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A Christmas Carol
A Ghost Story of Christmas
Know what I like about Christmas? That everybody feels like giving to others. It's called the Christmas spirit.
This is a story of a man who had NO Christmas spirit. His name was Ebenezer Scrooge.
Scrooge was a money-lender. If people needed money he loaned it to them. When they paid him back, he made them give him more money than he had loaned them in the first place. This extra charge is called "interest"... but ask your parents how "interesting" they find it!
Ebenezer Scrooge was money-lending partners with Jacob Marley, in a company called "Scrooge & Marley".
At the time of this story, Marley had been dead for seven years. But Scrooge was too cheap to pay to re-paint the sign!
Mr. Scrooge had an assistant clerk, whose name was Bob Cratchit. Bob Cratchit worked very hard, but Scrooge paid him very little. But Cratchit stayed on, because he needed to support his family and jobs are hard to find.
Scrooge was 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; and spoke out shrewdly in his
Once upon a time – on Christmas Eve – old Scrooge sat busy in his counting-house. It was cold, bleak, biting weather. Into the freezing cold front office where Bob Cratchit worked, burst Scrooge's nephew, Freddy.
Freddy was always happy and cheerful. He wished his uncle Scrooge a Merry Christmas.
Scrooge having no better answer ready on the spur of the moment, said, "Bah!"; and followed it up with "Humbug."
Freddy asked him to come over for Christmas dinner, and not to be so angry.
Scrooge replied, "What else can I be, when I live in such a world of fools as this?
Merry Christmas! What reason have you to be merry? If I could work my will, 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!"
Freddy shouted 'Merry Christmas', and ran out!
Scrooge closed up his office and told Cratchit to be at work early on Boxing Day to make up for being off on Christmas.
Then Scrooge went home. There was a boy singing Christmas carols, and Scrooge knocked him over. He entered his dark house. 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 put on his dressing-gown and slippers, and his nightcap; and sat down before the fire.
The ghost came closer and Scrooge saw it was the ghost of his dead partner Jacob Marley! Marley was wearing a length of heavy metal chain, and hanging from it were huge locks.
At 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.
He took Scrooge to the window and showed him the winter air outside. The air was filled with phantoms. The ghost said that people are meant to wander the Earth among their fellow people. If they do not do so in life, they will do so in death.
"Tonight you will be haunted," said the Ghost, "by Three Spirits."
Scrooge said "Humbug!" and went up to bed.
But he could not sleep.
The clock struck midnight. The curtains of his bed were drawn aside; and Scrooge found himself face to face with the first Ghost.
It was a strange figure – like a child, yet not so like a child as like an old man. 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. From the crown of its head there sprung a bright clear jet of light.
He told Scrooge that he was the Ghost of Christmas Past.
The child was Scrooge as a young boy. The grown-up Scrooge sobbed. The Ghost asked him what was the matter.
"Nothing," said Scrooge. "There was a boy singing a Christmas Carol at my door last night. I should have given him something: that's all."
The Ghost flew Scrooge back to his first job as a clerk. His boss was named Mr. Fezziwig.
Fezziwig said, "Yo ho, Ebenezer! No more work to-night. Christmas Eve!" In came Fezziwig's family and friends for a party! They had food and drink. Everybody laughed and danced.
Scrooge looked on sadly. The Ghost asked if something was the matter.
"No," said Scrooge, "I should like to say a word or two to my clerk just now. That's all. Now take me back. Haunt me no longer!"
Scrooge was back in his bed in his own room. But he saw a light under the door. He opened his door and saw the second Ghost.
It said it was the Ghost of Christmas Present.
It was clothed in one simple green robe. on its head it wore no other covering than a holly wreath, set here and there with shining icicles. Its dark brown curls were long and as free as its genial face, its sparkling eye, and its joyful air.
The Ghost led him to the small Cratchit house.
Bob's wife Mrs. Cratchit was dressed poorly, setting the little table. Two smaller Cratchits, boy and girl, came tearing in.
In came Bob Cratchit, the father, with his threadbare clothes; and Tiny Tim upon his shoulder. Alas for Tiny Tim, he bore a
To the table they brought a simple dinner of a goose and apple sauce and mashed potatoes.
But to the Cratchits it was the most wonderful Christmas feast ever.
Bob Cratchit said,"A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us!"
"God bless us every one!" said Tiny Tim.
"Spirit," said Scrooge, with an interest he had never felt before, "tell me if Tiny Tim will live."
The Ghost replied that he saw an empty chair in the poor chimney-corner, and a crutch without an owner.
If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, the child will die."
"No, no!" said Scrooge.
The Ghost of Christmas Present flew on to Scrooge's nephew Freddy's house.
They saw Freddy laughing, saying how his Uncle Scrooge had called Christmas a humbug!
Freddy's wife said she did not like Scrooge.
Freddy laughed again and said, "I am sorry for him. He only hurts himself. He takes it into his head to dislike us, and he won't come and dine with us. What happens? It's he who misses a good dinner!"
Freddy and his wife and their guests did have a good dinner, and they played games and laughed. Scrooge enjoyed watching them!
Freddy raised his glass to make a toast.
"A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to the old man, whatever he is!" said Scrooge's nephew. "He wouldn't take it from me, but may he have it, nevertheless. To Uncle Scrooge!"
And the Ghost flew Scrooge over the country, far and wide, and everywhere they went people were smiling and filled with Christmas spirit.
The Ghost and Scrooge landed in the dark. From the foldings of its robe, it brought two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment.
"Spirit! Are they yours?" Scrooge asked.
"They are Man's," said the Spirit, looking down upon them. "And they cling to me. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want.
Beware them both."
The bell again struck twelve.
Scrooge looked about him but the Ghost of Chrtistmas Present was gone.
Now he beheld a Phantom, draped and hooded, coming, like a mist along the ground, towards him. It was shrouded in a deep black garment.
"I am in the presence of the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come?" said Scrooge. "You are about to show me shadows of the things that will happen in the time before us. Is that so, Spirit?"
The Ghost flew him to poor Bob Cratchit's house; the dwelling he had visited before; and found the mother and the children seated round the fire. Quiet. Very quiet. The noisy little Cratchits were as still as statues in one corner.
Bob Cratchit said that Freddy had been to see him to say he was sorry for their loss. He said how nice Freddy was, and that it was as if Freddy had really known Tiny Tim.
He pointed to the empty chair, and began to cry. "We will never forget poor Tiny Tim!"
The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come flew Scrooge to a churchyard.
The Spirit stood among the graves, and pointed down to one.
Scrooge advanced towards it trembling. The Phantom was exactly as it had been, but he dreaded that he saw new meaning in its
The finger pointed from the grave to him, and back again.
"No, Spirit! Oh no, no! Assure me that I yet may change these shadows you have shown me, by an altered life!
I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future.
The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me.
I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.
Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!"
Suddenly the Ghost was gone and Scrooge was back in his own bed. YES! The bed was his own, the room was his own.
"I don't know what to do!" cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath; and making a perfect loon of himself.
"I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world. Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!"
Scrooge leaned out the window and saw a boy.
"What's to-day, my fine fellow?" said Scrooge. The boy replied that it was Christmas Day.
"It's Christmas Day!" said Scrooge to himself. "I haven't missed it. The Spirits have done it all in one night. They can do anything like that. Young man, here is some money. Run to the butcher and buy the biggest turkey. Have them send it to Bob Cratchit's! He sha'n't know who sends it. It's as big as you! It's twice the size of Tiny Tim. Merry Christmas!"
Scrooge shaved and dressed. He went to a house he had never visited before. He knocked on the door.
"Fred!" said Scrooge.
"Why bless my soul!" cried Fred, "who's that?"
"It's I. Your uncle Scrooge. I have come to dinner. Will you let me in, Fred?"
Freddy pulled him inside and it was the best Christmas dinner ever. Wonderful party, wonderful games, won-der-ful happiness!
The next morning, Bob Cratchit came in very late. Scrooge was behind his desk. Bob Cratchit shook with fear, because Scrooge looked very, very angry.
He jumped up and grabbed Bob Cratchit
"I am not going to stand this sort of thing any longer... a Merry Christmas, Bob! A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you, for many a year! I'll raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your struggling family, Bob Cratchit!"
Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did NOT die, he was a second father.
He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world.
His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.
It was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well.
May that be truly said of us, and all of us!
And so, as Tiny Tim observed,
God bless Us, Every One!