Happy Hannukah to all our Jewish readers around the world - and, whatever your faith, we hope you find this seasonal Tale for Our Time of some dramatic interest. Here comes Part Five of my serialization of A Christmas Carol, written by Charles Dickens, very quickly, in the autumn of 1843 and a Christmas perennial ever since. One of our first-weekend Founding Members, Sam Williamson, writes:
Thanks for running this feature Mark. Your site continues to evolve into,... we know not what, perhaps a Grand Theatre Arts Books Mass Media Department Store (Marky's on Fifth) where one can find all that is required for the serious shopper, and be well served by the employees who wear the white gloves, operate the elevator and open the door to the lounge.
Much appreciated, Sam. And our white-gloved elevator boy thanks you, too. In tonight's episode, Scrooge meets the Ghost of Christmas Present - and Dickens gives us one of the great Christmas Pudding scenes of English literature:
Mrs. Cratchit left the room alone—too nervous to bear witnesses—to take the pudding up and bring it in.
Suppose it should not be done enough! Suppose it should break in turning out! Suppose somebody should have got over the wall of the back-yard, and stolen it, while they were merry with the goose—a supposition at which the two young Cratchits became livid! All sorts of horrors were supposed.
Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper. A smell like a washing-day! That was the cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a pastrycook's next door to each other, with a laundress's next door to that! That was the pudding! In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit entered—flushed, but smiling proudly—with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.
Oh, a wonderful pudding! Bob Cratchit said, and calmly too, that he regarded it as the greatest success achieved by Mrs. Cratchit since their marriage. Mrs. Cratchit said that now the weight was off her mind, she would confess she had had her doubts about the quantity of flour. Everybody had something to say about it, but nobody said or thought it was at all a small pudding for a large family. It would have been flat heresy to do so. Any Cratchit would have blushed to hint at such a thing.
The first Sunday of Advent used to be known as "Stir-Up Sunday". I wonder how many English children today would even recognize the expression.
Members of The Mark Steyn Club can hear Part Five of our adventure simply by clicking here and logging-in. Earlier episodes of A Christmas Carol can be found here, and previous Tales for Our Time here.
For more on The Mark Steyn Club, please see here. If you're thinking of giving the gift of Steyn this holiday season, we've introduced a special Mark Steyn Christmas Gift Membership that lets you sign up a chum for the Steyn Club and then choose a personally autographed welcome gift for them - either one of two handsome hardback books or a couple of CDs. You'll find more details here - and scroll down to the foot of the order form for the choice of books/CDs.
See you for Part Six of A Christmas Carol tomorrow.