The Ghost of Christmas Past Arrives
version 1.0, 12/00
When Scrooge awoke, it was so dark, that looking out of bed, he could scarcely distinguish the transparent window from the opaque walls of his chamber. The chimes of a neighbouring church struck the four quarters. He listened for the hour.
To his great astonishment the heavy bell went on from six to seven, and from seven to eight, and regularly up to twelve; then stopped. Twelve. It was past two when he went to bed. The clock was wrong. An icicle must have got into the works. Twelve.
“Why, it isn't possible,” said Scrooge, “that I can have slept through a whole day and far into another night. It isn't possible that anything has happened to the sun, and this is twelve at noon.”
Light flashed up in the room upon the instant, and the curtains of his bed were drawn. The curtains of his bed were drawn aside; and Scrooge, starting up into a half-recumbent attitude, found himself face to face with the unearthly visitor who drew them.
“Are you the Spirit, sir, whose coming was foretold to me.” asked Scrooge.
The voice was soft and gentle. Singularly low, as if instead of being so close beside him, it were at a distance.
“Who, and what are you.” Scrooge demanded.
“I am the Ghost of Christmas Past.”
“Long Past.” inquired Scrooge: observant of its dwarfish stature.
“No. Your past.”
Perhaps, Scrooge could not have told anybody why, if anybody could have asked him; but he had a special desire to see the Spirit in his cap; and begged him to be covered.
“What.” exclaimed the Ghost, ”would you so soon put out, with worldly hands, the light I give. Is it not enough that you are one of those whose passions made this cap, and force me through whole trains of years to wear it low upon my brow.”
Scrooge reverently disclaimed all intention to offend or any knowledge of having wilfully bonneted the Spirit at any period of his life. He then made bold to inquire what business brought him there.
“Your welfare.” said the Ghost.
Scrooge expressed himself much obliged, but could not help thinking that a night of unbroken rest would have been more conducive to that end. The Spirit must have heard him thinking, for it said immediately: “Your reclamation, then. Take heed.”
It put out its strong hand as it spoke, and clasped him gently by the arm.
“Rise. and walk with me.”
“I am mortal,” Scrooge remonstrated, “and liable to fall.”
“Bear but a touch of my hand there,” said the Spirit, laying it upon his heart, ”and you shall be upheld in more than this.”