Christmas: A Carol Betwixt (A Christmas Carol Part Two)

Ever since I was a child, I have loved Charles Dickens’ story – A Christmas Carol. The passing of years has done nothing to diminish my love of this story. It was with that story in mind that I wrote this one; a tale that ensues alongside the original. I call it Christmas: A Carol Betwixt. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did when writing it.


3. I was not always like this, a Ghost

“What is it?” Mr Fosdyke whispered, pointing fearfully at the tree.
“Someone is lurking there,” Mr Hartwell whispered in reply.  “Whoever you are,” Mr Fosdyke warned, speaking louder, “know you this, there are two of us!”
“And we are armed!” Mr Fosdyke cautioned.
Glancing peculiarly at his colleague, Mr Hartwell said, “Armed?”
“Yes, with our canes,” Mr Fosdyke explained. “Whoever it is, lurking under that tree, doesn’t know that is all that we have,” he whispered. “He might reconsider his options, thinking we are armed with something more threatening than mere walking canes.”
In spite of Mr Fosdyke’s wishful thinking, the clandestine individual, weaving between the low slung branches of the huge tree, continued to act in the same menacing manner. In and out, under and around he went, close enough for the gentlemen to get a glimpse of him but far enough away to conceal his true identity.
Whispering to his colleague, lest the furtive individual might hear him, Mr Hartwell said, “The best form of defence is offence.”
“It is?” Mr Fosdyke anxiously replied.
“Yes!” he insisted. “We shall play him – whoever it is – at his own game.” Pointing to where they had stepped into the low corner of the graveyard, Mr Hartwell said, “Circle across to the right, heading for that open grave. I’ll go about in the opposite direction. We shall meet up at the grave, and push, shove, scare; do whatever we must to send our worrier falling, crashing hard into it.”
In a pincer like movement, the gentlemen, armed with nothing more threatening than walking canes, circled the low corner of the graveyard, herding the clandestine individual slowly but surely towards the grave alongside its entrance.
The closer they got to the grave, herding the mysterious individual through the low hanging branches, the more excited (and apprehensive) the gentlemen became. Approaching each other and the open grave adjacent the entrance, they each breathed a sigh of relief, believing the job almost done. However, the mysterious individual, howling, groaning, grating its disquiet at being treated in so callous a manner, suddenly abandoned the cover offered by the low hanging branches. Rushing out from under a tree, it hurtled towards the gentlemen, and then flew over their heads, rising fast into the night sky, trailing chains, padlocks and boxes far behind it.
“Good lord!” Mr Fosdyke gasped. “What on earth was that?”
Removing his hat, Mr Hartwell scratched his head contemplatively, and then said, “Whatever it was it was certainly no vagabond.”
Pointing skyward, Mr Fosdyke, gasped, “Look, its returning!”
The creature, returning to earth at great speed, was heading directly towards the gentlemen.
“Run; run for your life!” Mr Fosdyke howled.
“I’m running, I’m running!” Mr Hartwell yelped.
As the gentlemen dived for cover, trying to evade the fast moving object, they lost their top hats. The descending object, however, stopped before it smashed into them. Retrieving his hat, Mr Fosdyke asked, “Where did it go?”
Pointing upwards, Mr Hartwell replied. “There it is, directly above you.”
Gazing up at it, Mr Fosdyke almost feinted with shock, because, hovering no more than twenty feet above him was a ghost of disingenuous appearance and proportions. This ghost, all callus and grizzly, had a cloth bandage swathing its head, supporting its thin, bony jaw. Furthermore, yards and yards of the cruellest, coldest, rustiest chains Mr Fosdyke had ever laid eyes, with portfolio boxes – and so many of them – locked and secured to these chains, enveloped its body. Skirting under the ghost, Mr Fosdyke stuttered, “M, M, Mr Hartwell, is that t, t, thing hovering so despicably above us r, really a g, ghost?”
However, before Mr Hartwell had a chance to reply, the ghost, loosening the cloth supporting its jaw, bellowed, “I am indeed a ghost!”
Edging further away from it,” Mr Fosdyke said, “I must be losing my m, mind. Yes, that must be it, because no one c, can converse with the d, dead.”
Speaking again, the creature said, “I was not always like this, a ghost.”
“Y, you weren’t?” Mr Fosdyke timidly replied.
Descending to ground level, the ghost, its chains and portfolio boxes clanging and banging noisily  into each other as they settled  upon the cold, hard earth, said, “I was once like you, a man, albeit a misery, penny-pinching aberration of one.”
“You were?” Mr Fosdyke asked almost as timidly as before.
Motioning for them to come closer, the ghost said, “What business do you have here, in this, a place for the dead?”
“We came here to pay our respects to Mr Marley,” Mr Hartwell explained.
Rising fast from the ground, its chains, padlocks and portfolio boxes smashing hard into each other, the ghost bellowed, “Marley? You wanted to pay your respects – to Marley? That miserable, penny-pinching accountant who thought so little of people that he threw them into the workhouses and debtors prisons if they reneged on their responsibility of debt by as little as a penny?” Its chains and portfolio boxes rattling and shaking in time to its rage, the ghost smouldered above him.
Studying the portfolio boxes attached to the ghostly chains, Mr Hartwell smiled a little, and then he said, “I truly believe that everyone has some good in them...including you, Mr Marley.”
Mr Fosdyke gasped in abject surprise, on hearing him say this.
Bellowing angrily, the ghost took hold of its chains and rattled them so angrily Mr Fosdyke feared the attached boxes might break free and crash down upon them. However, the ghost’s rage subsided as quickly as it had developed. Its manner changing, softening, the ghost returned to ground level, and then it said, “Why do you, a complete stranger, who never met the man that I was, say such a thing?”

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