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A Christmas Carol


otherwise? Scrooge and he were partners for I don’t know how
many years. Scrooge was his sole executor, his sole administrator,
his sole assign, his sole residuary legatee, his sole friend, and sole
mourner. And even Scrooge was not so dreadfully cut up by the
sad event, but that he was an excellent man of business on the very
day of the funeral, and solemnised it with an undoubted bargain.
The mention of Marley’s funeral brings me back to the point I
started from. There is no doubt that Marley was dead. This must be
distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I
am going to relate. If we were not perfectly convinced that
Hamlet’s Father died before the play began, there would be
nothing more remarkable in his taking a stroll at night, in an
easterly wind, upon his own ramparts, than there would be in any
other middle-aged gentleman rashly turning out after dark in a
breezy spot—say Saint Paul’s Churchyard for instance—literally
to astonish his son’s weak mind.
Scrooge never painted out Old Marley’s name. There it stood,
years afterwards, above the warehouse door: Scrooge and Marley.
The firm was known as Scrooge and Marley. Sometimes people
new to the business called Scrooge Scrooge, and sometimes
Marley, but he answered to both names. It was all the same to him.
Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a
squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old
sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck
out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an
oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his
pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes
red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice.
A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry
chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him;
he iced his office in the dog-days; and didn’t thaw it one degree at
Christmas.
External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. No
warmth could warm, no wintry weather chill him. No wind that
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