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The New Scrooge

The WordPress prompt asks which fiction character we’d like to visit with. Well, I’d like to sit down and visit with Ebenezer Scrooge — after he’d seen the light about his parsimonious past and sad future. Come with me and let’s imagine how much he changed after the spirits of Christmas clued him in.

Scrooge Comes Calling

“Old Mother Hubbard went to her cupboard to get her poor dog a bone
but when she got there, the cupboard was bare…”
except for a small bag of pot barley, a chunk of salt, and a bit of parsley.

She looked sadly down at her hound and shook her head. “Sorry, old Jack. Only enough for one last pot of barley broth for us. No meat. Not even a dry bone.” A tear trickled down her cheek. The dog sensed the situation and hung his head in despair.

A sharp rapping on the door made her jump. “Whoever could that be?” Poor, emaciated Jack gave a few brave barks and wobbled over to the door—and there he plopped down, too weak to stand.

With her apron she wiped away her tears. “Maybe it’s someone bringing a poor widow a bite to eat, eh Jack. Maybe?” She unbolted the door and opened it a crack.

The finely dressed gentleman standing there removed his top hat with a flourish. “Good morning, Mrs Hubbard.”

Mother Hubbard gasped, then stared wide-eyed at the caller for a full two minutes. Even Jack stared at the stranger, but had not an ounce of strength to bark at him.

“Ebenezer Scrooge! What on earth…?” Old Mother Hubbard thought she was seeing a ghost, but the man seemed alive enough. Though she barely recognized him. Ebenezer was actually smiling—something she’d never seen him do in all the years she’d passed him on the street. She visited his office every month to pay the rent on her tiny hovel and had gotten a glimpse of his dour face on occasion, but never had she seen him looking cheerful.

Jack managed to rise and stumble over to the man, sniffing at his shoes, then at the bag he held in his hand. His tail gave a few weak wags.

Ebenezer doffed his hat. “Indeed it is I, Mrs Hubbard.”

The old lady winced. In her penury she had nothing with which to pay her rent, so she’d stopped her landlord on the street as he passed just a few days ago and pleaded with him not to evict her.

His reply had been rude. “If you can’t pay your rent there are others who can. Have the money here by due date or I’ll send the bailiff around to evict you.” Now she feared the worst.

“So you’ve come in person to order me out, Mr. Scrooge?” She summoned up her courage and looked him right in the eye. Mother Hubbard had her dignity; she wasn’t going to grovel for this greedy grasping villain.

“No, Madam, not at all. I’ve come to make amends for treating you so poorly last week, Mrs. Hubbard. You see, I’ve had a…shall we say, a miraculous…change of heart.”

Mother Hubbard was speechless. She could see by his countenance that something amazing had happened. Why he looked almost…kindly!

Jack was sniffing eagerly at the bag in Scrooge’s hand; Mother Hubbard eyed it now herself. It looked a bit bloody.

Scrooge held the sack out to her. Here you go, Mrs. Hubbard. I’ve brought you two chickens to cook for your Christmas dinner. And I’ve left orders at the grocer; they’ll be sending around a food hamper on Monday.”

Mother Hubbard, not sure if she was hallucinating all this, took the sack and peered inside. Sure enough, from what she could see it did indeed contain two chickens. “How can I ever thank you, Mr. Scrooge?” she stammered.

“And you needn’t worry about your rent money, either, Madam. I’ve given instructions for Bob Cratchett to mark your account paid in full for the next year. I have enough money; I don’t need yours.”

Mother Hubbard’s mouth dropped open, but not a word came out. Scrooge, however, didn’t seem to need more thanks. He tipped his hat again and bid her good day, a merry twinkle in his eye.

Ms Hubbard blinked twice and came to her senses. “Mr. Scrooge,” she called. “Wait, sir! Seeing as you’re feeling…um… generous at the moment, will you permit me to entreat you on behalf of a poor neighbor of mine. She lives down at the end of the road and just around the corner.” Mother Hubbard indicated the direction with a wave.

“She’s a sailor’s widow and has all she can do to put food in the mouths of the children she now has. But such a great heart she has, people keep bringing her orphans and she can’t bear to turn them away. Just yesterday she told me all she had to give the lot of them was a bit of broth — not even a slice of bread. If you could be so kind, sir, as to send a bit of bread to the poor little ones…” She paused, fearing she’d really pushed her luck.

“I’ll see to the matter myself,” Scrooge assured her. “You say at the end of this lane?”

“Yes. She lives in a house made from a shoe box. I don’t know if you should go there yourself, sir. They’re such a noisy, lively bunch. I’m sure you’re not used to that.”

“Well, maybe I should get used to that. Maybe an old man like myself would do better to be around some lively children.” Then he walked away, stepping lively.

All amazed, Mother Hubbard closed the door. She looked at the sack, then at Jack. She shook her head — and keeled over in a faint. By the time she came to, Jack had eaten two drumsticks. She sat up and heard the bread-man’s wagon rattling down the street, headed toward the tiny house at the end of the lane.

Scrooge had come through. God bless that man!

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