Stage 2 (Apprentice): A Christmas Carol, chapter 5

Chapter 5: 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, Scrooge new he had Time, time to change it all!

“I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!” Scrooge repeated, as he scrambled(1) out of bed. “The Spirits of all Three shall live within me! I don’t know what to do!” cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath “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(2) as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world.”

He heard the ringing of the Church bells. 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(3). 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.

“Eh?” returned the boy.

“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(4) at the corner?” Scrooge inquired.

“I think I do,” replied the lad.

“An intelligent boy!” said Scrooge. “Do you know whether they’ve sold the big Turkey that was hanging up there?”

“What, the one as big as me? It’s hanging there now,” replied the boy.

“Is it?” said Scrooge. “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(5)!”

The boy was off like at once.

“I’ll send it to Bob Cratchit’s!” whispered Scrooge, rubbing his hands,laughing. “He sha’n’t know who sends it. It’s twice the size of Tiny Tim!”

As soon as he went downstairs, he heard footsteps running. It was the Turkey! He payed for the Turkey, payed for the boy and payed for the cab to take the Turkey to Bob Cratchit’s house, not forgetting to say merry Christmas to everybody.

He dressed himself and at last got out into the streets. He smiled to everyone, said merry Christmas to everyone. Everyone smiled back to him, and Scrooge felt indescribably happy. 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 give him pleasure. In the afternoon he turned his steps towards his nephew’s house.

“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.”

Scrooge thanked he girl and gladly followed her.

“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?”

Let him in! Of course Scrooge was welcomed. In five minutes he felt at home. Nothing could be heartier. His niece looked just the same. So did Topper when he came. So did the plump(6) sister when she came. So did every one when they came. Wonderful party, wonderful games, wonderful happiness!

But he was early at the office next morning. 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 in. His hat was off, before he opened the door.

“Hallo!” growled Scrooge, in his accustomed(7) voice, as near as he could feign(8) 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,”begged Bob “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(9), and giving Bob a hearty shove on the back; “and therefore I am about to raise your salary!”

Bob trembled. He thought Scrooge was out of his mind!

“A merry Christmas, Bob!” said Scrooge, with an earnestness(10) that could not be mistaken, as he clapped his hand. “A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you, for many a year! I’ll raise your salary, and try to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs(11) this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking soup, Bob! Now make up the fires, Bob Cratchit!”

08

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, 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. Some people laughed to see the change in him, but he let them laugh. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.

He had no further meeting with Spirits, but 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 declared, God bless Us, Every One!

———————————————————————————————————————————————–

+ GLOSSARY

1/scramble(v): move hurriedly, usually on hands and knees

2/giddy(adj): lightheaded, dizzy

3/jovial(adj): jolly, merry, pleasant, happy

4/poulterer’s(n): a poultry shop

5/half-a-crown : former British coin, worth 2 shillings and 6 pence

6/plump(adj): chubby, slightly overweight

7/accustom(v): familiarise

8/feign(v): pretend

9/stool(n): a backless and armless chair

10/earnestness(n): sincerity, truthfulness in expressing emotions

11/affairs(n): personal business

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