"Now children let me tell you a marvelous story of Christmas, that can teach you a good lesson, which, I hope you will not forge
Once upon a time, there was a farmer called Ebenezer Scrooge, who had no time to be happy. His only way to spend the day was to count and recount the large amount of sheep that he had or decide with his partner, Jacob Marley, to who sell what sheep. The second one was much more generous to people of the indigent kind then the first one. He was remembered and cherished dearly in the hearts of the charities that came every now and then to collect money to help the poor. Scrooge was the complete opposite and had become even more ill famed in the village for his stinginess after his partner’s death. No starving dog would come to his house to ask for a bone; no child would ask for the time from him; not even a lost traveler would ask him for directions. However, such life suited Scrooge.
Except for the shepherds, only Ebenezer’s nephew, Fred, dared to visit him. What’s more, he even invited his uncle to Christmas dinner every year. This was not his will, but the feeling of responsibility for his family made him do this. “If we do not invite him to dinner,”- he said to his wife- “ then he will be alone for Christmas”. However, Scrooge ignored the invitation every time, always leaving his seat in the nephew’s house empty.
Not only he did not celebrate this wonderful feast; he did not want the others to have fun too. For example, this Christmas he ran out the door shouting at the carolers. Nor did he let his shepherd in chief, Bob Cratchit, leave two hours early in order to get something cheap but attractive from the toy shop, which closed early that night. No pleads softened the skin flint’s heart and Bob’s boy, Tiny Tim, was left without a present.
This night was a Christmas Eve, and unlike everybody, Scrooge’s supper was the same as usual. After the meal, he studied the book in which he wrote down the weight of a sheep and how much it would approximately be sold for. Suddenly, the door knocker turned into Marley's face. Of course, Ebenezer did not believe his eyes.
“It must be the cheese I ate at dinner”, - he said. Nevertheless, a cart with a coffin on it, being driven by skeletons appeared.
“Calm down Scrooge,”- he said to himself-, “It is just your imagination playing tricks on you. It is pure nonsense, so stop shivering like an idiot.”
“Scrooooge! Ebenezer Scrooooge!”- howled a ghostly voice. “It is me, Jacob. I came to help and warn you. See this chain wrapped around me? These are all of the bad deeds I have done during my life. What’s worse, it holds me back from doing good ones during this one. Yours, Scrooge, was this long when I died, but it has gained many meters since. Now I have to carry it around with me everywhere because I am unable of taking it off.”
“But who else wears such things?”- Asked Scrooge who finally gained enough courage to speak.
“All of the people who lead such selfish lives as you do. This fate waits for you too. Unless...”
“Unless what? Tell me, I will do anything!”
“You will be haunted by three spirits. If after you have seen them, you do not know what to do, then you are unchangeable. So, be warned. I have to go now. Remember, your chain is a very heavy load for your shoulders.”
Then everything was gone and again, blaming the cheese, the man went to bed. During the night, he woke up and looked at the clock. It was twelve o’clock, but Scrooge clearly remembered that he had gone to sleep past two in the morning. Unexpectedly, there was a flash of light and the ghost of Ebenezer’s past Christmases entered. Scrooge was surprised, but sleepy.
“Go away. Can’t you see that I am sick and in great need of sleep, which you have rudely interrupted by your loud entrance?”
“Come. Tonight you will fly to see Ö Just wait until we get there.”
“I do not want to go! Leave me beÖ What? What is happening? Let go of me! It is you, who is making my hand hold on to your robe, isn’t it? Well, let me go, I demand!” However “come” was the only word that the phantom had said.
They landed many years in the past, near Scrooge’s school.
“Do you remember this place?” – asked the ghost.
“Remember? Why, I could walk it blindfolded! Oh, spirit, look! It is Jack and Charlie and the other village boys! And the dog! I used to steel milk for her puppies! Look, that’s me! I remember this Christmas so well! My father never forgave me for my mother’s death during my birth and therefore I always had to stay in school for this grand feast. I lived in the world of books because the one outside of the school was closed for me during the year and no one in boarding house wanted to accept me. I was very lonely.” At this point Scrooge dropped a tear. “Why didn’t I?”
“Nothing. It is just that I regretted that I chased the carolers away. I should have given them somethingÖ Well, as I was saying, this day was special. My sister May, bless her soul, came to get me for the holidays. She had persuaded our father to let me come. There she is, right there! May! May! It is I, Ebenezer!
“She can’t hear you, Scrooge,”- said the ghost of Christmas Past. “She is a shadow of what once had been. You have seen enough of this place. Let’s go!”
Next, the spirit took him to his teen years. They flew over a village and began to fall. When they landed, Scrooge saw himself with another boy whom he knew for a long time. Dick Wilkins was his name. The two of them were carrying boxes and as they entered the house, so did the old man. The two teenagers were taking off their apron and laughing with MR.Fezziwig, their employer.
“Go close the shop before we start the party,” – he said. When they came back, the girl, for whom Scrooge had feelings, was there already. Her employer did not celebrate Christmas and therefore, Mr. Fezziwig invited her to come. They drank a toast in his honor.
“He deserves it,”- said Scrooge. “He was the only person I knew who had the power to make us happy or sad. Moreover, he decided to give us happiness, which was as great, as if it cost a fortune. If only I gave Cratchit happiness this evening!”- he whispered to himself, but the ghost heard and said nothing.
Meanwhile the dancing began. Of course, Ebenezer danced with Belle and when they were left alone, he placed a ring on her finger.
“Now, let’s skip two years and see what happened then,”- said the Spirit.
“No, don’t do this to me Spirit, please. Don’t take me there. Look, I am on my knees! Please!”- begged Scrooge.
“Sorry, I have to do this or you will never learn.”- was the reply from the phantom.
Now Scrooge stopped at his own farm but years ago. There he was having a fight with Belle, yes the same Belle from the past.
“I have not changed towards anything, and you too.”- He screamed at the girl
“Yes, you have. Even towards Mr. Fezziwig, who was once a model for you. Now you say that he is a fool. I saw all of your ideals collapse. Once upon a time, a happy although poor boy asked me for a promise. I gave it. But you are not him anymore, so I release you from it.”- she replied
“Nooo! Can’t you see fool that she is leaving you?”- shouted the old Scrooge to the young one as Belle left the room. “Hold her back you fool, don’t let her go! Look at what you are losing! Why don’t you go after her? Why don’t youÖ”
“Let’s go.”- said the merciless spook.
“No more shadows, please!”
“Just one more, just one.”
Many years have passed in between the visions. This time they saw Belle talking with her husband. He told her that today, when he passed Scrooge’s office, he saw Marley dying and they were alone with no one in the house. The only thing Belle said was “poor man”.
“Get me away from here! Haunt me no more!”- Shouted Scrooge. “Haunt me no more, no more!”
He looked around and saw the Spirit go and he found himself in his bed. With the words “no more” on his lips, he fell asleep.
However, the visits of the Christmases were not over. The second night Scrooge was counting the bell beats until midnight. After he got up and started looking for the ghost.
“You will not take me by surprise!”- he cried. “So come out!” Although Scrooge was expecting the visit, the flash of light scared him. He covered his eyes.
“Leave me alone, whoever you are!”
“I am the ghost of Christmas present. So, is this the kind of welcome you offer me? Where are the turkeys and cakes and pies? Surely, nobody has a happy Christmas celebration without them!”
“For me Christmas is the same as any other day. I never bothered learning how to be merry on this day.”
“Then let’s go!” They flew over the village and stopped on the other end in front of Bob Cratchit’s house.
There, Mrs. Cratchit was very happy because she had just met her daughter Martha. Together they decided to play a trick on her husband. The girl hid and the mother, trying to be sad, met the father.
“She did not come!”- said Mrs. Cratchit
“But how? I know she would not miss this day for anything in her life. Oh no, don’t cry Tiny Tim, she’ll come!”- said her surprised husband.
“And I am already here”- shouted Martha jumping out from behind the sofa. “Come Timmy, show me the goose mama has bought.”
After they left, Cratchit told his wife that Tim behaved properly in the church. Also when one lady has tripped over his crutch (Tiny Tim had a very serious sickness and therefore was deformed) and looked at it for a long time, he said that maybe she remembered the birthday of a person who makes lame people walk.
“Poor boy,”- said Scrooge. “I did not know.”
“You did not try to find out either,”- answered the ghost.
“Tell me if he will live!”
“I think not. If the shadows I see will not change, then he will die. Anyway, what do you care? It will only decrease the sum of money that you have to pay to the charity!” Loud cheering interrupted the spook.
“To Mr. Scrooge who made this evening for us possible to celebrate!”- shouted Cratchit.
“I will not accept this toast, nor my daughters!”- said his wife. He looked at her pleadingly until she agreed to finish the toast. After they all went to play games.
Again Scrooge grabbed onto Phantom’s coat and they were off. They visited the most isolate places on Earth and Ebenezer saw that everywhere where people lived there was a feast that night. At last, they came back to the village, to Fred’s house. There all of the people present were laughing at Scrooge’s stupidity of not coming to this wonderful dinner and calling Christmas nonsense.
“Listen Fred, if he comes to your house tomorrow, I will owe you ten bucks.”- said Fred’s friend, Tupper.
“I will try next year again,”- was the reply which was answered by Ebeneser's gratitude. Then the game of Blind Man’s Buff was started where Tupper was ‘it’. He was always after Florence, his beloved girl therefore the game lost its sense and was soon stopped. Nevertheless, everybody, including Scrooge was so excited that they all wanted another game.
“It is time to go,”- said the spirit.
“Just a few more minutes. I haven’t enjoyed myself so much for years!” The game chosen was ‘Yes and No’. Fred was to think of a word and everybody else would ask ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions in order to find out what it is.
“It is an African giraffe,”- said Scrooge with certainty. Surprisingly the questions ‘Does it live in London?’ and ‘Is it a wild animal?’ were answered positively. Then Mrs. Fred guessed it.
“It is your Uncle Scrooge isn’t it?”
“Yes and let us all drink to his health because without him we would not have this much fun!”
“To Uncle Scrooge!”
Strangely enough Ebenezer only laughed. They visited many other houses, but all poor or rich, sick or healthy were merry this eve. When they finally reached his house, he dared to ask whose were the children under the spirits robe, which he noticed during his voyages.
“They are man’s kids. I want you Scrooge to never turn your back on them. Not this boy Ignorance, nor this girl Need.”
“Is there any one to help you in this hard work?”- asked terrified Scrooge.
“Are there no jails? Are there no orphanages?”- replied the spirit, disappearing into the dark.
However, another ghost was yet to come. The spirit of Christmas Future was more like Death itself. Without saying a word, it made Scrooge follow.
“Are we going to see the future? I am afraid of these visions more then of any before. But I am going to change therefore I will bear your company. Hurry, I know, we have very little time for lots of things to be seen.”- said the man.
They stopped at Stock Exchange or the hut where important papers are sold and bought. Three women were talking about a sudden death of a man, whose papers they were selling now without saying the actual word death or funeral
“He was all alone although he deserves it. Are you going to the!?”- one of them asked.
“Not unless I get something for free there,”- answered the other.
“Of whom are they talking, Spirit? I know them. Are they talking about Marley? Answer! Stop being this quiet!”- Scrooge was getting annoyed now. However, the spook only stretched out his bony hand to make him look at the visions. Now they were on a different side of the village, which he never visited. There was the rag- and- bone woman being chased after by Mrs. Maggs with a bundle of rags, which looked like decent clothing.
“Wait! I have something for you from a nice man, who made me, clean his apartment only once a month. Look, here are some blankets and sheets. And this is his best nightshirt. He was going to be buried in it, but I didn’t allow them.”
“I do not think he was such a good man otherwise, somebody would stand by his bedside when he was dying. As far as I know, he did not have a friend in this world. Well anyway come with me to my shop.”
They left and the Spirit took Scrooge to the graveyard, where again he pointed to an open grave as if saying ‘look into it’. Then Ebenezer suddenly saw the Cratchit family. They all knelt before the rave and had a silent prayer. Soon Fred joined them and said to Cratchit:
“I am sorry about this. If there is anything I can do to help find me by this card.”
“Oh no. I think I know who lies there.” As he approached the grave, he read his name on the memoriam stone.
“Help me, help! Just say that I can hope for another kind of death. I will change. I will always have in my heart you lessons, the lessons of past, present and future. Please, just tell me that there is hope!”- But the Spirit did not listen and left.
Scrooge found himself in his bedroom, praying for hope in the future. Then he heard the carolers sing.
“I am alive! I did not die! They gave me another chance! Thank you spirits!”- he shouted while he got dressed. Then he flung open the window of his bedroom and wished:
“Merry Christmas to everyone! Let all be joyful on this day!”
Then he remembered that he has lost track of time and therefore he ran out into the street and asked a boy who was the first person he met what day it is.
“Why, Christmas day of course!”
“Oh good. I have not missed it. The Spirits did everything overnight!”- he said to himself. “Hey boy! For five shillings will you run to the poulterer’s and tell him that I will buy it. You stay there and keep it reserved.” –after the boy has run off, Scrooge though how happy, the Cratchit family is going to be to get this anonymous turkey. Then he took out Fred’s invitation and before visiting him, he decided to go and get himself a new coat. As he went off, he met the charity ladies.
“Stop, I beg you. I decided to donate this sum”- he whispered it to them- “to the charity”
“Lord bless you sir, if you are not joking!”
“I sure am not, ladies.” They shook hand and Scrooge went off whistling.
In Fred’s house, Tupper and Florence were playing Blind Man’s Buff again. When Scrooge entered, the girl did not say a word, but slipped behind him. Surprised he a move, which made Tupper catch him.
When he took off the blindfold and saw the ex-miser, he shouted so loud, that the whole house came down to the hall.
“Uncle?”- asked surprised Fred. “In a new coat? What’s gone over you?”
“I have come to dinner, if I may.”
“Of course!”- Fred ran up to Scrooge and started dancing around with him. “Your place is still there!”
“Is it? Thank you Fred, thank you.”
Then he saw Mrs. Fred whom he never accepted because he did not like Fred being married without his permission. He ran up to her and they hugged.
“Egh, Fred, you 10 bucks.”- said Tupper.
“They are truly yours, uncle,”- he replied.
“Listen Tupper, go out into the street and believe me, you will find a lot of families who can’t afford dinner. Give this bank note to them. Now, let us start the party,”- he said as he danced of into the living room.
This was the most wonderful day of Scrooge’s life. After the meeting at Fred’s place he went to his farm hid his new coat and started practicing the growl that, he was going to make at Bob Cratchit, who he was sure going to come late this morning. And true: the shepherd was late for 18 minutes! He slipped into the farm and started feeding the sheep trying to not make any noise, but the bark of a dog attracted Ebenezer’s attention.
“What do you mean by coming so late?”- he demanded.
“I am sorry, sir. We had so much fun yesterday that I over slept today. I will catch up in work.”
“And in your salary. I am raising it! Let’s go now to a café and celebrate this event! And never again we shall work this day from now on.” Surprised Bob could only say ‘thank you’ to happy Scrooge.
After that day, they became friends. Scrooge hired the best doctors for Tiny Tim who was cured by them. The whole village knew him and they said that if you did not know how to celebrate Christmas, he was the man to see. And so ends the story of a marvelous change of a man through his dream.”
18.10.98: N. K.