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TheProjectGutenbergEBookofAChristmasCarol,byCharlesDickens

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Title:AChristmasCarol
AGhostStoryofChristmas

Author:CharlesDickens

ReleaseDate:August11,2004[EBook#46]

Language:English

***STARTOFTHISPROJECTGUTENBERGEBOOKACHRISTMASCAROL***

ProducedbyJoseMenendez

ACHRISTMASCAROL

INPROSE
BEING
AGhostStoryofChristmas

byCharlesDickens

PREFACE

IHAVEendeavouredinthisGhostlylittlebook,
toraisetheGhostofanIdea,whichshallnotputmy
readersoutofhumourwiththemselves,witheachother,
withtheseason,orwithme.Mayithaunttheirhouses
pleasantly,andnoonewishtolayit.

TheirfaithfulFriendandServant,
C.D.
December,1843.

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CONTENTS

StaveI:Marley'sGhost
StaveII:TheFirstoftheThreeSpirits
StaveIII:TheSecondoftheThreeSpirits
StaveIV:TheLastoftheSpirits
StaveV:TheEndofIt

STAVEI:MARLEY'SGHOST

MARLEYwasdead:tobeginwith.Thereisnodoubt
whateveraboutthat.Theregisterofhisburialwas
signedbytheclergyman,theclerk,theundertaker,
andthechiefmourner.Scroogesignedit:and
Scrooge'snamewasgoodupon'Change,foranythinghe
chosetoputhishandto.OldMarleywasasdeadasa
doornail.

Mind!Idon'tmeantosaythatIknow,ofmy
ownknowledge,whatthereisparticularlydeadabout
adoornail.Imighthavebeeninclined,myself,to
regardacoffinnailasthedeadestpieceofironmongery
inthetrade.Butthewisdomofourancestors
isinthesimile;andmyunhallowedhands
shallnotdisturbit,ortheCountry'sdonefor.You
willthereforepermitmetorepeat,emphatically,that
Marleywasasdeadasadoornail.

Scroogeknewhewasdead?Ofcoursehedid.
Howcoulditbeotherwise?Scroogeandhewere
partnersforIdon'tknowhowmanyyears.Scrooge
washissoleexecutor,hissoleadministrator,hissole
assign,hissoleresiduarylegatee,hissolefriend,and
solemourner.AndevenScroogewasnotsodreadfully
cutupbythesadevent,butthathewasanexcellent
manofbusinessontheverydayofthefuneral,
andsolemniseditwithanundoubtedbargain.

ThementionofMarley'sfuneralbringsmebackto
thepointIstartedfrom.ThereisnodoubtthatMarley
wasdead.Thismustbedistinctlyunderstood,or
nothingwonderfulcancomeofthestoryIamgoing
torelate.Ifwewerenotperfectlyconvincedthat
Hamlet'sFatherdiedbeforetheplaybegan,there
wouldbenothingmoreremarkableinhistakinga
strollatnight,inaneasterlywind,uponhisownramparts,
thantherewouldbeinanyothermiddleaged
gentlemanrashlyturningoutafterdarkinabreezy
spotsaySaintPaul'sChurchyardforinstance
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literallytoastonishhisson'sweakmind.

ScroogeneverpaintedoutOldMarley'sname.
Thereitstood,yearsafterwards,abovethewarehouse
door:ScroogeandMarley.Thefirmwasknownas
ScroogeandMarley.Sometimespeoplenewtothe
businesscalledScroogeScrooge,andsometimesMarley,
butheansweredtobothnames.Itwasallthe
sametohim.

Oh!Buthewasatightfistedhandatthegrindstone,
Scrooge!asqueezing,wrenching,grasping,scraping,
clutching,covetous,oldsinner!Hardandsharpasflint,
fromwhichnosteelhadeverstruckoutgenerousfire;
secret,andselfcontained,andsolitaryasanoyster.The
coldwithinhimfrozehisoldfeatures,nippedhispointed
nose,shrivelledhischeek,stiffenedhisgait;madehis
eyesred,histhinlipsblue;andspokeoutshrewdlyinhis
gratingvoice.Afrostyrimewasonhishead,andonhis
eyebrows,andhiswirychin.Hecarriedhisownlow
temperaturealwaysaboutwithhim;heicedhisofficein
thedogdays;anddidn'tthawitonedegreeatChristmas.

Externalheatandcoldhadlittleinfluenceon
Scrooge.Nowarmthcouldwarm,nowintryweather
chillhim.Nowindthatblewwasbittererthanhe,
nofallingsnowwasmoreintentuponitspurpose,no
peltingrainlessopentoentreaty.Foulweatherdidn't
knowwheretohavehim.Theheaviestrain,and
snow,andhail,andsleet,couldboastoftheadvantage
overhiminonlyonerespect.Theyoften"camedown"
handsomely,andScroogeneverdid.

Nobodyeverstoppedhiminthestreettosay,with
gladsomelooks,"MydearScrooge,howareyou?
Whenwillyoucometoseeme?"Nobeggarsimplored
himtobestowatrifle,nochildrenaskedhim
whatitwaso'clock,nomanorwomaneveronceinall
hislifeinquiredthewaytosuchandsuchaplace,of
Scrooge.Eventheblindmen'sdogsappearedto
knowhim;andwhentheysawhimcomingon,would
tugtheirownersintodoorwaysandupcourts;and
thenwouldwagtheirtailsasthoughtheysaid,"No
eyeatallisbetterthananevileye,darkmaster!"

ButwhatdidScroogecare!Itwastheverything
heliked.Toedgehiswayalongthecrowdedpaths
oflife,warningallhumansympathytokeepitsdistance,
waswhattheknowingonescall"nuts"toScrooge.

Onceuponatimeofallthegooddaysintheyear,
onChristmasEveoldScroogesatbusyinhis
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countinghouse.Itwascold,bleak,bitingweather:foggy
withal:andhecouldhearthepeopleinthecourtoutside,
gowheezingupanddown,beatingtheirhands
upontheirbreasts,andstampingtheirfeetuponthe
pavementstonestowarmthem.Thecityclockshad
onlyjustgonethree,butitwasquitedarkalready
ithadnotbeenlightalldayandcandleswereflaring
inthewindowsoftheneighbouringoffices,like
ruddysmearsuponthepalpablebrownair.Thefog
camepouringinateverychinkandkeyhole,andwas
sodensewithout,thatalthoughthecourtwasofthe
narrowest,thehousesoppositeweremerephantoms.
Toseethedingycloudcomedroopingdown,obscuring
everything,onemighthavethoughtthatNature
livedhardby,andwasbrewingonalargescale.

ThedoorofScrooge'scountinghousewasopen
thathemightkeephiseyeuponhisclerk,whoina
dismallittlecellbeyond,asortoftank,wascopying
letters.Scroogehadaverysmallfire,buttheclerk's
firewassoverymuchsmallerthatitlookedlikeone
coal.Buthecouldn'treplenishit,forScroogekept
thecoalboxinhisownroom;andsosurelyasthe
clerkcameinwiththeshovel,themasterpredicted
thatitwouldbenecessaryforthemtopart.Wherefore
theclerkputonhiswhitecomforter,andtriedto
warmhimselfatthecandle;inwhicheffort,notbeing
amanofastrongimagination,hefailed.

"AmerryChristmas,uncle!Godsaveyou!"cried
acheerfulvoice.ItwasthevoiceofScrooge's
nephew,whocameuponhimsoquicklythatthiswas
thefirstintimationhehadofhisapproach.

"Bah!"saidScrooge,"Humbug!"

Hehadsoheatedhimselfwithrapidwalkinginthe
fogandfrost,thisnephewofScrooge's,thathewas
allinaglow;hisfacewasruddyandhandsome;his
eyessparkled,andhisbreathsmokedagain.

"Christmasahumbug,uncle!"saidScrooge's
nephew."Youdon'tmeanthat,Iamsure?"

"Ido,"saidScrooge."MerryChristmas!What
righthaveyoutobemerry?Whatreasonhaveyou
tobemerry?You'repoorenough."

"Come,then,"returnedthenephewgaily."What
righthaveyoutobedismal?Whatreasonhaveyou
tobemorose?You'rerichenough."

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Scroogehavingnobetteranswerreadyonthespur
ofthemoment,said,"Bah!"again;andfolloweditup
with"Humbug."

"Don'tbecross,uncle!"saidthenephew.

"WhatelsecanIbe,"returnedtheuncle,"whenI
liveinsuchaworldoffoolsasthis?MerryChristmas!
OutuponmerryChristmas!What'sChristmas
timetoyoubutatimeforpayingbillswithout
money;atimeforfindingyourselfayearolder,but
notanhourricher;atimeforbalancingyourbooks
andhavingeveryitemin'emthrougharounddozen
ofmonthspresenteddeadagainstyou?IfIcould
workmywill,"saidScroogeindignantly,"everyidiot
whogoesaboutwith'MerryChristmas'onhislips,
shouldbeboiledwithhisownpudding,andburied
withastakeofhollythroughhisheart.Heshould!"

"Uncle!"pleadedthenephew.

"Nephew!"returnedtheunclesternly,"keepChristmas
inyourownway,andletmekeepitinmine."

"Keepit!"repeatedScrooge'snephew."Butyou
don'tkeepit."

"Letmeleaveitalone,then,"saidScrooge."Much
goodmayitdoyou!Muchgoodithaseverdone
you!"

"TherearemanythingsfromwhichImighthave
derivedgood,bywhichIhavenotprofited,Idare
say,"returnedthenephew."Christmasamongthe
rest.ButIamsureIhavealwaysthoughtofChristmas
time,whenithascomeroundapartfromthe
venerationduetoitssacrednameandorigin,ifanything
belongingtoitcanbeapartfromthatasa
goodtime;akind,forgiving,charitable,pleasant
time;theonlytimeIknowof,inthelongcalendar
oftheyear,whenmenandwomenseembyoneconsent
toopentheirshutupheartsfreely,andtothink
ofpeoplebelowthemasiftheyreallywere
fellowpassengerstothegrave,andnotanotherrace
ofcreaturesboundonotherjourneys.Andtherefore,
uncle,thoughithasneverputascrapofgoldor
silverinmypocket,Ibelievethatithasdoneme
good,andwilldomegood;andIsay,Godblessit!"

TheclerkintheTankinvoluntarilyapplauded.
Becomingimmediatelysensibleoftheimpropriety,
hepokedthefire,andextinguishedthelastfrailspark
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forever.

"Letmehearanothersoundfromyou,"said
Scrooge,"andyou'llkeepyourChristmasbylosing
yoursituation!You'requiteapowerfulspeaker,
sir,"headded,turningtohisnephew."Iwonderyou
don'tgointoParliament."

"Don'tbeangry,uncle.Come!Dinewithustomorrow."

Scroogesaidthathewouldseehimyes,indeedhe
did.Hewentthewholelengthoftheexpression,
andsaidthathewouldseehiminthatextremityfirst.

"Butwhy?"criedScrooge'snephew."Why?"

"Whydidyougetmarried?"saidScrooge.

"BecauseIfellinlove."

"Becauseyoufellinlove!"growledScrooge,asif
thatweretheonlyonethingintheworldmoreridiculous
thanamerryChristmas."Goodafternoon!"

"Nay,uncle,butyounevercametoseemebefore
thathappened.Whygiveitasareasonfornot
comingnow?"

"Goodafternoon,"saidScrooge.

"Iwantnothingfromyou;Iasknothingofyou;
whycannotwebefriends?"

"Goodafternoon,"saidScrooge.

"Iamsorry,withallmyheart,tofindyouso
resolute.Wehaveneverhadanyquarrel,towhichI
havebeenaparty.ButIhavemadethetrialin
homagetoChristmas,andI'llkeepmyChristmas
humourtothelast.SoAMerryChristmas,uncle!"

"Goodafternoon!"saidScrooge.

"AndAHappyNewYear!"

"Goodafternoon!"saidScrooge.

Hisnephewlefttheroomwithoutanangryword,
notwithstanding.Hestoppedattheouterdoorto
bestowthegreetingsoftheseasonontheclerk,who,
coldashewas,waswarmerthanScrooge;forhereturned
themcordially.
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"There'sanotherfellow,"mutteredScrooge;who
overheardhim:"myclerk,withfifteenshillingsa
week,andawifeandfamily,talkingaboutamerry
Christmas.I'llretiretoBedlam."

Thislunatic,inlettingScrooge'snephewout,had
lettwootherpeoplein.Theywereportlygentlemen,
pleasanttobehold,andnowstood,withtheirhatsoff,
inScrooge'soffice.Theyhadbooksandpapersin
theirhands,andbowedtohim.

"ScroogeandMarley's,Ibelieve,"saidoneofthe
gentlemen,referringtohislist."HaveIthepleasure
ofaddressingMr.Scrooge,orMr.Marley?"

"Mr.Marleyhasbeendeadthesesevenyears,"
Scroogereplied."Hediedsevenyearsago,thisvery
night."

"Wehavenodoubthisliberalityiswellrepresented
byhissurvivingpartner,"saidthegentleman,presenting
hiscredentials.

Itcertainlywas;fortheyhadbeentwokindred
spirits.Attheominousword"liberality,"Scrooge
frowned,andshookhishead,andhandedthecredentials
back.

"Atthisfestiveseasonoftheyear,Mr.Scrooge,"
saidthegentleman,takingupapen,"itismorethan
usuallydesirablethatweshouldmakesomeslight
provisionforthePooranddestitute,whosuffer
greatlyatthepresenttime.Manythousandsarein
wantofcommonnecessaries;hundredsofthousands
areinwantofcommoncomforts,sir."

"Aretherenoprisons?"askedScrooge.

"Plentyofprisons,"saidthegentleman,layingdown
thepenagain.

"AndtheUnionworkhouses?"demandedScrooge.
"Aretheystillinoperation?"

"Theyare.Still,"returnedthegentleman,"Iwish
Icouldsaytheywerenot."

"TheTreadmillandthePoorLawareinfullvigour,
then?"saidScrooge.

"Bothverybusy,sir."
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"Oh!Iwasafraid,fromwhatyousaidatfirst,
thatsomethinghadoccurredtostopthemintheir
usefulcourse,"saidScrooge."I'mverygladto
hearit."

"Undertheimpressionthattheyscarcelyfurnish
Christiancheerofmindorbodytothemultitude,"
returnedthegentleman,"afewofusareendeavouring
toraiseafundtobuythePoorsomemeatanddrink,
andmeansofwarmth.Wechoosethistime,because
itisatime,ofallothers,whenWantiskeenlyfelt,
andAbundancerejoices.WhatshallIputyoudown
for?"

"Nothing!"Scroogereplied.

"Youwishtobeanonymous?"

"Iwishtobeleftalone,"saidScrooge."Sinceyou
askmewhatIwish,gentlemen,thatismyanswer.
Idon'tmakemerrymyselfatChristmasandIcan't
affordtomakeidlepeoplemerry.Ihelptosupport
theestablishmentsIhavementionedtheycost
enough;andthosewhoarebadlyoffmustgothere."

"Manycan'tgothere;andmanywouldratherdie."

"Iftheywouldratherdie,"saidScrooge,"theyhad
betterdoit,anddecreasethesurpluspopulation.
BesidesexcusemeIdon'tknowthat."

"Butyoumightknowit,"observedthegentleman.

"It'snotmybusiness,"Scroogereturned."It's
enoughforamantounderstandhisownbusiness,and
nottointerferewithotherpeople's.Mineoccupies
meconstantly.Goodafternoon,gentlemen!"

Seeingclearlythatitwouldbeuselesstopursue
theirpoint,thegentlemenwithdrew.Scroogeresumed
hislabourswithanimprovedopinionofhimself,
andinamorefacetioustemperthanwasusual
withhim.

Meanwhilethefoganddarknessthickenedso,that
peopleranaboutwithflaringlinks,profferingtheir
servicestogobeforehorsesincarriages,andconduct
themontheirway.Theancienttowerofachurch,
whosegruffoldbellwasalwayspeepingslilydown
atScroogeoutofaGothicwindowinthewall,became
invisible,andstruckthehoursandquartersinthe
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clouds,withtremulousvibrationsafterwardsasif
itsteethwerechatteringinitsfrozenheadupthere.
Thecoldbecameintense.Inthemainstreet,atthe
cornerofthecourt,somelabourerswererepairing
thegaspipes,andhadlightedagreatfireinabrazier,
roundwhichapartyofraggedmenandboyswere
gathered:warmingtheirhandsandwinkingtheir
eyesbeforetheblazeinrapture.Thewaterplug
beingleftinsolitude,itsoverflowingssullenlycongealed,
andturnedtomisanthropicice.Thebrightness
oftheshopswherehollysprigsandberries
crackledinthelampheatofthewindows,madepale
facesruddyastheypassed.Poulterers'andgrocers'
tradesbecameasplendidjoke:agloriouspageant,
withwhichitwasnexttoimpossibletobelievethat
suchdullprinciplesasbargainandsalehadanything
todo.TheLordMayor,inthestrongholdofthe
mightyMansionHouse,gaveorderstohisfiftycooks
andbutlerstokeepChristmasasaLordMayor's
householdshould;andeventhelittletailor,whomhe
hadfinedfiveshillingsonthepreviousMondayfor
beingdrunkandbloodthirstyinthestreets,stirredup
tomorrow'spuddinginhisgarret,whilehislean
wifeandthebabysalliedouttobuythebeef.

Foggieryet,andcolder.Piercing,searching,biting
cold.IfthegoodSaintDunstanhadbutnipped
theEvilSpirit'snosewithatouchofsuchweather
asthat,insteadofusinghisfamiliarweapons,then
indeedhewouldhaveroaredtolustypurpose.The
ownerofonescantyoungnose,gnawedandmumbled
bythehungrycoldasbonesaregnawedbydogs,
stoopeddownatScrooge'skeyholetoregalehimwith
aChristmascarol:butatthefirstsoundof

"Godblessyou,merrygentleman!
Maynothingyoudismay!"

Scroogeseizedtherulerwithsuchenergyofaction,
thatthesingerfledinterror,leavingthekeyholeto
thefogandevenmorecongenialfrost.

Atlengththehourofshuttingupthecountinghouse
arrived.WithanillwillScroogedismountedfromhis
stool,andtacitlyadmittedthefacttotheexpectant
clerkintheTank,whoinstantlysnuffedhiscandleout,
andputonhishat.

"You'llwantalldaytomorrow,Isuppose?"said
Scrooge.

"Ifquiteconvenient,sir."
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"It'snotconvenient,"saidScrooge,"andit'snot
fair.IfIwastostophalfacrownforit,you'd
thinkyourselfillused,I'llbebound?"

Theclerksmiledfaintly.

"Andyet,"saidScrooge,"youdon'tthinkmeillused,
whenIpayaday'swagesfornowork."

Theclerkobservedthatitwasonlyonceayear.

"Apoorexcuseforpickingaman'spocketevery
twentyfifthofDecember!"saidScrooge,buttoning
hisgreatcoattothechin."ButIsupposeyoumust
havethewholeday.Beherealltheearliernext
morning."

Theclerkpromisedthathewould;andScrooge
walkedoutwithagrowl.Theofficewasclosedina
twinkling,andtheclerk,withthelongendsofhis
whitecomforterdanglingbelowhiswaist(forhe
boastednogreatcoat),wentdownaslideonCornhill,
attheendofalaneofboys,twentytimes,in
honourofitsbeingChristmasEve,andthenranhome
toCamdenTownashardashecouldpelt,toplay
atblindman'sbuff.

Scroogetookhismelancholydinnerinhisusual
melancholytavern;andhavingreadallthenewspapers,and
beguiledtherestoftheeveningwithhis
banker'sbook,wenthometobed.Helivedin
chamberswhichhadoncebelongedtohisdeceased
partner.Theywereagloomysuiteofrooms,ina
loweringpileofbuildingupayard,whereithadso
littlebusinesstobe,thatonecouldscarcelyhelp
fancyingitmusthaveruntherewhenitwasayoung
house,playingathideandseekwithotherhouses,
andforgottenthewayoutagain.Itwasoldenough
now,anddrearyenough,fornobodylivedinitbut
Scrooge,theotherroomsbeingallletoutasoffices.
TheyardwassodarkthatevenScrooge,whoknew
itseverystone,wasfaintogropewithhishands.
Thefogandfrostsohungabouttheblackoldgateway
ofthehouse,thatitseemedasiftheGeniusof
theWeathersatinmournfulmeditationonthe
threshold.

Now,itisafact,thattherewasnothingatall
particularabouttheknockeronthedoor,exceptthatit
wasverylarge.Itisalsoafact,thatScroogehad
seenit,nightandmorning,duringhiswholeresidence
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inthatplace;alsothatScroogehadaslittleofwhat
iscalledfancyabouthimasanymaninthecityof
London,evenincludingwhichisaboldwordthe
corporation,aldermen,andlivery.Letitalsobe
borneinmindthatScroogehadnotbestowedone
thoughtonMarley,sincehislastmentionofhis
sevenyears'deadpartnerthatafternoon.Andthen
letanymanexplaintome,ifhecan,howithappened
thatScrooge,havinghiskeyinthelockofthedoor,
sawintheknocker,withoutitsundergoinganyintermediate
processofchangenotaknocker,butMarley'sface.

Marley'sface.Itwasnotinimpenetrableshadow
astheotherobjectsintheyardwere,buthada
dismallightaboutit,likeabadlobsterinadark
cellar.Itwasnotangryorferocious,butlooked
atScroogeasMarleyusedtolook:withghostly
spectaclesturneduponitsghostlyforehead.The
hairwascuriouslystirred,asifbybreathorhotair;
and,thoughtheeyeswerewideopen,theywereperfectly
motionless.That,anditslividcolour,madeit
horrible;butitshorrorseemedtobeinspiteofthe
faceandbeyonditscontrol,ratherthanapartof
itsownexpression.

AsScroogelookedfixedlyatthisphenomenon,it
wasaknockeragain.

Tosaythathewasnotstartled,orthathisblood
wasnotconsciousofaterriblesensationtowhichit
hadbeenastrangerfrominfancy,wouldbeuntrue.
Butheputhishanduponthekeyhehadrelinquished,
turneditsturdily,walkedin,andlightedhiscandle.

Hedidpause,withamoment'sirresolution,before
heshutthedoor;andhedidlookcautiouslybehind
itfirst,asifhehalfexpectedtobeterrifiedwiththe
sightofMarley'spigtailstickingoutintothehall.
Buttherewasnothingonthebackofthedoor,except
thescrewsandnutsthatheldtheknockeron,sohe
said"Pooh,pooh!"andcloseditwithabang.

Thesoundresoundedthroughthehouselikethunder.
Everyroomabove,andeverycaskinthewinemerchant's
cellarsbelow,appearedtohaveaseparatepeal
ofechoesofitsown.Scroogewasnotamanto
befrightenedbyechoes.Hefastenedthedoor,and
walkedacrossthehall,andupthestairs;slowlytoo:
trimminghiscandleashewent.

Youmaytalkvaguelyaboutdrivingacoachandsix
upagoodoldflightofstairs,orthroughabad
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youngActofParliament;butImeantosayyou
mighthavegotahearseupthatstaircase,andtaken
itbroadwise,withthesplinterbartowardsthewall
andthedoortowardsthebalustrades:anddoneit
easy.Therewasplentyofwidthforthat,androom
tospare;whichisperhapsthereasonwhyScrooge
thoughthesawalocomotivehearsegoingonbefore
himinthegloom.Halfadozengaslampsoutof
thestreetwouldn'thavelightedtheentrytoowell,
soyoumaysupposethatitwasprettydarkwith
Scrooge'sdip.

UpScroogewent,notcaringabuttonforthat.
Darknessischeap,andScroogelikedit.Butbefore
heshuthisheavydoor,hewalkedthroughhisrooms
toseethatallwasright.Hehadjustenoughrecollection
ofthefacetodesiretodothat.

Sittingroom,bedroom,lumberroom.Allasthey
shouldbe.Nobodyunderthetable,nobodyunder
thesofa;asmallfireinthegrate;spoonandbasin
ready;andthelittlesaucepanofgruel(Scroogehad
acoldinhishead)uponthehob.Nobodyunderthe
bed;nobodyinthecloset;nobodyinhisdressinggown,
whichwashangingupinasuspiciousattitude
againstthewall.Lumberroomasusual.Oldfireguard,
oldshoes,twofishbaskets,washingstandonthree
legs,andapoker.

Quitesatisfied,heclosedhisdoor,andlocked
himselfin;doublelockedhimselfin,whichwasnothis
custom.Thussecuredagainstsurprise,hetookoff
hiscravat;putonhisdressinggownandslippers,and
hisnightcap;andsatdownbeforethefiretotake
hisgruel.

Itwasaverylowfireindeed;nothingonsucha
bitternight.Hewasobligedtositclosetoit,and
broodoverit,beforehecouldextracttheleast
sensationofwarmthfromsuchahandfuloffuel.
Thefireplacewasanoldone,builtbysomeDutch
merchantlongago,andpavedallroundwithquaint
Dutchtiles,designedtoillustratetheScriptures.
TherewereCainsandAbels,Pharaoh'sdaughters;
QueensofSheba,Angelicmessengersdescending
throughtheaironcloudslikefeatherbeds,Abrahams,
Belshazzars,Apostlesputtingofftoseainbutterboats,
hundredsoffigurestoattracthisthoughts;
andyetthatfaceofMarley,sevenyearsdead,came
liketheancientProphet'srod,andswallowedupthe
whole.Ifeachsmoothtilehadbeenablankatfirst,
withpowertoshapesomepictureonitssurfacefrom
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thedisjointedfragmentsofhisthoughts,therewould
havebeenacopyofoldMarley'sheadoneveryone.

"Humbug!"saidScrooge;andwalkedacrossthe
room.

Afterseveralturns,hesatdownagain.Ashe
threwhisheadbackinthechair,hisglancehappened
torestuponabell,adisusedbell,thathunginthe
room,andcommunicatedforsomepurposenowforgotten
withachamberinthehigheststoryofthe
building.Itwaswithgreatastonishment,andwith
astrange,inexplicabledread,thatashelooked,he
sawthisbellbegintoswing.Itswungsosoftlyin
theoutsetthatitscarcelymadeasound;butsoonit
rangoutloudly,andsodideverybellinthehouse.

Thismighthavelastedhalfaminute,oraminute,
butitseemedanhour.Thebellsceasedastheyhad
begun,together.Theyweresucceededbyaclanking
noise,deepdownbelow;asifsomepersonwere
draggingaheavychainoverthecasksinthe
winemerchant'scellar.Scroogethenrememberedtohave
heardthatghostsinhauntedhousesweredescribedas
draggingchains.

Thecellardoorflewopenwithaboomingsound,
andthenheheardthenoisemuchlouder,onthefloors
below;thencomingupthestairs;thencomingstraight
towardshisdoor.

"It'shumbugstill!"saidScrooge."Iwon'tbelieveit."

Hiscolourchangedthough,when,withoutapause,
itcameonthroughtheheavydoor,andpassedinto
theroombeforehiseyes.Uponitscomingin,the
dyingflameleapedup,asthoughitcried,"Iknow
him;Marley'sGhost!"andfellagain.

Thesameface:theverysame.Marleyinhispigtail,
usualwaistcoat,tightsandboots;thetasselson
thelatterbristling,likehispigtail,andhiscoatskirts,
andthehairuponhishead.Thechainhedrewwas
claspedabouthismiddle.Itwaslong,andwound
abouthimlikeatail;anditwasmade(forScrooge
observeditclosely)ofcashboxes,keys,padlocks,
ledgers,deeds,andheavypurseswroughtinsteel.
Hisbodywastransparent;sothatScrooge,observinghim,
andlookingthroughhiswaistcoat,couldsee
thetwobuttonsonhiscoatbehind.

ScroogehadoftenhearditsaidthatMarleyhadno
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bowels,buthehadneverbelievedituntilnow.

No,nordidhebelieveitevennow.Thoughhe
lookedthephantomthroughandthrough,andsaw
itstandingbeforehim;thoughhefeltthechilling
influenceofitsdeathcoldeyes;andmarkedthevery
textureofthefoldedkerchiefboundaboutitshead
andchin,whichwrapperhehadnotobservedbefore;
hewasstillincredulous,andfoughtagainsthissenses.

"Hownow!"saidScrooge,causticandcoldasever.
"Whatdoyouwantwithme?"

"Much!"Marley'svoice,nodoubtaboutit.

"Whoareyou?"

"AskmewhoIwas."

"Whowereyouthen?"saidScrooge,raisinghis
voice."You'reparticular,forashade."Hewasgoing
tosay"toashade,"butsubstitutedthis,asmore
appropriate.

"InlifeIwasyourpartner,JacobMarley."

"Canyoucanyousitdown?"askedScrooge,looking
doubtfullyathim.

"Ican."

"Doit,then."

Scroogeaskedthequestion,becausehedidn'tknow
whetheraghostsotransparentmightfindhimselfin
aconditiontotakeachair;andfeltthatintheevent
ofitsbeingimpossible,itmightinvolvethenecessity
ofanembarrassingexplanation.Buttheghostsat
downontheoppositesideofthefireplace,asifhe
werequiteusedtoit.

"Youdon'tbelieveinme,"observedtheGhost.

"Idon't,"saidScrooge.

"Whatevidencewouldyouhaveofmyrealitybeyondthatof
yoursenses?"

"Idon'tknow,"saidScrooge.

"Whydoyoudoubtyoursenses?"

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"Because,"saidScrooge,"alittlethingaffectsthem.
Aslightdisorderofthestomachmakesthemcheats.Youmay
beanundigestedbitofbeef,ablotofmustard,acrumbof
cheese,afragmentofanunderdonepotato.There'smoreof
gravythanofgraveaboutyou,whateveryouare!"

Scroogewasnotmuchinthehabitofcracking
jokes,nordidhefeel,inhisheart,byanymeans
waggishthen.Thetruthis,thathetriedtobe
smart,asameansofdistractinghisownattention,
andkeepingdownhisterror;forthespectre'svoice
disturbedtheverymarrowinhisbones.

Tosit,staringatthosefixedglazedeyes,insilence
foramoment,wouldplay,Scroogefelt,thevery
deucewithhim.Therewassomethingveryawful,
too,inthespectre'sbeingprovidedwithaninfernal
atmosphereofitsown.Scroogecouldnotfeelit
himself,butthiswasclearlythecase;forthoughthe
Ghostsatperfectlymotionless,itshair,andskirts,
andtassels,werestillagitatedasbythehotvapour
fromanoven.

"Youseethistoothpick?"saidScrooge,returning
quicklytothecharge,forthereasonjustassigned;
andwishing,thoughitwereonlyforasecond,to
divertthevision'sstonygazefromhimself.

"Ido,"repliedtheGhost.

"Youarenotlookingatit,"saidScrooge.

"ButIseeit,"saidtheGhost,"notwithstanding."

"Well!"returnedScrooge,"Ihavebuttoswallow
this,andbefortherestofmydayspersecutedbya
legionofgoblins,allofmyowncreation.Humbug,
Itellyou!humbug!"

Atthisthespiritraisedafrightfulcry,andshook
itschainwithsuchadismalandappallingnoise,that
Scroogeheldontighttohischair,tosavehimself
fromfallinginaswoon.Buthowmuchgreaterwas
hishorror,whenthephantomtakingoffthebandage
rounditshead,asifitweretoowarmtowearindoors,
itslowerjawdroppeddownuponitsbreast!

Scroogefelluponhisknees,andclaspedhishands
beforehisface.

"Mercy!"hesaid."Dreadfulapparition,whydo
youtroubleme?"
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"Manoftheworldlymind!"repliedtheGhost,"do
youbelieveinmeornot?"

"Ido,"saidScrooge."Imust.Butwhydospirits
walktheearth,andwhydotheycometome?"

"Itisrequiredofeveryman,"theGhostreturned,
"thatthespiritwithinhimshouldwalkabroadamong
hisfellowmen,andtravelfarandwide;andifthat
spiritgoesnotforthinlife,itiscondemnedtodoso
afterdeath.Itisdoomedtowanderthroughthe
worldoh,woeisme!andwitnesswhatitcannot
share,butmighthavesharedonearth,andturnedto
happiness!"

Againthespectreraisedacry,andshookitschain
andwrungitsshadowyhands.

"Youarefettered,"saidScrooge,trembling."Tell
mewhy?"

"IwearthechainIforgedinlife,"repliedtheGhost.
"Imadeitlinkbylink,andyardbyyard;Igirded
itonofmyownfreewill,andofmyownfreewillI
woreit.Isitspatternstrangetoyou?"

Scroogetrembledmoreandmore.

"Orwouldyouknow,"pursuedtheGhost,"the
weightandlengthofthestrongcoilyoubearyourself?
Itwasfullasheavyandaslongasthis,seven
ChristmasEvesago.Youhavelabouredonit,since.
Itisaponderouschain!"

Scroogeglancedabouthimonthefloor,inthe
expectationoffindinghimselfsurroundedbysomefifty
orsixtyfathomsofironcable:buthecouldsee
nothing.

"Jacob,"hesaid,imploringly."OldJacobMarley,
tellmemore.Speakcomforttome,Jacob!"

"Ihavenonetogive,"theGhostreplied."Itcomes
fromotherregions,EbenezerScrooge,andisconveyed
byotherministers,tootherkindsofmen.Nor
canItellyouwhatIwould.Averylittlemoreis
allpermittedtome.Icannotrest,Icannotstay,I
cannotlingeranywhere.Myspiritneverwalked
beyondourcountinghousemarkme!inlifemy
spiritneverrovedbeyondthenarrowlimitsofour
moneychanginghole;andwearyjourneysliebefore
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me!"

ItwasahabitwithScrooge,wheneverhebecame
thoughtful,toputhishandsinhisbreechespockets.
PonderingonwhattheGhosthadsaid,hedidsonow,
butwithoutliftinguphiseyes,orgettingoffhis
knees.

"Youmusthavebeenveryslowaboutit,Jacob,"
Scroogeobserved,inabusinesslikemanner,though
withhumilityanddeference.

"Slow!"theGhostrepeated.

"Sevenyearsdead,"musedScrooge."Andtravelling
allthetime!"

"Thewholetime,"saidtheGhost."Norest,no
peace.Incessanttortureofremorse."

"Youtravelfast?"saidScrooge.

"Onthewingsofthewind,"repliedtheGhost.

"Youmighthavegotoveragreatquantityof
groundinsevenyears,"saidScrooge.

TheGhost,onhearingthis,setupanothercry,and
clankeditschainsohideouslyinthedeadsilenceof
thenight,thattheWardwouldhavebeenjustifiedin
indictingitforanuisance.

"Oh!captive,bound,anddoubleironed,"criedthe
phantom,"nottoknow,thatagesofincessantlabour
byimmortalcreatures,forthisearthmustpassinto
eternitybeforethegoodofwhichitissusceptibleis
alldeveloped.NottoknowthatanyChristianspirit
workingkindlyinitslittlesphere,whateveritmay
be,willfinditsmortallifetooshortforitsvast
meansofusefulness.Nottoknowthatnospaceof
regretcanmakeamendsforonelife'sopportunity
misused!YetsuchwasI!Oh!suchwasI!"

"Butyouwerealwaysagoodmanofbusiness,
Jacob,"falteredScrooge,whonowbegantoapplythis
tohimself.

"Business!"criedtheGhost,wringingitshands
again."Mankindwasmybusiness.Thecommon
welfarewasmybusiness;charity,mercy,forbearance,
andbenevolence,were,all,mybusiness.Thedealings
ofmytradewerebutadropofwaterinthe
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comprehensiveoceanofmybusiness!"

Itheldupitschainatarm'slength,asifthatwere
thecauseofallitsunavailinggrief,andflungit
heavilyuponthegroundagain.

"Atthistimeoftherollingyear,"thespectresaid,
"Isuffermost.WhydidIwalkthroughcrowdsof
fellowbeingswithmyeyesturneddown,andnever
raisethemtothatblessedStarwhichledtheWise
Mentoapoorabode!Weretherenopoorhomesto
whichitslightwouldhaveconductedme!"

Scroogewasverymuchdismayedtohearthe
spectregoingonatthisrate,andbegantoquake
exceedingly.

"Hearme!"criedtheGhost."Mytimeisnearly
gone."

"Iwill,"saidScrooge."Butdon'tbehardupon
me!Don'tbeflowery,Jacob!Pray!"

"HowitisthatIappearbeforeyouinashapethat
youcansee,Imaynottell.Ihavesatinvisible
besideyoumanyandmanyaday."

Itwasnotanagreeableidea.Scroogeshivered,
andwipedtheperspirationfromhisbrow.

"Thatisnolightpartofmypenance,"pursued
theGhost."Iamheretonighttowarnyou,thatyou
haveyetachanceandhopeofescapingmyfate.A
chanceandhopeofmyprocuring,Ebenezer."

"Youwerealwaysagoodfriendtome,"said
Scrooge."Thank'ee!"

"Youwillbehaunted,"resumedtheGhost,"by
ThreeSpirits."

Scrooge'scountenancefellalmostaslowasthe
Ghost'shaddone.

"Isthatthechanceandhopeyoumentioned,
Jacob?"hedemanded,inafalteringvoice.

"Itis."

"IIthinkI'drathernot,"saidScrooge.

"Withouttheirvisits,"saidtheGhost,"youcannot
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hopetoshunthepathItread.Expectthefirsttomorrow,
whenthebelltollsOne."

"Couldn'tItake'emallatonce,andhaveitover,
Jacob?"hintedScrooge.

"Expectthesecondonthenextnightatthesame
hour.Thethirduponthenextnightwhenthelast
strokeofTwelvehasceasedtovibrate.Looktosee
menomore;andlookthat,foryourownsake,you
rememberwhathaspassedbetweenus!"

Whenithadsaidthesewords,thespectretookits
wrapperfromthetable,andbounditrounditshead,
asbefore.Scroogeknewthis,bythesmartsoundits
teethmade,whenthejawswerebroughttogether
bythebandage.Heventuredtoraisehiseyesagain,
andfoundhissupernaturalvisitorconfrontinghim
inanerectattitude,withitschainwoundoverand
aboutitsarm.

Theapparitionwalkedbackwardfromhim;andat
everystepittook,thewindowraiseditselfalittle,
sothatwhenthespectrereachedit,itwaswideopen.

ItbeckonedScroogetoapproach,whichhedid.
Whentheywerewithintwopacesofeachother,
Marley'sGhostheldupitshand,warninghimto
comenonearer.Scroogestopped.

Notsomuchinobedience,asinsurpriseandfear:
forontheraisingofthehand,hebecamesensible
ofconfusednoisesintheair;incoherentsoundsof
lamentationandregret;wailingsinexpressiblysorrowfuland
selfaccusatory.Thespectre,afterlisteningforamoment,
joinedinthemournfuldirge;andfloatedoutuponthe
bleak,darknight.

Scroogefollowedtothewindow:desperateinhis
curiosity.Helookedout.

Theairwasfilledwithphantoms,wanderinghither
andthitherinrestlesshaste,andmoaningasthey
went.EveryoneofthemworechainslikeMarley's
Ghost;somefew(theymightbeguiltygovernments)
werelinkedtogether;nonewerefree.Manyhad
beenpersonallyknowntoScroogeintheirlives.He
hadbeenquitefamiliarwithoneoldghost,inawhite
waistcoat,withamonstrousironsafeattachedto
itsankle,whocriedpiteouslyatbeingunabletoassist
awretchedwomanwithaninfant,whomitsawbelow,
uponadoorstep.Themiserywiththemallwas,
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clearly,thattheysoughttointerfere,forgood,in
humanmatters,andhadlostthepowerforever.

Whetherthesecreaturesfadedintomist,ormist
enshroudedthem,hecouldnottell.Buttheyand
theirspiritvoicesfadedtogether;andthenightbecame
asithadbeenwhenhewalkedhome.

Scroogeclosedthewindow,andexaminedthedoor
bywhichtheGhosthadentered.Itwasdoublelocked,
ashehadlockeditwithhisownhands,and
theboltswereundisturbed.Hetriedtosay"Humbug!"
butstoppedatthefirstsyllable.Andbeing,
fromtheemotionhehadundergone,orthefatigues
oftheday,orhisglimpseoftheInvisibleWorld,or
thedullconversationoftheGhost,orthelatenessof
thehour,muchinneedofrepose;wentstraightto
bed,withoutundressing,andfellasleepuponthe
instant.

STAVEII:THEFIRSTOFTHETHREESPIRITS

WHENScroogeawoke,itwassodark,thatlookingoutofbed,
hecouldscarcelydistinguishthetransparentwindowfrom
theopaquewallsofhischamber.Hewasendeavouringto
piercethedarknesswithhisferreteyes,whenthechimesofa
neighbouringchurchstruckthefourquarters.Sohelistened
forthehour.

Tohisgreatastonishmenttheheavybellwentonfrom
sixtoseven,andfromseventoeight,andregularlyupto
twelve;thenstopped.Twelve!Itwaspasttwowhenhe
wenttobed.Theclockwaswrong.Aniciclemusthave
gotintotheworks.Twelve!

Hetouchedthespringofhisrepeater,tocorrectthismost
preposterousclock.Itsrapidlittlepulsebeattwelve:
andstopped.

"Why,itisn'tpossible,"saidScrooge,"thatIcanhave
sleptthroughawholedayandfarintoanothernight.It
isn'tpossiblethatanythinghashappenedtothesun,and
thisistwelveatnoon!"

Theideabeinganalarmingone,hescrambledoutofbed,
andgropedhiswaytothewindow.Hewasobligedtorub
thefrostoffwiththesleeveofhisdressinggownbeforehe
couldseeanything;andcouldseeverylittlethen.Allhe
couldmakeoutwas,thatitwasstillveryfoggyandextremely
cold,andthattherewasnonoiseofpeoplerunningtoandfro,
andmakingagreatstir,asthereunquestionablywouldhavebeen
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ifnighthadbeatenoffbrightday,andtakenpossessionofthe
world.Thiswasagreatrelief,because"threedaysaftersight
ofthisFirstofExchangepaytoMr.EbenezerScroogeorhis
order,"andsoforth,wouldhavebecomeamereUnitedStates'
securityiftherewerenodaystocountby.

Scroogewenttobedagain,andthought,andthought,andthought
itoverandoverandover,andcouldmakenothingofit.Themorehe
thought,themoreperplexedhewas;andthemoreheendeavoured
nottothink,themorehethought.

Marley'sGhostbotheredhimexceedingly.Everytimeheresolved
withinhimself,aftermatureinquiry,thatitwasalladream,his
mindflewbackagain,likeastrongspringreleased,toitsfirst
position,andpresentedthesameproblemtobeworkedallthrough,
"Wasitadreamornot?"

Scroogelayinthisstateuntilthechimehadgonethreequarters
more,whenheremembered,onasudden,thattheGhosthadwarned
himofavisitationwhenthebelltolledone.Heresolvedtolie
awakeuntilthehourwaspassed;and,consideringthathecould
nomoregotosleepthangotoHeaven,thiswasperhapsthe
wisestresolutioninhispower.

Thequarterwassolong,thathewasmorethanonceconvincedhe
musthavesunkintoadozeunconsciously,andmissedtheclock.
Atlengthitbrokeuponhislisteningear.

"Ding,dong!"

"Aquarterpast,"saidScrooge,counting.

"Ding,dong!"

"Halfpast!"saidScrooge.

"Ding,dong!"

"Aquartertoit,"saidScrooge.

"Ding,dong!"

"Thehouritself,"saidScrooge,triumphantly,"andnothingelse!"

Hespokebeforethehourbellsounded,whichitnowdidwitha
deep,dull,hollow,melancholyONE.Lightflashedupintheroom
upontheinstant,andthecurtainsofhisbedweredrawn.

Thecurtainsofhisbedweredrawnaside,Itellyou,bya
hand.Notthecurtainsathisfeet,northecurtainsathis
back,butthosetowhichhisfacewasaddressed.Thecurtains
ofhisbedweredrawnaside;andScrooge,startingupintoa
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halfrecumbentattitude,foundhimselffacetofacewiththe
unearthlyvisitorwhodrewthem:asclosetoitasIamnow
toyou,andIamstandinginthespiritatyourelbow.

Itwasastrangefigurelikeachild:yetnotsolikea
childaslikeanoldman,viewedthroughsomesupernatural
medium,whichgavehimtheappearanceofhavingreceded
fromtheview,andbeingdiminishedtoachild'sproportions.
Itshair,whichhungaboutitsneckanddownitsback,was
whiteasifwithage;andyetthefacehadnotawrinklein
it,andthetenderestbloomwasontheskin.Thearmswere
verylongandmuscular;thehandsthesame,asifitshold
wereofuncommonstrength.Itslegsandfeet,mostdelicately
formed,were,likethoseuppermembers,bare.Itworeatunic
ofthepurestwhite;androunditswaistwasbound
alustrousbelt,thesheenofwhichwasbeautiful.Itheld
abranchoffreshgreenhollyinitshand;and,insingular
contradictionofthatwintryemblem,haditsdresstrimmed
withsummerflowers.Butthestrangestthingaboutitwas,
thatfromthecrownofitsheadtheresprungabrightclear
jetoflight,bywhichallthiswasvisible;andwhichwas
doubtlesstheoccasionofitsusing,initsdullermoments,a
greatextinguisherforacap,whichitnowheldunderitsarm.

Eventhis,though,whenScroogelookedatitwithincreasing
steadiness,wasnotitsstrangestquality.Forasitsbelt
sparkledandglitterednowinonepartandnowinanother,
andwhatwaslightoneinstant,atanothertimewasdark,so
thefigureitselffluctuatedinitsdistinctness:beingnowa
thingwithonearm,nowwithoneleg,nowwithtwentylegs,
nowapairoflegswithoutahead,nowaheadwithouta
body:ofwhichdissolvingparts,nooutlinewouldbevisible
inthedensegloomwhereintheymeltedaway.Andinthe
verywonderofthis,itwouldbeitselfagain;distinctand
clearasever.

"AreyoutheSpirit,sir,whosecomingwasforetoldto
me?"askedScrooge.

"Iam!"

Thevoicewassoftandgentle.Singularlylow,asif
insteadofbeingsoclosebesidehim,itwereatadistance.

"Who,andwhatareyou?"Scroogedemanded.

"IamtheGhostofChristmasPast."

"LongPast?"inquiredScrooge:observantofitsdwarfish
stature.

"No.Yourpast."
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Perhaps,Scroogecouldnothavetoldanybodywhy,if
anybodycouldhaveaskedhim;buthehadaspecialdesire
toseetheSpiritinhiscap;andbeggedhimtobecovered.

"What!"exclaimedtheGhost,"wouldyousosoonputout,
withworldlyhands,thelightIgive?Isitnotenough
thatyouareoneofthosewhosepassionsmadethiscap,and
forcemethroughwholetrainsofyearstowearitlowupon
mybrow!"

Scroogereverentlydisclaimedallintentiontooffend
oranyknowledgeofhavingwilfully"bonneted"theSpiritat
anyperiodofhislife.Hethenmadeboldtoinquirewhat
businessbroughthimthere.

"Yourwelfare!"saidtheGhost.

Scroogeexpressedhimselfmuchobliged,butcouldnot
helpthinkingthatanightofunbrokenrestwouldhavebeen
moreconducivetothatend.TheSpiritmusthaveheard
himthinking,foritsaidimmediately:

"Yourreclamation,then.Takeheed!"

Itputoutitsstronghandasitspoke,andclaspedhim
gentlybythearm.

"Rise!andwalkwithme!"

ItwouldhavebeeninvainforScroogetopleadthatthe
weatherandthehourwerenotadaptedtopedestrianpurposes;
thatbedwaswarm,andthethermometeralongwaybelow
freezing;thathewascladbutlightlyinhisslippers,
dressinggown,andnightcap;andthathehadacolduponhimat
thattime.Thegrasp,thoughgentleasawoman'shand,
wasnottoberesisted.Herose:butfindingthattheSpirit
madetowardsthewindow,claspedhisrobeinsupplication.

"Iamamortal,"Scroogeremonstrated,"andliabletofall."

"Bearbutatouchofmyhandthere,"saidtheSpirit,
layingituponhisheart,"andyoushallbeupheldinmore
thanthis!"

Asthewordswerespoken,theypassedthroughthewall,
andstooduponanopencountryroad,withfieldsoneither
hand.Thecityhadentirelyvanished.Notavestigeofit
wastobeseen.Thedarknessandthemisthadvanished
withit,foritwasaclear,cold,winterday,withsnowupon
theground.

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"GoodHeaven!"saidScrooge,claspinghishandstogether,
ashelookedabouthim."Iwasbredinthisplace.Iwas
aboyhere!"

TheSpiritgazeduponhimmildly.Itsgentletouch,
thoughithadbeenlightandinstantaneous,appearedstill
presenttotheoldman'ssenseoffeeling.Hewasconscious
ofathousandodoursfloatingintheair,eachoneconnected
withathousandthoughts,andhopes,andjoys,andcares
long,long,forgotten!

"Yourlipistrembling,"saidtheGhost."Andwhatis
thatuponyourcheek?"

Scroogemuttered,withanunusualcatchinginhisvoice,
thatitwasapimple;andbeggedtheGhosttoleadhim
wherehewould.

"Yourecollecttheway?"inquiredtheSpirit.

"Rememberit!"criedScroogewithfervour;"Icould
walkitblindfold."

"Strangetohaveforgottenitforsomanyyears!"observed
theGhost."Letusgoon."

Theywalkedalongtheroad,Scroogerecognisingevery
gate,andpost,andtree;untilalittlemarkettownappeared
inthedistance,withitsbridge,itschurch,andwindingriver.
Someshaggyponiesnowwereseentrottingtowardsthem
withboysupontheirbacks,whocalledtootherboysin
countrygigsandcarts,drivenbyfarmers.Alltheseboys
wereingreatspirits,andshoutedtoeachother,untilthe
broadfieldsweresofullofmerrymusic,thatthecrispair
laughedtohearit!

"Thesearebutshadowsofthethingsthathavebeen,"said
theGhost."Theyhavenoconsciousnessofus."

Thejocundtravellerscameon;andastheycame,Scrooge
knewandnamedthemeveryone.Whywasherejoicedbeyond
allboundstoseethem!Whydidhiscoldeyeglisten,and
hisheartleapupastheywentpast!Whywashefilled
withgladnesswhenheheardthemgiveeachotherMerry
Christmas,astheypartedatcrossroadsandbyeways,for
theirseveralhomes!WhatwasmerryChristmastoScrooge?
OutuponmerryChristmas!Whatgoodhaditeverdone
tohim?

"Theschoolisnotquitedeserted,"saidtheGhost."A
solitarychild,neglectedbyhisfriends,islefttherestill."

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Scroogesaidheknewit.Andhesobbed.

Theyleftthehighroad,byawellrememberedlane,and
soonapproachedamansionofdullredbrick,withalittle
weathercocksurmountedcupola,ontheroof,andabell
hanginginit.Itwasalargehouse,butoneofbroken
fortunes;forthespaciousofficeswerelittleused,theirwalls
weredampandmossy,theirwindowsbroken,andtheir
gatesdecayed.Fowlscluckedandstruttedinthestables;
andthecoachhousesandshedswereoverrunwithgrass.
Norwasitmoreretentiveofitsancientstate,within;for
enteringthedrearyhall,andglancingthroughtheopen
doorsofmanyrooms,theyfoundthempoorlyfurnished,
cold,andvast.Therewasanearthysavourintheair,a
chillybarenessintheplace,whichassociateditselfsomehow
withtoomuchgettingupbycandlelight,andnottoo
muchtoeat.

Theywent,theGhostandScrooge,acrossthehall,toa
dooratthebackofthehouse.Itopenedbeforethem,and
disclosedalong,bare,melancholyroom,madebarerstillby
linesofplaindealformsanddesks.Atoneofthesealonely
boywasreadingnearafeeblefire;andScroogesatdown
uponaform,andwepttoseehispoorforgottenselfashe
usedtobe.

Notalatentechointhehouse,notasqueakandscuffle
fromthemicebehindthepanelling,notadripfromthe
halfthawedwaterspoutinthedullyardbehind,notasighamong
theleaflessboughsofonedespondentpoplar,nottheidle
swingingofanemptystorehousedoor,no,notaclickingin
thefire,butfellupontheheartofScroogewithasoftening
influence,andgaveafreerpassagetohistears.

TheSpirittouchedhimonthearm,andpointedtohis
youngerself,intentuponhisreading.Suddenlyaman,in
foreigngarments:wonderfullyrealanddistincttolookat:
stoodoutsidethewindow,withanaxestuckinhisbelt,and
leadingbythebridleanassladenwithwood.

"Why,it'sAliBaba!"Scroogeexclaimedinecstasy."It's
dearoldhonestAliBaba!Yes,yes,Iknow!OneChristmas
time,whenyondersolitarychildwaslefthereallalone,
hedidcome,forthefirsttime,justlikethat.Poorboy!And
Valentine,"saidScrooge,"andhiswildbrother,Orson;there
theygo!Andwhat'shisname,whowasputdowninhis
drawers,asleep,attheGateofDamascus;don'tyouseehim!
AndtheSultan'sGroomturnedupsidedownbytheGenii;
thereheisuponhishead!Servehimright.I'mgladofit.
WhatbusinesshadhetobemarriedtothePrincess!"

TohearScroogeexpendingalltheearnestnessofhisnature
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onsuchsubjects,inamostextraordinaryvoicebetween
laughingandcrying;andtoseehisheightenedandexcited
face;wouldhavebeenasurprisetohisbusinessfriendsin
thecity,indeed.

"There'stheParrot!"criedScrooge."Greenbodyand
yellowtail,withathinglikealettucegrowingoutofthe
topofhishead;thereheis!PoorRobinCrusoe,hecalled
him,whenhecamehomeagainaftersailingroundthe
island.'PoorRobinCrusoe,wherehaveyoubeen,Robin
Crusoe?'Themanthoughthewasdreaming,buthewasn't.
ItwastheParrot,youknow.TheregoesFriday,running
forhislifetothelittlecreek!Halloa!Hoop!Halloo!"

Then,witharapidityoftransitionveryforeigntohis
usualcharacter,hesaid,inpityforhisformerself,"Poor
boy!"andcriedagain.

"Iwish,"Scroogemuttered,puttinghishandinhis
pocket,andlookingabouthim,afterdryinghiseyeswithhis
cuff:"butit'stoolatenow."

"Whatisthematter?"askedtheSpirit.

"Nothing,"saidScrooge."Nothing.Therewasaboy
singingaChristmasCarolatmydoorlastnight.Ishould
liketohavegivenhimsomething:that'sall."

TheGhostsmiledthoughtfully,andwaveditshand:
sayingasitdidso,"LetusseeanotherChristmas!"

Scrooge'sformerselfgrewlargeratthewords,andthe
roombecamealittledarkerandmoredirty.Thepanelsshrunk,
thewindowscracked;fragmentsofplasterfelloutofthe
ceiling,andthenakedlathswereshowninstead;buthow
allthiswasbroughtabout,Scroogeknewnomorethanyou
do.Heonlyknewthatitwasquitecorrect;thateverything
hadhappenedso;thattherehewas,aloneagain,whenall
theotherboyshadgonehomeforthejollyholidays.

Hewasnotreadingnow,butwalkingupanddowndespairingly.
ScroogelookedattheGhost,andwithamournfulshakingof
hishead,glancedanxiouslytowardsthedoor.

Itopened;andalittlegirl,muchyoungerthantheboy,
camedartingin,andputtingherarmsabouthisneck,and
oftenkissinghim,addressedhimasher"Dear,dear
brother."

"Ihavecometobringyouhome,dearbrother!"saidthe
child,clappinghertinyhands,andbendingdowntolaugh.
"Tobringyouhome,home,home!"
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"Home,littleFan?"returnedtheboy.

"Yes!"saidthechild,brimfulofglee."Home,forgood
andall.Home,foreverandever.Fatherissomuchkinder
thanheusedtobe,thathome'slikeHeaven!Hespokeso
gentlytomeonedearnightwhenIwasgoingtobed,that
Iwasnotafraidtoaskhimoncemoreifyoumightcome
home;andhesaidYes,youshould;andsentmeinacoach
tobringyou.Andyou'retobeaman!"saidthechild,
openinghereyes,"andarenevertocomebackhere;but
first,we'retobetogetheralltheChristmaslong,andhave
themerriesttimeinalltheworld."

"Youarequiteawoman,littleFan!"exclaimedtheboy.

Sheclappedherhandsandlaughed,andtriedtotouchhis
head;butbeingtoolittle,laughedagain,andstoodon
tiptoetoembracehim.Thenshebegantodraghim,inher
childisheagerness,towardsthedoor;andhe,nothinglothto
go,accompaniedher.

Aterriblevoiceinthehallcried,"BringdownMaster
Scrooge'sbox,there!"andinthehallappearedtheschoolmaster
himself,whoglaredonMasterScroogewithaferocious
condescension,andthrewhimintoadreadfulstateofmind
byshakinghandswithhim.Hethenconveyedhimandhis
sisterintotheveriestoldwellofashiveringbestparlourthat
everwasseen,wherethemapsuponthewall,andthecelestial
andterrestrialglobesinthewindows,werewaxywithcold.
Hereheproducedadecanterofcuriouslylightwine,anda
blockofcuriouslyheavycake,andadministeredinstalments
ofthosedaintiestotheyoungpeople:atthesametime,
sendingoutameagreservanttoofferaglassof"something"
tothepostboy,whoansweredthathethankedthegentleman,
butifitwasthesametapashehadtastedbefore,hehad
rathernot.MasterScrooge'strunkbeingbythistimetied
ontothetopofthechaise,thechildrenbadetheschoolmaster
goodbyerightwillingly;andgettingintoit,drove
gailydownthegardensweep:thequickwheelsdashingthe
hoarfrostandsnowfromoffthedarkleavesoftheevergreens
likespray.

"Alwaysadelicatecreature,whomabreathmighthave
withered,"saidtheGhost."Butshehadalargeheart!"

"Soshehad,"criedScrooge."You'reright.Iwillnot
gainsayit,Spirit.Godforbid!"

"Shediedawoman,"saidtheGhost,"andhad,asIthink,
children."

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"Onechild,"Scroogereturned.

"True,"saidtheGhost."Yournephew!"

Scroogeseemeduneasyinhismind;andansweredbriefly,
"Yes."

Althoughtheyhadbutthatmomentlefttheschoolbehind
them,theywerenowinthebusythoroughfaresofacity,
whereshadowypassengerspassedandrepassed;whereshadowy
cartsandcoachesbattledfortheway,andallthestrifeand
tumultofarealcitywere.Itwasmadeplainenough,by
thedressingoftheshops,thatheretooitwasChristmas
timeagain;butitwasevening,andthestreetswere
lightedup.

TheGhoststoppedatacertainwarehousedoor,andasked
Scroogeifheknewit.

"Knowit!"saidScrooge."WasIapprenticedhere!"

Theywentin.AtsightofanoldgentlemaninaWelsh
wig,sittingbehindsuchahighdesk,thatifhehadbeentwo
inchestallerhemusthaveknockedhisheadagainstthe
ceiling,Scroogecriedingreatexcitement:

"Why,it'soldFezziwig!Blesshisheart;it'sFezziwig
aliveagain!"

OldFezziwiglaiddownhispen,andlookedupatthe
clock,whichpointedtothehourofseven.Herubbedhis
hands;adjustedhiscapaciouswaistcoat;laughedallover
himself,fromhisshoestohisorganofbenevolence;and
calledoutinacomfortable,oily,rich,fat,jovialvoice:

"Yoho,there!Ebenezer!Dick!"

Scrooge'sformerself,nowgrownayoungman,camebriskly
in,accompaniedbyhisfellow'prentice.

"DickWilkins,tobesure!"saidScroogetotheGhost.
"Blessme,yes.Thereheis.Hewasverymuchattached
tome,wasDick.PoorDick!Dear,dear!"

"Yoho,myboys!"saidFezziwig."Nomoreworktonight.
ChristmasEve,Dick.Christmas,Ebenezer!Let's
havetheshuttersup,"criedoldFezziwig,withasharpclap
ofhishands,"beforeamancansayJackRobinson!"

Youwouldn'tbelievehowthosetwofellowswentatit!
Theychargedintothestreetwiththeshuttersone,two,
threehad'emupintheirplacesfour,five,sixbarred
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'emandpinned'emseven,eight,nineandcameback
beforeyoucouldhavegottotwelve,pantinglikeracehorses.

"Hilliho!"criedoldFezziwig,skippingdownfromthe
highdesk,withwonderfulagility."Clearaway,mylads,
andlet'shavelotsofroomhere!Hilliho,Dick!Chirrup,
Ebenezer!"

Clearaway!Therewasnothingtheywouldn'thavecleared
away,orcouldn'thaveclearedaway,witholdFezziwiglooking
on.Itwasdoneinaminute.Everymovablewaspackedoff,asif
itweredismissedfrompubliclifeforevermore;thefloorwas
sweptandwatered,thelampsweretrimmed,fuelwasheapedupon
thefire;andthewarehousewasassnug,andwarm,anddry,and
brightaballroom,asyouwoulddesiretoseeuponawinter's
night.

Incameafiddlerwithamusicbook,andwentuptothe
loftydesk,andmadeanorchestraofit,andtunedlikefifty
stomachaches.IncameMrs.Fezziwig,onevastsubstantial
smile.IncamethethreeMissFezziwigs,beamingand
lovable.Incamethesixyoungfollowerswhoseheartsthey
broke.Incamealltheyoungmenandwomenemployedin
thebusiness.Incamethehousemaid,withhercousin,the
baker.Incamethecook,withherbrother'sparticularfriend,
themilkman.Incametheboyfromovertheway,whowas
suspectedofnothavingboardenoughfromhismaster;trying
tohidehimselfbehindthegirlfromnextdoorbutone,who
wasprovedtohavehadherearspulledbyhermistress.
Intheyallcame,oneafteranother;someshyly,someboldly,
somegracefully,someawkwardly,somepushing,somepulling;
intheyallcame,anyhowandeveryhow.Awaytheyallwent,
twentycoupleatonce;handshalfroundandbackagain
theotherway;downthemiddleandupagain;round
androundinvariousstagesofaffectionategrouping;old
topcouplealwaysturningupinthewrongplace;newtop
couplestartingoffagain,assoonastheygotthere;alltop
couplesatlast,andnotabottomonetohelpthem!When
thisresultwasbroughtabout,oldFezziwig,clappinghis
handstostopthedance,criedout,"Welldone!"andthe
fiddlerplungedhishotfaceintoapotofporter,especially
providedforthatpurpose.Butscorningrest,uponhis
reappearance,heinstantlybeganagain,thoughtherewereno
dancersyet,asiftheotherfiddlerhadbeencarriedhome,
exhausted,onashutter,andhewereabrannewman
resolvedtobeathimoutofsight,orperish.

Thereweremoredances,andtherewereforfeits,andmore
dances,andtherewascake,andtherewasnegus,andthere
wasagreatpieceofColdRoast,andtherewasagreatpiece
ofColdBoiled,andthereweremincepies,andplentyofbeer.
ButthegreateffectoftheeveningcameaftertheRoast
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andBoiled,whenthefiddler(anartfuldog,mind!Thesort
ofmanwhoknewhisbusinessbetterthanyouorIcould
havetoldithim!)struckup"SirRogerdeCoverley."Then
oldFezziwigstoodouttodancewithMrs.Fezziwig.Top
couple,too;withagoodstiffpieceofworkcutoutforthem;
threeorfourandtwentypairofpartners;peoplewhowere
nottobetrifledwith;peoplewhowoulddance,andhadno
notionofwalking.

Butiftheyhadbeentwiceasmanyah,fourtimesold
Fezziwigwouldhavebeenamatchforthem,andsowould
Mrs.Fezziwig.Astoher,shewasworthytobehispartner
ineverysenseoftheterm.Ifthat'snothighpraise,tellme
higher,andI'lluseit.Apositivelightappearedtoissue
fromFezziwig'scalves.Theyshoneineverypartofthe
dancelikemoons.Youcouldn'thavepredicted,atanygiven
time,whatwouldhavebecomeofthemnext.Andwhenold
FezziwigandMrs.Fezziwighadgoneallthroughthedance;
advanceandretire,bothhandstoyourpartner,bowand
curtsey,corkscrew,threadtheneedle,andbackagainto
yourplace;Fezziwig"cut"cutsodeftly,thatheappeared
towinkwithhislegs,andcameuponhisfeetagainwithout
astagger.

Whentheclockstruckeleven,thisdomesticballbrokeup.
Mr.andMrs.Fezziwigtooktheirstations,oneoneitherside
ofthedoor,andshakinghandswitheverypersonindividually
asheorshewentout,wishedhimorheraMerryChristmas.
Wheneverybodyhadretiredbutthetwo'prentices,theydid
thesametothem;andthusthecheerfulvoicesdiedaway,
andtheladswerelefttotheirbeds;whichwereundera
counterinthebackshop.

Duringthewholeofthistime,Scroogehadactedlikea
manoutofhiswits.Hisheartandsoulwereinthescene,
andwithhisformerself.Hecorroboratedeverything,
rememberedeverything,enjoyedeverything,andunderwent
thestrangestagitation.Itwasnotuntilnow,whenthe
brightfacesofhisformerselfandDickwereturnedfrom
them,thatherememberedtheGhost,andbecameconscious
thatitwaslookingfulluponhim,whilethelightuponits
headburntveryclear.

"Asmallmatter,"saidtheGhost,"tomakethesesilly
folkssofullofgratitude."

"Small!"echoedScrooge.

TheSpiritsignedtohimtolistentothetwoapprentices,
whowerepouringouttheirheartsinpraiseofFezziwig:
andwhenhehaddoneso,said,

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"Why!Isitnot?Hehasspentbutafewpoundsof
yourmortalmoney:threeorfourperhaps.Isthatso
muchthathedeservesthispraise?"

"Itisn'tthat,"saidScrooge,heatedbytheremark,and
speakingunconsciouslylikehisformer,nothislatter,self.
"Itisn'tthat,Spirit.Hehasthepowertorenderushappy
orunhappy;tomakeourservicelightorburdensome;a
pleasureoratoil.Saythathispowerliesinwordsand
looks;inthingssoslightandinsignificantthatitis
impossibletoaddandcount'emup:whatthen?Thehappiness
hegives,isquiteasgreatasifitcostafortune."

HefelttheSpirit'sglance,andstopped.

"Whatisthematter?"askedtheGhost.

"Nothingparticular,"saidScrooge.

"Something,Ithink?"theGhostinsisted.

"No,"saidScrooge,"No.Ishouldliketobeabletosay
awordortwotomyclerkjustnow.That'sall."

Hisformerselfturneddownthelampsashegaveutterance
tothewish;andScroogeandtheGhostagainstoodsideby
sideintheopenair.

"Mytimegrowsshort,"observedtheSpirit."Quick!"

ThiswasnotaddressedtoScrooge,ortoanyonewhomhe
couldsee,butitproducedanimmediateeffect.Foragain
Scroogesawhimself.Hewasoldernow;amanintheprime
oflife.Hisfacehadnottheharshandrigidlinesoflater
years;butithadbeguntowearthesignsofcareandavarice.
Therewasaneager,greedy,restlessmotionintheeye,which
showedthepassionthathadtakenroot,andwherethe
shadowofthegrowingtreewouldfall.

Hewasnotalone,butsatbythesideofafairyoung
girlinamourningdress:inwhoseeyesthereweretears,
whichsparkledinthelightthatshoneoutoftheGhostof
ChristmasPast.

"Itmatterslittle,"shesaid,softly."Toyou,verylittle.
Anotheridolhasdisplacedme;andifitcancheerandcomfort
youintimetocome,asIwouldhavetriedtodo,Ihave
nojustcausetogrieve."

"WhatIdolhasdisplacedyou?"herejoined.

"Agoldenone."
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"Thisistheevenhandeddealingoftheworld!"hesaid.
"Thereisnothingonwhichitissohardaspoverty;and
thereisnothingitprofessestocondemnwithsuchseverity
asthepursuitofwealth!"

"Youfeartheworldtoomuch,"sheanswered,gently.
"Allyourotherhopeshavemergedintothehopeofbeing
beyondthechanceofitssordidreproach.Ihaveseenyour
nobleraspirationsfalloffonebyone,untilthemasterpassion,
Gain,engrossesyou.HaveInot?"

"Whatthen?"heretorted."EvenifIhavegrownso
muchwiser,whatthen?Iamnotchangedtowardsyou."

Sheshookherhead.

"AmI?"

"Ourcontractisanoldone.Itwasmadewhenwewere
bothpoorandcontenttobeso,until,ingoodseason,wecould
improveourworldlyfortunebyourpatientindustry.You
arechanged.Whenitwasmade,youwereanotherman."

"Iwasaboy,"hesaidimpatiently.

"Yourownfeelingtellsyouthatyouwerenotwhatyou
are,"shereturned."Iam.Thatwhichpromisedhappiness
whenwewereoneinheart,isfraughtwithmiserynowthat
wearetwo.HowoftenandhowkeenlyIhavethoughtof
this,Iwillnotsay.ItisenoughthatIhavethoughtofit,
andcanreleaseyou."

"HaveIeversoughtrelease?"

"Inwords.No.Never."

"Inwhat,then?"

"Inachangednature;inanalteredspirit;inanother
atmosphereoflife;anotherHopeasitsgreatend.In
everythingthatmademyloveofanyworthorvalueinyour
sight.Ifthishadneverbeenbetweenus,"saidthegirl,
lookingmildly,butwithsteadiness,uponhim;"tellme,
wouldyouseekmeoutandtrytowinmenow?Ah,no!"

Heseemedtoyieldtothejusticeofthissupposition,in
spiteofhimself.Buthesaidwithastruggle,"Youthink
not."

"IwouldgladlythinkotherwiseifIcould,"sheanswered,
"Heavenknows!WhenIhavelearnedaTruthlikethis,
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Iknowhowstrongandirresistibleitmustbe.Butifyou
werefreetoday,tomorrow,yesterday,canevenIbelieve
thatyouwouldchooseadowerlessgirlyouwho,inyour
veryconfidencewithher,weigheverythingbyGain:or,
choosingher,ifforamomentyouwerefalseenoughtoyour
oneguidingprincipletodoso,doInotknowthatyour
repentanceandregretwouldsurelyfollow?Ido;andI
releaseyou.Withafullheart,fortheloveofhimyou
oncewere."

Hewasabouttospeak;butwithherheadturnedfrom
him,sheresumed.

"Youmaythememoryofwhatispasthalfmakesme
hopeyouwillhavepaininthis.Avery,verybrieftime,
andyouwilldismisstherecollectionofit,gladly,asan
unprofitabledream,fromwhichithappenedwellthatyou
awoke.Mayyoubehappyinthelifeyouhavechosen!"

Shelefthim,andtheyparted.

"Spirit!"saidScrooge,"showmenomore!Conduct
mehome.Whydoyoudelighttotortureme?"

"Oneshadowmore!"exclaimedtheGhost.

"Nomore!"criedScrooge."Nomore.Idon'twishto
seeit.Showmenomore!"

ButtherelentlessGhostpinionedhiminbothhisarms,
andforcedhimtoobservewhathappenednext.

Theywereinanothersceneandplace;aroom,notvery
largeorhandsome,butfullofcomfort.Neartothewinter
firesatabeautifulyounggirl,solikethatlastthatScrooge
believeditwasthesame,untilhesawher,nowacomely
matron,sittingoppositeherdaughter.Thenoiseinthis
roomwasperfectlytumultuous,forthereweremorechildren
there,thanScroogeinhisagitatedstateofmindcouldcount;
and,unlikethecelebratedherdinthepoem,theywerenot
fortychildrenconductingthemselveslikeone,butevery
childwasconductingitselflikeforty.Theconsequences
wereuproariousbeyondbelief;butnooneseemedtocare;
onthecontrary,themotheranddaughterlaughedheartily,
andenjoyeditverymuch;andthelatter,soonbeginningto
mingleinthesports,gotpillagedbytheyoungbrigands
mostruthlessly.WhatwouldInothavegiventobeoneof
them!ThoughInevercouldhavebeensorude,no,no!I
wouldn'tforthewealthofalltheworldhavecrushedthat
braidedhair,andtornitdown;andforthepreciouslittle
shoe,Iwouldn'thavepluckeditoff,Godblessmysoul!to
savemylife.Astomeasuringherwaistinsport,asthey
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did,boldyoungbrood,Icouldn'thavedoneit;Ishould
haveexpectedmyarmtohavegrownrounditforapunishment,
andnevercomestraightagain.AndyetIshould
havedearlyliked,Iown,tohavetouchedherlips;tohave
questionedher,thatshemighthaveopenedthem;tohave
lookeduponthelashesofherdowncasteyes,andnever
raisedablush;tohaveletloosewavesofhair,aninchof
whichwouldbeakeepsakebeyondprice:inshort,Ishould
haveliked,Idoconfess,tohavehadthelightestlicence
ofachild,andyettohavebeenmanenoughtoknowits
value.

Butnowaknockingatthedoorwasheard,andsucha
rushimmediatelyensuedthatshewithlaughingfaceand
plundereddresswasbornetowardsitthecentreofaflushed
andboisterousgroup,justintimetogreetthefather,who
camehomeattendedbyamanladenwithChristmastoys
andpresents.Thentheshoutingandthestruggling,and
theonslaughtthatwasmadeonthedefencelessporter!
Thescalinghimwithchairsforladderstodiveintohis
pockets,despoilhimofbrownpaperparcels,holdontight
byhiscravat,hughimroundhisneck,pommelhisback,
andkickhislegsinirrepressibleaffection!Theshoutsof
wonderanddelightwithwhichthedevelopmentofevery
packagewasreceived!Theterribleannouncementthatthe
babyhadbeentakenintheactofputtingadoll'sfryingpan
intohismouth,andwasmorethansuspectedofhaving
swallowedafictitiousturkey,gluedonawoodenplatter!
Theimmensereliefoffindingthisafalsealarm!Thejoy,
andgratitude,andecstasy!Theyareallindescribablealike.
Itisenoughthatbydegreesthechildrenandtheiremotions
gotoutoftheparlour,andbyonestairatatime,uptothe
topofthehouse;wheretheywenttobed,andsosubsided.

AndnowScroogelookedonmoreattentivelythanever,
whenthemasterofthehouse,havinghisdaughterleaning
fondlyonhim,satdownwithherandhermotherathis
ownfireside;andwhenhethoughtthatsuchanother
creature,quiteasgracefulandasfullofpromise,might
havecalledhimfather,andbeenaspringtimeinthe
haggardwinterofhislife,hissightgrewverydimindeed.

"Belle,"saidthehusband,turningtohiswifewitha
smile,"Isawanoldfriendofyoursthisafternoon."

"Whowasit?"

"Guess!"

"HowcanI?Tut,don'tIknow?"sheaddedinthe
samebreath,laughingashelaughed."Mr.Scrooge."

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"Mr.Scroogeitwas.Ipassedhisofficewindow;andas
itwasnotshutup,andhehadacandleinside,Icould
scarcelyhelpseeinghim.Hispartnerliesuponthepoint
ofdeath,Ihear;andtherehesatalone.Quitealonein
theworld,Idobelieve."

"Spirit!"saidScroogeinabrokenvoice,"removeme
fromthisplace."

"Itoldyouthesewereshadowsofthethingsthathave
been,"saidtheGhost."Thattheyarewhattheyare,do
notblameme!"

"Removeme!"Scroogeexclaimed,"Icannotbearit!"

HeturnedupontheGhost,andseeingthatitlookedupon
himwithaface,inwhichinsomestrangewaytherewere
fragmentsofallthefacesithadshownhim,wrestledwithit.

"Leaveme!Takemeback.Hauntmenolonger!"

Inthestruggle,ifthatcanbecalledastruggleinwhich
theGhostwithnovisibleresistanceonitsownpartwas
undisturbedbyanyeffortofitsadversary,Scroogeobserved
thatitslightwasburninghighandbright;anddimly
connectingthatwithitsinfluenceoverhim,heseizedthe
extinguishercap,andbyasuddenactionpresseditdown
uponitshead.

TheSpiritdroppedbeneathit,sothattheextinguisher
covereditswholeform;butthoughScroogepresseditdown
withallhisforce,hecouldnothidethelight:whichstreamed
fromunderit,inanunbrokenfloodupontheground.

Hewasconsciousofbeingexhausted,andovercomebyan
irresistibledrowsiness;and,further,ofbeinginhisown
bedroom.Hegavethecapapartingsqueeze,inwhichhishand
relaxed;andhadbarelytimetoreeltobed,beforehesank
intoaheavysleep.

STAVEIII:THESECONDOFTHETHREESPIRITS

AWAKINGinthemiddleofaprodigiouslytoughsnore,and
sittingupinbedtogethisthoughtstogether,Scroogehad
nooccasiontobetoldthatthebellwasagainuponthe
strokeofOne.Hefeltthathewasrestoredtoconsciousness
intherightnickoftime,fortheespecialpurposeofholding
aconferencewiththesecondmessengerdespatchedtohim
throughJacobMarley'sintervention.Butfindingthathe
turneduncomfortablycoldwhenhebegantowonderwhich
ofhiscurtainsthisnewspectrewoulddrawback,heput
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themeveryoneasidewithhisownhands;andlyingdown
again,establishedasharplookoutallroundthebed.For
hewishedtochallengetheSpiritonthemomentofits
appearance,anddidnotwishtobetakenbysurprise,and
madenervous.

Gentlemenofthefreeandeasysort,whoplumethemselves
onbeingacquaintedwithamoveortwo,andbeingusually
equaltothetimeofday,expressthewiderangeoftheir
capacityforadventurebyobservingthattheyaregoodfor
anythingfrompitchandtosstomanslaughter;betweenwhich
oppositeextremes,nodoubt,thereliesatolerablywideand
comprehensiverangeofsubjects.Withoutventuringfor
Scroogequiteashardilyasthis,Idon'tmindcallingonyou
tobelievethathewasreadyforagoodbroadfieldof
strangeappearances,andthatnothingbetweenababyand
rhinoceroswouldhaveastonishedhimverymuch.

Now,beingpreparedforalmostanything,hewasnotby
anymeanspreparedfornothing;and,consequently,whenthe
BellstruckOne,andnoshapeappeared,hewastakenwitha
violentfitoftrembling.Fiveminutes,tenminutes,aquarter
ofanhourwentby,yetnothingcame.Allthistime,helay
uponhisbed,theverycoreandcentreofablazeofruddy
light,whichstreameduponitwhentheclockproclaimedthe
hour;andwhich,beingonlylight,wasmorealarmingthan
adozenghosts,ashewaspowerlesstomakeoutwhatit
meant,orwouldbeat;andwassometimesapprehensive
thathemightbeatthatverymomentaninterestingcaseof
spontaneouscombustion,withouthavingtheconsolationof
knowingit.Atlast,however,hebegantothinkasyouor
Iwouldhavethoughtatfirst;foritisalwaysthepersonnot
inthepredicamentwhoknowswhatoughttohavebeendone
init,andwouldunquestionablyhavedoneittooatlast,I
say,hebegantothinkthatthesourceandsecretofthis
ghostlylightmightbeintheadjoiningroom,fromwhence,
onfurthertracingit,itseemedtoshine.Thisideataking
fullpossessionofhismind,hegotupsoftlyandshuffledin
hisslipperstothedoor.

ThemomentScrooge'shandwasonthelock,astrange
voicecalledhimbyhisname,andbadehimenter.He
obeyed.

Itwashisownroom.Therewasnodoubtaboutthat.
Butithadundergoneasurprisingtransformation.Thewalls
andceilingweresohungwithlivinggreen,thatitlookeda
perfectgrove;fromeverypartofwhich,brightgleaming
berriesglistened.Thecrispleavesofholly,mistletoe,and
ivyreflectedbackthelight,asifsomanylittlemirrorshad
beenscatteredthere;andsuchamightyblazewentroaring
upthechimney,asthatdullpetrificationofahearthhad
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neverknowninScrooge'stime,orMarley's,orformanyand
manyawinterseasongone.Heapeduponthefloor,toform
akindofthrone,wereturkeys,geese,game,poultry,brawn,
greatjointsofmeat,suckingpigs,longwreathsofsausages,
mincepies,plumpuddings,barrelsofoysters,redhotchestnuts,
cherrycheekedapples,juicyoranges,lusciouspears,
immensetwelfthcakes,andseethingbowlsofpunch,that
madethechamberdimwiththeirdelicioussteam.Ineasy
stateuponthiscouch,theresatajollyGiant,gloriousto
see;whoboreaglowingtorch,inshapenotunlikePlenty's
horn,andhelditup,highup,tosheditslightonScrooge,
ashecamepeepingroundthedoor.

"Comein!"exclaimedtheGhost."Comein!andknow
mebetter,man!"

Scroogeenteredtimidly,andhunghisheadbeforethis
Spirit.HewasnotthedoggedScroogehehadbeen;and
thoughtheSpirit'seyeswereclearandkind,hedidnotlike
tomeetthem.

"IamtheGhostofChristmasPresent,"saidtheSpirit.
"Lookuponme!"

Scroogereverentlydidso.Itwasclothedinonesimple
greenrobe,ormantle,borderedwithwhitefur.Thisgarment
hungsolooselyonthefigure,thatitscapaciousbreastwas
bare,asifdisdainingtobewardedorconcealedbyany
artifice.Itsfeet,observablebeneaththeamplefoldsofthe
garment,werealsobare;andonitsheaditworenoother
coveringthanahollywreath,sethereandtherewithshining
icicles.Itsdarkbrowncurlswerelongandfree;freeasits
genialface,itssparklingeye,itsopenhand,itscheeryvoice,
itsunconstraineddemeanour,anditsjoyfulair.Girded
rounditsmiddlewasanantiquescabbard;butnosword
wasinit,andtheancientsheathwaseatenupwithrust.

"Youhaveneverseenthelikeofmebefore!"exclaimed
theSpirit.

"Never,"Scroogemadeanswertoit.

"Haveneverwalkedforthwiththeyoungermembersof
myfamily;meaning(forIamveryyoung)myelderbrothers
bornintheselateryears?"pursuedthePhantom.

"Idon'tthinkIhave,"saidScrooge."IamafraidIhave
not.Haveyouhadmanybrothers,Spirit?"

"Morethaneighteenhundred,"saidtheGhost.

"Atremendousfamilytoprovidefor!"mutteredScrooge.
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TheGhostofChristmasPresentrose.

"Spirit,"saidScroogesubmissively,"conductmewhere
youwill.Iwentforthlastnightoncompulsion,andIlearnt
alessonwhichisworkingnow.Tonight,ifyouhaveaught
toteachme,letmeprofitbyit."

"Touchmyrobe!"

Scroogedidashewastold,andhelditfast.

Holly,mistletoe,redberries,ivy,turkeys,geese,game,
poultry,brawn,meat,pigs,sausages,oysters,pies,puddings,
fruit,andpunch,allvanishedinstantly.Sodidtheroom,
thefire,theruddyglow,thehourofnight,andtheystood
inthecitystreetsonChristmasmorning,where(forthe
weatherwassevere)thepeoplemadearough,butbriskand
notunpleasantkindofmusic,inscrapingthesnowfromthe
pavementinfrontoftheirdwellings,andfromthetopsof
theirhouses,whenceitwasmaddelighttotheboystosee
itcomeplumpingdownintotheroadbelow,andsplitting
intoartificiallittlesnowstorms.

Thehousefrontslookedblackenough,andthewindows
blacker,contrastingwiththesmoothwhitesheetofsnow
upontheroofs,andwiththedirtiersnowupontheground;
whichlastdeposithadbeenploughedupindeepfurrowsby
theheavywheelsofcartsandwaggons;furrowsthatcrossed
andrecrossedeachotherhundredsoftimeswherethegreat
streetsbranchedoff;andmadeintricatechannels,hardtotrace
inthethickyellowmudandicywater.Theskywasgloomy,
andtheshorteststreetswerechokedupwithadingymist,
halfthawed,halffrozen,whoseheavierparticlesdescended
inashowerofsootyatoms,asifallthechimneysinGreat
Britainhad,byoneconsent,caughtfire,andwereblazingaway
totheirdearhearts'content.Therewasnothingverycheerful
intheclimateorthetown,andyetwasthereanairof
cheerfulnessabroadthattheclearestsummerairandbrightest
summersunmighthaveendeavouredtodiffuseinvain.

For,thepeoplewhowereshovellingawayonthehousetops
werejovialandfullofglee;callingouttooneanother
fromtheparapets,andnowandthenexchangingafacetious
snowballbetternaturedmissilefarthanmanyawordyjest
laughingheartilyifitwentrightandnotlessheartilyifit
wentwrong.Thepoulterers'shopswerestillhalfopen,andthe
fruiterers'wereradiantintheirglory.Thereweregreat,round,
potbelliedbasketsofchestnuts,shapedlikethewaistcoats
ofjollyoldgentlemen,lollingatthedoors,andtumblingout
intothestreetintheirapoplecticopulence.Therewere
ruddy,brownfaced,broadgirthedSpanishOnions,shiningin
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thefatnessoftheirgrowthlikeSpanishFriars,andwinking
fromtheirshelvesinwantonslynessatthegirlsastheywent
by,andglanceddemurelyatthehungupmistletoe.Therewere
pearsandapples,clusteredhighinbloomingpyramids;there
werebunchesofgrapes,made,intheshopkeepers'benevolence
todanglefromconspicuoushooks,thatpeople'smouthsmight
watergratisastheypassed;therewerepilesoffilberts,mossy
andbrown,recalling,intheirfragrance,ancientwalksamong
thewoods,andpleasantshufflingsankledeepthroughwithered
leaves;therewereNorfolkBiffins,squatandswarthy,setting
offtheyellowoftheorangesandlemons,and,inthegreat
compactnessoftheirjuicypersons,urgentlyentreatingand
beseechingtobecarriedhomeinpaperbagsandeatenafter
dinner.Theverygoldandsilverfish,setforthamong
thesechoicefruitsinabowl,thoughmembersofadulland
stagnantbloodedrace,appearedtoknowthattherewas
somethinggoingon;and,toafish,wentgaspingroundand
roundtheirlittleworldinslowandpassionlessexcitement.

TheGrocers'!oh,theGrocers'!nearlyclosed,withperhaps
twoshuttersdown,orone;butthroughthosegapssuch
glimpses!Itwasnotalonethatthescalesdescendingonthe
countermadeamerrysound,orthatthetwineandroller
partedcompanysobriskly,orthatthecanisterswererattled
upanddownlikejugglingtricks,oreventhattheblended
scentsofteaandcoffeeweresogratefultothenose,oreven
thattheraisinsweresoplentifulandrare,thealmondsso
extremelywhite,thesticksofcinnamonsolongandstraight,
theotherspicessodelicious,thecandiedfruitssocakedand
spottedwithmoltensugarastomakethecoldestlookerson
feelfaintandsubsequentlybilious.Norwasitthatthefigs
weremoistandpulpy,orthattheFrenchplumsblushedin
modesttartnessfromtheirhighlydecoratedboxes,orthat
everythingwasgoodtoeatandinitsChristmasdress;but
thecustomerswereallsohurriedandsoeagerinthehopeful
promiseoftheday,thattheytumbledupagainsteachother
atthedoor,crashingtheirwickerbasketswildly,andleft
theirpurchasesuponthecounter,andcamerunningbackto
fetchthem,andcommittedhundredsofthelikemistakes,in
thebesthumourpossible;whiletheGrocerandhispeople
weresofrankandfreshthatthepolishedheartswithwhich
theyfastenedtheirapronsbehindmighthavebeentheirown,
wornoutsideforgeneralinspection,andforChristmasdaws
topeckatiftheychose.

Butsoonthesteeplescalledgoodpeopleall,tochurchand
chapel,andawaytheycame,flockingthroughthestreetsin
theirbestclothes,andwiththeirgayestfaces.Andatthe
sametimethereemergedfromscoresofbyestreets,lanes,and
namelessturnings,innumerablepeople,carryingtheirdinners
tothebakers'shops.Thesightofthesepoorrevellers
appearedtointeresttheSpiritverymuch,forhestoodwith
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Scroogebesidehiminabaker'sdoorway,andtakingoffthe
coversastheirbearerspassed,sprinkledincenseontheir
dinnersfromhistorch.Anditwasaveryuncommonkind
oftorch,foronceortwicewhentherewereangrywords
betweensomedinnercarrierswhohadjostledeachother,he
shedafewdropsofwateronthemfromit,andtheirgood
humourwasrestoreddirectly.Fortheysaid,itwasashame
toquarreluponChristmasDay.Andsoitwas!Godlove
it,soitwas!

Intimethebellsceased,andthebakerswereshutup;and
yettherewasagenialshadowingforthofallthesedinners
andtheprogressoftheircooking,inthethawedblotchof
wetaboveeachbaker'soven;wherethepavementsmokedas
ifitsstoneswerecookingtoo.

"Isthereapeculiarflavourinwhatyousprinklefrom
yourtorch?"askedScrooge.

"Thereis.Myown."

"Woulditapplytoanykindofdinneronthisday?"
askedScrooge.

"Toanykindlygiven.Toapooronemost."

"Whytoapooronemost?"askedScrooge.

"Becauseitneedsitmost."

"Spirit,"saidScrooge,afteramoment'sthought,"Iwonder
you,ofallthebeingsinthemanyworldsaboutus,should
desiretocrampthesepeople'sopportunitiesofinnocent
enjoyment."

"I!"criedtheSpirit.

"Youwoulddeprivethemoftheirmeansofdiningevery
seventhday,oftentheonlydayonwhichtheycanbesaid
todineatall,"saidScrooge."Wouldn'tyou?"

"I!"criedtheSpirit.

"YouseektoclosetheseplacesontheSeventhDay?"said
Scrooge."Anditcomestothesamething."

"Iseek!"exclaimedtheSpirit.

"ForgivemeifIamwrong.Ithasbeendoneinyour
name,oratleastinthatofyourfamily,"saidScrooge.

"Therearesomeuponthisearthofyours,"returnedtheSpirit,
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"wholayclaimtoknowus,andwhodotheirdeedsofpassion,
pride,illwill,hatred,envy,bigotry,andselfishness
inourname,whoareasstrangetousandallourkithand
kin,asiftheyhadneverlived.Rememberthat,andcharge
theirdoingsonthemselves,notus."

Scroogepromisedthathewould;andtheywenton,
invisible,astheyhadbeenbefore,intothesuburbsofthe
town.ItwasaremarkablequalityoftheGhost(which
Scroogehadobservedatthebaker's),thatnotwithstanding
hisgiganticsize,hecouldaccommodatehimselftoanyplace
withease;andthathestoodbeneathalowroofquiteas
gracefullyandlikeasupernaturalcreature,asitwaspossible
hecouldhavedoneinanyloftyhall.

AndperhapsitwasthepleasurethegoodSpirithadin
showingoffthispowerofhis,orelseitwashisownkind,
generous,heartynature,andhissympathywithallpoor
men,thatledhimstraighttoScrooge'sclerk's;fortherehe
went,andtookScroogewithhim,holdingtohisrobe;and
onthethresholdofthedoortheSpiritsmiled,andstopped
toblessBobCratchit'sdwellingwiththesprinklingofhis
torch.Thinkofthat!Bobhadbutfifteen"Bob"aweek
himself;hepocketedonSaturdaysbutfifteencopiesofhis
Christianname;andyettheGhostofChristmasPresent
blessedhisfourroomedhouse!

ThenuproseMrs.Cratchit,Cratchit'swife,dressedout
butpoorlyinatwiceturnedgown,butbraveinribbons,
whicharecheapandmakeagoodlyshowforsixpence;and
shelaidthecloth,assistedbyBelindaCratchit,secondof
herdaughters,alsobraveinribbons;whileMasterPeter
Cratchitplungedaforkintothesaucepanofpotatoes,and
gettingthecornersofhismonstrousshirtcollar(Bob'sprivate
property,conferreduponhissonandheirinhonourofthe
day)intohismouth,rejoicedtofindhimselfsogallantly
attired,andyearnedtoshowhislineninthefashionableParks.
AndnowtwosmallerCratchits,boyandgirl,cametearing
in,screamingthatoutsidethebaker'stheyhadsmeltthe
goose,andknownitfortheirown;andbaskinginluxurious
thoughtsofsageandonion,theseyoungCratchitsdanced
aboutthetable,andexaltedMasterPeterCratchittothe
skies,whilehe(notproud,althoughhiscollarsnearlychoked
him)blewthefire,untiltheslowpotatoesbubblingup,
knockedloudlyatthesaucepanlidtobeletoutand
peeled.

"Whathasevergotyourpreciousfatherthen?"saidMrs.
Cratchit."Andyourbrother,TinyTim!AndMartha
warn'taslatelastChristmasDaybyhalfanhour?"

"Here'sMartha,mother!"saidagirl,appearingasshe
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spoke.

"Here'sMartha,mother!"criedthetwoyoungCratchits.
"Hurrah!There'ssuchagoose,Martha!"

"Why,blessyourheartalive,mydear,howlateyouare!"
saidMrs.Cratchit,kissingheradozentimes,andtakingoff
hershawlandbonnetforherwithofficiouszeal.

"We'dadealofworktofinishuplastnight,"repliedthe
girl,"andhadtoclearawaythismorning,mother!"

"Well!Nevermindsolongasyouarecome,"saidMrs.
Cratchit."Sityedownbeforethefire,mydear,andhave
awarm,Lordblessye!"

"No,no!There'sfathercoming,"criedthetwoyoung
Cratchits,whowereeverywhereatonce."Hide,Martha,
hide!"

SoMarthahidherself,andincamelittleBob,thefather,
withatleastthreefeetofcomforterexclusiveofthefringe,
hangingdownbeforehim;andhisthreadbareclothesdarned
upandbrushed,tolookseasonable;andTinyTimuponhis
shoulder.AlasforTinyTim,heborealittlecrutch,and
hadhislimbssupportedbyanironframe!

"Why,where'sourMartha?"criedBobCratchit,looking
round.

"Notcoming,"saidMrs.Cratchit.

"Notcoming!"saidBob,withasuddendeclensioninhis
highspirits;forhehadbeenTim'sbloodhorsealltheway
fromchurch,andhadcomehomerampant."Notcoming
uponChristmasDay!"

Marthadidn'tliketoseehimdisappointed,ifitwereonly
injoke;soshecameoutprematurelyfrombehindthecloset
door,andranintohisarms,whilethetwoyoungCratchits
hustledTinyTim,andborehimoffintothewashhouse,
thathemighthearthepuddingsinginginthecopper.

"AndhowdidlittleTimbehave?"askedMrs.Cratchit,
whenshehadralliedBobonhiscredulity,andBobhad
huggedhisdaughtertohisheart'scontent.

"Asgoodasgold,"saidBob,"andbetter.Somehowhe
getsthoughtful,sittingbyhimselfsomuch,andthinksthe
strangestthingsyoueverheard.Hetoldme,cominghome,
thathehopedthepeoplesawhiminthechurch,becausehe
wasacripple,anditmightbepleasanttothemtoremember
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uponChristmasDay,whomadelamebeggarswalk,andblind
mensee."

Bob'svoicewastremulouswhenhetoldthemthis,and
trembledmorewhenhesaidthatTinyTimwasgrowing
strongandhearty.

Hisactivelittlecrutchwashearduponthefloor,andback
cameTinyTimbeforeanotherwordwasspoken,escortedby
hisbrotherandsistertohisstoolbeforethefire;andwhile
Bob,turninguphiscuffsasif,poorfellow,theywere
capableofbeingmademoreshabbycompoundedsomehot
mixtureinajugwithginandlemons,andstirreditround
androundandputitonthehobtosimmer;MasterPeter,
andthetwoubiquitousyoungCratchitswenttofetchthe
goose,withwhichtheysoonreturnedinhighprocession.

Suchabustleensuedthatyoumighthavethoughtagoose
therarestofallbirds;afeatheredphenomenon,towhicha
blackswanwasamatterofcourseandintruthitwas
somethingverylikeitinthathouse.Mrs.Cratchitmade
thegravy(readybeforehandinalittlesaucepan)hissinghot;
MasterPetermashedthepotatoeswithincrediblevigour;
MissBelindasweeteneduptheapplesauce;Marthadusted
thehotplates;BobtookTinyTimbesidehiminatiny
corneratthetable;thetwoyoungCratchitssetchairsfor
everybody,notforgettingthemselves,andmountingguard
upontheirposts,crammedspoonsintotheirmouths,lest
theyshouldshriekforgoosebeforetheirturncametobe
helped.Atlastthedisheswereseton,andgracewas
said.Itwassucceededbyabreathlesspause,asMrs.
Cratchit,lookingslowlyallalongthecarvingknife,prepared
toplungeitinthebreast;butwhenshedid,andwhenthe
longexpectedgushofstuffingissuedforth,onemurmurof
delightaroseallroundtheboard,andevenTinyTim,
excitedbythetwoyoungCratchits,beatonthetablewith
thehandleofhisknife,andfeeblycriedHurrah!

Thereneverwassuchagoose.Bobsaidhedidn'tbelieve
thereeverwassuchagoosecooked.Itstendernessand
flavour,sizeandcheapness,werethethemesofuniversal
admiration.Ekedoutbyapplesauceandmashedpotatoes,
itwasasufficientdinnerforthewholefamily;indeed,as
Mrs.Cratchitsaidwithgreatdelight(surveyingonesmall
atomofaboneuponthedish),theyhadn'tateitallat
last!Yeteveryonehadhadenough,andtheyoungest
Cratchitsinparticular,weresteepedinsageandonionto
theeyebrows!Butnow,theplatesbeingchangedbyMiss
Belinda,Mrs.Cratchitlefttheroomalonetoonervousto
bearwitnessestotakethepuddingupandbringitin.

Supposeitshouldnotbedoneenough!Supposeitshould
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breakinturningout!Supposesomebodyshouldhavegot
overthewallofthebackyard,andstolenit,whilethey
weremerrywiththegooseasuppositionatwhichthetwo
youngCratchitsbecamelivid!Allsortsofhorrorswere
supposed.

Hallo!Agreatdealofsteam!Thepuddingwasoutof
thecopper.Asmelllikeawashingday!Thatwasthe
cloth.Asmelllikeaneatinghouseandapastrycook'snext
doortoeachother,withalaundress'snextdoortothat!
Thatwasthepudding!InhalfaminuteMrs.Cratchit
enteredflushed,butsmilingproudlywiththepudding,
likeaspeckledcannonball,sohardandfirm,blazinginhalf
ofhalfaquarternofignitedbrandy,andbedightwith
Christmashollystuckintothetop.

Oh,awonderfulpudding!BobCratchitsaid,andcalmly
too,thatheregardeditasthegreatestsuccessachievedby
Mrs.Cratchitsincetheirmarriage.Mrs.Cratchitsaidthat
nowtheweightwasoffhermind,shewouldconfessshehad
hadherdoubtsaboutthequantityofflour.Everybodyhad
somethingtosayaboutit,butnobodysaidorthoughtit
wasatallasmallpuddingforalargefamily.Itwouldhave
beenflatheresytodoso.AnyCratchitwouldhaveblushed
tohintatsuchathing.

Atlastthedinnerwasalldone,theclothwascleared,the
hearthswept,andthefiremadeup.Thecompoundinthe
jugbeingtasted,andconsideredperfect,applesandoranges
wereputuponthetable,andashovelfullofchestnutsonthe
fire.ThenalltheCratchitfamilydrewroundthehearth,in
whatBobCratchitcalledacircle,meaninghalfaone;and
atBobCratchit'selbowstoodthefamilydisplayofglass.
Twotumblers,andacustardcupwithoutahandle.

Theseheldthehotstufffromthejug,however,aswellas
goldengobletswouldhavedone;andBobserveditoutwith
beaminglooks,whilethechestnutsonthefiresputteredand
crackednoisily.ThenBobproposed:

"AMerryChristmastousall,mydears.Godblessus!"

Whichallthefamilyreechoed.

"Godblessuseveryone!"saidTinyTim,thelastofall.

Hesatveryclosetohisfather'ssideuponhislittle
stool.Bobheldhiswitheredlittlehandinhis,asifhe
lovedthechild,andwishedtokeephimbyhisside,and
dreadedthathemightbetakenfromhim.

"Spirit,"saidScrooge,withaninteresthehadneverfelt
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before,"tellmeifTinyTimwilllive."

"Iseeavacantseat,"repliedtheGhost,"inthepoor
chimneycorner,andacrutchwithoutanowner,carefully
preserved.IftheseshadowsremainunalteredbytheFuture,
thechildwilldie."

"No,no,"saidScrooge."Oh,no,kindSpirit!sayhe
willbespared."

"IftheseshadowsremainunalteredbytheFuture,none
otherofmyrace,"returnedtheGhost,"willfindhimhere.
Whatthen?Ifhebeliketodie,hehadbetterdoit,and
decreasethesurpluspopulation."

Scroogehunghisheadtohearhisownwordsquotedby
theSpirit,andwasovercomewithpenitenceandgrief.

"Man,"saidtheGhost,"ifmanyoubeinheart,not
adamant,forbearthatwickedcantuntilyouhavediscovered
Whatthesurplusis,andWhereitis.Willyoudecidewhat
menshalllive,whatmenshalldie?Itmaybe,thatinthe
sightofHeaven,youaremoreworthlessandlessfittolive
thanmillionslikethispoorman'schild.OhGod!tohear
theInsectontheleafpronouncingonthetoomuchlife
amonghishungrybrothersinthedust!"

ScroogebentbeforetheGhost'srebuke,andtremblingcast
hiseyesupontheground.Butheraisedthemspeedily,on
hearinghisownname.

"Mr.Scrooge!"saidBob;"I'llgiveyouMr.Scrooge,the
FounderoftheFeast!"

"TheFounderoftheFeastindeed!"criedMrs.Cratchit,
reddening."IwishIhadhimhere.I'dgivehimapiece
ofmymindtofeastupon,andIhopehe'dhaveagood
appetiteforit."

"Mydear,"saidBob,"thechildren!ChristmasDay."

"ItshouldbeChristmasDay,Iamsure,"saidshe,"on
whichonedrinksthehealthofsuchanodious,stingy,hard,
unfeelingmanasMr.Scrooge.Youknowheis,Robert!
Nobodyknowsitbetterthanyoudo,poorfellow!"

"Mydear,"wasBob'smildanswer,"ChristmasDay."

"I'lldrinkhishealthforyoursakeandtheDay's,"said
Mrs.Cratchit,"notforhis.Longlifetohim!Amerry
Christmasandahappynewyear!He'llbeverymerryand
veryhappy,Ihavenodoubt!"
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Thechildrendrankthetoastafterher.Itwasthefirstof
theirproceedingswhichhadnoheartiness.TinyTimdrank
itlastofall,buthedidn'tcaretwopenceforit.Scrooge
wastheOgreofthefamily.Thementionofhisnamecast
adarkshadowontheparty,whichwasnotdispelledforfull
fiveminutes.

Afterithadpassedaway,theyweretentimesmerrierthan
before,fromthemerereliefofScroogetheBalefulbeingdone
with.BobCratchittoldthemhowhehadasituationinhis
eyeforMasterPeter,whichwouldbringin,ifobtained,full
fiveandsixpenceweekly.ThetwoyoungCratchitslaughed
tremendouslyattheideaofPeter'sbeingamanofbusiness;
andPeterhimselflookedthoughtfullyatthefirefrom
betweenhiscollars,asifheweredeliberatingwhatparticular
investmentsheshouldfavourwhenhecameintothereceipt
ofthatbewilderingincome.Martha,whowasapoor
apprenticeatamilliner's,thentoldthemwhatkindofwork
shehadtodo,andhowmanyhourssheworkedatastretch,
andhowshemeanttolieabedtomorrowmorningfora
goodlongrest;tomorrowbeingaholidayshepassedat
home.Alsohowshehadseenacountessandalordsome
daysbefore,andhowthelord"wasmuchaboutastallas
Peter;"atwhichPeterpulleduphiscollarssohighthatyou
couldn'thaveseenhisheadifyouhadbeenthere.Allthis
timethechestnutsandthejugwentroundandround;and
byandbyetheyhadasong,aboutalostchildtravellingin
thesnow,fromTinyTim,whohadaplaintivelittlevoice,
andsangitverywellindeed.

Therewasnothingofhighmarkinthis.Theywerenot
ahandsomefamily;theywerenotwelldressed;theirshoes
werefarfrombeingwaterproof;theirclotheswerescanty;
andPetermighthaveknown,andverylikelydid,theinside
ofapawnbroker's.But,theywerehappy,grateful,pleased
withoneanother,andcontentedwiththetime;andwhen
theyfaded,andlookedhappieryetinthebrightsprinklings
oftheSpirit'storchatparting,Scroogehadhiseyeupon
them,andespeciallyonTinyTim,untilthelast.

Bythistimeitwasgettingdark,andsnowingpretty
heavily;andasScroogeandtheSpiritwentalongthestreets,
thebrightnessoftheroaringfiresinkitchens,parlours,and
allsortsofrooms,waswonderful.Here,theflickeringof
theblazeshowedpreparationsforacosydinner,withhot
platesbakingthroughandthroughbeforethefire,anddeep
redcurtains,readytobedrawntoshutoutcoldanddarkness.
Thereallthechildrenofthehousewererunningout
intothesnowtomeettheirmarriedsisters,brothers,cousins,
uncles,aunts,andbethefirsttogreetthem.Here,again,
wereshadowsonthewindowblindofguestsassembling;and
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thereagroupofhandsomegirls,allhoodedandfurbooted,
andallchatteringatonce,trippedlightlyofftosomenear
neighbour'shouse;where,woeuponthesinglemanwhosaw
thementerartfulwitches,welltheyknewitinaglow!

But,ifyouhadjudgedfromthenumbersofpeopleon
theirwaytofriendlygatherings,youmighthavethought
thatnoonewasathometogivethemwelcomewhenthey
gotthere,insteadofeveryhouseexpectingcompany,and
pilingupitsfireshalfchimneyhigh.Blessingsonit,how
theGhostexulted!Howitbareditsbreadthofbreast,and
openeditscapaciouspalm,andfloatedon,outpouring,with
ageneroushand,itsbrightandharmlessmirthoneverything
withinitsreach!Theverylamplighter,whoranonbefore,
dottingtheduskystreetwithspecksoflight,andwhowas
dressedtospendtheeveningsomewhere,laughedoutloudly
astheSpiritpassed,thoughlittlekennedthelamplighter
thathehadanycompanybutChristmas!

Andnow,withoutawordofwarningfromtheGhost,they
stooduponableakanddesertmoor,wheremonstrousmasses
ofrudestonewerecastabout,asthoughitweretheburialplace
ofgiants;andwaterspreaditselfwheresoeveritlisted,
orwouldhavedoneso,butforthefrostthathelditprisoner;
andnothinggrewbutmossandfurze,andcoarserankgrass.
Downinthewestthesettingsunhadleftastreakoffiery
red,whichglareduponthedesolationforaninstant,likea
sulleneye,andfrowninglower,lower,loweryet,waslostin
thethickgloomofdarkestnight.

"Whatplaceisthis?"askedScrooge.

"AplacewhereMinerslive,wholabourinthebowelsof
theearth,"returnedtheSpirit."Buttheyknowme.See!"

Alightshonefromthewindowofahut,andswiftlythey
advancedtowardsit.Passingthroughthewallofmudand
stone,theyfoundacheerfulcompanyassembledrounda
glowingfire.Anold,oldmanandwoman,withtheir
childrenandtheirchildren'schildren,andanothergeneration
beyondthat,alldeckedoutgailyintheirholidayattire.
Theoldman,inavoicethatseldomroseabovethehowling
ofthewinduponthebarrenwaste,wassingingthema
Christmassongithadbeenaveryoldsongwhenhewasa
boyandfromtimetotimetheyalljoinedinthechorus.
Sosurelyastheyraisedtheirvoices,theoldmangotquite
blitheandloud;andsosurelyastheystopped,hisvigour
sankagain.

TheSpiritdidnottarryhere,butbadeScroogeholdhis
robe,andpassingonabovethemoor,spedwhither?Not
tosea?Tosea.ToScrooge'shorror,lookingback,hesaw
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thelastoftheland,afrightfulrangeofrocks,behindthem;
andhisearsweredeafenedbythethunderingofwater,asit
rolledandroared,andragedamongthedreadfulcavernsit
hadworn,andfiercelytriedtounderminetheearth.

Builtuponadismalreefofsunkenrocks,someleague
orsofromshore,onwhichthewaterschafedanddashed,
thewildyearthrough,therestoodasolitarylighthouse.
Greatheapsofseaweedclungtoitsbase,andstormbirds
bornofthewindonemightsuppose,asseaweedofthe
waterroseandfellaboutit,likethewavestheyskimmed.

Butevenhere,twomenwhowatchedthelighthadmade
afire,thatthroughtheloopholeinthethickstonewallshed
outarayofbrightnessontheawfulsea.Joiningtheir
hornyhandsovertheroughtableatwhichtheysat,they
wishedeachotherMerryChristmasintheircanofgrog;and
oneofthem:theelder,too,withhisfacealldamagedand
scarredwithhardweather,asthefigureheadofanoldship
mightbe:struckupasturdysongthatwaslikeaGalein
itself.

AgaintheGhostspedon,abovetheblackandheavingsea
on,onuntil,beingfaraway,ashetoldScrooge,fromany
shore,theylightedonaship.Theystoodbesidethehelmsman
atthewheel,thelookoutinthebow,theofficerswho
hadthewatch;dark,ghostlyfiguresintheirseveralstations;
buteverymanamongthemhummedaChristmastune,or
hadaChristmasthought,orspokebelowhisbreathtohis
companionofsomebygoneChristmasDay,withhomeward
hopesbelongingtoit.Andeverymanonboard,wakingor
sleeping,goodorbad,hadhadakinderwordforanother
onthatdaythanonanydayintheyear;andhadshared
tosomeextentinitsfestivities;andhadrememberedthose
hecaredforatadistance,andhadknownthattheydelighted
torememberhim.

ItwasagreatsurprisetoScrooge,whilelisteningtothe
moaningofthewind,andthinkingwhatasolemnthingit
wastomoveonthroughthelonelydarknessoveranunknown
abyss,whosedepthsweresecretsasprofoundasDeath:it
wasagreatsurprisetoScrooge,whilethusengaged,tohear
aheartylaugh.ItwasamuchgreatersurprisetoScrooge
torecogniseitashisownnephew'sandtofindhimselfina
bright,dry,gleamingroom,withtheSpiritstandingsmiling
byhisside,andlookingatthatsamenephewwithapproving
affability!

"Ha,ha!"laughedScrooge'snephew."Ha,ha,ha!"

Ifyoushouldhappen,byanyunlikelychance,toknowa
manmoreblestinalaughthanScrooge'snephew,allIcan
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sayis,Ishouldliketoknowhimtoo.Introducehimtome,
andI'llcultivatehisacquaintance.

Itisafair,evenhanded,nobleadjustmentofthings,that
whilethereisinfectionindiseaseandsorrow,thereisnothing
intheworldsoirresistiblycontagiousaslaughterand
goodhumour.WhenScrooge'snephewlaughedinthisway:holding
hissides,rollinghishead,andtwistinghisfaceintothe
mostextravagantcontortions:Scrooge'sniece,bymarriage,
laughedasheartilyashe.Andtheirassembledfriendsbeing
notabitbehindhand,roaredoutlustily.

"Ha,ha!Ha,ha,ha,ha!"

"HesaidthatChristmaswasahumbug,asIlive!"cried
Scrooge'snephew."Hebelievedittoo!"

"Moreshameforhim,Fred!"saidScrooge'sniece,
indignantly.Blessthosewomen;theyneverdoanythingby
halves.Theyarealwaysinearnest.

Shewasverypretty:exceedinglypretty.Withadimpled,
surprisedlooking,capitalface;aripelittlemouth,that
seemedmadetobekissedasnodoubtitwas;allkindsof
goodlittledotsaboutherchin,thatmeltedintooneanother
whenshelaughed;andthesunniestpairofeyesyouever
sawinanylittlecreature'shead.Altogethershewaswhat
youwouldhavecalledprovoking,youknow;butsatisfactory,too.
Oh,perfectlysatisfactory.

"He'sacomicaloldfellow,"saidScrooge'snephew,"that's
thetruth:andnotsopleasantashemightbe.However,
hisoffencescarrytheirownpunishment,andIhavenothing
tosayagainsthim."

"I'msureheisveryrich,Fred,"hintedScrooge'sniece.
"Atleastyoualwaystellmeso."

"Whatofthat,mydear!"saidScrooge'snephew."His
wealthisofnousetohim.Hedon'tdoanygoodwithit.
Hedon'tmakehimselfcomfortablewithit.Hehasn'tthe
satisfactionofthinkingha,ha,ha!thatheisevergoing
tobenefitUSwithit."

"Ihavenopatiencewithhim,"observedScrooge'sniece.
Scrooge'sniece'ssisters,andalltheotherladies,expressed
thesameopinion.

"Oh,Ihave!"saidScrooge'snephew."Iamsorryfor
him;Icouldn'tbeangrywithhimifItried.Whosuffers
byhisillwhims!Himself,always.Here,hetakesitinto
hisheadtodislikeus,andhewon'tcomeanddinewithus.
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What'stheconsequence?Hedon'tlosemuchofadinner."

"Indeed,Ithinkhelosesaverygooddinner,"interrupted
Scrooge'sniece.Everybodyelsesaidthesame,andthey
mustbeallowedtohavebeencompetentjudges,because
theyhadjusthaddinner;and,withthedessertuponthe
table,wereclusteredroundthefire,bylamplight.

"Well!I'mverygladtohearit,"saidScrooge'snephew,
"becauseIhaven'tgreatfaithintheseyounghousekeepers.
Whatdoyousay,Topper?"

TopperhadclearlygothiseyeupononeofScrooge'sniece's
sisters,forheansweredthatabachelorwasawretchedoutcast,
whohadnorighttoexpressanopiniononthesubject.
WhereatScrooge'sniece'ssistertheplumponewiththelace
tucker:nottheonewiththerosesblushed.

"Dogoon,Fred,"saidScrooge'sniece,clappingherhands.
"Heneverfinisheswhathebeginstosay!Heissucha
ridiculousfellow!"

Scrooge'snephewrevelledinanotherlaugh,andasitwas
impossibletokeeptheinfectionoff;thoughtheplumpsister
triedhardtodoitwitharomaticvinegar;hisexamplewas
unanimouslyfollowed.

"Iwasonlygoingtosay,"saidScrooge'snephew,"that
theconsequenceofhistakingadisliketous,andnotmaking
merrywithus,is,asIthink,thathelosessomepleasant
moments,whichcoulddohimnoharm.Iamsureheloses
pleasantercompanionsthanhecanfindinhisownthoughts,
eitherinhismouldyoldoffice,orhisdustychambers.I
meantogivehimthesamechanceeveryyear,whetherhe
likesitornot,forIpityhim.HemayrailatChristmas
tillhedies,buthecan'thelpthinkingbetterofitIdefy
himifhefindsmegoingthere,ingoodtemper,yearafter
year,andsayingUncleScrooge,howareyou?Ifitonly
putshimintheveintoleavehispoorclerkfiftypounds,
that'ssomething;andIthinkIshookhimyesterday."

Itwastheirturntolaughnowatthenotionofhisshaking
Scrooge.Butbeingthoroughlygoodnatured,andnotmuch
caringwhattheylaughedat,sothattheylaughedatany
rate,heencouragedthemintheirmerriment,andpassedthe
bottlejoyously.

Aftertea,theyhadsomemusic.Fortheywereamusical
family,andknewwhattheywereabout,whentheysunga
GleeorCatch,Icanassureyou:especiallyTopper,who
couldgrowlawayinthebasslikeagoodone,andnever
swellthelargeveinsinhisforehead,orgetredintheface
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overit.Scrooge'snieceplayedwellupontheharp;and
playedamongothertunesasimplelittleair(amerenothing:
youmightlearntowhistleitintwominutes),whichhad
beenfamiliartothechildwhofetchedScroogefromthe
boardingschool,ashehadbeenremindedbytheGhostof
ChristmasPast.Whenthisstrainofmusicsounded,allthe
thingsthatGhosthadshownhim,cameuponhismind;he
softenedmoreandmore;andthoughtthatifhecouldhave
listenedtoitoften,yearsago,hemighthavecultivatedthe
kindnessesoflifeforhisownhappinesswithhisownhands,
withoutresortingtothesexton'sspadethatburiedJacob
Marley.

Buttheydidn'tdevotethewholeeveningtomusic.After
awhiletheyplayedatforfeits;foritisgoodtobechildren
sometimes,andneverbetterthanatChristmas,whenits
mightyFounderwasachildhimself.Stop!Therewasfirst
agameatblindman'sbuff.Ofcoursetherewas.AndI
nomorebelieveTopperwasreallyblindthanIbelievehe
hadeyesinhisboots.Myopinionis,thatitwasadone
thingbetweenhimandScrooge'snephew;andthatthe
GhostofChristmasPresentknewit.Thewayhewentafter
thatplumpsisterinthelacetucker,wasanoutrageonthe
credulityofhumannature.Knockingdownthefireirons,
tumblingoverthechairs,bumpingagainstthepiano,
smotheringhimselfamongthecurtains,wherevershewent,
therewenthe!Healwaysknewwheretheplumpsisterwas.
Hewouldn'tcatchanybodyelse.Ifyouhadfallenup
againsthim(assomeofthemdid),onpurpose,hewould
havemadeafeintofendeavouringtoseizeyou,whichwould
havebeenanaffronttoyourunderstanding,andwouldinstantly
havesidledoffinthedirectionoftheplumpsister.
Sheoftencriedoutthatitwasn'tfair;anditreallywasnot.
Butwhenatlast,hecaughther;when,inspiteofallher
silkenrustlings,andherrapidflutteringspasthim,hegot
herintoacornerwhencetherewasnoescape;thenhis
conductwasthemostexecrable.Forhispretendingnotto
knowher;hispretendingthatitwasnecessarytotouchher
headdress,andfurthertoassurehimselfofheridentityby
pressingacertainringuponherfinger,andacertainchain
aboutherneck;wasvile,monstrous!Nodoubtshetold
himheropinionofit,when,anotherblindmanbeingin
office,theyweresoveryconfidentialtogether,behindthe
curtains.

Scrooge'sniecewasnotoneoftheblindman'sbuffparty,
butwasmadecomfortablewithalargechairandafootstool,
inasnugcorner,wheretheGhostandScroogewereclose
behindher.Butshejoinedintheforfeits,andlovedher
lovetoadmirationwithallthelettersofthealphabet.
LikewiseatthegameofHow,When,andWhere,shewas
verygreat,andtothesecretjoyofScrooge'snephew,beat
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hersistershollow:thoughtheyweresharpgirlstoo,asTopper
couldhavetoldyou.Theremighthavebeentwentypeoplethere,
youngandold,buttheyallplayed,andsodidScrooge;for
whollyforgettingintheinteresthehadinwhatwasgoingon,that
hisvoicemadenosoundintheirears,hesometimescameoutwith
hisguessquiteloud,andveryoftenguessedquiteright,too;
forthesharpestneedle,bestWhitechapel,warrantednottocut
intheeye,wasnotsharperthanScrooge;bluntashetookitin
hisheadtobe.

TheGhostwasgreatlypleasedtofindhiminthismood,
andlookeduponhimwithsuchfavour,thathebeggedlike
aboytobeallowedtostayuntiltheguestsdeparted.But
thistheSpiritsaidcouldnotbedone.

"Hereisanewgame,"saidScrooge."Onehalfhour,
Spirit,onlyone!"

ItwasaGamecalledYesandNo,whereScrooge'snephew
hadtothinkofsomething,andtherestmustfindoutwhat;
heonlyansweringtotheirquestionsyesorno,asthecase
was.Thebriskfireofquestioningtowhichhewasexposed,
elicitedfromhimthathewasthinkingofananimal,alive
animal,ratheradisagreeableanimal,asavageanimal,an
animalthatgrowledandgruntedsometimes,andtalkedsometimes,
andlivedinLondon,andwalkedaboutthestreets,
andwasn'tmadeashowof,andwasn'tledbyanybody,and
didn'tliveinamenagerie,andwasneverkilledinamarket,
andwasnotahorse,oranass,oracow,orabull,ora
tiger,oradog,orapig,oracat,orabear.Ateveryfresh
questionthatwasputtohim,thisnephewburstintoa
freshroaroflaughter;andwassoinexpressiblytickled,that
hewasobligedtogetupoffthesofaandstamp.Atlast
theplumpsister,fallingintoasimilarstate,criedout:

"Ihavefounditout!Iknowwhatitis,Fred!Iknow
whatitis!"

"Whatisit?"criedFred.

"It'syourUncleScroooooge!"

Whichitcertainlywas.Admirationwastheuniversal
sentiment,thoughsomeobjectedthatthereplyto"Isita
bear?"oughttohavebeen"Yes;"inasmuchasananswer
inthenegativewassufficienttohavedivertedtheirthoughts
fromMr.Scrooge,supposingtheyhadeverhadanytendency
thatway.

"Hehasgivenusplentyofmerriment,Iamsure,"said
Fred,"anditwouldbeungratefulnottodrinkhishealth.
Hereisaglassofmulledwinereadytoourhandatthe
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moment;andIsay,'UncleScrooge!'"

"Well!UncleScrooge!"theycried.

"AMerryChristmasandaHappyNewYeartotheold
man,whateverheis!"saidScrooge'snephew."Hewouldn't
takeitfromme,butmayhehaveit,nevertheless.Uncle
Scrooge!"

UncleScroogehadimperceptiblybecomesogayandlight
ofheart,thathewouldhavepledgedtheunconscious
companyinreturn,andthankedtheminaninaudiblespeech,
iftheGhosthadgivenhimtime.Butthewholescene
passedoffinthebreathofthelastwordspokenbyhis
nephew;andheandtheSpiritwereagainupontheirtravels.

Muchtheysaw,andfartheywent,andmanyhomesthey
visited,butalwayswithahappyend.TheSpiritstood
besidesickbeds,andtheywerecheerful;onforeignlands,
andtheywerecloseathome;bystrugglingmen,andthey
werepatientintheirgreaterhope;bypoverty,anditwas
rich.Inalmshouse,hospital,andjail,inmisery'severy
refuge,wherevainmaninhislittlebriefauthorityhadnot
madefastthedoor,andbarredtheSpiritout,helefthis
blessing,andtaughtScroogehisprecepts.

Itwasalongnight,ifitwereonlyanight;butScrooge
hadhisdoubtsofthis,becausetheChristmasHolidaysappeared
tobecondensedintothespaceoftimetheypassed
together.Itwasstrange,too,thatwhileScroogeremained
unalteredinhisoutwardform,theGhostgrewolder,clearly
older.Scroogehadobservedthischange,butneverspokeof
it,untiltheyleftachildren'sTwelfthNightparty,when,
lookingattheSpiritastheystoodtogetherinanopenplace,
henoticedthatitshairwasgrey.

"Arespirits'livessoshort?"askedScrooge.

"Mylifeuponthisglobe,isverybrief,"repliedtheGhost.
"Itendstonight."

"Tonight!"criedScrooge.

"Tonightatmidnight.Hark!Thetimeisdrawing
near."

Thechimeswereringingthethreequarterspastelevenat
thatmoment.

"ForgivemeifIamnotjustifiedinwhatIask,"said
Scrooge,lookingintentlyattheSpirit'srobe,"butIsee
somethingstrange,andnotbelongingtoyourself,protruding
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fromyourskirts.Isitafootoraclaw?"

"Itmightbeaclaw,forthefleshthereisuponit,"was
theSpirit'ssorrowfulreply."Lookhere."

Fromthefoldingsofitsrobe,itbroughttwochildren;
wretched,abject,frightful,hideous,miserable.Theyknelt
downatitsfeet,andclungupontheoutsideofitsgarment.

"Oh,Man!lookhere.Look,look,downhere!"exclaimed
theGhost.

Theywereaboyandgirl.Yellow,meagre,ragged,scowling,
wolfish;butprostrate,too,intheirhumility.Where
gracefulyouthshouldhavefilledtheirfeaturesout,and
touchedthemwithitsfreshesttints,astaleandshrivelled
hand,likethatofage,hadpinched,andtwistedthem,and
pulledthemintoshreds.Whereangelsmighthavesat
enthroned,devilslurked,andglaredoutmenacing.No
change,nodegradation,noperversionofhumanity,inany
grade,throughallthemysteriesofwonderfulcreation,has
monstershalfsohorribleanddread.

Scroogestartedback,appalled.Havingthemshownto
himinthisway,hetriedtosaytheywerefinechildren,but
thewordschokedthemselves,ratherthanbepartiestoalie
ofsuchenormousmagnitude.

"Spirit!aretheyyours?"Scroogecouldsaynomore.

"TheyareMan's,"saidtheSpirit,lookingdownupon
them."Andtheyclingtome,appealingfromtheirfathers.
ThisboyisIgnorance.ThisgirlisWant.Bewarethemboth,
andalloftheirdegree,butmostofallbewarethisboy,for
onhisbrowIseethatwrittenwhichisDoom,unlessthe
writingbeerased.Denyit!"criedtheSpirit,stretchingout
itshandtowardsthecity."Slanderthosewhotellitye!
Admititforyourfactiouspurposes,andmakeitworse.
Andbidetheend!"

"Havetheynorefugeorresource?"criedScrooge.

"Aretherenoprisons?"saidtheSpirit,turningonhim
forthelasttimewithhisownwords."Aretherenoworkhouses?"

Thebellstrucktwelve.

ScroogelookedabouthimfortheGhost,andsawitnot.
Asthelaststrokeceasedtovibrate,herememberedthe
predictionofoldJacobMarley,andliftinguphiseyes,
beheldasolemnPhantom,drapedandhooded,coming,like
amistalongtheground,towardshim.
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STAVEIV:THELASTOFTHESPIRITS

THEPhantomslowly,gravely,silently,approached.When
itcamenearhim,Scroogebentdownuponhisknee;forin
theveryairthroughwhichthisSpiritmoveditseemedto
scattergloomandmystery.

Itwasshroudedinadeepblackgarment,whichconcealed
itshead,itsface,itsform,andleftnothingofitvisible
saveoneoutstretchedhand.Butforthisitwouldhavebeen
difficulttodetachitsfigurefromthenight,andseparateit
fromthedarknessbywhichitwassurrounded.

Hefeltthatitwastallandstatelywhenitcamebeside
him,andthatitsmysteriouspresencefilledhimwitha
solemndread.Heknewnomore,fortheSpiritneither
spokenormoved.

"IaminthepresenceoftheGhostofChristmasYetTo
Come?"saidScrooge.

TheSpiritanswerednot,butpointedonwardwithits
hand.

"Youareabouttoshowmeshadowsofthethingsthat
havenothappened,butwillhappeninthetimebeforeus,"
Scroogepursued."Isthatso,Spirit?"

Theupperportionofthegarmentwascontractedforan
instantinitsfolds,asiftheSpirithadinclineditshead.
Thatwastheonlyanswerhereceived.

Althoughwellusedtoghostlycompanybythistime,
Scroogefearedthesilentshapesomuchthathislegstrembled
beneathhim,andhefoundthathecouldhardlystandwhen
hepreparedtofollowit.TheSpiritpausedamoment,as
observinghiscondition,andgivinghimtimetorecover.

ButScroogewasalltheworseforthis.Itthrilledhim
withavagueuncertainhorror,toknowthatbehindthe
duskyshroud,therewereghostlyeyesintentlyfixedupon
him,whilehe,thoughhestretchedhisowntotheutmost,
couldseenothingbutaspectralhandandonegreatheap
ofblack.

"GhostoftheFuture!"heexclaimed,"Ifearyoumore
thananyspectreIhaveseen.ButasIknowyourpurpose
istodomegood,andasIhopetolivetobeanother
manfromwhatIwas,Iampreparedtobearyoucompany,
anddoitwithathankfulheart.Willyounotspeak
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tome?"

Itgavehimnoreply.Thehandwaspointedstraight
beforethem.

"Leadon!"saidScrooge."Leadon!Thenightis
waningfast,anditisprecioustimetome,Iknow.Lead
on,Spirit!"

ThePhantommovedawayasithadcometowardshim.
Scroogefollowedintheshadowofitsdress,whichborehim
up,hethought,andcarriedhimalong.

Theyscarcelyseemedtoenterthecity;forthecityrather
seemedtospringupaboutthem,andencompassthemofits
ownact.Buttheretheywere,intheheartofit;on
'Change,amongstthemerchants;whohurriedupanddown,
andchinkedthemoneyintheirpockets,andconversedin
groups,andlookedattheirwatches,andtrifledthoughtfully
withtheirgreatgoldseals;andsoforth,asScroogehad
seenthemoften.

TheSpiritstoppedbesideonelittleknotofbusinessmen.
Observingthatthehandwaspointedtothem,Scrooge
advancedtolistentotheirtalk.

"No,"saidagreatfatmanwithamonstrouschin,"I
don'tknowmuchaboutit,eitherway.Ionlyknowhe's
dead."

"Whendidhedie?"inquiredanother.

"Lastnight,Ibelieve."

"Why,whatwasthematterwithhim?"askedathird,
takingavastquantityofsnuffoutofaverylargesnuffbox.
"Ithoughthe'dneverdie."

"Godknows,"saidthefirst,withayawn.

"Whathashedonewithhismoney?"askedaredfaced
gentlemanwithapendulousexcrescenceontheendofhis
nose,thatshooklikethegillsofaturkeycock.

"Ihaven'theard,"saidthemanwiththelargechin,
yawningagain."Leftittohiscompany,perhaps.Hehasn't
leftittome.That'sallIknow."

Thispleasantrywasreceivedwithagenerallaugh.

"It'slikelytobeaverycheapfuneral,"saidthesame
speaker;"foruponmylifeIdon'tknowofanybodytogo
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toit.Supposewemakeupapartyandvolunteer?"

"Idon'tmindgoingifalunchisprovided,"observedthe
gentlemanwiththeexcrescenceonhisnose."ButImust
befed,ifImakeone."

Anotherlaugh.

"Well,Iamthemostdisinterestedamongyou,afterall,"
saidthefirstspeaker,"forIneverwearblackgloves,andI
nevereatlunch.ButI'lloffertogo,ifanybodyelsewill.
WhenIcometothinkofit,I'mnotatallsurethatIwasn't
hismostparticularfriend;forweusedtostopandspeak
wheneverwemet.Bye,bye!"

Speakersandlistenersstrolledaway,andmixedwith
othergroups.Scroogeknewthemen,andlookedtowardsthe
Spiritforanexplanation.

ThePhantomglidedonintoastreet.Itsfingerpointed
totwopersonsmeeting.Scroogelistenedagain,thinking
thattheexplanationmightliehere.

Heknewthesemen,also,perfectly.Theyweremenofbusiness:
verywealthy,andofgreatimportance.Hehadmadeapoint
alwaysofstandingwellintheiresteem:inabusinesspoint
ofview,thatis;strictlyinabusinesspointofview.

"Howareyou?"saidone.

"Howareyou?"returnedtheother.

"Well!"saidthefirst."OldScratchhasgothisownat
last,hey?"

"SoIamtold,"returnedthesecond."Cold,isn'tit?"

"SeasonableforChristmastime.You'renotaskater,I
suppose?"

"No.No.Somethingelsetothinkof.Goodmorning!"

Notanotherword.Thatwastheirmeeting,their
conversation,andtheirparting.

Scroogewasatfirstinclinedtobesurprisedthatthe
Spiritshouldattachimportancetoconversationsapparentlyso
trivial;butfeelingassuredthattheymusthavesomehidden
purpose,hesethimselftoconsiderwhatitwaslikelytobe.
Theycouldscarcelybesupposedtohaveanybearingonthe
deathofJacob,hisoldpartner,forthatwasPast,andthis
Ghost'sprovincewastheFuture.Norcouldhethinkofany
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oneimmediatelyconnectedwithhimself,towhomhecould
applythem.Butnothingdoubtingthattowhomsoeverthey
appliedtheyhadsomelatentmoralforhisownimprovement,
heresolvedtotreasureupeverywordheheard,
andeverythinghesaw;andespeciallytoobservethe
shadowofhimselfwhenitappeared.Forhehadanexpectation
thattheconductofhisfutureselfwouldgivehim
thecluehemissed,andwouldrenderthesolutionofthese
riddleseasy.

Helookedaboutinthatveryplaceforhisownimage;but
anothermanstoodinhisaccustomedcorner,andthoughthe
clockpointedtohisusualtimeofdayforbeingthere,he
sawnolikenessofhimselfamongthemultitudesthatpoured
inthroughthePorch.Itgavehimlittlesurprise,however;
forhehadbeenrevolvinginhismindachangeoflife,and
thoughtandhopedhesawhisnewbornresolutionscarried
outinthis.

Quietanddark,besidehimstoodthePhantom,withits
outstretchedhand.Whenherousedhimselffromhis
thoughtfulquest,hefanciedfromtheturnofthehand,and
itssituationinreferencetohimself,thattheUnseenEyes
werelookingathimkeenly.Itmadehimshudder,andfeel
verycold.

Theyleftthebusyscene,andwentintoanobscurepart
ofthetown,whereScroogehadneverpenetratedbefore,
althoughherecogniseditssituation,anditsbadrepute.The
wayswerefoulandnarrow;theshopsandhouseswretched;
thepeoplehalfnaked,drunken,slipshod,ugly.Alleysand
archways,likesomanycesspools,disgorgedtheiroffencesof
smell,anddirt,andlife,uponthestragglingstreets;andthe
wholequarterreekedwithcrime,withfilth,andmisery.

Farinthisdenofinfamousresort,therewasalowbrowed,
beetlingshop,belowapenthouseroof,whereiron,oldrags,
bottles,bones,andgreasyoffal,werebought.Uponthefloor
within,werepiledupheapsofrustykeys,nails,chains,hinges,
files,scales,weights,andrefuseironofallkinds.Secrets
thatfewwouldliketoscrutinisewerebredandhiddenin
mountainsofunseemlyrags,massesofcorruptedfat,and
sepulchresofbones.Sittinginamongthewareshedealtin,bya
charcoalstove,madeofoldbricks,wasagreyhairedrascal,
nearlyseventyyearsofage;whohadscreenedhimselffromthe
coldairwithout,byafrousycurtainingofmiscellaneous
tatters,hunguponaline;andsmokedhispipeinalltheluxury
ofcalmretirement.

ScroogeandthePhantomcameintothepresenceofthis
man,justasawomanwithaheavybundleslunkintothe
shop.Butshehadscarcelyentered,whenanotherwoman,
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similarlyladen,cameintoo;andshewascloselyfollowedby
amaninfadedblack,whowasnolessstartledbythesight
ofthem,thantheyhadbeenupontherecognitionofeach
other.Afterashortperiodofblankastonishment,inwhich
theoldmanwiththepipehadjoinedthem,theyallthree
burstintoalaugh.

"Letthecharwomanalonetobethefirst!"criedshewho
hadenteredfirst."Letthelaundressalonetobethesecond;
andlettheundertaker'smanalonetobethethird.Look
here,oldJoe,here'sachance!Ifwehaven'tallthreemet
herewithoutmeaningit!"

"Youcouldn'thavemetinabetterplace,"saidoldJoe,
removinghispipefromhismouth."Comeintotheparlour.
Youweremadefreeofitlongago,youknow;andtheother
twoan'tstrangers.StoptillIshutthedooroftheshop.
Ah!Howitskreeks!Therean'tsucharustybitofmetal
intheplaceasitsownhinges,Ibelieve;andI'msurethere's
nosucholdboneshere,asmine.Ha,ha!We'reallsuitable
toourcalling,we'rewellmatched.Comeintothe
parlour.Comeintotheparlour."

Theparlourwasthespacebehindthescreenofrags.The
oldmanrakedthefiretogetherwithanoldstairrod,and
havingtrimmedhissmokylamp(foritwasnight),withthe
stemofhispipe,putitinhismouthagain.

Whilehedidthis,thewomanwhohadalreadyspoken
threwherbundleonthefloor,andsatdowninaflaunting
manneronastool;crossingherelbowsonherknees,and
lookingwithabolddefianceattheothertwo.

"Whatoddsthen!Whatodds,Mrs.Dilber?"saidthe
woman."Everypersonhasarighttotakecareofthemselves.
Healwaysdid."

"That'strue,indeed!"saidthelaundress."Noman
moreso."

"Whythen,don'tstandstaringasifyouwasafraid,
woman;who'sthewiser?We'renotgoingtopickholesin
eachother'scoats,Isuppose?"

"No,indeed!"saidMrs.Dilberandthemantogether.
"Weshouldhopenot."

"Verywell,then!"criedthewoman."That'senough.
Who'stheworseforthelossofafewthingslikethese?
Notadeadman,Isuppose."

"No,indeed,"saidMrs.Dilber,laughing.
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"Ifhewantedtokeep'emafterhewasdead,awickedold
screw,"pursuedthewoman,"whywasn'thenaturalinhis
lifetime?Ifhehadbeen,he'dhavehadsomebodytolook
afterhimwhenhewasstruckwithDeath,insteadoflying
gaspingouthislastthere,alonebyhimself."

"It'sthetruestwordthateverwasspoke,"saidMrs.
Dilber."It'sajudgmentonhim."

"Iwishitwasalittleheavierjudgment,"repliedthe
woman;"anditshouldhavebeen,youmaydependuponit,
ifIcouldhavelaidmyhandsonanythingelse.Openthat
bundle,oldJoe,andletmeknowthevalueofit.Speakout
plain.I'mnotafraidtobethefirst,norafraidforthemto
seeit.Weknowprettywellthatwewerehelpingourselves,
beforewemethere,Ibelieve.It'snosin.Openthebundle,
Joe."

Butthegallantryofherfriendswouldnotallowofthis;
andthemaninfadedblack,mountingthebreachfirst,
producedhisplunder.Itwasnotextensive.Asealortwo,
apencilcase,apairofsleevebuttons,andabroochofno
greatvalue,wereall.Theywereseverallyexaminedand
appraisedbyoldJoe,whochalkedthesumshewasdisposed
togiveforeach,uponthewall,andaddedthemupintoa
totalwhenhefoundtherewasnothingmoretocome.

"That'syouraccount,"saidJoe,"andIwouldn'tgive
anothersixpence,ifIwastobeboiledfornotdoingit.
Who'snext?"

Mrs.Dilberwasnext.Sheetsandtowels,alittlewearing
apparel,twooldfashionedsilverteaspoons,apairof
sugartongs,andafewboots.Heraccountwasstatedonthewall
inthesamemanner.

"Ialwaysgivetoomuchtoladies.It'saweaknessofmine,
andthat'sthewayIruinmyself,"saidoldJoe."That's
youraccount.Ifyouaskedmeforanotherpenny,andmade
itanopenquestion,I'drepentofbeingsoliberalandknock
offhalfacrown."

"Andnowundomybundle,Joe,"saidthefirstwoman.

Joewentdownonhiskneesforthegreaterconvenience
ofopeningit,andhavingunfastenedagreatmanyknots,
draggedoutalargeandheavyrollofsomedarkstuff.

"Whatdoyoucallthis?"saidJoe."Bedcurtains!"

"Ah!"returnedthewoman,laughingandleaningforward
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onhercrossedarms."Bedcurtains!"

"Youdon'tmeantosayyoutook'emdown,ringsand
all,withhimlyingthere?"saidJoe.

"YesIdo,"repliedthewoman."Whynot?"

"Youwereborntomakeyourfortune,"saidJoe,"and
you'llcertainlydoit."

"Icertainlyshan'tholdmyhand,whenIcangetanything
initbyreachingitout,forthesakeofsuchamanasHe
was,Ipromiseyou,Joe,"returnedthewomancoolly."Don't
dropthatoilupontheblankets,now."

"Hisblankets?"askedJoe.

"Whoseelse'sdoyouthink?"repliedthewoman."He
isn'tlikelytotakecoldwithout'em,Idaresay."

"Ihopehedidn'tdieofanythingcatching?Eh?"said
oldJoe,stoppinginhiswork,andlookingup.

"Don'tyoubeafraidofthat,"returnedthewoman."I
an'tsofondofhiscompanythatI'dloiterabouthimfor
suchthings,ifhedid.Ah!youmaylookthroughthat
shirttillyoureyesache;butyouwon'tfindaholeinit,nor
athreadbareplace.It'sthebesthehad,andafineonetoo.
They'dhavewastedit,ifithadn'tbeenforme."

"Whatdoyoucallwastingofit?"askedoldJoe.

"Puttingitonhimtobeburiedin,tobesure,"replied
thewomanwithalaugh."Somebodywasfoolenoughto
doit,butItookitoffagain.Ifcalicoan'tgoodenoughfor
suchapurpose,itisn'tgoodenoughforanything.It'squite
asbecomingtothebody.Hecan'tlookuglierthanhedid
inthatone."

Scroogelistenedtothisdialogueinhorror.Astheysat
groupedabouttheirspoil,inthescantylightaffordedby
theoldman'slamp,heviewedthemwithadetestationand
disgust,whichcouldhardlyhavebeengreater,thoughthey
hadbeenobscenedemons,marketingthecorpseitself.

"Ha,ha!"laughedthesamewoman,whenoldJoe,
producingaflannelbagwithmoneyinit,toldouttheir
severalgainsupontheground."Thisistheendofit,you
see!Hefrightenedeveryoneawayfromhimwhenhewas
alive,toprofituswhenhewasdead!Ha,ha,ha!"

"Spirit!"saidScrooge,shudderingfromheadtofoot."I
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see,Isee.Thecaseofthisunhappymanmightbemyown.
Mylifetendsthatway,now.MercifulHeaven,whatis
this!"

Herecoiledinterror,forthescenehadchanged,andnow
healmosttouchedabed:abare,uncurtainedbed:onwhich,
beneatharaggedsheet,therelayasomethingcoveredup,
which,thoughitwasdumb,announceditselfinawful
language.

Theroomwasverydark,toodarktobeobservedwith
anyaccuracy,thoughScroogeglancedrounditinobedience
toasecretimpulse,anxioustoknowwhatkindofroomit
was.Apalelight,risingintheouterair,fellstraightupon
thebed;andonit,plunderedandbereft,unwatched,unwept,
uncaredfor,wasthebodyofthisman.

ScroogeglancedtowardsthePhantom.Itssteadyhand
waspointedtothehead.Thecoverwassocarelesslyadjusted
thattheslightestraisingofit,themotionofafingerupon
Scrooge'spart,wouldhavedisclosedtheface.Hethought
ofit,felthoweasyitwouldbetodo,andlongedtodoit;
buthadnomorepowertowithdrawtheveilthantodismiss
thespectreathisside.

Ohcold,cold,rigid,dreadfulDeath,setupthinealtar
here,anddressitwithsuchterrorsasthouhastatthy
command:forthisisthydominion!Butoftheloved,
revered,andhonouredhead,thoucanstnotturnonehair
tothydreadpurposes,ormakeonefeatureodious.Itis
notthatthehandisheavyandwillfalldownwhenreleased;
itisnotthattheheartandpulsearestill;butthatthe
handWASopen,generous,andtrue;theheartbrave,warm,
andtender;andthepulseaman's.Strike,Shadow,strike!
Andseehisgooddeedsspringingfromthewound,tosow
theworldwithlifeimmortal!

NovoicepronouncedthesewordsinScrooge'sears,and
yetheheardthemwhenhelookeduponthebed.He
thought,ifthismancouldberaisedupnow,whatwouldbe
hisforemostthoughts?Avarice,harddealing,gripingcares?
Theyhavebroughthimtoarichend,truly!

Helay,inthedarkemptyhouse,withnotaman,a
woman,orachild,tosaythathewaskindtomeinthis
orthat,andforthememoryofonekindwordIwillbe
kindtohim.Acatwastearingatthedoor,andtherewas
asoundofgnawingratsbeneaththehearthstone.What
theywantedintheroomofdeath,andwhytheywereso
restlessanddisturbed,Scroogedidnotdaretothink.

"Spirit!"hesaid,"thisisafearfulplace.Inleavingit,
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Ishallnotleaveitslesson,trustme.Letusgo!"

StilltheGhostpointedwithanunmovedfingertothe
head.

"Iunderstandyou,"Scroogereturned,"andIwoulddo
it,ifIcould.ButIhavenotthepower,Spirit.Ihave
notthepower."

Againitseemedtolookuponhim.

"Ifthereisanypersoninthetown,whofeelsemotion
causedbythisman'sdeath,"saidScroogequiteagonised,
"showthatpersontome,Spirit,Ibeseechyou!"

ThePhantomspreaditsdarkrobebeforehimfora
moment,likeawing;andwithdrawingit,revealedaroom
bydaylight,whereamotherandherchildrenwere.

Shewasexpectingsomeone,andwithanxiouseagerness;
forshewalkedupanddowntheroom;startedatevery
sound;lookedoutfromthewindow;glancedattheclock;
tried,butinvain,toworkwithherneedle;andcouldhardly
bearthevoicesofthechildrenintheirplay.

Atlengththelongexpectedknockwasheard.Shehurried
tothedoor,andmetherhusband;amanwhosefacewas
carewornanddepressed,thoughhewasyoung.Therewas
aremarkableexpressioninitnow;akindofseriousdelight
ofwhichhefeltashamed,andwhichhestruggledtorepress.

Hesatdowntothedinnerthathadbeenhoardingfor
himbythefire;andwhensheaskedhimfaintlywhatnews
(whichwasnotuntilafteralongsilence),heappeared
embarrassedhowtoanswer.

"Isitgood?"shesaid,"orbad?"tohelphim.

"Bad,"heanswered.

"Wearequiteruined?"

"No.Thereishopeyet,Caroline."

"Ifherelents,"shesaid,amazed,"thereis!Nothingis
pasthope,ifsuchamiraclehashappened."

"Heispastrelenting,"saidherhusband."Heisdead."

Shewasamildandpatientcreatureifherfacespoke
truth;butshewasthankfulinhersoultohearit,andshe
saidso,withclaspedhands.Sheprayedforgivenessthenext
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moment,andwassorry;butthefirstwastheemotionof
herheart.

"WhatthehalfdrunkenwomanwhomItoldyouoflast
night,saidtome,whenItriedtoseehimandobtaina
week'sdelay;andwhatIthoughtwasamereexcusetoavoid
me;turnsouttohavebeenquitetrue.Hewasnotonly
veryill,butdying,then."

"Towhomwillourdebtbetransferred?"

"Idon'tknow.Butbeforethattimeweshallbeready
withthemoney;andeventhoughwewerenot,itwouldbe
abadfortuneindeedtofindsomercilessacreditorinhis
successor.Wemaysleeptonightwithlighthearts,Caroline!"

Yes.Softenitastheywould,theirheartswerelighter.
Thechildren'sfaces,hushedandclusteredroundtohearwhat
theysolittleunderstood,werebrighter;anditwasahappier
houseforthisman'sdeath!Theonlyemotionthatthe
Ghostcouldshowhim,causedbytheevent,wasoneof
pleasure.

"Letmeseesometendernessconnectedwithadeath,"said
Scrooge;"orthatdarkchamber,Spirit,whichweleftjust
now,willbeforeverpresenttome."

TheGhostconductedhimthroughseveralstreetsfamiliar
tohisfeet;andastheywentalong,Scroogelookedhereand
theretofindhimself,butnowherewashetobeseen.They
enteredpoorBobCratchit'shouse;thedwellinghehad
visitedbefore;andfoundthemotherandthechildrenseated
roundthefire.

Quiet.Veryquiet.ThenoisylittleCratchitswereas
stillasstatuesinonecorner,andsatlookingupatPeter,
whohadabookbeforehim.Themotherandherdaughters
wereengagedinsewing.Butsurelytheywereveryquiet!

"'AndHetookachild,andsethiminthemidstof
them.'"

WherehadScroogeheardthosewords?Hehadnot
dreamedthem.Theboymusthavereadthemout,ashe
andtheSpiritcrossedthethreshold.Whydidhenot
goon?

Themotherlaidherworkuponthetable,andputher
handuptoherface.

"Thecolourhurtsmyeyes,"shesaid.

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Thecolour?Ah,poorTinyTim!

"They'rebetternowagain,"saidCratchit'swife."It
makesthemweakbycandlelight;andIwouldn'tshowweak
eyestoyourfatherwhenhecomeshome,fortheworld.It
mustbenearhistime."

"Pastitrather,"Peteranswered,shuttinguphisbook.
"ButIthinkhehaswalkedalittleslowerthanheused,
thesefewlastevenings,mother."

Theywereveryquietagain.Atlastshesaid,andina
steady,cheerfulvoice,thatonlyfalteredonce:

"IhaveknownhimwalkwithIhaveknownhimwalk
withTinyTimuponhisshoulder,veryfastindeed."

"AndsohaveI,"criedPeter."Often."

"AndsohaveI,"exclaimedanother.Sohadall.

"Buthewasverylighttocarry,"sheresumed,intentupon
herwork,"andhisfatherlovedhimso,thatitwasno
trouble:notrouble.Andthereisyourfatheratthedoor!"

Shehurriedouttomeethim;andlittleBobinhiscomforter
hehadneedofit,poorfellowcamein.Histea
wasreadyforhimonthehob,andtheyalltriedwhoshould
helphimtoitmost.ThenthetwoyoungCratchitsgot
uponhiskneesandlaid,eachchildalittlecheek,against
hisface,asiftheysaid,"Don'tmindit,father.Don'tbe
grieved!"

Bobwasverycheerfulwiththem,andspokepleasantlyto
allthefamily.Helookedattheworkuponthetable,and
praisedtheindustryandspeedofMrs.Cratchitandthegirls.
TheywouldbedonelongbeforeSunday,hesaid.

"Sunday!Youwenttoday,then,Robert?"saidhis
wife.

"Yes,mydear,"returnedBob."Iwishyoucouldhave
gone.Itwouldhavedoneyougoodtoseehowgreena
placeitis.Butyou'llseeitoften.IpromisedhimthatI
wouldwalkthereonaSunday.Mylittle,littlechild!"
criedBob."Mylittlechild!"

Hebrokedownallatonce.Hecouldn'thelpit.Ifhe
couldhavehelpedit,heandhischildwouldhavebeenfarther
apartperhapsthantheywere.

Helefttheroom,andwentupstairsintotheroomabove,
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whichwaslightedcheerfully,andhungwithChristmas.
Therewasachairsetclosebesidethechild,andtherewere
signsofsomeonehavingbeenthere,lately.PoorBobsat
downinit,andwhenhehadthoughtalittleandcomposed
himself,hekissedthelittleface.Hewasreconciledtowhat
hadhappened,andwentdownagainquitehappy.

Theydrewaboutthefire,andtalked;thegirlsandmother
workingstill.Bobtoldthemoftheextraordinarykindness
ofMr.Scrooge'snephew,whomhehadscarcelyseenbut
once,andwho,meetinghiminthestreetthatday,andseeing
thathelookedalittle"justalittledownyouknow,"said
Bob,inquiredwhathadhappenedtodistresshim."On
which,"saidBob,"forheisthepleasantestspokengentleman
youeverheard,Itoldhim.'Iamheartilysorryforit,Mr.
Cratchit,'hesaid,'andheartilysorryforyourgoodwife.'
Bythebye,howheeverknewthat,Idon'tknow."

"Knewwhat,mydear?"

"Why,thatyouwereagoodwife,"repliedBob.

"Everybodyknowsthat!"saidPeter.

"Verywellobserved,myboy!"criedBob."Ihopethey
do.'Heartilysorry,'hesaid,'foryourgoodwife.IfI
canbeofservicetoyouinanyway,'hesaid,givingme
hiscard,'that'swhereIlive.Praycometome.'Now,it
wasn't,"criedBob,"forthesakeofanythinghemightbe
abletodoforus,somuchasforhiskindway,thatthiswas
quitedelightful.Itreallyseemedasifhehadknownour
TinyTim,andfeltwithus."

"I'msurehe'sagoodsoul!"saidMrs.Cratchit.

"Youwouldbesurerofit,mydear,"returnedBob,"if
yousawandspoketohim.Ishouldn'tbeatallsurprised
markwhatIsay!ifhegotPeterabettersituation."

"Onlyhearthat,Peter,"saidMrs.Cratchit.

"Andthen,"criedoneofthegirls,"Peterwillbekeeping
companywithsomeone,andsettingupforhimself."

"Getalongwithyou!"retortedPeter,grinning.

"It'sjustaslikelyasnot,"saidBob,"oneofthesedays;
thoughthere'splentyoftimeforthat,mydear.Buthowever
andwheneverwepartfromoneanother,Iamsurewe
shallnoneofusforgetpoorTinyTimshallweorthis
firstpartingthattherewasamongus?"

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"Never,father!"criedtheyall.

"AndIknow,"saidBob,"Iknow,mydears,thatwhen
werecollecthowpatientandhowmildhewas;althoughhe
wasalittle,littlechild;weshallnotquarreleasilyamong
ourselves,andforgetpoorTinyTimindoingit."

"No,never,father!"theyallcriedagain.

"Iamveryhappy,"saidlittleBob,"Iamveryhappy!"

Mrs.Cratchitkissedhim,hisdaughterskissedhim,the
twoyoungCratchitskissedhim,andPeterandhimselfshook
hands.SpiritofTinyTim,thychildishessencewasfrom
God!

"Spectre,"saidScrooge,"somethinginformsmethatour
partingmomentisathand.Iknowit,butIknownot
how.Tellmewhatmanthatwaswhomwesawlyingdead?"

TheGhostofChristmasYetToComeconveyedhim,as
beforethoughatadifferenttime,hethought:indeed,there
seemednoorderintheselattervisions,savethattheywere
intheFutureintotheresortsofbusinessmen,butshowed
himnothimself.Indeed,theSpiritdidnotstayforanything,
butwentstraighton,astotheendjustnowdesired,
untilbesoughtbyScroogetotarryforamoment.

"Thiscourt,"saidScrooge,"throughwhichwehurrynow,
iswheremyplaceofoccupationis,andhasbeenforalength
oftime.Iseethehouse.LetmebeholdwhatIshallbe,
indaystocome!"

TheSpiritstopped;thehandwaspointedelsewhere.

"Thehouseisyonder,"Scroogeexclaimed."Whydoyou
pointaway?"

Theinexorablefingerunderwentnochange.

Scroogehastenedtothewindowofhisoffice,andlooked
in.Itwasanofficestill,butnothis.Thefurniturewas
notthesame,andthefigureinthechairwasnothimself.
ThePhantompointedasbefore.

Hejoineditonceagain,andwonderingwhyandwhither
hehadgone,accompaniedituntiltheyreachedanirongate.
Hepausedtolookroundbeforeentering.

Achurchyard.Here,then;thewretchedmanwhosename
hehadnowtolearn,layunderneaththeground.Itwasa
worthyplace.Walledinbyhouses;overrunbygrassand
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weeds,thegrowthofvegetation'sdeath,notlife;chokedup
withtoomuchburying;fatwithrepletedappetite.A
worthyplace!

TheSpiritstoodamongthegraves,andpointeddownto
One.Headvancedtowardsittrembling.ThePhantomwas
exactlyasithadbeen,buthedreadedthathesawnew
meaninginitssolemnshape.

"BeforeIdrawnearertothatstonetowhichyoupoint,"
saidScrooge,"answermeonequestion.Arethesethe
shadowsofthethingsthatWillbe,oraretheyshadowsof
thingsthatMaybe,only?"

StilltheGhostpointeddownwardtothegravebywhich
itstood.

"Men'scourseswillforeshadowcertainends,towhich,if
perseveredin,theymustlead,"saidScrooge."Butifthe
coursesbedepartedfrom,theendswillchange.Sayitis
thuswithwhatyoushowme!"

TheSpiritwasimmovableasever.

Scroogecrepttowardsit,tremblingashewent;and
followingthefinger,readuponthestoneoftheneglected
gravehisownname,EBENEZERSCROOGE.

"AmIthatmanwholayuponthebed?"hecried,upon
hisknees.

Thefingerpointedfromthegravetohim,andbackagain.

"No,Spirit!Ohno,no!"

Thefingerstillwasthere.

"Spirit!"hecried,tightclutchingatitsrobe,"hearme!
IamnotthemanIwas.IwillnotbethemanImust
havebeenbutforthisintercourse.Whyshowmethis,ifI
ampastallhope!"

Forthefirsttimethehandappearedtoshake.

"GoodSpirit,"hepursued,asdownuponthegroundhe
fellbeforeit:"Yournatureintercedesforme,andpities
me.AssuremethatIyetmaychangetheseshadowsyou
haveshownme,byanalteredlife!"

Thekindhandtrembled.

"IwillhonourChristmasinmyheart,andtrytokeepit
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alltheyear.IwillliveinthePast,thePresent,andthe
Future.TheSpiritsofallThreeshallstrivewithinme.I
willnotshutoutthelessonsthattheyteach.Oh,tellmeI
mayspongeawaythewritingonthisstone!"

Inhisagony,hecaughtthespectralhand.Itsoughtto
freeitself,buthewasstronginhisentreaty,anddetainedit.
TheSpirit,strongeryet,repulsedhim.

Holdinguphishandsinalastprayertohavehisfate
reversed,hesawanalterationinthePhantom'shoodanddress.
Itshrunk,collapsed,anddwindleddownintoabedpost.

STAVEV:THEENDOFIT

YES!andthebedpostwashisown.Thebedwashisown,
theroomwashisown.Bestandhappiestofall,theTime
beforehimwashisown,tomakeamendsin!

"IwillliveinthePast,thePresent,andtheFuture!"
Scroogerepeated,ashescrambledoutofbed."TheSpirits
ofallThreeshallstrivewithinme.OhJacobMarley!
Heaven,andtheChristmasTimebepraisedforthis!Isay
itonmyknees,oldJacob;onmyknees!"

Hewassoflutteredandsoglowingwithhisgoodintentions,
thathisbrokenvoicewouldscarcelyanswertohis
call.Hehadbeensobbingviolentlyinhisconflictwiththe
Spirit,andhisfacewaswetwithtears.

"Theyarenottorndown,"criedScrooge,foldingoneof
hisbedcurtainsinhisarms,"theyarenottorndown,rings
andall.TheyarehereIamheretheshadowsofthe
thingsthatwouldhavebeen,maybedispelled.Theywill
be.Iknowtheywill!"

Hishandswerebusywithhisgarmentsallthistime;
turningtheminsideout,puttingthemonupsidedown,
tearingthem,mislayingthem,makingthempartiestoevery
kindofextravagance.

"Idon'tknowwhattodo!"criedScrooge,laughingand
cryinginthesamebreath;andmakingaperfectLaoconof
himselfwithhisstockings."Iamaslightasafeather,I
amashappyasanangel,Iamasmerryasaschoolboy.I
amasgiddyasadrunkenman.AmerryChristmasto
everybody!AhappyNewYeartoalltheworld.Hallo
here!Whoop!Hallo!"

Hehadfriskedintothesittingroom,andwasnowstanding
there:perfectlywinded.
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"There'sthesaucepanthatthegruelwasin!"cried
Scrooge,startingoffagain,andgoingroundthefireplace.
"There'sthedoor,bywhichtheGhostofJacobMarley
entered!There'sthecornerwheretheGhostofChristmas
Present,sat!There'sthewindowwhereIsawthewandering
Spirits!It'sallright,it'salltrue,itallhappened.
Hahaha!"

Really,foramanwhohadbeenoutofpracticeforso
manyyears,itwasasplendidlaugh,amostillustriouslaugh.
Thefatherofalong,longlineofbrilliantlaughs!

"Idon'tknowwhatdayofthemonthitis!"said
Scrooge."Idon'tknowhowlongI'vebeenamongthe
Spirits.Idon'tknowanything.I'mquiteababy.Never
mind.Idon'tcare.I'dratherbeababy.Hallo!Whoop!
Hallohere!"

Hewascheckedinhistransportsbythechurchesringing
outthelustiestpealshehadeverheard.Clash,clang,
hammer;ding,dong,bell.Bell,dong,ding;hammer,clang,
clash!Oh,glorious,glorious!

Runningtothewindow,heopenedit,andputouthis
head.Nofog,nomist;clear,bright,jovial,stirring,cold;
cold,pipingforthebloodtodanceto;Goldensunlight;
Heavenlysky;sweetfreshair;merrybells.Oh,glorious!
Glorious!

"What'stoday!"criedScrooge,callingdownwardtoa
boyinSundayclothes,whoperhapshadloiteredintolook
abouthim.

"EH?"returnedtheboy,withallhismightofwonder.

"What'stoday,myfinefellow?"saidScrooge.

"Today!"repliedtheboy."Why,CHRISTMASDAY."

"It'sChristmasDay!"saidScroogetohimself."I
haven'tmissedit.TheSpiritshavedoneitallinonenight.
Theycandoanythingtheylike.Ofcoursetheycan.Of
coursetheycan.Hallo,myfinefellow!"

"Hallo!"returnedtheboy.

"DoyouknowthePoulterer's,inthenextstreetbutone,
atthecorner?"Scroogeinquired.

"IshouldhopeIdid,"repliedthelad.

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"Anintelligentboy!"saidScrooge."Aremarkableboy!
Doyouknowwhetherthey'vesoldtheprizeTurkeythat
washangingupthere?NotthelittleprizeTurkey:the
bigone?"

"What,theoneasbigasme?"returnedtheboy.

"Whatadelightfulboy!"saidScrooge."It'sapleasure
totalktohim.Yes,mybuck!"

"It'shangingtherenow,"repliedtheboy.

"Isit?"saidScrooge."Goandbuyit."

"WalkER!"exclaimedtheboy.

"No,no,"saidScrooge,"Iaminearnest.Goandbuy
it,andtell'emtobringithere,thatImaygivethemthe
directionwheretotakeit.Comebackwiththeman,and
I'llgiveyouashilling.Comebackwithhiminlessthan
fiveminutesandI'llgiveyouhalfacrown!"

Theboywasofflikeashot.Hemusthavehadasteady
handatatriggerwhocouldhavegotashotoffhalfsofast.

"I'llsendittoBobCratchit's!"whisperedScrooge,
rubbinghishands,andsplittingwithalaugh."Hesha'n't
knowwhosendsit.It'stwicethesizeofTinyTim.Joe
MillernevermadesuchajokeassendingittoBob's
willbe!"

Thehandinwhichhewrotetheaddresswasnotasteady
one,butwriteithedid,somehow,andwentdownstairsto
openthestreetdoor,readyforthecomingofthepoulterer's
man.Ashestoodthere,waitinghisarrival,theknocker
caughthiseye.

"Ishallloveit,aslongasIlive!"criedScrooge,patting
itwithhishand."Iscarcelyeverlookedatitbefore.
Whatanhonestexpressionithasinitsface!It'sa
wonderfulknocker!Here'stheTurkey!Hallo!Whoop!
Howareyou!MerryChristmas!"

ItwasaTurkey!Henevercouldhavestooduponhis
legs,thatbird.Hewouldhavesnapped'emshortoffina
minute,likesticksofsealingwax.

"Why,it'simpossibletocarrythattoCamdenTown,"
saidScrooge."Youmusthaveacab."

Thechucklewithwhichhesaidthis,andthechucklewith
whichhepaidfortheTurkey,andthechucklewithwhich
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hepaidforthecab,andthechucklewithwhichherecompensed
theboy,wereonlytobeexceededbythechuckle
withwhichhesatdownbreathlessinhischairagain,and
chuckledtillhecried.

Shavingwasnotaneasytask,forhishandcontinuedto
shakeverymuch;andshavingrequiresattention,evenwhen
youdon'tdancewhileyouareatit.Butifhehadcutthe
endofhisnoseoff,hewouldhaveputapieceof
stickingplaisteroverit,andbeenquitesatisfied.

Hedressedhimself"allinhisbest,"andatlastgotout
intothestreets.Thepeoplewerebythistimepouringforth,
ashehadseenthemwiththeGhostofChristmasPresent;
andwalkingwithhishandsbehindhim,Scroogeregarded
everyonewithadelightedsmile.Helookedsoirresistibly
pleasant,inaword,thatthreeorfourgoodhumouredfellows
said,"Goodmorning,sir!AmerryChristmastoyou!"
AndScroogesaidoftenafterwards,thatofalltheblithe
soundshehadeverheard,thoseweretheblithestinhisears.

Hehadnotgonefar,whencomingontowardshimhe
beheldtheportlygentleman,whohadwalkedintohis
countinghousethedaybefore,andsaid,"ScroogeandMarley's,I
believe?"Itsentapangacrosshishearttothinkhowthis
oldgentlemanwouldlookuponhimwhentheymet;buthe
knewwhatpathlaystraightbeforehim,andhetookit.

"Mydearsir,"saidScrooge,quickeninghispace,and
takingtheoldgentlemanbybothhishands."Howdoyou
do?Ihopeyousucceededyesterday.Itwasverykindof
you.AmerryChristmastoyou,sir!"

"Mr.Scrooge?"

"Yes,"saidScrooge."Thatismyname,andIfearit
maynotbepleasanttoyou.Allowmetoaskyourpardon.
Andwillyouhavethegoodness"hereScroogewhisperedin
hisear.

"Lordblessme!"criedthegentleman,asifhisbreath
weretakenaway."MydearMr.Scrooge,areyouserious?"

"Ifyouplease,"saidScrooge."Notafarthingless.A
greatmanybackpaymentsareincludedinit,Iassureyou.
Willyoudomethatfavour?"

"Mydearsir,"saidtheother,shakinghandswithhim.
"Idon'tknowwhattosaytosuchmunifi"

"Don'tsayanything,please,"retortedScrooge."Come
andseeme.Willyoucomeandseeme?"
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"Iwill!"criedtheoldgentleman.Anditwasclearhe
meanttodoit.

"Thank'ee,"saidScrooge."Iammuchobligedtoyou.
Ithankyoufiftytimes.Blessyou!"

Hewenttochurch,andwalkedaboutthestreets,and
watchedthepeoplehurryingtoandfro,andpattedchildren
onthehead,andquestionedbeggars,andlookeddowninto
thekitchensofhouses,anduptothewindows,andfound
thateverythingcouldyieldhimpleasure.Hehadnever
dreamedthatanywalkthatanythingcouldgivehimso
muchhappiness.Intheafternoonheturnedhissteps
towardshisnephew'shouse.

Hepassedthedooradozentimes,beforehehadthe
couragetogoupandknock.Buthemadeadash,and
didit:

"Isyourmasterathome,mydear?"saidScroogetothe
girl.Nicegirl!Very.

"Yes,sir."

"Whereishe,mylove?"saidScrooge.

"He'sinthediningroom,sir,alongwithmistress.I'll
showyouupstairs,ifyouplease."

"Thank'ee.Heknowsme,"saidScrooge,withhishand
alreadyonthediningroomlock."I'llgoinhere,mydear."

Heturneditgently,andsidledhisfacein,roundthedoor.
Theywerelookingatthetable(whichwasspreadoutin
greatarray);fortheseyounghousekeepersarealwaysnervous
onsuchpoints,andliketoseethateverythingisright.

"Fred!"saidScrooge.

Dearheartalive,howhisniecebymarriagestarted!
Scroogehadforgotten,forthemoment,abouthersitting
inthecornerwiththefootstool,orhewouldn'thavedone
it,onanyaccount.

"Whyblessmysoul!"criedFred,"who'sthat?"

"It'sI.YouruncleScrooge.Ihavecometodinner.
Willyouletmein,Fred?"

Lethimin!Itisamercyhedidn'tshakehisarmoff.
Hewasathomeinfiveminutes.Nothingcouldbeheartier.
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Hisniecelookedjustthesame.SodidTopperwhenhe
came.Sodidtheplumpsisterwhenshecame.Sodid
everyonewhentheycame.Wonderfulparty,wonderful
games,wonderfulunanimity,wonderfulhappiness!

Buthewasearlyattheofficenextmorning.Oh,hewas
earlythere.Ifhecouldonlybetherefirst,andcatchBob
Cratchitcominglate!Thatwasthethinghehadsethis
heartupon.

Andhedidit;yes,hedid!Theclockstrucknine.No
Bob.Aquarterpast.NoBob.Hewasfulleighteen
minutesandahalfbehindhistime.Scroogesatwithhis
doorwideopen,thathemightseehimcomeintotheTank.

Hishatwasoff,beforeheopenedthedoor;hiscomforter
too.Hewasonhisstoolinajiffy;drivingawaywithhis
pen,asifheweretryingtoovertakenineo'clock.

"Hallo!"growledScrooge,inhisaccustomedvoice,as
nearashecouldfeignit."Whatdoyoumeanbycoming
hereatthistimeofday?"

"Iamverysorry,sir,"saidBob."Iambehindmytime."

"Youare?"repeatedScrooge."Yes.Ithinkyouare.
Stepthisway,sir,ifyouplease."

"It'sonlyonceayear,sir,"pleadedBob,appearingfrom
theTank."Itshallnotberepeated.Iwasmakingrather
merryyesterday,sir."

"Now,I'lltellyouwhat,myfriend,"saidScrooge,"I
amnotgoingtostandthissortofthinganylonger.And
therefore,"hecontinued,leapingfromhisstool,andgiving
Bobsuchadiginthewaistcoatthathestaggeredbackinto
theTankagain;"andthereforeIamabouttoraiseyour
salary!"

Bobtrembled,andgotalittlenearertotheruler.He
hadamomentaryideaofknockingScroogedownwithit,
holdinghim,andcallingtothepeopleinthecourtforhelp
andastraitwaistcoat.

"AmerryChristmas,Bob!"saidScrooge,withanearnestness
thatcouldnotbemistaken,asheclappedhimonthe
back."AmerrierChristmas,Bob,mygoodfellow,thanI
havegivenyou,formanyayear!I'llraiseyoursalary,and
endeavourtoassistyourstrugglingfamily,andwewilldiscuss
youraffairsthisveryafternoon,overaChristmasbowlof
smokingbishop,Bob!Makeupthefires,andbuyanother
coalscuttlebeforeyoudotanotheri,BobCratchit!"
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Scroogewasbetterthanhisword.Hediditall,and
infinitelymore;andtoTinyTim,whodidNOTdie,hewas
asecondfather.Hebecameasgoodafriend,asgooda
master,andasgoodaman,asthegoodoldcityknew,or
anyothergoodoldcity,town,orborough,inthegoodold
world.Somepeoplelaughedtoseethealterationinhim,
butheletthemlaugh,andlittleheededthem;forhewas
wiseenoughtoknowthatnothingeverhappenedonthis
globe,forgood,atwhichsomepeopledidnothavetheirfill
oflaughterintheoutset;andknowingthatsuchasthese
wouldbeblindanyway,hethoughtitquiteaswellthatthey
shouldwrinkleuptheireyesingrins,ashavethemaladyin
lessattractiveforms.Hisownheartlaughed:andthatwas
quiteenoughforhim.

HehadnofurtherintercoursewithSpirits,butlivedupon
theTotalAbstinencePrinciple,everafterwards;anditwas
alwayssaidofhim,thatheknewhowtokeepChristmas
well,ifanymanalivepossessedtheknowledge.Maythat
betrulysaidofus,andallofus!Andso,asTinyTim
observed,GodblessUs,EveryOne!

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