Wednesday, December 7, 2016

“Who are you?”  “Ask me who I was.”  “Who were you then?” said Scrooge, raising his voice. “You’re particular, for a shade.” He was going to say “to a shade,” but substituted this, as more appropriate.  “In life I was your partner, Jacob Marley.”  “Can you—can you sit down?” asked Scrooge, looking doubtfully at him.  “I can.”  “Do it, then.”  Scrooge asked the question, because he didn’t know whether a ghost so transparent might find himself in a condition to take a chair; and felt that in the event of its being impossible, it might involve the necessity of an embarrassing explanation. But the ghost sat down on the opposite side of the fireplace, as if he were quite used to it.  “You don’t believe in me,” observed the Ghost.  “I don’t,” said Scrooge.  “What evidence would you have of my reality beyond that of your senses?”  “I don’t know,” said Scrooge.  “Why do you doubt your senses?”  “Because,” said Scrooge, “a little thing affects them. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a
fragment of an underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!”  Scrooge was not much in the habit of cracking jokes, nor did he feel, in his heart, by any means waggish then. The truth is, that he tried to be smart, as a means of distracting his own attention, and keeping down his terror; for the spectre’s voice disturbed the very marrow in his bones.  To sit, staring at those fixed glazed eyes, in silence for a moment, would play, Scrooge felt, the very deuce with him. There was something very awful, too, in the spectre’s being provided with an infernal atmosphere of its own. Scrooge could not feel it himself, but this was clearly the case; for though the Ghost sat perfectly motionless, its hair, and skirts, and tassels, were still agitated as by the hot vapour from an oven.  “You see this toothpick?” said Scrooge, returning quickly to the charge, for the reason just assigned; and wishing, though it were only for a second, to divert the vision’s stony gaze from himself.  “I do,” replied the Ghost.  “You are not looking at it,” said Scrooge.  “But I see it,” said the Ghost, “notwithstanding.” 

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