Working as a clerk in Scrooge's office was one of the nicest souls in London-Bob Cratchit. He was as poor as Scrooge was rich, but Bob never complained. He always had a kind word for everyone, and he kept Christmas in his heart all year long.
On Christmas Eve, Scrooge went home at his usual time. He had no reason to leave early. There would be no Christmas celebration for him.
Soon after Scrooge left, Bob Cratchit closed up his office and then went home as well. He was looking forward to a loving Christmas with his family.
Ebenezer Scrooge had a cold supper and then sat in his parlor, staring at the fire.
Suddenly he heard a terrible moaning and clattering on the back stairs. And then, to his amazement, Scrooge saw the ghosts of his former partners, Robert and Jacob Marley, float into the room!
"Beware!" said Robert.
"We were are mean and stingy in life as you were today. Now we are doomed to walk the earth in chains forever."
"You will be visited by three ghosts tonight," add Jacob. "Learn well what they have to teach you. It is your only hope!"
With that they disappeared!
Certainly that he has only imagined the ghostly visit, Scrooge went quickly to bed and fell into a deep sleep.
When the clock struck one, he was awakened by a bright unearthly light. He jumped out of bed and fell to his knees in fear.
Standing in the middle of the room was a small figure.
"I am the Ghost of Christmas Past," the figure said. "I have come to show you a Christmas long ago."
The Ghost of Christmas Past took Scrooge's hand. Magically, the window opened and Scrooge found himself being flown over the city of London.
Soon Scrooge and the ghost, invisible to all except each other, entered a large pleasant room. A joyous Christmas party was under way.
"Why, that's Fozziwig!" Scrooge said. "I used to work for him."
"And there are my good friends, Robert and Jacob Marley," Scrooge smiled.
"And there...there I am as a young man," Scrooge went on.
As Scrooge watched his younger self talking to Fozziwig, a tear came to his eye. "I was so different then," he said sadly to the Ghost of Christmas Past.
Then, without a word, the ghost disappeared. Scrooge found himself alone in his bedroom once again. But later that night he was awakened by a second spirit-a jolly giant.
"I am the Ghost of Christmsa Present," the giant told Scrooge. "I will show you Christmas as it will by today!"
"Spirit, take me where you will," Scrooge replied. "Teach me what you will."
The Ghost of Christmas Present took Scrooge through the streets of London. Everywhere Scrooge looked, there were happy people rushing to Christmas celebrations.
Scrooge felt very much alone.
Scrooge and the ghost arrived at the home of the Cratchit family, just as Bob Cratchit was returning home from a walk with Tiny Tim, his son. Tim was a sweet but sickly child who walked with the aid of a small crutch.
Inside, Bob's daughters greeted him happily. The Cratchits were poor in some ways, but they were rich in love and caring for one another. Their Chistmas celebration was a joyous one.
Scrooge watched as the Cratchits sat down to their meager meal.
"A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears!" said Bob Cratchit.
"God bless us, every one!" added Tiny Tim. His simple words touched Scrooge's heart.
"Spirit," said Scrooge, "Tiny Tim does not seem well. Tell me if he will live."
"I see an empty seat in the chimney corner and a crutch without an owner," said the ghost. "If these shadows remain unchanged in the future, Tiny Tim will die."
Before Scrooge could reply, he found himself in a dark and dreary graveyard. The Ghost of Christmas Present was gone. In its place stood a hooded figure that made Scrooge tremble.
"Are you the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come?" he asked. The spirit nodded.
"Show me the future then," said Scrooge. "I am ready."
The ghost pointed at a solitary gravestone. "Who is buried here, Spirit?" Scrooge asked. "It is a lonely spot." But the spirit only pointed again.
Scrooge crept closer to the stone and read the inscription. It said: EBENEZER SCROOGE.
"Oh, no!" Scrooge cried. "Tell me, Spirit, that I may change this before it is too late! I will keep Christmas in my heart all the days of the year!"
Scrooge closed his eyes to blot out the terrible sight. When he opened them again, bright sunlight was streaming in through his bedroom window.
"It's Christmas morning!" Scrooge cried happily. "The spirits have done all their work in one night! And I will keep my promise-and hold Christmas in my heart all the days of the year!"
Ebenezer Scrooge dressed quickly and went outside to exchange Christmas greetings with the townspeople.
Then he headed straight to Bob Cratchit's house, where he knocked briskly on the door.
When Bob opened the door, he could not believe his eyes.
There stood Scrooge...with a smile on his face and good cheer in his heart.
The ghosts had done their work well. Scrooge had changed into a kind and generous man.
Best of all, Tiny Tim did not die, for Scrooge made sure he had all the best care. In fact, Scrooge took care of the entire Cratchit family from that day on.
Every Christmas for many a year to come, Scrooge sat at the Cratchit table. And each year he listened as Tiny Tim recited a familiar blessing that now included Scrooge, too: "God bless us, every one!"