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.
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.
touched the spring of his repeater, to correct this most preposterous
clock. Its rapid little pulse beat twelve: and stopped.
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.'
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 drawn.
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.
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
this, though, when Scrooge looked at it with increasing steadiness,
was not its strangest quality. For as its belt sparkled and glittered
now in one part and now in another, and what was light one instant,
at another time was dark, so the figure itself fluctuated in its
distinctness: being now a thing with one arm, now with one leg,
now with twenty legs, now a pair of legs without a head, now a head
without a body: of which dissolving parts, no outline would be visible
in the dense gloom wherein they melted away. And in the very wonder
of this, it would be itself again; distinct and clear as ever.
you the Spirit, sir, whose coming was foretold to me.' asked Scrooge.
voice was soft and gentle. Singularly low, as if instead of being
so close beside him, it were at a distance.
and what are you.' Scrooge demanded.
am the Ghost of Christmas Past.'
Past.' inquired Scrooge: observant of its dwarfish stature.
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.
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.'
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.
welfare.' said the Ghost.
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:
reclamation, then. Take heed.'
put out its strong hand as it spoke, and clasped him gently by the
and walk with me.'
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.
am mortal,' Scrooge remonstrated, `and liable to fall.'
but a touch of my hand there,' said the Spirit, laying it upon his
heart,' and you shall be upheld in more than this.'
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.
Heaven!' said Scrooge, clasping his hands together, as he looked
about him. `I was bred in this place. I was a boy here.'
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.
lip is trembling,' said the Ghost. `And what is that upon your cheek.'
muttered, with an unusual catching in his voice, that it was a pimple;
and begged the Ghost to lead him where he would.
recollect the way.' inquired the Spirit.
it.' cried Scrooge with fervour; `I could walk it blindfold.'
to have forgotten it for so many years.' observed the Ghost. `Let
us go on.'
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.
are but shadows of the things that have been,' said the Ghost. `They
have no consciousness of us.'
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.
school is not quite deserted,' said the Ghost. `A solitary child,
neglected by his friends, is left there still.'
said he knew it. And he sobbed.
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.
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.
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
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
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.'
hear Scrooge expending all the earnestness of his nature on such
subjects, in a most extraordinary voice between laughing and crying;
and to see his heightened and excited face; would have been a surprise
to his business friends in the city, indeed.
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.'
with a rapidity of transition very foreign to his usual character,
he said, in pity for his former self, `Poor boy.' and cried again.
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
is the matter.' asked the Spirit.
said Scrooge. `Nothing. There was a boy singing a Christmas Carol
at my door last night. I should like to have given him something:
Ghost smiled thoughtfully, and waved its hand: saying as it did
so, `Let us see another Christmas.'
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.
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.
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.'
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,
little Fan.' returned the boy.
said the child, brimful of glee. `Home, for good and all. Home,
for ever and ever. Father is so much kinder than he used to be,
that home's like Heaven. He spoke so gently to me one dear night
when I was going to bed, that I was not afraid to ask him once more
if you might come home; and he said Yes, you should; and sent me
in a coach to bring you. And you're to be a man.' said the child,
opening her eyes,' and are never to come back here; but first, we're
to be together all the Christmas long, and have the merriest time
in all the world.'
are quite a woman, little Fan.' exclaimed the boy.
clapped her hands and laughed, and tried to touch his head; but
being too little, laughed again, and stood on tiptoe to embrace
him. Then she began to drag him, in her childish eagerness, towards
the door; and he, nothing loth to go, accompanied her.
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
a delicate creature, whom a breath might have withered,' said the
Ghost. `But she had a large heart.'
she had,' cried Scrooge. `You're right. I will not gainsay it, Spirit.
died a woman,' said the Ghost,' and had, as I think, children.'
child,' Scrooge returned.
said the Ghost. `Your nephew.'
seemed uneasy in his mind; and answered briefly, `Yes.'
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
Ghost stopped at a certain warehouse door, and asked Scrooge if
he knew it.
it.' said Scrooge. `Was I apprenticed here.'
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
it's old Fezziwig. Bless his heart; it's Fezziwig alive again.'
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,
ho, there. Ebenezer. Dick.'
former self, now grown a young man, came briskly in, accompanied
by his fellow-prentice.
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.
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
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.
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.'
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
small matter,' said the Ghost,' to make these silly folks so full
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,
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.'
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.'
felt the Spirit's glance, and stopped.
is the matter.' asked the Ghost.
in particular,' said Scrooge.
I think.' the Ghost insisted.
said Scrooge,' No. I should like to be able to say a word or two
to my clerk just now. That's all.'
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.
time grows short,' observed the Spirit. `Quick.'
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.
was not alone, but sat by the side of a fair young girl in a mourning-dress:
in whose eyes there were tears, which sparkled in the light that
shone out of the Ghost of Christmas Past.
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.'
Idol has displaced you.' he rejoined.
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.'
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.'
then.' he retorted. `Even if I have grown so much wiser, what then.
I am not changed towards you.'
shook her head.
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.'
was a boy,' he said impatiently.
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.'
I ever sought release.'
words. No. Never.'
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.
seemed to yield to the justice of this supposition, in spite of
himself. But he said with a struggle,' You think not.'
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.'
was about to speak; but with her head turned from him, she resumed.
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
left him, and they parted.
said Scrooge,' show me no more. Conduct me home. Why do you delight
to torture me.'
shadow more.' exclaimed the Ghost.
more.' cried Scrooge. `No more, I don't wish to see it. Show me
the relentless Ghost pinioned him in both his arms, and forced him
to observe what happened next.
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
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.
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.
said the husband, turning to his wife with a smile,' I saw an old
friend of yours this afternoon.'
can I. Tut, don't I know.' she added in the same breath, laughing
as he laughed. `Mr Scrooge.'
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.'
said Scrooge in a broken voice,' remove me from this place.'
told you these were shadows of the things that have been,' said
the Ghost. `That they are what they are, do not blame me.'
me.' Scrooge exclaimed,' I cannot bear it.'
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.
me. Take me back. Haunt me no longer.'
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.
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.
was conscious of being exhausted, and overcome by an irresistible
drowsiness; and, further, of being in his own bedroom. He gave the
cap a parting squeeze, in which his hand relaxed; and had barely
time to reel to bed, before he sank into a heavy sleep.