Me thinks dear reader that you should review the preceding installments first
When Cratchit awoke, it was so dark, like one entombed, he wondered whether his eyes were open or not, no difference between walls and window. He was deciphering the placement of objects as to where in the world they had vanished, when the church clock signaled it's time. So he listened for the hour.
The low gong continued, past Cratchit's best estimate and time marched to twelve.
Twelve .Now doubt and alarm set in as to the time, surely it was past two when he had settled. Impossible. Echoes from the fog, the gear works were fouled from the cold, something is wrong.
Cratchit checked his fob by the light of the dying ember in his stove. Twelve, and odd still, the watch had stopped it's incessant time tic, on the mark.
"This is not possible," said Cratchit, "I'd have slept through a whole day and half into it's night. I'd of been in fever or hangover for either to occur."
Cratchit flung back his bed linens and gingerly placed a foot as if half expecting no floor. He made his way to where he felt the window sash. Scrubbing his frosted paned windows with his nightshirt sleeve. Squinting to distinguish the element; it was still very dark, very foggy and very cold. There was no noise of commerce, of daily life, as without doubt had it been noon, there would be the hustle, bustle. Nor were there great fanfare as would have been if the sun itself had not risen. This was a great relief, because " No need to show at the meeting, Christmas day," would mean he had missed his opportunity to present his case, to request their indulgence, to beg to grovel at shareholders feet.
Cratchit went back to his bed, and thought, the hows and the whys but could not add in one column like numbers to match the next The more he thought, the harder he tried to dismiss his interpretation. Marley's Ghost bothered him to restlessness. Every time he had settled the matter in one aspect, the contradictory opposite destroyed the original premise. "Was it a dream or not? What in the creator's name did it mean?"
Cratchit lay in this state until the chimes of the church indicated it was quarter to the hour, when he remembered, with a start, that the Ghost had warned him of a visitation when the bell tolled one. Then I will wait till one, this will show me as to the reality I am debating.
The minutes moved in the dark, Cratchit was convinced he must of dozed off, missed the clock and the hour came and went. Just as he was satisfied with that argument the clock struck.
"Fifteen aft," said Cratchit, counting.
"Ding ding ding!"
"Half past!" said Cratchit.
"Fifteen til," said Cratchit.
"The hour itself," said Cratchit, triumphantly,
"and there, that business is done, dead and done!"
He spoke to soon, before the official proclamation bell, which it now sounded the very hour, a deep, dark, dull, hollow, bong, One. Light burst into the room in the instance.
The curtains of his bed whisked open effortlessly, I tell you, not by a hand. Nor the curtains at his feet, nor the curtains at his back, but those to which his face was addressed. There in his face. Blazing in all it's glory, adamant in it's very exposure, unbending to it's intent, unabashed in itself, it thrust toward him. Cratchit in aghast terror found himself face to organ with the unearthly visitor who drew them: as close to it as you ever may have been, or as in comfort you may be to a male organ.
It was an alarming figure-- like Pan of the ancient Greeks: yet not so, more like a Renaissance statue, large in all manner, not the least of which was the aforementioned appendage. But all being diminished to a child's proportions. Its hair, a long manly mane, appeared white with age and the same full and flowing like youth; and the face had not a wrinkle in it, but it carried the weight of the ages in it's eyes, and yet the tenderest bloom was on the skin. The arms were very long, hardened, and muscular; the hands the same, as if its hold were of uncommon strength. Its legs and feet, the look of a dancer. It wore a tunic of the purest white, and round its waist was bound a lustrous belt, it in turn was a fashionable harness for the horse-like testicles they supported under strain. It held a branch of hickory strap in its hand; and, in singular contradiction of that disciplinary emblem, had its dress trimmed with summer flowers. But the strangest thing about it was, that from the crotch, a luminous light shone by which all this was visible; and which was doubtless the occasion of its using, in its duller moments, a great extinguisher for a cap, a literal cornucopia, which it now held under its arm.
But, even in all it's bizarre appearance, this was not the most odd of its lot. Cratchit inspected it minutely in his astonishment. As the harness of its obvious manhood flickered like sputtering candles, and what was brilliant, became dark, and back and forth; so the figure itself morphed and changed : being now a thing with one cock, now with two, now with massive bollocks, now a pair of legs with just the erect organ, now just the fatty meaty , hood without a body: of which glistening parts, shimmered and dissolved then they melted away. And as you contemplated the how and what to make of that, it would be itself again; throbbing, pulsating, in your face. It certainly not lacked for attracting attention.
"Are you the Spirit, sir, whose coming was foreskin, pardon, to me?" asked Cratchit
The voice was soft and gentle, but firm like it's form. Singularly low, as if instead of being so close beside him, it were actually inside him.
"Who, and what are you?" Cratchit demanded, uncomfortable with such the piece anatomy exposed but more so at it's proximity.
"I am the Ghost of Christmas Past."
"Past? Past what?" inquired Cratchit: keenly observant of it's ardent member.
"Your past, your Christmases past, follow?"
Perhaps, Cratchit could not have told anybody why, if anybody could have asked him; but he had a special desire to see the Spirit cover his luminescent; and begged him to be covered. "Sir, decency is it not observed in the spirit world? Could you perhaps button up your lighted wand with it's covering?"
"What!" exclaimed the Ghost, "Would you so soon put it out, with worldly hands, the light I give? Is it not enough that you are one of those whose passions made this cap, and force me through whole trains of years to wear it low strapped on like some cause for embarrassment of it's nature!"
Cratchit unashamedly, stammered profuse apologies and claimed ignorance to having willfully covered the Spirit's tumescent male hood at any period of his life. He meekly then asked what business brought him there.
"Your welfare," said the Ghost.
Cratchit thanked the spirit sincerely for it's concern but thought he be much better off sleeping in his comfort rather than entertaining guests. The Spirit must have heard him thinking, for it said immediately:
"Your reclamation, then. Take heed."
It bobbed it's male limb abruptly, and then knighted Cratchit with a nudge, indicating for him to get out of the bed.
"Rise. And walk with me."
It would have been to no avail, to point out the obvious, that bed was warm, and the thermometer a long way below freezing; that he was clad but lightly in his slippers, dressing-gown, and nightcap; hardly a time to entertain a stroll with it or otherwise. The probing of the fleshy object against Cratchit's back was most insistent, though gentle as a woman's hand, it was insistent and not to be resisted. He rose: and watched as the spirit opened the sash of the window, Cratchit alarmed clasped his robe in for the lack of any support about him.
"I am mortal," Cratchit thought wise to remind the spirit, "and liable to fall. Not all of us have the means to fly, as I'm sure you're aware."
"Bear but a touch of my hand there," said the Spirit, pushing it upon firmly between his cheeks, "and you shall be upheld in more than this."
"Spirit? That is your hand?" Cratchit sought reassurance of what was naught.
But as the words were spoken, they passed through the wall, and stood upon an open country road, with fields on either hand. The city had entirely vanished. Not a vestige of it was to be seen. The darkness and the mist had vanished with it, for it was a clear, cold, winter day, with snow upon the ground.
"Good Heaven!" said Cratchit, clasping his hands together, as he looked about him. "I was bred in this place. I was a boy here."
The Spirit gazed upon him mildly. Its gentle touch, though it had been light and instantaneous, appeared still present to the Cratchit's sense of feeling, as he checked cautiously his backside for any residue of it's pressing presence. He was conscious of a thousand odors floating in the air, each one connected with a thousand thoughts, and hopes, and joys, and cares long, long, forgotten.
"Your lip is trembling," said the Ghost. "And what is that upon your cheek?"
Cratchit muttered, with an unusual catching in his voice," If there's something there then you left your stain, could you please restrain that beastly appendage"; and then begged the Ghost to lead him where he would.
"You remember?" inquired the Spirit.
"Remember it!" cried Cratchit with enthusiastic delight -- "I have walked it blindfold."
"Strange to have forgotten it for so many years," observed the Ghost. "Let us go on."
They walked along the road, Cratchit recognizing every gate, and post, and tree; where childhood play left him tied, or bound, or hung upside down from. By and by a little market-town appeared in the distance, with its bridge, its church, it's own phallic steeple, and the winding river, where young Bob was pushed in many a time. Some shaggy ponies now were seen trotting towards them with boys upon their backs, who called to other boys in country gigs and carts, driven by farmers. All these boys were in great spirits, and shouted to each other, until the broad fields were so full of their sing song chanting.
"These are but shadows of the things that have been," said the Ghost. "They have no consciousness of us. They cannot see us, hear us, be touched by us or feel us."
The boys were laughing; and as they came, school was out for the holiday. Cratchit knew and named them every one. This one had tied him to the tree, that couple the post, him over there the push in the river. Why was he rejoiced beyond all bounds to see them? Why did his eyes glisten, and his heart leap up as they went past? Why was he filled with gladness when he heard them give each other Merry Christmas, as they parted at cross-roads and-bye ways, for their several homes? What was merry Christmas to Cratchit? At least they all could go home to hearth and family, and they did, and left him alone.
"The school is not emptied of all," said the Ghost. "A child, neglected by his friends, is left there still."
Cratchit said he knew it. And he sobbed.
Gently pushed along the path, one that Cratchit remembered well, but was hesitant to step. A large house, old and vacant stood near a barn and stable. The barn empty of any mounts, long given way to a few mangy dogs and fowls pecking for their nature. Nor was it more pastoral in setting, within; for entering the darkened hall, and glancing through the open doors of many rooms, shackles on the walls and stocks of simple design, instruments of discipline. There was an musty permeating scent, clinging like sickness, a cold and damp place, which associated itself somehow with strict obedience at it's most austere, as young Cratchit felt the sting of the hickory switch to his bare upturned bottom: much to the headmaster's wicked whim. To which he delighted too much. Then, there the desk, to which, after the caning, to satisfy the heightened pleasure of the headmaster he was bent over and buggered.
They went, the Ghost and Cratchit, across the hall, to a door at the back of the house. It opened before them, and disclosed a long, bare, melancholy room, empty of all desk and board, chairs removed to the side, except for one. At this one sat a lonely boy who was reading near the now cooling hearth; and Cratchit sat down next to the lad, and wept to see this shadow of himself from the past.
There in the stillness, the quiet, Cratchit thought of why he never fought back the boys who ripped his britches, who hit him with all manner of instrument, who tied him to posts and trees, pushed him in the river. Why weren't they his friends, he accepted the torment and humiliation for he never wanted conflict, he wanted everyone to like him. As Cratchit's younger self meekly resolved and accepted, Cratchits older self was freer passage to his tears.
The Spirit poked him on the arm, and pointed his staff toward his younger self, intent upon his reading. And then, there, beside him a man: wonderfully real and distinct to look at: stood outside the window, with an holly stake in his belt, and leading by the bridle an majestic white steed.
"Why, it's Yassa mahsa!" Cratchit exclaimed in ecstasy. "It's dear old honest Yassa mahsa. Yes, yes, I know. One Christmas time, when yonder solitary child was left here all alone, he did come, for the first time, just like that. And he would save me from the bindings on the trees and posts by snapping the rope, and he would give the Master his comeuppance, tenfold with his own stick too. Then we'd ride away, far away. Poor boy, terribly delusional, but very safe there. But there was Harold," said Cratchit, "and his dwarf brother, Orson; there they go. Both my champions, they too would punish the headmaster on my say so. And what's his name, who would pull down his drawers, and show the headmaster what it felt like, how humiliated, how violated. And those who teased me were turned upside down by the Genii; there they were upon their heads. Serves them right. I'm glad of it. Who did they think they were, causing such vexation, such anguish of self? "
To hear Cratchit expending all the earnestness of his nature on such subjects, in a most extraordinary voice between righteousness and anger; and to see his vengeful human nature redeemed with his own validation; would have been a surprise to his business friends in the city, indeed.
"There's the monkey." cried Cratchit. "Green body, I wonder if that was Marley's monkey? " He laughed at his joke; "there he is! Poor Robin Crusoe, lonely and only with his monkey". "Poor Robin Crusoe, where have you been, Robin Crusoe?" His man Friday, both on a deserted island, with no one, they would survive, you'll see."
Then, catching himself in his retrospect Cratchit became the adult once again. "Poor boy!" and muttered.
"I wish," Cratchit he shook his head and looked on his former self, the past, "but it's too late now."
"What is the matter?" asked the Spirit.
"Nothing," said Cratchit. "Nothing. There was a were some flim flam beggars at my door the other night, looking to take advantage of my good nature. I was afraid to answer the door. I hid rather than risk confrontation."
The Ghost winced, shook his head in disappointment, and waved its rod: saying as it did so, "Let us see another Christmas!"
Cratchit's former self transmorphed instantly, and the room showed age, plaster had cracked and gone unrepaired The floors creaked , the windows cracked; there was that stale smell of time enclosed, and the desk shrank for Cratchit's larger size.; but how all this was brought about, Cratchit knew no more than you do. He only saw what shadows were; and they were correct to the detail, that everything had happened so; and here, this day too, alone again, when all the other boys had gone home for the jolly holidays.
The boy was walking to and fro, glancing out the window, despairingly. Cratchit looked at the Ghost, and groaned, for he knew the moment well, and then he glanced anxiously towards the door.
It opened; and a young girl, much younger than Cratchit, came raced in, and putting her arms about his neck, and often kissing him, addressed him as her "Dear, dear brother."
"I have come to bring you home, dear brother!" said the sister, clapping her tiny hands, and bending down to laugh. "To bring you home, home, home!"
"Home, little Fan?" returned the boy.
"Yes!" said the child, brimful of glee. "Home, for good and all. Home, for ever and ever. Father is so much kinder than he used to be, he has forsaken sharing my bed, he leaves me be, since the accident. An now the home is how it should be! He spoke so gently to me one dear night when I was going to bed, begging to indulge himself with my privates, that I was not afraid to ask him, once more if you might come home; and he said Yes, on condition that I satisfy his hunger, this last time, he would have you home. And look at you, you're to be a man!" said the girl, opening her eyes, "and are never to come back here; but first, we're to 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, "you did it for me?"
She clapped her hands and laughed, "It was nothing really, he popped his cork so soon, fatigued he is harmless, then I just lopped it off like the head of a fish, it's referred in the neighborhood as that dreadful accident," she laughed again Then she began to drag him, in childish eagerness, towards the door; and he, now anticipating excitedly, meeting his eunuch father.
That terrible voice in the hall cried. "Bring down Master Cratchit's box, there!" And in the hallway, before the door, appeared the headmaster himself, who glared on Master Cratchit with a sneering stare of admonishment, and then that handshake of indication of keeping secret their sordid pact. He then escorted them into his private office, as sparse and vacant as the rest of the building. He produced a decanter of dark rum, having doused his demon with a quick ounce , he righted himself steady and stern, to address these post matters of Master Cratchits education. Master Cratchits belongings were hoisted to the tope of the carriage. "Master Cratchit, I trust your years spent here were educational and serve you well in your endeavors. There are things you will always remember, and things you should forget." The headmaster stressed the last word,' forget' and with a steely glare he made Cratchit nod his acceptance. Satisfied, the headmaster bade them farewell.
Both near ran to the coach in their delight. She had her brother and he his sister and now they had escaped their personal Hades. The coach distanced the memory.
"Always a clever resourceful creature, whom a found the end to the means," said the Ghost. "Stood when she should!"
"So she had," cried Cratchit. "You're right. She was braver and more forceful than I!"
"She died a woman," said the Ghost, "and had, as I think, children."
"One child," Cratchit returned.
"True," said the Ghost. "Your nephew and more significant, although never spoken, your brother."
Cratchit seemed uneasy in his mind; and answered briefly, "Yes, it was that last bargain with father, apparently his seed could still travel, and she did that for me."
The school dissolved as Cratchit and the spirit strolled away, they were now in the busy thoroughfares of a London, where the hustle and bustle of the city was heightened more than normal.
Again, as before, it was Christmas time of some shadows past, it was evening, and the streets gas lamps glowed, and pedestrian and carriage came and went through the light cast.
The Ghost stopped at a certain warehouse door, and asked Cratchit if he knew it.
"Know it!" said Cratchit. "My first position, I was employed here."
They went thru the walls, disregarding the door.. At sight of an old gentleman, with a tall powdered wig, tied with bow in back, sitting regally, yet precariously behind a high desk, legs crossed and presiding over all, like a queen. Cratchit regaled in recognition:
"Why, it's old Fezziwig! Bless his heart; so grand to see him decked out in all manner of woman attire, down to his booties and hose."
Old Fezziwig laid down his pen, in a most overly dramatic fashion, did the same with his watch on retrieving it from his vest pocket. He slowly passed his hand, as if anointing the masses; adjusted his tight overstuffed breeches; sighed in ever so lasting exclamation point.
"Yo ho, there! Bobby! Dickie!"
Cratchit's former self, now grown a young man, tight, lean, came briskly in, accompanied by his fellow apprentice.
"Dick Milkins, to be sure," said Cratchit to the Ghost. "Bless me, yes. There he is. He was very much attached to me, was Dick. Poor Dick. Dear, dear Dicky."
"Yo ho, my boys!" said Fezziwig. "No more work to-night. Christmas Eve, not for this Dicky., Nor you my Bob. It's Christmas. Let's have the mats down," cried old Fezziwig, he sash hayed to the center of the floor , "before a man can say Jack Robinson."
Quickly the two lads performed for Fezziwigs commands. They burst into the store room in a tumble -- one, two, three -- had them up in their places -- four, five, six - aligned and pinned then -- seven, eight, nine - and were done before you could have got to twelve, panting like race-horses. Beautiful stallions of brawn and sweat, to which Fezziwig took great enjoyment.
"Hilli-ho!" cried old Fezziwig, skipping about the warehouse floor, with wonderful agility. "Clear away, my lads, and let's have lots of room here., we need dancing area, can't do the ol' in out all night, you know. Hilli-ho, Dickie! Chirrup, Bobby. Let's put some back into it, if you follow my thought" He laughed at his own insinuation, with that familiar hi pitched giggle.
Clear away! There was nothing they wouldn't have cleared away, or couldn't have cleared away, with old Fezziwig looking on. Quick to point out what goes and then what comes, as his pleasure to do. It was done in a minute. Every movable was packed off, as if it were dismissed from public life for evermore; the floor was swept and watered, all mats were laid out, to make a massive bedding, the lamps were trimmed, fuel was heaped upon the fire; and the warehouse was as snug, and warm, and dry, and bright a ball and bawd-room, as you would could ever desire to see, or be.
Then came a fiddler with a music-book, and went up to the Fezziwigs high desk, and there became the stage. As he tuned his instrument, likened to mauling cats, Fezziwig, pranced about , two stepping, and high footing. In came all the young men and women employed in their business. The party was open to all. In came the housemaid, with her cousin, the baker, a relationship accepted by all. In came the cook, with her brother's particular friend, the milkman, his having more eye on her jugs.. In came the boy from over the way, Fezziwigs special friend, who was suspected of not having board enough from his master; trying to hide himself behind the girl from next door but one, who was proved to have had her ears pulled by her mistress, to be done by the ears, so to speak. All the tradesman, bankers, clients who done commerce with ol Fizzwig and all who had a dark likening of pleasure to the excess.
In they all came, one after another; some strutted, some swished, some secretly ducked, some awkwardly, some pushing, some pulling; as their nature, as to who was top and whom was bottom, who gave an who received. But they all did come.
.And the party enfolded, twenty couple at once; hands half round and back again the other way; down the middle and up again; round and round in various stages of affectionate grouping; old top couple always turning up in the wrong place; new top couple starting off again, as soon as they got there; all top couples at last, and not a bottom one to help them.
When this result was brought about, old Fezziwig, clapping his hands to stop the frenzied coupling, cried out, "Well done!" and the fiddler panting from watching the festivities with no relief for his own instrument, plunged his hot cock into a pot of porter, specially provided for that purpose. But shunning any rest, upon his relief, he instantly began again, though there were no takers yet, as limpness and soreness subsided among the participants and new partners were found.
There were more grand orgies, and there were more much needed rests, and then more couplings of twos and threes and moresomes, excepting for the fiddler's lone fiddling. Then there was cake, eaten from every position, every orifice, and there was grog and mull cider for all, dripped over all. There was a great piece of Cold Roast, and there was a great piece of Cold Boiled, those too, found there way to being instruments of carnality. There were mince-pies, and plenty of beer. But the great effect of the evening came after the Roast and Boiled, when all were satiated in loin and fill, and one curled up for respite with a partner or two, the fiddler (an artful dog, mind! The sort of man who knew his business better than you or I could have told it him!) struck up "Sir Roger de Lovely."
Then old Fezziwig stood out to dance with the accounting banker from down on Carrington Row. Top couple too; with a good stiff piece of work cut out for them; the two traversed the floor, embraced for all to see, announcing their intentions in their actions. A grand declaration, to the rest be damned.
But if they had been twice as many -- ah, four times -- old Fezziwig would have been a match for them all, no issue on appetite or expense or performance. Fezziwig and the banker were worthy to be each's partner in every sense of the term. If that's not high praise, tell me higher, and I'll use it. A positive light appeared to issue from Fezziwig's calves. The bulge pronounced in every step of their dance. You couldn't have predicted, at any given time, what would have become of them next. And when old Fezziwig and the banker clerk had gone all through the dance; advance and retire, both hands to your partner, bow and curtsey, corkscrew, thread-the-needle, and back again to your place; Fezziwig cut -- cut so deftly, that he appeared to have entered the clerk to his surprise and to all's merriment.
When the clock struck eleven, this corporeal ball broke up. Mr Fezziwig, arm and arm with the banker clerk, took their stations, one on either side of the door, and shaking hands, stroking and fondling, glad patting buttocks with every person individually as he or she went out, wished him or her a Merry Christmas. When everybody had retired but the two prentices, they did the same to them; and thus the cheerful voices died away, and the lads were left to their bed; which were under a counter in the back-shop.
During the whole of this time, Cratchit had acted like a man out of his wits. His heart and soul were pounding in the scene, and with his former self. He corroborated everything, remembered everything, enjoyed everything fully and erectly as he did then and now. But it was not until now, when the bright faces of his former self and Dick were turned from them, that he remembered the Ghost, and became conscious that it was looking full upon him, while the light from it's own throbbing member shone brightly.
"A small matter," said the Ghost, "to make these silly folks so full of gratitude. But in the end, who paid the account?"
"Small!" echoed Cratchit
The Spirit signed to him to listen to the two apprentices, under the counter in the backroom, taking turns at each other and laughing at it all.
"Why! Is it not! He has spent but a few pounds of your mortal money: and what was his return?"
"It isn't that," said Cratchit, heated by the remark, and speaking unconsciously like his former, not his latter, self. "It isn't that, Spirit. It's the ungratefulness of servitude, Fezziwig didn't have to place himself out there, but he did, and their return was they wanted more. Formed their own trade union they did. Demanded it. He just never could say no."
He felt the Spirit's glance, and stopped.
"What is the matter?" asked the Ghost.
"Nothing in particular," said Cratchit
"Something, I think?" the Ghost insisted.
"No," said Cratchit, "No. I should like to be able to say a word or two to my clerk just now! My nephew, my brother, that's all."
His former self turned down the lamps as he gave his harsh wish; and Cratchit and the Ghost again stood side by side in the open air.
"My time grows short," observed the Spirit. "Look my rod of truth and force is starting to go limp"