The Phantom slowly, gravely,
silently approached. When it
came, Scrooge bent down upon
his knee; for in the very air
through which this Spirit moved
it seemed to scatter gloom and
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?''
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
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 si
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
``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
``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
``Well!'' said the first. ``Old
Scratch has got his own at last,
``So I am told,'' returned the
second. ``Cold, isn't it?''
``Seasonable for Christmas time.
You're not a skaiter, 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
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
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
``What odds then! What odds,
Mrs Dilber?'' said the woman.
``Every person has a right to
take care of themselves. He always
``That's true, indeed!'' said
the laundress. ``No man more
``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
``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,
``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,
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
``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
``Ah!'' returned the woman,
laughing and leaning forward
on her crossed arms. ``Bed-curtains!''
``You don't mean to say you
took them down, rings and all,
with him lying there?'' said
``Yes I do,'' replied the woman.
``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 any
thing catching? Eh?'' said old
Joe, stopping in his work, and
``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!''
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
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
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
Again it seemed to look upon
``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
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
He sat down to the dinner that
had been boarding 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
``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,
``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
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.''
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
````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
The mother laid her work upon
the table, and put her hand up
to her face.
``The colour hurts my eyes,''
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
``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 faultered
``I have known him walk with
-- I have known him walk with
Tiny Tim upon his shoulder, very
``And so have I,'' cried Peter.
``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
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
``Knew what, my dear?''
``Why, that you were a good
wife,'' replied Bob.
``Everybody knows that.'' said
``Very well observed, my boy.''
cried Bob. ``I hope they do. ``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
``Only hear that, Peter,'' said
``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
``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
``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
``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 shok 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 courts,'' 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
The inexorable finger underwent
Scrooge hastened to the window
of his office, and looked in.
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
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,
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
The Spirit was immovable as
Scrooge crept towards it, trembling
as he went; and following the
finger, read upon the stone of
the neglected grave his own name,
``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
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 me. 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
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
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.