Scroogical: Stave Four


The Third of the Three Spirits

“A third ghost!” he cried. He couldn’t believe
All the things that could happen on one Christmas Eve
The Spirit’s form hidden in a great heap of black
A sole hand outstretched, the bones of which cracked
Though Scrooge was now used to these ghosts in the night
This new apparition consumed him with fright
Scrooge looked at the Ghost, though no eyes could he see
“Are you here to show me what is yet to be?”
A nod from within the folds of the shroud
Told Scrooge more than anything said aloud
“Lead on O Ghost, oh lead on I pray!
“And show me how I can better my ways!”
 And then they were in a room that Scrooge knew
A place that he loved, and where his money grew
The London Stock Shop was filled with his peers
To hear their words better, Ebenezer drew near
“He’s dead don’t you know. Last night, so I heard.
“But how I don’t know, I’ve caught not a word.”
“And what of his money? What’s to happen to that?”
Asked a man, who seemed to be made of just fat
As they spoke of the death, Scrooge looked all around
And noticed himself was nowhere to be found
But he supposed, maybe this was a sign
That in the future, of this place he’d resigned
“We’ll have to give Scratch a wake, I suppose
“If we all come at least there’ll be people he knows”
They all agreed, though with an air of strange gloom
And at the same time, they all left the room
The Phantom led Scrooge away from the scene
And to a part of town that he’d never been
He hated this area, it was dark and it stunk
The people were slipshod, ugly and drunk
As they walked there, three people walked past
Carrying items, and moving quite fast
They spoke to themselves, with a slight cruel sneer
And to Scrooge it all was certainly clear
That these three gift bearers, charming as they were
Were holding no gold, frankincense, or myrrh
They went into a shop and the two followed suit
Where an old man was seated, surrounded by loot
“More stuff, then?” he asked, as the bags were put down
He opened one up, and said with a frown
“You took the sheets too?  Now that’s a bit low.”
“So what? They’d just get thrown away, you know.
“If he wanted his stuff safe when he finally croaked
“Then he shoulda had kids, like all other blokes.”
Scrooge said not a word as he listened to this
Wondering who’d died, who nobody missed
New voices made Scrooge’s attention arouse
And he found himself inside yet another house
A couple were talking, with great relief
With tones that tried to account for some grief
Enquired the wife: “Where will our debt go?”
The husband just shrugged, said that he didn’t know
But that they could sleep easy, for it won’t be as bad
Or nearly as cheap as the one that they had
And then the scene changed, to Bob Crachit’s place
Where the family sat, with no smiles on their face
“His nephew was kind to us,” said his wife
“After the passing of Tiny Tim’s life.”
“Now that’s he’s dead, I don’t know what we’ll do.”
“I don’t know who he’s left his company to.”
“There’s death all around, but let’s not dismay
“For another four hours, it’s still Christmas day.”
And then it struck Scrooge like a sharp lightning bolt
He shuddered at this, his face warped in revolt
“Where am I right now? Show me, I demand!”
In response the Ghost simply slowly raised a hand
Scrooge had assumed he’d be back at his work
Working more after he’d sent home his clerk
Or maybe at home, taking a sick day
Instead the ghost pointed in the opposite way
The cemetery at the back of the church
With the statue of Mary on which crows liked to perch
The Ghost led our hero to a freshly-dug lot
With a grave not yet placed at the head of the spot
Scrooge slowly walked over to see the gravestone
He read the name on it, and gave a brief groan
Stunned and confused, he took two steps back
And re-read the name on the grave’s metal plaque
A small “Here lies”, then in letters quite huge
He read, unbelieving: Ebenezer Scrooge
“Good spirit, is this really the Christmas to Come?”
In his chest he could hear his heart like a drum
“No, it’s the Christmas that only May Be!
“If I live by the lessons of you spirits three!
“I’ll honour the season, live by it all year!
“I’m a changed man, I swear, I am, don’t you hear!”
The Spirit made show that he had concurred
And drew Scrooge away from cold sepulchre
 The Spirit took hold of the old man’s right wrist
And enveloped him in his cloak of back mist
And as these bleak visions played in his head
Scrooge opened his eyes and was back in his bed