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|A Christmas Carol||Charles Dickens|
Stave 1: Marley's Ghost
|Page 3 of 12||
`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 boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!'
`Uncle!' pleaded the nephew.
`Nephew!' returned the uncle sternly, `keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine.'
`Keep it!' repeated Scrooge's nephew. `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!'
The clerk 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,' said Scrooge, `and you'll keep your Christmas by losing your situation! You're quite a powerful speaker, sir,' he added, turning to his nephew. `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!'
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|A Christmas Carol
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