Nick Page and Marina Santee present "A Christmas Carol". Spotlight retells this famous Christmas story by Charles Dickens.
Hello and welcome to Spotlight. I'm Nick Page. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.
‘You will be troubled by three spirits! Without their visits you cannot hope to avoid the path...'
Over 150 years ago, an English writer named Charles Dickens wrote a story for Christmas time. It is called ‘A Christmas Carol'. It is a work of fiction - that is, it is not a true story. However, Dickens liked to use fiction to tell something of the teachings of Jesus Christ. Dickens said:
‘I like to quietly lead the reader to those teachings - as the great starting place of moral goodness.'
In today's Spotlight, Marina Santee tells Dickens' story ‘A Christmas Carol'.
It was the night before Christmas. White snow covered the streets of London. Everyone seemed happy... except for one man, Ebenezer Scrooge.
‘Good evening Mr. Scrooge! Happy Christmas to you!'
Scrooge turned to the man. ‘Happy Christmas? Bah humbug!', he said, ‘What do you have to be happy about? You are poor! You are a year older and no richer. Leave me alone. I do not celebrate Christmas!'
The Christmas singers stopped quickly as old Scrooge got nearer. His long thin body bent over as he walked. Anyone who got in his way was sorry. They met with Scrooge's red eyes and poisonous words. Scrooge had no time for poor or needy people. He just wished that the poor people would die and decrease the population! He had only one love - money. And he did not care that it was the night before Christmas...
Scrooge walked home quickly through the dark streets. Inside, he lit a small fire. But the cold air just did not seem to get warm. Then Scrooge heard a strange sound. What was it? The sound got louder and louder. The door started to move. Scrooge began shaking with fear. What was happening?
Suddenly the door opened. And in came ... what? A man? A being? A ... a spirit? The spirit had the face of Jacob Marley. Marley and Scrooge had been in business together. Both men had loved money - and neither would help the poor. But Marley had died, this very day, seven years ago! What did he want with Scrooge now? The spirit spoke.
‘I have come to warn you Scrooge. I was like you, I cared only for myself and money. And now I carry these heavy chains wherever I go. They are my punishment. But your chains will be much longer, Scrooge. You must change your ways and become a good man. Three spirits will visit you in the coming nights. The first will come tonight when the clock strikes one.'
Then the spirit floated away. Scrooge ran to his bed in fear. Maybe sleep would give him rest from his troubled mind.
Scrooge woke suddenly. He sensed something by his bed. He turned to look. It was the strangest thing he had ever seen. It had white hair like an old man. But its face was clear like a young child. A bright golden light shone from the middle of its head.
‘What do you want with me?' Scrooge asked the strange spirit.
‘I am the Spirit of Christmas Past.' ‘I will show you your past, and help you remember the things you have forgotten. Follow me.'
The Spirit took Scrooge back to years before. Scrooge saw a young boy, alone. The boy was waiting for his family and friends. But they never came. Scrooge knew that boy's face well. It was him, Scrooge! A tear fell from the old man's eye as he remembered the pain of his lonely childhood.
The Spirit led Scrooge to another time and place. This time Scrooge saw himself as a young man. He saw a beautiful woman - his wife. He remembered her sadly. She had left him, because he had loved money more than he had loved her.
‘Spirit!', he said, ‘Please take me to another place. It is too painful for me to remember her.'
They left the place, and when Scrooge woke up he was in his bed as before.
Another hour, another Spirit. ‘I am the Spirit of Christmas Present.', it said. The Spirit transported Scrooge to the home of the Bob Cratchit. Cratchit was a worker in Scrooge's office. Scrooge made Cratchit work hard, and for little money. The Cratchits were a poor family, but Scrooge noticed how happy they were as they celebrated Christmas. But then Scrooge noticed Bob's sick child - Tiny Tim. Scrooge was troubled and asked, ‘Spirit, will this child live?'
‘He will not live if the future does not change what you see' answered the Spirit.
‘No, no' said Scrooge, ‘Oh no, kind Spirit! Say he will survive'. But the Spirit disappeared.
Scrooge looked up. He saw a dark spirit - the Spirit of the Future. He feared this spirit the most. What would he see?
The Spirit transported Scrooge once again to the Cratchit's house. Time had passed, and now this house was filled with sadness. Tiny Tim's place was empty. The family were crying. The boy was dead. Scrooge looked away in sadness and horror.
Then the Spirit of the Future took Scrooge to another place. Scrooge saw people talking about a man who had died.
‘No-one will remember him', one said.
‘What will happen to all his money?' another asked.
Scrooge wondered ‘Who was this man?'
The dark spirit lifted its thin finger toward the place where the man's body was buried.
Scrooge read the writing on the grey stone. It read, ‘Ebenezer Scrooge.'
Scrooge cried ‘Please! I will change! I don't want to die yet... not like this! Please...'
But the spirit had gone. Scrooge opened his eyes in fear. He was back in his room? He was not dead. He was alive! He jumped out of bed. He ran across the room and opened the window. It was morning. He shouted into the cold winter air: ‘I'm alive!.
Immediately, Scrooge sent food to Bob's house. Scrooge thought, ‘Tiny Tim will eat well. I will make sure of it.'
Quickly Scrooge put on his clothes and went outside. Soft white snow was falling. He ran through the streets and shouted loudly, ‘Happy Christmas!'
People looked at him strangely. Was this Scrooge? Scrooge ran to the poor house and gave the people his money. He was alive! He had a second chance. And he was going to use it. For the first time in years he felt happiness. Amazed, people watched as old Scrooge ran happily through the snow covered streets.
And what of Tiny Tim? Well, he did not die - and Scrooge became like a second father to him. And Tiny Tim has the last words of this Christmas story. He said ‘God bless us, every one!'
The writer and producer of today's programme was Marina Santee. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom. Computer users can hear our programmes on our website at www.radio.english.net. This programme is called: ‘A Christmas Carol.' From all of us at Spotlight, Happy Christmas.