The details on this podcast are dark, sometimes scary and full of adult themes as a warning, the original story of a Christmas Carol features terror and scenes of death.
Please exercise caution for children under 13. Ebenezer Scrooge stood in the darkness of his memories, his head down, he didn't need to look up to know who was there. Her smell was all around him. Belle sweeten the air of any room. She walked into the sound of her sobs echoed over the crackling fire.
Scrooge croaked out. This is not a Christmas I wish to be reminded of Spirit. The ghost of Christmas past floated in front of Scrooge, the flame from his crown dimmer than it had been all night. Somehow Scrooge knew it meant their time was almost up. The weakened spirit moved his hand to Scrooge's chin and lifted his head.
You cannot hide from this moment.
Scrooge took in a long, deep breath and opened his eyes. Bell was just as beautiful as he remembered, but the warmth that typically emanated from her face was gone. Tears streaked down her cheeks, her eyes locked on the young man in front of her 25 year old Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge filled with disgust at the sight of his younger self, face hardened emotions shoved back and locked inside. The younger Scrooge scolded his fiancee. You're being hysterical, Belle.
Just because I am a wiser man doesn't mean my feelings for you have changed.
Bell's cries stopped, but they have. You found another idol to replace me? A golden one. The younger Scrooge contorted his face. It was a look that was foreign to the young man, but one that the elder Scrooge recognized all too well. Contempt, Scrooge whispered to the spirit, please take me home.
The spirit glared at Scrooge and whispered, No.
I'm Vanessa Richardson, you're listening to Tales of Spotify original from podcast. Every Wednesday, we dive into the dark origins of another fairy tale. You can find all episodes of tales and all other originals from podcast for free on Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts today were concluding the classic tale, A Christmas Carol, about a miserly old businessman who has a moral awakening after a paranormal experience.
Coming up, Scrooge reckons with his past and his present.
Ebenezer Scrooge spent half a lifetime closing himself off to every worldly endeavor that didn't make him money, being a good boss, uncle or neighbor didn't bring him any additional income. Therefore, Scrooge saw no need for it to worry about unprofitable things was a foolish practice, but no practice was more contemptuous than the celebration of Christmas. Scrooge had spent his Christmas Eve dodging his nephew and the less fortunate. It was just another day for him, and he hoped for a peaceful and quiet night alone.
But his long dead partner had other plans. Jacob Marley, wrapped in ghostly bonds, brought a warning for Scrooge. Change your ways or you will have your own chains to ceaselessly drag. Scrooge tried to reason away the spirit, but he had no other choice.
This Christmas would be his only chance for redemption. He could welcome the three visiting ghosts or torment and pain awaited him in the afterlife.
Until now, Ebenezer Scrooge had enjoyed being a tourist in his own past. But this was a far different Christmas memory than the previous ones. Scrooge stepped out of the shadows to stand beside his younger self and his former fiancee. He was close enough to reach out and touch them. Even in her anger, Bell was a stunning beauty.
She glowered at the younger Scrooge and said, I have seen your nobler aspirations fall away one by one.
Greed is all you have left, and there is no room for me in your life.
Scrooge stomped his foot, trying in vain to get the attention of his former self. You imbecile, make some kind of effort. Do something. But the memory couldn't hear him. The cocksure young man shook his head. That's rubbish, Bell.
You know I will always have room in my heart for you.
Bell turned her back to both Scrooges and stared into the fire. Scrooge moved in front of her, stealing the view now that he couldn't or wouldn't back them.
I was such a fool, he whispered. Bell clenched her fist around a handkerchief to proud to show Scrooge any more emotion. Tell me, Ebenezer, would you still seek me out and try to win me today? A poor girl with no dowry. She waited for an answer. Scrooge did too, but none came. Bell's voice was hollow as she answered her own question.
I thought so. Scrooge dropped down next to the hearth, his arms folded tightly across his chest. He couldn't take his eyes off of her.
Bell gathered herself. She gazed into the fire like she was talking to Scrooge directly.
I'm sure any pain you feel at this parting will be brief. And when you look back on today, you will dismiss it entirely as an unprofitable dream.
This spirit floated next to Scrooge and tugged at his coat, but Scrooge ignored him.
If I'd have just shown a thimbles worth of warmth or love, he groaned in despair.
Bell swallowed, still refusing to face the younger Scrooge, as she said, May you be happy in the life you have chosen.
The ghost of Christmas past pulled Scrooge off the hearth.
By the time he was on his feet, he was no longer by the fire. Scrooge and the spirit stood in the middle of a dark, poorly lit parlour. Scrooge exhaled. He was home at last.
He turned toward the spirit, why do you delight in torturing me? He trailed off as he looked around. The furniture was unfamiliar. Those aren't my curtains, he thought. The sound of childlike laughter bled over from the next room scrouge world on the Spirit agitated. You said the last version was the final one. Why are we here? This is not a moment from my past. The spirits crown of flames was little more than a flicker.
Now his voice was a horse whisper.
You're right, this is not your past, but it still involves you. The parlor door swung open. Scrooge sniffed the air. There was that smell again. His heart sank as he turned around. It was Bell, but not as she was when he last saw her. She was older, but still glowed with the warmth and kindness that he remembered. This scene could have been from yesterday. She stepped into the parlor as her husband, a charming man with a long face, pulled off her coat.
Scrooge tried to muster some feelings of anger toward her husband, but he couldn't. He looked like a good man who had given Belle a good life. The husband laughed. Oh, my dear, you'll never guess who I saw today. Ebenezer Scrooge passed right by his shop. The old tightwad didn't even have a candle lit. His clerk looked very nearly frozen. Bell laughed. Along with him, Scrooge felt a knife twist in his heart. Bell was almost wistful, sad and alone.
That sounds like Ebenezer, the spirit cracked a slight grin. Are you not happy with the life you have chosen? Rage overcame Scrooge. He swatted at the spirit. Love is not guaranteed like compounding interest. It is rude to show me things that are not mine. This is no more my life than Robinson Crusoe. The spirit's flame, which had been dying out, suddenly ignited within a moment. Scrooge couldn't see a thing. Not the curtains, not bell, not even the spirit in front of him.
The whole room was washed out in blinding light. Scrooge did the only thing he knew to do when faced with a growing flame, he took a deep breath in and blew it out.
Scrooge startled himself. He hadn't expected it to work. Darkness fell over the room. There were no more footsteps or laughter. The ghost of Christmas past was gone.
Scrooge was alone. It took a moment for Scrooge to adjust to the darkness.
A familiar four poster bed came into view, curtains and all. He breathed a sigh of relief, saying to no one, I'm home.
He stumbled for his bed and fell onto the blanket.
He was asleep before he could take off his shoes. The loud echo of a distant clock tower struck one scrooged jumped off the bed and onto his feet, you won't catch me off guard again, he thought, but there was no flame, no floating spirit, no distant rattle of chains. Nothing was amiss. His room was just as dour and empty as always. Scrooge turned and sat on his bed.
Hello? Scrooge called out, but there was no answer. Maybe the first spirit did all the work and there's no need for a second or third, Scrooge thought as he laid back against the headboard. Even he didn't believe that.
The clock slowly ticked by, his mind was occupied for the first time in decades with the consequences of his own unfeeling disposition. If I was five percent poorer, but 50 percent happier, would it have been worth it?
He pondered as he stared at the ceiling. Scrooge was aware of every creak of the floorboards and rattle of the shutters.
He was exhausted, but wide awake.
At the stroke of two, light spilled in from under the doorway like a bonfire burning in the adjacent room, it was time Scrouge rolled out of bed and tiptoed to the door.
He reached for the handle, but he couldn't bring himself to open it. Instead, he moved his hand up the key and quietly, as he could manage, turned it to the locked position. The lock hadn't even latched when a voice boomed out from the other side. Come in and get to know me better, man. A deep roaring laugh followed by the voice sounded so jolly it was as warm as the light sneaking under the doorway. He certainly sounds friendly enough.
Scrooge thought he turned the key back, unlocking the door. The moment he opened the door, an unforgiving orange light flooded into his bed chambers, Scrooge squinted through the light. He had never seen his house look like this.
Pine, holly and mistletoe weaved across his ceiling, practically creating a forest canopy inside the normally spartan home of fire roared in the hearth at an immense buffet was spread out across the floor. Scrooge could see platters of turkey geese, wild game and suckling pig all cooked to perfection. There was fruit, oranges, apples and pears that all looked fresh off the vine. Scrooge couldn't see an inch of the floorboards. The spread was at its most dense in the corner of the room where all the food was piled into a massive throne.
Another booming laugh came from the figure sitting atop the throne, Scrooge. His eyes traveled upward to meet the biggest man he'd ever seen. His massive body alone filled nearly half of the room. He wore a green robe with white fur trim, and his feet were bare. The giant reached out his massive hand, nearly the size of Scrooge's arm and dragged Scrooge forward.
Come closer, Ebenezer, he laughed as he pulled him along. Scrooge didn't see that he had a choice.
Up next, Scrooge sees that his greed has hurt more than just himself.
Now back to the story.
Scrooge washed his feet, dragged across the floor without his consent.
He didn't feel threatened by the enormous spirit. But after the emotional beating he'd received at the hands of the ghost of Christmas past, he wasn't looking forward to another round.
The giant spoke.
No need to fear me. I'm the ghost of Christmas present.
Scrooge looked up. The man's cheeks were ruddy and his eyes were clear and sharp. His long brown curls bounced as he laughed at nothing in particular.
The spirit leaned toward Scrooge.
You've never met anyone like me before, have you?
Scrooge let out a nervous laugh. I met another spirit earlier tonight, but I've never seen anything quite like you. The spirit leaned back, seemingly amused at Scrooge's comment. He smiled down at him and said, I'm a bit surprised. Eighteen hundred brothers and sisters, and you've yet to meet one of them. Scrooge couldn't hide his surprise. Well, that's an awful lot of mouths to feed. The shock and of finding the giant in his home had worn off, and Scrooge was left with a very uncomfortable feeling.
It had been decades since he paused for even a moment of self reflection. But he knew his night was far from over. He addressed the giant in a wavering voice spirit.
I went on a journey tonight.
I know you're here to show me more. I'm ready to see whatever you lay before me. Hams and bread tumbled down as the spirits stood, Scrooge expected him to hit his head on the ceiling, but he seemed to shrink before his eyes until he was just short enough to fit within the room. Moments later, the ghost of Christmas present stood before Scrooge, no longer laughing, he raised a torch and commanded Scrooge, take my robe. Scrooge reached for the white trim and took a hold of it.
The food, the garland and the entire room disappeared. In a flash, Scrooge and the giant were now standing in the middle of the street, the morning sun glistening off a layer of fresh snow. The street carts were piled with fresh treats. All the vendors had their choicest selections out, and the smell of still warm cakes filled the air. Everyone was cheerful, and no one passed another soul without exchanging a hearty Merry Christmas.
After avoiding it for so many years, Scrooge had to admit the market on Christmas Day wasn't nearly as dreadful as he'd expected. They walked east from Scrooge's home. The neighborhood's getting progressively poorer. The children's clothes got rattier, the street carts got dirtier, the apples shined a little less. But Scrooge couldn't help but notice that the poor neighborhoods seemed to be even happier than his own. Lost in thought, Scrooge paid no mind to how far they had traveled.
Finally, the spirit stopped. Were here, he announced, pointing to the house before them.
Scrooge stared at the door. He had never been here before. The giant shook his torch and immediately the two were inside. It wasn't a large house, but it was clean.
A young man and a young woman were setting out a meager dinner of a small goose and fixings. They took orders from a gruff but loving woman. Scrooge took it to be the mother. He watched her work. Does she work in the tavern? She looks so familiar. I would hope so, said the giant.
The door opened behind them and the faces of the children lit up. Scrooge turned to see his own clerk, Bob Cratchit, stepping into the home. The man wrapped his free arm around his children. His other had a firm grasp on a smaller boy. The child looked thin and weak, and he held a well-worn crutch in his hand. Bob handed the small boy to his daughter and said, Take Tim and everyone get changed for dinner. Merry Christmas.
My Love's Scrooge was completely stunned. He stuttered, I. I never knew his boy was so. He couldn't form the words. But the spirit could lahm. His legs might not work, but his heart could power a locomotive. Scrooge quickly looked away. Bob kissed his wife, she whispered. And how was Tiny Tim? Bob's voice cracked. As good as gold and better. I think he's getting stronger every day.
The two smiled, an unspoken fear between them. Scrooge's chest tightened. His Clarkes troubles had never once crossed his mind before. Today, Scrooge and the Spirit watched as the crotched family dug into their Christmas dinner. Scrooge was amazed. Look at them. They're acting as if this is the finest meal in all of London.
The spirit leaned in to them.
It is Tiny Tim clanked to the side of his mug with his fork. The family chatter stopped and all the crotchets politely turned toward the youngest. His hand shook as he raised the cup and exclaimed in a frail voice.
God bless us, everyone. The crotchets all cheered and raised their cups to tiny Tim's toast.
Scrooge inched closer to the child. The ghost was right. He had never seen a heart. So pure spirit. I know you are of the present, but does Tiny Tim have much time? He seems so sickly. Surely you can tell me some good news. But the spirit had none.
If these shadows remain unaltered, none of my brothers or sisters will find him here. But if he is doomed to die, what should we care better to do it and decrease the surplus population?
Scrooge's own words pierced his heart. He had no defense. The spirit glared down at him. You could have long ago made a difference in this child's life, a million tiny tims are out there and you are more worth less than all of them. You have enough resources to create miracles, yet you won't even warm your office. For his father, Bob slid his chair back and stood. Scrouge welcomed the distraction from his own shame. His clerk raised his glass.
Well, said Tim, and God bless Mr. Scrooge, the founder of the feast. Scrooge felt a tinge of pride, but it was short lived. Mrs. Cratchit scoffed, the founder of the feast. Your boss is a monster. Robert Scrooge shot a finger in the air, ready to protest. But he didn't get the chance. Mrs. Cratchit pushed on is an odious, stingy, hard, unfeeling man.
But I will not bring this sort of cruelty to our Christmas feast. We have been extraordinarily fortunate. Our eldest have jobs. We have food on the table. I'll drink to his health for your sake, Bob, not for his. The family toasted, but it lacked any tenderness. It was the first time since Scrooge arrived that he had felt cold in the Cratchit home. Scrooge couldn't bring himself to look at the spirit. The mere mention of my name ruined this supper, he said, stunned the ghost of Christmas present tapped Scrooge on the shoulder.
Come, let me show you something. Before Scrooge could utter a response, the ceiling opened up before them and the spirit flew them through the air, Scrooge wrapped his hand tightly around the spirit's arm, staring down at the chimneys and streets below the setting sun cast long, dark shadows against the snowy white roofs. The lights of London were fast disappearing behind them as they flew out into the countryside. In the distance, large black plumes of smoke flowed skyward.
They were fast approaching. The smoke screwed, shut his eyes tight and held his breath desperate not to breathe any of it. In a moment. Later, his feet sunk into the mud. Black dust covered everything in sight. Any foliage nearby looked dead or dying.
A father and his son, who looked no older than 10, let a dog past them. The two sang Christmas carols between labored coughs as they led the donkey into a deep, dark shaft.
Where are we? Scrooge muttered. The spirit pointed the mines. Christmas is not ignored, even here. Disabled, poor, homeless, all people that have more love in their hearts than you. Your misery is a choice, Ebeneezer. It always has been. You could do so much more with what you have.
The words stung Scrooge for so long he had only focused on himself. His world began at his home and ended at his office, and every human he met between was a hindrance. His misery had blinded him to all others suffering. He mumbled.
You're right, I could. Scrooge floated off the ground. The black mud clung to his feet as the smoke swirled around them. He couldn't see his hand in front of his face, but he could hear someone laughing. I know that laugh anywhere, Scrooge thought, he shouted Fred. Before the smoke had even cleared, they were in his nephew's living room, crowded with guests enjoying another Christmas Day feast. Fred was in the middle of a story. I swear to you.
The old man, humbugged Christmas, he exclaimed, and everyone laughed.
Everyone besides Fred's wife. She shook her head and said, who knew someone so rich could be so miserable? Fred sat down next to her. I couldn't be angry with him if I tried, he said with a sigh. Who suffers because of his ills himself? Always. I invited him here this year, and I'll do it again next. And every year after, until he says yes, Scrooge couldn't help but smile. I just might take you up on that, Freddy, he said to himself.
Scrooge watched as his nephew's friends ate, drank, sang carols and played parlor games. He would have been happy to stay much longer, but the spirits large hand fell on his shoulder. It's time, said the giant. Oh, please, just one more half hour, Scrooge pleaded, turning toward his guide. Only now did he notice the change that had come over the spirit. His brown hair had turned gray and his round jolly face was lined with wrinkles.
Scrooge understood their time was truly up. Reluctantly, he took the spirit's robe. In an instant, they were back in Scrooge's home. The room was still decorated, but it wasn't the same as before. The garland was dead. The food had rotted in their absence and the distinct odor of roughness hung in the air from the corner of his eye. Scrooge saw the spirits robe shift. Strangely, a small claw darted out and snatched a piece of putrid fruit.
Scrooge leaped back in fright, staring at his guide. He hadn't noticed it before, but there was more than one set of feet underneath the spirit's robe. His voice shook.
My goodness, he gasped. What is that beneath your robe? The spirit pulled back his robe, and Scrooge almost screamed with shock to bony. Malnourished children clung to the broad legs of the ghost. They were so thin and pale they barely looked human, Scrooge stammered. Are they yours? The spirit cackled. But this wasn't the joyous laughter of before. Are they mine? He bellowed. Of course they're not mine. They are man's. Their names are ignorance and want abandoned by the likes of you made your own creation.
Scrooge could not look away from the children. Do they have no refuge? He asked. The spirits shoved Scrooge with his torch. Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses? The spirits shoved Scrooge again.
He fell backward, feet flying high into the air. Scrooge landed hard on the floor of his bedroom. When he looked up, the ghost of Christmas present was gone. The children ignorance and what had disappeared with him. The room was empty and dark. He was alone, perhaps not all alone. Scrooge thought a strange fire burned in his chest, a feeling of remorse and something else, too. He had found a new appreciation for his fellow man.
He had been a good man once before. He was consumed by greed. He decided that starting tomorrow he would do better.
Scrooge pushed himself off the floor and something rose up with him. Scrooge took a step back, barking in astonishment at his visitor. The figure towered above him. Dressed in a flowing black cloak, Scrooge stared into the impenetrable darkness of the figures.
Coull, the final ghost, had arrived.
Coming up, Scrooge receives his most haunting vision yet.
Now back to the story.
Scrooge stared in horror at the final ghost. His previous visitors had each been startling in their own right, but none compared to the dark hooded spectre looming before him. Now, Scrooge had never known fear like this. He could barely move, but he forced himself to address the visitor. Are you the ghost of Christmas yet to come? The Spectre dipped its hood in a slow nod. Then it raised a pale, bony finger and pointed past Scrooge. Scrooge turned someone's in my bed, he realized with a start.
Or at least it looked like his bed. There were no curtains, no blankets. In fact, the entire room had been stripped bare. Aside from the simple sheet on the bed and the figure that lay shrouded beneath it, Scrooge trembled with fear. Where are we? He asked. The ghost did not reply. Scrooge turned back to face it. Specter, he said, I fear you. More than any other, but I know your purpose is good, I wish to change my ways.
Show me what you will. Instantly, the specter began to sink into the floor.
Scrouge followed a moment later. He flailed in terror for a moment. And then he was outside on the street with people buzzing all around them. Scrooged took in the familiar surroundings. This was the financial district just around the corner from his office. Two men stood out from the bustling crowd. Scrouge recognized them as Johnson and Roberts accountants who occupied the office next to him. Johnson shrugged to his partner.
I might have been his best friend. He would say hello to me, and that's the extent of it. Whoever owed him money must be dancing in the streets, I reckon. Roberts nodded in agreement. He was an unforgiving soul. It's true. He even gave old Hester a run for his money. It'll be a very poorly attended funeral. I guess I'd go if lunch is provided. You think the old man left enough money for a proper spread?
A shadow fell over Scrooge, and he turned to see the spectre rising from the ground beside him, the air had grown notably colder in its presence. Scrooge gestured toward Johnson and Roberts.
A poor man is dead and they're joking. Specter, who has died. Why stop here? The ghost was silent. Scrooge was growing frustrated, staring into the blank.
Coull he rubbed his eyes warily, and when he looked back up, the street was gone. Scrooge was in a dirty rundown shop, glancing out through the grimy window.
He noted that he didn't recognize what part of town he was in, but it looked worse outside than in a busted up shingle outside. Read Old Joe's pawn shop, a chill shot down Scrooge's spine as he turned toward the counter, three figures gathered in front of a door looking pawnbroker Scrooge crept closer, craning his neck for a glimpse of what they were peddling. But he couldn't quite see over their shoulders. The pawnbroker sneered in disgust. Come now, the blankets still warm, though I'm surprised the cold hearted miser could produce any warmth at all.
He didn't die of anything catching he. Another customer dropped something heavy onto the counter. Old Joe dropped the blanket and picked up a familiar looking pair of boots. I have a pair just like those Scrooge thought as he tried for a better look. Old Joe growled his boots. What are people going to think when they find out the undertaker is robbing his clients?
The Spector emerged from the wall, its shadow falling across Scrooge. Tears welled in his eyes as he addressed the spirit. I understand this rich man's fate could be my own. I will change my ways. Count on that. Is there no tenderness that you can show me? Spectre Scrooge jumped as the specter breezed past him. The pawn shop was gone. He was back in the crash at home, but there was no joy. Now, if he didn't recognize the family, he would have thought they had moved out, replaced by a more somber bunch.
The children sat around the table without speaking. Scrooge looked around for Tiny Tim, but he was nowhere to be found. A lump caught in his throat as he saw something else a crutch abandoned in a corner. Tiny Tim Scrooge whispered. The door opened and Scrooge spun around, hoping to see Bob and Tiny Tim once more. But it was only Bob. His shoulders slumped much more so than when he had to carry Tiny Tim. Mrs. Cratchit wrapped her arms around him.
How was it? She asked. Bob Cratchit wiped a single tear from his cheek and smiled. It was beautiful, he sniffed. He's got such a lovely, quiet little plot. Scrooge let out a sob of despair as the room darkened around him.
The air was growing colder, as if the Spectre's mere presence was seeping into everything it touched. Scrooge swallowed down the lump in his throat, and he forced himself to ask the question that had been eating at his mind. Spirit, Whose death did we see earlier? Where were we? The light slowly returned. The crotched house had disappeared. Scrooge stood in a graveyard. It wasn't the peaceful, well tended plot described by Bob Cratchit. This was an overgrown corner, dark and forgotten.
It seemed that it had not been visited. In some time, the spectre rose from a nearby grave and drifted toward Scrooge. It raised a pale, bony hand and pointed toward the nearest gravestone. Scrooge took a step toward it, squinting at the tombstone. But the inscription was obscured by overgrown weeds. He glanced back toward the specter. It still pointed. Scrooge got the message. He dropped to his knees and tore the weeds away until the tombstone was clear.
He stood back to examine it.
The stone read Ebenezer Scrooge. No thought Scrooge, the sound of Marley's chains echoed in his mind, he remembered the phantoms he'd seen doomed to eternal misery. But I've learned so much. Scrooge thought Scrooge stumbled away from the grave and turned the spectre loomed over him. Is this what will happen or what might happen?
Scrooge pleaded Spectre.
Why show me all this if I can't change it? Mends courses, foreshadow certain ends. I know, but if you change the course, can't you change the outcome? The spectre remained as unmoved as ever. Scrooge crawled toward the shadow, begging. I can change. Let me change. I will keep Christmas in my heart. I beg of you, please. I will live in the past and the present and the future. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach old.
Tell me that I may sponge away the writing of that stone, please. Spectre Scrooge closed his eyes and lunged toward the specter with open arms. He half expected to pass right through it, but the ghost was more solid than he expected. It was cold and sturdy and smelled of oak. Scrooge opened his eyes. His arms were wrapped around his bedpost. He was home.
His bed wasn't bare, his curtains still hung around him, his blanket hadn't been taken, Scrooge leapt to his feet, cackling with delight. I'm alive. Oh, Jacob Marley, heaven and Christmas time be praised for this. Tears of joy streamed down Scrooge's face. I'm as light as a feather. I'm as merry as a schoolboy.
He danced around the room, taking in all its glory. The hearth, the door, his chair. It's so gloomy, Scrooge thought a coach drove by outside his window. Scrooge turned, realizing that it was morning. Finally, his never ending night had come to an end. He had his second chance, though he had no idea what day it was. It felt like he'd been with the spirits for months. Scrooge threw open the window. The brisk air blasted his face as the sun glistened off of every rooftop.
It was a bright, beautiful winter day. Scrooge's smile was equally bright. He scanned the street below, eyes falling on a young boy walking young man. He called out. What day is it? The boy looked at him like he was crazy. Why? It's Christmas Day, Scrooge laughed in delight. I haven't missed it. They did it all in one night. Now how do I start the rest of my life? An idea popped into his head.
He was so happy it felt like his skin was humming. Scrooge shouted back down for a half crown.
He asked the boy to run down to the corner shop and buy the biggest goose possible.
The young man took off in a sprint as soon as the words were out of Scrooge's mouth. Scrooge move just as fast to hurry and get dressed for the first time in longer than he could remember. He had plans for Christmas.
Anonymously, Scrooge sent the goose to the Cratchit family as a Christmas surprise, but that was just the beginning. Scrooge took off across town. He was finally going to take Fred up on his offer for Christmas dinner. He couldn't wait to enjoy the songs and drinks and games with him in person, but he had one stop first. It took most of the morning, but Scrooge finally tracked down the mustachioed volunteer from the tavern.
He had to make a healthy donation to the unfortunate souls he had trampled upon for so many years, the first of many back payments he intended to make. Even after being the last one to leave Freds on Christmas night. Scrooge arrived at work on the 26th. Earlier than ever. He tapped his foot filled with nervous energy, his eyes trained on the door. A full eighteen and a half minutes later, Bob Cratchit finally burst through the door. It took all the energy he could muster, but Scrooge turned his smile into his deepest, angriest scowl.
What do you mean coming here this time of day, Mr. Cratchit? Bob panicked. So sorry, sir. I am behind my time. Scrooge stomped his foot and shot up out of his chair. Cratchit cowered with fear. Scrooge could barely keep a straight face as he marched across the room. I won't stand for it. I won't stand for it one minute, and therefore I'm going to give you a raise. Bob looked up in amazement.
His jaw fell open, but Scrooge gave no sign that this was a cruel joke.
Scrooge grinned from ear to ear. He reached out and took Bob's hand shaking it. I've done you wrong, Bob Cratchit, but I make up for it starting today. Merry Christmas. Scrooge did all he said he would do and more. He was a loving and involved uncle to Fred and a friend and mentor to Bob, to Tiny Tim, who did not die. He was like a second father. He knew how to keep Christmas better than anyone, and he did so year round, though he never told anyone what caused the change of heart.
Scrooge left Marley's name on the sign even after having it replaced.
He added something to beneath the names. Read a short, simple phrase. God bless us, everyone. A Christmas Carol quickly became not only Charles Dickens most popular work, but one of the most popular books in history at the turn of the 20th century, it was the second best selling book trailing only the Bible. It helped push Christmas from a niche Christian holiday into a global phenomenon and defined many of the themes we associate with Christmas stories today. It has been told and retold countless times through nearly every medium of storytelling, radio, television, stage, film and now podcasts as well.
Author and Professor Audrey Jaffe argues that the effectiveness of Dickens story hinged largely on its structure and omniscient. NARRATOR The audience watches each scene unfold like a play and is carried through the past, present and future, just like Scrooge is in effect, were invited to participate in his transformation from a miserly, cruel old man into a generous father figure and learn the same lessons he does. It's these lessons the importance of generosity, selflessness and goodwill towards all mankind that have become a Christmas carols legacy.
Which is not to say that everyone who knows Ebenezer Scrooge his story has taken those lessons to heart. Greed and the hoarding of resources weren't abandoned in the hundreds. The spectre of poverty remains a powerful force in the modern world, and even on Christmas, many are forced to suffer and go without. As Dickens tells us, it is our duty not to forget them. And as long as there are scrooges in the world, there will be the need for ghosts of past, present and future to scare them straight.
Thanks for listening to Tales. We'll be back next Wednesday with a new and exciting story. You can find more episodes of Tales and all other cast originals for free on Spotify. Join me next week for another dark and surprising fairy tale. Tales is a Spotify original from podcast. Executive producers include Max and Ron Cuddler Sound Design by Nick Johnson with production assistance by Ron Shapiro, Carly Madden and Isabel Away. This episode of Tales was written by Jesse Harris with Writing Assistants by Andrew Kelaher.
I'm Vanessa Richardson. We hope you enjoyed this special holiday, two parter from Tails every Wednesday. Explore the twists, turns and dark origins of your favorite pieces of folklore. Follow tales from Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Happy holidays.