A Christmas Carol
By Charles Dickens
Stave 2: The First of the Three Spirits
When Scrooge awoke, it was so dark, that looking out of
bed, he could scarcely distinguish the transparent window
from the opaque walls of his chamber. He was endeavouring
to pierce the darkness with his ferret eyes, when the chimes
of a neighbouring church struck the four quarters. So he listened
for the hour.
To his great astonishment the heavy bell went on from six
to seven, and from seven to eight, and regularly up to twelve;
then stopped. Twelve. It was past two when he went to bed.
The clock was wrong. An icicle must have got into the works.
He touched the spring of his repeater, to correct this most
preposterous clock. Its rapid little pulse beat twelve: and
`Why, it isn't possible,' said Scrooge, `that I can have
slept through a whole day and far into another night. It isn't
possible that anything has happened to the sun, and this is
twelve at noon.'
The idea being an alarming one, he scrambled out of bed,
and groped his way to the window. He was obliged to rub the
frost off with the sleeve of his dressing-gown before he could
see anything; and could see very little then. All he could
make out was, that it was still very foggy and extremely cold,
and that there was no noise of people running to and with
a deep, dull, hollow, melancholy One. Light flashed up in
the room upon the instant, and the curtains of his bed were
The curtains of his bed were drawn aside, I tell you, by
a hand. Not the curtains at his feet, nor the curtains at
his back, but those to which his face was addressed. The curtains
of his bed were drawn aside; and Scrooge, starting up into
a half-recumbent attitude, found himself face to face with
the unearthly visitor who drew them: as close to it as I am
now to you, and I am standing in the spirit at your elbow.
It was a strange figure -- like a child: yet not so like
a child as like an old man, viewed through some supernatural
medium, which gave him the appearance of having receded from
the view, and being diminished to a child's proportions. Its
hair, which hung about its neck and down its back, was white
as if with age; and yet the face had not a wrinkle in it,
and the tenderest bloom was on the skin. The arms were very
long and muscular; the hands the same, as if its hold were
of uncommon strength. Its legs and feet, most delicately formed,
were, like those upper members, bare. It wore a tunic of the
purest white, and round its waist was bound a lustrous belt,
the sheen of which was beautiful. It held a branch of fresh
green holly in its hand; and, in singular contradiction of
that wintry emblem, had its dress trimmed with summer flowers.
But the strangest thing about it was, that from the crown
of its head there sprung a bright clear jet of light, by which
all this was visible; and which was doubtless the occasion
of its using, in its duller moments, a great extinguisher
for a cap, which it now held under its arm.
Even this, though, when Scrooge looked at it with increasing
steadiness, was not its strangest quality. For as its belt
sparkled and glittered now in one part and now in another,
and what was light one instant, at another time was dark,
so the figure itself fluctuated in its distinctness: being
now a thing with one arm, now with one leg, now with twenty
legs, now a pair of legs without a head, now a head without
a body: of which dissolving parts, no outline would be visible
in the dense gloom wherein they melted away. And in the very
wonder of this, it would be itself again; distinct and clear
`Are you the Spirit, sir, whose coming was foretold to me.'
The voice was soft and gentle. Singularly low, as if instead
of being so close beside him, it were at a distance.
`Who, and what are you.' Scrooge demanded.
`I am the Ghost of Christmas Past.'
`Long Past.' inquired Scrooge: observant of its dwarfish
`No. Your past.'
Perhaps, Scrooge could not have told anybody why, if anybody
could have asked him; but he had a special desire to see the
Spirit in his cap; and begged him to be covered.
`What.' exclaimed the Ghost,' would you so soon put out,
with worldly hands, the light I give. Is it not enough that
you are one of those whose passions made this cap, and force
me through whole trains of years to wear it low upon my brow.'
Scrooge reverently disclaimed all intention to offend or
any knowledge of having wilfully bonneted the Spirit at any
period of his life. He then made bold to inquire what business
brought him there.
`Your welfare.' said the Ghost.
Scrooge expressed himself much obliged, but could not help
thinking that a night of unbroken rest would have been more
conducive to that end. The Spirit must have heard him thinking,
for it said immediately:
`Your reclamation, then. Take heed.'
It put out its strong hand as it spoke, and clasped him gently
by the arm.
`Rise. and walk with me.'
It would have been in vain for Scrooge to plead that the
weather and the hour were not adapted to pedestrian purposes;
that bed was warm, and the thermometer a long way below freezing;
that he was clad but lightly in his slippers, dressing-gown,
and nightcap; and that he had a cold upon him at that time.
The grasp, though gentle as a woman's hand, was not to be
resisted. He rose: but finding that the Spirit made towards
the window, clasped his robe in supplication.
`I am mortal,' Scrooge remonstrated, `and liable to fall.'
`Bear but a touch of my hand there,' said the Spirit, laying
it upon his heart,' and you shall be upheld in more than this.'
As the words were spoken, they passed through the wall, and
stood upon an open country road, with fields on either hand.
The city had entirely vanished. Not a vestige of it was to
be seen. The darkness and the mist had vanished with it, for
it was a clear, cold, winter day, with snow upon the ground.
`Good Heaven!' said Scrooge, clasping his hands together,
as he looked about him. `I was bred in this place. I was a
The Spirit gazed upon him mildly. Its gentle touch, though
it had been light and instantaneous, appeared still present
to the old man's sense of feeling. He was conscious of a thousand
odours floating in the air, each one connected with a thousand
thoughts, and hopes, and joys, and cares long, long, forgotten.
`Your lip is trembling,' said the Ghost. `And what is that
upon your cheek.'
Scrooge muttered, with an unusual catching in his voice,
that it was a pimple; and begged the Ghost to lead him where
`You recollect the way.' inquired the Spirit.
`Remember it.' cried Scrooge with fervour; `I could walk
`Strange to have forgotten it for so many years.' observed
the Ghost. `Let us go on.'
They walked along the road, Scrooge recognising every gate,
and post, and tree; until a little market-town appeared in
the distance, with its bridge, its church, and winding river.
Some shaggy ponies now were seen trotting towards them with
boys upon their backs, who called to other boys in country
gigs and carts, driven by farmers. All these boys were in
great spirits, and shouted to each other, until the broad
fields were so full of merry music, that the crisp air laughed
to hear it.
`These are but shadows of the things that have been,' said
the Ghost. `They have no consciousness of us.'
The jocund travellers came on; and as they came, Scrooge
knew and named them every one. Why was he rejoiced beyond
all bounds to see them. Why did his cold eye glisten, and
his heart leap up as they went past. Why was he filled with
gladness when he heard them give each other Merry Christmas,
as they parted at cross-roads and bye-ways, for their several
homes. What was merry Christmas to Scrooge. Out upon merry
Christmas. What good had it ever done to him.
`The school is not quite deserted,' said the Ghost. `A solitary
child, neglected by his friends, is left there still.'
Scrooge said he knew it. And he sobbed.
They left the high-road, by a well-remembered lane, and soon
approached a mansion of dull red brick, with a little weathercock-surmounted
cupola, on the roof, and a bell hanging in it. It was a large
house, but one of broken fortunes; for the spacious offices
were little used, their walls were damp and mossy, their windows
broken, and their gates decayed. Fowls clucked and strutted
in the stables; and the coach-houses and sheds were over-run
with grass. Nor was it more retentive of its ancient state,
within; for entering the dreary hall, and glancing through
the open doors of many rooms, they found them poorly furnished,
cold, and vast. There was an earthy savour in the air, a chilly
bareness in the place, which associated itself somehow with
too much getting up by candle-light, and not too much to eat.
They went, the Ghost and Scrooge, across the hall, to a door
at the back of the house. It opened before them, and disclosed
a long, bare, melancholy room, made barer still by lines of
plain deal forms and desks. At one of these a lonely boy was
reading near a feeble fire; and Scrooge sat down upon a form,
and wept to see his poor forgotten self as he used to be.
Not a latent echo in the house, not a squeak and scuffle
from the mice behind the panelling, not a drip from the half-thawed
water-spout in the dull yard behind, not a sigh among the
leafless boughs of one despondent poplar, not the idle swinging
of an empty store-house door, no, not a clicking in the fire,
but fell upon the heart of Scrooge with a softening influence,
and gave a freer passage to his tears.
The Spirit touched him on the arm, and pointed to his younger
self, intent upon his reading. Suddenly a man, in foreign
garments: wonderfully real and distinct to look at: stood
outside the window, with an axe stuck in his belt, and leading
by the bridle an ass laden with wood.
`Why, it's Ali Baba.' Scrooge exclaimed in ecstasy. `It's
dear old honest Ali Baba. Yes, yes, I know. One Christmas
time, when yonder solitary child was left here all alone,
he did come, for the first time, just like that. Poor boy.
And Valentine,' said Scrooge,' and his wild brother, Orson;
there they go. And what's his name, who was put down in his
drawers, asleep, at the Gate of Damascus; don't you see him.
And the Sultan's Groom turned upside down by the Genii; there
he is upon his head. Serve him right. I'm glad of it. What
business had he to be married to the Princess.'
To hear Scrooge expending all the earnestness of his nature
on such subjects, in a most extraordinary voice between laughing
and crying; and to see his heightened and excited face; would
have been a surprise to his business friends in the city,
`There's the Parrot.' cried Scrooge. `Green body and yellow
tail, with a thing like a lettuce growing out of the top of
his head; there he is. Poor Robin Crusoe, he called him, when
he came home again after sailing round the island. `Poor Robin
Crusoe, where have you been, Robin Crusoe.' The man thought
he was dreaming, but he wasn't. It was the Parrot, you know.
There goes Friday, running for his life to the little creek.
Halloa. Hoop. Hallo.'
Then, with a rapidity of transition very foreign to his usual
character, he said, in pity for his former self, `Poor boy.'
and cried again.
`I wish,' Scrooge muttered, putting his hand in his pocket,
and looking about him, after drying his eyes with his cuff:
`but it's too late now.'
`What is the matter.' asked the Spirit.
`Nothing,' said Scrooge. `Nothing. There was a boy singing
a Christmas Carol at my door last night. I should like to
have given him something: that's all.'
The Ghost smiled thoughtfully, and waved its hand: saying
as it did so, `Let us see another Christmas.'
Scrooge's former self grew larger at the words, and the room
became a little darker and more dirty. The panels shrunk,
the windows cracked; fragments of plaster fell out of the
ceiling, and the naked laths were shown instead; but how all
this was brought about, Scrooge knew no more than you do.
He only knew that it was quite correct; that everything had
happened so; that there he was, alone again, when all the
other boys had gone home for the jolly holidays.
He was not reading now, but walking up and down despairingly.
Scrooge looked at the Ghost, and with a mournful shaking of
his head, glanced anxiously towards the door.
It opened; and a little girl, much younger than the boy,
came darting in, and putting her arms about his neck, and
often kissing him, addressed him as her `Dear, dear brother.'
`I have come to bring you home, dear brother.' said the child,
clapping her tiny hands, and bending down to laugh. `To bring
you home, home, home.'
`Home, little Fan.' returned the boy.
`Yes.' said the child, brimful of glee. `Home, for good and
all. Home, for ever and ever. Father is so much kinder than
he used to be, that home's like Heaven. He spoke so gently
to me one dear night when I was going to bed, that I was not
afraid to ask him once more if you might come home; and he
said Yes, you should; and sent me in a coach to bring you.
And you're to be a man.' said the child, opening her eyes,'
and are never to come back here; but first, we're to be together
all the Christmas long, and have the merriest time in all
`You are quite a woman, little Fan.' exclaimed the boy.
She clapped her hands and laughed, and tried to touch his
head; but being too little, laughed again, and stood on tiptoe
to embrace him. Then she began to drag him, in her childish
eagerness, towards the door; and he, nothing loth to go, accompanied
A terrible voice in the hall cried.' Bring down Master Scrooge's
box, there.' and in the hall appeared the schoolmaster himself,
who glared on Master Scrooge with a ferocious condescension,
and threw him into a dreadful state of mind by shaking hands
with him. He then conveyed him and his sister into the veriest
old well of a shivering best-parlour that ever was seen, where
the maps upon the wall, and the celestial and terrestrial
globes in the windows, were waxy with cold. Here he produced
a decanter of curiously light wine, and a block of curiously
heavy cake, and administered instalments of those dainties
to the young people: at the same time, sending out a meagre
servant to offer a glass of something to the postboy, who
answered that he thanked the gentleman, but if it was the
same tap as he had tasted before, he had rather not. Master
Scrooge's trunk being by this time tied on to the top of the
chaise, the children bade the schoolmaster good-bye right
willingly; and getting into it, drove gaily down the garden-sweep:
the quick wheels dashing the hoar-frost and snow from off
the dark leaves of the evergreens like spray.
`Always a delicate creature, whom a breath might have withered,'
said the Ghost. `But she had a large heart.'
`So she had,' cried Scrooge. `You're right. I will not gainsay
it, Spirit. God forbid.'
`She died a woman,' said the Ghost,' and had, as I think,
`One child,' Scrooge returned.
`True,' said the Ghost. `Your nephew.'
Scrooge seemed uneasy in his mind; and answered briefly,
Although they had but that moment left the school behind
them, they were now in the busy thoroughfares of a city, where
shadowy passengers passed and repassed; where shadowy carts
and coaches battle for the way, and all the strife and tumult
of a real city were. It was made plain enough, by the dressing
of the shops, that here too it was Christmas time again; but
it was evening, and the streets were lighted up.
The Ghost stopped at a certain warehouse door, and asked
Scrooge if he knew it.
`Know it.' said Scrooge. `Was I apprenticed here.'
They went in. At sight of an old gentleman in a Welsh wig,
sitting behind such a high desk, that if he had been two inches
taller he must have knocked his head against the ceiling,
Scrooge cried in great excitement:
`Why, it's old Fezziwig. Bless his heart; it's Fezziwig alive
Old Fezziwig laid down his pen, and looked up at the clock,
which pointed to the hour of seven. He rubbed his hands; adjusted
his capacious waistcoat; laughed all over himself, from his
shows to his organ of benevolence; and called out in a comfortable,
oily, rich, fat, jovial voice:
`Yo ho, there. Ebenezer. Dick.'
Scrooge's former self, now grown a young man, came briskly
in, accompanied by his fellow-prentice.
`Dick Wilkins, to be sure.' said Scrooge to the Ghost. `Bless
me, yes. There he is. He was very much attached to me, was
Dick. Poor Dick. Dear, dear.'
`Yo ho, my boys.' said Fezziwig. `No more work to-night.
Christmas Eve, Dick. Christmas, Ebenezer. Let's have the shutters
up,' cried old Fezziwig, with a sharp clap of his hands,'
before a man can say Jack Robinson.'
You wouldn't believe how those two fellows went at it. They
charged into the street with the shutters -- one, two, three
-- had them up in their places -- four, five, six -- barred
them and pinned then -- seven, eight, nine -- and came back
before you could have got to twelve, panting like race-horses.
`Hilli-ho!' 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
floor was swept and watered, the lamps were trimmed, fuel
was heaped upon the fire; and the warehouse was as snug, and
warm, and dry, and bright a ball-room, as you would desire
to see upon a winter's night.
In came a fiddler with a music-book, and went up to the lofty
desk, and made an orchestra of it, and tuned like fifty stomach-aches.
In came Mrs Fezziwig, one vast substantial smile. In came
the three Miss Fezziwigs, beaming and lovable. In came the
six young followers whose hearts they broke. In came all the
young men and women employed in the business. In came the
housemaid, with her cousin, the baker. In came the cook, with
her brother's particular friend, the milkman. In came the
boy from over the way, who was suspected of not having board
enough from his master; trying to hide himself behind the
girl from next door but one, who was proved to have had her
ears pulled by her mistress. In they all came, one after another;
some shyly, some boldly, some gracefully, some awkwardly,
some pushing, some pulling; in they all came, anyhow and everyhow.
Away they all went, twenty couple at once; hands half round
and back again the other way; down the middle and up again;
round and round in various stages of affectionate grouping;
old top couple always turning up in the wrong place; new top
couple starting off again, as soon as they got there; all
top couples at last, and not a bottom one to help them. When
this result was brought about, old Fezziwig, clapping his
hands to stop the dance, cried out,' Well done.' and the fiddler
plunged his hot face into a pot of porter, especially provided
for that purpose. But scorning rest, upon his reappearance,
he instantly began again, though there were no dancers yet,
as if the other fiddler had been carried home, exhausted,
on a shutter, and he were a bran-new man resolved to beat
him out of sight, or perish.
There were more dances, and there were forfeits, and more
dances, and there was cake, and there was negus, and there
was a great piece of Cold Roast, and there was a great piece
of Cold Boiled, and there were mince-pies, and plenty of beer.
But the great effect of the evening came after the Roast and
Boiled, when the fiddler (an artful dog, mind. The sort of
man who knew his business better than you or I could have
told it him.) struck up Sir Roger de Coverley.' Then old Fezziwig
stood out to dance with Mrs Fezziwig. Top couple, too; with
a good stiff piece of work cut out for them; three or four
and twenty pair of partners; people who were not to be trifled
with; people who would dance, and had no notion of walking.
But if they had been twice as many -- ah, four times -- old
Fezziwig would have been a match for them, and so would Mrs
Fezziwig. As to her, she was worthy to be his partner in every
sense of the term. If that's not high praise, tell me higher,
and I'll use it. A positive light appeared to issue from Fezziwig's
calves. They shone in every part of the dance like moons.
You couldn't have predicted, at any given time, what would
have become of them next. And when old Fezziwig and Mrs Fezziwig
had gone all through the dance; advance and retire, both hands
to your partner, bow and curtsey, corkscrew, thread-the-needle,
and back again to your place; Fezziwig cut -- cut so deftly,
that he appeared to wink with his legs, and came upon his
feet again without a stagger.
When the clock struck eleven, this domestic ball broke up.
Mr and Mrs Fezziwig took their stations, one on either side
of the door, and shaking hands with every person individually
as he or she went out, wished him or her a Merry Christmas.
When everybody had retired but the two prentices, they did
the same to them; and thus the cheerful voices died away,
and the lads were left to their beds; which were under a counter
in the back-shop.
During the whole of this time, Scrooge had acted like a man
out of his wits. His heart and soul were in the scene, and
with his former self. He corroborated everything, remembered
everything, enjoyed everything, and underwent the strangest
agitation. It was not until now, when the bright faces of
his former self and Dick were turned from them, that he remembered
the Ghost, and became conscious that it was looking full upon
him, while the light upon its head burnt very clear.
`A small matter,' said the Ghost,' to make these silly folks
so full of gratitude.'
`Small.' echoed Scrooge.
The Spirit signed to him to listen to the two apprentices,
who were pouring out their hearts in praise of Fezziwig: and
when he had done so, said,
`Why. Is it not. He has spent but a few pounds of your mortal
money: three or four perhaps. Is that so much that he deserves
`It isn't that,' said Scrooge, heated by the remark, and
speaking unconsciously like his former, not his latter, self.
`It isn't that, Spirit. He has the power to render us happy
or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure
or a toil. Say that his power lies in words and looks; in
things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to
add and count them up: what then. The happiness he gives,
is quite as great as if it cost a fortune.'
He felt the Spirit's glance, and stopped.
`What is the matter.' asked the Ghost.
`Nothing in particular,' said Scrooge.
`Something, I think.' the Ghost insisted.
`No,' said Scrooge,' No. I should like to be able to say
a word or two to my clerk just now. That's all.'
His former self turned down the lamps as he gave utterance
to the wish; and Scrooge and the Ghost again stood side by
side in the open air.
`My time grows short,' observed the Spirit. `Quick.'
This was not addressed to Scrooge, or to any one whom he
could see, but it produced an immediate effect. For again
Scrooge saw himself. He was older now; a man in the prime
of life. His face had not the harsh and rigid lines of later
years; but it had begun to wear the signs of care and avarice.
There was an eager, greedy, restless motion in the eye, which
showed the passion that had taken root, and where the shadow
of the growing tree would fall.
He was not alone, but sat by the side of a fair young girl
in a mourning-dress: in whose eyes there were tears, which
sparkled in the light that shone out of the Ghost of Christmas
`It matters little,' she said, softly. `To you, very little.
Another idol has displaced me; and if it can cheer and comfort
you in time to come, as I would have tried to do, I have no
just cause to grieve.'
`What Idol has displaced you.' he rejoined.
`A golden one.'
`This is the even-handed dealing of the world.' he said.
`There is nothing on which it is so hard as poverty; and there
is nothing it professes to condemn with such severity as the
pursuit of wealth.'
`You fear the world too much,' she answered, gently. `All
your other hopes have merged into the hope of being beyond
the chance of its sordid reproach. I have seen your nobler
aspirations fall off one by one, until the master-passion,
Gain, engrosses you. Have I not.'
`What then.' he retorted. `Even if I have grown so much wiser,
what then. I am not changed towards you.'
She shook her head.
`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
`Have I ever sought release.'
`In words. No. Never.'
`In what, then.'
`In a changed nature; in an altered spirit; in another atmosphere
of life; another Hope as its great end. In everything that
made my love of any worth or value in your sight. If this
had never been between us,' said the girl, looking mildly,
but with steadiness, upon him;' tell me, would you seek me
out and try to win me now. Ah, no.'
He seemed to yield to the justice of this supposition, in
spite of himself. But he said with a struggle,' You think
`I would gladly think otherwise if I could,' she answered,
`Heaven knows. When I have learned a Truth like this, I know
how strong and irresistible it must be. But if you were free
to-day, to-morrow, yesterday, can even I believe that you
would choose a dowerless girl -- you who, in your very confidence
with her, weigh everything by Gain: or, choosing her, if for
a moment you were false enough to your one guiding principle
to do so, do I not know that your repentance and regret would
surely follow. I do; and I release you. With a full heart,
for the love of him you once were.'
He was about to speak; but with her head turned from him,
`You may -- the memory of what is past half makes me hope
you will -- have pain in this. A very, very brief time, and
you will dismiss the recollection of it, gladly, as an unprofitable
dream, from which it happened well that you awoke. May you
be happy in the life you have chosen.'
She left him, and they parted.
`Spirit.' said Scrooge,' show me no more. Conduct me home.
Why do you delight to torture me.'
`One shadow more.' exclaimed the Ghost.
`No more.' cried Scrooge. `No more, I don't wish to see it.
Show me no more.'
But the relentless Ghost pinioned him in both his arms, and
forced him to observe what happened next.
They were in another scene and place; a room, not very large
or handsome, but full of comfort. Near to the winter fire
sat a beautiful young girl, so like that last that Scrooge
believed it was the same, until he saw her, now a comely matron,
sitting opposite her daughter. The noise in this room was
perfectly tumultuous, for there were more children there,
than Scrooge in his agitated state of mind could count; and,
unlike the celebrated herd in the poem, they were not forty
children conducting themselves like one, but every child was
conducting itself like forty. The consequences were uproarious
beyond belief; but no one seemed to care; on the contrary,
the mother and daughter laughed heartily, and enjoyed it very
much; and the latter, soon beginning to mingle in the sports,
got pillaged by the young brigands most ruthlessly. What would
I not have given to one of them. Though I never could have
been so rude, no, no. I wouldn't for the wealth of all the
world have crushed that braided hair, and torn it down; and
for the precious little shoe, I wouldn't have plucked it off,
God bless my soul. to save my life. As to measuring her waist
in sport, as they did, bold young brood, I couldn't have done
it; I should have expected my arm to have grown round it for
a punishment, and never come straight again. And yet I should
have dearly liked, I own, to have touched her lips; to have
questioned her, that she might have opened them; to have looked
upon the lashes of her downcast eyes, and never raised a blush;
to have let loose waves of hair, an inch of which would be
a keepsake beyond price: in short, I should have liked, I
do confess, to have had the lightest licence of a child, and
yet to have been man enough to know its value.
But now a knocking at the door was heard, and such a rush
immediately ensued that she with laughing face and plundered
dress was borne towards it the centre of a flushed and boisterous
group, just in time to greet the father, who came home attended
by a man laden with Christmas toys and presents. Then the
shouting and the struggling, and the onslaught that was made
on the defenceless porter. The scaling him with chairs for
ladders to dive into his pockets, despoil him of brown-paper
parcels, hold on tight by his cravat, hug him round his neck,
pommel his back, and kick his legs in irrepressible affection.
The shouts of wonder and delight with which the development
of every package was received. The terrible announcement that
the baby had been taken in the act of putting a doll's frying-pan
into his mouth, and was more than suspected of having swallowed
a fictitious turkey, glued on a wooden platter. The immense
relief of finding this a false alarm. The joy, and gratitude,
and ecstasy. They are all indescribable alike. It is enough
that by degrees the children and their emotions got out of
the parlour, and by one stair at a time, up to the top of
the house; where they went to bed, and so subsided.
And now Scrooge looked on more attentively than ever, when
the master of the house, having his daughter leaning fondly
on him, sat down with her and her mother at his own fireside;
and when he thought that such another creature, quite as graceful
and as full of promise, might have called him father, and
been a spring-time in the haggard winter of his life, his
sight grew very dim indeed.
`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
`I told you these were shadows of the things that have been,'
said the Ghost. `That they are what they are, do not blame
`Remove me.' Scrooge exclaimed,' I cannot bear it.'
He turned upon the Ghost, and seeing that it looked upon
him with a face, in which in some strange way there were fragments
of all the faces it had shown him, wrestled with it.
`Leave me. Take me back. Haunt me no longer.'
In the struggle, if that can be called a struggle in which
the Ghost with no visible resistance on its own part was undisturbed
by any effort of its adversary, Scrooge observed that its
light was burning high and bright; and dimly connecting that
with its influence over him, he seized the extinguisher-cap,
and by a sudden action pressed it down upon its head.
The Spirit dropped beneath it, so that the extinguisher covered
its whole form; but though Scrooge pressed it down with all
his force, he could not hide the light, which streamed from
under it, in an unbroken flood upon the ground.
He was conscious of being exhausted, and overcome by an irresistible
drowsiness; and, further, of being in his own bedroom. He
gave the cap a parting squeeze, in which his hand relaxed;
and had barely time to reel to bed, before he sank into a
Stave 3: The Second of the Three Spirits