A Christmas Carol II: Ebenezer's Revenge
Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world.
From Christmas day on, never was a man more generous than Ebenezer Scrooge. If any man, woman, or child was for want, a gold coin found its way into their pocket. But of all, no man benefited more than his poor clerk, Good Old Bob Cratchit. Salary tripled, Scrooge gave is former clerk, now partner, his office. With all the good Scrooge delivered throughout the town, the office stood empty.
Over time, what started as a whisper, Good Old Bob Cratchit added a few pounds to his weekly pay. When it went unnoticed by Scrooge, he added a few more. Ultimately, Good Old Bob Cratchit grew fat, in both girth and bank roll, as he imprudently moved money from Scrooge’s accounts into his own. With his new-found wealth, Good Old Bob Cratchit enjoyed the countless pubs, taverns, and barmaids that were now readily available to him. He rarely returned home to his wife and children on those nights. Eventually, he never returned at all.
Over the next few years, as Scrooge continued to spread Christmas cheer throughout the year, his bills went unpaid, a task assigned to Good Old Bob Cratchit. When Scrooge confronted his partner of the oversight, Good Old Bob Cratchit’s eyes swelled with tears, and with his face turned upward, he’d mutter two words:
With that name in the air, Ebenezer’s heart glowed and any thoughts of Good Old Bob Cratchit cheating him flew from his mind.
By the following summer, his accounts depleted, his bills unpaid, the bank foreclosed on Scrooge’s home to cover his debt. Who bought the home from the bank?
Why, it was Good Old Bob Cratchit, of course.
Scrooge was elated. His old friend saved him from a most desperate life. With burden removed, Scrooge was as light as a feather as he rushed through the streets, eager to thank his benefactor.
Through the office door he burst, Scrooge saw his savior hard at work behind the desk he once occupied. Scrooge reached out his hand to thank his good friend.
But, Scrooge's hand hung in the air, unclasped, as Good Old Bob Cratchit spat, “I expect you out of the house by week’s end”.
By now, the story of Tiny Tim had long escaped the streets of his home and was known far and wide. It fell upon the ears of the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland. A childless couple, the Duchess so fell in love with the story of Tiny Tim she would not stop pestering her husband until he sent a Page with a bag of gold to get the boy. Good Old Bob Cratchit counted the coins as Tiny Tim was whisked away in a carriage, never to be seen by his family again. Over the years, Tim could no longer be called Tiny as the Duke and Duchess threw elaborate feast to celebrate their miracle child. The irony, Tim no longer needed his legs, as the world was now brought to him on a silver platter.
Martha Cratchit and her children disappeared from the pages of the town, so embarrassed by what Good Old Bob Cratchit had become.
Scrooge, now abandoned, but not broken, moved to a workhouse where, undeterred, he still helped the elderly and infirmed that now filled his world.
So, it was with bewilderment, that a young boy, on Christmas Eve, sought out Ebenezer Scrooge. He had been given a shilling to seek the old man out.
“Who would do that?” Scrooge said, perplexed by the situation he found himself.
The young boy, a broad smile filled his cheeks, his chest puffed out ever so slightly, said, “Why, it was Good Old Bob Cratchit himself!”
Soon after, Ebenezer Scrooge found himself in his old study. In the hearth a fire blazed; a silence and warmth filled his chest and eased his aches. A heavy foot fall grew loud behind him, seconds before Good Old Bob Cratchit burst into the room.
The look of horror stamped on his old clerk’s face looked familiar to Scrooge.
Good Old Bob Cratchit sat across from Scrooge, in Ebenezer's favorite leather chair. He went on to tell a fantastical tale of how Jacob Marley came to him that night. He was wrapped in chains and weights and heartache; he said these were the chains he forged in life. He warned me, he said if I did not change my ways, my chains would be far greater than his.
“I trust you, Ebenezer,” Good Old Bob Cratchit pleaded, “what should I do?
Ebenezer Scrooge looked around the room, his old study. He looked at the fire that warmed him so many years ago. He looked at Good Old Bob Cratchit, who even now, while asking for Ebenezer's help, was cloaked in Scrooge’s favorite dressing gown. The gown he wore the night that Jacob Marley came to warn him of those exact same chains.
“Well,” Scrooge began, “it was probably just a slight disorder of your stomach,” Scrooge continued, “may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato.”
Scrooge’s tone comforted Good Old Bob Cratchit, who leaned back in the chair, the color returned to his cheeks.
“In fact,” Scrooge smiled, “What you say had more to do with gravy than the grave”.
That gave them both a good chuckle. Good Old Bob Cratchit’s breathing returned, his shoulders dropped, and his pulse crawled back to normal.
Ebenezer Scrooge watched how his words so eased his old clerk’s pains.
With a dead stare that Ebenezer had not known in years returning to his eyes, he said, with just slightest hint of a curled smile.
“Don’t worry, Bob, you don’t have to change a thing – you’ll be fine.”
- Opening paragraph is from ‘A Christmas Carol’ written by Charles Dickens published December 19th, 1843