A CHRISTMAS CAROL A Ghost Story of Christmas by Charles Dickens

PREFACE 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.

CONTENTS Stave I: Marley's Ghost Stave II: The First of the Three Spirits Stave III: The Second of the Three Spirits Stave IV: The Last of the Spirits Stave V: The End of It



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 door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail 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 event, but that he was an excellent man of business on the very day of the funeral, and solemnised it with an undoubted bargain. The mention of Marley's funeral brings me back to the point I started from. There is no doubt that Marley was dead. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate. If we were not perfectly convinced that Hamlet's Father died before the play began, there

would be nothing more remarkable in his taking a stroll at night, in an easterly wind, upon his own ramparts, 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. Scrooge never painted out Old Marley's name. There it stood, years afterwards, above the warehouse door: Scrooge and Marley. The firm was known as Scrooge and Marley. Sometimes people new to the business called Scrooge Scrooge, and sometimes Marley, but he answered to both names. It was all the same to him. Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grind-stone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog-days; and didn't thaw it one degree at Christmas. External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. No warmth could warm, no wintry weather chill him. No wind that blew was bitterer than he, no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty. Foul weather didn't know where to have him. The heaviest rain, and snow, and hail, and sleet, could boast of the advantage over him in only one respect. They often "came down" handsomely, and Scrooge never did. Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, with gladsome looks, "My dear Scrooge, how are you? When will you come to see me?" No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no children asked him what it was o'clock, no man or woman ever once in all his life inquired the way to such and such a place, of Scrooge. Even the blind men's dogs appeared to know him; and when they saw him coming on, would tug their owners into doorways and up courts; and then would wag their tails as though they said, "No eye at all is better than an evil eye, dark master!" But what did Scrooge care! It was the very thing he liked. To edge his way along the crowded paths of life, warning all human sympathy to keep its distance, was what the knowing ones call "nuts" to Scrooge. Once upon a time--of all the good days in the year, on Christmas Eve--old Scrooge sat busy in his counting-house. It was cold, bleak, biting weather: foggy withal: and he could hear the people in the court outside, go wheezing up and down, beating their hands upon their breasts, and stamping their feet upon the

But he couldn't replenish it. and his breath smoked again. "Christmas a humbug." returned the uncle." "Come. "Bah!" said Scrooge. and was brewing on a large scale. uncle!" said Scrooge's nephew." Scrooge having no better answer ready on the spur of the moment. It was the voice of Scrooge's nephew. 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. but the clerk's fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one coal. this nephew of Scrooge's. "Humbug!" He had so heated himself with rapid walking in the fog and frost. not being a man of a strong imagination. and tried to warm himself at the candle. but it was quite dark already-it had not been light all day--and candles were flaring in the windows of the neighbouring offices. said." "Don't be cross. a sort of tank. who in a dismal little cell beyond. obscuring everything. "Bah!" again. I am sure?" "I do. that he was all in a glow. The city clocks had only just gone three. his face was ruddy and handsome. in which effort. a time for balancing your books and having every item in 'em through a round dozen . his eyes sparkled. uncle!" said the nephew. and was so dense without. that although the court was of the narrowest. Wherefore the clerk put on his white comforter. To see the dingy cloud come drooping down. "You don't mean that. and so surely as the clerk came in with the shovel. the master predicted that it would be necessary for them to part. The door of Scrooge's counting-house was open that he might keep his eye upon his clerk. a time for finding yourself a year older." returned the nephew gaily. for Scrooge kept the coal-box in his own room. "Merry Christmas! What right have you to be merry? What reason have you to be merry? You're poor enough. then. he failed. "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. like ruddy smears upon the palpable brown air. The fog came pouring in at every chink and keyhole.pavement stones to warm them. "What else can I be. one might have thought that Nature lived hard by. "A merry Christmas. but not an hour richer. and followed it up with "Humbug. was copying letters. the houses opposite were mere phantoms." said Scrooge. "What right have you to be dismal? What reason have you to be morose? You're rich enough. Scrooge had a very small fire.

"Let me hear another sound from you. "Because I fell in love." "Because you fell in love!" growled Scrooge. turning to his nephew. "I wonder you don't go into Parliament. and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. if anything belonging to it can be apart from that--as a good time. "Nephew!" returned the uncle sternly. should be boiled with his own pudding. when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely. the only time I know of. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time. "Much good may it do you! Much good it has ever done you!" "There are many things from which I might have derived good. then." returned the nephew. God bless it!" The clerk in the Tank involuntarily applauded. and said that he would see him in that extremity first. He went the whole length of the expression. he poked the fire. and I say. when it has come round--apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin. I believe that it has done me good. sir." Scrooge said that he would see him--yes. forgiving. And therefore. pleasant time. in the long calendar of the year. Come! Dine with us to-morrow. "every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips. as if that were the only one thing in the world more ridiculous . "But why?" cried Scrooge's nephew. though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket." he added." "Let me leave it alone." said Scrooge indignantly. "keep Christmas in your own way.of months presented dead against you? If I could work my will. uncle. by which I have not profited." "Don't be angry. and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys." "Keep it!" repeated Scrooge's nephew. and let me keep it in mine. a kind." said Scrooge. and will do me good. and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave. He should!" "Uncle!" pleaded the nephew. "Christmas among the rest. charitable. "But you don't keep it. I dare say. and extinguished the last frail spark for ever. "and you'll keep your Christmas by losing your situation! You're quite a powerful speaker. indeed he did. "Why?" "Why did you get married?" said Scrooge." said Scrooge. Becoming immediately sensible of the impropriety. uncle.

to find you so resolute. in letting Scrooge's nephew out. At the ominous word "liberality. Mr. Scrooge. "it is more than . taking up a pen." "We have no doubt his liberality is well represented by his surviving partner. They had books and papers in their hands. who overheard him: "my clerk." said Scrooge. So A Merry Christmas. and bowed to him. "At this festive season of the year. His nephew left the room without an angry word. "Good afternoon!" "Nay. cold as he was. was warmer than Scrooge. "Scrooge and Marley's. with all my heart. "I am sorry. I ask nothing of you. pleasant to behold." said the gentleman. uncle!" "Good afternoon!" said Scrooge. "I want nothing from you. Why give it as a reason for not coming now?" "Good afternoon. had let two other people in. this very night. and I'll keep my Christmas humour to the last." This lunatic. for they had been two kindred spirits. Marley has been dead these seven years. I believe. but you never came to see me before that happened. "There's another fellow." muttered Scrooge." said one of the gentlemen." said the gentleman. and a wife and family. in Scrooge's office. with their hats off. with fifteen shillings a week." Scrooge frowned. notwithstanding. or Mr. and handed the credentials back. and now stood. "And A Happy New Year!" "Good afternoon!" said Scrooge. But I have made the trial in homage to Christmas. presenting his credentials. "Have I the pleasure of addressing Mr. Scrooge. I'll retire to Bedlam. and shook his head.than a merry Christmas. talking about a merry Christmas. referring to his list. uncle. They were portly gentlemen. It certainly was. Marley?" "Mr. We have never had any quarrel. to which I have been a party. why cannot we be friends?" "Good afternoon. "He died seven years ago. He stopped at the outer door to bestow the greetings of the season on the clerk. for he returned them cordially." Scrooge replied." said Scrooge. who.

What shall I put you down for?" "Nothing!" Scrooge replied. and many would rather die. We choose this time. and decrease the surplus population. "they had better do it. "Plenty of prisons. who suffer greatly at the present time. and means of warmth. Still. Mine occupies me constantly. gentlemen!" Seeing clearly that it would be useless to pursue . and not to interfere with other people's. from what you said at first. then?" said Scrooge. "It's not my business." "Oh! I was afraid." "Many can't go there. that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course." "Are there no prisons?" asked Scrooge. I don't make merry myself at Christmas and I can't afford to make idle people merry." "If they would rather die. "And the Union workhouses?" demanded Scrooge. "Are they still in operation?" "They are. Good afternoon." "But you might know it." returned the gentleman. sir." "The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries. "Both very busy. that is my answer." "Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude. gentlemen. when Want is keenly felt. and those who are badly off must go there. of all others." said the gentleman. "I'm very glad to hear it. because it is a time. "Since you ask me what I wish. "I wish I could say they were not." said Scrooge. "You wish to be anonymous?" "I wish to be left alone." said Scrooge." Scrooge returned." observed the gentleman." returned the gentleman. hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts.usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute. "It's enough for a man to understand his own business. "a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink." said Scrooge. laying down the pen again. and Abundance rejoices. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned--they cost enough. Besides--excuse me--I don't know that. sir.

gnawed and mumbled by the hungry cold as bones are gnawed by dogs. round which a party of ragged men and boys were gathered: warming their hands and winking their eyes before the blaze in rapture.their point. merry gentleman! May nothing you dismay!" Scrooge seized the ruler with such energy of action. some labourers were repairing the gas-pipes. stooped down at Scrooge's keyhole to regale him with a Christmas carol: but at the first sound of "God bless you. and had lighted a great fire in a brazier. The water-plug being left in solitude. leaving the keyhole to the fog and even more congenial frost. then indeed he would have roared to lusty purpose. "You'll want all day to-morrow. proffering their services to go before horses in carriages. In the main street. the gentlemen withdrew. and in a more facetious temper than was usual with him. Scrooge resumed his labours with an improved opinion of himself. whose gruff old bell was always peeping slily down at Scrooge out of a Gothic window in the wall. and put on his hat. and even the little tailor. its overflowings sullenly congealed. The cold became intense. If the good Saint Dunstan had but nipped the Evil Spirit's nose with a touch of such weather as that. Foggier yet. Piercing. who instantly snuffed his candle out. With an ill-will Scrooge dismounted from his stool. I suppose?" said . The brightness of the shops where holly sprigs and berries crackled in the lamp heat of the windows. with which it was next to impossible to believe that such dull principles as bargain and sale had anything to do. At length the hour of shutting up the counting-house arrived. The ancient tower of a church. stirred up to-morrow's pudding in his garret. with tremulous vibrations afterwards as if its teeth were chattering in its frozen head up there. and tacitly admitted the fact to the expectant clerk in the Tank. instead of using his familiar weapons. and turned to misanthropic ice. and conduct them on their way. at the corner of the court. that the singer fled in terror. biting cold. made pale faces ruddy as they passed. The Lord Mayor. Poulterers' and grocers' trades became a splendid joke: a glorious pageant. searching. The owner of one scant young nose. that people ran about with flaring links. whom he had fined five shillings on the previous Monday for being drunk and bloodthirsty in the streets. and colder. Meanwhile the fog and darkness thickened so. and struck the hours and quarters in the clouds. became invisible. while his lean wife and the baby sallied out to buy the beef. gave orders to his fifty cooks and butlers to keep Christmas as a Lord Mayor's household should. in the stronghold of the mighty Mansion House.

Scrooge took his melancholy dinner in his usual melancholy tavern. buttoning his great-coat to the chin. went home to bed. "A poor excuse for picking a man's pocket every twenty-fifth of December!" said Scrooge. sir. that one could scarcely help fancying it must have run there when it was a young house. "But I suppose you must have the whole day. and livery." said Scrooge. in honour of its being Christmas Eve. and dreary enough. "you don't think me ill-used. during his whole residence in that place. twenty times. "If quite convenient. since his last mention of his . and having read all the newspapers. and forgotten the way out again. and then ran home to Camden Town as hard as he could pelt. It is also a fact. even including--which is a bold word--the corporation. you'd think yourself ill-used. It was old enough now. in a lowering pile of building up a yard." The clerk promised that he would. I'll be bound?" The clerk smiled faintly. night and morning. except that it was very large. They were a gloomy suite of rooms. and the clerk. playing at hide-and-seek with other houses.Scrooge. "And yet. If I was to stop half-a-crown for it. who knew its every stone. Let it also be borne in mind that Scrooge had not bestowed one thought on Marley. and beguiled the rest of the evening with his banker's-book. at the end of a lane of boys. where it had so little business to be. that it seemed as if the Genius of the Weather sat in mournful meditation on the threshold. it is a fact. Be here all the earlier next morning. Now. aldermen. "and it's not fair. He lived in chambers which had once belonged to his deceased partner." The clerk observed that it was only once a year. The fog and frost so hung about the black old gateway of the house. and Scrooge walked out with a growl. that Scrooge had seen it. to play at blindman's-buff. The office was closed in a twinkling. was fain to grope with his hands. that there was nothing at all particular about the knocker on the door. when I pay a day's wages for no work. the other rooms being all let out as offices." said Scrooge. went down a slide on Cornhill. The yard was so dark that even Scrooge. with the long ends of his white comforter dangling below his waist (for he boasted no great-coat). for nobody lived in it but Scrooge." "It's not convenient. also that Scrooge had as little of what is called fancy about him as any man in the city of London.

turned it sturdily. if he can. It was not in impenetrable shadow as the other objects in the yard were. You may talk vaguely about driving a coach-and-six up a good old flight of stairs. walked in. so he said "Pooh. To say that he was not startled. And then let any man explain to me. That. and up the stairs. or through a bad young Act of Parliament. how it happened that Scrooge. Every room above. but its horror seemed to be in spite of the face and beyond its control. it was a knocker again. Up Scrooge went. and. and taken it broadwise. but looked at Scrooge as Marley used to look: with ghostly spectacles turned up on its ghostly forehead. he walked through his rooms . with the splinter-bar towards the wall and the door towards the balustrades: and done it easy. Half-a-dozen gas-lamps out of the street wouldn't have lighted the entry too well. He fastened the door. but Marley's face.seven years' dead partner that afternoon. as if by breath or hot air. The sound resounded through the house like thunder. so you may suppose that it was pretty dark with Scrooge's dip. as if he half expected to be terrified with the sight of Marley's pigtail sticking out into the hall. with a moment's irresolution. As Scrooge looked fixedly at this phenomenon. but I mean to say you might have got a hearse up that staircase. though the eyes were wide open. but had a dismal light about it. not caring a button for that. saw in the knocker. having his key in the lock of the door. and lighted his candle. rather than a part of its own expression. and Scrooge liked it. they were perfectly motionless. and its livid colour. except the screws and nuts that held the knocker on. But there was nothing on the back of the door. He did pause. without its undergoing any intermediate process of change--not a knocker. Scrooge was not a man to be frightened by echoes. or that his blood was not conscious of a terrible sensation to which it had been a stranger from infancy. and every cask in the wine-merchant's cellars below. slowly too: trimming his candle as he went. and he did look cautiously behind it first. The hair was curiously stirred. pooh!" and closed it with a bang. Darkness is cheap. which is perhaps the reason why Scrooge thought he saw a locomotive hearse going on before him in the gloom. would be untrue. There was plenty of width for that. like a bad lobster in a dark cellar. But before he shut his heavy door. It was not angry or ferocious. before he shut the door. and room to spare. made it horrible. and walked across the hall. But he put his hand upon the key he had relinquished. Marley's face. appeared to have a separate peal of echoes of its own.

and brood over it. It was a very low fire indeed. "Humbug!" said Scrooge. as if some person were dragging a heavy chain over the casks in the wine-merchant's cellar. that hung in the room. Thus secured against surprise. and so did every bell in the house. put on his dressing-gown and slippers. a small fire in the grate. and swallowed up the whole. It was with great astonishment. two fish-baskets. He had just enough recollection of the face to desire to do that. Belshazzars. If each smooth tile had been a blank at first. before he could extract the least sensation of warmth from such a handful of fuel. They were succeeded by a clanking noise. spoon and basin ready. This might have lasted half a minute. old shoes. his glance happened to rest upon a bell. Apostles putting off to sea in butter-boats. that as he looked. deep down below. He was obliged to sit close to it. nobody in the closet.to see that all was right. a disused bell. which was hanging up in a suspicious attitude against the wall. together. came like the ancient Prophet's rod. he sat down again. After several turns. he saw this bell begin to swing. nobody under the sofa. bedroom. and a poker. lumber-room. Quite satisfied. hundreds of figures to attract his thoughts. and locked himself in. All as they should be. which was not his custom. with power to shape some picture on its surface from the disjointed fragments of his thoughts. Queens of Sheba. designed to illustrate the Scriptures. nobody in his dressing-gown. Old fire-guard. and communicated for some purpose now forgotten with a chamber in the highest story of the building. There were Cains and Abels. and his nightcap. and with a strange. double-locked himself in. there would have been a copy of old Marley's head on every one. and paved all round with quaint Dutch tiles. but it seemed an hour. and sat down before the fire to take his gruel. Pharaoh's daughters. Nobody under the table. and yet that face of Marley. seven years dead. Sitting-room. and the little saucepan of gruel (Scrooge had a cold in his head) upon the hob. he closed his door. Lumber-room as usual. Nobody under the bed. built by some Dutch merchant long ago. or a minute. It swung so softly in the outset that it scarcely made a sound. The bells ceased as they had begun. As he threw his head back in the chair. washing-stand on three legs. nothing on such a bitter night. Abrahams. Scrooge then remembered to have heard that ghosts in haunted houses were described as . inexplicable dread. Angelic messengers descending through the air on clouds like feather-beds. and walked across the room. he took off his cravat. The fireplace was an old one. but soon it rang out loudly.

" He was going to say "to a shade. when. "Who are you?" "Ask me who I was. His body was transparent. and wound about him like a tail. it came on through the heavy door." "Who were you then?" said Scrooge. Marley in his pigtail. "I won't believe it. "I know him. Scrooge had often heard it said that Marley had no bowels. as more appropriate. and then he heard the noise much louder. "How now!" said Scrooge. and saw it standing before him. Though he looked the phantom through and through. on the floors below. no doubt about it. The chain he drew was clasped about his middle.dragging chains." but substituted this. like his pigtail. deeds. and heavy purses wrought in steel. and passed into the room before his eyes. observing him. though he felt the chilling influence of its death-cold eyes. "It's humbug still!" said Scrooge." "Do it. the dying flame leaped up. could see the two buttons on his coat behind. but he had never believed it until now. "What do you want with me?" "Much!"--Marley's voice. the tassels on the latter bristling. and his coat-skirts. and looking through his waistcoat. keys. nor did he believe it even now. The cellar-door flew open with a booming sound. looking doubtfully at him. and it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely) of cash-boxes. raising his voice. then. and the hair upon his head. without a pause. ledgers." His colour changed though. Marley's Ghost!" and fell again. he was still incredulous. caustic and cold as ever. "In life I was your partner. so that Scrooge. padlocks." "Can you--can you sit down?" asked Scrooge. "You're particular. "I can. tights and boots. for a shade. It was long. and fought against his senses. No. which wrapper he had not observed before." . as though it cried. and marked the very texture of the folded kerchief bound about its head and chin. The same face: the very same. Jacob Marley. usual waistcoat. Upon its coming in. then coming straight towards his door. then coming up the stairs.

returning quickly to the charge. There's more of gravy than of grave about you." said Scrooge. and tassels. and skirts. "Why do you doubt your senses?" "Because. too. "notwithstanding. "I do.Scrooge asked the question. "But I see it. "I have but to swallow this. a fragment of an underdone potato. "You are not looking at it. were still agitated as by the hot vapour from an oven. and wishing. would play. "You see this toothpick?" said Scrooge. whatever you are!" Scrooge was not much in the habit of cracking jokes." said Scrooge. all of my own creation." replied the Ghost. as if he were quite used to it. that he tried to be smart. The truth is." said Scrooge. "What evidence would you have of my reality beyond that of your senses?" "I don't know. its hair. as a means of distracting his own attention. in the spectre's being provided with an infernal atmosphere of its own. Humbug. You may be an undigested bit of beef. though it were only for a second. it might involve the necessity of an embarrassing explanation. But the ghost sat down on the opposite side of the fireplace. staring at those fixed glazed eyes. for though the Ghost sat perfectly motionless. for the reason just assigned. in his heart. a blot of mustard." said Scrooge. by any means waggish then. Scrooge could not feel it himself. in silence for a moment. for the spectre's voice disturbed the very marrow in his bones. nor did he feel. "I don't. because he didn't know whether a ghost so transparent might find himself in a condition to take a chair. "a little thing affects them. and keeping down his terror." observed the Ghost." said the Ghost. to save himself . and be for the rest of my days persecuted by a legion of goblins. that Scrooge held on tight to his chair. There was something very awful. to divert the vision's stony gaze from himself. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. but this was clearly the case. To sit. and shook its chain with such a dismal and appalling noise. and felt that in the event of its being impossible. a crumb of cheese. Scrooge felt. I tell you! humbug!" At this the spirit raised a frightful cry. the very deuce with him." "Well!" returned Scrooge. "You don't believe in me.

"I must. trembling. I girded it on of my own free will. "It comes from other regions." the Ghost returned. "Tell me why?" "I wear the chain I forged in life. it is condemned to do so after death. and travel far and wide. I cannot rest. Is its pattern strange to you?" Scrooge trembled more and more.from falling in a swoon. and is conveyed by other ministers. But why do spirits walk the earth." replied the Ghost. "the weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself? It was full as heavy and as long as this. My spirit never walked beyond our counting-house--mark me!--in life my spirit never roved beyond the narrow limits of our . as if it were too warm to wear indoors. A very little more is all permitted to me. but might have shared on earth. and if that spirit goes not forth in life." said Scrooge. seven Christmas Eves ago. "You are fettered. in the expectation of finding himself surrounded by some fifty or sixty fathoms of iron cable: but he could see nothing. and yard by yard. "Mercy!" he said. woe is me!--and witness what it cannot share. and why do they come to me?" "It is required of every man. tell me more. "that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellowmen. since. "Old Jacob Marley." pursued the Ghost. It is a ponderous chain!" Scrooge glanced about him on the floor. I cannot stay." he said. and shook its chain and wrung its shadowy hands. "I made it link by link. and of my own free will I wore it. You have laboured on it. Jacob!" "I have none to give. "Jacob. why do you trouble me?" "Man of the worldly mind!" replied the Ghost. Nor can I tell you what I would. I cannot linger anywhere. "Or would you know. It is doomed to wander through the world--oh. Speak comfort to me. its lower jaw dropped down upon its breast! Scrooge fell upon his knees. But how much greater was his horror. "Dreadful apparition. and clasped his hands before his face. when the phantom taking off the bandage round its head. to other kinds of men. Ebenezer Scrooge." said Scrooge." the Ghost replied. imploringly. and turned to happiness!" Again the spectre raised a cry. "do you believe in me or not?" "I do.

" said Scrooge. were. he did so now. and flung it heavily upon the ground again. "Business!" cried the Ghost. all." the spectre said. Jacob. "On the wings of the wind." replied the Ghost. but without lifting up his eyes. and weary journeys lie before me!" It was a habit with Scrooge. Why did I walk through crowds of . and clanked its chain so hideously in the dead silence of the night. no peace. "Seven years dead. "Slow!" the Ghost repeated. Pondering on what the Ghost had said. "You might have got over a great quantity of ground in seven years. "Oh! captive. whatever it may be. The common welfare was my business. and benevolence. 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. in a business-like manner. though with humility and deference." said the Ghost. mercy. that ages of incessant labour by immortal creatures." "You travel fast?" said Scrooge." cried the phantom. set up another cry. "not to know. "No rest. for this earth must pass into eternity before the good of which it is susceptible is all developed. Incessant torture of remorse.money-changing hole. charity. "And travelling all the time!" "The whole time. will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness. forbearance. "You must have been very slow about it. on hearing this. as if that were the cause of all its unavailing grief. Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere. who now began to apply this to himself. "At this time of the rolling year. that the Ward would have been justified in indicting it for a nuisance. to put his hands in his breeches pockets. or getting off his knees. "Mankind was my business." mused Scrooge. whenever he became thoughtful. Jacob. bound." Scrooge observed." faltered Scrooge. wringing its hands again. my business. The Ghost. and double-ironed. "I suffer most. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!" It held up its chain at arm's length.

" said Scrooge. . "My time is nearly gone." "I--I think I'd rather not." said Scrooge. the spectre took its wrapper from the table. Expect the first to-morrow." pursued the Ghost. 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. "Hear me!" cried the Ghost. "But don't be hard upon me! Don't be flowery. "you cannot hope to shun the path I tread." "Couldn't I take 'em all at once. and look that. in a faltering voice. Scrooge shivered. "I am here to-night to warn you. Ebenezer." Scrooge's countenance fell almost as low as the Ghost's had done. "Expect the second on the next night at the same hour. and began to quake exceedingly. Jacob?" hinted Scrooge." It was not an agreeable idea. "It is. by the smart sound its teeth made. "That is no light part of my penance. I may not tell. Jacob?" he demanded. Scrooge knew this. He ventured to raise his eyes again." said the Ghost. A chance and hope of my procuring. "Without their visits." said Scrooge. and bound it round its head. "Is that the chance and hope you mentioned. when the jaws were brought together by the bandage. Jacob! Pray!" "How it is that I appear before you in a shape that you can see. you remember what has passed between us!" When it had said these words. I have sat invisible beside you many and many a day. when the bell tolls One. "by Three Spirits. The third upon the next night when the last stroke of Twelve has ceased to vibrate." resumed the Ghost. that you have yet a chance and hope of escaping my fate." "You were always a good friend to me. Look to see me no more. for your own sake. and have it over. and wiped the perspiration from his brow." "I will. "Thank'ee!" "You will be haunted. as before.fellow-beings with my eyes turned down.

dark night. But they and their spirit voices faded together. went straight to bed. He looked out. and had lost the power for ever. in human matters. or the dull conversation of the Ghost. or the fatigues of the day. When they were within two paces of each other. incoherent sounds of lamentation and regret. Scrooge followed to the window: desperate in his curiosity. wailings inexpressibly sorrowful and self-accusatory. that they sought to interfere. STAVE II: THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS WHEN Scrooge awoke. or the lateness of the hour. it was so dark. none were free. Scrooge closed the window. Every one of them wore chains like Marley's Ghost. It beckoned Scrooge to approach. and examined the door by which the Ghost had entered. and floated out upon the bleak. The misery with them all was. Marley's Ghost held up its hand. wandering hither and thither in restless haste. It was double-locked. with a monstrous iron safe attached to its ankle. Many had been personally known to Scrooge in their lives. without undressing. it was wide open. and the bolts were undisturbed. warning him to come no nearer. after listening for a moment. he could not tell. He had been quite familiar with one old ghost. the window raised itself a little. he could scarcely distinguish the transparent window from the opaque walls of his chamber. upon a door-step. Whether these creatures faded into mist. and moaning as they went. He was endeavouring to . as in surprise and fear: for on the raising of the hand. and fell asleep upon the instant. joined in the mournful dirge. that looking out of bed. The air was filled with phantoms. which he did. or his glimpse of the Invisible World. Not so much in obedience. with its chain wound over and about its arm. The apparition walked backward from him. He tried to say "Humbug!" but stopped at the first syllable. so that when the spectre reached it. And being. and at every step it took. much in need of repose. whom it saw below. as he had locked it with his own hands. in a white waistcoat. for good. The spectre. who cried piteously at being unable to assist a wretched woman with an infant. and the night became as it had been when he walked home. some few (they might be guilty governments) were linked together. clearly. or mist enshrouded them. Scrooge stopped.and found his supernatural visitor confronting him in an erect attitude. from the emotion he had undergone. he became sensible of confused noises in the air.

when the chimes of a neighbouring church struck the four quarters. dong!" "A quarter past. and from seven to eight. "Why. dong!" "Half-past!" said Scrooge. and that there was no noise of people running to and fro. he scrambled out of bed. when he remembered. and groped his way to the window. and thought. and thought. and regularly up to twelve. and taken possession of the world. To his great astonishment the heavy bell went on from six to seven. He was obliged to rub the frost off with the sleeve of his dressing-gown before he could see anything. . on a sudden. then stopped. the more perplexed he was. So he listened for the hour. and the more he endeavoured not to think. An icicle must have got into the works. Scrooge went to bed again." said Scrooge.pierce the darkness with his ferret eyes. At length it broke upon his listening ear. All he could make out was. this was perhaps the wisest resolution in his power. and thought it over and over and over. The more he thought. "Ding." said Scrooge. This was a great relief. that the Ghost had warned him of a visitation when the bell tolled one. it isn't possible. to correct this most preposterous clock. that it was all a dream. He resolved to lie awake until the hour was passed. the more he thought. "Ding. The clock was wrong. considering that he could no more go to sleep than go to Heaven. and missed the clock. Every time he resolved within himself. and making a great stir. Twelve! He touched the spring of his repeater. would have become a mere United States' security if there were no days to count by. to its first position. that it was still very foggy and extremely cold. counting. Twelve! It was past two when he went to bed. The quarter was so long. and could make nothing of it. and presented the same problem to be worked all through. and this is twelve at noon!" The idea being an alarming one. and could see very little then. like a strong spring released. It isn't possible that anything has happened to the sun. "Was it a dream or not?" Scrooge lay in this state until the chime had gone three quarters more. Marley's Ghost bothered him exceedingly. and. that he was more than once convinced he must have sunk into a doze unconsciously. Ebenezer Scrooge or his order. his mind flew back again. "that I can have slept through a whole day and far into another night. Its rapid little pulse beat twelve: and stopped. as there unquestionably would have been if night had beaten off bright day." and so forth. because "three days after sight of this First of Exchange pay to Mr. after mature inquiry.

that from the crown of its head there sprung a bright clear jet of light. The curtains of his bed were drawn aside. It wore a tunic of the purest white. now with twenty legs. in its duller moments. It held a branch of fresh green holly in its hand. and yet the face had not a wrinkle in it. so the figure itself fluctuated in its distinctness: being now a thing with one arm. a great extinguisher for a cap. was white as if with age. and being diminished to a child's proportions. now with one leg. For as its belt sparkled and glittered now in one part and now in another. like those upper members. and the tenderest bloom was on the skin. dong!" "A quarter to it. Its legs and feet. . "I am!" The voice was soft and gentle. as if its hold were of uncommon strength. It was a strange figure--like a child: yet not so like a child as like an old man. which it now did with a deep. Singularly low. The arms were very long and muscular. whose coming was foretold to me?" asked Scrooge. it would be itself again. And in the very wonder of this. as if instead of being so close beside him. viewed through some supernatural medium." said Scrooge. Its hair. most delicately formed. Even this. melancholy ONE. in singular contradiction of that wintry emblem. it were at a distance. and round its waist was bound a lustrous belt. no outline would be visible in the dense gloom wherein they melted away. now a head without a body: of which dissolving parts. "Ding. I tell you. "and nothing else!" He spoke before the hour bell sounded. triumphantly. when Scrooge looked at it with increasing steadiness. which hung about its neck and down its back. But the strangest thing about it was. by which all this was visible. "Are you the Spirit." said Scrooge. bare. and what was light one instant."Ding. distinct and clear as ever. hollow. Light flashed up in the room upon the instant. which gave him the appearance of having receded from the view. found himself face to face with the unearthly visitor who drew them: as close to it as I am now to you. the hands the same. The curtains of his bed were drawn aside. the sheen of which was beautiful. dong!" "The hour itself. sir. but those to which his face was addressed. Not the curtains at his feet. starting up into a half-recumbent attitude. and Scrooge. though. and I am standing in the spirit at your elbow. dull. had its dress trimmed with summer flowers. at another time was dark. and. were. which it now held under its arm. now a pair of legs without a head. and which was doubtless the occasion of its using. and the curtains of his bed were drawn. was not its strangest quality. by a hand. nor the curtains at his back.

was not to be resisted. "No. "What!" exclaimed the Ghost. cold. The darkness and the mist had vanished with it. He then made bold to inquire what business brought him there. but he had a special desire to see the Spirit in his cap." "Long Past?" inquired Scrooge: observant of its dwarfish stature. they passed through the wall." Scrooge remonstrated. that bed was warm. "Your welfare!" said the Ghost." said the Spirit. The Spirit must have heard him thinking. "I am a mortal. with snow upon the ground. He rose: but finding that the Spirit made towards the window. . and begged him to be covered. if anybody could have asked him. that he was clad but lightly in his slippers. and what are you?" Scrooge demanded. "Good Heaven!" said Scrooge. with worldly hands. laying it upon his heart. and stood upon an open country road. with fields on either hand. Scrooge could not have told anybody why. and that he had a cold upon him at that time. winter day. dressing-gown. clasped his robe in supplication. "and you shall be upheld in more than this!" As the words were spoken. Your past. "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. though gentle as a woman's hand. "I am the Ghost of Christmas Past. for it said immediately: "Your reclamation. The city had entirely vanished. but could not help thinking that a night of unbroken rest would have been more conducive to that end. The grasp." "Bear but a touch of my hand there. Take heed!" It put out its strong hand as it spoke. "and liable to fall. and clasped him gently by the arm. and the thermometer a long way below freezing. then. the light I give? Is it not enough that you are one of those whose passions made this cap."Who. 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." Perhaps. and nightcap. "would you so soon put out. for it was a clear. clasping his hands together. Scrooge expressed himself much obliged. Not a vestige of it was to be seen.

Fowls clucked and strutted in the stables. and tree. appeared still present to the old man's sense of feeling. for their several homes! What was merry Christmas to Scrooge? Out upon merry Christmas! What good had it ever done to him? "The school is not quite deserted. "A solitary child. Its gentle touch. its church. with a little weathercock-surmounted cupola. as they parted at cross-roads and bye-ways. until a little market-town appeared in the distance." said the Ghost. and the coach-houses and sheds were over-run with grass. driven by farmers. "And what is that upon your cheek?" Scrooge muttered. and begged the Ghost to lead him where he would. Scrooge recognising every gate. and as they came. that the crisp air laughed to hear it! "These are but shadows of the things that have been. Some shaggy ponies now were seen trotting towards them with boys upon their backs.as he looked about him." Scrooge said he knew it. He was conscious of a thousand odours floating in the air. "Remember it!" cried Scrooge with fervour. and a bell hanging in it. They left the high-road. and shouted to each other. I was a boy here!" The Spirit gazed upon him mildly. forgotten! "Your lip is trembling. "Let us go on. Why was he rejoiced beyond all bounds to see them! Why did his cold eye glisten. and winding river. for the spacious offices were little used. and cares long. by a well-remembered lane. long. with its bridge. It was a large house. is left there still. but one of broken fortunes." "Strange to have forgotten it for so many years!" observed the Ghost. And he sobbed." said the Ghost. their walls were damp and mossy. and post. and their gates decayed." said the Ghost. until the broad fields were so full of merry music. All these boys were in great spirits. "I was bred in this place. and his heart leap up as they went past! Why was he filled with gladness when he heard them give each other Merry Christmas. "They have no consciousness of us. "You recollect the way?" inquired the Spirit. with an unusual catching in his voice. and hopes. and joys. neglected by his friends." They walked along the road. and soon approached a mansion of dull red brick. "I could walk it blindfold. each one connected with a thousand thoughts." The jocund travellers came on. Scrooge knew and named them every one. on the roof. though it had been light and instantaneous. their windows broken. that it was a pimple. . who called to other boys in country gigs and carts.

when he came home again after sailing round the island. At one of these a lonely boy was reading near a feeble fire. for the first time. yes. melancholy room. and vast. and not too much to eat. There was an earthy savour in the air. "It's dear old honest Ali Baba! Yes. and disclosed a long. "I wish. bare. "Why. a chilly bareness in the place. but fell upon the heart of Scrooge with a softening influence. and glancing through the open doors of many rooms. in foreign garments: wonderfully real and distinct to look at: stood outside the window. There goes Friday. They went. when yonder solitary child was left here all alone. I'm glad of it. you know. they found them poorly furnished. it's Ali Baba!" Scrooge exclaimed in ecstasy. within. which associated itself somehow with too much getting up by candle-light." said Scrooge. not a drip from the half-thawed water-spout in the dull yard behind. Not a latent echo in the house. not a squeak and scuffle from the mice behind the panelling. putting his hand in his . just like that. with a thing like a lettuce growing out of the top of his head. in a most extraordinary voice between laughing and crying. "Green body and yellow tail." Scrooge muttered. to a door at the back of the house. What business had he to be married to the Princess!" To hear Scrooge expending all the earnestness of his nature on such subjects. 'Poor Robin Crusoe. across the hall. indeed. Orson. he called him. "Poor boy!" and cried again. would have been a surprise to his business friends in the city. Robin Crusoe?' The man thought he was dreaming. and wept to see his poor forgotten self as he used to be. and to see his heightened and excited face. Poor boy! And Valentine. not a clicking in the fire. "and his wild brother. made barer still by lines of plain deal forms and desks. there he is! Poor Robin Crusoe. in pity for his former self. there he is upon his head! Serve him right. but he wasn't. with a rapidity of transition very foreign to his usual character. for entering the dreary hall. not the idle swinging of an empty store-house door. at the Gate of Damascus. and gave a freer passage to his tears. and pointed to his younger self. cold. and leading by the bridle an ass laden with wood. the Ghost and Scrooge.Nor was it more retentive of its ancient state. intent upon his reading. running for his life to the little creek! Halloa! Hoop! Halloo!" Then. Suddenly a man. he did come. there they go! And what's his name. he said. It opened before them. It was the Parrot. no. "There's the Parrot!" cried Scrooge. where have you been. don't you see him! And the Sultan's Groom turned upside down by the Genii. I know! One Christmas time. The Spirit touched him on the arm. and Scrooge sat down upon a form. who was put down in his drawers. with an axe stuck in his belt. not a sigh among the leafless boughs of one despondent poplar. asleep.

we're to be together all the Christmas long. after drying his eyes with his cuff: "but it's too late now. brimful of glee." "You are quite a woman. It opened. little Fan?" returned the boy. that home's like Heaven! He spoke so gently to me one dear night when I was going to bed. the windows cracked. and he said Yes. Scrooge looked at the Ghost. and bending down to laugh. but how all this was brought about. towards the door. but walking up and down despairingly. nothing loth to go." said Scrooge. home!" "Home. who glared on Master Scrooge with a ferocious condescension. and a little girl. alone again. She clapped her hands and laughed. little Fan!" exclaimed the boy. He was not reading now. and tried to touch his head. that there he was. for good and all. and he. accompanied her. "Home." The Ghost smiled thoughtfully. I should like to have given him something: that's all. that everything had happened so. Father is so much kinder than he used to be. "and are never to come back here. much younger than the boy. "Nothing. "Bring down Master Scrooge's box. there!" and in the hall appeared the schoolmaster himself. dear brother!" said the child. but first. but being too little. glanced anxiously towards the door. opening her eyes. for ever and ever. A terrible voice in the hall cried. addressed him as her "Dear. "Let us see another Christmas!" Scrooge's former self grew larger at the words. clapping her tiny hands. and looking about him. "To bring you home. fragments of plaster fell out of the ceiling. when all the other boys had gone home for the jolly holidays. He then conveyed him and his sister into the veriest old well of a shivering best-parlour that . and putting her arms about his neck." "What is the matter?" asked the Spirit. and have the merriest time in all the world. Then she began to drag him. home. laughed again." "I have come to bring you home.pocket. and the room became a little darker and more dirty. "Nothing. There was a boy singing a Christmas Carol at my door last night. "Yes!" said the child. He only knew that it was quite correct. and the naked laths were shown instead. and with a mournful shaking of his head. And you're to be a man!" said the child. and often kissing him. Scrooge knew no more than you do. Home. and sent me in a coach to bring you. in her childish eagerness. and stood on tiptoe to embrace him. and waved its hand: saying as it did so. The panels shrunk. you should. and threw him into a dreadful state of mind by shaking hands with him. dear brother. that I was not afraid to ask him once more if you might come home. came darting in.

and getting into it. Master Scrooge's trunk being by this time tied on to the top of the chaise. whom a breath might have withered. "Always a delicate creature. that if he had been two inches taller he must have knocked his head against the ceiling." said the Ghost. "Know it!" said Scrooge. I will not gainsay it. "Yes. and the celestial and terrestrial globes in the windows. but it was evening. "You're right. called out in a comfortable. He rubbed hands. oily. "But she had a large heart!" "So she had. as I think. Spirit. but if it was the same tap as he had tasted before. it's old Fezziwig! Bless his heart. children." said the Ghost.ever was seen. rich. and administered instalments of those dainties to the young people: at the same time. and a block of curiously heavy cake. "True. The Ghost stopped at a certain warehouse door. It was made plain enough." Although they had but that moment left the school behind them. God forbid!" "She died a woman. by the dressing of the shops. which pointed to the hour of seven. they were now in the busy thoroughfares of a city. jovial "Yo ho. laughed all himself. that here too it was Christmas time again. and the streets were lighted up. fat. he had rather not. adjusted his capacious waistcoat. the children bade the schoolmaster good-bye right willingly. where shadowy passengers passed and repassed. who answered that he thanked the gentleman. At sight of an old gentleman in a Welsh wig. "and had. from his shoes to his organ of benevolence. sitting behind such a high desk. Scrooge cried in great excitement: "Why. "Your nephew!" Scrooge seemed uneasy in his mind. and answered briefly. and all the strife and tumult of a real city were." cried Scrooge. and looked up at the clock. and asked Scrooge if he knew it. sending out a meagre servant to offer a glass of "something" to the postboy. were waxy with cold. where shadowy carts and coaches battled for the way." "One child. it's Fezziwig alive again!" Old Fezziwig laid down his pen." said the Ghost. "Was I apprenticed here!" They went in. there! Ebenezer! Dick!" his over and voice: . where the maps upon the wall. 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." Scrooge returned. Here he produced a decanter of curiously light wine.

But scorning rest. anyhow and everyhow. panting like race-horses. the baker. In came the six young followers whose hearts they broke. beaming and lovable. with wonderful agility. who was proved to have had her ears pulled by her mistress. on a shutter. He was very much attached to me. five. "Dick Wilkins. as if the other fiddler had been carried home. upon his reappearance. he instantly began again. and the warehouse was as snug. "Hilli-ho!" cried old Fezziwig. dear!" "Yo ho. the milkman. Christmas. some pushing. and made an orchestra of it. especially provided for that purpose. In came all the young men and women employed in the business. all top couples at last. Christmas Eve. fuel was heaped upon the fire. twenty couple at once. some pulling. In came the housemaid. In came the boy from over the way." cried old Fezziwig. and he were a bran-new man resolved to beat him out of sight. eight. In came Mrs. now grown a young man. round and round in various stages of affectionate grouping. There he is. as if it were dismissed from public life for evermore. and tuned like fifty stomach-aches. with old Fezziwig looking on. trying to hide himself behind the girl from next door but one. "No more work to-night. as soon as they got there. as you would desire to see upon a winter's night. It was done in a minute. two. yes. hands half round and back again the other way. some boldly. and not a bottom one to help them! When this result was brought about. Dick! Chirrup. "Well done!" and the fiddler plunged his hot face into a pot of porter. with her cousin. "Bless me. one vast substantial smile. the lamps were trimmed. one after another. some gracefully. some shyly. and dry. "before a man can say Jack Robinson!" You wouldn't believe how those two fellows went at it! They charged into the street with the shutters--one. In came the cook. and bright a ball-room. to be sure!" said Scrooge to the Ghost. and warm. cried out. in they all came. Away they all went. Poor Dick! Dear. with a sharp clap of his hands. three--had 'em up in their places--four. Dick. Ebenezer! Let's have the shutters up. Fezziwig. six--barred 'em and pinned 'em--seven. was Dick.Scrooge's former self. and went up to the lofty desk. who was suspected of not having board enough from his master. Ebenezer!" Clear away! There was nothing they wouldn't have cleared away. In came the three Miss Fezziwigs. skipping down from the high desk. nine--and came back before you could have got to twelve. "Clear away. . with her brother's particular friend. old Fezziwig. down the middle and up again. though there were no dancers yet. old top couple always turning up in the wrong place. accompanied by his fellow-'prentice. or couldn't have cleared away. or perish. Every movable was packed off. my lads. clapping his hands to stop the dance. the floor was swept and watered. and let's have lots of room here! Hilli-ho. In came a fiddler with a music-book. In they all came. exhausted. new top couple starting off again. my boys!" said Fezziwig. came briskly in. some awkwardly.

and underwent the strangest agitation. It was not until now. said. with a good stiff piece of work cut out for them. when the bright faces of his former self and Dick were turned from them. that he remembered the Ghost. But if they had been twice as many--ah. A positive light appeared to issue from Fezziwig's calves. Top couple. The Spirit signed to him to listen to the two apprentices.There were more dances. and plenty of beer. "Why! Is it not? He has spent but a few pounds of your mortal money: three or four perhaps. If that's not high praise. and I'll use it. and had no notion of walking. and shaking hands with every person individually as he or she went out. Fezziwig. three or four and twenty pair of partners. But the great effect of the evening came after the Roast and Boiled. one on either side of the door. When the clock struck eleven. and so would Mrs. And when old Fezziwig and Mrs. both hands to your partner. "to make these silly folks so full of gratitude. corkscrew. Fezziwig. who were pouring out their hearts in praise of Fezziwig: and when he had done so. mind! The sort of man who knew his business better than you or I could have told it him!) struck up "Sir Roger de Coverley. "A small matter. enjoyed everything. Mr. His heart and soul were in the scene. at any given time. this domestic ball broke up. and came upon his feet again without a stagger. people who would dance. too. When everybody had retired but the two 'prentices. wished him or her a Merry Christmas. Fezziwig took their stations. and there were mince-pies." "Small!" echoed Scrooge. bow and curtsey. He corroborated everything. and Mrs. while the light upon its head burnt very clear. Scrooge had acted like a man out of his wits. remembered everything. people who were not to be trifled with. During the whole of this time. and there was a great piece of Cold Boiled. Is that so much that he deserves this praise?" . she was worthy to be his partner in every sense of the term. what would have become of them next. and thus the cheerful voices died away. and there was negus. They shone in every part of the dance like moons. advance and retire. and became conscious that it was looking full upon him. As to her. and there was cake. that he appeared to wink with his legs. four times--old Fezziwig would have been a match for them. Fezziwig had gone all through the dance. thread-the-needle." said the Ghost. which were under a counter in the back-shop. and the lads were left to their beds." Then old Fezziwig stood out to dance with Mrs. Fezziwig "cut"--cut so deftly. and back again to your place. You couldn't have predicted. and with his former self. they did the same to them. and more dances. when the fiddler (an artful dog. and there were forfeits. tell me higher. and there was a great piece of Cold Roast.

is quite as great as if it cost a fortune. There was an eager. His face had not the harsh and rigid lines of later years. He was older now. "No. until the master-passion. to make our service light or burdensome. self. "All your other hopes have merged into the hope of being beyond the chance of its sordid reproach. but it produced an immediate effect. engrosses you. "It matters little. and stopped. and Scrooge and the Ghost again stood side by side in the open air." said Scrooge." He felt the Spirit's glance." His former self turned down the lamps as he gave utterance to the wish. heated by the remark. I have no just cause to grieve. Gain. which showed the passion that had taken root. "It isn't that." said Scrooge. I think?" the Ghost insisted. "Nothing particular. which sparkled in the light that shone out of the Ghost of Christmas Past. very little. I should like to be able to say a word or two to my clerk just now. softly. but it had begun to wear the signs of care and avarice. "To you. a man in the prime of life. Say that his power lies in words and looks. Have I not?" . in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count 'em up: what then? The happiness he gives. not his latter. restless motion in the eye. For again Scrooge saw himself. He was not alone. He has the power to render us happy or unhappy." she answered."It isn't that." "This is the even-handed dealing of the world!" he said. a pleasure or a toil. "Something. Another idol has displaced me. and if it can cheer and comfort you in time to come. Spirit. and where the shadow of the growing tree would fall. or to any one whom he could see. I have seen your nobler aspirations fall off one by one." observed the Spirit." "What Idol has displaced you?" he rejoined. "There is nothing on which it is so hard as poverty. greedy." she said. "Quick!" This was not addressed to Scrooge. but sat by the side of a fair young girl in a mourning-dress: in whose eyes there were tears. and speaking unconsciously like his former. That's all. "A golden one. "My time grows short. "No. and there is nothing it professes to condemn with such severity as the pursuit of wealth!" "You fear the world too much. "What is the matter?" asked the Ghost." said Scrooge. as I would have tried to do. gently.

but with her head turned from him. another Hope as its great end." she returned. very brief time. A very. You are changed. It is enough that I have thought of it. "tell me. I will not say. to-morrow. is fraught with misery now that we are two. in your very confidence with her. "Even if I have grown so much wiser." said the girl. until. from which it happened well that you awoke. With a full heart. in another atmosphere of life. How often and how keenly I have thought of this. would you seek me out and try to win me now? Ah. gladly. you were another man. When it was made. but with steadiness. as an unprofitable dream. That which promised happiness when we were one in heart. she resumed. No. "Heaven knows! When I have learned a Truth like this. if for a moment you were false enough to your one guiding principle to do so." she answered. "You think not. we could improve our worldly fortune by our patient industry. in an altered spirit. "You may--the memory of what is past half makes me hope you will--have pain in this. In everything that made my love of any worth or value in your sight. then?" "In a changed nature. Never. If this had never been between us. It was made when we were both poor and content to be so. upon him. and you will dismiss the recollection of it." "I would gladly think otherwise if I could. and they parted. can even I believe that you would choose a dowerless girl--you who. . "Your own feeling tells you that you were not what you are." "In what. I know how strong and irresistible it must be. and I release you. "Am I?" "Our contract is an old one. yesterday. in spite of himself. and can release you. choosing her." he said impatiently. do I not know that your repentance and regret would surely follow? I do." He was about to speak. looking mildly." "I was a boy. for the love of him you once were."What then?" he retorted. in good season." "Have I ever sought release?" "In words. But he said with a struggle. what then? I am not changed towards you. May you be happy in the life you have chosen!" She left him. "I am. no!" He seemed to yield to the justice of this supposition. weigh everything by Gain: or." She shook her head. But if you were free to-day.

soon beginning to mingle in the sports. The noise in this room was perfectly tumultuous. I should have expected my arm to have grown round it for a punishment. Show me no more!" But the relentless Ghost pinioned him in both his arms. and the latter. I don't wish to see it. to have looked upon the lashes of her downcast eyes."Spirit!" said Scrooge. sitting opposite her daughter. I wouldn't have plucked it off. unlike the celebrated herd in the poem. "No more. on the contrary. now a comely matron. . hug him round his neck. and kick his legs in irrepressible affection! The shouts of wonder and delight with which the development of every package was received! The terrible announcement that the baby had been taken in the act of putting a doll's frying-pan into his mouth. Why do you delight to torture me?" "One shadow more!" exclaimed the Ghost. to have had the lightest licence of a child. But now a knocking at the door was heard. to have questioned her. and the onslaught that was made on the defenceless porter! The scaling him with chairs for ladders to dive into his pockets. God bless my soul! to save my life. got pillaged by the young brigands most ruthlessly. and never raised a blush. the mother and daughter laughed heartily. and. that she might have opened them. an inch of which would be a keepsake beyond price: in short. "show me no more! Conduct me home. but full of comfort. "No more!" cried Scrooge. a room. as they did. and enjoyed it very much. and ecstasy! They are all indescribable alike. I own. and yet to have been man enough to know its value. As to measuring her waist in sport. but every child was conducting itself like forty. I should have liked. for there were more children there. than Scrooge in his agitated state of mind could count. glued on a wooden platter! The immense relief of finding this a false alarm! The joy. until he saw her. pommel his back. so like that last that Scrooge believed it was the same. not very large or handsome. just in time to greet the father. and gratitude. I couldn't have done it. and was more than suspected of having swallowed a fictitious turkey. and never come straight again. but no one seemed to care. I do confess. The consequences were uproarious beyond belief. What would I not have given to be one of them! Though I never could have been so rude. despoil him of brown-paper parcels. And yet I should have dearly liked. no! I wouldn't for the wealth of all the world have crushed that braided hair. Then the shouting and the struggling. Near to the winter fire sat a beautiful young girl. to have let loose waves of hair. to have touched her lips. hold on tight by his cravat. and torn it down. and for the precious little shoe. 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. who came home attended by a man laden with Christmas toys and presents. no. They were in another scene and place. and forced him to observe what happened next. they were not forty children conducting themselves like one. bold young brood.

"Mr. and there he sat alone. and he had a candle inside. turning to his wife with a smile. he seized the extinguisher-cap. in an unbroken flood upon the ground." said the husband. Scrooge. further. and had barely time to reel to bed. and overcome by an irresistible drowsiness. and when he thought that such another creature." "Mr. "Leave me! Take me back. I could scarcely help seeing him. sat down with her and her mother at his own fireside. up to the top of the house. his sight grew very dim indeed. Scrooge it was." "Who was it?" "Guess!" "How can I? Tut. might have called him father." said the Ghost. don't I know?" she added in the same breath. in which his hand relaxed. and as it was not shut up. having his daughter leaning fondly on him. Haunt me no longer!" In the struggle. and. and so subsided.It is enough that by degrees the children and their emotions got out of the parlour. "I saw an old friend of yours this afternoon. wrestled with it. but though Scrooge pressed it down with all his force. "I cannot bear it!" He turned upon the Ghost. in which in some strange way there were fragments of all the faces it had shown him. Quite alone in the world. "That they are what they are. so that the extinguisher covered its whole form. The Spirit dropped beneath it." "Spirit!" said Scrooge in a broken voice. before he sank into a heavy sleep. And now Scrooge looked on more attentively than ever. and seeing that it looked upon him with a face. and by a sudden action pressed it down upon its head. Scrooge observed that its light was burning high and bright. I do believe. He gave the cap a parting squeeze. when the master of the house. of being in his own bedroom. laughing as he laughed. 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. "remove me from this place. His partner lies upon the point of death. He was conscious of being exhausted. and dimly connecting that with its influence over him. he could not hide the light: which streamed from under it. where they went to bed." "I told you these were shadows of the things that have been. quite as graceful and as full of promise. and by one stair at a time. I passed his office window. . and been a spring-time in the haggard winter of his life. I hear. do not blame me!" "Remove me!" Scrooge exclaimed. "Belle.

that it looked a perfect grove. and which. and made nervous. I don't mind calling on you to believe that he was ready for a good broad field of strange appearances. was more alarming than a dozen ghosts. For he wished to challenge the Spirit on the moment of its appearance. There was no doubt about that. as he was powerless to make out what it meant. The moment Scrooge's hand was on the lock. there lies a tolerably wide and comprehensive range of subjects. This idea taking full possession of his mind. bright gleaming . he began to think--as you or I would have thought at first. He obeyed. and would unquestionably have done it too--at last. and sitting up in bed to get his thoughts together. a quarter of an hour went by. consequently. But finding that he turned uncomfortably cold when he began to wonder which of his curtains this new spectre would draw back. Now. and lying down again. on further tracing it. Scrooge had no occasion to be told that the bell was again upon the stroke of One. yet nothing came. from every part of which. and being usually equal to the time-of-day. when the Bell struck One. he got up softly and shuffled in his slippers to the door. however. But it had undergone a surprising transformation. for the especial purpose of holding a conference with the second messenger despatched to him through Jacob Marley's intervention. between which opposite extremes. from whence. for it is always the person not in the predicament who knows what ought to have been done in it. and was sometimes apprehensive that he might be at that very moment an interesting case of spontaneous combustion. and did not wish to be taken by surprise. and no shape appeared. The walls and ceiling were so hung with living green. which streamed upon it when the clock proclaimed the hour. ten minutes.STAVE III: THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS AWAKING in the middle of a prodigiously tough snore. he was not by any means prepared for nothing. being only light. It was his own room. and that nothing between a baby and rhinoceros would have astonished him very much. Five minutes. Gentlemen of the free-and-easy sort. no doubt. All this time. he put them every one aside with his own hands. he lay upon his bed. he was taken with a violent fit of trembling. established a sharp look-out all round the bed. He felt that he was restored to consciousness in the right nick of time. Without venturing for Scrooge quite as hardily as this. it seemed to shine. without having the consolation of knowing it. he began to think that the source and secret of this ghostly light might be in the adjoining room. express the wide range of their capacity for adventure by observing that they are good for anything from pitch-and-toss to manslaughter. who plume themselves on being acquainted with a move or two. a strange voice called him by his name. and bade him enter. At last. and. or would be at. being prepared for almost anything. the very core and centre of a blaze of ruddy light. I say.

" said Scrooge submissively. to shed its light on Scrooge. "Have never walked forth with the younger members of my family. but no sword was in it. and ivy reflected back the light. Spirit?" "More than eighteen hundred. that its capacious breast was bare. cherry-cheeked apples. its unconstrained demeanour. or mantle. It was clothed in one simple green robe. I went forth last night on compulsion. to form a kind of throne." said Scrooge. and held it up. as if disdaining to be warded or concealed by any artifice. observable beneath the ample folds of the garment. bordered with white fur. He was not the dogged Scrooge he had been. game." said the Ghost. plum-puddings. and on its head it wore no other covering than a holly wreath. The crisp leaves of holly. and I learnt . "Look upon me!" Scrooge reverently did so. its cheery voice. glorious to see. "Never. poultry. and though the Spirit's eyes were clear and kind. "A tremendous family to provide for!" muttered Scrooge. Heaped up on the floor. man!" Scrooge entered timidly. in shape not unlike Plenty's horn. juicy oranges. and hung his head before this Spirit. long wreaths of sausages. mince-pies. This garment hung so loosely on the figure. barrels of oysters. geese. brawn. Its feet. "You have never seen the like of me before!" exclaimed the Spirit. and seething bowls of punch. "Come in! and know me better. or for many and many a winter season gone. and such a mighty blaze went roaring up the chimney. its sparkling eye. great joints of meat. meaning (for I am very young) my elder brothers born in these later years?" pursued the Phantom. Have you had many brothers. In easy state upon this couch. and the ancient sheath was eaten up with rust. "Spirit. Its dark brown curls were long and free. sucking-pigs. and its joyful air. "I don't think I have. Girded round its middle was an antique scabbard. "I am the Ghost of Christmas Present. "I am afraid I have not. "Come in!" exclaimed the Ghost." said the Spirit.berries glistened. were also bare. were turkeys. that made the chamber dim with their delicious steam. there sat a jolly Giant. The Ghost of Christmas Present rose. as that dull petrification of a hearth had never known in Scrooge's time. he did not like to meet them. free as its genial face. as if so many little mirrors had been scattered there. immense twelfth-cakes. "conduct me where you will." Scrooge made answer to it. its open hand. or Marley's. red-hot chestnuts. who bore a glowing torch. luscious pears. mistletoe. set here and there with shining icicles. as he came peeping round the door. high up.

that people's mouths might water gratis as they passed. recalling. lolling at the doors. and punch. if you have aught to teach me. in the shopkeepers' benevolence to dangle from conspicuous hooks. in the great compactness of their juicy persons. and tumbling out into the street in their apoplectic opulence. there were Norfolk Biffins. as if all the chimneys in Great Britain had. puddings. broad-girthed Spanish Onions. and the fruiterers' were radiant in their glory. brawn. and from the tops of their houses. mossy and brown. round.a lesson which is working now. by one consent. let me profit by it. clustered high in blooming pyramids. half frozen. contrasting with the smooth white sheet of snow upon the roofs. and made intricate channels. oysters. and the shortest streets were choked up with a dingy mist. there were piles of filberts. and pleasant shufflings ankle deep through withered leaves. meat. There were ruddy. calling out to one another from the parapets. and. and with the dirtier snow upon the ground. pigs. The poulterers' shops were still half open. there were bunches of grapes. ancient walks among the woods." "Touch my robe!" Scrooge did as he was told. turkeys. squat and swarthy. the people who were shovelling away on the housetops were jovial and full of glee. shaped like the waistcoats of jolly old gentlemen. and winking from their shelves in wanton slyness at the girls as they went by. caught fire. brown-faced. whence it was mad delight to the boys to see it come plumping down into the road below. red berries. setting off the yellow of the oranges and lemons. where (for the weather was severe) the people made a rough. made. game. hard to trace in the thick yellow mud and icy water. The sky was gloomy. ivy. fruit. the fire. and held it fast. all vanished instantly. 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. the ruddy glow. and they stood in the city streets on Christmas morning. whose heavier particles descended in a shower of sooty atoms. For. the hour of night. The house fronts looked black enough. pies. shining in the fatness of their growth like Spanish Friars. and glanced demurely at the hung-up mistletoe. and the windows blacker. and were blazing away to their dear hearts' content. There were great. Holly. half thawed. There was nothing very cheerful in the climate or the town. So did the room. and splitting into artificial little snow-storms. There were pears and apples. To-night. furrows that crossed and re-crossed each other hundreds of times where the great streets branched off. pot-bellied baskets of chestnuts. in their fragrance. and yet was there an air of cheerfulness abroad that the clearest summer air and brightest summer sun might have endeavoured to diffuse in vain. set forth among . urgently entreating and beseeching to be carried home in paper bags and eaten after dinner. mistletoe. sausages. geese. poultry. but brisk and not unpleasant kind of music. which last deposit had been ploughed up in deep furrows by the heavy wheels of carts and waggons. The very gold and silver fish. in scraping the snow from the pavement in front of their dwellings.

the sticks of cinnamon so long and straight. for he stood with Scrooge beside him in a baker's doorway. For they said. though members of a dull and stagnant-blooded race. with perhaps two shutters down. And at the same time there emerged from scores of bye-streets. and with their gayest faces. went gasping round and round their little world in slow and passionless excitement. it was a shame to quarrel upon Christmas Day. The sight of these poor revellers appeared to interest the Spirit very much. he shed a few drops of water on them from it. Nor was it that the figs were moist and pulpy. or that everything was good to eat and in its Christmas dress. and the bakers were shut up. And it was a very uncommon kind of torch. or even that the blended scents of tea and coffee were so grateful to the nose. worn outside for general inspection. in the best humour possible. crashing their wicker baskets wildly. to church and chapel. But soon the steeples called good people all. My own. but the customers were all so hurried and so eager in the hopeful promise of the day. 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. or one. and away they came. and yet there was a genial shadowing forth of all these dinners and the progress of their cooking. The Grocers'! oh. and taking off the covers as their bearers passed. And so it was! God love it. innumerable people. "Is there a peculiar flavour in what you sprinkle from your torch?" asked Scrooge. for once or twice when there were angry words between some dinner-carriers who had jostled each other. and their good humour was restored directly. and for Christmas daws to peck at if they chose. flocking through the streets in their best clothes. the Grocers'! nearly closed. and left their purchases upon the counter. and nameless turnings. to a fish. carrying their dinners to the bakers' shops. so it was! In time the bells ceased. lanes. the candied fruits so caked and spotted with molten sugar as to make the coldest lookers-on feel faint and subsequently bilious. in the thawed blotch of wet above each baker's oven. and committed hundreds of the like mistakes. and came running back to fetch them. "There is." "Would it apply to any kind of dinner on this day?" asked Scrooge. or that the twine and roller parted company so briskly. appeared to know that there was something going on. or that the canisters were rattled up and down like juggling tricks. where the pavement smoked as if its stones were cooking too. sprinkled incense on their dinners from his torch. but through those gaps such glimpses! It was not alone that the scales descending on the counter made a merry sound. that they tumbled up against each other at the door. or even that the raisins were so plentiful and rare. the other spices so delicious. and. . or that the French plums blushed in modest tartness from their highly-decorated boxes. the almonds so extremely white.these choice fruits in a bowl.

which are cheap and make a goodly show for sixpence. hearty nature. "who lay claim to know us. pride. "Wouldn't you?" "I!" cried the Spirit. and on the threshold of the door the Spirit smiled. "You seek to close these places on the Seventh Day?" said Scrooge. envy." "I!" cried the Spirit. Cratchit's wife."To any kindly given. "There are some upon this earth of yours. ill-will." "I seek!" exclaimed the Spirit." "Spirit. hatred. and who do their deeds of passion. and she laid the cloth. "Because it needs it most." said Scrooge. and they went on. second of her daughters. and that he stood beneath a low roof quite as gracefully and like a supernatural creature. while Master Peter . that notwithstanding his gigantic size. "You would deprive them of their means of dining every seventh day." Scrooge promised that he would. often the only day on which they can be said to dine at all. assisted by Belinda Cratchit. "Forgive me if I am wrong. and took Scrooge with him." said Scrooge. not us. after a moment's thought. also brave in ribbons." said Scrooge. but brave in ribbons. or at least in that of your family." "Why to a poor one most?" asked Scrooge. dressed out but poorly in a twice-turned gown. he could accommodate himself to any place with ease. and stopped to bless Bob Cratchit's dwelling with the sprinkling of his torch. generous. holding to his robe. Cratchit. and yet the Ghost of Christmas Present blessed his four-roomed house! Then up rose Mrs. invisible. bigotry. "I wonder you." returned the Spirit. for there he went. should desire to cramp these people's opportunities of innocent enjoyment. or else it was his own kind. To a poor one most. It has been done in your name. and charge their doings on themselves. as they had been before. who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin. and his sympathy with all poor men. he pocketed on Saturdays but fifteen copies of his Christian name. "And it comes to the same thing. Think of that! Bob had but fifteen "Bob" a-week himself. into the suburbs of the town. It was a remarkable quality of the Ghost (which Scrooge had observed at the baker's). of all the beings in the many worlds about us. as it was possible he could have done in any lofty hall. and selfishness in our name. And perhaps it was the pleasure the good Spirit had in showing off this power of his. that led him straight to Scrooge's clerk's. as if they had never lived. Remember that.

and had come home rampant. so she came out prematurely from behind the closet door. and bore him off into the wash-house. mother!" "Well! Never mind so long as you are come. "Hurrah! There's such a goose. conferred upon his son and heir in honour of the day) into his mouth. my dear. hide!" So Martha hid herself. hanging down before him. "We'd a deal of work to finish up last night. and known it for their own. and basking in luxurious thoughts of sage and onion. looking round." said Mrs. and have a warm. mother!" said a girl. to look seasonable. he bore a little crutch. while the two young Cratchits hustled Tiny Tim. and his threadbare clothes darned up and brushed. Cratchit. Cratchit. . for he had been Tim's blood horse all the way church. Martha!" "Why. kissing her a dozen times. "Hide. and taking off her shawl and bonnet for her with officious zeal. who were everywhere at once." replied the girl. bless your heart alive. Tiny Tim! And Martha warn't as late last Christmas Day by half-an-hour?" "Here's Martha. my dear." cried the two young Cratchits. Martha. "and had to clear away this morning. Cratchit. rejoiced to find himself so gallantly attired. while he (not proud. and had his limbs supported by an iron frame! "Why. until the slow potatoes bubbling up.Cratchit plunged a fork into the saucepan of potatoes. these young Cratchits danced about the table. screaming that outside the baker's they had smelt the goose. boy and girl. and getting the corners of his monstrous shirt collar (Bob's private property. and Tiny Tim upon his shoulder. and in came little Bob. Cratchit. no! There's father coming. "What has ever got your precious father then?" said Mrs. Alas for Tiny Tim. "And your brother. "Sit ye down before the fire. if it were only in joke. knocked loudly at the saucepan-lid to be let out and peeled. where's our Martha?" cried Bob Cratchit. appearing as she spoke. with at least three feet of comforter exclusive of the fringe. and exalted Master Peter Cratchit to the skies. And now two smaller Cratchits. came tearing in. how late you are!" said Mrs. with a sudden declension in his spirits. mother!" cried the two young Cratchits." said Mrs. the father. and ran into his arms. "Here's Martha. and yearned to show his linen in the fashionable Parks. "Not coming Christmas Day!" Martha didn't like to see him disappointed. "Not high from upon coming!" said Bob. although his collars nearly choked him) blew the fire. "Not coming. Lord bless ye!" "No.

"As good as gold. Cratchit left the room alone--too nervous to bear witnesses--to take the pudding up and bring it in. not forgetting themselves. Somehow he gets thoughtful. they were capable of being made more shabby--compounded some hot mixture in a jug with gin and lemons. Master Peter mashed the potatoes with incredible vigour. but when she did. and while Bob. and grace was said. looking slowly all along the carving-knife. Cratchit said with great delight (surveying one small atom of a bone upon the dish). and when the long expected gush of stuffing issued forth.that he might hear the pudding singing in the copper. the two young Cratchits set chairs for everybody. At last the dishes were set on. and feebly cried Hurrah! There never was such a goose. . and Bob had hugged his daughter to his heart's content. lest they should shriek for goose before their turn came to be helped. Martha dusted the hot plates. and the two ubiquitous young Cratchits went to fetch the goose. crammed spoons into their mouths. Miss Belinda sweetened up the apple-sauce. "And how did little Tim behave?" asked Mrs. they hadn't ate it all at last! Yet every one had had enough. when she had rallied Bob on his credulity. His active little crutch was heard upon the floor. because he was a cripple. Cratchit made the gravy (ready beforehand in a little saucepan) hissing hot. Bob said he didn't believe there ever was such a goose cooked. and trembled more when he said that Tiny Tim was growing strong and hearty. beat on the table with the handle of his knife. Such a bustle ensued that you might have thought a goose the rarest of all birds. size and cheapness. and even Tiny Tim. coming home. and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day. Mrs. poor fellow. as Mrs. and back came Tiny Tim before another word was spoken. and mounting guard upon their posts. turning up his cuffs--as if. Cratchit. indeed. a feathered phenomenon. escorted by his brother and sister to his stool before the fire. Bob took Tiny Tim beside him in a tiny corner at the table. were steeped in sage and onion to the eyebrows! But now. as Mrs. It was succeeded by a breathless pause. prepared to plunge it in the breast. Its tenderness and flavour. who made lame beggars walk. Master Peter. and the youngest Cratchits in particular. Eked out by apple-sauce and mashed potatoes. it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family. were the themes of universal admiration. He told me. with which they soon returned in high procession." said Bob. one murmur of delight arose all round the board. that he hoped the people saw him in the church. excited by the two young Cratchits. to which a black swan was a matter of course--and in truth it was something very like it in that house. and blind men see. Cratchit. the plates being changed by Miss Belinda. "and better. sitting by himself so much." Bob's voice was tremulous when he told them this. and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. Mrs. and stirred it round and round and put it on the hob to simmer.

Everybody had something to say about it. "Spirit. but nobody said or thought it was at all a small pudding for a large family. apples and oranges were put upon the table. as well as golden goblets would have done. and considered perfect. The compound in the jug being tasted. the cloth was cleared. my dears." said Scrooge. in what Bob Cratchit called a circle. Cratchit said that now the weight was off her mind. the hearth swept. "in the poor chimney-corner. the last of all. while the chestnuts on the fire sputtered and cracked noisily. and a custard-cup without a handle. "tell me if Tiny Tim will live. with a laundress's next door to that! That was the pudding! In half a minute Mrs. Mrs. Cratchit since their marriage." replied the Ghost. A smell like a washing-day! That was the cloth. "God bless us every one!" said Tiny Tim. and a crutch without an owner. These held the hot stuff from the jug. that he regarded it as the greatest success achieved by Mrs. a wonderful pudding! Bob Cratchit said. Cratchit entered--flushed. If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future. meaning half a one. Oh. Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper. At last the dinner was all done. however. she would confess she had had her doubts about the quantity of flour. carefully preserved. A smell like an eating-house and a pastrycook's next door to each other. God bless us!" Which all the family re-echoed. He sat very close to his father's side upon his little stool. and a shovel-full of chestnuts on the fire. and Bob served it out with beaming looks. Any Cratchit would have blushed to hint at such a thing. but smiling proudly--with the pudding. and dreaded that he might be taken from him. Then all the Cratchit family drew round the hearth." "I see a vacant seat. the child will die. It would have been flat heresy to do so. like a speckled cannon-ball." . and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top. with an interest he had never felt before. Two tumblers.Suppose it should not be done enough! Suppose it should break in turning out! Suppose somebody should have got over the wall of the back-yard. so hard and firm. Then Bob proposed: "A Merry Christmas to us all. and stolen it. Bob held his withered little hand in his. and calmly too. and the fire made up. and at Bob Cratchit's elbow stood the family display of glass. and wished to keep him by his side. as if he loved the child. blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy. while they were merry with the goose--a supposition at which the two young Cratchits became livid! All sorts of horrors were supposed.

" "My dear. "Christmas Day. Tiny Tim drank it last of all. forbear that wicked cant until you have discovered What the surplus is." said Bob. Bob Cratchit told them how he had a situation in his eye for Master Peter. not adamant. full five-and-sixpence weekly. I have no doubt!" The children drank the toast after her. Scrooge. "Oh. as if he were deliberating what particular . What then? If he be like to die. "on which one drinks the health of such an odious. he had better do it. "the children! Christmas Day. It was the first of their proceedings which had no heartiness. "Man. if obtained. and was overcome with penitence and grief. and Where it is." was Bob's mild answer. I'd give him a piece of my mind to feast upon. none other of my race. The mention of his name cast a dark shadow on the party. Oh God! to hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust!" Scrooge bent before the Ghost's rebuke. "I wish I had him here. you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man's child. kind Spirit! say he will be spared. no." "I'll drink his health for your sake and the Day's. unfeeling man as Mr. and Peter himself looked thoughtfully at the fire from between his collars. no. and I hope he'd have a good appetite for it." "It should be Christmas Day. from the mere relief of Scrooge the Baleful being done with. that in the sight of Heaven. the Founder of the Feast!" "The Founder of the Feast indeed!" cried Mrs." returned the Ghost. they were ten times merrier than before. hard. Scrooge!" said Bob. Scrooge."No." said Scrooge. You know he is. The two young Cratchits laughed tremendously at the idea of Peter's being a man of business. Long life to him! A merry Christmas and a happy new year! He'll be very merry and very happy. I am sure. reddening." said the Ghost. "I'll give you Mr. which would bring in. "not for his. But he raised them speedily. "Mr. and decrease the surplus population. which was not dispelled for full five minutes. stingy. poor fellow!" "My dear." "If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future. on hearing his own name. After it had passed away. Cratchit. "will find him here. and trembling cast his eyes upon the ground. but he didn't care twopence for it." said she." said Mrs." Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted by the Spirit. Scrooge was the Ogre of the family. Robert! Nobody knows it better than you do. what men shall die? It may be. Cratchit. "if man you be in heart. Will you decide what men shall live.

uncles. and looked happier yet in the bright sprinklings of the Spirit's torch at parting. were shadows on the window-blind of guests assembling.investments he should favour when he came into the receipt of that bewildering income. All this time the chestnuts and the jug went round and round. was wonderful. and especially on Tiny Tim. who had a plaintive little voice. and snowing pretty heavily. and there a group of handsome girls. and how the lord "was much about as tall as Peter." at which Peter pulled up his collars so high that you couldn't have seen his head if you had been there. again. their clothes were scanty. Scrooge had his eye upon them. Here. . its bright and harmless mirth on everything within its reach! The very lamplighter. grateful. without a word of warning from the Ghost. and by-and-bye they had a song. as though it were the burial-place of giants. and how many hours she worked at a stretch. laughed out loudly as the Spirit passed. Martha. By this time it was getting dark. where monstrous masses of rude stone were cast about. and very likely did. from Tiny Tim. There all the children of the house were running out into the snow to meet their married sisters. with a generous hand. and contented with the time. They were not a handsome family. then told them what kind of work she had to do. with hot plates baking through and through before the fire. and Peter might have known. and piling up its fires half-chimney high. and who was dressed to spend the evening somewhere. aunts. their shoes were far from being water-proof. outpouring. brothers. the brightness of the roaring fires in kitchens. dotting the dusky street with specks of light. well they knew it--in a glow! But. parlours. about a lost child travelling in the snow. they were not well dressed. to-morrow being a holiday she passed at home. and coarse rank grass. and all chattering at once. pleased with one another. or would have done so. Blessings on it. and be the first to greet them. who was a poor apprentice at a milliner's. until the last. but for the frost that held it prisoner. how the Ghost exulted! How it bared its breadth of breast. There was nothing of high mark in this. and opened its capacious palm. who ran on before. they stood upon a bleak and desert moor. though little kenned the lamplighter that he had any company but Christmas! And now. the inside of a pawnbroker's. and floated on. Here. and deep red curtains. if you had judged from the numbers of people on their way to friendly gatherings. instead of every house expecting company. you might have thought that no one was at home to give them welcome when they got there. the flickering of the blaze showed preparations for a cosy dinner. and when they faded. woe upon the single man who saw them enter--artful witches. Also how she had seen a countess and a lord some days before. tripped lightly off to some near neighbour's house. But. where. ready to be drawn to shut out cold and darkness. and water spread itself wheresoever it listed. and nothing grew but moss and furze. they were happy. and sang it very well indeed. cousins. and all sorts of rooms. and how she meant to lie abed to-morrow morning for a good long rest. all hooded and fur-booted. and as Scrooge and the Spirit went along the streets.

The old man. or had a Christmas thought.Down in the west the setting sun had left a streak of fiery red. See!" A light shone from the window of a hut. which glared upon the desolation for an instant. two men who watched the light had made a fire. there stood a solitary lighthouse. he saw the last of the land. Again the Ghost sped on. was lost in the thick gloom of darkest night. So surely as they raised their voices. too. but every man among them hummed a Christmas tune. and frowning lower. like a sullen eye. old man and woman. But even here. dark. 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. some league or so from shore. as the figure-head of an old ship might be: struck up a sturdy song that was like a Gale in itself. like the waves they skimmed. and one of them: the elder. And every man on board. they lighted on a ship. and raged among the dreadful caverns it had worn. or spoke below his breath to his companion of some bygone Christmas Day. lower yet. waking or sleeping. ghostly figures in their several stations. Passing through the wall of mud and stone. "But they know me. and had shared to some extent in its festivities. and his ears were deafened by the thundering of water. and another generation beyond that. the old man got quite blithe and loud. and fiercely tried to undermine the earth. all decked out gaily in their holiday attire. above the black and heaving sea --on. with his face all damaged and scarred with hard weather. a frightful range of rocks. and had remembered those . had had a kinder word for another on that day than on any day in the year. Built upon a dismal reef of sunken rocks. his vigour sank again. The Spirit did not tarry here. Great heaps of sea-weed clung to its base. on which the waters chafed and dashed. behind them. they found a cheerful company assembled round a glowing fire. "What place is this?" asked Scrooge. lower. in a voice that seldom rose above the howling of the wind upon the barren waste. that through the loophole in the thick stone wall shed out a ray of brightness on the awful sea. they wished each other Merry Christmas in their can of grog. the officers who had the watch. from any shore. as it rolled and roared. Joining their horny hands over the rough table at which they sat. on--until. They stood beside the helmsman at the wheel. as sea-weed of the water--rose and fell about it. To Scrooge's horror. and storm-birds --born of the wind one might suppose. and swiftly they advanced towards it. with homeward hopes belonging to it. the wild year through. who labour in the bowels of the earth." returned the Spirit. with their children and their children's children. as he told Scrooge. "A place where Miners live. and so surely as they stopped. sped--whither? Not to sea? To sea. An old. but bade Scrooge hold his robe. the look-out in the bow. looking back. good or bad. and passing on above the moor. being far away.

"At least you always tell me so. ha!" If you should happen. that seemed made to be kissed--as no doubt it was. that melted into one another when she laughed. "He believed it too!" "More shame for him. Introduce him to me. too. even-handed. He don't make himself comfortable with it. She was very pretty: exceedingly pretty. It is a fair. indignantly. capital face. ha. Oh. ha! Ha. that while there is infection in disease and sorrow. ha!--that he is ever going to benefit US with it. and twisting his face into the most extravagant contortions: Scrooge's niece. "Ha. to hear a hearty laugh. ha!" laughed Scrooge's nephew. and I'll cultivate his acquaintance. while thus engaged. they never do anything by halves. a ripe little mouth. and I have nothing to say against him. I should like to know him too. "that's the truth: and not so pleasant as he might be. and had known that they delighted to remember him. "Ha. but satisfactory. With a dimpled. and looking at that same nephew with approving affability! "Ha. noble adjustment of things. as I live!" cried Scrooge's nephew. by any unlikely chance. When Scrooge's nephew laughed in this way: holding his sides. by marriage. Fred. and thinking what a solemn thing it was to move on through the lonely darkness over an unknown abyss. while listening to the moaning of the wind. surprised-looking. It was a much greater surprise to Scrooge to recognise it as his own nephew's and to find himself in a bright. there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good-humour. It was a great surprise to Scrooge. He hasn't the satisfaction of thinking--ha." "What of that. whose depths were secrets as profound as Death: it was a great surprise to Scrooge. and the sunniest pair of eyes you ever saw in any little creature's head. my dear!" said Scrooge's nephew. perfectly satisfactory. all I can say is. And their assembled friends being not a bit behindhand. gleaming room. his offences carry their own punishment. laughed as heartily as he. ha. to know a man more blest in a laugh than Scrooge's nephew. rolling his head. all kinds of good little dots about her chin. Altogether she was what you would have called provoking. dry. ha!" "He said that Christmas was a humbug." "I'm sure he is very rich.he cared for at a distance. They are always in earnest. you know. Bless those women." . Fred!" said Scrooge's niece. He don't do any good with it. "His wealth is of no use to him. ha. roared out lustily. "He's a comical old fellow." said Scrooge's nephew." hinted Scrooge's niece. with the Spirit standing smiling by his side. However. ha.

his example was unanimously followed. or get red in the face . "that the consequence of his taking a dislike to us." observed Scrooge's niece. Topper?" Topper had clearly got his eye upon one of Scrooge's niece's sisters. in good temper. After tea. by lamplight. they had some music. whether he likes it or not. I mean to give him the same chance every year. I think he loses a very good dinner. so that they laughed at any rate. I have!" said Scrooge's nephew." interrupted Scrooge's niece. I am sure he loses pleasanter companions than he can find in his own thoughts." "Indeed. and saying Uncle Scrooge. "I am sorry for him. I can assure you: especially Topper. he takes it into his head to dislike us. which could do him no harm. and I think I shook him yesterday. and never swell the large veins in his forehead. "because I haven't great faith in these young housekeepers. "He never finishes what he begins to say! He is such a ridiculous fellow!" Scrooge's nephew revelled in another laugh. Scrooge's niece's sisters." said Scrooge's nephew. year after year. Everybody else said the same. with the dessert upon the table. clapping her hands. and passed the bottle joyously. and as it was impossible to keep the infection off. and not much caring what they laughed at. Fred." said Scrooge's nephew. or his dusty chambers. and knew what they were about. were clustered round the fire. Here. that's something. Who suffers by his ill whims! Himself. What's the consequence? He don't lose much of a dinner. and all the other ladies. and they must be allowed to have been competent judges. is. For they were a musical family. for he answered that a bachelor was a wretched outcast. and." said Scrooge's niece. and not making merry with us. "Well! I'm very glad to hear it. "Do go on. for I pity him. when they sung a Glee or Catch. though the plump sister tried hard to do it with aromatic vinegar. "Oh."I have no patience with him. and he won't come and dine with us. always. how are you? If it only puts him in the vein to leave his poor clerk fifty pounds. he encouraged them in their merriment. What do you say. But being thoroughly good-natured. as I think. He may rail at Christmas till he dies." It was their turn to laugh now at the notion of his shaking Scrooge. who could growl away in the bass like a good one. either in his mouldy old office. that he loses some pleasant moments. expressed the same opinion. Whereat Scrooge's niece's sister--the plump one with the lace tucker: not the one with the roses--blushed. who had no right to express an opinion on the subject. because they had just had dinner. but he can't help thinking better of it--I defy him--if he finds me going there. I couldn't be angry with him if I tried. "I was only going to say.

He wouldn't catch anybody else. and further to assure himself of her identity by pressing a certain ring upon her finger. smothering himself among the curtains. tumbling over the chairs. as he had been reminded by the Ghost of Christmas Past. years ago. But when at last. wherever she went. was vile. warranted not to cut in the eye. that it was a done thing between him and Scrooge's nephew. blunt as he took it in his head to be. for it is good to be children sometimes. Of course there was. was not sharper than Scrooge. for the sharpest needle. in a snug corner. best Whitechapel. and her rapid flutterings past him. then his conduct was the most execrable. Knocking down the fire-irons. and would instantly have sidled off in the direction of the plump sister. without resorting to the sexton's spade that buried Jacob Marley. came upon his mind. and a certain chain about her neck. She often cried out that it wasn't fair. If you had fallen up against him (as some of them did). for wholly forgetting in the interest he had in what was going on. on purpose. When this strain of music sounded. too. when. young and old. and to the secret joy of Scrooge's nephew. his pretending that it was necessary to touch her head-dress. but was made comfortable with a large chair and a footstool. My opinion is. in spite of all her silken rustlings. that his voice made no sound in their ears. was an outrage on the credulity of human nature. he would have made a feint of endeavouring to seize you. behind the curtains. she was very great. he softened more and more. But she joined in the forfeits. Scrooge's niece played well upon the harp. where the Ghost and Scrooge were close behind her. they were so very confidential together. and that the Ghost of Christmas Present knew it. For his pretending not to know her. monstrous! No doubt she told him her opinion of it. which would have been an affront to your understanding. Stop! There was first a game at blind-man's buff. when. and very often guessed quite right. and played among other tunes a simple little air (a mere nothing: you might learn to whistle it in two minutes). . And I no more believe Topper was really blind than I believe he had eyes in his boots. When. The way he went after that plump sister in the lace tucker. he got her into a corner whence there was no escape. he caught her. but they all played. bumping against the piano. and it really was not. Scrooge's niece was not one of the blind-man's buff party. which had been familiar to the child who fetched Scrooge from the boarding-school. when its mighty Founder was a child himself.over it. and thought that if he could have listened to it often. and Where. another blind-man being in office. There might have been twenty people there. there went he! He always knew where the plump sister was. Likewise at the game of How. After a while they played at forfeits. But they didn't devote the whole evening to music. he might have cultivated the kindnesses of life for his own happiness with his own hands. and loved her love to admiration with all the letters of the alphabet. all the things that Ghost had shown him. beat her sisters hollow: though they were sharp girls too. and never better than at Christmas. he sometimes came out with his guess quite loud. and so did Scrooge. as Topper could have told you.

Here is a glass of mulled wine ready to our hand at the moment. The brisk fire of questioning to which he was exposed. "He has given us plenty of merriment. and thanked them in an inaudible speech. that he begged like a boy to be allowed to stay until the guests departed. or a cow. But the whole scene passed off in the breath of the last word spoken by his nephew. and wasn't made a show of. Much they saw.The Ghost was greatly pleased to find him in this mood. or a bear. At every fresh question that was put to him. a live animal. that he was obliged to get up off the sofa and stamp. or a tiger. and walked about the streets. though some objected that the reply to "Is it a bear?" ought to have been "Yes. At last the plump sister. elicited from him that he was thinking of an animal. and wasn't led by anybody. only one!" It was a Game called Yes and No. "One half hour. or a cat. a savage animal. and he and the Spirit were again upon their travels. Spirit. but may he have it. but always with a happy end." inasmuch as an answer in the negative was sufficient to have diverted their thoughts from Mr. or an ass. supposing they had ever had any tendency that way. and talked sometimes. "He wouldn't take it from me. Admiration was the universal sentiment. this nephew burst into a fresh roar of laughter. or a pig. cried out: "I have found it out! I know what it is. "It's your Uncle Scro-o-o-o-oge!" Which it certainly was. and was not a horse. Scrooge. But this the Spirit said could not be done. rather a disagreeable animal. as the case was. an animal that growled and grunted sometimes. and was so inexpressibly tickled. whatever he is!" said Scrooge's nephew. and lived in London. that he would have pledged the unconscious company in return." said Fred. falling into a similar state. and didn't live in a menagerie. The Spirit stood . 'Uncle Scrooge!'" "Well! Uncle Scrooge!" they cried. Uncle Scrooge!" Uncle Scrooge had imperceptibly become so gay and light of heart. or a dog. and was never killed in a market. "and it would be ungrateful not to drink his health. and looked upon him with such favour. "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to the old man. nevertheless. and far they went. and the rest must find out what. he only answering to their questions yes or no." said Scrooge. where Scrooge's nephew had to think of something. "Here is a new game. if the Ghost had given him time. Fred! I know what it is!" "What is it?" cried Fred. or a bull. and I say. I am sure. and many homes they visited.

hideous. if it were only a night. the Ghost grew older. Where graceful youth should have filled their features out. Man! look here. ragged. wretched. Look. They were a boy and girl." said Scrooge. he left his blessing.beside sick beds. appalled. wolfish. when. but prostrate. too. "Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask. like that of age. he tried to say they were fine children. Where angels might have sat enthroned. down here!" exclaimed the Ghost. It was strange." "To-night!" cried Scrooge. a stale and shrivelled hand. and touched them with its freshest tints. on foreign lands. Hark! The time is drawing near. Having them shown to him in this way. rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude. and barred the Spirit out. in any grade. "Oh. he noticed that its hair was grey. for the flesh there is upon it. by struggling men. and twisted them. but never spoke of it. and taught Scrooge his precepts. had pinched. and pulled them into shreds. Scrooge had observed this change." was the Spirit's sorrowful reply. looking at the Spirit as they stood together in an open place. "but I see something strange. frightful. clearly older. "It ends to-night. scowling. by poverty." replied the Ghost. and they were cheerful. too. and they were patient in their greater hope. look." The chimes were ringing the three quarters past eleven at that moment. devils lurked. no perversion of humanity. and not belonging to yourself. Scrooge started back. and they were close at home. Is it a foot or a claw?" "It might be a claw. and jail. "To-night at midnight. has monsters half so horrible and dread." From the foldings of its robe. hospital. It was a long night. and glared out menacing. and it was rich. In almshouse. is very brief. . because the Christmas Holidays appeared to be condensed into the space of time they passed together. miserable. until they left a children's Twelfth Night party. No change. no degradation. in misery's every refuge. in their humility. Yellow. but Scrooge had his doubts of this. through all the mysteries of wonderful creation. but the words choked themselves. They knelt down at its feet. that while Scrooge remained unaltered in his outward form. "Look here. it brought two children. abject. protruding from your skirts. looking intently at the Spirit's robe. and clung upon the outside of its garment. where vain man in his little brief authority had not made fast the door. meagre. "My life upon this globe. "Are spirits' lives so short?" asked Scrooge.

He knew no more. for on his brow I see that written which is Doom." said the Spirit. When it came near him. It was shrouded in a deep black garment. gravely. but most of all beware this boy. and make it worse. coming. "You are about to show me shadows of the things that have not happened. STAVE IV: THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS THE Phantom slowly. The Spirit answered not. silently. "Are there no prisons?" said the Spirit. but will happen in the time before us. He felt that it was tall and stately when it came beside him. as if the Spirit had inclined its head. As the last stroke ceased to vibrate. and lifting up his eyes. "They are Man's. draped and hooded. This boy is Ignorance. "Is that so. but pointed onward with its hand. Scrooge looked about him for the Ghost. approached. Beware them both. "Are there no workhouses?" The bell struck twelve. Spirit?" The upper portion of the garment was contracted for an instant in its folds."Spirit! are they yours?" Scrooge could say no more. This girl is Want." Scrooge pursued. turning on him for the last time with his own words. "Slander those who tell it ye! Admit it for your factious purposes. Although well used to ghostly company by this time. looking down upon them. and separate it from the darkness by which it was surrounded. And bide the end!" "Have they no refuge or resource?" cried Scrooge. towards him. "And they cling to me. and left nothing of it visible save one outstretched hand. Scrooge bent down upon his knee. and that its mysterious presence filled him with a solemn dread. But for this it would have been difficult to detach its figure from the night. for in the very air through which this Spirit moved it seemed to scatter gloom and mystery. and saw it not. its form. which concealed its head. unless the writing be erased. for the Spirit neither spoke nor moved. appealing from their fathers. and all of their degree. he remembered the prediction of old Jacob Marley. Scrooge feared the silent shape so much that his legs trembled . stretching out its hand towards the city. its face. Deny it!" cried the Spirit. beheld a solemn Phantom. like a mist along the ground. That was the only answer he received. "I am in the presence of the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come?" said Scrooge.

The Spirit stopped beside one little knot of business men. "Lead on! The night is waning fast. "I haven't heard.beneath him." "When did he die?" inquired another. on 'Change. in the heart of it. who hurried up and down. I know. Will you not speak to me?" It gave him no reply. could see nothing but a spectral hand and one great heap of black. "I fear you more than any spectre I have seen. and looked at their watches. Spirit!" The Phantom moved away as it had come towards him. and encompass them of its own act. while he. and giving him time to recover. Observing that the hand was pointed to them." "Why. But as I know your purpose is to do me good. and do it with a thankful heart. to know that behind the dusky shroud. as Scrooge had seen them often. for the city rather seemed to spring up about them. I only know he's dead. and chinked the money in their pockets." said a great fat man with a monstrous chin. Scrooge advanced to listen to their talk. and conversed in groups. "I thought he'd never die. But there they were." said the first. But Scrooge was all the worse for this. that shook like the gills of a turkey-cock. there were ghostly eyes intently fixed upon him. It thrilled him with a vague uncertain horror. and trifled thoughtfully with their great gold seals. "I don't know much about it. "What has he done with his money?" asked a red-faced gentleman with a pendulous excrescence on the end of his nose. I am prepared to bear you company. and it is precious time to me. They scarcely seemed to enter the city. as observing his condition. "Lead on!" said Scrooge. The Spirit paused a moment. The hand was pointed straight before them. he thought. which bore him up. what was the matter with him?" asked a third. Scrooge followed in the shadow of its dress. and he found that he could hardly stand when he prepared to follow it. and carried him along. with a yawn. and as I hope to live to be another man from what I was. and so forth. . "Ghost of the Future!" he exclaimed. Lead on. amongst the merchants. though he stretched his own to the utmost. "No." "God knows. I believe. either way. taking a vast quantity of snuff out of a very large snuff-box. "Last night." said the man with the large chin.

You're not a skater. That was their meeting. to whom he could apply them. They could scarcely be supposed to have any bearing on the death of Jacob. I'm not at all sure that I wasn't his most particular friend. that is. after all. for that was Past." This pleasantry was received with a general laugh. he set himself to consider what it was likely to be. "Well!" said the first. Scrooge listened again. isn't it?" "Seasonable for Christmas time. Something else to think of. and of great importance. Good morning!" Not another word. but feeling assured that they must have some hidden purpose." returned the second. Its finger pointed to two persons meeting. "for I never wear black gloves. I am the most disinterested among you. and mixed with other groups. He had made a point always of standing well in their esteem: in a business point of view. and this Ghost's province was the Future. Suppose we make up a party and volunteer?" "I don't mind going if a lunch is provided. for we used to stop and speak whenever we met." said the first speaker. "Old Scratch has got his own at last. That's all I know." observed the gentleman with the excrescence on his nose. Scrooge was at first inclined to be surprised that the Spirit should attach importance to conversations apparently so trivial. Nor could he think of any one immediately connected with himself. also. perhaps. He knew these men. "Left it to his company. I suppose?" "No.yawning again. "How are you?" returned the other." Another laugh. perfectly. Bye. hey?" "So I am told. When I come to think of it. "But I must be fed. "Well. The Phantom glided on into a street. if I make one. "It's likely to be a very cheap funeral. No. But nothing doubting that to whomsoever they . strictly in a business point of view. "Cold. "for upon my life I don't know of anybody to go to it. He hasn't left it to me. thinking that the explanation might lie here. They were men of business: very wealthy. his old partner. and I never eat lunch. Scrooge knew the men. and their parting. and looked towards the Spirit for an explanation." said the same speaker. if anybody else will. their conversation. bye!" Speakers and listeners strolled away. But I'll offer to go. "How are you?" said one.

applied they had some latent moral for his own improvement, he resolved to treasure up every word he heard, and everything he saw; and especially to observe the shadow of himself when it appeared. For he had an expectation that the conduct of his future self would give him the clue he missed, and would render the solution of these riddles easy. He looked about in that very place for his own image; but another man stood in his accustomed corner, and though the clock pointed to his usual time of day for being there, he saw no likeness of himself among the multitudes that poured in through the Porch. It gave him little surprise, however; for he had been revolving in his mind a change of life, and thought and hoped he saw his new-born resolutions carried out in this. Quiet and dark, beside him stood the Phantom, with its outstretched hand. When he roused himself from his thoughtful quest, he fancied from the turn of the hand, and its situation in reference to himself, that the Unseen Eyes were looking at him keenly. It made him shudder, and feel very cold. They left the busy scene, and went into an obscure part of the town, where Scrooge had never penetrated before, although he recognised its situation, and its bad repute. The ways were foul and narrow; the shops and houses wretched; the people half-naked, drunken, slipshod, ugly. Alleys and archways, like so many cesspools, disgorged their offences of smell, and dirt, and life, upon the straggling streets; and the whole quarter reeked with crime, with filth, and misery. Far in this den of infamous resort, there was a low-browed, beetling shop, below a pent-house roof, where iron, old rags, bottles, bones, and greasy offal, were bought. Upon the floor within, were piled up heaps of rusty keys, nails, chains, hinges, files, scales, weights, and refuse iron of all kinds. Secrets that few would like to scrutinise were bred and hidden in mountains of unseemly rags, masses of corrupted fat, and sepulchres of bones. Sitting in among the wares he dealt in, by a charcoal stove, made of old bricks, was a grey-haired rascal, nearly seventy years of age; who had screened himself from the cold air without, by a frousy curtaining of miscellaneous tatters, hung upon a line; and smoked his pipe in all the luxury of calm retirement. Scrooge and the Phantom came into the presence of this man, just as a woman with a heavy bundle slunk into the shop. But she had scarcely entered, when another woman, similarly laden, came in too; and she was closely followed by a man in faded black, who was no less startled by the sight of them, than they had been upon the recognition of each other. After a short period of blank astonishment, in which the old man with the pipe had joined them, they all three burst into a laugh. "Let the charwoman alone to be the first!" cried she who had entered first. "Let the laundress alone to be the second; and let the undertaker's man alone to be the third. Look here, old Joe, here's a chance! If we haven't all three met

here without meaning it!" "You couldn't have met in a better place," said old Joe, removing his pipe from his mouth. "Come into the parlour. You were made free of it long ago, you know; and the other two an't strangers. Stop till I shut the door of the shop. Ah! How it skreeks! There an't such a rusty bit of metal in the place as its own hinges, I believe; and I'm sure there's no such old bones here, as mine. Ha, ha! We're all suitable to our calling, we're well matched. Come into the parlour. Come into the parlour." The parlour was the space behind the screen of rags. The old man raked the fire together with an old stair-rod, and having trimmed his smoky lamp (for it was night), with the stem of his pipe, put it in his mouth again. While he did this, the woman who had already spoken threw her bundle on the floor, and sat down in a flaunting manner on a stool; crossing her elbows on her knees, and looking with a bold defiance at the other two. "What odds then! What odds, Mrs. Dilber?" said the woman. "Every person has a right to take care of themselves. He always did." "That's true, indeed!" said the laundress. "No man more so." "Why then, don't stand staring as if you was afraid, woman; who's the wiser? We're not going to pick holes in each other's coats, I suppose?" "No, indeed!" said Mrs. Dilber and the man together. "We should hope not." "Very well, then!" cried the woman. "That's enough. Who's the worse for the loss of a few things like these? Not a dead man, I suppose." "No, indeed," said Mrs. Dilber, laughing. "If he wanted to keep 'em after he was dead, a wicked old screw," pursued the woman, "why wasn't he natural in his lifetime? If he had been, he'd have had somebody to look after him when he was struck with Death, instead of lying gasping out his last there, alone by himself." "It's the truest word that ever was spoke," said Mrs. Dilber. "It's a judgment on him." "I wish it was a little heavier judgment," replied the woman; "and it should have been, you may depend upon it, if I could have laid my hands on anything else. Open that bundle, old Joe, and let me know the value of it. Speak out plain. I'm not afraid to be the first, nor afraid for them to see it. We know pretty well that we were helping ourselves, before we met here, I believe. It's no sin. Open the bundle, Joe." But the gallantry of her friends would not allow of this;

and the man in faded black, mounting the breach first, produced his plunder. It was not extensive. A seal or two, a pencil-case, a pair of sleeve-buttons, and a brooch of no great value, were all. They were severally examined and appraised by old Joe, who chalked the sums he was disposed to give for each, upon the wall, and added them up into a total when he found there was nothing more to come. "That's your account," said Joe, "and I wouldn't give another sixpence, if I was to be boiled for not doing it. Who's next?" Mrs. Dilber was next. Sheets and towels, a little wearing apparel, two old-fashioned silver teaspoons, a pair of sugar-tongs, and a few boots. Her account was stated on the wall in the same manner. "I always give too much to ladies. It's a weakness of mine, and that's the way I ruin myself," said old Joe. "That's your account. If you asked me for another penny, and made it an open question, I'd repent of being so liberal and knock off half-a-crown." "And now undo my bundle, Joe," said the first woman. Joe went down on his knees for the greater convenience of opening it, and having unfastened a great many knots, dragged out a large and heavy roll of some dark stuff. "What do you call this?" said Joe. "Bed-curtains!" "Ah!" returned the woman, laughing and leaning forward on her crossed arms. "Bed-curtains!" "You don't mean to say you took 'em down, rings and all, with him lying there?" said Joe. "Yes I do," replied the woman. "Why not?" "You were born to make your fortune," said Joe, "and you'll certainly do it." "I certainly shan't hold my hand, when I can get anything in it by reaching it out, for the sake of such a man as He was, I promise you, Joe," returned the woman coolly. "Don't drop that oil upon the blankets, now." "His blankets?" asked Joe. "Whose else's do you think?" replied the woman. "He isn't likely to take cold without 'em, I dare say." "I hope he didn't die of anything catching? Eh?" said old Joe, stopping in his work, and looking up. "Don't you be afraid of that," returned the woman. "I an't so fond of his company that I'd loiter about him for such things, if he did. Ah! you may look through that shirt till your eyes ache; but you won't find a hole in it, nor a threadbare place. It's the best he had, and a fine one too. They'd have wasted it, if it hadn't been for me."

too dark to be observed with any accuracy. but that the hand WAS open. uncared for. A pale light. "Ha. "This is the end of it. I see. or make one feature odious. the heart brave. As they sat grouped about their spoil. unwept."What do you call wasting of it?" asked old Joe." Scrooge listened to this dialogue in horror. uncurtained bed: on which. Its steady hand was pointed to the head. it is not that the heart and pulse are still. ha!" "Spirit!" said Scrooge. though it was dumb. revered. when old Joe. set up thine altar here. and the pulse a man's. was the body of this man. and tender. and dress it with such terrors as thou hast at thy command: for this is thy dominion! But of the loved. "Somebody was fool enough to do it. which could hardly have been greater. to sow the world with life immortal! No voice pronounced these words in Scrooge's ears. My life tends that way. the motion of a finger upon Scrooge's part. He thought of it. warm. cold. though Scrooge glanced round it in obedience to a secret impulse. rigid. marketing the corpse itself. and true. for the scene had changed. Shadow. it isn't good enough for anything. now. would have disclosed the face. ha. shuddering from head to foot. Oh cold. and now he almost touched a bed: a bare. ha!" laughed the same woman. and longed to do it. The case of this unhappy man might be my own. producing a flannel bag with money in it. in the scanty light afforded by the old man's lamp. strike! And see his good deeds springing from the wound. to profit us when he was dead! Ha. thou canst not turn one hair to thy dread purposes. It is not that the hand is heavy and will fall down when released. "I see. but had no more power to withdraw the veil than to dismiss the spectre at his side. felt how easy it would be to do. unwatched. Strike. generous. told out their several gains upon the ground. "Putting it on him to be buried in." replied the woman with a laugh. fell straight upon the bed. Merciful Heaven. there lay a something covered up. He can't look uglier than he did in that one. though they had been obscene demons. and honoured head. he viewed them with a detestation and disgust. If calico an't good enough for such a purpose. The room was very dark. plundered and bereft. It's quite as becoming to the body. you see! He frightened every one away from him when he was alive. which. dreadful Death. rising in the outer air. and . to be sure. announced itself in awful language. anxious to know what kind of room it was. what is this!" He recoiled in terror. beneath a ragged sheet. Scrooge glanced towards the Phantom. and on it. The cover was so carelessly adjusted that the slightest raising of it. but I took it off again.

and with anxious eagerness. "show that person to me. like a wing. but in vain." he answered. a kind of serious delight of which he felt ashamed. if this man could be raised up now. looked out from the window. and there was a sound of gnawing rats beneath the hearth-stone.yet he heard them when he looked upon the bed." . and which he struggled to repress. There was a remarkable expression in it now. "If there is any person in the town. with not a man. Caroline. and why they were so restless and disturbed. though he was young. A cat was tearing at the door." she said. At length the long-expected knock was heard." "If he relents. truly! He lay. and when she asked him faintly what news (which was not until after a long silence). griping cares? They have brought him to a rich end." said Scrooge quite agonised. "Spirit!" he said. glanced at the clock. Spirit. to say that he was kind to me in this or that. revealed a room by daylight. What they wanted in the room of death. I shall not leave its lesson. But I have not the power. a man whose face was careworn and depressed. "I understand you. amazed. "Is it good?" she said. I beseech you!" The Phantom spread its dark robe before him for a moment." Again it seemed to look upon him. he appeared embarrassed how to answer. and could hardly bear the voices of the children in their play. "there is! Nothing is past hope. to work with her needle. tried. Spirit." Scrooge returned. trust me. Scrooge did not dare to think. He thought. "We are quite ruined?" "No. where a mother and her children were. started at every sound. and met her husband. what would be his foremost thoughts? Avarice. for she walked up and down the room. She was expecting some one. In leaving it. "this is a fearful place. who feels emotion caused by this man's death. if I could. hard-dealing. She hurried to the door. if such a miracle has happened. He sat down to the dinner that had been hoarding for him by the fire. a woman. There is hope yet. "Bad. "and I would do it. I have not the power. Let us go!" Still the Ghost pointed with an unmoved finger to the head. in the dark empty house. or a child. and for the memory of one kind word I will be kind to him. "or bad?"--to help him. and withdrawing it.

hushed and clustered round to hear what they so little understood." she said. who had a book before him. their hearts were lighter. and put her hand up to her face. "The colour hurts my eyes. with clasped hands. poor Tiny Tim! "They're better now again. The children's faces. but dying. when I tried to see him and obtain a week's delay. which we left just now. and was sorry. and she said so. were brighter. The boy must have read them out. and even though we were not." The Ghost conducted him through several streets familiar to his feet. Why did he not go on? The mother laid her work upon the table. "or that dark chamber. The mother and her daughters were engaged in sewing. and I wouldn't show weak . Quiet. "It makes them weak by candle-light. Spirit. But surely they were very quiet! "'And He took a child. but nowhere was he to be seen. "What the half-drunken woman whom I told you of last night. Very quiet. as he and the Spirit crossed the threshold." said Cratchit's wife. and what I thought was a mere excuse to avoid me. was one of pleasure." said her husband. turns out to have been quite true. and it was a happier house for this man's death! The only emotion that the Ghost could show him. and set him in the midst of them. We may sleep to-night with light hearts. They entered poor Bob Cratchit's house." She was a mild and patient creature if her face spoke truth. will be for ever present to me. She prayed forgiveness the next moment. but she was thankful in her soul to hear it. caused by the event. "He is dead. and sat looking up at Peter." "To whom will our debt be transferred?" "I don't know. The colour? Ah. then. but the first was the emotion of her heart."He is past relenting. and as they went along. Scrooge looked here and there to find himself. Caroline!" Yes. the dwelling he had visited before. said to me. "Let me see some tenderness connected with a death. Soften it as they would. But before that time we shall be ready with the money.'" Where had Scrooge heard those words? He had not dreamed them. it would be a bad fortune indeed to find so merciless a creditor in his successor." said Scrooge. He was not only very ill. The noisy little Cratchits were as still as statues in one corner. and found the mother and the children seated round the fire.

shutting up his book. My little. that it was no trouble: no trouble. very fast indeed. place would cried my dear. Bob told them of the extraordinary kindness of Mr. meeting him in the street that day. He left the room. that only faltered once: "I have known him walk with--I have known him walk with Tiny Tim upon his shoulder. and little Bob in his comforter --he had need of it. They drew about the fire. "On . He looked at the work upon the table. father. and went down again quite happy. "Often. So had all. the girls and mother working still. Don't be grieved!" Bob was very cheerful with them. Cratchit and the girls." said Bob. "But he was very light to carry. and who.eyes to your father when he comes home. and there were signs of some one having been there. I promised him that I walk there on a Sunday." cried Peter. and praised the industry and speed of Mrs. and in a steady. which was lighted cheerfully. "My little child!" He broke down all at once. "But I think he has walked a little slower than he used. At last she said. whom he had scarcely seen but once. There was a chair set close beside the child. Then the two young Cratchits got upon his knees and laid. They would be done long before Sunday. then. He couldn't help it. He was reconciled to what had happened. little child!" Bob. inquired what had happened to distress him. poor fellow--came in. And there is your father at the door!" She hurried out to meet him. he said." returned Bob. "and his father loved him so. these few last evenings. and talked. and they all tried who should help him to it most. mother. Poor Bob sat down in it. "Don't mind it. Robert?" said his wife. Scrooge's nephew. gone. "Yes. His tea was ready for him on the hob. for the world. cheerful voice. he and his child would have been farther apart perhaps than they were. "I wish you could have It would have done you good to see how green a it is. lately. "Sunday! You went to-day." They were very quiet again. against his face. he kissed the little face. each child a little cheek. and when he had thought a little and composed himself. intent upon her work." "And so have I. and spoke pleasantly to all the family. as if they said. and hung with Christmas." she resumed." "Past it rather." exclaimed another. But you'll see it often. and seeing that he looked a little--"just a little down you know." Peter answered. and went up-stairs into the room above. If he could have helped it. It must be near his time." "And so have I.

" said Bob." said Bob." "I'm sure he's a good soul!" said Mrs. and forget poor Tiny Tim in doing it. grinning. I shouldn't be at all surprised-mark what I say!--if he got Peter a better situation." cried one of the girls. giving me his card. how he ever knew that. the two young Cratchits kissed him." said Mrs. But however and whenever we part from one another. his daughters kissed him. he thought: indeed." said Scrooge. though there's plenty of time for that. 'for your good wife. Mr. 'Heartily sorry. although he was a little. Tell me what man that was whom we saw lying dead?" The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come conveyed him. thy childish essence was from God! "Spectre. Cratchit. my dear. Pray come to me.' he said. 'I am heartily sorry for it. that when we recollect how patient and how mild he was." said little Bob." "Get along with you!" retorted Peter. Cratchit." returned Bob. that this was quite delightful. "I know. Peter. I told him." "No. "for the sake of anything he might be able to do for us. so much as for his kind way. my boy!" cried Bob. "You would be surer of it.' Now. "something informs me that our parting moment is at hand. father!" cried they all. and setting up for himself. "And I know.' he said." "Knew what. It really seemed as if he had known our Tiny Tim. that you were a good wife. and felt with us. "And then. "I am very happy. and Peter and himself shook hands." "Only hear that. 'and heartily sorry for your good wife." replied Bob. I don't know. little child. we shall not quarrel easily among ourselves.' he said. "It's just as likely as not. "for he is the pleasantest-spoken gentleman you ever heard. as before--though at a different time. "if you saw and spoke to him. "Everybody knows that!" said Peter. father!" they all cried again. 'that's where I live. "I hope they do. "one of these days. Cratchit. never. but I know not how. I know it. my dear. my dears." cried Bob. I am sure we shall none of us forget poor Tiny Tim--shall we--or this first parting that there was among us?" "Never. "Very well observed. Spirit of Tiny Tim." said Bob. "Peter will be keeping company with some one. my dear?" "Why.which. Cratchit kissed him. If I can be of service to you in any way. there . "I am very happy!" Mrs.' By the bye. it wasn't.

A churchyard. the ends will change. "Am I that man who lay upon the bed?" he cried. Scrooge crept towards it. but not his. as to the end just now desired. I see the house. "Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point. and following the finger. but went straight on. "Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends. and looked in. The Phantom pointed as before. trembling as he went. Let me behold what I shall be." said Scrooge. and wondering why and whither he had gone. but showed him not himself. "This court. Here. "answer me one question. they must lead. Scrooge hastened to the window of his office. the Spirit did not stay for anything." Scrooge exclaimed. until besought by Scrooge to tarry for a moment. EBENEZER SCROOGE. He advanced towards it trembling. Indeed. fat with repleted appetite.seemed no order in these latter visions. "But if the courses be departed from. He joined it once again. to which. The furniture was not the same. and has been for a length of time. A worthy place! The Spirit stood among the graves. in days to come!" The Spirit stopped. Say it is thus with what you show me!" The Spirit was immovable as ever. "Why do you point away?" The inexorable finger underwent no change. save that they were in the Future--into the resorts of business men. the hand was pointed elsewhere. or are they shadows of things that May be. Are these the shadows of the things that Will be. upon his knees. is where my place of occupation is. The Phantom was exactly as it had been. It was a worthy place. He paused to look round before entering. . "The house is yonder. but he dreaded that he saw new meaning in its solemn shape." said Scrooge. lay underneath the ground. not life. only?" Still the Ghost pointed downward to the grave by which it stood." said Scrooge. overrun by grass and weeds. choked up with too much burying. accompanied it until they reached an iron gate. if persevered in. the wretched man whose name he had now to learn. Walled in by houses. the growth of vegetation's death. It was an office still. and pointed down to One. and the figure in the chair was not himself. "through which we hurry now. read upon the stone of the neglected grave his own name. then.

the Present. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!" In his agony. he caught the spectral hand. and back again. and his face was wet with tears. by an altered life!" The kind hand trembled. Oh Jacob Marley! Heaven. He had been sobbing violently in his conflict with the Spirit. "No. "They are not torn down. The bed was his own. the room was his own.The finger pointed from the grave to him. Assure me that I yet may change these shadows you have shown me. rings and all. "they are not torn down. no!" The finger still was there. mislaying them. "hear me! I am not the man I was. and dwindled down into a bedpost. old Jacob. It sought to free itself. repulsed him. the Time before him was his own. that his broken voice would scarcely answer to his call. Spirit! Oh no. "The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me." cried Scrooge. on my knees!" He was so fluttered and so glowing with his good intentions. putting them on upside down. and detained it. They will be. and the Christmas Time be praised for this! I say it on my knees. making them parties to every . I know they will!" His hands were busy with his garments all this time. "I will honour Christmas in my heart. may be dispelled. STAVE V: THE END OF IT YES! and the bedpost was his own. The Spirit. I will live in the Past. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. he saw an alteration in the Phantom's hood and dress. and try to keep it all the year. the Present. and the Future. but he was strong in his entreaty. stronger yet. to make amends in! "I will live in the Past. and pities me. turning them inside out. as he scrambled out of bed. I will not be the man I must have been but for this intercourse. Holding up his hands in a last prayer to have his fate reversed. and the Future!" Scrooge repeated. if I am past all hope!" For the first time the hand appeared to shake. They are here--I am here--the shadows of the things that would have been. tight clutching at its robe. Oh. "Spirit!" he cried. tearing them. Best and happiest of all. as down upon the ground he fell before it: "Your nature intercedes for me. collapsed. folding one of his bed-curtains in his arms." he pursued. "Good Spirit. It shrunk. Why show me this.

Of course they can. bell. "There's the door. dong. I'd rather be a baby. Hallo. hammer. They can do anything they like. glorious. "To-day!" replied the boy." "It's Christmas Day!" said Scrooge to himself. hammer. and was now standing there: perfectly winded. with all his might of wonder. and put out his head. "There's the saucepan that the gruel was in!" cried Scrooge. "Why. Clash. No fog. no mist. it all happened. . clang. it was a splendid laugh. bright. glorious! Glorious! "What's to-day!" cried Scrooge. "What's to-day. ding. I don't care. my fine fellow!" "Hallo!" returned the boy. merry bells. in the next street but one. I am as giddy as a drunken man. "I haven't missed it. my fine fellow?" said Scrooge. "EH?" returned the boy. I don't know anything. The Spirits have done it all in one night. Never mind. Golden sunlight. Ha ha ha!" Really. sweet fresh air. Bell. clang. he opened it. I'm quite a baby. CHRISTMAS DAY. starting off again. dong. Oh. Hallo! Whoop! Hallo here!" He was checked in his transports by the churches ringing out the lustiest peals he had ever heard. and going round the fireplace. ding. I am as merry as a schoolboy. Of course they can. it's all true. laughing and crying in the same breath. and making a perfect Laocooen of himself with his stockings. "I don't know what to do!" cried Scrooge. calling downward to a boy in Sunday clothes. clash! Oh. I am as happy as an angel. jovial. cold. Heavenly sky. stirring. piping for the blood to dance to. at the corner?" Scrooge inquired. by which the Ghost of Jacob Marley entered! There's the corner where the Ghost of Christmas Present. a most illustrious laugh.kind of extravagance. The father of a long. Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!" He had frisked into the sitting-room. "Do you know the Poulterer's. clear. "I am as light as a feather. for a man who had been out of practice for so many years. "I don't know how long I've been among the Spirits. long line of brilliant laughs! "I don't know what day of the month it is!" said Scrooge. A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world. sat! There's the window where I saw the wandering Spirits! It's all right. cold. glorious! Running to the window. who perhaps had loitered in to look about him.

"I shall love it. as long as I live!" cried Scrooge." replied the lad. "A remarkable boy! Do you know whether they've sold the prize Turkey that was hanging up there?--Not the little prize Turkey: the big one?" "What. "What a delightful boy!" said Scrooge. Go and buy it. "Go and buy it. no. "He sha'n't know who sends it. rubbing his hands. like sticks of sealing-wax. but write it he did. Come back with him in less than five minutes and I'll give you half-a-crown!" The boy was off like a shot." said Scrooge. for his hand continued to . "I scarcely ever looked at it before. Yes. What an honest expression it has in its face! It's a wonderful knocker!--Here's the Turkey! Hallo! Whoop! How are you! Merry Christmas!" It was a Turkey! He never could have stood upon his legs. and tell 'em to bring it here. that bird. "An intelligent boy!" said Scrooge. and the chuckle with which he paid for the cab." "Walk-ER!" exclaimed the boy. He would have snapped 'em short off in a minute. It's twice the size of Tiny Tim. "It's a pleasure to talk to him. Joe Miller never made such a joke as sending it to Bob's will be!" The hand in which he wrote the address was not a steady one. "You must have a cab." The chuckle with which he said this. and went down-stairs to open the street door. "I am in earnest. Shaving was not an easy task. somehow. "No."I should hope I did. and I'll give you a shilling." replied the boy. my buck!" "It's hanging there now. and chuckled till he cried. As he stood there. Come back with the man. and the chuckle with which he paid for the Turkey. waiting his arrival. the knocker caught his eye." said Scrooge. were only to be exceeded by the chuckle with which he sat down breathless in his chair again. it's impossible to carry that to Camden Town. the one as big as me?" returned the boy. "Is it?" said Scrooge. He must have had a steady hand at a trigger who could have got a shot off half so fast. "I'll send it to Bob Cratchit's!" whispered Scrooge. ready for the coming of the poulterer's man. and splitting with a laugh. and the chuckle with which he recompensed the boy. that I may give them the direction where to take it. "Why. patting it with his hand.

and questioned beggars." said Scrooge. "My dear Mr. and watched the people hurrying to and fro. "Thank'ee. he would have put a piece of sticking-plaister over it. "Scrooge and Marley's. Will you come and see me?" "I will!" cried the old gentleman. those were the blithest in his ears. "Good morning. In the afternoon he turned his steps towards his nephew's house." and at last got out into the streets." said Scrooge. It was very kind of you. "Come and see me. He had not gone far. He dressed himself "all in his best. Bless you!" He went to church. "Lord bless me!" cried the gentleman. and walked about the streets. when coming on towards him he beheld the portly gentleman. and taking the old gentleman by both his hands. And it was clear he meant to do it. A great many back-payments are included in it. even when you don't dance while you are at it. "That is my name.shake very much. and looked down into the kitchens of houses. Will you do me that favour?" "My dear sir. and walking with his hands behind him. And will you have the goodness"--here Scrooge whispered in his ear. and said. that of all the blithe sounds he had ever heard." said the other. and found that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed that any walk--that anything--could give him so much happiness. and been quite satisfied. Scrooge?" "Yes." said Scrooge. But if he had cut the end of his nose off. The people were by this time pouring forth. Scrooge regarded every one with a delighted smile. "I don't know what to say to such munifi--" "Don't say anything. but he knew what path lay straight before him. and up to the windows. I believe?" It sent a pang across his heart to think how this old gentleman would look upon him when they met. "I am much obliged to you. quickening his pace. that three or four good-humoured fellows said. . and shaving requires attention. who had walked into his counting-house the day before. and I fear it may not be pleasant to you. "My dear sir. and he took it. as he had seen them with the Ghost of Christmas Present. please. I assure you. as if his breath were taken away. "Not a farthing less. in a word." retorted Scrooge." said Scrooge. sir! A merry Christmas to you!" And Scrooge said often afterwards. sir!" "Mr. shaking hands with him. Allow me to ask your pardon. "How do you do? I hope you succeeded yesterday. A merry Christmas to you. Scrooge. He looked so irresistibly pleasant. and patted children on the head. I thank you fifty times. are you serious?" "If you please.

how his niece by marriage started! Scrooge had forgotten. So did Topper when he came. sir. or he wouldn't have done it. if you please. in his accustomed voice. yes. He was on his stool in a jiffy. Wonderful party. and like to see that everything is right. for the moment. Nothing could be heartier. and did it: "Is your master at home. before he opened the door. But he made a dash. along with mistress. his comforter too. "I am behind my time.He passed the door a dozen times. wonderful unanimity. No Bob. They were looking at the table (which was spread out in great array). Scrooge sat with his door wide open. "Why bless my soul!" cried Fred. with his hand already on the dining-room lock. "Hallo!" growled Scrooge. he did! The clock struck nine. sir. as if he were trying to overtake nine o'clock. Your uncle Scrooge." said Scrooge. wonderful games. my dear. as near as he could feign it. "What do you mean by coming here at this time of day?" "I am very sorry." "Thank'ee. If he could only be there first. my dear?" said Scrooge to the girl. He was at home in five minutes. He knows me. and sidled his face in. Oh. he was early there. I'll show you up-stairs. round the door. He was full eighteen minutes and a half behind his time. Fred?" Let him in! It is a mercy he didn't shake his arm off. sir." said Bob. So did the plump sister when she came. And he did it. my love?" said Scrooge. and catch Bob Cratchit coming late! That was the thing he had set his heart upon. His niece looked just the same. for these young housekeepers are always nervous on such points. on any account. driving away with his pen." He turned it gently. "Yes. I have come to dinner. that he might see him come into the Tank." "Where is he. about her sitting in the corner with the footstool. before he had the courage to go up and knock. Nice girl! Very. Will you let me in. "He's in the dining-room. "I'll go in here. "who's that?" "It's I. "Fred!" said Scrooge." . won-der-ful happiness! But he was early at the office next morning. So did every one when they came. A quarter past. No Bob. Dear heart alive. His hat was off.

He became as good a friend. or any other good old city. sir."You are?" repeated Scrooge. and little heeded them. and calling to the people in the court for help and a strait-waistcoat." said Scrooge. if any man alive possessed the knowledge. but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle. he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins. "It shall not be repeated. "and therefore I am about to raise your salary!" Bob trembled. Every One! End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of A Christmas Carol. sir. God bless Us. with an earnestness that could not be mistaken. and to Tiny Tim." pleaded Bob. sir. Bob. Bob!" said Scrooge. that he knew how to keep Christmas well. and buy another coal-scuttle before you dot another i. as the good old city knew. and it was always said of him. ever afterwards. and giving Bob such a dig in the waistcoat that he staggered back into the Tank again. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him. And therefore. by Charles Dickens . town. over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop. "A merry Christmas. May that be truly said of us. holding him. and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway. or borough. and as good a man. appearing from the Tank. "I am not going to stand this sort of thing any longer." "It's only once a year. "Yes. Bob Cratchit!" Scrooge was better than his word. I was making rather merry yesterday. and infinitely more. my friend. as good a master. He had no further intercourse with Spirits. who did NOT die. if you please. for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe. Step this way. and all of us! And so. my good fellow. in the good old world. Bob! Make up the fires. I'll tell you what. "A merrier Christmas. than I have given you. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him. leaping from his stool. for good. he was a second father." he continued. He did it all." "Now. as have the malady in less attractive forms. for many a year! I'll raise your salary. and got a little nearer to the ruler. as he clapped him on the back. as Tiny Tim observed. and endeavour to assist your struggling family. at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset. He had a momentary idea of knocking Scrooge down with it. but he let them laugh. and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon. I think you are.

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