Ebenezer Scrooge never saw it coming. He was bankrupt, yes bankrupt. Something in his wildest dreams he would never have believed. After all he had Bob Cratchet didn’t he; didn’t he? That impoverished, slow-witted, individual who he paid to keep the books. He paid him a good wage, 15 shillings a week no less, why didn’t he spot the discrepancy. Perhaps he was still thinking about that boy of his, the one with the crutches. What was his name? Yes that was it Tiny Tim, about time he thought more about his job if he had I wouldn’t be in this situation; anyway so what! Now he won’t have a job serves him right.
Scrooge was sitting at his ancient wooden desk that had certainly seen better days, just as the threadbare jacket and trousers he wore had been. He had just done the sums and found that the money he had in his safe was insufficient to pay his own debts. There were pots of money when Jacob Marley was alive, and always had been. But that was seven long years ago. And after Jacob had gone he, Scrooge, had ground the borrowers down with high interest rates, trebling the interest if they didn’t pay up on time. So where had the money disappeared to?
The visit of the three Ghostly figures of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future on Christmas Eve night had fooled him into being a kind benevolent man. Mind you Seeing Jacob Marley all in white and in rattling chains was certainly a great shock and turned him into quivering wreck, making him nearly pass out. And when he had gone and bought a very large turkey on Christmas day for the Cratchet’s, and visited his nephew Fred and his family and enjoyed the meal and evening; eating well and playing games made him feel sick to the bones now. Ha! OK so he felt good doing these things, but now he was distraught at finding he was bankrupt.
He now believed it was all a trick, made up probably by one of his borrowers wanting to get their own back on fleecing them. All this ghostly figures thing was a ruse to take his attention away from his disappearing fortune.
Scrooges partner Jacob’s death had been unexpected. He was always the fittest of them both, and easier going than him. Funny though that the undertaker had not allowed him to see inside Jacobs coffin to gloat and absorb in the pleasure of seeing him lying there, and then being the sole owner of Marley and Scrooge Money Lenders was the icing on the cake.
Looking up from his thoughts towards where Cratchet sat on his high stool, he grunted;
‘Cratchet, you idle individual, come here and see me.’ He growled. Scrooge had gone back to his old ways and would be more demanding of Cratchet than ever from now on. That was if he had a future in the business; it all depended on finding out what had happened to his money.
‘Ye……es Mr Scrooge what is it.’ Cratchet stuttered wring his half gloved hands as he got off his stool and shuffled over to scrooge’s desk..
‘Where has all the money gone? Don’t you know we are broke? Haven’t your books recorded losses’ Scrooge exploded.
He stood up and pushed his bony finger into Crotchet’s chest.
‘The books show a good profit Mr Scrooge, so why do you say we are broke?’
‘There is nothing in the safe man, just you look.’ and swung open the door of the safe to show only a few coppers sitting there. Bob Cratchet looked shocked, then went quite, suddenly realising what had happened.
‘Have you taken account of all the Christmas good will you have been spending on Mr Scrooge. The turkey, the presents for Fred and his family and anything else.’
‘Poppycock man; I admit I did spend a little but not a whole safe full. So what have you done with it Cratchet? A… A’ after this last A he went red in the face and holding his chest he sat back down.
Bob Cratchet looked startled and asked; ‘Are you feeling alright Mr Scrooge?’ and went to go around the desk to see if he could help him. Scrooge brushed him away; ‘Don’t fuss man, I’m alright.’
But Bob Cratchet could see that Scrooge was as white as a sheet and looked ready to drop.
Suddenly the door bell rang as it opened, and a man entered, dressed in a thick overcoat, muffler scarf around his face and a large top hat. Scrooge looked up and thought he recognised the figure.
‘No it can’t be,’ he screeched with fear written all over his face.
Bob Cratchet looked and said nothing, knowing now who it was.
‘But you’re dead these last seven years Jacob Marley.’ Scrooge said, and lay back in his chair shaking from head to foot. He tried to look away from the apparition but was unable to take his eyes of the figure standing there and now removing his muffler to stare at him with those dark penetrating eyes Scrooge knew so well.
‘I thought it about time I came to visit you Ebenezer.’ said Jacob Marley, with a smirk on his face. Walking over to stand next to Bob Cratchet, who was now mesmerised by Jacob’s appearance, he said. ‘You never did worry about security Jacob. You still leave the safe key in Cratchet’s desk.’
‘So you’re the thief. I might have guessed after what’s been happening recently.’ Scrooge said as he leaned forward across the desk and stared intensely at Jacob.
‘I’m well thanks Ebenezer, thanks for not asking. I had to get away from your miserly ways seven years ago. You had turned into an unbearable miserable individual, and because unknown to you I had built up a private fortune allowing me to buy a Manor House and live the life of landed gentry I organised my own demise. I must admit I did like to se the look on your face when they buried me.’
‘So why did you take all my money? Didn’t you have enough?’ asked Scrooge now feeling a lot better after hearing Jacob’s story.’
‘For you own good Ebenezer. I set up the ghostly visits so you could see the error of you ways and what might be if you changed them. Your money is safe and has been for many years. I have invested it and you are now a very rich man.’ Turning to Cratchet he said; ‘I haven’t forgotten you Bob or your family. There is enough money from the investments for you as well. And if you wish it you and you family can come and live on my estate and help out around it. Tiny Tim will be well looked after there. Oh and by the way Ebenezer, Fred has been in on this for some time now and would be delighted if you come in with me and forget about fleecing the poor wretches that you do.’
Scrooge was flabbergasted and showed it. But having seen the other side of life through the ghostly apparitions he was sold on the idea of starting a new life.
When Ebenezer closed the money lending business there was celebrations in the streets when the borrowers learnt their debts were wiped clean.