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Summary Stave 3

Scrooge opens up his bed curtains so he won’t be taken by surprise by the next spirit. The bell once again tolls one, but nothing happens. An hour passes before Scrooge finally notices that the light illuminating his clock is coming from the next room. He gets up to investigate it. When he approaches the door, a voice calls to him.

Though it is still his room, it has been transformed. The walls are decorated with ivy, mistletoe, holly, and berries. There is a throne that is comprised of Christmas foods, whose aroma fills the room. The spirit is a jolly looking giant with a glowing torch. The spirit introduces himself as the Ghost of Christmas Present.

The spirit asks Scrooge if he has ever seen the likes of him or one of his 1800 brothers. Scrooge denies this, and then comments on what a humongous family the spirit has to provide for. The spirit orders him to touch his robe, and they are transported to the streets on Christmas morning. The people are bustling around in good humor. The spirit sprinkles incense on their dinners as the pass by. The sprinkles from his torch also restores good humor to the few who share angry words. The spirit tells Scrooge that the spice is his own creation, and he particularly focuses on the poor who need it most. He tells Scrooge that some people act in the name of charity and goodwill but are driven by more selfish desires.

The spirit takes Scrooge to his clerk’s home. Mrs. Cratchit is preparing the meal with the help of her children. Her daughter Martha enters late. The youngest children bid her to hide when Bob Cratchit enters with Tiny Tim. They tell their father that Martha isn’t coming, but she pops out when he looks disappointed.

Bob tells his wife that Tiny Tim behaved well in church. He told his father he hoped the people saw him. Since he is a cripple, it might remind them how Jesus miraculously restored sight to the blind and made lame beggars walk. He tells his wife that Tim is getting stronger.

Scrooge and the spirit watch the Cratchits enjoy their meal. Scrooge asks if Tiny Tim will live. The spirit claims he will die if these things remain unaltered. Then the spirit echoes Scrooge’s former words, saying if Tiny Tim is to die, he should do it and decrease the population. Scrooge feels ashamed of himself. The spirit tells Scrooge that he has no right to determine who shall live and who shall die. In the eyes of Heaven, he may be considered less worthy to live than those he condemns.

Mr. Cratchit proposes a toast to Mr. Scrooge, the founder of the feast. His wife angrily retorts how she would like to have Scrooge feast on her words. The family reluctantly drinks a toast to Mr. Scrooge, his name dampening the joviality for a few moments. Bob Cratchit finally announces he has found a situation for his son Peter. The family is not rich, but they are grateful for what they have and love one another.

The spirit takes Scrooge to many places to witness people celebrating Christmas. Even in the poorest and miserable of places, people are celebrating with good cheer. They visit hospitals, miner houses, lighthouses, foreign lands, and jails.

The last place they visit is the home of Scrooge’s nephew. Fred is telling his friends what transpired between him and his uncle. He tells them that Scrooge hurts himself more than anyone, and he can’t hate him. His wealth does no one any good, including Scrooge himself. He doesn’t use it to enhance his own comfort. By refusing to visit his nephew, he cheats himself of good memories and of an unsatisfactory dinner. Fred intends to extend the invitation every year, for he pities Scrooge.

Scrooge watches the party play music and games. He thinks how he could have developed a happier life. Scrooge participates in the games, even though they can’t hear him. They propose a toast to him at the end.

Scrooge notices that the spirit is aging. The spirit tells Scrooge that his life span is very brief. It ends at midnight. Scrooge also notices something under the spirit’s robe. The spirit reveals two horrible children clinging to his legs. He tells Scrooge that they are man’s children. The boy is called Ignorance, and the Girl is called Want. He orders Scrooge to be careful of these children, but particularly of the boy—who will doom humanity if things do not change. Scrooge asks if they have no refuge or resources. Again the spirit spits back Scrooge’s words, fading as he says, “Are there no prisons or workhouses?”

Scrooge notices a hooded figure coming towards him.

Charles Dickens