^, A<r CHRISTMAS ^AROL S
The immortal story ot
Scrooge and Tiny Tim
Printed in Great Britain
Nj, PUBLIC LIBRARY THE BRANCH LIBRARIES
3 3333 01781 1015
K CHRISTMAS CAROL
Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2008 with funding from
'IIuzv iioiv'^'' said Scrooge, caustic and cold as t'i'cr.
"What do you want with me?"
A CHRIST/^^S CAROL
PHILADELPHIA J. B. LIPPINCOTT Co
PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN
PROPERTY OF THE /• _, x^^
:^ . >> CITY OF mv YORK .' ^ " U8B7609
I have endeavoured in this Ghostly
little book to raise the Ghost of an
Idea which shall not put my
readers out of humour with them-
selves, with each other, with the
season, or with me. May it haunt
their house pleasantly, and no one
wish to lay it.
Their faithful Friend and Servant,
Bob Cratchlt, clerk to Ebenezer Scrooge.
Peter Cratchit a son of the preceding.
Tim Cratchit ("Tiny Tim"), a cripple, youngest son
of Bob Cratchit.
Mr. Fezziwig, a kind-hearted, jovial old merchant.
Fred, Scrooge's nephew.
Ghost of Christmas Past, a phantom showing things
Ghost of Christmas Present, a spirit of a kind, generous,
and hearty nature.
Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, an apparition show-
ing the shadows of things which yet may happen.
Ghost of Jacob Marley, a spectre of Scrooge's former
partner in business.
Joe, a marine-store dealer and receiver of stolen goods.
Ebenezer Scrooge, a grasping, covetous old man, the
surviving partner of the firm of Scrooge and
Mr. Topper, a bachelor.
Dick Wilkins, a fellow apprentice of Scrooge*s.
Belle, a comely matron, an old sweetheart of Scrooge's.
Caroline, wife of one of Scrooge's debtors.
Mrs. Cratchit, wife of Bob Cratchit.
Belinda and Martha Cratchit, daughters of the pre-
Mrs. Dilber, a laundress.
Fan, the sister of Scrooge.
Mrs. Fezziwig, the worthy partner of Mr. Fezziwig.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
TO FACE PAGE
" How now ? " said Scrooge, caustic
and cold as ever. " What do you
want with me ? " Frontispiece
Bob Cratchit went down a slide on
Cornhill, at the end of a lane of
boys, twenty times, in honour of
its being Christmas Eve i6
Nobody under the bed ; nobody in
the closet ; nobody in his dress-
ing-gown, which was hanging up
in a suspicious attitude against
the wall 20
The air was filled with phantoms,
wandering hither and thither in
restless haste and moaning as
they went 3^
Then old Fezziwig stood out to
dance with Mrs. Fezziwig 54
A flushed and boisterous group 62
Laden with Christmas toys and
The way he went after that plump
sister in the lace tucker ! 100
X LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
In Colour — continued
TO FACE PAGE
" How are you ? " said one.
" How are you ? " returned the other.
" Well ! " said the ^ first. " Old
Scratch has got his own at last,
" What do you call this ? " said Joe.
"Bed-curtains!" "Ah!" re-
turned the woman, laughing.
..." Bed-curtains ! "
" You don't mean to say you took
'em down, rings and all, with him
lying there ? " said Joe.
" Yes, I do," replied the woman.
"Why not?" 120
" It's I, your uncle Scrooge. I have
come to dinner. Will you let
me in, Fred ? " 144
" Now, I'll tell you what, my friend,"
said Scrooge. " I am not going
to stand this sort of thing any
longer " 146
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
IN BLACK AND WHITE
Tailpiece to List of Coloured Illustrations
Tailpiece to List of Black and White
Heading to Stave One
They were portly gentlemen,
On the wings of the wind
Tailpiece to Stave One
Heading to Stave Two
He produced a decanter of
light wine and a block of
She left him, and they parted
Tailpiece to Stave Two
Heading to Stave Three
There was nothing very cheerful in the
He had been Tim's blood-hors
e all the
way from church
With the pudding
Heading to Stave Four
Heading to Stave Five
Tailpiece to Stave Five
MARLEY was dead, to begin with. There is no
doubt whatever about that. The register of his
burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the
undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed
it. And Scrooge's name was good upon 'Change
for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old
Marley was as dead as a door-nail.
Mind ! I don't mean to say that I know of my own
knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a
door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to
regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery
4 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in
the simile ; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb
it, or the country's done for. You will, therefore,
permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was
as dead as a door-nail.
Scrooge knew he was dead? Of course he did.
How could it be otherwise ? Scrooge and he were
partners for I don't know how many years. Scrooge
was his sole executor, his sole administrator, his sole
assign, his sole residuary legatee, his sole friend, and
sole mourner. And even Scrooge was not so dread-
fully cut up by the sad event but that he was an
excellent man of business on the very day of the
funeral, and solemnised it with an undoubted
The mention of Marley's funeral brings me back to
the point I started from. There is no doubt that
Marley was dead. This must be distinctly understood,
or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going
to relate. If we were not perfectly convinced that
Hamlet's father died before the play began, there
would be nothing more remarkable in his taking a
stroll at night, in an easterly wind, upon his own
ramparts, than there would be in any other middle-
aged gentleman rashly turning out after dark in a
breezy spot — say St. Paul's Churchyard, for instance
— literally to astonish his son's weak mind.
MARLEY'S GHOST 5
Scrooge never painted out Old Marley's name.
There it stood, years afterwards, above the warehouse
door : Scrooge and Marley. The firm was known as
Scrooge and Marley. Sometimes people new to the
business called Scrooge Scrooge, and sometimes Marley,
but he answered to both names. It was all the same
Oh ! but he was a tight-fisted hand at the grind-
stone, Scrooge ! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping,
scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner ! Hard and
sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out
generous fire ; secret, and self-contained, and solitary
as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old
features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek,
stiffened his gait ; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue ;
and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty
rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his
wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always
about with him ; he iced his office in the dog-days, and
didn't thaw it one degree at Christmas.
External heat and cold had little influence on
Scrooge. No warmth could warm, no wintry weather
chill him. No wind that blew was bitterer than he,
no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose,
no pelting rain less open to entreaty. Foul weather
didn't know where to have him. The heaviest rain,
and snow, and hail, and sleet could boast of the advan-
6 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
tage over him in only one respect. They often * came
down ' handsomely, and Scrooge never did.
Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, with
gladsome looks, ' My dear Scrooge, how are you ?
When will you come to see me ? ' No beggars im-
plored him to bestow a trifle, no children asked him
what it was o'clock, no man or woman ever once in all
his life inquired the way to such and such a place, of
Scrooge. Even the blind men's dogs appeared to know
him ; and, when they saw him coming on, would tug
their owners into doorways and up courts ; and then
would wag their tails as though they said, ' No eye at
all is better than an evil eye, dark master ! '
But what did Scrooge care ? It was the very thing
he liked. To edge his way along the crowded paths of
life, warning all human sympathy to keep its distance,
was what the knowing ones call ' nuts ' to
Once upon a time — of all the good days in the year,
on Christmas Eve — old Scrooge sat busy in his counting-
house. It was cold, bleak, biting weather; foggy
withal; and he could hear the people in the court
outside go wheezing up and down, beating their hands
upon their breasts, and stamping their feet upon the
pavement stones to warm them. The City clocks had
only just gone three, but it was quite dark already — it
had not been light all day — and candles were flaring in
MARLEY'S GHOST 7
the windows of the neighbouring offices, like ruddy
smears upon the palpable brown air. The fog came
pouring in at every chink and keyhole, and was so
dense without, that, although the court was of the
narrowest, the houses opposite were mere phantoms.
To see the dingy cloud come drooping down, obscuring
everything, one might have thought that nature lived
hard by, and was brewing on a large scale.
The door of Scrooge's counting-house was open,
that he might keep his eye upon his clerk, who in a
dismal little cell beyond, a sort of tank, was copying
letters. Scrooge had a very small fire, but the clerk's
fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one
coal. But he couldn't replenish it, for Scrooge kept
the coal-box in his own room ; and so surely as the
clerk came in with the shovel, the master predicted
that it would be necessary for them to part. Where-
fore the clerk put on his white comforter, and tried to
warm himself at the candle; in which effort, not
being a man of strong imagination, he failed.
* A merry Christmas, uncle ! God save you ! ' cried
a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge's nephew,
who 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 frost, this nephew of Scrooge's, that he was all
8 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
in a glow ; his face was ruddy and handsome ; his
eyes sparkled, and his breath smoked again.
' Christmas a humbug, uncle ! ' said Scrooge's
nephew. ' You don't mean that, I 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.'
' Come, then,' 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 moment, said, ' Bah ! ' again ; and followed it up
with ' Humbug ! '
' Don't be cross, uncle ! ' 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 older, and 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 pudding, and buried with a stake of holly
through his heart. He should ! '
* Uncle ! ' pleaded the nephew.
MARLEY'S GHOST 9
* Nephew ! ' returned the uncle sternly, ' keep
Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in
' Keep it ! ' repeated Scrooge's nephew. ' But you
don't keep it.'
' Let me leave it alone, then,' said Scrooge. * Much
good may it do you ! Much good it has ever done
* There are many things from which I might have
derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,'
returned the nephew ; * Christmas among the rest.
But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas-
time, when it has come round — apart from the venera-
tion due to its sacred name and origin, if anything
belonging to it can be apart from that — as a good
time ; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time ; the
only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year,
when men and women seem by one consent to open
their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people
below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to
the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on
other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has
never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I
believe that it has done me good and will do me good ;
and I say, God bless it ! '
The clerk in the tank involuntarily applauded.
Becoming immediately sensible of the impropriety, he
lo A CHRISTMAS CAROL
poked the fire^ and extinguished the last frail spark for
* 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
added, turning to his nephew. ' I wonder you don't
go into ParUament.'
' Don't be angry, uncle. Come ! Dine with us to-
Scrooge said that he would see him Yes, indeed
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 Scrooge, as if
that were the only one thing in the world more
ridiculous than a merry Christmas. * Good afternoon! '
' Nay, uncle, but you never came to see me before
that happened. Why give it as a reason for not
coming now ? '
' 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 sorry, with all my heart, to find you so
resolute. We have never had any quarrel to which I
MARLEY'S GHOST ii
have been a party. But I have made the trial in
homage to Christmas, and I'll keep my Christmas
humour to the last. So A Merry Christmas, uncle 1 '
' 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 clerk, who,
cold as he was, was warmer than Scrooge ; for he
returned them cordially.
' There's another fellow,' muttered Scrooge, who
overheard him : ' my clerk, with fifteen shillings a
week, and a wife and family, talking about a merry
Christmas. I'll retire to Bedlam.'
This lunatic, in letting Scrooge's nephew out, had let
two other people in. They were portly gentlemen,
pleasant to behold, and now stood, with their hats off,
in Scrooge's office. They had books and papers in
their hands, and bowed to him.
' Scrooge and Marley's, I believe,' said one of the
gentlemen, referring to his list. * Have I the pleasure
of addressing Mr. Scrooge, or Mr. Marley ? '
' Mr. Marley has been dead these seven years,*
Scrooge replied. ' He died seven years ago, this very
' We have no doubt his liberality is well represented
12 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
by his surviving partner/ said the gentleman, present-
ing his credentials.
It certainly was ; for they had been two kindred
spirits. At the ominous word ' liberality ' Scrooge
THEY WERE PORTLY GENTLEMEN, PLEASANT TO BEHOLD
frowned, and shook his head, and handed the credentials
* At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,'
said the gentleman, taking up a pen, * it is more than
usually desirable that we should make some slight
MARLEY'S GHOST 13
provision for the poor and destitute, who suffer greatly
at the present time. Many thousands are in want of
common necessaries ; hundreds of thousands are in
want of common comforts, sir.'
' Are there no prisons ? ' asked Scrooge.
' Plenty of prisons,' said the gentleman, laying 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 busy, sir.'
' Oh ! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that
something had occurred to stop them in their useful
course,' said Scrooge. ' I am very glad to hear it.'
' 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 time, because
it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt,
and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down
' Nothing ! ' Scrooge replied.
* You wish to be anonymous ? '
14 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
' I wish to be left alone,' said Scrooge. ' Since you
ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that 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
' If they would rather die,' said Scrooge, ' they had
better do it, and 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 business, and
not to interfere with other people's. Mine occupies me
constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen ! '
Seeing clearly that it would be useless to pursue
their point, the gentlemen withdrew. Scrooge re-
sumed his labours with an improved opinion of himself,
and in a more facetious temper than was usual with
Meanwhile the fog and darkness thickened so, that
people ran about with flaring links, proffering their
services to go before horses in carriages, and 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 wall, became
MARLEY'S GHOST 15
invisible, and struck the hours and quarters in the
clouds, with 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 court, some labourers were repairing the gas-
pipes, and 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 solitude,
its overflowings suddenly congealed, and turned to
misanthropic ice. The brightness of the shops, where
holly sprigs and berries crackled in the lamp heat of
the windows, made 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 Mayor, in the strong-
hold of the mighty Mansion House, gave orders to his
fifty cooks and butlers to keep Christmas as a Lord
Mayor's household should ; and even the little tailor,
whom he had fined five shillings on the previous
Monday for being drunk and bloodthirsty in the
streets, stirred up to-morrow's pudding in his garret,
while his lean wife and the baby sallied out to buy the
Foggier yet, and colder ! Piercing, searching, biting
cold. If the good St. Dunstan had but nipped the
i6 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Evil Spirit's nose with a touch of such weather as that,
instead of using his famiUar weapons, then indeed he
would have roared to lusty purpose. The owner of one
scant young nose, gnawed and mumbled by the hungry
cold as bones are gnawed by dogs, stooped down at
Scrooge's keyhole to regale him with a Christmas
carol ; but, at the first sound of
' God bless you, merry gentleman,
May nothing you dismay 1 *
Scrooge seized the ruler with such energy of action
that the singer fled in terror, leaving the keyhole to
the fog, and even more congenial frost.
At length the hour of shutting up the counting-
house arrived. With an ill-will Scrooge dismounted
from his stool, and tacitly admitted the fact to the
expectant clerk in the tank, who instantly snuffed his
candle out, and put on his hat.
' You'll want all day to-morrow, I suppose ? ' said
' If quite convenient, sir.'
' It's not convenient,' said Scrooge, ' and it's not
fair. If I was to stop half-a-crown for it, you'd think
yourself ill used, I'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.'
Bob CratcJiit went dozvn a slide on CornhiU, at the end of a lane
of boys, twenty times, in honour of its being Christmas Eve
MARLEY'S GHOST 17
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 Scrooge, buttoning
his greatcoat 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
twinkling, and the clerk, with the long ends of his
white comforter dangling below his waist (for he
boasted no greatcoat), went down a slide on Cornhill,
at the end of a lane of boys, twenty times, in honour
of its being Christmas Eve, and then ran home to
Camden Town as hard as he could pelt, to play at
Scrooge took his melancholy dinner in his usual
melancholy tavern; and having read all the news-
papers, and beguiled the rest of the evening with his
banker's book, went home to bed. He lived in
chambers which had once belonged to his deceased
partner. They were a gloomy suite of rooms, in a
lowering pile of building up a yard, where it had so
little business to be, that one could scarcely help
fancying it must have run there when it was a young
house, playing at hide-and-seek with other houses, and
have forgotten the way out again. It was old enough
now, and dreary enough ; for nobody lived in it but
i8 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Scrooge, the other rooms being all let out as offices.
The yard was so dark that even Scrooge, who knew its
every stone, was fain to grope with his hands. The
fog and frost so hung about the black old gateway
of the house, that it seemed as if the Genius of the
Weather sat in mournful meditation on the threshold.
Now, it is a fact that there was nothing at all
particular about the knocker on the door, except that
it was very large. It is also a fact that Scrooge had
seen it, night and morning, during 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
London, even including — which is a bold word — the
corporation, aldermen, and livery. Let it also be
borne in mind that Scrooge had not bestowed one
thought on Marley since his last mention of his seven-
years'-dead partner that afternoon. And then let any
man explain to me, if he can, how it happened that
Scrooge, having his key in the lock of the door, saw
in the knocker, without its undergoing any intermediate
process of change — not a knocker, but Marley's face.
Marley's face. It was not in impenetrable shadow-
as the other objects in the yard were, but had a dismal
light about it, like a bad lobster in a dark cellar. It
was not angry or ferocious, but looked at Scrooge as
Marley used to look ; with ghostly spectacles turned
up on its ghostly forehead. The hair was curiously
MARLEY'S GHOST 19
stirred, as if by breath or hot air ; and, though the
eyes were wide open, they were perfectly motionless.
That, and its livid colour, made it horrible ; but its
horror seemed to be in spite of the face, and beyond its
control, rather than a part of its own expression.
As Scrooge looked fixedly at this phenomenon, it
was a knocker again.
To say that he was not startled, or that his blood was
not conscious of a terrible sensation to which it had
been a stranger from infancy, would be untrue. But
he put his hand upon the key he had relinquished,
turned it sturdily, walked in, and lighted his candle.
He did pause, with a moment's irresolution, before
he shut the door ; and he did look cautiously behind
it first, as if he half expected to be terrified with the
sight of Marley's pigtail sticking out into the hall.
But there was nothing on the back of the door, except
the screws and nuts that held the knocker on, so he
said, * Pooh, pooh ! ' and closed it with a bang.
The sound resounded through the house like thunder.
Every room above, and every cask in the wine-
merchant's cellars below, appeared to have a separate
peal of echoes of its own. Scrooge was not a man to
be frightened by echoes. He fastened the door, and
walked across the hall, and up the stairs : slowly, too :
trimming his candle as he went.
You may talk vaguely about driving a coach and six
20 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
up a good old flight of stairs, or through a bad young
Act of ParUament ; but I mean to say you might have
got a hearse up that staircase, and taken it broadwise,
with the spHnter-bar towards the wall, and the door
towards the balustrades : and done it easy. There
was plenty of width for that, and room to spare ; which
is perhaps the reason why Scrooge thought he saw a
locomotive hearse going on before him in the gloom.
Half-a-dozen gas-lamps out of the street wouldn't have
lighted the entry too well, so you may suppose that it
was pretty dark with Scrooge's dip.
Up Scrooge went, not caring a button for that.
Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it. But, before
he shut his heavy door, he walked through his rooms
to see that all was right. He had just enough re-
collection of the face to desire to do that.
Sitting-room, bedroom, lumber-room. All as they
should be. Nobody under the table, nobody under the
sofa ; a small fire in the grate ; spoon and basin
ready ; and the little saucepan of gruel (Scrooge had a
cold in his head) upon the hob. Nobody under the
bed ; nobody in the closet ; nobody in his dressing-
gown, which was hanging up in a suspicious attitude
against the wall. Lumber-room as usual. Old fire-
guard, old shoes, two fish baskets, washing-stand on
three legs, and a poker.
Quite satisfied, he closed his door, and locked himself
"v>>«r-y x;iicN»-«p— ' ^''^ ^ '- - .. -,,.
Nobody under the bed ; nobody in the closet ; nobody in his dressing-
gow7t, zvhich was hanging up in a suspicious attitude against the wall
MARLEY'S GHOST 21
in ; double locked himself in, which was not his
custom. Thus secured against surprise, he took off his
cravat; put on his dressing-gown and sUppers, and
his nightcap ; and sat down before the fire to take his
It was a very low fire indeed ; nothing on such a
bitter night. He was obliged to sit close to it, and
brood over it, before he could extract the least sensation
of warmth from such a handful of fuel. The fire-
place was an old one, built by some Dutch merchant
long ago, and paved all round with quaint Dutch tiles,
designed to illustrate the Scriptures. There were
Cains and Abels, Pharaoh's daughters. Queens of
Sheba, Angelic messengers descending through the
air on clouds like feather-beds, Abrahams, Belshazzars,
Apostles putting off to sea in butter-boats, hundreds of
figures to attract his thoughts ; and yet that face of
Marley, seven years dead, came like the ancient
Prophet's rod, and 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 thoughts, there would have been a
copy of old Marley's head on every one.
* Humbug ! ' said Scrooge ; and walked across the
After several turns he sat down again. As he threw
his head back in the chair, his glance happened to rest
22 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
upon a bell, a disused bell, that hung in the room, and
communicated, for some purpose now forgotten, with a
chamber in the highest storey of the building. It was
with great astonishment, and with a strange, inex-
plicable dread, that, as he looked, he saw this bell begin
to swing. It swung so softly in the outset that it
scarcely made a sound ; but soon it rang out loudly,
and so did every bell in the house.
This might have lasted half a minute, or a minute,
but it seemed an hour. The bells ceased, as they had
begun, together. They were succeeded by a clanking
noise deep down below as if some person were drag-
ging 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
The cellar door flew open with a booming sound, and
then he heard the noise much louder on the floors
below ; then coming up the stairs ; then coming
straight towards his door.
' It's humbug still ! ' said Scrooge. ' I won't believe
His colour changed, though, when, without a pause,
it came on through the heavy door and passed into the
room before his eyes. Upon its coming in^, the dying
flame leaped up, as though it cried, * i know him !
Mafley's Ghost ! ' and fell again.
MARLEY'S GHOST 23
The same face : the very same. Marley in his pig-
tail, usual waistcoat, tights, and boots; the tassels on
the latter bristling, like his pigtail, and his coat-skirts,
and the hair upon his head. The chain he drew was
clasped about his middle. It was long, and wound
about him like a tail ; and it was made (for Scrooge
observed it closely) of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks,
ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel. His
body was transparent : so that Scrooge, observing
him, and looking through his waistcoat, could see the
two buttons on his coat behind.
Scrooge had often heard it said that Marley had no
bowels, but he had never believed it until now.
No, nor did he believe it even now. Though he
looked the phantom through and through, and saw it
standing before him ; though he felt the chilling
influence of its death-cold dyes, and marked the very
texture of the folded kerchief bound about its head
and chin, which wrapper he had not observed before,
he was still incredulous, and fought against his senses.
* How now ! ' said Scrooge, caustic and cold as ever.
' What do you want with me ? *
* Much ! * — Marley*s voice ; no doubt about it.
* Who are you ? '
* Ask me who I was.^
* Who were you, then ? ' said Scrooge, raising his
foice. * You're particular, for a shade.' He was
24 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
going to say ' to a shade/ but substituted this, as more
' In life I v/as your partner, Jacob Marley.'
' Can you — can you sit down ? ' asked Scrooge,
looking doubtfully at him.
' I can.'
*^ Do it, then.'
Scrooge asked the question, because he didn't know
iv^hether a ghost so transparent' might find himself in a
condition to take a chair ; and felt that in the event of
its being impossible, it might involve the necessity of
an embarrassing explanation. But the Ghost sat down
on the opposite side of the fireplace, as 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 your own senses ? '
* I don't know,' said Scrooge.
' Why do you doubt your senses ? '
* Because,' said Scrooge, ' a little thing aflfects them.
A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats.
You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard,
a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato.
There's more of gravy than of grave about you, what-
ever you are ! '
Scrooge was not much in the habit of cracking jokes.
MARLEY'S GHOST 25
nor did he feel in his heart by any means waggish then.
The truth is, that he tried to be smart, as 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 sit staring at those fixed, glazed eyes in silence,
for a moment, would play, Scrooge felt, the very deuce
with him. There was something very awful, too, in
the spectre's being provided with an infernal atmo-
sphere of his own. Scrooge could not feel it himself,
but this was clearly the case ; for though the Ghost sat
perfectly motionless, its hair, and skirts, and tassels
were still agitated as by the hot vapour from an
' You see this toothpick ? ' said Scrooge, returning
quickly to the charge, for the reason just assigned ;
and wishing, though it were only for a second, to
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
this, and be for the rest of my days persecuted by a
legion of goblins, all of my own creation. Humbug,
I tell you : humbug ! '
At this the spirit raised a frightful cry, and shook
its chain with such a dismal and appalling noise, that
26 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Scrooge held on tight to his chair, to save himself from
falling in a swoon. But how much greater was his
horror when the phantom, taking off the bandage
round his head, as if it were too warm to wear indoors,
its lower jaw dropped down upon its breast !
Scrooge fell upon his knees, and clasped his hands
before his face.
' Mercy ! ' he said. * Dreadful apparition, why 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 earth, and 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 fellow-men, and travel far and wide ; and, if that
spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do
so after death. It is doomed to wander through the
world — oh, woe is me ! — and witness what it cannot
share, but might have shared on earth, and turned
to happiness ! '
Again the spectre raised a cry, and shook its chain
and wrung its shadowy hands.
' You are fettered,' said Scrooge, trembling. ' Tell
me why ? '
' I wear the chain I forged in life,' replied the Ghost.
' I made it link by link, and yard by yard ; I girded it
MARLEY'S GHOST 27
on of my own free will, and 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 your-
self ? It was full as heavy and as long as this seven
Christmas Eves ago. You have laboured on it since.
It is a ponderous chain ! '
Scrooge glanced about him on the floor, in the ex-
pectation of finding himself surrounded by some fifty or
sixty fathoms of iron cable ; but he could see nothing.
' Jacob ! ' he said imploringly. ' Old Jacob Marley,
tell me more ! Speak comfort to me, Jacob ! '
' I have none to give,' the Ghost replied. ' It comes
from other regions, Ebenezer Scrooge, and is conveyed
by other ministers, to other kinds of men. Nor can I
tell you what I would. A very little more is all per-
mitted to me. I cannot rest, I cannot stay, I 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 me ! '
It was a habit with Scrooge, whenever he became
thoughtful, to put his hands in his breeches pockets.
Pondering on what the Ghost had said, he did so now,
but without lifting up his eyes, or getting off his
ON THE WINGS OF THE WIND
' You must have been very slow about it, Jacob/
Scrooge observed in a business-like manner, though
with humility and deference.
* Slow ! ' the Ghost repeated.
* Seven years dead/ mused Scrooge,
ling all the time ? '
* The whole time,' said the Ghost,
peace. Incessant torture of remorse.'
* You travel fast ? ' said Scrooge.
' On the wings of
the wind/ replied the
*No rest, no
30 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
' You might have got over a great quantity of
ground in seven years,' said Scrooge.
The Ghost, on hearing this, set up another cry,
and clanked its chain so hideously in the dead silence
of the night, that the Ward would have been justified
in indicting it for a nuisance.
' Oh ! captive, bound, and double-ironed,' cried the
phantom, ' not to know that ages of incessant labour,
by immortal creatures, for 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 sphere, whatever it may be,
will 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 opportunities misused !
Yet such was I ! Oh, such was I ! '
' But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,'
faltered Scrooge, who nowbegan to apply this to himself.
' Business ! ' cried the Ghost, wringing its hands
again. ' Mankind was my business. The common
welfare was my business ; charity, mercy, forbearance,
and benevolence were, all, my business. The dealings
of my trade were but a drop of water in the compre-
hensive ocean of my business ! '
It held up its chain at arm's-length, as if that were
the cause of all its unavailing grief, and flung it heavily
upon the ground again.
MARLEY'S GHOST 31
* At this time of the roUing year,' the spectre said,
' I suffer most. Why did I walk through crowds of
fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never
raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men
to a poor abode ? Were there no poor homes to which
its light would have conducted me ? '
Scrooge was very much dismayed to hear the
spectre going on at this rate, and began to quake
' Hear me ! ' cried the Ghost. ' My time is nearly gone.-
' I will,' said Scrooge. ' But don't be hard upon me !
Don't be flowery, Jacob ! Pray ! '
' How it is that I appear before you in a shape that
you can see, I 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 you that you have
yet a chance and hope of escaping my fate. A chance
and hope of my procuring, Ebenezer.'
' You were always a good friend to me,' said Scrooge.
' Thankee ! '
' You will be haunted,' resumed the Ghost, ' by
Scrooge's countenance fell almost as low as the
Ghost's had done.
32 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
' Is that the chance and hope you mentioned.
Jacob ? ' he demanded in a fahering voice.
' It is.'
* 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 to-
morrow when the bell tolls One.'
' Couldn't I take 'em all at once, and 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 that, for your own sake, you
remember what has passed between us ! '
When it had said these words, the spectre took its
wrapper from the table, and bound it round its head as
before. Scrooge knew this by the smart sound its
teeth made when 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 attitude, with its chain wound over and about its
The apparition walked backward from him; and,
at every step it took, the window raised itself a little,
so that, when the spectre reached it, it was wide open.
It beckoned Scrooge to approach, which he did.
When they were within two paces of each other.
The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither in
restless haste and moaning as they went
MARLEY'S GHOST 33
Marley's Ghost held up its hand, warning him to come
no nearer. Scrooge stopped.
Not so much in obedience as in surprise and fear ;
for, on the raising of the hand, he became sensible of
confused noises in the air ; incoherent sounds of
lamentation and regret ; wailings inexpressibly sorrow-
ful and self-accusatory. The spectre, after listening
for a moment, joined in the mournful dirge; and
floated out upon the bleak, dark night.
Scrooge followed to the window : desperate in his
curiosity. He looked out.
The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither
and thither in restless haste, and 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 ghost in a white
waistcoat, with a monstrous iron safe attached to its
ankle, who cried piteously at being unable to assist
a wretched woman with an infant, whom it saw
below upon a doorstep. The misery with them
all was clearly, that they sought to interfere, for
good, in human matters, and had lost the power for
Whether these creatures faded into mist, or mist
enshrouded them, he could not tell. But they and
34 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
their spirit voices faded together ; and the night
became as it had been when he walked home.
Scrooge closed the window, and examined the door
by which the Ghost had entered. It was double
locked, as he had locked it with his own hands, and the
bolts were undisturbed. He tried to say ' Humbug ! '
but stopped at the first syllable. And being, from the
emotions he had undergone, or the fatigues of the day,
or his glimpse of the Invisible World, or the dull
conversation of the Ghost, or the lateness of the hour,
much in need of repose, went straight to bed without
undressing, and fell asleep upon the instant.
THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS
WHEN Scrooge awoke it was so dark, that, 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 eyes, when the chimes of a neighbour-
ing church struck the four quarters. So he listened
for the hour.
To his great astonishment, the heavy bell went on
from six to seven, and from seven to eight, and regu-
larly up to twelve ; then stopped. Twelve ! It was
past two when he went to bed. The clock was v^ong.
An icicle must have got into the works. Twelve !
He touched the spring of his repeater, to correct this
most preposterous clock. Its rapid little pulse beat
twelve, and stopped.
38 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
' Why, it 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 sun, and this is twelve at noon ! '
The idea being an alarming one, he scrambled out of
bed, and groped his way to the window. He was
obliged to rub the frost off with the sleeve of his dress-
ing-gown before he could see anything ; and could see
very little then. All he could make out was, that it
was still very foggy and extremely cold, and that there
was no noise of people running to and fro, and making
a great stir, as there unquestionably would have been
if night had beaten off bright day, and taken possession
of the world. This was a great relief, because ' Three
days after sight of this First of Exchange pay to Mr.
Ebenezer Scrooge or 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, and pre-
THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS 39
sented 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 more, when he remembered, on a
sudden, that the Ghost had warned him of a visitation
when the bell tolled one. He resolved to lie awake
until the hour was passed ; and, considering that he
could no more go to sleep than go to heaven, this was,
perhaps, the wisest resolution in his power.
The quarter was so long, that he was more than once
convinced he must have sunk into a doze unconsciously,
and missed the clock. At length it broke upon his
' Ding, dong ! '
' A quarter past,' said Scrooge, counting.
' Ding, dong ! '
' Half past,' said Scrooge.
' Ding, dong ! '
* A quarter to it,' said Scrooge.
* Ding, dong ! '
* The hour itself,' said Scrooge triumphantly, * and
nothing else ! '
He spoke before the hour bell sounded, which it now
did with a deep, dull, hollow, melancholy One. Light
flashed up in the room upon the ins'iant, and the
curtains of his bed were drawn.
The curtains of his bed were drawn aside, I tell you,
40 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
by a hand. Not the curtains at his feet, nor the
curtains at his back, but those to which his face was
addressed. The curtains of his bed were drawn aside ;
and Scrooge, starting up into a half-recumbent atti-
tude, found himself face to face with the unearthly
visitor who drew them : as close to it as I am now to
you, and 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 man, viewed through some super-
natural medium, which gave him the appearance of
having receded from the view, and being diminished
to a child's proportions. Its hair, which hung about
its neck and down its back, was white, as if with age ;
and yet the face had not a v/rinkle in it, and the
tenderest bloom was on the skin. The arms were very
long and muscular ; the hands the same, as if its hold
were of uncommon strength. Its legs and feet, most
deHcately formed, were, like those upper members,
bare. It wore a tunic of the purest white ; and round
its waist was bound a lustrous belt, the sheen of which
was beautiful. It held a branch of fresh green holly
in its hand ; and, in singular contradiction of that
wintry emblem, had its dress trimmed with summer
flowers. But the strangest thing about it was, that
from the crown of its head there sprang a bright clear
jet of light, by which all this was visible ; and which
was doubtless the occasion of its using, in its duller
THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS 41
moments, a great extinguisher for a cap, which it now
held under its arm.
Even this, though, when Scrooge looked at it with
increasing steadiness, was not its strangest quality.
For, as its belt sparkled and glittered, now in one part
and now in another, and what was light one instant at
another time was dark, so the figure itself fluctuated in
its distinctness ; being now a thing with one arm, now
with one leg, now with twenty legs, now a pair of legs
without a head, now a head without a body : of which
dissolving parts no outline would be visible in the
dense gloom wherein they melted away. And, in the
very wonder of this, it would be itself again ; distinct
and clear as ever.
' Are you the Spirit, sir, whose coming was foretold
to me ? ' asked Scrooge.
* I am ! '
The voice was soft and gentle. Singularly low, as
if, instead of being so close behind him, it were at
' Who and what are you ? ' Scrooge demanded.
' I am the Ghost of Christmas Past.'
' Long Past ? ' inquired Scrooge, observant of its
* No. Your past.'
Perhaps Scrooge could not have told anybody why,
if anybody could have asked him ; but he had a special
42 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
desire to see the Spirit in his cap, and begged him to
* What ! ' exclaimed the Ghost, ' would you so soon
put out, with worldly hands, the light I give ? Is
it not enough that you are one of those whose passions
made this cap, and force me through whole trains of
years to wear it low upon my brow ? '
Scrooge reverently disclaimed all intention to offend
or any knowledge of having wilfully ' bonneted ' the
Spirit at any period of his life. He then made bold to
inquire what business brought him there.
* Your welfare ! ' said the Ghost.
Scrooge expressed himself much obliged, but could
not help thinking that a night of unbroken rest would
have been more conducive to that end. The Spirit
must have heard him thinking, for it said imme-
' Your reclamation, then. Take heed ! '
It put out its strong hand as it spoke, and clasped
him gently by the arm.
' Rise ! and walk with me ! '
It would have been in vain for Scrooge to plead that
the weather and the hour were not adapted to pedes-
trian purposes ; that bed was warm, and the ther-
mometer a long way below freezing ; that he was clad
but lightly in his slippers, dressing-gown, and night-
cap ; and that he had a cold upon him at that time. The
THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS 43
grasp, though gentle as a woman's hand, was not to
be resisted. He rose ; but, finding that the Spirit
made towards the window, clasped its robe in sup-
' I am a mortal,' Scrooge remonstrated, ' and liable
' Bear but a touch of my hand there,'' said the Spirit,
laying it upon his heart, ' and you shall be upheld in
more than this ! '
As the words were spoken, they passed through the
wall, and stood upon an open country road, with fields
on either hand. The city had entirely vanished. Not
a vestige of it was to be seen. The darkness and the
mist had vanished with it, for it was a clear, cold,
winter day, with snow upon the ground.
' Good Heaven ! ' said Scrooge, clasping his hands
together, as he looked about him. ' I was bred in this
place. I was a boy here ! '
The Spirit gazed upon him mildly. Its gentle touch,
though it had been light and instantaneous, appeared
still present to the old man's sense of feeling. He was
conscious of a thousand odours floating in the air, each
one connected with a thousand thoughts, and hopes,
and joys, and cares long, long forgotten !
' Your lip is trembling,' said the Ghost. * And what
is that upon your cheek ? '
Scrooge muttered, with an unusual catching in his
44 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
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 road, Scrooge recognising
every gate, and post, and tree, until a little market-
town appeared in the distance, with its bridge, its
church, and winding river. Some shaggy ponies now
were seen trotting towards them with boys upon their
backs, who called to other boys in country gigs and
cans, driven by farmers. All these boys were in great
spirits, and shouted to each other, until the broad fields
were so full of merry music, that 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
The jocund travellers came on ; and as they came,
Scrooge knew and named them every one. Why was
he rejoiced beyond all bounds to see them ? Why did
his cold eye gHsten, and his heart leap up as they went
past ? Why was he filled with gladness when he heard
them give each other Merry Christmas, as they parted
at cross-roads and by-ways for their several homes ?
THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS 45
What was merry Christmas to Scrooge ? Out upon
merry Christmas ! What good had it ever done to him ?
* The school is not quite deserted,' said the Ghost.
* A sohtary child, neglected by his friends, is left there
Scrooge said he knew it. And he sobbed.
They left the high-road by a well-remembered lane
and soon approached a mansion of dull red brick, with
a little weather-cock surmounted cupola on the roof,
and a bell hanging in it. It was a large house, but one
of broken fortunes ; for the spacious offices were little
used, their walls were damp and mossy, their windows
broken, and their gates decayed. Fowls clucked and
strutted in the stables ; and the coach-houses and sheds
were overrun with grass. Nor was it more retentive
of its ancient state within ; for, entering the dreary
hall, and glancing through the open doors of many
rooms, they found them poorly furnished, cold, and
vast. There was an earthy savour in the air, a chilly
bareness in the place, which associated itself somehow
with too much getting up by candle light and not too
much to eat.
They went, the Ghost and Scrooge, across the hall, to
a door at the back of the house. It opened before them,
and disclosed a long, bare, melancholy room, made
barer still by lines of plain deal forms and desks. At
one of these a lonely boy was reading near a feeble fire ;
46 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
and Scrooge sat down upon a form, and wept to see his
poor forgotten self as he had used to be.
Not a latent echo in the house, not a squeak and
scuffle from the mice behind the panelling, not a drip
from the half-thawed waterspout in the dull yard
behind, not a sigh among the leafless boughs of one
despondent poplar, not the idle swinging of an empty
storehouse door, no, not a clicking in the fire, but fell
upon the heart of Scrooge with softening influence, and
gave a freer passage to his tears.
The Spirit touched him on the arm, and pointed to
his younger self, intent upon his reading. Suddenly a
man in foreign garments, wonderfully real and distinct
to look at, stood outside the window, with an axe stuck in
his belt, and leading by the bridle an ass laden with wood.
' Why, it's Ali Baba ! ' Scrooge exclaimed in ecstasy.
' It's dear old honest Ali Baba ! Yes, yes, I know.
One Christmas-time, when yonder solitary child was
left here all alone, he did come, for the first time, just
like that. Poor boy ! And Valentine,' said Scrooge,
* and his wild brother, Orson ; there they go ! And
what's his name, who was put down in his drawers,
asleep, at 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 ? '
THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS 47
To hear Scrooge expending all the earnestness of his
nature on such subjects, in 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 the City, indeed.
' There's the Parrot ! ' cried Scrooge. ' Green body
ar,d yellow tail, with a thing like a lettuce growing out
of the top of his head ; there he is ! Poor Robin Crusoe
he called him, when he came home again after sailing
round the island. " Poor Robin Crusoe, where have
you been, Robin Crusoe ? " The man thought he was
dreaming, but he wasn't. It was the Parrot, you
know. There goes Friday, running for his life to the
Httle creek ! Halloa ! Hoop ! Halloo ! '
Then, with a rapidity of transition very foreign to his
usual character, he said, in pity for his former self,
' Poor boy ! ' and cried again.
' I wish,' Scrooge muttered, putting his hand in his
pocket, and looking about him, after 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
The Ghost smiled thoughtfully, and waved its hand,
saying as it did so, ' Let us see another Christmas ! '
48 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Scrooge's former self grew larger at the words, and
the room became a little darker and more dirty. The
panels shrunk, the windows cracked; fragments of
plaster fell out of the ceiling, and the naked laths were
shown instead; but how all this was brought about
Scrooge knew no more than you do. He only knew
that it was quite correct ; that everything had happened
so ; that there he was, alone again, when all the other
boys had gone home for the jolly hoHdays.
He was not reading now, but walking up and down
despairingly. Scrooge looked at the Ghost, and, with
a mournful shaking of his head, glanced anxiously
towards the door.
It opened ; and a little girl, much younger than the
boy, came darting in, and, putting her arms about his
neck, and often kissing him, addressed him as her
* dear, dear brother.'
' I have come to bring you home, dear brother ! ' said
the child, clapping her tiny hands, and bending down
to laugh. ' To bring you home, home, home ! '
' Home, little Fan ? ' returned the boy.
' Yes ! ' said the child, brimful of glee. ' Home for
good and all. Home for ever and ever. Father is so
much kinder than he used to be, that home's like
heaven ! He spoke so gently to me one dear night
when I was going to bed, that I was not afraid to ask
him once more if you might come home ; and he said
THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS 49
Yes, you 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 first
we're to be together all the Christmas long, and have
the merriest time in all the world.'
'You are quite a woman, little Fan ! 'exclaimed the boy.
She clapped her hands and laughed, and tried to
touch his head; but, being too little laughed again,
and stood on tiptoe to embrace him. Then she began
to drag him, in her childish eagerness, towards the
door ; and he, nothing loath to go, accompanied her.
A terrible voice in the hall cried, ' Bring down
Master Scrooge's box, there ! ' and in the hall appeared
the schoolmaster himself, who glared on Master
Scrooge with a ferocious condescension, and 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 seen, where the maps upon the wall, and the
celestial and terrestrial globes in the windows, were
waxy -vith cold. Here he produced a decanter of
curiously light wine, and a block of curiously heavy
cake, and 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
postboy, who answered that he thanked the gentleman,
but, if it was the same tap as he had tasted before, he
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
had rather not. Master Scrooge's trunk being by this
time tied on to the top of the chaise, the children bade
the schoolmaster good-bye right willingly; and.
HE PRODUCED A DECANTER OF CURIOUSLY LIGHT WINE, AND A BLOCK
OF CURIOUSLY HEAVY CAKE
getting into it, drove gaily down the garden sweep ;
the quick wheels dashing the hoar-frost and snow from
off the dark leaves of the evergreens like spray.
* Always a delicate creature, whom a breath might
THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS 51
have withered/ said the Ghost. ' But she had a large
heart ! '
* So she had/ cried Scrooge. * You're right. I will
not gainsay it. Spirit. God forbid ! '
' She died a woman/ said the Ghost, * and had, as
I think, children.'
* One child,' Scrooge returned.
* True,' said the Ghost. ' Your nephew ! '
Scrooge seemed uneasy in his mind, and answered
briefly, ' Yes.'
Although they had but that moment left the school
behind them, they were now in the busy thoroughfares
of a city, where shadowy passengers passed and re-
passed ; where shadowy carts and coaches battled for
the way, and all the strife and tumult of a real city
were. It was made plain enough, by the dressing of
the shops, that here, too, it was Christmas-time
again; but it was evening, and the streets were lighted up.
The Ghost stopped at a certain warehouse door, and
asked Scrooge if he knew it.
' Know it ! ' said Scrooge. ' Was I apprenticed
here ? '
They went in. At sight of an old gentleman in a
Welsh wig, sitting behind such a high desk, that if he
had been two inches taller, he must have knocked his
head against the ceiling, Scrooge cried in great
52 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
' Why, it's old Fezziwig ! Bless his heart, it's
Fezziwig alive again ! '
Old Fezziwig laid down his pen, and looked up at
the clock, which pointed to the hour of seven. He
rubbed his hands ; adjusted his capacious waistcoat ;
laughed all over himself, from his shoes to his organ of
benevolence ; and called out, in a comfortable, oily,
rich, fat, jovial voice —
' Yo ho, there ! Ebenezer ! Dick ! '
Scrooge's former self, now grown a young man,
came briskly in, accompanied by his fellow- 'prentice.
' Dick Wilkins, to be sure ! ' said Scrooge to the
Ghost. ' Bless me, yes. There he is. He was very
much attached to me, was Dick. Poor Dick ! Dear,
dear ! '
' Yo ho, my boys ! ' said Fezziwig. * No more work
to-night. Christmas Eve, Dick. Christmas, Ebenezer!
Let's have the shutters up,' cried old Fezziwig, with 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 —
one, two, three — had 'em up in their places — four, five,
six — barred 'em and pinned 'em — seven, eight, nine —
and came back before you could have got to twelve,
panting like racehorses.
* Hilli-ho ! ' cried old Fezziwig, skipping down from
THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS 53
the high desk with wonderful agility. ' Clear away,
my lads, and let's have lots of room here ! Hilli-ho,
Dick ! Chirrup, Ebenezer ! '
Clear away ! There was nothing they wouldn't
have cleared away, or couldn't have cleared away, with
old Fezziwig looking on. It was done in a minute.
Every movable was packed off, as if it were dismissed
from public life for evermore ; the floor was swept
and watered, the lamps were trimmed, fuel was heaped
upon the fire ; and the warehouse was as snug, and
warm, and dry, and bright a ball-room as you would
desire to see upon a winter's night.
In came a fiddler with a music-book, and went up to
the lofty desk, and made an orchestra of it, and tuned
like fifty stomach-aches. In came Mrs. Fezziwig,
one vast substantial smile. In came the three Miss
Fezziwigs, beaming 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 housemaid, with her cousin the baker.
In came the cook with her brother's particular friend
the milkman. In came the boy from over the way,
who was suspected of not having board enough from
his master; trying to hide himself behind the girl
from next door but one, who was proved to have had
her ears pulled by her mistress. In they all came, one
after another ; some shyly, some boldly, some grace-
54 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
fully, some awkwardly, some pushing, some pulling ;
in they all came, any how and every how. Away they
all went, twenty couple at once ; hands half round
and back agair 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
again as soon as they got there ; all top couples at
last, and not a bottom one to help them ! When
this result was brought about, old Fezziwig, clapping
his hands to stop the dance, cried out, ' Well done ! '
and the fiddler plunged his hot face into a pot of porter,
especially provided for that purpose. But, scorning
rest upon his reappearance, he instantly began again,
though there were no dancers yet, as if the other
fiddler had been carried home, exhausted, on a shutter,
and he were a bran-new man resolved to beat him out
of sight, or perish.
There were more dances, and there were forfeits, and
more dances, and there was cake, and there was negus,
and there was a great piece of Cold Roast, and there
was a great piece of Cold Boiled, and there were mince-
pies, and plenty of beer. But the great effect of the
evening can.e after the Roast and Boiled, when the
fiddler (an artful dog, mind ! The sort of man who
knew his business better than you or I could have told
it him !) struck up ' Sir Roger de Coverley.' Then old
Then old Fezzizvig stood out to dance with Mrs. Fezzizvig
THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS 55
Fezziwig stood out to dance with Mrs. Fezziwig. Top
couple, too ; 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 dance, and had no notion of walking.
But if they had been twice as many — ah ! four times
— old Fezziwig would have been a match for them, and
so would Mrs. Fezziwig. As to her^ she was worthy to
be his partner in every sense of the term. If that's not
high praise, tell me higher, and 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 predicted, at any given time, what would
become of them next. And when old Fezziwig and
Mrs. Fezziwig had gone all through the dance ; advance
and retire, both hands to your partner, bow and
curtsy, cork-screw, thread-the-needle, and back again
to your place : Fezziwig ' cut ' — cut so deftly, that he
appeared to wink with his legs, and came upon his feet
again without a stagger.
When the clock struck eleven, this domestic ball
broke up. Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig took their stations,
one on either side the door, and, shaking hands with
every person individually as he or she went out, wished
him or her a Merry Christmas. When everybody had
retired but the two 'prentices, they did the same to
them ; and thus the cheerful voices died away, and the
56 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
lads were left to their beds ; which were under a
counter in the back-shop.
During the whole of this time Scrooge 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 everything, enjoyed every-
thing, and underwent the strangest agitation. It was
not until now, when the bright faces of his former self
and Dick were turned from them, that he remembered
the Ghost, and became conscious that it was looking
full upon him, while the light upon its head burnt very
* 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 appren-
tices, who were pouring out their hearts in praise of
Fezziwig ; and when he had done so, said :
' 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 Scrooge, heated by the remark,
and speaking unconsciously like his former, not his
latter self. ' It isn't that. Spirit. 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
THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS 57
and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count
'em up : what then ? The happiness he gives is quite
as great as if it cost a fortune.'
He felt the Spirit's glance, and stopped.
' What is the matter ? ' asked the Ghost.
' Nothing particular,' said Scrooge.
' Something, I 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 Scrooge, or to any one
whom he could see, but 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 eager,
greedy, restless motion in the eye, which showed the
passion that had taken root, and where the shadow of
the growing tree would fall.
He was not alone, but 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 Christmas Past.
58 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
' It matters little/ she said softly. ' To you, very
little. Another idol has displaced me ; and, if it
can cheer and comfort you in time to come as I would
have tried to do, I 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 answered gently.
' 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 one,
until the master passion. Gain, engrosses you. Have
I not ? '
' What then ? ' he retorted. ' Even if I have grown
so much wiser, what then ? I am not changed towards
She shook her head.
* Am I ? '
' Our contract is an old one. It was made when we
were both poor, and content to be so, until, in good
season, we could improve our worldly fortune by our
patient industry. You are changed. When it was
made you were another man.'
' I was a boy,' he said impatiently.
THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS 59
* 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 heart is fraught with
misery now that we are two. How often and how
keenly I have thought of this I 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 what, then ? '
' 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 mildly, but with steadiness,
upon him ; ' tell me, would you seek me out and try to
win me now ? Ah, no ! '
He seemed to yield to the justice of this supposition
in spite of himself. But he said, with a struggle, ' You
* I would gladly think otherwise if I could,' she
answered. ' Heaven knows ! When / have learned a
Truth like this, I know how strong and irresistible it
must be. But if you were free to-day, to-morrow,
yesterday, can even I believe that you would choose a
dowerless girl — you who, in your very confidence with
her, weigh everything by Gain : or, choosing her, if
for a moment you were false enough to your one
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
guiding principle to do so, do I not know that your
repentance and regret would surely follow ? I do ;
and I release you. With a full heart, for the love of
him you once were.'
SHE LEFT HIM, AND THEY PAHTED
He was about to speak ; but, with her head turned
from him, she resumed :
' You may — the memory of what is past half makes
me hope you will — have pain in this. A very, very
brief time, and you will dismiss the recollection of
THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS 6i
it gladly, as an unprofitable dream, from which it
happened well that you awoke. May you be happy
in the life you have chosen ! '
She left him, and they parted.
' Spirit ! ' said Scrooge, ' show me no more ! Con-
duct me home. Why do you delight to torture me ? '
' One shadow more ! ' exclaimed the Ghost.
* No more ! ' cried Scrooge. * No more ! I 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 room, not
very large or handsome, but full of comfort. Near to
the winter fire sat a beautiful young girl, so like that
last that Scrooge believed it was the same, until he saw
her^ now a comely matron, sitting opposite her daughter.
The noise in this room was perfectly tumultuous, for
there were more children there than Scrooge in his
agitated state of mind could count ; and, unlike the
celebrated herd in the poem, they were not forty
children conducting themselves like one, but every
child was conducting itself like forty. The con-
sequences were uproarious beyond belief ; but no one
seemed to care; on the contrary, the mother and
daughter laughed heartily, and enjoyed it very much ;
and the latter, soon beginning to mingle in the sports,
got pillaged by the young brigands most ruthlessly.
62 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
What would I not have given to be one of them !
Though I never could have been so rude, no, no ! I
wouldn't for the wealth of all the world have crushed
that braided hair, and torn it down ; and for the
precious little shoe, I wouldn't have plucked it off,
God bless my soul ! to save my life. As to measuring
her waist in sport, as they did, bold young brood,
I 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 liked, I own, to have touched her lips ; to have
questioned her, that she might have opened them ; to
have looked upon the lashes of her downcast eyes, and
never raised a blush ; to have let loose waves of hair,
an inch of which would be a keepsake beyond price : in
short, I should have liked, I do confess, to have had
the lightest license of a child, and yet to have been man
enough to know its value.
But now a knocking at the door was heard, and such
a rush immediately ensued that she, with laughing face
and plundered dress, was borne towards it the centre
of a flushed and boisterous group, just in time to greet
the father, who came home attended by a man laden
with Christmas toys and presents. Then the shouting
and the struggling, and the onslaught that was made on
the defenceless porter ! The scaling him, with chairs
for ladders, to dive into his pockets, despoil him of
A flushed and boisterous group
THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS 63
brown-paper parcels, hold on tight by his cravat, hug
him round his neck, pummel his back, and kick his
legs in irrepressible affection ! The shouts of wonder
and delight with which the development of every pack-
age was received ! The terrible announcement thai:
the baby had been taken in the act of putting a doll's
frying pan into his mouth, and was more than suspected
of having swallowed a fictitious turkey, glued on a
wooden platter ! The immense relief of finding this a
false alarm ! The joy, and gratitude, and ecstasy !
They are all indescribable alike. It is enough that, by
degrees, the children and their emotions got out of the
parlour, and, by one stair at a time, up to the top of the
house, where they went to bed, and so subsided.
And now Scrooge looked on more attentively than
ever, when the master of the house, having his daughter
leaning fondly on him, sat down with her and her
mother at his own fireside ; and when he thought that
such another creature, quite as graceful and as full
of promise, might have called him father, and been a
spring-time in the haggard winter of his life, his sight
grew very dim indeed.
' Belle,' said the husband, turning to his wife with
a smile, ' I saw an old friend of yours this afternoon.'
' Who was it ? '
' Guess ! '
^ How can I ? Tut, don't I know ? ' she added in
64 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
the same breath, laughing as he laughed. ' Mr.
' Mr. Scrooge it was. I passed his office window ;
and as it was not shut up, and he had a candle inside, I
could scarcely help seeing him. His partner lies upon
the point of death, I hear ; and there he sat alone.
Quite alone in the world, I 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
are do not blame me ! '
' Remove me ! ' Scrooge exclaimed, ' I cannot bear
He turned upon the Ghost, and seeing that it looked
upon him with a face, in which in some strange way
there were fragments of all the faces it had shown him,
wrestled with it.
' Leave me ! Take me back. Haunt me no
longer ! '
In the struggle, if that can be called a struggle in
which the Ghost with no visible resistance on its own
part was undisturbed by any effort of its adversary,
Scrooge observed that its light was burning high and
bright ; and dimly connecting that with its influence
over him, he seized the extinguisher-cap, and by a
sudden action pressed it down upon its head.
Laden zvith Christmas toys and presents
THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS 65
The Spirit dropped beneath it, so that the extin-
guisher covered its whole form ; but though Scrooge
pressed it down with all his force, he could not hide
the light, which streamed from under it, in an un-
broken flood upon the ground.
He was conscious of being exhausted, and overcome
by an irresistible drowsiness ; and, further, of being in
his own bedroom. He gave the cap a parting squeeze,
in which his hand relaxed ; and had barely time to reel
to bed, before he sank into a heavy sleep.
THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS
AWAKING in the middle of a prodigiously tough
snore, and sitting up in bed to get his thoughts to-
gether, Scrooge 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 time, for
the especial purpose of holding a conference with the
second messenger despatched to him through Jacob
Marley's intervention. But finding that he turned
uncomfortably cold when he began to wonder which of
his curtains this new spectre would draw back, he put
them every one aside with his own hands, and, lying
down again, established a sharp look-out all round the
bed. For he wished to challenge the Spirit on the
moment of its appearance, and did not wish to be taken
by surprise and made nervous. p
70 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Gentlemen of the free-and-easy sort, who plume
themselves on being acquainted with a move or two^
and being usually equal to the time of day, express 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 extremes, no
doubt, there lies a tolerably wide and comprehensive
range of subjects. Without venturing for Scrooge
quite as hardily as this, I don't mind calling on you to
believe that he was ready for a good broad field of
strange appearances, and that nothing between a baby
and a rhinoceros would have astonished him very
Now, being prepared for almost anything, he was
not by any means prepared for nothing ; and con-
sequently, when the bell struck One, and no shape
appeared, he was taken with a violent fit of trembling.
Five minutes, ten minutes, a quarter of an hour went
by, yet nothing came. All this time he lay upon his
bed, the very core and centre of a blaze of ruddy light,
which streamed upon it when the clock proclaimed
the hour ; and which, being only light, was more
alarming than a dozen ghosts, as he was powerless
to make out what it meant, or would be at ; and was
sometimes apprehensive that he might be at that very
moment an interesting case of spontaneous combustion,
without having the consolation of knowing it. At last.
THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 71
however, he 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 it, and would unquestionably have done it too — at
last, I say, he began to think that the source and secret
of this ghostly light might be in the adjoining room,
from whence, on further tracing it, it seemed to shine.
This idea taking full possession of his mind, he got up
softly, and shuffled in his slippers to the door.
The moment Scrooge's hand was on the lock a
strange voice called him by his name, and bade him
enter. He obeyed.
It was his own room. There was no doubt about
that. But it had undergone a surprising transforma-
tion. The walls and ceiling were so hung with living
green, that it looked a perfect grove ; from every part
of which bright gleaming berries glistened. The crisp
leaves of holly, mistletoe, and ivy reflected back the
light, as if so many little mirrors had been scattered
there ; and such a mighty blaze went roaring up the
chimney as that dull petrification of a hearth had never
known in Scrooge's time, or Marley's, or for many and
many a winter season gone. Heaped up on the floor,
to form a kind of throne, were turkeys, geese, game,
poultry, brawn, great joints of meat, sucking-pigs, long
wreaths ol sausages, mince-pies, plum-puddings,
barrels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, cherry-cheeked
72 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
apples, juicy oranges, luscious pears, immense twelfth-
cakes, and seething bowls of punch, that made the
chamber dim with their delicious steam. In easy state
upon this couch there sat a jolly Giant, glorious to see ;
who bore a glowing torch, in shape not unlike Plenty's
horn, and held it up, high up, to shed its light on Scrooge
as he came peeping round the door.
' Come in ! ' exclaimed the Ghost. ' Come in ! and
know me better, man ! '
Scrooge entered timidly, and hung his head before
this Spirit. He was not the dogged Scrooge he had
been ; and though the Spirit's eyes were clear and
kind, he 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 deep green robe, or mantle, bordered with white
fur. This garment hung so loosely on the figure, that
its capacious breast was bare, as if disdaining to be
warded or concealed by any artifice. Its feet, observ-
able beneath the ample folds of the garment, were also
bare ; and on its head it wore no other covering than a
holly wreath, set here and there with shining icicles.
Its dark-brown curls were long and free ; free as its
genial face, its sparkling eye, its open hand, its cheery
voice, its unconstrained demeanour, and its joyful air.
Girded round its middle was an antique scabbard;
THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 73
but no sword was in it, and the ancient sheath was
eaten up with rust.
* You have never seen the like of me before ! '
exclaimed the Spirit.
' 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
' I don't think I have,' said Scrooge. ' I am afraid
I have not. Have you had many brothers. Spirit ? '
* More than eighteen hundred,' said the Ghost.
' A tremendous family to provide for,' muttered
The Ghost of Christmas Present rose.
' Spirit,' said Scrooge submissively, ' conduct me
where you will. I went forth last night on compulsion,
and I learned a lesson which is working now. To-
night if you have aught to teach me, let me profit by
' Touch my robe ! '
Scrooge did as he was told, and held it fast.
Holly, mistletoe, red berries, ivy, turkeys, geese,
game, poultry, brawn, meat, pigs, sausages, oysters,
pies, puddings, fruit, and punch, all vanished instantly.
So did the room, the fire, the ruddy glow, the hour of
night, and they stood in the city streets on Christmas
74 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
morning, where (for the weather was severe) the people
made a rough, but brisk and not unpleasant kind of
music, in scraping the snow from the pavement in front
of their dwellings, and from the tops of their houses,
whence it was mad delight to the boys to see it come
plumping down into the road below, and splitting into
artificial little snowstorms.
The house-fronts looked black enough, and the
windows blacker, contrasting with the smooth white
sheet of snow upon the roofs, and 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 channels, hard to
trace in the thick yellow mud and icy water. The
sky was gloomy, and the shortest streets were choked
up with a dingy mist, half thawed, half frozen, whose
heavier particles descended in a shower of sooty atoms,
as if all the chimneys in Great Britain had, by one
consent, caught fire, and were blazing away to their
dear heart's content. There was nothing very cheerful
in the climate or the town, and yet was there an air of
cheerfulness abroad that the clearest summer air and
brightest summer sun might have endeavoured to
diffuse in vain.
For the people who were shovelling away on the
THERE WAS NOTHIMG VERY CHEBRFUJ, IN THE CUMATE
76 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
house-tops were jovial and full of glee ; calling out to
one another from the parapets, and now and then
exchanging a facetious snowball — better-natured mis-
sile far than many a wordy jest — laughing heartily if it
went right, and not less heartily if it went wrong.
The poulterers' shops were still half open, and the
fruiterers' were radiant in their glory. There were
great, round, pot-bellied baskets of chestnuts, shaped
like the waistcoats of jolly old gentlemen, lolling at
the doors, and tumbling out into the street in their
apoplectic opulence: There were ruddy, brown-faced,
broad-girthed Spanish onions, shining in the fatness of
their growth like Spanish friars, and winking from
their shelves in wanton slyness at the girls as they went
by, and glanced demurely at the hung-up mistletoe.
There were pears and apples clustered high in bloom-
ing pyramids ; there were bunches of grapes, made, in
the shopkeepers' benevolence, to dangle from con-
spicuous hooks that people's mouths might water gratis
as they passed ; there were piles of filberts, mossy and
brown, recalling, in their fragrance, ancient walks
among the woods, and pleasant shufflings ankle deep
through withered leaves ; there were Norfolk Biffins,
squab and swarthy, setting ofF the yellow of the oranges
and lemons, and, in the great compactness of their
juicy persons, urgently entreating and beseeching to be
carried home in paper bags and eaten after dinner.
THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 77
The very gold and silver fish, set forth among these
choice fruits in a bowl, though members of a dull and
stagnant-blooded race, appeared to know that there
was something going on ; and, to a fish, went gasping
round and round their little world in slow and passion-
The Grocers' ! oh, the Grocers' ! nearly closed,
with perhaps two shutters down, or one ; but through
those gaps such glimpses ! It was not alone that the
scales descending on the counter made a merry sound,
or that the twine and roller parted company so briskly,
or that the canisters were rattled up and down like
juggling tricks, or even that the blended scents of tea
and coffee were so grateful to the nose, or even that
the raisins were so plentiful and rare, the almonds so
extremely white, the sticks of cinnamon so long and
straight, the other spices so delicious, the candied fruits
so c^ed and spotted with molten sugar as to make the
coldest lookers-on feel faint, and subsequently bilious.
Nor was it that the figs were moist and pulpy, or that
the French plums blushed in modest tartness from their
highly-decorated boxes, or that everything was good to
eat and in its Christmas dress ; but the customers were
all so hurried and so eager in the hopeful promise of
the day, that they tumbled up against each other at the
door, crashing their wicker baskets wildly, and left
their purchases upon the counter, and came running
78 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
back to fetch them, and committed hundreds of the
like mistakes, in the best humour possible ; while the
grocer and his people were so frank and fresh, that
the polished hearts with which they fastened their
aprons behind might have been their own, worn outside
for general inspection, and for Christmas daws to peck
at if they chose.
But soon the steeples called good people all to church
and chapel, and away they came, flocking through the
streets in their best clothes and with their gayest faces.
And at the same time there emerged, from scores of
by-streets, lanes, and nameless turnings, innumerable
people, carrying their diimers to the bakers' shops.
The sight of these poor revellers appeared to interest
the Spirit very much, for he stood with Scrooge beside
him in a baker's doorway, and, taking off the covers as
their bearers passed, sprinkled incense on their dinners
from his torch. And it was a very uncommon kind of
torch, for once or twice, when there were angry words
between some dinner-carriers who had jostled each
other, he shed a few drops of water on them from it,
and their good-humour was restored directly. For
they said, it was a shame to quarrel upon Christmas
Day. And so it was ! God love it, so it was !
In time the bells ceased, and the bakers were shut
up ; and yet there was a genial shadowing forth of all
these dinners^ and the progress of their cooking, in the
THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 79
thawed blotch of wet above each baker's oven, where
the pavement smoked as if its stones were cooking too.
' Is there a pecuUar 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 Scrooge, after a moment's thought^
* I wonder you, of all the beings in the many worlds
about us, should desire to cramp these people's
opportunities of innocent enjoyment.'
' I ! ' cried the Spirit.
* You would deprive them of their means of dining
every seventh day, often the only day on which they
can be said to dine at all,' said Scrooge ; ' wouldn't
' 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 name, or at least in that of your family,' said
' There are some upon this earth of vourS;>' returned
8o A CHRISTMAS CAROL
the Spirit, ' who lay claim to know us, and who do
their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy,
bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange
to us, and all our kith and kin, as if they had never
lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on
themselves, not us.'
Scrooge promised that he would ; and they went on,
invisible, as they had been before, into the suburbs of
the town. It was a remarkable quality of the Ghost
(which Scrooge had observed at the baker's), that not-
withstanding his gigantic size, he could accommodate
himself to any place with ease ; and that he stood
beneath a low roof quite as gracefully and like a
supernatural creature as 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 his, or else it was
his own kind, generous, hearty nature, and his sym-
pathy with all poor men, that led him straight to
Scrooge's clerk's ; for there he went, and took Scrooge
with him, holding to his robe ; and on the threshold
of the door the Spirit smiled, and stopped to bless Bob
Cratchit's dwelling with the sprinklings 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 !
THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 8i
Then up rose Mrs. Cratchit, Cratchit's wife, dressed
out but poorly in a twice-turned gown, but brave in
ribbons, which are cheap, and make a goodly show for
sixpence ; and she laid the cloth, assisted by Belinda
Cratchit, second of her daughters, also brave in
ribbons ; while Master Peter Cratchit plunged a fork
into the saucepan of potatoes, and getting the corners
of his monstrous shirt-collar (Bob's private property,
conferred upon his son and heir in honour of the day,
into his mouth, rejoiced to find himself so gallantly
attired, and yearned to show his linen in the fashion-
able Parks. And now two smaller Cratchits, boy and
girl, came tearing in, screaming that outside the baker's
they had smelt the goose, and known it for their own ;
and basking in luxurious thoughts of sage and onion,
these young Cratchits danced about the table, and
exalted Master Peter Cratchit to the skies, while he
(not proud, although his collars nearly choked him)
blew the fire, until 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 brother. Tiny Tim ?
And Martha warn't as late last Christmas Day by half
an hour ! '
* Here's Martha, mother ! ' said a girl, appearing as
82 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
' Here's Martha, mother ! ' cried the two young
Cratchits. ' Hurrah ! There's such a goose, Martha ! '
' Why, bless your heart aUve, my dear, how late
you are ! ' said Mrs. Cratchit, kissing her a dozen
times, and taking off her shawl and bonnet for her with
' We'd a deal of work to finish up last night,' replied
the girl, ' and had to clear away this morning,
mother ! '
' Well ! never mind so long as you are come,' said
Mrs. Cratchit. ' Sit ye down before the fire, my dear,
and have a warm, Lord bless ye ! '
' No, no ! There's father coming,' cried the two
young Cratchits, who were everywhere at once.
' Hide, Martha, hide ! '
So Martha hid herself, and in came little Bob, the
father, with at least three feet of comforter, exclusive
of the fringe, hanging down before him, and his
threadbare clothes darned up and brushed to look
seasonable, and Tiny Tim upon his shoulder. Alas
for Tiny Tim, he bore a little crutch, and had his
limbs supported by an iron frame !
* Why, Where's our Martha ? ' cried Bob Cratchit,
' Not coming,' said Mrs. Cratchit.
' Not coming ! ' said Bob, with a sudden declension
in his high spirits ; for he had been Tim's blood-horse
THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 83
all the way from church, and had come home rampant.
* Not coming upon Christmas Day ! '
Martha didn't like to see him disappointed, if it were
only in joke ; so she came out prematurely from
behind the closet door, and ran into his arms, while
the two young Cratchits hustled Tiny Tim, and 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 ralHed Bob on his credulity,
and Bob had hugged his daughter to his heart's
* As good as gold,' said Bob, ' and better. Some-
how, he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much,
and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He
told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw
him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it
might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas
Day who made lame beggars walk and blind men see.'
Bob's voice was tremulous when he told them this,
and trembled more when he said that Tiny Tim was
growing strong and hearty.
His active little crutch was heard upon the floor,
and back came Tiny Tim before another word was
spoken, escorted by his brother and sister to his stool
beside the fire ; and while Bob, turning up his cuffs —
as if, poor fellow, they were capable of being made
84 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
more shabby — compounded some hot mixture in a jug
with gin and lemons, and 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
goose, with which they soon returned in high pro-
Such a bustle ensued that you might have thought
a goose the rarest of all birds ; a feathered pheno-
menon, to 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 before-
hand 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
THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 85
chairs for everybody, not forgetting themselves, and,
mounting guard upon their posts, crammed spoons into
their mouths, lest they should shriek for goose before
IIE HAD BEEN TIM'S BLOOD-HORSE ALL THE WAY FROM CHURCH
86 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
their turn came to be helped. At last the dishes were
set on, and grace was said. It was succeeded by a
breathless pause, as Mrs. Cratchit, looking slowly all
along the carving-knife, prepared to plunge it in the
breast ; but when she did, and when the long-expected
gush of stuffing issued forth, one murmur of delight
arose all round the board, and even Tiny Tim, excited
by the two young Cratchits, beat on the table with
the handle of his knife and 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 flavour, size and cheapness, were the
themes of universal admiration. Eked out by apple
sauce and mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner
for the whole family ; indeed, as 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 enough, and the youngest Cratchits,
in particular, were steeped in sage and onion to the
eyebrows ! But now, the plates being changed by
Miss Belinda, Mrs. 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-yard an4
stolen it, while they were merry with the goose — a
THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 87
supposition at which the two young Cratchits became
livid ! All sorts of horrors were supposed.
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
pastry-cook's next door to each other, with a laun-
dress's next door to that ! That was the pudding !
In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit entered — flushed, but
smiling proudly — with the pudding, like a speckled
cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-
a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christ-
mas holly stuck into the top.
Oh, a wonderful pudding ! Bob Cratchit said, and
calmly too, that he regarded it as the greatest success
achieved by Mrs. Cratchit since their marriage. Mrs.
Cratchit said that, now the weight was off her mind,
she would confess she had her doubts about the
quantity of flour. Everybody had something to say
about it, but 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 done, the cloth was cleared,
the hearth swept, and the fire made up. The com-
pound in the jug being tasted, and considered perfect,
apples and oranges were put upon the table, and a
shovel full of chestnuts on the fire. Then all the
WITH THE PUDDING
THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 89
Cratchit family drew round the hearth in what Bob
Cratchit called a circle, meaning half a one; and at
Bob Cratchit's elbow stood the family display of glass.
Two tumblers and a custard cup without a
These held the hot stuff from the jug, however, as
well as golden goblets would have done ; and Bob
served it out with beaming looks, while the chestnuts
on the fire sputtered and cracked noisily. Then Bob
' A merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless
Which all the family re-echoed.
' God bless us every one ! ' said Tiny Tim, the last
He sat very close to his father's side, upon his little
stool. Bob held his withered little hand to his, as if he
loved the child, and wished to keep him by his side,
and dreaded that he might be taken from him.
* Spirit,' said Scrooge, with 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 corner, and a crutch without an owner,
carefully preserved. If these shadows remain un-
altered by the Future, the child will die.'
' No, no,' said Scrooge. ' Oh no, kind Spirit ! say
he will be spared.'
90 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
* If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future
none other of my race/ returned the Ghost, * will find
him here. What then ? If he be like to die, he had
better do it, and decrease the surplus population.'
Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted
by the Spirit, and was overcome with penitence and
' Man,' said the Ghost, ' if man you be in heart, not
adamant, forbear that wicked cant until you have
discovered what the surplus is, and where it is. Will
you decide what men shall live, what men shall die ?
It may be that, in the sight of Heaven, you are more
worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor
man's child. O God ! to hear the insect on the leaf
pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry
brothers in the dust ! '
Scrooge bent before the Ghost's rebuke, and, trem-
bling, cast his eyes upon the ground. But he raised
them speedily on hearing his own name.
' Mr. Scrooge ! ' said Bob. ' I'll give you Mr.
Scrooge, the 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 upon, and I hope
he'd have a good appetite for it.'
' My dear,' said Bob, ' the children ! Christmas
THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 91
' It should be Christmas Day, I am sure,' said she,
* on which one drinks the health of such an odious,
stingy, hard, unfeeling man as Mr. Scrooge. You
know he is, Robert ! Nobody knows it better than you
do, poor fellow ! '
* My dear ! ' was Bob's mild answer. ' Christmas
' 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 happy, I have no doubt ! '
The children drank the toast after her. It was the
first of their proceedings which had no heartiness in it.
Tiny Tim drank it last of all, but he didn't care two-
pence for it. Scrooge was the Ogre of the family. The
mention of his name cast a dark shadow on the party,
which was not dispelled for full five minutes.
After it had passed away they were ten times merrier
than before, from the mere relief of Scrooge the
Baleful being done with. Bob Cratchit told them how
he had a situation in his eye for Master Peter, which
would bring in, if obtained, full five-and-sixpence
weekly. The two young Cratchits laughed tre-
mendously at the idea of Peter's being a man of
business ; and Peter himself looked thoughtfully at
the fire from between his collars, as if he were de-
liberating what particular investments he should favour
92 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
when he came into the receipt of that bewildering
income. Martha, who was a poor apprentice at a
milHner's, then told them what kind of work she had
to do, and 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 before, and how the lord * was
much about as tall as Peter ' ; at which Peter pulled
up his collar so high that you couldn't have seen his
head if you had been there. All this time the chest-
nuts and the jug went round and round ; and by-and-
by they had a song, about a lost child travelling in the
snow, from Tiny Tim, who 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 waterproof; their
clothes were scanty ; and Peter might have known, and
very likely did, the inside of a pawnbroker's. But they
were happy, grateful, pleased with one another, and
contented with the time ; and when they faded, and
looked happier yet in the bright sprinklings of the
Spirit's torch at parting, Scrooge had his eye upon
them, and especially on Tiny Tim, imtil the last.
By this time it was getting dark, and snowing pretty
heavily ; and as Scrooge and the Spirit went along the
THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 93
streets, the brightness of the roaring fires in kitchens,
parlours, and all sorts of rooms was wonderful. Here,
the flickering of the blaze showed preparations for a
cosy dinner, with hot plates baking through and
through before the fire, and deep red curtains, ready
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 sisters, brothers, cousins,
uncles, aimts, and be the first to greet them. Here,
again, were shadows on the window-blinds of guests
assembUng ; and there a group of handsome girls, all
hooded and far-booted, and all chattering at once,
tripped lightly off to some near neighbour's house;
where, woe upon the single man who saw them enter —
artful witches, well they knew it — in a glow !
But, if you had judged from the numbers of people
on their way to friendly gatherings, you might have
thought that no one was at home to give them welcome
when they got there, instead of every house expecting
company, and piling up its fires half-chimney high.
Blessings on it, how the Ghost exulted ! How it
bared its breadth of breast, and opened its capacious
palm, and floated on, outpouring with a generous hand
its bright and harmless mirth on everything within its
reach ! The very lamplighter, who ran on before,
dotting the dusky street with specks of fight, and who
was dressed to spend the evening somewhere, laughed
94 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
out loudly as the Spirit passed, though little kenned
the lamplighter that he had any company but Christmas.
And now, without a word of warning from the
Ghost, they stood upon a bleak and desert moor, where
monstrous masses of rude stone were cast about, as
though it were the burial-place of giants ; and water
spread itself wheresoever it listed ; or would have done
so, but for the frost that held it prisoner ; and nothing
grew but moss and furze, and coarse, rank grass.
Down in the west the setting sun had left a streak of
fiery red, which glared upon the desolation for an
instant, like a sullen eye, and frowning lower, lower,
lower yet, was lost in the thick gloom of darkest
' What place is this ? ' asked Scrooge.
* A place where miners live, who labour in the bowels
of the earth,' returned the Spirit. * But they know
me. See ! '
A light shone from the window of a hut, and swiftly
they advanced towards it. Passing through the wall of
mud and stone, they found a cheerful company
assembled round a glowing fire. An old, old man and
woman, with their children and their children's
children, and another generation beyond that, all
decked out gaily in their holiday attire. The old man,
in a voice that seldom rose above the howling of the
wind upon the barren waste, was singing them a
THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 95
Christmas song ; it had been a very old song when he
was a boy ; and from time to time they all joined in the
chorus. So surely as they raised their voices, the old
man got quite blithe and loud ; and so surely as they
stopped, his vigour sank again.
The Spirit did not tarry here, but bade Scrooge hold
his robe, and, passing on above the moor, sped whither ?
Not to sea ? To sea. To Scrooge's horror, looking
back, he saw the last of the land, a frightful range of
rocks, behind them ; and his ears were deafened by the
thundering of water, as it rolled and roared, and raged
among the dreadful caverns it had worn, and fiercely
tried to undermine the earth.
Built upon a dismal reef of sunken rocks, some
league or so from shore, on which the waters chafed
and dashed, the wild year through, there stood a
solitary lighthouse. Great heaps of seaweed clung to
its base, and storm-birds — born of the wind, one might
suppose, as seaweed of the water — rose and fell about
it, like the waves they skimmed.
But, even here, two men who watched the light had
made a fire, that 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 sat, they wished each other Merry Christ-
mas in their can of grog ; and one of them — the elder
too, with his face all damaged and scarred with hard
96 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
weather, as the figure-head of an old ship might be
— struck up a sturdy song that was hke a gale in
Again the Ghost sped on, above the black and heaving
sea — on, on — until being far away, as he told Scrooge,
from any shore, they lighted on a ship. They stood
beside the helmsman at the wheel, the look-out in
the bow, the officers who had the watch; dark,
ghostly figures in their several stations ; but every man
among them hummed a Christmas tune, or had a
Christmas thought, or spoke below his breath to his
companion of some bygone Christmas Day, with home-
ward hopes belonging to it. And every man on board,
waking or sleeping, good or bad, had had a kinder
word for one 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 distance, and had known that they delighted to
It was a great surprise to Scrooge, while listening to
the moaning of the wind, and thinking what a solemn
thing it was to move on through the lonely darkness
over an unknown abyss, whose depths were secrets as
profound as death : it was a great surprise to Scrooge,
while thus engaged, to 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 bright, dry.
THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 97
gleaming room, with the Spirit standing smihng by his
side, and looking at that same nephew with approving
* Ha, ha ! ' laughed Scrooge's nephew. * Ha, ha, ha ! '
If you should happen, by any unlikely chance, to
know a man more blessed in a laugh than Scrooge's
nephew, all I can say is, I should like to know him too.
Introduce him to me, and I'll cultivate his acquaint-
It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things,
that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there
is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as
laughter and good-himiour. When Scrooge's nephew
laughed in this way — holding his sides, rolling his head,
and twisting his face into the most extravagant contor-
tions — Scrooge's niece, by marriage, laughed as heartily
as he. And their assembled friends, being not a bit
behindhand, roared out lustily.
^Ha,ha! Ha, ha, ha, ha ! '
' He said that Christmas was a humbug, as I live ! '
cried Scrooge's nephew. * He believed it, too ! '
' More shame for him, Fred ! ' said Scrooge's niece
indignantly. Bless those women ! they never do any-
thing by halves. They are always in earnest.
She was very pretty ; exceedingly pretty. With a
dimpled, surprised-looking, capital face ; a ripe little
mouth, that seemed made to be kissed — as no doubt it
98 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
was ; all kinds of good little dots about her chin, that
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 w^ould have called
provoking, you know ; but satisfactory, too. Oh, per-
fectly 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 punishment, and
I have nothing to say against him.'
' I'm sure he is very rich, Fred,' hinted Scrooge's
niece. ' At least, you always tell me so.'
' What of that, my 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 — ha, ha, ha !
— that he is ever going to benefit Us with it.'
* I have no patience with him,' observed Scrooge's
niece. Scrooge's niece's sisters, and all the other
ladies, expressed the same opinion.
* Oh, I 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 ? Himself always. Here he
takes it into his head to dislike us, and he won't come
and dine with us. What's the consequence ? He don't
lose much of a dinner.'
* Indeed, I think he loses a very good dinner,' inter-
THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 99
rupted Scrooge's niece. Everybody else said the same,
and they must be allowed to have been competent
judges, because they had just had dinner ; and with the
dessert upon the table, were clustered round the fire,
* Well ! I am very glad to hear it,' said Scrooge's
nephew, ' because I haven't any great faith in these
young housekeepers. What do you say, Topper ? '
Topper had clearly got his eye upon one of Scrooge's
niece's sisters, for 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 on, Fred,' said Scrooge's niece, clapping her
hands. ' He never finishes what he begins to say ! He
is such a ridiculous fellow ! '
Scrooge's nephew revelled in another laugh, and as
it was impossible to keep the infection off, though the
plump sister tried hard to do it with aromatic vinegar^
his example was unanimously followed.
* I was only going to say,' said Scrooge's nephew,
* that the consequence of his taking a dislike to us, and
not making merry with us, is, as I think, that he loses
some pleasant moments, which 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 office
100 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
or his dusty chambers. I mean to give him the same
chance every year, whether he hkes it or not, for I pity
him. He may rail at Christmas till he dies, but he
can't help thinking better of it — I defy him — if he finds
me going there, in good temper, year after year, and
saying, " Uncle Scrooge, how are you ? " If it only put
him in the vein to leave his poor clerk fifty pounds,
thafs 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-natured,
and not much caring what they laughed at, so that
they laughed at any rate, he encouraged them in their
merriment, and passed the bottle, joyously.
After tea they had some music. For they were a
musical family, and knew what they were about when
they sung a Glee or Catch, I can assure you : especially
Topper, who could growl away in the bass like a good
one, and never swell the large veins in his forehead, or
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-
school, as he had been reminded by the Ghost of
Christmas Past. When this strain of music sounded, all
the things that Ghost had shown him came upon his
mind \ he softened more and more ; and thought that
The way he went after that plump sister in the lace tucker
THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS loi
if he could have Hstened to it often, years ago, he
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 Marley.
But they didn't devote the whole evening to music.
After a while they played at forfeits ; for it is good to
be children sometimes, and never better than at Christ-
mas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself.
Stop ! There was first a game at blindman'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 is, that 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 tucker was an outrage on
the credulity of human nature. Knocking down the
fire-irons, tumbling over the chairs, bumping up
against the piano, smothering himself amongst the
curtains, wherever 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 purpose, he would have made
a feint of endeavouring to seize you, which would have
been an affront to your understanding, and 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 last, he caught her;
102 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
when, in spite of all her silken rustlings, and her rapid
flutterings past him, he 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-
dress, and further to assure himself of her identity by
pressing a certain ring upon her finger, and a certain
chain about her neck ; was vile, monstrous ! No doubt
she told him her opinion of it when, another blind man
being in office, they were so very confidential together
behind the curtains.
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 corner where the Ghost and
Scrooge were close behind her. But she joined in the
forfeits, and loved her love to admiration with all the
letters of the alphabet. Likewise at the game of How,
When, and Where, she was very great, and, to the
secret joy of Scrooge's nephew, beat her sisters hollow ;
though they were sharp girls too, as Topper could have
told you. There might have been twenty people there,
young and old, but they all played, and so did Scrooge ;
for wholly forgetting, in the interest he had in what
was going on, that his voice made no sound in their
ears, he sometimes came out with his guess quite loud,
and very often guessed right, too ; for the sharpest
needle, best Whitechapel, warranted not to cut in the
THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 103
eye, was 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 favour that he
begged like a boy to be allowed to stay until the
guests departed. But this the Spirit said could not
* Here is a new game,' said Scrooge. ' One half-
hour. Spirit, only one ! '
It was a game called Yes and No, where Scrooge's
nephew had to think of something, and the rest must
find out what, he only answering to their questions yes
or no, as the case was. The brisk fire of questioning
to which he was exposed elicited from him that he was
thinking of an animal, a live animal, rather a disagree-
able animal, a savage animal, an animal that growled
and grunted sometimes, and talked sometimes and
lived in London, and walked about the streets, and
wasn't made a show of, and wasn't led by anybody, and
didn't live in a menagerie, and was never killed in a
market, and was not a horse, or an ass, or a cow, or a
bull, or a tiger, or a dog, or a pig, or a cat, or a bear.
At every fresh question that was put to him, this
nephew burst into a fresh roar of laughter ; and was so
inexpressibly tickled, that he was obliged to get up off
the sofa and stamp. At last the plump sister, falling
into a similar state, cried out :
104 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
' I have found it out ! I know what it is, Fred ! I
know what it is ! '
' What is it ? ' cried Fred.
' It's your uncle Scro-o-o-o-oge.'
Which it certainly was. Admiration was the universal
sentiment, though 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. Scrooge, supposing they had
ever had any tendency that way.
' He has given us plenty of merriment, I am sure,'
said Fred, ' and it would be ungrateful not to drink his
health. Here is a glass of mulled wine ready to our
hand at the moment ; and I say, " Uncle Scrooge ! " '
' Well ! Uncle Scrooge ! ' they cried.
' A merry Christmas and a happy New Year to the
old man, whatever he is ! ' said Scrooge's nephew.
' He wouldn't take it from me, but may he have it,
nevertheless. Uncle Scrooge ! '
Uncle Scrooge had imperceptibly become so gay and
light of heart, that he would have pledged the uncon-
scious company in return, and thanked them in an in-
audible speech, if the Ghost had given him time. But
the whole scene passed off in the breath of the last
word spoken by his nephew ; and he and the Spirit
were again upon their travels.
Much they saw, and far they went, and many homes
THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 1 05
they visited, but always with a happy end. The Spirit
stood beside sick-beds, and they were cheerful ; on
foreign lands, and they were close at home ; by
struggling men, and they were patient in their greater
hope ; by poverty, and it was rich. In almshouse,
hospital, and gaol, in misery's every refuge, where vain
man in his little brief authority had not made fast the
door, and barred the Spirit out, he left his blessing
and taught Scrooge his precepts.
It was a long night, if it were only a night ; but
Scrooge had his doubts of this, because the Christmas
holidays appeared to be condensed into the space of
time they passed together. It was strange, too, that,
while Scrooge remained unaltered in his outward form,
the Ghost grew older, clearly older. Scrooge had
observed this change, but never spoke of it until they
left a children's Twelfth-Night party, when, looking at
the Spirit as they stood together in an open place, he
noticed that its hair was grey.
' Are spirits' lives so short ? ' asked Scrooge.
' My life upon this globe is very brief,' replied the
Ghost. * It ends to-night.'
* To-night ! ' cried Scrooge.
* To-night at midnight. Hark ! The time is drawing
The chimes were ringing the three-quarters past
eleven at that moment.
106 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
* Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask,' said
Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit's robe, * but I
see something strange, and not belonging to yourself,
protruding from your skirts. Is it a foot or a claw ? '
* It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it,'
was the Spirit's sorrowful reply. ' Look here ! '
From the foldings of its robe it brought two children,
wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They
knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its
* O Man ! look here ! Look, look down here ! '
exclaimed the Ghost.
They were a boy and girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged,
scowling, wolfish, but prostrate, too, in their humility.
Where graceful youth should have filled their features
out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale
and shrivelled hand, like that of age, had pinched and
twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where
angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and
glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no
perversion of humanity in any grade, through all the
mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so
horrible and dread.
Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown
to him in this way, he tried to say they were fine
children, but the words choked themselves, rather than
be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude.
THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 107
* Spirit ! are they yours ? ' Scrooge could say no
' They are Man's,' said the Spirit, looking down upon
them. ' And they cling to me, appealing from their
fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want.
Beware of them both, and all of their degree, but most
of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that
written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.
Deny it ! ' cried the Spirit, stretching out his hand
towards the city. ' Slander those who tell it ye !
Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it
worse ! And bide the end ! '
' Have they no refuge or resource ? ' cried Scrooge.
* Are there no prisons ? ' said the Spirit, turning on
him for the last time with his own words. ' Are there
no workhouses ? '
The bell struck Twelve.
Scrooge looked about him for the Ghost, and saw
it not. As the last stroke ceased to vibrate, he
remembered the prediction of old Jacob Marley, and,
lifting up his eyes, beheld a solemn Phantom, draped
and hooded, coming like a mist along the ground
THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS
THE Phantom slowly, gravely, silently approached.
When it came near him, Scrooge 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 garment, which con-
cealed its head, its face, its form, and left nothing of it
visible, save one outstretched hand. But for this, it
would have been difficult to detach its figure from the
night, and separate it from the darkness by which it was
112 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
He felt that it was tall and stately when it came
beside him, and that its mysterious presence filled him
with a solemn dread. He knew no more, for the Spirit
neither spoke nor moved.
' I am in the presence of the Ghost of Christmas Yet
to Come ? ' said Scrooge.
The Spirit answered not, but pointed onward with its
' You are about to show me shadows of the things
that have not happened, but will happen in the time
before us,' Scrooge pursued. ' Is that so. Spirit ? '
The upper portion of the garment was contracted for
an instant in its folds, as 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 him, and he found that he could
hardly stand when he prepared to follow it. The Spirit
paused a moment, as observing his condition, and
giving him time to recover.
But Scrooge was all the worse for this. It thrilled
him with a vague, uncertain horror to know that,
behind the dusky shroud, there were ghostly eyes
intently fixed upon him, while he, though he stretched
his own to the utmost, could see nothing but a spectral
hand and one great heap of black.
* Ghost of the Future ! ' he exclaimed, ' I fear you
THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS 113
more than any spectre I have seen. But as I know
your purpose is to do me good, and as I hope to hve to
be another man from what I was, I am prepared to bear
your company, and do it with a thankful heart. Will
you not speak to me ? '
It gave him no reply. The hand was pointed
straight before them.
* Lead on ! ' said Scrooge. ' Lead on ! The night is
waning fast, and it is precious time to me, I know.
Lead on. Spirit ! '
The Phantom moved away as it had come towards
him. Scrooge followed in the shadow of its dress,
which bore him up, he thought, and carried him along.
They scarcely seemed to enter the City ; for the City
rather seemed to spring up about them, and encompass
them of its own act. But there they were in the
heart of it ; on 'Change, amongst the merchants, who
hurried up and down, and chinked the money in their
pockets, and conversed in groups, and looked at their
watches, and trifled thoughtfully with their great gold
seals, and so forth, as Scrooge had seen them often.
The Spirit stopped beside one little knot of business
men. Observing that the hand was pointed to them,
Scrooge advanced to listen to their talk.
* No,' said a great fat man with a monstrous chin, * I
don't know much about it either way. I only know
114 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
' When did he die ? ' inquired another.
' Last night, I beHeve.'
' Why, what 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 first, with a yawn.
' What has he done with his money ? ' asked a
red-faced gentleman with a pendulous excrescence on
the end of his nose, that shook like the gills of a
' I haven't heard,' said the man with the large chin,
yawning again. ' Left it to his company, perhaps.
He hasn't left it to me. That's all I know.'
This pleasantry was received with a general
' 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 fed if I make one.'
' Well, I am the most disinterested among you,
after all,' said the first speaker, ' for I never wear
black gloves, and I never eat lunch. But I'll offer
to go if anybody else will. When I come to think
"How are you?" said one.
"How are you?" returned the other.
"Well!" said the first. "Old Scratch has got his own at last, hey?"
THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS 115
of it, I'm not at all sure that I wasn't his most
particular friend; for we used to stop and speak
whenever we met. Bye, bye ! '
Speakers and listeners strolled away, and mixed
with other groups. Scrooge knew the men, and
looked towards the Spirit for an explanation.
The phantom glided on into a street. Its finger
pointed to two persons meeting. Scrooge listened
again, thinking that the explanation might lie here.
He knew these men, also, perfectly. They were
men of business : very wealthy, and of great im-
portance. He had made a point always of standing
well in their esteem in a business point of view, that
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 last, hey ? '
' So I am told,' returned the second. ' Cold, isn't
* Seasonable for Christmas- time. You are not a
skater, I suppose ? '
' No, no. Something else to think of. Good-
morning ! '
Not another word. That was their meeting, their
conversation, and their parting.
Scrooge was at first inclined to be surprised that the
ii6 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Spirit should attach importance to conversations ap-
parently so trivial ; but feeling assured that they must
have some hidden purpose, he set himself to consider
what it was likely to be. They could scarcely be sup-
posed to have any bearing on the death of Jacob, his
old partner, for that was Past, and this Ghost's province
was the Future. Nor could he think of any one im-
mediately connected with himself to whom he could
apply them. But nothing doubting that, to whomso-
ever they applied, they had some latent moral for his
own improvement, he resolved to treasure up every
word he heard, and everything he saw ; and especially
to observe the shadow of himself when it appeared.
For he had an expectation that the conduct of his
future self would give him the clue he missed, and
would render the solution of these riddles easy.
He looked about in that very place for his own
image, but another man stood in his accustomed
corner ; and though the clock pointed to his usual
time of day for being there, he saw no likeness of
himself among the multitudes that poured in through
the Porch, It gave him little surprise, however ; for
he had been revolving in his mind a change of life, and
thought and hoped he saw his new-born resolutions
carried out in this.
Quiet and dark, beside him stood the Phantom, with
its outstretched hand. When he roused himself from
THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS 117
his thoughtful quest, he fancied, from the turn of the
hand, and its situation in reference to himself, that the
Unseen Eyes were looking at him keenly. It made
him shudder, and feel very cold.
They left the busy scene, and went into an obscure
part of the town, where Scrooge had never penetrated
before, although he recognised its situation and its bad
repute. The ways were foul and narrow ; the shops
and houses wretched ; the people half naked, drunken,
slipshod, ugly. Alleys and archways, like so many
cesspools, disgorged their offences of smell and dirt,
and life upon the straggling streets ; and the
whole quarter reeked with crime, with filth, and
Far in this den of infamous resort, there was a low-
browed, beetling shop, below a penthouse roof, where
iron, old rags, bottles, bones, and greasy offal were
bought. Upon the floor within were piled up heaps of
rusty keys, nails, chains, hinges, files, scales, weights,
and refuse iron of all kinds. Secrets that few would
like to scrutinise were bred and hidden in mountains
of unseemly rags, masses of corrupted fat, and sepul*
chres of bones. Sitting in among the wares he dealt
in, by a charcoal stove made of old bricks, was a grey-
haired rascal, nearly seventy years of age, who had
screened himself from the cold air without by a frouzy
curtaining of miscellaneous tatters hung upon a line-
ri8 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
and smoked his pipe in all the luxury of calm retire-
Scrooge and the Phantom came into the presence of
this man, just as a woman with a heavy bundle slunk
into the shop, But she had scarcely entered, when
another woman, similarly laden, came in too ; and she
was closely followed by a man in faded black, who was
no less startled by the sight of them than they had
been upon the recognition of each other. After a short
period of blank astonishment, in which the old man
with the pipe had joined them, they all three burst
into a laugh.
* Let the charwoman alone to be the first ! ' cried she
who had entered first. * Let the laundress alone to be
the second ; and let the undertaker's man alone to be
the third. Look here, old Joe, here's a chance ! If
we haven't all three met here without meaning it ! '
' You couldn't have met in a better place,' said
old Joe, removing his pipe from his mouth. ' Come
into the parlour. You were made free of it long ago,
you know; and the other two an't strangers. Stop
till I shut the door of the shop. Ah ! how it skreeks !
There an't such a rusty bit of metal in the place as
its own hinges, I believe ; and I'm sure there's no
such old bones here as mine. Ha ! ha ! We're all
suitable to our calling, we're well matched. Come
into the parlour. Come into the parlour.'
THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS 119
The parlour was the space behind the screen of rags.
The old man raked the fire together with an old
stair-rod, and having trimmed his smoky lamp (for it
was night) with the stem of his pipe, put it into his
While he did this, the woman who had already
spoken threw her bundle on the floor, and sat down
in a flaunting manner on a stool, crossing her elbows
on her knees, and looking with a bold defiance at the
^What odds, then? What odds, Mrs. Dilber ? '
said the woman. ' Every person has a right to take
care of themselves. He always did ! '
* That's true, indeed ! ' said the laundress. ' No
man more so.'
' Why, then, don't stand staring as if you was afraid,
woman ! Who's the wiser ? We're not going to pick
holes in each other's coats, I suppose ? '
* No, indeed ! ' said Mrs. Dilber and the man
together. ^ We should hope not.'
' Very well then ! ' cried the woman. ' That's
enough. Who's the worse for the loss of a few things
like these ? Not a dead man, I suppose ? '
' No, indeed,' said Mrs. Dilber, laughing.
* If he wanted to keep 'em after he was dead, a
wicked old screw,' pursued the woman, ' why wasn't
he natural in Kis Hfetime ? If he had been, he'd have
120 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
had somebody to look after him when he was struck
with Death, instead of lying gasping out his last there,
alone by himself.'
* It's the truest word that ever was spoke,' said Mrs.
Dilber. ' It's a judgment on him.'
' I wish it was a Httle heavier judgment,' repHed the
woman : ' and it should have been, you may depend
upon it, if I could have laid my hands on anything
else. Open that bundle, old Joe, and let me know the
value of it. Speak out plain. I'm not afraid to be the
first, nor afraid for them, to see it. We knew pretty
well that we were helping ourselves before we met
here, I believe. It's no sin. Open the bundle, Joe.'
But the gallantry of her friends would not allow of
this ; and the man in faded black, mounting the breach
first, produced his plunder. It was not extensive. A
seal or two, a pencil-case, a pair of sleeve-buttons, and
a brooch of no great value, were all. They were severally
examined and appraised by old Joe, who chalked the
sums he was disposed to give for each upon the wall,
and added them up into a total when he found that
there was nothing more to come.
* That's your account,' said Joe, * and I wouldn't
give another sixpence, if I was to be boiled for not
doing it. Who's next ? '
Mrs. Dilber was next. Sheets and towels, a little
wearing apparel, two old fashioned silver teaspoons, a
"What do you call t/iis'^" said Joe. ''Bed-curtains!"
THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS 121
pair of sugar-tongs, and a few boots. Her account was
stated on the wall in the same manner.
* I always give too much to ladies. It's a weakness of
mine, and that's the way I ruin myself,' said old Joe.
* That's your account. If you asked me for another
penny, and made it an open question, I'd repent of
being so liberal, and knock off half-a-crown.'
* And now undo my bundle, Joe,' said the first
Joe went down on his knees for the greater con-
venience of opening it, and, having unfastened a great
many knots, dragged out a large heavy roll of some
' What do you call this ? ' said Joe. ' Bed-curtains ?'
* Ah ! ' returned the woman, laughing and leaning
forward on her crossed arms. * Bed-curtains ! '
' You don't mean to say you took 'em down, rings
and all, with him lying there ? ' said Joe.
' Yes, I do,' replied the woman. ' Why not ? '
' You were born to make your fortune,' said Joe,
* and you'll certainly do it.'
* I certainly shan't hold my hand, when I can get
anything in it by reaching it out, for the sake of such
a man as he was, I promise you, Joe,' returned the
woman coolly. ' Don't drop that oil upon the blankets,
* His blankets ? ' asked Joe.
1 22 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
* Whose else's do you think ? ' repHed the woman,
* He isn't Hkely to take cold without 'em, I dare
* I hope he didn't die of anything catching ? Eh ? '
said old Joe, stopping in his work, and looking up.
* Don't you be afraid of that,' returned the woman.
* I an't so fond of his company that I'd loiter about
him for such things, if he did. Ah ! you may look
through that shirt till your eyes ache, but you won't
find a hole in it, nor a threadbare place. It's the best
he had, and a fine one too. They'd have wasted it, if
it hadn't been for me.'
* What do you call wasting of it ? ' asked old Joe.
'Putting it on him to be buried in, to be sure,'
replied the woman, with a laugh. * Somebody was fool
enough to do it, but I took it off again. If calico an't
good enough for such a purpose, it 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 spoil, in the scanty light
afforded by the old man's lamp, he viewed them with a
detestation and disgust which could hardly have been
greater, though they had been obscene demons
marketing the corpse itself.
* Ha, ha ! ' laughed the same woman when old Joe
producing a flannel bag with money in it, told out their
THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS 123
several gains upon the ground. ' This is the end of it, you
see ! He frightened every one away from him when he
was aUve, to profit us when he was dead ! Ha, ha, ha ! '
' Spirit ! ' said Scrooge, shuddering from head to
foot. ' I see, I see. The case of this unhappy man
might be my own. My life tends that way now.
Merciful heaven, what is this ? '
He recoiled in terror, for the scene had changed, and
now he almost touched a bed — a bare, uncurtained bed
— on which, beneath a ragged sheet, there lay a some-
thing covered up, which, though it was dumb,
announced itself in awful language.
The room was very dark, too dark to be observed
with any accuracy, though Scrooge glanced round it in
obedience to a secret impulse, anxious to know what
kind of room it was. A pale light, rising in the outer
air, fell straight upon the bed ; and on it, plundered
and bereft, unwatched, unwept, uncared for, was 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 it, the
motion of a finger upon Scrooge's part, would have
disclosed the face. He thought of it, felt how easy it
would be to do, and longed to do it ; but he had no more
power to withdraw the veil than to dismiss the spectre
at his side.
124 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Oh, cold, cold, rigid, dreadful Death, set up thine
altar here, and dress it with such terrors as thou hast
at thy command ; for this is thy dominion ! But of
the loved, revered, and honoured head thou canst not
turn one hair to thy dread purposes, or 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 open,
generous, and true; the heart brave, warm, and
tender, and the pulse a man's. Strike, Shadow, strike !
And see his good deeds springing from the wound, to
sow the world with life immortal !
No voice pronounced these words in Scrooge's ears,
and yet he heard them when he looked upon the bed.
He thought, if this man could be raised up now, what
would be his foremost thoughts ? Avarice, hard dealing,
griping cares ? They have brought him to a rich end,
He lay in the dark, empty house, with not a man, a
woman, or a child to say he was kind to me in this or
that, and for the memory of one kind word I will be
kind to him. A cat was tearing at the door, and there
was a sound of gnawing rats beneath the hearthstone.
What they wanted in the room of death, and why they
were so restless and disturbed, Scrooge did not dare to
' Spirit 1 ' he said, ' this is a fearful place. In
THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS 125
leaving it, I shall not leave its lesson, trust me. Let
us go ! '
Still the Ghost pointed with an unmoved finger to
* I understand you/ Scrooge returned, * and I would
do it if I could. But I have not the power. Spirit. I
have not the power.'
Again it seemed to look upon him.
' If there is any person in the town who feels emotion
caused by this man's death,' said Scrooge, quite
agonised, ' show that person to me. Spirit, I beseech
The Phantom spread its dark robe before him for a
moment, like a wing ; and, withdrawing it, revealed a
room by daylight, where a mother and her children were.
She was expecting some one, and with anxious
eagerness ; for she walked up and down the room,
started at every sound, looked out from the window,
glanced at the clock, tried, but in vain, to work with
her needle, and could hardly bear the voices of her
children in their play.
At length the long-expected knock was heard. She
hurried to the door, and met her husband ; a man
whose face was careworn and depressed, though he was
young. There was a remarkable expression in it now,
a kind of serious delight of which he felt ashamed, and
which he struggled to repress.
126 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
He sat down to the dinner that had been hoarding
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 yet, Caroline.'
* If he relents,' she^ said, amazed, ' there is ! Nothing
is past hope, if 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
it, and she said so with clasped hands. She prayed
forgiveness the next moment, and was sorry ; but the
first was the emotion of her heart.
' What the half-drunken woman, whom I told you of
last night, said to me when 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 ill, but dying, then.'
* 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 not,
it would be bad fortune indeed to find so merciless
a creditor in his successor. We may sleep to-night
with light hearts, Caroline ! '
THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS 127
Yes, Soften it as they would, their hearts were
lighter. The children's faces, hushed and clustered
round to hear what they so little understood, were
brighter ; and it was a happier house for this man's
death ! The only emotion that the Ghost could show
him, caused by the event, was one of pleasure.
* Let me see some tenderness connected with a death,'
said Scrooge ; * or that dark chamber, Spirit, which we
left just now, will be for ever present to me.'
The Ghost conducted him through several streets
familiar to his feet ; and as they went along, Scrooge
looked here and there to find himself, but 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
Quiet. Very quiet. The noisy little Cratchits were
as still as statues in one corner, and 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 child, and set him in the midst of
Where had Scrooge heard those words ? He had not
dreamed them. The boy must have read them out as
he and the Spirit crossed the threshold. Why did he
not go on ?
128 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
The mother laid her work upon the table, and put
her hand up to her face.
* The colour hurts my eyes/ she said.
The colour ? Ah, poor 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 home for the
world. It must be near his time.'
* Past it rather,' Peter answered, shutting up his
book. * But I think he has walked a little slower than
he used, these few last evenings, mother.'
They were very quiet again. At last she said, and in
a steady, cheerful voice, that only faltered once :
' I have known him walk with — I have known him
walk with Tiny Tim upon his shoulder very fast
' And so have I,' cried Peter. * Often.'
* And so have I,' exclaimed another. So had all.
' But he was very light to carry,' she resumed, intent
upon her work, ' and his father loved him so, that 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 it, poor fellow — came in.
His tea was ready for him on the hob, and they all
tried who should help him to it most. Then the two
young Cratchits got upon his knees, and laid, each
THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS 129
child, a little cheek against his face, as if they said,
* Don't mind it, father. Don't be grieved ! '
Bob was very cheerful with them, and spoke
pleasantly to all the family. He looked at the work
upon the table, and praised the industry and speed of
Mrs. Cratchit and the girls. They would be done
long before Sunday, he said.
* Sunday ! You went to-day, then, Robert ? ' said his
* Yes, my dear,' returned Bob. * I wish you could
have gone. It would have done you good to see how
green a place it is. But you'll see it often. I promised
him that I would walk there on a Sunday. My Httle,
little child ! ' cried Bob. ' My little child ! '
He broke down all at once. He couldn't help it. If
he could have helped it, he and his child would have
been farther apart, perhaps, than they were.
He left the room, and went upstairs into the room
above, which was lighted cheerfully, and hung with
Christmas. There was a chair set close beside the
child, and there were signs of some one having been
there lately. Poor Bob sat down in it, and when he
had thought a little and composed himself, he kissed
the little face. He was reconciled to what had
happened, and went down again quite happy.
They drew about the fire, and talked, the girls and
mother working still. Bob told them of the extra-
130 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
ordinary kindness of Mr. Scrooge's nephew, whom he
had scarcely seen but once, and who, meeting him in
the street that day, and seeing that he looked a little —
' just a little down, you know,' said Bob, inquired what
had happened to distress him. ' On which,' said Bob,
' for he is the pleasantest-spoken gentleman you ever
heard, I told him. " I am heartily sorry for it, Mr.
Cratchit," he said, " and heartily sorry for your good
wife." By-the-bye, how he ever knew that I don't
' Knew what, my dear ? '
' Why, that you were a good wife,' replied Bob.
' Everybody knows that,' said Peter.
' Very well observed, my boy ! ' cried Bob. ' I hope
they do. " Heartily sorry," he said, " for your good
wife. If I can be of service to you in any way," he
said, giving me his card, " that's where I live. Pray
come to me." Now, it wasn't,' cried Bob, ' for the
sake of anything he might be able to do for us, so much
as for his kind way, that this was quite delightful. It
really seemed as if he had known our Tiny Tim, and
felt with us.'
* I'm sure he's a good soul ! ' said Mrs. Cratchit.
* You would be sure of it, my dear,' returned Bob,
* if you saw and spoke to him. I shouldn't be at all
surprised — mark what I say ! — if he got Peter a better
THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS 131
' Only hear that, Peter/ said Mrs. Cratchit.
* And then,' cried one of the girls, * Peter will be
keeping company with some one, and setting up for
* Get along with you ! ' retorted Peter, grinning.
' It's just as likely as not,' said Bob, ' one of these
days ; though there's plenty of time for that, my dear.
But, however and whenever we part from one another,
I am sure we shall none of us forget poor Tiny Tim —
shall we — or this first parting that there was among us ? '
' Never, father ! ' cried they all.
' And I know,' said Bob, * I know, my dears, that
when we recollect how patient and how mild he was ;
although he was a little, little child ; we shall not
quarrel easily among ourselves, and forget poor Tiny
Tim in doing it.'
' No, never, father ! ' they all cried again.
' I am very happy,' said little Bob, * I am very
happy ! '
Mrs. Cratchit kissed him, his daughters kissed him^
the two young Cratchits kissed him, and Peter and
himself shook hands. Spirit of Tiny Tim, thy childish
essence was from God !
' Spectre,' said Scrooge, ' something informs me that
our parting moment is at hand. I know it but I
know not how. Tell me what man that was whom we
saw lying dead ? '
132 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come conveyed him,
as before- -though at a different time, he thought :
indeed there seemed no order in these latter visions,
save that they were in the Future — into the resorts of
business men, but showed him not himself. Indeed,
the Spirit did not stay for anything, but went straight
on, as to the end just now desired, until besought by
Scrooge to tarry for a moment.
' This court,' said Scrooge, ' through which we hurry
now, is where my place of occupation is, and has been
for a length of time. I see the house. Let me behold
what I shall be in days to come.'
The Spirit stopped ; the hand was pointed elsewhere.
' The house is yonder,' Scrooge exclaimed. ' Why
do you point away ? '
The inexorable finger underwent no change.
Scrooge hastened to the window of his office, and
looked in. It was an office still, but not his. The
furniture was not the same, and the figure in the
chair was not himself. The Phantom pointed as
He joined it once again, and, wondering why and
whither he had gone, accompanied it until they reached
an iron gate. He paused to look round before
A churchyard. Here, then, the wretched man,
whose name he had now to learn, lay underneath the
THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS 133
ground. It was a worthy place. Walled in by houses ;
overrun by grass and weeds, the growth of vegetation's
death, not life ; choked up with too much burying ;
fat with repleted appetite. A worthy place !
The Spirit stood among the graves, and pointed
down to One. He advanced towards it trembling.
The Phantom was exactly as it had been, but 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 be, or are
they shadows of the things that May be only ? '
Still the Ghost pointed downward to the grave by
which it stood.
' Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to
which, if persevered in, they must lead,' said Scrooge.
- But if the courses be departed from, the ends will
change. Say it is thus with what you show me ! '
The Spirit was immovable as ever.
Scrooge crept towards it, trembling as he went; and,
following the finger, read upon the stone of the
neglected grave his own name, Ebenezer Scrooge.
' Am / that man who lay upon the bed ? ' he cried
upon his knees.
The finger pointed from the grave to him, and back
* No, Spirit ! Oh no, no 1 '
134 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
The finger still was there.
' Spirit ! ' he cried, tight 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 this, if I am past all hope ? '
For the first time the hand appeared to shake.
' Good Spirit,' he pursued, as down upon the ground
he fell before it, ' your nature intercedes for me, and
pities me. Assure me that I yet may change these
shadows you have shown me by an altered life ? '
The kind hand trembled.
' I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to
keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the
Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three
shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons
that they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the
writing on this stone ! '
In his agony he caught the spectral hand. It sought
to free itself, but he was strong in his entreaty, and
detained it. The Spirit stronger yet, repulsed him.
Holding up his hands in a last prayer to have his
fate reversed, he saw an alteration in the Phantom's
hood and dress. It shrunk, collapsed, and dwindled
down into a bed-post.
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 all, the Time before him was his own, to make
amends in !
'I will live in the Past, the Present, and the
Future ! ' Scrooge repeated as he scrambled out of
bed. ' The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me.
O Jacob Marley ! Heaven and the Christmas Time be
138 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
praised for this ! I say it on my knees, old Jacob ; on
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 con-
flict with the Spirit, and his face was wet with tears.
* They are not torn down,' cried Scrooge, folding one
of his bed-curtains in his arms, ' They are not torn
down, rings and all. They are here — I am here — the
shadows of the things that would have been may be
dispelled. They will be. I know they will ! '
His hands were busy with his garments all this time :
turning them inside out, putting them on upside down,
tearing them, mislaying them, making them parties to
every kind of extravagance.
' I don't know what to do ! ' cried Scrooge, laughing
and crying in the same breath, and making a perfect
Laocoon of himself with his stockings. * I am as light
as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I 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 ! HaUo ! '
He had frisked into the sitting-room, and was no'A-
standing there, perfectly winded.
' There's the saucepan that the gruel was in ! ' cried
Scrooge, starting off again, and going round the fire-
place. ' There's the door by which the Ghost of Jacob
THE END OF IT 139
Marley entered ! There's the corner where the Ghost
of Christmas Present sat ! There's the window where
I saw the wandering Spirits ! It's all right, it's all
true, it all happened. Ha, ha, ha ! '
Really, for a man who had been out of practice for
so many years, it was a splendid laugh, a most illustrious
laugh. The father of a long, long line of brilliant
* I don't know what day of the month it is,' said
Scrooge. * I don't know how long I have 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 ! Hallo here ! '
He was checked in his transports by the churches
ringing out the lustiest peals he had ever heard. Clash,
clash, hammer ; ding, dong, bell ! Bell, dong, ding ;
hammer, clash, clash ! Oh, glorious, glorious !
Running to the window, he opened it, and put out
his head. No fog, no mist ; clear, bright, jovial,
stirring, cold ; cold, piping for the blood to dance to ;
golden sunlight ; heavenly sky ; sweet fresh air ;
merry bells. Oh, glorious ! Glorious !
* What's to-day ? ' cried Scrooge, calling downward
to a boy in Sunday clothes, who perhaps had loitered
in to look about him.
* Eh ? ' returned the boy with all his might of
140 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
' What's to-day, my fine fellow ? ' said Scrooge.
* To-day ! ' replied the boy. ' Why, Christmas 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. Hallo, my fine
fellow ! '
' Hallo ! ' returned the boy.
' Do you know the poulterer's in 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 big one ? '
* What ! the one as big as me ? ' returned the boy.
* What ■ delightful boy ! ' said Scrroge. * It's a
pleasure to talk to him. Yes, my buck ! '
' It's h :nging there now,' replied the boy.
' Is it ? ' said Scrooge. ^ Go and buy it.'
' Walk-' ! ' exclaimed the boy.
' No, n* said Scrooge. ' I am in earnest. Go and
buy it, auL: tell 'em to bring it here, that I may give
them the directions where to take it. Come back with
the man, and I'll give you a shilling. Come back with
him in less than five minutes, and I'll give you half-a-
crown ! '
THE END OF IT 141
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 as fast.
' I'll send it to Bob Cratchit's/ whispered Scrooge^
rubbing his hands, and 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 will be ! '
The hand in which he wrote the address was not a
steady one ; but write it he did, somehow, and went
downstairs to open the street-door, ready for the coming
of the poulterer's man. As he stood there, waiting his
arrival, the knocker caught his eye.
* I shall love it as long as I live ! ' cried Scrooge,
patting 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 legs, that bird. He would have snapped 'em short
off in a minute, like sticks of sealing-wax.
' Why, it's impossible to carry that to Camden
Town,' said Scrooge. ' You must have a cab.'
The chuckle with which he said this, and the chuckle
with which he paid for the turkey, and the chuckle with
which he paid for the cab, and the chuckle with which
he recompensed the boy, were only to be exceeded by
1 42 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
the chuckle with which he sat down breathless in his
chair again, and chuckled till he cried.
Shaving was not an easy task, for his hand continued
to shake very much ; and shaving requires attention,
even when you don't dance while you are at it. But if
he had cut the end of his nose off, he would have put
a piece of sticking-plaster over it, and been quite
He dressed himself * all in his best,' and 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 him, Scrooge regarded every one with a
delighted smile. He looked so irresistibly pleasant, in a
word, that three or four good-humoured fellows said,
* Good-morning, sir ! A merry Christmas to you !
And Scrooge said often afterwards that, of all the
blithe sounds he had ever heard, those were the blithest
in his ears. ">
He had not gone far when, coming on towards him,
he beheld the portly gentleman who had walked into
his counting-house the day before, and said, ' Scrooge
and Marley's, I 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 him, and he took it.
* My dear sir/ said Scrooge, quickening his pace, and
THE END OF IT 143
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 you, sir ! '
' Mr. Scrooge ? '
* Yes,' said Scrooge. * That is my name, and 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 his ear.
' Lord bless me ! ' cried the gentleman, as if his
breath were taken away. ' My dear Mr. Scrooge, are
you serious ? '
' If you please,' said Scrooge. ' Not a farthing less.
A great many back-payments are included in it, I assure
you. Will you do me that favour ? '
' My dear sir,' said the other, shaking hands with
him, ' I don't know what to say to such munifi '
* 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.
' Thankee,' said Scrooge. ' I am much obliged to
you. I thank you fifty times. Bless you ! '
He went to church, and walked about the streets,
and watched the people hurrying to and fro, and patted
the children on the head, and questioned beggars, and
looked down into the kitchens of houses, and up to the
windows ; and found that everything could yield him
144 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
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
He passed the door a dozen times before he had the
courage to go up and knock. But he made a dash and
* Is your master at home, my dear ? ' said Scrooge to
the girl. ' Nice girl ! Very.'
' Yes, sir.'
* Where is he, my love ? ' said Scrooge.
* He's in the dining-room, sir, along with mistress.
I'll show you upstairs, if you please.'
' Thankee. He knows me,' said Scrooge, with his
hand already on the dining-room lock. ' I'll go in
here, my dear.'
He turned it gently, and sidled his face in round the
door. They were looking at the table (which was
spread out in great array) ; for these young house-
keepers are always nervous on such points, and like to
see that everything is right.
* Fred ! ' said Scrooge.
Dear heart alive, how his niece by marriage started !
Scrooge had forgotten, for the moment, about her
sitting in the corner with the footstool, or he wouldn't
have done it on any account.
* Why, bless my soul ! ' cried Fred, ' who's that ? '
'It's I, your luicle Scrooge. I have come to dinner.
Will you let vie in, Fred?"
THE END OF IT 145
* It's I. Your uncle Scrooge. I have come to
dinner. Will you let me in, Fred ? '
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. Wonder-
ful party, wonderful games, wonderful unanimity,
won-der-ful happiness !
But he was early at the office next morning. Oh,
he was early there ! If he could only be there first,
and catch Bob Cratchit coming late ! That was the
thing he had set his heart upon.
And he did it ; yes, he 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 open, that he might see him
come into the tank.
His hat was off before he opened the door ; his
comforter too. He was on his stool in a jiffy, driving
away with his pen, as if he were trying to overtake
* Hallo ! ' growled Scrooge in his accustomed voice
as near as he could feign it. * What do you mean by
coming here at this time of day ? '
* I am very sorry, sir,' said Bob, * I am behind my
146 A CHRISTMAS CAROL
* You are ! ' repeated Scrooge. ' Yes, I think you
are. Step this way, sir, if you please.'
' It's only once a year, sir,' pleaded Bob, appearing
from the tank. ' It shall not be repeated. I was
making rather merry yesterday, sir.'
' Now, I'll tell you what, my friend,' said Scrooge.
* I am not going to stand this sort of thing any longer.
And therefore,' he continued, leaping from his stool,
and giving Bob such a dig in the waistcoat that he
staggered back into the tank again — ' and therefore I
am about to raise your salary ! '
Bob trembled, and got a little nearer to the ruler.
He had a momentary idea of knocking Scrooge down
with it, holding him, and calling to the people in the
court for help and a strait- waistcoat.
' A merry Christmas, Bob ! ' said Scrooge, with an
earnestness that could not be mistaken, as he clapped
him on the back. * A merrier Christmas, Bob, my
good fellow, than I have given you for many a year !
I'll raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your
struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this
very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking
bishop. Bob ! Make up the fires and buy another
coal-scuttle before you dot another i. Bob Cratchit ! '
Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and
infinitely more ; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he
was a second father. He became as good a friend, as
"Now, ril tell you -what, my jrlend,^' said Scrooge.
"I am not going to stand this sort of thing any longer."
THE END OF IT
good a master, and as good a man as the good old City
knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough in
the good old world. Some people laughed to see the
alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little
heeded them ; for he was wise enough to know that
nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at
which some people did not have their fill of laughter in
the outset ; and knowing that such as these would be
blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they
should wrinkle up their eyes in grins as have the
malady in less attractive forms. His own heart
laughed, and that was quite enough for him.
He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived
upon the Total- Abstinence Principle ever afterwards ;
and it was always said of him that he knew how to
keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the
knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of
us ! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us,
Every One !
is complete without
Clement C. Moore
Illustrated in colour and line
by Arthur Rackham
Generations of children have gone to
bed Christmas Eve with the hoofbeats
of eight tiny reindeer in their ears and
in their minds the vision of Saint Nick
with his pipe and beard at the mantel
filling their stockings.
Of all the different editions of this
classic, none is more treasured than
this one, with the lovely Rackham
pictures. His soft, full-colour paintings,
his delicate Une drawings all combine
to make the perfect setting for the poem.
Now we have a new setting for the
pictures. An attractive new type face, a
different format, redesigned jacket and
general layout give distinction to the
famous artist's exquisite work.
Here is a perfect Christmas remem-
brance for all members of the family —
an ageless poem and pictures that
grown-ups and children will treasure
Selected and Illustrated by
A collection of twenty-three of the most beloved
and important fairy tales — the tales all children de-
light in and which no boy or girl should grow up
without knowing. They range from Hop 0' My Thumbs
Henny-Penny^ The Three Bears, Red Riding Hood and
others for the youngest children, to Sleeping Beauty
and Cinderella, AH Baba and Aladdin, The Ugly Duckling
and The Emperors New Clothes for the older ones.
This collection was first made and illustrated by the
great artist in the early 30's and became a popular
standby. Though unavailable for a time, this book
now reprinted in its original format, is sure of a
Because of the range of stories, the clear, well-spaced
type, the inviting reading page sprinkled generously
with Arthur Rackham's important illustrations, this
book makes a beautiful and favourite gift for all the
Eight full-colour, over fifty black-and-white illustrations and
endpaper drawings by ARTHUR RACKHAM.
J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY
Publishers Since if si
Philadelphia and New York