Losing Our Mittens

In the new environment of rampant voter fraud our electoral objectives become more circumscribed.  Attempting to win elections in places like Pennsylvania and Arizona seems already to be too problematic to get excited about.  But Utah might still work.  So, with that in mind I have selected the primarying of Mittens Romney as the blood sport event of 2023/24.

And it should be a lot of fun.  Romney has already put his best foot forward with the gay marriage bill that he surrendered to.  It won’t be necessary to dig into ancient history to identify his sins against normalcy.  They’re constantly appearing.  Not knowing much about Utah’s politics, I can’t say for sure whether this will be a tough fight but the reward is so high that it’s impossible to forego the challenge.  Surely some champion will step forward and flatten Mitt with a right cross to his glass jaw.

I have been forced to observe Mitt Romney for over twenty-eight years, ever since his failed senate campaign in Massachusetts back in 1994.  In a state like Massachusetts an actual conservative hasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of being elected to state wide office.  Only a spineless creature like Mitt could possibly end up as a Massachusetts Republican governor.  But Mitt managed it handily.  And he dutifully absorbed the slaps and kicks that the legislature and press rewarded him with.  And he never fought back.  He was the perfect whipping boy.

And he has never failed to display his true qualities.  He’s duplicitous, servile and based on his own words without any conservative convictions.  The character from literature that he most reminds me of is Charles Dickens’ villain, Uriah Heep.  He displays humility and obsequity but in reality, he has nothing but contempt for the voters of his own party that he claims to represent.  And deceit is his standard operating procedure.

During the 1994 race Romney was quoted as saying he had no qualms about taking the pro-abortion position.  This while claiming to be a devout member of the Church of Latter-Day Saints that to this day condemns the practice.  It should be rather easy to push the religious fraction of the Utah electorate away from old Mitt just based on that.  I’m sure all the recent immigrants from California in Salt Lake City will vote for Mitt, even if they have to temporarily re-register as Republicans to vote in the primary.  But it seems to me that such a worthy undertaking as kicking Mitt to the curb should be embraced wholeheartedly by all Deplorables wherever they abide.

It’s apparent after the latest demonstration of the failure of Republicans to win at the ballot box that there is no such thing as a sure thing for conservatives in America.   We are embedded in a country that is riddled with progressives and their useful idiots.  But still, it’s important for us to try and enjoy ourselves when there is the possibility of harpooning anything as exciting as the Great White Whale, Moby Mitt.  Booting him out of his senate seat in the primary is just too wonderful to omit.  If any of you have personal knowledge of Utah politics and can share your insights, I’d be very grateful to hear them.  Hell, I might even donate to the cause, it’s that exciting.

Now I’m sure Mitt Romney probably has some good points.  His wife and children may like him, maybe.  Maybe even that dog that he strapped to the roof of his car might have liked him, maybe.  But we don’t have to like him.  And we shouldn’t feel bad wanting to sending him packing.  He’s a billionaire and a phony who pretends to be on our side.  That’s reason enough to want him gone.

The Inside Baseball of Film Versions of “A Christmas Carol” – Part 1

Anyone who has been reading my posts on this site for more than a year knows that I am a Christmas Carol fanatic.  So as a fair warning I’ll just say that this post is only for true Christmas Carol devotees.  Every word of it is subjective and dedicated to minutiae.  I have four versions of the film that I like and each has an aspect in which it excels the other three.  Every year I re-evaluate the films and debate with myself on trivial points that would have exactly zero importance to the overwhelming majority of the human inhabitants of planet earth.  Here goes.

Material that wasn’t in the book

A Christmas Carol was a novella.  It is brief and in places lacks details about the characters and events.

For instance, the book never says why Scrooge’s father treated him so poorly.  In the 1951 version it is stated that his father held it against him that his mother died in his childbirth.  And in the same version a similar grudge exists as the reason why Scrooge dislikes his nephew Fred.  It is shown that his sister Fan died giving birth to Fred.  In the 1984 version the same reason for his father’s dislike for Scrooge is presented.  But the death of Fan during Fred’s birth is not added.  What is interesting about these additions is that based on the original story they would be impossible.  In the book Fan is quite a bit younger than her brother Ebenezer.  Therefore, their mother couldn’t have died at the birth of her older child.  I suppose Fan could have been Ebenezer’s half-sister but I don’t imagine that a twice married man would still be holding his first wife’s death as a grudge against his son.  So, this addition is spurious.  But it is extremely dramatic and provides a timely reason for both father’s and son’s misanthropic behavior that could be somewhat excused and so leave room for deserved forgiveness.  And it has a highly effective scene where the older Scrooge hears his dying sister ask for his promise to take care of her infant son Fred.  We see that the younger Scrooge never heard the dying plea and the older Scrooge gets to belatedly beg his beloved deceased sister’s forgiveness for his heartless treatment of her only child.

And notice that the 1984 version borrows both the discrepancy of Fan’s age and the spurious grudge of Scrooge’s father but neglects the equally spurious grudge of Scrooge for his nephew.  I guess they thought those additions gave resonance to the story.

In both the 1951 and 1984 versions Scrooge’s fiancée is introduced during the Fezziwig party scene and give a name (Alice in the earlier version, Belle in the later).  Neither this early link to Scrooge’s life or the name show up in the book.  In addition, in the 1951 version it skips the scene introducing this woman’s later life with husband and large family but instead substitutes a scene during the Ghost of Christmas Present section where Belle is volunteering at a shelter for the poor.  Now whereas tying Scrooge’s love to the Fezziwig era of his life is fine and in fact better than the way the book presents it, I do not particularly favor the poor shelter addition.  It seems unwarranted.  I think the scene where she is surrounded by her family is dramatic enough in that it illustrates what happiness Scrooge has lost.

In the book the Ghost of Christmas Present visits the house of Scrooge’s nephew Fred.  The dinner guests are presented enjoying games such as blindman buff and forfeits which I take to be word games such as twenty questions.  One of the rounds determined that it was a disagreeable animal that growled and lived in London.  And, of course, it turns out to be Uncle Scrooge.  In the 1984 version the story is adapted so the dinner guests are playing a game called similes where they need to guess the end of a simile.  When Fred asks his wife to complete “as tight as,” she replies “your Uncle Scrooge’s purse strings.”  Scrooge hears this while in the presence of the Ghost of Christmas Present.  After his repentance and on the actual Christmas Day he meets his niece and discussing the game of similes he advises her that the simile, in case it came up, was “as tight as a drum.”  Nicely played.

From the book we know that Jacob Marley died seven years earlier on Christmas Eve.  And we are informed that Scrooge inherited his house.  What the 1951 version does is tie these facts together in a scene.  We have Jacob Marley’s charwoman come to the office and interact with Bob Cratchit and Scrooge.  Then we have Scrooge being warned by a dying Marley that their misanthropy would endanger their immortal souls.  And this then links both the charwoman’s stealing of his bed curtains and bed clothing and her later spurious appearance after the last of the spirits depart and Scrooge wakes up on actual Christmas morning.  In this scene the charwoman (identified incorrectly as Mrs. Dilber) is bringing in Scrooge’s breakfast and witnesses his reformation into a caring human being.  His manic happiness frightens her and when he gives her a gold sovereign coin as a present, she assumes it’s a bribe to keep her quiet about his strange behavior.  When he tells her it’s a Christmas present and he is quintupling her salary she is overcome with happiness and rushes off with her own characteristic version of a Merry Christmas greeting.  I find this addition to the story especially apt.  In the story the charwoman selling Scrooge’s bed curtains comes off very negatively.  But humanizing her by including her positively in the scene about Marley’s death and allowing a rapprochement with a penitent Scrooge on Christmas morning improves the story and ties these aspects of the story together in a way that gives the story more depth.  It reinforces that Scrooge’s repentance touches every aspect of the world we have been shown in a positive way.

Overall I’d say that the film additions to the plot have been acceptable and true to the spirit of the story.

 

The Inside Baseball of Film Versions of “A Christmas Carol” – Part 2

27DEC2021 – Quote of the Day – A Christmas Carol – Part 23

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (IN PROSE BEING, A Ghost Story of Christmas)

by Charles Dickens

(OCF editing – Part 23)

STAVE V:  THE END OF IT

 

YES! and the bedpost was his own. The bed was his own,

the room was his own. Best and happiest of all, the Time

before him was his own, to make amends in!

 

“I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!”

Scrooge repeated, as he scrambled out of bed. “The Spirits

of all Three shall strive within me. Oh Jacob Marley!

Heaven, and the Christmas Time be praised for this! I say

it on my knees, old Jacob; on my knees!”

 

He was so fluttered and so glowing with his good intentions,

that his broken voice would scarcely answer to his

call. He had been sobbing violently in his conflict with the

Spirit, and his face was wet with tears.

 

“They are not torn down,” cried Scrooge, folding one of

his bed-curtains in his arms, “they are not torn down, rings

and all. They are here–I am here–the shadows of the

things that would have been, may be dispelled. They will

  1. I know they will!”

 

His hands were busy with his garments all this time;

turning them inside out, putting them on upside down,

tearing them, mislaying them, making them parties to every

kind of extravagance.

 

“I don’t know what to do!” cried Scrooge, laughing and

crying in the same breath; and making a perfect Laocoön of

himself with his stockings. “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!”

 

He had frisked into the sitting-room, and was now standing

there: perfectly winded.

 

“There’s the saucepan that the gruel was in!” cried

Scrooge, starting off again, and going round the fireplace.

“There’s the door, by which the Ghost of Jacob Marley

entered! There’s the corner where the Ghost of Christmas

Present, sat! There’s the window where I saw the wandering

Spirits! It’s all right, it’s all true, it all happened.

Ha ha ha!”

 

Really, for a man who had been out of practice for so

many years, it was a splendid laugh, a most illustrious laugh.

The father of a long, long line of brilliant laughs!

 

“I don’t know what day of the month it is!” said

Scrooge. “I don’t know how long I’ve been among the

Spirits. I don’t know anything. I’m quite a baby. Never

mind. I don’t care. I’d rather be a baby. Hallo! Whoop!

Hallo here!”

 

He was checked in his transports by the churches ringing

out the lustiest peals he had ever heard. Clash, clang,

hammer; ding, dong, bell. Bell, dong, ding; hammer, clang,

clash! Oh, glorious, glorious!

 

Running to the window, he opened it, and put out his

head. No fog, no mist; clear, bright, jovial, stirring, cold;

cold, piping for the blood to dance to; Golden sunlight;

Heavenly sky; sweet fresh air; merry bells. Oh, glorious!

Glorious!

 

“What’s to-day!” cried Scrooge, calling downward to a

boy in Sunday clothes, who perhaps had loitered in to look

about him.

 

“EH?” returned the boy, with all his might of wonder.

 

“What’s to-day, my fine fellow?” said Scrooge.

 

“To-day!” replied the boy. “Why, 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 they like. Of course they can. Of

course they can. Hallo, my fine fellow!”

 

“Hallo!” returned the boy.

 

“Do you know the Poulterer’s, in the next street but one,

at the corner?” Scrooge inquired.

 

“I should hope I did,” replied the lad.

 

“An intelligent boy!” said Scrooge. “A remarkable boy!

Do you know whether they’ve sold the prize Turkey that

was hanging up there?–Not the little prize Turkey: the

big one?”

 

“What, the one as big as me?” returned the boy.

 

“What a delightful boy!” said Scrooge. “It’s a pleasure

to talk to him. Yes, my buck!”

 

“It’s hanging there now,” replied the boy.

 

“Is it?” said Scrooge. “Go and buy it.”

 

“Walk-ER!” exclaimed the boy.

 

“No, no,” said Scrooge, “I am in earnest. Go and buy

it, and tell ’em to bring it here, that I may give them the

direction where to take it. Come back with the man, and

I’ll give you a shilling. Come back with him in less than

five minutes and I’ll give you half-a-crown!”

 

The boy was off like a shot. He must have had a steady

hand at a trigger who could have got a shot off half so fast.

 

“I’ll send it to Bob Cratchit’s!” whispered Scrooge,

rubbing his hands, and splitting with a laugh. “He sha’n’t

know who sends it. It’s twice the size of Tiny Tim. Joe

Miller never made such a joke as sending it to Bob’s

will be!”

 

The hand in which he wrote the address was not a steady

one, but write it he did, somehow, and went down-stairs to

open the street door, ready for the coming of the poulterer’s

man. As he stood there, waiting his arrival, the knocker

caught his eye.

 

“I shall love it, as long as I live!” cried Scrooge, patting

it with his hand. “I scarcely ever looked at it before.

What an honest expression it has in its face! It’s a

wonderful knocker!–Here’s the Turkey! Hallo! Whoop!

How are you! Merry Christmas!”

 

It was a Turkey! He never could have stood upon his

legs, that bird. He would have snapped ’em short off in a

minute, like sticks of sealing-wax.

 

“Why, it’s impossible to carry that to Camden Town,”

said Scrooge. “You must have a cab.”

 

The chuckle with which he said this, and the chuckle with

which he paid for the Turkey, and the chuckle with which

he paid for the cab, and the chuckle with which he recompensed

the boy, were only to be exceeded by the chuckle

with which he sat down breathless in his chair again, and

chuckled till he cried.

 

Shaving was not an easy task, for his hand continued to

shake very much; and shaving requires attention, even when

you don’t dance while you are at it. But if he had cut the

end of his nose off, he would have put a piece of

sticking-plaister over it, and been quite satisfied.

 

He dressed himself “all in his best,” and at last got out

into the streets. The people were by this time pouring forth,

as he had seen them with the Ghost of Christmas Present;

and walking with his hands behind him, Scrooge regarded

every one with a delighted smile. He looked so irresistibly

pleasant, in a word, that three or four good-humoured fellows

said, “Good morning, sir! A merry Christmas to you!”

And Scrooge said often afterwards, that of all the blithe

sounds he had ever heard, those were the blithest in his ears.

 

He had not gone far, when coming on towards him he

beheld the portly gentleman, who had walked into his

counting-house the day before, and said, “Scrooge and Marley’s, I

believe?”  It sent a pang across his heart to think how this

old gentleman would look upon him when they met; but he

knew what path lay straight before him, and he took it.

 

“My dear sir,” said Scrooge, quickening his pace, and

taking the old gentleman by both his hands. “How do you

do? I hope you succeeded yesterday. It was very kind of

you. A merry Christmas to you, sir!”

 

“Mr. Scrooge?”

 

“Yes,” said Scrooge. “That is my name, and I fear it

may not be pleasant to you. Allow me to ask your pardon.

And will you have the goodness”–here Scrooge whispered in

his ear.

 

“Lord bless me!” cried the gentleman, as if his breath

were taken away. “My dear Mr. Scrooge, are you serious?”

 

“If you please,” said Scrooge. “Not a farthing less. A

great many back-payments are included in it, I assure you.

Will you do me that favour?”

 

“My dear sir,” said the other, shaking hands with him.

“I don’t know what to say to such munifi–“

 

“Don’t say anything, please,” retorted Scrooge. “Come

and see me. Will you come and see me?”

 

“I will!” cried the old gentleman. And it was clear he

meant to do it.

 

“Thank’ee,” said Scrooge. “I am much obliged to you.

I thank you fifty times. Bless you!”

 

He went to church, and walked about the streets, and

watched the people hurrying to and fro, and patted children

on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into

the kitchens of houses, and up to the windows, and found

that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never

dreamed that any walk–that anything–could give him so

much happiness. In the afternoon he turned his steps

towards his nephew’s house.

 

He passed the door a dozen times, before he had the

courage to go up and knock. But he made a dash, and

did it:

 

“Is your master at home, my dear?” said Scrooge to the

girl. Nice girl! Very.

 

“Yes, sir.”

 

“Where is he, my love?” said Scrooge.

 

“He’s in the dining-room, sir, along with mistress. I’ll

show you up-stairs, if you please.”

 

“Thank’ee. He knows me,” said Scrooge, with his hand

already on the dining-room lock. “I’ll go in here, my dear.”

 

He turned it gently, and sidled his face in, round the door.

They were looking at the table (which was spread out in

great array); for these young housekeepers are always nervous

on such points, and like to see that everything is right.

 

“Fred!” said Scrooge.

 

Dear heart alive, how his niece by marriage started!

Scrooge had forgotten, for the moment, about her sitting

in the corner with the footstool, or he wouldn’t have done

it, on any account.

 

“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?”

 

Let him in! It is a mercy he didn’t shake his arm off.

He was at home in five minutes. Nothing could be heartier.

His niece looked just the same. So did Topper when he

came. So did the plump sister when she came. So did

every one when they came. Wonderful party, wonderful

games, wonderful unanimity, won-der-ful happiness!

 

But he was early at the office next morning. Oh, he was

early there. If he could only be there first, and catch Bob

Cratchit coming late! That was the thing he had set his

heart upon.

 

And he did it; yes, he did! The clock struck nine. No

Bob. A quarter past. No Bob. He was full eighteen

minutes and a half behind his time. Scrooge sat with his

door wide open, that he might see him come into the Tank.

 

His hat was off, before he opened the door; his comforter

too. He was on his stool in a jiffy; driving away with his

pen, as if he were trying to overtake nine o’clock.

 

“Hallo!” growled Scrooge, in his accustomed voice, as

near as he could feign it. “What do you mean by coming

here at this time of day?”

 

“I am very sorry, sir,” said Bob. “I am behind my time.”

 

“You are?” repeated Scrooge. “Yes. I think you are.

Step this way, sir, if you please.”

 

“It’s only once a year, sir,” pleaded Bob, appearing from

the Tank. “It shall not be repeated. I was making rather

merry yesterday, sir.”

 

“Now, I’ll tell you what, my friend,” said Scrooge, “I

am not going to stand this sort of thing any longer. And

therefore,” he continued, leaping from his stool, and giving

Bob such a dig in the waistcoat that he staggered back into

the Tank again; “and therefore I am about to raise your

salary!”

 

Bob trembled, and got a little nearer to the ruler. He

had a momentary idea of knocking Scrooge down with it,

holding him, and calling to the people in the court for help

and a strait-waistcoat.

 

“A merry Christmas, Bob!” said Scrooge, with an earnestness

that could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the

back. “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, and we will discuss

your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of

smoking bishop, Bob! Make up the fires, and buy another

coal-scuttle before you dot another i, 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. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him,

but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was

wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this

globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill

of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these

would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they

should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in

less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was

quite enough for him.

 

He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon

the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was

always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas

well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that

be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim

observed, God bless Us, Every One!

 

Charles Dickens

26DEC2021 – Quote of the Day – A Christmas Carol – Part 22

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (IN PROSE BEING, A Ghost Story of Christmas)

by Charles Dickens

(OCF editing – Part 22)

 

The Ghost conducted him through several streets familiar

to his feet; and as they went along, Scrooge looked here and

there to find himself, but nowhere was he to be seen. They

entered 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, and sat looking up at Peter,

who had a book before him. The mother and her daughters

were engaged in sewing. But surely they were very quiet!

 

“‘And He took a child, and set him in the midst of

them.'”

 

Where had Scrooge heard those words? He had not

dreamed them. The boy must have read them out, as he

and the Spirit crossed the threshold. Why did he not

go on?

 

The mother laid her work upon the table, and put her

hand up to her face.

 

“The colour hurts my eyes,” she said.

 

The colour? Ah, poor Tiny Tim!

 

“They’re better now again,” said Cratchit’s wife. “It

makes them weak by candle-light; and I wouldn’t show weak

eyes to your father when he comes home, for the world. It

must be near his time.”

 

“Past it rather,” Peter answered, shutting up his book.

“But I think he has walked a little slower than he used,

these few last evenings, mother.”

 

They were very quiet again. At last she said, and in a

steady, cheerful voice, that only faltered once:

 

“I have known him walk with–I have known him walk

with Tiny Tim upon his shoulder, very fast indeed.”

 

“And so have I,” cried Peter. “Often.”

 

“And so have I,” exclaimed another. So had all.

 

“But he was very light to carry,” she resumed, intent upon

her work, “and his father loved him so, that it was no

trouble: no trouble. And there is your father at the door!”

 

She hurried out to meet him; and little Bob in his comforter

–he had need of it, poor fellow–came in. His tea

was ready for him on the hob, and they all tried who should

help him to it most. Then the two young Cratchits got

upon his knees and laid, each child a little cheek, against

his face, as if they said, “Don’t mind it, father. Don’t be

grieved!”

 

Bob was very cheerful with them, and spoke pleasantly to

all the family. He looked at the work upon the table, and

praised the industry and speed of Mrs. Cratchit and the girls.

They would be done long before Sunday, he said.

 

“Sunday! You went to-day, then, Robert?” said his

wife.

 

“Yes, my dear,” returned Bob. “I wish you could have

gone. It would have done you good to see how green a

place it is. But you’ll see it often. I promised him that I

would walk there on a Sunday. My little, little child!”

cried Bob. “My little child!”

 

He broke down all at once. He couldn’t help it. If he

could have helped it, he and his child would have been farther

apart perhaps than they were.

 

He left the room, and went up-stairs into the room above,

which was lighted cheerfully, and hung with Christmas.

There was a chair set close beside the child, and there were

signs of some one having been there, lately. Poor Bob sat

down in it, and when he had thought a little and composed

himself, he kissed the little face. He was reconciled to what

had happened, and went down again quite happy.

 

They drew about the fire, and talked; the girls and mother

working still. Bob told them of the extraordinary kindness

of Mr. Scrooge’s nephew, whom he had scarcely seen but

once, and who, meeting him in the street that day, and seeing

that he looked a little–“just a little down you know,” said

Bob, inquired what had happened to distress him. “On

which,” said Bob, “for he is the pleasantest-spoken gentleman

you ever heard, I told him. ‘I am heartily sorry for it, Mr.

Cratchit,’ he said, ‘and heartily sorry for your good wife.’

By the bye, how he ever knew that, I don’t know.”

 

“Knew what, my dear?”

 

“Why, that you were a good wife,” replied Bob.

 

“Everybody knows that!” said Peter.

 

“Very well observed, my boy!” cried Bob. “I hope they

  1. ‘Heartily sorry,’ he said, ‘for your good wife. If I

can be of service to you in any way,’ he said, giving me

his card, ‘that’s where I live. Pray come to me.’ Now, it

wasn’t,” cried Bob, “for the sake of anything he might be

able to do for us, so much as for his kind way, that this was

quite delightful. It really seemed as if he had known our

Tiny Tim, and felt with us.”

 

“I’m sure he’s a good soul!” said Mrs. Cratchit.

 

“You would be surer of it, my dear,” returned Bob, “if

you saw and spoke to him. I shouldn’t be at all surprised–

mark what I say!–if he got Peter a better situation.”

 

“Only hear that, Peter,” said Mrs. Cratchit.

 

“And then,” cried one of the girls, “Peter will be keeping

company with some one, and setting up for himself.”

 

“Get along with you!” retorted Peter, grinning.

 

“It’s just as likely as not,” said Bob, “one of these days;

though there’s plenty of time for that, my dear. But however

and whenever we part from one another, I am sure we

shall none of us forget poor Tiny Tim–shall we–or this

first parting that there was among us?”

 

“Never, father!” cried they all.

 

“And I know,” said Bob, “I know, my dears, that when

we recollect how patient and how mild he was; although he

was a little, little child; we shall not quarrel easily among

ourselves, and forget poor Tiny Tim in doing it.”

 

“No, never, father!” they all cried again.

 

“I am very happy,” said little Bob, “I am very happy!”

 

Mrs. Cratchit kissed him, his daughters kissed him, the

two young Cratchits kissed him, and Peter and himself shook

hands. Spirit of Tiny Tim, thy childish essence was from

God!

 

“Spectre,” said Scrooge, “something informs me that our

parting moment is at hand. I know it, but I know not

how. Tell me what man that was whom we saw lying dead?”

 

The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come conveyed him, as

before–though at a different time, he thought: indeed, there

seemed no order in these latter visions, save that they were

in the Future–into the resorts of business men, but showed

him not himself. Indeed, the Spirit did not stay for anything,

but went straight on, as to the end just now desired,

until besought by Scrooge to tarry for a moment.

 

“This court,” said Scrooge, “through which we hurry now,

is where my place of occupation is, and has been for a length

of time. I see the house. Let me behold what I shall be,

in days to come!”

 

The Spirit stopped; the hand was pointed elsewhere.

 

“The house is yonder,” Scrooge exclaimed. “Why do you

point away?”

 

The inexorable finger underwent no change.

 

Scrooge hastened to the window of his office, and looked

  1. It was an office still, but not his. The furniture was

not the same, and the figure in the chair was not himself.

The Phantom pointed as before.

 

He joined it once again, and wondering why and whither

he had gone, accompanied it until they reached an iron gate.

He paused to look round before entering.

 

A churchyard. Here, then; the wretched man whose name

he had now to learn, lay underneath the ground. It was a

worthy place. Walled in by houses; overrun by grass and

weeds, the growth of vegetation’s death, not life; choked up

with too much burying; fat with repleted appetite. A

worthy place!

 

The Spirit stood among the graves, and pointed down to

One. He advanced towards it trembling. The Phantom was

exactly as it had been, but he dreaded that he saw new

meaning in its solemn shape.

 

“Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point,”

said Scrooge, “answer me one question. Are these the

shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of

things that May be, only?”

 

Still the Ghost pointed downward to the grave by which

it stood.

 

“Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if

persevered in, they must lead,” said Scrooge. “But if the

courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is

thus with what you show me!”

 

The Spirit was immovable as ever.

 

Scrooge crept towards it, trembling as he went; and

following the finger, read upon the stone of the neglected

grave his own name, EBENEZER SCROOGE.

 

“Am I that man who lay upon the bed?” he cried, upon

his knees.

 

The finger pointed from the grave to him, and back again.

 

“No, Spirit! Oh no, no!”

 

The finger still was there.

 

“Spirit!” he cried, tight clutching at its robe, “hear me!

I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I must

have been but for this intercourse. Why show me this, if I

am past all hope!”

 

For the first time the hand appeared to shake.

 

“Good Spirit,” he pursued, as down upon the ground he

fell before it: “Your nature intercedes for me, and pities

  1. Assure me that I yet may change these shadows you

have shown me, by an altered life!”

 

The kind hand trembled.

 

“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!”

 

In his agony, he caught the spectral hand. It sought to

free itself, but he was strong in his entreaty, and detained it.

The Spirit, stronger yet, repulsed him.

 

Holding up his hands in a last prayer to have his fate

reversed, he saw an alteration in the Phantom’s hood and dress.

It shrunk, collapsed, and dwindled down into a bedpost.

 

Charles Dickens

25DEC2021 – Quote of the Day – A Christmas Carol – Part 21

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (IN PROSE BEING, A Ghost Story of Christmas)

by Charles Dickens

(OCF editing – Part 21)

He recoiled in terror, for the scene had changed, and now

he almost touched a bed: a bare, uncurtained bed: on which,

beneath a ragged sheet, there lay a something covered up,

which, though it was dumb, announced itself in awful

language.

 

The room was very dark, too dark to be observed with

any accuracy, though Scrooge glanced round it in obedience

to a secret impulse, anxious to know what kind of room it

was. A pale light, rising in the outer air, fell straight upon

the bed; and on it, plundered and bereft, unwatched, unwept,

uncared for, was the body of this man.

 

Scrooge glanced towards the Phantom. Its steady hand

was pointed to the head. The cover was so carelessly adjusted

that the slightest raising of it, the motion of a finger upon

Scrooge’s part, would have disclosed the face. He thought

of it, felt how easy it would be to do, and longed to do it;

but had no more power to withdraw the veil than to dismiss

the spectre at his side.

 

Oh cold, cold, rigid, dreadful Death, set up thine altar

here, and dress it with such terrors as thou hast at thy

command: for this is thy dominion! But of the loved,

revered, and honoured head, thou canst not turn one hair

to thy dread purposes, or make one feature odious. It is

not that the hand is heavy and will fall down when released;

it is not that the heart and pulse are still; but that the

hand WAS open, generous, and true; the heart brave, warm,

and tender; and the pulse a man’s. Strike, Shadow, strike!

And see his good deeds springing from the wound, to sow

the world with life immortal!

 

No voice pronounced these words in Scrooge’s ears, and

yet he heard them when he looked upon the bed. He

thought, if this man could be raised up now, what would be

his foremost thoughts? Avarice, hard-dealing, griping cares?

They have brought him to a rich end, truly!

 

He lay, in the dark empty house, with not a man, a

woman, or a child, to say that he was kind to me in this

or that, and for the memory of one kind word I will be

kind to him. A cat was tearing at the door, and there was

a sound of gnawing rats beneath the hearth-stone. What

they wanted in the room of death, and why they were so

restless and disturbed, Scrooge did not dare to think.

 

“Spirit!” he said, “this is a fearful place. In leaving it,

I shall not leave its lesson, trust me. Let us go!”

 

Still the Ghost pointed with an unmoved finger to the

head.

 

“I understand you,” Scrooge returned, “and I would do

it, if I could. But I have not the power, Spirit. I have

not the power.”

 

Again it seemed to look upon him.

 

“If there is any person in the town, who feels emotion

caused by this man’s death,” said Scrooge quite agonised,

“show that person to me, Spirit, I beseech you!”

 

The Phantom spread its dark robe before him for a

moment, like a wing; and withdrawing it, revealed a room

by daylight, where a mother and her children were.

 

She was expecting some one, and with anxious eagerness;

for she walked up and down the room; started at every

sound; looked out from the window; glanced at the clock;

tried, but in vain, to work with her needle; and could hardly

bear the voices of the children in their play.

 

At length the long-expected knock was heard. She hurried

to the door, and met her husband; a man whose face was

careworn and depressed, though he was young. There was

a remarkable expression in it now; a kind of serious delight

of which he felt ashamed, and which he struggled to repress.

 

He sat down to the dinner that had been hoarding for

him by the fire; and when she asked him faintly what news

(which was not until after a long silence), he appeared

embarrassed how to answer.

 

“Is it good?” she said, “or bad?”–to help him.

 

“Bad,” he answered.

 

“We are quite ruined?”

 

“No. There is hope yet, Caroline.”

 

“If he relents,” she said, amazed, “there is! Nothing is

past hope, if such a miracle has happened.”

 

“He is past relenting,” said her husband. “He is dead.”

 

She was a mild and patient creature if her face spoke

truth; but she was thankful in her soul to hear it, and she

said so, with clasped hands. She prayed forgiveness the next

moment, and was sorry; but the first was the emotion of

her heart.

 

“What the half-drunken woman whom I told you of last

night, said to me, when I tried to see him and obtain a

week’s delay; and what I thought was a mere excuse to avoid

me; turns out to have been quite true. He was not only

very ill, but dying, then.”

 

“To whom will our debt be transferred?”

 

“I don’t know. But before that time we shall be ready

with the money; and even though we were not, it would be

a bad fortune indeed to find so merciless a creditor in his

successor. We may sleep to-night with light hearts, Caroline!”

 

Yes. Soften it as they would, their hearts were lighter.

The children’s faces, hushed and clustered round to hear what

they so little understood, were brighter; and it was a happier

house for this man’s death! The only emotion that the

Ghost could show him, caused by the event, was one of

pleasure.

 

“Let me see some tenderness connected with a death,” said

Scrooge; “or that dark chamber, Spirit, which we left just

now, will be for ever present to me.”

 

Charles Dickens

24DEC2021 – Quote of the Day – A Christmas Carol – Part 20

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (IN PROSE BEING, A Ghost Story of Christmas)

by Charles Dickens

(OCF editing – Part 20)

 

They left the busy scene, and went into an obscure part

of the town, where Scrooge had never penetrated before,

although he recognised its situation, and its bad repute. The

ways were foul and narrow; the shops and houses wretched;

the people half-naked, drunken, slipshod, ugly. Alleys and

archways, like so many cesspools, disgorged their offences of

smell, and dirt, and life, upon the straggling streets; and the

whole quarter reeked with crime, with filth, and misery.

 

Far in this den of infamous resort, there was a low-browed,

beetling shop, below a pent-house roof, where iron, old rags,

bottles, bones, and greasy offal, were bought. Upon the floor

within, were piled up heaps of rusty keys, nails, chains, hinges,

files, scales, weights, and refuse iron of all kinds. Secrets

that few would like to scrutinise were bred and hidden in

mountains of unseemly rags, masses of corrupted fat, and

sepulchres of bones. Sitting in among the wares he dealt in, by a

charcoal stove, made of old bricks, was a grey-haired rascal,

nearly seventy years of age; who had screened himself from the

cold air without, by a frousy curtaining of miscellaneous

tatters, hung upon a line; and smoked his pipe in all the luxury

of calm retirement.

 

Scrooge and the Phantom came into the presence of this

man, just as a woman with a heavy bundle slunk into the

shop. But she had scarcely entered, when another woman,

similarly laden, came in too; and she was closely followed by

a man in faded black, who was no less startled by the sight

of them, than they had been upon the recognition of each

other. After a short period of blank astonishment, in which

the old man with the pipe had joined them, they all three

burst into a laugh.

 

“Let the charwoman alone to be the first!” cried she who

had entered first. “Let the laundress alone to be the second;

and let the undertaker’s man alone to be the third. Look

here, old Joe, here’s a chance! If we haven’t all three met

here without meaning it!”

 

“You couldn’t have met in a better place,” said old Joe,

removing his pipe from his mouth. “Come into the parlour.

You were made free of it long ago, you know; and the other

two an’t strangers. Stop till I shut the door of the shop.

Ah! How it skreeks! There an’t such a rusty bit of metal

in the place as its own hinges, I believe; and I’m sure there’s

no such old bones here, as mine. Ha, ha! We’re all suitable

to our calling, we’re well matched. Come into the

parlour. Come into the parlour.”

 

The parlour was the space behind the screen of rags. The

old man raked the fire together with an old stair-rod, and

having trimmed his smoky lamp (for it was night), with the

stem of his pipe, put it in his mouth again.

 

While he did this, the woman who had already spoken

threw her bundle on the floor, and sat down in a flaunting

manner on a stool; crossing her elbows on her knees, and

looking with a bold defiance at the other two.

 

“What odds then! What odds, Mrs. Dilber?” said the

woman. “Every person has a right to take care of themselves.

He always did.”

 

“That’s true, indeed!” said the laundress. “No man

more so.”

 

“Why then, don’t stand staring as if you was afraid,

woman; who’s the wiser? We’re not going to pick holes in

each other’s coats, I suppose?”

 

“No, indeed!” said Mrs. Dilber and the man together.

“We should hope not.”

 

“Very well, then!” cried the woman. “That’s enough.

Who’s the worse for the loss of a few things like these?

Not a dead man, I suppose.”

 

“No, indeed,” said Mrs. Dilber, laughing.

 

“If he wanted to keep ’em after he was dead, a wicked old

screw,” pursued the woman, “why wasn’t he natural in his

lifetime? If he had been, he’d have had somebody to look

after him when he was struck with Death, instead of lying

gasping out his last there, alone by himself.”

 

“It’s the truest word that ever was spoke,” said Mrs.

Dilber. “It’s a judgment on him.”

 

“I wish it was a little heavier judgment,” replied the

woman; “and it should have been, you may depend upon it,

if I could have laid my hands on anything else. Open that

bundle, old Joe, and let me know the value of it. Speak out

plain. I’m not afraid to be the first, nor afraid for them to

see it. We know pretty well that we were helping ourselves,

before we met here, I believe. It’s no sin. Open the bundle,

Joe.”

 

But the gallantry of her friends would not allow of this;

and the man in faded black, mounting the breach first,

produced his plunder. It was not extensive. A seal or two,

a pencil-case, a pair of sleeve-buttons, and a brooch of no

great value, were all. They were severally examined and

appraised by old Joe, who chalked the sums he was disposed

to give for each, upon the wall, and added them up into a

total when he found there was nothing more to come.

 

“That’s your account,” said Joe, “and I wouldn’t give

another sixpence, if I was to be boiled for not doing it.

Who’s next?”

 

Mrs. Dilber was next. Sheets and towels, a little wearing

apparel, two old-fashioned silver teaspoons, a pair of

sugar-tongs, and a few boots. Her account was stated on the wall

in the same manner.

 

“I always give too much to ladies. It’s a weakness of mine,

and that’s the way I ruin myself,” said old Joe. “That’s

your account. If you asked me for another penny, and made

it an open question, I’d repent of being so liberal and knock

off half-a-crown.”

 

“And now undo my bundle, Joe,” said the first woman.

 

Joe went down on his knees for the greater convenience

of opening it, and having unfastened a great many knots,

dragged out a large and heavy roll of some dark stuff.

 

“What do you call this?” said Joe. “Bed-curtains!”

 

“Ah!” returned the woman, laughing and leaning forward

on her crossed arms. “Bed-curtains!”

 

“You don’t mean to say you took ’em down, rings and

all, with him lying there?” said Joe.

 

“Yes I do,” replied the woman. “Why not?”

 

“You were born to make your fortune,” said Joe, “and

you’ll certainly do it.”

 

“I certainly shan’t hold my hand, when I can get anything

in it by reaching it out, for the sake of such a man as He

was, I promise you, Joe,” returned the woman coolly. “Don’t

drop that oil upon the blankets, now.”

 

“His blankets?” asked Joe.

 

“Whose else’s do you think?” replied the woman. “He

isn’t likely to take cold without ’em, I dare say.”

 

“I hope he didn’t die of anything catching? Eh?” said

old Joe, stopping in his work, and looking up.

 

“Don’t you be afraid of that,” returned the woman. “I

an’t so fond of his company that I’d loiter about him for

such things, if he did. Ah! you may look through that

shirt till your eyes ache; but you won’t find a hole in it, nor

a threadbare place. It’s the best he had, and a fine one too.

They’d have wasted it, if it hadn’t been for me.”

 

“What do you call wasting of it?” asked old Joe.

 

“Putting it on him to be buried in, to be sure,” replied

the woman with a laugh. “Somebody was fool enough to

do it, but I took it off again. If calico an’t good enough for

such a purpose, it isn’t good enough for anything. It’s quite

as becoming to the body. He can’t look uglier than he did

in that one.”

 

Scrooge listened to this dialogue in horror. As they sat

grouped about their spoil, in the scanty light afforded by

the old man’s lamp, he viewed them with a detestation and

disgust, which could hardly have been greater, though they

had been obscene demons, marketing the corpse itself.

 

“Ha, ha!” laughed the same woman, when old Joe,

producing a flannel bag with money in it, told out their

several gains upon the ground. “This is the end of it, you

see! He frightened every one away from him when he was

alive, to profit us when he was dead! Ha, ha, ha!”

 

“Spirit!” said Scrooge, shuddering from head to foot. “I

see, I see. The case of this unhappy man might be my own.

My life tends that way, now. Merciful Heaven, what is

this!”

Charles Dickens

23DEC2021 – Quote of the Day – A Christmas Carol – Part 19

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (IN PROSE BEING, A Ghost Story of Christmas)

by Charles Dickens

(OCF editing – Part 19)

 

STAVE IV:  THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS

 

THE Phantom slowly, gravely, silently, approached. When

it came near him, Scrooge bent down upon his knee; for in

the very air through which this Spirit moved it seemed to

scatter gloom and mystery.

 

It was shrouded in a deep black garment, which concealed

its head, its face, its form, and left nothing of it visible

save one outstretched hand. But for this it would have been

difficult to detach its figure from the night, and separate it

from the darkness by which it was surrounded.

 

He felt that it was tall and stately when it came beside

him, and that its mysterious presence filled him with a

solemn dread. He knew no more, for the Spirit neither

spoke nor moved.

 

“I am in the presence of the Ghost of Christmas Yet To

Come?” said Scrooge.

 

The Spirit answered not, but pointed onward with its

hand.

 

“You are about to show me shadows of the things that

have not happened, but will happen in the time before us,”

Scrooge pursued. “Is that so, Spirit?”

 

The upper portion of the garment was contracted for an

instant in its folds, as if the Spirit had inclined its head.

That was the only answer he received.

 

Although well used to ghostly company by this time,

Scrooge feared the silent shape so much that his legs trembled

beneath him, and he found that he could hardly stand when

he prepared to follow it. The Spirit paused a moment, as

observing his condition, and giving him time to recover.

 

But Scrooge was all the worse for this. It thrilled him

with a vague uncertain horror, to know that behind the

dusky shroud, there were ghostly eyes intently fixed upon

him, while he, though he stretched his own to the utmost,

could see nothing but a spectral hand and one great heap

of black.

 

“Ghost of the Future!” he exclaimed, “I fear you more

than any spectre I have seen. But as I know your purpose

is to do me good, and as I hope to live to be another

man from what I was, I am prepared to bear you company,

and do it with a thankful heart. Will you not speak

to me?”

 

It gave him no reply. The hand was pointed straight

before them.

 

“Lead on!” said Scrooge. “Lead on! The night is

waning fast, and it is precious time to me, I know. Lead

on, Spirit!”

 

The Phantom moved away as it had come towards him.

Scrooge followed in the shadow of its dress, which bore him

up, he thought, and carried him along.

 

They scarcely seemed to enter the city; for the city rather

seemed to spring up about them, and encompass them of its

own act. But there they were, in the heart of it; on

‘Change, amongst the merchants; who hurried up and down,

and chinked the money in their pockets, and conversed in

groups, and looked at their watches, and trifled thoughtfully

with their great gold seals; and so forth, as Scrooge had

seen them often.

 

The Spirit stopped beside one little knot of business men.

Observing that the hand was pointed to them, Scrooge

advanced to listen to their talk.

 

“No,” said a great fat man with a monstrous chin, “I

don’t know much about it, either way. I only know he’s

dead.”

 

“When did he die?” inquired another.

 

“Last night, I believe.”

 

“Why, what was the matter with him?” asked a third,

taking a vast quantity of snuff out of a very large snuff-box.

“I thought he’d never die.”

 

“God knows,” said the first, with a yawn.

 

“What has he done with his money?” asked a red-faced

gentleman with a pendulous excrescence on the end of his

nose, that shook like the gills of a turkey-cock.

 

“I haven’t heard,” said the man with the large chin,

yawning again. “Left it to his company, perhaps. He hasn’t

left it to me. That’s all I know.”

 

This pleasantry was received with a general laugh.

 

“It’s likely to be a very cheap funeral,” said the same

speaker; “for upon my life I don’t know of anybody to go

to it. Suppose we make up a party and volunteer?”

 

“I don’t mind going if a lunch is provided,” observed the

gentleman with the excrescence on his nose. “But I must

be fed, if I make one.”

 

Another laugh.

 

“Well, I am the most disinterested among you, after all,”

said the first speaker, “for I never wear black gloves, and I

never eat lunch. But I’ll offer to go, if anybody else will.

When I come to think of it, I’m not at all sure that I wasn’t

his most particular friend; for we used to stop and speak

whenever we met. Bye, bye!”

 

Speakers and listeners strolled away, and mixed with

other groups. Scrooge knew the men, and looked towards the

Spirit for an explanation.

 

The Phantom glided on into a street. Its finger pointed

to two persons meeting. Scrooge listened again, thinking

that the explanation might lie here.

 

He knew these men, also, perfectly. They were men of business:

very wealthy, and of great importance. He had made a point

always of standing well in their esteem: in a business point

of view, that is; strictly in a business point of view.

 

“How are you?” said one.

 

“How are you?” returned the other.

 

“Well!” said the first. “Old Scratch has got his own at

last, hey?”

 

“So I am told,” returned the second. “Cold, isn’t it?”

 

“Seasonable for Christmas time. You’re not a skater, I

suppose?”

 

“No. No. Something else to think of. Good morning!”

 

Not another word. That was their meeting, their

conversation, and their parting.

 

Scrooge was at first inclined to be surprised that the

Spirit should attach importance to conversations apparently so

trivial; but feeling assured that they must have some hidden

purpose, he set himself to consider what it was likely to be.

They could scarcely be supposed to have any bearing on the

death of Jacob, his old partner, for that was Past, and this

Ghost’s province was the Future. Nor could he think of any

one immediately connected with himself, to whom he could

apply them. But nothing doubting that to whomsoever they

applied they had some latent moral for his own improvement,

he resolved to treasure up every word he heard,

and everything he saw; and especially to observe the

shadow of himself when it appeared. For he had an expectation

that the conduct of his future self would give him

the clue he missed, and would render the solution of these

riddles easy.

 

He looked about in that very place for his own image; but

another man stood in his accustomed corner, and though the

clock pointed to his usual time of day for being there, he

saw no likeness of himself among the multitudes that poured

in through the Porch. It gave him little surprise, however;

for he had been revolving in his mind a change of life, and

thought and hoped he saw his new-born resolutions carried

out in this.

 

Quiet and dark, beside him stood the Phantom, with its

outstretched hand. When he roused himself from his

thoughtful quest, he fancied from the turn of the hand, and

its situation in reference to himself, that the Unseen Eyes

were looking at him keenly. It made him shudder, and feel

very cold.

 

Charles Dickens

22DEC2021 – Quote of the Day – A Christmas Carol – Part 18

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (IN PROSE BEING, A Ghost Story of Christmas)

by Charles Dickens

(OCF editing – Part 18)

 

After tea, they had some music. For they were a musical

family, and knew what they were about, when they sung a

Glee or Catch, I can assure you: especially Topper, who

could growl away in the bass like a good one, and never

swell the large veins in his forehead, or get red in the face

over it. Scrooge’s niece played well upon the harp; and

played among other tunes a simple little air (a mere nothing:

you might learn to whistle it in two minutes), which had

been familiar to the child who fetched Scrooge from the

boarding-school, as he had been reminded by the Ghost of

Christmas Past. When this strain of music sounded, all the

things that Ghost had shown him, came upon his mind; he

softened more and more; and thought that if he could have

listened to it often, years ago, he might have cultivated the

kindnesses of life for his own happiness with his own hands,

without resorting to the sexton’s spade that buried Jacob

Marley.

 

But they didn’t devote the whole evening to music. After

a while they played at forfeits; for it is good to be children

sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its

mighty Founder was a child himself. Stop! There was first

a game at blind-man’s buff. Of course there was. And I

no more believe Topper was really blind than I believe he

had eyes in his boots. My opinion is, that it was a done

thing between him and Scrooge’s nephew; and that the

Ghost of Christmas Present knew it. The way he went after

that plump sister in the lace tucker, was an outrage on the

credulity of human nature. Knocking down the fire-irons,

tumbling over the chairs, bumping against the piano,

smothering himself among the curtains, wherever she went,

there went he! He always knew where the plump sister was.

He wouldn’t catch anybody else. If you had fallen up

against him (as some of them did), on purpose, he would

have made a feint of endeavouring to seize you, which would

have been an affront to your understanding, and would instantly

have sidled off in the direction of the plump sister.

She often cried out that it wasn’t fair; and it really was not.

But when at last, he caught her; when, in spite of all her

silken rustlings, and her rapid flutterings past him, he got

her into a corner whence there was no escape; then his

conduct was the most execrable. For his pretending not to

know her; his pretending that it was necessary to touch her

head-dress, and further to assure himself of her identity by

pressing a certain ring upon her finger, and a certain chain

about her neck; was vile, monstrous! No doubt she told

him her opinion of it, when, another blind-man being in

office, they were so very confidential together, behind the

curtains.

 

Scrooge’s niece was not one of the blind-man’s buff party,

but was made comfortable with a large chair and a footstool,

in a snug corner, where the Ghost and Scrooge were close

behind her. But she joined in the forfeits, and loved her

love to admiration with all the letters of the alphabet.

Likewise at the game of How, When, and Where, she was

very great, and to the secret joy of Scrooge’s nephew, beat

her sisters hollow: though they were sharp girls too, as Topper

could have told you. There might have been twenty people there,

young and old, but they all played, and so did Scrooge; for

wholly forgetting in the interest he had in what was going on, that

his voice made no sound in their ears, he sometimes came out with

his guess quite loud, and very often guessed quite right, too;

for the sharpest needle, best Whitechapel, warranted not to cut

in the eye, was not sharper than Scrooge; blunt as he took it in

his head to be.

 

The Ghost was greatly pleased to find him in this mood,

and looked upon him with such favour, that he begged like

a boy to be allowed to stay until the guests departed. But

this the Spirit said could not be done.

 

“Here is a new game,” said Scrooge. “One half hour,

Spirit, only one!”

 

It was a Game called Yes and No, where Scrooge’s nephew

had to think of something, and the rest must find out what;

he only answering to their questions yes or no, as the case

was. The brisk fire of questioning to which he was exposed,

elicited from him that he was thinking of an animal, a live

animal, rather a disagreeable animal, a savage animal, an

animal that growled and grunted sometimes, and talked sometimes,

and lived in London, and walked about the streets,

and wasn’t made a show of, and wasn’t led by anybody, and

didn’t live in a menagerie, and was never killed in a market,

and was not a horse, or an ass, or a cow, or a bull, or a

tiger, or a dog, or a pig, or a cat, or a bear. At every fresh

question that was put to him, this nephew burst into a

fresh roar of laughter; and was so inexpressibly tickled, that

he was obliged to get up off the sofa and stamp. At last

the plump sister, falling into a similar state, cried out:

 

“I have found it out! I know what it is, Fred! I know

what it is!”

 

“What is it?” cried Fred.

 

“It’s your Uncle Scro-o-o-o-oge!”

 

Which it certainly was. Admiration was the universal

sentiment, though some objected that the reply to “Is it a

bear?” ought to have been “Yes;” inasmuch as an answer

in the negative was sufficient to have diverted their thoughts

from Mr. Scrooge, supposing they had ever had any tendency

that way.

 

“He has given us plenty of merriment, I am sure,” said

Fred, “and it would be ungrateful not to drink his health.

Here is a glass of mulled wine ready to our hand at the

moment; and I say, ‘Uncle Scrooge!'”

 

“Well! Uncle Scrooge!” they cried.

 

“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. Uncle

Scrooge!”

 

Uncle Scrooge had imperceptibly become so gay and light

of heart, that he would have pledged the unconscious

company in return, and thanked them in an inaudible speech,

if the Ghost had given him time. But the whole scene

passed off in the breath of the last word spoken by his

nephew; and he and the Spirit were again upon their travels.

 

Much they saw, and far they went, and many homes they

visited, but always with a happy end. The Spirit stood

beside sick beds, and they were cheerful; on foreign lands,

and they were close at home; by struggling men, and they

were patient in their greater hope; by poverty, and it was

rich. In almshouse, hospital, and jail, in misery’s every

refuge, where vain man in his little brief authority had not

made fast the door, and barred the Spirit out, he left his

blessing, and taught Scrooge his precepts.

 

It was a long night, if it were only a night; but Scrooge

had his doubts of this, because the Christmas Holidays appeared

to be condensed into the space of time they passed

together. It was strange, too, that while Scrooge remained

unaltered in his outward form, the Ghost grew older, clearly

older. Scrooge had observed this change, but never spoke of

it, until they left a children’s Twelfth Night party, when,

looking at the Spirit as they stood together in an open place,

he noticed that its hair was grey.

 

“Are spirits’ lives so short?” asked Scrooge.

 

“My life upon this globe, is very brief,” replied the Ghost.

“It ends to-night.”

 

“To-night!” cried Scrooge.

 

“To-night at midnight. Hark! The time is drawing

near.”

 

The chimes were ringing the three quarters past eleven at

that moment.

 

“Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask,” said

Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit’s robe, “but I see

something strange, and not belonging to yourself, protruding

from your skirts. Is it a foot or a claw?”

 

“It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it,” was

the Spirit’s sorrowful reply. “Look here.”

 

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.

 

“Oh, Man! look here. Look, look, down here!” exclaimed

the Ghost.

 

They were a boy and girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling,

wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where

graceful youth should have filled their features out, and

touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shrivelled

hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and

pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat

enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No

change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any

grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has

monsters half so horrible and dread.

 

Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to

him in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but

the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie

of such enormous magnitude.

 

“Spirit! are they yours?” Scrooge could say no more.

 

“They are Man’s,” said the Spirit, looking down upon

them. “And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers.

This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both,

and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for

on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the

writing be erased. Deny it!” cried the Spirit, stretching out

its hand towards the city. “Slander those who tell it ye!

Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse.

And bide the end!”

 

“Have they no refuge or resource?” cried Scrooge.

 

“Are there no prisons?” said the Spirit, turning on him

for the last time with his own words. “Are there no workhouses?”

 

The bell struck twelve.

 

Scrooge looked about him for the Ghost, and saw it not.

As the last stroke ceased to vibrate, he remembered the

prediction of old Jacob Marley, and lifting up his eyes,

beheld a solemn Phantom, draped and hooded, coming, like

a mist along the ground, towards him.

Charles Dickens

21DEC2021 – Quote of the Day – A Christmas Carol – Part 17

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (IN PROSE BEING, A Ghost Story of Christmas)

by Charles Dickens

(OCF editing – Part 17)

 

And now, without a word of warning from the Ghost, they

stood upon a bleak and desert moor, where monstrous masses

of rude stone were cast about, as though it were the burial-place

of giants; and water spread itself wheresoever it listed,

or would have done so, but for the frost that held it prisoner;

and nothing grew but moss and furze, and coarse rank grass.

Down in the west the setting sun had left a streak of fiery

red, which glared upon the desolation for an instant, like a

sullen eye, and frowning lower, lower, lower yet, was lost in

the thick gloom of darkest night.

 

“What place is this?” asked Scrooge.

 

“A place where Miners live, who labour in the bowels of

the earth,” returned the Spirit. “But they know me. See!”

 

A light shone from the window of a hut, and swiftly they

advanced towards it. Passing through the wall of mud and

stone, they found a cheerful company assembled round a

glowing fire. An old, old man and woman, with their

children and their children’s children, and another generation

beyond that, all decked out gaily in their holiday attire.

The old man, in a voice that seldom rose above the howling

of the wind upon the barren waste, was singing them a

Christmas song–it had been a very old song when he was a

boy–and from time to time they all joined in the chorus.

So surely as they raised their voices, the old man got quite

blithe and loud; and so surely as they stopped, his vigour

sank again.

 

The Spirit did not tarry here, but bade Scrooge hold his

robe, and passing on above the moor, sped–whither? Not

to sea? To sea. To Scrooge’s horror, looking back, he saw

the last of the land, a frightful range of rocks, behind them;

and his ears were deafened by the thundering of water, as it

rolled and roared, and raged among the dreadful caverns it

had worn, and fiercely tried to undermine the earth.

 

Built upon a dismal reef of sunken rocks, some league

or so from shore, on which the waters chafed and dashed,

the wild year through, there stood a solitary lighthouse.

Great heaps of sea-weed clung to its base, and storm-birds

–born of the wind one might suppose, as sea-weed of the

water–rose and fell about it, like the waves they skimmed.

 

But even here, two men who watched the light had made

a fire, that through the loophole in the thick stone wall shed

out a ray of brightness on the awful sea. Joining their

horny hands over the rough table at which they sat, they

wished each other Merry Christmas in their can of grog; and

one of them: the elder, too, with his face all damaged and

scarred with hard weather, as the figure-head of an old ship

might be: struck up a sturdy song that was like a Gale in

itself.

 

Again the Ghost sped on, above the black and heaving sea

–on, on–until, being far away, as he told Scrooge, from any

shore, they lighted on a ship. They stood beside the helmsman

at the wheel, the look-out in the bow, the officers who

had the watch; dark, ghostly figures in their several stations;

but every man among them hummed a Christmas tune, or

had a Christmas thought, or spoke below his breath to his

companion of some bygone Christmas Day, with homeward

hopes belonging to it. And every man on board, waking or

sleeping, good or bad, had had a kinder word for another

on that day than on any day in the year; and had shared

to some extent in its festivities; and had remembered those

he cared for at a distance, and had known that they delighted

to remember him.

 

It was a great surprise to Scrooge, while listening to the

moaning of the wind, and thinking what a solemn thing it

was to move on through the lonely darkness over an unknown

abyss, whose depths were secrets as profound as Death: it

was a great surprise to Scrooge, while thus engaged, to hear

a hearty laugh. It was a much greater surprise to Scrooge

to recognise it as his own nephew’s and to find himself in a

bright, dry, gleaming room, with the Spirit standing smiling

by his side, and looking at that same nephew with approving

affability!

 

“Ha, ha!” laughed Scrooge’s nephew. “Ha, ha, ha!”

 

If you should happen, by any unlikely chance, to know a

man more blest in a laugh than Scrooge’s nephew, all I can

say is, I should like to know him too. Introduce him to me,

and I’ll cultivate his acquaintance.

 

It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that

while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing

in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and

good-humour. When Scrooge’s nephew laughed in this way: holding

his sides, rolling his head, and twisting his face into the

most extravagant contortions: Scrooge’s niece, by marriage,

laughed as heartily as he. And their assembled friends being

not a bit behindhand, roared out lustily.

 

“Ha, ha! Ha, ha, ha, ha!”

 

“He said that Christmas was a humbug, as I live!” cried

Scrooge’s nephew. “He believed it too!”

 

“More shame for him, Fred!” said Scrooge’s niece,

indignantly. Bless those women; they never do anything by

halves. They are always in earnest.

 

She was very pretty: exceedingly pretty. With a dimpled,

surprised-looking, capital face; a ripe little mouth, that

seemed made to be kissed–as no doubt it was; all kinds of

good little dots about her chin, that melted into one another

when she laughed; and the sunniest pair of eyes you ever

saw in any little creature’s head. Altogether she was what

you would have called provoking, you know; but satisfactory, too.

Oh, perfectly satisfactory.

 

“He’s a comical old fellow,” said Scrooge’s nephew, “that’s

the truth: and not so pleasant as he might be. However,

his offences carry their own punishment, and I have nothing

to say against him.”

 

“I’m sure he is very rich, Fred,” hinted Scrooge’s niece.

“At least you always tell me so.”

 

“What of that, my dear!” said Scrooge’s nephew. “His

wealth is of no use to him. He don’t do any good with it.

He don’t make himself comfortable with it. He hasn’t the

satisfaction of thinking–ha, ha, ha!–that he is ever going

to benefit US with it.”

 

“I have no patience with him,” observed Scrooge’s niece.

Scrooge’s niece’s sisters, and all the other ladies, expressed

the same opinion.

 

“Oh, I have!” said Scrooge’s nephew. “I am sorry for

him; I couldn’t be angry with him if I tried. Who suffers

by his ill whims! Himself, always. Here, he takes it into

his head to dislike us, and he won’t come and dine with us.

What’s the consequence? He don’t lose much of a dinner.”

 

“Indeed, I think he loses a very good dinner,” interrupted

Scrooge’s niece. Everybody else said the same, and they

must be allowed to have been competent judges, because

they had just had dinner; and, with the dessert upon the

table, were clustered round the fire, by lamplight.

 

“Well! I’m very glad to hear it,” said Scrooge’s nephew,

“because I haven’t great faith in these young housekeepers.

What do you say, Topper?”

 

Topper had clearly got his eye upon one of Scrooge’s niece’s

sisters, for he answered that a bachelor was a wretched outcast,

who had no right to express an opinion on the subject.

Whereat Scrooge’s niece’s sister–the plump one with the lace

tucker: not the one with the roses–blushed.

 

“Do go on, Fred,” said Scrooge’s niece, clapping her hands.

“He never finishes what he begins to say! He is such a

ridiculous fellow!”

 

Scrooge’s nephew revelled in another laugh, and as it was

impossible to keep the infection off; though the plump sister

tried hard to do it with aromatic vinegar; his example was

unanimously followed.

 

“I was only going to say,” said Scrooge’s nephew, “that

the consequence of his taking a dislike to us, and not making

merry with us, is, as I think, that he loses some pleasant

moments, which could do him no harm. I am sure he loses

pleasanter companions than he can find in his own thoughts,

either in his mouldy old office, or his dusty chambers. I

mean to give him the same chance every year, whether he

likes it or not, for I pity him. He may rail at Christmas

till he dies, but he can’t help thinking better of it–I defy

him–if he finds me going there, in good temper, year after

year, and saying Uncle Scrooge, how are you? If it only

puts him in the vein to leave his poor clerk fifty pounds,

that’s something; and I think I shook him yesterday.”

 

It was their turn to laugh now at the notion of his shaking

Scrooge. But being thoroughly good-natured, and not much

caring what they laughed at, so that they laughed at any

rate, he encouraged them in their merriment, and passed the

bottle joyously.

Charles Dickens

20DEC2021 – Quote of the Day – A Christmas Carol – Part 16

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (IN PROSE BEING, A Ghost Story of Christmas)

by Charles Dickens

(OCF editing – Part 16)

 

At last the dinner was all done, the cloth was cleared, the

hearth swept, and the fire made up. The compound in the

jug being tasted, and considered perfect, apples and oranges

were put upon the table, and a shovel-full of chestnuts on the

fire. Then all the Cratchit family drew round the hearth, in

what Bob Cratchit called a circle, meaning half a one; and

at Bob Cratchit’s elbow stood the family display of glass.

Two tumblers, and a custard-cup without a handle.

 

These held the hot stuff from the jug, however, as well as

golden goblets would have done; and Bob served it out with

beaming looks, while the chestnuts on the fire sputtered and

cracked noisily. Then Bob proposed:

 

“A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us!”

 

Which all the family re-echoed.

 

“God bless us every one!” said Tiny Tim, the last of all.

 

He sat very close to his father’s side upon his little

stool. Bob held his withered little hand in his, as if he

loved the child, and wished to keep him by his side, and

dreaded that he might be taken from him.

 

“Spirit,” said Scrooge, with an interest he had never felt

before, “tell me if Tiny Tim will live.”

 

“I see a vacant seat,” replied the Ghost, “in the poor

chimney-corner, and a crutch without an owner, carefully

preserved. If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future,

the child will die.”

 

“No, no,” said Scrooge. “Oh, no, kind Spirit! say he

will be spared.”

 

“If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, none

other of my race,” returned the Ghost, “will find him here.

What then? If he be like to die, he had better do it, and

decrease the surplus population.”

 

Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted by

the Spirit, and was overcome with penitence and grief.

 

“Man,” said the Ghost, “if man you be in heart, not

adamant, forbear that wicked cant until you have discovered

What the surplus is, and Where it is. Will you decide what

men shall live, what men shall die? It may be, that in the

sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live

than millions like this poor man’s child. Oh God! to hear

the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life

among his hungry brothers in the dust!”

 

Scrooge bent before the Ghost’s rebuke, and trembling cast

his eyes upon the ground. But he raised them speedily, on

hearing his own name.

 

“Mr. Scrooge!” said Bob; “I’ll give you Mr. Scrooge, the

Founder of the Feast!”

 

“The Founder of the Feast indeed!” cried Mrs. Cratchit,

reddening. “I wish I had him here. I’d give him a piece

of my mind to feast upon, and I hope he’d have a good

appetite for it.”

 

“My dear,” said Bob, “the children! Christmas Day.”

 

“It should be Christmas Day, I am sure,” said she, “on

which one drinks the health of such an odious, stingy, hard,

unfeeling man as Mr. Scrooge. You know he is, Robert!

Nobody knows it better than you do, poor fellow!”

 

“My dear,” was Bob’s mild answer, “Christmas Day.”

 

“I’ll drink his health for your sake and the Day’s,” said

Mrs. Cratchit, “not for his. Long life to him! A merry

Christmas and a happy new year! He’ll be very merry and

very happy, I have no doubt!”

 

The children drank the toast after her. It was the first of

their proceedings which had no heartiness. Tiny Tim drank

it last of all, but he didn’t care twopence for it. Scrooge

was the Ogre of the family. The mention of his name cast

a dark shadow on the party, which was not dispelled for full

five minutes.

 

After it had passed away, they were ten times merrier than

before, from the mere relief of Scrooge the Baleful being done

with. Bob Cratchit told them how he had a situation in his

eye for Master Peter, which would bring in, if obtained, full

five-and-sixpence weekly. The two young Cratchits laughed

tremendously at the idea of Peter’s being a man of business;

and Peter himself looked thoughtfully at the fire from

between his collars, as if he were deliberating what particular

investments he should favour when he came into the receipt

of that bewildering income. Martha, who was a poor

apprentice at a milliner’s, then told them what kind of work

she had to do, and how many hours she worked at a stretch,

and how she meant to lie abed to-morrow morning for a

good long rest; to-morrow being a holiday she passed at

home. Also how she had seen a countess and a lord some

days before, and how the lord “was much about as tall as

Peter;” at which Peter pulled up his collars so high that you

couldn’t have seen his head if you had been there. All this

time the chestnuts and the jug went round and round; and

by-and-bye they had a song, about a lost child travelling in

the snow, from Tiny Tim, who had a plaintive little voice,

and sang it very well indeed.

 

There was nothing of high mark in this. They were not

a handsome family; they were not well dressed; their shoes

were far from being water-proof; their clothes were scanty;

and Peter might have known, and very likely did, the inside

of a pawnbroker’s. But, they were happy, grateful, pleased

with one another, and contented with the time; and when

they faded, and looked happier yet in the bright sprinklings

of the Spirit’s torch at parting, Scrooge had his eye upon

them, and especially on Tiny Tim, until the last.

 

By this time it was getting dark, and snowing pretty

heavily; and as Scrooge and the Spirit went along the streets,

the brightness of the roaring fires in kitchens, parlours, and

all sorts of rooms, was wonderful. Here, the flickering of

the blaze showed preparations for a cosy dinner, with hot

plates baking through and through before the fire, and deep

red curtains, ready to be drawn to shut out cold and darkness.

There all the children of the house were running out

into the snow to meet their married sisters, brothers, cousins,

uncles, aunts, and be the first to greet them. Here, again,

were shadows on the window-blind of guests assembling; and

there a group of handsome girls, all hooded and fur-booted,

and all chattering at once, tripped lightly off to some near

neighbour’s house; where, woe upon the single man who saw

them enter–artful witches, well they knew it–in a glow!

 

But, if you had judged from the numbers of people on

their way to friendly gatherings, you might have thought

that no one was at home to give them welcome when they

got there, instead of every house expecting company, and

piling up its fires half-chimney high. Blessings on it, how

the Ghost exulted! How it bared its breadth of breast, and

opened its capacious palm, and floated on, outpouring, with

a generous hand, its bright and harmless mirth on everything

within its reach! The very lamplighter, who ran on before,

dotting the dusky street with specks of light, and who was

dressed to spend the evening somewhere, laughed out loudly

as the Spirit passed, though little kenned the lamplighter

that he had any company but Christmas!

Charles Dickens