A CHRISTMAS CAROL (IN PROSE BEING, A Ghost Story of Christmas)
by Charles Dickens
(OCF editing – Part 10)
There 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.
But 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
When 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.
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. 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 very clear.
“A small matter,” said the Ghost, “to make these silly
folks so full of gratitude.”
“Small!” echoed Scrooge.
The 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,
“Why! 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?”
“It 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 ’em up: what then? The happiness
he gives, is quite as great as if it cost a fortune.”
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 my clerk just now. That’s all.”
His 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.