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2 The first of the three spirits

【双语阅读】http://en.eywedu.net/


When Scrooge woke up,it was very dark in the room.He heard the church clock start striking,and listened to see what the time was.To his great surprise,the heavy bell went on striking up to twelve,then stopped.Twelve o'clock! It was past two in the morning when he had gone to bed.The clock must be wrong!He looked at his watch.It said twelve o'clock too!
‘Have I slept all day?Is it the next night already?’scrooge asked himself.‘Or has something happened to the sun?Perhaps it's midday,not midnight!But that's impossible!’
He climbed out of bed,and felt his way to the window.But there was nobody outside in the dark,foggy streets,and he realized it must be night-time.He went back to bed again,but could not sleep.He was worried,because he could not understand what was happening.‘Was Marley's ghost a dream?’he wondered.‘But it seemed very real…’
He lay awake until he heard the clock striking a quarter to the hour.Suddenly he remembered.The ghost had warned him that a spirit would visit him at one o'clock.He decided to stay awake until one o'clock had passed.The quarter of an hour passed very slowly,but at last he heard the clock striking the four quarters.
‘It's one o'clock!’cried Scrooge delightedly,‘and nothing has happened!’But he spoke before the hour bell had sounded.The clock now struck a deep,sad ONE,and immediately light shone into Scrooge's bedroom.The curtains round his bed were pulled open.Scrooge sat up in bed,and stared at his ghostly visitor.
A strange figure,half like a child,half like an old man, looked back at him.It had long,white hair,but its skin was soft and young.It wore a short,white robe,covered with both summer and winter flowers.But the strangest thing about it was that from the top of its head shone a bright,clear light.Perhaps this light was sometimes too bright,because under one arm it carried a hat,which looked like a large extinguisher.
‘Who and what are you,sir?’asked Scrooge.
‘I am the ghost of Christmas Past,’replied the spirit,in a soft,gentle voice.
‘Do you mean long ago in the past?’asked Scrooge.
‘No.Your past.’
‘Spirit,please tell me why you are here.’
‘I am here for your own good,’answered the ghost.
‘Thank you,’replied Scrooge politely.But secretly he thought,‘Bah!A night of unbroken sleep is a more useful thing to have!’
The spirit seemed to hear him thinking,and said at once,‘I am here to help you change your life!Watch and listen!’It put out a strong hand,and held Scrooge by the arm.‘Get up,and come with me!’
It was dark and cold outside.Scrooge did not want to go anywhere,and for a moment he thought about pretending to be too ill to go out.But he did not like to refuse,so he said nothing,and got out of bed.Together they passed through the wall of the house out into the darkness.
Suddenly Scrooge realized they were standing on an open country road,with fields on each side.London,the fog,and the darkness had all disappeared,and it was a clear,cold, winter day,with snow on the ground.
‘Good Heavens!’cried Scrooge.‘I was born near here!I rememher it well!’
The spirit looked kindly at the old man.‘How strange that you've forgotten it for so many years!What is that on your face?Are you crying?’
Scrooge put a hand over his eyes.‘It's nothing—I've got a cold,that's all.Take me where you want,spirit!’
Scrooge recognized every field,post,and tree,as they walked along the road towards a little market town.All around thgm were young schoolboys on horses and in farmers’carts,laughing and wishing each other a merry Christmas,as they travelled to their homes for the Christmas holiday.
‘They are only shadows from the past,’said the spirit.‘They cannot see us.’
Scrooge knew and named all of them.Why was he so delighted to see them?Why did his cold heart beat faster when they went past,shouting‘Merry Christmas!’?What was‘merry Christmas’to Scrooge?What good had it ever done to him?
‘Not everyone has left the school,’said the ghost.‘There is one lonely child there still,one child whose friends have all gone.’
‘I know!’said Scrooge.And now he was crying openly.
They turned into a smaller road,and soon came to the school.Inside,in the long,cold,silent classroom,a lonely boy sat reading near a small fire.When he saw his poor forgotten past self,Scrooge sat down at one of the desks,put his head in his hands and cried.
‘Poor boy!I wish—but it's too late now.’
‘What's the matter?’asked the spirit.
‘There was a boy singing Christmas carols at my door yesterday.I'm sorry I didn't give him anything,that's all.’
The ghost smiled,and lifted its hand,saying,‘Let's see another past Christmas!’
The schoolroom became darker and dirtier.There was the young Scrooge again,a little older and bigger than before.He was not reading this time,but was walking up and down, looking very unhappy.The door opened,and a little girl, much younger than him,came running in.Putting her arms round his neck,she said lovingly to him,‘I've come to bring you home,dear brother!Father is so much kinder than he used to be!The other day I asked him if you could come home,and he said yes!And we're going to spend Christmas together,and have the merriest time!’she was laughing delightedly as she began to pull him towards the door.They went out happily together,hand in hand.
‘What a warm heart she had!’said the ghost.
‘You're right,’said Scrooge.‘I agree with you,spirit!’
‘She married,I understand,’continued the ghost,‘and had children,I think,before she died.’
‘One child,’answered Scrooge.
‘True,’said the ghost.‘Your nephew!’
Scrooge did not answer at once.‘Yes,’he said at last.
Now the school had disappeared,and they were in the middle of a busy town,with shadowy crowds and carts all around them.Here it was Christmas time again,but it was evening, and there were lights in the shops and streets.
The ghost stopped at an office door.‘Do you know this place,Scrooge?’he asked.
‘Know it!’cried Scrooge.‘Why,I was a clerk here!’
They went in,and when they saw a large,kind-looking old gentleman sitting at a high desk,Scrooge cried excitedly,‘Good Heavens,it's old Fezziwig!God bless him!It's Fezziwig alive again!’
Old Fezziwig put down his pen,and looked at the clock.Fastening his coat buttons over his fat stomach,he started laughing as he called out in a rich,deep,happy voice, ‘Ebenezer!Dick!Seven o'clock!No more work tonight!It'sChristmas Eve,remember!’
The young Scrooge hurried in,with another clerk.
‘That's Dick Wilkins!’said Scrooge quietly to the ghost.
‘He always liked me.Oh dear!poor Dick!’
Together the two young clerks put away all the pens and papers,and,following Fezziwig's orders,cleared all the furniture away from the centre of the room.In came a fiddler.In came Mrs Fezziwig,fat and smiling.In came the three Fezziwig daughters,sweet and pretty.In came the six young men who were in love with them.In came the cook,with her young man,the milkman.In came the boy from next door, with the girl from the house opposite.In they came,some quietly,some noisily,but all happy because it was Ghristmas Eve.The fiddler started playing,and away they all went in the dance,twenty pairs at the same time,round and round, down the middle and up again.When they were all tired,old Fezziwig cried out,‘Well done!Now,have something to eat and drink!’there was cake and hot meat and bread and cold meat and fruit,and all kinds of drinks,on a long table near the door.And after they had eaten,they danced again.
When the clock struck eleven,the dancing ended.Mr and Mrs Fezziwig stood by the door,shaking hands with each person as he or she went out,and wishing him or her a merry Christmas.
During this time Scrooge had thought of nothing except what was happening in front of his eyes.He remembered and enjoyed it all with the greatest delight.But when the dancing came to an end,he realized that the ghost was looking at him.The light on the spirit's head was burning very clearly.
‘It seems easy enough to amuse these childish people,’said the ghost.‘It was nothing much that Fezziwig did,was it? After all,he only spent a few pounds,on food and drink and paying the fiddler.’
‘It isn't a question of money,’replied Scrooge warmly.He was speaking like the young man he used to be,not the old man he was now.‘No,spirit,you see,our employer can make us happy or sad.His words,his looks,all these things are so important!The happiness that he gives is just as valuable as money!’
He suddenly stopped speaking,when he felt the spirit watching him closely.
‘What's the matter?’asked the ghost.
‘Er—nothing,’said Scrooge.‘Just that—I'd like to be able to say a word or two to my clerk now.’
Now Scrooge could see himself again.He was older now, and it was clear that he was beginning to show an unhealthy interest in money.His eyes were restless,and his mouth looked thin and mean.He was not alone,but was sitting beside a lovely young girl.The light that shone brightly from the ghost of Christmas Past showed that she was crying.
‘I know it doesn't matter very much to you,’she said softly.‘You care about gold more than you care about me.Perhaps I shouldn't be sad.Money will give you the happiness that I wanted to give you.’
‘But I haven't changed towards you,have I?’
‘You have changed.We promised to marry a long time ago,when we were both poor,and happy to be poor.I have stayed the same,but you have different hopes and dreams now.I loved the man that you used to be,but I know that you do not wish to marry me any more.So I've come to tell you that you're free.Be happy in the life that you've chosen!’And she left him.
‘Spirit!’cried Scrooge.‘Show me no more!Take me home!This is too painful!’
‘One shadow more!’said the ghost.
‘No more!’cried Scrooge.‘I don't wish to see any more!’But the spirit held his arms,and he could not escape.
Now they were in another place,in a room which was not very large,but comfortable.Near the fire sat a beautiful young girl.Scrooge thought she was the girl that he had just seen,until he saw her,now a good-looking married lady,sitting opposite her daughter.The room was full of children,and noise,and shouting,and laughing.Just then the door opened, and the father entered,carrying a great pile of Christmas presents.The noise became twice as loud,as the children received their presents with delight,and kissed their father gratefully.Finally,the younger ones went upstairs to bed,and Scrooge watched more sadly than ever,as the father sat down with his loving daughter and her mother by the fire.
‘Belle,’said the husband,turning to his wife with a smile,‘I saw an old friend of yours this afternoon.Guess who? Mr Scrooge!He was sitting alone in his office.His partner is dying,and I don't think he has any other friends.’
‘Spirit!’said Scrooge in a broken voice.‘Take me away from this place.’
‘These are shadows of the things that happened in the past,’said the ghost.‘You chose the life that you preferred, so why cry now?’
‘I can't watch any more!It's too awful!Leave me alone, spirit!’And Scrooge,noticing that the ghostly light was burning high and bright,suddenly took the extinguisher,and pushed it down hard on the spirit's head.But although it covered the ghost's head and body,Scrooge could not hide the light,which continued to shine out strongly from underneath.
Now Scrooge found himself back in his own bedroom again.Feeling very tired,he climbed into bed and at once fell into a deep,heavy sleep.