A Christmas Carol Stave 3
Scrooge wakes in mid-snore and realizes without surprise that the hour is approaching one o'clock. But at the stroke of the hour nothing happens, and Scrooge uncertainly lies in his bed awaiting the second ghost. Scrooge follows a stream of light from the next room and finds a giant surrounded by a feast of Christmas foods filling the room. The Ghost of Christmas Present is pleasant and young. He carries a torch shaped like a Cornucopia, and the ghost has an aura of good cheer and kindness about him. Scrooge is ready to see what the ghost has come to show him, so they take off. First the Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge the people of the town in all their merriment on Christmas morning. As they watch the townspeople, the ghost sprinkles good cheer on them from his cornucopia to assure that the spirit of the holiday reaches everyone.
Then the ghost takes Scrooge to Bob Cratchit's house. Inside the small house Cratchit's wife and several children are joyfully preparing their meager Christmas feast. When Bob appears, he carries a small boy on his shoulders and the boy holds a crutch in his hand. Bob tells his wife that on the way home from church that morning, Tim said that, "'he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day who made lame beggars walk and blind men see.'" Stave 3, pg. 94. Bob, with tears in his eyes, insists that Tim is growing stronger every day, but his tears seem to suggest otherwise. As the family enjoys their small feast, Bob wishes them all a merry Christmas, and Tiny Tim echoes with, "'God bless us, every one!'" Stave 3, pg. 96 Then Bob proposes a toast in honor of his employer, Mr. Scrooge. Mrs. Cratchit raises quite a stir at such a preposterous toast, but because it is Christmas and her husband wishes her to do so, she drinks to Scrooge's health although she believes him a stingy, cold, and selfish man. Scrooge questions the ghost about whether or not Tiny Tim will live, and the ghost foretells of a vacant seat in the chimney corner where Tim's little stool rests and a crutch leaning against the wall there. When Scrooge protests sadly, the ghost answers with Scrooge's desire that those who are going to die go ahead and do it to decrease the surplus population. Scrooge is ashamed of having said that now that he sees Tiny Tim, and the ghost warns Scrooge that in the sight of God, Scrooge himself may be more fit to die, more readily considered part of the "surplus population," than young Tim. As Tim sings a Christmas carol, Scrooge and the ghost depart.
The next stop that Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present make together is at the home of Scrooge's nephew where a Christmas party is underway. Fred and his young wife are hosting the party and they are talking with their guests about Scrooge. Although most of the party guests are satisfied to believe that Scrooge is a hard, mean, old miser, Fred pities him because his money does not make him happy. Fred insists that although Scrooge might turn him down, he will return to his uncle's office each year. He will invite Scrooge to enjoy Christmas with his family because he hopes that it will at least put enough good cheer into the old man that he might give his poor clerk, Bob Cratchit, a Christmas bonus. The guests laugh at the idea and then move on to playing party games. Scrooge, forgetting that he is not there in person, plays along with them from his corner of the room beside the spirit. In one of their games, Fred guilelessly makes fun of his uncle and then toasts him because he has been such a source of entertainment for the evening. Scrooge is so caught up in the excitement and fun of the party that he almost talks back to the guests as if they can hear him, but the Ghost of Christmas Present takes him away from the party.
The ghost takes Scrooge to homes with sick and dying people who are still able to find some joy in the day. As they travel, Scrooge notices that the spirit seems to be aging. His hair has grayed and Scrooge notices a claw protruding from the ghost's robe. When Scrooge asks what is happening, the ghost explains that his life on earth is but twenty-four hours long and his time is almost over. Then he opens his robe to reveal to Scrooge two hideous and monstrous children that cling to the ghost's robe. He explains that the girl child is Want and the boy, Ignorance, and that they are the children of mankind. He warns Scrooge that he should beware them both, but Ignorance most of all, or else doom is imminent. Scrooge asks if these wretches have somewhere to go, some place to seek refuge, and the ghost's final words are a repetition of Scrooge's earlier mocking questions of whether or not there are workhouses or prisons for the poor. The clock strikes midnight and the giant Ghost of Christmas Present disappears.
Scrooge looks around and sees a hooded phantom approaching him.