[From time to time, I will illustrate my story characters with: Richard Armitage as Ben Scrooge, Danielle Denby-Ashe as Peggy Cratchit, Aidan Turner as Ben’s nephew Frankilin Durin, Ken Stott as the late Jacob Marley, Cate Blanchett as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Stephen Hunter as the Ghost of Christmas Present, Meredith Baxter as Clara Lady Trenton, and Tom Conti as Lord Edward Trenton, and others as noted.]
Authors Introduction Note / Wattpad Description: My fan fic “A Christmas Carol Reimagined” ) [(1) story cover logo left] is the tale of a miserly middle aged man—a friend to no one–who is scared into realizing the folly of his ways when he is visited by three ghosts (past, present, and future). He then vows to be compassionate toward his fellow man and through his good deeds, he redeems himself—and he comes to know the meaning of love.
And as an homage to Dickens classic tale “A Christmas Carol” you will recognize some of the basic plot premises and a quote here and there. But there is a twist in that my story is a new telling, blending in British actor Richard Armitage’s character friends in “North & South” and “The Hobbit” trilogy of films. So anything can happen.
Author’s Recap from the previous chapter: Ben Scrooge was visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past who traveled back in time with him to Ben’s happiest and saddest moments—his mother’s and sister’s love, and their deaths. Ben had also lost his first love Clara, by her father marrying her to a more financially established man of business—whereas Ben was just starting to look for work after he finished university. It was not a happy revisiting, but the ghost reminded Ben that they were only seeing what he wanted to see.
A Christmas Carol Reimagined”, Ch. 03: The Ghost of Christmas Present
As Ben Scrooge waits in his hearthside chair in his bed chamber, he can only imagine what the Ghost of Christmas Present has come to show him—his own bleak and friendless life. But he will be surprised.
Gently mussing Ben’s hair as he sits dozing, the Ghost of Christmas Present is resplendent with his lilting mustachioed beard and shape matching fur lined hat [(2) right]. The twinkle in his eyes betokens a man/ghost who knows how to have a good time. And though he does not look Scottish—that is, if ghosts can have particular nationalities—his voice in a tenor tone definitely has a Scottish accent.
Ghost of Christmas Present: “Laddie. Tis time to wake up and see the worrrld arrround you.”
Ben: “What?” Ben asks groggily as he looks up at the mountain man looking guy ghost.
Ghost of Christmas Present: “I take it that the gell ghost took ye on a merrrry chase thrrrough yourrrr past?” He smiles knowingly. She tires them all out. She is that they refer to as a Type A ghost.
Ben: He winces. “Rather. And not pleasantly.” Ben grimaces as he stretches his arms.
Ghost of Christmas Present: “Aye! She can be a rrrreal … parrrty pooperrrr.” He amends what he had earlier thought to say. Ghosts have a certain code of honor and conduct. If they don’t want another ghost to speak ill of them, then they do not speak ill of that ghost.
Ben: “So what are you to show me.” I ask warily, and still very tired [(3) right] . To me,
these ghosts seem very haphazard in their professionalism. This one especially looks rather … ordinary, for lack of a better word. No fine raiments on him.
Ghost of Christmas: “Laddie, the clock is ticking and time be a wasting!”
I grab Ben Scrooge’s shoulder through his robe and we are instantly transported to the scene of a joyful family gathering in a lower middleclass section of London in the Cratchit home in Crampton—one of Mr. Scrooge’s properties. His Clerk Peggy Cratchit is playing a small spinet piano—a treasured family heirloom saved from brighter days when her father was the esteemed vicar of Helstone Parish. Now he is retired and takes in students to help provide monies for part of their living expenses. However, it is Peggy’s work as the Administrative Assistant to Mr. Scrooge at Marlborough Mills pthat ays the bulk of their living expenses. Their existence is far down the social ladder from what it had been even ten years ago.
Ben: “I know this woman.” He looks at her in surprise. “She is my Clerk, my Administrative Assistant. These must be the parents she mentioned when she rented this house from me, and then I offered her a job.”
Ghost of Christmas Present: “That was a good deed therrre, Laddie.”
Ben: “It was no such thing!” I bristle. I needed an Assistant and someone who could be a consistent lodger for my tenant. The last few tenants had not held lived in the Crampton property for long before they skipped out on the rent.”
Ghost of Christmas Present: “Did you know that her father had been an esteemed vicar in the South and they lived in a lovely and large country manor home with six bedrooms and servants quarters?”
Ben: “No, I did not. One wonders why they left?”
Ghost of Christmas Present: “Sometimes people leave theirrr past behind seeking something else, only to find that they have misjudged the situation. Such is the case for Mrrr. Cratchit—and it is his daughter and wife who sufferrr frror it. However, in yourrr case, you rrratherrr imprrroved yourrr lot when you took a chance and applied to the mill after univerrrsity, and old Mr. Fezziwig hirrred you on at a good rrrate.”
Ben: “At the cost of the woman I loved. And Clara was forced to marry another.” I jut out my chin.
Ghost of Christmas Present: “Yes, and Clara resigned herself to it and created happiness with her husband. Yet before you now is a woman who would love you if you would take her as your wife.”
Ben: “Miss Cratchit? You cannot be serious. She barely tolerates me most days.”
Ghost of Christmas Present: “Do not confuse your behavior—which is deplorable most days—with your other qualities.”
Ben: “Hey!” I think this ghost is too full of himself.
Ghost of Christmas Present: “It is trrrrue. Would you countenance someone acting towarrrrd you in an angrrrry mannerrr, when all you trrrry to do is yourrr best everrry day??
Ben: “Of course not! But workers have to be kept on their toes, or they slack off.”
Ghost of Christmas Present: “You arrrre wrrrrong. Well, neverrrr mind that.” He shakes his head and rolls his eyes. “We arrre getting off trrrrack, and we don’t have all night. What about Peggy Crrrratchit? Will you let Peggy Crrratchit slip thrrrough yourrr fingerrrrs as you did Clarrra?”
And suddenly, Ben and the Ghost of Christmas Past are no longer looking in from the window, and there are inside the cozy parlor listening in on the Cratchits Christmas Eve conversation. Peggy is decorating a small Christmas Tree that she managed to procure for a quarter of its original price since it was the last one on the lot and no one else was buying before they closed for the night.
Father: “Peggy, Dear. You look all spent from your long day at work. Sit down and rest.”
Peggy Cratchit’s workday begins at 7 o’clock in the morning and ends at 7 o’clock at night.
Peggy: “I’m alright, Mother. I just want to put up a few more decorations–so it seems more Christmasy.” Peggy smiles tiredly [(4) right] . Their only decoration is the tree and a few springs of holly and mistletoe here and there—no large door wreath, or stair railing and fireplace mantel garlands like they had in their Helstone home years ago.
Mother: “Well, the tree and other decorations looks lovely, Peggy Dear.” She smiles encouragingly.
Ben: Startled, Ben looks around to see sparing touches of greenery trimmed from the tree on the mantle and occasional tables—as well as some holly and mistletoe hanging over the parlor door entrance, above where he is standing. His eyes widen as Peggy comes toward him—not seeing him—and she stops near him to pick up more ornaments in a box on a chair near him.
Mother: “Have you thought anymore about attending your cousin Edith’s Day after Christmas Ball on Saturday?”
Peggy: “Mother, I would love to see Edith again—her having a ball or not. But I work a half day at the Mill on Saturday. And with Mr. Scrooge wanting to get out the new order confirmation letters right away, I have a mountain of work to get through. I doubt that I will even be done before nightfall.” I say forlornly. “Besides, my ball gown is five years old and terribly out of fashion. I am not fit to be seen in society.” But at least I will spend my time with Ben. I smile.
Ben: “So ghost, if her life is so bleak, why is she smiling?”
Ghost of Christmas Present: “As I said, she has a tendrrrre for you.”
Ben: “No, you said that she would make me a good and loving wife. Not, that she wanted me for her husband.”
Ghost of Christmas Present: “They arrre one and the same. Listen.”
Ben and the ghost turn their attention to the Cratchits again.
Mother: “Now Peggy, it’s important for you to attend the Ball. There will be several eligible men there who might take a fancy to you. They might ask to court you, and eventually marry you.” I smile hopefully at my daughter.
Peggy: “No, Mother.” I sigh. “You know that I can’t think of marrying anyone else right now.”
Ben: Whispering to the ghost. “Else? Who else is she talking about?” The Ghost of Christmas Present merely smiles.
Peggy: “The only bright spot about missing the ball on Saturday is that I will spend the time with Mr. Scrooge, Ben. I smile.” I don’t say my wishes about Ben out loud very often. But on Christmas Eve, we must be honest about our hopes and dreams.
Peggy’s parents exchange a worried look. But they do not counter her stated wishes. They have talked to their daughter Peggy before about widening her choice of men—despite their pecuniary circumstances at the moment. But Peggy is steadfast in her feelings for Ben Scrooge.
Ghost of Christmas Present: “The young lady sounds like she is quite devoted to you—though ye have not earrrrned norrr rerrrturrrned herrr affections.”
Ben: “Miss Cratchit is my employee! Yes, she is a handsome lady. But our dealings with each other are on a strictly professional basis.”
Ghost of Christmas Present: “And that is to yourrr crrredit. Her last employerrr—forrr whom she worrrked exactly one day—trrried to forrrce himself on herrr. But she rrrran fastrer than he could.”
Ben: “The cad! I would have throttled him for trying to take liberties with a lady like Miss Cratchit.” And he realizes, that is why she did not list any previous work experience on her job application—because her former employer would only give her a poor reference due to her evading his advances.
Ghost of Christmas Present: “Ah! Prrrogrrress! You view Miss Peggy Crrratchit as a lady.”
Ben: “Well, of course.”
Ghost of Christmas Present: “Good! We arrre done herrre.” And I touch Ben’s sleeve and whisk him to a more affluent part of town, to his nephew Frankilin Durin’s home in Mayfair. This time, we go straight inside to the parlor and mingle among the Christmas Eve party guests. Everyone is dressed in their finest silks and satins, with festive decorations in abundance.
Ben: “Where are we, Ghost?”
Ghost of Christmas Present: “Impatient, arrre ye, Laddie? Wait and listen.”
Ben: “You are more maddening then the other ghost.” I mutter under my breath.”
Ghost of Christmas Present: “Why thank ye, Laddie!” I grin broadly. And he scowls back at me.
Frankilin: “Friends and family, As we await the clock to chime 9 o’clock and we go into dinner, I want to direct your attention to above the fireplace mantle.” He gestures and everyone looks at a family painting of a mother and father, son and daughter. “This painting is of my mother and uncle when they were young—and when their mother, my grandmother, was still alive. It had been sold with the remainder of Grandfather Scrooge’s personal items when my Uncle Ben Scrooge was at university. It was not meant to be included in the auction, but it was sold and lost to us for many years. But I recently came upon the owner and persuaded them to part with it for a princely sum.” His guests ooh and aah. “Uncle Ben and my mother were very close. And with her gone, I hope that Uncle Ben and I will develop a closeness now. I hope that my Uncle Ben Scrooge will attend our family Christmas meal at mid day, so that I may show him that the painting is returned to the family.” Everyone claps.
Ben: “That is why he asked me to join him for Christmas Dinner?” I am a little shocked, but glad to see the painting restored to Frankilin.
Ghost of Christmas Present: “Come! We have one more site to visit.” And I touch his robe and we are at the train station with steam blow offs billowing and such on the afternoon of Christmase Eve.
Ben: “Why have we come here?”
Ghost of Christmas Present: “Do you recognize that young man on the platform?”
Ben: “No. Should I?”
Ghost of Christmas Present: “Not particularly.”
Clara Lady Trenton: “Ben! Ben! Over here!”
Ben Scrooge’s head jerks to his left at hearing his name called.
The sixteen year old Ben Trenton rushes over to his mother.
Ben Trenton: “Mama! I caught you. I was so afraid that you and Father would leave before we could say our farewells.”
Clara Lady Trenton: “Oh, you know your Papa. He insists that we head back to London and Parliament immediately for an important vote–and so we shall—but we have at least 15 minutes before the train is scheduled to leave.” She smiles winningly as her husband sneaks up behind her and puts his arms around her shoulders in and embrace [(6) right] before he tenderly but chastely (since they are in public) kisses her. Her husband is a good man, seeking constructive changes in public policy for the broader good and benefit of society. The current bill before them is a Children’s Aid bill.
Lord Edward Trenton: “Benjamin, my boy!” Father and son embrace. “Where did your brother and sister get to?”
Ben Trenton: “He’s running late, so he and I will meet you on the next train to London. As to our baby sister. Nanny has her well in hand.” He looks down the platform and waves at his younger sister and she waves back.
Ben: Ben turns to the ghost. “Clara had three children?” Ben conversing with a spirit seems second nature to him now.
Ghost of Christmas Present: “Yes, 18, 16, and 4.” The ghost’s eyes twinkle mischievously.
Ben: “4, she has a four year old?” Ben lets the obvious implications of that information sink in. Clara must be a much loved woman to have a third child so long after her two first children.
Ghost: “Yes, a daughter, whom she wanted most desperately.”
Nanny walks up with a balling four year old girl. Oh, how the tide of toddler temperament has changed in just a few minutes.
Patty: “ Waaaah! Waaaaah!”
Nanny: “I am sorry, My Lady. But Miss Patricia insists that she will not ride in the train to London with you.”
Clara, Lady Trenton: “Give her to me. Patty Sweetheart, come to Mama.” She smiles with arms outstretched. But her little urchin poutily shakes her head no. Ah the tantrums of toddlers.
Lord Edward Trenton: “I will handle our little prima donna, My Dear.” He smiles and takes their daughter into his big bear of an embrace. Then he speaks to her in loving and gentle tones as he walks back and forth on the platform while they wait for the train to depart. “Now my Princess Patty, what seems to be the problem with the train? You liked riding in it last month?” He smiles quizzically at her, patiently waiting for her reply.
Patty: “Papa, I napped that time, and I didn’t hear the train. It is too loud!” She puts her palms over her ears as the next steam blast screeches near them.
Lord Edward Trenton: “Ah! I perfectly understand, Dear One. But you see, if we were inside the train, then we would not hear the noise so much.”
Patty: She ponders this. “You think so, Papa?” She asks hopefully.
Clara Lady Trenton: “We do, dearest.” She kisses her daughter and husband, then her daughter again. “Now let us enter our compartment so we will not hear the train.” Father, daughter, and Nanny do so. Then Clara Lady Trenton turns to their son. “Benjamin, we will see you and your elder brother in London on the next train. Am I clear?” She smiles but with resolve.
Ben Trenton: “We will, Mama. But remember that I have a business appointment here on Monday. So I will have to return right away.”
Clara Lady Trenton: “Oh, a business appointment?” She smiles at her son.
Ben Trenton: “Yes, to interview for my summer business internship at Marlborough mills.” In the Summers during his university studies, he will intern with different businesses to ascertain which field he wishes to go into.
Clara Lady Trenton: “And I hope your meeting goes well.” She pauses, then looks up at her young man of a son. “If you get the chance to mention me to Mr. Scrooge, please give him my fondest regards. Perhaps your father and I can invite Mr. Scrooge and his wife to dine with us some evening after we have returned home?”
Ben Trenton: “I don’t think that he’s married, Mother.” Ben Trenton blanches. He has found out a little about Mr. Scrooge’s scowling and commanding ways, which differs from his mother’s account of him. But he hasn’t the heart to tell her about it.
Clara, Lady Trenton: “Oh? I thought surely that he would married by now. I hoped he would, anyway. Mr. Scrooge as I remember him was too nice a young ambitious man not to make some woman happy as her husband.” She smiles endearingly at her son. Then she enters the train and her son departs the platform.
Ben Scrooge startles at his former sweetheart’s kind words about him. He had always wondered if she had loved him too little and was thus easily persuaded to marry another. But the fondness for him in her voice is very clear.
Ben: “Clara seems and looks very happy. I am glad.” Ben smiles.
Ghost of Christmas Present: “Clara Lady Trrrenton is a loving and much loved wife, motherrr and frrriend. She is trrruly happy—and she wants you to be happy, too.”
Ben: “Humbling thought, that she would wish me happy—after I have been so angry at what I perceived as her fickleness and disloyalty to me twenty years ago.”
Ghost of Christmas Present: “Time has a way of worrrking things out. Clarrra is happy, yourrr nephew Frrrankilin is happy—now all that remains is to make you and Miss Crrratchit happy, togetherrr.”
Ben: “Ghost, you’re playing matchmaker. But I doubt that you will succeed.”
Ghost of Christmas Present: “Laddie? Do not underrrestimate a Chrrristmas Ghost.” Ben smiles. “Speaking of which, I will rrreturrrn you to yourrr bed chamberrr to await yourrr thirrrd and final Ghost—of Chrrristmas in the Futurrre.”
Ben: “Very well.” I nod my head in acquiescence.
Ghost of Christmas Present: “A worrrd of advice. The Ghost of Chrrristmas in the Futurrre can seem verrry off putting and downrrright mean at times. So don’t let him scarrre you.”
Ben: “I am rarely scared.” He states blasely. Afterall, he has weathered the visits of three ghosts already this evening.
Ghost of Christmas Present: “Famous last worrrrds.”
To be continued with Chapter 4
References for Ch. 3 of “A Christmas Carol Reimagined”, December 14, 2016 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1015)
1) “A Christmas Carol Reimagined” story logo cover that I/Gratiana Lovelace created, is comprised of several elements:
a) the old drawing of Scrooge awaiting his ghosts by John Leech (for the 1843 Chapman and Hall published edition) was found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Christmas_Carol; b) an image of Richard Armitage portraying John Thornton in the 2004 BBC miniseries “North & South” was my cap from Episode 1;
c) and holly clipart found at http://cliparts.co/cliparts/rcn/Gg8/rcnGg84zi.jpg
2) Image of the Ghost of Christmas Present is James Nesbit as Bofur in The Hobbit films found at Pinterest (cropped from chart of all the Dwarves) at https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/05/be/7e/05be7eb322d065ae6dde5e5dea2cd0e2.jpg
3) Image of Ben Scrooge looking skeptical that of Richard Armitage portraying John Thornton in North &, 2004, via South, epi2, pix 215 at RAnet.
4) Peggy-Cratchit is Daniela Denby-Ashe-I n North & South-11h15m45s37-Jan1214GratianaLovelaceCap-crop-sized-brt2
5) Image of the Frankilin Durin is Aidan Turner as Kili in The Hobbit films found at Pinterest (cropped from chart of all the Dwarves) at https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/05/be/7e/05be7eb322d065ae6dde5e5dea2cd0e2.jpg
6) Image of Clara Lady Trenton and Lord Edward Trenton are Meredith Baxter and Tom Conti in The Heritance, found at https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/0a/56/b9/0a56b9b28547de7bb86143f479b9fb65.jpg
Something About Love, previous Ch. 02 link: