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The Second of the Three Spirits

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“Come in!” exclaimed the Ghost. “Come in! and know me better, man!”

The Second of Three Spirits is my favorite chapter in Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol. It is a celebration of the season and transforms the deepening shadow of Scrooge’s life into dazzling light for a time. In that light the self righteousness of his words and actions toward his fellow man are brought into sharp relief. Scrooge comes to know himself better and we and he are grieved by what we discover. But the Spirit has done his work. Ebenezer has let the Spirit in and he comes to know himself.

The illustration opens with a welcoming smile and a warm embrace. The Spirit frames Scrooge’s nephews Christmas toast with his outstretched hand and we see joy in a young man who will never give up on his uncle. Never. “He said Christmas was a humbug, as I live!”

His family and friends are astonished, and always will be at the strength of his affection and revel in his contagious laughter. No matter how odious his uncle is Fred never forgets how much his mother loved him and the memory of this love is strong in him.

The Spirit travels the world and reveals the joy of the season to his companion. The many destinations Mr. D. presents to us are absent from this small interpretation but I one day may explore the mines and moors, lighthouses and ships where the Ghost and Mr. Scrooge find Christmas. I felt the jostled passers-by might be the most dramatic change of heart bestowed by the Spirit.

We visit the house of his clerk and see the blissful innocence of the child and the careworn gaze of his father. Eventuality rests upon Bob’s brow like a name carved on a headstone. “I see a vacant seat, in the chimney corner, and a crutch without an owner, carefully preserved.” Scrooge’s heart breaks along with ours. Yet even though Tiny Tim will not live, at least not past this chapter, outside the window carolers sing, the streets out side are filled with revellers and the Blessed Day remains constant. The Spirit is here with Scrooge but a moment and without ceremony is gone. “My life upon this globe is very brief,” replied the Ghost. “It ends to-night.”