A CHRISTMAS CAROL

PREFACE

I HAVE endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.

Their faithful Friend and Servant, C. D. December, 1843.

CONTENTS

Stave I Marley's Ghost Stave II The First of the Three Spirits Stave III The Second of the Three Spirits Stave IV The Last of the Spirits

Stave V The End of It

STAVE I MARLEY'S GHOST

MARLEY was dead to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it and Scrooge's name was good upon 'Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

Mind! I don't mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country's done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that

Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

Scrooge knew he was dead Of course he did. How could it be otherwise Scrooge and he were partners for I don't know how many years. Scrooge was his sole executor, his sole administrator, his sole assign, his sole residuary legatee, his sole friend, and sole mourner. And even Scrooge was not so dreadfully cut up by the sad event, but that he was an excellent man of business on the very day of the funeral, and solemnised it with an undoubted bargain.

The mention of Marley's funeral brings me back to the point I started from. There is no doubt that Marley was dead. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate. If we were not perfectly convinced that Hamlet's Father died before the play began, there would be nothing more remarkable in his taking a stroll at night, in an easterly wind, upon his own ramparts, than there would be in any other middle-aged gentleman rashly turning out after dark in a breezy

and self-contained. Scrooge never painted out Old Marley's name. nipped his pointed nose. grasping. but he answered to both names. and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. The firm was known as Scrooge and Marley. Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grind-stone. clutching. The cold within him froze his old features. and solitary as an oyster. shrivelled his cheek. wrenching. his thin lips blue. old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint. and his wiry chin. scraping. It was all the same to him. Scrooge! a squeezing. from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire. and on his eyebrows. A frosty rime was on his head. made his eyes red. He carried his own low temperature always about with him. There it stood. stiffened his gait. years afterwards. and sometimes Marley. Sometimes people new to the business called Scrooge Scrooge. secret.spot--say Saint Paul's Churchyard for instance-literally to astonish his son's weak mind. covetous. above the warehouse door Scrooge and Marley. he iced his office in .

My dear Scrooge. how are you When will you come to see me No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle. no children asked him what it was o'clock. and didn't thaw it one degree at Christmas. Foul weather didn't know where to have him. no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose. and snow. and when they saw him coming on. no pelting rain less open to entreaty. would tug their owners into doorways and up courts. No warmth could warm. and sleet. External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge.the dog-days. with gladsome looks. and then would wag their tails as though they said. and Scrooge never did. No wind that blew was bitterer than he. Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say. No . no man or woman ever once in all his life inquired the way to such and such a place. The heaviest rain. and hail. could boast of the advantage over him in only one respect. They often came down handsomely. no wintry weather chill him. of Scrooge. Even the blind men's dogs appeared to know him.

on Christmas Eve--old Scrooge sat busy in his counting-house. and was so dense without. dark master! But what did Scrooge care! It was the very thing he liked. To edge his way along the crowded paths of life. The city clocks had only just gone three. obscuring . To see the dingy cloud come drooping down. the houses opposite were mere phantoms.eye at all is better than an evil eye. bleak. go wheezing up and down. warning all human sympathy to keep its distance. like ruddy smears upon the palpable brown air. biting weather foggy withal and he could hear the people in the court outside. It was cold. that although the court was of the narrowest. beating their hands upon their breasts. Once upon a time--of all the good days in the year. but it was quite dark already-it had not been light all day--and candles were flaring in the windows of the neighbouring offices. was what the knowing ones call nuts to Scrooge. and stamping their feet upon the pavement stones to warm them. The fog came pouring in at every chink and keyhole.

the master predicted that it would be necessary for them to part. who came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation he had of his approach. he failed. for Scrooge kept the coal-box in his own room. and was brewing on a large scale. It was the voice of Scrooge's nephew. a sort of tank. who in a dismal little cell beyond. Scrooge had a very small fire. in which effort. not being a man of a strong imagination. uncle! God save you! cried a cheerful voice. but the clerk's fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one coal. and so surely as the clerk came in with the shovel. Bah! said Scrooge. was copying letters. Humbug! . The door of Scrooge's counting-house was open that he might keep his eye upon his clerk.everything. A merry Christmas. one might have thought that Nature lived hard by. Wherefore the clerk put on his white comforter. and tried to warm himself at the candle. But he couldn't replenish it.

Merry Christmas! What right have you to be merry What reason have you to be merry You're poor enough. then. this nephew of Scrooge's. What right have you to be dismal What reason have you to be morose You're rich enough. his face was ruddy and handsome. his eyes sparkled. and followed it up with Humbug. Christmas a humbug. I am sure I do. You don't mean that. Bah! again. returned the nephew gaily. Scrooge having no better answer ready on the spur of the moment. . uncle! said Scrooge's nephew. uncle! said the nephew. Come.He had so heated himself with rapid walking in the fog and frost. and his breath smoked again. said Scrooge. that he was all in a glow. said. Don't be cross.

He should! Uncle! pleaded the nephew. and let me keep it in mine. But you don't keep it. a time for balancing your books and having every item in 'em through a round dozen of months presented dead against you If I could work my will. returned the uncle. Nephew! returned the uncle sternly. a time for finding yourself a year older. keep Christmas in your own way.What else can I be. said Scrooge indignantly. . and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. when I live in such a world of fools as this Merry Christmas! Out upon merry Christmas! What's Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money. every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips. Keep it! repeated Scrooge's nephew. but not an hour richer. should be boiled with his own pudding.

pleasant time. charitable. returned the nephew. and will do me good. Much good may it do you! Much good it has ever done you! There are many things from which I might have derived good. And therefore. and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave. in the long calendar of the year.Let me leave it alone. when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely. said Scrooge. forgiving. God bless it! . a kind. by which I have not profited. and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. I dare say. if anything belonging to it can be apart from that--as a good time. and I say. the only time I know of. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time. uncle. though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket. when it has come round--apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin. I believe that it has done me good. Christmas among the rest. then.

Scrooge said that he would see him--yes. . Let me hear another sound from you. and extinguished the last frail spark for ever. and you'll keep your Christmas by losing your situation! You're quite a powerful speaker. Come! Dine with us to-morrow. sir. Why Why did you get married said Scrooge. He went the whole length of the expression. he added. Becoming immediately sensible of the impropriety. Don't be angry. he poked the fire. turning to his nephew. and said that he would see him in that extremity first. indeed he did. But why cried Scrooge's nephew. uncle. said Scrooge. I wonder you don't go into Parliament. Because I fell in love.The clerk in the Tank involuntarily applauded.

I ask nothing of you. But I have made the trial in homage to Christmas. with all my heart.Because you fell in love! growled Scrooge. I want nothing from you. and I'll keep my Christmas humour to the last. to find you so resolute. uncle. said Scrooge. but you never came to see me before that happened. to which I have been a party. as if that were the only one thing in the world more ridiculous than a merry Christmas. why cannot we be friends Good afternoon. uncle! . We have never had any quarrel. said Scrooge. I am sorry. Why give it as a reason for not coming now Good afternoon. Good afternoon! Nay. So A Merry Christmas.

for he returned them cordially. in letting Scrooge's nephew out. and a wife and family. He stopped at the outer door to bestow the greetings of the season on the clerk. They had books and papers in their hands. who overheard him my clerk. and bowed to him. who. And A Happy New Year! Good afternoon! said Scrooge. had let two other people in. cold as he was. with their hats off. was warmer than Scrooge. His nephew left the room without an angry word. notwithstanding. There's another fellow. .Good afternoon! said Scrooge. in Scrooge's office. pleasant to behold. They were portly gentlemen. muttered Scrooge. I'll retire to Bedlam. talking about a merry Christmas. This lunatic. and now stood. with fifteen shillings a week.

Have I the pleasure of addressing Mr. and handed the credentials back. this very night. for they had been two kindred spirits.Scrooge and Marley's. Marley Mr. Scrooge. or Mr. taking up a pen. and shook his head. At this festive season of the year. said the gentleman. He died seven years ago. said the gentleman. We have no doubt his liberality is well represented by his surviving partner. referring to his list. I believe. At the ominous word liberality. Marley has been dead these seven years. Scrooge frowned. Scrooge. It certainly was. it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute. Scrooge replied. who suffer . presenting his credentials. Mr. said one of the gentlemen.

Plenty of prisons. then said Scrooge. Are there no prisons asked Scrooge. Both very busy. that something had occurred to stop them in their .greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries. from what you said at first. Oh! I was afraid. The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour. sir. laying down the pen again. said the gentleman. hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts. sir. I wish I could say they were not. Still. And the Union workhouses demanded Scrooge. returned the gentleman. Are they still in operation They are.

You wish to be anonymous I wish to be left alone. said Scrooge. of all others. gentlemen. . I help to support the establishments I have mentioned--they cost enough. Since you ask me what I wish. that is my answer. Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude. said Scrooge. returned the gentleman. a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink. We choose this time.useful course. because it is a time. I'm very glad to hear it. and means of warmth. when Want is keenly felt. and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for Nothing! Scrooge replied. and those who are badly off must go there. I don't make merry myself at Christmas and I can't afford to make idle people merry.

Meanwhile the fog and darkness thickened so. If they would rather die. Scrooge resumed his labours with an improved opinion of himself. Good afternoon. Mine occupies me constantly. they had better do it. the gentlemen withdrew. and in a more facetious temper than was usual with him. proffering their . It's enough for a man to understand his own business. observed the gentleman. Scrooge returned. and not to interfere with other people's.Many can't go there. and decrease the surplus population. that people ran about with flaring links. and many would rather die. It's not my business. gentlemen! Seeing clearly that it would be useless to pursue their point. Besides--excuse me--I don't know that. But you might know it. said Scrooge.

The ancient tower of a church. some labourers were repairing the gas-pipes.services to go before horses in carriages. whose gruff old bell was always peeping slily down at Scrooge out of a Gothic window in the wall. in the stronghold of the . The water-plug being left in solitude. its overflowings sullenly congealed. and conduct them on their way. round which a party of ragged men and boys were gathered warming their hands and winking their eyes before the blaze in rapture. at the corner of the court. In the main street. The Lord Mayor. with tremulous vibrations afterwards as if its teeth were chattering in its frozen head up there. and had lighted a great fire in a brazier. The cold became intense. Poulterers' and grocers' trades became a splendid joke a glorious pageant. and struck the hours and quarters in the clouds. with which it was next to impossible to believe that such dull principles as bargain and sale had anything to do. made pale faces ruddy as they passed. became invisible. The brightness of the shops where holly sprigs and berries crackled in the lamp heat of the windows. and turned to misanthropic ice.

instead of using his familiar weapons. while his lean wife and the baby sallied out to buy the beef. Foggier yet. stooped down at Scrooge's keyhole to regale him with a Christmas carol but at the first sound of God bless you. gnawed and mumbled by the hungry cold as bones are gnawed by dogs. stirred up to-morrow's pudding in his garret. then indeed he would have roared to lusty purpose.mighty Mansion House. . searching. The owner of one scant young nose. gave orders to his fifty cooks and butlers to keep Christmas as a Lord Mayor's household should. Piercing. and even the little tailor. If the good Saint Dunstan had but nipped the Evil Spirit's nose with a touch of such weather as that. biting cold. whom he had fined five shillings on the previous Monday for being drunk and bloodthirsty in the streets. merry gentleman! May nothing you dismay! Scrooge seized the ruler with such energy of action. and colder.

At length the hour of shutting up the counting-house arrived. . And yet. and put on his hat. you don't think me ill-used. sir. you'd think yourself ill-used. You'll want all day to-morrow. With an ill-will Scrooge dismounted from his stool. leaving the keyhole to the fog and even more congenial frost. It's not convenient. I'll be bound The clerk smiled faintly. I suppose said Scrooge. and tacitly admitted the fact to the expectant clerk in the Tank. said Scrooge. If I was to stop half-a-crown for it.that the singer fled in terror. who instantly snuffed his candle out. and it's not fair. when I pay a day's wages for no work. If quite convenient. said Scrooge.

went down a slide on Cornhill.The clerk observed that it was only once a year. Be here all the earlier next morning. A poor excuse for picking a man's pocket every twenty-fifth of December! said Scrooge. But I suppose you must have the whole day. twenty times. and Scrooge walked out with a growl. and then ran home to Camden Town as hard as he could pelt. and beguiled the rest of the evening with his . at the end of a lane of boys. The office was closed in a twinkling. The clerk promised that he would. buttoning his great-coat to the chin. in honour of its being Christmas Eve. with the long ends of his white comforter dangling below his waist (for he boasted no great-coat). Scrooge took his melancholy dinner in his usual melancholy tavern. to play at blindman's-buff. and having read all the newspapers. and the clerk.

during his whole residence in that place. night and morning. He lived in chambers which had once belonged to his deceased partner. that one could scarcely help fancying it must have run there when it was a young house. that there was nothing at all particular about the knocker on the door. it is a fact. and forgotten the way out again. The fog and frost so hung about the black old gateway of the house. went home to bed. in a lowering pile of building up a yard. and dreary enough. also that Scrooge had as little of what . where it had so little business to be. Now. that Scrooge had seen it. who knew its every stone. the other rooms being all let out as offices. except that it was very large. was fain to grope with his hands.banker's-book. It is also a fact. for nobody lived in it but Scrooge. that it seemed as if the Genius of the Weather sat in mournful meditation on the threshold. They were a gloomy suite of rooms. It was old enough now. playing at hide-and-seek with other houses. The yard was so dark that even Scrooge.

but had a dismal light about it. rather than a part of . but looked at Scrooge as Marley used to look with ghostly spectacles turned up on its ghostly forehead. It was not in impenetrable shadow as the other objects in the yard were. but its horror seemed to be in spite of the face and beyond its control. Let it also be borne in mind that Scrooge had not bestowed one thought on Marley. and its livid colour. they were perfectly motionless. if he can. as if by breath or hot air. how it happened that Scrooge. made it horrible. even including--which is a bold word--the corporation. And then let any man explain to me. like a bad lobster in a dark cellar. but Marley's face. and livery. Marley's face. and. since his last mention of his seven years' dead partner that afternoon. saw in the knocker. aldermen. It was not angry or ferocious. though the eyes were wide open. The hair was curiously stirred. having his key in the lock of the door. without its undergoing any intermediate process of change--not a knocker.is called fancy about him as any man in the city of London. That.

its own expression.

As Scrooge looked fixedly at this phenomenon, it was a knocker again.

To say that he was not startled, or that his blood was not conscious of a terrible sensation to which it had been a stranger from infancy, would be untrue. But he put his hand upon the key he had relinquished, turned it sturdily, walked in, and lighted his candle.

He did pause, with a moment's irresolution, before he shut the door; and he did look cautiously behind it first, as if he half expected to be terrified with the sight of Marley's pigtail sticking out into the hall. But there was nothing on the back of the door, except the screws and nuts that held the knocker on, so he said Pooh, pooh! and closed it with a bang.

The sound resounded through the house like thunder. Every room above, and every cask in the wine-merchant's cellars below, appeared to have a separate peal

of echoes of its own. Scrooge was not a man to be frightened by echoes. He fastened the door, and walked across the hall, and up the stairs; slowly too trimming his candle as he went.

You may talk vaguely about driving a coach-and-six up a good old flight of stairs, or through a bad young Act of Parliament; but I mean to say you might have got a hearse up that staircase, and taken it broadwise, with the splinter-bar towards the wall and the door towards the balustrades and done it easy. There was plenty of width for that, and room to spare; which is perhaps the reason why Scrooge thought he saw a locomotive hearse going on before him in the gloom. Half-a-dozen gas-lamps out of the street wouldn't have lighted the entry too well, so you may suppose that it was pretty dark with Scrooge's dip.

Up Scrooge went, not caring a button for that. Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it. But before he shut his heavy door, he walked through his rooms

to see that all was right. He had just enough recollection of the face to desire to do that.

Sitting-room, bedroom, lumber-room. All as they should be. Nobody under the table, nobody under the sofa; a small fire in the grate; spoon and basin ready; and the little saucepan of gruel (Scrooge had a cold in his head) upon the hob. Nobody under the bed; nobody in the closet; nobody in his dressing-gown, which was hanging up in a suspicious attitude against the wall. Lumber-room as usual. Old fire-guard, old shoes, two fish-baskets, washing-stand on three legs, and a poker.

Quite satisfied, he closed his door, and locked himself in; double-locked himself in, which was not his custom. Thus secured against surprise, he took off his cravat; put on his dressing-gown and slippers, and his nightcap; and sat down before the fire to take his gruel.

It was a very low fire indeed; nothing on such a

seven years dead. He was obliged to sit close to it. built by some Dutch merchant long ago. Pharaoh's daughters. and paved all round with quaint Dutch tiles. and yet that face of Marley. and swallowed up the whole. there would have been a copy of old Marley's head on every one. Angelic messengers descending through the air on clouds like feather-beds. Abrahams. Belshazzars. Queens of Sheba. The fireplace was an old one. If each smooth tile had been a blank at first. As he . he sat down again. and walked across the room. and brood over it. Humbug! said Scrooge. hundreds of figures to attract his thoughts. came like the ancient Prophet's rod. with power to shape some picture on its surface from the disjointed fragments of his thoughts. designed to illustrate the Scriptures. After several turns.bitter night. There were Cains and Abels. Apostles putting off to sea in butter-boats. before he could extract the least sensation of warmth from such a handful of fuel.

and with a strange. but it seemed an hour. This might have lasted half a minute. and then he heard the noise much louder. inexplicable dread. he saw this bell begin to swing. The bells ceased as they had begun.threw his head back in the chair. and so did every bell in the house. his glance happened to rest upon a bell. It swung so softly in the outset that it scarcely made a sound. that as he looked. together. The cellar-door flew open with a booming sound. or a minute. a disused bell. and communicated for some purpose now forgotten with a chamber in the highest story of the building. then coming straight . that hung in the room. Scrooge then remembered to have heard that ghosts in haunted houses were described as dragging chains. on the floors below. deep down below. It was with great astonishment. then coming up the stairs. as if some person were dragging a heavy chain over the casks in the wine-merchant's cellar. They were succeeded by a clanking noise. but soon it rang out loudly.

and wound about him like a tail. ledgers. and his coat-skirts. Marley's Ghost! and fell again. padlocks. could see the two buttons on his coat behind. I won't believe it. without a pause. His body was transparent.towards his door. The same face the very same. The chain he drew was clasped about his middle. and it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely) of cash-boxes. so that Scrooge. . observing him. Marley in his pigtail. It's humbug still! said Scrooge. when. I know him. and heavy purses wrought in steel. His colour changed though. it came on through the heavy door. usual waistcoat. It was long. and passed into the room before his eyes. as though it cried. Upon its coming in. and the hair upon his head. keys. and looking through his waistcoat. deeds. tights and boots. the tassels on the latter bristling. the dying flame leaped up. like his pigtail.

and fought against his senses. He was going . no doubt about it. for a shade. Though he looked the phantom through and through. What do you want with me Much!--Marley's voice. Who were you then said Scrooge. but he had never believed it until now. which wrapper he had not observed before. No.Scrooge had often heard it said that Marley had no bowels. and saw it standing before him. he was still incredulous. Who are you Ask me who I was. raising his voice. and marked the very texture of the folded kerchief bound about its head and chin. caustic and cold as ever. nor did he believe it even now. You're particular. How now! said Scrooge. though he felt the chilling influence of its death-cold eyes.

to say to a shade. as more appropriate. and felt that in the event of its being impossible. . Do it. because he didn't know whether a ghost so transparent might find himself in a condition to take a chair. as if he were quite used to it. looking doubtfully at him. I can. it might involve the necessity of an embarrassing explanation. In life I was your partner. observed the Ghost. but substituted this. Jacob Marley. then. But the ghost sat down on the opposite side of the fireplace. Scrooge asked the question. Can you--can you sit down asked Scrooge. You don't believe in me.

for the spectre's voice disturbed the very marrow in his bones. a blot of mustard. a fragment of an underdone potato. a little thing affects them. by any means waggish then. said Scrooge. that he tried to be smart. a crumb of cheese. in his heart. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may be an undigested bit of beef. said Scrooge. . There's more of gravy than of grave about you. said Scrooge. and keeping down his terror. nor did he feel. whatever you are! Scrooge was not much in the habit of cracking jokes. The truth is. as a means of distracting his own attention. What evidence would you have of my reality beyond that of your senses I don't know. Why do you doubt your senses Because.I don't.

You see this toothpick said Scrooge. would play. for the reason just assigned. notwithstanding. I have but to swallow . its hair. Well! returned Scrooge. in silence for a moment. You are not looking at it. and wishing. staring at those fixed glazed eyes. Scrooge felt. and tassels. There was something very awful. said the Ghost. were still agitated as by the hot vapour from an oven. to divert the vision's stony gaze from himself. But I see it. and skirts. for though the Ghost sat perfectly motionless.To sit. in the spectre's being provided with an infernal atmosphere of its own. said Scrooge. I do. Scrooge could not feel it himself. replied the Ghost. returning quickly to the charge. too. though it were only for a second. the very deuce with him. but this was clearly the case.

But why do spirits . But how much greater was his horror. I tell you! humbug! At this the spirit raised a frightful cry. said Scrooge. I must.this. Dreadful apparition. Mercy! he said. all of my own creation. when the phantom taking off the bandage round its head. do you believe in me or not I do. its lower jaw dropped down upon its breast! Scrooge fell upon his knees. Humbug. to save himself from falling in a swoon. and clasped his hands before his face. and shook its chain with such a dismal and appalling noise. as if it were too warm to wear indoors. why do you trouble me Man of the worldly mind! replied the Ghost. that Scrooge held on tight to his chair. and be for the rest of my days persecuted by a legion of goblins.

I made it link by link. and turned to happiness! Again the spectre raised a cry. and shook its chain and wrung its shadowy hands. You are fettered.walk the earth. It is doomed to wander through the world--oh. Is its pattern strange to you . woe is me!--and witness what it cannot share. said Scrooge. I girded it on of my own free will. but might have shared on earth. and yard by yard. trembling. and of my own free will I wore it. and why do they come to me It is required of every man. that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellowmen. replied the Ghost. and travel far and wide. Tell me why I wear the chain I forged in life. it is condemned to do so after death. the Ghost returned. and if that spirit goes not forth in life.

I cannot stay. the weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself It was full as heavy and as long as this. You have laboured on it. It comes from other regions. Jacob! I have none to give. imploringly. Speak comfort to me. Nor can I tell you what I would. Ebenezer Scrooge. and is conveyed by other ministers. A very little more is all permitted to me. in the expectation of finding himself surrounded by some fifty or sixty fathoms of iron cable but he could see nothing. to other kinds of men. since. I cannot linger anywhere. Old Jacob Marley. Or would you know. pursued the Ghost. My spirit never walked . he said. tell me more.Scrooge trembled more and more. It is a ponderous chain! Scrooge glanced about him on the floor. the Ghost replied. Jacob. I cannot rest. seven Christmas Eves ago.

No rest. . Jacob. though with humility and deference. mused Scrooge.beyond our counting-house--mark me!--in life my spirit never roved beyond the narrow limits of our money-changing hole. said the Ghost. or getting off his knees. You must have been very slow about it. in a business-like manner. Seven years dead. whenever he became thoughtful. Incessant torture of remorse. And travelling all the time! The whole time. Slow! the Ghost repeated. and weary journeys lie before me! It was a habit with Scrooge. Pondering on what the Ghost had said. but without lifting up his eyes. he did so now. to put his hands in his breeches pockets. Scrooge observed. no peace.

replied the Ghost. The Ghost. Oh! captive. bound. on hearing this. Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere. cried the phantom. set up another cry. not to know. that the Ward would have been justified in indicting it for a nuisance. for this earth must pass into eternity before the good of which it is susceptible is all developed. will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness. whatever it may be. and clanked its chain so hideously in the dead silence of the night. You might have got over a great quantity of ground in seven years. said Scrooge. On the wings of the wind. that ages of incessant labour by immortal creatures. Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life's opportunity . and double-ironed.You travel fast said Scrooge.

Mankind was my business. Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down. wringing its hands again.misused! Yet such was I! Oh! such was I! But you were always a good man of business. my business. and benevolence. the spectre said. as if that were the cause of all its unavailing grief. charity. mercy. Jacob. Business! cried the Ghost. were. I suffer most. At this time of the rolling year. forbearance. who now began to apply this to himself. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business! It held up its chain at arm's length. The common welfare was my business. faltered Scrooge. and flung it heavily upon the ground again. all. and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode! Were there no poor homes to .

and wiped the perspiration from his brow. I may not tell. that you have yet a chance and hope of escaping my fate. I am here to-night to warn you. That is no light part of my penance. and began to quake exceedingly. Scrooge shivered. But don't be hard upon me! Don't be flowery. pursued the Ghost. Hear me! cried the Ghost. said Scrooge. I have sat invisible beside you many and many a day. Jacob! Pray! How it is that I appear before you in a shape that you can see.which its light would have conducted me! Scrooge was very much dismayed to hear the spectre going on at this rate. I will. A . My time is nearly gone. It was not an agreeable idea.

It is. said Scrooge. Ebenezer. . Thank'ee! You will be haunted. Jacob he demanded. You were always a good friend to me. said Scrooge. Without their visits. Scrooge's countenance fell almost as low as the Ghost's had done.chance and hope of my procuring. by Three Spirits. Expect the first to-morrow. you cannot hope to shun the path I tread. said the Ghost. resumed the Ghost. I--I think I'd rather not. when the bell tolls One. Is that the chance and hope you mentioned. in a faltering voice.

and found his supernatural visitor confronting him in an erect attitude. you remember what has passed between us! When it had said these words. He ventured to raise his eyes again. with its chain wound over and about its arm. and look that. the window raised itself a little. the spectre took its wrapper from the table. so that when the spectre reached it. for your own sake. and bound it round its head. by the smart sound its teeth made. Expect the second on the next night at the same hour. when the jaws were brought together by the bandage. . and at every step it took. as before. Look to see me no more. it was wide open.Couldn't I take 'em all at once. Scrooge knew this. Jacob hinted Scrooge. The third upon the next night when the last stroke of Twelve has ceased to vibrate. The apparition walked backward from him. and have it over.

Every one of them wore chains like Marley's Ghost. dark night. which he did. When they were within two paces of each other. wandering hither and thither in restless haste.It beckoned Scrooge to approach. after listening for a moment. Not so much in obedience. He looked out. some few (they might be guilty governments) were linked together. Scrooge followed to the window desperate in his curiosity. he became sensible of confused noises in the air. and moaning as they went. The spectre. none were free. wailings inexpressibly sorrowful and self-accusatory. Marley's Ghost held up its hand. Scrooge stopped. joined in the mournful dirge. The air was filled with phantoms. Many had been personally known to Scrooge in their lives. as in surprise and fear for on the raising of the hand. warning him to come no nearer. incoherent sounds of lamentation and regret. He . and floated out upon the bleak.

clearly. in a white waistcoat. It was double-locked. and had lost the power for ever. much in need of repose. or his glimpse of the Invisible World. or mist enshrouded them. whom it saw below. The misery with them all was. in human matters. from the emotion he had undergone. or the fatigues of the day. But they and their spirit voices faded together. that they sought to interfere. upon a door-step. or the dull conversation of the Ghost. He tried to say Humbug! but stopped at the first syllable.had been quite familiar with one old ghost. who cried piteously at being unable to assist a wretched woman with an infant. he could not tell. and the bolts were undisturbed. or the lateness of the hour. went straight to . and the night became as it had been when he walked home. with a monstrous iron safe attached to its ankle. and examined the door by which the Ghost had entered. for good. as he had locked it with his own hands. Scrooge closed the window. And being. Whether these creatures faded into mist.

The clock was wrong. He was endeavouring to pierce the darkness with his ferret eyes.bed. An icicle must have got into the works. it was so dark. and regularly up to twelve. So he listened for the hour. and fell asleep upon the instant. without undressing. he could scarcely distinguish the transparent window from the opaque walls of his chamber. To his great astonishment the heavy bell went on from six to seven. Twelve! It was past two when he went to bed. Its rapid little pulse beat twelve and stopped. . when the chimes of a neighbouring church struck the four quarters. to correct this most preposterous clock. Twelve! He touched the spring of his repeater. that looking out of bed. then stopped. STAVE II THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS WHEN Scrooge awoke. and from seven to eight.

and could see very little then. and so forth. and that there was no noise of people running to and fro. and could make nothing of it. that it was still very foggy and extremely cold. and this is twelve at noon! The idea being an alarming one. It isn't possible that anything has happened to the sun. Ebenezer Scrooge or his order. and the more he endeavoured . and thought it over and over and over. it isn't possible. he scrambled out of bed. and groped his way to the window. and making a great stir. that I can have slept through a whole day and far into another night. the more perplexed he was. and thought. and thought. as there unquestionably would have been if night had beaten off bright day. The more he thought. said Scrooge. He was obliged to rub the frost off with the sleeve of his dressing-gown before he could see anything. because three days after sight of this First of Exchange pay to Mr. All he could make out was. This was a great relief. and taken possession of the world.Why. Scrooge went to bed again. would have become a mere United States' security if there were no days to count by.

that it was all a dream. like a strong spring released. At length it broke upon his listening ear. and presented the same problem to be worked all through. considering that he could no more go to sleep than go to Heaven. that the Ghost had warned him of a visitation when the bell tolled one. He resolved to lie awake until the hour was passed. that he was more than once convinced he must have sunk into a doze unconsciously. when he remembered. the more he thought. his mind flew back again. this was perhaps the wisest resolution in his power. Every time he resolved within himself. on a sudden. counting. dong! A quarter past. . and missed the clock. and. after mature inquiry. to its first position. Ding.not to think. Was it a dream or not Scrooge lay in this state until the chime had gone three quarters more. said Scrooge. The quarter was so long. Marley's Ghost bothered him exceedingly.

by a hand. dong! Half-past! said Scrooge. said Scrooge. and Scrooge. Ding. I tell you. Not the curtains at his feet. hollow. said Scrooge. Light flashed up in the room upon the instant. dong! A quarter to it. dong! The hour itself. but those to which his face was addressed.Ding. melancholy ONE. Ding. dull. found himself face to face with the . The curtains of his bed were drawn aside. and nothing else! He spoke before the hour bell sounded. and the curtains of his bed were drawn. The curtains of his bed were drawn aside. starting up into a half-recumbent attitude. which it now did with a deep. nor the curtains at his back. triumphantly.

by which all this was visible. It held a branch of fresh green holly in its hand. which it now held under its arm. the hands the same. and round its waist was bound a lustrous belt. viewed through some supernatural medium.unearthly visitor who drew them as close to it as I am now to you. like those upper members. in its duller moments. But the strangest thing about it was. It was a strange figure--like a child yet not so like a child as like an old man. and which was doubtless the occasion of its using. were. Its legs and feet. which hung about its neck and down its back. and I am standing in the spirit at your elbow. a great extinguisher for a cap. The arms were very long and muscular. bare. the sheen of which was beautiful. had its dress trimmed with summer flowers. that from the crown of its head there sprung a bright clear jet of light. in singular contradiction of that wintry emblem. most delicately formed. Its hair. as if its hold were of uncommon strength. and yet the face had not a wrinkle in it. and. It wore a tunic of the purest white. was white as if with age. and the tenderest bloom was on the skin. and being diminished to a child's proportions. which gave him the appearance of having receded from the view. .

Are you the Spirit. .Even this. Singularly low. at another time was dark. For as its belt sparkled and glittered now in one part and now in another. I am! The voice was soft and gentle. Who. no outline would be visible in the dense gloom wherein they melted away. now a head without a body of which dissolving parts. and what are you Scrooge demanded. when Scrooge looked at it with increasing steadiness. now a pair of legs without a head. sir. now with twenty legs. And in the very wonder of this. now with one leg. though. it would be itself again. and what was light one instant. whose coming was foretold to me asked Scrooge. was not its strangest quality. it were at a distance. so the figure itself fluctuated in its distinctness being now a thing with one arm. as if instead of being so close beside him. distinct and clear as ever.

and begged him to be covered. Long Past inquired Scrooge observant of its dwarfish stature. . with worldly hands. Scrooge could not have told anybody why. the light I give Is it not enough that you are one of those whose passions made this cap. He then made bold to inquire what business brought him there. would you so soon put out.I am the Ghost of Christmas Past. and force me through whole trains of years to wear it low upon my brow! Scrooge reverently disclaimed all intention to offend or any knowledge of having wilfully bonneted the Spirit at any period of his life. Perhaps. No. but he had a special desire to see the Spirit in his cap. Your past. What! exclaimed the Ghost. if anybody could have asked him.

that bed was warm. The Spirit must have heard him thinking. that he was clad but lightly in his slippers. Scrooge expressed himself much obliged. for it said immediately Your reclamation. Rise! and walk with me! It would have been in vain for Scrooge to plead that the weather and the hour were not adapted to pedestrian purposes. and that he had a cold upon him at that time. and nightcap. dressing-gown.Your welfare! said the Ghost. The grasp. Take heed! It put out its strong hand as it spoke. then. was not to be resisted. and clasped him gently by the arm. He rose but finding that the Spirit . but could not help thinking that a night of unbroken rest would have been more conducive to that end. and the thermometer a long way below freezing. though gentle as a woman's hand.

Its gentle touch. clasped his robe in supplication. they passed through the wall. Bear but a touch of my hand there. said the Spirit. He was conscious . The darkness and the mist had vanished with it. I am a mortal. and liable to fall. appeared still present to the old man's sense of feeling. and stood upon an open country road. with snow upon the ground. winter day. I was a boy here! The Spirit gazed upon him mildly. cold. Good Heaven! said Scrooge. for it was a clear. Scrooge remonstrated. laying it upon his heart.made towards the window. I was bred in this place. The city had entirely vanished. though it had been light and instantaneous. with fields on either hand. as he looked about him. Not a vestige of it was to be seen. and you shall be upheld in more than this! As the words were spoken. clasping his hands together.

I could walk it blindfold. its church. and hopes. until a little market-town appeared in the distance. and tree. Scrooge recognising every gate.of a thousand odours floating in the air. Let us go on. and post. and joys. that it was a pimple. And what is that upon your cheek Scrooge muttered. Remember it! cried Scrooge with fervour. Strange to have forgotten it for so many years! observed the Ghost. You recollect the way inquired the Spirit. forgotten! Your lip is trembling. long. and begged the Ghost to lead him where he would. . and cares long. and winding river. said the Ghost. each one connected with a thousand thoughts. with an unusual catching in his voice. with its bridge. They walked along the road.

for their several homes! What was merry Christmas to Scrooge Out upon merry Christmas! What good had it ever done to him The school is not quite deserted. . until the broad fields were so full of merry music. as they parted at cross-roads and bye-ways. and shouted to each other. said the Ghost. All these boys were in great spirits. neglected by his friends. The jocund travellers came on. that the crisp air laughed to hear it! These are but shadows of the things that have been. Why was he rejoiced beyond all bounds to see them! Why did his cold eye glisten. They have no consciousness of us.Some shaggy ponies now were seen trotting towards them with boys upon their backs. who called to other boys in country gigs and carts. Scrooge knew and named them every one. said the Ghost. driven by farmers. and as they came. and his heart leap up as they went past! Why was he filled with gladness when he heard them give each other Merry Christmas. is left there still. A solitary child.

and their gates decayed. and glancing through the open doors of many rooms. and soon approached a mansion of dull red brick. and not too much to eat. by a well-remembered lane. And he sobbed. made barer still by . It was a large house. and vast. with a little weathercock-surmounted cupola. It opened before them. melancholy room. across the hall. They left the high-road.Scrooge said he knew it. for entering the dreary hall. cold. on the roof. but one of broken fortunes. and a bell hanging in it. within. Nor was it more retentive of its ancient state. their walls were damp and mossy. which associated itself somehow with too much getting up by candle-light. the Ghost and Scrooge. and disclosed a long. for the spacious offices were little used. They went. their windows broken. to a door at the back of the house. bare. and the coach-houses and sheds were over-run with grass. they found them poorly furnished. There was an earthy savour in the air. Fowls clucked and strutted in the stables. a chilly bareness in the place.

when yonder solitary child was left here all alone. Why. It's dear old honest Ali Baba! Yes. it's Ali Baba! Scrooge exclaimed in ecstasy. but fell upon the heart of Scrooge with a softening influence. and Scrooge sat down upon a form. I know! One Christmas time. At one of these a lonely boy was reading near a feeble fire.lines of plain deal forms and desks. not a squeak and scuffle from the mice behind the panelling. and leading by the bridle an ass laden with wood. Not a latent echo in the house. not a drip from the half-thawed water-spout in the dull yard behind. and wept to see his poor forgotten self as he used to be. not the idle swinging of an empty store-house door. in foreign garments wonderfully real and distinct to look at stood outside the window. with an axe stuck in his belt. not a clicking in the fire. Suddenly a man. yes. not a sigh among the leafless boughs of one despondent poplar. and gave a freer passage to his tears. no. The Spirit touched him on the arm. intent upon his reading. and pointed to his younger self. .

There goes Friday. don't you see him! And the Sultan's Groom turned upside down by the Genii. It was the Parrot. he called him. at the Gate of Damascus. asleep. just like that. 'Poor Robin Crusoe. and to see his heightened and excited face. there they go! And what's his name. Green body and yellow tail. What business had he to be married to the Princess! To hear Scrooge expending all the earnestness of his nature on such subjects. There's the Parrot! cried Scrooge. would have been a surprise to his business friends in the city. and his wild brother. Orson. there he is upon his head! Serve him right. said Scrooge. in a most extraordinary voice between laughing and crying. Poor boy! And Valentine. but he wasn't. I'm glad of it. with a thing like a lettuce growing out of the top of his head.he did come. who was put down in his drawers. when he came home again after sailing round the island. indeed. for the first time. running for his life to the little creek! Halloa! Hoop! Halloo! . where have you been. there he is! Poor Robin Crusoe. you know. Robin Crusoe' The man thought he was dreaming.

and the room became a little darker and more dirty.Then. he said. Scrooge muttered. Nothing. after drying his eyes with his cuff but it's too late now. The Ghost smiled thoughtfully. and the naked laths were shown instead. but how . putting his hand in his pocket. Nothing. I wish. the windows cracked. and waved its hand saying as it did so. Let us see another Christmas! Scrooge's former self grew larger at the words. and looking about him. fragments of plaster fell out of the ceiling. in pity for his former self. said Scrooge. I should like to have given him something that's all. What is the matter asked the Spirit. with a rapidity of transition very foreign to his usual character. There was a boy singing a Christmas Carol at my door last night. The panels shrunk. Poor boy! and cried again.

It opened. I have come to bring you home. that there he was. He was not reading now. but walking up and down despairingly. alone again. To bring you home. for good and all. little Fan returned the boy. Home. glanced anxiously towards the door.all this was brought about. Yes! said the child. Father is so much kinder . addressed him as her Dear. Scrooge knew no more than you do. and often kissing him. much younger than the boy. brimful of glee. that everything had happened so. came darting in. for ever and ever. and a little girl. dear brother. home. clapping her tiny hands. and with a mournful shaking of his head. home! Home. Scrooge looked at the Ghost. dear brother! said the child. He only knew that it was quite correct. and putting her arms about his neck. Home. when all the other boys had gone home for the jolly holidays. and bending down to laugh.

little Fan! exclaimed the boy. and sent me in a coach to bring you. accompanied her. and threw him into a dreadful state of mind by shaking hands with him. and tried to touch his head. that home's like Heaven! He spoke so gently to me one dear night when I was going to bed. and he said Yes. Bring down Master Scrooge's box. laughed again. that I was not afraid to ask him once more if you might come home. you should. and stood on tiptoe to embrace him. towards the door. and have the merriest time in all the world. and he. opening her eyes. and are never to come back here. we're to be together all the Christmas long. He then conveyed him and his . but first. there! and in the hall appeared the schoolmaster himself. You are quite a woman. nothing loth to go. She clapped her hands and laughed. who glared on Master Scrooge with a ferocious condescension. And you're to be a man! said the child. but being too little.than he used to be. in her childish eagerness. Then she began to drag him. A terrible voice in the hall cried.

Master Scrooge's trunk being by this time tied on to the top of the chaise. and the celestial and terrestrial globes in the windows. and getting into it. sending out a meagre servant to offer a glass of something to the postboy. the children bade the schoolmaster good-bye right willingly. But she had a large heart! So she had. were waxy with cold. and administered instalments of those dainties to the young people at the same time. where the maps upon the wall. cried Scrooge. I will not gainsay it. but if it was the same tap as he had tasted before.sister into the veriest old well of a shivering best-parlour that ever was seen. Here he produced a decanter of curiously light wine. and a block of curiously heavy cake. said the Ghost. Always a delicate creature. You're right. who answered that he thanked the gentleman. Spirit. whom a breath might have withered. God forbid! . he had rather not. drove gaily down the garden-sweep the quick wheels dashing the hoar-frost and snow from off the dark leaves of the evergreens like spray.

One child. and had. and answered briefly. The Ghost stopped at a certain warehouse door. they were now in the busy thoroughfares of a city. and all the strife and tumult of a real city were. said the Ghost. where shadowy carts and coaches battled for the way. as I think. True. where shadowy passengers passed and repassed. children. Although they had but that moment left the school behind them. . and the streets were lighted up. Your nephew! Scrooge seemed uneasy in his mind.She died a woman. Yes. but it was evening. and asked Scrooge if he knew it. that here too it was Christmas time again. said the Ghost. by the dressing of the shops. Scrooge returned. It was made plain enough.

it's old Fezziwig! Bless his heart. and called out in a comfortable. which pointed to the hour of seven.Know it! said Scrooge. that if he had been two inches taller he must have knocked his head against the ceiling. At sight of an old gentleman in a Welsh wig. and looked up at the clock. laughed all over himself. Was I apprenticed here! They went in. from his shoes to his organ of benevolence. adjusted his capacious waistcoat. came briskly in. oily. to be sure! said Scrooge to the Ghost. Scrooge cried in great excitement Why. accompanied by his fellow-'prentice. rich. sitting behind such a high desk. it's Fezziwig alive again! Old Fezziwig laid down his pen. now grown a young man. jovial voice Yo ho. fat. Dick Wilkins. He rubbed his hands. . there! Ebenezer! Dick! Scrooge's former self.

Poor Dick! Dear. Christmas. six--barred 'em and pinned 'em--seven. panting like race-horses. Christmas Eve. There he is. cried old Fezziwig. Ebenezer! Let's have the shutters up. before a man can say Jack Robinson! You wouldn't believe how those two fellows went at it! They charged into the street with the shutters--one. my lads.Bless me. Clear away. was Dick. two. Hilli-ho! cried old Fezziwig. It was done in a minute. and let's have lots of room here! Hilli-ho. dear! Yo ho. He was very much attached to me. yes. skipping down from the high desk. with wonderful agility. five. nine--and came back before you could have got to twelve. eight. No more work to-night. three--had 'em up in their places--four. or couldn't have cleared away. Every movable was packed off. Dick! Chirrup. Ebenezer! Clear away! There was nothing they wouldn't have cleared away. Dick. with a sharp clap of his hands. my boys! said Fezziwig. as if . with old Fezziwig looking on.

who was suspected of not having board enough from his master. the milkman. one after another. In came the boy from over the way. some shyly. who was proved to have had her ears pulled by her mistress. In they all came. as you would desire to see upon a winter's night. with her cousin. In came the cook. and the warehouse was as snug. hands half round and back again . and tuned like fifty stomach-aches. one vast substantial smile. some awkwardly. trying to hide himself behind the girl from next door but one. the floor was swept and watered. and went up to the lofty desk. with her brother's particular friend. some pulling. anyhow and everyhow. some gracefully. the baker. and warm. In came the three Miss Fezziwigs. some pushing. In came all the young men and women employed in the business. In came the housemaid. some boldly. Fezziwig. in they all came. In came a fiddler with a music-book. In came the six young followers whose hearts they broke. Away they all went. beaming and lovable. the lamps were trimmed. and dry. and made an orchestra of it.it were dismissed from public life for evermore. twenty couple at once. fuel was heaped upon the fire. and bright a ball-room. In came Mrs.

mind! The sort of man who knew his business better than you or I could have told it him!) struck up Sir Roger de Coverley. But the great effect of the evening came after the Roast and Boiled. Well done! and the fiddler plunged his hot face into a pot of porter. old top couple always turning up in the wrong place. when the fiddler (an artful dog. and there was a great piece of Cold Roast. he instantly began again. and he were a bran-new man resolved to beat him out of sight. But scorning rest. Then . and there was cake. and plenty of beer. or perish. cried out. as soon as they got there. as if the other fiddler had been carried home. old Fezziwig. new top couple starting off again. and there was a great piece of Cold Boiled. and there were mince-pies. There were more dances. and more dances. clapping his hands to stop the dance. exhausted. and there was negus. though there were no dancers yet. all top couples at last. and there were forfeits. upon his reappearance. and not a bottom one to help them! When this result was brought about. on a shutter. down the middle and up again. round and round in various stages of affectionate grouping. especially provided for that purpose.the other way.

When the clock struck eleven. and had no notion of walking. and back again to your place. corkscrew. As to her. tell me higher. too. what would have become of them next. bow and curtsey. both hands to your partner. four times--old Fezziwig would have been a match for them. And when old Fezziwig and Mrs. Fezziwig had gone all through the dance. Fezziwig. that he appeared to wink with his legs. at any given time. They shone in every part of the dance like moons. people who would dance. advance and retire. and so would Mrs. with a good stiff piece of work cut out for them. she was worthy to be his partner in every sense of the term. A positive light appeared to issue from Fezziwig's calves. thread-the-needle. If that's not high praise. Fezziwig. Top couple. Fezziwig cut--cut so deftly. You couldn't have predicted.old Fezziwig stood out to dance with Mrs. this domestic ball broke up. people who were not to be trifled with. . three or four and twenty pair of partners. and came upon his feet again without a stagger. But if they had been twice as many--ah. and I'll use it.

enjoyed everything. remembered everything. which were under a counter in the back-shop. while the light upon its head burnt very clear. His heart and soul were in the scene. During the whole of this time. to make these silly folks so full of gratitude. and underwent the strangest agitation. . and the lads were left to their beds. Fezziwig took their stations. Small! echoed Scrooge. one on either side of the door. when the bright faces of his former self and Dick were turned from them. said the Ghost. and Mrs. and thus the cheerful voices died away. A small matter. Scrooge had acted like a man out of his wits. When everybody had retired but the two 'prentices. wished him or her a Merry Christmas.Mr. and shaking hands with every person individually as he or she went out. they did the same to them. and with his former self. He corroborated everything. and became conscious that it was looking full upon him. that he remembered the Ghost. It was not until now.

in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count 'em up what then The happiness he gives. said. said Scrooge. He felt the Spirit's glance.The Spirit signed to him to listen to the two apprentices. heated by the remark. Say that his power lies in words and looks. . Spirit. a pleasure or a toil. not his latter. Why! Is it not He has spent but a few pounds of your mortal money three or four perhaps. who were pouring out their hearts in praise of Fezziwig and when he had done so. It isn't that. He has the power to render us happy or unhappy. self. to make our service light or burdensome. is quite as great as if it cost a fortune. and stopped. Is that so much that he deserves this praise It isn't that. and speaking unconsciously like his former. What is the matter asked the Ghost.

For again Scrooge saw himself. He was older now. which showed the passion that had taken root. I think the Ghost insisted. No. I should like to be able to say a word or two to my clerk just now. Quick! This was not addressed to Scrooge. a man in the prime of life. but it had begun to wear the signs of care and avarice. His face had not the harsh and rigid lines of later years. observed the Spirit. said Scrooge. and where the shadow of the growing tree would fall. said Scrooge. greedy. His former self turned down the lamps as he gave utterance to the wish. or to any one whom he could see. That's all.Nothing particular. No. but it produced an immediate effect. Something. restless motion in the eye. There was an eager. and Scrooge and the Ghost again stood side by side in the open air. My time grows short. .

To you. she answered. What Idol has displaced you he rejoined. as I would have tried to do.He was not alone. she said. I have no just cause to grieve. which sparkled in the light that shone out of the Ghost of Christmas Past. Another idol has displaced me. but sat by the side of a fair young girl in a mourning-dress in whose eyes there were tears. softly. A golden one. and if it can cheer and comfort you in time to come. gently. There is nothing on which it is so hard as poverty. It matters little. All your other hopes have merged into the hope of being beyond the chance of its sordid reproach. very little. I have seen your . This is the even-handed dealing of the world! he said. and there is nothing it professes to condemn with such severity as the pursuit of wealth! You fear the world too much.

Gain. is fraught with misery now that we are two. You are changed. It was made when we were both poor and content to be so. I am. he said impatiently. in good season. Your own feeling tells you that you were not what you are. I was a boy. you were another man. engrosses you. How often and how keenly I have thought of this. She shook her head. It is enough that I have thought of it. Am I Our contract is an old one. until. Have I not What then he retorted. . Even if I have grown so much wiser. When it was made. I will not say.nobler aspirations fall off one by one. what then I am not changed towards you. That which promised happiness when we were one in heart. until the master-passion. she returned. we could improve our worldly fortune by our patient industry.

in an altered spirit. You think not. no! He seemed to yield to the justice of this supposition. In what. looking mildly.and can release you. upon him. I would gladly think otherwise if I could. But if you . would you seek me out and try to win me now Ah. In everything that made my love of any worth or value in your sight. I know how strong and irresistible it must be. No. But he said with a struggle. another Hope as its great end. said the girl. then In a changed nature. but with steadiness. Never. Heaven knows! When I have learned a Truth like this. in spite of himself. Have I ever sought release In words. she answered. If this had never been between us. tell me. in another atmosphere of life.

do I not know that your repentance and regret would surely follow I do. With a full heart. gladly. and they parted. to-morrow. weigh everything by Gain or. You may--the memory of what is past half makes me hope you will--have pain in this. May you be happy in the life you have chosen! She left him. in your very confidence with her. and you will dismiss the recollection of it. choosing her. yesterday. Spirit! said Scrooge. very brief time. can even I believe that you would choose a dowerless girl--you who. A very. but with her head turned from him. for the love of him you once were. she resumed. and I release you. as an unprofitable dream. Why do you delight to torture me . show me no more! Conduct me home.were free to-day. from which it happened well that you awoke. if for a moment you were false enough to your one guiding principle to do so. He was about to speak.

a room. Near to the winter fire sat a beautiful young girl. The consequences were uproarious beyond belief. but no one seemed to care. No more! cried Scrooge. until he saw her. so like that last that Scrooge believed it was the same. They were in another scene and place. and. Show me no more! But the relentless Ghost pinioned him in both his arms. for there were more children there. than Scrooge in his agitated state of mind could count. on the contrary. and the latter. I don't wish to see it. they were not forty children conducting themselves like one. but every child was conducting itself like forty. and enjoyed it very much. but full of comfort. and forced him to observe what happened next. not very large or handsome. now a comely matron. The noise in this room was perfectly tumultuous. soon beginning to . the mother and daughter laughed heartily. unlike the celebrated herd in the poem.One shadow more! exclaimed the Ghost. No more. sitting opposite her daughter.

I couldn't have done it. got pillaged by the young brigands most ruthlessly. And yet I should have dearly liked. to have questioned her. I own. I wouldn't have plucked it off. and for the precious little shoe. What would I not have given to be one of them! Though I never could have been so rude. that she might have opened them. to have touched her lips. As to measuring her waist in sport. bold young brood. and such a rush immediately ensued that she with laughing face and plundered dress was borne towards it the centre of a flushed . and torn it down.mingle in the sports. no. and yet to have been man enough to know its value. to have looked upon the lashes of her downcast eyes. and never raised a blush. and never come straight again. to have let loose waves of hair. an inch of which would be a keepsake beyond price in short. I should have expected my arm to have grown round it for a punishment. God bless my soul! to save my life. I should have liked. But now a knocking at the door was heard. I do confess. as they did. to have had the lightest licence of a child. no! I wouldn't for the wealth of all the world have crushed that braided hair.

and the onslaught that was made on the defenceless porter! The scaling him with chairs for ladders to dive into his pockets. pommel his back. and ecstasy! They are all indescribable alike. hug him round his neck. where they went to bed. and gratitude. and by one stair at a time. sat down with her and her mother at his . glued on a wooden platter! The immense relief of finding this a false alarm! The joy. having his daughter leaning fondly on him. and was more than suspected of having swallowed a fictitious turkey. despoil him of brown-paper parcels. And now Scrooge looked on more attentively than ever. hold on tight by his cravat. up to the top of the house. and kick his legs in irrepressible affection! The shouts of wonder and delight with which the development of every package was received! The terrible announcement that the baby had been taken in the act of putting a doll's frying-pan into his mouth. just in time to greet the father.and boisterous group. It is enough that by degrees the children and their emotions got out of the parlour. who came home attended by a man laden with Christmas toys and presents. and so subsided. Then the shouting and the struggling. when the master of the house.

laughing as he laughed. Belle. and he had a candle inside. and when he thought that such another creature. Who was it Guess! How can I Tut. and there he sat alone. said the husband. quite as graceful and as full of promise. I could scarcely help seeing him.own fireside. Quite alone in the world. Scrooge. Mr. and as it was not shut up. remove me . Scrooge it was. I saw an old friend of yours this afternoon. Spirit! said Scrooge in a broken voice. don't I know she added in the same breath. and been a spring-time in the haggard winter of his life. I do believe. his sight grew very dim indeed. turning to his wife with a smile. I passed his office window. I hear. His partner lies upon the point of death. Mr. might have called him father.

and dimly connecting that with its influence over him. and by a sudden action pressed it down upon its head. do not blame me! Remove me! Scrooge exclaimed. I cannot bear it! He turned upon the Ghost. Scrooge observed that its light was burning high and bright. Haunt me no longer! In the struggle. That they are what they are. Leave me! Take me back. . and seeing that it looked upon him with a face. I told you these were shadows of the things that have been. said the Ghost. he seized the extinguisher-cap. wrestled with it. if that can be called a struggle in which the Ghost with no visible resistance on its own part was undisturbed by any effort of its adversary.from this place. in which in some strange way there were fragments of all the faces it had shown him.

He was conscious of being exhausted. for the especial purpose of holding a conference with the second messenger despatched to him through Jacob Marley's intervention. in an unbroken flood upon the ground. he could not hide the light which streamed from under it. STAVE III THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS AWAKING in the middle of a prodigiously tough snore. He felt that he was restored to consciousness in the right nick of time. further. Scrooge had no occasion to be told that the bell was again upon the stroke of One. But finding that he turned uncomfortably cold when he began to wonder which . but though Scrooge pressed it down with all his force. He gave the cap a parting squeeze. and had barely time to reel to bed. before he sank into a heavy sleep. of being in his own bedroom. and overcome by an irresistible drowsiness. and sitting up in bed to get his thoughts together. so that the extinguisher covered its whole form. in which his hand relaxed. and.The Spirit dropped beneath it.

and.of his curtains this new spectre would draw back. being prepared for almost anything. and made nervous. established a sharp look-out all round the bed. he was not by any means prepared for nothing. Now. and lying down again. and that nothing between a baby and rhinoceros would have astonished him very much. between which opposite extremes. Without venturing for Scrooge quite as hardily as this. no doubt. and no shape appeared. consequently. when the Bell struck One. For he wished to challenge the Spirit on the moment of its appearance. Gentlemen of the free-and-easy sort. he put them every one aside with his own hands. who plume themselves on being acquainted with a move or two. and being usually equal to the time-of-day. there lies a tolerably wide and comprehensive range of subjects. express the wide range of their capacity for adventure by observing that they are good for anything from pitch-and-toss to manslaughter. and did not wish to be taken by surprise. he was taken with a . I don't mind calling on you to believe that he was ready for a good broad field of strange appearances.

from whence. he began to think--as you or I would have thought at first. the very core and centre of a blaze of ruddy light. ten minutes. or would be at. however. a quarter of an hour went by. being only light. and which. All this time. This idea taking full possession of his mind. At last. he began to think that the source and secret of this ghostly light might be in the adjoining room. a strange voice called him by his name. on further tracing it.violent fit of trembling. for it is always the person not in the predicament who knows what ought to have been done in it. which streamed upon it when the clock proclaimed the hour. yet nothing came. The moment Scrooge's hand was on the lock. it seemed to shine. as he was powerless to make out what it meant. was more alarming than a dozen ghosts. without having the consolation of knowing it. he got up softly and shuffled in his slippers to the door. . and bade him enter. He obeyed. and was sometimes apprehensive that he might be at that very moment an interesting case of spontaneous combustion. and would unquestionably have done it too--at last. he lay upon his bed. I say. Five minutes.

luscious pears. cherry-cheeked apples. or for many and many a winter season gone. and seething bowls of punch. geese. Heaped up on the floor. The crisp leaves of holly. . that it looked a perfect grove. In easy state upon this couch. there sat a jolly Giant. as if so many little mirrors had been scattered there. immense twelfth-cakes. glorious to see. as that dull petrification of a hearth had never known in Scrooge's time. mince-pies. great joints of meat. and ivy reflected back the light. brawn. game. and such a mighty blaze went roaring up the chimney. red-hot chestnuts. There was no doubt about that. But it had undergone a surprising transformation. were turkeys. poultry. from every part of which. plum-puddings. high up. long wreaths of sausages. in shape not unlike Plenty's horn. that made the chamber dim with their delicious steam. who bore a glowing torch. as he came peeping round the door. barrels of oysters. and held it up. bright gleaming berries glistened. The walls and ceiling were so hung with living green. to shed its light on Scrooge. mistletoe.It was his own room. sucking-pigs. juicy oranges. to form a kind of throne. or Marley's.

its open hand. free as its genial face. and on its head it wore no other covering than a holly wreath. its unconstrained demeanour. as if disdaining to be warded or concealed by any artifice. its sparkling eye. and its joyful air.Come in! exclaimed the Ghost. said the Spirit. and hung his head before this Spirit. This garment hung so loosely on the figure. its cheery voice. that its capacious breast was bare. observable beneath the ample folds of the garment. or mantle. Come in! and know me better. Look upon me! Scrooge reverently did so. Its feet. he did not like to meet them. set here and there with shining icicles. He was not the dogged Scrooge he had been. were also bare. Its dark brown curls were long and free. bordered with white fur. but no sword . and though the Spirit's eyes were clear and kind. I am the Ghost of Christmas Present. Girded round its middle was an antique scabbard. man! Scrooge entered timidly. It was clothed in one simple green robe.

Never. said the Ghost.was in it. A tremendous family to provide for! muttered Scrooge. meaning (for I am very young) my elder brothers born in these later years pursued the Phantom. Have you had many brothers. The Ghost of Christmas Present rose. Have never walked forth with the younger members of my family. and the ancient sheath was eaten up with rust. conduct me where you will. I went forth last night on compulsion. and I learnt . Spirit More than eighteen hundred. said Scrooge. Scrooge made answer to it. You have never seen the like of me before! exclaimed the Spirit. said Scrooge submissively. Spirit. I don't think I have. I am afraid I have not.

poultry. Holly. pigs. turkeys. fruit. oysters. Touch my robe! Scrooge did as he was told. puddings. the ruddy glow. sausages. The house fronts looked black enough. and punch. and with the dirtier snow upon the ground. but brisk and not unpleasant kind of music. To-night. contrasting with the smooth white sheet of snow upon the roofs. mistletoe. pies. and they stood in the city streets on Christmas morning.a lesson which is working now. geese. where (for the weather was severe) the people made a rough. and splitting into artificial little snow-storms. and from the tops of their houses. meat. the hour of night. let me profit by it. and held it fast. red berries. and the windows blacker. . whence it was mad delight to the boys to see it come plumping down into the road below. game. the fire. So did the room. if you have aught to teach me. ivy. all vanished instantly. in scraping the snow from the pavement in front of their dwellings. brawn.

which last deposit had been ploughed up in deep furrows by the heavy wheels of carts and waggons; furrows that crossed and re-crossed each other hundreds of times where the great streets branched off; and made intricate channels, hard to trace in the thick yellow mud and icy water. The sky was gloomy, and the shortest streets were choked up with a dingy mist, half thawed, half frozen, whose heavier particles descended in a shower of sooty atoms, as if all the chimneys in Great Britain had, by one consent, caught fire, and were blazing away to their dear hearts' content. There was nothing very cheerful in the climate or the town, and yet was there an air of cheerfulness abroad that the clearest summer air and brightest summer sun might have endeavoured to diffuse in vain.

For, the people who were shovelling away on the housetops were jovial and full of glee; calling out to one another from the parapets, and now and then exchanging a facetious snowball--better-natured missile far than many a wordy jest-laughing heartily if it went right and not less heartily if it went wrong. The poulterers' shops were still half open, and the fruiterers' were radiant in their glory. There were great, round, pot-bellied baskets of chestnuts, shaped like the waistcoats

of jolly old gentlemen, lolling at the doors, and tumbling out into the street in their apoplectic opulence. There were ruddy, brown-faced, broad-girthed Spanish Onions, shining in the fatness of their growth like Spanish Friars, and winking from their shelves in wanton slyness at the girls as they went by, and glanced demurely at the hung-up mistletoe. There were pears and apples, clustered high in blooming pyramids; there were bunches of grapes, made, in the shopkeepers' benevolence to dangle from conspicuous hooks, that people's mouths might water gratis as they passed; there were piles of filberts, mossy and brown, recalling, in their fragrance, ancient walks among the woods, and pleasant shufflings ankle deep through withered leaves; there were Norfolk Biffins, squat and swarthy, setting off the yellow of the oranges and lemons, and, in the great compactness of their juicy persons, urgently entreating and beseeching to be carried home in paper bags and eaten after dinner. The very gold and silver fish, set forth among these choice fruits in a bowl, though members of a dull and stagnant-blooded race, appeared to know that there was something going on; and, to a fish, went gasping round and round their little world in slow and passionless excitement.

The Grocers'! oh, the Grocers'! nearly closed, with perhaps two shutters down, or one; but through those gaps such glimpses! It was not alone that the scales descending on the counter made a merry sound, or that the twine and roller parted company so briskly, or that the canisters were rattled up and down like juggling tricks, or even that the blended scents of tea and coffee were so grateful to the nose, or even that the raisins were so plentiful and rare, the almonds so extremely white, the sticks of cinnamon so long and straight, the other spices so delicious, the candied fruits so caked and spotted with molten sugar as to make the coldest lookers-on feel faint and subsequently bilious. Nor was it that the figs were moist and pulpy, or that the French plums blushed in modest tartness from their highly-decorated boxes, or that everything was good to eat and in its Christmas dress; but the customers were all so hurried and so eager in the hopeful promise of the day, that they tumbled up against each other at the door, crashing their wicker baskets wildly, and left their purchases upon the counter, and came running back to fetch them, and committed hundreds of the like mistakes, in the best humour possible; while the Grocer and his people were so frank and fresh that the polished hearts with which

and nameless turnings. And so it was! God love it. worn outside for general inspection. The sight of these poor revellers appeared to interest the Spirit very much. and the bakers were shut up. and taking off the covers as their bearers passed. innumerable people. so it was! In time the bells ceased. And it was a very uncommon kind of torch. flocking through the streets in their best clothes. But soon the steeples called good people all. it was a shame to quarrel upon Christmas Day. to church and chapel. and their good humour was restored directly. he shed a few drops of water on them from it. for once or twice when there were angry words between some dinner-carriers who had jostled each other. and away they came. for he stood with Scrooge beside him in a baker's doorway. carrying their dinners to the bakers' shops. lanes. And at the same time there emerged from scores of bye-streets. For they said. and with their gayest faces. sprinkled incense on their dinners from his torch. and for Christmas daws to peck at if they chose. and .they fastened their aprons behind might have been their own.

in the thawed blotch of wet above each baker's oven. Would it apply to any kind of dinner on this day asked Scrooge. Is there a peculiar flavour in what you sprinkle from your torch asked Scrooge. said Scrooge. Why to a poor one most asked Scrooge. Spirit.yet there was a genial shadowing forth of all these dinners and the progress of their cooking. There is. Because it needs it most. should desire to cramp these people's opportunities of innocent . where the pavement smoked as if its stones were cooking too. To a poor one most. I wonder you. after a moment's thought. My own. of all the beings in the many worlds about us. To any kindly given.

Forgive me if I am wrong. Wouldn't you I! cried the Spirit. and selfishness in our name. You seek to close these places on the Seventh Day said Scrooge. There are some upon this earth of yours. I seek! exclaimed the Spirit. said Scrooge. or at least in that of your family. envy. returned the Spirit.enjoyment. You would deprive them of their means of dining every seventh day. often the only day on which they can be said to dine at all. It has been done in your name. I! cried the Spirit. who are as strange to us and all our kith and . who lay claim to know us. pride. and who do their deeds of passion. hatred. And it comes to the same thing. said Scrooge. bigotry. ill-will.

invisible. Remember that. and yet the Ghost of Christmas Present . and took Scrooge with him. for there he went. or else it was his own kind.kin. Think of that! Bob had but fifteen Bob a-week himself. And perhaps it was the pleasure the good Spirit had in showing off this power of his. generous. as they had been before. Scrooge promised that he would. he could accommodate himself to any place with ease. holding to his robe. he pocketed on Saturdays but fifteen copies of his Christian name. as if they had never lived. and stopped to bless Bob Cratchit's dwelling with the sprinkling of his torch. as it was possible he could have done in any lofty hall. and his sympathy with all poor men. that notwithstanding his gigantic size. and that he stood beneath a low roof quite as gracefully and like a supernatural creature. hearty nature. that led him straight to Scrooge's clerk's. and on the threshold of the door the Spirit smiled. not us. into the suburbs of the town. and charge their doings on themselves. It was a remarkable quality of the Ghost (which Scrooge had observed at the baker's). and they went on.

assisted by Belinda Cratchit. knocked loudly at the saucepan-lid to be let out and peeled. Cratchit. and exalted Master Peter Cratchit to the skies. and getting the corners of his monstrous shirt collar (Bob's private property. until the slow potatoes bubbling up. conferred upon his son and heir in honour of the day) into his mouth. second of her daughters. which are cheap and make a goodly show for sixpence.blessed his four-roomed house! Then up rose Mrs. while he (not proud. while Master Peter Cratchit plunged a fork into the saucepan of potatoes. . dressed out but poorly in a twice-turned gown. also brave in ribbons. Cratchit's wife. And now two smaller Cratchits. came tearing in. but brave in ribbons. boy and girl. and yearned to show his linen in the fashionable Parks. and she laid the cloth. these young Cratchits danced about the table. although his collars nearly choked him) blew the fire. and basking in luxurious thoughts of sage and onion. and known it for their own. rejoiced to find himself so gallantly attired. screaming that outside the baker's they had smelt the goose.

Martha! Why. replied the girl. how late you are! said Mrs. Hurrah! There's such a goose. Tiny Tim! And Martha warn't as late last Christmas Day by half-an-hour Here's Martha. my dear. Here's Martha. Cratchit. Sit ye down before the fire. We'd a deal of work to finish up last night. and had to clear away this morning. cried the two young . bless your heart alive. said Mrs. Lord bless ye! No. appearing as she spoke. mother! Well! Never mind so long as you are come. And your brother. and taking off her shawl and bonnet for her with officious zeal.What has ever got your precious father then said Mrs. no! There's father coming. and have a warm. my dear. kissing her a dozen times. mother! said a girl. Cratchit. Cratchit. mother! cried the two young Cratchits.

and had his limbs supported by an iron frame! Why. Cratchit. he bore a little crutch. hide! So Martha hid herself. the father. where's our Martha cried Bob Cratchit. hanging down before him. with at least three feet of comforter exclusive of the fringe. so she came out prematurely from behind the closet . and had come home rampant. Not coming upon Christmas Day! Martha didn't like to see him disappointed. who were everywhere at once. and Tiny Tim upon his shoulder. if it were only in joke. looking round. with a sudden declension in his high spirits. to look seasonable. Hide. Not coming. for he had been Tim's blood horse all the way from church.Cratchits. Martha. and his threadbare clothes darned up and brushed. Alas for Tiny Tim. and in came little Bob. said Mrs. Not coming! said Bob.

when she had rallied Bob on his credulity. Cratchit. sitting by himself so much. and Bob had hugged his daughter to his heart's content. who made lame beggars walk. and blind men see. and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. Bob's voice was tremulous when he told them this. while the two young Cratchits hustled Tiny Tim. because he was a cripple. and ran into his arms. He told me. said Bob. and better.door. As good as gold. escorted by . and bore him off into the wash-house. that he might hear the pudding singing in the copper. that he hoped the people saw him in the church. and back came Tiny Tim before another word was spoken. and trembled more when he said that Tiny Tim was growing strong and hearty. coming home. And how did little Tim behave asked Mrs. and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day. His active little crutch was heard upon the floor. Somehow he gets thoughtful.

as Mrs. and grace was said. Mrs. they were capable of being made more shabby--compounded some hot mixture in a jug with gin and lemons. Master Peter. . Master Peter mashed the potatoes with incredible vigour. and the two ubiquitous young Cratchits went to fetch the goose. Miss Belinda sweetened up the apple-sauce.his brother and sister to his stool before the fire. Such a bustle ensued that you might have thought a goose the rarest of all birds. a feathered phenomenon. Bob took Tiny Tim beside him in a tiny corner at the table. Cratchit made the gravy (ready beforehand in a little saucepan) hissing hot. poor fellow. not forgetting themselves. and mounting guard upon their posts. turning up his cuffs--as if. lest they should shriek for goose before their turn came to be helped. and stirred it round and round and put it on the hob to simmer. Martha dusted the hot plates. the two young Cratchits set chairs for everybody. crammed spoons into their mouths. At last the dishes were set on. and while Bob. It was succeeded by a breathless pause. to which a black swan was a matter of course--and in truth it was something very like it in that house. with which they soon returned in high procession.

Cratchit left the room alone--too nervous to bear witnesses--to take the pudding up and bring it in. the plates being changed by Miss Belinda. Mrs. looking slowly all along the carving-knife. and the youngest Cratchits in particular. they hadn't ate it all at last! Yet every one had had enough. and even Tiny Tim. Suppose it should not be done enough! Suppose it should break in turning out! Suppose somebody should have got . Bob said he didn't believe there ever was such a goose cooked.Cratchit. Its tenderness and flavour. it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family. as Mrs. were steeped in sage and onion to the eyebrows! But now. Eked out by apple-sauce and mashed potatoes. Cratchit said with great delight (surveying one small atom of a bone upon the dish). one murmur of delight arose all round the board. and feebly cried Hurrah! There never was such a goose. excited by the two young Cratchits. indeed. size and cheapness. and when the long expected gush of stuffing issued forth. were the themes of universal admiration. but when she did. prepared to plunge it in the breast. beat on the table with the handle of his knife.

Cratchit entered--flushed. that he regarded it as the greatest success achieved by Mrs. Everybody had something to say about it. but smiling proudly--with the pudding. Mrs.over the wall of the back-yard. Cratchit said that now the weight was off her mind. Oh. like a speckled cannon-ball. she would confess she had had her doubts about the quantity of flour. A smell like an eating-house and a pastrycook's next door to each other. but nobody said or thought it was at all a small pudding for a large family. A smell like a washing-day! That was the cloth. with a laundress's next door to that! That was the pudding! In half a minute Mrs. and stolen it. blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy. a wonderful pudding! Bob Cratchit said. It would have . Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper. while they were merry with the goose--a supposition at which the two young Cratchits became livid! All sorts of horrors were supposed. and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top. Cratchit since their marriage. so hard and firm. and calmly too.

the cloth was cleared. and considered perfect. Then all the Cratchit family drew round the hearth. . and at Bob Cratchit's elbow stood the family display of glass. meaning half a one. as well as golden goblets would have done. Any Cratchit would have blushed to hint at such a thing. the last of all. and a shovel-full of chestnuts on the fire. while the chestnuts on the fire sputtered and cracked noisily. and the fire made up. apples and oranges were put upon the table. Then Bob proposed A Merry Christmas to us all. The compound in the jug being tasted. Two tumblers. and Bob served it out with beaming looks. These held the hot stuff from the jug.been flat heresy to do so. God bless us! Which all the family re-echoed. and a custard-cup without a handle. God bless us every one! said Tiny Tim. however. my dears. At last the dinner was all done. in what Bob Cratchit called a circle. the hearth swept.

with an interest he had never felt before. and a crutch without an owner. and dreaded that he might be taken from him. said Scrooge. I see a vacant seat. no. Oh. none other of my race. kind Spirit! say he will be spared. No. said Scrooge. he had better do it. will find him here. replied the Ghost. Spirit. and decrease the surplus population. returned the Ghost. carefully preserved. tell me if Tiny Tim will live. no. If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future. in the poor chimney-corner. the child will die. and wished to keep him by his side. If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future. as if he loved the child. .He sat very close to his father's side upon his little stool. What then If he be like to die. Bob held his withered little hand in his.

But he raised them speedily. Will you decide what men shall live. I wish I had him here. the Founder of the Feast! The Founder of the Feast indeed! cried Mrs. I'd give him a piece of my mind to feast upon. on hearing his own name. and was overcome with penitence and grief. Mr. Man. said the Ghost. what men shall die It may be. and I hope he'd have a good . Scrooge. Cratchit. Oh God! to hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust! Scrooge bent before the Ghost's rebuke. and trembling cast his eyes upon the ground. that in the sight of Heaven. if man you be in heart. forbear that wicked cant until you have discovered What the surplus is. I'll give you Mr. reddening. Scrooge! said Bob.Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted by the Spirit. you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man's child. and Where it is. not adamant.

said Bob. I am sure. which was not dispelled for full five minutes. but he didn't care twopence for it. hard. Cratchit. the children! Christmas Day. It should be Christmas Day. said Mrs. poor fellow! My dear. Scrooge was the Ogre of the family. Tiny Tim drank it last of all. It was the first of their proceedings which had no heartiness. My dear. . not for his. was Bob's mild answer. said she. Christmas Day.appetite for it. The mention of his name cast a dark shadow on the party. I have no doubt! The children drank the toast after her. Robert! Nobody knows it better than you do. You know he is. I'll drink his health for your sake and the Day's. Scrooge. on which one drinks the health of such an odious. stingy. unfeeling man as Mr. Long life to him! A merry Christmas and a happy new year! He'll be very merry and very happy.

All this time the chestnuts and the jug went round and round. about a lost child travelling in the snow. . and Peter himself looked thoughtfully at the fire from between his collars. Martha. Also how she had seen a countess and a lord some days before. from the mere relief of Scrooge the Baleful being done with. they were ten times merrier than before. if obtained. which would bring in. The two young Cratchits laughed tremendously at the idea of Peter's being a man of business. and how many hours she worked at a stretch. as if he were deliberating what particular investments he should favour when he came into the receipt of that bewildering income. who had a plaintive little voice. Bob Cratchit told them how he had a situation in his eye for Master Peter. at which Peter pulled up his collars so high that you couldn't have seen his head if you had been there. and by-and-bye they had a song. then told them what kind of work she had to do. and how the lord was much about as tall as Peter.After it had passed away. full five-and-sixpence weekly. to-morrow being a holiday she passed at home. and how she meant to lie abed to-morrow morning for a good long rest. from Tiny Tim. who was a poor apprentice at a milliner's.

pleased with one another. brothers. and when they faded. Here. and deep red curtains. and very likely did. the brightness of the roaring fires in kitchens. By this time it was getting dark. and snowing pretty heavily. There all the children of the house were running out into the snow to meet their married sisters. and contented with the time. Here. they were happy. and all sorts of rooms. their clothes were scanty. There was nothing of high mark in this. the inside of a pawnbroker's. grateful. was wonderful. cousins. and especially on Tiny Tim. Scrooge had his eye upon them. and Peter might have known. the flickering of the blaze showed preparations for a cosy dinner. aunts. their shoes were far from being water-proof. and looked happier yet in the bright sprinklings of the Spirit's torch at parting.and sang it very well indeed. . ready to be drawn to shut out cold and darkness. with hot plates baking through and through before the fire. until the last. they were not well dressed. But. parlours. They were not a handsome family. and be the first to greet them. again. uncles. and as Scrooge and the Spirit went along the streets.

well they knew it--in a glow! But. and floated on. and piling up its fires half-chimney high. outpouring. where. if you had judged from the numbers of people on their way to friendly gatherings. and who was dressed to spend the evening somewhere. without a word of warning from the Ghost. its bright and harmless mirth on everything within its reach! The very lamplighter. Blessings on it. laughed out loudly as the Spirit passed. tripped lightly off to some near neighbour's house. and opened its capacious palm. who ran on before. they stood upon a bleak and desert moor. with a generous hand. dotting the dusky street with specks of light. instead of every house expecting company. woe upon the single man who saw them enter--artful witches. and there a group of handsome girls.were shadows on the window-blind of guests assembling. and all chattering at once. you might have thought that no one was at home to give them welcome when they got there. how the Ghost exulted! How it bared its breadth of breast. though little kenned the lamplighter that he had any company but Christmas! And now. where monstrous masses . all hooded and fur-booted.

in a voice that seldom rose above the howling of the wind upon the barren waste. but for the frost that held it prisoner. old man and woman.of rude stone were cast about. and coarse rank grass. Passing through the wall of mud and stone. lower. they found a cheerful company assembled round a glowing fire. as though it were the burial-place of giants. and nothing grew but moss and furze. was lost in the thick gloom of darkest night. A place where Miners live. and water spread itself wheresoever it listed. like a sullen eye. was singing them a . But they know me. returned the Spirit. and frowning lower. and swiftly they advanced towards it. all decked out gaily in their holiday attire. which glared upon the desolation for an instant. What place is this asked Scrooge. lower yet. or would have done so. The old man. and another generation beyond that. An old. See! A light shone from the window of a hut. with their children and their children's children. Down in the west the setting sun had left a streak of fiery red. who labour in the bowels of the earth.

The Spirit did not tarry here. his vigour sank again. looking back. and fiercely tried to undermine the earth. two men who watched the light had made . as sea-weed of the water--rose and fell about it. But even here. the old man got quite blithe and loud. a frightful range of rocks. some league or so from shore. but bade Scrooge hold his robe. Great heaps of sea-weed clung to its base. the wild year through. and raged among the dreadful caverns it had worn. behind them. and his ears were deafened by the thundering of water. To Scrooge's horror. and passing on above the moor. as it rolled and roared. like the waves they skimmed. Built upon a dismal reef of sunken rocks. there stood a solitary lighthouse. and so surely as they stopped.Christmas song--it had been a very old song when he was a boy--and from time to time they all joined in the chorus. So surely as they raised their voices. he saw the last of the land. and storm-birds --born of the wind one might suppose. on which the waters chafed and dashed. sped--whither Not to sea To sea.

and had shared to some extent in its festivities. that through the loophole in the thick stone wall shed out a ray of brightness on the awful sea. they wished each other Merry Christmas in their can of grog. good or bad. but every man among them hummed a Christmas tune. They stood beside the helmsman at the wheel. or had a Christmas thought.a fire. with homeward hopes belonging to it. and had remembered those he cared for at a distance. waking or sleeping. and had known that they delighted . on--until. above the black and heaving sea --on. as the figure-head of an old ship might be struck up a sturdy song that was like a Gale in itself. too. and one of them the elder. had had a kinder word for another on that day than on any day in the year. Joining their horny hands over the rough table at which they sat. the officers who had the watch. the look-out in the bow. And every man on board. they lighted on a ship. ghostly figures in their several stations. as he told Scrooge. dark. or spoke below his breath to his companion of some bygone Christmas Day. with his face all damaged and scarred with hard weather. being far away. Again the Ghost sped on. from any shore.

with the Spirit standing smiling by his side.to remember him. It is a fair. and I'll cultivate his acquaintance. I should like to know him too. It was a much greater surprise to Scrooge to recognise it as his own nephew's and to find himself in a bright. noble adjustment of things. ha! laughed Scrooge's nephew. to hear a hearty laugh. all I can say is. Introduce him to me. while thus engaged. there is nothing . It was a great surprise to Scrooge. whose depths were secrets as profound as Death it was a great surprise to Scrooge. even-handed. and thinking what a solemn thing it was to move on through the lonely darkness over an unknown abyss. ha! If you should happen. by any unlikely chance. gleaming room. to know a man more blest in a laugh than Scrooge's nephew. while listening to the moaning of the wind. that while there is infection in disease and sorrow. Ha. dry. ha. and looking at that same nephew with approving affability! Ha.

as I live! cried Scrooge's nephew. indignantly. She was very pretty exceedingly pretty. and twisting his face into the most extravagant contortions Scrooge's niece. Altogether she was what . laughed as heartily as he. ha! He said that Christmas was a humbug. Bless those women. a ripe little mouth.in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good-humour. Ha. by marriage. ha! Ha. capital face. surprised-looking. roared out lustily. all kinds of good little dots about her chin. ha. He believed it too! More shame for him. When Scrooge's nephew laughed in this way holding his sides. that melted into one another when she laughed. Fred! said Scrooge's niece. ha. that seemed made to be kissed--as no doubt it was. With a dimpled. They are always in earnest. And their assembled friends being not a bit behindhand. rolling his head. and the sunniest pair of eyes you ever saw in any little creature's head. they never do anything by halves.

his offences carry their own punishment. and I have nothing to say against him. I'm sure he is very rich. that's the truth and not so pleasant as he might be. Scrooge's niece's sisters. He don't make himself comfortable with it. Oh. I am sorry for . expressed the same opinion. I have! said Scrooge's nephew. He's a comical old fellow. observed Scrooge's niece. What of that. He hasn't the satisfaction of thinking--ha. but satisfactory. and all the other ladies. I have no patience with him. ha!--that he is ever going to benefit US with it. However. Oh. His wealth is of no use to him. you know. Fred. At least you always tell me so. perfectly satisfactory.you would have called provoking. my dear! said Scrooge's nephew. ha. He don't do any good with it. said Scrooge's nephew. too. hinted Scrooge's niece.

I couldn't be angry with him if I tried. always. and he won't come and dine with us. Fred. because I haven't great faith in these young housekeepers.him. were clustered round the fire. What do you say. Here. by lamplight. Topper Topper had clearly got his eye upon one of Scrooge's niece's sisters. said Scrooge's nephew. Well! I'm very glad to hear it. and they must be allowed to have been competent judges. because they had just had dinner. . Who suffers by his ill whims! Himself. for he answered that a bachelor was a wretched outcast. and. interrupted Scrooge's niece. said Scrooge's niece. Do go on. I think he loses a very good dinner. with the dessert upon the table. he takes it into his head to dislike us. who had no right to express an opinion on the subject. Whereat Scrooge's niece's sister--the plump one with the lace tucker not the one with the roses--blushed. Indeed. What's the consequence He don't lose much of a dinner. clapping her hands. Everybody else said the same.

is. that the consequence of his taking a dislike to us. in good temper. I was only going to say. I am sure he loses pleasanter companions than he can find in his own thoughts. and not making merry with us. He may rail at Christmas till he dies. as I think. that he loses some pleasant moments. his example was unanimously followed. either in his mouldy old office. I mean to give him the same chance every year. though the plump sister tried hard to do it with aromatic vinegar. that's something. for I pity him. . and saying Uncle Scrooge. year after year. and I think I shook him yesterday. or his dusty chambers. which could do him no harm. but he can't help thinking better of it--I defy him--if he finds me going there. how are you If it only puts him in the vein to leave his poor clerk fifty pounds. whether he likes it or not. said Scrooge's nephew. and as it was impossible to keep the infection off.He never finishes what he begins to say! He is such a ridiculous fellow! Scrooge's nephew revelled in another laugh.

and passed the bottle joyously.It was their turn to laugh now at the notion of his shaking Scrooge. who could growl away in the bass like a good one. years ago. or get red in the face over it. they had some music. and thought that if he could have listened to it often. But being thoroughly good-natured. he softened more and more. Scrooge's niece played well upon the harp. After tea. and played among other tunes a simple little air (a mere nothing you might learn to whistle it in two minutes). and not much caring what they laughed at. I can assure you especially Topper. so that they laughed at any rate. and knew what they were about. he might have cultivated the kindnesses of life for his own happiness with his own hands. as he had been reminded by the Ghost of Christmas Past. he encouraged them in their merriment. when they sung a Glee or Catch. When this strain of music sounded. and never swell the large veins in his forehead. For they were a musical family. all the things that Ghost had shown him. which had been familiar to the child who fetched Scrooge from the boarding-school. without resorting to the sexton's spade that buried Jacob . came upon his mind.

that it was a done thing between him and Scrooge's nephew. If you had fallen up against him (as some of them did). Stop! There was first a game at blind-man's buff. and that the Ghost of Christmas Present knew it. She often cried out that it wasn't fair. He wouldn't catch anybody else. Knocking down the fire-irons. and it really was not. wherever she went. was an outrage on the credulity of human nature. The way he went after that plump sister in the lace tucker.Marley. he would have made a feint of endeavouring to seize you. and would instantly have sidled off in the direction of the plump sister. smothering himself among the curtains. My opinion is. And I no more believe Topper was really blind than I believe he had eyes in his boots. there went he! He always knew where the plump sister was. on purpose. tumbling over the chairs. . when its mighty Founder was a child himself. But they didn't devote the whole evening to music. After a while they played at forfeits. for it is good to be children sometimes. bumping against the piano. Of course there was. and never better than at Christmas. which would have been an affront to your understanding.

then his conduct was the most execrable. in a snug corner. and Where. she was very great. behind the curtains. his pretending that it was necessary to touch her head-dress. he got her into a corner whence there was no escape. monstrous! No doubt she told him her opinion of it. and to the secret joy of Scrooge's nephew. but they all played. another blind-man being in office. beat her sisters hollow though they were sharp girls too. he caught her. and further to assure himself of her identity by pressing a certain ring upon her finger. they were so very confidential together. where the Ghost and Scrooge were close behind her. and loved her love to admiration with all the letters of the alphabet. but was made comfortable with a large chair and a footstool. and so did Scrooge. For his pretending not to know her. Likewise at the game of How. There might have been twenty people there. But she joined in the forfeits. for . young and old. When. and a certain chain about her neck.But when at last. in spite of all her silken rustlings. when. when. and her rapid flutterings past him. as Topper could have told you. was vile. Scrooge's niece was not one of the blind-man's buff party.

he sometimes came out with his guess quite loud. best Whitechapel. . But this the Spirit said could not be done. where Scrooge's nephew had to think of something. was not sharper than Scrooge. One half hour. and looked upon him with such favour. he only answering to their questions yes or no. too. a live animal. a savage animal. The Ghost was greatly pleased to find him in this mood. an animal that growled and grunted sometimes. blunt as he took it in his head to be. that his voice made no sound in their ears. and talked sometimes. for the sharpest needle. rather a disagreeable animal. elicited from him that he was thinking of an animal. The brisk fire of questioning to which he was exposed. Spirit. and very often guessed quite right.wholly forgetting in the interest he had in what was going on. Here is a new game. as the case was. and the rest must find out what. said Scrooge. that he begged like a boy to be allowed to stay until the guests departed. only one! It was a Game called Yes and No. warranted not to cut in the eye.

At last the plump sister. or a tiger. and walked about the streets. At every fresh question that was put to him. or a bull. or a cow. and wasn't made a show of. and was not a horse. this nephew burst into a fresh roar of laughter. that he was obliged to get up off the sofa and stamp. Fred! I know what it is! What is it cried Fred. and was so inexpressibly tickled. though some objected that the reply to Is it a bear ought to have been Yes.and lived in London. and didn't live in a menagerie. or a bear. Admiration was the universal sentiment. supposing they had ever had any tendency . or a cat. Scrooge. or a dog. and was never killed in a market. and wasn't led by anybody. It's your Uncle Scro-o-o-o-oge! Which it certainly was. or a pig. inasmuch as an answer in the negative was sufficient to have diverted their thoughts from Mr. cried out I have found it out! I know what it is. falling into a similar state. or an ass.

that way.

He has given us plenty of merriment, I am sure, said Fred, and it would be ungrateful not to drink his health. Here is a glass of mulled wine ready to our hand at the moment; and I say, 'Uncle Scrooge!'

Well! Uncle Scrooge! they cried.

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to the old man, whatever he is! said Scrooge's nephew. He wouldn't take it from me, but may he have it, nevertheless. Uncle Scrooge!

Uncle Scrooge had imperceptibly become so gay and light of heart, that he would have pledged the unconscious company in return, and thanked them in an inaudible speech, if the Ghost had given him time. But the whole scene passed off in the breath of the last word spoken by his nephew; and he and the Spirit were again upon their travels.

Much they saw, and far they went, and many homes they

visited, but always with a happy end. The Spirit stood beside sick beds, and they were cheerful; on foreign lands, and they were close at home; by struggling men, and they were patient in their greater hope; by poverty, and it was rich. In almshouse, hospital, and jail, in misery's every refuge, where vain man in his little brief authority had not made fast the door, and barred the Spirit out, he left his blessing, and taught Scrooge his precepts.

It was a long night, if it were only a night; but Scrooge had his doubts of this, because the Christmas Holidays appeared to be condensed into the space of time they passed together. It was strange, too, that while Scrooge remained unaltered in his outward form, the Ghost grew older, clearly older. Scrooge had observed this change, but never spoke of it, until they left a children's Twelfth Night party, when, looking at the Spirit as they stood together in an open place, he noticed that its hair was grey.

Are spirits' lives so short asked Scrooge.

My life upon this globe, is very brief, replied the Ghost.

It ends to-night.

To-night! cried Scrooge.

To-night at midnight. Hark! The time is drawing near.

The chimes were ringing the three quarters past eleven at that moment.

Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask, said Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit's robe, but I see something strange, and not belonging to yourself, protruding from your skirts. Is it a foot or a claw

It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it, was the Spirit's sorrowful reply. Look here.

From the foldings of its robe, it brought two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment.

and touched them with its freshest tints. no degradation. Scrooge started back. wolfish. has monsters half so horrible and dread. They are Man's. too. look. ragged. meagre. in their humility.Oh. down here! exclaimed the Ghost. but the words choked themselves. They were a boy and girl. through all the mysteries of wonderful creation. devils lurked. and glared out menacing. scowling. he tried to say they were fine children. rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude. Where graceful youth should have filled their features out. appalled. No change. looking down upon . had pinched. said the Spirit. Look. and pulled them into shreds. and twisted them. no perversion of humanity. like that of age. but prostrate. in any grade. Spirit! are they yours Scrooge could say no more. a stale and shrivelled hand. Yellow. Man! look here. Where angels might have sat enthroned. Having them shown to him in this way.

Scrooge looked about him for the Ghost. Beware them both. coming. turning on him for the last time with his own words. draped and hooded. Slander those who tell it ye! Admit it for your factious purposes. towards him. beheld a solemn Phantom. appealing from their fathers. and saw it not. Deny it! cried the Spirit. but most of all beware this boy. and all of their degree. he remembered the prediction of old Jacob Marley. .them. for on his brow I see that written which is Doom. stretching out its hand towards the city. and lifting up his eyes. Are there no workhouses The bell struck twelve. like a mist along the ground. As the last stroke ceased to vibrate. And they cling to me. and make it worse. This girl is Want. This boy is Ignorance. And bide the end! Have they no refuge or resource cried Scrooge. unless the writing be erased. Are there no prisons said the Spirit.

silently. When it came near him. which concealed its head. for the Spirit neither spoke nor moved. I am in the presence of the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come said Scrooge. . gravely. He knew no more. But for this it would have been difficult to detach its figure from the night. He felt that it was tall and stately when it came beside him. approached. and left nothing of it visible save one outstretched hand. Scrooge bent down upon his knee. and separate it from the darkness by which it was surrounded. for in the very air through which this Spirit moved it seemed to scatter gloom and mystery. its form. It was shrouded in a deep black garment. its face. and that its mysterious presence filled him with a solemn dread.STAVE IV THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS THE Phantom slowly.

and he found that he could hardly stand when he prepared to follow it. Spirit The upper portion of the garment was contracted for an instant in its folds. there were ghostly eyes intently fixed upon him. though he stretched his own to the utmost. The Spirit paused a moment. But Scrooge was all the worse for this. as observing his condition. Although well used to ghostly company by this time. and giving him time to recover. could see nothing but a spectral hand and one great heap . It thrilled him with a vague uncertain horror. but will happen in the time before us. You are about to show me shadows of the things that have not happened. Scrooge feared the silent shape so much that his legs trembled beneath him. as if the Spirit had inclined its head. to know that behind the dusky shroud. Scrooge pursued. That was the only answer he received. Is that so. but pointed onward with its hand.The Spirit answered not. while he.

for the city rather seemed to spring up about them. and carried him along. I am prepared to bear you company. and as I hope to live to be another man from what I was. and do it with a thankful heart. Will you not speak to me It gave him no reply. and encompass them of its . Lead on! The night is waning fast. he thought.of black. Lead on. I fear you more than any spectre I have seen. I know. They scarcely seemed to enter the city. But as I know your purpose is to do me good. which bore him up. The hand was pointed straight before them. Lead on! said Scrooge. Ghost of the Future! he exclaimed. and it is precious time to me. Scrooge followed in the shadow of its dress. Spirit! The Phantom moved away as it had come towards him.

who hurried up and down. Last night. said a great fat man with a monstrous chin. I only know he's dead. either way. No. and looked at their watches. taking a vast quantity of snuff out of a very large snuff-box. The Spirit stopped beside one little knot of business men. in the heart of it.own act. and so forth. When did he die inquired another. amongst the merchants. . on 'Change. I believe. and chinked the money in their pockets. and trifled thoughtfully with their great gold seals. Why. I thought he'd never die. I don't know much about it. But there they were. as Scrooge had seen them often. what was the matter with him asked a third. and conversed in groups. Observing that the hand was pointed to them. Scrooge advanced to listen to their talk.

This pleasantry was received with a general laugh. . He hasn't left it to me. said the same speaker. observed the gentleman with the excrescence on his nose. Another laugh. But I must be fed. that shook like the gills of a turkey-cock. said the first. I haven't heard.God knows. with a yawn. for upon my life I don't know of anybody to go to it. What has he done with his money asked a red-faced gentleman with a pendulous excrescence on the end of his nose. Suppose we make up a party and volunteer I don't mind going if a lunch is provided. Left it to his company. It's likely to be a very cheap funeral. That's all I know. if I make one. yawning again. said the man with the large chin. perhaps.

Well. if anybody else will. He had made a point always of standing well in their esteem in a business point of view. perfectly. said the first speaker. But I'll offer to go. after all. bye! Speakers and listeners strolled away. They were men of business very wealthy. Scrooge knew the men. for I never wear black gloves. . Bye. also. thinking that the explanation might lie here. and of great importance. I am the most disinterested among you. that is. I'm not at all sure that I wasn't his most particular friend. When I come to think of it. How are you said one. The Phantom glided on into a street. Scrooge listened again. Its finger pointed to two persons meeting. for we used to stop and speak whenever we met. He knew these men. and mixed with other groups. strictly in a business point of view. and looked towards the Spirit for an explanation. and I never eat lunch.

How are you returned the other.

Well! said the first. Old Scratch has got his own at last, hey

So I am told, returned the second. Cold, isn't it

Seasonable for Christmas time. You're not a skater, I suppose

No. No. Something else to think of. Good morning!

Not another word. That was their meeting, their conversation, and their parting.

Scrooge was at first inclined to be surprised that the Spirit should attach importance to conversations apparently so trivial; but feeling assured that they must have some hidden purpose, he set himself to consider what it was likely to be. They could scarcely be supposed to have any bearing on the death of Jacob, his old partner, for that was Past, and this

Ghost's province was the Future. Nor could he think of any one immediately connected with himself, to whom he could apply them. But nothing doubting that to whomsoever they applied they had some latent moral for his own improvement, he resolved to treasure up every word he heard, and everything he saw; and especially to observe the shadow of himself when it appeared. For he had an expectation that the conduct of his future self would give him the clue he missed, and would render the solution of these riddles easy.

He looked about in that very place for his own image; but another man stood in his accustomed corner, and though the clock pointed to his usual time of day for being there, he saw no likeness of himself among the multitudes that poured in through the Porch. It gave him little surprise, however; for he had been revolving in his mind a change of life, and thought and hoped he saw his new-born resolutions carried out in this.

Quiet and dark, beside him stood the Phantom, with its outstretched hand. When he roused himself from his

thoughtful quest, he fancied from the turn of the hand, and its situation in reference to himself, that the Unseen Eyes were looking at him keenly. It made him shudder, and feel very cold.

They left the busy scene, and went into an obscure part of the town, where Scrooge had never penetrated before, although he recognised its situation, and its bad repute. The ways were foul and narrow; the shops and houses wretched; the people half-naked, drunken, slipshod, ugly. Alleys and archways, like so many cesspools, disgorged their offences of smell, and dirt, and life, upon the straggling streets; and the whole quarter reeked with crime, with filth, and misery.

Far in this den of infamous resort, there was a low-browed, beetling shop, below a pent-house roof, where iron, old rags, bottles, bones, and greasy offal, were bought. Upon the floor within, were piled up heaps of rusty keys, nails, chains, hinges, files, scales, weights, and refuse iron of all kinds. Secrets that few would like to scrutinise were bred and hidden in mountains of unseemly rags, masses of corrupted fat, and sepulchres of bones. Sitting in among the wares he dealt in, by a

just as a woman with a heavy bundle slunk into the shop. was a grey-haired rascal. here's a chance! If we haven't all three met here without meaning it! . and smoked his pipe in all the luxury of calm retirement. by a frousy curtaining of miscellaneous tatters. and she was closely followed by a man in faded black. and let the undertaker's man alone to be the third. Let the laundress alone to be the second. than they had been upon the recognition of each other. similarly laden. made of old bricks. they all three burst into a laugh.charcoal stove. old Joe. when another woman. But she had scarcely entered. Let the charwoman alone to be the first! cried she who had entered first. hung upon a line. After a short period of blank astonishment. who was no less startled by the sight of them. in which the old man with the pipe had joined them. Scrooge and the Phantom came into the presence of this man. nearly seventy years of age. came in too. Look here. who had screened himself from the cold air without.

The old man raked the fire together with an old stair-rod. and looking with a bold defiance at the other two. and sat down in a flaunting manner on a stool. Come into the parlour. Ah! How it skreeks! There an't such a rusty bit of metal in the place as its own hinges. with the stem of his pipe. Mrs. the woman who had already spoken threw her bundle on the floor. Stop till I shut the door of the shop. and I'm sure there's no such old bones here. Come into the parlour. ha! We're all suitable to our calling. said old Joe. as mine. I believe. removing his pipe from his mouth. Dilber said the woman. crossing her elbows on her knees. we're well matched.You couldn't have met in a better place. and having trimmed his smoky lamp (for it was night). Come into the parlour. put it in his mouth again. What odds then! What odds. you know. While he did this. . You were made free of it long ago. The parlour was the space behind the screen of rags. Ha. and the other two an't strangers. Every person has a right to take care of themselves.

then! cried the woman. woman. That's enough. Who's the worse for the loss of a few things like these Not a dead man. why wasn't he natural in his lifetime If he had been. Dilber. a wicked old screw. indeed! said the laundress. Very well. don't stand staring as if you was afraid. No man more so. We should hope not. That's true. I suppose No. indeed. indeed! said Mrs. laughing. pursued the woman. Dilber and the man together. Why then. No. who's the wiser We're not going to pick holes in each other's coats. If he wanted to keep 'em after he was dead. instead of lying .He always did. I suppose. he'd have had somebody to look after him when he was struck with Death. said Mrs.

I wish it was a little heavier judgment. who chalked the sums he was disposed to give for each. and a brooch of no great value. and it should have been. were all. Dilber. Joe. old Joe.gasping out his last there. alone by himself. A seal or two. It's a judgment on him. Open the bundle. It's the truest word that ever was spoke. if I could have laid my hands on anything else. It's no sin. mounting the breach first. nor afraid for them to see it. I'm not afraid to be the first. said Mrs. a pencil-case. But the gallantry of her friends would not allow of this. . produced his plunder. We know pretty well that we were helping ourselves. before we met here. a pair of sleeve-buttons. and added them up into a total when he found there was nothing more to come. They were severally examined and appraised by old Joe. It was not extensive. Open that bundle. upon the wall. I believe. and let me know the value of it. you may depend upon it. and the man in faded black. replied the woman. Speak out plain.

Joe went down on his knees for the greater convenience of opening it. and I wouldn't give another sixpence. I'd repent of being so liberal and knock off half-a-crown. Who's next Mrs. and that's the way I ruin myself. dragged out a large and heavy roll of some dark stuff. That's your account. And now undo my bundle. a pair of sugar-tongs. and a few boots. I always give too much to ladies. two old-fashioned silver teaspoons. said old Joe. Her account was stated on the wall in the same manner.That's your account. . Dilber was next. said the first woman. if I was to be boiled for not doing it. Joe. and having unfastened a great many knots. Sheets and towels. said Joe. a little wearing apparel. If you asked me for another penny. It's a weakness of mine. and made it an open question.

Yes I do. Whose else's do you think replied the woman. Don't drop that oil upon the blankets. rings and all. replied the woman. He isn't likely to take cold without 'em. laughing and leaning forward on her crossed arms. I certainly shan't hold my hand. I promise you. I dare say. with him lying there said Joe. when I can get anything in it by reaching it out. . for the sake of such a man as He was.What do you call this said Joe. Bed-curtains! Ah! returned the woman. said Joe. Joe. now. Why not You were born to make your fortune. Bed-curtains! You don't mean to say you took 'em down. and you'll certainly do it. returned the woman coolly. His blankets asked Joe.

it isn't good enough for anything. I an't so fond of his company that I'd loiter about him for such things. to be sure. Don't you be afraid of that. Putting it on him to be buried in. in the scanty light afforded by . Scrooge listened to this dialogue in horror. He can't look uglier than he did in that one. if he did. It's the best he had. As they sat grouped about their spoil. stopping in his work. It's quite as becoming to the body. but I took it off again. if it hadn't been for me.I hope he didn't die of anything catching Eh said old Joe. replied the woman with a laugh. and looking up. Somebody was fool enough to do it. Ah! you may look through that shirt till your eyes ache. If calico an't good enough for such a purpose. They'd have wasted it. nor a threadbare place. but you won't find a hole in it. What do you call wasting of it asked old Joe. returned the woman. and a fine one too.

I see.the old man's lamp. The room was very dark. told out their several gains upon the ground. I see. which could hardly have been greater. The case of this unhappy man might be my own. Merciful Heaven. to profit us when he was dead! Ha. what is this! He recoiled in terror. Ha. producing a flannel bag with money in it. beneath a ragged sheet. ha! Spirit! said Scrooge. when old Joe. and now he almost touched a bed a bare. now. there lay a something covered up. though they had been obscene demons. marketing the corpse itself. too dark to be observed with . This is the end of it. which. announced itself in awful language. uncurtained bed on which. he viewed them with a detestation and disgust. ha. ha! laughed the same woman. though it was dumb. for the scene had changed. My life tends that way. you see! He frightened every one away from him when he was alive. shuddering from head to foot.

unwept. but had no more power to withdraw the veil than to dismiss the spectre at his side. A pale light. rigid.any accuracy. though Scrooge glanced round it in obedience to a secret impulse. and true. Oh cold. and dress it with such terrors as thou hast at thy command for this is thy dominion! But of the loved. It is not that the hand is heavy and will fall down when released. fell straight upon the bed. unwatched. set up thine altar here. and on it. . uncared for. thou canst not turn one hair to thy dread purposes. the motion of a finger upon Scrooge's part. was the body of this man. Scrooge glanced towards the Phantom. revered. or make one feature odious. He thought of it. dreadful Death. Its steady hand was pointed to the head. would have disclosed the face. cold. rising in the outer air. anxious to know what kind of room it was. The cover was so carelessly adjusted that the slightest raising of it. generous. warm. it is not that the heart and pulse are still. felt how easy it would be to do. and longed to do it. plundered and bereft. and honoured head. but that the hand WAS open. the heart brave.

A cat was tearing at the door. to say that he was kind to me in this or that. I shall not leave its lesson. this is a fearful place. and the pulse a man's. to sow the world with life immortal! No voice pronounced these words in Scrooge's ears. or a child. Let us go! Still the Ghost pointed with an unmoved finger to the . and for the memory of one kind word I will be kind to him. Shadow. Spirit! he said. Strike. He thought. and there was a sound of gnawing rats beneath the hearth-stone. a woman. and why they were so restless and disturbed. strike! And see his good deeds springing from the wound. in the dark empty house.and tender. What they wanted in the room of death. hard-dealing. In leaving it. if this man could be raised up now. truly! He lay. with not a man. griping cares They have brought him to a rich end. Scrooge did not dare to think. and yet he heard them when he looked upon the bed. trust me. what would be his foremost thoughts Avarice.

Spirit. But I have not the power. to work with her needle. and I would do it. started at every sound.head. looked out from the window. glanced at the clock. who feels emotion caused by this man's death. Scrooge returned. and with anxious eagerness. I understand you. if I could. revealed a room by daylight. for she walked up and down the room. She was expecting some one. . I beseech you! The Phantom spread its dark robe before him for a moment. If there is any person in the town. Again it seemed to look upon him. like a wing. show that person to me. I have not the power. said Scrooge quite agonised. and withdrawing it. where a mother and her children were. and could hardly bear the voices of the children in their play. tried. Spirit. but in vain.

He sat down to the dinner that had been hoarding for him by the fire. he appeared embarrassed how to answer. Caroline. he answered. a man whose face was careworn and depressed. There is hope yet. amazed. She hurried to the door.At length the long-expected knock was heard. a kind of serious delight of which he felt ashamed. There was a remarkable expression in it now. and which he struggled to repress. if such a miracle has happened. and when she asked him faintly what news (which was not until after a long silence). . Is it good she said. she said. or bad--to help him. If he relents. and met her husband. We are quite ruined No. though he was young. Bad. there is! Nothing is past hope.

turns out to have been quite true. it would be a bad fortune indeed to find so merciless a creditor in his successor. and she said so. and what I thought was a mere excuse to avoid me. But before that time we shall be ready with the money. but the first was the emotion of her heart. and was sorry. their hearts were lighter. He was not only very ill. Caroline! Yes. What the half-drunken woman whom I told you of last night. and even though we were not. but dying. Soften it as they would. with clasped hands. She was a mild and patient creature if her face spoke truth. said her husband. when I tried to see him and obtain a week's delay. . She prayed forgiveness the next moment.He is past relenting. To whom will our debt be transferred I don't know. said to me. He is dead. We may sleep to-night with light hearts. then. but she was thankful in her soul to hear it.

They entered poor Bob Cratchit's house. But surely they were very quiet! . The Ghost conducted him through several streets familiar to his feet. but nowhere was he to be seen. Quiet. and found the mother and the children seated round the fire. The mother and her daughters were engaged in sewing.The children's faces. will be for ever present to me. Spirit. The noisy little Cratchits were as still as statues in one corner. said Scrooge. the dwelling he had visited before. who had a book before him. Let me see some tenderness connected with a death. or that dark chamber. caused by the event. Scrooge looked here and there to find himself. and as they went along. were brighter. which we left just now. was one of pleasure. and sat looking up at Peter. and it was a happier house for this man's death! The only emotion that the Ghost could show him. hushed and clustered round to hear what they so little understood. Very quiet.

But I think he has walked a little slower than he used. It must be near his time. as he and the Spirit crossed the threshold. for the world. Peter answered. poor Tiny Tim! They're better now again. and I wouldn't show weak eyes to your father when he comes home. The colour Ah. and set him in the midst of them. said Cratchit's wife. shutting up his book.' Where had Scrooge heard those words He had not dreamed them. she said. Why did he not go on The mother laid her work upon the table. Past it rather.'And He took a child. . It makes them weak by candle-light. and put her hand up to her face. The boy must have read them out. The colour hurts my eyes.

and his father loved him so. father. And there is your father at the door! She hurried out to meet him. At last she said. But he was very light to carry. that only faltered once I have known him walk with--I have known him walk with Tiny Tim upon his shoulder. And so have I. His tea was ready for him on the hob. against his face. exclaimed another. each child a little cheek. Then the two young Cratchits got upon his knees and laid. cheerful voice.these few last evenings. So had all. she resumed. Don't mind it. And so have I. and they all tried who should help him to it most. as if they said. cried Peter. Often. They were very quiet again. intent upon her work. that it was no trouble no trouble. and little Bob in his comforter --he had need of it. Don't be . poor fellow--came in. and in a steady. mother. very fast indeed.

little child! cried Bob.grieved! Bob was very cheerful with them. Sunday! You went to-day. returned Bob. Yes. They would be done long before Sunday. I promised him that I would walk there on a Sunday. which was lighted cheerfully. my dear. He looked at the work upon the table. He couldn't help it. I wish you could have gone. and went up-stairs into the room above. he said. It would have done you good to see how green a place it is. My little child! He broke down all at once. If he could have helped it. Cratchit and the girls. and hung with Christmas. My little. He left the room. then. Robert said his wife. and spoke pleasantly to all the family. But you'll see it often. . he and his child would have been farther apart perhaps than they were. and praised the industry and speed of Mrs.

' he said. 'I am heartily sorry for it. whom he had scarcely seen but once. Everybody knows that! said Peter.' By the bye. 'and heartily sorry for your good wife. Bob told them of the extraordinary kindness of Mr. Mr. he kissed the little face. He was reconciled to what had happened. meeting him in the street that day. and who. I told him. On which. lately. They drew about the fire. and talked. said Bob. the girls and mother working still.There was a chair set close beside the child. and went down again quite happy. Poor Bob sat down in it. said Bob. and there were signs of some one having been there. my dear Why. I don't know. replied Bob. how he ever knew that. Scrooge's nephew. for he is the pleasantest-spoken gentleman you ever heard. Cratchit. . and when he had thought a little and composed himself. Knew what. and seeing that he looked a little--just a little down you know. that you were a good wife. inquired what had happened to distress him.

if you saw and spoke to him. . And then.' he said. said Mrs. Get along with you! retorted Peter. that this was quite delightful. I hope they do. 'for your good wife. and setting up for himself.' Now. grinning.Very well observed. Cratchit. Peter. It really seemed as if he had known our Tiny Tim. cried Bob. Pray come to me. I'm sure he's a good soul! said Mrs. it wasn't. my boy! cried Bob. for the sake of anything he might be able to do for us. so much as for his kind way. Only hear that. returned Bob. You would be surer of it. I shouldn't be at all surprised-mark what I say!--if he got Peter a better situation. 'Heartily sorry. giving me his card. Cratchit. my dear. cried one of the girls. Peter will be keeping company with some one. and felt with us. If I can be of service to you in any way. 'that's where I live.' he said.

Cratchit kissed him. I am very happy. said little Bob. said Bob. my dears. though there's plenty of time for that. I am sure we shall none of us forget poor Tiny Tim--shall we--or this first parting that there was among us Never. I know. although he was a little. Spirit of Tiny Tim. I am very happy! Mrs. that when we recollect how patient and how mild he was. one of these days. But however and whenever we part from one another. father! cried they all. No. my dear. and Peter and himself shook hands. father! they all cried again. we shall not quarrel easily among ourselves. his daughters kissed him. the two young Cratchits kissed him. said Bob. thy childish essence was from God! . And I know. never. and forget poor Tiny Tim in doing it. little child.It's just as likely as not.

Let me behold what I shall be. through which we hurry now. The house is yonder. as before--though at a different time. and has been for a length of time. but I know not how. as to the end just now desired. something informs me that our parting moment is at hand. said Scrooge. but showed him not himself. there seemed no order in these latter visions. Scrooge exclaimed. Tell me what man that was whom we saw lying dead The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come conveyed him. Indeed. the hand was pointed elsewhere. in days to come! The Spirit stopped. save that they were in the Future--into the resorts of business men.Spectre. I see the house. Why do you point away . This court. he thought indeed. until besought by Scrooge to tarry for a moment. is where my place of occupation is. but went straight on. said Scrooge. the Spirit did not stay for anything. I know it.

lay underneath the ground. and pointed down to One. The Phantom pointed as before. fat with repleted appetite. It was an office still.The inexorable finger underwent no change. and the figure in the chair was not himself. and looked in. Here. then. Walled in by houses. the growth of vegetation's death. the wretched man whose name he had now to learn. and wondering why and whither he had gone. choked up with too much burying. overrun by grass and weeds. A worthy place! The Spirit stood among the graves. He advanced towards it trembling. accompanied it until they reached an iron gate. but he dreaded that he saw new . A churchyard. but not his. He paused to look round before entering. The furniture was not the same. He joined it once again. not life. Scrooge hastened to the window of his office. The Phantom was exactly as it had been. It was a worthy place.

read upon the stone of the neglected grave his own name. or are they shadows of things that May be. upon . trembling as he went.meaning in its solemn shape. and following the finger. said Scrooge. EBENEZER SCROOGE. Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point. Say it is thus with what you show me! The Spirit was immovable as ever. Am I that man who lay upon the bed he cried. Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends. Are these the shadows of the things that Will be. said Scrooge. answer me one question. if persevered in. the ends will change. But if the courses be departed from. to which. Scrooge crept towards it. they must lead. only Still the Ghost pointed downward to the grave by which it stood.

tight clutching at its robe. no! The finger still was there. he pursued. if I am past all hope! For the first time the hand appeared to shake. I will not be the man I must have been but for this intercourse. Good Spirit. Spirit! Oh no. Why show me this. No.his knees. and back again. by an altered life! The kind hand trembled. hear me! I am not the man I was. The finger pointed from the grave to him. Assure me that I yet may change these shadows you have shown me. . Spirit! he cried. as down upon the ground he fell before it Your nature intercedes for me. and pities me.

but he was strong in his entreaty. Holding up his hands in a last prayer to have his fate reversed. Best and happiest of all. It shrunk. Oh. and detained it. and try to keep it all the year. It sought to free itself. STAVE V THE END OF IT YES! and the bedpost was his own. the Time before him was his own. and the Future! . stronger yet. The bed was his own.I will honour Christmas in my heart. and dwindled down into a bedpost. tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone! In his agony. repulsed him. I will live in the Past. the Present. he caught the spectral hand. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. the Present. the room was his own. and the Future. collapsed. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. The Spirit. to make amends in! I will live in the Past. he saw an alteration in the Phantom's hood and dress.

I don't know what to do! cried Scrooge. turning them inside out. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. He had been sobbing violently in his conflict with the Spirit. They will be. making them parties to every kind of extravagance. and his face was wet with tears. mislaying them. that his broken voice would scarcely answer to his call. folding one of his bed-curtains in his arms. old Jacob. tearing them.Scrooge repeated. may be dispelled. as he scrambled out of bed. on my knees! He was so fluttered and so glowing with his good intentions. rings and all. they are not torn down. Oh Jacob Marley! Heaven. I know they will! His hands were busy with his garments all this time. cried Scrooge. They are here--I am here--the shadows of the things that would have been. putting them on upside down. and the Christmas Time be praised for this! I say it on my knees. laughing and . They are not torn down.

and making a perfect Laocoön of himself with his stockings. Ha ha ha! Really. long line of brilliant laughs! .crying in the same breath. by which the Ghost of Jacob Marley entered! There's the corner where the Ghost of Christmas Present. and was now standing there perfectly winded. I am as giddy as a drunken man. The father of a long. A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world. starting off again. a most illustrious laugh. for a man who had been out of practice for so many years. sat! There's the window where I saw the wandering Spirits! It's all right. I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as happy as an angel. it's all true. it all happened. and going round the fireplace. I am as light as a feather. Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo! He had frisked into the sitting-room. There's the saucepan that the gruel was in! cried Scrooge. it was a splendid laugh. There's the door.

jovial. I don't know anything. with all his might of wonder. glorious. bright. stirring. EH returned the boy. I don't know how long I've been among the Spirits. Clash. glorious! Glorious! What's to-day! cried Scrooge. who perhaps had loitered in to look about him. ding. No fog. hammer. Heavenly sky. glorious! Running to the window.I don't know what day of the month it is! said Scrooge. calling downward to a boy in Sunday clothes. piping for the blood to dance to. I don't care. merry bells. cold. dong. I'm quite a baby. . clang. clear. ding. Bell. clash! Oh. and put out his head. Golden sunlight. bell. Hallo! Whoop! Hallo here! He was checked in his transports by the churches ringing out the lustiest peals he had ever heard. cold. sweet fresh air. dong. he opened it. hammer. clang. no mist. I'd rather be a baby. Never mind. Oh.

To-day! replied the boy. An intelligent boy! said Scrooge. CHRISTMAS DAY. my fine fellow! Hallo! returned the boy. at the corner Scrooge inquired. I should hope I did. in the next street but one. A remarkable boy! Do you know whether they've sold the prize Turkey that was hanging up there--Not the little prize Turkey the big one .What's to-day. The Spirits have done it all in one night. replied the lad. Of course they can. I haven't missed it. my fine fellow said Scrooge. They can do anything they like. Of course they can. Why. Hallo. It's Christmas Day! said Scrooge to himself. Do you know the Poulterer's.

It's a pleasure to talk to him. Go and buy it. Go and buy it. said Scrooge.What. He must have had a steady hand at a trigger who could have got a shot off half so fast. the one as big as me returned the boy. that I may give them the direction where to take it. replied the boy. no. I am in earnest. Walk-ER! exclaimed the boy. Come back with the man. Yes. What a delightful boy! said Scrooge. my buck! It's hanging there now. Is it said Scrooge. He sha'n't . and I'll give you a shilling. and tell 'em to bring it here. No. I'll send it to Bob Cratchit's! whispered Scrooge. and splitting with a laugh. Come back with him in less than five minutes and I'll give you half-a-crown! The boy was off like a shot. rubbing his hands.

It's twice the size of Tiny Tim. He would have snapped 'em short off in a minute. What an honest expression it has in its face! It's a wonderful knocker!--Here's the Turkey! Hallo! Whoop! How are you! Merry Christmas! It was a Turkey! He never could have stood upon his legs. I shall love it. Joe Miller never made such a joke as sending it to Bob's will be! The hand in which he wrote the address was not a steady one. You must have a cab. said Scrooge. waiting his arrival. like sticks of sealing-wax. and went down-stairs to open the street door. it's impossible to carry that to Camden Town. . somehow. that bird. ready for the coming of the poulterer's man. but write it he did. as long as I live! cried Scrooge. patting it with his hand. I scarcely ever looked at it before. As he stood there.know who sends it. Why. the knocker caught his eye.

and the chuckle with which he recompensed the boy. as he had seen them with the Ghost of Christmas Present. Scrooge regarded every one with a delighted smile. and shaving requires attention. But if he had cut the end of his nose off.The chuckle with which he said this. and at last got out into the streets. The people were by this time pouring forth. in a word. that of all the blithe . Good morning. He dressed himself all in his best. that three or four good-humoured fellows said. even when you don't dance while you are at it. and been quite satisfied. sir! A merry Christmas to you! And Scrooge said often afterwards. he would have put a piece of sticking-plaister over it. and the chuckle with which he paid for the Turkey. and chuckled till he cried. for his hand continued to shake very much. were only to be exceeded by the chuckle with which he sat down breathless in his chair again. He looked so irresistibly pleasant. and walking with his hands behind him. Shaving was not an easy task. and the chuckle with which he paid for the cab.

sounds he had ever heard. I believe It sent a pang across his heart to think how this old gentleman would look upon him when they met. and he took it. He had not gone far. those were the blithest in his ears. and taking the old gentleman by both his hands. and I fear it may not be pleasant to you. Lord bless me! cried the gentleman. A merry Christmas to you. sir! Mr. but he knew what path lay straight before him. said Scrooge. And will you have the goodness--here Scrooge whispered in his ear. My dear sir. It was very kind of you. That is my name. Scrooge and Marley's. as if his breath . and said. Allow me to ask your pardon. quickening his pace. when coming on towards him he beheld the portly gentleman. said Scrooge. who had walked into his counting-house the day before. Scrooge Yes. How do you do I hope you succeeded yesterday.

Will you do me that favour My dear sir. Bless you! He went to church. and found . Not a farthing less. I assure you. and patted children on the head.were taken away. A great many back-payments are included in it. are you serious If you please. shaking hands with him. Thank'ee. And it was clear he meant to do it. I don't know what to say to such munifi-- Don't say anything. Come and see me. Scrooge. and up to the windows. I am much obliged to you. and looked down into the kitchens of houses. said the other. said Scrooge. Will you come and see me I will! cried the old gentleman. and watched the people hurrying to and fro. retorted Scrooge. and walked about the streets. and questioned beggars. said Scrooge. please. My dear Mr. I thank you fifty times.

my love said Scrooge. . Where is he. my dear said Scrooge to the girl. He knows me. He's in the dining-room. Yes. said Scrooge. In the afternoon he turned his steps towards his nephew's house. with his hand already on the dining-room lock. and did it Is your master at home. I'll show you up-stairs. Thank'ee. before he had the courage to go up and knock. sir. But he made a dash. if you please. He had never dreamed that any walk--that anything--could give him so much happiness. my dear. I'll go in here. He passed the door a dozen times. sir.that everything could yield him pleasure. along with mistress. Nice girl! Very.

and sidled his face in. wonderful . who's that It's I. So did Topper when he came.He turned it gently. for the moment. He was at home in five minutes. His niece looked just the same. and like to see that everything is right. or he wouldn't have done it. Dear heart alive. Why bless my soul! cried Fred. So did every one when they came. for these young housekeepers are always nervous on such points. about her sitting in the corner with the footstool. They were looking at the table (which was spread out in great array). So did the plump sister when she came. how his niece by marriage started! Scrooge had forgotten. Fred! said Scrooge. Nothing could be heartier. Your uncle Scrooge. Fred Let him in! It is a mercy he didn't shake his arm off. Will you let me in. I have come to dinner. on any account. round the door. Wonderful party.

driving away with his pen. What do you mean by coming here at this time of day I am very sorry. yes. If he could only be there first. No Bob. I am behind my time. . He was full eighteen minutes and a half behind his time. his comforter too. Hallo! growled Scrooge. he did! The clock struck nine. and catch Bob Cratchit coming late! That was the thing he had set his heart upon. Scrooge sat with his door wide open. sir. in his accustomed voice. won-der-ful happiness! But he was early at the office next morning. that he might see him come into the Tank. And he did it. as near as he could feign it. Oh. he was early there. His hat was off. A quarter past. said Bob.games. wonderful unanimity. as if he were trying to overtake nine o'clock. before he opened the door. No Bob. He was on his stool in a jiffy.

You are repeated Scrooge. He had a momentary idea of knocking Scrooge down with it. I'll tell you what. Bob! said Scrooge. Now. if you please. my friend. appearing from the Tank. with an earnestness that could not be mistaken. A merrier Christmas. sir. my good fellow. I am not going to stand this sort of thing any longer. It shall not be repeated. and giving Bob such a dig in the waistcoat that he staggered back into the Tank again. It's only once a year. than I . I was making rather merry yesterday. and got a little nearer to the ruler. Step this way. leaping from his stool. I think you are. sir. Yes. said Scrooge. A merry Christmas. and calling to the people in the court for help and a strait-waistcoat. he continued. Bob. pleaded Bob. sir. and therefore I am about to raise your salary! Bob trembled. And therefore. holding him. as he clapped him on the back.

and to Tiny Tim. as the good old city knew. in the good old world. at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset. for good. for many a year! I'll raise your salary. he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins. and infinitely more. over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop. He did it all. and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway. and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon. Bob Cratchit! Scrooge was better than his word. He became as good a friend. His own heart laughed and that was quite enough for him. as have the malady in less attractive forms. as good a master. who did NOT die. he was a second father. town. Bob! Make up the fires. or any other good old city. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him. but he let them laugh. for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe. and endeavour to assist your struggling family. and little heeded them. and as good a man. . and buy another coal-scuttle before you dot another i.have given you. or borough.

as Tiny Tim observed. Every One! . May that be truly said of us. God bless Us.He had no further intercourse with Spirits. and it was always said of him. but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle. if any man alive possessed the knowledge. ever afterwards. that he knew how to keep Christmas well. and all of us! And so.

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