Charles Dickens.

The mystery of Edwin Drood, Reprinted pieces, and other stories online

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against hers. More than that. They could not
put me, by millions of fathoms, half so low be-
neath her as I put myself when in imagination I
took advantage of her noble trustfulness, took
the fortune that I knew she must possess in her
own right, and left her to find herself, in the
zenith of her beauty and genius, bound to poor
rusty, plodding me.

No ! Worldliness should not enter here at
any cost. If I had tried to keep it out of other
ground, how much harder was I bound to try to
keep it out from this sacred place !

But there was something daring in her broad,
generous character, that demanded at so delicate
a crisis to be delicately and patiently addressed.
After many and many a bitter night (oh ! I
found I could cry, for reasons not purely phy-
sical, at this pass of my life !) I took my
course.

My lady had, in our first interview, uncon-
sciously overstated the accommodation of my
pretty house. There was room in it for only one
pupil. He was a young gentleman near coming
of age, very well connected, but what is called a
poor relation. His parents were dead. The
charges of his living and reading with me were
defrayed by an uncle ; and he and I were to do
our utmost together for three years towards qua-
lifying him to make his way. At this time he had
entered into his second year with me. He was
well-looking, clever, energetic, enthusiastic, bold ;



346



GEORGE SILVERMAN'S EXPLANATION.



in the best sense of the term, a thorough young
Anglo-Saxon.

I resolved to bring these two together.



NINTH CHAPTER.

Said I, one night, when I had conquered my-
self, " Mr. Granville," — Mr. Granville Wharton
his name was, — " I doubt if you have ever yet
so much as seen Miss Fareway."

"Well, sir," returned he, laughing, "you see
her so much yourself, that you hardly leave
another fellow a chance of seeing her."

" I am her tutor, you know," said I,

And there the subject dropped for that time.
But I so contrived as that they should come
together shortly afterwards. I had previously so
contrived as to keep them asunder; for while I
loved her, — I mean before I had determined on
my sacrifice, — a lurking jealousy of Mr. Gran-
ville lay within my unworthy breast.

It was quite an ordinary interview in the
Fareway Park ; but they talked easily together
for some time : like takes to like, and they had
many points of resemblance. Said Mr. Gran-
ville to me, when he and I sat at our supper
that night, " Miss Fareway is remarkably beau-
tiful, sir, remarkably engaging. Don't you
think so ? " "I think so," said I. And I stole
a glance at him, and saw that he had reddened
and was thoughtful. I remember it most
vividly, because the mixed feeling of grave
pleasure and acute pain that the slight circum-
stance caused me was the first of a long, long
series of such mixed impressions under which
my hair turned slowly grey.

I had not much need to feign to be subdued;
but I counterfeited to be older than I was in all
respects (Heaven knows ! my heart being all too
young the while), and feigned to be more of a
recluse and bookworm than I had really be-
come, and gradually set up more and more of a
fatherly manner towards Adelina. Likewise I
made my tuition less imaginative than before ;
separated myself from my poets and philoso-
phers ; was careful to present them in their own
light, and me, their lowly servant, in my own
shade. Moreover, in the matter of apparel, I
was equally mindful ; not that I had ever been
dapper that way, but that I was slovenly now.

As I depressed myself with one hand, so did
I labour to raise Mr. Granville with the other ;
directing his attention to such subjects as I too
well knew most interested her, and fashioning
him (do not deride or misconstrue the expres-
sion, unknown reader of this writing ; for I have



suffered !) into a greater resemblance to myself
in my solitary one strong aspect. And gradu-
ally, gradually, as I saw him take more and
more to these thrown-out lures of mine, then
did I come to know better and better that love
was drawing him on, and was drawing her from
me.

So passed more than another year ; every day
a year in its number of my mixed impressions
of grave pleasure and acute pain ; and then
these two being of age and free to act legally
for themselves, came before me hand-in-hand
(my hair being now quite white), and entreated
me that I would unite them together. " And
indeed, dear tutor," said Adelina, " it is but
consistent in you that you should do this thing
for us, seeing that we should never have spoken
together that first time but for you, and that but
for you w'e could never have met so often after-
wards." The whole of which was literally true ;
for I had availed myself of my many business
attendances on, and conferences with, my lady,
to take Mr. Granville to the house, and leave
him in the outer room with Adelina.

I knew that my lady would object to such a
marriage for her daughter, or to any marriage
that was other than an exchange of her for
stipulated lands, goods, and moneys. But
looking on the two, and seeing with full eyes
that they were both young and beautiful ; and
knowing that they were alike in the tastes and
acquirements that will outlive youth and beauty ;
and considering that Adelina had a fortune,
now, in her own keeping ; and considering, fur-
ther, that J\Ir. Granville, though for the present
poor, was of a good family that had never lived
in a cellar in Preston ; and believing that their
love would endure, neither having any great
discrepancy to find out in the other, — I told
them of my readiness to do this thing which
Adelina asked of her dear tutor, and to send
them forth, husband and wife, into the shining
world with golden gates that awaited them.

It was on a summer morning that I rose be-
fore the sun to compose myself for the crowning
of my work with this end ; and my dwelling
being near to the sea, I walked down to the
rocks on the shore, in order that I might behold
the sun in his majesty.

The tranquiUity upon the deep, and on the
firmament, the orderly withdrawal of the stars,
the calm promise of coming day, the rosy suffu-
sion of the sky and waters, the ineffable splen-
dour that then burst forth, attuned my mind
afresh after the discords of the night. Me-
thought that all I looked on said to me, and
that all I heard in the sea and in the air said to



RESULT OF MY SCHEME.



347



me, " Be comforted, mortal, that thy life is so
short. Our preparation for what is to follow
has endured, and shall endure, for unimaginable
ages.''

I married them. I knew that my hand was
cold when I placed it on their hands clasped
together; but the words with which I had to
accompany the action I could say without fal-
tering, and I was at peace.

They being well away from my house and
from the place after our simple breakfast, the
time was come when I must do what I had
pledged myself to them that I would do, — break
the intelligence to my lady.

I went up to the house, and found my lady in
her ordinary business-room. She happened to
have an unusual amount of commissions to
intrust to me that day ; and she had filled my
hands with papers before I could originate a
word.

" My lady," I then began as I stood beside
her table.

" Why, what's the matter?" she said quickly,
looking up.

" Not much, I would fain hope, after you
shall have prepared yourself, and considered a
little."

" Prepared myself; and considered a little !
You appear to have prepared yoiir%€\.i but indif-
ferently, anyhow, Mr. Silverman." This mighty
scornfully, as I experienced my usual embarrass-
ment under her stare.

Said I, in self-extenuation once for all, " Lady
Fareway, I have but to say for myself that I
have tried to do my duty."

'* For yourself? " repeated my lady. " Then
there are others concerned, I see. Who are
they?"

I was about to answer, when she made to-
wards the bell with a dart that stopped me, and
said, " Why, where is Adelina ? "

" Forbear ! Be calm, my lady. I married
her this morning to Mr. Granville Wharton."

She set her lips, looked more intently at me
than ever, raised her right hand, and smote me
hard upon the cheek.

"Give me back those papers! give me back
those papers ! " She tore them out of my
hands, and tossed them on her table. Then,
seating herself defiantly in her great chair, and
folding her arms, she stabbed me to the heart
with the unlooked-for reproach, " You worldly
wretch ! "

" Worldly ! " I cried. " Worldly ! "

"This, if you please," — she went on with
supreme scorn, pointing me out as if there were
some one there to see, — " this, if you please, is



the disinterested scholar, with not a design be-
yond his books ! This, if you please, is the
simple creature whom any one could overreach
in a bargain ! This, if you please, is Mr. Silver-
man ! Not of this world ; not he ! He has too
much simplicity for this world's cunning. He
has too much singleness of purpose to be a
match for this world's double-dealing. What
did he give you for it?"

"For what? And who?"

" How much," she asked, bending forward in
her great chair, and insultingly tapping the
fingers of her right hand on the palm of her
left, — " how much does Mr. Granville Wharton
pay you for getting him Adehna's money ? What
is the amount of your per-centage upon Adelina's
fortune ? What were the terms of the agree-
ment that you proposed to this boy when you,
the Reverend George Silverman, licensed to
marry, engaged to put him in possession of this
girl ? You made good terms for yourself, what-
ever they were. He would stand a poor chance
against your keenness."

Bewildered, horrified, stunned by this cruel
perversion, I could not speak. But I trust that
I looked innocent, being so.

" Listen to me, shrewd hypocrite," said my
lady, whose anger increased as she gave it
utterance ; " attend to my words, you cunning
schemer, who have carried this plot through
with such a practised double face that I have
never suspected you. I had my projects for
my daughter; projects for family connection;
projects for fortune. You have thwarted them,
and overreached me ; but I am not one to be
thwarted and overreached without retaliation.
Do you mean to hold this living another
month ? "

" Do you deem it possible, Lady Fareway,
that I can hold it another hour, under your
injurious words?"

" Is it resigned, then ? "

" It was mentally resigned, my lady, some
minutes ago."

" Don't equivocate, sir. Is it resigned ? "

" Unconditionally and entirely ; and I would
that I had never, never come near it ! "

"A cordial response from me to //m/ wish,
Mr. Silverman ! But take this with you, sir. If
you had not resigned it, I would have had you
deprived of it. And though you have resigned
it, you will not get quit of me as easily as you
think for. I will pursue you with this story, I
will make this nefarious conspiracy of yours, for
money, known. You have made money by it,
but you have at the same time made an enemy
by it. You will take good care that the money



348



GEORGE SILVERMAN'S EXPLANATION.



sticks to you ; I will take good care that the
enemy sticks to you."

Then said I finally, " Lady Fareway, I think
my heart is broken. Until I came into this
room just now, the possibility of such mean
wickedness as you have imputed to me never
dawned upon my thoughts. Your suspicions "

" Suspicions ! Pah ! " said she indignantly.
" Certainties."

" Your certainties, my lady, as you call them,
your suspicions as I call them, are cruel, unjust,
wholly devoid of foundation in fact. I can
declare no more ; except that I have not acted
for my own profit or my own pleasure. I have
not in this proceeding considered myself. Once
again, I think my heart is broken. If I have
unwittingly done any wrong with a righteous
motive, that is some penalty to pay."

She received this with another and more in-
dignant " Pah ! " and I made my way out of her
room (I think I felt my way out with my hands,
although my eyes were open), almost suspecting



that my voice had a repulsive sound, and that I
was a repulsive object.

There was a great stir made, the bishop was
appealed to, I received a severe reprimand, and
narrowly escaped suspension. For years a cloud
hung over me, and my name was tarnished. But
my heart did not break, if a broken heart in-
volves death ; for I lived through it.

They stood by me, Adelina and her husband,
through it all. Those who had known me at
college, and even most of those who had only
known me there by reputation, stood by me too.
Little by little, the belief widened that I was not
capable of what was laid to my charge. At
length I was presented to a college living in a
sequestered place, and there I now pen my
explanation. I pen it at my open window in
the summer-time, before me lying the churchyard,
equal resting-place for sound hearts, wounded
hearts, and broken hearts. I pen it for the re-
lief of my own mind, not foreseeing whether or
no it will ever have a reader.




V&U S. VIRTUB AND CO., UMiXBD, ClIV ROiU), LONDON.



CHRISTMAS BOOKS




CT^/v/iC^-^^



"HE HAD BEEN TIM's HLOOD-HORSE ALL THE WAY FROM CHURCH, AND HAD COME
HOME RAMPANT."— C^m/waj Carol, P. 21



Christmas Books



BY



CHARLES DICKENS




WITH TWENTY-EIGHT ILLUSTRATIONS BY F. BARNARD



LONDON: CHAPMAN AND HALL, Ld.

1892



PREFACE.




HE narrow space within which it was necessary to confine these Christmas Stories,
when they were originally published, rendered their construction a matter of some
difficulty, and almost necessitated what is peculiar in their machinery. I could

■m) ....

^^^ not attempt great elaboration of detail m the working out of character within such
limits. My chief purpose was, in a whimsical kind of masque which the good-humour
of the season justified, to awaken some loving and forbearing thoughts, never out of season in
a Christian land.



CONTENTS.



PACK

A CHRISTMAS CAROL i

THE CHIMES 38

THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH . o . . . = ■ ■ 11

THE BATTLE OF LIFE . . . = 118

THE HAUNTED MAN ,.,.. = ........ 157



ILLUSTRATIONS.



PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS.

"HE HAD BEEN TIM'S BLOOD-HORSE ALL THE WAY FROM CHURCH, AND HAD COME HOME RAMPANT"

Frotitispiece

"you're in spirits, TUGBY, my DEAR," OBSERVED HIS WIFE "NO," SAID TUGBY. "NO. NOT

PARTICULAR. I'il A LITTLE ELEWATED. THE MUFFINS CAME SO PAT" . . . To face page 69

"MR. REDLAW!" HE EXCLAIMED, AND STARTED UP .... I76



ILLUSTRATIONS IN THE TEXT.



Vignette.

" It's not convenient," said Scrooge, "and it's not
fair. If I was to stop half-a-cro\vn for it, you'd
think yourself ill used, I'll be bound ?" .

Marley's Ghost .......

" This pleasantry was received with a general laugh"

"What do you call this?" said Joe. "Bed-
curtains.^"



"No," said Toby after another sniff. "It's — it's
mellower than Polonies. It's very nice. It
improves every moment. It's too decided for
Trotters. An't it .? "

The Poor Man's Friend ....

" Whither thou goest, I can Not go ; where thou
lodgest, I do Not lodge ; thy people are No
my people ; Nor thy God my God ! "

" Never more, ;Meg ; never more ! Here ! Here
Close to you, holding to you, feeling your dear
breath upon my face ! " ....



John Peerybingle's Fireside ....

" Did its mothers make it up a Beds, then ! " cried
Miss Slowboy to the Baby; "and did its hair
grow brown and curly when its caps was lifted
off, and frighten it, a precious Pets, a sitting
by the fires ! " . . , .

" The extent to which he's winking at this mo-
ment ! " whispered Caleb to his daughter.
" Oh, my gracious ! "

" Suffering him to clasp her round the waist, as they
moved slowly down the dim wooden gallery"

" After dinner Caleb sang the song about the
Sparkhng Bowl "



28



38
52

65

68

77



88

93
104

116



" The ploughshare still turned up, from time to
time, some rusty bits of metal, but it was hard
to say what use they had ever served, and those
who found them wondered and disputed "



" What is the matter ?" he exclaimed.
" I don't know. I — I am afraid to think.
back. Hark ! "



Go



118



" By-the-bye," and he looked into the pretty face,
still close to his, " I suppose it's your birth-
day " 124

" I think it will be better not to hear this, Mr.
Craggs } " said Snitchey, looking at him across
the client.

"/think not," said Craggs. — Both listening atten-
tively .......



^33



-4-d.



"Guessed half aloud 'milk and water,' 'monthly
warning,' 'mice and walnuts' — and couldn't
approach her meaning " .... 152

" Merry and happy, was it .'' " asked the Chemist in

a low voice. "Merry and happy, old man.'"' 157

" It roved from door-step to door-step, in the arms
of little Johnny Tetterby, and lagged heavily
at the rear of troops of juveniles who followed
the Tumblers," Sec. 169

" I'm not a-going to take you there. Let me be,

Cl~ I'll heave some iire at you ! " . . .184

" You speak to me of what is lying here," the
Phantom interposed, and pointed with its finger
to the boy 189

"What a wonderful man you are, father! — Plow
are you, father ? Are you really pretty hearty,
though?" said William, shaking hands with
him again, and patting him again, and rubbing
him gently down again . . . . .196

' Lord, keep my memory green ! " . » . 200




A CHRISTMAS CAROL.

IN PROSE.

BEING A GHOST STORY OF CHRISTMAS.



STAVE ONE.

MARLEY,'S GHOST.

lY/r ARLEY was dead, to begin with. There
■*-^-*- is no doubt whatever about that. The
register of his burial was signed by the clergy-
man, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief
mourner. Scrooge signed it. And Scrooge's
Christmas Books, i. ^



name was good upon 'Change for anything he
chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as
dead as a door-nail.

Mind ! I don't mean to say that I know, oi
my own knowledge, what there is particularly
dead about a door-nail. I might have been in-
clined, myself, to regard a cofhn-nail as the
deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But
the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile;

331



A CHRISTMAS CAROL.



and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it,
or the Country's done for. You will, therefore,
permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley
was as dead as a door-nail.

Scrooge knew he was dead ? Of course he
did. How could it be otherwise ? Scrooge
and he were partners for I don't know how
many years. Scrooge was his sole executor, his
sole administrator, his sole assign, his sole
residuary legatee, his sole friend, and sole
mourner. And even Scrooge was not so dread-
fully cut up by the sad event, but that he was
an excellent man of business on the very day of
the funeral, ?nd solemnised it with an undoubted
bargain.

The mention of Marley's funeral brings me
back to the point I started from. There is no
doubt that Marley was dead. This must be
distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can
come of the story I am going to relate. If we
were not perfectly convinced that Hamlet's
Father died before the play began, there would
be nothing more remarkable in his taking a stroll
at night, in an easterly wind, upon his own
ramparts, than there would be in any other
middle-aged gentleman rashly turning out after
dark in a breezy spot — say St. Paul's Church-
yard, for instance — literally to astonish his son's
weak mind.

Scrooge never painted out Old Marley's name.
There it stood, years afterwards, above the ware-
house door : Scrooge and Marley. The firm
was known as Scrooge and Marley. Sometimes
people new to the business called Scrooge
Scrooge, and sometimes Marley, but he answered
to both names. It was all the same to him.

Oh ! but he was a tight-fisted hand at the
grindstone, Scrooge ! a squeezing, wrenching,
grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old
sinner ! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no
steel had ever struck out generous fire ; secret,
and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.
The cold within him froze his old features,
nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek,
stiffened his gait ; made his eyes red, his thin
lips blue ; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating
voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on
his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried
his own low temperature always about Avith him;
he iced his office in the dog-days ; and didn't
thaw it one degree at Christmas.

External heat and cold had little influence on
Scrooge. No warmth could warm, no wintry
weather chill him. No wind that blew was
bitterer than he, no falling snow was more intent
upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to
entreaty. Foul weather didn't know where to



have him. The heaviest rain, and snow, and
hail, and sleet could boast of the advantage over
him in only one respect. They often " came
down " handsomely, and Scrooge never did.

Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say,
with gladsome looks, " My dear Scrooge, how
are you? When will you come to see me?"
No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no
children asked him what it was o'clock, no man
or woman ever once in all his life inquired the
way to such and such a place, of Scrooge.
Even the blind men's dogs appeared to know
him ; and, when they saw him coming on, would
tug their owners into doorways and up courts ;
and then would wag their tails as though they
said, " No eye at all is better than an evil eye,
dark master ! "

But what did Scrooge care ? It was the very
thing he liked. To edge his way along the
crowded paths of life, warning all human sym-
pathy to keep its distance, was what the knowing
ones call " nuts " to Scrooge.

Once upon a time — of all the good days in the
year, on Christmas Eve — old Scrooge sat busy
in his counting-house. It was cold, bleak, biting
weather : foggy withal : and he could hear the
people in the court outside go wheezing up and
down, beating their hands upon their breasts,
and stamping their feet upon the pavement
stones to warm them. The City clocks had
only just gone three, but it was quite dark
already — it had not been light all day — and
candles were flaring in the Avindows of the
neighbouring oftices, like ruddy smears upon
the palpable brown air. The fog came pouring
in at every chink and keyhole, and was so dense
without, that, although the court was of the nar-
rowest, the houses opposite were mere phantoms.
To see the dingy cloud come drooping down,
obscuring everything, one might have thought
that nature lived hard by, and was brewing on a
large scale.

The door of Scrooge's counting-house was
open, that he might keep his eye upon his
clerk, who in a dismal little cell beyond, a sort
of tank, was copying letters. Scrooge had a
very small fire, but the clerk's fire was so very
much smaller that it looked like one coal. But
he couldn't replenish it, for Scrooge kept the coal-
box in his own room ; and so surely as the clerk
came in with the shovel, the master predicted
that it would be necessary for them to part.
Wherefore the clerk put on his white comforter,
and tried to warm himself at the candle; in
which efi'ort, not being a man of strong imagina-
tion, he failed.

'• A merry Christmas, uncle ! God save you ! "



OUT UPON MERRY CHRISI^MAS!



cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of
Scrooge's nephew, who came upon him so
quickly that tliis was the first intimation he had
of his approach.

" Bah ! " said Scrooge. " Humbug ! "

He had so heated himself with rapid walking
in the fog and frost, this nephew of Scrooge's,
that he was all in a glow ; his face was ruddy
and handsome ; his eyes sparkled, and his
breath smoked again.

" Christmas a humbug, uncle ! " said Scrooge's
nephew. " You don't mean that, I am sure ? "

" I do," said Scrooge. " Merry Christmas !
What right have you to be merry? What
reason have you to be merry? You're poor
enough."

" 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.

" "Wliat 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, and 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



Online LibraryCharles DickensThe mystery of Edwin Drood, Reprinted pieces, and other stories → online text (page 67 of 103)