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A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens Retold by Kieran McGovern

The Ghost of Christmas Past 3.1 School

The Ghost of Christmas past takes Scrooge back to when he was a boy at boarding school. Soon they passed through the wall, and stood upon an open country road, with fields on either hand. The city had entirely vanished. The darkness and the mist had vanished Now it was a clear, cold, winter day, with snow upon the ground.

`Good Heaven!' said Scrooge, clasping his hands together, as he looked about him. `I grew up in this place. I was a boy here.' A thousand thoughts came flooding back. Hopes, and joys, and cares long, long, forgotten. `Do you remember the way?' asked the Spirit. `Remember it?' cried Scrooge; `I could walk it blindfold.' `Strange to have forgotten it for so many years.' observed the Ghost. `Let us go on.' Solitary Child They walked along the road. Scrooge knew every gate, post and tree. Soon a little town

appeared in the distance, with its bridge, its church, and winding river. Some ponies now were seen coming towards them with boys upon their backs. All these boys


were in great spirits. They shouted to each other, until the fields were full of merry music Scrooge knew these boys and named every one. Why was he so happy to see them? Why did his cold eye glisten? Why did his heart leap up as they went past? As they parted for their different homes, the boys said ‘Merry Christmas! It made Scrooge melancholy. What was merry Christmas to Scrooge? What good had it ever done to him? `The school is not quite deserted,' said the Ghost. `A solitary child, neglected by his friends, is left there still.' ‘I know,’ said Scrooge. And he wept. Dear Brother They left the high road, and soon approached a large house of dull red brick. It had large rooms but their walls were damp, their windows broken, and their gates decayed. Chickens ran around the stables. The 3

coach-houses and sheds were over-grown with grass. Glancing through the open doors, they saw the chilly bareness of a building where there was too much getting up by candlelight, and not too much to eat. The Ghost and Scrooge went across the hall, to a door at the back of the house. It opened before them into a long, bare, melancholy room filled with rows of desks At one of these a lonely boy was reading near a feeble fire. Scrooge wept to see the poor forgotten boy he used to be. Poor boy!’ Another Christmas `I wish,' Scrooge muttered, putting his hand in his pocket, and looking about him, after drying his eyes with his cuff: `but it's too late now.' `What is the matter.' asked the Spirit. `Nothing,' said Scrooge. `Nothing. There was a boy singing a Christmas carol at my door last night. I should like to have given him something: that's all.'


The Ghost smiled thoughtfully. It waved its hand saying as it did so, `Let us see another Christmas.' Scrooge's former-self grew larger at the words, and the room became a little darker and more dirty. The boy was alone again. All the other boys had gone home for the jolly holidays. He was not reading now, but walking up and down despairingly. Scrooge looked at the Ghost, and with a mournful shaking of his head, glanced anxiously towards the door. Dear Brother It opened; and a little girl, much younger than the boy, came darting in. Putting her arms about his neck, she kissed him `Dear, dear brother. I have come to bring you home.' said the child, Fan collects Scrooge from his school

clapping her tiny hands, and bending

down to laugh. `To bring you home!' `Home, little Fan.' said the boy. 5

`Yes.' said the child. `Home forever and ever. Father is so much kinder than he used to be. I was not afraid to ask him once more if you might come home.' 'What did he say?'' 'He said yes! And he sent me in a coach to bring you home!.' said the child, opening her eyes. 'We'll be together all the Christmas long, and have the merriest time in all the world.' `You are quite a woman, little Fan.' exclaimed the boy. A delicate creature She clapped her hands and laughed, and tried to touch his head; but was too little. Laughing again, she stood on tiptoe to embrace him. Then she began to pull him towards the door. `She was a delicate creature,' said the Ghost. `But she had a large heart.' `So she had,' cried Scrooge. `You're right.’ `She died a woman,' said the Ghost,' and had, as I think, children.' `One child,' said Scrooge. `True,' said the Ghost. `Your nephew.' 6

Scrooge seemed uneasy. ‘Yes,’ he answered briefly.

Next > Fezziwig Glossary/Vocabulary Anxiously - nervous, uneasy Blindfold - covers the eyes Chilly - cold, uncomfortable Clasp - holding tight Deserted - empty Desparingly - without hope Glisten - shine with water or tears Grasp - grip, the way you hold something Jolly - full of fun Neglected - not looked after or considered Solitary - alone; without company Uneasy - anxious, nervous, unhappy Wept - cry without control

A glossary, comprehension exercises, key quotes and other learning activities related to this text here:


Christmas Carol: Christmas Past: 1. School  
Christmas Carol: Christmas Past: 1. School  

Ghost of Christmast Past takes Scrooge back to his old school.