A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol Stave 4 Summary
READ THE BOOK: Stave 4
The Last of the Spirits
- The phantom doesn't talk, but just points out with its hand.
- This is definitely really spooky, but instead of getting really terrified, Scrooge turns into that kid with his hand raised straining to get called on in class. He's all, "You're the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come!"
- The thing doesn't answer. "Ooh, ooh, you're about to show me the future!" No answer. "Oh, I know, I know, you're here to make me a better person, and I'm totally on board with that!"
- The phantom floats away, with Scrooge somehow dangling from its cloak.
- Immediately they are in the city, overhearing a convo between a few business dudes. Seems like someone is dead that neither of them cares about, and they are kind of laughing about how hard it'll be to gather up people for the funeral.
- Huh. Wonder who is dead. Scrooge certainly has no idea, and tries to get the phantom to cough up some info, but no dice.
- Another couple of businessmen also seem to be talking about a dead guy, but they care even less than the first group.
- Scrooge is all, well, none of this is relevant to my embetterment, so let's get on with the show already! Oh, Scroogey, Scroogey. How could you possibly not be catching on to this?
- The phantom takes him to the shady side of town, to a rag and bone merchant (basically a gross old pawn shop type place). Just as they show up, two women and a man come up to the counter with bags of stuff.
- The first is a charwoman.
- Okay, here's a little Shmooptastic primer in ye olde Victorian house servants. So, since labor was super-cheap back in the day, most people could afford servants. This meant that basically almost everyone above the very, very dirt poor would have a bunch of different people doing stuff for them. There would at least be some housemaids for cleaning, some charwomen for heavy-duty cleaning, and some cooks for… um, cooking, obviously. Poorer people would still have to rely on servants—usually just a charwoman to come and help with the serious cleaning, which was hard, because, you know, no DJ Roomba or Oxy Clean and stuff. Anyway, it's pretty significant that although Scrooge is rolling in it, he has almost no one working for him except the charwoman. It's just one more way to show how tightfisted the dude is.
- Right, back to the pawnshop. The charwoman is a little stressed to show all her stolen goods at first, but the pawn shop owner is like, hey that dead guy was horrible, so who cares that you stole all his stuff, amirite?
- This brilliant bit of philosophy does the trick, and the charwoman starts to unload the stuff… except the man pushes ahead of her and goes first. His plunder is mostly some office equipment.
- Next is the second woman, who turns out to be a laundress. She's got sheets and towels and some clothes.
- Finally, the charwoman's turn. She's got… yikes, she's got the bed curtains! And the bed blankets! And even the shirt that the dead guy was going to be buried in.
- The moral of the story? No one cared enough to check on the dead guy, so these three ripped him off to their hearts' content.
- Scrooge is all, man, that poor sucker! Good thing that's not me! He tells the phantom that he's totally learned his lesson, and he'll change his ways so he doesn't become that guy. Funny how he's suddenly really not so quick on the uptake, eh?
- The phantom is all, ugh, you are so slow. Okay then. Desperate times…
- It takes Scrooge to see the dead body lying under a sheet in some dark room with no people around.
- Scrooge again isn't making the connection, and is like, yes, yes, I get it, I will totally be better so I don't end up like whoever that random stranger is! Then for some reason, Scrooge asks the phantom if there is anyone who feels anything about this guy's death.
- All right, everyone, get ready for a twist!
- The only people who feel anything about the death are a couple who feel… happiness! Oh, tricky word play, Dickens, you old so-and-so.
- The reason these two are so happy is that they were in debt to the dead guy who was threatening them with bankruptcy, but now that he is dead they have some time to try to come up with the money.
- Suddenly, Scrooge and the phantom are at the Cratchits' house. Nothing too happy is happening there. The kids all have to go out and get jobs. And also it turns out that Tiny Tim is dead. Bob Cratchit comes back from the cemetery and breaks down.
- Scrooge is moved, but kind of wants to get out of there. We don't blame him.
- He asks the phantom to finally show him himself in the future. Um. Yeah, folks, he still isn't catching on.
- The phantom starts taking him somewhere, and they go by his old office. Scrooge peeks in only to see some other guy in his place. Huh, that's curious.
- Finally, they get to an abandoned cemetery and the phantom points down at one of the graves. Scrooge totally freaks out, but still makes his way over to the grave and sees… his own name! Dun dun dun. Okay, yeah, we all saw it coming. Not too much suspense there.
- Scrooge suddenly clues in to the fact that the dead guy he saw on the bed and whom everyone was discussing was actually him.
- In terror, he asks the phantom a pretty crucial question—whether what he is being shown is actually the future, or just one of a number of possible futures. Basically, old Scrooge has just stumbled on the multi-verse theory of quantum physics. Way to go!
- Scrooge grabs onto the phantom's hand, but the phantom shrinks away into a post.
READ THE BOOK: Stave 4