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          Ebenezer Scrooge was a mean, grumpy old man.  He hated laughter, and sunshine, and parties.  He hated everyone and everything!
          He even hated Christmas.
          Children playing in the streets made him frown.  Carolers singing on every corner made him snarl.  And most of all, he hated it when anyone tried to be nice to him, and said "Merry Christmas!" or "God bless you!" as he stomped by.
          "Bah, humbug!" he would yell, and shove them aside.
          In fact, there was only one thing that Mr. Scrooge did like, and that was money.
          It's true that Mr. Scrooge worked hard for his money.  But he was very selfish.  He never gave a penny to the poor people begging for a scrap of bread.  He kicked at the blind men huddled in alleys.   When anyone tried to ask him for money, he chased them away or hit them!
          "Christmas is a waste of time and money!" he told his nephew, Fred, on Christmas Eve.  "I hate Christmas!"
          "Oh, Uncle!" Fred laughed.  "Surely you don't mean that!  Christmas is a happy time! Won't you come have dinner with us tomorrow afternoon?"
          "I will not!" Scrooge said.  "Humbug on you and your Christmas!"
          That night, Mr. Scrooge got a terrible fright!  Four eerie ghosts came to see him!
          The first ghost to appear was Bob Marley, Scrooge's old business partner, who had died seven years ago.
          Marley looked very unhappy, because he was covered in heavy iron chains.  "Each of these chains is my punishment for something bad that I did while I was alive!" he told Scrooge, who was huddling in his big chair, shaking with fear.  "If you don't stop being so mean and hateful, you will wear heavy chains when you die, too!"
          Scrooge did not want to believe Bob Marley.  "You are nothing but a crazy dream!" he said.  "Nothing bad will happen to me."
          Marley laughed, and it was a horrible sound.  Scrooge was very frightened.  "Ebenezer Scrooge," Marley said, "there is still time for you to change your ways!  Tonight you will be haunted by three more ghosts!  The first will come at one o'clock!  If you learn from him, you may yet be saved!"
          With that, Bob Marley vanished.
          Scrooge stared around the room, but he was alone again.  He decided that Bob Marley and the awful chains must have been a dream, after all.  "Bah, humbug!" he said, scowling at the fire.   "Bah!"
          And he stomped off to his bed.

          But when one o'clock came, Scrooge was still wide awake.  So he heard the church bell ring.  And he saw the curtains on his bed slowly pull apart.
          A glowing ghost was standing by his bed.  Scrooge stared at the ghost in surprise.  Its face was young, like a child, but it had long white hair like an old man.  It was carrying a branch of green holly, and had a big cap on its head.
          "Come with me, Ebenezer Scrooge," the ghost said.  And before Scrooge could pull away, it took him by the hand and led him to the window.
          Outside, the snow was falling, and it was freezing cold.  Poor Scrooge was only dressed in his bathrobe and slippers!   But he didn't feel the cold or the snow as he and the ghost floated through the window.
          Suddenly the city and the dark night vanished!  Scrooge found himself standing on a dirt road in the country.   "I recognize this place!" he said to the ghost.  "I lived here when I was a boy!"
          The ghost took him to an old schoolhouse, and they looked in through the window.  A lonely little boy was sitting in the classroom, studying a book, while the other children ran around outside and played in the field.
          "I am the Ghost of Christmas Past," the ghost told Scrooge.  "That little boy is you, Ebenezer Scrooge.   He can't see us because these are things that happened a long, long time ago."
          The ghost took Scrooge to more places, more times from his past.  He saw his pretty sister, Fan, who had died right after his nephew, Fred, was born.  He saw his first employer, Mr. Fezziwig, at their festive annual Christmas party.  And he saw Belle, the beautiful girl he had loved when he was young.
          "Enough!" Scrooge finally begged the ghost.  "These memories are so sad!  Please, take me back home!"
          "Very well," the ghost said.  And suddenly Scrooge found himself back in his dark bedroom.  He fell across his bed and was fast asleep in moments.

          The church bell rang again.   It was two o'clock.
          Scrooge woke up with a gasp.   There was a bright light glowing from the next room.
          "Perhaps the second ghost has come to see me," he thought with a nervous shiver.  Rising, he tugged his bathrobe a little tighter and stepped back into his slippers.  Then he slowly opened the door.
          What a sight met his eyes!   Food was piled up everywhere!  Turkeys and pies and puddings were stacked up like a huge throne.  And on top of the throne was a huge giant of a ghost!  Its long cloak was green and trimmed with fur, and it wore a sword at its waist.
          The ghost lifted a big torch above its head as Scrooge edged into the room.  "Come in!" it said with a jolly laugh.  "Come in, and know me better!  I am the Ghost of Christmas Present!"
          Scrooge looked at the ghost's head.   It was wearing a wreath of holly like a green crown, and long icicles were hanging from it.  "I have never seen anyone like you!" he admitted.
          "Ebenezer Scrooge," the big ghost said, "touch my robe, and I will take you where you should go this night."
          Scrooge knew that he had to obey.   A moment later, he and the ghost were standing in the middle of the street.
          It was Christmas morning.  And everyone around them was laughing and having fun.  Children were throwing snowballs, and people were calling to each other as they passed on the streets.
          Scrooge and the ghost passed shops filled with eager, happy people.  Everywhere they went, a special kind of happiness seemed to fill the air.
          Next, the ghost took Scrooge to the home of Bob Cratchit, his poor clerk.  The Cratchits lived in a very small house, barely big enough for them and their children.  Because Scrooge was so greedy, and hardly paid Bob Cratchit at all for his work, they had very little money.
          So Scrooge was amazed to see how happy they looked, as they ate some potatoes and a scrawny old goose.  "How can they be so happy," he asked the ghost, "when they are so poor?  And their little boy, Tiny Tim, is a cripple, he has to walk with a crutch!  Will he live, spirit?"
          The ghost slowly shook its head.   "I see an empty chair, and a crutch with no owner," it said.   "If the future is not changed, the child will die."
          Scrooge was horrified.   "There must be something that can be done!" he cried.
          Suddenly Bob Cratchit raised his glass.  "A toast," he said, "to Mr. Scrooge!  Without him, we would never have this food to eat!"
          Scrooge felt very guilty that he'd been so greedy all his life.  Bob Cratchit and his family deserved more than he had ever given them.  And he didn't want poor little Tiny Tim to die.
          "Come, Ebenezer Scrooge," the ghost said.  "We must visit another home."
          Scrooge touched the ghost's robe again, and Bob Cratchit's home vanished.  Suddenly they were standing in his nephew Fred's house.
          Fred and his pretty wife were having a party for their friends.  Everyone was having such a good time that even Scrooge began to enjoy himself.  He forgot that no one could see or hear him as he tried to answer their guessing games.
          Finally Fred raised his glass above his head.  "My Uncle Scrooge calls Christmas a humbug!" he laughed.   "But I say, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to the old man!"
          Before Scrooge could respond, the ghost whisked him off to other places.  They visited hospitals, jails, even dark alleys where the beggars lived.  And everywhere they went, the ghost sprinkled goodwill on them, and made them happy, because it was Christmas Day.
          "I never knew that people could be so happy when they have so little!" Scrooge said, shaking his head in confusion.
          "Remember that!" said the ghost...and it vanished into the night.

          Ebenezer Scrooge stood alone in the street.  No one could see or hear him.
          He knew that the last ghost would be the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come.  And he was afraid, because the future was unknown, and grim.
          When the church bell rang three times, he braced himself...because a dark, shrouded figure was gliding out of the mist toward him.  "Are you the Ghost of Christmas Future?" he asked in a shaky voice.
          The spirit didn't say a word.   It simply raised one hand and pointed down the street.
          Scrooge began to tremble.   "I know that you are here to teach me something, spirit," he said.   "Lead me where I need to go."
          The dark ghost took Scrooge to the market, where several men were gathered in a circle.  They were talking about someone who had died the previous night.
          "It'll be a cheap funeral," one of them said.  "He didn't have any friends."
          "What about all his money?" another asked.  "He was very rich."
          The first man laughed.   "No one knows.  He didn't give it to me, that's for sure!"
          Next, the ghost took Scrooge to a very poor part of town.  Rats were running through the streets, and little children were digging through piles of trash for scraps of food.
          Three people entered a dirty shop with big bags in their arms, and Scrooge followed them.  While he watched, they spread out what they'd brought, and showed it to the man who owned the store.
          One of the thieves had brought some pens and pencils, and a man's ring.  The second had several pairs of fine clothing, a pair of boots, and some towels.  The third had brought a large roll of bedcurtains.
          "He's dead now," the thieves told the store owner.  "He won't need them anymore.  Nasty old man, no one's sorry that he died!"
          Scrooge began to tremble.   "Spirit," he whispered, "why are you showing me this?  What am I to learn?"
          Without warning, the ghost took him away from the ugly little shop, and into a cold bedroom in someone's big house.   Scrooge knew it was the home of the man who had died, but he was too afraid to look at the man's face.
          "Please, spirit," he begged, "if anyone in the city is sorry that this lonely man died, will you take me there?"
          The spirit took him to Bob Cratchit's house.  But the Cratchit family was not laughing or celebrating anymore.   Tiny Tim had died, too, and they were very sad.  Bob Cratchit began to cry when he told his other children about visiting the Tiny Tim's grave.  Then he tried to smile, and told them about meeting with Fred, Mr. Scrooge's nephew.  Fred had promised to help them somehow.
          "Who was the man who died, spirit?" Scrooge asked.
          Still the ghost said nothing, but it pointed away from the house, and Scrooge slowly followed it until they came to the graveyard.  Then Scrooge saw his own name on a gravestone, and he knew that he was the lonely, hated man who had died alone in that cold bedroom.
          "Please tell me that I can change the future!" he begged the dark ghost.  "I'm not the man I was!   I swear that I'll change!  I won't be mean and greedy anymore!"
          The ghost did not answer him.
          "Please, spirit!" Scrooge cried, and grabbed at the spirit's black cloak.
          But the ghost was gone.   Scrooge was back in his own bedroom, clutching at his curtains.

          Scrooge was still alive...and he really had changed.  He felt happy inside, for the first time in his life!
          Outside, the sun was shining.   Scrooge ran to the window and threw it open.  A young boy was running by on the street below him.  "Boy!" he yelled.  "Stop a minute!"
          The boy knew how mean Mr. Scrooge was, and he was afraid that he'd done something wrong.  But he stopped and looked up.   "Yes, sir?" he asked.
          "What day is it, boy?" Mr. Scrooge yelled.
          The boy could hardly believe his ears.  "Why, it's Christmas Day, sir!" he called back.
          Scrooge was delighted!   "Christmas Day!  I haven't missed it!  The spirits did it all in one night!" he laughed to himself.
          Then he leaned back out the window.   "Boy, do you know of the store down the street with the huge turkey in the window?"
          "Of course I do, sir!" the boy said.
          Scrooge threw the boy a purse full of coins.  "Go buy it, and I'll give you a reward!" he laughed.
          The boy ran down the street.   Scrooge laughed again, and started getting dressed.  "I'll send that turkey to Bob Cratchit's house," he decided.  "It's even bigger than Tiny Tim!  They'll be so surprised!  Oh, and I must give them presents, too!"
          When the boy returned with the turkey, Scrooge sent him off to Bob Cratchit's house.  Then he went down the streets, greeting everyone and wishing them a Merry Christmas.
          Finally he reached his nephew's house.  "I'm inviting myself to supper!" he said when young Fred opened the door.  "May I come in?"
          Fred and his pretty young wife were surprised to see Mr. Scrooge, but they made him feel welcome, and he had a wonderful time.
          The next morning, he decided to spring a wonderful surprise on Bob Cratchit.  He pretended to be very angry because Bob was a few minutes late to work...but then he raised Bob's salary and promised to take proper care of his family!
          Mr. Scrooge and Tiny Tim became very close friends, and Mr. Scrooge paid for special doctors to care for the little boy.   And so Tiny Tim lived, and learned to walk without his crutch, and he was able to run and play like other children.
          Ebenezer Scrooge was a changed man.  He gave money to the poor, and was kind to beggars, and learned to love the people around him.  And from that time on, it was always said of Scrooge that he was a man who knew how to keep Christmas well.
          And so, as Tiny Tim said on that special Christmas morning:

"God bless us!  God bless us, every one!"

Adaptation by: 
Jo Grant