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A Ghost for Christmas Present By Nigel Gordon Even through the heavy bed curtains, Scrooge was aware that there was a change in the room. It reminded him of all those years ago when the Spirits of Christmas had visited him, that night so long ago that had been filled with fear, emotion and joy as he had found the true spirit of Christmas. Now, he had no doubt, the Spirits were back. “Scrooge,” an eldritch voice screeched through the dank night air, “Ebenezer Scrooge.” Scrooge sat up in his four-poster and threw back the curtains. “Yes, spirit, I am here, Ebenezer Scrooge.” His manner and voice being that of one who has faced the spirits of the night and triumphed over them. “Why come you to me now, do I not keep Christmas better than all other men.” “Indeed you do,” wailed the ethereal voice. A sense of despair and loss filling the room as the sepulcher tones echoed where no echo should be. “Maybe you keep it too well.” “Too well spirit, and how can that be?” “Did you not yesterday go down to the market and buy up all the geese as gifts to the poor of the parish?” “Yes.” “So now there is no pressure on them to work at a pittance to get sustenance for the feast. Those who rely upon such services must pay more, which beggars them, and they must go elsewhere for their fowl at increased costs. The merchants, bankers, tradesmen and clerks, suffer increased costs for your generosity.” “It would be better if they paid a decent wage to their employees.” “As you do Bob Cratchett? A wage far more than what he deserves now that he is crippled with arthritis and can hardly work.” “A condition for which I am to blame, having made him work so many years in an office without heat and for hours beyond those reasonable,” stated Scrooge in justification of his generosity, “what should I do, turn him out without means or support?” “Aye, maybe that you should, for no man can be as generous as you. Did you not give Tiny Tim, though he is no longer so tiny these ten years past, a new suit plus five guineas for his term at Oxford?” Scrooge nodded, getting Tiny Tim educated and into that University had been one of the great redemptions of his life. “And your nephew, have you not paid his debts and granted him an income, though he has no way to earn sufficient to pay his way and support his wife and family?” “It is right that I do, for he is my sister's son.” “And what of the poor of the parish who feast upon your largess? Know you that all the poor of the City know of your generosity and flock to this parish, that they may partake of your bounty?” Scrooge nodded and smiled. In ten years he had done so much good work, given so much charity, he felt happy. Who was this spirit that had come to criticise him so? “Yes, spirit, I have done all you said and much more. Only this evening I drew a cheque upon my bank to give a dress to each poor women and a jacket to each poor man. Tomorrow, on Christmas day I shall celebrate the season in all joy and with no consideration to the cost.” “Aye Scrooge that is true. In ten years you have spent lavishly in celebration of the season with no consideration to the cost. You have set an example of Christmas extravagance that many will follow, giving not care or consideration to money and the preservation or prosperity. Therefore, I have come to you.” “What spirit of Christmas be you, to be so miserly about my spending?” “No spirit of Christmas Ebenezer, for that you keep well and they will not disturb you. I am the Spirit of Insolvency! You have spent too well without consideration Ebenezer Scrooge, the bank will not honor your cheque and the poor women will go without their dresses and the men without their jackets. Ebenezer Scrooge, you are BANKRUPT.”