A Christmas Carol Stave 2
Scrooge wakes in the darkness and hears the bells of a nearby church tolling twelve. He realizes that it is impossible for the hour to be midnight because it was almost two o'clock when he went to sleep, yet it is too dark for it to be noon. And the idea of sleeping through an entire day seems impossible as well, but his bedside clock also confirms the hour as twelve. Then he remembers that Marley said another ghost would come to him at one o'clock, so Scrooge lies awake, waiting for the hour.
At the stroke of one o'clock, a light flashes in his room and a hand draws back the curtains of his bed. The ghost is a strange figure with hair that is white with age, but a face that bears no wrinkles. The long, white tunic the ghost wears is girded by a belt with a sprig of holly symbolizing winter tucked in it, but spring flowers hem the bottom of the tunic. The ghost is a visualization of the contradictions of youth and age as well as the contradictions of winter and spring. From his head shines a radiant beam of light, and under his arm he carries a hat that resembles a candlesnuffer. It is the Ghost of Christmas Past, and he takes Scrooge to the previous Christmases of his life.
Scrooge and the ghost revisit Scrooge's early childhood when Scrooge spent Christmas alone at his boarding school. Seeing his boyhood classmates brings Scrooge to tears. Looking at the boy spending his Christmas with only the characters in the stories he reads to keep him company, Scrooge regrets that he did not give anything to the boy who sang a carol at the counting house door earlier that evening.
That vision fades to one of the following year when Scrooge's young sister, Fannie, came to get him from school and take him home for Christmas. Ebenezer sees her and is moved to tears again for her sweetness and her frailty because with the image of her when she was young is accompanied by the knowledge that she died as a young woman and left behind only a son, Scrooge's nephew. When the ghost reminds him of that, Scrooge seems uneasy for a moment and then the scene changes to a warehouse.
Scrooge sees his younger self, enjoying a Christmas party given by his employer, Fezziwig. Scrooge remembers with fondness how kind Fezziwig was to him and the other apprentice who worked with him. The ghost and Scrooge listen in on Scrooge's younger self and the other apprentice praising Fezziwig, and the ghost asks Scrooge if Fezziwig had spent so much money on the Christmas party to deserve such lofty praise. Scrooge tries to explain that it wasn't Fezziwig's willingness to spend money that made his employees happy, but rather it was more about the way he made his employees feel that made him a great man. Scrooge says, "'Say that his power lies in words and looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count 'em up: what then? The happiness [Fezziwig] gives is quite as great as if it cost a fortune.'" Stave 2, pg. 83 The memory of his kind employer makes Scrooge wish that he could say a few things to Bob Cratchit.
The scene quickly changes to a Christmas when Scrooge is a little older. A young woman sits beside him with tears in her eyes. Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Past listen as she tells the young Scrooge that she sees that money has become his primary concern and so she is leaving him. She tells him:
"'You may -- the memory of what is past half makes me hope you will -- have pain in this. A very, very brief time, and you will dismiss the recollection of it gladly, as an unprofitable dream from which it happened well that you awoke. May you be happy in the life you have chosen!'" Stave 2, pg. 85
When she leaves, Scrooge cries out to the ghost to take him home and stop torturing him with these memories, but the ghost insists on one more scene. So they see a room full of children, the most striking is a girl who looks like Belle, Scrooge's lost love. But he realizes that she is Belle's daughter and Belle is the older woman in a winged chair before the fire. The room is happy and festive and Belle's husband comes in. He mentions that he has seen her old friend, Scrooge, that day sitting in his counting house while his one friend in the world, Jacob Marley, lay on his deathbed. The man seemed to feel sorry for Scrooge, whom he considered quite alone in the world.
Scrooge, unable to take any more, insists that the ghost return him to his home. Scrooge takes the candlesnuffer cap and pulls it over the Ghost of Christmas Past's head to extinguish its light and end its hold on him. Scrooge is in his bedroom and is exhausted, so he falls into bed and immediately goes to sleep.