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5. My hand was on the latch, when lo!
'Twas lifted from within ! I know
6. Oh, the long rapture, perfect rest,
As close he clasped me to his breast !
7. Then by his side, his hand in mine,
I tasted joy serene, divine,
Such tender lovelight in his eyes. 8. “O Death!” I cried, “ if these be thine,
For me the asphodels entwine ;
With Margaret where the violets blow." 9. And still we talked. O'er cloudy bars
Orion bore his pomp of stars;
Told midnight melting into morn. 10. Then nearer to his side I drew,
When lo! the cock, remorsely, crew!
* * *
11. 'Tis true his rest this many a year
Has made the village church-yard dear;
12. And oft, when other fires are low,
I sit within that midnight glow-
. XIII.—THERE'S BUT ONE PAIR OF STOCKINGS
TO MEND TO-NIGHT.
Swaying thoughtfully to and fro,
Told a tale of long ago;
2. The good man dozed o'er the latest news,
Till the light of his pipe went out,
Rolled and tangled the balls about;
2. But anon a misty tear-drop came
In her eye of faded blue,
Like a single drop of dew;
4. Yet he marveled much that the cheerful light
Of her eye had weary grown,
So he said in a gentle tone,
5. Then she spoke of the time when the basket there
Was filled to the very brim,
But a single pair-for him.
6. “I can not but think of the busy feet, · Whose wrappings were wont to lie
In the basket, awaiting the needle's time,
Now wandered so far away;
7. “For each empty nook in the basket old,
By the hearth there's a vacant seat;
And the patter of many feet;
8. “ 'Twas said that far through the forest wild
And over the mountains bold,
Were gemmed with the rarest gold ;
9. “Another went forth on the foaming waves
And diminished the basket's store-
They'll never be warm any more-
10. “Two others have gone toward the setting sun,
And made them a home in its light,
To mend by the fireside bright;
11. “ Another—the dearest—the fairest—the best
Was ta'en by the angels away,
In a land of continual day.
CHARLES DICKENS. 1. Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it. And Scrooge's name was good upon 'Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.
2. Mind! I don't mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the country's done for. You will, therefore, permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail.
3. Scrooge knew he was dead? Of course he did. How could it be otherwise ? Scrooge and he were partners, for I don't know how many years. Scrooge was his sole executor, his sole administrator, his sole assign, his sole residuary legatee, his sole friend, and sole mourner. And even Scrooge was not so dreadfully cut up by the sad event, but that he was an excellent man of business, on the very day
of the funeral, and solemnized it with an undoubted bargain.
4. Scrooge never painted out old Marley's name. There it stood, years afterwards, above the warehouse door: Scrooge and Marley. The firm was known as Scrooge and Marley. Sometimes people new to the business called Scrooge Scrooge, and sometimes Marley, but he answered to both names. It was all the same to him.
5. Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge ! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire ; secret and self-contained and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, „shriveled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue ; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frost rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him ; he iced his office in the dog-days; and didn't thaw it one degree at Christmas.
6. External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. No warmth could warm, no wintry weather chill him. No wind that blew was bitterer than he, no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty. Foul weather didn't know where to have him. The heaviest rain and snow and hail and sleet could boast of the advantage over him in only one respect. They often came down handsomely, and Scrooge never did.
7. Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, with gladsome looks, “ My dear Scrooge, how are you? When will you come to see me?” No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no children asked him what it was o'clock, no man or woman ever once in all his life inquired the way to such and such a place, of Scrooge. Even the blind-men's dogs appeared to know him ; and when they saw him coming on, would tug their owners into door-ways and up courts ; and then would wag their tails as though they said, “No eye at all is better than an evil eye, dark master!”
8. But what did Scrooge care! It was the very thing he liked. To edge his way along the crowded paths of life,