Christmas at Fessiwig's Warehouse
by Charles Dickens
"Yo Ho! my boys," said Fezziwig. "No more work
to-night! Christmas Eve, Dick! Christmas, Ebenezer! Let's have
the shutters up!" cried old Fezziwig with a sharp clap of
his hands, "before a man can say Jack Robinson. . . ."
"Hilli-ho!" cried old Fezziwig, skipping down from
the high desk with wonderful agility. "Clear away, my lads,
and let's have lots of room here! Hilli-ho, Dick! Cheer-up, Ebenezer!"
Clear away! There was nothing they wouldn't have cleared away,
or couldn't have cleared away with old Fezziwig looking on. It
was done in a minute. Every movable was packed off, as if it
were dismissed from public life forevermore; the floor was swept
and watered, the lamps were trimmed, fuel was heaped upon the
fire; and the warehouse was as snug, and warm, and dry, and bright
a ballroom as you would desire to see on a winter's night.
In came a fiddler with a music book, and went up to the lofty
desk and made an orchestra of it and tuned like fifty stomach-aches.
In came Mrs. Fezziwig, one vast substantial smile. In came the
three Misses Fezziwig, beaming and lovable. In came the six followers
whose hearts they broke. In came all the young men and women
employed in the business. In came the housemaid with her cousin
the baker. In came the cook with her brother's particular friend
the milkman. In came the boy from over the way, who was suspected
of not having board enough from his master, trying to hide himself
behind the girl from next door but one who was proved to have
had her ears pulled by her mistress; in they all came, anyhow
and everyhow. Away they all went, twenty couple at
once; hands half round and back again the other way; down the
middle and up again; round and round in various stages of affectionate
grouping, old top couple always turning up in the wrong place;
new top couple starting off again, as soon as they got there;
all top couples at last, and not a bottom one to help them.
When this result was brought about
the fiddler struck up "Sir
Roger de Coverley." Then old Fezziwig stood out to dance
with Mrs. Fezziwig. Top couple, too, with a good stiff piece
of work cut out for them; three or four and twenty pairs of partners;
people who were not to be trifled with; people who would dance
and had no notion of walking.
But if they had been thrice as many--oh,
four times as many--old Fezziwig would have been a match for
them, and so would Mrs. Fezziwig. As to her, she was worthy
to be his partner in every sense of the term. If that's not
high praise, tell me higher and I'll use it. A positive light
appeared to issue from Fezziwig's calves. They shone in every
part of the dance like moons. You couldn't have predicted at
any given time what would become of them next. And when old
Fezziwig and Mrs. Fezziwig had gone all through the dance,
advance and retire; both hands to your partner, bow and courtesy,
corkscrew, thread the needle, and back again to your place;
Fezziwig "cut"--cut so
deftly that he appeared to wink with his legs, and came upon
his feet again with a stagger.
When the clock struck eleven the domestic ball broke up. Mr.
and Mrs. Fezziwig took their stations, one on either side of
the door, and shaking hands with every person individually, as
he or she went out, wished him or her a Merry Christmas!