Where to find the original work without all the murder….

Preface

Posted: December 24, 2010 in Uncategorized

I have endeavored in this ghostly little book to raise the ghost of an idea which shall not put my readers out of humor with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their house pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.

Their faithful Friend and Servant, C.D.

December, 1843

And I have endeavored to plant the seed of a dark and ghoulish mystery within that ghost story in hopes of putting my readers decidedly out of sorts around the holidays. May they rest in pleasant dreams.

Their faithful Friend and Servant, D.J.

December, 2010

Characters

  • EBENEZER SCROOGE, a grasping, covetous old man, the surviving partner of the firm of Scrooge and Marley.
  • JACK THE RIPPER, a serial killer on the loose in London.
  • BOB CRATCHIT, clerk to Ebenezer Scrooge.
  • Mrs. CRATCHIT, wife of Bob Cratchit.
  • PETER, BELINDA, AND MARTHA, children of the preceding.
  • TINY TIM, a cripple, youngest son of Bob Cratchit.
  • Mr. & Mrs. FEZZIWIG, a kind-hearted, jovial old merchant and his worthy partner.
  • FRED, Scrooge’s nephew.
  • GHOST OF JACOB MARLEY, a spectre of Scrooge’s former partner in business.
  • GHOST OF CLARY HENSIL, a spectre of a prostitute.
  • GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST, a phantom showing things past.
  • GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT, a spirit of a kind, generous, and hearty nature.
  • GHOST OF CHRISTMAS YET TO COME, an apparition showing the shadows of things which yet may happen.
  • MATTIE POLCHRISTY, a friend of Clary Hensil
  • PERRY, BARMY BILL, and KAREN, orphans
  • FAN, the sister of Scrooge.
  • DICK WILKINS, a fellow apprentice of Scrooge’s.
  • BELLE, a comely matron, an old sweetheart of Scrooge’s.
  • Mr. TOPPER, a bachelor.
  • JOE, a marine-store dealer and receiver of stolen goods.
  • CAROLINE, wife of one of Scrooge’s debtors.
  • Mrs. DILBER, a laundress.

01. Marley and the Other Dead

Posted: December 24, 2010 in Uncategorized

Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it. And Scrooge’s name was good upon ‘Change’ for anything he chose to put his hand to.

Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country’s done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

Scrooge knew he was dead? Of course he did. How could it be otherwise? Scrooge and he were partners for I don’t know how many years. Scrooge was his sole executor, his sole administrator, his sole assign, his sole residuary legatee, his sole friend, and sole mourner. And even Scrooge was not so dreadfully cut up by the sad event, but that he was an excellent man of business on the very day of the funeral, and solemnized it with an undoubted bargain.

The mention of being “cut up” brings me to another point.

Marley wasn’t the only one who was dead. The past fortnight, two prostitutes had been discovered in a similar, though more gruesome, condition in the vicinity, the Whitechapel district. And previous to that, some weeks before, two others had been found in a similar state. “The Ripper,” he was called, this anonymous reaper of souls, this ghoulish dealer of death who hacked his victims to bits in a bloody mess. He—or indeed perhaps she—even extracted organs from the hapless victims and had only just sent a sample to the police with a cheery little note taunting them. The constables were always in the streets these nights, suspicious of every sort they encountered on the streets, no matter how genteel or, indeed, how coarse.

Everyone Was a Suspect

Everyone Was a Suspect

Like Marley, the prostitutes left few mourners and suffered quiet funerals, though generally better attended than the businessman’s. And like him, they left no doubt as to their permanent absence of life.

There is no doubt that Marley was dead. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate. If we were not perfectly convinced that Hamlet’s father died before the play began, there would be nothing more remarkable in his taking a stroll at night, in an easterly wind, upon his own ramparts, than there would be in any other middle-aged gentleman rashly turning out after dark in a breezy spot—say Saint Paul’s Churchyard for instance, or a narrow street among the bawdy houses—literally to astonish his son’s weak mind.

Scrooge never painted out Old Marley’s name. There it stood, years afterwards, above the warehouse door: Scrooge and Marley. The firm was known as Scrooge and Marley.

Sometimes people new to the business called Scrooge Scrooge, and sometimes Marley, but he answered to both names. It was all the same to him.

Oh! but he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone. Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shriveled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin.

He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog days, and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas.

External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. No warmth could warm, no wintry weather chill him. No wind that blew was bitterer than he, no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty. Foul weather didn’t know where to have him. The heaviest rain, and snow, and hail, and sleet, could boast of the advantage over him in only one respect. They often ‘came down’ handsomely, and Scrooge never did.

Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, with gladsome looks, ‘My dear Scrooge, how are you? When will you come to see me? We should have a chat about this Ripper fellow, I should think.’ No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no streetwalker flashed a bare shoulder in hopes of sharing a warm bed, no man or woman ever once in all his life inquired the way to such and such a place, of Scrooge. Even the blind men’s dogs appeared to know him; and when they saw him coming on, would tug their owners into doorways and up courts; and then would wag their tails as though they said, ‘No eye at all is better than an evil eye, dark master!’

But what did Scrooge care? It was the very thing he liked. To edge his way along the crowded paths of life, warning all human sympathy to keep its distance, was what the knowing ones call ‘nuts’ to Scrooge. Once upon a time —of all the good days in the year, on Christmas Eve—old Scrooge sat busy in his counting-house.

It was cold, bleak, biting weather: foggy withal: and he could hear the people in the court outside, go wheezing up and down, beating their hands upon their breasts, and stamping their feet upon the pavement stones to warm them. The city clocks had only just gone three, but it was quite dark already—it had not been light all day—and candles were flaring in the windows of the neighboring offices, like ruddy smears upon the palpable brown air. The fog came pouring in at every chink and keyhole, and was so dense without, that although the court was of the narrowest, the houses opposite were mere phantoms. To see the dingy cloud come drooping down, obscuring everything, one might have thought that Nature lived hard by, and was brewing on a large scale. A constable passed along the street and was stopped to answer—as they inevitably were in these days—if the Ripper had been caught yet, was known to the police, or was a danger to honest folk, which he was not.

02. The Firm of Scrooge and Marley

Posted: December 24, 2010 in Uncategorized

The door of Scrooge’s counting-house was open that he might keep his eye upon his clerk, who in a dismal little cell beyond, a sort of tank, was copying letters. Scrooge had a very small fire, but the clerk’s fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one coal. But he couldn’t replenish it, for Scrooge kept the coal-box in his own room; and so surely as the clerk came in with the shovel, the master predicted that it would be necessary for them to part. Wherefore the clerk put on his white comforter, and tried to warm himself at the candle; in which effort, not being a man of a strong imagination, he failed.

Fred, Scrooge's Nephew

Fred, Scrooge's Nephew

“A merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!” cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge’s nephew, who came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation he had of his approach.

“And to you as well, Bob Cratchit!” He had so heated himself with rapid walking in the fog and frost, this nephew of Scrooge’s, that he was all in a glow; his face was ruddy and handsome; his eyes sparkled, and his breath smoked again.

“And Merry Christmas to you, Fred,” the clerk rejoined cheerily.

“Bah!” said Scrooge, “Humbug!”

“Christmas a humbug, uncle!” said Scrooge’s nephew. “You don’t mean that, I am sure?”

“I do,” said Scrooge. “Merry Christmas! What right have you to be merry? What reason have you to be merry? You’re poor enough.”

“Come, then,” returned the nephew gaily. “What right have you to be dismal? What reason have you to be morose? You’re rich enough.”

Scrooge having no better answer ready on the spur of the moment, said, “Bah!” again; and followed it up with “Humbug.”

“Don’t be cross, uncle!” said the nephew.

“What else can I be,” returned the uncle, “when I live in such a world of fools as this? Merry Christmas! Out upon merry Christmas! What’s Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer; a time for balancing your books and having every item in ’em through a round dozen of months presented dead against you? If I could work my will;” said Scrooge indignantly, “every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips should be gutted by the Ripper, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.”

“Uncle!” pleaded the nephew. “Don’t invoke that murderer at this time of year!”

“Nephew!” returned the uncle, sternly, “keep Christmas in your own way, he’ll keep it in his, and let me keep it in mine.”

“Uncle!” repeated Scrooge’s nephew. “Keep it then! But you don’t keep it.”

“Let me leave it alone, then,” said Scrooge. “Much good may it do you! Much good it has ever done you!”

“There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,” returned the nephew. “Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of , in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”

Bob Cratchit in the tank involuntarily applauded. Becoming immediately sensible of the impropriety, he poked the fire, and extinguished the last frail spark for ever.

“Let me hear another sound from you, and you’ll keep your Christmas by losing your situation!” Scrooge said, then turned to his nephew. “You’re quite a powerful speaker, sir,” he observed. “I wonder you don’t go into Parliament.”

“Don’t be angry, uncle. Come! Dine with us tomorrow.”

Scrooge said that he would see him—yes, indeed he did. He went the whole length of the expression, and said that he would see him in that extremity first.

“But why?” cried Scrooge’s nephew. “Why?”

“Why did you get married?” said Scrooge.

“Because I fell in love.”

“Because you fell in love!” growled Scrooge, as if that were the only one thing in the world more ridiculous than a merry Christmas. “Good afternoon!”

“Nay, uncle, but you never came to see me before that happened. Why give it as a reason for not coming now?”

“Good afternoon,” said Scrooge.

“I want nothing from you; I ask nothing of you; why cannot we be friends?”

“Good afternoon,” said Scrooge.

“I am sorry, with all my heart, to find you so resolute. We have never had any quarrel to which I have been a party. But I have made the trial in homage to Christmas, and I’ll keep my Christmas humor to the last. So A Merry Christmas, uncle!”

“Good afternoon!” said Scrooge.

“And A Happy New Year!”

“Good afternoon!” said Scrooge.

His nephew left the room without an angry word, notwithstanding. He stopped at the outer door to bestow the greetings of the season on Bob the clerk, who, cold as he was, was warmer than Scrooge; for he returned them cordially.

“There’s another fellow,” muttered Scrooge; who overheard him: “my clerk, with fifteen shillings a week, and a wife and family, talking about a merry Christmas. I’ll retire to Bedlam.”

This lunatic, in letting Scrooge’s nephew out, had let two other people in.

They were portly gentlemen, pleasant to behold, and now stood, with their hats off, in Scrooge’s office. They had books and papers in their hands, and bowed to him.

Mr. Shoals and Mr. Semmelweis

Mr. Shoals and Mr. Semmelweis

“Scrooge and Marley’s, I believe,” said one of the gentlemen, referring to his list. “Have I the pleasure of addressing Mr. Scrooge, or Mr. Marley?”

“Mr. Marley has been dead these seven years,” Scrooge replied. “He died seven years ago, this very night.”

“We have no doubt his liberality is well represented by his surviving partner,” said the gentleman, presenting their credentials, which identified him as Lonnie Shoals and his cohort as Albert Semmelweis.

It certainly was; for they had been two kindred spirits. At the ominous word “liberality,” Scrooge frowned, and shook his head, and handed the credentials back.

“At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time.

Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”

“Are there no prisons, Mr. Shoals?” asked Scrooge.

“Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

“And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge of Mr. Semmelweis. “Are they still in operation?”

“They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.”

“The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigor, then?” said Scrooge again to Mr. Shoals.

“Both very busy, sir.”

“And there remain the bawdy houses to take in wayward maids? Or the very streets themselves to ply their trade?”

“It is unfortunately, so, of course.” Mr. Semmelweis cast down his eyes.

“Oh! I’m very glad to hear it,” said Scrooge. “I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course.”

“Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned Mr. Shoals, “a few of us are endeavoring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices.”

Mr. Semmelweis would have liked to have added that their charity might get some fallen woman off the street, but Scrooge was likely to make an ugly joke about how easy that was—if only for a little while. And so he merely said, “What shall I put you down for?”

“Nothing!” Scrooge replied.

“You wish to be anonymous?” Mr. Shoals was the more unwarrantedly credulous of the two.

“I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned—excepting the brothels, of course—and they cost enough in tax; and those who are badly off must go there.”

“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”

“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. Besides—excuse me—I don’t know that.”

“But you might know it,” observed the gentleman.

“It’s not my business,” Scrooge returned. “It’s enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people’s. Mine occupies me constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen!”

Seeing clearly that it would be useless to pursue their point the gentlemen withdrew. Scrooge resumed his labors with an improved opinion of himself, and in a more facetious temper than was usual with him.

Meanwhile the fog and darkness thickened so, that people ran about with flaring links, proffering their services to go before horses in carriages, and conduct them on their way. The ancient tower of a church, whose gruff old bell was always peeping slyly down at Scrooge out of a gothic window in the wall, became invisible, and struck the hours and quarters in the clouds, with tremulous vibrations afterwards as if its teeth were chattering in its frozen head up there. The cold became intense. In the main street, at the corner of the court, some laborers were repairing the gas-pipes, and had lighted a great fire in a brazier, round which a party of ragged men and streetwalkers were gathered: warming their hands and winking their eyes before the blaze in rapture. The water-plug being left in solitude, its overflowings sullenly congealed, and turned to misanthropic ice. The brightness of the shops where holly sprigs and berries crackled in the lamp heat of the windows, made pale faces ruddy as they passed. Poulterers’ and grocers’ trades became a splendid joke: a glorious pageant, with which it was next to impossible to believe that such dull principles as bargain and sale had anything to do. The Lord Mayor, in the stronghold of the mighty Mansion House, gave orders to his fifty cooks and butlers to keep Christmas as a Lord Mayor’s household should; and even the little tailor, whom he had fined five shillings on the previous Monday for being drunk and bloodthirsty in the streets, stirred up tomorrow’s pudding in his garret, while his lean wife and the baby sallied out to buy the beef.

Foggier yet, and colder. Piercing, searching, biting cold. If the good Saint Dunstan had but nipped the Evil Spirit’s nose with a touch of such weather as that, instead of using his familiar weapons, then indeed he would have roared to lusty purpose. The owner of one scant young nose, gnawed and mumbled by the hungry cold as bones are gnawed by dogs, stooped down at Scrooge’s keyhole to regale him with a Christmas carol: but at the first sound of “God bless you, merry gentleman! May nothing you dismay!” Scrooge seized the ruler with such energy of action, that the singer fled in terror, leaving the keyhole to the fog and even more congenial frost.

At length the hour of shutting up the counting-house arrived. With an ill-will Scrooge dismounted from his stool, and tacitly admitted the fact to the expectant clerk in the Tank, who instantly snuffed his candle out, and put on his hat.

“You’ll want all day tomorrow, I suppose?” said Scrooge.

“If quite convenient, sir,” said Bob Cratchit.

“It’s not convenient,” said Scrooge, “and it’s not fair. If I was to stop half-a-crown for it, you’d think yourself ill-used, I’ll be bound?”

The clerk smiled faintly.

“And yet,” said Scrooge, “you don’t think me ill-used, when I pay a day’s wages for no work.”

Bob observed that it was only once a year.

“A poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every twenty-fifth of December!” said Scrooge, buttoning his greatcoat to the chin. “But I suppose you must have the whole day. Be here all the earlier next morning.”

The clerk promised that he would; and Scrooge walked out with a growl. The office was closed in a twinkling, and Cratchit, with the long ends of his white comforter dangling below his waist (for he boasted no greatcoat), went down a slide on Cornhill, at the end of a lane of boys, twenty times, in honor of its being Christmas Eve, and then ran home to Camden Town as hard as he could pelt, to play at blindman’s-buff.

03. An Encounter in the Dark

Posted: December 24, 2010 in Uncategorized

Scrooge took his melancholy dinner in his usual melancholy tavern; and having read all the newspapers, and beguiled the rest of the evening with his banker’s-book, went home to bed. The streets were nearly deserted, with most respectable types a-home with family for the evening before Christmas. A handful of fellows carefully navigating on the cobblestones gave Scrooge a tinge of envy—if he had let his clerk go earlier, how much more sensible and businesslike must these men’s employers be?

Scrooge turned down a dim side street in an effort to duck the chill wind and the clatter of hooves behind him as a carriage approached. It was barely an alleyway, but one to which he was accustomed, for he used it to short-cut his way home on just such occasions despite its meanness and unkempt nature, for it was a den of purveyors of the more sordid pleasures of life, including opium and the flesh. A painted woman appeared in a doorway at that moment, who had a hungry look as if she might tempt a few coppers from old Scrooge’s purse. But Scrooge turned away down an even narrower passage less familiar to him.

A light in a doorway illuminated two figures here: another prostitute and a man in a heavy coat. “Push off!” she said to him. The woman was hard-looking, as so many on the street were, but her eyes were plaintive and searching rather than wanton and in that moment when the light from her hovel lit up her full face, she was pretty.

“A moment, sir!” she said directly to Scrooge. “Could you ‘elp me send this bloke on ‘is way?” she said rather desperately.

A woman in the Street

A woman in the Street

But the man pushed her into the domicile with a grunt, his tall hat tipping to the side as he did. Scrooge averted his eyes from the scene; this was no streetwalker and client but a streetwalker and her pimp, “Come to extract his portion of her receipts, I suppose,” Scrooge said to himself, “as any employer might.” The last Scrooge saw as the pair were swallowed up by the dingy cellar flat was the man’s good-make boot shuffling across the cobblestones—common, but a somewhat finer sort than those Scrooge wore. And then the door closed with a thud followed by a crack that might have been a hand across a delicate cheek and a cry that might have been a plaintive “Help.”

Scrooge stood in the street a moment, looking back at the dark door. And then he walked on.

Scrooge lived in chambers which had once belonged to his deceased partner. They were a gloomy suite of rooms, in a lowering pile of building up a yard, where it had so little business to be, that one could scarcely help fancying it must have run there when it was a young house, playing at hide-and-seek with other houses, and forgotten the way out again.

It was old enough now, and dreary enough, for nobody lived in it but Scrooge, the other rooms being all let out as offices. The yard was so dark that even Scrooge, who knew its every stone, was fain to grope with his hands. The fog and frost so hung about the black old gateway of the house, that it seemed as if the Genius of the Weather sat in mournful meditation on the threshold.

He put his hand upon the key he had relinquished, turned it sturdily, walked in, lighted his candle, and closed the door with a bang.

The sound resounded through the house like thunder. Every room above, and every cask in the wine-merchant’s cellars below, appeared to have a separate peal of echoes of its own. Scrooge was not a man to be frightened by echoes.

He fastened the door, and walked across the hall, and up the stairs; slowly too: trimming his candle as he went.

You may talk vaguely about driving a coach-and-six up a good old flight of stairs, or through a bad young Act of Parliament; but I mean to say you might have got a hearse up that staircase, and taken it broadwise, with the splinter bar towards the wall and the door towards the balustrades: and done it easy.

There was plenty of width for that, and room to spare; which is perhaps the reason why Scrooge thought he saw a locomotive hearse going on before him in the gloom. Half-a-dozen gas lamps out of the street wouldn’t have lighted the entry too well, so you may suppose that it was pretty dark with Scrooge’s dip.

Up Scrooge went, not caring a button for that. Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it. But before he shut his heavy door, he walked through his rooms to see that all was right. He had just enough recollection of the face of the prostitute in the street and the man manhandling her to desire to do that.

Sitting-room, bedroom, lumber-room. All as they should be. Nobody under the table, nobody under the sofa; a small fire in the grate; spoon and basin ready; and the little saucepan of gruel (Scrooge had a cold in his head) upon the hob. Nobody under the bed; nobody in the closet; nobody in his dressing-gown, which was hanging up in a suspicious attitude against the wall.

Lumber-room as usual. Old fireguard, old shoes, two fish-baskets, washing-stand on three legs, and a poker.

Quite satisfied, he closed his door, and locked himself in; double-locked himself in, which was not his custom. Thus secured against surprise, he took off his cravat; put on his dressing-gown and slippers, and his nightcap; and sat down before the fire to take his gruel.