Following the toast, as he always did on December 25th, Bob Cratchit read aloud the story of the Christ child who came down from Heaven to appear in human form as an infant born to a young woman in a stable. As Mrs. Cratchit watched her beloved husband read and studied the bright faces of her darling children all turned up in rapt attention toward their father, she felt a pang of remorse regarding her unkind comments about Mr. Scrooge when her dear husband, who of all people had every right to resent his hard-hearted, demanding and stingy employer, instead, had offered up Mr. Scrooge's name for a toast in gratitude for the meager payment he gave to Bob each week. If Bob, who was the one who had to endure Mr. Scrooge's overbearing and abrasive company, could present such a kindly attitude toward the disagreeable old man, then surely Mrs. Cratchit could find it in her own heart to look upon her husband's employer with more compassion.
"After all," she thought to herself, "no one suffers more from his stingy, mean and unfeeling behavior than does the man himself!" In this way, Mrs. Cratchit was able to begin to find a new way of looking upon Mr. Scrooge, imagining him all alone on Christmas Day with no feast, no family, and no enjoyment of the Day whatsoever so that she almost—and I say almost for she was not quite able to fully indulge in the feeling yet as this new, more generous way of looking upon the old man had just entered her heart—felt sorry for him. (Mind you Scrooge was not an easy person to look upon with tenderness in one's heart for Mrs. Cratchit had always observed that her husband's employer seemed to edge his way along the crowded paths of life, warning all human sympathy to keep its distance.)
Later that evening after the youngest children had been put to bed and the older ones had helped themselves to sandwiches made up of some of the considerable amount of turkey leftover from their Christmas feast, Mrs. Crachit sat next to the fire with her husband, each lost in blissful contemplation of the pleasant day they had just enjoyed with their children.
"Thank you my dear," Bob said after awhile, giving his good lady's hand a gentle squeeze.
"And what is it I am being thanked for, my love?" asked Mrs. Cratchit with a smile.
"Thank you for joining me in toasting Mr. Scrooge," replied Bob, casting a gentle and loving look upon his wife. "This is the first time I've had the opportunity to speak with you alone since I returned from Mr. Scrooge's house."
"Well I've no doubt the old sinner had no words of gratitude to you for trudging through the cold to present him with our Christmas goose, although I wager he took what you offered him for his Christmas dinner as I've never known him to turn down anything given to him without cost!" As soon as she'd uttered this sentiment, Mrs. Cratchit regretted her return to the uncharitable way of looking on Mr. Scrooge; she had, after all, resolved earlier to make every effort to look upon the old man through eyes of compassion and sympathy.
"No, he had no words of gratitude," Bob said, "for he had no words at all. He was was not at home."
"Not at home?" echoed Mrs. Cratchit. "On Christmas Day? But the banks and trading houses are closed, and even his own counting house is not open on December 25th."
"My dear," Bob began, turning in earnest to his wife who now sat beside him with a look of puzzlement on her face. "What I am about to tell you will amaze you I am sure. For it certainly had that effect upon me when I learned of it from Mr. Scrooge's housekeeper." Seeing his wife's expression, Bob smiled and gently patted her hand. "It seems that Mr. Scrooge arose this morning, dressed in his finest waistcoat, wished the housekeeper a happy Christmas and left to join his nephew for Christmas dinner, all the while whistling a merry tune!"
Mrs. Cratchit reacted with a gasp, much as she might have done had her husband told her that her skirts were catching fire. "Bob!" she exclaimed. "What can it mean?"
"I am not at all sure, my dear," Bob replied. "I have known the man for nearly ten years now and heretofore was unaware that he possessed either the ability to whistle or the knowledge of a melody if indeed he had the skill!"
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