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 gra
y (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.