“Let the charwoman alone to be the first!” cried she who
had entered first. “Let the laundress alone to be the second;
and let the undertaker’s man alone to be the third. Look
here, old Joe, here’s a chance! If we haven’t all three met
here without meaning it!”
“You couldn’t have met in a better place,” said old Joe,
removing his pipe from his mouth. “Come into the parlour.
You were made free of it long ago, you know; and the other
two an’t strangers. Stop till I shut the door of the shop.
Ah! How it skreeks! There an’t such a rusty bit of metal
in the place as its own hinges, I believe; and I’m sure there’s
no such old bones here, as mine. Ha, ha! We’re all suitable
to our calling, we’re well matched. Come into the
parlour. Come into the parlour.”
The parlour was the space behind the screen of rags. The
old man raked the fire together with an old stair-rod, and
having trimmed his smoky lamp (for it was night), with the
stem of his pipe, put it in his mouth again.
While he did this, the woman who had already spoken
threw her bundle on the floor, and sat down in a flaunting
manner on a stool; crossing her elbows on her knees, and
looking with a bold defiance at the other two.
“What odds then! What odds, Mrs. Dilber?” said the
woman. “Every person has a right to take care of themselves.
He always did.”
“That’s true, indeed!” said the laundress. “No man
“Why then, don’t stand staring as if you was afraid,
woman; who’s the wiser? We’re not going to pick holes in
each other’s coats, I suppose?”
“No, indeed!” said Mrs. Dilber and the man together.
“We should hope not.”
“Very well, then!” cried the woman. “That’s enough.
Who’s the worse for the loss of a few things like these?
Not a dead man, I suppose.”
“No, indeed,” said Mrs. Dilber, laughing.
“If he wanted to keep ‘em after he was dead, a wicked old
screw,” pursued the woman, “why wasn’t he natural in his
lifetime? If he had been, he’d have had somebody to look
after him when he was struck with Death, instead of lying
gasping out his last there, alone by himself.”
“It’s the truest word that ever was spoke,” said Mrs.
Dilber. “It’s a judgment on him.”
“I wish it was a little heavier judgment,” replied the
woman; “and it should have been, you may depend upon it,
if I could have laid my hands on anything else. Open that
bundle, old Joe, and let me know the value of it. Speak out
plain. I’m not afraid to be the first, nor afraid for them to
see it. We know pretty well that we were helping ourselves,
before we met here, I believe. It’s no sin. Open the bundle,
But the gallantry of her friends would not allow of this;
and the man in faded black, mounting the breach first,
produced his plunder. It was not extensive. A seal or two,
a pencil-case, a pair of sleeve-buttons, and a brooch of no
great value, were all. They were severally examined and
appraised by old Joe, who chalked the sums he was disposed
to give for each, upon the wall, and added them up into a
total when he found there was nothing more to come.
“That’s your account,” said Joe, “and I wouldn’t give
another sixpence, if I was to be boiled for not doing it.
Mrs. Dilber was next. Sheets and towels, a little wearing
apparel, two old-fashioned silver teaspoons, a pair of
sugar-tongs, and a few boots. Her account was stated on the wall
in the same manner.
“I always give too much to ladies. It’s a weakness of mine,
and that’s the way I ruin myself,” said old Joe. “That’s
your account. If you asked me for another penny, and made
it an open question, I’d repent of being so liberal and knock
“And now undo my bundle, Joe,” said the first woman.
Joe went down on his knees for the greater convenience
of opening it, and having unfastened a great many knots,
dragged out a large and heavy roll of some dark stuff.
“What do you call this?” said Joe. “Bed-curtains!”
“Ah!” returned the woman, laughing and leaning forward
on her crossed arms. “Bed-curtains!”
“You don’t mean to say you took ‘em down, rings and
all, with him lying there?” said Joe.
“Yes I do,” replied the woman. “Why not?”
“You were born to make your fortune,” said Joe, “and
you’ll certainly do it.”
“I certainly shan’t hold my hand, when I can get anything
in it by reaching it out, for the sake of such a man as He
was, I promise you, Joe,” returned the woman coolly. “Don’t
drop that oil upon the blankets, now.”
“His blankets?” asked Joe.
“Whose else’s do you think?” replied the woman. “He
isn’t likely to take cold without ‘em, I dare say.”
“I hope he didn’t die of anything catching? Eh?” said
old Joe, stopping in his work, and looking up.
“Don’t you be afraid of that,” returned the woman. “I
an’t so fond of his company that I’d loiter about him for
such things, if he did. Ah! you may look through that
shirt till your eyes ache; but you won’t find a hole in it, nor
a threadbare place. It’s the best he had, and a fine one too.
They’d have wasted it, if it hadn’t been for me.”
“What do you call wasting of it?” asked old Joe.
“Putting it on him to be buried in, to be sure,” replied
the woman with a laugh. “Somebody was fool enough to
do it, but I took it off again. If calico an’t good enough for
such a purpose, it isn’t good enough for anything. It’s quite
as becoming to the body. He can’t look uglier than he did
in that one.”
Scrooge listened to this dialogue in horror. As they sat
grouped about their spoil, in the scanty light afforded by
the old man’s lamp, he viewed them with a detestation and
disgust, which could hardly have been greater, though they
had been obscene demons, marketing the corpse itself.
“Ha, ha!” laughed the same woman, when old Joe,
producing a flannel bag with money in it, told out their
several gains upon the ground. “This is the end of it, you
see! He frightened every one away from him when he was
alive, to profit us when he was dead! Ha, ha, ha!”
“Spirit!” said Scrooge, shuddering from head to foot. “I
see, I see. The case of this unhappy man might be my own.
My life tends that way, now. Merciful Heaven, what is
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
The room was very dark, too dark to be observed with
any accuracy, though Scrooge glanced round it in obedience
to a secret impulse, anxious to know what kind of room it
was. A pale light, rising in the outer air, fell straight upon
the bed; and on it, plundered and bereft, unwatched, unwept,
uncared for, was the body of this man.
Scrooge glanced towards the Phantom. Its steady hand
was pointed to the head. The cover was so carelessly adjusted
that the slightest raising of it, the motion of a finger upon
Scrooge’s part, would have disclosed the face. He thought
of it, felt how easy it would be to do, and longed to do it;
but had no more power to withdraw the veil than to dismiss
the spectre at his side.
Oh cold, cold, rigid, dreadful Death, set up thine altar
here, and dress it with such terrors as thou hast at thy
command: for this is thy dominion! But of the loved,
revered, and honoured head, thou canst not turn one hair
to thy dread purposes, or make one feature odious. It is
not that the hand is heavy and will fall down when released;
it is not that the heart and pulse are still; but that the
hand WAS open, generous, and true; the heart brave, warm,
and tender; and the pulse a man’s. Strike, Shadow, strike!
And see his good deeds springing from the wound, to sow
the world with life immortal!
No voice pronounced these words in Scrooge’s ears, and
yet he heard them when he looked upon the bed. He
thought, if this man could be raised up now, what would be
his foremost thoughts? Avarice, hard-dealing, griping cares?
They have brought him to a rich end, truly!
He lay, in the dark empty house, with not a man, a
woman, or a child, to say that he was kind to me in this
or that, and for the memory of one kind word I will be
kind to him. A cat was tearing at the door, and there was
a sound of gnawing rats beneath the hearth-stone. What
they wanted in the room of death, and why they were so
restless and disturbed, Scrooge did not dare to think.
“Spirit!” he said, “this is a fearful place. In leaving it,
I shall not leave its lesson, trust me. Let us go!”
Still the Ghost pointed with an unmoved finger to the
“I understand you,” Scrooge returned, “and I would do
it, if I could. But I have not the power, Spirit. I have
not the power.”
Again it seemed to look upon him.
“If there is any person in the town, who feels emotion
caused by this man’s death,” said Scrooge quite agonised,
“show that person to me, Spirit, I beseech you!”
The Phantom spread its dark robe before him for a
moment, like a wing; and withdrawing it, revealed a room
by daylight, where a mother and her children were.
She was expecting some one, and with anxious eagerness;
for she walked up and down the room; started at every
sound; looked out from the window; glanced at the clock;
tried, but in vain, to work with her needle; and could hardly
bear the voices of the children in their play.
At length the long-expected knock was heard. She hurried
to the door, and met her husband; a man whose face was
careworn and depressed, though he was young. There was
a remarkable expression in it now; a kind of serious delight
of which he felt ashamed, and which he struggled to repress.
He sat down to the dinner that had been hoarding for
him by the fire; and when she asked him faintly what news
(which was not until after a long silence), he appeared
embarrassed how to answer.
“Is it good?” she said, “or bad?”–to help him.
“Bad,” he answered.
“We are quite ruined?”
“No. There is hope yet, Caroline.”
“If he relents,” she said, amazed, “there is! Nothing is
past hope, if such a miracle has happened.”
“He is past relenting,” said her husband. “He is dead.”
She was a mild and patient creature if her face spoke
truth; but she was thankful in her soul to hear it, and she
said so, with clasped hands. She prayed forgiveness the next
moment, and was sorry; but the first was the emotion of
“What the half-drunken woman whom I told you of last
night, said to me, when I tried to see him and obtain a
week’s delay; and what I thought was a mere excuse to avoid
me; turns out to have been quite true. He was not only
very ill, but dying, then.”
“To whom will our debt be transferred?”
“I don’t know. But before that time we shall be ready
with the money; and even though we were not, it would be
a bad fortune indeed to find so merciless a creditor in his
successor. We may sleep to-night with light hearts, Caroline!”
Yes. Soften it as they would, their hearts were lighter.
The children’s faces, hushed and clustered round to hear what
they so little understood, were brighter; and it was a happier
house for this man’s death! The only emotion that the
Ghost could show him, caused by the event, was one of
“Let me see some tenderness connected with a death,” said
Scrooge; “or that dark chamber, Spirit, which we left just
now, will be for ever present to me.”
The Ghost conducted him through several streets familiar
to his feet; and as they went along, Scrooge looked here and
there to find himself, but nowhere was he to be seen. They
entered poor Bob Cratchit’s house; the dwelling he had
visited before; and found the mother and the children seated
round the fire.
Quiet. Very quiet. The noisy little Cratchits were as
still as statues in one corner, and sat looking up at Peter,
who had a book before him. The mother and her daughters
were engaged in sewing. But surely they were very quiet!
“‘And He took a child, and set him in the midst of
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
The mother laid her work upon the table, and put her
hand up to her face.
“The colour hurts my eyes,” she said.
The colour? Ah, poor Tiny Tim!
“They’re better now again,” said Cratchit’s wife. “It
makes them 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 has walked a little slower than he used,
these few last evenings, mother.”
They were very quiet again. At last she said, and in a
steady, cheerful voice, that only faltered once:
“I have known him walk with–I have known him walk
with Tiny Tim upon his shoulder, very fast indeed.”
“And so have I,” cried Peter. “Often.”
“And so have I,” exclaimed another. So had all.
“But he was very light to carry,” she resumed, intent upon
her work, “and his father loved him so, that it was no
trouble: no trouble. And there is your father at the door!”
She hurried out to meet him; and little Bob in his comforter
–he had need of it, poor fellow–came in. His tea
was ready for him on the hob, and they all tried who should
help him to it most. Then the two young Cratchits got
upon his knees and laid, each child a little cheek, against
his face, as if they said, “Don’t mind it, father. Don’t be
Bob was very cheerful with them, and spoke pleasantly to
all the family. He looked at the work upon the table, and
praised the industry and speed of Mrs. Cratchit and the girls.
They would be done long before Sunday, he said.
“Sunday! You went to-day, then, Robert?” said his
“Yes, my dear,” returned Bob. “I wish you could have
gone. It would have done you good to see how green a
place it is. But you’ll see it often. I promised him that I
would walk there on a Sunday. My little, little child!”
cried Bob. “My little child!”
He broke down all at once. He couldn’t help it. If he
could have helped it, he and his child would have been farther
apart perhaps than they were.
He left the room, and went up-stairs into the room above,
which was lighted cheerfully, and hung with Christmas.
There was a chair set close beside the child, and there were
signs of some one having been there, lately. Poor Bob sat
down in it, and when he had thought a little and composed
himself, he kissed the little face. He was reconciled to what
had happened, and went down again quite happy.
They drew about the fire, and talked; the girls and mother
working still. Bob told them of the extraordinary kindness
of Mr. Scrooge’s nephew, whom he had scarcely seen but
once, and who, meeting him in the street that day, and 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 heard, I told him. ‘I am heartily sorry for it, Mr.
Cratchit,’ he said, ‘and heartily sorry for your good wife.’
By the bye, how he ever knew that, I don’t know.”
“Knew what, my dear?”
“Why, that you were a good wife,” replied Bob.
“Everybody knows that!” said Peter.
“Very well observed, my boy!” cried Bob. “I hope they
do. ‘Heartily sorry,’ he said, ‘for your good wife. If I
can be of service to you in any way,’ he said, giving me
his card, ‘that’s where I live. Pray come to me.’ Now, it
wasn’t,” cried Bob, “for the sake of anything he might be
able to do for us, so much as for his kind way, that this was
quite delightful. It really seemed as if he had known our
Tiny Tim, and felt with us.”
“I’m sure he’s a good soul!” said Mrs. Cratchit.
“You would be surer of it, my dear,” returned Bob, “if
you saw and spoke to him. I shouldn’t be at all surprised–
mark what I say!–if he got Peter a better situation.”
“Only hear that, Peter,” said Mrs. Cratchit.
“And then,” cried one of the girls, “Peter will be keeping
company with some one, and setting up for himself.”
“Get along with you!” retorted Peter, grinning.
“It’s just as likely as not,” said Bob, “one of these days;
though there’s plenty of time for that, my dear. But however
and whenever we part from one another, I am sure we
shall none of us forget poor Tiny Tim–shall we–or this
first parting that there was among us?”
“Never, father!” cried they all.
“And I know,” said Bob, “I know, my dears, that when
we recollect how patient and how mild he was; although he
was a little, little child; we shall not quarrel easily among
ourselves, and forget poor Tiny Tim in doing it.”
“No, never, father!” they all cried again.
“I am very happy,” said little Bob, “I am very happy!”
Mrs. Cratchit kissed him, his daughters kissed him, the
two young Cratchits kissed him, and Peter and himself shook
hands. Spirit of Tiny Tim, thy childish essence was from
“Spectre,” said Scrooge, “something informs me that our
parting moment is at hand. I know it, but I know not
how. Tell me what man that was whom we saw lying dead?”
The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come conveyed him, as
before–though at a different time, he thought: indeed, there
seemed no order in these latter visions, save that they were
in the Future–into the resorts of business men, but showed
him not himself. Indeed, the Spirit did not stay for anything,
but went straight on, as to the end just now desired,
until besought by Scrooge to tarry for a moment.
“This court,” said Scrooge, “through which we hurry now,
is where my place of occupation is, and has been for a length
of time. I see the house. Let me behold what I shall be,
in days to come!”
The Spirit stopped; the hand was pointed elsewhere.
“The house is yonder,” Scrooge exclaimed. “Why do you
The inexorable finger underwent no change.
Scrooge hastened to the window of his office, and looked
in. It was an office still, but not his. The furniture was
not the same, and the figure in the chair was not himself.
The Phantom pointed as before.
He joined it once again, and wondering why and whither
he had gone, accompanied it until they reached an iron gate.
He paused to look round before entering.
A churchyard. Here, then; the wretched man whose name
he had now to learn, lay underneath the ground. It was a
worthy place. Walled in by houses; overrun by grass and
weeds, the growth of vegetation’s death, not life; choked up
with too much burying; fat with repleted appetite. A
The Spirit stood among the graves, and pointed down to
One. He advanced towards it trembling. The Phantom was
exactly as it had been, but he dreaded that he saw new
meaning in its solemn shape.
“Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point,”
said Scrooge, “answer me one question. Are these the
shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of
things that May be, only?”
Still the Ghost pointed downward to the grave by which
“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
The finger pointed from the grave to him, and back again.
“No, Spirit! Oh no, no!”
The finger still was there.
“Spirit!” he cried, tight clutching at its robe, “hear me!
I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I must
have been but for this intercourse. Why show me this, if I
am past all hope!”
For the first time the hand appeared to shake.
“Good Spirit,” he pursued, as down upon the ground he
fell before it: “Your nature intercedes for me, and pities
me. Assure me that I yet may change these shadows you
have shown me, by an altered life!”
The kind hand trembled.
“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it
all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the
Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I
will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I
may sponge away the writing on this stone!”
In his agony, he caught the spectral hand. It sought to
free itself, but he was strong in his entreaty, and detained it.
The Spirit, stronger yet, repulsed him.
Holding up his hands in a 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.
STAVE V: THE END OF IT
YES! and the bedpost was his own. The bed was his own,
the room was his own. Best and happiest of all, the Time
before him was his own, to make amends in!
“I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!”
Scrooge repeated, as he scrambled out of bed. “The Spirits
of all Three shall strive within me. Oh Jacob Marley!
Heaven, and the Christmas Time be praised for this! I say
it on my knees, old Jacob; on my knees!”
He was so fluttered and so glowing with his good intentions,
that his broken voice would scarcely answer to his
call. He had been sobbing violently in his conflict with the
Spirit, and his face was wet with tears.
“They are not torn down,” cried Scrooge, folding one of
his bed-curtains in his arms, “they are not torn down, rings
and all. They are here–I am here–the shadows of the
things that would have been, may be dispelled. They will
be. I know they will!”
His hands were busy with his garments all this time;
turning them inside out, putting them on upside down,
tearing them, mislaying them, making them parties to every
kind of extravagance.
“I don’t know what to do!” cried Scrooge, laughing and
crying in the same breath; and making a perfect Laocoön of
himself with his stockings. “I am as light as a feather, I
am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I
am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to
everybody! A happy New Year to all the world. Hallo
here! Whoop! Hallo!”
He had frisked into the sitting-room, and was now standing
there: perfectly winded.
“There’s the saucepan that the gruel was in!” cried
Scrooge, starting off again, and going round the fireplace.
“There’s the door, by which the Ghost of Jacob Marley
entered! There’s the corner where the Ghost of Christmas
Present, sat! There’s the window where I saw the wandering
Spirits! It’s all right, it’s all true, it all happened.
Ha ha ha!”
Really, for a man who had been out of practice for so
many years, it was a splendid laugh, a most illustrious laugh.
The father of a long, long line of brilliant laughs!
“I don’t know what day of the month it is!” said
Scrooge. “I don’t know how long I’ve been among the
Spirits. I don’t know anything. I’m quite a baby. Never
mind. I don’t care. I’d rather be a baby. Hallo! Whoop!
He was checked in his transports by the churches ringing
out the lustiest peals he had ever heard. Clash, clang,
hammer; ding, dong, bell. Bell, dong, ding; hammer, clang,
clash! Oh, glorious, glorious!
Running to the window, he opened it, and put out his
head. No fog, no mist; clear, bright, jovial, stirring, cold;
cold, piping for the blood to dance to; Golden sunlight;
Heavenly sky; sweet fresh air; merry bells. Oh, glorious!
“What’s to-day!” cried Scrooge, calling downward to a
boy in Sunday clothes, who perhaps had loitered in to look
“EH?” returned the boy, with all his might of wonder.
“What’s to-day, my fine fellow?” said Scrooge.
“To-day!” replied the boy. “Why, CHRISTMAS DAY.”
“It’s Christmas Day!” said Scrooge to himself. “I
haven’t missed it. The Spirits have done it all in one night.
They can do anything they like. Of course they can. Of
course they can. Hallo, my fine fellow!”
“Hallo!” returned the boy.
“Do you know the Poulterer’s, in the next street but one,
at the corner?” Scrooge inquired.
“I should hope I did,” replied the lad.
“An intelligent boy!” said Scrooge. “A remarkable boy!
Do you know whether they’ve sold the prize Turkey that
was hanging up there?–Not the little prize Turkey: the
“What, the one as big as me?” returned the boy.
“What a delightful boy!” said Scrooge. “It’s a pleasure
to talk to him. Yes, my buck!”
“It’s hanging there now,” replied the boy.
“Is it?” said Scrooge. “Go and buy it.”
“Walk-ER!” exclaimed the boy.
“No, no,” said Scrooge, “I am in earnest. Go and buy
it, and tell ‘em to bring it here, that I may give them the
direction where to take it. Come back with the man, and
I’ll give you a shilling. Come back with him in less than
five minutes and I’ll give you half-a-crown!”
The boy was off like a shot. He must have had a steady
hand at a trigger who could have got a shot off half so fast.
“I’ll send it to Bob Cratchit’s!” whispered Scrooge,
rubbing his hands, and splitting with a laugh. “He sha’n’t
know who sends it. It’s twice the size of Tiny Tim. Joe
Miller never made such a joke as sending it to Bob’s
The hand in which he wrote the address was not a steady
one, but write it he did, somehow, and went down-stairs to
open the street door, ready for the coming of the poulterer’s
man. As he stood there, waiting his arrival, the knocker
caught his eye.
“I shall love it, as long as I live!” cried Scrooge, patting
it with his hand. “I scarcely ever looked at it before.
What an honest expression it has in its face! It’s a
wonderful knocker!–Here’s the Turkey! Hallo! Whoop!
How are you! Merry Christmas!”
It was a Turkey! He never could have stood upon his
legs, that bird. He would have snapped ‘em short off in a
minute, like sticks of sealing-wax.
“Why, it’s impossible to carry that to Camden Town,”
said Scrooge. “You must have a cab.”
The chuckle with which he said this, and the chuckle with
which he paid for the Turkey, and the chuckle with which
he paid for the cab, and the chuckle with which he recompensed
the boy, were only to be exceeded by the chuckle
with which he sat down breathless in his chair again, and
chuckled till he cried.
Shaving was not an easy task, for his hand continued to
shake very much; and shaving requires attention, even when
you don’t dance while you are at it. But if he had cut the
end of his nose off, he would have put a piece of
sticking-plaister over it, and been quite satisfied.
He dressed himself “all in his best,” and at last got out
into the streets. The people were by this time pouring forth,
as he had seen them with the Ghost of Christmas Present;
and walking with his hands behind him, Scrooge regarded
every one with a delighted smile. He looked so irresistibly
pleasant, in a word, that three or four good-humoured fellows
said, “Good morning, sir! A merry Christmas to you!”
And Scrooge said often afterwards, that of all the blithe
sounds he had ever heard, those were the blithest in his ears.
He had not gone far, when coming on towards him he
beheld the portly gentleman, who had walked into his
counting-house the day before, and said, “Scrooge and Marley’s, I
believe?” It sent a pang across his heart to think how this
old gentleman would look upon him when they met; but he
knew what path lay straight before him, and he took it.
“My dear sir,” said Scrooge, quickening his pace, and
taking the old gentleman by both his hands. “How do you
do? I hope you succeeded yesterday. It was very kind of
you. A merry Christmas to you, sir!”
“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
“Lord bless me!” cried the gentleman, as if his breath
were taken away. “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 favour?”
“My dear sir,” said the other, shaking hands with him.
“I don’t know what to say to such munifi–”
“Don’t say anything, please,” retorted Scrooge. “Come
and see me. Will you come and see me?”
“I will!” cried the old gentleman. And it was clear he
meant to do it.
“Thank’ee,” said Scrooge. “I am much obliged to you.
I thank you fifty times. Bless you!”
He went to church, and walked about the streets, and
watched the people hurrying to and fro, and patted children
on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into
the kitchens of houses, and up to the windows, and found
that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never
dreamed that any walk–that anything–could give him so
much happiness. In the afternoon he turned his steps
towards his nephew’s house.
He passed the door a dozen times, before he had the
courage to go up and knock. But he made a dash, and
“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, my dear.”
He turned it gently, and sidled his face in, round the door.
They were looking at the table (which was spread out in
great array); for these young housekeepers are always nervous
on such points, and like to see that everything is right.
“Fred!” said Scrooge.
Dear heart alive, how his niece by marriage started!
Scrooge had forgotten, for the moment, about her sitting
in the corner with the footstool, or he wouldn’t have done
it, on any account.
“Why bless my soul!” cried Fred, “who’s that?”
“It’s I. Your uncle Scrooge. I have come to dinner.
Will you let me in, Fred?”
Let him in! It is a mercy he didn’t shake his arm off.
He was at home in five minutes. Nothing could be heartier.
His niece looked just the same. So did Topper when he
came. So did the plump sister when she came. So did
every one when they came. Wonderful party, wonderful
games, wonderful unanimity, won-der-ful happiness!
But he was early at the office next morning. Oh, he was
early there. If he could only be there first, and catch Bob
Cratchit coming late! That was the thing he had set his
And he did it; yes, he did! The clock struck nine. No
Bob. A quarter past. No Bob. He was full eighteen
minutes and a half behind his time. Scrooge sat with his
door wide open, that he might see him come into the Tank.
His hat was off, before he opened the door; his comforter
too. He was on his stool in a jiffy; driving away with his
pen, as if he were trying to overtake nine o’clock.
“Hallo!” growled Scrooge, in his accustomed voice, as
near as he could feign it. “What do you mean by coming
here at this time of day?”
“I am very sorry, sir,” said Bob. “I am behind my time.”
“You are?” repeated Scrooge. “Yes. I think you are.
Step this way, sir, if you please.”
“It’s only once a year, sir,” pleaded Bob, appearing from
the Tank. “It shall not be repeated. I was making rather
merry yesterday, sir.”
“Now, I’ll tell you what, my friend,” said Scrooge, “I
am not going to stand this sort of thing any longer. And
therefore,” he continued, leaping from his stool, and giving
Bob such a dig in the waistcoat that he staggered back into
the Tank again; “and therefore I am about to raise your
Bob trembled, and got a little nearer to the ruler. He
had a momentary idea of knocking Scrooge down with it,
holding him, and calling to the people in the court for help
and a strait-waistcoat.
“A merry Christmas, Bob!” said Scrooge, with an earnestness
that could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the
back. “A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I
have given you, for many a year! I’ll raise your salary, and
endeavour to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss
your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of
smoking bishop, Bob! Make up the fires, and buy another
coal-scuttle before you dot another i, Bob Cratchit!”
Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and
infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did NOT die, he was
a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a
master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or
any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old
world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him,
but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was
wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this
globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill
of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these
would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they
should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in
less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was
quite enough for him.
He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon
the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was
always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas
well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that
be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim
observed, God bless Us, Every One!