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"I yet may change these shadows!"

"Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point,'' said Scrooge, "answer me one question. Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?''

Still the Ghost pointed downward to the grave by which it stood.

"Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead,'' said Scrooge. "But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!''

The Spirit was immovable as ever.

Scrooge crept towards it, trembling as he went; and following the finger, read upon the stone of the neglected grave his own name, Ebenezer Scrooge.

"Am I that man who lay upon the bed?'' he cried, upon his knees.

The finger pointed from the grave to him, and back again.

"No, Spirit! Oh no, no!''

The finger still was there.

"Spirit!'' he cried, tight clutching at its robe, "hear me! I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I must have been but for this intercourse. Why show me this, if I am past all hope?''

For the first time the hand appeared to shake.

"Good Spirit,'' he pursued, as down upon the ground he fell before it: "Your nature intercedes for me, and pities me. Assure me that I yet may change these shadows you have shown me, by an altered life!''

In a piece about our economic and technological past and our possible future, Charles Dickens in A Christmas Carol points to a change in direction.

Link thanks to Instapundit.

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