A Christmas Carol Stave 4
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come wears a long black robe with a hood that conceals its head. Within the darkness of the hood, Scrooge cannot even see a hint of the ghost's face. Scrooge speaks to the ghost explaining that he is ready to see what the ghost has to show him, but the ghost does not reply. Scrooge is frightened by the ghost's silence. The city appears before Scrooge as if it sprang up around him, and the ghost's hand directs Scrooge to listen to the conversation of several groups of men in the streets. Scrooge hears them talk of a man who died that morning and they say that no one will go to the funeral because he had no friends. In all the people on the street, Scrooge cannot find his own face. He doesn't understand how the snippets of overheard conversation relate to him, but he pays close attention because he knows that there is some lesson for him to learn from all of it.
Then the spirit shows him a poorer part of the city where three people gather with bundles of things that they have stolen from the dead man's house to sell. They claim to feel no remorse for their thievery because the man had been so selfish and cold in life that he didn't even have someone to look after him when he fell ill, so he died alone. One of the women laughs and says that, "'[h]e frightened everyone away from him when he was alive, to profit [the thieves] when he was dead!'" Stave 4, pg. 111 They had taken the dead man's nicest things, right down to the curtains that were around the bed he died in and the blanket that had covered him. Scrooge is horrified and he tells the spirit that he understands the warning that this could be how his life ends if he doesn't change his ways.
Then the spirit takes Scrooge to the dead man's room. The body still lies in its curtain-less bed with the sheet concealing its face. The spirit points at the dead man as if Scrooge should pull back the sheet and know who it is, but Scrooge cannot do it. He is too frightened. He feels great pity for the poor man with no one to mourn him, and he assures the spirit that he will not forget the lesson he has learned by it. Then he asks the ghost, "'If there is any person in the town who feels emotion caused by this man's death, . . . show that person to me, Spirit, I beseech you!'" Stave 4, pg. 113
Scrooge sees before him a young wife nervously awaiting her husband. When he arrives he tells her that the cruel man they are indebted to has died. Although she knows it is wrong to rejoice in someone's death, she cannot help but feel happy that the unrelenting creditor will worry them no longer. Joy is the only emotion that the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come can show Scrooge over the passing of that lonely man.
The ghost takes Scrooge to the Cratchit home, and it is quiet and sad. The family is sitting quietly waiting for Bob to come home. Tiny Tim is not among them. One of the Cratchit children remarks that their father is a little late coming home and that he seems to walk a bit slower these past few evenings although he used to be able to walk very swiftly even with Tim on his shoulders. When Bob comes in, he tells them that he's found a very green place to bury Tim and then he bursts into tears. After he composes himself, he tells his family of meeting with Fred, Scrooge's nephew, who was quite sincere and generous in his condolences. Bob expects that Fred will help them out by finding a better job for the oldest Cratchit boy, and that cheers the family somewhat. Bob tells them that although there will soon be a second separation in their family, when the oldest boy goes to work, none of them must ever forget the goodness and patience of their poor, young brother, Tim.
Scrooge knows that his time with the last ghost is almost over, and he asks the ghost to tell him the identity of the dead man he saw earlier. The ghost leads him through the city to answer the question. When they pass Scrooge's office, he stops to look in the window but does not see his future self as he expected. Another man sits in his place. The ghost leads him into a cemetery and points to a grave. Scrooge begins to realize what the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is telling him, but he asks, "'Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of the things that May be only?'" Stave 4, pg. 117. He fires more questions at the ghost, but the spirit only points at the grave in answer. Scrooge looks at the headstone with fear and reads his own name. Scrooge begs the spirit to assure him that if he changes his ways, this will not be his end, but the ghost does not answer. He throws himself at the spirit's feet and pleads saying, "'I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me.'" Stave 4, pg. 117 Scrooge watches frightfully as the ghost begins to shrink until it has melted away into nothing more than a bedpost.