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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.”
He went to church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and fro, and patted children on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of houses, and up to the windows, and found that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed that any walk -- that anything -- could give him so much happiness. In the afternoon he turned his steps towards his nephew's house.
He passed the door a dozen times, before he had the courage to go up and knock. But he made a dash, and did it:
“Is your master at home, my dear.” said Scrooge to the girl. Nice girl. Very.
“Where is he, my love.” said Scrooge.
“He's in the dining-room, sir, along with mistress. I'll show you up-stairs, if you please.”
“Thank you. He knows me,” said Scrooge, with his hand already on the dining-room lock. “I'll go in here, my dear.”
He turned it gently, and sidled his face in, round the door. They were looking at the table (which was spread out in great array); for these young housekeepers are always nervous on such points, and like to see that everything is right.
“Fred.” said Scrooge.
Dear heart alive, how his niece by marriage started. Scrooge had forgotten, for the moment, about her sitting in the corner with the footstool, or he wouldn't have done it, on any account.
“Why bless my soul.” cried Fred, ”who's that.”
“It's I. Your uncle Scrooge. I have come to dinner. Will you let me in, Fred.”
Let him in. It is a mercy he didn't shake his arm off. He was at home in five minutes. Nothing could be heartier. His niece looked just the same. So did Topper when he came. So did the plump sister when she came. So did every one when they came. Wonderful party, wonderful games, wonderful unanimity, wonderful happiness.