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Chapter 2 The First Of The Three Spirits

  • When Scrooge awoke it was so dark, that, looking out of bed, he could scarcel_istinguish the transparent window from the opaque walls of his chamber. H_as endeavouring to pierce the darkness with his ferret eyes, when the chime_f a neighbouring church struck the four quarters. So he listened for th_our.
  • To his great astonishment, the heavy bell went on from six to seven, and fro_even to eight, and regularly up to twelve; then stopped. Twelve! It was pas_wo when he went to bed. The clock was wrong. An icicle must have got into th_orks. Twelve!
  • He touched the spring of his repeater, to correct this most preposterou_lock. Its rapid little pulse beat twelve, and stopped.
  • "Why, it isn't possible," said Scrooge, "that I can have slept through a whol_ay and far into another night. It isn't possible that anything has happene_o the sun, and this is twelve at noon!"
  • The idea being an alarming one, he scrambled out of bed, and groped his way t_he window. He was obliged to rub the frost off with the sleeve of hi_ressing-gown before he could see anything; and could see very little then.
  • All he could make out was, that it was still very foggy and extremely cold, and that there was no noise of people running to and fro, and making a grea_tir, as there unquestionably would have been if night had beaten off brigh_ay, and taken possession of the world. This was a great relief, because
  • "Three days after sight of this First of Exchange pay to Mr. Ebenezer Scroog_r his order," and so forth, would have become a mere United States securit_f there were no days to count by.
  • Scrooge went to bed again, and thought, and thought, and thought it over an_ver, and could make nothing of it. The more he thought, the more perplexed h_as; and, the more he endeavoured not to think, the more he thought.
  • Marley's Ghost bothered him exceedingly. Every time he resolved withi_imself, after mature inquiry, that it was all a dream, his mind flew bac_gain, like a strong spring released, to its first position, and presented th_ame problem to be worked all through, "Was it a dream or not?"
  • Scrooge lay in this state until the chime had gone three quarters more, whe_e remembered, on a sudden, that the Ghost had warned him of a visitation whe_he bell tolled one. He resolved to lie awake until the hour was passed; and, considering that he could no more go to sleep than go to Heaven, this was, perhaps, the wisest resolution in his power.
  • The quarter was so long, that he was more than once convinced he must hav_unk into a doze unconsciously, and missed the clock. At length it broke upo_is listening ear.
  • "Ding, dong!"
  • "A quarter past," said Scrooge, counting.
  • "Ding, dong!"
  • "Half past," said Scrooge.
  • "Ding, dong!"
  • "A quarter to it," said Scrooge.
  • "Ding, dong!"
  • "The hour itself," said Scrooge triumphantly, "and nothing else!"
  • He spoke before the hour bell sounded, which it now did with a deep, dull, hollow, melancholy One. Light flashed up in the room upon the instant, and th_urtains of his bed were drawn.
  • The curtains of his bed were drawn aside, I tell you, by a hand. Not th_urtains at his feet, nor the curtains at his back, but those to which hi_ace was addressed. The curtains of his bed were drawn aside; and Scrooge, starting up into a half-recumbent attitude, found himself face to face wit_he unearthly visitor who drew them: as close to it as I am now to you, and _m standing in the spirit at your elbow.
  • It was a strange figure—like a child: yet not so like a child as like an ol_an, viewed through some supernatural medium, which gave him the appearance o_aving 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 wit_ge; and yet the face had not a wrinkle in it, and the tenderest bloom was o_he skin. The arms were very long and muscular; the hands the same, as if it_old 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; an_ound 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 singula_ontradiction of that wintry emblem, had its dress trimmed with summe_lowers. But the strangest thing about it was, that from the crown of its hea_here sprung a bright clear jet of light, by which all this was visible; an_hich was doubtless the occasion of its using, in its duller moments, a grea_xtinguisher for a cap, which it now held under its arm.
  • Even this, though, when Scrooge looked at it with increasing steadiness, wa_not_  its strangest quality. For, as its belt sparkled and glittered, now i_ne part and now in another, and what was light one instant at another tim_as dark, so the figure itself fluctuated in its distinctness: being now _hing with one arm, now with one leg, now with twenty legs, now a pair of leg_ithout a head, now a head without a body: of which dissolving parts n_utline would be visible in the dense gloom wherein they melted away. And, i_he very wonder of this, it would be itself again; distinct and clear as ever.
  • "Are you the Spirit, sir, whose coming was foretold to me?" asked Scrooge.
  • "I am!"
  • The voice was soft and gentle. Singularly low, as if, instead of being s_lose beside him, it were at a distance.
  • "Who and what are you?" Scrooge demanded.
  • "I am the Ghost of Christmas Past."
  • "Long Past?" inquired Scrooge; observant of its dwarfish stature.
  • "No. Your past."
  • Perhaps Scrooge could not have told anybody why, if anybody could have aske_im; but he had a special desire to see the Spirit in his cap; and begged hi_o be covered.
  • "What!" exclaimed the Ghost, "would you so soon put out, with worldly hands, the light I give? Is it not enough that you are one of those whose passion_ade this cap, and force me through whole trains of years to wear it low upo_y brow?"
  • Scrooge reverently disclaimed all intention to offend or any knowledge o_aving wilfully "bonneted" the Spirit at any period of his life. He then mad_old to inquire what business brought him there.
  • "Your welfare!" said the Ghost.
  • Scrooge expressed himself much obliged, but could not help thinking that _ight of unbroken rest would have been more conducive to that end. The Spiri_ust have heard him thinking, for it said immediately:
  • "Your reclamation, then. Take heed!"
  • It put out its strong hand as it spoke, and clasped him gently by the arm.
  • "Rise! and walk with me!"
  • It would have been in vain for Scrooge to plead that the weather and the hou_ere not adapted to pedestrian purposes; that bed was warm, and th_hermometer a long way below freezing; that he was clad but lightly in hi_lippers, dressing-gown, and nightcap; and that he had a cold upon him at tha_ime. The grasp, though gentle as a woman's hand, was not to be resisted. H_ose: but, finding that the Spirit made towards the window, clasped its rob_n supplication.
  • "I am a mortal," Scrooge remonstrated, "and liable to fall."
  • "Bear but a touch of my hand  _there_ ," said the Spirit, laying it upon hi_eart, "and you shall be upheld in more than this!"
  • As the words were spoken, they passed through the wall, and stood upon an ope_ountry road, with fields on either hand. The city had entirely vanished. No_ vestige of it was to be seen. The darkness and the mist had vanished wit_t, for it was a clear, cold, winter day, with the snow upon the ground.
  • "Good Heaven!" said Scrooge, clasping his hands together as he looked abou_im. "I was bred in this place. I was a boy here!"
  • The Spirit gazed upon him mildly. Its gentle touch, though it had been ligh_nd 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 connecte_ith a thousand thoughts, and hopes, and joys, and cares long, long forgotten!
  • "Your lip is trembling," said the Ghost. "And what is that upon your cheek?"
  • Scrooge muttered, with an unusual catching in his voice, that it was a pimple; and begged the Ghost to lead him where he would.
  • "You recollect the way?" inquired the Spirit.
  • "Remember it!" cried Scrooge with fervour; "I could walk it blindfold."
  • "Strange to have forgotten it for so many years!" observed the Ghost. "Let u_o on."
  • They walked along the road, Scrooge recognising every gate, and post, an_ree, until a little market-town appeared in the distance, with its bridge, its church, and winding river. Some shaggy ponies now were seen trottin_owards them with boys upon their backs, who called to other boys in countr_igs and carts, driven by farmers. All these boys were in great spirits, an_houted to each other, until the broad fields were so full of merry music, that the crisp air laughed to hear it.
  • "These are but shadows of the things that have been," said the Ghost. "The_ave no consciousness of us."
  • The jocund travellers came on; and as they came, Scrooge knew and named the_very one. Why was he rejoiced beyond all bounds to see them? Why did his col_ye glisten, and his heart leap up as they went past? Why was he filled wit_ladness when he heard them give each other Merry Christmas, as they parted a_ross-roads and by-ways for their several homes? What was merry Christmas t_crooge? Out upon merry Christmas! What good had it ever done to him?
  • "The school is not quite deserted," said the Ghost. "A solitary child, neglected by his friends, is left there still."
  • Scrooge said he knew it. And he sobbed.
  • They left the high-road by a well-remembered lane, and soon approached _ansion of dull red brick, with a little weather-cock surmounted cupola on th_oof and a bell hanging in it. It was a large house, but one of broke_ortunes: for the spacious offices were little used, their walls were damp an_ossy, their windows broken, and their gates decayed. Fowls clucked an_trutted in the stables; and the coach-houses and sheds were overrun wit_rass. Nor was it more retentive of its ancient state within; for, enterin_he dreary hall, and glancing through the open doors of many rooms, they foun_hem poorly furnished, cold, and vast. There was an earthly savour in the air, a chilly bareness in the place, which associated itself somehow with too muc_etting up by candle-light, and not too much to eat.
  • They went, the Ghost and Scrooge, across the hall, to a door at the back o_he 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 _onely boy was reading near a feeble fire; and Scrooge sat down upon a form, and wept to see his poor forgotten self as he had used to be.
  • Not a latent echo in the house, not a squeak and scuffle from the mice behin_he panelling, not a drip from the half-thawed water-spout in the dull yar_ehind, not a sigh among the leafless boughs of one despondent poplar, not th_dle swinging of an empty storehouse door, no, not a clicking in the fire, bu_ell upon the heart of Scrooge with softening influence, and gave a free_assage to his tears.
  • The Spirit touched him on the arm, and pointed to his younger self, inten_pon his reading. Suddenly a man in foreign garments: wonderfully real an_istinct to look at: stood outside the window, with an axe stuck in his belt, and leading by the bridle an ass laden with wood.
  • "Why, it's Ali Baba!" Scrooge exclaimed in ecstasy. "It's dear old honest Al_aba! Yes, yes, I know. One Christmas-time when yonder solitary child was lef_ere 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! An_hat's his name, who was put down in his drawers, asleep, at the gate o_amascus; don't you see him? And the Sultan's Groom turned upside down by th_enii: there he is upon his head! Serve him right! I'm glad of it. Wha_usiness had  _he_  to be married to the Princess?"
  • To hear Scrooge expending all the earnestness of his nature on such subjects, in a most extraordinary voice between laughing and crying; and to see hi_eightened and excited face; would have been a surprise to his busines_riends in the City, indeed.
  • "There's the Parrot!" cried Scrooge. "Green body and yellow tail, with a thin_ike a lettuce growing out of the top of his head; there he is! Poor Robi_rusoe 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 wa_reaming, but he wasn't. It was the Parrot, you know. There goes Friday, running for his life to the little creek! Halloa! Hoop! Halloo!"
  • Then, with a rapidity of transition very foreign to his usual character, h_aid, in pity for his former self, "Poor boy!" and cried again.
  • "I wish," Scrooge muttered, putting his hand in his pocket, and looking abou_im, after drying his eyes with his cuff: "but it's too late now."
  • "What is the matter?" asked the Spirit.
  • "Nothing," said Scrooge. "Nothing. There was a boy singing a Christmas Caro_t my door last night. I should like to have given him something: that's all."
  • The Ghost smiled thoughtfully, and waved its hand: saying, as it did so, "Le_s see another Christmas!"
  • Scrooge's former self grew larger at the words, and the room became a littl_arker and more dirty. The panels shrunk, the windows cracked; fragments o_laster fell out of the ceiling, and the naked laths were shown instead; bu_ow all this was brought about Scrooge knew no more than you do. He only kne_hat it was quite correct: that everything had happened so; that there he was, alone again, when all the other boys had gone home for the jolly holidays.
  • He was not reading now, but walking up and down despairingly. Scrooge looke_t the Ghost, and, with a mournful shaking of his head, glanced anxiousl_owards the door.
  • It opened; and a little girl, much younger than the boy, came darting in, and, putting her arms about his neck, and often kissing him, addressed him as her
  • "dear, dear brother."
  • "I have come to bring you home, dear brother!" said the child, clapping he_iny hands, and bending down to laugh. "To bring you home, home, home!"
  • "Home, little Fan?" returned the boy.
  • "Yes!" said the child, brimful of glee. "Home for good and all. Home for eve_nd ever. Father is so much kinder than he used to be, that home's lik_eaven! He spoke so gently to me one dear night when I was going to bed, tha_ 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!" sai_he child, opening her eyes; "and are never to come back here; but first we'r_o be together all the Christmas long, and have the merriest time in all th_orld."
  • "You are quite a woman, little Fan!" exclaimed the boy.
  • She clapped her hands and laughed, and tried to touch his head; but, being to_ittle, laughed again, and stood on tiptoe to embrace him. Then she began t_rag him, in her childish eagerness, towards the door; and he, nothing loat_o go, accompanied her.
  • A terrible voice in the hall cried, "Bring down Master Scrooge's box, there!"
  • and in the hall appeared the schoolmaster himself, who glared on Maste_crooge with a ferocious condescension, and threw him into a dreadful state o_ind by shaking hands with him. He then conveyed him and his sister into th_eriest old well of a shivering best parlour that ever was seen, where th_aps 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, an_ block of curiously heavy cake, and administered instalments of thos_ainties to the young people: at the same time sending out a meagre servant t_ffer a glass of "something" to the postboy who answered that he thanked th_entleman, but, if it was the same tap as he had tasted before, he had rathe_ot. Master Scrooge's trunk being by this time tied on to the top of th_haise, the children bade the schoolmaster good-bye right willingly; and, getting into it, drove gaily down the garden sweep; the quick wheels dashin_he hoar frost and snow from off the dark leaves of the evergreens like spray.
  • "Always a delicate creature, whom a breath might have withered," said th_host. "But she had a large heart!"
  • "So she had," cried Scrooge. "You're right. I will not gainsay it, Spirit. Go_orbid!"
  • "She died a woman," said the Ghost, "and had, as I think, children."
  • "One child," Scrooge returned.
  • "True," said the Ghost. "Your nephew!"
  • Scrooge seemed uneasy in his mind; and answered briefly, "Yes."
  • Although they had but that moment left the school behind them, they were no_n the busy thoroughfares of a city, where shadowy passengers passed an_epassed; where shadowy carts and coaches battled for the way, and all th_trife and tumult of a real city were. It was made plain enough, by th_ressing of the shops, that here, too, it was Christmas-time again; but it wa_vening, and the streets were lighted up.
  • The Ghost stopped at a certain warehouse door, and asked Scrooge if he kne_t.
  • "Know it!" said Scrooge. "Was I apprenticed here?"
  • They went in. At sight of an old gentleman in a Welsh wig, sitting behind suc_ high desk, that if he had been two inches taller, he must have knocked hi_ead against the ceiling, Scrooge cried in great excitement:
  • "Why, it's old Fezziwig! Bless his heart, it's Fezziwig alive again!"
  • Old Fezziwig laid down his pen, and looked up at the clock, which pointed t_he hour of seven. He rubbed his hands; adjusted his capacious waistcoat; laughed all over himself, from his shoes to his organ of benevolence; an_alled out, in a comfortable, oily, rich, fat, jovial voice:
  • "Yo ho, there! Ebenezer! Dick!"
  • Scrooge's former self, now grown a young man, came briskly in, accompanied b_is fellow-'prentice.
  • "Dick Wilkins, to be sure!" said Scrooge to the Ghost. "Bless me, yes. Ther_e is. He was very much attached to me, was Dick. Poor Dick! Dear, dear!"
  • "Yo ho, my boys!" said Fezziwig. "No more work to-night. Christmas-eve, Dick.
  • Christmas, Ebenezer! Let's have the shutters up," cried old Fezziwig with _harp clap of his hands, "before a man can say Jack Robinson!"
  • You wouldn't believe how those two fellows went at it! They charged into th_treet with the shutters—one, two, three—had 'em up in their places—four, five, six—barred 'em and pinned 'em—seven, eight, nine—and came back befor_ou could have got to twelve, panting like race-horses.
  • "Hilli-ho!" cried old Fezziwig, skipping down from the high desk wit_onderful agility. "Clear away, my lads, and let's have lots of room here!
  • Hilli-ho, Dick! Chirrup, Ebenezer!"
  • Clear away! There was nothing they wouldn't have cleared away, or couldn'_ave 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 fo_vermore; the floor was swept and watered, the lamps were trimmed, fuel wa_eaped upon the fire; and the warehouse was as snug, and warm, and dry, an_right a ball-room as you would desire to see upon a winter's night.
  • In came a fiddler with a music-book, and went up to the lofty desk, and mad_n orchestra of it, and tuned like fifty stomachaches. In came Mrs. Fezziwig, one vast substantial smile. In came the three Miss Fezziwigs, beaming an_ovable. In came the six young followers whose hearts they broke. In came al_he young men and women employed in the business. In came the housemaid, wit_er cousin the baker. In came the cook, with her brother's particular frien_he milkman. In came the boy from over the way, who was suspected of no_aving board enough from his master; trying to hide himself behind the gir_rom next door but one, who was proved to have had her ears pulled by he_istress. In they all came, one after another; some shyly, some boldly, som_racefully, some awkwardly, some pushing, some pulling; in they all came, an_ow and every how. Away they all went, twenty couple at once; hands half roun_nd back again the other way; down the middle and up again; round and round i_arious stages of affectionate grouping; old top couple always turning up i_he 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 resul_as brought about, old Fezziwig, clapping his hands to stop the dance, crie_ut, "Well done!" and the fiddler plunged his hot face into a pot of porter, especially provided for that purpose. But, scorning rest upon hi_eappearance, he instantly began again, though there were no dancers yet, a_f the other fiddler had been carried home, exhausted, on a shutter, and h_ere a bran-new man resolved to beat him out of sight, or perish.
  • There were more dances, and there were forfeits, and more dances, and ther_as cake, and there was negus, and there was a great piece of Cold Roast, an_here was a great piece of Cold Boiled, and there were mince-pies, and plent_f 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 busines_etter than you or I could have told it him!) struck up "Sir Roger d_overley." Then old Fezziwig stood out to dance with Mrs. Fezziwig. To_ouple, too; with a good stiff piece of work cut out for them; three or fou_nd twenty pair of partners; people who were not to be trifled with; peopl_ho  _would_  dance, and had no notion of walking.
  • But if they had been twice as many—ah! four times—old Fezziwig would have bee_ match for them, and so would Mrs. Fezziwig. As to  _her_ , she was worthy t_e his partner in every sense of the term. If that's not high praise, tell m_igher, and I'll use it. A positive light appeared to issue from Fezziwig'_alves. They shone in every part of the dance like moons. You couldn't hav_redicted, at any given time, what would become of them next. And when ol_ezziwig and Mrs. Fezziwig had gone all through the dance; advance and retire, both hands to your partner, bow and curtsy, cork-screw, thread-the-needle, an_ack again to your place; Fezziwig "cut"—cut so deftly, that he appeared t_ink with his legs, and came upon his feet again without a stagger.
  • When the clock struck eleven, this domestic ball broke up. Mr. and Mrs.
  • Fezziwig took their stations, one on either side the door, and, shaking hand_ith every person individually as he or she went out, wished him or her _erry Christmas. When everybody had retired but the two 'prentices, they di_he same to them; and thus the cheerful voices died away, and the lads wer_eft to their beds; which were under a counter in the back-shop.
  • During the whole of this time Scrooge had acted like a man out of his wits.
  • His heart and soul were in the scene, and with his former self. H_orroborated everything, remembered everything, enjoyed everything, an_nderwent the strangest agitation. It was not until now, when the bright face_f his former self and Dick were turned from them, that he remembered th_host, and became conscious that it was looking full upon him, while the ligh_pon its head burnt very clear.
  • "A small matter," said the Ghost, "to make these silly folks so full o_ratitude."
  • "Small!" echoed Scrooge.
  • The Spirit signed to him to listen to the two apprentices, who were pourin_ut their hearts in praise of Fezziwig; and, when he had done so, said:
  • "Why! Is it not? He has spent but a few pounds of your mortal money: three o_our, perhaps. Is that so much that he deserves this praise?"
  • "It isn't that," said Scrooge, heated by the remark, and speakin_nconsciously like his former, not his latter self. "It isn't that, Spirit. H_as the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light o_urdensome; 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
  • 'em up: what then? The happiness he gives is quite as great as if it cost _ortune."
  • He felt the Spirit's glance, and stopped.
  • "What is the matter?" asked the Ghost.
  • "Nothing particular," said Scrooge.
  • "Something, I think?" the Ghost insisted.
  • "No," said Scrooge, "no. I should like to be able to say a word or two to m_lerk just now. That's all."
  • His former self turned down the lamps as he gave utterance to the wish; an_crooge and the Ghost again stood side by side in the open air.
  • "My time grows short," observed the Spirit. "Quick!"
  • This was not addressed to Scrooge, or to any one whom he could see, but i_roduced 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 o_ater years; but it had begun to wear the signs of care and avarice. There wa_n eager, greedy, restless motion in the eye, which showed the passion tha_ad taken root, and where the shadow of the growing tree would fall.
  • He was not alone, but sat by the side of a fair young girl in a mournin_ress: in whose eyes there were tears, which sparkled in the light that shon_ut of the Ghost of Christmas Past.
  • "It matters little," she said softly. "To you, very little. Another idol ha_isplaced me; and, if it can cheer and comfort you in time to come as I woul_ave tried to do, I have no just cause to grieve."
  • "What Idol has displaced you?" he rejoined.
  • "A golden one."
  • "This is the even-handed dealing of the world!" he said. "There is nothing o_hich it is so hard as poverty; and there is nothing it professes to condem_ith such severity as the pursuit of wealth!"
  • "You fear the world too much," she answered gently. "All your other hopes hav_erged into the hope of being beyond the chance of its sordid reproach. I hav_een your nobler aspirations fall off one by one, until the master passion, Gain, engrosses you. Have I not?"
  • "What then?" he retorted. "Even if I have grown so much wiser, what then? I a_ot changed towards you."
  • She shook her head.
  • "Am I?"
  • "Our contract is an old one. It was made when we were both poor, and conten_o be so, until, in good season, we could improve our worldly fortune by ou_atient industry. You  _are_  changed. When it was made you were another man."
  • "I was a boy," he said impatiently.
  • "Your own feeling tells you that you were not what you are," she returned. "_m. That which promised happiness when we were one in heart is fraught wit_isery now that we are two. How often and how keenly I have thought of this _ill not say. It is enough that I  _have_  thought of it, and can releas_ou."
  • "Have I ever sought release?"
  • "In words. No. Never."
  • "In what, then?"
  • "In a changed nature; in an altered spirit; in another atmosphere of life; another Hope as its great end. In everything that made my love of any worth o_alue 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 ou_nd try to win me now? Ah, no!"
  • He seemed to yield to the justice of this supposition in spite of himself. Bu_e said, with a struggle, "You think not."
  • "I would gladly think otherwise if I could," she answered. "Heaven knows! Whe_I_  have learned a Truth like this, I know how strong and irresistible i_ust be. But if you were free to-day, to-morrow, yesterday, can even I believ_hat you would choose a dowerless girl—you who, in your very confidence wit_er, weigh everything by Gain: or, choosing her, if for a moment you wer_alse enough to your one guiding principle to do so, do I not know that you_epentance and regret would surely follow? I do; and I release you. With _ull heart, for the love of him you once were."
  • He was about to speak; but, with her head turned from him, she resumed.
  • "You may—the memory of what is past half makes me hope you will—have pain i_his. A very, very brief time, and you will dismiss the recollection of i_ladly, as an unprofitable dream, from which it happened well that you awoke.
  • May you be happy in the life you have chosen!"
  • She left him, and they parted.
  • "Spirit!" said Scrooge, "show me no more! Conduct me home. Why do you deligh_o torture me?"
  • "One shadow more!" exclaimed the Ghost.
  • "No more!" cried Scrooge. "No more! I don't wish to see it. Show me no more!"
  • But the relentless Ghost pinioned him in both his arms, and forced him t_bserve what happened next.
  • They were in another scene and place; a room, not very large or handsome, bu_ull of comfort. Near to the winter fire sat a beautiful young girl, so lik_hat last that Scrooge believed it was the same, until he saw  _her_ , now _omely matron, sitting opposite her daughter. The noise in this room wa_erfectly tumultuous, for there were more children there than Scrooge in hi_gitated state of mind could count; and, unlike the celebrated herd in th_oem, they were not forty children conducting themselves like one, but ever_hild was conducting itself like forty. The consequences were uproariou_eyond belief; but no one seemed to care; on the contrary, the mother an_aughter laughed heartily, and enjoyed it very much; and the latter, soo_eginning to mingle in the sports, got pillaged by the young brigands mos_uthlessly. What would I not have given to be one of them! Though I neve_ould have been so rude, no, no! I wouldn't for the wealth of all the worl_ave crushed that braided hair, and torn it down; and, for the precious littl_hoe, I wouldn't have plucked it off, God bless my soul! to save my life. A_o measuring her waist in sport, as they did, bold young brood, I couldn'_ave done it; I should have expected my arm to have grown round it for _unishment, 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 hav_pened them; to have looked upon the lashes of her downcast eyes, and neve_aised a blush; to have let loose waves of hair, an inch of which would be _eepsake beyond price: in short, I should have liked, I do confess, to hav_ad the lightest licence of a child, and yet to have been man enough to kno_ts value.
  • But now a knocking at the door was heard, and such a rush immediately ensue_hat she, with laughing face and plundered dress, was borne towards it in th_entre 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. The_he shouting and the struggling, and the onslaught that was made on th_efenceless porter! The scaling him, with chairs for ladders, to dive into hi_ockets, despoil him of brown-paper parcels, hold on tight by his cravat, hu_im round the neck, pummel his back, and kick his legs in irrepressibl_ffection! The shouts of wonder and delight with which the development o_very package was received! The terrible announcement that the baby had bee_aken in the act of putting a doll's frying-pan into his mouth, and was mor_han suspected of having swallowed a fictitious turkey, glued on a woode_latter! The immense relief of finding this a false alarm! The joy, an_ratitude, and ecstasy! They are all indescribable alike. It is enough that b_egrees, the children and their emotions got out of the parlour, and, by on_tair at a time, up to the top of the house, where they went to bed, and s_ubsided.
  • And now Scrooge looked on more attentively than ever, when the master of th_ouse, having his daughter leaning fondly on him, sat down with her and he_other 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, an_een a spring-time in the haggard winter of his life, his sight grew very di_ndeed.
  • "Belle," said the husband, turning to his wife with a smile, "I saw an ol_riend of yours this afternoon."
  • "Who was it?"
  • "Guess!"
  • "How can I? Tut, don't I know?" she added in the same breath, laughing as h_aughed. "Mr. Scrooge."
  • "Mr. Scrooge it was. I passed his office window; and as it was not shut up, and he had a candle inside, I could scarcely help seeing him. His partner lie_pon the point of death, I hear; and there he sat alone. Quite alone in th_orld, I do believe."
  • "Spirit!" said Scrooge in a broken voice, "remove me from this place."
  • "I told you these were shadows of the things that have been," said the Ghost.
  • "That they are what they are, do not blame me!"
  • "Remove me!" Scrooge exclaimed. "I cannot bear it!"
  • He turned upon the Ghost, and seeing that it looked upon him with a face i_hich in some strange way there were fragments of all the faces it had show_im, wrestled with it.
  • "Leave me! Take me back! Haunt me no longer!"
  • In the struggle—if that can be called a struggle in which the Ghost, with n_isible resistance on its own part, was undisturbed by any effort of it_dversary—Scrooge observed that its light was burning high and bright; an_imly connecting that with its influence over him, he seized the extinguishe_ap, and by a sudden action pressed it down upon its head.
  • The Spirit dropped beneath it, so that the extinguisher covered its whol_orm; but, though Scrooge pressed it down with all his force, he could no_ide the light, which streamed from under it in an unbroken flood upon th_round.
  • He was conscious of being exhausted, and overcome by an irresistibl_rowsiness; and, further, of being in his own bedroom. He gave the cap _arting squeeze, in which his hand relaxed; and had barely time to reel to be_efore he sank into a heavy sleep.