A^. CHARLES Dickens's
LEK &; SHKP^KD, Fxxblishers.
'■>''' A CoUecHon of COMEDIES, DRAMAS, and FARCES, adapted to eUher Public
or Private Performance. Containing a full description of all
the necessary Stage Business.
SPENCER'S UNIVERSAL STAGE.
PBICE, 15 CENTS EACB. ^S^ No Plays exehanffed.
Three Acts. 6 Mhle, 4 Female char-J
Nicholas Flam. A Comedy in Two
Acts. By J.B. Buckstone. 5 Male,
3 Female characters.
The Welsh Girl. A Comedy in
One Act. By Mrs. Planche, 3 Male,
2 Female characters.
John Wopps. A Farce in One Act.
By W. E. Suter. 4 Male, 2 fVmale
The Turkish Bath. A Farce in
One Act. By Montague Williams
and F. C. Burnand, 6 Male, 1 Fe-
The Two Puddlfoots. A Farce
in One Act. By J. M. Morton. 3
Male, 3 Female characters.
Old If onesty. A Comic Drama in
Two Acts. By J. M. Morton. 5
Male, 2 Female characters.
T^vo Gentlemen in a Fix. A
Farce in One Act. By W. E. Suter.
2 Male cliaracters.
Smashlngton Goit. A Farce in
One Act. By T..I. Williame. 5 Male,
3 Female characters.
Tvro Heads Better thanOne. A
Farce in One Act. By I.enox Home.
4 Male, 1 Female character.
John Bobbs. A Farce in One Act.
By J. M. Morton. 5 Male, 2 Female
The Bawghter of the Regi-
ment. A Drama in Two Acts. By
Edward Fitzball. Male, 2 Female
Annt Charlotte's 9Iaid. A Farce
in One Act. By J. M. Morton. 3
Male, 3 Female characters.
Brother Bill and ^Te. A Farce in
One Act. By W. E. Suter. 4 Male,
3 Female characters.
Bone on Both Sides. A Farce in
Ou' Act. By J. M. Morton. 3
Male, 2 Female characters.
T>nndwcl£etty'8 Picnic. A Farce
in One Act. By T. J. Williams. 6
Male, 3 Female characters.
I've "ivritten to Browne. A Farce
in One Act. By T. .1. Williams. 4
Male, 3 Female characters.
^.ending a nand. A Farce in One
Act. By G. A. A'Becket. 3 Male,
2 Female characters.
19. My Precious Betsy. A Farce in
One Act By J. M. Morton. 4 Male,
4 Femuli characters.
20. MyTwrn]Vext. A Farce in One Act.
By T. J. Williams. 4 Male, 3 Fe-
male clia.f. -ters.
21. Wine Poin< « ol the I^aw. A Com-
edy in One Act. By Tom Taylor.
4 Male, ;^ Female characters.
22. The Phantom Breakfast. A
Farce in One Act. By Charles Sel-
by. 3 Male, 2 Female characters.
23. Bandelions Bodges. A Farce in
One Act. By T. J. Williams. 4
Male, 2 K'emale characters.
24. A Slice ot L,uck. A Farce in One
Act. £y J. M. Morton. 4 Male, 2
26. Al^vays Intended. A Comedy in
One Act. By Hq«ce Wigan. 3
Male, 3 Female chaWcters.
26. A Bull In a China Shop. A Com-
edy in Two Acts. By Charles Mat-
thews. 6 Male, 4 Female characters.
27. Another Glass. A Drama iu One
Act. By Thomas Mqrton. 6 Male,
3 Female characters.
28. Bowled Out, A Farce in One Act.
By H. T.Craven. 4 Male, 3 Female
29. Cousin Tom. A Commedietta in
One Act. By George Roberts. 3
Male, 2 Female diaracters.
30. Sarali's lioung Man. A Farce in
One Act. By W. E, Suter. 3 Male,
3 Female characters.
31. Hit Him, He has IVo Friends.
A Farce in One Act. By E. Yates
and N. H. Harrington. 7 Male, 3
3?- The Christening. A Farce in One
ict. By J. B. Buckstone. 5 Male,
b Female characters.
3o. A Bace lor a Widow. A Farce
in One Act. By Thomas J. Wil-
liams. 5 JIale, 4 Female character.^.
Tour liife's In Banger. A Farce
in One Act. By J. M. Morton. 3
Male, 3 Female characters.
True unto Beath. A Drama in
Two Acts. By J. Sheridan Knowlcs.
C Male, 2 Female rharacters. j;
AS CONDENSED BY HIMSELF, l-OR HIS
LEE AND SHEPARD.
NEW YORK: ^
CHARLES T. DILLINGHAM.
Gad's Hill, Hicham by Rochester, Kbnt
Tenth October, 1867.
The edition bearing the imprint of Messrs. Ticknor and Fields ii
the only ccrrect and authorized edition of my Readings.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1867, by
TICKNOR AND FIELDS,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Coiut of the District of Massachusetts.
UmvKKsiTY Press: Welch, Bigelow, & Ca,
A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
IN FOUR STAVES.
MARLEY was dead, to begin with. There is
no doubt whatever about that. The regis-
ter 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
Old 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 adminis-
trator, his sole assign, his sole residuary legatee,
his sole friend, his sole mourner.
Scrooge never painted out old Marley's name,
however. There it yet 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
4 A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
Scrooge Scrooge, and sometimes Marley. He
answered to both names. It was all the same to
Oh ! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the
grindstone, was Scrooge ! a squeezing, wrenching,
grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sin-
ner ! External heat and cold had little influence on
him. No warmth could warm, no cold could chill
him. No wind that blew was bitterer than he,
no falling snow was more intent upon its pur-
pose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty. Foul
weather did n't know where to have him. The
heaviest rain and snow and hail and sleet could
boast of the advantage over him in only one re-
spect, — they often " came down " handsomely,
and Scrooge never did.
Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say,
with gladsome looks, " My dear Scrooge, how
are you ? When will you come to see me ? "
No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no
children asked him what it was o'clock, no man or
woman ever once in all his life inquired the way
to such and such a place, of Scrooge. Even the
blindmen'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
A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 5
crowded paths of life, warning all human sym-
pathy to keep its distance, was what the knowing
ones call " nuts " to Scrooge.
Once upon a time — of all the good days in the
year, upon a Christmas eve — old Scrooge sat
busy in his counting-house. It was cold, bleak,
biting, foggy weather ; and the city clocks had
only just gone three, but it was quite dark al-
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 could n'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. Wherefore the clerk put on
his white comforter, and tried to warm himself at
the candle ; in which effort, not being a man of a
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 Scrooge had of
" Bah ! " said Scrooge ; " humbug ! "
" Christmas a humbug, uncle ! You don't mean
that, I am sure ? "
6 A CHRISTMAS CABOL.
" I do. Out upon merry Christmas I What 's
Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills
without monej' ; 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 had my will, 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 ^rough his heart. He should ! "
" Uncle ! "
" Nephew, keep Christmas in your own way,
and let me keep it in mine."
"Keep it! But you don't keep it."
"Let me leave it alone, then. Much good may
it do you ! Much good it has ever done you ! "
" There are many things from which I might
have derived good, by which I have not profited,
I dare say, 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 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 kno'w' 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-
travellers to the grave, and not another race of
creatures bound on other journeys. And there-
A CHRISTMAS CAROL. I
fore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold
or silver in my pocket, I believe that it /low done
me good, and will do me good ; and I say, God
The clerk in the tank involuntarily applauded.
"Let me hear another sound from you," said
Scrooge, " and you '11 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 Parliament."
" Don't be angry, uncle. Come ! Dine with us
Scrooge said that he would see him — yes, in-
deed 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 ? "
" Because I fell in love."
" Because you fell in love ! " growled Scrooge,
as if that were the only one thing in the world
mqre ridiculous than a merry Christmas. " Good
afternoon ! "
" Nay, uncle, but you never came to see me be-
fore that happened. Why give it as a reason for
not coming now ? "
" Good afternoon "
" I want nothing from you ; I ask nothing of
you ; why cannot we be friends ? "
" Good afternoon,"
8 A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
" I am Borry, with all my heart, to find you so
resolute. We have never had any quarrel, to
which I have been a party. But I have made the
trial in homage to Christmas, and I '11 keep my
Christmas humor to the last. So A Merry Christ-
" Good afternoon ! "
" And A Happy New- Year ! "
" Good afternoon ! "
nis nephew left the room without an an-
gry word, notwithstanding. The clerk, 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
oflSce. 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.
" Mr. Marley has been dead these seven years.
He died seven years ago, this very night."
" At this festive season of theyear, Mr. Scrooge,"
said the gentleman, taking up a pen, " it is more
than usually desirable that we should make some
slight 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."
" Arc there no prisons ? "
A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 9
" Plenty of prisons. But under the impression
that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind
or body to the unoffending multitude, a few of us
are endeavoring 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 for ? "
" Nothing ! "
" You wish to be anonymous ? "
'* I wish to be left alone. 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
prisons and the workhouses, — 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, they had better do it.
and decrease the surplus population."
At length the hour of shutting. up the counting
house arrived. With an ill-will Scrooge, dismount-
ing from his stool, tacitly admitted the fact to the
expectant clerk in the Tank, who instantly snuffed
his candle out, and put on his hat.
" You '11 want all day to-morrow, I suppose ? "
" If quite convenient, sir."
" It 's not convenient, and it 's not fair. If 1
was to stop half a crown for it, you 'd think yourself
mightily ill-used, I '11 be bound ? "
10 A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
" Yes, sir."
" And yet you don't think me ill-used, when I
pay a day's wages for no work."
" It's only once a year, sir."
" A poor excuse for picking a man's pocket
every twenty-fifth of December ! But I suppose
you must have the whole day. Be here all the
earlier next morning."
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 great-coat), went down a slide, at
the end of a lane of boys, twenty times, in honor
of its being Christmas eve, and then ran home as
hard as he could pelt, to play at blindman's-buff.
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. The building
was old enough now, and dreary enough ; for no-
body lived in it but Scrooge, the other rooms being
all let out as offices.
Now it is a fact, that there was nothing at all
particular about the knocker on the door of this
house, except that it was very large ; also, that
Scrooge had seen it, night and morning, during his
A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 11
•whole residonce in that place ; also, that Scrooge
had as little of what is called fancy about him as
any man in the city of London. And yet Scrooge,
having his key in the lock of the door, saw in the
knocker, without its undergoing any intermedi-
ate process of change, not a knocker, but Marley's
Marley's face, with a dismal light about it, like
a bad lobster in a dark cellar. It was not angry or
ferocious, but it looked at Scrooge as Marley used
to look, — with ghostly spectacles turned up upon
its ghostly forehead.
As Scrooge looked fixedly at this phenomenon,
it was a knocker again. He said, " Pooh, pooh I "
and closed the door 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
Up Scrooge went, not caring a button for its
being very dark. Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge
liked it. But before he ahut his heavy door, he
walked through his rooms to see that all was right.
He had just enough recollection of the face to de-
sire to do that.
Sitting-room, bedroom, lumber-room, all as they
12 A CHBISTMAS CAROL.
should be. Nobody under the table, nobody un-
der 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 ; no-
body in his dressing-gown, which was hanging up
in a suspicious attitude against the wall. Lum-
ber-room as usual. Old fire-guard, old shoes, two
fish-baskets, washing-stand on three legs, and a
Quite satisfied, he closed his door, and locked
himself in ; double-locked himself in, which was not
his custom. Thus secured against surprise, he
took ofi" his cravat, put on his dressing-gown and
slippers and his nightcap, and sat down before the
very low fire to take his gruel.
As he threw his head back in the chair, his
glance happened to rest upon a bell, a disused bell,
that hung in the room, and communicated, for some
purpose now forgotten, with a chamber in the
highest story of the building. It* was with great
astonishment, and with a strange, inexplicable
dread, that, as he looked, he saw this bell begin to
swing. Soon it rang out loudly, and so did every
bell in the house.
This was succeeded by a clanking noise, deep
down below, as if some person were dragging a
heavy chain over the casks in the wine-merchant's
Then he heard the noise much louder, on the
A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 13
floors below ; then coming up the stairs ; then
coming straight towards his door.
It came on through the heavy door, and a spectre
passed into the room before his eyes. And upon
its coming in, the dying flame leaped up, as though
it ci'ied, " I know him! Marley's ghost ! "
The same face, the very same. Marley in his
pigtail, ufenal waistcoat, tights, and boots. 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 eyes, and noticed tlie
very texture of the folded kerchief bound about its
head and chin, — he was still incredulous.
" How now ! " said Scrooge, caustic and cold aa
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 ? "
" In life I was your partner, Jacob Marley."
" Can you — can you sit down ? "
" Do it, then."
Scrooge asked the question, because he didn't
14 A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
know whether a ghost so transparent might find
himself in a condition to take a chair ; and felt that,
in the event of its being impossible, it might in-
volve 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."
" What evidence would you have of my reality
beyond that of your senses ? "
'.' I don't know."
" Why do you doubt your senses ? "
" Because a little thing affects them. A slight
disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You
may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mus-
tard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an under-
done potato. There 's more of gravy than of grave
about you, whatever you are ! "
Scrooge was not much in the habit of cracking
jokes, nor did he feel in his heart by any means wag-
gish then. The truth is, that he tried to be smart, as
a means of distracting his own attention, and keep-
ing down his horror.
But how much greater was his horror when, the
phantom taking off the bandage round its head, as
if it were too warm to wear in-doors, its lower jaw
dropped down upon its breast !
" Mercy ! Dreadful apparition, why do you
trouble me ? Whj do spirits walk the earth, and
why do they come to me ? "
A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 15
" It is required of every man, 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. I cannot tell you all I would. A very little
more is permitted to me. I cannot rest, I cannot
B^ay, 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 jour-
neys lie before me ! "
" Seven years dead. And travelling all the
time ? You travel fast ? "
" On the wings of the wind."
" You might have got over a great quantity of
ground in seven years."
" blind man, blind man! not to know that ages
of incessant labor 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 useful-
ness. Not to know that no space of regret can
make amends for one life's opportunities misused !
Yet I was like this man ; I once was like this
" But you were always a good man of business,
Jacob," faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply
this to himself.
16 A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
"Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing its
hands again. " Mankind was my business. The
common welfare was my business ; charity, mercy,
forbearance, benevolence, were all my business.
The dealings of my trade were but a drop of
water in the comprehensive ocean of my busi-
ness !" • ^
Scrooge was very much dismayed to hear the
spectre going on at this rate, and began to quake
" Hear me ! My time is nearly gone."
" I will. But don't be hard upon me ! Don't
be flowery, Jacob ! . Pray ! "
" 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.
Thank'ee ! "
" You will be haunted by Three Spirits."
" Is that the chance and hope you mentioned,
Jacob ? I — I think I 'd rather not."
" Without their visits, you cannot hope to shun
the path I tread. Expect the first to-morrow night,
when the bell tolls One. 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 !."
It walked backward from him ; and at every
A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 17
step it took, the window raised itself a little, so
that, when the apparition reached it, it was wide
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. Scrooge
tried to say, " Humbug ! " but stopped at the first
syllable. And being, from the emotion he had
undergone, or the fatigues of the day, or his
glimpse of the invisible world, or the dull con«
versation of the Ghost, or the lateness of the hour,
much in need of repose, he went straight to bed,
without undressing, and fell asleep on the instant.
18 A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS.
HEN Scrooge awoke, it was so dark, that,
looking out of bed, he could scarcely dis-
tinguish the transparent window from the opaque
walls of his chamber, until suddenly the church
clock tolled a deep, dull, hollow, melancholy ONE.
Light flashed up in the room upon the instant,
and the curtains of his bed were drawn aside by
a strange figure, — like a child: yet not so like
a child as like an old man, viewed through some
supernatural medium, which gave him the ap-
pearance 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 wrinkle in it, and the tenderest bloom
was on the skin. 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 sprung
a bright clear jet of light, by which all this was
visible ; and which was doiibtless the occasion of
its using, in its duller moments, a great extin-
guisher for a cap, which it now held under its arm.
' A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 19
"Are you the Spirit, sir, whose coming was
foretold to me ?"
" Who and what are you ? "
"I am the Ghost of Christmas Past."
" Long past ? "
" No. Your past. The things that you will
see with me are shadows of the things that have
been ; they will have no consciousness of us."
Scrooge then made bold to inquire what busi-
ness brought him there.
" Your welfare. Rise, and walk with me ! "
It would have been in vain for Scrooge to plead
that the weather and the hour were not adapted to
pedestrian purposes ; that bed was warm, and the
thermometer a long way below freezing ; that he
was clad but lightly in his slippers, dressing-gown,
and nightcap ; and that he had a cold upon him at
that time. The grasp, though gentle as a wo-
man's hand, was not to be resisted. He rose ; but
finding that the Spirit made towards the window,
clasped its robe in supplication.
" I am a mortal, and liable to fall."
" Bear but a touch of my hand there," said the
Spirit, laying it upon his heart, " and you shall be
upheld in more than this ! "
As the words were spoken, they passed through
the wall^ and stood in the busy thoroughfares of
a city. It was made plain enough by the dress-
ing of the shops that here, too, it was Christmas
20 A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
The Ghost stopped at a certain warehouse door,
and asked Scrooge if he knew it.
" Know it ! 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 excitement : " Why, it 's old Fez-
ziwig ! 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 ! "
A living and moving picture of Scrooge's former
self, a young man, came briskly in, accompanied
by his fellow-prentice.
" Dick Wilkins, to be sure ! '' said Scrooge to
the Ghost. " My old fellow-prentice, 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 'b have the shutters up, before a
man can say Jack Kobinson ! Clear away, my
lads, and let 's have lots of room here ! "
Clear away ! There was nothing they would n't
A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 23
have cleared away, or could n't have cleared
awa}', with old Fezziwig looking on. It was
done in a minute. Every movable was packed off,
as if it were dismissed from public life forever-
more ; 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 em-
ployed 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 they
all came one after another : some shyly, some
boldly, some gracefully, some awkwardly, some
pushing, some pulling ; in they all came, anyhow
and everyhow. Away they all went, twenty couple
at once ; hands half round and back again the other
way ; down the middle and up again ; round and
round in various stages of affectionate grouping ;
old top couple always turning up in the wrong
place ; new top couple starting off" again, as soon
as they got there ; all top couples at last, and not
a bottom one to help them. When this result was
2i A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
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 por-
ter especially provided for that purpose.
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 came after the
Roast and Boiled, when the fiddler struck up " Sir
Roger de Coverley." Then old P'ezziwig 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, — 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
A positive light appeared to issue from Fezziwig'a
calves. Thej shone in every part of the dance
You could n't have predicted, at any given time,
what would become of 'em next. And when old
Fezziwig and Mrs. Fezziwig had gone all through
the dance, — advance and retire, turn your partner,
bow and courtesy, corkscrew, thread the needle,
and back again to your place, — Fezziwig " cut,"
— cut so deftly, that he appeared to wink with
A CHRISTIIAS CAROL. 23
When the clock struck eleven this domestic ball
broke up. Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig- took their sta-
tions, 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 lads were left -to their
beds, which were under a counter in the back shop.
" A small matter," said the Ghost, " to make
these silly folks so full of gratitude. lie 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 is n'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 and insignificant that it is im-
possible to add and count 'em up : what then ? The
happiness he gives is quite as great as if it cost a
He felt the Spirit's glance, and stopped.
" What is the matter ? "
" Nothing particular."
" Something, I think ? "
" No, no. I should like to be able to say a word
or two to my clerk just now. That 's all."
24 A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
" My time grows short," observed the Spirit.
This was not addressed to Scrooge, or to any
one whom he could Bce, but it produced an imme-
diate effect. For again he saw himself. lie was
older now ; a man in the. prime of life.
He was not alone, but sat by the side of a fair
young girl in a black dress, in whose eyes there
" It matters little," she said softly to Scrooge's
ibrmer self. "To you, very little. Another idol
lslJ displaced me ; and if it can comfort you in time
to come, as I would have tried to do, I have no
just cause to grieve."
" WL'it Idol has displaced you ? "
" A golden one. You fear the world too much.
I have seen your nobler iinpiratiuns fall off one by
one, until \he viaster-paseion. Gain, engrosses you.
Have I not ? "
" What then ? Even if I have grown so much
wiser, what then ? I am not changed towards
you. Have I ever sought release from our en-
gagement ? "
" 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. If you were free to-day, to-morrow,
yesterday, can even I believe that you would choose
a dowerless girl ; or, choosing her, do I not know
A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 25
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."
"Spirit! 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 can-
not bear it ! Leave me ! Take, me back. Haunt
me no longer ! "
As he struggled with the Spirit he was conscious
of being exhausted, and overcome by an irresistible
drowsiness ; and, further, of being in his own bed-
room. He had barely time to reel to bed before he
sank into a hea'vy sleep.
26 A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRIT B.
^CROOGE awoke in his own bedroom. There
k^ was no doubt about that. But it and his own
adjoining sitting-rgom, into which he shuffled in hia
slippers, attracted by a great light there, had under-
gone a surprising transformation. The walls and
ceiling were so hung with living green, that it
looked a perfect grove. The leaves of holly,
mistletoe, and iv}'' 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 petrifaction of a hearth had never known in
Scrooge's time, or Marley's, or for many and many
a winter season gone. Heaped upon the floor, to
form a kind of throne, were turkeys, geese, game,
brawn, great joints of meat, sucking pigs, long
wreaths of sausages, mince-pies, plum-puddings,
barrels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, cherry-
cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious pears,
immense twelfth-cakes, and great bowls of punch.
In easy state upon this couch there sat a Giant
glorious to see ; who bore a glowing torch, in
shape not unlike Plenty's horn, and who raised
it high to shed its light on Scrooge, as he camo
peeping round the door.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 27
*' Come in, — come in ! and know me better, man!
I am the Ghost of Christmas Present. Look upon
me ! You have never seen the like of me before ! "
" Have never vralked forth with the younger
members of my family ; meaning (for I am very
young) my elder brothers born in these latei
years ? " pursued the Phantom.
" I don't think I have, I am afraid I have not
Have you had many brothers, Spirit ? "
" More than eighteen hundred."
" A tremendous family to provide for! Spirit,
conduct me where you will. I went forth last
night on compulsion, and I learnt a lesson which
is working now. To-night, if you have aught to
teach me, let me pi-ofit by it."
" Touch my robe ! "
Scrooge did as he was told, and held it fast.
The room and its contents all vanished instantly,
and they stood in the city streets upon a snowy
Scrooge and the Ghost passed on, invisible,
straight to Scrooge's clerk's ; and on the thresh-
old of the doow 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 !
28 A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
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 daugh-
ters, also brave in ribbons ; while Master Peter
Cratchit plunged a fork into the saucepan of pota-
toes, and, getting the corners of his monstrous
shirt-collar (Bob's private property, conferred upon
his son and heir in honor of the day) into his mouth,
rejoiced to find himself so gallantly attired, and
yearned to show his linen in the fashionable Parks.
And now two smaller Cratchits, boy and girl
came tearing in, screaming that outside the ba-
ker'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 peeled.
" What has ever got your precious father
then ? " said Mrs. Cratchit. " And your brother
Tiny Tim I And Martha warn't as late last
Christmas day by half an hour ! "
" Here 's Martha, mother I " said a girl, appear-
ing as she spoke.
" Here's Martha, mother ! " cried the two yomig
Cratchits. " Hurrah ! There 's such a goose, Mcu"
A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 29
" Why, bless your heart alive, my dear, how
late you are ! " said Mrs. Cratchit, kissing her a
dozen times, and taking off her shawl and bonnet
" We 'd a deal of work to finish up last night,"
replied the girl, " and had to clear away this
morning, mother 1 "
. " 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 1 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, ex-
clusive of the fringe, hanging down before him ;
and his threadbare clothes darned up and brushed,
to look seasonable ; and Tiny Tim upon his shoul-
der. 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 Cratch-
it, looking round.
" Not coming," said Mrs. Cratchit.
" Not coming ! " said Bob, with a sudden de-
clension in his high spirits ; for he had been
Tim's blood-horse all the way from church, and
had come home rampant, — " not coming upon
Christmas day ! "
Martha did n't like to see him disappointed, ii
it were only in joke ; so she came out prematurely
30 A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
from behind the closet door, and ran into hia
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 rallied Bob on his cre-
dulity, and Bob had hugged his daughter to his
" As good as gold," said Bob, " and better.
Somehow he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself
so much, and thinks the strangest things you
ever heard. lie 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 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 procession.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 81
Mrs. Cratchit made the gravy (ready before-
hand in a little saucepan) hissing hot ; Master
Peter mashed the potatoes with incredible vigor ;
Miss Belinda sweetened up the apple-sauce ; Mar-
tha dusted the hot plates ; Bob took Tiny Tim
beside him in a tiny corner at the table ; the two
young Cratchits set chairs for everybody, not
forgetting themselves, and mounting guard upon
their posts, crammed spoons into their moutlis,
lest they should shriek for goose before 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 stuflSng 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 flavor, size and cheapness, were
the themes of universal admiration. Eked out by
apple-sauce and mashed potatoes, it was a suffi-
cient dinner for tlie whole family ; indeed, as
Mrs. Cratchit said with groat delight (surveying
one small atom of a bone upon the dish), they
had n't ate it all at last ! Yet every one had had
enough, and the youngest Cratchits in particular
82 A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
were steeped in sage and onion to the eyebrows I
But now, the plates being changed by Miss Be-
linda, Mrs. Cratchit left the room alone, — too ner-
vous to bear witnesses, — to take the pudding up,
and bring it in.
Suppose it should not be done enough ! Sup-
pose it should break in turning out ! Suppose
somebody should have got over the wall of the
back yard, and stolen it, while they were merry
with the goose, — a supposition at which the two
young Cratchits became livid ! All sorts of hor-
rors 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 laundress's next door to that ! That was
the pudding ! In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit en-
tered, — 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 Christmas holly stuck
into the top.
0, a wonderful pudding ! Bob Cratchit said,
and calmly too, that he regarded it as the greatest
success achieved by Mrs. Cratchit since their
H^Arriage. Mrs. Cratchit said that now the weight
was off her mind, she would confess she had had
her doubts about the quantity of flour. Everybody
had something to say about it, but nobody said oi
A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 33
thought it was at all a small pudding for a largo
family. 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 compound in the jug being tasted, and con-
sidered perfect, apples and oranges were put upon
the table, and a shovelful of chestnuts on the fire.
Then all the Cratchit family drew round the
bearth, in what Bob Cratchit called a circle,
and at Bob Cratchit's elbow stood the family dis-
play of glass, — two tumblers, and a custard-cup
without a handle.
These held the hot stuff from the jug, however.
as well as golden goblets would have doi»e ; and
Bob served it out with beaming looks, while the
chestnuts on the fire spattered and crackled noisily.
Then Bob proposed : —
" A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God
bless us ! "
Which all the family re-echoed.
" God bless us every one ! " said Tiny Tim, the
last of all.
He sat very close to his father's side, upon his
little stool. Bob held his withered little hand in
his, as if he loved the child, and wished to keep
him by his side, and dreaded that he might be
taken from him.
Scrooge raised his head speedily, on hearing his
34 A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
"Mr. Scrooge 1 " 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 hini hei*e.
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! Christ-
" 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, " Christ--
" I '11 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 '11 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 hearti-
ness in it. Tiny Tim drank it last of all, but he
did n't care twopence for it. Scrooge was the
Ogre of the family. The mention of his name cast
a dark shadow on the party, which was not dis-
pelled 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
A CHRISTMAS CAhOL. 35
them how he had a situation in his eye for Mas-
ter Peter, which would bring in, if obtained,
full five and sixpence weekly. The two young'
Cratchits laughed tremendously at the idea of
Peter's being a man of business ; and Peter him-
self looked thoughtfully at the fire from be-
tween his collars, as if he were deliberating what
particular investments he should favor when he
came into the receipt of that bewildei'ing income.
Martha, who was a poor apprentice at a milli-
ner'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
ft holiday she passed at home. Also how she
had seen a countess and a lord some days be-
fore, and how the lord " was much about as
tall as Peter " ; at which Peter pulled up his col-
lars so high that you could n'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 trav-
elling in the snow, from Tiny Tim, who had a
plaintive little voice, and sang it very well in-
There was nothing of high mark in this. They
were not a handsome family ; they were not well
dressed ; their shoes were far from being water-
proof ; their clothes were scanty ; and Peter might
have known, and very likely did, the inside of apawn-
86 A CHRISTMAS CAROK.
broker's. But they were happy, grateful, pleased
with one another, and contented with the time j
and when they faded, and looked happier yet in
the bright sprinklings of the Spirit's torch ak
parting, Scrooge had his eye upon them, and es-
pecially on Tiny Tim, until the last.
It was a great surprise to Scrooge, as this scene
vanished, to hear a hearty laugh. It was a much
greater surprise to Scrooge to recognize it as his
own nephew's, and to find himself in a bright, dry,
gleaming room, with the Spirit standing smiling
by his side, and looking at that same nephew.
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-humor. When
Scrooge's nephew laughed, Scrooge's niece by
marriage laughed as -heartily as he. And their
assembled friends, being not a bit behindhand,
laughed out lustily.
" He said that Christmas was a humbug, as I
live I " cred Scrooge's nephew. " He believed it
" More shame for him, Fred ! " said Scrooge's
hieoe, indignantly. Bless those women ! they
never do anything by halves. They are always
She was very pretty ; exceedingly pretty. With
a dimpled, surprised-looking, capital face ; a ripo
^ittle mouth that seemed made to bo kissed, — as
A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 37
no doubt it 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. Alto-
gether she was what you would have called pro-
voking, but satisfactory, too. 0, perfectly satis-
" 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. Who suffers by his ill whims ?
Himsel/, 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,"
interrupted 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, by lamplight.
" Well, I am very glad to hear it," said
Scrooge's nephew, "because I have -n't any great
faith, in these youug housekeepers. What do you
say, Topper ? "
Topper clearly had his eye on 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
88 A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
Scrooge's niece's sister — the plump one with
the lace tucker ; not the one with the roses — >
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 as-
sure 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.
But they did n'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 Christmas, when its mighty Founder
was a child himself. There was first a game at
blind-man's-buff though. And I no more believe
Topper was really blinded than I believe he had
eyes in his boots. Because the way in which 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 among the curtains, wherever she went
there went he ! He always knew where the plump
sister was. lie would n't catch anybody else. If
you had fallen up against him, as some of them did,
and stood there, he would have made a feint of en-
deavoring to seize you, which would have been an
affront to your understanding, and would instantly
have sidled oft' in the direction of the plump sister.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 39
" 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
fire of questioning to which he was exposed
elicited from him that he was thinking of an animal,
a live animal, rather a disagreeable animal, a savage
animal, an animal that growled and grunted some-
times, and talked sometimes, and lived in London,
and walked about the streets, and wasn't made a
show of, and was n't led by anybody, and did n'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 new question 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 cried out : —
" I have found it out ! 1 know what it is, Fred !
I know what it is ! " *
" What is it ? " cried Fred.
" It 's your uncle Scro-o-o-o-oge ! "
Wiiich it certainly was. Admiration was the
universal sentiment, though some objected that the
reply to "Is it a bear?" ought to have been
Uncle Scrooge had imperceptibly become so gay
40 A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
and light of heart, that he would have drank to
the unconscious company in an inaudible speech
But the whole scene passed off in the breatb of
the last word spoken by his nephew ; and he and
the Spirit were again upon their travels.
Much they saw, and far they went, and many
homes they visited, but always with a happy end.
The Spirit stood beside sick-beds, and they were
cheerful ; on foreign lands, and they were close at
home ; by struggling men, and they were patient
in their greater hope ; by poverty, and it was rich.
In almshouse, hospital, and jail, in misery's every
refuge, where vain man in his little brief authority
had not made fast the door, and barred the Spirit
out, he left his blessing, and taught Scrooge his
precepts. Suddenly, as they stood together in
an open place, the bell struck twelve.
Scrooge looked about him for the Ghost, and
saw it no more. As the last stroke ceased to
vibrate, he remembered the prediction of old Jacob
Marley, and, lifting up his eyes, beheld a Holemn
Phantom, draped and hooded, coming like a mit,t
along the ground totvards him.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 41
THE LAST OP THE SPIRITS.
THE Phantom slowly, gravely, silently ap-
proached. When it came near him, Scrooge
bent down upon his knee ; for in the air through
which this Spirit moved it seemed to scatter gloom
It was shrouded in a deep black garment, which
concealed its head, its face, its form, and left
nothing of it visible save one outstretched hand.
He knew no more, for the Spirit neither spoke
" I am in the presence of the Ghost of Christmas
Yet To Come ? Ghost of the Future ! I fear you
more than any spectre I have seen. But as I know
your purpose is to do me good, and as I hope to
live to be another man from what I was, I am
prepared to bear you company, and do it with a
thankful heart. Will you not speak to me ? "
It gave him no reply. The hand was pointecl
straight before them.
"Lead on! Lead on! The night is waning
fast, and it is precious time to me, I know. Lead
They scarcely seemed to enter the city ; for the
city rather seemed to spring up about them. But
42 A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
there they were in the heart of it ; on 'Change,
amongst the merchants.
The Spirit stopped beside one little knot of busi-
ness 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 piuch ab'out it either way. I
only know he 's dead."
" When did he die ?" inquired another.
" Last night, I believe."
" Why, what was the matter with him ? I
thought he 'd never die."
" God knows," said the first, with a yawn.
" What has he done with his money ? " asked a
" I have n't heard," said the man with the large
chin. " Company, perhaps. He has n't left it to
me. That 's all I know. By, by ! "
Scrooge was at first inclined to be surprised that
the Spirit should attach importance to conversa-
tion apparently so trivial ; but feeling assured
that it must have some hidden purpose, he set
himself to consider what it was likely to be. It
could scarcely be supposed to have any bearing on
the death of Jacob, his old partner, for that was
Past, and this Ghost's province was the Future.
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
A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 43
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 he thought and hoped he saw
his new-born resolutions carried out in this.
They left this busy scene, and went into an ob-
scure part of the town, to a low shop where iron,
old rags, bottles, bones, and greasy ofial were
bought. A gray -haired rascal, of great age, sat
smoking his pipe.
Scrooge and the Phantom came into the pres-
ence 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. 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 1 "
cried she who had entei'ed first. " Let the laun-
dress alone to be the second ; and let the under-
taker's man alone to be the third. Look here, old
Joe, here 's a chance ! If we have n't all three
met here without meaning it!"
" You could n't have met in a better place. You
were made free of it long ago, you know ; and the
other two ain't strangers. What have you got to
sell ? What have you got to sell ? "
" Half a minute's patience, Joe, and you shall
44 A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
" What odds then ! What odds, Mrs. Dilber ? '*
said the woman. " Every person has a right to
take care of themselves. He always did ! Who 'a
the worse for the loss of a few things like these ?
Not a dead man, I suppose."
Mrs. Dilber, whose manner was remarkable for
general propitiation, said, " No, indeed, ma'am."
" If he wanted to keep 'era after he was dead, a
wicked old screw, why was n't he natural in his life-
time ? If he had been, he 'd have had somebody to
look after him when he was struck with Death, in-
stead of lying gasping out his last there, alone by
" It 's the truest word that ever was spoke, it 's
a judgment on him."
" I wish it was a little heavier judgment, 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."
Joe went down on his knees for the greater
convenience of opening the bundle, and dragged
out a large and heavy roll of some dark stuff.
" What do you call this ? Bed-curtains ! "
" Ah ! Bed-curtains 1 Don't drop that oil upou
the blankets, now."
" His blankets ? "
" Whose else's do you think ? He is n't likely
to take cold without 'em, I dare say. Ah ! You
A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 45
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 by dressing him up in it,
if it had n't been for me,"
Scrooge listened to this dialogue in horror
" Spirit ! 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 ! "
The scene had changed, and now he almost
touched a bare, uncurtained bed. A pale light,
rising in the outer air, fell straight upon this bed ;
and on it, unwatched, unwept, uncared for, was
the body of this plunderecf.unknown man.
" Spirit, let me see some tenderness connected
with a death, or this dark chamber, Spirit, will ha
forever present to me."
The Ghost conducted him to 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 look-
ing up at Peter, who had a book before him. The
mother and her daughters were engaged in needle-
work. But surely they were very quiet !
" ' And he took a child, and set him in the midst
Where had Scrooge heard those words ? He had
not dreamed them. The boy must have read them
46 A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
out, as he and the Spirit crossed the threshold.
Why did he not go on ?
The mother laid her work upon the table, and
put her hand up to her face.
" The color hurts my eyes," she said.
Tlie color ? Ah, poor Tiny Tim !
" They 're better now again. It makes them
weak by candle-light ; and I would n'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,
" I have known him walk with — I have known
him walk with Tiny Tim upon his shoulder, very
" And so have I," cried Peter. " Often."
" And so have I," exclaimed another. S£) had all.
" But he was very light to carry, and his father
loved him so, that it was no trouble, — no trouble.
And there is your father at the door! "
She buried 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 thft two young Cratcbits got upon his knees
and laid, ea-ch ehJ^d, a little cbeeJ^ again5«i his face,
as if they said, " D«.f.'t -^lii^d it, fp-tb^/* Pop't be
grieved 1 "
A CHRISTMAS CAROL, 47
Bob was very cheerful with them, and spoke
pleasantly to all the family. He looked at the
work upon the table, »nd 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 ? "
" Yes, my dear," returned Bob. " I wish yoa
could have gone. It would have done you good to
see how green a place it is. But you '11 see it
often. I promised him that I would walk there on
a Sunday. My little, little child ! My little
child ! "
He broke down all at once. He could n't help it.
If he could have helped It, he and his child would
have been farther apart, perhaps, than they were.
" 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, with the covered face, whom we saw lying
dead ? "
The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come conveyed
him to a dismal, wretched, ruinous churchyard.
The Spirit stood among the graves, and pointed
down to One.
" Before I draw nearer to that stone to which
you point, 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 gr^vo
by which it stood.
48 A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
" Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to
which, if persevered in, they must lead. 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
"Am /that man who lay upon the bed? No,
Spirit ! no, no I Spirit ! 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 ? Assure me *hat I
yet may change these shadows you have shown
me by an altered life."
For the first time the kind hand faltered.
" I will honor 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 les-
sons that they teach. 0, tell me I may sponge
away the writing on this stone ! "
Holding up his hands in one last prayer to have
his fate reversed, he saw an alteration in the Phan-
tom's hood and dress. It shrunk, collapsed, and
dwindled down into a bedpost.
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 !
A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 49
He was checked in his transports by the
churches ringing out the lustiest peals he had ever
Running to the window, he opened it, and put
out his head. No fog, no mist, no night ; clear,
bright, stirring, golden day.
" What 's to-day ? " cried Scrooge, calling
downward to a boy in Sunday clothes, who per-
haps had loitered in to look about him.
" Eh ? "
" What 's to-day, my fine fellow ? "
" To-day ! Why, Christmas day."
" It 's Christmas day ! I have n't missed it.
Hallo, my fine fellow ! "
" Hallo ! "
** Do you know the Poulterer's, in the next street
but one, at the corner ? "
" I should hope I did."
" An intelligent boy ! 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 ? "
" What a delightful boy ! It's a pleasure to talk
to him. Yes, my buck ! "
" It 's hanging there now."
" Is it ? Go and buy it."
*' Walk-ER ! " exclaimed the boy.
" No, no, I am in earnest. Go and buy it, and
tell 'em to bring it here, that T may give them the
so A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
direction where to take it. Come back with the
man, and I '11 give you a shilling. Come back with
him in less than five minutes, and I '11 give you
half a crown ! "
The boy was ofi"like a shot.
" I '11 send it to Bob Cratchit's ! He sha'n't
know who sends it. It's twice the size of Tiny
Tim. Joe Miller never made sach 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 down stairs to open the street door, ready
for the coming of the poulterer's man.
It was a Turkey ! He never could have stood
upon his legs, that bird. He would have snapped
'em short oflf in a minute, like sticks of sealing-
Scrooge 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 irresist-
ibly pleasant, in a word, that three or four good-
humored 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.
In the afternoon, he turned his steps towards his
A CHEISTMAS CAROL, 51
He passed the door a dozen times, before he had
the courage to go up and knock. But he made a
dash, and did it.
" Is your master at home, my dear ? " said
Scrooge to the girl. Nice girl ! Very.
" Where is he, my love ? "
" He 's in the dining-room, sir, along with mis
"He knows me," said Scrooge, with his hand
already on the dining-room lock. " I '11 go in
here, my dear."
" Why, bless my soul ! " cried Fred, " who 's
that ? "
" It 's I. Your uncle Scrooge. I have come to
dinner. Will you let me in, Fred ? "
Let him in ! It is a mercj' he did n't shake his
arm off. He was at home in five minutes. Noth-
ing 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 th£y came. Wonderful party, wonderful
games, wonderful unanimity, won-der-ful happi-
But he was early at the oflBce next morning.
0, 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. The clock struck nine. No Bob
52 A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
A quarter past. No Bob. Bob 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.
Bob's hat was off, before he opened the door ;
bis comforter too. He was on his stool in a jiffy ;
driving away with his pen, as if he were trying to
overtake nine o'clock.
" 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. I am behind my time."
''You are? Yes. I think you are. Step this
way, if you please."
" It 's only once a year, sir. It shall not be re-
peated. I was making rather merry yesterday,
" Now, I '11 tell you what, my friend. I am
not going to stand this sort of thing any longer.
And therefore," Scrooge continued, leaping from
his stool, and giving Bob such a dig in the waist-
coat 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
" 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 follow, than I have given you for
many a year ! I '11 raise your salary, and en-
A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 53
deavor to assist your struggling family, aud we
will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over
a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop. Bob ! Make
up the fires, and buy a second 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 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 his own heart laughed, and that was quite
enough for him.
He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but
lived in that respect upon the Total-Abstinence
Principle ever afterwards ; aud 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, aa
Tiny Tim observed, God Bless TJs, Every One 1
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