A Christmas Carol (play version)

Charles Dickens
I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book,
to raise the Ghost of an Idea,
which shall not put my readers out of humour
with themselves, with each other,
with the season, or with me.
May it haunt their houses pleasantly,
and no one wish to lay it.
Their faithful Friend and Servant,
C. D.
December, 1843
Cast of Characters
Ebenezer Scrooge
Jacob Marley, his late partner
Ghost of Christmas Past
Ghost of Christmas Present
Ghost of Christmas Future
Bob Cratchit, his clerk
Mrs. Cratchit
the Cratchit children:
a Cratchit Boy
a Cratchit Girl
Tiny Tim
Fran, his sister
Fred, his sister's son
Fred's Wife
Charity Gentleman #1
Charity Gentleman #2
Mr. Fezziwig, his former boss
Belle Fezziwig, his former fiance
Tut, Belle's husband
Man With A Monstrous Chin
Another Man
Third Man
Man With Red Face
Wealthy Man #1
Wealthy Man #2
Old Joe
UndertakerBR> Caroline, Poor Wife
Poor Husband
Intelligent, Fine Lad
Children's Chorus
Fred's Guests, other demons, etc...
Stave 1: Marley's Ghost
Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was
signed by the 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.
Scrooge knew he was dead? Of course he did. How could it be otherwise? Scrooge and he were
partners for I don't know how many years. Scrooge was his sole executor, his sole administrator, his
sole assign, his sole residuary legatee, his sole friend, and sole mourner. And even Scrooge was not so
dreadfully cut up by the sad event, but that he was an excellent man of business on the very day of the
funeral, and solemnised it with an undoubted bargain .
The mention of Marley's funeral brings me back to the point I started from. There is no doubt that
Marley was dead. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am
going to relate. If we were not perfectly convinced that Hamlet's Father died before the play began,
there would be nothing more remarkable in his taking a stroll at night, in an easterly wind, upon his
own ramparts, than there would be in any other middle-aged gentleman rashly turning out after dark in
a breezy spot -- say Saint Paul's Churchyard for instance -- literally to astonish his son's weak mind.
Scrooge never painted out Old Marley's name. There it 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 to him.
Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, 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 dogdays; and didn't thaw it one degree at Christmas.
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 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 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. 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.
(cheerfully) A merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!
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! Humbug!
He had so heated himself with rapid walking in the fog and frost, this nephew of Scrooge's, that he was
all in a glow; his face was ruddy and handsome; his yes sparkled, and his breath smoked again.
Christmas a humbug, uncle! You don't mean that, I am sure?
I do, Merry Christmas! What right have you to be merry? What reason have you to be merry? You're
poor enough.
Come, then, (gaily) What right have you to be dismal? What reason have you to be morose? You're rich
(having no better answer ready on the spur of the moment) Bah! Humbug.
Don't be cross, uncle!
(indignantly) What else can I be, 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, but not an hour richer; a time for balancing your books and having
every item in `em through a round dozenof months presented dead against you? If I could work 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 through his heart. He should!
(pleading) Uncle!
(sternly) 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 veneration 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!
(Bob Cratchit nvoluntarily applaudes; becoming immediately sensible of the impropriety.)
Let me hear another sound from you, and you'll keep your Christmas by losing your situation! You're
quite a powerful speaker, sir, (turning to his nephew) I wonder you don't go into Parliament.
Don't be angry, uncle. Come! Dine with us tomorrow.
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? Why?
Why did you get married?
Because I fell in love.
(growling) Because you fell in love! Good afternoon!
Nay, uncle, but you never came to see me before that happened. Why give it as a reason for not coming
Good afternoon.
I want nothing from you; I ask nothing of you; why cannot we be friends?
Good afternoon.
I am sorry, 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'll keep my Christmas humour to
the last. So A Merry Christmas, uncle!'
Good afternoon!
And A Happy New Year!
Good afternoon!
His nephew left the room without an angry word. 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
There's another fellow, 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. Have I the pleasure of addressing Mr. Scrooge, or Mr. Marley?
Mr. Marley has been dead these seven years; He died seven years ago, this very night.
We have no doubt his liberality is well represented by his surviving partner.
(At the ominous word `liberality,' Scrooge frownes, and shakes his head.)
At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,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,
Are there no prisons?
Plenty of prisons,' said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.
And the Union workhouses? Are they still in operation?
They are. Still, I wish I could say they were not.
The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?
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. I'm very glad to hear it.
Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude, 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 for?'
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 establishments I
have mentioned -- they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.
Many can't go there; and many would rather die.
If they would rather die, 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. 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 returned
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 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 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
stronghold of the mighty Mansion House, gave orders to his fifty cooks and butlers to keep Christmas
as a Lord Mayor's household should.
Children's Chorus
God bless you, merry gentleman! May nothing you dismay!
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 countinghouse 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 tomorrow, I suppose?
If quite convenient, sir.
It's not convenient, 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?
(Bob smiles faintly.)
And yet, you don't think me ill-used, when I pay a day's wages for no work.
The clerk observed that it was only once a year.
A poor excuse for picking a man's pocket every twenty-fifth of December!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 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 blindman's-buff.
Scrooge took his melancholy dinner in his usual melancholy tavern; and having read all the
newspapers, 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.
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. 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
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 or 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.
He fastened the door, and walked across the hall, and up the stairs; slowly too: trimming his candle as
he went.
Up Scrooge went. Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it. But before he shut his heavy door, he
walked through his rooms to see that all was right. He had just enough recollection of the face to desire
to do that.
Sitting-room, bedroom, lumber-room. All as they should be. Nobody under the table, nobody under the
sofa; a small fire in the grate; spoon and basin ready; and the little saucepan of gruel (Scrooge had a
cold in his head) upon the hob. Nobody under the bed; nobody in the closet; nobody in his dressinggown,
which was hanging up in a suspicious attitude against the wall. Lumber-room as usual. Old fireguards,
old shoes, two fish-baskets, washing-stand on three legs, and a poker.
Quite satisfied, he closed his door, and locked himself in; double-locked himself in, which was not his
custom. Thus secured against surprise, he took off his cravat; put on his dressing-gown and slippers,
and his nightcap; and sat down before the fire to take his gruel.
It was a very low fire indeed; nothing on such a 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.
and walked across the room.
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. 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
dragging a heavy chain over the casks in the wine merchant's cellar. Scrooge then remembered to have
heard that ghosts in haunted houses were described as dragging chains.
The cellar-door flew open with a booming sound, and then he heard the noise much louder, on the
floors below; then coming up the stairs; then coming straight towards his door.
It's humbug still! I won't believe it.
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; Marley's Ghost!' and fell again.
The same face: the very same. Marley in his pigtail, 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 eyes; 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.
(caustic and cold) How now! What do you want with me?
Who are you?
Ask me who I was.
Who were you then? You're particular, for a shade.
In life I was your partner, Jacob Marley.
Can you -- can you sit down?
I can.
Do it, then.
You don't believe in me.
I don't.
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. 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, whatever you are!
At this the spirit raised a frightful cry, and shook its chain with such a dismal and appalling noise, that
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 its head, as if it were too warm to wear
indoors, its lower jaw dropped down upon its breast!
(Scrooge falls upon his knees, and claspes his hands before his face.) Mercy! Dreadful apparition, why
do you trouble me?
Man of the worldly mind! do you believe in me or not?
I do. I must. But why do spirits walk the earth, and why do they come to me?
It is required of every man, that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellowmen, 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).
(trembling) You are fettered. Tell me why?
I wear the chain I forged in life, I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free
will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?
(Scrooge trembles more and more.)
Or would you know, the weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself? 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 expectation of finding himself surrounded by some fifty
or sixty fathoms of iron cable: but he could see nothing.
Jacob, Old Jacob Marley, tell me more. Speak comfort to me, Jacob!
I have none to give. 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 permitted to
me. I cannot rest, I cannot stay, I cannot linger anywhere. My spirit never walked beyond our countinghouse
-- mark me! -- in life my pirit never roved beyond the narrow limits of our money-changing hole;
and weary journeys lie before me!'
You must have been very slow about it, Jacob.
Seven years dead. And travelling all the time!
The whole time. No rest, no peace. Incessant torture of remorse.
You travel fast?
On the wings of the wind.
You might have got over a great quantity of ground in seven years.
(The Ghost, on hearing this, set up another cry, and clankes its chain hideously in the dead silence of
the night.)
Oh! captive, bound, and double-ironed, 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 opportunity misused! Yet such was I! Oh!
such was I!'
But you were always a good man of business, Jacob.
Business! 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 comprehensive ocean of my business!
(Another moan from the phantoms)
At this time of the rolling year. 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 begins to quake exceedingly.)
Hear me! My time is nearly gone.
I will. 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.
That is no light part of my penance. 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.
(Scrooge's countenance fell almost as low as the Ghost's had done.)
(in a faltering voice) Is that the chance and hope you mentioned, Jacob?
It is.
I -- I think I'd rather not.
Without their visits, you cannot hope to shun the path I tread. Expect the first tomorrow, when the bell
tolls One.
Couldn't I take `em all at once, and have it over, Jacob?
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!
Scrooge 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 arm.
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, 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
sorrowful 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 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 door-step. The
misery with them all was, clearly, that they sought to interfere, for good, in human matters, and had lost
the power for ever.
Whether these creatures faded into mist, or misenshrouded them, he could not tell. But they and their
spirit voices faded together; and the night became as it had been when he walked home.
Scrooge closed the window, and examined the door by which the Ghost had entered. It was doublelocked,
as he had locked it with his own hands, and the bolts were undisturbed. He tried to say...
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 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.
Stave 2: The First of the Three Spirits
The curtains of his bed were drawn aside; and Scrooge, starting up into a half-recumbent attitude,
found himself face to face with the unearthly visitor who drew them.
It was 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 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 wrinkle 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 delicately 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 sprung a bright clear jet of light, by which all this was visible; and which was doubtless the
occasion of its using, in its duller moments, a great extinguisher for a cap, which it now held under its
Are you the Spirit, sir, whose coming was foretold to me.
(soft and gentle) I am.
Who, and what are you?
I am the Ghost of Christmas Past.
Long Past?
No. Your past.
Perhaps, Scrooge could not have told anybody why, if anybody could have asked him; but he had a
special desire to see the Spirit in his cap; and begged him to be covered.
What 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. Scooge then made bold to inquire what business brought him there.
Your welfare.
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
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
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 woman's hand, was not to be resisted. He rose: but finding that the
Spirit made towards the window, clasped his robe in supplication.
I am mortal, and liable to fall.
Bear but a touch of my hand there, (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! 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. And what is hat upon your cheek.
You recollect the way.
Remember it, (with fervour) I could walk it blindfold.
Strange to have forgotten it for so many years. Let us go on.
They walked along the road, Scrooge recognising every gate, and post, and tree; until a little markettown
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 carts, 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, they have no consciousness of us.
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 glisten, 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 bye-ways, for their several homes.
The school is not quite deserted. A solitary child, neglected by his friends, is left there still.
(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 weathercock-surmounted cupola, on the roof, and a bell hanging in it. Entering the dreary
hall, and glancing through the open doors of many rooms, they found them poorly furnished, cold, and
They went, the Ghost and Scrooge, toward 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; and Scrooge sat down upon a form, and wept to see
his poor forgotten self as he 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 water-spout in the dull yard behind, not a sigh among the leafless boughs of one
despondent poplar, not the idle swinging of an empty store-house door, no, not a clicking in the fire, but
fell upon the heart of Scrooge with a 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.
(in ecstasy) Why, it's Ali Baba. `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, 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.
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.
Then, with a rapidity of transition very foreign to his usual character, he said, in pity for his former
(putting his hand in his pocket, and looking about him, after drying his eyes with his cuff) Poor boy. I
wish... but it's too late now.
What is the matter?
Nothing. Nothing. There was some boys singing a Christmas Carol at my door last night. I should like
to have given him something: that's all.'
The Ghost smiled thoughtfully, and waved its hand.
Let us see another Christmas.
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 holidays.
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.
Dear, dear brother. I have come to bring you home, dear brother (clapping her tiny hands, and bending
down to laugh) To bring you home, home, home.
Home, little Fan.
Yes. (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 Yes, you should;
and sent me in a coach to bring you. And you're to be a man; 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.
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 loth to go, accompanied her.
Always a delicate creature, whom a breath might have withered. But she had a large heart.
So she had. You're right. I will not gainsay it, Spirit. God forbid.
She died a woman and had, as I think,children.
One child.
True, your nephew.
(Scrooge seems uneasy in his mind) Yes.
They had but that moment left the school behind them, they were now in the busy thoroughfares of a
city, here shadowy passengers passed and repassed; where shadowy carts and coaches battle 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. 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
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 shows 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. Bless me, yes. There he is. He was very much attached to me, was Dick. Poor
Dick. Dear, dear.
(with a sharp clap of his hands) Yo ho, my boys No more work to-night. Christmas Eve, Dick.
Christmas, Ebenezer. Let's have the shutters up, before a man can say Jack Robinson.
You wouldn't believe how those two fellows went at it. They charged into the street with the shutters --
one, two, three -- had them up in their places -- four, five, six -- barred them and pinned then -- seven,
eight, nine -- and came back before you could have got to twelve, panting like race-horses.
Hilli-ho! (skipping down from 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 ballroom,
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 roke. 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 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 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 brannew
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 came 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 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 have 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 curtsey, corkscrew, threadthe-
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 of 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.
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
everything, 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 clear.
A small matter, to make these silly folks so full of gratitude.
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... (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 and
insignificant that it is impossible to add and count them 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.
Nothing in 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.
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. 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.
It matters little, 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.
A golden one.
This is the even-handed dealing of the world. 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. 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 masterpassion,
Gain, engrosses you. Have I not?
What then. Even if I have grown so much wiser, what then. I am not changed towards you.
(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.
Your own feeling tells you that you were not what you are. 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.
(looking mildly, but with steadiness, upon him) 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, tell me, would you seek me out and try to win
me now. Ah, no.
(Scrooge seems to yield to the justice of this supposition, in spite of himself. But he says with a
struggle...) You think not?
I would gladly think otherwise if I could. Heaven knows. When I have learned a Truth like this, I know
how strong and irresistible it must be. But if you were free to-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 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.
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 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 leaves him, and they parted.)
Spirit... show me no more. Conduct me home. Why do you delight to torture me.
One shadow more.
No more. No more, I don't wish to see it. Show me no more.
But the relentless Ghost 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 consequences 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. What would I not have given to 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 licence of a child, and yet to have been man enough to know its
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 brown-paper parcels, hold on tight by his
cravat, hug him round his neck, pommel his back, and kick his legs in irrepressible affection. The
shouts of wonder and delight with which the development of every package was received. The terrible
announcement that the baby had been taken in the act of putting a doll's frying-pan into his 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.
(turning to his wife with a smile) Belle, I saw an old friend of yours this afternoon.
Who was it?
(she added in the same breath, laughing as he laughed) How can I. Tut, don't I know... Mr Scrooge?
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.
(in a broken voice) Spirit, remove me from this place.
I told you these were shadows of the things that have been. That they are what they are, do not blame
Remove me. I cannot bear it.
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.
The Spirit dropped beneath it, so that the extinguisher 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
unbroken 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.
Stave 3: The Second of the Three Spirits
Awaking in the middle of a prodigiously tough snore, and sitting up in bed to get his thoughts together,
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 lookout
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.
Now, being prepared for almost anything, he was not by any means prepared for nothing; and,
consequently, 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, At last, 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 transformation.
The walls and ceiling were so hung with living green, that it looked a perfect grove; from every part of
which, bright gleaming erries 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 of sausages, mince-pies,
plum-puddings, barrels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, cherry-cheeked 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. 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. Look upon me.
Scrooge reverently did so. It was clothed in one simple green robe, bordered with white fur. On its head
it wore no other covering than a holly wreath, set here and there with shining icicles.
You have never seen the like of me before.
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.
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 (emphisize this word), and I
learnt a lesson which is working now. To-night, if you have aught to teach me, let me profit by it.
Touch my robe.
Scrooge did as he was told, and held it fast.
Holly, mistletoe, red berries, ivy, turkeys, geese, sausages, pies, puddings, 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 morning, where 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 snow-storms.
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 shower of sooty atoms, as if all the chimneys in Great Britain had, by one consent, caught fire, and
were blazing away to their dear hearts' content. There was nothing very cheerful in the climate or the
town, and yet was there an air of cheerfulness abroad that the clearest summer air and brightest summer
sun might have endeavoured to diffuse in vain.
For, the people who were shovelling away on the housetops were jovial and full of glee; calling out to
one another from the parapets, and now and then exchanging a facetious snowball -- better-natured
missile far than many a wordy jest -- laughing heartily if it went right and not less heartily if it went
wrong. The poulterers' shops were still half open, and the fruiterers' were radiant in their glory. There
were great, round, pot-bellied baskets of chestnuts, shaped like the waistcoats of jolly old gentlemen,
lolling at the doors, and tumbling out into the street in their apoplectic opulence. There were ruddy,
brown-faced, broad-girthed Spanish Friars, and winking from their shelves in wanton slyness at the
girls as they went by, and glanced demurely at the hung-up mistletoe. There were pears and apples,
clustered high in blooming pyramids; there were bunches of grapes, made, in the shopkeepers'
benevolence to dangle from conspicuous hooks, that people's mouths might water gratis as they passed;
there were piles of filberts, mossy and brown, recalling, in their fragrance, ancient walks among the
woods, and pleasant shufflings ankle deep through withered leaves; there were Norfolk Biffins, 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 very gold and silver fish, set forth among these choice fruits in a bowl, though members of
a dull and stagnant-blooded race, appeared to know that there was something going on; and, to a fish,
went gasping round and round their little world in slow and passionless excitement.
The Grocers'. oh the Grocers'. nearly closed, with perhaps two shutters down, or one; but through those
gaps such glimpses. It was not alone that the scales descending on the counter made a merry sound, or
that the twine and roller parted company so briskly, or that the canisters were rattled up and down like
juggling tricks, or even that the blended scents of tea and coffee were so grateful to the nose, or even
that the raisins were so plentiful and rare, the almonds so extremely white, the sticks of cinnamon so
long and straight, the other spices so delicious, the candied fruits so caked and spotted with molten
sugar as to make the coldest lookers-on feel faint and subsequently bilious. Nor was it that the figs
were moist and pulpy, or that the French plums blushed in modest tartness from their highly-decorated
boxes, or that everything was good to eat and in its Christmas dress; but the customers were all so
hurried and so eager in the hopeful promise of the day, that they tumbled up against each other at the
door, crashing their wicker baskets wildly, and left their purchases upon the counter, and came running
back to fetch them, and committed hundreds of the like mistakes, in the best humour possible; while
the Grocer and his people were so frank and fresh that the polished hearts with which 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 bye-streets, lanes, and nameless turnings, innumerable people, carrying their dinners to
the baker' 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 thawed blotch of wet above each baker's oven;
where the pavement smoked as if its stones were cooking too.
Is there a peculiar flavour in what you sprinkle from your torch.
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
Because it needs it most.
(after a moment's thought) Spirit, I wonder you, of all the beings in the many worlds about us, should
desire to cramp these people's opportunities of innocent enjoyment.'
You would deprive them of their means of dining every seventh day, often the only day on which they
can be said to dine at all. Wouldn't you?
You seek to close these places on the Seventh Day. And it comes to the same thing.
I seek.
Forgive me if I am wrong. It has been done in your name, or at least in that of your family.
There are some upon this earth of yours, 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 out
kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us.
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 sympathy 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 sprinkling
of his torch. Think of that. Bob had but fifteen bob a-week himself; he pocketed on Saturdays but
fifteen copies of his Christian name; and yet the Ghost of Christmas Present blessed his four-roomed
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 fashionable Parks. And now two smaller
Cratchits, boy and girl, came tearing in, screaming that outside the baker's they had smelt the e 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 peeled.
What has ever got your precious father then. And your brother, Tiny Tim. And Martha warn't as late last
Christmas Day by half-an-hour.'
Here's Martha, mother.
Here's Martha, mother Hurrah.
There's such a goose, Martha.
Why, bless your heart alive, my dear, how late you are.
We'd a deal of work to finish up last night,' replied the girl,' and had to clear away this morning,
Well. Never mind so long as you are come. Sit ye down before the fire, my dear, and have a warm,
Lord bless ye.
No, no. There's father coming.
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.
Not coming.
Not coming? (with a sudden declension 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 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?
As good as gold, and better. Somehow 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.
Spirit, tell me if Tiny Tim will live?
I see a vacant seat, in the poor chimney-corner, and a crutch without an owner, carefully preserved. If
these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, the child will die.
No, no. Oh, no, kind Spirit. say he will be spared.
If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, none other of my race, will find him here. What then.
If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.
(Scrooge hangs his head when hearing his own words quoted by the Spirit, and is overcome with
penitence and grief.)
Man, 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.
Oh God. to hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in
the dust.
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 before 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.
Such a bustle ensued that you might have thought a goose the rarest of all birds. Mrs Cratchit made the
gravy hissing hot; Master Peter mashed the potatoes with incredible vigour; Miss Belinda sweetened up
the apple-sauce; Martha dusted the hot plates; Bob took Tiny Tim beside him in a tiny corner at the
table; the two young Cratchits set chairs for everybody, and mounting guard upon their posts, crammed
spoons into their mouths, 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 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. Every
one had had plenty, 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.
Hallo. A great deal of steam. The pudding was out of the copper. A smell like a washing-day. That was
the cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a pastrycook's next door to each other, with a laundress'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 ignited brandy,
and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.
Oh, a wonderful pudding!
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 considered perfect, apples and oranges were put upon the table,
and a shovel-full of chestnuts on the fire. Then all the Cratchit family drew round the hearth, 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, and Bob served it out with beaming looks, while the chestnuts on
the fire sputtered and cracked noisily.
A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us.
(some form of) Merry Christmas!
God bless us, every one.
He sat very close to his father's side upon his little stool. Bob held his withered little hand in his.
Because of his love for the child, he wished to keep him by his side, and dreaded that he might be taken
from him.
Mr Scrooge. I'll give you Mr Scrooge, the Founder of the Feast.'
The Founder of the Feast indeed. 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, the children. Christmas Day.
It should be Christmas Day, I am sure, 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
My dear,'Christmas Day.
I'll drink his health for your sake and the Day's, 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. Tiny
Tim drank it last of all, but he didn't care twopence for it. Scrooge was the Ogre of the family. The
mention of his name cast a dark shadow on the party, which was not dispelled for full five minutes.
After it had passed away, they were ten times merrier than before. 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 tremendously 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 deliberating what
particular investments he should favour when he came into the receipt of that bewildering income.
Martha, who was a poor apprentice at a milliner'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
collars so high that you couldn't have seen his head if you had been there. All this time the chestnuts
and the jug went round and round; and by-and-bye they had a song.
By this time it was getting dark, and snowing pretty heavily; and as Scrooge and the Spirit went along
the 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, aunts, and be the first to greet them. Here, again, were shadows on the
window-blind of guests assembling; and there a group of handsome girls, all hooded and fur-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 light, and who was dressed to spend the evening
somewhere, laughed 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 night.
What place is this.
A place where Miners live, who labour in the bowels of the earth. But they know me. See.
Alight 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 thema 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 lithe and loud; and so surely as they stopped, his vigour sank again.
The Spirit did not tarry here, but bade Scrooge hold his obe, 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 sea-weed clung to
its base, and storm-birds -- born of the wind one might suppose, as sea-weed 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 Christmas in their can of grog; and one of them: the
elder, too, with his face all damaged and scarred with hard weather, as the figure-head of an old ship
might be: struck up a sturdy song that was like a Gale in itself.
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 homeward hopes belonging to it. And
every man on board, waking or sleeping, good or bad, had had a kinder word for another on that day
than on any day in the year; and had shared to some extent in its festivities; and had remembered those
he cared for at a distance, and had known that they delighted to remember him.
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, gleaming room, with the Spirit standing smiling by his side, and looking at that
same nephew with approving affability.
Ha, ha. Ha.
When Scrooge's nephew laughed in this way: holding his sides, rolling his head, and twisting his face
into the most extravagant contortions: 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. He believed it too.
(indignantly) More shame for him, Fred.
He's a comical old fellow, 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. At least you always tell me so.
What of that, my dear. 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.
Oh, I have. 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
After tea. they had some music. Scrooge's niece played well upon the harp; and played among other
tunes a simple little air, which had been familiar to the child who fetched Scrooge from the boardingschool,
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 if he could have listened 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.
The Ghost was greatly pleased to find him in this mood, and looked upon him with such favour, that
Scrooge begged like a boy to be allowed to stay until the guests departed. But this the Spirit said could
not be done.
Here is a game! 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 disagreeable 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:
I have found it out. I know what it is, Fred. I know what it is.'
What is it.
It's your Uncle Scrooge.
He has given us plenty of merriment, I am sure, 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.
A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to the old man, whatever he is. He wouldn't take it from me,
but may he have it, nevertheless. Uncle Scrooge.'
Uncle Scrooge had imperceptibly become so gay and light of heart, that he would have pledged the
unconscious company in return, and thanked them in an inaudible speech, if the Ghost had given him
time. But the whole scene passed off in the breath of the last word spoken by his nephew; and he and
the Spirit were again upon their travels.
Much they saw, and far they went, and many homes they visited, but always with a happy end. The
Spirit stood beside sick beds, and they were cheerful; on foreign lands, and they were close at home; by
struggling men, and they were patient in their greater hope; by poverty, and it was rich. In almshouse,
hospital, and jail, in misery's every refuge, where vain man in his little brief authority had not made fast
the door and barred the Spirit out, he left his blessing, and taught Scrooge his precepts.
It was a long night, if it were only a night; but Scrooge had his doubts of this, because the Christmas
Holidays appeared to be condensed into the space of time they passed together. It was strange, too, that
while Scrooge remained unaltered in his outward form, the Ghost grew older, clearly older. Scrooge
had observed this change, but never spoke of it, until they left a children's Twelfth Night party, when,
looking at the Spirit as they stood together in an open place, he noticed that its hair was grey.
Are spirits' lives so short.
My life upon this globe, is very brief, It ends to-night.
To-night at midnight. Hark. The time is drawing near.'
SOUND: The chimes were ringing the three quarters past eleven at that moment.
Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask, 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. Look here.
From the foldings of its robe, it brought two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable.
They knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment.
Oh, Man. look here. Look, look, down here.
They were a boy and a 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.
Spirit. are they yours.
They are Man's. And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is
Want. Beware 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.
Have they no refuge or resource..
Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?
SOUND: The bell struck twelve.
Scrooge looked about him for the Ghost, and saw it not.
SOUND: 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,
towards him.
Stave 4: The Last of the Spirits
The Phantom slowly, gravely, silently approached. When it came, 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 concealed 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 surrounded.
I am in the presence of the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come.
(a delay)
You are about to show me shadows of the things that have not happened, but will happen in the time
before us. Is that so? Spirit.
(a delay)
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.
(a delay)
(big) Lead on. Lead on. The night is waning fast, and it is precious time to me, I know. Lead on, Spirit.
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, I don't know much about it, either way. I only know he's dead.
When did he die?
Last night, I believe.
(taking a vast quantity of snuff out of a very large snuff-box) Why, what was the matter with him? I
thought he'd never die.
(with a yawn) God knows.
What has he done with his money?
I haven't heard. Left it to his company, perhaps. He hasn't left it to me. That's all I know.'
It's likely to be a very cheap funeral; 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. But I must be fed, if I make one.
Well, I am the most disinterested among you, after all, 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 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 ther 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 aye business: very wealthy, and of great
importance. 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?
How are you?
Well. Old Scratch has got his own at last, hey.
So I am told. Cold, isn't it.
Seasonable for Christmas time. You're not a skater, I suppose.
No. No. Something else to think of. Good morning.
Not another word. That was their meeting, their conversation, and their parting.
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.
They left the busy scene, and went into an obscure part f the town, where Scrooge had never penetrated
before, although he recognised its situation, and its bad repute. The ways were foul and narrow; the
shops and houses wretched; the people half-naked, drunken, slipshod, ugly. Alleys and archways, like
so many cesspools, disgorged their offences of smell, and dirt, and life, upon the straggling streets; and
the whole quarter reeked with crime, with filth, and misery.
Far in this den of infamous resort, there was a lowbrowed, beetling shop, below a pent-house roof,
where iron, old rags, bottles, bones, and greasy offal, were bought. Upon the floor within, were piled up
heaps of rusty keys, nails, chains, hinges, files, scales, weights, and refuse iron of all kinds. Secrets that
few would like to scrutinise were bred and hidden in mountains of unseemly rags, masses of corrupted
fat, and sepulchres of bones. Sitting in among the wares he dealt in, by a 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 frousy curtaining of miscellaneous tatters, hung upon a line; and smoked his pipe in all
the luxury of calm retirement.
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.'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.
(removing his pipe from his mouth) You couldn't have met in a better place. 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 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 in his
mouth again.
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
other two.
What odds then. What odds, Mrs Dilber. Every person has a right to take care of themselves. He always
That's true, indeed. 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.We should hope not.
Very well, then.That's enough. Who's the worse for the loss of a few things like these. Not a dead man,
I suppose.'
No, indeed.
If he wanted to keep them after he was dead, a wicked old screw, why wasn't he natural in his lifetime.
If he had been, he'd have 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. 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. We know 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 sleevebuttons,
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 there was nothing more to come.
That's your account, and I wouldn't give another sixpence, if I was to be boiled for not doing it. Who's
Mrs Dilber was next. Sheets and towels, a little wearing apparel, two old-fashioned silver teaspoons, a
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. 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.
Joe went down on his knees for the greater convenience of opening it, and having unfastened a great
many knots, dragged out a large and heavy roll of some dark stuff.
What do you call this. Bed-curtains.
(laughing and leaning forward on her crossed arms) Ah! Bed-curtains.
You don't mean to say you took them down, rings and all, with him lying there.
Yes I do. Why not.
You were born to make your fortune 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. Don't drop that oil upon the blankets, now.
His blankets.
Whose else's do you think? He isn't likely to take cold without them, I dare say.
I hope he didn't die of any thing catching. Eh.
Don't you be afraid of that. 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.
(with a laugh) Putting it on him to be buried in, to be sure. 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 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 several
gains upon the ground.
This is the end of it, you see. He frightened every one away from him when he was alive, to profit us
when he was dead. Ha, ha, ha.
(shuddering from head to foot) 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.
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 something 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) 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 had no more power to withdraw the veil than to
dismiss the spectre at his side.
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, truly.
He lay, in the dark empty house, with not a man, a woman, or a child, to say that 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 hearth-stone. What they wanted in the room of
death, and why they were so restless and disturbed, Scrooge did not dare to think.
Spirit, this is a fearful place. In leaving it, I shall not leave its lesson, trust me. Let us go.
(a pause)
I understand you, and I would do it, if I could. But I have not the power, Spirit. I have not the power.
(a pause)
(quite agonised) If there is any person in the town, who feels emotion caused by this man's death,
`show that person to me, Spirit, I beseech you.
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 the 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.
He sat down to the dinner that had been boarding for him by the fire; and when she asked him faintly
what news (which was not until after a long silence), he appeared embarrassed how to answer.
Is it good or bad? -- to help him.
We are quite ruined.
No. There is hope yet, Caroline.
If he relents, there is. Nothing is past hope, if such a miracle has happened.
He is past relenting, 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 a bad fortune indeed to find so merciless a creditor in his successor. We may sleep to-night
with light hearts, Caroline.
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
Let me see some tenderness connected with a death 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 fire.
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 them.
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.
The mother laid her work upon the table, and put her hand up to her face.
The colour hurts my eyes.
They're better now again. 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; 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. Often.
And so have I.
(intent upon her work) 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 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 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.
Yes, my dear. 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 little, little child. 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 up-stairs 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
extraordinary 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, On which, for he is the pleasantest-spoken gentleman you ever heard, I
told him. "I am heartily sorry for it, Mr Cratchit, and heartily sorry 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,' 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.
You would be surer of it, my dear, if you saw and spoke to him. I shouldn't be at all surprised - mark
what I say. -- if he got Peter a better situation.
Only hear that, Peter!
And then, Peter will be keeping company with some one, and setting up for himself.
(grinning) Get along with you.
It's just as likely as not, one of these days; though there's plenty of time for that, my dear. But however
and when ever 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.
And I know, 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
No, never, father.
I am very happy: 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, 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.
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 courts 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. Why do you point away.
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 before.
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 entering.
A churchyard. Here, then, the wretched man whose name he had now to learn, lay underneath the
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
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, answer me one question. Are these the shadows
of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only.
(a pause)
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.
(a pause)
Scrooge crept towards it, trembling as he went; and following the finger, read upon the stone of the
neglected grave his own name...
(upon his knees) Am I that man who lay upon the bed?
(a pause)
No, Spirit. Oh no, no.
(a pause)
(tight clutching at its robe) 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.
(a pause)
Good Spirit, 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.
(a pause)
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.
(Holding up his hands in a last prayer to have his fate aye reversed, he saw an alteration in the
Phantom's hood and dress. It shrunk, collapsed, and dwindled down into a bedpost.)
Stave 5: The End of It
Yes! and the bedpost was his own. The bed was his own, the room was his own. Best and happiest of
all, the Time before him was his own, to make amends in!
I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. Oh
Jacob Marley. Heaven, and the Christmas Time be 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 conflict with the Spirit, and his face was wet
with tears.
They are not torn down. 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.
(laughing and crying in the same breath; and making a perfect Laocoon of himself with his stockings) I
don't know what to do. 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. Hallo.
He had frisked into the sitting-room, and was now standing there: perfectly winded.
(starting off again, and going round the fireplace) There's the saucepan that the gruel was in. There's
the door, by which the Ghost of Jacob 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 laughs.
I don't know what day of the month it is. I don't know how long I've been among the Spirits. I don't
know anything. I'm quite a baby. Never mind. I don't care. I'd rather be a baby. Hallo. Whoop. Hallo
He was checked in his transports by the churches ringing out the lustiest peals he had ever heard.
SOUND: Clash, clang, hammer; ding, dong, bell. Bell, dong, ding; hammer, clang, 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.
... calling downward to a boy in Sunday clothes, who perhaps had loitered in to look about him.
(with all his might of wonder) Eh.?
What's to-day, my fine fellow?
To-day? Why, Christmas Day.
It's Christmas Day. 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.'
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.
No, no, I am in earnest. Go and buy it, and tell them to bring it here, that I may give them the direction
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 boy was off like a shot. He must have had a steady hand at a trigger who could have got a shot off
half so fast.
(rubbing his hands, and splitting with a laugh)
I'll send it to Bon Cratchit's . 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
down-stairs 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. 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 them short
off in a minute, like sticks of sealing-wax.
Why, it's impossible to carry that to Camden Town, 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 the chuckle with which he sat down breathless in his chair again, and chuckled till he
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-plaister over it, and been quite satisfied.
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. Quickening his pace, and taking the old gentleman by both his
My dear sir. How do you do? I hope you succeeded yesterday. It was very kind of you. A merry
Christmas to you, sir.'
Mr Scrooge!
Yes. 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.)
(as if his breath were taken away.) Lord bless me!
My dear Mr Scrooge, are you serious.
If you please. 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. I don't know what to say to such munificence.'
Don't say anything please. Come and see me. Will you come and see me.
We will.
Thank you. 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 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 pleasure. He had never dreamed that any
walk -- that anything -- could give him so much happiness. In the afternoon he turned his steps towards
his nephew's house.
He passed the door a dozen 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?
Yes, sir.'
Where is he, my love.
He's in the dining-room, sir, along with mistress. I'll show you up-stairs, if you please.
Thank you. He knows me.
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 housekeepers are always nervous on such points, and like to
see that everything is right.
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. 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 mercy he didn't shake his arm off. He was at home in five minutes. Nothing could be
heartier. His niece looked just the same. So did Topper when he came. So did the plump sister when she
came. So did every one when they came. Wonderful party, wonderful games, wonderful unanimity,
wonderful 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 nine o'clock.
(growled Scrooge, in his accustomed voice, as near as he could feign it) Hallo. 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, 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, I am not going to stand this sort of thing any longer.
And therefore,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. 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 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 uponthe 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!
The Christmas Carol Concert
In Concert:
Hark The Hearld, Angels Sing
Grown Up Christmas Wish
O Holy, Night
Breath Of Heaven - duet
Mary's Boy Child
As a Sing Along:
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
Joy To The World
We Wish You A Merry Christmas