The first three paragraphs of The Cricket on the Hearth, by Charles Dickens, may be Mike’s all-time favorite story opening. It’s one of the stories from our The Complete Christmas Stories of Charles Dickens.
The kettle began it! Don’t tell me what Mrs. Peerybingle said. I know better. Mrs. Peerybingle may leave it on record to the end of time that she couldn’t say which of them began it; but I say the kettle did. I ought to know, I hope! The kettle began it, full five minutes by the little waxy-faced Dutch clock in the corner, before the Cricket uttered a chirp.
As if the clock hadn’t finished striking, and the convulsive little Haymaker at the top of it, jerking away right and left with a scythe in front of a Moorish Palace, hadn’t mowed down half an acre of imaginary grass before the Cricket joined in at all!
Why, I am not naturally positive. Every one knows that. I wouldn’t set my own opinion against the opinion of Mrs. Peerybingle, unless I were quite sure, on any account whatever. Nothing should induce me. But, this is a question of fact. And the fact is, that the kettle began it, at least five minutes before the Cricket gave any sign of being in existence. Contradict me, and I’ll say ten.
A Christmas Carol is far and away my favorite of the Christmas Stories; in fact, the others don’t strike me as particularly Christmas-y at all. I find I get more out of them as I get more familiar with them and consequently like them better, too. Cricket is my second favorite.
We find a lot of Lines We Love in Dickens tales.