“Why do you doubt your senses?”
“Because,” said Scrooge, “a little thing affects them. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!”
The shade looked askance at Scrooge, “Or a bit of drink, old friend?”
Scrooge was not much in the habit of cracking jokes, nor did he appreciate this phantom throwing his shortcomings back in his face. The truth is, that he tried to be smart, as a means of distracting his own attention, and keeping down his terror; for the spectre’s voice disturbed the very marrow in his bones.
To sit staring at those fixed glazed eyes in silence, for a moment, would play, Scrooge felt, the very deuce with him. There was something very awful, too, in the spectre’s being provided with an infernal atmosphere of his own. The phantom seemed to shimmer, as if a great heat stood between them, casting up waves to warp the air. Scrooge could not feel it himself, but this was clearly the case; for though the Ghost sat perfectly motionless, its hair, and skirts were still agitated as by the hot vapour from an oven.
“You see this fire iron?” said Scrooge, returning quickly to the charge, for the reason just assigned; and wishing, though it were only for a second, to divert 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, “Marley would know the implement and where it came from. Prove yourself or taste oblivion.” In truth the threat was a bluff. The fire iron was the only weapon in the house enchanted with the power to disperse the shade, but it could not send it to oblivion. The shade looked at Scrooge sly, and gave a wink with a tap of his nose. It knew, as surely as Scrooge did, and the shade thought it a good laugh.
“The fire iron came with the house,” Marley chuckled, “the silver from hard work at a counting house neither of us cared for. The runes from a silversmith who thought the order vain and spat sideways for the coin. And the first chance you had to use it, you skewered a goblin and spent the next fortnight cleaning its guts from the channels and crevices the silver wrought.”
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