Matter of Laugh or Death
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
A CHRISTMAS CAROL: EPILOGUE
26, 1843 - Dear Diary: I scarcely know where to begin! After yesterday’s
merry celebration, I arrived quite late at the office this morning and
fully expected Mr. Scrooge to discharge me right on the spot. But instead
of being angry, he was positively giddy! He hugged me, gave me a
substantial raise in salary, ordered me to throw plenty of coal on the
fire, shared a snifter of brandy with me in the afternoon, and most
surprisingly, offered to help with Tiny Tim’s medical problems. I was
sure he was not even aware of Tim’s existence—let alone his poor
health. The total transformation in the man is remarkable. This is the
most joyous turn of events we could have ever hoped for. Upon hearing the
news, Mrs. Cratchit was extremely affectionate this evening for the first
time in ages. Possibly another Cratchit on the way? God bless us,
27, 1843 - Dear Diary: Mr. Scrooge instructed me to order a new oil lamp
so I might see better at my desk. He also gave me the name and address of
one of London’s most prominent surgeons. I assume he wants me to bring
Tim there. Due to our lengthy chat over lunch, Mr. Scrooge was late in
getting to the Exchange this afternoon and was unable to make a deal when
the market price of corn unexpectedly dropped. He stands to lose more than
30 pounds on this transaction. He returned to the office in a bit of a
disagreeable mood. There was no brandy today. He did, however, wish me
well at closing time and hinted that I might see him at church this
Sunday. Now wouldn’t that be extraordinary?
28, 1843 - Dear Diary: Brought Tim to Dr. Townsend today. He says he can
help but the treatments will be rather expensive. He was very puzzled when
I instructed him to send the bills to Mr. Scrooge, but I convinced him
that Mr. Scrooge is a new man.
29, 1843 - Dear Diary: Did not see Mr. Scrooge in church this morning. I
thought of him often, especially when the parson spoke of the power of the
spirit of Christmas to bring about unexpected change in a man’s heart.
30, 1843 - Dear Diary: Mr. Scrooge must have had an unpleasant weekend. He
was rather cross all day. He seemed quite agitated when the invoice for
the coal shipment arrived.
31, 1843 - Dear Diary: Had much end-of-year bookkeeping to finish today.
Mr. Scrooge yelled many times for me to work faster. He also complained,
“A perfectly profitable year has all but been ruined by one week of
reckless spending!” I do hope it was only the pressure of closing out
the books which brought about this foul mood.
1, 1844 - Dear Diary: The new oil lamp arrived. When I asked that a flask
of oil be included in the sale, Mr. Scrooge leapt from behind his desk and
bellowed, “MR. CRATCHIT!! It is you who will be using that
frivolous lamp. It is you who shall pay for its fuel! Is that quite
clear?!” With my new salary, I should be able to manage. I am getting
more concerned about Mr. Scrooge’s state of mind, however.
2, 1844 - Dear Diary: Pay day. Mr. Scrooge gave me my old wage
today. When I reminded him about my new salary, he yelled, “Salary? That
was not a salary, Mr. Cratchit. That was, uh, a Christmas bonus, is what
it was. Yes, a one-time bonus. Now get back to work before I dock your pay
next week!” I am afraid Mr. Scrooge is quickly losing whatever holiday
spirit he possessed last week. Mrs. Cratchit was irate at the news. At
least Tiny Tim is responding well to Dr. Townsend’s treatments.
3, 1844 - Dear Diary: Dr. Townsend’s invoices arrived at the office
today. Mr. Scrooge refused to pay them. I quarreled with him most
vehemently. He discharged me right on the spot and threw me out into the
snow. Before I could relate this terrible news to Mrs. Cratchit, she
informed me that yes indeed, another Cratchit is on the way.
7, 1844 - Dear Diary: Our long voyage is finally over. Mrs. Cratchit and
the children did not enjoy traveling by sea, but the gorgeous weather here
in the Bahamas makes it all worth while. Good
thing I’ve been keeping a second set of books all these years and
skimming five pounds each week from Mr. Scrooge’s money box. I suppose
we shall miss cold, dreary London—or maybe not!
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