1: Marley's Ghost
Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about
that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the
clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it.
And Scrooge's name was good upon `Change, for anything he chose
to put his hand to.
Marley was as dead as a door-nail.
I don't mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there
is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined,
myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery
in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile;
and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country's done
for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that
Marley was as dead as a door-nail.
knew he was dead? Of course he did. How could it be otherwise? Scrooge
and he were partners for I don't know how many years. Scrooge was
his sole executor, his sole administrator, his sole assign, his
sole residuary legatee, his sole friend, and sole mourner. And even
Scrooge was not so dreadfully cut up by the sad event, but that
he was an excellent man of business on the very day of the funeral,
and solemnised it with an undoubted bargain The mention of Marley's
funeral brings me back to the point I started from. There is no
doubt that Marley was dead. This must be distinctly understood,
or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate.
If we were not perfectly convinced that Hamlet's Father died before
the play began, there would be nothing more remarkable in his taking
a stroll at night, in an easterly wind, upon his own ramparts, than
there would be in any other middle-aged gentleman rashly turning
out after dark in a breezy spot -- say Saint Paul's Churchyard for
instance -- literally to astonish his son's weak mind.
never painted out Old Marley's name. There it stood, years afterwards,
above the warehouse door: Scrooge and Marley. The firm was known
as Scrooge and Marley. Sometimes people new to the business called
Scrooge Scrooge, and sometimes Marley, but he answered to both names.
It was all the same to him.
But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grind- stone, Scrooge! a squeezing,
wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner!
Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out
generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.
The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose,
shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his
thin lips blue
spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his
head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own
low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the
dogdays; and didn't thaw it one degree at Christmas.
heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. No warmth could warm,
no wintry weather chill him. No wind that blew was bitterer than
he, no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, no pelting
rain less open to entreaty. Foul weather didn't know where to have
him. The heaviest rain, and snow, and hail, and sleet, could boast
of the advantage over him in only one respect. They often `came
down' handsomely, and Scrooge never did.
ever stopped him in the street to say, with gladsome looks, `My
dear Scrooge, how are you? When will you come to see me?' No beggars
implored him to bestow a trifle, no children asked him what it was
o'clock, no man or woman ever once in all his life inquired the
way to such and such a place, of Scrooge. Even the blind men's dogs
appeared to know him; and when they saw him coming on, would tug
their owners into doorways and up courts; and then would wag their
tails as though they said, `No eye at all is better than an evil
eye, dark master!'
what did Scrooge care! It was the very thing he liked. To edge his
way along the crowded paths of life, warning all human sympathy
to keep its distance, was what the knowing ones call `nuts' to Scrooge.
upon a time -- of all the good days in the year, on Christmas Eve
-- old Scrooge sat busy in his counting-house. It was cold, bleak,
biting weather: foggy withal: and he could hear the people in the
court outside, go wheezing up and down, beating their hands upon
their breasts, and stamping their feet upon the pavement stones
to warm them. The city clocks had only just gone three, but it was
quite dark already -- it had not been light all day -- and candles
were flaring in the windows of the neighbouring offices, like ruddy
smears upon the palpable brown air. The fog came pouring in at every
chink and keyhole, and was so dense without, that although the court
was of the narrowest, the houses opposite were mere phantoms. To
see the dingy cloud come drooping down, obscuring everything, one
might have thought that Nature lived hard by, and was brewing on
a large scale.
door of Scrooge's counting-house was open that he might keep his
eye upon his clerk, who in a dismal little cell beyond, a sort of
tank, was copying letters. Scrooge had a very small fire, but the
clerk's fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one coal.
But he couldn't replenish it, for Scrooge kept the coal-box in his
own room; and so surely as the clerk came in with the shovel, the
master predicted that it would be necessary for them to part. Wherefore
the clerk put on his white comforter, and tried to warm himself
at the candle; in which effort, not being a man of a strong imagination,
merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!' cried a cheerful voice. It
was the voice of Scrooge's nephew, who came upon him so quickly
that this was the first intimation he had of his approach.
said Scrooge, `Humbug!'
had so heated himself with rapid walking in the fog and frost, this
nephew of Scrooge's, that he was all in a glow; his face was ruddy
and handsome; his eyes sparkled, and his breath smoked again.
a humbug, uncle!' said Scrooge's nephew. `You don't mean that, I
do,' said Scrooge. `Merry Christmas! What right have you to be merry?
What reason have you to be merry? You're poor enough.'
then,' returned the nephew gaily. `What right have you to be dismal?
What reason have you to be morose? You're rich enough.'
having no better answer ready on the spur of the moment, said `Bah!'
again; and followed it up with `Humbug.'
be cross, uncle!' said the nephew.
else can I be,' returned the uncle, `when I live in such a world
of fools as this? Merry Christmas! Out upon merry Christmas! What's
Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money;
a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer;
a time for balancing your books and having every item in `em through
a round dozen of months presented dead against you? If I could work
my will,' said Scrooge indignantly, `every idiot who goes about
with "Merry Christmas" on his lips, should be boiled with
his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.
pleaded the nephew.
returned the uncle sternly, `keep Christmas in your own way, and
let me keep it in mine.'
it!' repeated Scrooge's nephew. `But you don't keep it.'
me leave it alone, then,' said Scrooge. `Much good may it do you!
Much good it has ever done you!'
are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I
have not profited, I dare say,' returned the nephew. `Christmas
among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas
time, when it has come round -- apart from the veneration due to
its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart
from that -- as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant
time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year,
when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts
freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were
fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures
bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never
put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has
done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!'
clerk in the Tank involuntarily applauded. Becoming immediately
sensible of the impropriety, he poked the fire, and extinguished
the last frail spark for ever.
me hear another sound from you,' said Scrooge, `and you'll keep
your Christmas by losing your situation! You're quite a powerful
speaker, sir,' he added, turning to his nephew. `I wonder you don't
go into Parliament.'
be angry, uncle. Come! Dine with us tomorrow.'
said that he would see him -- yes, indeed he did. He went the whole
length of the expression, and said that he would see him in that
why?' cried Scrooge's nephew. `Why?'
did you get married?' said Scrooge.
I fell in love.'
you fell in love!' growled Scrooge, as if that were the only one
thing in the world more ridiculous than a merry Christmas. `Good
uncle, but you never came to see me before that happened. Why give
it as a reason for not coming now?'
afternoon,' said Scrooge.
want nothing from you; I ask nothing of you; why cannot we be friends?'
afternoon,' said Scrooge.
am sorry, with all my heart, to find you so resolute. We have never
had any quarrel, to which I have been a party. But I have made the
trial in homage to Christmas, and I'll keep my Christmas humour
to the last. So A Merry Christmas, uncle!'
afternoon,' said Scrooge.
A Happy New Year!'
afternoon,' said Scrooge.
nephew left the room without an angry word, notwithstanding. He
stopped at the outer door to bestow the greetings of the season
on the clerk, who cold as he was, was warmer than Scrooge; for he
returned them cordially.
another fellow,' muttered Scrooge; who overheard him: `my clerk,
with fifteen shillings a week, and a wife and family, talking about
a merry Christmas. I'll retire to Bedlam.'
lunatic, in letting Scrooge's nephew out, had let two other people
in. They were portly gentlemen, pleasant to behold, and now stood,
with their hats off, in Scrooge's office. They had books and papers
in their hands, and bowed to him.
and Marley's, I believe,' said one of the gentlemen, referring to
his list. `Have I the pleasure of addressing Mr. Scrooge, or Mr.
Marley has been dead these seven years,' Scrooge replied. `He died
seven years ago, this very night.'
have no doubt his liberality is well represented by his surviving
partner,' said the gentleman, presenting his credentials.
certainly was; for they had been two kindred spirits. At the ominous
word `liberality,' Scrooge frowned, and shook his head, and handed
the credentials back.
this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,' said the gentleman,
taking up a pen, `it is more than usually desirable that we should
make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer
greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common
necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts,
there no prisons?' asked Scrooge.
of prisons,' said the gentleman, laying down the pen again `And
the Union workhouses?' demanded Scrooge. `Are they still in operation?'
are. Still,' returned the gentleman, `I wish I could say they were
Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?' said Scrooge.
very busy, sir.'
I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred
to stop them in their useful course,' said Scrooge. `I'm very glad
to hear it.'
the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind
or body to the multitude,' returned the gentleman, `a few of us
are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink.
and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time,
of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices.
What shall I put you down for?'
wish to be anonymous?'
wish to be left alone,' said Scrooge. `Since you ask me what I wish,
gentlemen, that is my answer. I don't make merry myself at Christmas
and I can't afford to make idle people merry. I help to support
the establishments I have mentioned -- they cost enough; and those
who are badly off must go there.'
can't go there; and many would rather die.'
they would rather die,' said Scrooge, `they had better do it, and
decrease the surplus population. Besides -- excuse me -- I don't
you might know it,' observed the gentleman.
not my business,' Scrooge returned. `It's enough for a man to understand
his own business, and not to interfere with other people's. Mine
occupies me constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen!'
clearly that it would be useless to pursue their point, the gentlemen
withdrew. Scrooge returned his labours with an improved opinion
of himself, and in a more facetious temper than was usual with him.
the fog and darkness thickened so, that people ran about with flaring
links, proffering their services to go before horses in carriages,
and conduct them on their way. The ancient tower of a church, whose
gruff old bell was always peeping slily down at Scrooge out of a
Gothic window in the wall, became invisible, and struck the hours
and quarters in the clouds, with tremulous vibrations afterwards
as if its teeth were chattering in its frozen head up there. The
cold became intense. In the main street at the corner of the court,
some labourers were repairing the gas-pipes, and had lighted a great
fire in a brazier, round which a party of ragged men and boys were
gathered: warming their hands and winking their eyes before the
blaze in rapture. The water-plug being left in solitude, its overflowing
sullenly congealed, and turned to misanthropic ice. The brightness
of the shops where holly sprigs and berries crackled in the lamp
heat of the windows, made pale faces ruddy as they passed. Poulterers'
and grocers' trades became a splendid joke; a glorious pageant,
with which it was next to impossible to believe that such dull principles
as bargain and sale had anything to do. The Lord Mayor, in the stronghold
of the mighty Mansion House, gave orders to his fifty cooks and
butlers to keep Christmas as a Lord Mayor's household should; and
even the little tailor, whom he had fined five shillings on the
previous Monday for being drunk and bloodthirsty in the streets,
stirred up to-morrow's pudding in his garret, while his lean wife
and the baby sallied out to buy the beef.
yet, and colder! Piercing, searching, biting cold. If the good Saint
Dunstan had but nipped the Evil Spirit's nose with a touch of such
weather as that, instead of using his familiar weapons, then indeed
he would have roared to lusty purpose. The owner of one scant young
nose, gnawed and mumbled by the hungry cold as bones are gnawed
by dogs, stooped down at Scrooge's keyhole to regale him with a
Christmas carol: but at the first sound of
bless you, merry gentleman! May nothing you dismay!'
seized the ruler with such energy of action, that the singer fled
in terror, leaving the keyhole to the fog and even more congenial
length the hour of shutting up the counting- house arrived. With
an ill-will Scrooge dismounted from his stool, and tacitly admitted
the fact to the expectant clerk in the Tank, who instantly snuffed
his candle out, and put on his hat.
want all day to-morrow, I suppose?' said Scrooge.
quite convenient, sir.'
not convenient,' said Scrooge, `and it's not fair. If I was to stop
half-a-crown for it, you'd think yourself ill-used, I'll be bound?'
clerk smiled faintly.
yet,' said Scrooge, `you don't think me ill-used, when I pay a day's
wages for no work.'
clerk observed that it was only once a year.
poor excuse for picking a man's pocket every twenty-fifth of December!'
said Scrooge, buttoning his great-coat to the chin. `But I suppose
you must have the whole day. Be here all the earlier next morning.'
clerk promised that he would; and Scrooge walked out with a growl.
The office was closed in a twinkling, and the clerk, with the long
ends of his white comforter dangling below his waist (for he boasted
no great-coat), went down a slide on Cornhill, at the end of a lane
of boys, twenty times, in honour of its being Christmas Eve, and
then ran home to Camden Town as hard as he could pelt, to play at
took his melancholy dinner in his usual melancholy tavern; and having
read all the newspapers, and beguiled the rest of the evening with
his banker's-book, went home to bed. He lived in chambers which
had once belonged to his deceased partner. They were a gloomy suite
of rooms, in a lowering pile of building up a yard, where it had
so little business to be, that one could scarcely help fancying
it must have run there when it was a young house, playing at hide-and-seek
with other houses, and forgotten the way out again. It was old enough
now, and dreary enough, for nobody lived in it but Scrooge, the
other rooms being all let out as offices. The yard was so dark that
even Scrooge, who knew its every stone, was fain to grope with his
hands. The fog and frost so hung about the black old gateway of
the house, that it seemed as if the Genius of the Weather sat in
mournful meditation on the threshold.
it is a fact, that there was nothing at all particular about the
knocker on the door, except that it was very large. It is also a
fact, that Scrooge had seen it, night and morning, during his whole
residence in that place; also that Scrooge had as little of what
is called fancy about him as any man in the city of London, even
including -- which is a bold word -- the corporation, aldermen,
and livery. Let it also be borne in mind that Scrooge had not bestowed
one thought on Marley, since his last mention of his seven years'
dead partner that afternoon. And then let any man explain to me,
if he can, how it happened that Scrooge, having his key in the lock
of the door, saw in the knocker, without its undergoing any intermediate
process of change -- not a knocker, but Marley's face.
face. It was not in impenetrable shadow as the other objects in
the yard were, but had a dismal light about it, like a bad lobster
in a dark cellar. It was not angry or ferocious, but looked at Scrooge
as Marley used to look: with ghostly spectacles turned up on its
ghostly forehead. The hair was curiously stirred, as if by breath
or hot air; and, though the eyes were wide open, they were perfectly
motionless. That, and its livid colour, made it horrible; but its
horror seemed to be in spite of the face and beyond its control,
rather than a part or its own expression.
Scrooge looked fixedly at this phenomenon, it was a knocker again.
say that he was not startled, or that his blood was not conscious
of a terrible sensation to which it had been a stranger from infancy,
would be untrue. But he put his hand upon the key he had relinquished,
turned it sturdily, walked in, and lighted his candle.
did pause, with a moment's irresolution, before he shut the door;
and he did look cautiously behind it first, as if he half-expected
to be terrified with the sight of Marley's pigtail sticking out
into the hall. But there was nothing on the back of the door, except
the screws and nuts that held the knocker on, so he said `Pooh,
pooh!' and closed it with a bang.
sound resounded through the house like thunder. Every room above,
and every cask in the wine-merchant's cellars below, appeared to
have a separate peal of echoes of its own. Scrooge was not a man
to be frightened by echoes. He fastened the door, and walked across
the hall, and up the stairs; slowly too: trimming his candle as
may talk vaguely about driving a coach-and-six up a good old flight
of stairs, or through a bad young Act of Parliament; but I mean
to say you might have got a hearse up that staircase, and taken
it broadwise, with the splinter-bar towards the wall and the door
towards the balustrades: and done it easy. There was plenty of width
for that, and room to spare; which is perhaps the reason why Scrooge
thought he saw a locomotive hearse going on before him in the gloom.
Half a dozen gas-lamps out of the street wouldn't have lighted the
entry too well, so you may suppose that it was pretty dark with
Scrooge went, not caring a button for that. Darkness is cheap, and
Scrooge liked it. But before he shut his heavy door, he walked through
his rooms to see that all was right. He had just enough recollection
of the face to desire to do that.
bedroom, lumber-room. All as they should be. Nobody under the table,
nobody under the sofa; a small fire in the grate; spoon and basin
ready; and the little saucepan of gruel (Scrooge had a cold in his
head) upon the hob. Nobody under the bed; nobody in the closet;
nobody in his dressing-gown, which was hanging up in a suspicious
attitude against the wall. Lumber-room as usual. Old fire-guards,
old shoes, two fish-baskets, washing-stand on three legs, and a
satisfied, he closed his door, and locked himself in; double-locked
himself in, which was not his custom. Thus secured against surprise,
he took off his cravat; put on his dressing-gown and slippers, and
his nightcap; and sat down before the fire to take his gruel.
was a very low fire indeed; nothing on such a bitter night. He was
obliged to sit close to it, and brood over it, before he could extract
the least sensation of warmth from such a handful of fuel. The fireplace
was an old one, built by some Dutch merchant long ago, and paved
all round with quaint Dutch tiles, designed to illustrate the Scriptures.
There were Cains and Abels, Pharaohs' daughters; Queens of Sheba,
Angelic messengers descending through the air on clouds like feather-beds,
Abrahams, Belshazzars, Apostles putting off to sea in butter-boats,
hundreds of figures to attract his thoughts -- and yet that face
of Marley, seven years dead, came like the ancient Prophet's rod,
and swallowed up the whole. If each smooth tile had been a blank
at first, with power to shape some picture on its surface from the
disjointed fragments of his thoughts, there would have been a copy
of old Marley's head on every one.
said Scrooge; and walked across the room.
several turns, he sat down again. As he threw his head back in the
chair, his glance happened to rest upon a bell, a disused bell,
that hung in the room, and communicated for some purpose now forgotten
with a chamber in the highest story of the building. It was with
great astonishment, and with a strange, inexplicable dread, that
as he looked, he saw this bell begin to swing. It swung so softly
in the outset that it scarcely made a sound; but soon it rang out
loudly, and so did every bell in the house.
might have lasted half a minute, or a minute, but it seemed an hour.
The bells ceased as they had begun, together. They were succeeded
by a clanking noise, deep down below; as if some person were dragging
a heavy chain over the casks in the wine merchant's cellar. Scrooge
then remembered to have heard that ghosts in haunted houses were
described as dragging chains.
cellar-door flew open with a booming sound, and then he heard the
noise much louder, on the floors below; then coming up the stairs;
then coming straight towards his door.
humbug still!' said Scrooge. `I won't believe it.'
colour changed though, when, without a pause, it came on through
the heavy door, and passed into the room before his eyes. Upon its
coming in, the dying flame leaped up, as though it cried `I know
him; Marley's Ghost!' and fell again.
same face: the very same. Marley in his pigtail, usual waistcoat,
tights and boots; the tassels on the latter bristling, like his
pigtail, and his coat-skirts, and the hair upon his head. The chain
he drew was clasped about his middle. It was long, and wound about
him like a tail; and it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely)
of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses
wrought in steel. His body was transparent; so that Scrooge, observing
him, and looking through his waistcoat, could see the two buttons
on his coat behind.
had often heard it said that Marley had no bowels, but he had never
believed it until now.
nor did he believe it even now. Though he looked the phantom through
and through, and saw it standing before him; though he felt the
chilling influence of its death-cold eyes; and marked the very texture
of the folded kerchief bound about its head and chin, which wrapper
he had not observed before; he was still incredulous, and fought
against his senses.
now!' said Scrooge, caustic and cold as ever. `What do you want
-- Marley's voice, no doubt about it.
me who I was.'
were you then?' said Scrooge, raising his voice. `You're particular,
for a shade.' He was going to say `to a shade,' but substituted
this, as more appropriate.
life I was your partner, Jacob Marley.'
you -- can you sit down?' asked Scrooge, looking doubtfully at him.
asked the question, because he didn't know whether a ghost so transparent
might find himself in a condition to take a chair; and felt that
in the event of its being impossible, it might involve the necessity
of an embarrassing explanation. But the ghost sat down on the opposite
side of the fireplace, as if he were quite used to it.
don't believe in me,' observed the Ghost.
don't.' said Scrooge.
evidence would you have of my reality beyond that of your senses?'
don't know,' said Scrooge.
do you doubt your senses?'
said Scrooge, `a little thing affects them. A slight disorder of
the stomach makes them cheats. You may be an undigested bit of beef,
a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone
potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever
was not much in the habit of cracking jokes, nor did he feel, in
his heart, by any means waggish then. The truth is, that he tried
to be smart, as a means of distracting his own attention, and keeping
down his terror; for the spectre's voice disturbed the very marrow
in his bones.
sit, staring at those fixed glazed eyes, in silence for a moment,
would play, Scrooge felt, the very deuce with him. There was something
very awful, too, in the spectre's being provided with an infernal
atmosphere of its own. Scrooge could not feel it himself, but this
was clearly the case; for though the Ghost sat perfectly motionless,
its hair, and skirts, and tassels, were still agitated as by the
hot vapour from an oven.
see this toothpick?' said Scrooge, returning quickly to the charge,
for the reason just assigned; and wishing, though it were only for
a second, to divert the vision's stony gaze from himself.
do,' replied the Ghost.
are not looking at it,' said Scrooge.
I see it,' said the Ghost, `notwithstanding.'
returned Scrooge, `I have but to swallow this, and be for the rest
of my days persecuted by a legion of goblins, all of my own creation.
Humbug, I tell you! humbug!'
this the spirit raised a frightful cry, and shook its chain with
such a dismal and appalling noise, that Scrooge held on tight to
his chair, to save himself from falling in a swoon. But how much
greater was his horror, when the phantom taking off the bandage
round its head, as if it were too warm to wear indoors, its lower
jaw dropped down upon its breast!
fell upon his knees, and clasped his hands before his face.
he said. `Dreadful apparition, why do you trouble me?'
of the worldly mind!' replied the Ghost, `do you believe in me or
do,' said Scrooge. `I must. But why do spirits walk the earth, and
why do they come to me?'
is required of every man,' the Ghost returned, `that the spirit
within him should walk abroad among his fellowmen, and travel far
and wide; and if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned
to do so after death. It is doomed to wander through the world --
oh, woe is me! -- and witness what it cannot share, but might have
shared on earth, and turned to happiness!'
the spectre raised a cry, and shook its chain and wrung its shadowy
are fettered,' said Scrooge, trembling. `Tell me why?'
wear the chain I forged in life,' replied the Ghost. `I made it
link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will,
and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?'
trembled more and more.
would you know,' pursued the Ghost, `the weight and length of the
strong coil you bear yourself? It was full as heavy and as long
as this, seven Christmas Eves ago. You have laboured on it, since.
It is a ponderous chain!'
glanced about him on the floor, in the expectation of finding himself
surrounded by some fifty or sixty fathoms of iron cable: but he
could see nothing.
he said, imploringly. `Old Jacob Marley, tell me more. Speak comfort
to me, Jacob!'
have none to give,' the Ghost replied. `It comes from other regions,
Ebenezer Scrooge, and is conveyed by other ministers, to other kinds
of men. Nor can I tell you what I would. A very little more, is
all permitted to me. I cannot rest, I cannot stay, I cannot linger
anywhere. My spirit never walked beyond our counting-house -- mark
me! -- in life my spirit never roved beyond the narrow limits of
our money-changing hole; and weary journeys lie before me!'
was a habit with Scrooge, whenever he became thoughtful, to put
his hands in his breeches pockets. Pondering on what the Ghost had
said, he did so now, but without lifting up his eyes, or getting
off his knees.
must have been very slow about it, Jacob,' Scrooge observed, in
a business-like manner, though with humility and deference.
the Ghost repeated.
years dead,' mused Scrooge. `And travelling all the time!'
whole time,' said the Ghost. `No rest, no peace. Incessant torture
travel fast?' said Scrooge.
the wings of the wind,' replied the Ghost.
might have got over a great quantity of ground in seven years,'
Ghost, on hearing this, set up another cry, and clanked its chain
so hideously in the dead silence of the night, that the Ward would
have been justified in indicting it for a nuisance.
captive, bound, and double-ironed,' cried the phantom, `not to know,
that ages of incessant labour, by immortal creatures, for this earth
must pass into eternity before the good of which it is susceptible
is all developed. Not to know that any Christian spirit working
kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal
life too short for its vast means of usefulness. Not to know that
no space of regret can make amends for one life's opportunity misused!
Yet such was I! Oh! such was I!'
you were always a good man of business, Jacob,' faltered Scrooge,
who now began to apply this to himself.
cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. `Mankind was my business.
The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance,
and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade
were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!'
held up its chain at arm's length, as if that were the cause of
all its unavailing grief, and flung it heavily upon the ground again.
this time of the rolling year,' the spectre said `I suffer most.
Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned
down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise
Men to a poor abode! Were there no poor homes to which its light
would have conducted me!'
was very much dismayed to hear the spectre going on at this rate,
and began to quake exceedingly.
me!' cried the Ghost. `My time is nearly gone.'
will,' said Scrooge. `But don't be hard upon me! Don't be flowery,
Jacob! Pray!' `How it is that I appear before you in a shape that
you can see, I may not tell. I have sat invisible beside you many
and many a day.'
was not an agreeable idea. Scrooge shivered, and wiped the perspiration
from his brow.
is no light part of my penance,' pursued the Ghost. `I am here to-night
to warn you, that you have yet a chance and hope of escaping my
fate. A chance and hope of my procuring, Ebenezer.'
were always a good friend to me,' said Scrooge. `Thank `ee!'
will be haunted,' resumed the Ghost, `by Three Spirits.'
countenance fell almost as low as the Ghost's had done.
that the chance and hope you mentioned, Jacob?' he demanded, in
a faltering voice.
-- I think I'd rather not,' said Scrooge.
their visits,' said the Ghost, `you cannot hope to shun the path
I tread. Expect the first tomorrow, when the bell tolls One.'
I take `em all at once, and have it over, Jacob?' hinted Scrooge.
the second on the next night at the same hour. The third upon the
next night when the last stroke of Twelve has ceased to vibrate.
Look to see me no more; and look that, for your own sake, you remember
what has passed between us!'
it had said these words, the spectre took its wrapper from the table,
and bound it round its head, as before. Scrooge knew this, by the
smart sound its teeth made, when the jaws were brought together
by the bandage. He ventured to raise his eyes again, and found his
supernatural visitor confronting him in an erect attitude, with
its chain wound over and about its arm.
apparition walked backward from him; and at every step it took,
the window raised itself a little, so that when the spectre reached
it, it was wide open It beckoned Scrooge to approach, which he did.
When they were within two paces of each other, Marley's Ghost held
up its hand, warning him to come no nearer. Scrooge stopped.
so much in obedience, as in surprise and fear: for on the raising
of the hand, he became sensible of confused noises in the air; incoherent
sounds of lamentation and regret; wailings inexpressibly sorrowful
and self-accusatory. The spectre, after listening for a moment,
joined in the mournful dirge; and floated out upon the bleak, dark
followed to the window: desperate in his curiosity. He looked out.
air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither in restless
haste, and moaning as they went. Every one of them wore chains like
Marley's Ghost; some few (they might be guilty governments) were
linked together; none were free. Many had been personally known
to Scrooge in their lives. He had been quite familiar with one old
ghost, in a white waistcoat, with a monstrous iron safe attached
to its ankle, who cried piteously at being unable to assist a wretched
woman with an infant, whom it saw below, upon a door-step. The misery
with them all was, clearly, that they sought to interfere, for good,
in human matters, and had lost the power for ever.
these creatures faded into mist, or mis enshrouded them, he could
not tell. But they and their spirit voices faded together; and the
night became as it had been when he walked home.
closed the window, and examined the door by which the Ghost had
entered. It was double-locked, as he had locked it with his own
hands, and the bolts were undisturbed. He tried to say `Humbug!'
but stopped at the first syllable. And being, from the emotion he
had undergone, or the fatigues of the day, or his glimpse of the
Invisible World, or the dull conversation of the Ghost, or the lateness
of the hour, much in need of repose; went straight to bed, without
undressing, and fell asleep upon the instant.