A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings by Charles Dickens

Author:Charles Dickens
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Penguin Group USA, Inc.
Published: 2010-10-24T16:00:00+00:00

“Is his memory impaired with age? It is to be expected now,” said Mr. Redlaw, turning to the son, and speaking lower.

“Not a morsel of it, sir,” replied Mr. William. “That’s exactly what I say myself, sir. There never was such a memory as my father’s. He’s the most wonderful man in the world. He don’t know what forgetting means. It’s the very observation I’m always making to Mrs. William, sir, if you’ll believe me!”

Mr. Swidger, in his polite desire to seem to acquiesce at all events, delivered this as if there were no iota of contradiction in it, and it were all said in unbounded and unqualified assent.

The Chemist pushed his plate away, and, rising from the table, walked across the room to where the old man stood looking at a little sprig of holly in his hand.

“It recalls the time when many of those years were old and new, then?” he said, observing him attentively, and touching him on the shoulder. “Does it?”

“Oh many, many!” said Philip, half awaking from his reverie. “I’m eighty-seven!”

“Merry and happy, was it?” asked the Chemist, in a low voice. “Merry and happy, old man?”

“May-be as high as that, no higher,” said the old man, holding out his hand a little way above the level of his knee, and looking retrospectively at his questioner, “when I first remember ’em! Cold, sunshiny day it was, out a-walking, when some one—it was my mother as sure as you stand there, though I don’t know what her blessed face was like, for she took ill and died that Christmas-time—told me they were food for birds. The pretty little fellow thought—that’s me, you understand—that birds’ eyes were so bright, perhaps, because the berries that they lived on in the winter were so bright. I recollect that. And I’m eighty-seven!”

“Merry and happy!” mused the other, bending his dark eyes upon the stooping figure, with a smile of compassion. “Merry and happy—and remember well?”

“Ay, ay, ay!” resumed the old man, catching the last words. “I remember ’em well in my school time, year after year, and all the merry-making that used to come along with them. I was a strong chap then, Mr. Redlaw; and, if you’ll believe me, hadn’t my match at foot-ball within ten mile. Where’s my son William? Hadn’t my match at foot-ball, William, within ten mile!”

“That’s what I always say, father!” returned the son promptly, and with great respect. “You ARE a Swidger, if ever there was one of the family!”

“Dear!” said the old man, shaking his head as he again looked at the holly. “His mother—my son William’s my youngest son—and I, have sat among ’em all, boys and girls, little children and babies, many a year, when the berries like these were not shining half so bright all round us, as their bright faces. Many of ’em are gone; she’s gone; and my son George (our eldest, who was her pride more than all the rest!) is fallen very low: but I can



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