Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

A Christmas Carol, The End of It

2

(Stave one was posted Sunday at 5:00 PM. Stave two was posted Monday. Stave three was posted Tuesday. Stave 4 was posted yesterday.)

STAVE FIVE

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 be. 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 school-boy. 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 fire-place. “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 have 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, clash, 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 sun-light; 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 directions 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 shan’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-plaster 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.

“Thankee,” 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 the 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.”

“Thankee. 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!

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