John Shore Christian Blog and Commentary

Discovered: Dickens' Alternative Endings to "A Christmas Carol"!

A notebook recently discovered in the attic of a London thimble inspector turned out to have belonged to the great writer Charles Dickens. In it, Dickens recorded the following ideas for endings he apparently considered as alternatives to the one upon which he finally settled for his much-beloved, "A Christmas Carol."

--- Scrooge, his joyous mind steeped in its new found glee, his aged limbs and extremities veritably vibrating with unfettered delight, throws open the shutters of his third-story bedroom window, and leans out to cry "Tally-ho! Merry Christmas, lad!" to a young boy passing down below. He leans too far, and damages the boy terribly with his fall.

--- Scrooge beseeches The Spirit of Christmas Future, with "Oh, tell me that I may sponge away the writing on this tombstone!" The looming, ghostly apparition, as silent till now as death itself, its features hidden in the darkness of its terrible black hood, decides to finally break its immortal silence. But at that moment the mighty specter is seized with a bout of indigestion, and instead of words emits a belch of unearthly prodigiousness. The smell of it engulfs Scrooge. "My God! My God!" cries the old man, who, in a desperate attempt to be where the foul wind is not, voluntarily leaps into his own grave. "Sorry!" calls the ghost. "Must have been something I haven't eaten yet!"

--- For Christmas supper, Tiny Tim, his little, broken body in no way accustomed to the extravagant abundance afforded him and all the Cratchit family by the anonymous munificence of the freshly enlightened Scrooge, in a frenzy of ravenous desire scrambles onto the table, jamming his entire face into the side of the 30-pound turkey now sitting upon it. "Holy cow, Tim!" cries Bob. "Tim!" cries his benevolent mother, "Your manners!" Heedless of their parents' implorations, the other children, not wanting to miss their share, hastily follow Tim's lead. The table collapses beneath their weight. Bob never walks again. But Tim does, so it all works out.

--- Scrooge is visited by a fourth (and final) ghost: The Ghost of Future Investments. Adorned in spats, top-hat, and a full-length coat of the finest fur, the otherworldly visitor has but two words for the quivering Scrooge: "Fish," and "chips." "Look to it!" implores the dapper vision. "The gusto with which these will be consumed will be marvelous to behold! Invest also in vinegar! And watch as thy beloved coffers swell!" The gruel-loving Scrooge fails in his efforts to imagine anyone reveling in slabs of fish covered in breaded flour and submerged in boiling oil. "Tell you what," he responds to the ghost. "Allow me to think upon it." He doesn't, though; instead he worries deeply about the future of England's economy.

--- Christmas morn; Scrooge awakens. He is a changed man! But as the morning progresses he recalls with increasing consternation how the night before, while standing beside The Ghost of Christmas Present, he overheard Bob Cratchit's wife speak all manner of illness toward him. "Ungrateful matron!" he fumes. "Bah! Damn the lot of them!" On the morning of the next day Scrooge pretends to be nice to Bob Cratchit, but then summarily fires him---and, before Bob can return home to tell his wife the calamitous news, forecloses on the Cratchit home. The Ghost of Christmas Heart Attacks prepares to pay the recalcitrant Scrooge a visit.

---- "I'm terribly sorry, uncle---but too little, too late," says Fred, slamming his door closed.


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