The Baldwin Library
DICKENS' LITTLE FOLKS.
THE FAIRY CRICKET
THE CHRISTMAS STORIES
NO. 34 BEEKMAN-,ST1'F'ET. NEW YORK.
c IF. , 0
LET US live so innocently, that when we come
to say farewell to earth, there shall be no dread,
like a cloud, hanging over our last journey like
that which was pictured to the unhappy Scrooge-
but a dear hope like that which Tiny Tim might
have taken heavenward, leaving a bright line of
light to linger in his home.
WHEN Distrust creeps wickedly to our fire-
sides, if we are truly loving and wise, we will let
all the smiles, and words, and deeds, of those
we doubt, come like a host of blessed fairies to
drive away the evil visitor.
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.
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 solemnized it with an
Scrooge never painted out old Marley's name. There
it stood, years afterwards, above the warehouse door:
Scrooge and Marley. The firm was known as Scrooge
and Marley. Sometimes people new to the business
called Scrooge Scrooge, and sometimes Marley, but he
answered to both names: it was all the same to him.
Oh I 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 Christ-
Once upon a time--of all the good days in the year,
on Christmas Eve-old Scrooge sat busy in his counting-
house. It was cold, bleak, biting weather: foggy withal;
and he could hear the people in the court outside go
wheezing up and down, beating their hands upon their
breasts, and stamping their feet upon the pavement-stones
to warm them. The city clocks had only just gone three,
but it was quite dalk already; it had not been light all
day; and candles were flaring in the wind s of the
neighboring 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 dropping
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 strong imagination, he
"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 !"
IIe 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 pean that, I'm sure."
10 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
"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
"Don't be cross, uncle," said the nephew.
"What else can I be;" returned the uncle, "when I
live in such a world of fools as this-? Merry Christmas!
Out upon merry Christmad 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 !" repeated the nephew.
Nephew !" returned the uncle, sternly, "keep Christ-
mas 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 vefieration 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 fel-
low-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; .be-
coming 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-
Scrooge said that he wouldn't!
"But why ?" cried Scrooge's nephew. "Why ?"
"Why did you get married ?" said Scrooge.
Because I fell in love."
12 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
Because you fell in love growled Scrooge; as if
that were the only one thing in the world more ridicu-
lous 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
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 a quarrel to which I have been a
party. But I have made the trial in homage to Christ-
mas, and I'll keep my Christmas humor 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
"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
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.
"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 necessa-
ries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common
Are there no prisons ?" asked Scrooge.
Plenty of prisons," said the gentleman, laying down
the pen again.
And the Union workhouses!" demanded Scrooge.
SAre.they still in operation ?"
"They are. Still," returned the gentleman, "I wish
I could say they were not."
14 CHR I STMA S STORIES.
The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigor,
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," re-
turned the gentleman, "a few of us are endeavoring to
:raise a fund to buy thePoor 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 Abund-
ance rejoices. What shalLI 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, ahd 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. Be-
sides-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
labors with an improved opinion of himself, and in a
more facetious temper than was usual with him.
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 in-
visible, 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 laborers were repairing the gas-pipes, and
had lighted a great fire in a brazier, round which a
party of ragged men and boys were gathered, warming
their hands and winking their eyes before the, blaze in
rapture. The water-plug being left in solitude, its over-
flowings 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.
16 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
SCROOGE AND MARLEY.
AT length the hour_of shutting up the counting-house
arrived. With an ill-will, Scrooge dismounted from his
stool, and tacitly admitted the fact to the expectant clerk
in the Tank, who instantly snuffed his candle out, and put
on his hat.
You'll want all day to-morrow, I suppose ?" said
If quite convenient, sir."
SIt'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 honor of its being Christmas-eve,
and then ran home to Camden Town as hard as he could
pelt, to play at blind-man's-buff.
Scrooge took his melancholy dinner in his usual me-
lancholy tavern, and having read all the newspapers
and beguiled the rest of the evening with his banker's
book, went home to bed. He lived in chambers which
had .once belonged to his deceased partner. They were
a gloomy suite of rooms, 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 know 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 particu-
lar 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
18 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
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 MIarley, 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 under-
going any intermediate process of change, not a knocker,
but Marley's face.
As Scrooge looked fixedly at this phenomenon, it was
a knocker again.
To say that he was not startled, would be untrue. But
he put his hand upon the key he had relinquished,
turned it sturdily, walked in, and lighted his candle.
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 : dark-
ness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it. But before he shut
his heavy door, he walked through his rooms to see that
all was right. He had just enough recollection of the
face to desire to do that.
Quite satisfied, he closed his door, and locked himself
in; doubled-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.
Again the same face; the very same; it was Marley
himself stood before him, in his pig-tail, usual waistcoat,
tights, and boots; the tassels on the latter bristling, like
his pig-tail, and his coat-skirts, and the hair upon his
head. A chain he drew was clasped about his middle.
It was long, and wound about him like a tail, and it was
made (for Scrooge observed it closely) of cash-boxes,
keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought
in steel. His body was transparent; so that Scrooge,
observing him, and looking through his waistcoat, could
see the two buttons on his coat behind.
Scrooge had often heard it said that Marley had no
bowels, but he had never believed it until now.
No, nor did he believe it even now. Though he
looked the phantom through and through, and saw it
standing before him, he was still incredulous, and fought
against his senses.
How now 1" said Scrooge, caustic and cold as ever.
":What do you want with me ?"
Much !"-- arley'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 ap-
20 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
In life, I was your partner, Jacob Marley."
Can you-can you sit down?" asked Scrooge, looking
doubtfully at him.
Do it, then."
Scrooge asked the question, because he didn't know
whether a Shade so transparent might find himself in a
condition to take a chair, and felt that in the event of its
being impossible, it might involve the necessity of an em.
barrassing explanation. But the Shade sat down on the
opposite side of the fire-place, as if he were quite used
You don't believe in me," observed the Shade.
"I don't," 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
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 Shade.
"You are not looking at it," said Scrooge.
But I see it," said the Shade, 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
At this, the Shade raised such an unnatural cry, that
Scrooge fell upon his knees, and clasped his hands before
Mercy !" he said. "Why do you trouble me ?"
Man of the worldly mind !" replied the Shade, 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 Shade 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 earth-oh,
woe is me! and witness what it cannot share, but might
have shared on earth, and turned to happiness !"
Again the Shade raised a cry, and shook its chain.
You are fettered," said Scrooge, trembling. "Tell
me why ?"
I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the Shade.
' 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 Shade, 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 labored on it since. It's a ponderous
Scrooge glanced about him on the floor, in the expec-
tation 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 Shade 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 any-
where. My spirit never walked beyond our counting-
house-mark me! in life my spirit never roved beyond
the narrow limits of our money-changing hole; and weary
journeys lie before me !"
It was a habit with Scrooge, whenever he -became
thoughtful, to put his hands in his breeches pockets.
Pondering on what the Shade 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 Shade repeated.
Seven years dead," mused Scrooge. And travelling
all the time ?"
"The whole time," said the Shade. "No rest, no
peace. Incessant torture of remorse."
"You travel fast ?" said Scrooge.
"On the wings of the wind," replied the Shade.
"You might have got over a great quantity of ground
in seven years," said Scrooge.
Oh! captive, bound, and double-ironed," ,cried the
phantom, not to know, that ages of incessant labor by
immortal creatures, for this earth, must pass into eternity
before the good of which it is susceptible is all deve-
loped. 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's life's opportunities misused! Yet such was I!
Oh! such was I !"
"'But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,"
faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself
Business," cried the Shade, 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
It held up its chain at arm's length, as if that were the
24 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
cause of all its unavailing grief, and flung it heavily upon
the ground again.
At this time of the rolling year," the Shade said, I
suffer most. Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-
beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them
to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor
abode? Were there no poor homes to which its light
would have conducted me ?"
Scrooge was very much dismayed to hear the spectre
going on at this rate, and began to quake exceedingly.
"Hear me!" cried the Shade. "My time is nearly
"I will," said Scrooge. "But don't be hard upon me,
Jacob! 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.
"That is no light part of my penance," pursued the
Shade. I am here to-night to warn you, that you may
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.
"You will be visited," resumed the Shade, by three
Scrooge's countenance fell.
Is that the chance and hope you mentioned, Jacob ?"
he demanded in a faltering voice.
I-I think I'd rather not," said Scrooge.
"Without their visits," said the Shade, "you cannot
hope to shun the path I tread. Expect the first to-mor-
row, 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
bour. The third upon the next night, when the last
Btroke of twelve has ceased to vibrate. Look to see me
no more; and look that, for your own sake, you remem-
ber what has passed between us !"
SWhen it had said these words, the Shade walked back-
ward from him; and at every step it took, the window
raised itself a little, so that when the Shade reached it, it
was wide open. It beckoned Scrooge to approach, which
he did. When they were within two paces of each other,
the Shade 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 con-
fused noises in the air; incoherent sounds of lamentation
and regret; wailings inexpressibly sorrowful and self-
accusatory. The Shade, 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 curi-
osity. He looked out.
26 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither
and thither in restless haste, and moaning as they went.
Whether these creatures faded into mist, or mist en-
shrouded 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 Shade had entered. It was double-locked, as
he had locked it with his own hands, andcthe bolts were
undisturbed. He tried to say Humbug!" but stopped
at the first syllable. And being, from the emotion he
had undergone, or the fatigues of the day, or his glimpse
of the Invisible World, or the dull conversation of the
Shade, or the lateness of the hour, much in need of repose,
went straight to bed, without undressing, and fell asleep
upon the instant.
THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS.
WHEN Scrooge awoke, it was so dark, that looking
out of bed, he could scarcely distinguish the transparent
window from the opaque walls of his chamber. He was
endeavoring to pierce the darkness with his ferret eyes,
when the chimes of a neighboring 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 w iindow. He was obliged
28 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
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.
Scrooge went to bed again, and thought, and thought
it over and over, and could make nothing of it. The
more he thought, the more perplexed he was; and the
more he endeavored not to think, the more he thought.
Marley's Shade 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 Shade had 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 spnk into a doze unconsciously,
and missed the clock. At length it broke upon his listen-
Ding, dong !"
SA 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.
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 visitor who drew them: as close to it as I am
now to you, and I am standing in the spirit at your
It was a strange figure-like a 'child: yet not so like a
child as like an old man, viewed through some super-
natural medium, which gave him the appearance of hav-
ing 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.
30 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
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 doubt-
less the occasion of its using, in its duller moments, a
great extinguisher for a cap, which it now held under its
"Are you the Spirit, sir, whose coming was foretold
to me ?" asked Scrooge.
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 spirit of Christmas Past."
Long past?" inquired Scrooge: observant of its
No. Your past."
Perhaps, Scrooge could not have told anybody why,
if anybody could have asked him; but he had a special
desire to see the Spirit in his cap; and begged him to be
"What!" exclaimed the Spirit, 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 Spirit.
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 the bed was warm, and the thermometer a
long way below freezing; that he was clad but lightly in
his slippers, dressing-gown and night-cap, and that he
had a cold upon him at that time. The grasp, though
gentle as a woman's hand, was not to be resisted. He
rose: but finding that the Spirit made towards the win-
dow, clasped its robe in supplication.
I am a mortal," Scrooge remonstrated, and liable
"Bear but a touch of my hand there," said the Spirit,
laying it upon his heart, and you shall be upheld in
more than this !"
32 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
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 1"
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 con-
scious of a thousand odors 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 Spirit, And what is
that upon your cheek ?"
Scrooge muttered, with an unusual catching in his
voice, that it was a pimple; and begged the Spirit to
lead him where he would.
You recollect the way ?' inquired the Spirit.
"l member it !" cried Scrooge, with fervor-" I could
walk it blindfold."
Strange, to have forgotten it for so many years !"
observed the Spirit. Let us go on !"
They walked along the road; Scrooge recognizing
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 trot-
ting towards them with boys upon their backs, who called
to other boys in country gigs and carts, driven by far-
mers. 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 Spirit. "They have no consciousness of us."
The jocund travellers came on; and as they came,
Scrooge knew and named them every one. Why was he
rejoiced beyond all bounds to see them! Why did his
cold eye glisten, and his heart leap up as they went past!
Why was he filled with gladness when he heard them
give each other Merry Christmas, as they parted at cross-
roads and by-ways, for their several homes ? What was
merry Christmas to Scrooge ? Out upon merry Christ-
mas What good had it ever done to him ?
The school is not quite deserted," said the Spirit.
" A solitary child, neglected by his friends, is left there
Scrooge said he knew it. And he sobbed.
They left the,high-road by a well-remembered lane,
and soon approached a mansion of dull red brick, with a
little weather-cock-sumiounted cupola on the roof, and a
bell hanging in it. It was a large house, but one of bro-
ken fortunes; for the spacious offices were little used,
their walls were arthp and mossy, their windows broken,
and their gates decided.
They went, thSphiit and Scrooge, across the hall, to
a door at the b 'of the house. It opened before them,
34 CHRIST MAS STORIES.
and di.-clo.ed 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; riot a squeak and scuf-
fle from the mice behind the paneling; not a drip from
the half-thawed water-spout in the dull yard behind; not
a sigh among the leafless boughs of one despondent pop-
lar; 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.
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 Spirit smiled thoughtfully, and waved his hand:
saying, as it did so, Let u-s 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; fragnieiits. of plaster fell
out of the ceiling, and the naked'.' hs. were shown
instead; but how all this was breoiig t.abut, Scrooge
knew no more than you do. lie cft enew that it was
quite correct; that everything had ir?:bj.ned 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 Spirit, and with a
mournful shaking of his head, glanced anxiously towards
It opened; and a little girl, much younger than the
boy, came darting in, and putting her arms around his
neck, and often kissing him, addressed him as her "dear,
dear brother !"
I have come to bring you home, dear brother !" said
the child, clapping her tiny hands, and bending down to
laugh. To bring you home, home, home !"
Home, little Fan ?" returned the boy.
"Yes !" said the child, brimful of glee. Home, for
good and all.. Home, for ever and ever. Father is so
much kinder than he used to be, that home's like Hea-
ven 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
She clapped her hands and laughed, and tried to touch
his head; but being. too little, laughed again, and stood
36 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
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 Mas-
ter 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 dread-
ful state of mind by shaking hands with him. He then
conveyed him and his sister into the veriest old well of a
shivering best-parlor 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 curi-
ously 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 gen-
tleman, 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 school-master 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 Spirit. But she had a large
"So she had," cried Scrooge. "You're right; I will
not gainsay it, Spirit. God forbid !"
She died a woman," said the Spirit, and had, as I
"One child," Scrooge returned.
"True," said the Spirit. Your nephew."
Scirooge seemed uneasy in his mind, and answered,
Although they had but that moment left the school
behind them, they were now in the busy thoroughfares
of the 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 Spirit stopped at a certain warehouse door, and
asked Scrooge if he knew it.
Know it ?' said Scrooge. Was I apprenticed
They went in. At sight or an old gentleman in a
Welsh wig, sitting behind such a high desk, that if he
had been two inches taller he must have knocked his
head against the ceiling, Scrooge cried, in great excite-
Why, it's old Fezziwig Bless his heart; it's Fez-
ziwig 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,,
38 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
aind called out in a comfortable, oily, rich, fat, jovial
SYo 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,
"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
You wouldn't believe how those two fellows went at
iit! 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 done in a minute. Every
'movable was packed off, as if it were dismissed from
,public life for evermore; the flo6r was swept and
watered, the lamps were trimmed, fuel was heaped upon
the fire; and the warehouse was as snug, and warm,
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 sto-mach-aches. In came Mrs. Fezziwig, one
,vast substantial smile. In came the three Miss Fezzi-
wigs, beaming and lovable. In came the six young
followers whose hearts they broke. In came all the
young men and women employed in the business.
In came the housemaid, with her cousin the baker. In
came the cook, with her brother's particular friend, the
milkman. In came the boy from over the way, who was
suspected of not having board enough from his master;
trying to hide himself behind the girl from next door but
one, who was proved to have had her ears pulled by her
mistress. In they all came, one after another; some
shyly, some boldly, some 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 va-
rious 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, clap-
ping his hands to stop the dance, cried out, well done!"
40 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
and the fiddler plunged his hot face into a pot of porter,
especially provided for that purpose. But, scorning rest,
upon his re-appearance, 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
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.
When the clock struck eleven, this domestic ball broke
up. Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig took their stations, one on
either side of the door, and shaking hands with every
person individually as he or she went out, wished him or
her a merry Christmas. When everybody had retired
but the two 'prentices, they did the same to them; and
thus the cheerful voices died away, and the lads were
left to their beds, which were under a counter in the back
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 every-
thing, remembered everything, enjoyed everything, and
underwent the strangest agitation. It was not until now,
when the bright faces of his former self anrd Dick were
turned from them, that he remembered the Spirit and
became conscious that it was looking full upon him, while
the light upon its head burned very clear.
"A small matter," said the Spirit, "to make these silly
folks so full of gratitude."
"Small?" echoed Scrooge.
The Spirit signed to him to listen to the two appren-
tices, who were pouring out their hearts in praise of
Fezziwig: and when he had done so, said,
-' Why! Is it not? He has spent but a few pounds
of your mortal money: three or four, perhaps. Is that
so much that he deserves this praise.?"
"It isn't that," said Scrooge, heated by the remark,
and spjealing 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 insignifi-
cant 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 Spirit.
"Nothing particular," said Scrooge.
Something, I think ?" the Spirit insisted.
No," said Scrooge, No. I should like to be able
to say a word or two to my clerk just now! That's
His former self turned down the lamps as he gave
42 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
utterance to the wish: and Scrooge and the Spirit 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 morning-dress: in whose eyes there were
tears, which sparkled in the light that shone out of the
Spirit 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
She shook her head.
"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 ?"
"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 !"
44 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
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 irresistable 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 with 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 re-
pentance and regret would surely follow? I do; and I
release you. With a full heart, for the love of him you
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 Spirit 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 count; and, unlike the celebrated
herd in the poem, they were not forty children conduct-
ing 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 con-
trary, the mother and daughter laughed heartily, and
enjoyed it very much; and the latter, soon beginning to
mingle in their sports, got pillaged by the young brigands
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
rond the neck, pommel his back, and kick his legs in
irrepressible affection The shouts of wonder and de-
46 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
light 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 swal-
lowed a fictitious turkey, glued on a wooden platter! The
immense relief of finding this a false alarm! The joy,
and gratitude, and ecstasy.! They are all indescribable
alike. It is enough that by degrees the children and
their emotions got out of the parlor, and, by one stair at
a time, up to the top of the house; where they went to
bed, and so subsided.
And now Scrooge looked on more attentively than
ever, when the master of the house, having his daughter
leaning fondly on him, sat down with her and her mother
at his own fireside; and when he thought that such
another creature, quite as graceful and as full of promised,
might have called him father, and been a spring-time in
the haggard winter of his life, his sight grew very dim
"Belle," said the husband, turning to his wife with a
smile, "I saw an old friend of yours this afternoon."
"Who was it?"
"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 Spirit. "That they are what they
are, do not blame me."
Remove me !" Scrooge -exclaimed. "I cannot
He turned upon the Spirit, 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 Spirit 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 sud-
den 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, farther, of being in his
own bed-room. He gave the cap a parting squeeze, in
which his hand relaxed; and had barely time to reel to
bed before he sank into a heavy sleep.
THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS.
AWAKING in the middle of a prodigiously tough snore,
and sitting up in bed to get his thoughts 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 Mar-
ley's intervention. But, finding that he turned uncom-
fortably 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 first appearance, and did not wish to be taken by sur-
prise and made nervous. 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 ap-
prehensive 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 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
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,
misletoe, 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 chimney had not 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
50 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
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 Giant. 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 spirit of Christmas Present," said the Giant,
"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 be-
neath 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 un-
constrained demeanor, and its joyful air.
You have never seen the like of me before ?" ex-
claimed 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 Phan-
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 Spirit.
"A tremendous family to provide for!" muttered
The spirit 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!"
Srooge did as he was told, and held it fast.
Holly, mistletoe, red berries, ivy, turkeys, geese, game,
poultry, brawn, meat, pigs, sausages, oysters, pies, pud-
dings, 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 street on Christmas morning,
where (for tlh 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
The people who were shovelling away on the house-
52 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
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 ra-
diant 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 shopkeeperlw 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 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. Nor was it that the figs were
moist and pulpy, or that the French plums blushed in
modest tartness from their highly-decorated boxes, or
that everything was good to eat and in its Christmas
dress; but the customers were all so hurried and so eager
in the hopeful promise of the day, that they tumbled up
against each other at the door, 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 humor possible.
But soon the steeples called good people all, to church
and chapel, and away they came, flocking through the
streets in their best clothes, and with their gayest faces.
And at the same time there emerged from scores of by-
streets, lanes, and nameless turnings, innumerable people,
carrying their dinners to the bakers' shop. 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
54 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
dinner-carriers who had jostled with each other, he shed
a few drops of water on them from it, and their good
humor 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 pave-
ment smoked as if its stones were cooking, too.
Is there a peculiar flavor in what you sprinkle from
your torch ?" asked Scrooge.
There is. My own."
Would it apply to any kind of dinner on this day ?"
To any kindly given. To a poor one most."
"Why to a poor one most ?" asked Scrooge.
"Because it needs it most."
It was a remarkable quality of the Spirit, (which
Scrooge had observed at the baker's,) that, notwith-
standing 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 the 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
spirit of Christmas Present blessed his four-roomed
Then up rose Mrs. Cratchit, Cratchit's wife, dressed
out, but poorly, in a twice-turned gown, but brave in
ribands, 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 ribands;
while Master Peter Cratchit plunged a fork into the
saucepan of potatoes, and getting the corners of his mon-
strous shirt-collar (Bob's private property, conferred
upon his son and heir in honor of the day) into his mouth,
rejoiced to find himself so gallantly attired, and yearned
to show his linen.
Martha didn't like to see him disappointed, if it were
only in a joke; so she came out prematurely fror~ behind
the closet door, and ran into his arms, while the two
young Cratchets 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. Crat-
chit, when she had rallied Bob on his credulity, and Bob
had hugged his daughter to his heart's content.
if As good as gold," said Bob, and better. Somehow
he gets thoughtful sitting by himself so much, and thinks
56 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
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 tpon 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.
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.
Cratchet made the gravy (ready before-hand in a little
saucepan) hissing hot; Master Peter mashed the pota-
toes with incredible vigor; 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
There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn't
believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tender-
ness and flavor, 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 great delight
(surveying one small atom of a bone on 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 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 so large a family. It would have been flat heresy to
do so. Any Cratchit would have blushed to hint at such
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-fill
of chestnuts 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 chestnuts on the
fire sputtered and cracked noisily. Then Bob pro-
"A merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless
Which all the family re-echoed.
"God bless, us every one!" said Tiny Tim, the last
He sat very close to his father's side, upon his little
stool. Bob held his withered little hand 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 ownev, 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
60 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
by the Spirit, and was overcome with penitence and
Man," said the Ghost, if man you be in heart, not
adamant, forbear that wicked cant until you have dis-
covered 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 pro-
nouncing 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 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
"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
fie is, Robert! Nobody knows it better than you do,
poor fellow !"
My dear," was Bob's mild answer, Christmas
TINY TIM. 61
"Ill 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 men-
tion 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 was deliberating what particular investments he
should favor when he came into the receipt of that be-
wildering income. Martha, who was a poor apprentice
at a milliner's, then told them what kind of work she
had to do, and how many hours she worked at a stretch,
and how she meant to lie abed to-morrow morning for
a good long rest; to-morrow being a holiday, she passed.
All this time the chestnuts and the jug went round
and round; and by and by they had a song, about a
lost child travelling in the snow, from Tiny Tim; who
62 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
had a plaintive little voice, and sang it very well
There was nothing of high mark in this. They were
not a handsome family; they were not well dressed;
their shoes were far from being water-proof; their
clothes were scanty; and Peter might have known, and
very likely did, the inside of 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 sparkling 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,
parlors, and all sorts of rooms, was vwoiderfdl.
Blessings on it, how the Spirit exulted! How it
bared its breadth of breast, and opened its capacious
palm, and floatecPon, outpouring, with a generous hand,
its bright and harmless mirth on everything within its
reach! The very lamp-lighter, 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 lamp-lighter that he had any company but Christ.
And now without a word of warning from the Spirit,
they stood upon a bleak and desert moor.
"What place it this ?" asked Scrooge.
A place where Miners live, who labor in the bowels
of the earth," returned the Spirit. "But they know
rie. 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 as-
sembled round a glowing fire. An old, old man and
woman, with their children and their children's children,
and another generation beyond that, all decked out
gany 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
blythe and loud; and so surely as they stopped his
vigor satnk again.
The Spirit did not tarry here, but bade Scrooge hold
his robe, and paying 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 chalfd and dashed
the wild year through, there stood a solitary lighthouse.
But even here, two men who watched the light had
64: CHRISTMAS STORIES.
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 a 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 Spirit 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 by-
gone 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, ad had known that they delight-
ed 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
TINY 'TIM. 65
surprise to Scrooge to recognize it as his own nephew's,
and to find himself in a bright, dry, gleaming room, with
the Spirit standing smiling by his side, and looking at
that same nephew with approving affability.
S" 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 anugh than Scrooge's nephew, all I
can say is, I should like to know him, too. Introduce
him t 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-humor. When Scrooge's nephew
laughed in this way; holding his sides, rolling his head,
and twisting his face into the most extravagant contor-
tions; Scrooge's niece, by marriage, laughed as heartily
as he. And their assembled friends being not a bit be-
hindhand, roared out, lustily.
"Ha, ha! Ha, ha, ha, ha !"
"He said that Christmas was a humbug, as I live !"
cried Scrooge's nephew. He believed it, too !"
More shame for him, Fred !" said Scrooge's niece,
indignantly. Bless those women; they never do any-
thing by halves. They are always in earnest.
She was very pretty, exceedingly pretty. With a
dimpled, surprised-looking, capital face; a riped 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 sun-
66 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
niest 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
lie's a comical old fellow," said Scrooge's nephew,
"that's the truth; and not so pleasant as he might be.
However, his offences carry their own punishment, and I
have nothing to say against him."
I'm sure he is very rich, Frdd," hinted Scrooge's
niece. At least you always tell me so."
"What of that, my dear," said Scrooge's nephew. His
wealth is of no use to him. He don't do any good with
it. He don't make himself comfortable with it. He
hasn't the satisfaction of thinking-ha, ha, ha !-that he
is ever going to benefit us with it."
I have no patience with him," observed Scrooge's
niece. Scrooge's niece's sisters, and all the other ladies,
expressed the same opinion.
Oh, I have !" said Scrooge's nephew. I am sorry
for him; I couldn't be angry with him if I tried. Who
suffers by his ill whims ? Himself, always. Here, he
takes it into his head to dislike us, and he won't come
and dine with us. What's the consequence? He don't
lose much of a dinner."
Indeed, I think he loses a very good dinner," inter-
rupted Scrooge's niece. Everybody else said the same,
and they must be allowed to have been competent
judges, because they had just had dinner; and, with the
dessert upon the table, were clustered round the fire, by
"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
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
pluimp 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:
68 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
CUncle Scrooge, how are you ?' If it only puts him in
the vein to leave his poor clerk fifty pounds, that's some-
thing; 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 merri-
ment, 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.
But they didn't devote the whole evening to music.
After a while, they played at forfeits, for it is good to be
children sometimes, and never better than at 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. lMy
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, tumb-
ling 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 endeavoring to seize
you, whliicel would have been an affront to your under-
standing, and would instantly have sidled off in the di-
rection 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 fluttering 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 blindman being
in office, they were so very confidential together, behind
Scrooge's niece was not one of the blindman's buff
party, but was made comfortable with a large chair and
a footstool, in a snug corner, where the Spirit 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,
wholy 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
70 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
often guessed right; for the sharpest needle, best iite-
chapel, warranted not to cut in the eye, was not sharper
than Scrooge, blunt as he took it in his head to be.
The Spirit was greatly pleased to find him in this
mood, and looked upon him Ivith such favor 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 !"
It was a game called Yes and No, where Scrooge's
nephew had to think of something, the rest must find out
what; he only answering to their question yes or no, as
the case was. The brisk fire of questioning to which lie
was exposed elicited from him that he was thinking of an
animal, a live animal, rather a di.agrlenble 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 ip 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! I know what it is, Fred I know
what it is !"
What is it ?" cried Fred.
''s your Uncle Scro-o-o-o-oge !"
Which it certainly was. Admiration was the univer-
sal 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 he may have it, neverthe-
less 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 Spirit 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
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 for-
eign lands, and they were close at home; by struggling
men, and they were patient in their greater hope; by
poverty, and it was rich. In almshouse, hospital, and
72 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
-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 Spirit 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
"Are spirits' lives short ?" asked Scrooge.
"My life upon this globe is very brief," replied the
Ghost. "It ends to-night."
"To-night !' cried Scrooge.
STo-night at midnight. Hark! The time is drawing
The bell struck twelve.
Scrooge looked about him for the Spirit, 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.
THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS.
THE Phantom slowly, gravely, silently, approached.
When it came near him, Scrooge bent down upon his
knee; for in the very air through which this Spirit
moved it seemed to scatter gloom and mystery.
It was shrouded in a deep black garment, which con-
cealed its head, its face, its form, and left nothing of it
visible save one out-stretched 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 Spirit of Christmas Yet
to Come ?" said Scrooge.
The Spirit answered not, but pointed downward with,
"You are about to show me shadows of the things
that have not happened, but will happen in the time be-
fore us," Scrooge pursued. "Is that so, Spirit ?"
74 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
The upper portion of the garment was contracted for
an in-tant in itl folds, as if the Spirit had inclined its
head. That was the only answer he received.
Spirit of the Future Scrooge exclaimed, I fear
you more than any Spectre I have seen. But as I know
your purpose is to do me good, and as I hope to live to
be another man from what I was, I am prepared to bear
you company, and do it with a thankful heart. Will you
not speak to me ?"
It gave him no reply. The hand was pointed straight
SLead on!" said Scrooge. Lead on The night
is waning fast, and it is precious time to me, I know.
Lead on, Spirit !"
The Phantom moved away as it had come towards
him. Scrooge followed in the shadow of its dress, which
bore him up, he thought, and carried him along.
They scarcely seemed to enter the city; for the city
rather seemed to spring up about them, and encompass
them of its own act. But there they were, in the heart
of it; on 'Change, among 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
"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 sntff-
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, 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
of business: very wealthy, and of great importance.
76 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
He had made a point always of standing well in their
esteem; in a business point of view, that is; strictly in
a business point of view.
How are you?" said one.
How are you ?" returned the other.
"Well!" said the first. Old. Scratch has got his own
at last, hey ?"
"So I am told," returned the second. Cold, isn't
"Seasonable for Christmas time. You're not a skater,
I suppose ?"
"No. No. Something else to think of. Good morn-
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 appar-
ently so trivial; but feeling assured that they must have
some hidden purpose, he resolved to treasure up every
word he heard, and everything he saw; and especially
to observe the shadow pf himself when it appeared.
For he had an expectation that the conduct of his future
self would give him the blue 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 out-stretched hand.
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 obedi-
ence 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 a man.
Scrooge glanced towards the Phantom. Its steady
hand was pointed to the head. The cover was so care-
lessly 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 Spirit at his side.
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 into a rich end,
He lay, in the dark, empty house, with not a man, a
78 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
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
"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 eager-
ness; 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
At length the long-expected knock was heard. She
hurried to the door, and met her husband; a man whose
face was careworn and depressed, though he was young.
There was a remarkable expression in it now; a kind
of serious delight of which he felt ashamed, and which
he struggled to repress.
He sat down to the dinner that had been hoarding for
him by the fire; and when she asked him faintly what
news, ( which was not until after a long silence,) he ap-
peared embarrassed how to answer.
"Is it good," she said, or bad ?" to help him.
"There is hope yet, Caroline."
"If he relents," she said amazed, "there is Nothing
is past hope, if such a miracle has happened."
SHe is past relenting," said her husband. "He is
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.
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 Spirit conducted him through several streets fa-
miliar 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
80 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
as still as statues in one corner, and sat looking up at
Peter, who had a book before him. The mother and
her daughters were engaged in sewing. But surely they
were very quiet!
And he took a child, and set him in the midst of
Where had Scrooge heard those words? He had not
dreamed them. The boy must have read them out, as he
and the Spirit crossed the threshold. Why did he not
go on ?
The mother laid her work upon the table, and put her
hand up to her face.
The color hurts my eyes," she aid.
The color? Ah, poor Tiny Tim!
"They're better now again," said Cratchit's wife. "It
makes them weak by candle-light; and I wouldn't show
weak eyes to your father when he comes home, for the
world. It must be near his time."
Past it, rather," Peter answered, shutting up his
book. But, I think he'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 faltered once :
"I have known him walk with--I have known him
walk with Tiny Tim upon his shoulder, very fast, in-
"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
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 Crat-
chits 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
Sunday! You went to-day, then, Robert ?" said his
"Yes, my dear," returned Bob. "I wish you could
have gone. It would have done you good to see how
green a place it is. But you'll see it often. I promised
him that I would walk there on a Sunday. My 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 upstairs into the room
above, which was lighted cheerfully, and hung with
Christmas. There was a chair set close beside the child,
and there were signs of some one having been theie
82 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
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 extraordi-
nary kindness of Mr. Scrooge's nephew, whom he had
scarcely seen but once, and who, meeting him in the
street that day, and seeing that he looked a little-" just
a little down, you know," said Bob, inquired what had
happened to distress him. On which," said Bob, for
he is the pleasantest-spoken gentleman you ever hetird, I
told him. 'I am heartily sorry for it, Mr. Cratchit,' he
said, 'and heartily sorry for your good wife.' By-the-by,
how he ever knew that, I don't know."
SKnew 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 any way,' he said, giving me his
card, 'that's where I live. Pray, come to me.' Now, it
wasn't," crid 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 swr-
prised, mark what I say, if he got Peter a better sit-
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 him-
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 was among us ?"
Never, father !" cried they all.
And I know," said Bob, "I know, my dears, that
when we recollect how patient and Jow mild he was, al-
though he was a little, little child, we shall not quarrel
easily among ourselves, and forget poor Tiny Tim in
No, never, father !" they all cried again.
"I am very happy," said little Bob, I am very
Mrs. Cratchit kissed him, his daughters kissed him, the
two young Cratchits kissed him, and Peter himself shook
hands. Spirit of Tiny Tim, thy childish essence was
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
84 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
The spirit of Christmas Yet to Come conveyed him, as
before-though at a different time, he thought, indeed,
there seemed no order in these latter visions, save that
they were in the Future-into the resorts of business
men, but showed him not himself. Indeed, the Spirit did
not stay for anything, but went straight on, as to the end
just now desired, until they reached a church-yard.
The Spirit stood among the graves, and pointed down
to one. He advanced towards it trembling. The Phan-
tom 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 Spirit 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 still was there.
Spirit!" he cried, tight clutching at its robe, "hear
me! I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I
must have been but for this intercourse. Why show me
this, if I am past all hope ?"
For the first time the hand appeared to shake.
Good Spirit," he pursued, as down upon the ground
he fell before it, "your nature intercedes for me, and
pities me. Assure me that I yet may change these
shadows you have shown me, by an altered life !"
The kind hand trembled.
I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep
it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and
the Future. The Spirits of all three shall strive within
me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.
Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this
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.
86 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
THtE 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 the 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
He was so fluttered and so glowing with his good in-
tentions, 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.
"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; I am as light as a fea-
ther, 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 going round the fire-place.
" There's the door by which the shade of Jacob Marley
entered! There's the corner where the Spirit of Christ-
mas Present sat! There's the window where Isaw the
wandering Spirits! It's all right, it's all true, it all hap-
pened, Ha, ha, ha !"
Really, for a man who had been out of practice for so
many years, it was a splendid laugh, a most illustrious
laugh. The father of a long, long line of brilliant
"I don't know what day of the month it is !" said
Scrooge. I don't know how long I'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!"
He was checked in his transports by the churches
ringing out the lustiest peals he had ever heard. Clash,
clang, 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; cold, piping for the blood to dance to; Golden
88 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
sunlight; heavenly sky; sweet fresh air; merry bells.
Oh, glorious, glorious!
"What's to-day ?" cried Scrooge, calling down to a
boy in Sunday clothes, who perhaps had loitered in to
look about him.
E !" returned the boy, with all his might of
"What's to-day, my fine fellow ?" said Scrooge.
To-day !" replied the boy. "Why, CHRISTMAS
"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 I"
"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 i" 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
shan't know who sends it. It's twice the size of Tiny
Tim. Joe Miller never made such a joke as sending it
to Bob's will be !"
The hand in which he wrote the address was not a
steady one; but write it he did, somehow, and went
down stairs -to open the street door, ready for the coming
of the poulterer's man. As he stood there, waiting his
arrival, the knocker caught his eye.
"(I shall love it as long as I live !" 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 turl;: -y. 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
90 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
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-plaster over it, and been quite satisfied.
He dressed himself all in his best," and at last got
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 delightful smile. He
looked so irresistibly pleasant, in a word, that three or
four good-humored fellows said, "Good morning, sir!
A merry Christmas to you !" And Scrooge said often
afterwards, that of all the blythe sounds he ever heard,
those were the blythest 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 be-
fore 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 } ou, 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 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 favor?"
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 !"
H-e 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
92 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
courage to go up and knock. But he made a dash, and
"Is your master at home, my dear ?" said Scrooge to
the girl. "Nice girl! Very."
"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,
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 every-
thing 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 ?"
SIt's I, your uncle Scrooge. I have come to dinner.
Will you let me in, Fred ?"
Let him in! It's a mercy he didn't shake his arm off.
He was at home in five minutes. Nothing could be
heartier. His niece looked just the same. So did
Topper when he came. So did the plump sister when
she came. So did every one when they came. Wonder-
ful party, wonderful games, wonderful unanimity, won-
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 com-
forter too. He was on his stool in a jiffy; driving away
with his pen, as if he were trying to overtake nine
"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
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
94 CHRISTMAS STORIES.
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 straight-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 endeavor to assist your strug-
gling 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 altera-
tion 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, in which some
people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset;
and knowing that such as these would be blind any
way, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle
up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attrac-
TINY TIM. 95
tive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite
enough for him.
He had no farther intercourse with Spirits, but
lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever after-
ward; 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
DOT AND THE FAIRY CRICKET.
CHIRP THE FIRST.
THE kettle began it! Don't tell me what Mrs. Peery-
bingle said. I know better. Mrs. Peerybingle may
leave it on record to the end of time that she couldn't
say which of them began it; but I say the kettle did. I
ought to know, I hope The kettle began it, full five
minutes by the little waxy-faced Dutch clock in the cor-
ner, before the Cricket uttered a chirp.
Why4,- am not naturally positive. Every one knows
that. I wouldn't set my own opinion against the opinion
of Mrs. Peerybingle, unless I were quite sure, on any
account whatever. Nothing should induce me. But this
is a question of fact. And the fact is, that the kettle
began it, at least five minutes before the Cricket gave
any sign of being in existence. Contradict me; and I'll
Let me narrate exactly how it happened.
Mrs. Peerybingle going out into the raw twilight, and
clicking over the wet stones in a pair of pattens, Mrs.
Peerybingle filled the kettle at the water butt. Present-