R. William (Bill) Bennett is the author of Jacob T. Marley, The Christmas Gift, and a new Christmas novel being published by a major publisher for Christmas, 2019
“Marley was dead to begin with . . . “
These chillingly familiar words begin the classic Christmas tale of remorse and redemption in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
But, what about Jacob Marley? And why hadn’t he been given the same final chance of redemption as Ebenezer Scrooge?
Or had he?
–From a scene in which unbeknownst to Scrooge, Marley’s spirit has accompanied Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present to the marketplace:
At that moment, an urchin of no more than five stood before the trio. Whether she could not see Marley and Scrooge, or whether she simply paid them no mind, it could not be discerned, but there was no question she saw the ghost, as she surveyed his entire wardrobe and stared with delight into his face. The spirit smiled down at her. He took his cornucopia torch and tipped it above her head, which caused a soundless waterfall of glistening sparkles, like a thousand miniature sprites, that seemed to flow into the girl as they touched her.
“Spirit,” asked Jacob, “why does she see you?”
“I cannot stop her. It is not that I choose to reveal myself to her, but I am revealed by her purity. She sees me because her eyes are not shrouded with doubt or hate, fear or selfishness or greed. Her heart is innocent, and her eyes are an extension of that heart. My mission is the goodness of man in this season, and I cannot keep it from her.”
“Do all the children see you?”
“No, just the ones whose spirits are so remarkable, they tend to live in both worlds.”
“And what is that with which you christened her?”
“Joy, that it might fill her needs a bit.”
Marley seemed troubled. “She does not look like she needs joy. I think she needs food—and clothing.”
“Look about you,” said the spirit more sternly. “Do you see food?”
Marley again took in the array of fruits and vegetables and nuts and plants of all kinds. “I do, Spirit. So much that to feed this little one even all she could swallow would not make a noticeable scratch on this abundance.”
“And do you see people?” There were men and women and children bustling about, wishing each other the greatest merriment of the day and generally enjoying the morning.
“I do, Spirit, many.”
“And what number of that many are stooping down to offer one bite, or perhaps an old shawl they would never miss, to this poor girl?”
Jacob noticed that the crowds seemed completely oblivious to the child, walking around her and even bumping her at times, looking down only to see what inconvenience they had stepped on and, upon finding it to be only an urchin girl, looking back up to continue their conversations, never missing a word. “None,” Jacob confessed. “Not one seems to notice her.”
“They all could, Jacob, if they chose. But they seem not to care. So, in this, I provide a little to give her what they may not.”
“But if she is hungry, why not give her all she needs?”
“Do not think that a spirit does not have a kind heart! For we do. I ache for her needs. But if I were to give her food and clothing and a home, what would be required of you?”