This quote is from a paragraph describing Ebenezer Scrooge at the beginning of A Christmas Carol. Scrooge is a cold-hearted tight miser.
A grindstone was a thick disc of stone used to sharpen knives and tools. The disc would rotate at high-speed. Grindstone was often used as a metaphor in phrases to represent work or working. For example, keeping your nose to the grindstone is an expression often used to show diligent working. In this case, the quotation conveys to the reader that Scrooge is a miserly individual when it comes to work.
Character Profile: Ebenezer Scrooge.
Ebenezer Scrooge is one of the most famous characters created by Charles Dickens and arguably one of the most famous in English literature. The protagonist of A Christmas Carol, Scrooge is the cold-hearted and mean-spirited accountant. His business partner, the equally mean Jacob Marley, died seven years previous and he lives alone, having never married. Through a visit on Christmas Eve of the ghost of Marley and the three subsequent spirits, Scrooge is awakened to his meaness and the impact it has on others.
Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog-days; and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas.
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