It’s time once more for our weekly read-in treat; who could possibly want to venture outside in the dark, cold and rain when you can be warmed by the wonderful words of Dickens, as well as the lovely lilt of Lynn? Settle down and we’ll rejoin Scrooge with The Second of the Three Spirits.
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Part 3 Synopsis:
In order to be completely prepared and ready for the arrival of the next Spirit, Scrooge awakes instinctively at one. Despite his resolution not to be surprised he finds that when the clock strikes the hour, it is nowhere to be seen. Scrooge follows a beam of light from the adjoining room and finds the Spirit there, sitting amongst an overwhelming feast and swathed in festive decoration. It was the Ghost of Christmas Present – majestic looking and incredibly jolly in demeanour. Having learnt much from the first Spirit, Scrooge is more forthcoming in wanting to profit from what the second Spirit has to teach him. By touching the Spirit’s robe, they begin their journey into the city streets on Christmas morning. Despite the gloominess of the climate, there is incredible cheer in the air; shops teem with delights and people embrace the merry mood, wishing each other goodwill.
Having been absorbed in the atmosphere, they move on to the house of Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s clerk. Bob’s arrival is eagerly awaited by his family who are gathered inside; he enters in threadbare clothing with his sickly son, Tiny Tim, perched on his shoulder. All together and content, the family go on preparing and enjoying their scant Christmas dinner and despite Mrs Cratchit’s protesting, Bob raises a toast in Scrooge’s name. The family have a very happy time, even as Tiny Tim continues to ail. Looking at the boy, Scrooge feels a wave of concern for his welfare, which is emphasised when the Spirit discloses a bleak vision of the family’s future.
Having visited other Christmas gatherings – including a group of miners and men at sea who by all means should be having a miserable time but instead are sharing in the universal happiness – they arrive at a house vibrant with the sound of laughter. It belongs to Fred, Scrooge’s nephew. Everyone is having a wonderful celebration, complete with music and many games. Offering a contrast, Fred mentions Scrooge’s attitude to Christmas. Fred’s wife says she has no patience for Scrooge but Fred says he cannot help but feel pity, as Scrooge misses out on so many pleasant moments. Despite them being very disparaging, Fred and his friends drink a toast to Scrooge. Though he cannot be seen, Scrooge plays along with all of the games and festivities, quite taken with a joyful mood as before unseen.
The Spirit grows perceptibly older, and informs Scrooge that there is not long of his life left – indeed, it ends at midnight and it is a quarter to. Before the Spirit disappears, Scrooge notices something strange protruding from the Spirit’s robe. Two children – a boy and a girl – emerge. The Spirit informs Scrooge that they represent two of humanity’s worst traits – Ignorance and Want. Scrooge is reminded of his dismissal of society’s most poor and needy, and the Spirit warns him that Doom will await if Scrooge does not take heed of the two children. Almost as soon as the Spirit fades away, Scrooge eyes a hooded phantom coming towards him like mist on the ground…