up at the clock. five. came briskly in. Poor Dick. ‘Bless me.’ said Fezziwig. Dear. He rubbed his hands. my lads. there. six — barred them and pinned then — seven. now grown a young man. jovial voice: ‘Yo ho.’ ‘Yo ho. He was very much attached to me. was Dick. Christmas Eve. yes.’ before a man can say Jack Robinson.’ You wouldn’t believe how those two fellows went at it. two. adjusted his capacious waistcoat. Ebenezer. with a sharp clap of his hands.A Christmas Carol Old Fezziwig laid down his pen. to be sure. Ebenezer. Let’s have the shutters up. ‘Dick Wilkins. ‘Hilli-ho!’ cried old Fezziwig. which pointed to the hour of seven. and called out in a comfortable. ‘No more work tonight. Dick. They charged into the street with the shutters — one. laughed all over himself. panting like race-horses. my boys. Dick. eight. rich. dear. accompanied by his fellow-prentice. from his shows to his organ of benevolence. fat. oily. 49 of 138 . ‘Clear away. with wonderful agility. nine — and came back before you could have got to twelve.’ Scrooge’s former self.’ cried old Fezziwig.’ said Scrooge to the Ghost. Christmas.
with old Fezziwig looking on. with her cousin. as if it were dismissed from public life for evermore. who was suspected of not having board enough from his master. It was done in a minute. or couldn’t have cleared away. In they all 50 of 138 . the baker. Every movable was packed off. the lamps were trimmed. In came all the young men and women employed in the business. fuel was heaped upon the fire. Chirrup. the milkman. In came the boy from over the way. In came the six young followers whose hearts they broke. and tuned like fifty stomach-aches. In came the three Miss Fezziwigs. In came Mrs Fezziwig. There was nothing they wouldn’t have cleared away. and went up to the lofty desk. as you would desire to see upon a winter’s night. and warm. who was proved to have had her ears pulled by her mistress. In came a fiddler with a music-book. one vast substantial smile. Hilli-ho. and made an orchestra of it. trying to hide himself behind the girl from next door but one. the floor was swept and watered. and bright a ball-room. In came the cook. In came the housemaid.A Christmas Carol and let’s have lots of room here.’ Clear away. beaming and lovable. Dick. and the warehouse was as snug. with her brother’s particular friend. Ebenezer. and dry.
and he were a bran-new man resolved to beat him out of sight. cried out.’ and the fiddler plunged his hot face into a pot of porter. some boldly. anyhow and everyhow. some pushing. when the fiddler (an 51 of 138 . and there were forfeits. one after another. and there was cake. and there was negus. old top couple always turning up in the wrong place. down the middle and up again. and there was a great piece of Cold Boiled. some awkwardly.’ Well done. he instantly began again. and not a bottom one to help them. though there were no dancers yet. all top couples at last. old Fezziwig. and there were mince-pies. in they all came. new top couple starting off again. or perish. But the great effect of the evening came after the Roast and Boiled. some shyly. Away they all went. There were more dances. exhausted. especially provided for that purpose. and more dances. hands half round and back again the other way. some gracefully. twenty couples at once. and there was a great piece of Cold Roast.A Christmas Carol came. as soon as they got there. round and round in various stages of affectionate grouping. upon his reappearance. and plenty of beer. some pulling. on a shutter. clapping his hands to stop the dance. When this result was brought about. as if the other fiddler had been carried home. But scorning rest.
what would have become of them next. They shone in every part of the dance like moons. too. this domestic ball broke up. that he appeared to wink with his legs. advance and retire. And when old Fezziwig and Mrs Fezziwig had gone all through the dance. When the clock struck eleven. You couldn’t have predicted. one on 52 of 138 . Mr and Mrs Fezziwig took their stations. The sort of man who knew his business better than you or I could have told it him. people who were not to be trifled with. three or four and twenty pair of partners.) struck up Sir Roger de Coverley. both hands to your partner. and I’ll use it. four times — old Fezziwig would have been a match for them. with a good stiff piece of work cut out for them. and so would Mrs Fezziwig. people who would dance. mind. and had no notion of walking. and back again to your place. thread-theneedle. If that’s not high praise. and came upon his feet again without a stagger. corkscrew.A Christmas Carol artful dog. Fezziwig cut — cut so deftly. Top couple. But if they had been twice as many — ah. at any given time. she was worthy to be his partner in every sense of the term. A positive light appeared to issue from Fezziwig’s calves. tell me higher. bow and curtsey.’ Then old Fezziwig stood out to dance with Mrs Fezziwig. As to her.
and the lads were left to their beds. The Spirit signed to him to listen to the two apprentices. His heart and soul were in the scene. said. He corroborated everything. they did the same to them. ‘A small matter. while the light upon its head burnt very clear.’ said the Ghost. During the whole of this time. who were pouring out their hearts in praise of Fezziwig: and when he had done so. and shaking hands with every person individually as he or she went out.’ echoed Scrooge. ‘Why. when the bright faces of his former self and Dick were turned from them. Scrooge had acted like a man out of his wits. remembered everything. He has spent but a few pounds of your mortal money: three or four perhaps. When everybody had retired but the two prentices. and with his former self. enjoyed everything. and underwent the strangest agitation. Is it not. Is that so much that he deserves this praise. wished him or her a Merry Christmas. ‘to make these silly folks so full of gratitude. that he remembered the Ghost.’ ‘Small.’ 53 of 138 .A Christmas Carol either side of the door. which were under a counter in the back-shop. It was not until now. and became conscious that it was looking full upon him. and thus the cheerful voices died away.
’ the Ghost insisted.’ observed the Spirit. a man in the prime of life. not his latter. or to any one whom he could see. Spirit. and Scrooge and the Ghost again stood side by side in the open air. The happiness he gives. ‘What is the matter.’ said Scrooge. ‘My time grows short.’ His former self turned down the lamps as he gave utterance to the wish. ‘Nothing in particular.’ No.’ asked the Ghost. ‘Something. self.’ This was not addressed to Scrooge. ‘Quick. That’s all. He has the power to render us happy or unhappy.A Christmas Carol ‘It isn’t that. and speaking unconsciously like his former. ‘It isn’t that. restless 54 of 138 . Say that his power lies in words and looks. and stopped. a pleasure or a toil. greedy. There was an eager. to make our service light or burdensome. in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count them up: what then.’ said Scrooge.’ He felt the Spirit’s glance. For again Scrooge saw himself. is quite as great as if it cost a fortune. I think. heated by the remark.’ said Scrooge. but it produced an immediate effect. but it had begun to wear the signs of care and avarice. His face had not the harsh and rigid lines of later years. I should like to be able to say a word or two to my clerk just now. ‘No. He was older now.
‘Even if I have grown so much wiser. ‘All your other hopes have merged into the hope of being beyond the chance of its sordid reproach.’ ‘You fear the world too much. I have seen your nobler aspirations fall off one by one. softly. which showed the passion that had taken root. very little.A Christmas Carol motion in the eye. what then.’ she answered.’ ‘This is the even-handed dealing of the world.’ she said. until the masterpassion. but sat by the side of a fair young girl in a mourning-dress: in whose eyes there were tears. and where the shadow of the growing tree would fall. gently. ‘It matters little. I am not changed towards you.’ 55 of 138 . as I would have tried to do. and if it can cheer and comfort you in time to come. Another idol has displaced me. ‘To you.’ he said. ‘There is nothing on which it is so hard as poverty. which sparkled in the light that shone out of the Ghost of Christmas Past.’ ‘What then.’ he retorted. He was not alone.’ he rejoined.’ ‘What Idol has displaced you. engrosses you. ‘A golden one. and there is nothing it professes to condemn with such severity as the pursuit of wealth. I have no just cause to grieve. Have I not. Gain.
then. no. in another atmosphere of life.’ ‘In what. You are changed. Never.’ ‘I was a boy. It is enough that I have thought of it. ‘I am. ‘Am I. ‘Your own feeling tells you that you were not what you are. in an altered spirit.’ ‘In a changed nature. would you seek me out and try to win me now. another Hope as its great end. and can release you. How often and how keenly I have thought of this. That which promised happiness when we were one in heart.’ ‘Our contract is an old one.A Christmas Carol She shook her head.’ tell me. It was made when we were both poor and content to be so. upon him. is fraught with misery now that we are two.’ ‘In words.’ ‘Have I ever sought release. looking mildly. In everything that made my love of any worth or value in your sight. I will not say. you were another man. but with steadiness.’ she returned. No.’ 56 of 138 . When it was made. we could improve our worldly fortune by our patient industry. until. Ah.’ he said impatiently.’ said the girl. in good season. If this had never been between us.
do I not know that your repentance and regret would surely follow. ‘You may — the memory of what is past half makes me hope you will — have pain in this. and you will dismiss the recollection of it. for the love of him you once were. very brief time. can even I believe that you would choose a dowerless girl — you who.’ she answered. 57 of 138 . yesterday. and I release you.’ He was about to speak. weigh everything by Gain: or. and they parted. if for a moment you were false enough to your one guiding principle to do so. choosing her. When I have learned a Truth like this.A Christmas Carol He seemed to yield to the justice of this supposition.’ She left him. but with her head turned from him. May you be happy in the life you have chosen. in your very confidence with her. I do. she resumed. ‘Heaven knows. But he said with a struggle. as an unprofitable dream. A very. gladly.’ ‘I would gladly think otherwise if I could. With a full heart. in spite of himself. But if you were free to-day.’ You think not. from which it happened well that you awoke. I know how strong and irresistible it must be. to-morrow.
no. but no one seemed to care. now a comely matron.’ exclaimed the Ghost. but full of comfort. Conduct me home.’ show me no more. I wouldn’t for the 58 of 138 .’ said Scrooge. soon beginning to mingle in the sports. Why do you delight to torture me. than Scrooge in his agitated state of mind could count. ‘No more. on the contrary. I don’t wish to see it. got pillaged by the young brigands most ruthlessly. no. sitting opposite her daughter.’ ‘One shadow more.’ cried Scrooge. and. The consequences were uproarious beyond belief. so like that last that Scrooge believed it was the same.’ But the relentless Ghost pinioned him in both his arms. The noise in this room was perfectly tumultuous. the mother and daughter laughed heartily. and forced him to observe what happened next. until he saw her. ‘No more. They were in another scene and place. for there were more children there. a room. they were not forty children conducting themselves like one. not very large or handsome. but every child was conducting itself like forty. Near to the winter fire sat a beautiful young girl.A Christmas Carol ‘Spirit. Show me no more. and the latter. and enjoyed it very much. Though I never could have been so rude. What would I not have given to one of them. unlike the celebrated herd in the poem.
that she might have opened them. Then the shouting and the struggling. to have touched her lips. and for the precious little shoe. I wouldn’t have plucked it off. God bless my soul.A Christmas Carol wealth of all the world have crushed that braided hair. and never raised a blush. to have looked upon the lashes of her downcast eyes. I should have liked. and yet to have been man enough to know its value. The scaling him with chairs for ladders to dive into his pockets. and torn it down. I do confess. And yet I should have dearly liked. As to measuring her waist in sport. hug him round his 59 of 138 . an inch of which would be a keepsake beyond price: in short. and never come straight again. who came home attended by a man laden with Christmas toys and presents. hold on tight by his cravat. to save my life. But now a knocking at the door was heard. to have had the lightest licence of a child. despoil him of brown-paper parcels. I couldn’t have done it. I should have expected my arm to have grown round it for a punishment. just in time to greet the father. as they did. bold young brood. to have questioned her. and such a rush immediately ensued that she with laughing face and plundered dress was borne towards it the centre of a flushed and boisterous group. I own. to have let loose waves of hair. and the onslaught that was made on the defenceless porter.
‘Belle.’ I saw an old friend of yours this afternoon. They are all indescribable alike. quite as graceful and as full of promise. and kick his legs in irrepressible affection.’ ‘Guess.A Christmas Carol neck. glued on a wooden platter. might have called him father. And now Scrooge looked on more attentively than ever. and been a spring-time in the haggard winter of his life. his sight grew very dim indeed. turning to his wife with a smile. It is enough that by degrees the children and their emotions got out of the parlour. and gratitude. The joy.’ said the husband. and when he thought that such another creature. The terrible announcement that the baby had been taken in the act of putting a doll’s frying-pan into his mouth. sat down with her and her mother at his own fireside.’ ‘Who was it.’ 60 of 138 . The immense relief of finding this a false alarm. The shouts of wonder and delight with which the development of every package was received. and ecstasy. and so subsided. up to the top of the house. when the master of the house. having his daughter leaning fondly on him. and was more than suspected of having swallowed a fictitious turkey. and by one stair at a time. pommel his back. where they went to bed.
I hear. and there he sat alone. His partner lies upon the point of death. don’t I know.’ ‘I told you these were shadows of the things that have been. Tut. laughing as he laughed.’ He turned upon the Ghost. I do believe. Haunt me no longer. I could scarcely help seeing him. and he had a candle inside. and as it was not shut up.’ Scrooge exclaimed. and dimly connecting that with its influence over him. Scrooge observed that its light was burning high and bright. ‘Leave me. ‘That they are what they are.’ remove me from this place. he 61 of 138 . and seeing that it looked upon him with a face. Quite alone in the world. I passed his office window.’ ‘Mr Scrooge it was. if that can be called a struggle in which the Ghost with no visible resistance on its own part was undisturbed by any effort of its adversary.A Christmas Carol ‘How can I. in which in some strange way there were fragments of all the faces it had shown him. wrestled with it.’ said the Ghost. do not blame me.’ I cannot bear it.’ ‘Remove me.’ she added in the same breath.’ said Scrooge in a broken voice.’ In the struggle. Take me back.’ ‘Spirit. ‘Mr Scrooge.
he could not hide the light. and had barely time to reel to bed. and. of being in his own bedroom. in which his hand relaxed. in an unbroken flood upon the ground. so that the extinguisher covered its whole form. before he sank into a heavy sleep. He gave the cap a parting squeeze. 62 of 138 . which streamed from under it. but though Scrooge pressed it down with all his force. further. and by a sudden action pressed it down upon its head. and overcome by an irresistible drowsiness.A Christmas Carol seized the extinguisher-cap. He was conscious of being exhausted. The Spirit dropped beneath it.
express the wide range of their capacity for adventure by observing that they are good for anything from pitch-and-toss to manslaughter.A Christmas Carol Stave 3: The Second of the Three Spirits Awaking in the middle of a prodigiously tough snore. he wished to challenge the Spirit on the moment of its appearance. But. and made nervous. and lying down again. for the especial purpose of holding a conference with the second messenger despatched to him through Jacob Marley’s intervention. and being usually equal to the time-of-day. he put them every one aside with his own hands. He felt that he was restored to consciousness in the right nick of time. no 63 of 138 . between which opposite extremes. and sitting up in bed to get his thoughts together. finding that he turned uncomfortably cold when he began to wonder which of his curtains this new spectre would draw back. Gentlemen of the free-and-easy sort. established a sharp look-out all round the bed. For. who plume themselves on being acquainted with a move or two. Scrooge had no occasion to be told that the bell was again upon the stroke of One. and did not wish to be taken by surprise.
consequently. and was sometimes apprehensive that he might be at that very moment an interesting case of spontaneous combustion. which streamed upon it when the clock proclaimed the hour. yet nothing came. as he was powerless to make out what it meant. for it is always the person not in the predicament who knows what ought to have been done in it.A Christmas Carol doubt. being only light. I don’t mind calling on you to believe that he was ready for a good broad field of strange appearances. however. and no shape appeared. a quarter of an hour went by. and would unquestionably have done it too — at last. All this time. I say. being prepared for almost anything. ten minutes. or would be at. Five minutes. there lies a tolerably wide and comprehensive range of subjects. he was not by any means prepared for nothing. Now. he was taken with a violent fit of trembling. At last. and that nothing between a baby and rhinoceros would have astonished him very much. he lay upon his bed. was more alarming than a dozen ghosts. he began to think — as you or I would have thought at first. without having the consolation of knowing it. he began to think that the source and secret of this 64 of 138 . and which. when the Bell struck One. and. Without venturing for Scrooge quite as hardily as this. the very core and centre of a blaze of ruddy light.
mistletoe. It was his own room. long wreaths of sausages. immense twelfth-cakes. a strange voice called him by his name. red-hot chestnuts. juicy oranges. The walls and ceiling were so hung with living green. barrels of oysters. or Marley’s. were turkeys. geese. from whence. This idea taking full possession of his mind. mince-pies. He obeyed. or for many and many a winter season gone. and such a mighty blaze went roaring up the chimney. Heaped up on the floor. In easy 65 of 138 . luscious pears. that made the chamber dim with their delicious steam. on further tracing it. he got up softly and shuffled in his slippers to the door. bright gleaming berries glistened. cherry-cheeked apples. The crisp leaves of holly. from every part of which. game.A Christmas Carol ghostly light might be in the adjoining room. poultry. as if so many little mirrors had been scattered there. brawn. as that dull petrification of a hearth had never known in Scrooge’s time. to form a kind of throne. plum-puddings. sucking-pigs. There was no doubt about that. But it had undergone a surprising transformation. great joints of meat. and bade him enter. it seemed to shine. and seething bowls of punch. that it looked a perfect grove. and ivy reflected back the light. The moment Scrooge’s hand was on the lock.
and held it up. set here and there with shining icicles. Girded round its middle was an antique 66 of 138 . and hung his head before this Spirit. or mantle. ‘Look upon me. high up.’ exclaimed the Ghost. It was clothed in one simple green robe. were also bare. its open hand. free as its genial face. Its dark brown curls were long and free. observable beneath the ample folds of the garment. in shape not unlike Plenty’s horn. ‘Come in. to shed its light on Scrooge. and though the Spirit’s eyes were clear and kind. and its joyful air. as if disdaining to be warded or concealed by any artifice. bordered with white fur. ‘Come in. he did not like to meet them. its sparkling eye. and on its head it wore no other covering than a holly wreath. He was not the dogged Scrooge he had been. who bore a glowing torch. that its capacious breast was bare.’ Scrooge reverently did so. its unconstrained demeanour. its cheery voice. ‘I am the Ghost of Christmas Present.’ Scrooge entered timidly. Its feet. as he came peeping round the door. glorious to see. This garment hung so loosely on the figure. and know me better.’ said the Spirit. there sat a jolly Giant. man.A Christmas Carol state upon this couch.
’ ‘More than eighteen hundred.’ said Scrooge submissively. if you have aught to teach me. game.’ conduct me where you will.’ said the Ghost. The Ghost of Christmas Present rose. mistletoe. and punch. and I learnt a lesson which is working now. the hour of night. Holly. I went forth last night on compulsion. pigs. puddings. So did the room.’ exclaimed the Spirit. and the ancient sheath was eaten up with rust. Have you had many brothers. fruit.’ Scrooge did as he was told. ‘You have never seen the like of me before. oysters. and 67 of 138 . meaning (for I am very young) my elder brothers born in these later years. poultry. the ruddy glow. ‘Spirit. meat. sausages. the fire. red berries. geese.’ ‘Touch my robe. ivy. brawn. To-night. Spirit. but no sword was in it. pies. all vanished instantly.’ Scrooge made answer to it. ‘Have never walked forth with the younger members of my family.’ muttered Scrooge. ‘I am afraid I have not. turkeys.’ pursued the Phantom. let me profit by it.A Christmas Carol scabbard.’ said Scrooge. ‘I don’t think I have. and held it fast. ‘A tremendous family to provide for. ‘Never.
and from the tops of their houses. and the shortest streets were choked up with a dingy mist. The sky was gloomy. half thawed. There was nothing very cheerful in the climate or the town. half frozen. furrows that crossed and recrossed each other hundreds of times where the great streets branched off. and with the dirtier snow upon the ground. and splitting into artificial little snow-storms. whence it was mad delight to the boys to see it come plumping down into the road below. The house fronts looked black enough. which last deposit had been ploughed up in deep furrows by the heavy wheels of carts and waggons. and yet was there an air of cheerfulness abroad that the clearest summer air and 68 of 138 . and were blazing away to their dear hearts’ content. caught fire. but brisk and not unpleasant kind of music. and made intricate channels. and the windows blacker. by one consent. whose heavier particles descended in shower of sooty atoms.A Christmas Carol they stood in the city streets on Christmas morning. where (for the weather was severe) the people made a rough. as if all the chimneys in Great Britain had. contrasting with the smooth white sheet of snow upon the roofs. hard to trace in the thick yellow mud and icy water. in scraping the snow from the pavement in front of their dwellings.
in their fragrance. mossy and brown. brown-faced. and tumbling out into the street in their apoplectic opulence. recalling. lolling at the doors. there were piles of filberts. There were ruddy. there were bunches of grapes. For. shaped like the waistcoats of jolly old gentlemen. pot-bellied baskets of chestnuts. calling out to one another from the parapets. There were great. The poulterers’ shops were still half open. There were pears and apples. and winking from their shelves in wanton slyness at the girls as they went by. and the fruiterers’ were radiant in their glory. and glanced demurely at the hung-up mistletoe. and now and then exchanging a facetious snowball — better-natured missile far than many a wordy jest — laughing heartily if it went right and not less heartily if it went wrong. in the shopkeepers’ benevolence to dangle from conspicuous hooks. round. round. made. clustered high in blooming pyramids.A Christmas Carol brightest summer sun might have endeavoured to diffuse in vain. broad-girthed Spanish onions. that people’s mouths might water gratis as they passed. shining in the fatness of their growth like Spanish Friars. the people who were shovelling away on the housetops were jovial and full of glee. ancient walks among the woods. and pleasant shufflings ankle deep through 69 of 138 .
or that the French plums blushed in 70 of 138 . in the great compactness of their juicy persons. the other spices so delicious. the candied fruits so caked and spotted with molten sugar as to make the coldest lookers-on feel faint and subsequently bilious. or that the twine and roller parted company so briskly. It was not alone that the scales descending on the counter made a merry sound. there were Norfolk Biffins. and. to a fish. or even that the blended scents of tea and coffee were so grateful to the nose. The very gold and silver fish. or that the canisters were rattled up and down like juggling tricks. urgently entreating and beseeching to be carried home in paper bags and eaten after dinner.A Christmas Carol withered leaves. or one. the sticks of cinnamon so long and straight. appeared to know that there was something going on. squab and swarthy. and. setting off the yellow of the oranges and lemons. Nor was it that the figs were moist and pulpy. the almonds so extremely white. set forth among these choice fruits in a bowl. The Grocers’. with perhaps two shutters down. or even that the raisins were so plentiful and rare. but through those gaps such glimpses. went gasping round and round their little world in slow and passionless excitement. nearly closed. though members of a dull and stagnant-blooded race. oh the Grocers’.
And it was a very uncommon kind of torch. and for Christmas daws to peck at if they chose. and with their gayest faces. but the customers were all so hurried and so eager in the hopeful promise of the day. carrying their dinners to the baker’ shops. and came running back to fetch them. and nameless turnings. flocking through the streets in their best clothes. that they tumbled up against each other at the door. to church and chapel. And at the same time there emerged from scores of byestreets.A Christmas Carol modest tartness from their highly-decorated boxes. sprinkled incense on their dinners from his torch. worn outside for general inspection. innumerable people. and taking off the covers as their bearers passed. and committed hundreds of the like mistakes. 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. crashing their wicker baskets wildly. for once or twice 71 of 138 . The sight of these poor revellers appeared to interest the Spirit very much. for he stood with Scrooge beside him in a baker’s doorway. lanes. in the best humour possible. But soon the steeples called good people all. and away they came. and left their purchases upon the counter. or that everything was good to eat and in its Christmas dress.
’ ‘Spirit. ‘There is. so it was.’ ‘Would it apply to any kind of dinner on this day.’ I wonder you.’ cried the Spirit. For they said. God love it. In time the bells ceased. it was a shame to quarrel upon Christmas Day.’ ‘Why to a poor one most. And so it was.’ asked Scrooge. and the bakers were shut up.A Christmas Carol when there were angry words between some dinnercarriers who had jostled each other. To a poor one most. of all the beings in the many worlds about us. ‘Because it needs it most.’ ‘I. and yet there was a genial shadowing forth of all these dinners and the progress of their cooking. My own. in the thawed blotch of wet above each baker’s oven. 72 of 138 . he shed a few drops of water on them from it. should desire to cramp these people’s opportunities of innocent enjoyment. ‘Is there a peculiar flavour in what you sprinkle from your torch. ‘To any kindly given.’ asked Scrooge.’ asked Scrooge. after a moment’s thought. and their good humour was restored directly.’ said Scrooge. where the pavement smoked as if its stones were cooking too.
and selfishness in our name. envy. ‘There are some upon this earth of yours.’ returned the Spirit. and that he stood beneath a low roof quite as gracefully and like a supernatural creature. and they went on. ‘Forgive me if I am wrong.’ said Scrooge. or at least in that of your family.’ said Scrooge. often the only day on which they can be said to dine at all. ‘You seek to close these places on the Seventh Day. ‘Wouldn’t you. as if they had never lived. as they had been before. pride. who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin. as it was possible he could have done in any lofty hall. It was a remarkable quality of the Ghost (which Scrooge had observed at the baker’s). that notwithstanding his gigantic size. he could accommodate himself to any place with ease.’ who lay claim to know us. invisible.A Christmas Carol ‘You would deprive them of their means of dining every seventh day. into the suburbs of the town. and charge their doings on themselves. bigotry.’ ‘I. and who do their deeds of passion. ill-will.’ exclaimed the Spirit. ‘And it comes to the same thing.’ ‘I seek.’ Scrooge promised that he would.’ said Scrooge. hatred.’ cried the Spirit. Remember that. It has been done in your name. 73 of 138 . not us.
screaming that outside the baker’s they had smelt the goose. Think of that. or else it was his own kind. hearty nature. he pocketed on Saturdays but fifteen copies of his Christian name. which are cheap and make a goodly show for sixpence. while Master Peter Cratchit plunged a fork into the saucepan of potatoes. and getting the corners of his monstrous shirt collar (Bob’s private property. and on the threshold of the door the Spirit smiled. and she laid the cloth. and took Scrooge with him. Cratchit’s wife. assisted by Belinda Cratchit. and yearned to show his linen in the fashionable Parks. and stopped to bless Bob Cratchit’s dwelling with the sprinkling of his torch. rejoiced to find himself so gallantly attired. holding to his robe. and known it for their 74 of 138 . also brave in ribbons. dressed out but poorly in a twice-turned gown. second of her daughters. and his sympathy with all poor men. Then up rose Mrs Cratchit. but brave in ribbons. came tearing in. Bob had but fifteen bob a-week himself. generous.A Christmas Carol And perhaps it was the pleasure the good Spirit had in showing off this power of his. And now two smaller Cratchits. boy and girl. and yet the Ghost of Christmas Present blessed his four-roomed house. that led him straight to Scrooge’s clerk’s. conferred upon his son and heir in honour of the day) into his mouth. for there he went.
’ and had to clear away this morning.’ said Mrs Cratchit. Lord bless ye. ‘Hide. mother. mother. my dear. ‘What has ever got your precious father then. ‘And your brother.’ ‘No. hide. Martha. bless your heart alive. and basking in luxurious thoughts of sage and onion.’ cried the two young Cratchits. how late you are. while he (not proud. my dear. ‘Here’s Martha.’ replied the girl.’ said Mrs Cratchit. and exalted Master Peter Cratchit to the skies. who were everywhere at once. Never mind so long as you are come.’ 75 of 138 . Martha. ‘We’d a deal of work to finish up last night. although his collars nearly choked him) blew the fire. kissing her a dozen times. knocked loudly at the saucepan-lid to be let out and peeled.’ ‘Well. appearing as she spoke. and have a warm. until the slow potatoes bubbling up.’ ‘Why.’ cried the two young Cratchits. ‘Sit ye down before the fire. There’s such a goose.’ said Mrs Cratchit. no.’ said a girl. these young Cratchits danced about the table. There’s father coming. and taking off her shawl and bonnet for her with officious zeal. ‘Hurrah. And Martha warn’t as late last Christmas Day by half-an-hour.A Christmas Carol own. Tiny Tim. mother.’ ‘Here’s Martha.
’ said Mrs Cratchit. asked Mrs Cratchit. that he might hear the pudding singing in the copper. so she came out prematurely from behind the closet door. and Bob had hugged his daughter to his heart’s content. ‘Not coming. and his threadbare clothes darned up and brushed. and ran into his arms. and thinks the 76 of 138 . Alas for Tiny Tim. and bore him off into the wash-house. and had come home rampant. ‘As good as gold. ‘Why.’ said Bob.’ said Bob. for he had been Tim’s blood horse all the way from church. ‘Not coming upon Christmas Day. sitting by himself so much. the father. if it were only in joke. ‘And how did little Tim behave. ‘Not coming. and had his limbs supported by an iron frame.A Christmas Carol So Martha hid herself. and Tiny Tim upon his shoulder. with a sudden declension in his high spirits. looking round. while the two young Cratchits hustled Tiny Tim. when she had rallied Bob on his credulity. with at least three feet of comforter exclusive of the fringe. hanging down before him. and in came little Bob.’ Martha didn’t like to see him disappointed.’ and better. Somehow he gets thoughtful. where’s our Martha.’ cried Bob Cratchit. to look seasonable. he bore a little crutch.
and blind men see. they were capable of being made more shabby — compounded some hot mixture in a jug with gin and lemons. poor fellow. coming home. and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day. turning up his cuffs — as if. and back came Tiny Tim before another word was spoken.’ Bob’s voice was tremulous when he told them this. and trembled more when he said that Tiny Tim was growing strong and hearty. that he hoped the people saw him in the church. He told me. a feathered phenomenon. and stirred it round and round and put it on the hob to simmer. and while Bob. because he was a cripple. to which a black swan was a matter of course — and in truth it was something very like it in that house. escorted by his brother and sister to his stool before the fire. and the two ubiquitous young Cratchits went to fetch the goose. Such a bustle ensued that you might have thought a goose the rarest of all birds. Master Peter mashed the potatoes with 77 of 138 . Master Peter. Mrs Cratchit made the gravy (ready beforehand in a little saucepan) hissing hot.A Christmas Carol strangest things you ever heard. who made lame beggars walk. with which they soon returned in high procession. His active little crutch was heard upon the floor.
not forgetting themselves. It was succeeded by a breathless pause. excited by the two young Cratchits. and grace was said. looking slowly all along the carving-knife. and the youngest Cratchits in particular. There never was such a goose. At last the dishes were set on. lest they should shriek for goose before their turn came to be helped. as Mrs Cratchit. they hadn’t ate it all at last. crammed spoons into their mouths. indeed. Eked out by apple-sauce and mashed potatoes. the two young Cratchits set chairs for everybody. and feebly cried Hurrah. as Mrs Cratchit said with great delight (surveying one small atom of a bone upon the dish). were the themes of universal admiration. Yet every one had had enough. size and cheapness. Bob took Tiny Tim beside him in a tiny corner at the table.A Christmas Carol incredible vigour. Bob said he didn’t believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Miss Belinda sweetened up the applesauce. prepared to plunge it in the breast. Its tenderness and flavour. but when she did. and even Tiny Tim. were steeped in sage and 78 of 138 . and mounting guard upon their posts. one murmur of delight arose all round the board. beat on the table with the handle of his knife. it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family. Martha dusted the hot plates. and when the long expected gush of stuffing issued forth.
Oh. a wonderful pudding. Mrs Cratchit left the room alone — too nervous to bear witnesses — to take the pudding up and bring it in. Suppose somebody should have got over the wall of the back-yard. while they were merry with the goose — a supposition at which the two young Cratchits became livid. All sorts of horrors were supposed. A great deal of steam. and stolen it. That was the cloth. with a laundress’s next door to that. Mrs Cratchit said that now the weight was off her mind. In half a minute Mrs Cratchit entered — flushed. Hallo. and calmly too. blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy. the plates being changed by Miss Belinda. The pudding was out of the copper. Suppose it should not be done enough. that he regarded it as the greatest success achieved by Mrs Cratchit since their marriage. she would confess she had had her doubts about the quantity 79 of 138 . so hard and firm. That was the pudding. and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top. Suppose it should break in turning out. Bob Cratchit said. But now. A smell like a washing-day. but smiling proudly — with the pudding.A Christmas Carol onion to the eyebrows. like a speckled cannon-ball. A smell like an eating-house and a pastrycook’s next door to each other.
and a shovel-full of chestnuts on the fire. and at Bob Cratchit’s elbow stood the family display of glass. and dreaded that he might be taken from him. my dears. God bless us. and wished to keep him by his side. but nobody said or thought it was at all a small pudding for a large family. He sat very close to his father’s side upon his little stool. the last of all. ‘God bless us every one. however. while the chestnuts on the fire sputtered and cracked noisily. meaning half a one. Bob held his withered little hand in his. the cloth was cleared.’ Which all the family re-echoed. in what Bob Cratchit called a circle. 80 of 138 . as if he loved the child. Everybody had something to say about it. Two tumblers. the hearth swept. At last the dinner was all done. as well as golden goblets would have done. and considered perfect. and Bob served it out with beaming looks. Then Bob proposed: ‘A Merry Christmas to us all. It would have been flat heresy to do so. apples and oranges were put upon the table. and the fire made up. These held the hot stuff from the jug.’ said Tiny Tim. Any Cratchit would have blushed to hint at such a thing. Then all the Cratchit family drew round the hearth. The compound in the jug being tasted.A Christmas Carol of flour. and a custard-cup without a handle.
carefully preserved. and was overcome with penitence and grief.’ ‘No. Oh God. with an interest he had never felt before. and a crutch without an owner.’ ‘I see a vacant seat. not adamant. and Where it is.’ ‘If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future. what men shall die. kind Spirit. forbear that wicked cant until you have discovered What the surplus is. ‘in the poor chimney-corner.’ Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted by the Spirit. Will you decide what men shall live. ‘Oh. say he will be spared. ‘will find him here. If he be like to die.’ said Scrooge. no.’ said the Ghost. the child will die.’ replied the Ghost. If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future. to hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust.’ said Scrooge. ‘Man.A Christmas Carol ‘Spirit.’ 81 of 138 . It may be.’ returned the Ghost. he had better do it. that in the sight of Heaven. none other of my race. and decrease the surplus population. you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man’s child. ‘tell me if Tiny Tim will live. What then. ‘if man you be in heart. no.
’ said Bob. ‘not for his. hard. but he didn’t care twopence for it.’ ‘I’ll drink his health for your sake and the Day’s. the Founder of the Feast.’ said Mrs Cratchit. The mention of his 82 of 138 .’ said she. and I hope he’d have a good appetite for it. ‘I wish I had him here. But he raised them speedily. reddening. Scrooge was the Ogre of the family. A merry Christmas and a happy new year.’ ‘The Founder of the Feast indeed. I have no doubt. ‘Christmas Day. Robert. I am sure.’ ‘My dear. ‘the children. ‘I’ll give you Mr Scrooge.’ ‘It should be Christmas Day. and trembling cast his eyes upon the ground. I’d give him a piece of my mind to feast upon. poor fellow.’ ‘My dear. Long life to him.’ was Bob’s mild answer. on hearing his own name. stingy.’ The children drank the toast after her. ‘Mr Scrooge. Christmas Day.’ said Bob. You know he is. Nobody knows it better than you do.A Christmas Carol Scrooge bent before the Ghost’s rebuke. unfeeling man as Mr Scrooge.’ cried Mrs Cratchit. Tiny Tim drank it last of all. He’ll be very merry and very happy. ‘on which one drinks the health of such an odious. It was the first of their proceedings which had no heartiness.
and Peter himself looked thoughtfully at the fire from between his collars. about a lost child travelling in the 83 of 138 . who was a poor apprentice at a milliner’s. All this time the chestnuts and the jug went round and round. they were ten times merrier than before. and how the lord was much about as tall as Peter.A Christmas Carol name cast a dark shadow on the party. from the mere relief of Scrooge the Baleful being done with. and how she meant to lie abed to-morrow morning for a good long rest. at which Peter pulled up his collars so high that you couldn’t have seen his head if you had been there. Also how she had seen a countess and a lord some days before. The two young Cratchits laughed tremendously at the idea of Peter’s being a man of business. then told them what kind of work she had to do. After it had passed away. which was not dispelled for full five minutes. Bob Cratchit told them how he had a situation in his eye for Master Peter. as if he were deliberating what particular investments he should favour when he came into the receipt of that bewildering income. which would bring in. if obtained. and how many hours she worked at a stretch. full five-and-sixpence weekly. Martha. and by-andbye they had a song. to-morrow being a holiday she passed at home.
and deep red curtains. and looked happier yet in the bright sprinklings of the Spirit’s torch at parting. Here. aunts.A Christmas Carol snow. and contented with the time. cousins. Scrooge had his eye upon them. brothers. Here. and there a group of handsome 84 of 138 . They were not a handsome family. and be the first to greet them. their clothes were scanty. their shoes were far from being water-proof. and all sorts of rooms. were shadows on the windowblind of guests assembling. uncles. they were not well dressed. from Tiny Tim. pleased with one another. and snowing pretty heavily. ready to be drawn to shut out cold and darkness. and very likely did. and as Scrooge and the Spirit went along the streets. was wonderful. the flickering of the blaze showed preparations for a cosy dinner. There was nothing of high mark in this. grateful. until the last. and Peter might have known. and especially on Tiny Tim. with hot plates baking through and through before the fire. the brightness of the roaring fires in kitchens. they were happy. again. and sang it very well indeed. By this time it was getting dark. the inside of a pawnbroker’s. who had a plaintive little voice. parlours. There all the children of the house were running out into the snow to meet their married sisters. and when they faded. But.
well they knew it — in a glow. laughed out loudly as the Spirit passed. who ran on before. all hooded and fur-booted. and nothing grew but moss and 85 of 138 .A Christmas Carol girls. and water spread itself wheresoever it listed. and who was dressed to spend the evening somewhere. dotting the dusky street with specks of light. instead of every house expecting company. if you had judged from the numbers of people on their way to friendly gatherings. as though it were the burial-place of giants. without a word of warning from the Ghost. The very lamplighter. How it bared its breadth of breast. outpouring. tripped lightly off to some near neighbour’s house. and piling up its fires half-chimney high. Blessings on it. and floated on. how the Ghost exulted. they stood upon a bleak and desert moor. and opened its capacious palm. and all chattering at once. But. or would have done so. where monstrous masses of rude stone were cast about. where. with a generous hand. its bright and harmless mirth on everything within its reach. woe upon the single man who saw them enter — artful witches. though little kenned the lamplighter that he had any company but Christmas. you might have thought that no one was at home to give them welcome when they got there. And now. but for the frost that held it prisoner.
sped — whither. old man and woman. his vigour sank again. in a voice that seldom rose above the howling of the wind upon the barren waste. with their children and their children’s children. The Spirit did not tarry here. Down in the west the setting sun had left a streak of fiery red. The old man. but bade Scrooge hold his robe.A Christmas Carol furze. ‘What place is this. and swiftly they advanced towards it. was lost in the thick gloom of darkest night. who labour in the bowels of the earth. lower yet. and another generation beyond that. which glared upon the desolation for an instant.’ returned the Spirit. lower. and so surely as they stopped. So surely as they raised their voices. the old man got quite blithe and loud. was singing them a Christmas song — it had been a very old song when he was a boy — and from time to time they all joined in the chorus. and frowning lower. See. ‘A place where Miners live. 86 of 138 . and coarse rank grass.’ A light shone from the window of a hut. they found a cheerful company assembled round a glowing fire. like a sullen eye. and passing on above the moor. Passing through the wall of mud and stone.’ asked Scrooge. all decked out gaily in their holiday attire. ‘But they know me. An old.
Again the Ghost sped on. he saw the last of the land. looking back. But even here. some league or so from shore. and his ears were deafened by the thundering of water. with his face all damaged and scarred with hard weather. like the waves they skimmed. being far away. and one of them: the elder. behind them. To sea. as the figure-head of an old ship might be: struck up a sturdy song that was like a Gale in itself. that through the loophole in the thick stone wall shed out a ray of brightness on the awful sea.A Christmas Carol Not to sea. they wished each other Merry Christmas in their can of grog. as sea-weed of the water — rose and fell about it. on — until. on which the waters chafed and dashed. and fiercely tried to undermine the earth. the wild year through. above the black and heaving sea — on. too. Built upon a dismal reef of sunken rocks. 87 of 138 . and raged among the dreadful caverns it had worn. as he told Scrooge. two men who watched the light had made a fire. To Scrooge’s horror. and storm-birds — born of the wind one might suppose. a frightful range of rocks. Joining their horny hands over the rough table at which they sat. Great heaps of sea-weed clung to its base. there stood a solitary lighthouse. as it rolled and roared.
or spoke below his breath to his companion of some bygone Christmas Day. and had remembered those he cared for at a distance. It was a great surprise to Scrooge. but every man among them hummed a Christmas tune. whose depths were secrets as profound as Death: it was a great surprise to Scrooge. with the Spirit standing smiling by his side. dark. while thus engaged. or had a Christmas thought. gleaming room. good or bad. ha. while listening to the moaning of the wind. waking or sleeping. It was a much greater surprise to Scrooge to recognise it as his own nephew’s and to find himself in a bright.A Christmas Carol from any shore. And every man on board. to hear a hearty laugh.’ 88 of 138 . ha. and had known that they delighted to remember him. ‘Ha. had had a kinder word for another on that day than on any day in the year. the officers who had the watch. ‘Ha. dry. with homeward hopes belonging to it. and thinking what a solemn thing it was to move on through the lonely darkness over an unknown abyss. and looking at that same nephew with approving affability. they lighted on a ship.’ laughed Scrooge’s nephew. They stood beside the helmsman at the wheel. and had shared to some extent in its festivities. the look-out in the bow. ha. ghostly figures in their several stations.
even-handed. Fred. ha. by marriage.’ ‘More shame for him. that seemed made to be kissed — as no doubt it was. ha. all I can say is. ‘Ha. that while there is infection in disease and sorrow. surprised-looking. rolling his head. I should like to know him too. And their assembled friends being not a bit behindhand. When Scrooge’s nephew laughed in this way: holding his sides. by any unlikely chance. ‘He believed it too. Bless those women. Ha. She was very pretty: exceedingly pretty. to know a man more blest in a laugh than Scrooge’s nephew. capital face. there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good-humour. ha. It is a fair. Introduce him to me. and the 89 of 138 . they never do anything by halves. With a dimpled. as I live. noble adjustment of things. all kinds of good little dots about her chin.’ said Scrooge’s niece. roared out lustily. that melted into one another when she laughed. and I’ll cultivate his acquaintance.’ cried Scrooge’s nephew.’ ‘He said that Christmas was a humbug. laughed as heartily as he.A Christmas Carol If you should happen. They are always in earnest. ha. a ripe little mouth. indignantly. and twisting his face into the most extravagant contortions: Scrooge’s niece.
— that he is ever going to benefit us with it.’ ‘I have no patience with him.’ interrupted Scrooge’s niece. Altogether she was what you would have called provoking.’ that’s the truth: and not so pleasant as he might be. ‘I am sorry for him. you know. ha.’ ‘Indeed. 90 of 138 . and he won’t come and dine with us. and all the other ladies. I have. Who suffers by his ill whims.’ ‘What of that. Himself. Fred.’ ‘I’m sure he is very rich. What’s the consequence. He don’t lose much of a dinner. he takes it into his head to dislike us.’ said Scrooge’s nephew. my dear. Scrooge’s niece’s sisters. ‘At least you always tell me so. expressed the same opinion. ‘His wealth is of no use to him. Here. but satisfactory.A Christmas Carol sunniest pair of eyes you ever saw in any little creature’s head. his offences carry their own punishment. He don’t do any good with it. However. always.’ said Scrooge’s nephew. He hasn’t the satisfaction of thinking — ha. I think he loses a very good dinner. ha. ‘He’s a comical old fellow. ‘Oh.’ said Scrooge’s nephew. and I have nothing to say against him. I couldn’t be angry with him if I tried. Everybody else said the same.’ observed Scrooge’s niece. He don’t make himself comfortable with it.’ hinted Scrooge’s niece.
clapping her hands. and.’ said Scrooge’s niece. He is such a ridiculous fellow. that he loses some pleasant moments. were clustered round the fire. I’m very glad to hear it.A Christmas Carol and they must be allowed to have been competent judges.’ said Scrooge’s nephew. is.’ Scrooge’s nephew revelled in another laugh. ‘I was only going to say. ‘He never finishes what he begins to say.’ said Scrooge’s nephew. because they had just had dinner. ‘Well. as I think.’ that the consequence of his taking a dislike to us. ‘Do go on. I am 91 of 138 . who had no right to express an opinion on the subject. and as it was impossible to keep the infection off. Fred. by lamplight. What do you say.’ Topper had clearly got his eye upon one of Scrooge’s niece’s sisters. Topper. with the dessert upon the table. ‘because I haven’t great faith in these young housekeepers. which could do him no harm. his example was unanimously followed. though the plump sister tried hard to do it with aromatic vinegar. Whereat Scrooge’s niece’s sister — the plump one with the lace tucker: not the one with the roses — blushed. for he answered that a bachelor was a wretched outcast. and not making merry with us.
Scrooge’s niece played well upon the harp. I can assure you: especially Topper.A Christmas Carol sure he loses pleasanter companions than he can find in his own thoughts. For they were a musical family. they had some music. that’s something. for I pity him. or get red in the face over it. either in his mouldy old office. If it only puts him in the vein to leave his poor clerk fifty pounds. which had been familiar to the child who 92 of 138 . and played among other tunes a simple little air (a mere nothing: you might learn to whistle it in two minutes). in good temper. or his dusty chambers. year after year. but he can’t help thinking better of it — I defy him — if he finds me going there. he encouraged them in their merriment. I mean to give him the same chance every year. He may rail at Christmas till he dies. and I think I shook him yesterday. how are you. But being thoroughly good-natured. when they sung a Glee or Catch.’ It was their turn to laugh now at the notion of his shaking Scrooge. and never swell the large veins in his forehead. and not much caring what they laughed at. and saying Uncle Scrooge. who could growl away in the bass like a good one. After tea. whether he likes it or not. and passed the bottle joyously. and knew what they were about. so that they laughed at any rate.
was an outrage on the credulity of human nature. he might have cultivated the kindnesses of life for his own happiness with his own hands. He wouldn’t catch anybody else. The way he went after that plump sister in the lace tucker. But they didn’t devote the whole evening to music. all the things that Ghost had shown him. and that the Ghost of Christmas Present knew it. My opinion is. smothering himself among the curtains. that it was a done thing between him and Scrooge’s nephew. tumbling over the chairs. came upon his mind. and never better than at Christmas. Of course there was. And I no more believe Topper was really blind than I believe he had eyes in his boots. for it is good to be children sometimes. When this strain of music sounded. when its mighty Founder was a child himself. Stop. There was first a game at blind-man’s buff. wherever she went.A Christmas Carol fetched Scrooge from the boarding-school. years ago. as he had been reminded by the Ghost of Christmas Past. bumping against the piano. there went he. He always knew where the plump sister was. If you had fallen up against him (as some of them did). he softened more and more. on 93 of 138 . After a while they played at forfeits. Knocking down the fire-irons. without resorting to the sexton’s spade that buried Jacob Marley. and thought that if he could have listened to it often.
No doubt she told him her opinion of it. and further to assure himself of her identity by pressing a certain ring upon her finger. For his pretending not to know her. monstrous. where the Ghost and Scrooge were close behind her. and Where. when. But she joined in the forfeits. but was made comfortable with a large chair and a footstool. they were so very confidential together. he got her into a corner whence there was no escape. beat her sisters hollow: though they 94 of 138 . in spite of all her silken rustlings.A Christmas Carol purpose. Scrooge’s niece was not one of the blind-man’s buff party. in a snug corner. and loved her love to admiration with all the letters of the alphabet. When. Likewise at the game of How. But when at last. and would instantly have sidled off in the direction of the plump sister. his pretending that it was necessary to touch her head-dress. and her rapid flutterings past him. behind the curtains. he would have made a feint of endeavouring to seize you. which would have been an affront to your understanding. and it really was not. when. and a certain chain about her neck. and to the secret joy of Scrooge’s nephew. she was very great. then his conduct was the most execrable. he caught her. She often cried out that it wasn’t fair. was vile. another blind-man being in office.
’ said Scrooge. and the rest must find out what. and talked sometimes. young and old. and walked about the streets. There might have been twenty people there. But this the Spirit said could not be done. was not sharper than Scrooge. as the case was. and looked upon him with such favour. that his voice made no sound in their ears. rather a disagreeable animal. he sometimes came out with his guess quite loud. only one.A Christmas Carol were sharp girls too. elicited from him that he was thinking of an animal. warranted not to cut in the eye. an animal that growled and grunted sometimes. The brisk fire of questioning to which he was exposed. as could have told you. blunt as he took it in his head to be. The Ghost was greatly pleased to find him in this mood. for the sharpest needle. and so did Scrooge. Spirit. a savage animal. he only answering to their questions yes or no. where Scrooge’s nephew had to think of something. and very often guessed quite right. best Whitechapel. ‘One half hour. a live animal. and wasn’t made a show of. and lived in London. wholly forgetting the interest he had in what was going on. that he begged like a boy to be allowed to stay until the guests departed.’ It was a Game called Yes and No. too. and wasn’t 95 of 138 . ‘Here is a new game. for. but they all played.
and I say. and was never killed in a market. cried out: ‘I have found it out. or a tiger. and didn’t live in a menagerie. 96 of 138 . Fred. Uncle Scrooge.’ they cried. and was not a horse. though some objected that the reply to ‘Is it a bear. or a cow. that he was obliged to get up off the sofa and stamp. I know what it is. At every fresh question that was put to him. At last the plump sister. falling into a similar state. or a cat.’ ‘What is it. or an ass. or a bull.’ inasmuch as an answer in the negative was sufficient to have diverted their thoughts from Mr Scrooge. ‘It’s your Uncle Scrooge. or a bear. Here is a glass of mulled wine ready to our hand at the moment.‘‘ ‘Well. or a pig. I know what it is. I am sure. or a dog.’ and it would be ungrateful not to drink his health.A Christmas Carol led by anybody.’ cried Fred. ‘Uncle Scrooge.’ Which it certainly was. ‘He has given us plenty of merriment. supposing they had ever had any tendency that way. Admiration was the universal sentiment.’ said Fred. and was so inexpressibly tickled. this nephew burst into a fresh roar of laughter.’ ought to have been ‘Yes.
but Scrooge had his doubts of this. and far they went. if it were only a night. and he and the Spirit were again upon their travels. by struggling men. and taught Scrooge his precepts. and jail. whatever he is. nevertheless. too. in misery’s every refuge. and thanked them in an inaudible speech. ‘He wouldn’t take it from me. but always with a happy end. In almshouse.’ Uncle Scrooge had imperceptibly become so gay and light of heart. if the Ghost had given him time. Much they saw. It was strange. that while Scrooge 97 of 138 . on foreign lands. by poverty. hospital. The Spirit stood beside sick beds.’ said Scrooge’s nephew. where vain man in his little brief authority had not made fast the door and barred the Spirit out. he left his blessing. that he would have pledged the unconscious company in return. But the whole scene passed off in the breath of the last word spoken by his nephew. because the Christmas Holidays appeared to be condensed into the space of time they passed together. It was a long night. but may he have it. Uncle Scrooge. and many homes they visited.A Christmas Carol ‘A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to the old man. and they were patient in their greater hope. and they were cheerful. and it was rich. and they were close at home.
’ cried Scrooge. when. wretched. ‘Are spirits’ lives so short. The time is drawing near. abject. Is it a foot or a claw. ‘Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask.’ replied the Ghost.’ The chimes were ringing the three quarters past eleven at that moment.’ but I see something strange. looking intently at the Spirit’s robe. until they left a children’s Twelfth Night party.’ ‘To-night. he noticed that its hair was grey. protruding from your skirts.’ was the Spirit’s sorrowful reply. Scrooge had observed this change. and clung upon the outside of its garment. for the flesh there is upon it. 98 of 138 . They knelt down at its feet. miserable. the Ghost grew older.’ said Scrooge.’ ‘It might be a claw. frightful. and not belonging to yourself. it brought two children. clearly older.’ From the foldings of its robe. Hark. ‘Look here. is very brief. ‘It ends to-night. ‘To-night at midnight.’ asked Scrooge. hideous. but never spoke of it.A Christmas Carol remained unaltered in his outward form. looking at the Spirit as they stood together in an open place. ‘My life upon this globe.
and pulled them into shreds. This girl is Want. Deny it. too. has monsters half so horrible and dread.’ cried the Spirit. devils lurked. appealing from their fathers. but the words choked themselves. scowling.’ Scrooge could say no more. This boy is Ignorance. meagre. a stale and shrivelled hand. They were a boy and a girl. no perversion of humanity. rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude. had pinched. ‘They are Man’s. in their humility. but most of all beware this boy. No change. Beware them both. Where angels might have sat enthroned. appalled. like that of age. through all the mysteries of wonderful creation. look here. Look. Having them shown to him in this way. in any grade. looking down upon them. look. ‘And they cling to me. Yellow. Scrooge started back. and all of their degree. and touched them with its freshest tints. he tried to say they were fine children. and glared out menacing. wolfish. for on his brow I see that written which is Doom. unless the writing be erased.’ exclaimed the Ghost.’ said the Spirit. 99 of 138 . Where graceful youth should have filled their features out. down here. Man. ‘Spirit. ragged.A Christmas Carol ‘Oh. are they yours. but prostrate. no degradation. and twisted them.
Scrooge looked about him for the Ghost. and make it worse. beheld a solemn Phantom. ‘Slander those who tell it ye. Admit it for your factious purposes. towards him.’ said the Spirit. and lifting up his eyes. turning on him for the last time with his own words.’ The bell struck twelve. draped and hooded.’ ‘Have they no refuge or resource. 100 of 138 .’ cried Scrooge. and saw it not. he remembered the prediction of old Jacob Marley. like a mist along the ground.A Christmas Carol stretching out its hand towards the city. As the last stroke ceased to vibrate. ‘Are there no prisons. ‘Are there no workhouses. coming. And abide the end.
’ 101 of 138 . Spirit. ‘I am in the presence of the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come.’ said Scrooge. which concealed its head. He felt that it was tall and stately when it came beside him. He knew no more. It was shrouded in a deep black garment. but will happen in the time before us.A Christmas Carol Stave 4: The Last of the Spirits The Phantom slowly. but pointed onward with its hand. for the Spirit neither spoke nor moved. silently approached. The Spirit answered not. ‘Is that so. and separate it from the darkness by which it was surrounded. and that its mysterious presence filled him with a solemn dread. its form. Scrooge bent down upon his knee.’ Scrooge pursued. for in the very air through which this Spirit moved it seemed to scatter gloom and mystery. But for this it would have been difficult to detach its figure from the night. gravely. When it came. and left nothing of it visible save one outstretched hand. ‘You are about to show me shadows of the things that have not happened. its face.
and as I hope to live to be another man from what I was. and giving him time to recover. It thrilled him with a vague uncertain horror. Scrooge feared the silent shape so much that his legs trembled beneath him. as if the Spirit had inclined its head. could see nothing but a spectral hand and one great heap of black. while he. The hand was pointed straight before them.’ he exclaimed. though he stretched his own to the utmost. I am prepared to bear you company. ‘Ghost of the Future. The Spirit pauses a moment.A Christmas Carol The upper portion of the garment was contracted for an instant in its folds. Although well used to ghostly company by this time. But as I know your purpose is to do me good. to know that behind the dusky shroud.’ It gave him no reply. That was the only answer he received. and he found that he could hardly stand when he prepared to follow it. 102 of 138 . as observing his condition. and do it with a thankful heart. there were ghostly eyes intently fixed upon him. Will you not speak to me. But Scrooge was all the worse for this.’ I fear you more than any spectre I have seen.
They scarcely seemed to enter the city. in the heart of it.’ The Phantom moved away as it had come towards him. and looked at their watches.’ 103 of 138 .’ inquired another. which bore him up. as Scrooge had seen them often.’ said a great fat man with a monstrous chin. ‘Lead on. Spirit. Scrooge followed in the shadow of its dress. ‘Last night.’ said Scrooge. and carried him along. for the city rather seemed to spring up about them. The Spirit stopped beside one little knot of business men. who hurried up and down. and encompass them of its own act. Lead on. I know. on Change. I only know he’s dead. and it is precious time to me.’ ‘When did he die. Observing that the hand was pointed to them.’ I don’t know much about it. I believe. Scrooge advanced to listen to their talk.A Christmas Carol ‘Lead on. either way. amongst the merchants. and conversed in groups. ‘No. But there they were. and so forth. The night is waning fast. and trifled thoughtfully with their great gold seals. he thought. and chinked the money in their pockets.
‘I haven’t heard. and I never eat lunch. taking a vast quantity of snuff out of a very large snuffbox. Suppose we make up a party and volunteer.’ 104 of 138 .’ said the first speaker. yawning again.’ asked a third. When I come to think of it. if I make one.’ for upon my life I don’t know of anybody to go to it. with a yawn. ‘It’s likely to be a very cheap funeral.’ ‘God knows.’ said the same speaker. for we used to stop and speak whenever we met. bye. after all. ‘But I must be fed.’ Another laugh. Bye. That’s all I know.’ said the first. what was the matter with him. ‘I thought he’d never die.’ asked a red-faced gentleman with a pendulous excrescence on the end of his nose. But I’ll offer to go.’ for I never wear black gloves.’ observed the gentleman with the excrescence on his nose. He hasn’t left it to me. ‘Left it to his company.’ said the man with the large chin. that shook like the gills of a turkey-cock. I’m not at all sure that I wasn’t his most particular friend. ‘Well. ‘What has he done with his money. I am the most disinterested among you.A Christmas Carol ‘Why.’ ‘I don’t mind going if a lunch is provided.’ This pleasantry was received with a general laugh. perhaps. if anybody else will.
and of great importance. Its finger pointed to two persons meeting. isn’t it. ‘How are you. ‘How are you. Scrooge knew the men.A Christmas Carol Speakers and listeners strolled away.’ said the first. Scrooge was at first inclined to be surprised that the Spirit should attach importance to conversations apparently so trivial. their conversation. I suppose. ‘Old Scratch has got his own at last.’ ‘So I am told. also. hey. and their parting.’ ‘Seasonable for Christmas time.’ returned the other. Good morning. He had made a point always of standing well in their esteem: in a business point of view. That was their meeting. and mixed with other groups. He knew these men. that is. thinking that the explanation might lie here.’ ‘No. strictly in a business point of view. No. and looked towards the Spirit for an explanation. Something else to think of. Scrooge listened again. They were men of aye business: very wealthy. ‘Well.’ said one. perfectly. but feeling assured that they must 105 of 138 . ‘Cold. The Phantom glided on into a street.’ Not another word. You’re not a skater.’ returned the second.
Nor could he think of any one immediately connected with himself. he resolved to treasure up every word he heard. and though the clock pointed to his usual time of day for being there. and this Ghost’s province was the Future. and thought and hoped he saw his new-born resolutions carried out in this. to whom he could apply them. and everything he saw. he saw no likeness of himself among the multitudes that poured in through the Porch. But nothing doubting that to whomsoever they applied they had some latent moral for his own improvement. and especially to observe the shadow of himself when it appeared. for that was Past. but another man stood in his accustomed corner. For he had an expectation that the conduct of his future self would give him the clue he missed.A Christmas Carol have some hidden purpose. They could scarcely be supposed to have any bearing on the death of Jacob. he fancied from the turn of the hand. he set himself to consider what it was likely to be. however. It gave him little surprise. When he roused himself from his thoughtful quest. with its outstretched hand. He looked about in that very place for his own image. Quiet and dark. for he had been revolving in his mind a change of life. his old partner. beside him stood the Phantom. 106 of 138 . and would render the solution of these riddles easy.
It made him shudder. the shops and houses wretched. and the whole quarter reeked with crime. where iron. like so many cesspools. Alleys and archways. beetling shop. the people half-naked. old rags. and feel very cold. was a grey-haired rascal. disgorged their offences of smell. by a charcoal stove. with filth. and misery. were bought. and refuse iron of all kinds. who had screened himself from the cold air without. nearly seventy years of age. upon the straggling streets. The ways were foul and narrow. were piled up heaps of rusty keys. 107 of 138 . and its bad repute. and dirt. hinges. masses of corrupted fat.A Christmas Carol and its situation in reference to himself. bottles. weights. Upon the floor within. although he recognised its situation. slipshod. and greasy offal. there was a lowbrowed. drunken. They left the busy scene. nails. chains. that the Unseen Eyes were looking at him keenly. and life. Secrets that few would like to scrutinise were bred and hidden in mountains of unseemly rags. ugly. made of old bricks. where Scrooge had never penetrated before. Sitting in among the wares he dealt in. and went into an obscure part of the town. files. by a frousy curtaining of miscellaneous tatters. and sepulchres of bones. below a pent-house roof. bones. scales. Far in this den of infamous resort.
similarly laden. ha. in which the old man with the pipe had joined them. came in too.A Christmas Carol hung upon a line. old Joe. I believe. Ah. Scrooge and the Phantom came into the presence of this man.’ ‘You couldn’t have met in a better place.’ cried she who had entered first. you know. and I’m sure there’s no such old bones here. and she was closely followed by a man in faded black. ‘Let the laundress alone to be the second. Ha. Look here. than they had been upon the recognition of each other. here’s a chance. If we haven’t all three met here without meaning it. and let the undertaker’s man alone to be the third. when another woman. After a short period of blank astonishment. as mine. they all three burst into a laugh. ‘Let the charwoman alone to be the first. who was no less startled by the sight of them. removing his pipe from his mouth. ‘Come into the parlour.’ said old Joe. just as a woman with a heavy bundle slunk into the shop. and the other two an’t strangers. You were made free of it long ago. Stop till I shut the door of the shop. There an’t such a rusty bit of metal in the place as its own hinges. and smoked his pipe in all the luxury of calm retirement. 108 of 138 . How it skreeks. But she had scarcely entered.
’ The parlour was the space behind the screen of rags. ‘We should hope not. What odds. We’re not going to pick holes in each other’s coats. He always did. I suppose.’ said the laundress.’ ‘Very well. who’s the wiser.’ ‘No. don’t stand staring as if you was afraid. Mrs Dilber. laughing. with the stem of his pipe. Not a dead man. crossing her elbows on her knees. ‘That’s enough. woman.’ said Mrs Dilber and the man together.A Christmas Carol We’re all suitable to our calling.’ said the woman. indeed. Come into the parlour. and sat down in a flaunting manner on a stool. ‘Every person has a right to take care of themselves. I suppose. put it in his mouth again. then. indeed.’ said Mrs Dilber. ‘What odds then. 109 of 138 . While he did this. Come into the parlour. and having trimmed his smoky lamp (for it was night).’ ‘That’s true.’ ‘Why then. we’re well matched.’ cried the woman. The old man raked the fire together with an old stair-rod. indeed. and looking with a bold defiance at the other two. the woman who had already spoken threw her bundle on the floor.’ ‘No. ‘No man more so. Who’s the worse for the loss of a few things like these.
you may depend upon it. Open the bundle. a pair of sleeve-buttons. and added them up into a total when he found there was nothing more to come.’ ‘It’s the truest word that ever was spoke. and the man in faded black. instead of lying gasping out his last there. Joe. A seal or two. ‘It’s a judgment on him. alone by himself.A Christmas Carol ‘If he wanted to keep them after he was dead. before we met here. upon the wall. mounting the breach first.’ But the gallantry of her friends would not allow of this.’ why wasn’t he natural in his lifetime. and let me know the value of it.’ replied the woman.’ ‘I wish it was a little heavier judgment. a wicked old screw. They were severally examined and appraised by old Joe. Open that bundle. were all. 110 of 138 . who chalked the sums he was disposed to give for each. It’s no sin.’ said Mrs Dilber. produced his plunder.’ pursued the woman. Speak out plain. If he had been. I’m not afraid to be the first. We know pretty well that we were helping ourselves. nor afraid for them to see it.’ and it should have been. and a brooch of no great value. old Joe. I believe. if I could have laid my hands on anything else. It was not extensive. he’d have had somebody to look after him when he was struck with Death. a pencil-case.
’ Mrs Dilber was next.’ and I wouldn’t give another sixpence. Her account was stated on the wall in the same manner. Joe. dragged out a large and heavy roll of some dark stuff.’ said old Joe. two old-fashioned silver teaspoons.’ replied the woman. ‘Yes I do. ‘That’s your account.’ ‘Ah. Sheets and towels. ‘Bed-curtains. and having unfastened a great many knots. laughing and leaning forward on her crossed arms.’ ‘You don’t mean to say you took them down. and made it an open question.’ returned the woman. and that’s the way I ruin myself.’ said Joe. and a few boots.’ said the first woman. If you asked me for another penny. ‘Why not.’ said Joe. a little wearing apparel. I’d repent of being so liberal and knock off half-a-crown. a pair of sugar-tongs.A Christmas Carol ‘That’s your account. Who’s next. ‘Bed-curtains. ‘I always give too much to ladies. if I was to be boiled for not doing it. Joe went down on his knees for the greater convenience of opening it.’ ‘And now undo my bundle. rings and all.’ said Joe. ‘What do you call this. It’s a weakness of mine. with him lying there.’ 111 of 138 .
Ah. and a fine one too. if it hadn’t been for me.’ returned the woman. ‘Don’t drop that oil upon the blankets.’ and you’ll certainly do it. ‘He isn’t likely to take cold without them. it isn’t good enough for anything.’ ‘What do you call wasting of it. I promise you. Eh. if he did.A Christmas Carol ‘You were born to make your fortune. for the sake of such a man as he was. but you won’t find a hole in it. Joe. now.’ ‘His blankets. If calico an’t good enough for such a purpose. you may look through that shirt till your eyes ache.’ replied the woman with a laugh.’ said Joe. I dare say.’ returned the woman coolly. ‘Putting it on him to be buried in.’ ‘I certainly shan’t hold my hand.’ 112 of 138 . It’s quite as becoming to the body.’ replied the woman. to be sure. ‘I an’t so fond of his company that I’d loiter about him for such things. and looking up. ‘Don’t you be afraid of that. They’d have wasted it. but I took it off again. ‘Whose else’s do you think. nor a threadbare place. stopping in his work.’ said old Joe. It’s the best he had. He can’t look uglier than he did in that one.’ ‘I hope he didn’t die of any thing catching. ‘Somebody was fool enough to do it.’ asked old Joe.’ asked Joe. when I can get anything in it by reaching it out.
though it was dumb. He frightened every one away from him when he was alive. told out their several gains upon the ground. ‘Ha. beneath a ragged sheet. 113 of 138 . As they sat grouped about their spoil. when old Joe. to profit us when he was dead. The case of this unhappy man might be my own. uncurtained bed: on which. shuddering from head to foot. too dark to be observed with any accuracy. ‘I see. Merciful Heaven. which. you see.’ ‘Spirit. and now he almost touched a bed: a bare. The room was very dark.’ laughed the same woman. ha. what is this. though the demons. ‘This is the end of it. now. anxious to know what kind of room it was. I see. plundered and bereft.’ He recoiled in terror. he viewed them with a detestation and disgust. marketing the corpse itself. which could hardly have been greater. My life tends that way. and on it.’ said Scrooge. producing a flannel bag with money in it. A pale light. Ha. ha. ha. announced itself in awful language. rising in the outer air. in the scanty light afforded by the old man’s lamp. there lay a something covered up. though Scrooge glanced round it in obedience to a secret impulse. for the scene had changed. fell straight upon the bed.A Christmas Carol Scrooge listened to this dialogue in horror.
But of the loved. set up thine altar here. was the body of this man.A Christmas Carol unwatched. but that the hand was open. and yet he heard them when he looked upon the bed. felt how easy it would be to do. would have disclosed the face. The cover was so carelessly adjusted that the slightest raising of it. and the pulse a man’s. and honoured head. It is not that the hand is heavy and will fall down when released. He thought. He thought of it. Scrooge glanced towards the Phantom. and tender. cold. the heart brave. generous. rigid. if this man could be raised up now. unwept. and longed to do it. warm. thou canst not turn one hair to thy dread purposes. but had no more power to withdraw the veil than to dismiss the spectre at his side. Its steady hand was pointed to the head. uncared for. revered. Shadow. the motion of a finger upon Scrooge’s part. and true. Strike. Oh cold. And see his good deeds springing from the wound. what would 114 of 138 . and dress it with such terrors as thou hast at thy command: for this is thy dominion. strike. to sow the world with life immortal. No voice pronounced these words in Scrooge’s ears. it is not that the heart and pulse are still. dreadful Death. or make one feature odious.
I have not the power. and there was a sound of gnawing rats beneath the hearth-stone. trust me. and withdrawing it.’ this is a fearful place. But I have not the power. Let us go. 115 of 138 . They have brought him to a rich end. if I could. and why they were so restless and disturbed. ‘If there is any person in the town.’ and I would do it. ‘show that person to me. I shall not leave its lesson. ‘Spirit. revealed a room by daylight.’ said Scrooge quite agonised. where a mother and her children were.’ Still the Ghost pointed with an unmoved finger to the head.’ he said. In leaving it. to say that he was kind to me in this or that. with not a man. Spirit. A cat was tearing at the door. hard-dealing. a woman.’ Scrooge returned. What they wanted in the room of death. who feels emotion caused by this man’s death. in the dark empty house. and for the memory of one kind word I will be kind to him.’ The Phantom spread its dark robe before him for a moment. ‘I understand you. He lay. truly. Scrooge did not dare to think. I beseech you.A Christmas Carol be his foremost thoughts. Spirit. Avarice.’ Again it seemed to look upon him. griping cares. like a wing. or a child.
and which he struggled to repress. ‘Bad. ‘there is.’ ‘If he relents. ‘Is it good. started at every sound. glanced at the clock. a man whose face was careworn and depressed. ‘or bad?’ — to help him.A Christmas Carol She was expecting some one. There was a remarkable expression in it now.’ she said.’ She was a mild and patient creature if her face spoke truth.’ ‘No.’ said her husband. At length the long-expected knock was heard. She hurried to the door. though he was young. for she walked up and down the room. ‘He is dead. ‘We are quite ruined. and when she asked him faintly what news (which was not until after a long silence).’ she said. and she 116 of 138 . looked out from the window. a kind of serious delight of which he felt ashamed. Nothing is past hope.’ ‘He is past relenting. he appeared embarrassed how to answer. and with anxious eagerness. and could hardly bear the voices of the children in their play. He sat down to the dinner that had been boarding for him by the fire. if such a miracle has happened. but in vain. and met her husband.’ he answered. tried. amazed. to work with her needle. but she was thankful in her soul to hear it. There is hope yet. Caroline.
but dying. said to me. were brighter.A Christmas Carol said so. it would be a bad fortune indeed to find so merciless a creditor in his successor. and was sorry. and it was a happier house for this man’s death. Soften it as they would. The only emotion that the Ghost could show him. caused by the event.’ Yes. She prayed forgiveness the next moment. and even though we were not. He was not only very ill. ‘Let me see some tenderness connected with a death. We may sleep to-night with light hearts. but the first was the emotion of her heart. ‘What the half-drunken woman whom I told you of last night.’ ‘I don’t know. The children’s faces. and what I thought was a mere excuse to avoid me.’ 117 of 138 . which we left just now.’ or that dark chamber. with clasped hands. their hearts were lighter. hushed and clustered round to hear what they so little understood. Caroline. will be for ever present to me. was one of pleasure. But before that time we shall be ready with the money. then. turns out to have been quite true. when I tried to see him and obtain a week’s delay.’ said Scrooge. Spirit.’ ‘To whom will our debt be transferred.
as he and the Spirit crossed the threshold. Very quiet. ‘And he took a child. ‘The colour hurts my eyes. and found the mother and the children seated round the fire. but nowhere was he to be seen. The mother and her daughters were engaged in sewing. ‘It makes them weak by candle-light. poor Tiny Tim. The boy must have read them out. and sat looking up at Peter. The mother laid her work upon the table. and set him in the midst of them. and as they went along.’ Where had Scrooge heard those words. But surely they were very quiet. The noisy little Cratchits were as still as statues in one corner. Scrooge looked here and there to find himself.’ said Cratchit’s wife. and I wouldn’t show 118 of 138 .’ she said. Quiet. and put her hand up to her face. Ah. the dwelling he had visited before. They entered poor Bob Cratchit’s house. who had a book before him. Why did he not go on. He had not dreamed them. ‘They’re better now again. The colour.A Christmas Carol The Ghost conducted him through several streets familiar to his feet.
And there is your father at the door. and they all tried who should help him to it most.’ ‘And so have I. His tea was ready for him on the hob. At last she said.’ She hurried out to meet him. and little Bob in his comforter — he had need of it. intent upon her work. father. each child a little cheek.’ and his father loved him so. that only faltered once: ‘I have known him walk with — I have known him walk with Tiny Tim upon his shoulder. cheerful voice. very fast indeed. shutting up his book. that it was no trouble: no trouble. and in a steady.’ They were very quiet again. He looked at the work upon the table. as if they said.’ ‘Past it rather.A Christmas Carol weak eyes to your father when he comes home.’ Bob was very cheerful with them. and spoke pleasantly to all the family. for the world. ‘Often.’ Don’t mind it. It must be near his time. Don’t be grieved.’ cried Peter. these few last evenings.’ exclaimed another.’ Peter answered. ‘But he was very light to carry. ‘But I think he has walked a little slower than he used.’ ‘And so have I. poor fellow — came in. 119 of 138 .’ she resumed. So had all. Then the two young Cratchits got upon his knees and laid. against his face. mother.
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and praised the industry and speed of Mrs Cratchit and the girls. They would be done long before Sunday, he said. ‘Sunday. You went to-day, then, Robert.’ said his wife. ‘Yes, my dear,’ returned Bob. ‘I wish you could have gone. It would have done you good to see how green a place it is. But you’ll see it often. I promised him that I would walk there on a Sunday. My little, little child.’ cried Bob. ‘My little child.’ He broke down all at once. He couldn’t help it. If he could have helped it, he and his child would have been farther apart perhaps than they were. He left the room, and went up-stairs into the room above, which was lighted cheerfully, and hung with Christmas. There was a chair set close beside the child, and there were signs of some one having been there, lately. Poor Bob sat down in it, and when he had thought a little and composed himself, he kissed the little face. He was reconciled to what had happened, and went down again quite happy. They drew about the fire, and talked; the girls and mother working still. Bob told them of the extraordinary kindness of Mr Scrooge’s nephew, whom he had scarcely seen but once, and who, meeting him in the street that day, and seeing that he looked a little -’ just a little down 120 of 138
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you know,’ said Bob, inquired what had happened to distress him. ‘On which,’ said Bob,’ for he is the pleasantest-spoken gentleman you ever heard, I told him. ‘I am heartily sorry for it, Mr Cratchit,’ he said,’ and heartily sorry for your good wife.’ By the bye, how he ever knew that, I don’t know.’ ‘Knew what, my dear.’ ‘Why, that you were a good wife,’ replied Bob. ‘Everybody knows that.’ said Peter. ‘Very well observed, my boy.’ cried Bob. ‘I hope they do. ‘Heartily sorry,’ he said,’ for your good wife. If I can be of service to you in any way,’ he said, giving me his card,’ that’s where I live. Pray come to me.’ Now, it wasn’t,’ cried Bob,’ for the sake of anything he might be able to do for us, so much as for his kind way, that this was quite delightful. It really seemed as if he had known our Tiny Tim, and felt with us.’ ‘I’m sure he’s a good soul.’ said Mrs Cratchit. ‘You would be surer of it, my dear,’ returned Bob,’ if you saw and spoke to him. I shouldn’t be at all surprised mark what I say. — if he got Peter a better situation.’ ‘Only hear that, Peter,’ said Mrs Cratchit.
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‘And then,’ cried one of the girls,’ Peter will be keeping company with some one, and setting up for himself.’ ‘Get along with you.’ retorted Peter, grinning. ‘It’s just as likely as not,’ said Bob,’ one of these days; though there’s plenty of time for that, my dear. But however and when ever we part from one another, I am sure we shall none of us forget poor Tiny Tim — shall we — or this first parting that there was among us.’ ‘Never, father.’ cried they all. ‘And I know,’ said Bob,’ I know, my dears, that when we recollect how patient and how mild he was; although he was a little, little child; we shall not quarrel easily among ourselves, and forget poor Tiny Tim in doing it.’ ‘No, never, father.’ they all cried again. ‘I am very happy,’ said little Bob,’ I am very happy.’ Mrs Cratchit kissed him, his daughters kissed him, the two young Cratchits kissed him, and Peter and himself shook hands. Spirit of Tiny Tim, thy childish essence was from God. ‘Spectre,’ said Scrooge,’ something informs me that our parting moment is at hand. I know it, but I know not how. Tell me what man that was whom we saw lying dead.’ 122 of 138
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The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come conveyed him, as before — though at a different time, he thought: indeed, there seemed no order in these latter visions, save that they were in the Future — into the resorts of business men, but showed him not himself. Indeed, the Spirit did not stay for anything, but went straight on, as to the end just now desired, until besought by Scrooge to tarry for a moment. ‘This courts,’ said Scrooge,’ through which we hurry now, is where my place of occupation is, and has been for a length of time. I see the house. Let me behold what I shall be, in days to come.’ The Spirit stopped; the hand was pointed elsewhere. ‘The house is yonder,’ Scrooge exclaimed. ‘Why do you point away.’ The inexorable finger underwent no change. Scrooge hastened to the window of his office, and looked in. It was an office still, but not his. The furniture was not the same, and the figure in the chair was not himself. The Phantom pointed as before. He joined it once again, and wondering why and whither he had gone, accompanied it until they reached an iron gate. He paused to look round before entering.
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’ said Scrooge. but he dreaded that he saw new meaning in its solemn shape.A Christmas Carol A churchyard. ‘Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point. they must lead. Ebenezer Scrooge. ‘But if the courses be departed from. trembling as he went. Scrooge crept towards it. choked up with too much burying. Walled in by houses. overrun by grass and weeds.’ said Scrooge.’ The Spirit was immovable as ever. to which. only. lay underneath the ground. then. Say it is thus with what you show me. Here. the growth of vegetation’s death.’ Still the Ghost pointed downward to the grave by which it stood. Are these the shadows of the things that Will be. fat with repleted appetite. if persevered in. not life. He advanced towards it trembling. and pointed down to One. read upon the stone of the neglected grave his own name. or are they shadows of things that May be. ‘answer me one question. 124 of 138 . the wretched man whose name he had now to learn. It was a worthy place. ‘Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends. and following the finger. The Phantom was exactly as it had been. The Spirit stood among the graves. A worthy place. the ends will change.
stronger yet.’ In his agony. ‘Spirit. Why show me this.’ For the first time the hand appeared to shake. the Present. ‘Good Spirit.’ hear me.A Christmas Carol ‘Am I that man who lay upon the bed.’ he pursued. upon his knees.’ he cried. I am not the man I was. as down upon the ground he fell before it:’ Your nature intercedes for me. by an altered life. The finger pointed from the grave to him. I will not be the man I must have been but for this intercourse. and back again. ‘I will honour Christmas in my heart. Oh no. ‘No. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. The Spirit. Spirit. It sought to free itself. and the Future. Assure me that I yet may change these shadows you have shown me. if I am past all hope. 125 of 138 . he caught the spectral hand. Oh. tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone.’ The finger still was there. repulsed him. and pities me. I will live in the Past. no. and detained it. tight clutching at its robe.’ he cried. and try to keep it all the year.’ The kind hand trembled. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. but he was strong in his entreaty.
A Christmas Carol Holding up his hands in a last prayer to have his fate aye reversed. he saw an alteration in the Phantom’s hood and dress. collapsed. and dwindled down into a bedpost. It shrunk. 126 of 138 .
rings and all. folding one of his bed-curtains in his arms. They will be. Oh Jacob Marley. They are here — I am here — the shadows of the things that would have been. making them parties to every kind of extravagance. may be dispelled. Heaven. I know they will.’ cried Scrooge. the Time before him was his own.’ Scrooge repeated. and the Future. and his face was wet with tears. The bed was his own. putting them on upside down. and the Christmas Time be praised for this. to make amends in! ‘I will live in the Past. ‘The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me.’ they are not torn down. I say it on my knees. tearing them. He had been sobbing violently in his conflict with the Spirit. Best and happiest of all. mislaying them.’ His hands were busy with his garments all this time. the Present. on my knees. 127 of 138 . turning them inside out. the room was his own. old Jacob.’ He was so fluttered and so glowing with his good intentions. as he scrambled out of bed.A Christmas Carol Stave 5: The End of It Yes! and the bedpost was his own. ‘They are not torn down. that his broken voice would scarcely answer to his call.
by which the Ghost of Jacob Marley entered. A merry Christmas to everybody. Never mind. Hallo here. Whoop.’ He had frisked into the sitting-room. There’s the window where I saw the wandering Spirits. it was a splendid laugh.’ 128 of 138 . There’s the corner where the Ghost of Christmas Present. sat. it’s all true. It’s all right.’ Really. ‘I don’t know how long I’ve been among the Spirits. ‘There’s the saucepan that the gruel was in.’ cried Scrooge. laughing and crying in the same breath. I don’t care. Ha ha ha. long line of brilliant laughs. I am as giddy as a drunken man. The father of a long. I’d rather be a baby.’ said Scrooge. and was now standing there: perfectly winded. starting off again. I am as happy as an angel.A Christmas Carol ‘I don’t know what to do. A happy New Year to all the world. it all happened. ‘There’s the door. I’m quite a baby. and going round the fireplace. Hallo here.’ cried Scrooge. I am as merry as a schoolboy. ‘I don’t know what day of the month it is. Hallo. for a man who had been out of practice for so many years. Hallo. ‘I am as light as a feather. Whoop. a most illustrious laugh. I don’t know anything. and making a perfect Laocoon of himself with his stockings.
Running to the window. glorious. merry bells. clang. dong.A Christmas Carol He was checked in his transports by the churches ringing out the lustiest peals he had ever heard. ‘I haven’t missed it. sweet fresh air. he opened it. clash. clear. The Spirits have done it all in one night. Clash. Of course they can.’ returned the boy.’ ‘Hallo. at the corner. no mist. who perhaps had loitered in to look about him.’ cried Scrooge. and put out his head. ding. Christmas Day. hammer. bright. Glorious. glorious. cold.’ said Scrooge. dong. ‘To-day. ‘I should hope I did. Oh. Of course they can. my fine fellow. glorious. ‘Why.’ returned the boy. No fog. ‘What’s to-day. calling downward to a boy in Sunday clothes. ‘What’s to-day. jovial. Bell.’ Scrooge inquired. Golden sunlight. my fine fellow. ‘Do you know the Poulterer’s.’ replied the lad. ding. 129 of 138 .’ replied the boy. Heavenly sky. cold. stirring.’ said Scrooge to himself. clang. They can do anything they like. piping for the blood to dance to. Hallo. with all his might of wonder. Oh. in the next street but one. ‘Eh. hammer. bell.’ ‘It’s Christmas Day.
‘Is it. ‘Go and buy it.’ whispered Scrooge.’ replied the boy.’ said Scrooge. ‘What a delightful boy. Joe Miller never made such a joke as sending it to Bob’s will be. Go and buy it. that I may give them the direction where to take it. Come back with the man.’ said Scrooge.A Christmas Carol ‘An intelligent boy. ‘No. my buck.’ exclaimed the boy. somehow. He must have had a steady hand at a trigger who could have got a shot off half so fast. Come back with him in less than five minutes and I’ll give you half-a-crown. and I’ll give you a shilling.’ said Scrooge. rubbing his hands. and tell them to bring it here. ‘I am in earnest. It’s twice the size of Tiny Tim.’ ‘It’s hanging there now. and splitting with a laugh.’ The hand in which he wrote the address was not a steady one.’ returned the boy. but write it he did.’ The boy was off like a shot. ‘I’ll send it to Bon Cratchit’s. ‘He shan’t know who sends it.’ ‘Walk-er.’ said Scrooge. Do you know whether they’ve sold the prize Turkey that was hanging up there — Not the little prize Turkey: the big one. the one as big as me. ‘It’s a pleasure to talk to him. no. and went 130 of 138 . ‘A remarkable boy. Yes.’ ‘What.
and shaving requires attention. Shaving was not an easy task. waiting his arrival. it’s impossible to carry that to Camden Town. as long as I live. like sticks of sealing-wax. As he stood there. and the chuckle with which he paid for the cab. ‘I scarcely ever looked at it before. — Here’s the Turkey. and the chuckle with which he recompensed the boy. It’s a wonderful knocker. ready for the coming of the poulterer’s man. and the chuckle with which he paid for the Turkey. What an honest expression it has in its face. the knocker caught his eye. ‘Why. he would have put a piece of sticking-plaster over it. even when you don’t dance while you are at it. He would have snapped them short off in a minute.’ said Scrooge. Whoop. He never could have stood upon his legs.A Christmas Carol down-stairs to open the street door. 131 of 138 . But if he had cut the end of his nose off. were only to be exceeded by the chuckle with which he sat down breathless in his chair again. and chuckled till he cried.’ The chuckle with which he said this. ‘You must have a cab. Merry Christmas. How are you.’ It was a Turkey. Hallo. for his hand continued to shake very much. that bird. ‘I shall love it. patting it with his hand. and been quite satisfied.’ cried Scrooge.
’ It sent a pang across his heart to think how this old gentleman would look upon him when they met. ‘My dear sir. and said. sir. when coming on towards him he beheld the portly gentleman. in a word.’ ‘Mr Scrooge. and I fear it may not be pleasant to you. quickening his pace. as he had seen them with the Ghost of Christmas Present. that three or four goodhumoured fellows said. It was very kind of you. but he knew what path lay straight before him. He looked so irresistibly pleasant.A Christmas Carol He dressed himself all in his best.’ Scrooge and Marley’s. A merry Christmas to you. He had not gone far.’ Good morning. Allow me to ask your pardon. those were the blithest in his ears. who had walked into his counting-house the day before. ‘How do you do. ‘That is my name. sir. and taking the old gentleman by both his hands. I believe. and he took it. The people were by this time pouring forth. and at last got out into the streets.’ said Scrooge. And 132 of 138 . and walking with his hands behind him.’ ‘Yes. A merry Christmas to you. Scrooge regarded every one with a delighted smile.’ said Scrooge. I hope you succeeded yesterday.’ And Scrooge said often afterwards. that of all the blithe sounds he had ever heard.
‘Lord bless me.’ said the other. are you serious. He had never dreamed that any walk — that anything — could give him so much happiness.’ said Scrooge.’ ‘If you please.’ He went to church.’ cried the old gentleman.’ ‘Don’t say anything please.A Christmas Carol will you have the goodness’ — here Scrooge whispered in his ear. And it was clear he meant to do it. and questioned beggars. and walked about the streets. ‘I am much obliged to you. as if his breath were taken away. A great many back-payments are included in it. and looked down into the kitchens of houses. and watched the people hurrying to and fro. shaking hands with him.’ ‘My dear sir.’ ‘I will.’ cried the gentleman. Will you come and see me.’ said Scrooge. Bless you. Will you do me that favour. 133 of 138 . ‘Not a farthing less. In the afternoon he turned his steps towards his nephew’s house. and found that everything could yield him pleasure. and up to the windows. ‘My dear Mr Scrooge. ‘Come and see me.’ retorted Scrooge. and patted children on the head. ‘Thank you. I assure you. ‘I don’t know what to say to such munificence. I thank you fifty times.
I’ll show you up-stairs. with his hand already on the dining-room lock. and like to see that everything is right. how his niece by marriage started. ‘Fred. my dear. if you please.’ He turned it gently. He knows me.’ ‘Thank you. They were looking at the table (which was spread out in great array). Dear heart alive. before he had the courage to go up and knock. along with mistress.’ ‘Where is he. ‘I’ll go in here. sir.’ said Scrooge to the girl. Nice girl.’ 134 of 138 . for these young housekeepers are always nervous on such points. my love. ‘Yes. round the door.’ cried Fred.A Christmas Carol He passed the door a dozen times. and sidled his face in.’ said Scrooge.’ said Scrooge. my dear. sir. Scrooge had forgotten. ‘Why bless my soul. But he made a dash. about her sitting in the corner with the footstool.’ said Scrooge. ‘He’s in the dining-room.’ who’s that. for the moment. Very. or he wouldn’t have done it. and did it: ‘Is your master at home. on any account.
’ 135 of 138 . in his accustomed voice. Fred. He was on his stool in a jiffy. He was full eighteen minutes and a half behind his time. before he opened the door.’ said Bob. So did Topper when he came. that he might see him come into the Tank. Scrooge sat with his door wide open. So did the plump sister when she came. If he could only be there first. driving away with his pen. wonderful games.A Christmas Carol ‘It’s I. his comforter too. And he did it.’ growled Scrooge. His hat was off. Your uncle Scrooge. he was early there. That was the thing he had set his heart upon. wonderful happiness. wonderful unanimity. as near as he could feign it. Oh. Nothing could be heartier. he did. as if he were trying to overtake nine o’clock. Wonderful party. and catch Bob Cratchit coming late. ‘Hallo. sir. He was at home in five minutes. I have come to dinner.’ ‘I am very sorry. yes.’ Let him in. His niece looked just the same. A quarter past. No Bob. ‘I am behind my time. No Bob. So did every one when they came. Will you let me in. It is a mercy he didn’t shake his arm off. But he was early at the office next morning. ‘What do you mean by coming here at this time of day. The clock struck nine.
He had a momentary idea of knocking Scrooge down with it. Bob Cratchit. appearing from the Tank. and got a little nearer to the ruler. over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop. Step this way.’ repeated Scrooge. sir. I’ll tell you what.’ ‘It’s only once a year.’ Bob trembled. and buy another coal-scuttle before you dot another i. ‘Yes. and giving Bob such a dig in the waistcoat that he staggered back into the Tank again.’ he continued.’ said Scrooge.A Christmas Carol ‘You are. leaping from his stool.’ ‘Now. sir. ‘A merry Christmas.’ said Scrooge. my good fellow. and calling to the people in the court for help and a strait-waistcoat.’ 136 of 138 . Bob. and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon. with an earnestness that could not be mistaken. I’ll raise your salary. Bob. ‘It shall not be repeated.’ and therefore I am about to raise your salary. And therefore. ‘A merrier Christmas. and endeavour to assist your struggling family. Bob. holding him. my friend.’ I am not going to stand this sort of thing any longer. if you please. I was making rather merry yesterday. sir.’ pleaded Bob. as he clapped him on the back. I think you are. Make up the fires. than I have given you for many a year.
who did not die. and infinitely more. Every One! 137 of 138 . at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset. He did it all. he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins. for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe. May that be truly said of us. and to Tiny Tim. he was a second father. God bless Us. He became as good a friend. or borough. as Tiny Tim observed. but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle. in the good old world. that he knew how to keep Christmas well. but he let them laugh. and it was always said of him. and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway. as the good old city knew. if any man alive possessed the knowledge. He had no further intercourse with Spirits. as good a master. ever afterwards. for good. and as good a man. and all of us! And so.A Christmas Carol Scrooge was better than his word. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him. town. as have the malady in less attractive forms. and little heeded them. or any other good old city. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.
A Christmas Carol 138 of 138 .
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