Here we are with the penultimate part of our completely Christmassy Evening Read-In. Just what is in store for Scrooge when he is visited by The Last of the Spirits? Snuggle down, listen in and find out…
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Part 4 Synopsis:
The phantom appears before Scrooge; a disconsolate and rather disturbing presence. This Spirit is shadowy in both appearance and nature; it does not speak when Scrooge asks it if it is the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. Though terrified of the Spirit, Scrooge is keen to accompany it, knowing whatever it has to reveal will ultimately lead him to become a better man.
Scrooge and the Spirit arrive in the heart of the city, where groups of businessmen are feverishly discussing the death of a man. However none of them are mourning his passing. They then travel to a crime-ridden corner of the town where a group of vagabonds gather around some personal effects of not much value which appear to have been taken from the man who has died. The group barter and laugh at the objects and Scrooge is horrified by their actions. He takes the case of this unfortunate man to foreshadow his own eventual fate; that is, if he does not change his ways. The scene once again changes; in a bare and dark room and lying alone, Scrooge is confronted with the body of the man – though he does not see who it is. They move on to the house of a young couple and their children. They are careworn with worry, but their fretting is relieved when the young man announces the death of the man everyone has been talking about and to whom they owed a debt.
Scrooge asks the Spirit to show him a death that does not evoke emotions of pleasure or relief, but love and tenderness. The Spirit brings them to a familiar dwelling – Bob Cratchit’s house. It is overwhelmed by a solemn atmosphere. The family are all there – except for Bob. When he arrives home he is welcomed by his wife and children and tries hard to be cheerful for their sake, but breaks down at the thought of Tiny Tim, who has died. When recovered, Bob informs the family that he met Fred, Scrooge’s nephew, who though he did not know the child expressed sorrow at his death and Bob marvels at his kindness. All of the family announce that Tiny Tim’s spirit will live with them always.
Knowing that the Spirit will soon depart, Scrooge beseeches it to let him know the identity of the dead man. The Spirit still does not reply and heads straight on, past Scrooge’s workplace and his house, to a graveyard where it points to one grave – which bears a very familiar name. Scrooge asks the Spirit whether this horrifying vision is what will be, or what may be and therefore can be changed. He pleads that he is not the man he once was and promises to honour the spirit of Christmas not just at the time itself but all the year through so that this nightmare may not come true. As his promises are repeated, the Spirit’s robe alters and changes into a bedpost and Scrooge finds himself back in his bedroom.