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A CHRISTMAS CAROL

CHARLES DICKENS

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 supposed.

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 thing.

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
proposed:

"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.

How Christmas Came to the Santa Maria Flats.

HOME Teresa Thomas Bohannon
Author of the
FairyTales for Grown-Ups
Shadows In A Timeless Myth
A Very Merry Chase.

Myths      Legends     Beowulf
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