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Chapter 1 Marley's Ghost

A Christmas Carol


Chapter 1 Marley's Ghost

Marley was dead, but the names on the door of the office were Scrooge and Marley. Marley's name was on the door, seven years after he died. And sometimes people called Scrooge 'Scrooge', when they came into the office. And sometimes people called

him'Marley'.

And Scrooge said 'Yes ?' when they called him Scrooge. And he answered 'Yes ?' when they called him Marley. Scrooge or Marley, it was the same to him.

Scrooge was a hard man, and he loved money. He was a cold man too, a man without any friends. His old face was cold, blue with cold. Cold was with him everywhere. He took it with him, always. He took it to the office of Scrooge and Marley. The office was cold in the summer. But at Christmas time it was colder than the snow outside. And when he left the office, he

looked cold too.

Nobody stopped Scrooge in the street and said, 'My dear Scrooge, how are you ? When will you come and see me ?' People knew him, but poor people didn't ask him for a penny.

Children didn't ask him,' What time is it ?' Men and women didn't ask him for help. Dogs knew Scrooge, too.

They ran away from him.

Scrooge was happy about all that. He liked it. He didn't want to be with people.

It was Christmas Eve*, and Old Scrooge was busy at his desk. It was very cold. Scrooge could see the people out in the street.

 

They tried to stay warm but they couldn't. It was only three o'clock but it was dark outside. There were candles in the windows of the other offices near his.

There was a thick fog outside, too. It came into the offices under the doors, and you couldn't see the houses in the same street as Scrooge's office.

Scrooge looked up from his papers. The door of his office was open so he could watch his clerk, Bob Cratchit. The clerk worked in a small room near Scrooge. Scrooge had a very small fire, but the clerk's fire was smaller. He couldn't put coal on it because the coal was in Scrooge's room.

A man came into the office. His name was Fred. ' Merry Christmas, Uncle,' said Fred, with a happy smile. ' Bah!' said Scrooge.' Merry Christmas ? Humbug!' Fred's face was red from the cold outside. He laughed. And when he laughed, he laughed with his eyes, too. He was cold from outside, but it was colder here in Scrooge's office. 'You don't mean that, Uncle,' he said.

'Yes, I do,' said Scrooge. 'Merry Christmas! Bah! Why are you merry? How can you possibly feel merry? You're too poor for that.'

'Oh!' Fred laughed. 'How can you possibly feel sad? You're too rich for that.'

Scrooge had no better answer, so he said' Bah!' again. Then he followed it with ' Merry Christmas ? Humbug!'

' Don't be angry, Uncle,' said Fred.

'Angry?' said the uncle. 'Yes, I'm angry. I'm angry because I live in a world with happy people in it. Merry Christmas! Why ? What's Christmas to you ? You want things, but you haven't got the money for them. You're a year older, but not richer. You haven't got as much money as you had last Christmas. People say "Merry Christmas!",' said Scrooge angrily.'But I think I'd like to eat those people for Christmas dinner!'



 

' Oh, Uncle!' said Fred, with a smile.

Young Fred!' said the uncle. 'Have your Christmas. And I'll have mine.Was Christmas good to you, in the past?'

' It was great!' said Fred.' Christmas is a good time - a kind, happy time. Everybody likes being with people. It's the only time in the year when that happens. And so, Uncle, Christmas was always a good time for me. It didn't make me rich, but it made me happy. And I say " Merry Christmas everybody! " ' Humbug!' said Scrooge.

'Don't be angry, Uncle. Come and have dinner with us tomorrow, on Christmas Day'

' No,' said Scrooge. 'And again, no! Good afternoon!' ' But I don't want anything from you. Why can't we be friends ?' ' Good afternoon!' said Scrooge.

'So you won't come. I am sorry about that.We were always friends. And because it's Christmas, I want to be a good friend now. So I will say " Merry Christmas", Uncle! And a happy New Year to you!'

' Good afternoon!' said Scrooge.

Fred stopped at the door and said' Merry Christmas!' to Bob Cratchit, the clerk. Bob was cold, but he answered warmly, ' Merry Christmas to you, sir!'

' There's another stupid person!' said Scrooge.' My clerk, with only a pound a week for a wife and family, is talking about a merry Christmas!'

The clerk opened the door for Fred and he left. Then two other men in expensive clothes came in. They walked into Scrooge's office and took their hats off. They had books and papers in their hands.

One of the men looked at his papers.' Scrooge and Marley's, I think?' he said. 'Am I speaking to Mr Scrooge or to Mr Marley ?' ' Mr Marley's dead,' answered Scrooge.' He died on this night, back in 1836.'

 

'Oh! Dead for seven years, eh?' said the second man. He wrote that down. 'At this happy time of the year, Mr Scrooge, we usually try to do something for the poor people in this city. Things are difficult for them now. Thousands of them are cold. They haven't got any food. Many of them have no home.'

'Aren't there any prisons for them ?' asked Scrooge.

'There are a lot of prisons,' the man answered. He put down his pen.

'Aren't there any workhouses for the poor?' asked Scrooge. 'There are,' said the man. 'It's sad, but there are a lot of workhouses.'

' Oh, good. So the prisons and workhouses aren't closed,' said Scrooge coldly.' I'm happy about that.'

'Prisons and workhouses can't really make people merry at Christmas time,' said the man. ' So we are asking people for money. We will give it to the poor for food and drink. How much will you give us ? '

' Nothing!' said Scrooge. ' I'm not merry at Christmas time and I won't give money to the poor so they can be merry. Good afternoon to you !'

The two men looked at Scrooge's hard, unhappy face and left the room.

The fog was thicker now. The night was darker. The cold was colder. It was time to shut the office. Scrooge got up from his chair. Bob Cratchit, the clerk, put out the candle and put on his hat.

' Will you want to be at home all day tomorrow ?' asked Scrooge.

'Yes, sir. But are you happy with that?'

' I'm not happy with it, no,' said Scrooge.' It is not right. I pay you every day when you work. You think that's right. But you also want me to pay you for a day when you don't work.'

The clerk smiled.' It's only on Christmas Day' he said.

' ()h, so you can take fifteen pence from me every year and that's all right because it is for the twenty-fifth of December?' laid Scrooge. 'Oh, all right.You can have the day at home. Be here early the day after that.'

Scrooge went out, and the clerk shut the office. He ran home i last as he could. He forgot about work and played with his children.

Si rooge had dinner in a cheap eating-house and then went home. He had rooms in Marley's old house. They were dark and cold. The other rooms in the house were offices now. Only

Scrooge lived there.

He opened the door and went in. He lit a candle. Then he walked through his rooms.Was everything in its place? He went into the sitting-room, the bedroom and a little office near the I >edroom. His money was in this office. Everything was all right. There was nobody under the table, nobody under the bed. His money was there in the office.

There was a small fire in the sitting-room. He shut the door

and sat down by the fire.

He heard the noise of a heavy chain down below. The noise came up the stairs, nearer and nearer his door. ' Humbug!' said Scrooge.' What is that noise ?' Something came through the heavy door and into the room. The little fire suddenly came to life, red and yellow.

It was Marley Marley in his old clothes. Scrooge knew those clothes well.There was a chain round him a chain with money on it and money-boxes and money bags.

Scrooge looked at Marley. He could see through him. He could see the back of his coat.

' Well ?' said Scrooge, coldly.' What do you want ?' 'A lot!'

 

Yes, it was Marley.

' Who are you ?' Scrooge asked. But he knew.

'You mean who was I ?

' Who were you, then ?' said Scrooge.

' In life I was Jacob Marley. Don't you know me ?' said the ghost.

1 No,' said Scrooge,' I don't.' But he did.

'Your eyes say it is Marley' said the ghost.'Are your eyes wrong?'

'Yes,' said Scrooge.'My eyes are wrong.Why not? I think I ate lomething bad. And now I'm seeing you. I think you're bad meat. Not Marley. Humbug!'

The ghost gave a loud cry and made a really loud noise with its chain. Its mouth fell open it was the mouth of a dead man.

Scrooge fell down on the floor and looked up at the ghost. He put his hands in front of his face.

' Why ?' he cried.' Why are you here ? You're dead.'

'Now,' said the ghost,'do you think I am Jacob Marley? Dead

|acob Marley?'

' 1 do,' said Scrooge.' I do! But why are dead people walking the streets, and why does one come to me?'

' It is good,' answered the ghost,' to be with other people. It is good to be happy when they are happy. It is good to be sad when i hey are sad. But some people do not do this in life. And what happens to them, do you think?'

' I don't know,' said Scrooge.

' Their ghosts walk the streets of the world when they are dead. Their ghosts see happy people but cannot laugh with them. Their ghosts see sad people but cannot cry with them. Their ghosts have to do these things because they did not do them in life.'

Again the ghost gave a cry and moved its chain.

'You've got a chain!' said Scrooge, now very afraid. ' Why ?

1 Fell me!'

' I made this chain in my life,' answered the ghost. 'And I am wearing it now. I made it, and I put it on. Do you want to know about your chain?'

' My chain ?' said Scrooge.' What chain ?'

'You too are making a chain in your life,' said Marley's ghost. 'Your chain was as heavy and as long as this one when I died.' 'What?'

'And in the next seven years you made it heavier and longer.' 'Don't tell me more,' said Scrooge. 'I'm afraid. Make me happier. Talk about something different.'

' I can't,' the ghost answered.' I can't stay here. I have to go to a new place, always a new place. In life I worked and worked. I was always in the office. I never stopped making money. But now I have to go to many sad places. Always a new place every day, every minute.'

' Dead for seven years!' thought Scrooge. 'And never in one place!'

'Yes, all the time,' said the ghost.' I am always moving. Never happy. This time of the year is the worst. Why, in the past, did I turn my eyes away when I walked near people ? Why didn't I look at the poor homes ? Why didn't I help poor people ? Listen to me!'

' I will,' said Scrooge.' I will! But don't be angry with me!' ' I sat next to you many times in the days after I died.' This was not a nice thought for Scrooge. ' I am here tonight,' the ghost said,'because I have to tell you something. I can help you.' 'You were always a good friend to me,' said Scrooge.' Thank you.' ' Three ghosts will come,' said the ghost of Jacob Marley ' When ?' asked Scrooge.

'The first ghost will come at one o'clock.You will hear the church clock and you will see him. The second ghost will come on the next night at the same time, and the third on the next night at midnight.You will hear midnight on the church clock.' 'And you ?' asked Scrooge.

'You won't see me again,' said Marley's ghost, 'but remember my words.'

The ghost walked back, away from Scrooge. It walked and the window opened at the same time. When the ghost was at the w mdow, Scrooge heard, from outside, the cries of the sad people in the world. The ghost listened for a minute, and it cried too. And then it went out into the night.

Scrooge went to the window and looked out. There were ghosts outside. They walked up and down the street, and they cried.They all wore a chain.

Scrooge knew some of these ghosts from before, when they were men. They cried because they wanted to help other people. But now they couldn't. Then the ghosts went into the fog and Scrooge couldn't hear them.

The night was quiet again. Scrooge closed the window. He (becked the door. He tried to say' Humbug!' but stopped. Then he went to bed with his clothes on, and fell asleep.


Date: 2015-12-17; view: 932


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