Stave 5: The End of It
Reading time: 5 minutes. Word count: 900 words.
'It's Christmas Day!' said Scrooge to himself. 'I haven't missed it! The Spirits have done it all in one night. They can do anything they like. Of course they can. Of course they can. Hallo, my fine fellow!'
'Hallo!' returned the boy.
'Do you know the Poulterer's, in the next street but one, at the corner?' Scrooge inquired.
'I should hope I did,' replied the lad.
'An intelligent boy!' said Scrooge. '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?' returned the boy.
'What a delightful boy!' said Scrooge. 'It's a pleasure to talk to him. Yes, my buck!'
'It's hanging there now,' replied the boy.
'Is it!' said Scrooge. 'Go and buy it!'
'Walk-er!' exclaimed the boy.
'No, no,' said Scrooge, 'I am in earnest. Go and buy it, and tell them 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. 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 Bob Cratchit's,' whispered Scrooge, rubbing his hands, and splitting with a laugh. 'He shan't know who sent 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-plaster 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.'
'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!'
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Source: A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. 1843. (Project Gutenberg).
MLLL-2003. World Literature: Frametales. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D.
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