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COMPREHENSION WEEK 23 Q9

They went, the Ghost and Scrooge, across the hall, to a door at the back of the house. It opened before them, and showed a long, bare, sad room, made barer still by lines of plain deal forms and desks. At one of these a lonely boy was reading near a feeble fire; and Scrooge sat down upon a form, and wept to see his poor forgotten self as he used to be. 

Not an echo in the house, not a squeak and scuffle from the mice behind the panelling, not a drip from the half-thawed water-spout in the dull yard behind, not a sigh among the leafless boughs of one despondent poplar, not the idle swinging of an empty store-house door, no, not a clicking in the fire, but fell upon the heart of Scrooge with a softening influence, and gave a freer passage to his tears. 

The Spirit touched him on the arm, and pointed to his younger self, intent upon his reading. Suddenly, a man in foreign garments – wonderfully real and distinct to look at – stood outside the window, with an axe stuck in his belt, and leading by the bridle a donkey laden with wood. 

“Why, it’s Ali Baba!” Scrooge exclaimed in ecstasy. “It’s dear old honest Ali Baba! Yes, yes, I know! One Christmas time, when this solitary child was left here all alone, he did come, for the first time, just like that. Poor boy! And Valentine,” said Scrooge, “and his wild brother, Orson; there they go! And the Sultan’s Groom turned upside down by the Genie; there he is upon his head! Serve him right. I’m glad of it. What business had he to be married to the Princess!” 

To hear Scrooge being so earnest about such subjects, in a most extraordinary voice between laughing and crying; and to see his heightened and excited face; would have been a surprise to his business friends in the city, indeed. 

“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.” 

 

Text adapted from A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, which is in the public domain. 

 

What do you think Scrooge’s ‘business friends in the city’ (line 21) would have thought about him speaking as he was?