Stave Five

The End of It

YES! AND THE BEDPOST was his own. The bed was his own, the room was his own. Best and happiest of all, the Time before him was his own, to make amends in!

“I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!” Scrooge repeated, as he scrambled out of bed. “The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. O Jacob Marley! Heaven, and the Christmas Time be praised for this! I say it on my knees, old Jacob; on my knees!”

He was so fluttered and so glowing with his good intentions, that his broken voice would scarcely answer to his call. He had been sobbing violently in his conflict with the Spirit, and his face was wet with tears.

“They are not torn down,” cried Scrooge, folding one of his bed-curtains in his arms, “they are not torn down, rings and all. They are here: I am here: the shadows of the things that would have been may be dispelled. They will be. I know they will!”

His hands were busy with his garments all this time; turning them inside out, putting them on upside down, tearing them, mislaying them, making them parties to every kind of extravagance.

“I don't know what to do!” cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath, and making a perfect Laocoön of himself with his stockings. “I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world. Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!”

He had frisked into the sitting-room, and was now standing there: perfectly winded.

“There's the saucepan that the gruel was in!” cried Scrooge, starting off again, and frisking round the fire-place. “There's the door by which the Ghost of Jacob Marley entered; there's the corner where the Ghost of Christmas Present sat! There's the window where I saw the wandering Spirits! It's all right, it's all true, it all happened. Ha, ha, ha!”

Really, for a man who had been out of practice for so many years, it was a splendid laugh, a most illustrious laugh. The father of a long, long line of brilliant laughs!

“I don't know what day of the month it is!” said Scrooge. “I don't know how long I’ve been among the Spirits. I don't know anything. I’m quite a baby. Never mind. I don't care. I’d rather be a baby. Hallo! Whoop! Hallo here!”

He was checked in his transports by the churches ringing out the lustiest peals he had ever heard. Clash, clang, hammer, ding, dong, bell. Bell, dong, ding, hammer, clang, clash! Oh, glorious, glorious!

Running to the window, he opened it and put out his head. No fog, no mist; clear, bright, jovial, stirring, cold; cold, piping for the blood to dance to; Golden sunlight; Heavenly sky; sweet fresh air; merry bells. Oh, glorious! Glorious!

“What's to-day!” cried Scrooge, calling downward to a boy in Sunday clothes, who perhaps had loitered in to look about him.

“Eh?” returned the boy, with all his might of wonder.

“What's to-day, my fine fellow?” said Scrooge.

“To-day!” replied the boy. “Why, CHRISTMAS DAY.”

“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 ’em 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 sends 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 downstairs 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 ’em 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!”

“Mr. Scrooge?”

“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 Gone. “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 munifi—”

“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’ee,” 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.

“Yes, sir.”

“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’ee. 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, won-der-ful happiness!

But he was early at the office next morning. Oh he was early there. If he could only be there first, and catch Bob Cratchit coming late! That was the thing he had set his heart upon.

And he did it; yes he did! The clock struck nine. No Bob. A quarter past. No Bob. He was full eighteen minutes and a half behind his time. Scrooge sat with his door wide open, that he might see him come into the Tank.

His hat was off before he opened the door; his comforter too. He was on his stool in a jiffy; driving away with his pen as if he were trying to overtake nine o’clock.

“Hallo!” growled Scrooge, in his accustomed voice, as near as he could feign it. “What do you mean by coming here at this time of day?”

“I’m very sorry, sir,” said Bob. “I am behind my time.”

“You are?” repeated Scrooge. “Yes. I think you are. Step this way, if you please.”

“It's only once a year, sir,” pleaded Bob, appearing from the Tank. “It shall not be repeated. I was making rather merry yesterday, sir.”

“Now, I’ll tell you what, my friend,” said Scrooge, “I am not going to stand this sort of thing any longer. And therefore,” he continued, leaping from his stool, and giving Bob such a dig in the waistcoat that he staggered back into the Tank again; “and therefore I am about to raise your salary!”

Bob trembled, and got a little nearer to the ruler. He had a momentary idea of knocking Scrooge down with it, holding him, and calling to the people in the court for help and a strait-waistcoat.

“A merry Christmas, Bob!” said Scrooge, with an earnestness that could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the back. “A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you, for many a year! I’ll raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob! Make up the fires, and buy another coal-scuttle before you dot another i, Bob Cratchit!”

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did NOT die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe for good at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.

He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!

THE END.

Footnotes

  1. Although the opinions of others, especially successful businessmen, may have once swayed his actions, Scrooge is a changed man, made wiser by his encounter with the Christmas spirits. He does not mind the incredulous laughter that accompanies his transformation—in fact, he prefers that people laugh at him rather than express contempt in other ways. He may have once been one of those who would have scorned his newfound Christmas spirit, but that is the case no longer.

    — Kim, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. Smoking bishop is a type of warm mulled wine, often spiced with cloves and citrus fruit. It was popular during winter months and saw a rise in popularity in Victorian England. That Scrooge wants to share some wine with Bob Cratchit points to his new sense of affection and warmth.

    — Kim, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. The idiom “off like a shot” means to do something very quickly and without hesitation. It originated with weapons of war, such as firearms, which send their projectiles—sometimes known as “shots”—flying very quickly at the enemy.

    — Kim, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. Notice how Scrooge’s demeanor has changed to that of a cheerful child wondering at the world. This recalls stave four’s religious allusion to becoming like a child in order to become a good Christian. Here, Dickens shows that transformation in practice.

    — Kim, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. This is another term for a strait jacket. This type of garment is made of canvas material and used to bind and restrain violent prisoners and those with severe mental disabilities. That Bob considers one for a moment suggests that he finds Scrooge’s change in demeanor so shocking and drastic that he wonders whether or not Scrooge has lost his mind.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  6. Scrooge’s willingness to buy not just any turkey but the largest one is a symbol of just how much he has changed. While any gift of food would be helpful to the Cratchits, Scrooge goes above and beyond what is simply adequate, showing a depth of apparent and profound generosity.

    — Kim, Owl Eyes Staff
  7. Both Scrooge and the reader may be wondering whether or not Fred will welcome Scrooge into his home despite Scrooge’s cold manner over the years. However, Fred and his family welcome Scrooge with open arms and immediately make him feel at home. Their willingness to forgive Scrooge for his actions in the past aligns with the ideals of the Christian faith, and the family becomes a symbol of the real meaning of Christmas spirit.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  8. Recall that Scrooge’s office was very cold because he refused to buy an adequate amount of coal, even during the chilly winter months. Dickens uses the warm fire to show the reader how much Scrooge has improved. Now, Scrooge values the well-being and comfort of his employees above his own riches.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  9. The term “intercourse” in this context means “communication,” and the term “abstinence” means to refrain from doing something. Thus, by “Total Abstinence Principle,” Dickens means that Scrooge no longer had any interactions with spirits after that one evening. This is Dickens way of letting the reader know that Scrooge’s transformation has been permanent and successful. Scrooge will treat people with compassion and generosity, so that he will never require another visit from the ghosts again.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  10. The fact that Scrooge must “feign” his old temperament is extremely telling. This playful trick emphasizes how much Scrooge has developed and how genuinely he has taken these lessons to heart. Scrooge’s joy runs so deeply now, that he must pretend to be the old and miserable penny-pincher that he used to be. In this way, Dickens indicates that Scrooge's change is genuine and lasting.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  11. Now that Scrooge treats others with generosity and kindness, he finds beauty in the little things in life, and appreciates the world in a new way. Here, Dickens introduces the theme that satisfaction and happiness come with the knowledge that we have helped those around us. Dickens points out that when we give to those in need, we are better able to reflect on our own privileges in life. We feel grateful for the simple things, and we notice the good in the world.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  12. Scrooge worries about startling Fred’s wife, something that he never would have concerned himself with prior to his transformation. In this way, Dickens subtly shows the reader how selfless Scrooge has become. Scrooge is finally taking other people’s feelings into consideration.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  13. Recall that Scrooge first encountered Marley's ghost when he saw Marley's face in the knocker. The knocker still reminds Scrooge of Marley, but while initially this left Scrooge feeling terrified, he now views the knocker as being "wonderful." The knocker has become a symbol of the happiness that Marley gave Scrooge the opportunity to achieve.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  14. The fact that Scrooge now wants to cultivate a friendship with this man illustrates that he has started to view his friendships much differently than before. Friendship now has inherent value in it for Scrooge, and he no longer builds relationships solely for business or profit.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  15. Scrooge loved Christmas as a younger man, and it seems that his Christmas spirit has finally returned. However, if we think about Scrooge's comments about redemption in the beginning of the stave, his excitement that another Christmas has not passed him by indicates an excitement to give to others, rather than enjoy Christmas for himself. While Scrooge's reclamation does not depend on Christmas Day, he can "redeem" himself by giving those around him a merry Christmas, something that he has failed to do for years.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  16. "Half a crown," or a "half crown," was equivalent to two shillings and sixpence (six pennies in the United States.) This would be considered quite a generous sum for a quick errand during Dickens's time, and considering that Scrooge could easily fetch the turkey himself, it highlights his change in character. Scrooge is essentially giving this child a Christmas gift.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  17. During his adulthood, money became the only source of happiness for Scrooge, and it was a shallow happiness. The fact that Scrooge delights in talking to this boy illustrates how much he has changed. He is finding joy in the little things and certainly not seeking solitude in the way that he previously was.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  18. Note that Scrooge does not want Bob Cratchit to know that he sent him the turkey. Not only does he want to do something kind for Bob Cratchit and his family, but he desires no reward for this goodness. Scrooge is simply satisfied and delighted in the knowledge that he has helped the Cratchits to have a merrier Christmas.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  19. “Walk-er,” also known as “hookey walker,” was a term that was commonly used to express incredulity. The speaker would often use the word in much the same way that “nonsense” or “humbug” might have been used.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  20. Throughout the entire final stave, Scrooge can be found full of laughter and "chuckling." His revelations have brought him a lightheartedness that we have not seen from him since his youth, and they help show the reader what joy can be found in caring for others.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  21. According to Greek mythology, Laocoön was a Trojan priest of the god Apollo who, along with his two sons, was attacked by giant serpents sent from the gods. Here, Dickens alludes to a sculpture depicting the death of Laocoön and his sons by three Rhodes sculptors: Hagesander, Athenodoros, and Polydorus. Scrooge compares himself to Laocoön because while he is trying to get dressed in haste, he becomes entangled in his clothing in a way that resembles Laocoön's being entangled by serpents in the famous statue.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  22. Recall that the thief in the fourth stave tore down Scrooge's bed curtains after his death. Scrooge's overwhelming relief that the curtains have not been torn down indicates just how terrified he was that this future was unavoidable—that his efforts would be futile. Not only does Dickens emphasize Scrooge's emotional state at this moment of revelation, but he also reminds us that working for positive change is never futile—that no one is beyond reclamation.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  23. When Scrooge states that he “will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future,” he vows to take the lessons that he has learned from the spirits into his everyday life. While we might have worried that Scrooge would have gotten through the frightening evening only to revert back to his old miserly ways, this helps indicate that his change has been permanent—or at least that he is willing to continually strive to make it so.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  24. Here, Dickens explores the theme that our relationships with time dictate our thoughts and actions in our daily lives. Scrooge's relationship with time has changed drastically. Throughout the novel, we have seen Scrooge attempt to forget the past, ignore the present, and focus only on earning and keeping money for the future. Dickens emphasizes the importance of a good relationship with time in order to live a meaningful life that is beneficial to ourselves and others.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  25. Note that Scrooge is no longer only excited at the prospect of changing his future for his own personal gain, but rather for what he can do with the time for others. This is an important change in his attitude from even the previous stave, when he was still largely concerned with his time for selfish reasons.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  26. Which of these is not a theme related to the idea of "keeping Christmas"? 

    — Susan Hurn
  27. Which of these statements accurately summarizes Scrooge's feelings?

    — Susan Hurn
  28. How does this minor detail support the theme that Scrooge becomes a different man?

    — Susan Hurn
  29. What is Bob thinking at this moment?

    — Susan Hurn
  30. What is the most likely reason for Scrooge's behavior?

    — Susan Hurn
  31. What most likely occurs during Scrooge's visit at Fred's house?

    — Susan Hurn
  32. What does the passage not imply about Scrooge's nephew?

    — Susan Hurn
  33. How would Scrooge have known she would be sitting in the corner?

    — Susan Hurn
  34. Why would Scrooge hesitate to knock on his nephew's door?

    — Susan Hurn
  35. Why does Scrooge want the gentleman to come and see him?

    — Susan Hurn
  36. When was the knocker on Scrooge's front door mentioned earlier in the story?

    — Susan Hurn
  37. What does Scrooge's conversation with the boy not indicate about Scrooge?

    — Susan Hurn
  38. Which types of figurative language are found in this descriptive passage?

    — Susan Hurn
  39. Which literary device appears four times in this passage?

    — Susan Hurn
  40. How do the bed-curtains relate to Scrooge's journey into the future with the third Spirit?

    — Susan Hurn