Stave two

Scrooge awakes at midnight, which leaves him baffled–it was well after two a.m. when he went to bed. Initially, he thinks he has slept through an entire day or that it’s actually noon and the sun has merely gone under some sort of cover. He suddenly remembers the words of Marley’s ghost. The first of the three spirits will arrive at one o’clock. Frightened, Scrooge decides to wait for his supernatural visitor.

At one o’clock, the curtains of Scrooge’s bed are blown aside by a strange, childlike figure emanating an aura of wisdom and a richness of experience. The spirit uses a cap to cover the light that glows from its head. The specter softly informs Scrooge that he is the Ghost of Christmas Past and orders the mesmerized man to rise and walk with him. The spirit touches Scrooge’s heart, granting him the ability to fly. The pair exits through the window.

The ghost transports Scrooge to the countryside where he was raised. He sees his old school, his childhood mates, and familiar landmarks of his youth. Touched by these memories, Scrooge begins to sob. The ghost takes the weeping man into the school where a solitary boy–a young Ebenezer Scrooge–passes the Christmas holiday all alone. The ghost takes Scrooge on a depressing tour of more Christmases of the past–the boy in the schoolhouse grows older. At last, a little girl, Scrooge’s sister Fan, runs into the room, and announces that she has come to take Ebenezer home. Their father is much kinder, she says. He has given his consent to Ebenezer’s return. The young Scrooge, delighted to see his sister, embraces her joyfully. The aged Scrooge regretfully tells the ghost that Fan died many years ago and is the mother of his nephew Fred.

The ghost escorts Scrooge to more Christmases of the past including a merry party thrown by Fezziwig, the merchant with whom Scrooge apprenticed as a young man. Scrooge later sees a slightly older yet still boyish version of himself in conversation with a lovely young woman named Belle. She is breaking off their engagement crying that greed has corrupted the love that used to impassion Scrooge’s heart. The spirit takes Scrooge to a more recent Christmas scene where a middle-aged Belle reminisces with her husband about her former fiance, Scrooge. The husband says that Scrooge is now “quite alone in the world.” The older Scrooge can no longer bear the gripping visions. He begs the Ghost of Christmas Past to take him back, back to his home. Tormented and full of despair, Scrooge seizes the ghost’s hat and pulls it firmly over top of the mystical child’s head, dimming the light. As the inextinguishable, luminous rays flood downward onto the ground, Scrooge finds himself zipped back in his ¬†bedroom, where he stumbles to bed yet again and falls asleep immediately

Stave three

The church clock strikes one, startling Scrooge, who awakes in mid-snore. Glad to be awake, he hopes to confront the second spirit just as it arrives. The echoes of the church bell fade, however, and no ghost appears. Somewhat disappointed, Scrooge waits for 15 minutes after which a bright light begins to stream down upon him. Curious and a bit befuddled, Scrooge pads into the other room where he finds the second spirit waiting for him.

The figure, a majestic giant clad in green robes, sits atop a throne made of a gourmet feast. In a booming voice, the spirit announces himself as the Ghost of Christmas Present. He tells Scrooge that he has more than 1800 brothers and his lifespan is a mere single day. The spirit orders Scrooge to touch his robe. Upon doing so, the feast and the room vanish instantly and Scrooge finds himself alongside the spirit in the midst of the bustling city on Christmas morning. Blissful passersby take pleasure in the wondrous sights and smells abounding through the shop doors. People merrily shovel snow, tote bags of presents, and greet one another with a cheery “Merry Christmas!”

The spirit then takes Scrooge to the meager home of Bob Cratchit, where Mrs. Cratchit and her children prepare a Christmas goose and savor the few Christmas treats they can afford. The oldest daughter, Martha, returns from her job at a milliner’s. The oldest son, Peter, wears a stiff-collared shirt, a hand-me-down from his father. Bob comes in carrying the crippled young tyke, Tiny Tim, on his shoulders. The family is more than content despite its skimpy Christmas feast. Scrooge begs to know whether Tiny Tim will survive. The spirit replies that given the current conditions in the Cratchit house, there will inevitably be an empty chair at next year’s Christmas dinner.

The spirit takes Scrooge to a number of other Christmas gatherings, including the festivities of an isolated community of miners and a party aboard a ship. He also takes Scrooge to Fred’s Christmas party, where Scrooge looses himself in the numerous party games and has a wildly entertaining time, though none of the party guests can actually see him. As the night unfolds, the ghost grows older. At last, Scrooge and the ghost come to a vast and desolate expanse. Here, the ghost shows Scrooge a pair of starving children who travel with him beneath his robes–their names are Ignorance and Want. Scrooge inquires if nothing can be done to help them. Mockingly, the ghost quotes Scrooge’s earlier retort, “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses ?”

The spirit disappears as the clock strikes midnight and Scrooge eyes a hooded phantom coming toward him.