Why, what was the matter with him? asked a third, taking a vast quantity of snuff out of a very large snuffbox. I thought hed never die.
God knows, said the first, with a yawn.
What has he done with his money? asked a red-faced gentleman with a pendulous excrescence on the end of his nose, that shook like the gills of a turkey-cock.
I havent heard, said the man with the large chin, yawning again. Left it to his company, perhaps. He hasnt left it to me. Thats all I know.
This pleasantry was received with a general laugh.
Its likely to be a very cheap funeral, said the same speaker; for, upon my life, I dont know of anybody to go to it. Suppose we make up a party, and volunteer?
I dont mind going if a lunch is provided, observed the gentleman with the excrescence on his nose. But I must be fed if I make one.
Well, I am the most disinterested among you, after all, said the first speaker, for I never wear black gloves, and I never eat lunch. But Ill offer to go if anybody else will. When I come to think of it, Im not at all sure that I wasnt his most particular friend; for we used to stop and speak whenever we met. Bye, bye!
Speakers and listeners strolled away, and mixed with other groups. Scrooge knew the men, and looked towards the Spirit for an explanation.
The phantom glided on into a street. Its finger pointed to two persons meeting. Scrooge listened again, thinking that the explanation might lie here.
He knew these men, also, perfectly. They were men of business: very wealthy, and of great importance. He had made a point always of standing well in their esteem in a business point of view, that is; strictly in a business point of view.
How are you? said one.
How are you? returned the other.
Well! said the first, old Scratch has got his own at last, hey?
So I am told, returned the second. Cold, isnt it?
Seasonable for Christmastime. You are not a skater, I suppose?
No, no. Something else to think of. Good-morning!
Not another word. That was their meeting, their conversation, and their parting.
Scrooge was at first inclined to be surprised that the Spirit should attach importance to conversations apparently so trivial; but feeling assured that they must have some hidden purpose, he set himself to consider what it was likely to be. They could scarcely be supposed to have any bearing on the death of Jacob, his old partner, for that was Past, and this Ghosts province was the Future. Nor could he think of anyone immediately connected with himself to whom he could apply them. But nothing doubting that, to whomsoever they applied, they had some latent moral for his own improvement, he resolved
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