« PreviousContinue »
lessons that they teach. O, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!”
Holding up his hands in one 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.
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 !
He was checked in his transports by the churches ringing out the lustiest peals he had ever heard.
Running to the window, he opened it, and put out his head. No fog, no mist, no night; clear, bright, stirring, golden day.
“ What's to-day ?” cried Scrooge, calling downward to a boy in Sunday clothes, who perhaps had loitered in to look about him.
“It's Christmas day! I haven't missed it. Hallo, my fine fellow !
“ Hallo !"
“Do you know the Poulterer’s, in the next street but one, at the corner ?"
“ I should hope I did.”
“An intelligent boy! 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?”
“What a delightful boy! It's a pleasure to talk to him. Yes, my buck!”
“It's hanging there now.”
“No, no, 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.
“ I'll send it to Bob Cratchit's! 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.
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.
Scrooge 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-humored 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.
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."
“ He knows me;" said Scrooge, with his hand already on the dining-room lock. “ I'll go in here, my
dear." “ Fred !! “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. O, 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. The clock struck nine. No Bob. A quarter past. No Bob. Bob 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.
Bob's 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. I am behind my time." “You are ? Yes. I think you are. Step this way, if you please."
“It's only once a year, sir. It shall not be repeated. I was making rather merry yesterday, sir."
“Now, I'll tell you what, my friend. I am not going to stand this sort of thing any longer. And therefore," Scrooge 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.
“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 many a year! I'll raise your salary, and endeavor 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 a second 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 his own heart laughed, and that was quite enough for him.
He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived in that respect 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!
AUBREY DE VERE.
Aubrey Thomas De Vere, third son of the late Sir Aubrey De Vere, Bart., of Curragh Chase, County Limerick, was born in 1814, and educated at the University of Dublin. He published in 1842 The Waldenses and other Poems; in 1843 The Search after Proserpine ; in 1856 Poems Miscellaneous and Sacred ; in 1858 May Carols; in 1864 The Infant Bridal. In 1869, in this country, was published a volume of poems, dedicated to the poet Longfellow, entitled Irish Odes and other Poems. It is from this last volume that the specimens here given have been taken. His prose works are English Misrule and Irish Misdeeds (1843), and Wanderings in Greece and Turkey (1850).
He is a highly-cultivated gentleman, of agreeable manners, and though belonging to a Protestant family, is an ardent Catholic. His poems are of a very high order, and will have more than an ephemeral interest.
(From the Ascent of the Apennines. ]
For men of good-will prepared.
SONNETS TO WORDSWORTH.
ON VISITING THE DUDDON.
So long as Duddon 'twixt his cloud-girt walls
When first that precinct sacrosanct I trod,