you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don't make merry myself at Christmas, and I can't afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned--they cost enough; and those who are
badly off must go there."
"Many can't go there; and many would rather die." "If they would rather die," said Scrooge, "they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. Besides--excuse me--I don't know that." "But you might know it," observed the gentleman. "It's not my business," Scrooge returned. "It's enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people's.
Mine occupies me constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen!"
Seeing clearly that it would be useless to pursue their point, the gentlemen withdrew. Scrooge resumed his labours with an improved opinion of himself, and in a more facetious temper than was usual with him. Meanwhile the fog and darkness thickened so, that people ran about with flaring links, proffering their services to go before horses in