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A CHRISTMAS CAROL
by Charles Dickens
I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book
to raise the Ghost of an Ideawhich shall not put my
readers out of humour with themselveswith each other
with the seasonor with me. May it haunt their houses
pleasantlyand no one wish to lay it.
Their faithful Friend and Servant
Stave 1: Marley's Ghost
Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt
whatever about that. The register of his burial was
signed by the clergymanthe clerkthe undertaker
and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it. And
Scrooge's name was good upon 'Changefor 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 knowof my
own knowledgewhat there is particularly dead about
a door-nail. I might have been inclinedmyselfto
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 itor the Country's done for. You
will therefore permit me to repeatemphaticallythat
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 executorhis sole administratorhis sole
assignhis sole residuary legateehis sole friendand
sole mourner. And even Scrooge was not so dreadfully
cut up by the sad eventbut 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 understoodor
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 beganthere
would be nothing more remarkable in his taking a
stroll at nightin an easterly windupon his own ramparts
than there would be in any other middle-aged
gentleman rashly turning out after dark in a breezy
spot -- say Saint Paul's Churchyard for instance --
literally to astonish his son's weak mind.
Scrooge never painted out Old Marley's name.
There it stoodyears afterwardsabove the warehouse
door: Scrooge and Marley. The firm was known as
Scrooge and Marley. Sometimes people new to the
business called Scrooge Scroogeand sometimes Marley
but he answered to both names. It was all the
same to him.
Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone
Scrooge! a squeezingwrenchinggrasping
scrapingclutchingcovetousold sinner! Hard and
sharp as flintfrom which no steel had ever struck out
generous fire; secretand self-containedand solitary
as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features
nipped his pointed noseshrivelled his cheek
stiffened his gait; made his eyes redhis thin lips blue;
and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty
rime was on his headand on his eyebrowsand his
wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always
about with him; he iced his office in the dogdays; and
didn't thaw it one degree at Christmas.
External heat and cold had little influence on
Scrooge. No warmth could warmno wintry weather
chill him. No wind that blew was bitterer than he
no falling snow was more intent upon its purposeno
pelting rain less open to entreaty. Foul weather didn't
know where to have him. The heaviest rainand
snowand hailand sleetcould boast of the advantage
over him in only one respect. They often `came down'
handsomelyand Scrooge never did.
Nobody ever stopped him in the street to saywith
gladsome looks`My dear Scroogehow are you?
When will you come to see me?' No beggars implored
him to bestow a trifleno children asked him
what it was o'clockno man or woman ever once in all
his life inquired the way to such and such a placeof
Scrooge. Even the blind men's dogs appeared to
know him; and when they saw him coming onwould
tug their owners into doorways and up courts; and
then would wag their tails as though they said`No
eye at all is better than an evil eyedark master!'
But what did Scrooge care! It was the very thing
he liked. To edge his way along the crowded paths
of lifewarning all human sympathy to keep its distance
was what the knowing ones call `nuts' to Scrooge.
Once upon a time -- of all the good days in the year
on Christmas Eve -- old Scrooge sat busy in his
counting-house. It was coldbleakbiting weather: foggy
withal: and he could hear the people in the court outside
go wheezing up and downbeating their hands
upon their breastsand stamping their feet upon the
pavement stones to warm them. The city clocks had
only just gone threebut it was quite dark already -it
had not been light all day -- and candles were flaring
in the windows of the neighbouring officeslike
ruddy smears upon the palpable brown air. The fog
came pouring in at every chink and keyholeand was
so dense withoutthat although the court was of the
narrowestthe houses opposite were mere phantoms.
To see the dingy cloud come drooping downobscuring
everythingone might have thought that Nature
lived hard byand was brewing on a large scale.
The door of Scrooge's counting-house was open
that he might keep his eye upon his clerkwho in a
dismal little cell beyonda sort of tankwas copying
letters. Scrooge had a very small firebut the clerk's
fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one
coal. But he couldn't replenish itfor Scrooge kept
the coal-box in his own room; and so surely as the
clerk came in with the shovelthe master predicted
that it would be necessary for them to part. Wherefore
the clerk put on his white comforterand tried to
warm himself at the candle; in which effortnot being
a man of a strong imaginationhe failed.
`A merry Christmasuncle! God save you!' cried
a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge's
nephewwho came upon him so quickly that this was
the first intimation he had of his approach.
`Bah!' said Scrooge`Humbug!'
He had so heated himself with rapid walking in the
fog and frostthis nephew of Scrooge'sthat he was
all in a glow; his face was ruddy and handsome; his
eyes sparkledand his breath smoked again.
`Christmas a humbuguncle!' said Scrooge's
nephew. `You don't mean thatI am sure?'
`I do' said Scrooge. `Merry Christmas! What
right have you to be merry? What reason have you
to be merry? You're poor enough.'
`Comethen' returned the nephew gaily. `What
right have you to be dismal? What reason have you
to be morose? You're rich enough.'
Scrooge having no better answer ready on the spur
of the momentsaid `Bah!' again; and followed it up
`Don't be crossuncle!' said the nephew.
`What else can I be' returned the uncle`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; a time for finding yourself a year olderbut
not an hour richer; 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' said Scrooge indignantly`every idiot
who goes about with "Merry Christmas" on his lips
should be boiled with his own puddingand buried
with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!'
`Uncle!' pleaded the nephew.
`Nephew!' returned the uncle sternly`keep Christmas
in your own wayand let me keep it in mine.'
`Keep it!' repeated Scrooge's nephew. `But you
don't keep it.'
`Let me leave it alonethen' said Scrooge. `Much
good may it do you! Much good it has ever done
`There are many things from which I might have
derived goodby which I have not profitedI dare
say' returned the nephew. `Christmas among the
rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas
timewhen it has come round -- apart from the
veneration due to its sacred name and originif anything
belonging to it can be apart from that -- as a
good time; a kindforgivingcharitablepleasant
time: the only time I know ofin the long calendar
of the yearwhen men and women seem by one consent
to open their shut-up hearts freelyand to think
of people below them as if they really were
fellow-passengers to the graveand not another race
of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore
unclethough it has never put a scrap of gold or
silver in my pocketI believe that it has done me
goodand will do me good; and I sayGod bless it!'
The clerk in the Tank involuntarily applauded.
Becoming immediately sensible of the impropriety
he poked the fireand extinguished the last frail spark
`Let me hear another sound from you' said
Scrooge`and you'll keep your Christmas by losing
your situation! You're quite a powerful speaker
sir' he addedturning to his nephew. `I wonder you
don't go into Parliament.'
`Don't be angryuncle. Come! Dine with us tomorrow.'
Scrooge said that he would see him -- yesindeed he
did. He went the whole length of the expression
and said that he would see him in that extremity first.
`But why?' cried Scrooge's nephew. `Why?'
`Why did you get married?' said Scrooge.
`Because I fell in love.'
`Because you fell in love!' growled Scroogeas if
that were the only one thing in the world more ridiculous
than a merry Christmas. `Good afternoon!'
`Nayunclebut you never came to see me before
that happened. Why give it as a reason for not
`Good afternoon' said Scrooge.
`I want nothing from you; I ask nothing of you;
why cannot we be friends?'
`Good afternoon' said Scrooge.
`I am sorrywith all my heartto find you so
resolute. We have never had any quarrelto which I
have been a party. But I have made the trial in
homage to Christmasand I'll keep my Christmas
humour to the last. So A Merry Christmasuncle!'
`Good afternoon' said Scrooge.
`And A Happy New Year!'
`Good afternoon' said Scrooge.
His nephew left the room without an angry word
notwithstanding. He stopped at the outer door to
bestow the greetings of the season on the clerkwho
cold as he waswas warmer than Scrooge; for he returned
`There's another fellow' muttered Scrooge; who
overheard him: `my clerkwith fifteen shillings a
weekand a wife and familytalking about a merry
Christmas. I'll retire to Bedlam.'
This lunaticin letting Scrooge's nephew outhad
let two other people in. They were portly gentlemen
pleasant to beholdand now stoodwith their hats off
in Scrooge's office. They had books and papers in
their handsand bowed to him.
`Scrooge and Marley'sI believe' said one of the
gentlemenreferring to his list. `Have I the pleasure
of addressing Mr. Scroogeor Mr. Marley?'
`Mr. Marley has been dead these seven years'
Scrooge replied. `He died seven years agothis very
`We have no doubt his liberality is well represented
by his surviving partner' said the gentlemanpresenting
It certainly was; for they had been two kindred
spirits. At the ominous word `liberality' Scrooge
frownedand shook his headand handed the credentials
`At this festive season of the yearMr. Scrooge'
said the gentlemantaking up a pen`it is more than
usually desirable that we should make some slight
provision for the Poor and Destitutewho suffer
greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in
want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands
are in want of common comfortssir.'
`Are there no prisons?' asked Scrooge.
`Plenty of prisons' said the gentlemanlaying down
the pen again.
`And the Union workhouses?' demanded Scrooge.
`Are they still in operation?'
`They are. Still' returned the gentleman`I wish
I could say they were not.'
`The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour
then?' said Scrooge.
`Both very busysir.'
`Oh! I was afraidfrom what you said at first
that something had occurred to stop them in their
useful course' said Scrooge. `I'm very glad to
`Under the impression that they scarcely furnish
Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude'
returned the gentleman`a few of us are endeavouring
to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink.
and means of warmth. We choose this timebecause
it is a timeof all otherswhen Want is keenly felt
and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down
`Nothing!' Scrooge replied.
`You wish to be anonymous?'
`I wish to be left alone' said Scrooge. `Since you
ask me what I wishgentlementhat is my answer.
I don't make merry myself at Christmas and I can't
afford to make idle people merry. I help to support
the establishments I have mentioned -- they cost
enough; and those who are badly off must go there.'
`Many can't go there; and many would rather die.'
`If they would rather die' said Scrooge`they had
better do itand decrease the surplus population.
Besides -- excuse me -- I don't know that.'
`But you might know it' observed the gentleman.
`It's not my business' Scrooge returned. `It's
enough for a man to understand his own businessand
not to interfere with other people's. Mine occupies
me constantly. Good afternoongentlemen!'
Seeing clearly that it would be useless to pursue
their pointthe gentlemen withdrew. Scrooge returned
his labours with an improved opinion of himself
and in a more facetious temper than was usual
Meanwhile the fog and darkness thickened sothat
people ran about with flaring linksproffering their
services to go before horses in carriagesand conduct
them on their way. The ancient tower of a church
whose gruff old bell was always peeping slily down
at Scrooge out of a Gothic window in the wallbecame
invisibleand struck the hours and quarters in the
cloudswith tremulous vibrations afterwards as if
its teeth were chattering in its frozen head up there.
The cold became intense. In the main street at the
corner of the courtsome labourers were repairing
the gas-pipesand had lighted a great fire in a brazier
round which a party of ragged men and boys were
gathered: warming their hands and winking their
eyes before the blaze in rapture. The water-plug
being left in solitudeits overflowing sullenly congealed
and turned to misanthropic ice. The brightness
of the shops where holly sprigs and berries
crackled in the lamp heat of the windowsmade pale
faces ruddy as they passed. Poulterers' and grocers'
trades became a splendid joke; a glorious pageant
with which it was next to impossible to believe that
such dull principles as bargain and sale had anything
to do. The Lord Mayorin the stronghold of the
mighty Mansion Housegave orders to his fifty cooks
and butlers to keep Christmas as a Lord Mayor's
household should; and even the little tailorwhom he
had fined five shillings on the previous Monday for
being drunk and bloodthirsty in the streetsstirred up
to-morrow's pudding in his garretwhile his lean
wife and the baby sallied out to buy the beef.
Foggier yetand colder! Piercingsearchingbiting
cold. If the good Saint Dunstan had but nipped
the Evil Spirit's nose with a touch of such weather
as thatinstead of using his familiar weaponsthen
indeed he would have roared to lusty purpose. The
owner of one scant young nosegnawed and mumbled
by the hungry cold as bones are gnawed by dogs
stooped down at Scrooge's keyhole to regale him with
a Christmas carol: but at the first sound of
`God bless youmerry gentleman!
May nothing you dismay!'
Scrooge seized the ruler with such energy of action
that the singer fled in terrorleaving the keyhole to
the fog and even more congenial frost.
At length the hour of shutting up the countinghouse
arrived. With an ill-will Scrooge dismounted
from his stooland tacitly admitted the fact to the
expectant clerk in the Tankwho instantly snuffed
his candle outand put on his hat.
`You'll want all day to-morrowI suppose?' said
`If quite convenientsir.'
`It's not convenient' said Scrooge`and it's not
fair. If I was to stop half-a-crown for ityou'd think
yourself ill-usedI'll be bound?'
The clerk smiled faintly.
`And yet' said Scrooge`you don't think me ill-used
when I pay a day's wages for no work.'
The clerk observed that it was only once a year.
`A poor excuse for picking a man's pocket every
twenty-fifth of December!' said Scroogebuttoning
his great-coat to the chin. `But I suppose you must
have the whole day. Be here all the earlier next
The clerk promised that he would; and Scrooge
walked out with a growl. The office was closed in a
twinklingand the clerkwith the long ends of his
white comforter dangling below his waist (for he
boasted no great-coat)went down a slide on Cornhill
at the end of a lane of boystwenty timesin
honour of its being Christmas Eveand then ran home
to Camden Town as hard as he could peltto play
Scrooge took his melancholy dinner in his usual
melancholy tavern; and having read all the newspapersand
beguiled the rest of the evening with his
banker's-bookwent home to bed. He lived in
chambers which had once belonged to his deceased
partner. They were a gloomy suite of roomsin a
lowering pile of building up a yardwhere it had so
little business to bethat one could scarcely help
fancying it must have run there when it was a young
houseplaying at hide-and-seek with other houses
and forgotten the way out again. It was old enough
nowand dreary enoughfor nobody lived in it but
Scroogethe other rooms being all let out as offices.
The yard was so dark that even Scroogewho knew
its every stonewas fain to grope with his hands.
The fog and frost so hung about the black old gateway
of the housethat it seemed as if the Genius of
the Weather sat in mournful meditation on the
Nowit is a factthat there was nothing at all
particular about the knocker on the doorexcept that it
was very large. It is also a factthat Scrooge had
seen itnight and morningduring his whole residence
in that place; also that Scrooge had as little of what
is called fancy about him as any man in the city of
Londoneven including -- which is a bold word -- the
corporationaldermenand livery. Let it also be
borne in mind that Scrooge had not bestowed one
thought on Marleysince his last mention of his
seven years' dead partner that afternoon. And then
let any man explain to meif he canhow it happened
that Scroogehaving his key in the lock of the door
saw in the knockerwithout its undergoing any intermediate
process of change -- not a knockerbut Marley's face.
Marley's face. It was not in impenetrable shadow
as the other objects in the yard werebut had a
dismal light about itlike a bad lobster in a dark
cellar. It was not angry or ferociousbut looked
at Scrooge as Marley used to look: with ghostly
spectacles turned up on its ghostly forehead. The
hair was curiously stirredas if by breath or hot air;
andthough the eyes were wide openthey were perfectly
motionless. Thatand its livid colourmade
it horrible; but its horror seemed to be in spite of the
face and beyond its controlrather than a part or
its own expression.
As Scrooge looked fixedly at this phenomenonit
was a knocker again.
To say that he was not startledor that his blood
was not conscious of a terrible sensation to which it
had been a stranger from infancywould be untrue.
But he put his hand upon the key he had relinquished
turned it sturdilywalked inand lighted his candle.
He did pausewith a moment's irresolutionbefore
he shut the door; and he did look cautiously behind
it firstas 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 doorexcept
the screws and nuts that held the knocker onso he
said `Poohpooh!' and closed it with a bang.
The sound resounded through the house like thunder.
Every room aboveand every cask in the wine-merchant's
cellars belowappeared to have a separate peal
of echoes of its own. Scrooge was not a man to
be frightened by echoes. He fastened the doorand
walked across the halland 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 stairsor through a bad
young Act of Parliament; but I mean to say you
might have got a hearse up that staircaseand taken
it broadwisewith the splinter-bar towards the wall
and the door towards the balustrades: and done it
easy. There was plenty of width for thatand 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
Up Scrooge wentnot caring a button for that.
Darkness is cheapand Scrooge liked it. But before
he shut his heavy doorhe walked through his rooms
to see that all was right. He had just enough recollection
of the face to desire to do that.
Sitting-roombedroomlumber-room. All as they
should be. Nobody under the tablenobody 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-guards
old shoestwo fish-basketswashing-stand on three
legsand a poker.
Quite satisfiedhe closed his doorand locked
himself in; double-locked himself inwhich was not his
custom. Thus secured against surprisehe took off
his cravat; put on his dressing-gown and slippersand
his nightcap; and sat down before the fire to take
It was a very low fire indeed; nothing on such a
bitter night. He was obliged to sit close to itand
brood over itbefore he could extract the least
sensation of warmth from such a handful of fuel.
The fireplace was an old onebuilt by some Dutch
merchant long agoand paved all round with quaint
Dutch tilesdesigned to illustrate the Scriptures.
There were Cains and AbelsPharaohs' daughters;
Queens of ShebaAngelic messengers descending
through the air on clouds like feather-bedsAbrahams
BelshazzarsApostles putting off to sea in butter-boats
hundreds of figures to attract his thoughts --
and yet that face of Marleyseven years deadcame
like the ancient Prophet's rodand swallowed up the
whole. If each smooth tile had been a blank at first
with power to shape some picture on its surface from
the disjointed fragments of his thoughtsthere would
have been a copy of old Marley's head on every one.
`Humbug!' said Scrooge; and walked across the
After several turnshe sat down again. As he
threw his head back in the chairhis glance happened
to rest upon a bella disused bellthat hung in the
roomand communicated for some purpose now forgotten
with a chamber in the highest story of the
building. It was with great astonishmentand with
a strangeinexplicable dreadthat as he lookedhe
saw this bell begin to swing. It swung so softly in
the outset that it scarcely made a sound; but soon it
rang out loudlyand so did every bell in the house.
This might have lasted half a minuteor a minute
but it seemed an hour. The bells ceased as they had
beguntogether. They were succeeded by a clanking
noisedeep down below; as if some person were
dragging a heavy chain over the casks in the wine
merchant's cellar. Scrooge then remembered to have
heard that ghosts in haunted houses were described
as dragging chains.
The cellar-door flew open with a booming sound
and then he heard the noise much louderon the floors
below; then coming up the stairs; then coming straight
towards his door.
`It's humbug still!' said Scrooge. `I won't believe it.'
His colour changed thoughwhenwithout a pause
it came on through the heavy doorand passed into
the room before his eyes. Upon its coming inthe
dying flame leaped upas though it cried `I know
him; Marley's Ghost!' and fell again.
The same face: the very same. Marley in his pigtail
usual waistcoattights and boots; the tassels on
the latter bristlinglike his pigtailand his coat-skirts
and the hair upon his head. The chain he drew was
clasped about his middle. It was longand wound
about him like a tail; and it was made (for Scrooge
observed it closely) of cash-boxeskeyspadlocks
ledgersdeedsand heavy purses wrought in steel.
His body was transparent; so that Scroogeobserving him
and looking through his waistcoatcould see
the two buttons on his coat behind.
Scrooge had often heard it said that Marley had no
bowelsbut he had never believed it until now.
Nonor did he believe it even now. Though he
looked the phantom through and throughand saw
it standing before him; though he felt the chilling
influence of its death-cold eyes; and marked the very
texture of the folded kerchief bound about its head
and chinwhich wrapper he had not observed before;
he was still incredulousand fought against his senses.
`How now!' said Scroogecaustic and cold as ever.
`What do you want with me?'
`Much!' -- Marley's voiceno doubt about it.
`Who are you?'
`Ask me who I was.'
`Who were you then?' said Scroogeraising his
voice. `You're particularfor a shade.' He was going
to say `to a shade' but substituted thisas more
`In life I was your partnerJacob Marley.'
`Can you -- can you sit down?' asked Scroogelooking
doubtfully at him.
Scrooge asked the questionbecause he didn't know
whether a ghost so transparent might find himself in
a condition to take a chair; and felt that in the event
of its being impossibleit might involve the necessity
of an embarrassing explanation. But the ghost sat
down on the opposite side of the fireplaceas if he
were quite used to it.
`You don't believe in me' observed the Ghost.
`I don't.' said Scrooge.
`What evidence would you have of my reality beyond that of
`I don't know' said Scrooge.
`Why do you doubt your senses?'
`Because' said Scrooge`a little thing affects them.
A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may
be an undigested bit of beefa blot of mustarda crumb of
cheesea fragment of an underdone potato. There's more of
gravy than of grave about youwhatever you are!'
Scrooge was not much in the habit of cracking
jokesnor did he feelin his heartby any means
waggish then. The truth isthat he tried to be
smartas a means of distracting his own attention
and keeping down his terror; for the spectre's voice
disturbed the very marrow in his bones.
To sitstaring at those fixed glazed eyesin silence
for a momentwould playScrooge feltthe very
deuce with him. There was something very awful
tooin the spectre's being provided with an infernal
atmosphere of its own. Scrooge could not feel it
himselfbut this was clearly the case; for though the
Ghost sat perfectly motionlessits hairand skirts
and tasselswere still agitated as by the hot vapour
from an oven.
`You see this toothpick?' said Scroogereturning
quickly to the chargefor the reason just assigned;
and wishingthough it were only for a secondto
divert the vision's stony gaze from himself.
`I do' replied the Ghost.
`You are not looking at it' said Scrooge.
`But I see it' said the Ghost`notwithstanding.'
`Well!' returned Scrooge`I have but to swallow
thisand be for the rest of my days persecuted by a
legion of goblinsall of my own creation. Humbug
I tell you! humbug!'
At this the spirit raised a frightful cryand shook
its chain with such a dismal and appalling noisethat
Scrooge held on tight to his chairto save himself
from falling in a swoon. But how much greater was
his horrorwhen the phantom taking off the bandage
round its headas if it were too warm to wear indoors
its lower jaw dropped down upon its breast!
Scrooge fell upon his kneesand clasped his hands
before his face.
`Mercy!' he said. `Dreadful apparitionwhy do
you trouble me?'
`Man of the worldly mind!' replied the Ghost`do
you believe in me or not?'
`I do' said Scrooge. `I must. But why do spirits
walk the earthand why do they come to me?'
`It is required of every man' the Ghost returned
`that the spirit within him should walk abroad among
his fellowmenand travel far and wide; and if that
spirit goes not forth in lifeit is condemned to do so
after death. It is doomed to wander through the
world -- ohwoe is me! -- and witness what it cannot
sharebut might have shared on earthand turned to
Again the spectre raised a cryand shook its chain
and wrung its shadowy hands.
`You are fettered' said Scroogetrembling. `Tell
`I wear the chain I forged in life' replied the Ghost.
`I made it link by linkand yard by yard; I girded
it on of my own free willand of my own free will I
wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?'
Scrooge trembled more and more.
`Or would you know' pursued the Ghost`the
weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself?
It was full as heavy and as long as thisseven
Christmas Eves ago. You have laboured on itsince.
It is a ponderous chain!'
Scrooge glanced about him on the floorin the
expectation of finding himself surrounded by some fifty
or sixty fathoms of iron cable: but he could see
`Jacob' he saidimploringly. `Old Jacob Marley
tell me more. Speak comfort to meJacob!'
`I have none to give' the Ghost replied. `It comes
from other regionsEbenezer Scroogeand is conveyed
by other ministersto other kinds of men. Nor
can I tell you what I would. A very little moreis
all permitted to me. I cannot restI cannot stayI
cannot linger anywhere. My spirit never walked
beyond our counting-house -- mark me! -- in life my
spirit never roved beyond the narrow limits of our
money-changing hole; and weary journeys lie before
It was a habit with Scroogewhenever he became
thoughtfulto put his hands in his breeches pockets.
Pondering on what the Ghost had saidhe did so now
but without lifting up his eyesor getting off his
`You must have been very slow about itJacob'
Scrooge observedin a business-like mannerthough
with humility and deference.
`Slow!' the Ghost repeated.
`Seven years dead' mused Scrooge. `And travelling
all the time!'
`The whole time' said the Ghost. `No restno
peace. Incessant torture of remorse.'
`You travel fast?' said Scrooge.
`On the wings of the wind' replied the Ghost.
`You might have got over a great quantity of
ground in seven years' said Scrooge.
The Ghoston hearing thisset up another cryand
clanked its chain so hideously in the dead silence of
the nightthat the Ward would have been justified in
indicting it for a nuisance.
`Oh! captiveboundand double-ironed' cried the
phantom`not to knowthat ages of incessant labour
by immortal creaturesfor this earth must pass into
eternity before the good of which it is susceptible is
all developed. Not to know that any Christian spirit
working kindly in its little spherewhatever it may
bewill find its mortal life too short for its vast
means of usefulness. Not to know that no space of
regret can make amends for one life's opportunity
misused! Yet such was I! Oh! such was I!'
`But you were always a good man of business
Jacob' faltered Scroogewho now began to apply this
`Business!' cried the Ghostwringing its hands
again. `Mankind was my business. The common
welfare was my business; charitymercyforbearance
and benevolencewereallmy business. 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 lengthas if that were
the cause of all its unavailing griefand flung it
heavily upon the ground again.
`At this time of the rolling year' the spectre said
`I suffer most. Why did I walk through crowds of
fellow-beings with my eyes turned downand never
raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise
Men to a poor abode! Were there no poor homes to
which its light would have conducted me!'
Scrooge was very much dismayed to hear the
spectre going on at this rateand began to quake
`Hear me!' cried the Ghost. `My time is nearly
`I will' said Scrooge. `But don't be hard upon
me! Don't be floweryJacob! Pray!'
`How it is that I appear before you in a shape that
you can seeI may not tell. I have sat invisible
beside you many and many a day.'
It was not an agreeable idea. Scrooge shivered
and wiped the perspiration from his brow.
`That is no light part of my penance' pursued
the Ghost. `I am here to-night to warn youthat you
have yet a chance and hope of escaping my fate. A
chance and hope of my procuringEbenezer.'
`You were always a good friend to me' said
Scrooge. `Thank 'ee!'
`You will be haunted' resumed the Ghost`by
Scrooge's countenance fell almost as low as the
Ghost's had done.
`Is that the chance and hope you mentioned
Jacob?' he demandedin a faltering voice.
`I -- I think I'd rather not' said Scrooge.
`Without their visits' said the Ghost`you cannot
hope to shun the path I tread. Expect the first tomorrow
when the bell tolls One.'
`Couldn't I take `em all at onceand have it over
Jacob?' hinted Scrooge.
`Expect the second on the next night at the same
hour. The third upon the next night when the last
stroke of Twelve has ceased to vibrate. Look to see
me no more; and look thatfor your own sakeyou
remember what has passed between us!'
When it had said these wordsthe spectre took its
wrapper from the tableand bound it round its head
as before. Scrooge knew thisby the smart sound its
teeth madewhen the jaws were brought together
by the bandage. He ventured to raise his eyes again
and found his supernatural visitor confronting him
in an erect attitudewith its chain wound over and
about its arm.
The apparition walked backward from him; and at
every step it tookthe window raised itself a little
so that when the spectre reached itit was wide open.
It beckoned Scrooge to approachwhich he did.
When they were within two paces of each other
Marley's Ghost held up its handwarning him to
come no nearer. Scrooge stopped.
Not so much in obedienceas in surprise and fear:
for on the raising of the handhe became sensible
of confused noises in the air; incoherent sounds of
lamentation and regret; wailings inexpressibly sorrowful and
self-accusatory. The spectreafter listening for a moment
joined in the mournful dirge;
and floated out upon the bleakdark night.
Scrooge followed to the window: desperate in his
curiosity. He looked out.
The air was filled with phantomswandering hither
and thither in restless hasteand moaning as they
went. Every one of them wore chains like Marley's
Ghost; some few (they might be guilty governments)
were linked together; none were free. Many had
been personally known to Scrooge in their lives. He
had been quite familiar with one old ghostin a white
waistcoatwith a monstrous iron safe attached to
its anklewho cried piteously at being unable to assist
a wretched woman with an infantwhom it saw below
upon a door-step. The misery with them all was
clearlythat they sought to interferefor goodin
human mattersand had lost the power for ever.
Whether these creatures faded into mistor mist
enshrouded themhe could not tell. But they and
their spirit voices faded together; and the night became
as it had been when he walked home.
Scrooge closed the windowand examined the door
by which the Ghost had entered. It was double-locked
as he had locked it with his own handsand
the bolts were undisturbed. He tried to say `Humbug!'
but stopped at the first syllable. And being
from the emotion he had undergoneor the fatigues
of the dayor his glimpse of the Invisible Worldor
the dull conversation of the Ghostor the lateness of
the hourmuch in need of repose; went straight to
bedwithout undressingand fell asleep upon the
Stave 2: The First of the Three Spirits
When Scrooge awokeit was so darkthat looking out of bed
he could scarcely distinguish the transparent window from
the opaque walls of his chamber. He was endeavouring to
pierce the darkness with his ferret eyeswhen the chimes of a
neighbouring church struck the four quarters. So he listened
for the hour.
To his great astonishment the heavy bell went on from
six to sevenand from seven to eightand regularly up to
twelve; then stopped. Twelve. It was past two when he
went to bed. The clock was wrong. An icicle must have
got into the works. Twelve.
He touched the spring of his repeaterto correct this most
preposterous clock. Its rapid little pulse beat twelve:
`Whyit isn't possible' said Scrooge`that I can have
slept through a whole day and far into another night. It
isn't possible that anything has happened to the sunand
this is twelve at noon.'
The idea being an alarming onehe scrambled out of bed
and groped his way to the window. He was obliged to rub
the frost off with the sleeve of his dressing-gown before he
could see anything; and could see very little then. All he
could make out wasthat it was still very foggy and extremely
coldand that there was no noise of people running to and fro
and making a great stiras there unquestionably would have been
if night had beaten off bright dayand taken possession of the
world. This was a great reliefbecause "Three days after sight
of this First of Exchange pay to Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge on his
order and so forth, would have become a mere United States
security if there were no days to count by.
Scrooge went to bed again, and thought, and thought, and thought
it over and over, and could make nothing of it. The more he
thought, the more perplexed he was; and, the more he endeavoured
not to think, the more he thought.
Marley's Ghost bothered him exceedingly. Every time he resolved
within himself, after mature inquiry that it was all a dream, his
mind flew back again, like a strong spring released, to its first
position, andpresented the same problem to be worked all through,
Was it a dream or not?"
Scrooge lay in this state until the chime had gone three-quarters
morewhen he rememberedon a suddenthat the Ghost hadwarned
him of a visitation when the bell tolled one. He resolved to lie
awake until the hour
was passed; andconsidering that he could no more go to sleep
than go to heaventhis wasperhapsthe wisest resolution in
The quarter was so longthat he was more than once convinced he
must have sunk into a doze unconsciouslyand missed the clock.
At length it broke upon his listening ear.
A quarter past,said Scroogecounting.
Half past,said Scrooge.
A quarter to it,said Scrooge.
The hour itself,said Scrooge triumphantlyand nothing else!
He spoke before the hour bell soundedwhich it now did with a
deepdullhollowmelancholy ONE. Light flashed up in the room
upon the instantand the curtains of his bed were drawn.
The curtains of his bed were drawn asideI tell youby a
hand. Not the curtains at his feetnor the curtains at his
backbut those to which his face was addressed. The curtains
of his bed were drawn aside; and Scroogestarting up into a
half-recumbent attitudefound himself face to face with the
unearthly visitor who drew them: as close to it as I am now
to youand I am standing in the spirit at your elbow.
It was a strange figure -- like a child: yet not so like a
child as like an old manviewed through some supernatural
mediumwhich gave him the appearance of having receded
from the viewand being diminished to a child's proportions.
Its hairwhich hung about its neck and down its backwas
white as if with age; and yet the face had not a wrinkle in
itand the tenderest bloom was on the skin. The arms were
very long and muscular; the hands the sameas if its hold
were of uncommon strength. Its legs and feetmost delicately
formedwerelike those upper membersbare. It wore a tunic
of the purest whiteand round its waist was bound
a lustrous beltthe sheen of which was beautiful. It held
a branch of fresh green holly in its hand; andin singular
contradiction of that wintry emblemhad its dress trimmed
with summer flowers. But the strangest thing about it was
that from the crown of its head there sprung a bright clear
jet of lightby which all this was visible; and which was
doubtless the occasion of its usingin its duller momentsa
great extinguisher for a capwhich it now held under its arm.
Even thisthoughwhen Scrooge looked at it with increasing
steadinesswas not its strangest quality. For as its belt
sparkled and glittered now in one part and now in another
and what was light one instantat another time was darkso
the figure itself fluctuated in its distinctness: being now a
thing with one armnow with one legnow with twenty legs
now a pair of legs without a headnow a head without a
body: of which dissolving partsno outline would be visible
in the dense gloom wherein they melted away. And in the
very wonder of thisit would be itself again; distinct and
clear as ever.
`Are you the Spiritsirwhose coming was foretold to
me.' asked Scrooge.
The voice was soft and gentle. Singularly lowas if
instead of being so close beside himit were at a distance.
`Whoand what are you.' Scrooge demanded.
`I am the Ghost of Christmas Past.'
`Long Past.' inquired Scrooge: observant of its dwarfish
`No. Your past.'
PerhapsScrooge could not have told anybody whyif
anybody could have asked him; but he had a special desire
to see the Spirit in his cap; and begged him to be covered.
`What.' exclaimed the Ghost`would you so soon put out
with worldly handsthe light I give. Is it not enough
that you are one of those whose passions made this capand
force me through whole trains of years to wear it low upon
Scrooge reverently disclaimed all intention to offend
or any knowledge of having wilfully bonneted the Spirit at
any period of his life. He then made bold to inquire what
business brought him there.
`Your welfare.' said the Ghost.
Scrooge expressed himself much obligedbut could not
help thinking that a night of unbroken rest would have been
more conducive to that end. The Spirit must have heard
him thinkingfor it said immediately:
`Your reclamationthen. Take heed.'
It put out its strong hand as it spokeand clasped him
gently by the arm.
`Rise. and walk with me.'
It would have been in vain for Scrooge to plead that the
weather and the hour were not adapted to pedestrian purposes;
that bed was warmand the thermometer a long way below
freezing; that he was clad but lightly in his slippers
dressing-gownand nightcap; and that he had a cold upon him at
that time. The graspthough gentle as a woman's hand
was not to be resisted. He rose: but finding that the Spirit
made towards the windowclasped his robe in supplication.
`I am mortal' Scrooge remonstrated`and liable to fall.'
`Bear but a touch of my hand there' said the Spirit
laying it upon his heart' and you shall be upheld in more
As the words were spokenthey passed through the wall
and stood upon an open country roadwith fields on either
hand. The city had entirely vanished. Not a vestige of it
was to be seen. The darkness and the mist had vanished
with itfor it was a clearcoldwinter daywith snow upon
`Good Heaven!' said Scroogeclasping his hands together
as he looked about him. `I was bred in this place. I was
a boy here.'
The Spirit gazed upon him mildly. Its gentle touch
though it had been light and instantaneousappeared still
present to the old man's sense of feeling. He was conscious
of a thousand odours floating in the aireach one connected
with a thousand thoughtsand hopesand joysand cares
`Your lip is trembling' said the Ghost. `And what is
that upon your cheek.'
Scrooge mutteredwith an unusual catching in his voice
that it was a pimple; and begged the Ghost to lead him
where he would.
`You recollect the way.' inquired the Spirit.
`Remember it.' cried Scrooge with fervour; `I could
walk it blindfold.'
`Strange to have forgotten it for so many years.' observed
the Ghost. `Let us go on.'
They walked along the roadScrooge recognising every
gateand postand tree; until a little market-town appeared
in the distancewith its bridgeits churchand winding river.
Some shaggy ponies now were seen trotting towards them
with boys upon their backswho called to other boys in
country gigs and cartsdriven by farmers. All these boys
were in great spiritsand shouted to each otheruntil the
broad fields were so full of merry musicthat the crisp air
laughed to hear it.
`These are but shadows of the things that have been' said
the Ghost. `They have no consciousness of us.'
The jocund travellers came on; and as they cameScrooge
knew and named them every one. Why was he rejoiced beyond
all bounds to see them. Why did his cold eye glistenand
his heart leap up as they went past. Why was he filled
with gladness when he heard them give each other Merry
Christmasas they parted at cross-roads and bye-waysfor
their several homes. What was merry Christmas to Scrooge.
Out upon merry Christmas. What good had it ever done
`The school is not quite deserted' said the Ghost. `A
solitary childneglected by his friendsis left there still.'
Scrooge said he knew it. And he sobbed.
They left the high-roadby a well-remembered laneand
soon approached a mansion of dull red brickwith a little
weathercock-surmounted cupolaon the roofand a bell
hanging in it. It was a large housebut one of broken
fortunes; for the spacious offices were little usedtheir walls
were damp and mossytheir windows brokenand their
gates decayed. Fowls clucked and strutted in the stables;
and the coach-houses and sheds were over-run with grass.
Nor was it more retentive of its ancient statewithin; for
entering the dreary halland glancing through the open
doors of many roomsthey found them poorly furnished
coldand vast. There was an earthy savour in the aira
chilly bareness in the placewhich associated itself somehow
with too much getting up by candle-lightand not too
much to eat.
They wentthe Ghost and Scroogeacross the hallto a
door at the back of the house. It opened before themand
disclosed a longbaremelancholy roommade barer still by
lines of plain deal forms and desks. At one of these a lonely
boy was reading near a feeble fire; and Scrooge sat down
upon a formand wept to see his poor forgotten self as he
used to be.
Not a latent echo in the housenot a squeak and scuffle
from the mice behind the panellingnot a drip from the
half-thawed water-spout in the dull yard behindnot a sigh among
the leafless boughs of one despondent poplarnot the idle
swinging of an empty store-house doornonot a clicking in
the firebut fell upon the heart of Scrooge with a softening
influenceand gave a freer passage to his tears.
The Spirit touched him on the armand pointed to his
younger selfintent upon his reading. Suddenly a manin
foreign garments: wonderfully real and distinct to look at:
stood outside the windowwith an axe stuck in his beltand
leading by the bridle an ass laden with wood.
`Whyit's Ali Baba.' Scrooge exclaimed in ecstasy. `It's
dear old honest Ali Baba. YesyesI know. One Christmas
timewhen yonder solitary child was left here all alone
he did comefor the first timejust like that. Poor boy. And
Valentine' said Scrooge' and his wild brotherOrson; there
they go. And what's his namewho was put down in his
drawersasleepat the Gate of Damascus; don't you see him.
And the Sultan's Groom turned upside down by the Genii;
there he is upon his head. Serve him right. I'm glad of it.
What business had he to be married to the Princess.'
To hear Scrooge expending all the earnestness of his nature
on such subjectsin a most extraordinary voice between
laughing and crying; and to see his heightened and excited
face; would have been a surprise to his business friends in
`There's the Parrot.' cried Scrooge. `Green body and
yellow tailwith a thing like a lettuce growing out of the
top of his head; there he is. Poor Robin Crusoehe called
himwhen he came home again after sailing round the
island. `Poor Robin Crusoewhere have you beenRobin
Crusoe.' The man thought he was dreamingbut he wasn't.
It was the Parrotyou know. There goes Fridayrunning
for his life to the little creek. Halloa. Hoop. Hallo.'
Thenwith a rapidity of transition very foreign to his
usual characterhe saidin pity for his former self`Poor
boy.' and cried again.
`I wish' Scrooge mutteredputting his hand in his
pocketand looking about himafter drying his eyes with his
cuff: `but it's too late now.'
`What is the matter.' asked the Spirit.
`Nothing' said Scrooge. `Nothing. There was a boy
singing a Christmas Carol at my door last night. I should
like to have given him something: that's all.'
The Ghost smiled thoughtfullyand waved its hand:
saying as it did so`Let us see another Christmas.'
Scrooge's former self grew larger at the wordsand the
room became a little darker and more dirty. The panels shrunk
the windows cracked; fragments of plaster fell out of the
ceilingand the naked laths were shown instead; but how
all this was brought aboutScrooge knew no more than you
do. He only knew that it was quite correct; that everything
had happened so; that there he wasalone againwhen all
the other boys had gone home for the jolly holidays.
He was not reading nowbut walking up and down
Scrooge looked at the Ghostand with a mournful
shaking of his headglanced anxiously towards the door.
It opened; and a little girlmuch younger than the boy
came darting inand putting her arms about his neckand
often kissing himaddressed him as her `Deardear
`I have come to bring you homedear brother.' said the
childclapping her tiny handsand bending down to laugh.
`To bring you homehomehome.'
`Homelittle Fan.' returned the boy.
`Yes.' said the childbrimful of glee. `Homefor good
and all. Homefor ever and ever. Father is so much kinder
than he used to bethat home's like Heaven. He spoke so
gently to me one dear night when I was going to bedthat
I was not afraid to ask him once more if you might come
home; and he said Yesyou should; and sent me in a coach
to bring you. And you're to be a man.' said the child
opening her eyes' and are never to come back here; but
firstwe're to be together all the Christmas longand have
the merriest time in all the world.'
`You are quite a womanlittle Fan.' exclaimed the boy.
She clapped her hands and laughedand tried to touch his
head; but being too littlelaughed againand stood on
tiptoe to embrace him. Then she began to drag himin her
childish eagernesstowards the door; and henothing loth to
A terrible voice in the hall cried. `Bring down Master
Scrooge's boxthere.' and in the hall appeared the schoolmaster
himselfwho glared on Master Scrooge with a ferocious
condescensionand threw him into a dreadful state of mind
by shaking hands with him. He then conveyed him and his
sister into the veriest old well of a shivering best-parlour that
ever was seenwhere the maps upon the walland the celestial
and terrestrial globes in the windowswere waxy with cold.
Here he produced a decanter of curiously light wineand a
block of curiously heavy cakeand administered instalments
of those dainties to the young people: at the same time
sending out a meagre servant to offer a glass of something
to the postboywho answered that he thanked the gentleman
but if it was the same tap as he had tasted beforehe had
rather not. Master Scrooge's trunk being by this time tied
on to the top of the chaisethe children bade the schoolmaster
good-bye right willingly; and getting into itdrove
gaily down the garden-sweep: the quick wheels dashing the
hoar-frost and snow from off the dark leaves of the evergreens
`Always a delicate creaturewhom a breath might have
withered' said the Ghost. `But she had a large heart.'
`So she had' cried Scrooge. `You're right. I will not
gainsay itSpirit. God forbid.'
`She died a woman' said the Ghost`and hadas I think
`One child' Scrooge returned.
`True' said the Ghost. `Your nephew.'
Scrooge seemed uneasy in his mind; and answered briefly
Although they had but that moment left the school behind
themthey were now in the busy thoroughfares of a city
where shadowy passengers passed and repassed; where shadowy
carts and coaches battle for the wayand all the strife and
tumult of a real city were. It was made plain enoughby
the dressing of the shopsthat here too it was Christmas
time again; but it was eveningand the streets were
The Ghost stopped at a certain warehouse doorand asked
Scrooge if he knew it.
`Know it.' said Scrooge. `I was apprenticed here.'
They went in. At sight of an old gentleman in a Welsh
wigsitting behind such a high deskthat if he had been two
inches taller he must have knocked his head against the
ceilingScrooge cried in great excitement:
`Whyit's old Fezziwig. Bless his heart; it's Fezziwig
Old Fezziwig laid down his penand looked up at the
clockwhich pointed to the hour of seven. He rubbed his
hands; adjusted his capacious waistcoat; laughed all over
himselffrom his shows to his organ of benevolence; and
called out in a comfortableoilyrichfatjovial voice:
`Yo hothere. Ebenezer. Dick.'
Scrooge's former selfnow grown a young mancame briskly
inaccompanied by his fellow-prentice.
`Dick Wilkinsto be sure.' said Scrooge to the Ghost.
`Bless meyes. There he is. He was very much attached
to mewas Dick. Poor Dick. Deardear.'
`Yo homy boys.' said Fezziwig. `No more work to-night.
Christmas EveDick. ChristmasEbenezer. Let's
have the shutters up' cried old Fezziwigwith a sharp clap
of his hands' 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 -- onetwo
three -- had them up in their places -- fourfivesix -- barred
them and pinned then -- seveneightnine -- and came back
before you could have got to twelvepanting like race-horses.
`Hilli-ho!' cried old Fezziwigskipping down from the
high deskwith wonderful agility. `Clear awaymy lads
and let's have lots of room here. Hilli-hoDick. Chirrup
Clear away. There was nothing they wouldn't have cleared
awayor couldn't have cleared awaywith old Fezziwig looking
on. It was done in a minute. Every movable was packed offas if
it were dismissed from public life for evermore; the floor was
swept and wateredthe lamps were trimmedfuel was heaped upon
the fire; and the warehouse was as snugand warmand dryand
bright a ball-roomas you would desire to see upon a winter's
In came a fiddler with a music-bookand went up to the
lofty deskand made an orchestra of itand tuned like fifty
stomach-aches. In came Mrs Fezziwigone vast substantial
smile. In came the three Miss Fezziwigsbeaming and
lovable. In came the six young followers whose hearts they
broke. In came all the young men and women employed in
the business. In came the housemaidwith her cousinthe
baker. In came the cookwith her brother's particular friend
the milkman. In came the boy from over the waywho was
suspected of not having board enough from his master; trying
to hide himself behind the girl from next door but onewho
was proved to have had her ears pulled by her mistress.
In they all cameone after another; some shylysome boldly
some gracefullysome awkwardlysome pushingsome pulling;
in they all cameanyhow and everyhow. Away they all went
twenty couples at once; hands half round and back again
the other way; down the middle and up again; round
and round in various stages of affectionate grouping; old
top couple always turning up in the wrong place; new top
couple starting off againas soon as they got there; all top
couples at lastand not a bottom one to help them. When
this result was brought aboutold Fezziwigclapping his
hands to stop the dancecried out' Well done.' and the
fiddler plunged his hot face into a pot of porterespecially
provided for that purpose. But scorning restupon his
reappearancehe instantly began againthough there were no
dancers yetas if the other fiddler had been carried home
exhaustedon a shutterand he were a bran-new man
resolved to beat him out of sightor perish.
There were more dancesand there were forfeitsand more
dancesand there was cakeand there was negusand there
was a great piece of Cold Roastand there was a great piece
of Cold Boiledand there were mince-piesand plenty of beer.
But the great effect of the evening came after the Roast
and Boiledwhen the fiddler (an artful dogmind. The sort
of man who knew his business better than you or I could
have told it him.) struck up Sir Roger de Coverley.' Then
old Fezziwig stood out to dance with Mrs Fezziwig. Top
coupletoo; with a good stiff piece of work cut out for them;
three or four and twenty pair of partners; people who were
not to be trifled with; people who would danceand had no
notion of walking.
But if they had been twice as many -- ahfour times -old
Fezziwig would have been a match for themand so would
Mrs Fezziwig. As to hershe was worthy to be his partner
in every sense of the term. If that's not high praisetell me
higherand I'll use it. A positive light appeared to issue
from Fezziwig's calves. They shone in every part of the
dance like moons. You couldn't have predictedat any given
timewhat would have become of them next. And when old
Fezziwig and Mrs Fezziwig had gone all through the dance;
advance and retireboth hands to your partnerbow and
curtseycorkscrewthread-the-needleand back again to
your place; Fezziwig cut -- cut so deftlythat he appeared
to wink with his legsand came upon his feet again without
When the clock struck eleventhis domestic ball broke up.
Mr and Mrs Fezziwig took their stationsone on either side
of the doorand shaking hands with every person individually
as he or she went outwished him or her a Merry Christmas.
When everybody had retired but the two prenticesthey did
the same to them; and thus the cheerful voices died away
and the lads were left to their beds; which were under a
counter in the back-shop.
During the whole of this timeScrooge had acted like a
man out of his wits. His heart and soul were in the scene
and with his former self. He corroborated everything
remembered everythingenjoyed everythingand underwent
the strangest agitation. It was not until nowwhen the
bright faces of his former self and Dick were turned from
themthat he remembered the Ghostand became conscious
that it was looking full upon himwhile the light upon its
head burnt very clear.
`A small matter' said the Ghost`to make these silly
folks so full of gratitude.'
`Small.' echoed Scrooge.
The Spirit signed to him to listen to the two apprentices
who were pouring out their hearts in praise of Fezziwig:
and when he had done sosaid
`Why. Is it not. He has spent but a few pounds of
your mortal money: three or four perhaps. Is that so
much that he deserves this praise.'
`It isn't that' said Scroogeheated by the remarkand
speaking unconsciously like his formernot his latterself.
`It isn't thatSpirit. He has the power to render us happy
or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a
pleasure or a toil. Say that his power lies in words and
looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it is
to add and count them up: what then. The happiness
he givesis quite as great as if it cost a fortune.'
He felt the Spirit's glanceand stopped.
`What is the matter.' asked the Ghost.
`Nothing in particular' said Scrooge.
`SomethingI think.' the Ghost insisted.
`No' said Scrooge' No. I should like to be able to say
a word or two to my clerk just now. That's all.'
His former self turned down the lamps as he gave utterance
to the wish; and Scrooge and the Ghost again stood side by
side in the open air.
`My time grows short' observed the Spirit. `Quick.'
This was not addressed to Scroogeor to any one whom he
could seebut it produced an immediate effect. For again
Scrooge saw himself. He was older now; a man in the prime
of life. His face had not the harsh and rigid lines of later
years; but it had begun to wear the signs of care and avarice.
There was an eagergreedyrestless motion in the eyewhich
showed the passion that had taken rootand where the
shadow of the growing tree would fall.
He was not alonebut sat by the side of a fair young
girl in a mourning-dress: in whose eyes there were tears
which sparkled in the light that shone out of the Ghost of
`It matters little' she saidsoftly. `To youvery little.
Another idol has displaced me; and if it can cheer and comfort
you in time to comeas I would have tried to doI have
no just cause to grieve.'
`What Idol has displaced you.' he rejoined.
`A golden one.'
`This is the even-handed dealing of the world.' he said.
`There is nothing on which it is so hard as poverty; and
there is nothing it professes to condemn with such severity
as the pursuit of wealth.'
`You fear the world too much' she answeredgently.
`All your other hopes have merged into the hope of being
beyond the chance of its sordid reproach. I have seen your
nobler aspirations fall off one by oneuntil the master-passion
Gainengrosses you. Have I not.'
`What then.' he retorted. `Even if I have grown so
much wiserwhat then. I am not changed towards you.'
She shook her head.
`Our contract is an old one. It was made when we were
both poor and content to be sountilin good seasonwe could
improve our worldly fortune by our patient industry. You
are changed. When it was madeyou were another man.'
`I was a boy' he said impatiently.
`Your own feeling tells you that you were not what you
are' she returned. `I am. That which promised happiness
when we were one in heartis fraught with misery now that
we are two. How often and how keenly I have thought of
thisI will not say. It is enough that I have thought of it
and can release you.'
`Have I ever sought release.'
`In words. No. Never.'
`In a changed nature; in an altered spirit; in another
atmosphere of life; another Hope as its great end. In
everything that made my love of any worth or value in your
sight. If this had never been between us' said the girl
looking mildlybut with steadinessupon him;' tell me
would you seek me out and try to win me now. Ahno.'
He seemed to yield to the justice of this suppositionin
spite of himself. But he said with a struggle' You think
`I would gladly think otherwise if I could' she answered
`Heaven knows. When I have learned a Truth like this
I know how strong and irresistible it must be. But if you
were free to-dayto-morrowyesterdaycan even I believe
that you would choose a dowerless girl -- you whoin your
very confidence with herweigh everything by Gain: or
choosing herif for a moment you were false enough to your
one guiding principle to do sodo I not know that your
repentance and regret would surely follow. I do; and I
release you. With a full heartfor the love of him you
He was about to speak; but with her head turned from
`You may -- the memory of what is past half makes me
hope you will -- have pain in this. A veryvery brief time
and you will dismiss the recollection of itgladlyas an
unprofitable dreamfrom which it happened well that you
awoke. May you be happy in the life you have chosen.'
She left himand they parted.
`Spirit.' said Scrooge' show me no more. Conduct
me home. Why do you delight to torture me.'
`One shadow more.' exclaimed the Ghost.
`No more.' cried Scrooge. `No moreI don't wish to
see it. Show me no more.'
But the relentless Ghost pinioned him in both his arms
and forced him to observe what happened next.
They were in another scene and place; a roomnot very
large or handsomebut full of comfort. Near to the winter
fire sat a beautiful young girlso like that last that Scrooge
believed it was the sameuntil he saw hernow a comely
matronsitting opposite her daughter. The noise in this
room was perfectly tumultuousfor there were more children
therethan Scrooge in his agitated state of mind could count;
andunlike the celebrated herd in the poemthey were not
forty children conducting themselves like onebut every
child was conducting itself like forty. The consequences
were uproarious beyond belief; but no one seemed to care;
on the contrarythe mother and daughter laughed heartily
and enjoyed it very much; and the lattersoon beginning to
mingle in the sportsgot pillaged by the young brigands
most ruthlessly. What would I not have given to one of
them. Though I never could have been so rudenono. I
wouldn't for the wealth of all the world have crushed that
braided hairand torn it down; and for the precious little
shoeI wouldn't have plucked it offGod bless my soul. to
save my life. As to measuring her waist in sportas they
didbold young broodI couldn't have done it; I should
have expected my arm to have grown round it for a punishment
and never come straight again. And yet I should
have dearly likedI ownto have touched her lips; to have
questioned herthat she might have opened them; to have
looked upon the lashes of her downcast eyesand never
raised a blush; to have let loose waves of hairan inch of
which would be a keepsake beyond price: in shortI should
have likedI do confessto have had the lightest licence
of a childand yet to have been man enough to know its
But now a knocking at the door was heardand such a
rush immediately ensued that she with laughing face and
plundered dress was borne towards it the centre of a flushed
and boisterous groupjust in time to greet the fatherwho
came home attended by a man laden with Christmas toys
and presents. Then the shouting and the strugglingand
the onslaught that was made on the defenceless porter.
The scaling him with chairs for ladders to dive into his
pocketsdespoil him of brown-paper parcelshold on tight
by his cravathug him round his neckpommel his back
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 mouthand was more than suspected of having
swallowed a fictitious turkeyglued on a wooden platter.
The immense relief of finding this a false alarm. The joy
and gratitudeand ecstasy. They are all indescribable alike.
It is enough that by degrees the children and their emotions
got out of the parlourand by one stair at a timeup to the
top of the house; where they went to bedand so subsided.
And now Scrooge looked on more attentively than ever
when the master of the househaving his daughter leaning
fondly on himsat down with her and her mother at his
own fireside; and when he thought that such another
creaturequite as graceful and as full of promisemight
have called him fatherand been a spring-time in the
haggard winter of his lifehis sight grew very dim indeed.
`Belle' said the husbandturning to his wife with a
smile' I saw an old friend of yours this afternoon.'
`Who was it.'
`How can I. Tutdon't I know.' she added in the
same breathlaughing as he laughed. `Mr Scrooge.'
`Mr Scrooge it was. I passed his office window; and as
it was not shut upand he had a candle insideI could
scarcely help seeing him. His partner lies upon the point
of deathI hear; and there he sat alone. Quite alone in
the worldI do believe.'
`Spirit.' said Scrooge in a broken voice' remove me
from this place.'
`I told you these were shadows of the things that have
been' said the Ghost. `That they are what they aredo
not blame me.'
`Remove me.' Scrooge exclaimed' I cannot bear it.'
He turned upon the Ghostand seeing that it looked upon
him with a facein which in some strange way there were
fragments of all the faces it had shown himwrestled with it.
`Leave me. Take me back. Haunt me no longer.'
In the struggleif 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 adversaryScrooge observed
that its light was burning high and bright; and dimly
connecting that with its influence over himhe seized the
extinguisher-capand by a sudden action pressed it down
upon its head.
The Spirit dropped beneath itso that the extinguisher
covered its whole form; but though Scrooge pressed it down
with all his forcehe could not hide the lightwhich streamed
from under itin an unbroken flood upon the ground.
He was conscious of being exhaustedand overcome by an
irresistible drowsiness; andfurtherof being in his own
bedroom. He gave the cap a parting squeezein which his hand
relaxed; and had barely time to reel to bedbefore he sank
into a heavy sleep.
Stave 3: The Second of the Three Spirits
Awaking in the middle of a prodigiously tough snoreand
sitting up in bed to get his thoughts togetherScrooge had
no occasion to be told that the bell was again upon the
stroke of One. He felt that he was restored to consciousness
in the right nick of timefor the especial purpose of holding
a conference with the second messenger despatched to him
through Jacob Marley's intervention. Butfinding that he
turned uncomfortably cold when he began to wonder which
of his curtains this new spectre would draw backhe put
them every one aside with his own handsand lying down
againestablished a sharp look-out all round the bed. For
he wished to challenge the Spirit on the moment of its
appearanceand did not wish to be taken by surpriseand
Gentlemen of the free-and-easy sortwho plume themselves
on being acquainted with a move or twoand being usually
equal to the time-of-dayexpress the wide range of their
capacity for adventure by observing that they are good for
anything from pitch-and-toss to manslaughter; between which
opposite extremesno doubtthere lies a tolerably wide and
comprehensive range of subjects. Without venturing for
Scrooge quite as hardily as thisI don't mind calling on you
to believe that he was ready for a good broad field of
strange appearancesand that nothing between a baby and
rhinoceros would have astonished him very much.
Nowbeing prepared for almost anythinghe was not by
any means prepared for nothing; andconsequentlywhen the
Bell struck Oneand no shape appearedhe was taken with a
violent fit of trembling. Five minutesten minutesa quarter
of an hour went byyet nothing came. All this timehe lay
upon his bedthe very core and centre of a blaze of ruddy
lightwhich streamed upon it when the clock proclaimed the
hour; and whichbeing only lightwas more alarming than
a dozen ghostsas he was powerless to make out what it
meantor would be at; and was sometimes apprehensive
that he might be at that very moment an interesting case of
spontaneous combustionwithout having the consolation of
knowing it. At lasthoweverhe began to think -- as you or
I would have thought at first; for it is always the person not
in the predicament who knows what ought to have been done
in itand would unquestionably have done it too -- at lastI
sayhe began to think that the source and secret of this
ghostly light might be in the adjoining roomfrom whence
on further tracing itit seemed to shine. This idea taking
full possession of his mindhe got up softly and shuffled in
his slippers to the door.
The moment Scrooge's hand was on the locka strange
voice called him by his nameand bade him enter. He
It was his own room. There was no doubt about that.
But it had undergone a surprising transformation. The walls
and ceiling were so hung with living greenthat it looked a
perfect grove; from every part of whichbright gleaming
berries glistened. The crisp leaves of hollymistletoeand
ivy reflected back the lightas if so many little mirrors had
been scattered there; and such a mighty blaze went roaring
up the chimneyas that dull petrification of a hearth had
never known in Scrooge's timeor Marley'sor for many and
many a winter season gone. Heaped up on the floorto form
a kind of thronewere turkeysgeesegamepoultrybrawn
great joints of meatsucking-pigslong wreaths of sausages
mince-piesplum-puddingsbarrels of oystersred-hot chestnuts
cherry-cheeked applesjuicy orangesluscious pears
immense twelfth-cakesand seething bowls of punchthat
made the chamber dim with their delicious steam. In easy
state upon this couchthere sat a jolly Giantglorious to
seewho bore a glowing torchin shape not unlike Plenty's
hornand held it uphigh upto shed its light on Scrooge
as he came peeping round the door.
`Come in.' exclaimed the Ghost. `Come inand know
Scrooge entered timidlyand hung his head before this
Spirit. He was not the dogged Scrooge he had been; and
though the Spirit's eyes were clear and kindhe did not like
to meet them.
`I am the Ghost of Christmas Present' said the Spirit.
`Look upon me.'
Scrooge reverently did so. It was clothed in one simple
green robeor mantlebordered with white fur. This garment
hung so loosely on the figurethat its capacious breast was
bareas if disdaining to be warded or concealed by any
artifice. Its feetobservable beneath the ample folds of the
garmentwere also bare; and on its head it wore no other
covering than a holly wreathset here and there with shining
icicles. Its dark brown curls were long and free; free as its
genial faceits sparkling eyeits open handits cheery voice
its unconstrained demeanourand its joyful air. Girded
round its middle was an antique scabbard; but no sword
was in itand the ancient sheath was eaten up with rust.
`You have never seen the like of me before.' exclaimed
`Never' Scrooge made answer to it.
`Have never walked forth with the younger members of
my family; meaning (for I am very young) my elder brothers
born in these later years.' pursued the Phantom.
`I don't think I have' said Scrooge. `I am afraid I have
not. Have you had many brothersSpirit.'
`More than eighteen hundred' said the Ghost.
`A tremendous family to provide for.' muttered Scrooge.
The Ghost of Christmas Present rose.
`Spirit' said Scrooge submissively' conduct me where
you will. I went forth last night on compulsionand I learnt
a lesson which is working now. To-nightif you have aught
to teach melet me profit by it.'
`Touch my robe.'
Scrooge did as he was toldand held it fast.
fruitand punchall vanished instantly. So did the room
the firethe ruddy glowthe hour of nightand they stood
in the city streets on Christmas morningwhere (for the
weather was severe) the people made a roughbut brisk and
not unpleasant kind of musicin scraping the snow from the
pavement in front of their dwellingsand from the tops of
their houseswhence it was mad delight to the boys to see
it come plumping down into the road belowand splitting
into artificial little snow-storms.
The house fronts looked black enoughand the windows
blackercontrasting with the smooth white sheet of snow
upon the roofsand with the dirtier snow upon the ground;
which last deposit had been ploughed up in deep furrows by
the heavy wheels of carts and waggons; furrows that crossed
and recrossed each other hundreds of times where the great
streets branched off; and made intricate channelshard 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 thawedhalf frozenwhose heavier particles descended
in shower of sooty atomsas if all the chimneys in Great
Britain hadby one consentcaught fireand were blazing away
to their dear hearts' content. There was nothing very cheerful
in the climate or the townand yet was there an air of
cheerfulness abroad that the clearest summer air and brightest
summer sun might have endeavoured to diffuse in vain.
Forthe people who were shovelling away on the housetops
were jovial and full of glee; calling out to one another
from the parapetsand 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 openand the
fruiterers' were radiant in their glory. There were greatround
roundpot-bellied baskets of chestnutsshaped like the waistcoats
of jolly old gentlemenlolling at the doorsand tumbling out
into the street in their apoplectic opulence. There were
ruddybrown-facedbroad-girthed Spanish onionsshining in
the fatness of their growth like Spanish Friarsand winking
from their shelves in wanton slyness at the girls as they went
byand glanced demurely at the hung-up mistletoe. There were
pears and applesclustered high in blooming pyramids; there
were bunches of grapesmadein the shopkeepers' benevolence
to dangle from conspicuous hooksthat people's mouths might
water gratis as they passed; there were piles of filbertsmossy
and brownrecallingin their fragranceancient walks among
the woodsand pleasant shufflings ankle deep through withered
leaves; there were Norfolk Biffinssquab and swarthysetting
off the yellow of the oranges and lemonsandin the great
compactness of their juicy personsurgently entreating and
beseeching to be carried home in paper bags and eaten after
dinner. The very gold and silver fishset forth among
these choice fruits in a bowlthough members of a dull and
stagnant-blooded raceappeared to know that there was
something going on; andto a fishwent gasping round and
round their little world in slow and passionless excitement.
The Grocers'. oh the Grocers'. nearly closedwith perhaps
two shutters downor one; but through those gaps such
glimpses. It was not alone that the scales descending on the
counter made a merry soundor that the twine and roller
parted company so brisklyor that the canisters were rattled
up and down like juggling tricksor even that the blended
scents of tea and coffee were so grateful to the noseor even
that the raisins were so plentiful and rarethe almonds so
extremely whitethe sticks of cinnamon so long and straight
the other spices so deliciousthe 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 pulpyor that the French plums blushed in
modest tartness from their highly-decorated boxesor 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 daythat they tumbled up against each other
at the doorcrashing their wicker baskets wildlyand left
their purchases upon the counterand came running back to
fetch themand committed hundreds of the like mistakesin
the best humour possible; while the Grocer and his people
were so frank and fresh that the polished hearts with which
they fastened their aprons behind might have been their own
worn outside for general inspectionand for Christmas daws
to peck at if they chose.
But soon the steeples called good people allto church and
chapeland away they cameflocking through the streets in
their best clothesand with their gayest faces. And at the
same time there emerged from scores of bye-streetslanesand
nameless turningsinnumerable peoplecarrying their dinners
to the baker' shops. The sight of these poor revellers
appeared to interest the Spirit very muchfor he stood with
Scrooge beside him in a baker's doorwayand taking off the
covers as their bearers passedsprinkled incense on their
dinners from his torch. And it was a very uncommon kind
of torchfor once or twice when there were angry words
between some dinner-carriers who had jostled each otherhe
shed a few drops of water on them from itand their good
humour was restored directly. For they saidit was a shame
to quarrel upon Christmas Day. And so it was. God love
itso it was.
In time the bells ceasedand the bakers were shut up; and
yet there was a genial shadowing forth of all these dinners
and the progress of their cookingin the thawed blotch of
wet above each baker's oven; where the pavement smoked as
if its stones were cooking too.
`Is there a peculiar flavour in what you sprinkle from
your torch.' asked Scrooge.
`There is. My own.'
`Would it apply to any kind of dinner on this day.'
`To any kindly given. To a poor one most.'
`Why to a poor one most.' asked Scrooge.
`Because it needs it most.'
`Spirit' said Scroogeafter a moment's thought' I wonder
youof all the beings in the many worlds about usshould
desire to cramp these people's opportunities of innocent
`I.' cried the Spirit.
`You would deprive them of their means of dining every
seventh dayoften the only day on which they can be said
to dine at all' said Scrooge. `Wouldn't you.'
`I.' cried the Spirit.
`You seek to close these places on the Seventh Day.' said
Scrooge. `And it comes to the same thing.'
`I seek.' exclaimed the Spirit.
`Forgive me if I am wrong. It has been done in your
nameor at least in that of your family' said Scrooge.
`There are some upon this earth of yours' returned the Spirit'
who lay claim to know usand who do their deeds of passion
in our namewho are as strange to us and all our kith and
kinas if they had never lived. Remember thatand charge
their doings on themselvesnot us.'
Scrooge promised that he would; and they went on
invisibleas they had been beforeinto the suburbs of the
town. It was a remarkable quality of the Ghost (which
Scrooge had observed at the baker's)that notwithstanding
his gigantic sizehe could accommodate himself to any place
with ease; and that he stood beneath a low roof quite as
gracefully and like a supernatural creatureas it was possible
he could have done in any lofty hall.
And perhaps it was the pleasure the good Spirit had in
showing off this power of hisor else it was his own kind
generoushearty natureand his sympathy with all poor
menthat led him straight to Scrooge's clerk's; for there he
wentand took Scrooge with himholding to his robe; and
on the threshold of the door the Spirit smiledand stopped
to bless Bob Cratchit's dwelling with the sprinkling of his
torch. Think of that. Bob had but fifteen bob a-week
himself; he pocketed on Saturdays but fifteen copies of his
Christian name; and yet the Ghost of Christmas Present
blessed his four-roomed house.
Then up rose Mrs CratchitCratchit's wifedressed out
but poorly in a twice-turned gownbut brave in ribbons
which are cheap and make a goodly show for sixpence; and
she laid the clothassisted by Belinda Cratchitsecond of
her daughtersalso brave in ribbons; while Master Peter
Cratchit plunged a fork into the saucepan of potatoesand
getting the corners of his monstrous shirt collar (Bob's private
propertyconferred upon his son and heir in honour of the
day) into his mouthrejoiced to find himself so gallantly
attiredand yearned to show his linen in the fashionable Parks.
And now two smaller Cratchitsboy and girlcame tearing
inscreaming that outside the baker's they had smelt the
gooseand known it for their own; and basking in luxurious
thoughts of sage and onionthese young Cratchits danced
about the tableand exalted Master Peter Cratchit to the
skieswhile he (not proudalthough his collars nearly choked
him) blew the fireuntil the slow potatoes bubbling up
knocked loudly at the saucepan-lid to be let out and
`What has ever got your precious father then.' said Mrs
Cratchit. `And your brotherTiny Tim. And Martha
warn't as late last Christmas Day by half-an-hour.'
`Here's Marthamother.' said a girlappearing as she
`Here's Marthamother.' cried the two young Cratchits.
`Hurrah. There's such a gooseMartha.'
`Whybless your heart alivemy dearhow late you are.'
said Mrs Cratchitkissing her a dozen timesand taking off
her shawl and bonnet for her with officious zeal.
`We'd a deal of work to finish up last night' replied the
girl' and had to clear away this morningmother.'
`Well. Never mind so long as you are come' said Mrs
Cratchit. `Sit ye down before the firemy dearand have
a warmLord bless ye.'
`Nono. There's father coming' cried the two young
Cratchitswho were everywhere at once. `HideMartha
So Martha hid herselfand in came little Bobthe father
with at least three feet of comforter exclusive of the fringe
hanging down before him; and his threadbare clothes darned
up and brushedto look seasonable; and Tiny Tim upon his
shoulder. Alas for Tiny Timhe bore a little crutchand
had his limbs supported by an iron frame.
`Whywhere's our Martha.' cried Bob Cratchitlooking
`Not coming' said Mrs Cratchit.
`Not coming.' said Bobwith a sudden declension in his
high spirits; for he had been Tim's blood horse all the way
from churchand had come home rampant. `Not coming
upon Christmas Day.'
Martha didn't like to see him disappointedif it were only
in joke; so she came out prematurely from behind the closet
doorand ran into his armswhile the two young Cratchits
hustled Tiny Timand bore him off into the wash-house
that he might hear the pudding singing in the copper.
`And how did little Tim behave. asked Mrs Cratchit
when she had rallied Bob on his credulityand Bob had
hugged his daughter to his heart's content.
`As good as gold' said Bob' and better. Somehow he
gets thoughtfulsitting by himself so muchand thinks the
strangest things you ever heard. He told mecoming home
that he hoped the people saw him in the churchbecause he
was a crippleand it might be pleasant to them to remember
upon Christmas Daywho made lame beggars walkand blind
Bob's voice was tremulous when he told them thisand
trembled more when he said that Tiny Tim was growing
strong and hearty.
His active little crutch was heard upon the floorand back
came Tiny Tim before another word was spokenescorted by
his brother and sister to his stool before the fire; and while
Bobturning up his cuffs -- as ifpoor fellowthey were
capable of being made more shabby -- compounded some hot
mixture in a jug with gin and lemonsand stirred it round
and round and put it on the hob to simmer; Master Peter
and the two ubiquitous young Cratchits went to fetch the
goosewith which they soon returned in high procession.
Such a bustle ensued that you might have thought a goose
the rarest of all birds; a feathered phenomenonto which a
black swan was a matter of course -- and in truth it was
something very like it in that house. Mrs Cratchit made
the gravy (ready beforehand in a little saucepan) hissing hot;
Master Peter mashed the potatoes with incredible vigour;
Miss Belinda sweetened up the apple-sauce; Martha dusted
the hot plates; Bob took Tiny Tim beside him in a tiny
corner at the table; the two young Cratchits set chairs for
everybodynot forgetting themselvesand mounting guard
upon their postscrammed spoons into their mouthslest
they should shriek for goose before their turn came to be
helped. At last the dishes were set onand grace was
said. It was succeeded by a breathless pauseas Mrs
Cratchitlooking slowly all along the carving-knifeprepared
to plunge it in the breast; but when she didand when the
long expected gush of stuffing issued forthone murmur of
delight arose all round the boardand even Tiny Tim
excited by the two young Cratchitsbeat on the table with
the handle of his knifeand feebly cried Hurrah.
There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn't believe
there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and
flavoursize and cheapnesswere the themes of universal
admiration. Eked out by apple-sauce and mashed potatoes
it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family; indeedas
Mrs Cratchit said with great delight (surveying one small
atom of a bone upon the dish)they hadn't ate it all at
last. Yet every one had had enoughand the youngest
Cratchits in particularwere steeped in sage and onion to
the eyebrows. But nowthe plates being changed by Miss
BelindaMrs Cratchit left the room alone -- too nervous to
bear witnesses -- to take the pudding up and bring it in.
Suppose it should not be done enough. Suppose it should
break in turning out. Suppose somebody should have got
over the wall of the back-yardand stolen itwhile they
were merry with the goose -- a supposition at which the two
young Cratchits became livid. All sorts of horrors were
Hallo. A great deal of steam. The pudding was out of
the copper. A smell like a washing-day. That was the
cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a pastrycook's next
door to each otherwith a laundress's next door to that.
That was the pudding. In half a minute Mrs Cratchit
entered -- flushedbut smiling proudly -- with the pudding
like a speckled cannon-ballso hard and firmblazing in half
of half-a-quartern of ignited brandyand bedight with
Christmas holly stuck into the top.
Oha wonderful pudding. Bob Cratchit saidand calmly
toothat he regarded it as the greatest success achieved by
Mrs Cratchit since their marriage. Mrs Cratchit said that
now the weight was off her mindshe would confess she had
had her doubts about the quantity of flour. Everybody had
something to say about itbut nobody said or thought it
was at all a small pudding for a large family. It would have
been flat heresy to do so. Any Cratchit would have blushed
to hint at such a thing.
At last the dinner was all donethe cloth was clearedthe
hearth sweptand the fire made up. The compound in the
jug being tastedand considered perfectapples and oranges
were put upon the tableand a shovel-full of chestnuts on the
fire. Then all the Cratchit family drew round the hearthin
what Bob Cratchit called a circlemeaning half a one; and
at Bob Cratchit's elbow stood the family display of glass.
Two tumblersand a custard-cup without a handle.
These held the hot stuff from the jughoweveras well as
golden goblets would have done; and Bob served it out with
beaming lookswhile the chestnuts on the fire sputtered and
cracked noisily. Then Bob proposed:
`A Merry Christmas to us allmy dears. God bless us.'
Which all the family re-echoed.
`God bless us every one.' said Tiny Timthe last of all.
He sat very close to his father's side upon his little
Bob held his withered little hand in hisas if he loved the
childand wished to keep him by his sideand dreaded that
he might be taken from him.
`Spirit' said Scroogewith an interest he had never felt
before`tell me if Tiny Tim will live.'
`I see a vacant seat' replied the Ghost`in the poor
chimney-cornerand a crutch without an ownercarefully
preserved. If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future
the child will die.'
`Nono' said Scrooge. `Ohnokind Spirit. say he
will be spared.'
`If these shadows remain unaltered by the Futurenone
other of my race' returned the Ghost`will find him here.
What then. If he be like to diehe had better do itand
decrease the surplus population.'
Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted by
the Spiritand was overcome with penitence and grief.
`Man' said the Ghost`if man you be in heartnot
adamantforbear that wicked cant until you have discovered
What the surplus isand Where it is. Will you decide what
men shall livewhat men shall die. It may bethat in the
sight of Heavenyou are more worthless and less fit to live
than millions like this poor man's child. 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 rebukeand trembling cast
his eyes upon the ground. But he raised them speedilyon
hearing his own name.
`Mr Scrooge.' said Bob; `I'll give you Mr Scroogethe
Founder of the Feast.'
`The Founder of the Feast indeed.' cried Mrs Cratchit
reddening. `I wish I had him here. I'd give him a piece
of my mind to feast uponand I hope he'd have a good
appetite for it.'
`My dear' said Bob`the children. Christmas Day.'
`It should be Christmas DayI am sure' said she`on
which one drinks the health of such an odiousstingyhard
unfeeling man as Mr Scrooge. You know he isRobert.
Nobody knows it better than you dopoor fellow.'
`My dear' was Bob's mild answer`Christmas Day.'
`I'll drink his health for your sake and the Day's' said
Mrs Cratchit`not for his. Long life to him. A merry
Christmas and a happy new year. He'll be very merry and
very happyI have no doubt.'
The children drank the toast after her. It was the first of
their proceedings which had no heartiness. Tiny Tim drank
it last of allbut he didn't care twopence for it. Scrooge
was the Ogre of the family. The mention of his name cast
a dark shadow on the partywhich was not dispelled for full
After it had passed awaythey were ten times merrier than
beforefrom the mere relief of Scrooge the Baleful being done
with. Bob Cratchit told them how he had a situation in his
eye for Master Peterwhich would bring inif obtainedfull
five-and-sixpence weekly. The two young Cratchits laughed
tremendously at the idea of Peter's being a man of business;
and Peter himself looked thoughtfully at the fire from
between his collarsas if he were deliberating what particular
investments he should favour when he came into the receipt
of that bewildering income. Marthawho was a poor
apprentice at a milliner'sthen told them what kind of work
she had to doand how many hours she worked at a stretch
and how she meant to lie abed to-morrow morning for a
good long rest; to-morrow being a holiday she passed at
home. Also how she had seen a countess and a lord some
days beforeand how the lord was much about as tall as
Peter; at which Peter pulled up his collars so high that you
couldn't have seen his head if you had been there. All this
time the chestnuts and the jug went round and round; and
by-and-bye they had a songabout a lost child travelling in
the snowfrom Tiny Timwho had a plaintive little voice
and sang it very well indeed.
There was nothing of high mark in this. They were not
a handsome family; they were not well dressed; their shoes
were far from being water-proof; their clothes were scanty;
and Peter might have knownand very likely didthe inside
of a pawnbroker's. Butthey were happygratefulpleased
with one anotherand contented with the time; and when
they fadedand looked happier yet in the bright sprinklings
of the Spirit's torch at partingScrooge had his eye upon
themand especially on Tiny Timuntil the last.
By this time it was getting darkand snowing pretty
heavily; and as Scrooge and the Spirit went along the streets
the brightness of the roaring fires in kitchensparloursand
all sorts of roomswas wonderful. Herethe flickering of
the blaze showed preparations for a cosy dinnerwith hot
plates baking through and through before the fireand deep
red curtainsready to be drawn to shut out cold and darkness.
There all the children of the house were running out
into the snow to meet their married sistersbrotherscousins
unclesauntsand be the first to greet them. Hereagain
were shadows on the window-blind of guests assembling; and
there a group of handsome girlsall hooded and fur-booted
and all chattering at oncetripped lightly off to some near
neighbour's house; wherewoe upon the single man who saw
them enter -- artful witcheswell they knew it -- in a glow.
Butif you had judged from the numbers of people on
their way to friendly gatheringsyou might have thought
that no one was at home to give them welcome when they
got thereinstead of every house expecting companyand
piling up its fires half-chimney high. Blessings on ithow
the Ghost exulted. How it bared its breadth of breastand
opened its capacious palmand floated onoutpouringwith
a generous handits bright and harmless mirth on everything
within its reach. The very lamplighterwho ran on before
dotting the dusky street with specks of lightand who was
dressed to spend the evening somewherelaughed out loudly
as the Spirit passedthough little kenned the lamplighter
that he had any company but Christmas.
And nowwithout a word of warning from the Ghostthey
stood upon a bleak and desert moorwhere monstrous masses
of rude stone were cast aboutas though it were the burial-place
of giants; and water spread itself wheresoever it listed
or would have done sobut for the frost that held it prisoner;
and nothing grew but moss and furzeand coarse rank grass.
Down in the west the setting sun had left a streak of fiery
redwhich glared upon the desolation for an instantlike a
sullen eyeand frowning lowerlowerlower yetwas lost in
the thick gloom of darkest night.
`What place is this.' asked Scrooge.
`A place where Miners livewho labour in the bowels of
the earth' returned the Spirit. `But they know me. See.'
A light shone from the window of a hutand swiftly they
advanced towards it. Passing through the wall of mud and
stonethey found a cheerful company assembled round a
glowing fire. An oldold man and womanwith their
children and their children's childrenand another generation
beyond thatall decked out gaily in their holiday attire.
The old manin a voice that seldom rose above the howling
of the wind upon the barren wastewas singing them a
Christmas song -- it had been a very old song when he was a
boy -- and from time to time they all joined in the chorus.
So surely as they raised their voicesthe old man got quite
blithe and loud; and so surely as they stoppedhis vigour
The Spirit did not tarry herebut bade Scrooge hold his
robeand passing on above the moorsped -- whither. Not
to sea. To sea. To Scrooge's horrorlooking backhe saw
the last of the landa frightful range of rocksbehind them;
and his ears were deafened by the thundering of wateras it
rolled and roaredand raged among the dreadful caverns it
had wornand fiercely tried to undermine the earth.
Built upon a dismal reef of sunken rockssome league
or so from shoreon which the waters chafed and dashed
the wild year throughthere stood a solitary lighthouse.
Great heaps of sea-weed clung to its baseand storm-birds
-- born of the wind one might supposeas sea-weed of the
water -- rose and fell about itlike the waves they skimmed.
But even heretwo men who watched the light had made
a firethat through the loophole in the thick stone wall shed
out a ray of brightness on the awful sea. Joining their
horny hands over the rough table at which they satthey
wished each other Merry Christmas in their can of grog; and
one of them: the eldertoowith his face all damaged and
scarred with hard weatheras the figure-head of an old ship
might be: struck up a sturdy song that was like a Gale in
Again the Ghost sped onabove the black and heaving sea
-- onon -- untilbeing far awayas he told Scroogefrom any
shorethey lighted on a ship. They stood beside the helmsman
at the wheelthe look-out in the bowthe officers who
had the watch; darkghostly figures in their several stations;
but every man among them hummed a Christmas tuneor
had a Christmas thoughtor spoke below his breath to his
companion of some bygone Christmas Daywith homeward
hopes belonging to it. And every man on boardwaking or
sleepinggood or badhad had a kinder word for another
on that day than on any day in the year; and had shared
to some extent in its festivities; and had remembered those
he cared for at a distanceand had known that they delighted
to remember him.
It was a great surprise to Scroogewhile listening to the
moaning of the windand thinking what a solemn thing it
was to move on through the lonely darkness over an unknown
abysswhose depths were secrets as profound as Death: it
was a great surprise to Scroogewhile thus engagedto hear
a hearty laugh. It was a much greater surprise to Scrooge
to recognise it as his own nephew's and to find himself in a
brightdrygleaming roomwith the Spirit standing smiling
by his sideand looking at that same nephew with approving
`Haha.' laughed Scrooge's nephew. `Hahaha.'
If you should happenby any unlikely chanceto know a
man more blest in a laugh than Scrooge's nephewall I can
say isI should like to know him too. Introduce him to me
and I'll cultivate his acquaintance.
It is a faireven-handednoble adjustment of thingsthat
while there is infection in disease and sorrowthere is nothing
in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and
good-humour. When Scrooge's nephew laughed in this way: holding
his sidesrolling his headand twisting his face into the
most extravagant contortions: Scrooge's nieceby marriage
laughed as heartily as he. And their assembled friends being
not a bit behindhandroared out lustily.
`He said that Christmas was a humbugas I live.' cried
Scrooge's nephew. `He believed it too.'
`More shame for himFred.' said Scrooge's niece
indignantly. Bless those women; they never do anything by
halves. They are always in earnest.
She was very pretty: exceedingly pretty. With a dimpled
surprised-lookingcapital face; a ripe little mouththat
seemed made to be kissed -- as no doubt it was; all kinds of
good little dots about her chinthat melted into one another
when she laughed; and the sunniest pair of eyes you ever
saw in any little creature's head. Altogether she was what
you would have called provokingyou know; but satisfactory.
`He's a comical old fellow' said Scrooge's nephew' that's
the truth: and not so pleasant as he might be. However
his offences carry their own punishmentand I have nothing
to say against him.'
`I'm sure he is very richFred' hinted Scrooge's niece.
`At least you always tell me so.'
`What of thatmy dear.' said Scrooge's nephew. `His
wealth is of no use to him. He don't do any good with it.
He don't make himself comfortable with it. He hasn't the
satisfaction of thinking -- hahaha. -- that he is ever going
to benefit us with it.'
`I have no patience with him' observed Scrooge's niece.
Scrooge's niece's sistersand all the other ladiesexpressed
the same opinion.
`OhI have.' said Scrooge's nephew. `I am sorry for
him; I couldn't be angry with him if I tried. Who suffers
by his ill whims. Himselfalways. Herehe takes it into
his head to dislike usand he won't come and dine with us.
What's the consequence. He don't lose much of a dinner.'
`IndeedI think he loses a very good dinner' interrupted
Scrooge's niece. Everybody else said the sameand they
must be allowed to have been competent judgesbecause
they had just had dinner; andwith the dessert upon the
tablewere clustered round the fireby lamplight.
`Well. I'm very glad to hear it' said Scrooge's nephew
`because I haven't great faith in these young housekeepers.
What do you sayTopper.'
Topper had clearly got his eye upon one of Scrooge's niece's
sistersfor he answered that a bachelor was a wretched outcast
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.
`Do go onFred' said Scrooge's niececlapping her hands.
`He never finishes what he begins to say. He is such a
Scrooge's nephew revelled in another laughand as it was
impossible to keep the infection off; though the plump sister
tried hard to do it with aromatic vinegar; his example was
`I was only going to say' said Scrooge's nephew' that
the consequence of his taking a dislike to usand not making
merry with usisas I thinkthat he loses some pleasant
momentswhich could do him no harm. I am sure he loses
pleasanter companions than he can find in his own thoughts
either in his mouldy old officeor his dusty chambers. I
mean to give him the same chance every yearwhether he
likes it or notfor I pity him. He may rail at Christmas
till he diesbut he can't help thinking better of it -- I defy
him -- if he finds me going therein good temperyear after
yearand saying Uncle Scroogehow are you. If it only
puts him in the vein to leave his poor clerk fifty pounds
that's something; and I think I shook him yesterday.'
It was their turn to laugh now at the notion of his shaking
Scrooge. But being thoroughly good-naturedand not much
caring what they laughed atso that they laughed at any
ratehe encouraged them in their merrimentand passed the
After tea. they had some music. For they were a musical
familyand knew what they were aboutwhen they sung a
Glee or CatchI can assure you: especially Topperwho
could growl away in the bass like a good oneand never
swell the large veins in his foreheador get red in the face
over it. Scrooge's niece played well upon the harp; and
played among other tunes a simple little air (a mere nothing:
you might learn to whistle it in two minutes)which had
been familiar to the child who fetched Scrooge from the
boarding-schoolas he had been reminded by the Ghost of
Christmas Past. When this strain of music soundedall the
things that Ghost had shown himcame upon his mind; he
softened more and more; and thought that if he could have
listened to it oftenyears agohe might have cultivated the
kindnesses of life for his own happiness with his own hands
without resorting to the sexton's spade that buried Jacob
But they didn't devote the whole evening to music. After
a while they played at forfeits; for it is good to be children
sometimesand never better than at Christmaswhen its
mighty Founder was a child himself. Stop. There was first
a game at blind-man's buff. Of course there was. And I
no more believe Topper was really blind than I believe he
had eyes in his boots. My opinion isthat it was a done
thing between him and Scrooge's nephew; and that the
Ghost of Christmas Present knew it. The way he went after
that plump sister in the lace tuckerwas an outrage on the
credulity of human nature. Knocking down the fire-irons
tumbling over the chairsbumping against the piano
smothering himself among the curtainswherever she went
there went he. He always knew where the plump sister was.
He wouldn't catch anybody else. If you had fallen up
against him (as some of them did)on purposehe would
have made a feint of endeavouring to seize youwhich would
have been an affront to your understandingand would instantly
have sidled off in the direction of the plump sister.
She often cried out that it wasn't fair; and it really was not.
But when at lasthe caught her; whenin spite of all her
silken rustlingsand her rapid flutterings past himhe got
her into a corner whence there was no escape; then his
conduct was the most execrable. For his pretending not to
know her; his pretending that it was necessary to touch her
head-dressand further to assure himself of her identity by
pressing a certain ring upon her fingerand a certain chain
about her neck; was vilemonstrous. No doubt she told
him her opinion of itwhenanother blind-man being in
officethey were so very confidential togetherbehind the
Scrooge's niece was not one of the blind-man's buff party
but was made comfortable with a large chair and a footstool
in a snug cornerwhere the Ghost and Scrooge were close
behind her. But she joined in the forfeitsand loved her
love to admiration with all the letters of the alphabet.
Likewise at the game of HowWhenand Whereshe was
very greatand to the secret joy of Scrooge's nephewbeat
her sisters hollow: though they were sharp girls tooas
could have told you. There might have been twenty people there
young and oldbut they all playedand so did Scroogefor
wholly forgetting the interest he had in what was going onthat
his voice made no sound in their earshe sometimes came out with
his guess quite loudand very often guessed quite righttoo;
for the sharpest needlebest Whitechapelwarranted not to cut
in the eyewas not sharper than Scrooge; blunt as he took it in
his head to be.
The Ghost was greatly pleased to find him in this mood
and looked upon him with such favourthat he begged like
a boy to be allowed to stay until the guests departed. But
this the Spirit said could not be done.
`Here is a new game' said Scrooge. `One half hour
It was a Game called Yes and Nowhere Scrooge's nephew
had to think of somethingand the rest must find out what;
he only answering to their questions yes or noas the case
was. The brisk fire of questioning to which he was exposed
elicited from him that he was thinking of an animala live
animalrather a disagreeable animala savage animalan
animal that growled and grunted sometimesand talked sometimes
and lived in Londonand walked about the streets
and wasn't made a show ofand wasn't led by anybodyand
didn't live in a menagerieand was never killed in a market
and was not a horseor an assor a cowor a bullor a
tigeror a dogor a pigor a cator a bear. At every fresh
question that was put to himthis nephew burst into a
fresh roar of laughter; and was so inexpressibly tickledthat
he was obliged to get up off the sofa and stamp. At last
the plump sisterfalling into a similar statecried out:
`I have found it out. I know what it isFred. I know
what it is.'
`What is it.' cried Fred.
`It's your Uncle Scrooge.'
Which it certainly was. Admiration was the universal
sentimentthough some objected that the reply to `Is it a
bear.' ought to have been `Yes;' inasmuch as an answer
in the negative was sufficient to have diverted their thoughts
from Mr Scroogesupposing they had ever had any tendency
`He has given us plenty of merrimentI 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 sayUncle Scrooge.'
`Well. Uncle Scrooge.' they cried.
`A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to the old
manwhatever he is.' said Scrooge's nephew. `He wouldn't
take it from mebut may he have itnevertheless. Uncle
Uncle Scrooge had imperceptibly become so gay and light
of heartthat he would have pledged the unconscious
company in returnand 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 sawand far they wentand many homes they
visitedbut always with a happy end. The Spirit stood
beside sick bedsand they were cheerful; on foreign lands
and they were close at home; by struggling menand they
were patient in their greater hope; by povertyand it was
rich. In almshousehospitaland jailin misery's every
refugewhere vain man in his little brief authority had not
made fast the door and barred the Spirit outhe left his
blessingand taught Scrooge his precepts.
It was a long nightif it were only a night; but Scrooge
had his doubts of thisbecause the Christmas Holidays appeared
to be condensed into the space of time they passed
together. It was strangetoothat while Scrooge remained
unaltered in his outward formthe Ghost grew olderclearly
older. Scrooge had observed this changebut never spoke of
ituntil they left a children's Twelfth Night partywhen
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 globeis very brief' replied the Ghost.
`It ends to-night.'
`To-night.' cried Scrooge.
`To-night at midnight. Hark. The time is drawing
The chimes were ringing the three quarters past eleven at
`Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask' said
Scroogelooking intently at the Spirit's robe' but I see
something strangeand not belonging to yourselfprotruding
from your skirts. Is it a foot or a claw.'
`It might be a clawfor the flesh there is upon it' was
the Spirit's sorrowful reply. `Look here.'
From the foldings of its robeit brought two children;
wretchedabjectfrightfulhideousmiserable. They knelt
down at its feetand clung upon the outside of its garment.
`OhMan. look here. Looklookdown here.' exclaimed
They were a boy and a girl. Yellowmeagreragged
scowlingwolfish; but prostratetooin their humility. Where
graceful youth should have filled their features outand
touched them with its freshest tintsa stale and shrivelled
handlike that of agehad pinchedand twisted themand
pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat
enthroneddevils lurkedand glared out menacing. No
changeno degradationno perversion of humanityin any
gradethrough all the mysteries of wonderful creationhas
monsters half so horrible and dread.
Scrooge started backappalled. Having them shown to
him in this wayhe tried to say they were fine childrenbut
the words choked themselvesrather than be parties to a lie
of such enormous magnitude.
`Spirit. are they yours.' Scrooge could say no more.
`They are Man's' said the Spiritlooking down upon
them. `And they cling to meappealing from their fathers.
This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both
and all of their degreebut most of all beware this boyfor
on his brow I see that written which is Doomunless the
writing be erased. Deny it.' cried the Spiritstretching out
its hand towards the city. `Slander those who tell it ye.
Admit it for your factious purposesand make it worse.
And abide the end.'
`Have they no refuge or resource.' cried Scrooge.
`Are there no prisons.' said the Spiritturning on him
for the last time with his own words. `Are there no workhouses.'
The bell struck twelve.
Scrooge looked about him for the Ghostand saw it
not. As the last stroke ceased to vibratehe remembered the
prediction of old Jacob Marleyand lifting
up his eyesbeheld a solemn Phantomdraped and
hoodedcominglike a mist along the groundtowards
Stave 4: The Last of the Spirits
The Phantom slowlygravelysilently approached. When
it cameScrooge bent down upon his knee; for in
the very air through which this Spirit moved it seemed to
scatter gloom and mystery.
It was shrouded in a deep black garmentwhich concealed
its headits faceits formand left nothing of it visible
save one outstretched hand. But for this it would have been
difficult to detach its figure from the nightand separate it
from the darkness by which it was surrounded.
He felt that it was tall and stately when it came beside
himand that its mysterious presence filled him with a
solemn dread. He knew no morefor the Spirit neither
spoke nor moved.
`I am in the presence of the Ghost of Christmas Yet To
Come.' said Scrooge.
The Spirit answered notbut pointed onward with its
`You are about to show me shadows of the things that
have not happenedbut will happen in the time before us'
Scrooge pursued. `Is that soSpirit.'
The upper portion of the garment was contracted for an
instant in its foldsas if the Spirit had inclined its head.
That was the only answer he received.
Although well used to ghostly company by this time
Scrooge feared the silent shape so much that his legs trembled
beneath himand he found that he could hardly stand when
he prepared to follow it. The Spirit pauses a momentas
observing his conditionand giving him time to recover.
But Scrooge was all the worse for this. It thrilled him
with a vague uncertain horrorto know that behind the
dusky shroudthere were ghostly eyes intently fixed upon
himwhile hethough he stretched his own to the utmost
could see nothing but a spectral hand and one great heap
`Ghost of the Future.' he exclaimed' I fear you more
than any spectre I have seen. But as I know your purpose
is to do me goodand as I hope to live to be another
man from what I wasI am prepared to bear you company
and do it with a thankful heart. Will you not speak
It gave him no reply. The hand was pointed straight
`Lead on.' said Scrooge. `Lead on. The night is
waning fastand it is precious time to meI know. Lead
The Phantom moved away as it had come towards him.
Scrooge followed in the shadow of its dresswhich bore him
uphe thoughtand carried him along.
They scarcely seemed to enter the city; for the city rather
seemed to spring up about themand encompass them of its
own act. But there they werein the heart of it; on
Changeamongst the merchants; who hurried up and down
and chinked the money in their pocketsand conversed in
groupsand looked at their watchesand trifled thoughtfully
with their great gold seals; and so forthas Scrooge had
seen them often.
The Spirit stopped beside one little knot of business men.
Observing that the hand was pointed to themScrooge
advanced to listen to their talk.
`No' said a great fat man with a monstrous chin' I
don't know much about iteither way. I only know he's
`When did he die.' inquired another.
`Last nightI believe.'
`Whywhat was the matter with him.' asked a third
taking a vast quantity of snuff out of a very large snuff-box.
`I thought he'd never die.'
`God knows' said the firstwith a yawn.
`What has he done with his money.' asked a red-faced
gentleman with a pendulous excrescence on the end of his
nosethat shook like the gills of a turkey-cock.
`I haven't heard' said the man with the large chin
yawning again. `Left it to his companyperhaps. He hasn't
left it to me. That's all I know.'
This pleasantry was received with a general laugh.
`It's likely to be a very cheap funeral' said the same
speaker;' for upon my life I don't know of anybody to go
to it. Suppose we make up a party and volunteer.'
`I don't mind going if a lunch is provided' observed the
gentleman with the excrescence on his nose. `But I must
be fedif I make one.'
`WellI am the most disinterested among youafter all'
said the first speaker' for I never wear black glovesand I
never eat lunch. But I'll offer to goif anybody else will.
When I come to think of itI'm not at all sure that I wasn't
his most particular friend; for we used to stop and speak
whenever we met. Byebye.'
Speakers and listeners strolled awayand mixed with
other groups. Scrooge knew the menand looked towards the
Spirit for an explanation.
The Phantom glided on into a street. Its finger pointed
to two persons meeting. Scrooge listened againthinking
that the explanation might lie here.
He knew these menalsoperfectly. They were men of aye
business: very wealthyand of great importance. He had made
a point always of standing well in their esteem: in a business
point of viewthat is; strictly in a business point of view.
`How are you.' said one.
`How are you.' returned the other.
`Well.' said the first. `Old Scratch has got his own at
`So I am told' returned the second. `Coldisn't it.'
`Seasonable for Christmas time. You're not a skaterI
`No. No. Something else to think of. Good morning.'
Not another word. That was their meetingtheir
conversationand 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
purposehe set himself to consider what it was likely to be.
They could scarcely be supposed to have any bearing on the
death of Jacobhis old partnerfor that was Pastand this
Ghost's province was the Future. Nor could he think of any
one immediately connected with himselfto 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 missedand would render the solution of these
He looked about in that very place for his own image; but
another man stood in his accustomed cornerand though the
clock pointed to his usual time of day for being therehe
saw no likeness of himself among the multitudes that poured
in through the Porch. It gave him little surprisehowever;
for he had been revolving in his mind a change of lifeand
thought and hoped he saw his new-born resolutions carried
out in this.
Quiet and darkbeside him stood the Phantomwith its
outstretched hand. When he roused himself from his
thoughtful questhe fancied from the turn of the handand
its situation in reference to himselfthat the Unseen Eyes
were looking at him keenly. It made him shudderand feel
They left the busy sceneand went into an obscure part
of the townwhere Scrooge had never penetrated before
although he recognised its situationand its bad repute. The
ways were foul and narrow; the shops and houses wretched;
the people half-nakeddrunkenslipshodugly. Alleys and
archwayslike so many cesspoolsdisgorged their offences of
smelland dirtand lifeupon the straggling streets; and the
whole quarter reeked with crimewith filthand misery.
Far in this den of infamous resortthere was a low-browed
beetling shopbelow a pent-house roofwhere ironold rags
bottlesbonesand greasy offalwere bought. Upon the floor
withinwere piled up heaps of rusty keysnailschainshinges
filesscalesweightsand refuse iron of all kinds. Secrets
that few would like to scrutinise were bred and hidden in
mountains of unseemly ragsmasses of corrupted fatand
sepulchres of bones. Sitting in among the wares he dealt inby a
charcoal stovemade of old brickswas a grey-haired rascal
nearly seventy years of age; who had screened himself from the
cold air withoutby a frousy curtaining of miscellaneous
tattershung upon a line; and smoked his pipe in all the luxury
of calm retirement.
Scrooge and the Phantom came into the presence of this
manjust as a woman with a heavy bundle slunk into the
shop. But she had scarcely enteredwhen another woman
similarly ladencame in too; and she was closely followed by
a man in faded blackwho was no less startled by the sight
of themthan they had been upon the recognition of each
other. After a short period of blank astonishmentin which
the old man with the pipe had joined themthey all three
burst into a laugh.
`Let the charwoman alone to be the first.' cried she who
had entered first. `Let the laundress alone to be the second;
and let the undertaker's man alone to be the third. Look
hereold Joehere's a chance. If we haven't all three met
here without meaning it.'
`You couldn't have met in a better place' said old Joe
removing his pipe from his mouth. `Come into the parlour.
You were made free of it long agoyou know; and the other
two an't strangers. Stop till I shut the door of the shop.
Ah. How it skreeks. There an't such a rusty bit of metal
in the place as its own hingesI believe; and I'm sure there's
no such old bones hereas mine. Haha. We're all suitable
to our callingwe're well matched. Come into the
parlour. Come into the parlour.'
The parlour was the space behind the screen of rags. The
old man raked the fire together with an old stair-rodand
having trimmed his smoky lamp (for it was night)with the
stem of his pipeput it in his mouth again.
While he did thisthe woman who had already spoken
threw her bundle on the floorand sat down in a flaunting
manner on a stool; crossing her elbows on her kneesand
looking with a bold defiance at the other two.
`What odds then. What oddsMrs Dilber.' said the
woman. `Every person has a right to take care of themselves.
He always did.'
`That's trueindeed.' said the laundress. `No man
`Why thendon't stand staring as if you was afraid
woman; who's the wiser. We're not going to pick holes in
each other's coatsI suppose.'
`Noindeed.' said Mrs Dilber and the man together.
`We should hope not.'
`Very wellthen.' cried the woman. `That's enough.
Who's the worse for the loss of a few things like these.
Not a dead manI suppose.'
`Noindeed' said Mrs Dilberlaughing.
`If he wanted to keep them after he was deada wicked old
screw' pursued the woman' why wasn't he natural in his
lifetime. If he had beenhe'd have had somebody to look
after him when he was struck with Deathinstead of lying
gasping out his last therealone by himself.'
`It's the truest word that ever was spoke' said Mrs
Dilber. `It's a judgment on him.'
`I wish it was a little heavier judgment' replied the
woman;' and it should have beenyou may depend upon it
if I could have laid my hands on anything else. Open that
bundleold Joeand let me know the value of it. Speak out
plain. I'm not afraid to be the firstnor afraid for them to
see it. We know pretty well that we were helping ourselves
before we met hereI believe. It's no sin. Open the bundle
But the gallantry of her friends would not allow of this;
and the man in faded blackmounting the breach first
produced his plunder. It was not extensive. A seal or two
a pencil-casea pair of sleeve-buttonsand a brooch of no
great valuewere all. They were severally examined and
appraised by old Joewho chalked the sums he was disposed
to give for eachupon the walland added them up into a
total when he found there was nothing more to come.
`That's your account' said Joe' and I wouldn't give
another sixpenceif I was to be boiled for not doing it.
Mrs Dilber was next. Sheets and towelsa little wearing
appareltwo old-fashioned silver teaspoonsa pair of
sugar-tongsand a few boots. Her account was stated on the wall
in the same manner.
`I always give too much to ladies. It's a weakness of mine
and that's the way I ruin myself' said old Joe. `That's
your account. If you asked me for another pennyand made
it an open questionI'd repent of being so liberal and knock
`And now undo my bundleJoe' said the first woman.
Joe went down on his knees for the greater convenience
of opening itand having unfastened a great many knots
dragged out a large and heavy roll of some dark stuff.
`What do you call this.' said Joe. `Bed-curtains.'
`Ah.' returned the womanlaughing and leaning forward
on her crossed arms. `Bed-curtains.'
`You don't mean to say you took them downrings and
allwith him lying there.' said Joe.
`Yes I do' replied the woman. `Why not.'
`You were born to make your fortune' said Joe' and
you'll certainly do it.'
`I certainly shan't hold my handwhen I can get anything
in it by reaching it outfor the sake of such a man as he
wasI promise youJoe' returned the woman coolly. `Don't
drop that oil upon the blanketsnow.'
`His blankets.' asked Joe.
`Whose else's do you think.' replied the woman. `He
isn't likely to take cold without themI dare say.'
`I hope he didn't die of any thing catching. Eh.' said
old Joestopping in his workand looking up.
`Don't you be afraid of that' returned the woman. `I
an't so fond of his company that I'd loiter about him for
such thingsif he did. Ah. you may look through that
shirt till your eyes ache; but you won't find a hole in itnor
a threadbare place. It's the best he hadand a fine one too.
They'd have wasted itif it hadn't been for me.'
`What do you call wasting of it.' asked old Joe.
`Putting it on him to be buried into be sure' replied
the woman with a laugh. `Somebody was fool enough to
do itbut I took it off again. If calico an't good enough for
such a purposeit isn't good enough for anything. It's quite
as becoming to the body. He can't look uglier than he did
in that one.'
Scrooge listened to this dialogue in horror. As they sat
grouped about their spoilin the scanty light afforded by
the old man's lamphe viewed them with a detestation and
disgustwhich could hardly have been greaterthough the
demonsmarketing the corpse itself.
`Haha.' laughed the same womanwhen old Joe
producing a flannel bag with money in ittold out their
several gains upon the ground. `This is the end of ityou
see. He frightened every one away from him when he was
aliveto profit us when he was dead. Hahaha.'
`Spirit.' said Scroogeshuddering from head to foot. `I
seeI see. The case of this unhappy man might be my own.
My life tends that waynow. Merciful Heavenwhat is
He recoiled in terrorfor the scene had changedand now
he almost touched a bed: a bareuncurtained bed: on which
beneath a ragged sheetthere lay a something covered up
whichthough it was dumbannounced itself in awful
The room was very darktoo dark to be observed with
any accuracythough Scrooge glanced round it in obedience
to a secret impulseanxious to know what kind of room it
was. A pale lightrising in the outer airfell straight upon
the bed; and on itplundered and bereftunwatchedunwept
uncared forwas the body of this man.
Scrooge glanced towards the Phantom. Its steady hand
was pointed to the head. The cover was so carelessly adjusted
that the slightest raising of itthe motion of a finger upon
Scrooge's partwould have disclosed the face. He thought
of itfelt how easy it would be to doand longed to do it;
but had no more power to withdraw the veil than to dismiss
the spectre at his side.
Oh coldcoldrigiddreadful Deathset up thine altar
hereand dress it with such terrors as thou hast at thy
command: for this is thy dominion. But of the loved
reveredand honoured headthou canst not turn one hair
to thy dread purposesor make one feature odious. It is
not that the hand is heavy and will fall down when released;
it is not that the heart and pulse are still; but that the
hand was opengenerousand true; the heart bravewarm
and tender; and the pulse a man's. StrikeShadowstrike.
And see his good deeds springing from the woundto sow
the world with life immortal.
No voice pronounced these words in Scrooge's earsand
yet he heard them when he looked upon the bed. He
thoughtif this man could be raised up nowwhat would be
his foremost thoughts. Avaricehard-dealinggriping cares.
They have brought him to a rich endtruly.
He layin the dark empty housewith not a mana
womanor a childto say that he was kind to me in this
or thatand for the memory of one kind word I will be
kind to him. A cat was tearing at the doorand there was
a sound of gnawing rats beneath the hearth-stone. What
they wanted in the room of deathand why they were so
restless and disturbedScrooge did not dare to think.
`Spirit.' he said' this is a fearful place. In leaving it
I shall not leave its lessontrust me. Let us go.'
Still the Ghost pointed with an unmoved finger to the
`I understand you' Scrooge returned' and I would do
itif I could. But I have not the powerSpirit. I have
not the power.'
Again it seemed to look upon him.
`If there is any person in the townwho feels emotion
caused by this man's death' said Scrooge quite agonised
`show that person to meSpiritI beseech you.'
The Phantom spread its dark robe before him for a
momentlike a wing; and withdrawing itrevealed a room
by daylightwhere a mother and her children were.
She was expecting some oneand with anxious eagerness;
for she walked up and down the room; started at every
sound; looked out from the window; glanced at the clock;
triedbut in vainto work with her needle; and could hardly
bear the voices of the children in their play.
At length the long-expected knock was heard. She hurried
to the doorand met her husband; a man whose face was
careworn and depressedthough he was young. There was
a remarkable expression in it now; a kind of serious delight
of which he felt ashamedand which he struggled to repress.
He sat down to the dinner that had been boarding for
him by the fire; and when she asked him faintly what news
(which was not until after a long silence)he appeared
embarrassed how to answer.
`Is it good.' she said`or bad?' -- to help him.
`Bad' he answered.
`We are quite ruined.'
`No. There is hope yetCaroline.'
`If he relents' she saidamazed`there is. Nothing is
past hopeif such a miracle has happened.'
`He is past relenting' said her husband. `He is dead.'
She was a mild and patient creature if her face spoke
truth; but she was thankful in her soul to hear itand she
said sowith clasped hands. She prayed forgiveness the next
momentand was sorry; but the first was the emotion of
`What the half-drunken woman whom I told you of last
nightsaid to mewhen I tried to see him and obtain a
week's delay; and what I thought was a mere excuse to avoid
me; turns out to have been quite true. He was not only
very illbut dyingthen.'
`To whom will our debt be transferred.'
`I don't know. But before that time we shall be ready
with the money; and even though we were notit would be
a bad fortune indeed to find so merciless a creditor in his
successor. We may sleep to-night with light heartsCaroline.'
Yes. Soften it as they wouldtheir hearts were lighter.
The children's faceshushed and clustered round to hear what
they so little understoodwere brighter; and it was a happier
house for this man's death. The only emotion that the
Ghost could show himcaused by the eventwas one of
`Let me see some tenderness connected with a death' said
Scrooge;' or that dark chamberSpiritwhich we left just
nowwill be for ever present to me.'
The Ghost conducted him through several streets familiar
to his feet; and as they went alongScrooge looked here and
there to find himselfbut nowhere was he to be seen. They
entered poor Bob Cratchit's house; the dwelling he had
visited before; and found the mother and the children seated
round the fire.
Quiet. Very quiet. The noisy little Cratchits were as
still as statues in one cornerand sat looking up at Peter
who had a book before him. The mother and her daughters
were engaged in sewing. But surely they were very quiet.
`And he took a childand set him in the midst of
Where had Scrooge heard those words. He had not
dreamed them. The boy must have read them outas he
and the Spirit crossed the threshold. Why did he not
The mother laid her work upon the tableand put her
hand up to her face.
`The colour hurts my eyes' she said.
The colour. Ahpoor Tiny Tim.
`They're better now again' said Cratchit's wife. `It
makes them weak by candle-light; and I wouldn't show weak
eyes to your father when he comes homefor the world. It
must be near his time.'
`Past it rather' Peter answeredshutting up his book.
`But I think he has walked a little slower than he used
these few last eveningsmother.'
They were very quiet again. At last she saidand in a
steadycheerful voicethat only faltered once:
`I have known him walk with -- I have known him walk
with Tiny Tim upon his shouldervery fast indeed.'
`And so have I' cried Peter. `Often.'
`And so have I' exclaimed another. So had all.
`But he was very light to carry' she resumedintent upon
her work' and his father loved him sothat it was no
trouble: no trouble. And there is your father at the door.'
She hurried out to meet him; and little Bob in his comforter
-- he had need of itpoor fellow -- came in. His tea
was ready for him on the hoband they all tried who should
help him to it most. Then the two young Cratchits got
upon his knees and laideach child a little cheekagainst
his faceas if they said' Don't mind itfather. Don't be
Bob was very cheerful with themand spoke pleasantly to
all the family. He looked at the work upon the tableand
praised the industry and speed of Mrs Cratchit and the girls.
They would be done long before Sundayhe said.
`Sunday. You went to-daythenRobert.' said his
`Yesmy dear' returned Bob. `I wish you could have
gone. It would have done you good to see how green a
place it is. But you'll see it often. I promised him that I
would walk there on a Sunday. My littlelittle child.'
cried Bob. `My little child.'
He broke down all at once. He couldn't help it. If he
could have helped ithe and his child would have been farther
apart perhaps than they were.
He left the roomand went up-stairs into the room above
which was lighted cheerfullyand hung with Christmas.
There was a chair set close beside the childand there were
signs of some one having been therelately. Poor Bob sat
down in itand when he had thought a little and composed
himselfhe kissed the little face. He was reconciled to what
had happenedand went down again quite happy.
They drew about the fireand talked; the girls and mother
working still. Bob told them of the extraordinary kindness
of Mr Scrooge's nephewwhom he had scarcely seen but
onceand whomeeting him in the street that dayand seeing
that he looked a little -' just a little down you know' said
Bobinquired what had happened to distress him. `On
which' said Bob' for he is the pleasantest-spoken gentleman
you ever heardI told him. `I am heartily sorry for itMr
Cratchit' he said' and heartily sorry for your good wife.'
By the byehow he ever knew thatI don't know.'
`Knew whatmy dear.'
`Whythat you were a good wife' replied Bob.
`Everybody knows that.' said Peter.
`Very well observedmy boy.' cried Bob. `I hope they
do. `Heartily sorry' he said' for your good wife. If I
can be of service to you in any way' he saidgiving me
his card' that's where I live. Pray come to me.' Nowit
wasn't' cried Bob' for the sake of anything he might be
able to do for usso much as for his kind waythat this was
quite delightful. It really seemed as if he had known our
Tiny Timand felt with us.'
`I'm sure he's a good soul.' said Mrs Cratchit.
`You would be surer of itmy dear' returned Bob' if
you saw and spoke to him. I shouldn't be at all surprised
-mark what I say. -- if he got Peter a better situation.'
`Only hear thatPeter' said Mrs Cratchit.
`And then' cried one of the girls' Peter will be keeping
company with some oneand setting up for himself.'
`Get along with you.' retorted Petergrinning.
`It's just as likely as not' said Bob' one of these days;
though there's plenty of time for thatmy dear. But however
and when ever we part from one anotherI am sure we
shall none of us forget poor Tiny Tim -- shall we -- or this
first parting that there was among us.'
`Neverfather.' cried they all.
`And I know' said Bob' I knowmy dearsthat when
we recollect how patient and how mild he was; although he
was a littlelittle child; we shall not quarrel easily among
ourselvesand forget poor Tiny Tim in doing it.'
`Noneverfather.' they all cried again.
`I am very happy' said little Bob' I am very happy.'
Mrs Cratchit kissed himhis daughters kissed himthe
two young Cratchits kissed himand Peter and himself shook
hands. Spirit of Tiny Timthy childish essence was from
`Spectre' said Scrooge' something informs me that our
parting moment is at hand. I know itbut I know not
how. Tell me what man that was whom we saw lying dead.'
The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come conveyed himas
before -- though at a different timehe thought: indeedthere
seemed no order in these latter visionssave that they were
in the Future -- into the resorts of business menbut showed
him not himself. Indeedthe Spirit did not stay for anything
but went straight onas to the end just now desired
until besought by Scrooge to tarry for a moment.
`This courts' said Scrooge' through which we hurry now
is where my place of occupation isand has been for a length
of time. I see the house. Let me behold what I shall be
in days to come.'
The Spirit stopped; the hand was pointed elsewhere.
`The house is yonder' Scrooge exclaimed. `Why do you
The inexorable finger underwent no change.
Scrooge hastened to the window of his officeand looked
in. It was an office stillbut not his. The furniture was
not the sameand the figure in the chair was not himself.
The Phantom pointed as before.
He joined it once againand wondering why and whither
he had goneaccompanied it until they reached an iron gate.
He paused to look round before entering.
A churchyard. Herethenthe wretched man whose name
he had now to learnlay underneath the ground. It was a
worthy place. Walled in by houses; overrun by grass and
weedsthe growth of vegetation's deathnot life; choked up
with too much burying; fat with repleted appetite. A
The Spirit stood among the gravesand pointed down to
One. He advanced towards it trembling. The Phantom was
exactly as it had beenbut he dreaded that he saw new
meaning in its solemn shape.
`Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point'
said Scrooge`answer me one question. Are these the
shadows of the things that Will beor are they shadows of
things that May beonly.'
Still the Ghost pointed downward to the grave by which
`Men's courses will foreshadow certain endsto whichif
persevered inthey must lead' said Scrooge. `But if the
courses be departed fromthe ends will change. Say it is
thus with what you show me.'
The Spirit was immovable as ever.
Scrooge crept towards ittrembling as he went; and
following the fingerread upon the stone of the neglected
grave his own nameEbenezer Scrooge.
`Am I that man who lay upon the bed.' he criedupon
The finger pointed from the grave to himand back again.
`NoSpirit. Oh nono.'
The finger still was there.
`Spirit.' he criedtight clutching at its robe' hear me.
I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I must
have been but for this intercourse. Why show me thisif I
am past all hope.'
For the first time the hand appeared to shake.
`Good Spirit' he pursuedas down upon the ground he
fell before it:' Your nature intercedes for meand pities
me. Assure me that I yet may change these shadows you
have shown meby an altered life.'
The kind hand trembled.
`I will honour Christmas in my heartand try to keep it
all the year. I will live in the Pastthe Presentand the
Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I
will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Ohtell me I
may sponge away the writing on this stone.'
In his agonyhe caught the spectral hand. It sought to
free itselfbut he was strong in his entreatyand detained it.
The Spiritstronger yetrepulsed him.
Holding up his hands in a last prayer to have his fate aye
reversedhe saw an alteration in the Phantom's hood and dress.
It shrunkcollapsedand dwindled down into a bedpost.
Stave 5: The End of It
Yes! and the bedpost was his own. The bed was his own
the room was his own. Best and happiest of allthe Time
before him was his ownto make amends in!
`I will live in the Pastthe Presentand the Future.'
Scrooge repeatedas he scrambled out of bed. `The Spirits
of all Three shall strive within me. Oh Jacob Marley.
Heavenand the Christmas Time be praised for this. I say
it on my kneesold Jacobon my knees.'
He was so fluttered and so glowing with his good intentions
that his broken voice would scarcely answer to his
call. He had been sobbing violently in his conflict with the
Spiritand his face was wet with tears.
`They are not torn down.' cried Scroogefolding one of
his bed-curtains in his arms' they are not torn downrings
and all. They are here -- I am here -- the shadows of the
things that would have beenmay be dispelled. They will
be. I know they will.'
His hands were busy with his garments all this time;
turning them inside outputting them on upside down
tearing themmislaying themmaking them parties to every
kind of extravagance.
`I don't know what to do.' cried Scroogelaughing and
crying in the same breath; and making a perfect Laocoon of
himself with his stockings. `I am as light as a featherI
am as happy as an angelI am as merry as a schoolboy. I
am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to
everybody. A happy New Year to all the world. Hallo
here. Whoop. Hallo.'
He had frisked into the sitting-roomand was now standing
there: perfectly winded.
`There's the saucepan that the gruel was in.' cried
Scroogestarting off againand going round the fireplace.
`There's the doorby which the Ghost of Jacob Marley
entered. There's the corner where the Ghost of Christmas
Presentsat. There's the window where I saw the wandering
Spirits. It's all rightit's all trueit all happened.
Ha ha ha.'
Reallyfor a man who had been out of practice for so
many yearsit was a splendid laugha most illustrious laugh.
The father of a longlong line of brilliant laughs.
`I don't know what day of the month it is.' said
Scrooge. `I don't know how long I've been among the
Spirits. I don't know anything. I'm quite a baby. Never
mind. I don't care. I'd rather be a baby. Hallo. Whoop.
He was checked in his transports by the churches ringing
out the lustiest peals he had ever heard. Clashclang
hammer; dingdongbell. Belldongding; hammerclang
Running to the windowhe opened itand put out his
head. No fogno mist; clearbrightjovialstirringcold;
coldpiping for the blood to dance to; Golden sunlight;
Heavenly sky; sweet fresh air; merry bells. Ohglorious.
`What's to-day.' cried Scroogecalling downward to a
boy in Sunday clotheswho perhaps had loitered in to look
`Eh.' returned the boywith all his might of wonder.
`What's to-daymy fine fellow.' said Scrooge.
`To-day.' replied the boy. `WhyChristmas Day.'
`It's Christmas Day.' said Scrooge to himself. `I
haven't missed it. The Spirits have done it all in one night.
They can do anything they like. Of course they can. Of
course they can. Hallomy fine fellow.'
`Hallo.' returned the boy.
`Do you know the Poulterer'sin the next street but one
at the corner.' Scrooge inquired.
`I should hope I did' replied the lad.
`An intelligent boy.' said Scrooge. `A remarkable boy.
Do you know whether they've sold the prize Turkey that
was hanging up there -- Not the little prize Turkey: the
`Whatthe one as big as me.' returned the boy.
`What a delightful boy.' said Scrooge. `It's a pleasure
to talk to him. Yesmy buck.'
`It's hanging there now' replied the boy.
`Is it.' said Scrooge. `Go and buy it.'
`Walk-er.' exclaimed the boy.
`Nono' said Scrooge`I am in earnest. Go and buy
itand tell them to bring it herethat I may give them the
direction where to take it. Come back with the manand
I'll give you a shilling. Come back with him in less than
five minutes and I'll give you half-a-crown.'
The boy was off like a shot. He must have had a steady
hand at a trigger who could have got a shot off half so fast.
`I'll send it to Bon Cratchit's.' whispered Scrooge
rubbing his handsand splitting with a laugh. `He shan't
know who sends it. It's twice the size of Tiny Tim. Joe
Miller never made such a joke as sending it to Bob's
The hand in which he wrote the address was not a steady
onebut write it he didsomehowand went down-stairs to
open the street doorready for the coming of the poulterer's
man. As he stood therewaiting his arrivalthe knocker
caught his eye.
`I shall love itas long as I live.' cried Scroogepatting
it with his hand. `I scarcely ever looked at it before.
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
legsthat bird. He would have snapped them short off in a
minutelike sticks of sealing-wax.
`Whyit's impossible to carry that to Camden Town'
said Scrooge. `You must have a cab.'
The chuckle with which he said thisand the chuckle with
which he paid for the Turkeyand the chuckle with which
he paid for the caband the chuckle with which he recompensed
the boywere only to be exceeded by the chuckle
with which he sat down breathless in his chair againand
chuckled till he cried.
Shaving was not an easy taskfor his hand continued to
shake very much; and shaving requires attentioneven when
you don't dance while you are at it. But if he had cut the
end of his nose offhe would have put a piece of
sticking-plaster over itand been quite satisfied.
He dressed himself all in his bestand at last got out
into the streets. The people were by this time pouring forth
as he had seen them with the Ghost of Christmas Present;
and walking with his hands behind himScrooge regarded
every one with a delighted smile. He looked so irresistibly
pleasantin a wordthat three or four good-humoured fellows
said' Good morningsir. A merry Christmas to you.'
And Scrooge said often afterwardsthat of all the blithe
sounds he had ever heardthose were the blithest in his ears.
He had not gone farwhen coming on towards him he
beheld the portly gentlemanwho had walked into his
counting-house the day beforeand said' Scrooge and Marley'sI
believe.' It sent a pang across his heart to think how this
old gentleman would look upon him when they met; but he
knew what path lay straight before himand he took it.
`My dear sir' said Scroogequickening his paceand
taking the old gentleman by both his hands. `How do you
do. I hope you succeeded yesterday. It was very kind of
you. A merry Christmas to yousir.'
`Yes' said Scrooge. `That is my nameand I fear it
may not be pleasant to you. Allow me to ask your pardon.
And will you have the goodness' -- here Scrooge whispered in
`Lord bless me.' cried the gentlemanas if his breath
were taken away. `My dear Mr Scroogeare you serious.'
`If you please' said Scrooge. `Not a farthing less. A
great many back-payments are included in itI assure you.
Will you do me that favour.'
`My dear sir' said the othershaking hands with him.
`I don't know what to say to such munificence.'
`Don't say anything please' retorted Scrooge. `Come
and see me. Will you come and see me.'
`I will.' cried the old gentleman. And it was clear he
meant to do it.
`Thank you' said Scrooge. `I am much obliged to you.
I thank you fifty times. Bless you.'
He went to churchand walked about the streetsand
watched the people hurrying to and froand patted children
on the headand questioned beggarsand looked down into
the kitchens of housesand up to the windowsand found
that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never
dreamed that any walk -- that anything -- could give him so
much happiness. In the afternoon he turned his steps
towards his nephew's house.
He passed the door a dozen timesbefore he had the
courage to go up and knock. But he made a dashand
`Is your master at homemy dear.' said Scrooge to the
girl. Nice girl. Very.
`Where is hemy love.' said Scrooge.
`He's in the dining-roomsiralong with mistress. I'll
show you up-stairsif you please.'
`Thank you. He knows me' said Scroogewith his hand
already on the dining-room lock. `I'll go in heremy dear.'
He turned it gentlyand sidled his face inround the door.
They were looking at the table (which was spread out in
great array); for these young housekeepers are always nervous
on such pointsand like to see that everything is right.
`Fred.' said Scrooge.
Dear heart alivehow his niece by marriage started.
Scrooge had forgottenfor the momentabout her sitting
in the corner with the footstoolor he wouldn't have done
iton any account.
`Why bless my soul.' cried Fred' who's that.'
`It's I. Your uncle Scrooge. I have come to dinner.
Will you let me inFred.'
Let him in. It is a mercy he didn't shake his arm off.
He was at home in five minutes. Nothing could be heartier.
His niece looked just the same. So did Topper when he
came. So did the plump sister when she came. So did
every one when they came. Wonderful partywonderful
gameswonderful unanimitywonderful happiness.
But he was early at the office next morning. Ohhe was
early there. If he could only be there firstand catch Bob
Cratchit coming late. That was the thing he had set his
And he did it; yeshe did. The clock struck nine. No
Bob. A quarter past. No Bob. He was full eighteen
minutes and a half behind his time. Scrooge sat with his
door wide openthat he might see him come into the Tank.
His hat was offbefore he opened the door; his comforter
too. He was on his stool in a jiffy; driving away with his
penas if he were trying to overtake nine o'clock.
`Hallo.' growled Scroogein his accustomed voiceas
near as he could feign it. `What do you mean by coming
here at this time of day.'
`I am very sorrysir' said Bob. `I am behind my time.'
`You are.' repeated Scrooge. `Yes. I think you are.
Step this waysirif you please.'
`It's only once a yearsir' pleaded Bobappearing from
the Tank. `It shall not be repeated. I was making rather
`NowI'll tell you whatmy friend' said Scrooge' I
am not going to stand this sort of thing any longer. And
therefore' he continuedleaping from his stooland giving
Bob such a dig in the waistcoat that he staggered back into
the Tank again;' and therefore I am about to raise your
Bob trembledand got a little nearer to the ruler. He
had a momentary idea of knocking Scrooge down with it
holding himand calling to the people in the court for help
and a strait-waistcoat.
`A merry ChristmasBob' said Scroogewith an earnestness
that could not be mistakenas he clapped him on the
back. `A merrier ChristmasBobmy good fellowthan I
have given you for many a year. I'll raise your salaryand
endeavour to assist your struggling familyand we will discuss
your affairs this very afternoonover a Christmas bowl of
smoking bishopBob. Make up the firesand buy another
coal-scuttle before you dot another iBob Cratchit.'
Scrooge was better than his word. He did it alland
infinitely more; and to Tiny Timwho did not diehe was
a second father. He became as good a friendas good a
masterand as good a manas the good old city knewor
any other good old citytownor boroughin the good old
world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him
but he let them laughand little heeded them; for he was
wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this
globefor goodat which some people did not have their fill
of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these
would be blind anywayhe thought it quite as well that they
should wrinkle up their eyes in grinsas have the malady in
less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was
quite enough for him.
He had no further intercourse with Spiritsbut lived upon
the Total Abstinence Principleever afterwards; and it was
always said of himthat he knew how to keep Christmas
wellif any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that
be truly said of usand all of us! And soas Tiny Tim
observedGod bless UsEvery One!