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 Bon 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 them 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 munificence.' `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 you,' 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
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 you. 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.'
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, wonderful 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!