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Title: A Christmas Carol - The original manuscript
Author: Dickens, Charles, 1812-1870
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Christmas Carol - The original manuscript" ***

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A CHRISTMAS CAROL
THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT

Charles Dickens

[Illustration]

_A Facsimile of the Manuscript
in The Pierpont Morgan Library_

with a Transcript of the First Edition and
John Leech's Illustrations

[Illustration: _Mr. Fezziwig's Ball._]

[Illustration: A CHRISTMAS CAROL BY CHARLES DICKENS]

A CHRISTMAS CAROL

THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT

_by_

_Charles Dickens_

[Illustration]

a facsimile of the manuscript
in The Pierpont Morgan Library

_with the illustrations of John Leech and the text from the first edition_.


[Illustration: Mr. Fezziwig's Ball.

_London · Chapman & Hall, 186 Strand._]

[_This illustration is reproduced in full color on the
inside front cover._]



A CHRISTMAS CAROL



NOTE TO READER

All inconsistencies of spelling and punctuation in the First Edition
have been retained by the Publishers. The portions of manuscript
reproduced on pages 38, 42, 56, 58, 70, 92 and 136 appeared originally
on the verso of the facing manuscript page.


/Title/



A Christmas Carol

In Prose

Being a Ghost Story of Christmas

By Charles Dickens

-------------------------------
The Illustrations by John Leech
-------------------------------

Chapman and Hall 186 Strand

MDCCCXLIII



/My own, and only, MS of the Book/

Charles Dickens


[Illustration: Original manuscript of the Title Page.]



PREFACE

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

Their faithful Friend and Servant,

C. D.

December, 1843.


[Illustration: Original manuscript of the Preface.]



STAVE I.

MARLEY'S GHOST.


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

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

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

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

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 1.]

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 dog-days; and didn't thaw it one degree at Christmas.

External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. No warmth
could warm, nor wintry weather chill him. No wind that blew was
bitterer than he, no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, no
pelting rain less open to entreaty. Foul weather didn't know where to
have him. The heaviest rain, and snow, and hail, and sleet, could
boast of the advantage over him in only one respect. They often "came
down" handsomely, and Scrooge never did.

Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, with gladsome looks, "My
dear Scrooge, how are you? when will you come to see me?" No beggars
implored him to bestow a trifle, no children asked him what it was
o'clock, no man or woman ever once in all his life inquired the way to
such and such a place, of Scrooge. Even the blindmen's dogs appeared
to know him; and when they saw him coming on, would tug their owners
into doorways and up courts; and then would wag their tails as though
they said, "no eye at all is better than an evil eye, dark master!"

But what did Scrooge care? It was the very thing he liked. To edge his
way along the crowded paths of life, warning all human sympathy to
keep its distance, was what the knowing ones call "nuts" to Scrooge.

Once upon a time--of all the good days in the year, on Christmas
Eve--old Scrooge sat busy in his counting-house. It was cold, bleak,
biting weather: foggy withal: and he could hear the

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 2.]

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.

"A merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!" cried a cheerful voice. It
was the voice of Scrooge's nephew, who came upon him so quickly that
this was the first intimation he had of his approach.

"Bah!" said Scrooge, "Humbug!"

He had so heated himself with rapid walking in the fog and frost, this
nephew of Scrooge's, that he was all in a glow; his face was ruddy and
handsome; his eyes sparkled, and his breath smoked again.

"Christmas a humbug, uncle!" said Scrooge's nephew. "You don't mean
that, I am sure."

"I do," said Scrooge. "Merry Christmas! what right have you to be
merry? what reason have you to be merry? You're poor enough."

"Come, then," returned the nephew gaily. "What right have you to be
dismal? what reason have you to be morose? You're rich enough."

Scrooge having no better answer ready on the spur of the moment, said,
"Bah!" again; and followed it up with "Humbug."

"Don't be cross, uncle," said the nephew.

"What else can I be" returned the uncle, "when I live in such

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 3.]

a world of fools as this? Merry Christmas! Out upon merry Christmas!
What's Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without
money; a time for finding yourself a year older, and not an hour
richer; a time for balancing your books and having every item in 'em
through a round dozen of months presented dead against you? If I could
work my will," said Scrooge, indignantly, "every idiot who goes about
with 'Merry Christmas,' on his lips, should be boiled with his own
pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He
should!"

"Uncle!" pleaded the nephew.

"Nephew!" returned the uncle, sternly, "keep Christmas in your own
way, and let me keep it in mine."

"Keep it!" repeated Scrooge's nephew. "But you don't keep it."

"Let me leave it alone, then," said Scrooge. "Much good may it do you!
Much good it has ever done you!"

"There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which
I have not profited, I dare say," returned the nephew: "Christmas
among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time,
when it has come round--apart from the 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!"

The clerk in the tank involuntarily applauded: becoming immediately
sensible of the impropriety, he poked the fire, and extinguished the
last frail spark for ever.

"Let me hear another sound from _you_" said Scrooge, "and you'll keep
your Christmas by losing your situation. You're quite a powerful
speaker, sir," he added, turning to his nephew. "I wonder you don't go
into Parliament."

"Don't be angry, uncle. Come! Dine with us to-morrow."

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.

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 4.]

"But why?" cried Scrooge's nephew. "Why?"

"Why did you get married?" said Scrooge.

"Because I fell in love."

"Because you fell in love!" growled Scrooge, as if that were the only
one thing in the world more ridiculous than a merry Christmas. "Good
afternoon!"

"Nay, uncle, but you never came to see me before that happened. Why
give it as a reason for not coming now?"

"Good afternoon," said Scrooge.

"I want nothing from you; I ask nothing of you; why cannot we be
friends?"

"Good afternoon," said Scrooge.

"I am sorry, with all my heart, to find you so resolute. We have never
had any quarrel, to which I 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!" said Scrooge.

"And A Happy New Year!"

"Good afternoon!" said Scrooge.

His nephew left the room without an angry word, notwithstanding. He
stopped at the outer door to bestow the greetings of the season on the
clerk, who, cold as he was, was warmer than Scrooge; for he returned
them cordially.

"There's another fellow," muttered Scrooge; who overheard him: "my
clerk, with fifteen shillings a-week, and a wife and family, talking
about a merry Christmas. I'll retire to Bedlam."

This lunatic, in letting Scrooge's nephew out, had let two other
people in. They were portly gentlemen, pleasant to behold, and now
stood, with their hats off, in Scrooge's office. They had books and
papers in their hands, and bowed to him.

"Scrooge and Marley's, I believe," said one of the gentlemen,
referring to his list. "Have I the pleasure of addressing Mr. Scrooge,
or Mr. Marley?"

"Mr. Marley has been dead these seven years," Scrooge replied. "He
died seven years ago, this very night."

"We have no doubt his liberality is well represented by his surviving
partner," said the gentleman, presenting his credentials.

It certainly was; for they had been two kindred spirits. At the
ominous word "liberality," Scrooge frowned, and shook his head, and
handed the credentials back.

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 5.]

"At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge," said the gentleman,
taking up a pen, "it is more than usually desirable that we should
make some slight provision for the poor and destitute, who suffer
greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common
necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts,
sir."

"Are there no prisons?" asked Scrooge.

"Plenty of prisons," said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

"And the Union workhouses?" demanded Scrooge. "Are they still in
operation?"

"They are. Still," returned the gentleman, "I wish I could say they
were not."

"The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?" said
Scrooge.

"Both very busy, sir."

"Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had
occurred to stop them in their useful course," said Scrooge. "I'm very
glad to hear it."

"Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of
mind or body to the multitude," returned the gentleman, "a few of us
are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink,
and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all
others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I
put you down for?"

"Nothing!" Scrooge replied.

"You wish to be anonymous?"

"I wish to be left alone," said Scrooge. "Since you ask me what I
wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don't make merry myself at
Christmas, and I can't afford to make idle people merry. I help to
support the establishments I have mentioned: they cost enough: and
those who are badly off must go there."

"Many can't go there; and many would rather die."

"If they would rather die," said Scrooge, "they had better do it, and
decrease the surplus population. Besides--excuse me--I don't know
that."

"But you might know it," observed the gentleman.

"It's not my business," Scrooge returned. "It's enough for a man to
understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people's.
Mine occupies me constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen!"

Seeing clearly that it would be useless to pursue their point, the
gentlemen withdrew. Scrooge resumed his labours with an improved
opinion of himself, and in a more facetious temper than was usual with
him.

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 6.]

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 cold became intense. In the main street, at the corner of
the court, some labourers were repairing the gas-pipes, and had
lighted a great fire in a brazier, round which a party of ragged men
and boys were gathered: warming their hands and winking their eyes
before the blaze in rapture. The waterplug being left in solitude, its
overflowings sullenly congealed, and turned to misanthropic ice. The
brightness of the shops where holly sprigs and berries crackled in the
lamp-heat of the windows, made pale faces ruddy as they passed.
Poulterers' and grocers' trades became a splendid joke: a glorious
pageant, with which it was next to impossible to believe that such
dull principles as bargain and sale had anything to do. The Lord
Mayor, in the stronghold of the mighty Mansion House, gave orders to
his fifty cooks and butlers to keep Christmas as a Lord Mayor's
household should; and even the little tailor, whom he had fined five
shillings on the previous Monday for being drunk and blood-thirsty in
the streets, stirred up to-morrow's pudding in his garret, while his
lean wife and the baby sallied out to buy the beef.

Foggier yet, and colder! Piercing, searching, biting cold. If the good
Saint Dunstan had but nipped the Evil Spirit's nose with a touch of
such weather as that, instead of using his familiar weapons, then
indeed he would have roared to lusty purpose. The owner of one scant
young nose, gnawed and mumbled by the hungry cold as bones are gnawed
by dogs, stooped down at Scrooge's keyhole to regale him with a
Christmas carol: but at the first sound of--

     "God bless you merry gentleman!
      May nothing you dismay!"

Scrooge seized the ruler with such energy of action, that the singer
fled in terror, leaving the keyhole to the fog and even more congenial
frost.

At length the hour of shutting up the counting-house arrived. With an
ill-will Scrooge dismounted from his stool, and tacitly admitted the
fact to the expectant clerk in the Tank, who instantly snuffed his
candle out, and put on his hat.

"You'll want all day to-morrow, I suppose?" said Scrooge.

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 7.]

"If quite convenient, Sir."

"It's not convenient," said Scrooge, "and it's not fair. If I was to
stop half-a-crown for it, you'd think yourself ill used, I'll be
bound?"

The clerk smiled faintly.

"And yet," said Scrooge, "you don't think _me_ ill-used, when I pay a
day's wages for no work."

The clerk observed that it was only once a year.

"A poor excuse for picking a man's pocket every twenty-fifth of
December!" said Scrooge, buttoning his great-coat to the chin. "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 news-papers, and beguiled the rest of the evening
with his banker's-book, went home to bed. He lived in chambers which
had once belonged to his deceased partner. They were a gloomy suite of
rooms, in a lowering pile of building up a yard, where it had so
little business to be, that one could scarcely help fancying it must
have run there when it was a young house, playing at hide-and-seek
with other houses, and have forgotten the way out again. It was old
enough now, and dreary enough, for nobody lived in it but Scrooge, the
other rooms being all let out as offices. The yard was so dark that
even Scrooge, who knew its every stone, was fain to grope with his
hands. The fog and frost so hung about the black old gateway of the
house, that it seemed as if the Genius of the Weather sat in mournful
meditation on the threshold.

Now, it is a fact, that there was nothing at all particular about the
knocker on the door, except that it was very large. It is also a fact,
that Scrooge had seen it night and morning during his whole residence
in that place; also that Scrooge had as little of what is called fancy
about him as any man in the City of London, even including--which is a
bold word--the corporation, aldermen, and livery. Let it also be borne
in mind that Scrooge had not bestowed one thought on Marley, since his
last mention of his seven-years' dead partner that afternoon. And then
let any man explain to me, if he can, how it happened that Scrooge,
having his key in the lock of the door, saw in the knocker, without
its undergoing any intermediate process of change: not a knocker, but

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 8.]

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 upon 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 of its own expression.

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

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

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

The sound resounded through the house like thunder. Every room above,
and every cask in the wine-merchant's cellars below, appeared to have
a separate peal of echoes of its own. Scrooge was not a man to be
frightened by echoes. He fastened the door, and walked across the
hall, and up the stairs: slowly too: trimming his candle as he went.

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

Up Scrooge went, not caring a button for that: darkness is cheap, and
Scrooge liked it. But before he shut his heavy door, he walked through
his rooms to see that all was right. He had just enough recollection

[Illustration: Original manuscript of page 9.]

of the face to desire to do that.

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

Quite satisfied, he closed his door, and locked himself in;
double-locked himself in, which was not his custom. Thus secured
against surprise, he took off his cravat; put on his dressing-gown and
slippers, and his night-cap; 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. The
fire-place was an old one, built by some Dutch merchant long ago, and
paved all round with quaint Dutch tiles, designed to illustrate the
Scriptures. There were Cains and Abels; Pharaoh's daughters, Queens of
Sheba, Angelic messengers descending through the air on clouds like
feather-beds, Abrahams, Belshazzars, Apostles putting off to sea in
butter-boats, hundreds of figures, to attract his thoughts; and yet
that face of Marley, seven years dead, came like the ancient Prophet's
rod, and swallowed up the whole. If each smooth tile had been a blank
at first, with power to shape some picture on its surface from the
disjointed fragments of his thoughts, there would have been a copy of
old Marley's head on every one.

"Humbug!" said Scrooge; and walked across the room.

After several turns, he sat down again. 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

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 10.]

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!" said Scrooge. "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 pig-tail, usual waistcoat,
tights, and boots; the tassels on the latter bristling, like his
pigtail, and his coat-skirts, and the hair upon his head. The chain he
drew was clasped about his middle. It was long, and wound about him
like a tail; and it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely) of
cashboxes, 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.

"How now!" said Scrooge, caustic and cold as ever. "What do you want
with me?"

"Much!"--Marley's voice, no doubt about it.

"Who are you?"

"Ask me who I _was_."

"Who _were_ you then?" said Scrooge, raising his voice. "You're
particular--for a shade." He was going to say "_to_ a shade," but
substituted this, as more appropriate.

"In life I was your partner, Jacob Marley."

"Can you--can you sit down?" asked Scrooge, looking doubtfully at him.

"I can."

"Do it then."

Scrooge asked the question, because he didn't know whether a ghost so

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 11.]

[Illustration]

[Illustration: _Marley's Ghost._]

_London · Chapman & Hall, 186 Strand._

[_This illustration is reproduced in full color on the front cover._]

transparent might find himself in a condition to take a chair; and
felt that in the event of its being impossible, it might involve the
necessity of an embarrassing explanation. But the ghost sat down on
the opposite side of the fire-place, as if he were quite used to it.

"You don't believe in me," observed the Ghost.

"I don't," said Scrooge.

"What evidence would you have of my reality, beyond that of your
senses?"

"I don't know," said Scrooge.

"Why do you doubt your senses?"

"Because," said Scrooge, "a little thing affects them. A slight
disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may be an undigested
bit of 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!"

Scrooge was not much in the habit of cracking jokes, nor did he feel,
in his heart, by any means waggish then. The truth is, that he tried
to be smart, as a means of distracting his own attention, and keeping
down his terror; for the spectre's voice disturbed the very marrow in
his bones.

To sit, staring at those fixed, glazed eyes, in silence for a moment,
would play, Scrooge felt, the very deuce with him. There was something
very awful, too, in the spectre's being provided with an infernal
atmosphere of its own. Scrooge could not feel it himself, but this was
clearly the case; for though the Ghost sat perfectly motionless, its
hair, and skirts, and tassels, were still agitated as by the hot
vapour from an oven.

"You see this toothpick?" said Scrooge, returning quickly to the
charge, for the reason just assigned; and wishing, though it were only
for a second, to divert the vision's stony gaze from himself.

"I do," replied the Ghost.

"You are not looking at it," said Scrooge.

"But I see it," said the Ghost, "notwithstanding."

"Well!" returned Scrooge. "I have but to swallow this, and be for the
rest of my days persecuted by a legion of goblins, all of my own
creation. Humbug, I tell you--humbug!"

At this, the spirit raised a frightful cry, and shook its chain with
such a dismal and appalling noise, that 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

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 12.]

warm to wear in-doors, its lower jaw dropped down upon its breast!

Scrooge fell upon his knees, and clasped his hands before his face.

"Mercy!" he said. "Dreadful apparition, why do you trouble me?"

"Man of the worldly mind!" replied the Ghost, "do you believe in me or
not?"

"I do," said Scrooge. "I must. But why do spirits walk the earth, and
why do they come to me?"

"It is required of every man," the Ghost returned, "that the spirit
within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and
wide; and if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do
so after death. It is doomed to wander through the world--oh, woe is
me!--and witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth,
and turned to happiness!"

Again the spectre raised a cry, and shook its chain, and wrung its
shadowy hands.

"You are fettered," said Scrooge, trembling. "Tell me why?"

"I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the Ghost. "I made it
link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will,
and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to _you_?"

Scrooge trembled more and more.

"Or would you know," pursued the Ghost, "the weight and length of the
strong coil you bear 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," he said, imploringly. "Old Jacob Marley, tell me more. Speak
comfort to me, Jacob."

"I have none to give," the Ghost replied. "It comes from other regions,
Ebenezer Scrooge, and is conveyed by other ministers, to other kinds of
men. Nor can I tell you what I would. A very little more, is all permitted
to me. I cannot rest, I cannot stay, I cannot linger anywhere. My spirit
never walked beyond our counting-house--mark me!--in life my spirit never
roved beyond the narrow limits of our money-changing hole; and weary
journeys lie before me!"

It was a habit with Scrooge, whenever he became thoughtful,

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 13.]

to put his hands in his breeches pockets. Pondering on what the Ghost
had said, he did so now, but without lifting up his eyes, or getting
off his knees.

"You must have been very slow about it, Jacob," Scrooge observed, in a
business-like manner, though with humility and deference.

"Slow!" the Ghost repeated.

"Seven years dead," mused Scrooge. "And travelling all the time?"

"The whole time," said the Ghost. "No rest, no peace. Incessant
torture of remorse."

"You travel fast?" said Scrooge.

"On the wings of the wind," replied the Ghost.

"You might have got over a great quantity of ground in seven years,"
said Scrooge.

The Ghost, on hearing this, set up another cry, and clanked its chain
so hideously in the dead silence of the night, that the Ward would
have been justified in indicting it for a nuisance.

"Oh, captive, bound, and double-ironed," cried the phantom, "not to
know, that ages of incessant labour by immortal creatures, for this
earth must pass into eternity before the good of which it is
susceptible is all developed. Not to know that any Christian spirit
working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its
mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness. Not to know
that no space of regret can make amends for one life's opportunities
misused! Yet such was I! Oh! such was I!"

"But you were always a good man of business, Jacob," faultered
Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.

"Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my
business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy,
forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of
my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my
business!"

It held up its chain at arm's length, as if that were the cause of all
its unavailing grief, and flung it heavily upon the ground again.

"At this time of the rolling year," the spectre said, "I suffer most.
Why did I walk through the crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned
down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men
to a poor abode? Were there no poor homes to which its light would
have conducted _me_!"

Scrooge was very much dismayed to hear the spectre going on at

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 14.]

this rate, and began to quake exceedingly.

"Hear me!" cried the Ghost. "My time is nearly gone."

"I will," said Scrooge. "But don't be hard upon me! Don't be flowery,
Jacob! Pray!"

"How it is that I appear before you in a shape that you can see, I may
not tell. I have sat invisible beside you many and many a day."

It was not an agreeable idea. Scrooge shivered, and wiped the
perspiration from his brow.

"That is no light part of my penance," pursued the Ghost. "I am here
to-night to warn you, that you have yet a chance and hope of escaping
my fate. A chance and hope of my procuring, Ebenezer."

"You were always a good friend to me," said Scrooge. "Thank'ee!"

"You will be haunted," resumed the Ghost, "by Three Spirits."

Scrooge's countenance fell almost as low as the Ghost's had done.

"Is that the chance and hope you mentioned, Jacob?" he demanded, in a
faultering voice.

"It is."

"I--I think I'd rather not," said Scrooge.

"Without their visits," said the Ghost, "you cannot hope to shun the
path I tread. Expect the first to-morrow, when the bell tolls one."

"Couldn't I take 'em all at once, and have it over, Jacob?" hinted
Scrooge.

"Expect the second on the next night at the same hour. The third upon
the next night when the last stroke of twelve has ceased to vibrate.
Look to see me no more; and look that, for your own sake, you remember
what has passed between us!"

When it had said these words, the spectre took its wrapper from the
table, and bound it round its head, as before. Scrooge knew this, by
the smart sound its teeth made, when the jaws were brought together by
the bandage. He ventured to raise his eyes again, and found his
supernatural visitor confronting him in an erect attitude, with its
chain wound over and about its 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

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 15.]

[Illustration: Verso of original manuscript Page 16.]

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 (they might be guilty
governments) were linked together; none were free. Many had been
personally known to Scrooge in their lives. He had been quite familiar
with one old ghost, in a white waistcoat, with a monstrous iron safe
attached to its ancle, 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 mist enshrouded 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 double-locked, as he had locked it with his own
hands, and the bolts were undisturbed. He tried to say "Hum-bug!" 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.

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 16.]



STAVE II.

THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS.


When Scrooge awoke, it was so dark, that looking out of bed, he could
scarcely distinguish the transparent window from the opaque walls of
his chamber. He was endeavouring to pierce the darkness with his
ferret eyes, when the chimes of a neighbouring church struck the four
quarters. So he listened for the hour.

To his great astonishment the heavy bell went on from six to seven,
and from seven to eight, and regularly up to twelve; then stopped.
Twelve! It was past two when he went to bed. The clock was wrong. An
icicle must have got into the works. Twelve!

He touched the spring of his repeater, to correct this most
preposterous clock. Its rapid little pulse beat twelve; and stopped.

"Why, it isn't possible," said Scrooge, "that I can have slept through
a whole day and far into another night. It isn't possible that
anything has happened to the sun, and this is twelve at noon!"

The idea being an alarming one, he scrambled out of bed, and groped
his way to the window. He was obliged to rub the frost off with the
sleeve of his dressing-gown before he could see anything; and could
see very little then. All he could make out was, that it was still
very foggy and extremely cold, and that there was no noise of people
running to and fro, and making a great stir, as there unquestionably
would have been if night had beaten off bright day, and taken
possession of the world. This was a great relief, because "three days
after sight of this First of Exchange pay to Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge or
his order," and so forth, would have become a mere United States'
security if there were no days to count by.

Scrooge went to bed again, and thought, and thought, and thought it
over and over and over, and could make nothing of it. The more he
thought, the more perplexed he was; and the more he endeavoured not to
think, the more he thought. Marley's Ghost bothered him exceedingly.
Every time he resolved within himself, after mature inquiry, that it
was all a dream, his mind flew back again like a strong spring
released, to its first position, and presented the same problem to be
worked all through, "Was it a dream or not?"

Scrooge lay in this state until the chimes had gone three quarters
more, when he remembered, on a sudden, that the Ghost had

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 17.]

[Illustration: Verso of original manuscript of Page 18.]

warned him of a visitation when the bell tolled one. He resolved to
lie awake until the hour was past; and considering that he could no
more go to sleep than go to Heaven, this was perhaps the wisest
resolution in his power.

The quarter was so long, that he was more than once convinced he must
have sunk into a doze unconsciously, and missed the clock. At length
it broke upon his listening ear.

"Ding, dong!"

"A quarter past," said Scrooge, counting.

"Ding, dong!"

"Half past!" said Scrooge.

"Ding, dong!"

"A quarter to it," said Scrooge.

"Ding, dong!"

"The hour itself," said Scrooge, triumphantly, "and nothing else!"

He spoke before the hour bell sounded, which it now did with a deep,
dull, hollow, melancholy ONE. Light flashed up in the room upon the
instant, and the curtains of his bed were drawn.

The curtains of his bed were drawn aside, I tell you, by a hand. Not
the curtains at his feet, nor the curtains at his back, but those to
which his face was addressed. The curtains of his bed were drawn
aside; and Scrooge, starting up into a half-recumbent attitude, found
himself face to face with the unearthly visitor who drew them: as
close to it as I am now to you, and I am standing in the spirit at
your elbow.

It was a strange figure--like a child: yet not so like a child as like
an old man, viewed through some 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

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 18.]

a cap, which it now held under its arm.

Even this, though, when Scrooge looked at it with increasing
steadiness, was _not_ its strangest quality. For as its belt sparkled
and glittered now in one part and now in another, and what was light
one instant, at another time was dark, so the figure itself fluctuated
in its distinctness: being now a thing with one arm, now with one leg,
now with twenty legs, now a pair of legs without a head, now a head
without a body: of which dissolving parts, no outline would be visible
in the dense gloom wherein they melted away. And in the very wonder of
this, it would be itself again; distinct and clear as ever.

"Are you the Spirit, sir, whose coming was foretold to me?" asked
Scrooge.

"I am!"

The voice was soft and gentle. Singularly low, as if instead of being
so close beside him, it were at a distance.

"Who, and what are you?" Scrooge demanded.

"I am the Ghost of Christmas Past."

"Long past?" inquired Scrooge: observant of its dwarfish stature.

"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" exclaimed the Ghost, "would you so soon put out, with worldly
hands, the light I give? Is it not enough that you are one of those
whose passions made this cap, and force me through whole trains of
years to wear it low upon my brow!"

Scrooge reverently disclaimed all intention to offend, or any
knowledge of having wilfully "bonneted" the Spirit at any period of
his life. He then made bold to inquire what business brought him
there.

"Your welfare!" said the Ghost.

Scrooge expressed himself much obliged, but could not help thinking
that a night of unbroken rest would have been more conducive to that
end. The Spirit must have heard him thinking, for it said immediately:

"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,

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 19.]

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 its robe in supplication.

"I am a mortal," Scrooge remonstrated, "and liable to fall."

"Bear but a touch of my hand _there_," said the Spirit, laying it upon
his heart, "and you shall be upheld in more than this!"

As the words were spoken, they passed through the wall, and stood upon
an open country road, with fields on either hand. The city had
entirely vanished. Not a vestige of it was to be seen. The darkness
and the mist had vanished with it, for it was a clear, cold, winter
day, with snow upon the ground.

"Good Heaven!" said Scrooge, clasping his hands together, as he looked
about him. "I was bred in this place. I was a boy here!"

The Spirit gazed upon him mildly. Its gentle touch, though it had been
light and instantaneous, appeared still present to the old man's sense
of feeling. He was conscious of a thousand odours floating in the air,
each one connected with a thousand thoughts, and hopes, and joys, and
cares long, long, forgotten!

"Your lip is trembling," said the Ghost. "And what is that upon your
cheek?"

Scrooge muttered, with an unusual catching in his voice, that it was a
pimple; and begged the Ghost to lead him where he would.

"You recollect the way?" inquired the Spirit.

"Remember it!" cried Scrooge with fervour--"I could walk it
blindfold."

"Strange to have forgotten it for so many years!" observed the Ghost.
"Let us go on."

They walked along the road; Scrooge recognising every gate, and post,
and tree; until a little market-town appeared in the distance, with
its bridge, its church, and winding river. Some shaggy ponies now were
seen trotting towards them with boys upon their backs, who called to
other boys in country gigs and 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," said the Ghost.
"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

[Illustration: Original manuscript of page 20.]

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! What was merry
Christmas to Scrooge? Out upon merry Christmas! What good had it ever
done to him?

"The school is not quite deserted," said the Ghost. "A 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. It was a large house, but one
of broken fortunes; for the spacious offices were little used, their
walls were damp and mossy, their windows broken, and their gates
decayed. Fowls clucked and strutted in the stables; and the
coach-houses and sheds were overrun with grass. Nor was it more
retentive of its ancient state, within; for entering the dreary hall,
and glancing through the open doors of many rooms, they found them
poorly furnished, cold, and vast. There was an earthy savour in the
air, a chilly bareness in the place, which associated itself somehow
with too much getting up by candle-light, and not too much to eat.

They went, the Ghost and Scrooge, across the hall, to a door at the
back of the house. It opened before them, and disclosed a long, bare,
melancholy room, made barer still by lines of plain deal forms and
desks. At one of these a lonely boy was reading near a feeble fire;
and Scrooge sat down upon a form, and wept to see his poor forgotten
self as he had used to be.

Not a latent echo in the house, not a squeak and scuffle from the mice
behind the panneling, 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 softening influence, and gave a freer passage to his tears.

The Spirit touched him on the arm, and pointed to his young 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 an ass laden with wood by
the bridle.

"Why, it's Ali Baba!" Scrooge exclaimed in ecstacy. "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

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 21.]

time, just like that. Poor boy! And Valentine," said Scrooge, "and his
wild brother, Orson; there they go! And what's his name, who was put
down in his drawers, asleep, at the Gate of Damascus; don't you see
him! And the Sultan's Groom turned upside-down by the Genii; there he
is upon his head! Serve him right. I'm glad of it. What business had
_he_ to be married to the Princess!"

To hear Scrooge expending all the earnestness of his nature on such
subjects, in a most extraordinary voice between laughing and crying;
and to see his heightened and excited face; would have been a surprise
to his business friends in the city, indeed.

"There's the Parrot!" cried Scrooge. "Green body and yellow tail, with
a thing like a lettuce growing out of the top of his head; there he
is! Poor Robin Crusoe, he called him, when he came home again after
sailing round the island. 'Poor Robin Crusoe, where have you been,
Robin Crusoe?' The man thought he was dreaming, but he wasn't. It was
the Parrot, you know. There goes Friday, running for his life to the
little creek! Halloa! Hoop! Halloo!"

Then, with a rapidity of transition very foreign to his usual
character, he said, in pity for his former self, "Poor boy!" and cried
again.

"I wish," Scrooge muttered, putting his hand in his pocket, and
looking about him, after drying his eyes with his cuff: "but it's too
late now."

"What is the matter?" asked the Spirit.

"Nothing," said Scrooge. "Nothing. There was a boy singing a Christmas
Carol at my door last night. I should like to have given him
something: that's all."

The Ghost smiled thoughtfully, and waved its hand: saying as it did
so, "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,
addressed him as her "Dear, dear brother."

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 22.]

"I have come to bring you home, dear brother!" said the child,
clapping her tiny hands, and bending down to laugh. "To bring you
home, home, home!"

"Home, little Fan?" returned the boy.

"Yes!" said the child, brimful of glee. "Home, for good and all. Home,
for ever and ever. Father is so much kinder than he used to be, that
home's like Heaven! He spoke so gently to me one dear night when I was
going to bed, that I was not afraid to ask him once more if you might
come home; and he said Yes, you should; and sent me in a coach to
bring you. And you're to be a man!" said the child, opening her eyes,
"and are never to come back here; but first, we're to be together all
the Christmas long, and have the merriest time in all the world."

"You are quite a woman, little Fan!" exclaimed the boy.

She clapped her hands and laughed, and tried to touch his head; but
being too little, laughed again, and stood on tiptoe to embrace him.
Then she began to drag him, in her childish eagerness, towards the
door; and he, nothing loth to go, accompanied her.

A terrible voice in the hall cried, "Bring down Master Scrooge's box,
there!" and in the hall appeared the schoolmaster himself, who glared
on Master Scrooge with a ferocious condescension, and threw him into a
dreadful state of mind by shaking hands with him. He then conveyed him
and his sister into the veriest old well of a shivering best-parlour
that ever was seen, where the maps upon the wall, and the celestial
and terrestrial globes in the windows, were waxy with cold. Here he
produced a decanter of curiously light wine, and a block of curiously
heavy cake, and administered instalments of those dainties to the
young people: at the same time, sending out a meagre servant to offer
a glass of "something" to the postboy, who answered that he thanked
the gentleman, but if it was the same tap as he had tasted before, he
had rather not. Master Scrooge's trunk being by this time tied on to
the top of the chaise, the children bade the schoolmaster good-bye
right willingly; and getting into it, drove gaily down the
garden-sweep; the quick wheels dashing the hoar-frost and snow from
off the dark leaves of the evergreens like spray.

"Always a delicate creature, whom a breath might have withered," said
the Ghost. "But she had a large heart!"

"So she had," cried Scrooge. "You're right. I'll not gainsay it,
Spirit. God forbid!"

"She died a woman," said the Ghost, "and had, as I

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 23.]

think, children."

"One child," Scrooge returned.

"True," said the Ghost. "Your nephew!"

Scrooge seemed uneasy in his mind; and answered briefly, "Yes."

Although they had but that moment left the school behind them, they
were now in the busy thoroughfares of a city, where shadowy passengers
passed and repassed; where shadowy carts and coaches battled for the
way, and all the strife and tumult of a real city were. It was made
plain enough, by the dressing of the shops, that here too it was
Christmas time again; but it was evening, and the streets were lighted
up.

The Ghost stopped at a certain warehouse door, and asked Scrooge if he
knew it.

"Know it!" said Scrooge. "Was I apprenticed here?"

They went in. At sight of an old gentleman in a Welch wig, sitting
behind such a high desk, that if he had been two inches taller he must
have knocked his head against the ceiling, Scrooge cried in great
excitement:

"Why, it's old Fezziwig! Bless his heart; it's Fezziwig alive again!"

Old Fezziwig laid down his pen, and looked up at the clock, which
pointed to the hour of seven. He rubbed his hands; adjusted his
capacious waistcoat; laughed all over himself, from his shoes to his
organ of benevolence; and called out in a comfortable, oily, rich,
fat, jovial voice:

"Yo ho, there! Ebenezer! Dick!"

Scrooge's former self, now grown a young man, came briskly in,
accompanied by his fellow-'prentice.

"Dick Wilkins, to be sure!" said Scrooge to the Ghost. "Bless me, yes.
There he is. He was very much attached to me, was Dick. Poor Dick!
Dear, dear!"

"Yo ho, my boys!" said Fezziwig. "No more work to-night. Christmas
Eve, Dick. Christmas, Ebenezer! Let's have the shutters up," cried old
Fezziwig, with a sharp clap of his hands, "before a man can say, Jack
Robinson!"

You wouldn't believe how those two fellows went at it! They charged
into the street with the shutters--one, two, three--had 'em up in
their places--four, five, six--barred 'em and pinned 'em--seven,
eight, nine--and came back before you could have got to twelve,
panting like race-horses.

"Hilli-ho!" cried old Fezziwig, 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

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 24.]

[Illustration: Verso of original manuscript Page 25.]

done in a minute. Every movable was packed off, as if it were
dismissed from public life for ever-more; the floor was swept and
watered, the lamps were trimmed, fuel was heaped upon the fire; and
the warehouse was as snug, and warm, and dry, and bright a ball-room,
as you would desire to see upon a winter's night.

In came a fiddler with a music-book, and went up to the lofty desk,
and made an orchestra of it, and tuned like fifty stomach-aches. In
came Mrs. Fezziwig, one vast substantial smile. In came the three Miss
Fezziwigs, beaming and loveable. In came the six young followers whose
hearts they broke. In came all the young men and women employed in the
business. In came the housemaid, with her cousin, the baker. In came
the cook, with her brother's particular friend, the milkman. In came
the boy from over the way, who was suspected of not having board
enough from his master; trying to hide himself behind the girl from
next door but one, who was proved to have had her ears pulled by her
Mistress. In they all came, one after another; some shyly, some
boldly, some 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 down!" and the fiddler plunged his hot face
into a pot of porter, especially provided for that purpose. But
scorning rest upon his reappearance, he instantly began again, though
there were no dancers yet, as if the other fiddler had been carried
home, exhausted, on a shutter; and he were a bran-new man resolved to
beat him out of sight, or perish.

There were more dances, and there were forfeits, and more dances, and
there was cake, and there was negus, and there was a great piece of
Cold Roast, and there was a great piece of Cold Boiled, and there were
mince-pies, and plenty of beer. But the great effect of the evening
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

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 25.]

[Illustration: Verso of original manuscript Page 26.]

to _her_, she was worthy to be his partner in every sense of the term.
If that's not high praise, tell me higher, and I'll use it. A positive
light appeared to issue from Fezziwig's calves. They shone in every
part of the dance like moons. You couldn't have predicted, at any
given time, what would become of 'em next. And when old Fezziwig and
Mrs. Fezziwig had gone all through the dance; advance and retire, hold
hands with your partner; bow and curtsey; corkscrew; thread-the-needle,
and back again to your place; Fezziwig "cut"--cut so deftly, that he
appeared to wink with his legs, and came upon his feet again without a
stagger.

When the clock struck eleven, this domestic ball broke up. Mr. and
Mrs. Fezziwig took their stations, one on either side the door, and
shaking hands with every person individually as he or she went out,
wished him or her a Merry Christmas. When everybody had retired but
the two 'prentices, they did the same to them; and thus the cheerful
voices died away, and the 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," said the Ghost, "to make these silly folks so full
of gratitude."

"Small!" echoed Scrooge.

The Spirit signed to him to listen to the two apprentices, who were
pouring out their hearts in praise of Fezziwig: and when he had done
so, said,

"Why! Is it not? He has spent but a few pounds of your mortal money:
three or four, perhaps. Is that so much that he deserves this praise?"

"It isn't that," said Scrooge, heated by the remark, and speaking
unconsciously like his former, not his latter, self. "It isn't that,
Spirit. He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our
service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil. Say that his power
lies in words and looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it
is impossible to add and count 'em up: what then? The happiness he
gives, is quite as great as if it cost a fortune."

He felt the Spirit's glance, and stopped.

"What is the matter?" asked the Ghost.

"Nothing particular," said Scrooge.

"Something, I think?" the Ghost insisted.

"No," said Scrooge, "No. I should like to be able to say a word or two
to my clerk just now! That's all."

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 26.]

His former self turned down the lamps as he gave utterance to the
wish; and Scrooge and the Ghost again stood side by side in the open
air.

"My time grows short," observed the Spirit. "Quick!"

This was not addressed to Scrooge, or to any one whom he could see,
but it produced an immediate effect. For again Scrooge saw himself. He
was older now; a man in the prime of life. His face had not the harsh
and rigid lines of later years; but it had begun to wear the signs of
care and avarice. There was an eager, greedy, restless motion in the
eye, which showed the passion that had taken root, and where the
shadow of the growing tree would fall.

He was not alone, but sat by the side of a fair young girl in a
mourning-dress: in whose eyes there were tears, which sparkled in the
light that shone out of the Ghost of Christmas Past.

"It matters little," she said, softly. "To you, very little. Another
idol has displaced me; and if it can cheer and comfort you in time to
come, as I would have tried to do, I have no just cause to grieve."

"What Idol has displaced you?" he rejoined.

"A golden one."

"This is the even-handed dealing of the world!" he said. "There is
nothing on which it is so hard as poverty; and there is nothing it
professes to condemn with such severity as the pursuit of wealth!"

"You fear the world too much," she answered, gently. "All your other
hopes have merged into the hope of being beyond the chance of its
sordid reproach. I have seen your nobler aspirations fall off one by
one, until the master-passion, Gain, engrosses you. Have I not?"

"What then?" he retorted. "Even if I have grown so much wiser, what
then? I am not changed towards 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," he said impatiently.

"Your own feeling tells you that you were not what you are," she
returned. "I am. That which promised happiness when we were one in
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?"

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 27.]

"In words. No. Never."

"In what, then?"

"In a changed nature; in an altered spirit; in another atmosphere of
life; another Hope as its great end. In everything that made my love
of any worth or value in your sight. If this had never been between
us," said the girl, looking mildly, but with steadiness, upon him;
"tell me, would you seek me out and try to win me now? Ah, no!"

He seemed to yield to the justice of this supposition, in spite of
himself. But he said, with a struggle, "You think not."

"I would gladly think otherwise if I could," she answered, "Heaven
knows! When _I_ have learned a Truth like this, I know how strong and
irresistible it must be. But if you were free to-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."

He was about to speak; but with her head turned from him, she resumed.

"You may--the memory of what is past half makes me hope you will--have
pain in this. A very, very brief time, and you will dismiss the
recollection of it, gladly, as an unprofitable dream, from which it
happened well that you awoke. May you be happy in the life you have
chosen!"

She left him; and they parted.

"Spirit!" said Scrooge, "show me no more! Conduct me home. Why do you
delight to torture me?"

"One shadow more!" exclaimed the Ghost.

"No more!" cried Scrooge. "No more. I don't wish to see it. Show me no
more!"

But the relentless Ghost pinioned him in both his arms, and forced him
to observe what happened next.

They were in another scene and place: a room, not very large or
handsome, but full of comfort. Near to the winter fire sat a beautiful
young girl, so like the 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

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 28.]

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 be one of
them! Though I never could have been so rude, no, no! I wouldn't for
the wealth of all the world have crushed that braided hair, and torn
it down; and for the precious little shoe, I wouldn't have plucked it
off, God bless my soul! to save my life. As to measuring her waist in
sport, as they did, bold young brood, I couldn't have done it; I
should have expected my arm to have grown round it for a punishment,
and never come straight again. And yet I should have dearly liked, I
own, to have touched her lips; to have questioned her, that she might
have opened them; to have looked upon the lashes of her downcast eyes,
and never raised a blush; to have let loose waves of hair, an inch of
which would be a keepsake beyond price: in short, I should have liked,
I do confess, to have had the lightest license of a child, and yet
been man enough to know its value.

But now a knocking at the door was heard, and such a rush immediately
ensued that she with laughing face and plundered dress was borne
towards it the centre of a flushed and boisterous group, just in time
to greet the father, who, came home attended by a man laden with
Christmas toys and presents. Then the shouting and the struggling, and
the onslaught that was made on the defenceless porter! The scaling
him, with chairs for ladders, to dive into his pockets, despoil him of
brown-paper parcels, hold on tight by his cravat, hug him round the
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 ecstacy! 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

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 29.]

creature, quite as graceful and as full of promise, might have called
him father, and been a spring-time in the haggard winter of his life,
his sight grew very dim indeed.

"Belle," said the husband, turning to his wife with a smile, "I saw an
old friend of yours this afternoon."

"Who was it?"

"Guess!"

"How can I? Tut, don't I know," she added in the same breath, laughing
as he laughed. "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."

"Spirit!" said Scrooge in a broken voice, "remove me from this place."

"I told you these were shadows of the things that have been," said the
Ghost. "That they are what they are, do not blame me!"

"Remove me!" Scrooge exclaimed. "I cannot bear 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.

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 30.]

[Illustration]

[Illustration: Scrooge's third Visitor.

_London · Chapman & Hall, 186 Strand._]

[_This illustration is reproduced in full color on the back cover._]


[Illustration: Verso of original manuscript Page 31.]



STAVE III.

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 look-out all round
the bed. For he wished to challenge the Spirit on the moment of its
appearance, and did not wish to be taken by surprise and made nervous.

Gentlemen of the free-and-easy sort, who plume themselves on being
acquainted with a move or two, and being usually equal to the
time-of-day, express the wide range of their capacity for adventure by
observing that they are good for anything from pitch-and-toss to
manslaughter; between which opposite extremes, no doubt, there lies a
tolerably wide and comprehensive range of subjects. Without venturing
for Scrooge quite as hardily as this, I don't mind calling on you to
believe that he was ready for a good broad field of strange
appearances, and that nothing between a baby and a rhinoceros would
have astonished him very much.

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, or would be at;
and was sometimes apprehensive that he might be at that very moment an
interesting case of spontaneous combustion, without having the
consolation of knowing it. At last, 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

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 31.]

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 berries glistened. The crisp leaves of
holly, mistletoe, and ivy reflected back the light, as if so many
little mirrors had been scattered there; and such a mighty blaze went
roaring up the chimney, as that dull petrifaction of a hearth had
never known in Scrooge's time, or Marley's, or for many and many a
winter season gone. Heaped up upon 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!" exclaimed the Ghost. "Come in! and know me better, man!"

Scrooge entered timidly, and hung his head before this Spirit. He was
not the dogged Scrooge he had been; and though its eyes were clear and
kind, he did not like to meet them.

"I am the Ghost of Christmas Present," said the Spirit. "Look upon
me!"

Scrooge reverently did so. It was clothed in one simple deep green
robe, or mantle, bordered with white fur. This garment hung so loosely
on the figure, that its capacious breast was bare, as if disdaining to
be warded or concealed by any artifice. Its feet, observable beneath
the ample folds of the garment, were also bare; and on its head it
wore no other covering than a holly wreath set here and there with
shining icicles. Its dark brown curls were long and free: free as its
genial face, its sparkling eye, its open hand, its cheery voice, its
unconstrained demeanour, and its joyful air. Girded round its middle
was an antique scabbard; but no sword was in it, and the ancient
sheath was eaten up with rust.

"You have never seen the like of me before!" exclaimed

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 32.]

the Spirit.

"Never," Scrooge made answer to it.

"Have never walked forth with the younger members of my family;
meaning (for I am very young) my elder brothers born in these later
years?" pursued the Phantom.

"I don't think I have," said Scrooge. "I am afraid I have not. Have
you had many brothers, Spirit?"

"More than eighteen hundred," said the Ghost.

"A tremendous family to provide for!" muttered Scrooge.

The Ghost of Christmas Present rose.

"Spirit," said Scrooge submissively, "conduct me where you will. I
went forth last night on compulsion, and I learnt a lesson which is
working now. To-night, if you have aught to teach me, let me profit by
it."

"Touch my robe!"

Scrooge did as he was told, and held it fast.

Holly, mistletoe, red berries, ivy, turkeys, geese, game, poultry,
brawn, meat, pigs, sausages, oysters, pies, puddings, fruit, and
punch, all vanished instantly. So did the room, the fire, the ruddy
glow, the hour of night, and they stood in the city streets on
Christmas morning, where (for the weather was severe) the people made
a rough, but brisk and not unpleasant kind of music, in scraping the
snow from the pavement in front of their dwellings, and from the tops
of their houses: whence it was mad delight to the boys to see it come
plumping down into the road below, and splitting into artificial
little snowstorms.

The house fronts looked black enough, and the windows blacker,
contrasting with the smooth white sheet of snow upon the roofs, and
with the dirtier snow upon the ground; which last deposit had been
ploughed up in deep furrows by the heavy wheels of carts and waggons;
furrows that crossed and recrossed each other hundreds of times where
the great streets branched off, and made intricate channels, hard to
trace, in the thick yellow mud and

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 33.]

icy water. The sky was gloomy, and the shortest streets were choked up
with a dingy mist, half thawed half frozen, whose heavier particles
descended in a shower of sooty atoms, as if all the chimneys in Great
Britain had, by one consent, caught fire, and were blazing away to
their dear hearts' content. There was nothing very cheerful in the
climate or the town, and yet was there an air of cheerfulness abroad
that the clearest summer air and brightest summer sun might have
endeavoured to diffuse in vain.

For the people who were shovelling away on the house-tops were jovial
and full of glee; calling out to one another from the parapets, and
now and then exchanging a facetious snowball--better-natured missile
far than many a wordy jest--laughing heartily if it went right, and
not less heartily if it went wrong. The poulterers' shops were still
half open, and the fruiterers' were radiant in their glory. There were
great, round, pot-bellied baskets of chestnuts, shaped like the
waistcoats of jolly old gentlemen, lolling at the doors, and tumbling
out into the street in their apoplectic opulence. There were ruddy,
brown-faced, broad-girthed Spanish Onions, shining in the fatness of
their growth like Spanish Friars; and winking from their shelves in
wanton slyness at the girls as they went by, and glanced demurely at
the hung-up mistletoe. There were pears and apples, clustered high in
blooming pyramids; there were bunches of grapes, made, in the
shopkeepers' benevolence, to dangle from conspicuous hooks, that
people's mouths might water gratis as they passed; there were piles of
filberts, mossy and brown, recalling, in their fragrance, ancient
walks among the woods, and pleasant shufflings ankle deep through
withered leaves; there were Norfolk Biffins, 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 grasping 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

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 34.]

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, clashing 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 bakers' shops. The
sight of these poor revellers appeared to interest the Spirit very
much, for he stood with Scrooge beside him in a baker's doorway, and
taking off the covers as their bearers passed, sprinkled incense on
their dinners from his torch. And it was a very uncommon kind of
torch, for once or twice when there were angry words between some
dinner-carriers who had jostled with 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?"
asked Scrooge.

"There is. My own."

"Would it apply to any kind of dinner on this day?" asked Scrooge.

"To any kindly given. To a poor one most."

"Why to a poor one most?" asked Scrooge.

"Because it needs it most."

"Spirit," said Scrooge, after a moment's thought, "I wonder you, of
all the beings in the many worlds about us, should desire to cramp
these people's opportunities of innocent enjoyment."

"I!" cried the Spirit.

"You would deprive them of their means of dining every seventh day,
often the only day on which they can be said to dine at all," said
Scrooge. "Wouldn't you?"

"I!" cried the Spirit.

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 35.]

"You seek to close these places on the Seventh Day?" said Scrooge.
"And it comes to the same thing."

"_I_ seek!" exclaimed the Spirit.

"Forgive me if I am wrong. It has been done in your name, or at least
in that of your family," said Scrooge.

"There are some upon this earth of yours," returned the Spirit, "who
lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride,
ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name; who are
as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived.
Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us."

Scrooge promised that he would; and they went on, invisible, as they
had been before, into the suburbs of the town. It was a remarkable
quality of the Ghost (which Scrooge had observed at the baker's) that
notwithstanding his gigantic size, he could accommodate himself to any
place with ease; and that he stood beneath a low roof quite as
gracefully and like a supernatural creature, as it was possible he
could have done in any lofty hall.

And perhaps it was the pleasure the good Spirit had in showing off
this power of his, or else it was his own kind, generous, hearty
nature, and his 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
sprinklings of his torch. Think of that! Bob had but fifteen "Bob"
a-week himself; he pocketed on Saturdays but fifteen copies of his
Christian name; and yet the Ghost of Christmas Present blessed his
four-roomed house!

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 goose, and known it for their own; and
basking in luxurious thoughts of sage-and-onion, these young Cratchits
danced about the table, and exalted Master Peter Cratchit to the
skies, while he (not proud, although his collars nearly choked him)
blew the fire, until the slow potatoes bubbling up, knocked loudly at
the saucepan-lid to be let out and peeled.

"What has ever got your precious father then," said Mrs. Cratchit.
"And your brother, Tiny Tim; and Martha warn't as late last Christmas
Day by half-an-hour!"

"Here's Martha, mother!" said a girl, appearing as she spoke.

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 36.]

"Here's Martha, mother!" cried the two young Cratchits. "Hurrah!
There's _such_ a goose, Martha!"

"Why, bless your heart alive, my dear, how late you are!" said Mrs.
Cratchit, kissing her a dozen times, and taking off her shawl and
bonnet for her, with officious zeal.

"We'd a deal of work to finish up last night," replied the girl, "and
had to clear away this morning, mother!"

"Well! Never mind so long as you are come," said Mrs. Cratchit. "Sit
ye down before the fire, my dear, and have a warm, Lord bless ye!"

"No no! There's father coming," cried the two young Cratchits, who
were everywhere at once. "Hide Martha, hide!"

So Martha hid herself, and in came little Bob, the father, with at
least three feet of comforter exclusive of the fringe, hanging down
before him; and his thread-bare clothes darned up and brushed, to look
seasonable; and Tiny Tim upon his shoulder. Alas for Tiny Tim, he bore
a little crutch, and had his limbs supported by an iron frame!

"Why, where's our Martha?" cried Bob Cratchit looking around.

"Not coming," said Mrs. Cratchit.

"Not coming!" said Bob, with a sudden declension in his high spirits;
for he had been Tim's blood horse all the way from church, and had
come home rampant. "Not coming upon Christmas Day!"

Martha didn't like to see him disappointed, if it were only in joke;
so she came out prematurely from behind the closet door, and ran into
his arms, while the two young Cratchits hustled Tiny Tim, and bore him
off into the wash-house, that he might hear the pudding singing in the
copper.

"And how did little Tim behave?" asked Mrs. Cratchit, when she had
rallied Bob on his credulity and Bob had hugged his daughter to his
heart's content.

"As good as gold," said Bob, "and better. Somehow he gets thoughtful
sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever
heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in
the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them
to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk and blind
men see."

Bob's voice was tremulous when he told them this, and trembled more
when he said that Tiny Tim was growing strong and hearty.

His active little crutch was heard upon the floor, and back came Tiny
Tim before another word was spoken, escorted by his brother and sister
to his stool beside the fire; and while Bob, turning up his cuffs--as
if, poor fellow, they were capable of being made 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.

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 37.]

Such a bustle ensued that you might have thought a goose the rarest of
all birds; a feathered phenomenon, to which a black swan was a matter
of course: and in truth it was something very like it in that house.
Mrs. Cratchit made the gravy (ready beforehand in a little saucepan)
hissing hot; Master Peter mashed the potatoes with incredible vigour;
Miss Belinda sweetened up the apple-sauce; Martha dusted the hot
plates; Bob took Tiny Tim beside him in a tiny corner at the table;
the two young Cratchits set chairs for everybody, not forgetting
themselves, 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. Its tenderness and flavour, size and
cheapness, were the themes of universal admiration. Eked out by the
apple-sauce and mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner for the
whole family; indeed, as Mrs. Cratchit said with a great delight
(surveying one small atom of a bone upon the dish), they hadn't ate it
all at last! Yet every one had had enough, and the youngest Cratchits
in particular, were steeped in sage and onion to the eyebrows! But
now, the plates being changed by Miss Belinda, Mrs. Cratchit left the
room alone--too nervous to bear witnesses--to take the pudding up, and
bring it in.

Suppose it should not be done enough! Suppose it should break in
turning out! Suppose somebody should have got over the wall of the
back-yard, and stolen it, while they were merry with the goose: a
supposition at which the two young Cratchits became livid! All sorts
of horrors were supposed.

Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper. A
smell like a washing-day! That was the cloth. A smell like an
eating-house, and a pastry cook's next door to each other, with a
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 half of
half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly
stuck into the top.

Oh, a wonderful pudding! Bob Cratchit said, and calmly too, that he
regarded it as the greatest success achieved by Mrs. Cratchit since
their marriage. Mrs. Cratchit said that now the weight was off her
mind, she would confess she

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 38.]

had had her doubts about the quantity of flour. Everybody had
something to say about it, but nobody said or thought it was at all a
small pudding for a large family. It would have been flat heresy to do
so. Any Cratchit would have blushed to hint at such a thing.

At last the dinner was all done, the cloth was cleared, the hearth
swept, and the fire made up. The compound in the jug being tasted and
considered perfect, apples and oranges were put upon the table, and a
shovel-full of chesnuts on the fire. Then all the Cratchit family drew
round the hearth, in what Bob Cratchit called a circle, meaning half a
one; and at Bob Cratchit's elbow stood the family display of glass;
two tumblers, and a custard-cup without a handle.

These held the hot stuff from the jug, however, as well as golden
goblets would have done; and Bob served it out with beaming looks,
while the chesnuts on the fire sputtered and crackled noisily. Then
Bob proposed:

"A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us!"

Which all the family re-echoed.

"God bless us every one!" said Tiny Tim, the last of all.

He sat very close to his father's side, upon his little stool. Bob
held his withered little hand in his, as if he loved the child, and
wished to keep him by his side, and dreaded that he might be taken
from him.

"Spirit," said Scrooge, with an interest he had never felt before,
"tell me if Tiny Tim will live."

"I see a vacant seat," replied the Ghost, "in the poor chimney corner,
and a crutch without an owner, carefully preserved. If these shadows
remain unaltered by the Future, the child will die."

"No, no," said Scrooge. "Oh no, kind Spirit! say he will be spared."

"If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, none other of my
race," returned the Ghost, "will find him here. What then? If he be
like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus
population."

Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted by the Spirit, and
was overcome with penitence and grief.

"Man," said the Ghost, "if man you be in heart, not adamant, forbear
that wicked cant until you have discovered What the surplus is, and
Where it is. Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die?
It may be, that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and
less fit to live than millions like this poor man's child. Oh God! to
hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his
hungry brothers in the dust!"

Scrooge bent before the Ghost's rebuke, and trembling cast his eyes
upon the ground. But he raised them speedily, on hearing his own name.

"Mr. Scrooge!" said Bob; "I'll give you Mr. Scrooge, the Founder of

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 39.]

the Feast!"

"The Founder of the Feast indeed!" cried Mrs. Cratchit, reddening. "I
wish I had him here. I'd give him a piece of my mind to feast upon,
and I hope he'd have a good appetite for it."

"My dear," said Bob, "the children; Christmas Day."

"It should be Christmas Day, I am sure," said she, "on which one
drinks the health of such an odious, stingy, hard, unfeeling man as
Mr. Scrooge. You know he is, Robert! Nobody knows it better than you
do, poor fellow!"

"My dear," was Bob's mild answer, "Christmas Day."

"I'll drink his health for your sake and the Day's," said Mrs.
Cratchit, "not for his. Long life to him! A Merry Christmas and a
happy new year!--he'll be very merry and very happy, I have no doubt!"

The children drank the toast after her. It was the first of their
proceedings which had no heartiness in it. Tiny Tim drank it last of
all, but he didn't care 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,
from the mere relief of Scrooge the Baleful being done with. Bob
Cratchit told them how he had a situation in his eye for Master Peter,
which would bring in, if obtained, full five-and-sixpence weekly. The
two young Cratchits laughed 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 a-bed 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 chesnuts and the jug went round and
round; and bye and bye they had a song, about a lost child travelling
in the snow, from Tiny Tim; who had a plaintive little voice, and sang
it very well indeed.

There was nothing of high mark in this. They were not a handsome
family; they were not well dressed; their shoes were far from being
waterproof; their clothes were scanty; and Peter might have known, and
very likely did, the inside of a pawnbroker's. But they were happy,
grateful, pleased with one another, and contented with the time; and
when they faded, and looked happier yet in the bright

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 40.]

sprinklings of the Spirit's torch at parting, Scrooge had his eye upon
them, and especially on Tiny Tim, until the last.

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, wo 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?" asked Scrooge.

"A place where Miners live, who labour in the bowels of the earth,"
returned the Spirit. "But they know me. See!"

A light shone from the window of a hut, and swiftly they advanced
towards it. Passing through the wall of mud and stone, they found a
cheerful company assembled round a glowing fire. An old, old man and
woman, with their children and

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 41.]

[Illustration: Verso of original manuscript Page 42.]

their children's children, and another generation beyond that, all
decked out gaily in their holiday attire. The old man, in a voice that
seldom rose above the howling of the wind upon the barren waste, was
singing them a Christmas song; it had been a very old song when he was
a boy; and from time to time they all joined in the chorus. So surely
as they raised their voices, the old man got quite blithe and loud;
and so surely as they stopped, his vigour sank again.

The Spirit did not tarry here, but bade Scrooge hold his robe, and
passing on above the moor, sped whither? Not to sea? To sea. To
Scrooge's horror, looking back, he saw the last of the land, a
frightful range of rocks, behind them; and his ears were deafened by
the thundering of water, as it rolled, and roared, and raged among the
dreadful caverns it had worn, and fiercely tried to undermine the
earth.

Built upon a dismal reef of sunken rocks, some league or so from
shore, on which the waters chafed and dashed, the wild year through,
there stood a solitary lighthouse. Great heaps of 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!

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 42.]

"Ha, ha!" laughed Scrooge's nephew. "Ha, ha, ha!"

If you should happen, by any unlikely chance, to know a man more blest
in a laugh than Scrooge's nephew, all I can say is, I should like to
know him too. Introduce him to me, and I'll cultivate his
acquaintance.

It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while
there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the
world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good-humour. 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!" cried Scrooge's
nephew. "He believed it too!"

"More shame for him, Fred!" said Scrooge's niece, indignantly. Bless
those women; they never do anything by halves. They are always in
earnest.

She was very pretty: exceedingly pretty. With a dimpled,
surprised-looking, capital face; a ripe little mouth, that seemed made
to be kissed--as no doubt it was; all kinds of good little dots about
her chin, that melted into one another when she laughed; and the
sunniest pair of eyes you ever saw in any little creature's head.
Altogether she was what you would have called provoking, you know; but
satisfactory, too. Oh, perfectly satisfactory!

"He's a comical old fellow," said Scrooge's nephew, "that's the truth;
and not so pleasant as he might be. However, his offences carry their
own punishment, and I have nothing to say against him."

"I am sure he is very rich, Fred," hinted Scrooge's niece. "At least
you always tell _me_ so."

"What of that, my dear!" said Scrooge's nephew. "His wealth is of no
use to him. He don't do any good with it. He don't make himself
comfortable with it. He hasn't the satisfaction of thinking--ha, ha,
ha!--that he is ever going to benefit us with it."

"I have no patience with him," observed Scrooge's niece. Scrooge's
niece's sisters, and all the other ladies, expressed the same opinion.

"Oh, I have!" said Scrooge's nephew. "I am sorry for him; I couldn't
be angry with him if I tried. Who suffers by his ill whims? Himself,
always. Here, he takes it into his head to dislike us, and he won't
come and dine with us. What's the consequence? He don't lose much of a
dinner."

"Indeed, I think he loses a very good dinner," interrupted Scrooge's
niece. Everybody else said the same, and they must be allowed to have
been competent judges, because they had just had dinner; and, with the
dessert upon the table, were clustered round the fire, by lamplight.

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 43.]

"Well! I am very glad to hear it," said Scrooge's nephew, "because I
haven't any great faith in these young housekeepers. What do _you_
say, Topper?"

Topper had clearly got his eye upon one of Scrooge's niece's sisters,
for he answered that a bachelor was a wretched outcast, who had no
right to express an opinion on the subject. Whereat Scrooge's niece's
sister--the plump one with the lace tucker: not the one with the
roses--blushed.

"Do go on, Fred," said Scrooge's niece, clapping her hands. "He never
finishes what he begins to say! He is such a ridiculous fellow!"

Scrooge's nephew revelled in another laugh, and as it was impossible
to keep the infection off; though the plump sister tried hard to do it
with aromatic vinegar; his example was unanimously followed.

"I was only going to say," said Scrooge's nephew, "that the
consequence of his taking a dislike to us, and not making merry with
us, is, as I think, that he loses some pleasant moments, which could
do him no harm. I am sure he loses pleasanter companions than he can
find in his own thoughts, either in his mouldy old office, or his
dusty chambers. I mean to give him the same chance every year, whether
he likes it or not, for I pity him. He may rail at Christmas till he
dies, but he can't help thinking better of it--I defy him--if he finds
me going there, in good temper, year after year, and saying Uncle
Scrooge, how are you? If it only puts him in the vein to leave his
poor clerk fifty pounds, _that's_ something; and I think I shook him,
yesterday."

It was their turn to laugh now, at the notion of his shaking Scrooge.
But being thoroughly good-natured, and not much caring what they
laughed at, so that they laughed at any rate, he encouraged them in
their merriment, and passed the bottle, joyously.

After tea, they had some music. For they were a musical family, and
knew what they were about, when they sung a Glee or Catch, I can
assure you: especially Topper, who could growl away in the bass like a
good one, and never swell the large veins in his forehead, or get red
in the face over it. Scrooge's niece played well upon the harp; and
played among other tunes a simple little air (a mere nothing: you
might learn to whistle it in two minutes), which had been familiar to
the child who fetched Scrooge from the boarding-school, as he had been
reminded by the Ghost of Christmas Past. When this strain of music
sounded, all the things that Ghost had shown him, came upon his mind;
he softened more and more; and thought that 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.

But they didn't devote the whole evening to music. After a while they
played at forfeits; for it is good to be children sometimes, and
never

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 44.]

better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself.
Stop! There was first a game at blindman's buff. Of course there was.
And I no more believe Topper was really blind than I believe he had
eyes in his boots. My opinion is, that it was a done thing between him
and Scrooge's nephew; and that the Ghost of Christmas Present knew it.
The way he went after that plump sister in the lace tucker, was an
outrage on the credulity of human nature. Knocking down the
fire-irons, tumbling over the chairs, bumping up against the piano,
smothering himself among the curtains, wherever she went, there went
he. He always knew where the plump sister was. He wouldn't catch
anybody else. If you had fallen up against him, as some of them did,
and stood there; he would have made a feint of endeavouring to seize
you, which would have been an affront to your understanding; and would
instantly have sidled off in the direction of the plump sister. She
often cried out that it wasn't fair; and it really was not. But when
at last, he caught her; when, in spite of all her silken rustlings,
and her rapid flutterings past him, he got her into a corner whence
there was no escape; then his conduct was the most execrable. For his
pretending not to know her; his pretending that it was necessary to
touch her head-dress, and further to assure himself of her identity by
pressing a certain ring upon her finger, and a certain chain about her
neck; was vile, monstrous! No doubt she told him her opinion of it,
when, another blind-man being in office, they were so very
confidential together, behind the curtains.

Scrooge's niece was not one of the blind-man's buff party, but was
made comfortable with a large chair and a footstool, in a snug corner,
where the Ghost and Scrooge were close behind her. But she joined in
the forfeits, and loved her love to admiration with all the letters of
the alphabet. Likewise at the game of How, When, and Where, she was
very great, and to the secret joy of Scrooge's nephew, beat her
sisters hollow: though they were sharp girls too, as Topper could have
told you. There might have been twenty people there, young and old,
but they all played, and so did Scrooge; for, wholly forgetting in the
interest he had in what was going on, that his voice made no sound in
their ears, he sometimes came out with his guess quite loud, and very
often guessed right, too; for the sharpest needle, best Whitechapel,
warranted not to cut in the eye, was not sharper than Scrooge: blunt
as he took it in his head to be.

The Ghost was greatly pleased to find him in this mood, and looked
upon him with such favour that he begged like a boy to be allowed to
stay until the guests departed. But this the Spirit said could not be
done.

"Here's a new game," said Scrooge. "One half hour, Spirit, only one!"

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 45.]

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?" cried Fred.

"It's your Uncle Scro-o-o-o-oge!"

Which it certainly was. Admiration was the universal sentiment, though
some objected that the reply to "Is it a bear?" ought to have been
"Yes;" inasmuch as an answer in the negative was sufficient to have
diverted their thoughts from Mr. Scrooge, supposing they had ever had
any tendency that way.

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

"Well! Uncle Scrooge!" they cried.

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

Uncle Scrooge had imperceptibly become so gay and light of heart, that
he would have pledged the 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,

[Illustration: Original manuscript of page 46.]

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 gray.

"Are spirits' lives so short?" asked Scrooge.

"My life upon this globe, is very brief," replied the Ghost. "It ends
to-night."

"To-night!" cried Scrooge.

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

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

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

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

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

"Oh, Man! look here. Look, look, down here!" exclaimed the Ghost.

They were a boy and girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish;
but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should
have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest
tints, a stale and shrivelled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and
twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat
enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no
degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the
mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and
dread.

Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this way,
he tried to say they were fine

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 47.]

children, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a
lie of such enormous magnitude.

"Spirit! are they yours?" Scrooge could say no more.

"They are Man's," said the Spirit, looking down upon them. "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. Deny it!" cried the Spirit, stretching
out its hand towards the city. "Slander those who tell it ye! Admit it
for your factious purposes, and make it worse! And bide the end!"

"Have they no refuge or resource?" cried Scrooge.

"Are there no prisons?" said the Spirit, turning on him for the last
time with his own words. "Are there no workhouses?"

The bell struck twelve.

Scrooge looked about him for the Ghost, and saw it not. As the last
stroke ceased to vibrate, he remembered the prediction of old Jacob
Marley, and lifting up his eyes, beheld a solemn Phantom, draped and
hooded, coming, like a mist along the ground, towards him.

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 48.]

[Illustration]

[Illustration: The Last of the Spirits

_London · Chapman & Hall, 186 Strand._]

[_This illustration is reproduced in full color on the inside back
cover._]



STAVE IV.

THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS.


The Phantom slowly, gravely, silently, approached. When it came near
him, Scrooge bent down upon his knee; for in the very air through
which this Spirit moved it seemed to scatter gloom and mystery.

It was shrouded in a deep black garment, which 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.

He felt that it was tall and stately when it came beside him, and that
its mysterious presence filled him with a solemn dread. He knew no
more, for the Spirit neither spoke nor moved.

"I am in the presence of the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come?" said
Scrooge.

The Spirit answered not, but pointed downward with its hand.

"You are about to show me shadows of the things that have not
happened, but will happen in the time before us," Scrooge pursued. "Is
that so, Spirit?"

The upper portion of the garment was contracted for an instant in its
folds, as if the Spirit had inclined its head. That was the only
answer he received.

Although well used to ghostly company by this time, Scrooge feared the
silent shape so much that his legs trembled beneath him, and he found
that he could hardly stand when he prepared to follow it. The Spirit
paused a moment, as observing his condition, and giving him time to
recover.

But Scrooge was all the worse for this. It thrilled him with a vague
uncertain horror, to know that behind the dusky shroud there were
ghostly eyes intently fixed upon him, while he, though he stretched
his own to the utmost, could see nothing but a spectral hand and one
great heap of black.

"Ghost of the Future!" he exclaimed, "I fear you more than any Spectre
I have seen. But, as I know your promise is to do me good, and as I
hope to live to be another man from what I was, I am prepared to bear
you company, and do it with a thankful heart. Will you not speak to
me?"

It gave him no reply. The hand was pointed straight before them.

"Lead on!" said Scrooge. "Lead on! The night is waning fast, and it is
precious time to me, I know. Lead on, Spirit!"

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 49.]

The Phantom moved away as it had come towards him. Scrooge followed in
the shadow of its dress, which bore him up, he thought, and carried
him along.

They scarcely seemed to enter the city; for the city rather seemed to
spring up about them, and encompass them of its own act. But there
they were, in the heart of it; on 'Change, amongst the merchants; who
hurried up and down, and chinked the money in their pockets, and
conversed in groups, and looked at their watches, and trifled
thoughtfully with their great gold seals; and so forth, as Scrooge had
seen them often.

The Spirit stopped beside one little knot of business men. Observing
that the hand was pointed to them, Scrooge advanced to listen to their
talk.

"No," said a great fat man with a monstrous chin, "I don't know much
about it, either way. I only know he's dead."

"When did he die?" inquired another.

"Last night, I believe."

"Why, what was the matter with him?" asked a third, taking a vast
quantity of snuff out of a very large snuff-box. "I thought he'd never
die."

"God knows," said the first, with a yawn.

"What has he done with his money?" asked a red-faced gentleman with a
pendulous excrescence on the end of his nose, that shook like the
gills of a turkey-cock.

"I haven't heard," said the man with the large chin, yawning again.
"Left it to his Company, perhaps. He hasn't left it to _me_. That's
all _I_ know."

This pleasantry was received with a general laugh.

"It's likely to be a very cheap funeral," said the same speaker; "for
upon my life I don't know of anybody to go to it. Suppose we make up a
party and volunteer?"

"I don't mind going if a lunch is provided," observed the gentleman
with the excrescence on his nose. "But I must be fed, if I make one."

Another laugh.

"Well, I am the most disinterested among you, after all," said the
first speaker, "for I never wear black gloves, and I never eat lunch.
But I'll offer to go, if anybody else will. When I come to think of
it, I'm not at all sure that I wasn't his most particular friend; for
we used to stop and speak whenever we met. Bye, bye!"

Speakers and listeners strolled away, and mixed with other groups.
Scrooge knew the men, and looked towards the Spirit for an
explanation.

The Phantom glided on into a street. Its finger pointed to two persons
meeting. Scrooge listened again, thinking that the explanation might
lie here.

He knew these men, also, perfectly. They were men

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 50.]

of 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?" said one.

"How are you?" returned the other.

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

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

"Seasonable for Christmas time. You're not a skaiter, I suppose?"

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

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

Scrooge was at first inclined to be surprised that the Spirit should
attach importance to conversations apparently so trivial; but feeling
assured that they must have some hidden purpose, he set himself to
consider what it was likely to be. They could scarcely be supposed to
have any bearing on the death of Jacob, his old partner, for that was
Past, and this Ghost's province was the Future. Nor could he think of
any one immediately connected with himself, to whom he could apply
them. But nothing doubting that to whomsoever they applied they had
some latent moral for his own improvement, he resolved to treasure up
every word he heard, and everything he saw; and especially to observe
the shadow of himself when it appeared. For he had an expectation that
the conduct of his future self would give him the clue he missed, and
would render the solution of these riddles easy.

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

Quiet and dark, beside him stood the Phantom, with its outstretched
hand. When he roused himself from his thoughtful quest, he fancied
from the turn of the hand, and its situation in reference to himself,
that the Unseen Eyes were looking at him keenly. It made him shudder,
and feel very cold.

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

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 51.]

reeked with crime, with filth, and misery.

Far in this den of infamous resort, there was a low-browed, beetling
shop, below a pent-house roof, where iron, old rags, bottles, bones,
and greasy offal, were bought. Upon the floor within, were piled up
heaps of rusty keys, nails, chains, hinges, files, scales, weights,
and refuse iron of all kinds. Secrets that few would like to
scrutinise were bred and hidden in mountains of unseemly rags, masses
of corrupted fat, and sepulchres of bones. Sitting in among the wares
he dealt in, by a charcoal-stove, made of old bricks, was a
gray-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!" cried she who had entered
first. "Let the laundress alone to be the second; and let the
undertaker's man alone to be the third. Look here, old Joe, here's a
chance! If we haven't all three met here without meaning it!"

"You couldn't have met in a better place," said old Joe, removing his
pipe from his mouth. "Come into the parlour. You were made free of it
long ago, you know; and the other two ain'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?" said the woman. "Every
person has a right to take care of themselves. _He_ always did!"

"That's true, indeed!" said the laundress. "No man more so."

"Why, then, don't stand staring as if you was afraid, woman; who's the
wiser? We're not going to pick holes in each other's coats, I
suppose?"

"No, indeed!" said Mrs. Dilber and the man together. "We should hope
not."

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 52.]

"Very well, then!" cried the woman. "That's enough. Who's the worse
for the loss of a few things like these? Not a dead man, I suppose."

"No, indeed," said Mrs. Dilber, laughing.

"If he wanted to keep 'em after he was dead, a wicked old screw,"
pursued the woman, "why wasn't he natural in 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," said Mrs. Dilber. "It's a
judgment on him."

"I wish it was a little heavier one," replied the woman; "and it
should have been, you may depend upon it, if I could have laid my
hands on anything else. Open that bundle, old Joe, and let me know the
value of it. Speak out plain. I'm not afraid to be the first, nor
afraid for them to see it. We knew pretty well that we were helping
ourselves, before we met here, I believe. It's no sin. Open the
bundle, Joe."

But the gallantry of her friends would not allow of this; and the man
in faded black, mounting the breach first, produced _his plunder_. It
was not extensive. A seal or two, a pencil-case, a pair of
sleeve-buttons, and a brooch of no great value, were all. They were
severally examined and appraised by old Joe, who chalked the sums he
was disposed to give for each upon the wall, and added them up into a
total when he found that there was nothing more to come.

"That's your account," said Joe, "and I wouldn't give another
sixpence, if I was to be boiled for not doing it. Who's next?"

Mrs. Dilber was next. Sheets and towels, a little wearing apparel, two
old-fashioned silver tea-spoons, 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," said old Joe. "That's your account. If you
asked me for another penny, and made it an open question, I'd repent
of being so liberal, and knock off half-a-crown."

"And now undo _my_ bundle, Joe," said the first woman.

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?" said Joe. "Bed-curtains!"

"Ah!" returned the woman, laughing and leaning forward on her crossed
arms. "Bed-curtains!"

"You don't mean to say you took 'em down, rings and all, with him
lying there?" said Joe.

"Yes I do," replied the woman. "Why not?"

"You were born to make your fortune," said Joe, "and you'll certainly
do it."

"I certainly shan't hold my hand, when I can get anything in it by
reaching it out, for the sake of such a man as He was, I promise you,
Joe," returned the woman coolly. "Don't drop that oil

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 53.]

upon the blankets, now."

"His blankets?" asked Joe.

"Whose else's do you think?" replied the woman. "He isn't likely to
take cold without 'em, I dare say."

"I hope he didn't die of anything catching? Eh?" said old Joe,
stopping in his work, and looking up.

"Don't you be afraid of that," returned the woman. "I an't so fond of
his company that I'd loiter about him for such things, if he did. Ah!
You may look through that shirt till your eyes ache; but you won't
find a hole in it, nor a threadbare place. It's the best he had, and a
fine one too. They'd have wasted it, if it hadn't been for me."

"What do you call wasting of it?" asked old Joe.

"Putting it on him to be buried in, to be sure," replied the woman
with a laugh. "Somebody was fool enough to do it, but I took it off
again. If calico an't good enough for such a purpose, it isn't good
enough for anything. It's quite as becoming to the body. He can't look
uglier than he did in that one."

Scrooge listened to this dialogue in horror. As they sat grouped about
their spoil, in the scanty light afforded by the old man's lamp, he
viewed them with a detestation and disgust, which could hardly have
been greater, though they had been obscene demons, marketing the
corpse itself.

"Ha, ha!" laughed the same woman, when old Joe, producing a flannel
bag with money in it, told out their 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!"

"Spirit!" said Scrooge, shuddering from head to foot. "I see, I see.
The case of this unhappy man might be my own. My life tends that way,
now. Merciful Heaven, what is this!"

He recoiled in terror, for the scene had changed, and now he almost
touched a bed: a bare, uncurtained bed: on which, beneath a ragged
sheet, there lay a 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. Its steady hand was pointed to
the head. The cover was so carelessly adjusted that the slightest
raising of it, the motion of a finger upon Scrooge's part, would have
disclosed the face. He thought of it, felt how easy it would be to do,
and longed to do it; but had no more power to withdraw the veil than
to dismiss the spectre at his side.

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 54.]

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 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!" he said, "this is a fearful place. In leaving it, I shall
not leave its lesson, trust me. Let us go!"

Still the Ghost pointed with an unmoved finger to the head.

"I understand you," Scrooge returned, "and I would do it, if I could.
But I have not the power, Spirit. I have not the power."

Again it seemed to look upon him.

"If there is any person in the town, who feels emotion caused by this
man's death," said Scrooge quite agonized, "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 care-worn 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 hoarding for him by the fire;
and when she asked him faintly what news

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 55.]

(which was not until after a long silence), he appeared embarrassed
how to answer.

"Is it good," she said, "or bad?"--to help him.

"Bad," he answered.

"We are quite ruined?"

"No. There is hope yet, Caroline."

"If _he_ relents," she said, amazed, "there is! Nothing is past hope,
if such a miracle has happened."

"He is past relenting," said her husband. "He is dead."

She was a mild and patient creature if her face spoke truth; but she
was thankful in her soul to hear it, and she said so, with clasped
hands. She prayed forgiveness the next moment, and was sorry; but the
first was the emotion of her heart.

"What the half-drunken woman whom I told you of last night, said to
me, when I tried to see him and obtain a week's delay; and what I
thought was a mere excuse to avoid me; turns out to have been quite
true. He was not only very ill, but dying, then."

"To whom will our debt be transferred?"

"I don't know. But before that time we shall be ready with the money;
and even though we were not, it would be bad fortune indeed to find so
merciless a creditor in his successor. We may sleep to-night with
light hearts, Caroline!"

Yes. Soften it as they would, their hearts were lighter. The
children's faces hushed, and clustered round to hear what they so
little understood, were brighter; and it was a happier house for this
man's death! The only emotion that the Ghost could show him, caused by
the event, was one of pleasure.

"Let me see some tenderness connected with a death," said Scrooge; "or
that dark chamber, Spirit, which we left just now, will be for ever
present to me."

The Ghost conducted him through several streets familiar to his feet;
and as they went along, Scrooge looked here and there to find himself,
but nowhere was he to be seen. They entered poor Bob Cratchit's house;
the dwelling he had visited before; and found the mother and the
children seated round the 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 these 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," she said.

The colour? Ah, poor Tiny Tim!

"They're better now again," said Cratchit's wife. "It makes them

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 56.]

weak by candle-light; and I wouldn't show weak eyes to your father
when he comes home, for the world. It must be near his time."

"Past it rather," Peter answered, shutting up his book. "But I think
he's 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 faultered once:

"I have known him walk with--I have known him walk with Tiny Tim upon
his shoulder, very fast indeed."

"And so have I," cried Peter. "Often."

"And so have I!" exclaimed another. So had all.

"But he was very light to carry," she resumed, intent upon her work,
"and his father loved him so, that it was no trouble--no trouble. And
there is your father at the door!"

She hurried out to meet him; and little Bob in his comforter--he had
need of it, poor fellow--came in. His tea was ready for him on the
hob, and they all tried who should help him to it most. Then the two
young Cratchits got upon his knees and laid, each child a little
cheek, against his face, as if they said, "Don't mind it father. Don't
be grieved!"

Bob was very cheerful with them, and spoke pleasantly to all the
family. He looked at the work upon the table, and praised the industry
and speed of Mrs. Cratchit and the girls. They would be done long
before Sunday he said.

"Sunday! You went to-day then, Robert?" said his wife.

"Yes, my dear," returned Bob. "I wish you could have gone. It would
have done you good to see how green a place it is. But you'll see it
often. I promised him that I would walk there on a Sunday. My little,
little child!" cried Bob. "My little child!"

He broke down all at once. He couldn't help it. If he could have
helped it, he and his child would have been farther apart perhaps than
they were.

He left the room, and went 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

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 57.]

seeing that he looked a little--"just a little down you know" said
Bob, enquired what had happened to distress him. "On which," said Bob,
"for he is the pleasantest-spoken gentleman you ever heard, I told
him. 'I am heartily sorry for it, Mr. Cratchit,' he said, 'and
heartily sorry for your good wife.' By the bye, how he ever knew
_that_, I don't know."

"Knew what, my dear?"

"Why, that you were a good wife," replied Bob.

"Everybody knows that!" said Peter.

"Very well observed, my boy!" cried Bob. "I hope they do. 'Heartily
sorry,' he said, 'for your good wife. If I can be of service to you in
any way,' he said, giving me his card, 'that's where I live. Pray come
to me.' Now, it wasn't," cried Bob, "for the sake of anything he might
be able to do for us, so much as for his kind way, that this was quite
delightful. It really seemed as if he had known our Tiny Tim, and felt
with us."

"I'm sure he's a good soul!" said Mrs. Cratchit.

"You would be surer of it, my dear," returned Bob, "if you saw and
spoke to him. I shouldn't be at all surprised, mark what I say, if he
got Peter a better situation."

"Only hear that, Peter," said Mrs. Cratchit.

"And then," cried one of the girls, "Peter will be keeping company
with some one, and setting up for himself."

"Get along with you!" retorted Peter, grinning.

"It's just as likely as not," said Bob, "one of these days; though
there's plenty of time for that, my dear. But however and whenever we
part from one another, I am sure we shall none of us forget poor Tiny
Tim--shall we--or this first parting that there was among us?"

"Never, father!" cried they all.

"And I know," said Bob, "I know, my dears, that when we recollect how
patient and how mild he was; although he was a little, little child;
we shall not quarrel easily among ourselves, and forget poor Tiny Tim
in doing it."

"No never, father!" they all cried again.

"I am very happy," said little Bob, "I am very happy!"

Mrs. Cratchit kissed him, his daughters kissed him, the two young
Cratchits kissed him, and Peter and himself shook hands. Spirit of
Tiny Tim, thy childish essence was from God!

"Spectre," said Scrooge, "something informs me that our parting moment
is at hand. I know it, but I know not how. Tell me what man that was
whom we saw lying dead?"

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

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 58.]

the end just now desired, until besought by Scrooge to tarry for a
moment.

"This court," said Scrooge, "through which we hurry now, is where my
place of occupation is, and has been for a length of time. I see the
house. Let me behold what I shall be, in days to come."

The Spirit stopped; the hand was pointed elsewhere.

"The house is yonder," Scrooge exclaimed. "Why do you point away?"

The inexorable finger underwent no change.

Scrooge hastened to the window of his office, and looked in. It was an
office still, but not his. The furniture was not the same, and the
figure in the chair was not himself. The Phantom pointed as 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 place!

The Spirit stood among the graves, and pointed down to One. He
advanced towards it trembling. The Phantom was exactly as it had been,
but he dreaded that he saw new meaning in its solemn shape.

"Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point," said Scrooge,
"answer me one question. Are these the shadows of the things that Will
be, or are they shadows of the things that May be, only?"

Still the Ghost pointed downward to the grave by which it stood.

"Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered
in, they must lead," said Scrooge. "But if the courses be departed
from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!"

The Spirit was immovable as ever.

Scrooge crept towards it, trembling as he went; and following the
finger, read upon the stone of the neglected grave his own name,
EBENEZER SCROOGE.

"Am _I_ that man who lay upon the bed?" he cried, upon his knees.

The finger pointed from the grave to him, and back again.

"No, Spirit! Oh no, no!"

The finger still was there.

"Spirit!" he cried, tight clutching at its robe, "hear me! I am not
the man I was. I will not be the man I must have been but for this
intercourse. Why show me this, if I am past all hope?"

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 59.]

For the first time the hand appeared to shake.

"Good Spirit," he pursued, as down upon the ground he fell before it:
"Your nature intercedes for me, and pities me. Assure me that I yet
may change these shadows you have shown me, by an altered life!"

The kind hand trembled.

"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.
I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of
all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that
they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!"

In his agony, he caught the spectral hand. It sought to free itself,
but he was strong in his entreaty, and detained it. The Spirit,
stronger yet, repulsed him.

Holding up his hands in one last prayer to have his fate reversed, he
saw an alteration in the Phantom's hood and dress. It shrunk,
collapsed, and dwindled down into a bedpost.

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 60.]



STAVE V.

THE END OF IT.


Yes! and the bedpost was his own. The bed was his own, the room was
his own. Best and happiest of all, the Time before him was his own, to
make amends in!

"I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!" Scrooge
repeated, as he scrambled out of bed. "The Spirits of all Three shall
strive within me. 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," cried Scrooge, folding one of his
bed-curtains in his arms, "they are not torn down, rings and all. They
are here: I am here: the shadows of the things that would have been,
may be dispelled. They will be. I know they will!"

His hands were busy with his garments all this time: turning them
inside out, putting them on upside down, tearing them, mislaying them,
making them parties to every kind of extravagance.

"I don't know what to do!" cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the
same breath; and making a perfect Laocoön of himself with his
stockings. "I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel. I
am as merry as a school-boy. 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.

"There's the saucepan that the gruel was in!" cried Scrooge, starting
off again, and frisking round the fire-place. "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!" said Scrooge. "I don't
know how long I've been among the Spirits. I don't know anything. I'm
quite a baby. Never mind. I don't care. I'd rather be a baby. Hallo!
Whoop! Hallo here!"

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 61.]

He was checked in his transports by the churches ringing out the
lustiest peals he had ever heard. 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?" cried Scrooge, calling downward to a boy in Sunday
clothes, who perhaps had loitered in to look about him.

"EH?" returned the boy, with all his might of wonder.

"What's to-day, my fine fellow?" said Scrooge.

"To-day!" replied the boy. "Why, CHRISTMAS DAY."

"It's Christmas Day!" said Scrooge to himself. "I haven't missed it.
The Spirits have done it all in one night. They can do anything they
like. Of course they can. Of course they can. Hallo, my fine fellow!"

"Hallo!" returned the boy.

"Do you know the Poulterer's, in the next street but one, at the
corner?" Scrooge inquired.

"I should hope I did," replied the lad.

"An intelligent boy!" said Scrooge. "A remarkable boy! Do you know
whether they've sold the prize Turkey that was hanging up there? Not
the little prize Turkey: the big one?"

"What, the one as big as me?" returned the boy.

"What a delightful boy!" said Scrooge. "It's a pleasure to talk to
him. Yes, my buck!"

"It's hanging there now," replied the boy.

"Is it?" said Scrooge. "Go and buy it."

"Walk-ER!" exclaimed the boy.

"No, no," said Scrooge, "I am in earnest. Go and buy it, and tell 'em
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.

"I'll send it to Bob Cratchit's!" whispered Scrooge, rubbing his
hands, and splitting with a laugh. "He sha'n'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!"

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 62.]

[Illustration: Verso of manuscript Page 63.]

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!" cried Scrooge, patting it with
his hand. "I scarcely ever looked at it before. What an honest
expression it has in its face! It's a wonderful knocker!--Here's the
Turkey. Hallo! Whoop! How are you! Merry Christmas!"

It _was_ a Turkey! He never could have stood upon his legs, that bird.
He would have snapped 'em short off in a minute, like sticks of
sealing-wax.

"Why, it's impossible to carry that to Camden Town," said Scrooge.
"You must have a cab."

The chuckle with which he said this, and the chuckle with which he
paid for the Turkey, and the chuckle with which he paid for the cab,
and the chuckle with which he recompensed the boy, were only to be
exceeded by the chuckle with which he sat down breathless in his chair
again, and chuckled till he cried.

Shaving was not an easy task, for his hand continued to shake very
much; and shaving requires attention, even when you don't dance while
you are at it. But if he had cut the end of his nose off, he would
have put a piece of sticking-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.

"My dear sir," said Scrooge, quickening his pace, and taking the old
gentleman by both his hands. "How do you do? I hope you succeeded
yesterday. It was very kind of you. A merry Christmas to you, sir!"

"Mr. Scrooge?"

"Yes," said Scrooge. "That is my name, and I fear it may not be
pleasant to you. Allow me to ask your pardon. And will you have the
goodness"--here Scrooge whispered in his ear.

"Lord bless me!" cried the gentleman, as if his breath were gone. "My
dear

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 63.]

Mr. Scrooge, are you serious?"

"If you please," said Scrooge. "Not a farthing less. A great many
back-payments are included in it, I assure you. Will you do me that
favour?"

"My dear sir," said the other, shaking hands with him. "I don't know
what to say to such munifi--"

"Don't say anything, please," retorted Scrooge. "Come and see me. Will
you come and see me?"

"I will!" cried the old gentleman. And it was clear he meant to do it.

"Thank'ee," said Scrooge. "I am much obliged to you. I thank you fifty
times. Bless you!"

He went to church, and walked about the streets, and watched the
people hurrying to and fro, and patted 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?" said Scrooge to the girl. Nice
girl! Very.

"Yes, sir."

"Where is he, my love?" said Scrooge.

"He's in the dining-room, sir, along with mistress. I'll show you up
stairs, if you please."

"Thank'ee. He knows me," said Scrooge, with his hand already on the
dining-room lock. "I'll go in here, my dear."

He turned it gently, and sidled his face in, round the door. They were
looking at the table (which was spread out in great array); for these
young housekeepers are always nervous on such points, and like to see
that everything is right.

"Fred!" said Scrooge.

Dear heart alive, how his niece by marriage started! Scrooge had
forgotten, for the moment, about her sitting in the corner with the
footstool, or he wouldn't have done it, on any account.

"Why bless my soul!" cried Fred, "who's that?"

"It's I. Your 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

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 64.]

unanimity, won-der-ful happiness!

But he was early at the office next morning. Oh he was early there. If
he could only be there first, and catch Bob Cratchit coming late! That
was the thing he had set his heart upon.

And he did it; yes he did! The clock struck nine. No Bob. A quarter
past. No Bob. He was full eighteen minutes and a half, behind his
time. Scrooge sat with his door wide open, that he might see him come
into the Tank.

His hat was off, before he opened the door; his comforter too. He was
on his stool in a jiffy; driving away with his pen, as if he were
trying to overtake nine o'clock.

"Hallo!" growled Scrooge, in his accustomed voice as near as he could
feign it. "What do you mean by coming here at this time of day?"

"I'm very sorry, sir," said Bob. "I _am_ behind my time."

"You are?" repeated Scrooge. "Yes. I think you are. Step this way, if
you please."

"It's only once a year, sir," pleaded Bob, appearing from the Tank.
"It shall not be repeated. I was making rather merry yesterday, sir."

"Now, I'll tell you what, my friend," said Scrooge, "I am not going to
stand this sort of thing any longer. And therefore," he continued,
leaping from his stool, and giving Bob such a dig in the waistcoat
that he staggered back into the Tank again: "and therefore I am about
to raise your salary!"

Bob trembled, and got a little nearer to the ruler. He had a momentary
idea of knocking Scrooge down with it; holding him; and calling to the
people in the court for help and a strait-waistcoat.

"A merry Christmas, Bob!" said Scrooge, with an earnestness that could
not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the back. "A merrier Christmas,
Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you, for many a year! I'll
raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your struggling family, and
we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas
bowl of smoking bishop, Bob! Make up the fires, and buy another
coal-scuttle before you dot another i, Bob Cratchit!"

    *    *    *    *    *

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more;
and to Tiny Tim, who did NOT die, he was a second father. He became as
good a friend, as 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

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 65.]

that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well
that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in
less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite
enough for him.

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


THE END.

[Illustration: Original manuscript of Page 66.]

[Illustration]

[Illustration: _The Last of the Spirits._]

A CHRISTMAS CAROL

THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT

Charles Dickens

[Illustration: _Scrooge's third Visitor._]


Transcriber's Note: this is a facsimile version of the original
manuscript, hand-written by Charles Dickens. Every effort has been
made to preserve the appearance of the First Edition--page breaks
and labels have been kept, to match the original script, and spelling,
grammar and typographical errors have been left unchanged.





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