A Christmas Carol
MASTER Peter, and the two ubiquitous young Cratchits went to fetch the
goose, with which they soon returned in high procession.
Such a bustle ensued that you might have thought a goose the rarest of
all birds; a feathered phenomenon, to which a black swan was a matter of
course--and in truth it was something very like it in that house. Mrs.
Cratchit made the gravy (ready beforehand in a little saucepan) hissing
hot; Master Peter mashed the potatoes with incredible vigour; Miss
Belinda sweetened up the apple-sauce; Martha dusted the hot plates; Bob
took Tiny Tim beside him in a tiny corner at the table; the two young
Cratchits set chairs for everybody, not forgetting themselves, and
mounting guard upon their posts, crammed spoons into their mouths, lest
they should shriek for goose before their turn came to be helped. At
last the dishes were set on, and grace was said. It was succeeded by a
breathless pause, as Mrs. Cratchit, looking slowly all along the
carving-knife, prepared to plunge it in the breast; but when she did,
and when the long expected gush of stuffing issued forth, one murmur of
delight arose all round the board, and even Tiny Tim, excited by the two
young Cratchits, beat on the table with the handle of his knife, and
feebly cried Hurrah!
There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn't believe there ever was
such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness,
were the themes of universal admiration. Eked out by the apple-sauce and
mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family;
indeed, as Mrs. Cratchit said with great delight (surveying one small
atom of a bone upon the dish), they hadn't ate it all at last! Yet every
one had had enough, and the youngest Cratchits in particular, were
steeped in sage and onion to the eyebrows! But now, the plates being
changed by Miss Belinda, Mrs. Cratchit left the room alone--too nervous
to bear witnesses--to take the pudding up and bring it in.
Suppose it should not be done enough! Suppose it should break in turning
out. Suppose somebody should have got over the wall of the back-yard and
stolen it, while they were merry with the goose--a supposition at which
the two young Cratchits became livid! All sorts of horrors were
Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper. A smell
like a washing-day! That was the cloth. A smell like an eating-house and
a pastrycook's next door to each other, with a laundress's next door to
that! That was the pudding! In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit
entered--flushed, but smiling proudly--with the pudding, like a speckled
cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of
ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.
Oh, a wonderful pudding! Bob Cratchit said, and calmly too, that he
regarded it as the greatest success achieved by Mrs. Cratchit since
their marriage. Mrs. Cratchit said that now the weight was off her mind,
she would confess she had had her doubts about the quantity of flour.
Everybody had something to say about it, but nobody said or thought it
was at all a small pudding for a large family. It would have been flat
heresy to do so. Any Cratchit would have blushed to hint at such a
At last the dinner was all done, the cloth was cleared, the hearth
swept, and the fire made up. The compound in the jug being tasted, and
considered perfect, apples and oranges were put upon the table, and a
shovel-full of chestnuts on the fire. Then all the Cratchit family drew
round the hearth, in what Bob Cratchit called a circle, meaning half a
one; and at Bob Cratchit's elbow stood the family display of glasses.
Two tumblers, and a custard-cup without a handle.
These held the hot stuff from the jug, however, as well as golden
goblets would have done; and Bob served it out with beaming looks, while
the chestnuts on the fire sputtered and cracked noisily. Then Bob
"A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us!"
Which all the family re-echoed.
"God bless us every one!" said Tiny Tim, the last of all.
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