A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb ofcheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!" Scrooge was not much in the habit of crackingjokes, nor did he feel, in his heart, by any meanswaggish then. The truth is, that he tried to besmart, as a means of distracting his own attention,and keeping down his terror; for the spectre's voicedisturbed the very marrow in his bones. To sit, staring at those fixed glazed eyes, in silencefor a moment, would play, Scrooge felt, the verydeuce with him. There was something very awful,too, in the spectre's being provided with an infernalatmosphere of its own. Scrooge could not feel ithimself, but this was clearly the case; for though theGhost sat perfectly motionless, its hair, and skirts,and tassels, were still agitated as by the hot vapourfrom an oven. "You see this toothpick?" said Scrooge, returningquickly to the charge, for the reason just assigned;and wishing, though it were only for a second, todivert the vision's stony gaze from himself. "I do," replied the Ghost. "You are not looking at it," said Scrooge. "But I see it," said the Ghost, "notwithstanding." "Well!" returned Scrooge, "I have but to swallowthis, and be for the rest of my days persecuted by alegion of goblins, all of my own creation. Humbug,I tell you! humbug!" At this the spirit raised a frightful cry, and shookits chain with such a dismal and appalling noise, thatScrooge held on tight to his chair, to save himselffrom falling in a swoon. But how much greater washis horror, when the phantom taking off the bandageround its head, as if it were too warm to wear indoors,its lower jaw dropped down upon its breast! Scrooge fell upon his knees, and clasped his handsbefore his face. "Mercy!" he said. "Dreadful apparition, why doyou trouble me?" "Man of the worldly mind!" replied the Ghost, "doyou believe in me or not?" "I do," said Scrooge. "I must. But why do spiritswalk the earth, and why do they come to me?" "It is required of every man," the Ghost returned,"that the spirit within him should walk abroad amonghis fellowmen, and travel far and wide; and if thatspirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do soafter death. It is doomed to wander through theworld -- oh, woe is me!


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