In "The Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens, Scrooge is with the last of the spirits, the Ghost of the Future, in Stave Four. They leave the busy scene of London and go into "an obscure part of the town"; this is a part of the city that Scrooge has never seen. It is foul and wretched. Into this "den of infamous resort" there are old rags bottles, bones, and "greasy offal, were bought." In a "beetling shop" there are piled up rusty keys, nails, chains, hinges, files, scales, weights, and refuse of all kinds. There are all kinds of "unseemly rags, masses of corrupted fat, and sepulchres of bones."
At this rag-picker's, two women, a charwoman and a laundress, drop large bundles before the man. These bundles contain the sheets and drapes that they have removed while the corpse lies in the very room. They have even removed the clothing from Scrooge's body. While the man picks through these things, the women make ribald jokes about the dead Scrooge.
Scrooge, of course, realizes how even these very low people derogate him, listening in horror and in dismay as he sees his bereft and uncared for corpse all alone. He wonders what the thoughts of this man would be if he were raised from the dead. Clearly, the shock of this sordid pillage has made an impression upon the old miser:
'Spirit!...This is a fearful place. In leaving it, I shall not leave its lesson, trust me. Let us go!'
The sordid ragpicker's in the wretched neighborhood is more than Scrooge can bear. He resolves to change if given the opportunity.