Listeners. Tis the season for a little visit from the ghost of podcast present. Welcome to a special two part telling of Charles Dickens classic tale, A Christmas Carol. If you enjoy it, be sure to follow the Spotify original from podcast Tales.
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The details on this podcast are dark, sometimes scary and full of adult themes as a warning. The original story, A Christmas Carol features terror and scenes of death. Please exercise caution for children under 13. Ebenezer Scrooge sat alone in his dark and cavernous office, the floors and walls were bare, completely devoid of color or character. Stacks of old deeds were its wallpaper, clouds of chilled breath, its decor. The only thing that could be considered sentimental was his business partners old desk, unmoved and untouched.
In the last seven years, Scrooge kept it less for fond memories of the late Jacob Marley and more for practicality. The desk was too heavy to move, and Scrooge wasn't going to waste money on movers. He hadn't even spent a shilling on a new sign. The old dry rotted shingle that hung out front still read Scrooge and Marley. The wind rattled the sign and cut through the cracks in the door and windows. It sent his clerk, Bob Cratchit, teeth chattering.
Scrooge raised an eyebrow and grimaced with annoyance.
The cold didn't bother him, at least it didn't bother him enough to justify paying for more coal. Cold was cheap. Therefore, Scrooge found it agreeable. Scrooge turned his ear to the source of the disturbance, seemed to be his partner's desk, he couldn't put his finger on it, but it sounded like the rattle of chains. Scrooge pushed his chair back and shuffled across the room.
It was coming from beneath the desk, a soft, slight clanking sound.
Scrooge looked toward his clerk, but Cratchit sat unmoved if he heard it, he wasn't showing any signs. Cautiously, Scrooge leaned his head down toward the desktop. Maybe a rat had chewed its way in. Scrooge bolted upright as a sleigh darted by his window.
Must have been the echo of the sleigh, he reasoned.
Scrooge was nothing, if not reasonable. He turned back toward his desk.
But there it was again, the distant but distinct sound of chains rattling as they were dragged across the floor. Scrooge looked back over his shoulder toward the desk. The rattling stopped.
As soon as it started, the old man curled his bluish lips into a scowl. Humbug.
I'm Vanessa Richardson, you're listening to Tales, a Spotify original from podcast Everyone's day we dive into the dark origins of another fairy tale. You can find all episodes of Tales and all other Spotify originals from Paşa cast for free on Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. Today, we're beginning the classic tale of a Christmas Carol about a miserly old businessman who has a moral awakening after a paranormal experience.
Coming up, we'll meet Ebenezer Scrooge and his disdain for the holiday season. The novella A Christmas Carol was written over the course of around six weeks in late 1843 by Charles Dickens, by that point in his life, Dickens was one of the biggest authors in the world. He had already written such classics as Nicholas Nickleby and Oliver Twist. And his speaking tours were enormously popular events. But things were beginning to take a turn for Dickens. His last work, Martin Chuzzlewit, was a complete failure and his extravagant lifestyle was catching up with him.
He was teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. With his fifth child on the way, Dickens needed a hit and fast drawing from his own history of poverty, Dickens wanted to bring attention to the forgotten lower class in Victorian England. The characters and story quickly came together, but when he pitched it to the publisher, they balked at the time Christmas was gaining popularity as a holiday. But it was far from the cultural monolith that it is today. The Christmas tree had only recently come in vogue, and Christmas carols had just begun to see a resurgence of popularity.
Despite this, it was still a relatively niche holiday, and his publishers didn't see the draw. So Dickens fronted his own money to hire editors and illustrators. The book hit the shelves in December of 1843, and its first run sold out in a matter of days. Dickens story of a cruel and hatefilled businessman and his ghostly encounters on Christmas Eve was an immediate success, and in a sense, it helped shape the very holiday it was about. A heavy fog hung in the air outside the sun had yet to peek through the clouds while there was plenty of Christmas Eve activity on the streets of London.
There was no sign of holiday joy within the chilly confines of Scrooge and Marle Scrooge lifted his pen and dipped it into the inkwell.
It was already 3:00 in the afternoon and he was nowhere near done for the day.
The front door flew open as a shout of Merry Christmas echoed throughout the office.
Scrooge didn't bother to look up. He knew the voice. It was his nephew, Fred, eternally cheerful, with a smile that would even warm up the interior of Scrooge's bleak office. Fred was Ebenezer's closest living relative.
Fred breezed into the office, quietly, wishing Bob Cratchit a Merry Christmas. As he went, Scrooge growled as his nephew approached your late. Fred replied, Late for what? Uncle Scrooge finally lifted his eyes. Late for your annual Christmas proselytizing.
You invite me to dinner, I say no.
You usually stop by in the morning. His lips curled slightly. It was the closest Scrooge came to a smile.
Fred pulled out Marley's old chair and took a seat. Scrooge raised his hand to stop him, but his nephew paid him no mind. Fred leaned forward, resting his arms on the desk. He didn't say a word, but stared at his uncle, smiling. If anyone else smirked at him like that, Scrooge would have tossed them out on the street.
But he found Fred's childish manner amusing, like a monkey dressed in gentleman's clothes. Why are you so merry about? He growled, turning back to his books. Your poor enough now, if you don't mind.
Scrooge lifted his hand and showed his nephew toward the door. He froze midway, if there was that sound again, he looked at Fred, but his nephew didn't seem to hear anything. Fred was already out of Marley's chair and skipping across the office toward his uncle's desk. Fred's merry grin widened.
Christmas is the only time when people look at those below them as fellow passengers to the grave and not a separate class of creatures.
Uncle. I believe your heart will open up like that one day. I keep coming back because I want to be the first to see you experience that joy. Dinner is tomorrow at four. Fred tipped his hat to his uncle and turned for the door. Scrooge shook his head sourly.
His nephew was foolish, a wide eyed young man who didn't understand the ways of the world.
His tune will change soon enough, Scrooge thought, as he picked up his pen and went back to work. But through the afternoon, he couldn't shake the feeling that he was being watched.
It wasn't Cratchit. His clerk was too busy to even look up from his paperwork. Scrooge, his gaze drifted to the window far down the street. He could just make out a small pinpoint of light.
It was like an odd blue flame growing slowly closer. It's the soot and frost on the glass, distorting the view, Scrooge thought. But the pen in his hand did not move. He stared transfixed as the flame grew bigger and brighter until it last. Scrooge saw the figure that was carrying it.
It was the lamplighter come to ignite the street lamps for the evening.
Scrooge breathed a sigh of relief. He hadn't even noticed the sun going down. He closed his inkwell and slid his chair back. Cratchit looked up from his desk eagerly. Oh, humbug, Scrooge thought as he considered his employee time for yet another dreaded annual Christmas conversation. Scrooge threw on his overcoat and grunted.
I suppose you'll want to morrow off. Cratchit nodded eagerly to his boss. If it's convenient, sir, Scrooge buttoned his coat and scowled. It's not at all convenient. I don't see why you deserve any special treatment. But if you must, you must. Cratchit couldn't contain his excitement, nearly leaping out of his chair. Of course, sir. Of course. Merry Christmas. Scrooge pulled the door open before Cratchit could even finish his sentence.
He'd had his fill of Merry Christmas. He stepped out into the freezing night air, the snow falling all around him. He pulled his collar tight against his neck as he glared at the carolers. Strolling toward him, the group parted in two, like the Red Sea, as Scrooge strolled right down the middle of them. London's own angry Christmas Moses.
Neither Snow nor Christmas Eve could alter Scrooge's routine. Scrooge took his dinner at the same tavern. As always, it wasn't particularly good, but it was cheap. And the regulars kept their distance from the darkened nook. He sat within his stack of papers was the only company he required.
Scarrow, a grumbling, guttural voice, called out his name, he jerked his head up at the sound have expecting to see the devil himself, but it wasn't a demon standing before him, just a round smiling man with a massive mustache standing before him. I said, Mr. Scrooge, his voice was light and airy, a far cry from the rumble Scrooge heard.
Scrooge nodded before he even noticed that the man was holding something much worse than a pitchfork. It was a donation bucket filled with six pence and the odd shilling Scrooge couldn't hide his disdain.
The man cleared his throat at this, the coldest time of the year. When our citizens are in the greatest need, we seek donations for the unfortunate and undesirable. Scrooge slapped his paper onto the table, all the chatter of the tavern died in an instant. Everyone turned to see Scrooge's reaction. He raised his hand to his heart and gasped, My God, shooters.
It isn't so. They've closed the prisons and poor houses. The rotund man seemed taken aback. Oh, no, no, no. They're still very much open. Scrooge offered his almost smile and put his paper back up. Oh, good.
You made it sound like those urchins had nowhere to go and would soon be flooding the streets more than they do already.
He turned his eyes away from the man. The conversation was over as far as he was concerned, but the volunteer didn't budge. He cleared his throat again and lowered his voice. Sure, many would rather die than be caught in either place. Scrooge barely raised an eyebrow if they'd rather die than they had better do it and decrease the surplus population.
He quickly gathered his hat and his coat and slid by the man.
Not even the taverns are safe from these parasites, Scrooge thought as he shot one final withering stare at the volunteer and stepped into the cold. The snow was heavier, now a fresh coat of white falling over the blackened sludge of the day, Scrooge trudged through, doing his best to ignore the carolers and the young people on their way to parties. The houses were all lighting up one by one as Christmas festivities began. But Scrooge marched past them all, making his way to his own dark enclave.
Not even the lamplighters came down this far, which was perfectly fine by Scrooge. He didn't need the light. He knew every crack in the walkway. He pushed open the old rusted gate and shuffled toward the door. Scrooge rested his head against the frame as he dug around for his keys.
Scrooge froze. He stared at the door. It was almost like the knocker was glowing. A soft, cool blue light was emanating from the center of it. Scrooge rubbed his eyes with his hands. The beef stew must have turned. I can't even see straight, he thought.
He lowered his hands from his face and screamed with fright. It wasn't the iron knocker that stared back at him, but the blank dead eyes of Jacob Marley. The Phantoms lips parted as the face let out a horse whisper.
Coming up, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his old partner. Now back to our story. Scrooge stumbled backward from his stoop, startled that the sound of his name, the ghostly blue face, jutted out from the door, the knocker had transformed into the face of his deceased partner, Jacob Marley. This must be some kind of trick, Scrooge thought as he stared at Marley's dead eyes. Scrooge took a step back and almost slipped on the sleep covered steps.
When he looked back up to the door, Marley's face was gone. The old brass knocker was just as it had always been.
Humbug Scrooge curse to himself. He fumbled with the keys, finally getting them into the lock. Scrooge pushed open the door. He even checked the inside of it, half expecting to see Marley's ponytail sticking out the other side. But nothing was there. His house was as empty and dark as always. Scrooge's stomach grumbled. It brought him an odd bit of comfort. The chain rattling, the voice, the Phantom's visage in the door. Indigestion does odd things to a man he thought that had to be it.
Scrooge lit a candle and checked every room in the house from the wine cellar to the attic just to be safe. There was no sign of burglars or dead business associates. He checked all the doors and windows one last time, satisfied that nothing was amiss. He made a bowl of gruel for his upset stomach and shuffled up the steps toward his chambers. Bowl in one hand and candle in the other. Scrooge took the steps slowly. The sound of a carriage thundered along the road outside his house.
He should slow down. They'll kill somebody. On a night like this, Scrooge thought to himself. But the sound grew louder and louder until it seemed to be coming from inside his house. Scrooge pulled to a stop. He stood stock still. He swore he could hear the horse snorting.
Then nothing. His stomach rumbled once again. Scrooge shook his head and turned back toward his bedroom. Careful not to make too much noise, Scrooge entered the master bedroom and double locked the doors. He made a modest fire and sat back into his plush chair.
He took a bite of the gruel, hoping that it would put an end to his indigestion and its bizarre side effects. Scrooge stared at the elaborately decorated hearth, it was far too ostentatious for his tastes, but much like Marlee's desk, it was far too cumbersome to move. The stone hearth was surrounded by wood relief scenes from the Bible, even tempted by the apple Noah building the ark. Daniel in the lion's den to Scrooge. They were nothing more than fairy tales to motivate simple minded people.
But with his grool settling his stomach after a full day of unwelcome surprises, Scrooge finally felt calm.
From the darkness of his bedroom came the slightest ring of a bell. It was a familiar sound, but one he hadn't heard in years. He snapped his fingers as it came to him. It was the service bell. He turned his head toward the darkness, trying to adjust his eyes. Perhaps a bird or a mouse had gotten in and was chewing on the bells. Pull cord. Scrooge called into the darkness, trying to rouse the intruder. He waited for a sign that he'd been heard, but none came.
Frustrated, Scrooge turned back toward the fire. But something wasn't right. He leaned forward in his seat, inspecting the wood carvings. He gasped. The ball slid out of his hand and clattered against the floor. No longer was he looking at images of Joseph and David. Now they were all replaced with the glowing, dead eyed face of Jacob Marley.
The bell above his bedroom door rang again.
There was no mistaking it this time, again and again, louder and louder. Soon. It wasn't just the service bell, but every disused bell in the house. Scrooge stood from the chair, his eyes darting back and forth between the fireplace and the bell, a shiver ran down his spine all at once. The ringing stopped. The wood carvings were back to normal. Scrooge gathered his breath and managed a half hearted humbug.
A loud bang echoed through the house.
Scrooge jumped, startled at the sound. It was the cellar door.
The rattle of chains came louder and clearer than it had before, and it was getting closer.
He could place them. Now they're dragging across the FOIR and now the stairs, Scrooge thought. He glanced to the securely locked bedroom door. They were coming for him.
Scrooge, a ghostly voice called out from the hallway just beyond his bedroom door. Scrooge instinctively moved behind his plush chair, putting it between him and the voice. His fingernails dug into the velvet. The warm glow of the fire was drowned out by a cold, bluish light. It was the same glow that had come from the knocker and the lamp lighter he'd seen through his office window. Jacob Marley's face emerged from the middle of the door. His jaw was wrapped in a bandage, just as it had been in his funeral.
He stepped through the door as if it wasn't even there. Scrooge couldn't believe it. Marley's body was bound in a tangle of chains so dense that he couldn't tell where one ended and the other began. They seemed to move on their own as they dragged behind him. Secured in the massive chains were cash boxes, steel purses and ledgers, all things Scrooge was intimately familiar with. I've never had a worse case of food poisoning, Scrooge thought it had to be his mind falling apart, a fever dream of some sort.
Marlee's stopped mere feet away from Scrooge. Scrooge's voice, shock and disbelief as he muttered Marley the ghost nodded.
Scrooge motioned for the chair. Can you sit down? I'm afraid I'm not used to entertaining Spectre's. Marley grimaced at him.
You don't believe in me standing right before you. You doubt your own senses. Scrooge shook his head.
Do I believe that my dead partner is standing in my bedroom? Humbug sensors are a delicate thing thrown off by the slightest aggravation, a bad piece of beef or a blow out of mustard. I'd say there's more gravy than the grave.
And you. Marley's face tightened in an angry scowl. He reached his hand toward his bandaged head and undid the knot. His jaw fell open, dangling by one side. It flapped back and forth like their old dry rotted office shingle.
Scrooge screamed with shock. The chains rattled horribly around him, as if responding to his fright. His hands dug into the chair, nearly tearing through the fabric.
Marle inched closer to Scrooge, cupping his loose jaw in his hand. He snapped it back in place and wrapped the bandage back around his head.
Did that seem like a humbug to you? Scrooges heart pounded in his chest. He wanted to insist again that Marley was a figment of his mind. But Scrooge seldom dreamed, and when he did, it usually involved counting money. He didn't have the imagination to concoct this nightmare. Scrooge gathered his breath.
No, Marley. My God, what happened to you? How did you get these chains? Marley lifted an arm rattling the spectral chains. I wear the chain I forged in life, he said grimly. I made it link by link.
Yours, my friend, was as long and heavy as this one seven Christmases ago. This fate will be yours if you do not correct your sins. Scrooge didn't quite understand correct my sins, we are the church, we are men of business.
Marle dropped his arms and the chains hit the ground with a heavy clank. He pointed his finger at Scrooge and growled, Mankind should have been our business. Scrooge gawked at his former partner. His mind quickly flashed to the volunteer in the tavern, asking for donations. He shook it off. I do nothing outside of the law, and neither did you. The poor have made their own choices. It's not up to us to save everyone.
A change slowly snaked around Scrooge and draped over his shoulder. His entire body sunk under the weight. How is it so heavy? Scrooge wondered. Despite being faintly translucent, the chains felt solid enough. The reality of Marley's burden began to sink in as the phrase ran through his mind. This fate will be yours. Scrooge's eyes widened in horror. Do you not rest, Marley? Do not tell me you take these chains wherever you go.
No rest every day forever. I've been trying to get your attention for weeks now. Somehow I'm not sure why you can finally see me with this brief chance. I hope to bring you some comfort, Ebenezer. The window shutters behind Marley unlatched and swung open. A cold wind burst through the opening, blowing Scrooge's nightcap off of his head. Marley slowly floated back toward the window. Scrooge chased after him, pulling his housecoat tight and shouting over the howling wind.
What comfort, Marley? Mali was nearly at the window, his chains lifted off the ground, pulled out by an impossibly strong current, Mali held up three fingers.
Tonight, you will be visited by three spirits. The first will come at the stroke of one Ebeneezer. This is your only hope of escaping my fate.
Mali stepped backward out of the window, his chains following behind him into the swirl of mist and smoke. He hovered in the foggy London skyline and gazed back toward Scrooge, the haze whipped around Mali, battering him from all sides like a rough sea. Scrooge moved closer toward the window sill, the night sky coming into view. His jaw dropped open. It wasn't smoke or fog. The thick haze of night was a legion of cursed souls, all as tortured and anguished as his old partner, the sky littered with pained cries of London's former elite, dragging chains and lockboxes of their own.
The realization slowly dawned on Scrooge. He knew them all. They were his peers. His teeth chattered as he spoke. Johnson, Woodhouse, Hester, God in heaven. What have they done to you, Esther? His eyes were locked on an old friend who was dragging a whole bank safe behind him. Struggling with the weight, the fog rolled down the street. Scrooge tried to keep his eyes trained on his old friends, but they were soon blotted out by the fog.
Scrooge could only manage a meek humbug. He slammed the window shut and stumbled for his bed. Shaken to his core. He fell onto his duvet, jerked his bed, curtains closed and rolled on to his back. He stared up at the ceiling as the clock slowly ticked away. For the first time in his adult life, Scrooge had a concern that wasn't money. He worried for his soul. Coming up, Scrooge meets the first spirit. Now back to our story.
The single low booming chime of a distant clock echoed across the London skies, Scrooge's eyes shot open. It was one o'clock, he rolled over and stuck his head out of the curtains. His bedroom was perfectly still. Scrouge felt foolish. Of course, it was a dream. Jacob Marley, the ghosts, all of it. Scrooge leaned his head back onto his pillows.
Go set, Warden Humbug. Suddenly, all his curtains flew open. A strange flickering light filled the room. Stunned Scrooge fell from the bed. He couldn't see a thing. He threw up his arms to cover his eyes. The light was coming from all directions at once. Slowly, the light dimmed, rolling back to a singular source like waves at high tide, Scrooge lowered his arms. The source looked like a floating ball of fire. It continued to dim until he could make out a tiny mouth within the flames and two bright blue eyes.
Scrooge stared at the figure before him, trying to make sense of what he was seeing.
The flame burned atop a crown perched on the brow of a small figure. The spirit was the size of a small child, though it had the long white hair of an incredibly aged man. Its face was smooth with youth, but its eyes glowed with wisdom. As Scrooge stared, the spirits form seemed to shift and change, like the flame that flickered on its head, growing and shrinking from a man into a child and back again.
What are you? Croaked Scrooge, finally finding his voice. The floating spirit reached out its hand, holding a sprig of holly. I am the ghost of Christmas past.
Scrooge pulled his housecoat tight, noting that the air in the room had suddenly gone frigid. Long past or more short term, he asked, forcing a smile. It wasn't a very good joke, but he wanted to show that he wasn't afraid. The spirit ignored the crack. Your past, Ebenezer, all of it. The spirit reached out and seized Scrooge by the hand he tried to pull away, but the tiny being was shockingly strong. The spirit dragged Scrooge toward his open window.
The wind cut through his housecoat. Why are you doing this? He shouted. The spirit lifted off the ground, pulling Scrooge upward until his toes barely touched the ground. Its voice was steady and calm. This is for your own welfare. Scrooge attempted to brace his feet against the wall below the window, but it was no use. The spirit floated out into the night sky, pulling him along. Scrooge trembled in terror. The spirit was going to drag him to his death.
The spirit leaned towards Scrooge's face. Take a hold of my robe, Ebenezer desperately. Scrooge reached out and snatched the spirits garment. His body tumbled out of the window, but Scrooge didn't fall far. He landed in a soft, cold mound. Everything was white. It was snow, fresher and cleaner than any in London. Scrooge lifted his head and looked around. Oh, my word. Scrooge rubbed his eyes. It didn't make any sense. It was daytime and he wasn't in the city but the countryside.
A short stone wall ran along the road, continuing toward an imposing brick, building four stories high with a carriage drop off in front.
It was a dormitory. Scrooge stared in astonishment that Rose Hall. That's my boarding school, amazed he took in everything around him. It was just as he remembered it, every single detail. A perfect replica of his blissful youth, three small boys ran past toward an awaiting coach. Scrooge's face lit up. I know him. Scrooge surprised himself as a single chuckle escaped from his mouth. He hadn't laughed in so long. He had nearly forgotten what his own laugh sounded like.
He ran toward the child, waving Michael.
That's Michael Masters. He was my best friend. He sat right beside me for years. Michael, the spirit floated toward the school. His eyes trained back on Scrooge. He can't hear you. This is and now this is merely a scene of long ago. Scrooge swallowed down his disappointment.
He hated that feeling.
That sort of vulnerability was unbefitting of a businessman of his stature. Scrooge stood in the middle of the road watching the coach ride toward the horizon. He absentmindedly scratched his chin, trying to piece together a memory. The slightest grin pulled up one side of his mouth. Michael once stole the headmaster's wine bottle. Scrooge's voice faded away. The coach was decorated with Garland and bells. It was Christmas. Scrooge turned to see the spirit floating away toward the dormitory.
He ran to catch up, calling Spirit. If everyone is leaving for Christmas, why are we here? If this is my past, where am I? The spirit didn't answer, but continued toward the dormitory. Scrooge looked past to see a small girl climbing out of a coach by the front door. Her smile was wide, her face round and joyful. Scrooge smiled a true, honest smile. He knew exactly who she was. It was fair. His sister Scrooge, called out to her.
But of course she couldn't hear him either. Still, he hurried past the spirit and followed her into the dormitory. Scrooge pushed open the doors to the school. It smells just the same, he thought. All of his memories came rushing back. The hallway was completely empty. There was no sign of life. A lump caught in Scrooge's throat, an odd feeling of joy filled his body. He nodded to his ghostly companion.
I know what Christmas this is without a word. The spirit floated through the door and past Scrooge. Scrooge knew where the spirit was going, his old dormitory. He walked up the steps and down the long familiar hallway right to room three o one inside fan had her arms wrapped about a ten year old Scrooge.
He could feel the warmth of the embrace in his bones. Scrooge marveled at how youthful he was and how happy he had been to see her fan pulled out of the hug and held her brother by his shoulders. Ebenezer, this is for good. Father said he won't send you away again, and he's so much nicer now. It will be so good to have you home. The spirit floated beside Scrooge. She was such a loving soul. Tears welled in Scrooge's eyes.
He sniffed and choked them back. God rest her. How she convinced father to let me come home, I'll never know. The spirit tugged at Scrooge's sleeve, but Scrooge wasn't ready to go. His mind flooded with regret, recalling his exchange with Fan's son earlier that very evening. I should be kinder to Fred. I'm all he has. The spirit tugged Scrooge away by the arm, but Scrooge couldn't look away. He kept his eyes on the room, cherishing every last moment of his sister's face.
Suddenly, Fan was gone. The dorm room was gone, too. They stood in the middle of a large wooden floor. It was an office, or at least it normally was. It was currently set up as a dance floor.
Smiling young couples whirled all around them to a fiddle and the smell of fresh pine garlands filled. The air, a wave of joy shocked Scrooge out of his melancholy, he burst out laughing first because this was my first job, Christmas at Fezziwig, nothing like it.
A familiar laugh roared over the music. Scrooge's face brightened with recognition. He spun around and ran toward the source.
Scrooge cut across the floor, dodging dancers left and right, his eyes locked in like a Phalcon on the buffet, cakes, pies, roasts, beer and wine.
He turned toward the spirit as he approached. He's always by the buffet. He only ever left it to dance. He said that was because that's where the people were. It didn't hurt that it put him next to the truffles. My Lord, he was a perfect gent. Scrooge suddenly halted. There was a twenty year old Scrooge, bright eyed, chatting with his mentor fezziwig FEZA Wiggs, warm laugh, boomed out of his shaggy red beard like a cannon.
Scrooge leaned toward the spirit, whispering secretively. He must have spent eight or nine pounds on this whole spread. He was the best. The spirit turned toward Scrooge, and for the first time its face betrayed some emotion. A look of disgust. Seems like a poor use of company money, said the Spirit. He never made much of a profit. The spirit floated away, leaving Scrooge alone at the table. Scrooge quickly turned on his heels, chasing after the spirit.
He wasn't going to let Fezziwig be besmirched like that. A waste, he demanded. We had nothing. But we worked hard for the old man. Frazey had the power to make us happy or sad, to make our service light or burdensome. And God bless him. This party made our year. Scrooge was fuming, but the spirit didn't even bother to stop as it spoke. I don't see why you all deserved any special treatment.
Scrooge stopped in the middle of the dance floor, he'd thrown those same words at Bob Cratchit earlier in the evening, he hung his head, overcome with a completely foreign feeling shame.
He knew Fezziwig would be disgusted if he saw him. Now, Scrooge wouldn't spend an extra shilling for coal, let alone a party. The spirit turned and floated back toward Scrooge.
He didn't look up at the ghost as he replied. I suppose I have that same power. I should check my box. The least I could do was hate the office.
The ghost of Christmas past reached down to take Scrooge's hand. We have one last stop. Scrooge shook his head, beaten down by the realization of his callousness. There is no need. I understand that I have neglected my responsibilities as an employer and an Uncle Spearritt. No more. Please take me back. The Spirit guided Scrooge toward the fireplace. Come now. We can't. Dahli Scrooge raised his hand. No more spirit, I beg you.
Scrooge's hand hovered in the air as the room around him darkened sounds of the fiddle. The laughter and the raucous dancing were gone. The spirit had whisked him away from fezziwig us to a new spot entirely. Scrooge turned and his heart sank. A young woman sat by the hearth, her eyes wet with tears. She was beautiful. Even in her sadness, a warmth exuded from her that rivaled the fire. He covered his mouth with his hand. This was a Christmas Scrooge dreaded more than any other.
Thanks for listening to Tales will be back next Wednesday with part two of a Christmas Carol, you can find more episodes of Tales and all other originals from podcast 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.