A CHRISTMAS CAROL (IN PROSE BEING, A Ghost Story of Christmas)
by Charles Dickens
(OCF editing – Part 15)
And perhaps it was the pleasure the good Spirit had in
showing off this power of his, or else it was his own kind,
generous, hearty nature, and his sympathy with all poor
men, that led him straight to Scrooge’s clerk’s; for there he
went, and took Scrooge with him, holding to his robe; and
on the threshold of the door the Spirit smiled, and stopped
to bless Bob Cratchit’s dwelling with the sprinkling of his
torch. Think of that! Bob had but fifteen “Bob” a-week
himself; he pocketed on Saturdays but fifteen copies of his
Christian name; and yet the Ghost of Christmas Present
blessed his four-roomed house!
Then up rose Mrs. Cratchit, Cratchit’s wife, dressed out
but poorly in a twice-turned gown, but brave in ribbons,
which are cheap and make a goodly show for sixpence; and
she laid the cloth, assisted by Belinda Cratchit, second of
her daughters, also brave in ribbons; while Master Peter
Cratchit plunged a fork into the saucepan of potatoes, and
getting the corners of his monstrous shirt collar (Bob’s private
property, conferred upon his son and heir in honour of the
day) into his mouth, rejoiced to find himself so gallantly
attired, and yearned to show his linen in the fashionable Parks.
And now two smaller Cratchits, boy and girl, came tearing
in, screaming that outside the baker’s they had smelt the
goose, and known it for their own; and basking in luxurious
thoughts of sage and onion, these young Cratchits danced
about the table, and exalted Master Peter Cratchit to the
skies, while he (not proud, although his collars nearly choked
him) blew the fire, until the slow potatoes bubbling up,
knocked loudly at the saucepan-lid to be let out and
“What has ever got your precious father then?” said Mrs.
Cratchit. “And your brother, Tiny Tim! And Martha
warn’t as late last Christmas Day by half-an-hour?”
“Here’s Martha, mother!” said a girl, appearing as she
“Here’s Martha, mother!” cried the two young Cratchits.
“Hurrah! There’s such a goose, Martha!”
“Why, bless your heart alive, my dear, how late you are!”
said Mrs. Cratchit, kissing her a dozen times, and taking off
her shawl and bonnet for her with officious zeal.
“We’d a deal of work to finish up last night,” replied the
girl, “and had to clear away this morning, mother!”
“Well! Never mind so long as you are come,” said Mrs.
Cratchit. “Sit ye down before the fire, my dear, and have
a warm, Lord bless ye!”
“No, no! There’s father coming,” cried the two young
Cratchits, who were everywhere at once. “Hide, Martha,
So Martha hid herself, and in came little Bob, the father,
with at least three feet of comforter exclusive of the fringe,
hanging down before him; and his threadbare clothes darned
up and brushed, to look seasonable; and Tiny Tim upon his
shoulder. Alas for Tiny Tim, he bore a little crutch, and
had his limbs supported by an iron frame!
“Why, where’s our Martha?” cried Bob Cratchit, looking
“Not coming,” said Mrs. Cratchit.
“Not coming!” said Bob, with a sudden declension in his
high spirits; for he had been Tim’s blood horse all the way
from church, and had come home rampant. “Not coming
upon Christmas Day!”
Martha didn’t like to see him disappointed, if it were only
in joke; so she came out prematurely from behind the closet
door, and ran into his arms, while the two young Cratchits
hustled Tiny Tim, and bore him off into the wash-house,
that he might hear the pudding singing in the copper.
“And how did little Tim behave?” asked Mrs. Cratchit,
when she had rallied Bob on his credulity, and Bob had
hugged his daughter to his heart’s content.
“As good as gold,” said Bob, “and better. Somehow he
gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the
strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home,
that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he
was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember
upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind
Bob’s voice was tremulous when he told them this, and
trembled more when he said that Tiny Tim was growing
strong and hearty.
His active little crutch was heard upon the floor, and back
came Tiny Tim before another word was spoken, escorted by
his brother and sister to his stool before the fire; and while
Bob, turning up his cuffs–as if, poor fellow, they were
capable of being made more shabby–compounded some hot
mixture in a jug with gin and lemons, and stirred it round
and round and put it on the hob to simmer; Master Peter,
and the two ubiquitous young Cratchits went to fetch the
goose, with which they soon returned in high procession.
Such a bustle ensued that you might have thought a goose
the rarest of all birds; a feathered phenomenon, to which a
black swan was a matter of course–and in truth it was
something very like it in that house. Mrs. Cratchit made
the gravy (ready beforehand in a little saucepan) hissing hot;
Master Peter mashed the potatoes with incredible vigour;
Miss Belinda sweetened up the apple-sauce; Martha dusted
the hot plates; Bob took Tiny Tim beside him in a tiny
corner at the table; the two young Cratchits set chairs for
everybody, not forgetting themselves, and mounting guard
upon their posts, crammed spoons into their mouths, lest
they should shriek for goose before their turn came to be
helped. At last the dishes were set on, and grace was
said. It was succeeded by a breathless pause, as Mrs.
Cratchit, looking slowly all along the carving-knife, prepared
to plunge it in the breast; but when she did, and when the
long expected gush of stuffing issued forth, one murmur of
delight arose all round the board, and even Tiny Tim,
excited by the two young Cratchits, beat on the table with
the handle of his knife, and feebly cried Hurrah!
There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn’t believe
there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and
flavour, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal
admiration. Eked out by apple-sauce and mashed potatoes,
it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family; indeed, as
Mrs. Cratchit said with great delight (surveying one small
atom of a bone upon the dish), they hadn’t ate it all at
last! Yet every one had had enough, and the youngest
Cratchits in particular, were steeped in sage and onion to
the eyebrows! But now, the plates being changed by Miss
Belinda, Mrs. Cratchit left the room alone–too nervous to
bear witnesses–to take the pudding up and bring it in.
Suppose it should not be done enough! Suppose it should
break in turning out! Suppose somebody should have got
over the wall of the back-yard, and stolen it, while they
were merry with the goose–a supposition at which the two
young Cratchits became livid! All sorts of horrors were
Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of
the copper. A smell like a washing-day! That was the
cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a pastrycook’s next
door to each other, with a laundress’s next door to that!
That was the pudding! In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit
entered–flushed, but smiling proudly–with the pudding,
like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half
of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with
Christmas holly stuck into the top.
Oh, a wonderful pudding! Bob Cratchit said, and calmly
too, that he regarded it as the greatest success achieved by
Mrs. Cratchit since their marriage. Mrs. Cratchit said that
now the weight was off her mind, she would confess she had
had her doubts about the quantity of flour. Everybody had
something to say about it, but nobody said or thought it
was at all a small pudding for a large family. It would have
been flat heresy to do so. Any Cratchit would have blushed
to hint at such a thing.