Vol. 1, Issue 32, December 23, 2003
A Watley Christmas Carol
Great-Uncle Elijah is dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Old Elijah was as dead as a door-nail - Mind! I don't mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. But there it was.
So I was particularly Astonished the other Evening, while sitting in my Chamber readying myself for Slumber, to see an Apparition come on through the heavy door, and pass into the room before my eyes. Upon its coming in, the dying flame in my hearth leaped up, as though it cried, "I know him! Elijah's Ghost!" and fell again.
The same face: the very same. Elijah in his pigtail, usual seafaring waistcoat, tights, and boots; the tassels on the latter bristling, like his pigtail, and his coat-skirts, and the hair upon his head. The chain he drew was clasped about his middle. It was long, and wound about him like a tail, and a great Anchor there was at the end. His body was transparent; so that I, observing him, and looking through his waistcoat, could see the two buttons on his coat behind.
"You don't believe in me," observed the Ghost.
"Well," I said, "my Senses do play Tricks, you know - little things affect them. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. But whatever the Reason, be you Spirit or Dream, what a nice surprise!" I enthused.
Elijah's translucent form seemed somewhat taken aback. "Eh?" he said.
In Truth, long has it Been since I laid eyes on this most Interesting of Uncles, and warmly do I think Back on his visits during my own long-passed Youth. I bid his Phantom sit by the Fire and have a Virtual Scotch, which luckily he was able to Imbibe, and ask him for Stories as I did of Old.
"Now see here, Ezekiel," he interrupted, "you shall be visited by Three Spirits this evening!"
"Why, how Splendid!" I crowed, as I trotted over to get some fresh Glasses and a few extra Bottles of Virtual Scotch. "Is it to be a Party, then?"
He made then to Depart, offering some Excuse or other; but I would not hear of it, and stood Fast, plying him with plenty of Drink until the first Spectre arrived. It seemed Surprised to see Elijah still present, hiding his Glass with a guilty Look; but I explained that it was my Doing, offering more Drink, which this youthful Ghost gladly Took.
And what an evening we Had! For the First of these Spirits allowed me to revisit the Christmases of my Youth, such Splendid times! - And I plied this Spirit with drink and Cheer until the Second arrived; being most Surprised at the presence of the First and of Elijah, he too was brought into the Fold of our little Party. His gift was a peek at the Celebrations of Ephram and his Friends: an interesting Twist on the traditional Yuletide Celebration, but I was glad to see all were Happy, as they had been when I left their party earlier that Evening, pleading my Age.
The final Spirit came upon us Four in quite a good Cheer: and though his somber Countenance was less Ebullient than his peers, his vision of my Mortality was hardly Surprising. And even his skeletal Features within his shadowy Cowl lit up when Elijah told that story about the Walrus and his Bo'sun - a knee-slapping Adventure, that was!
Ah, if only the Evening could have endured Longer - but Dawn broke at last, and we Bid one another a Merry Christmas as my visitors faded into the sun's first Rays. Was it a Dream? A Vision? Will I see these entertaining Fellows again? I know not for Sure - but it seemed Strange to me, I must say, that when they Departed, Elijah seemed to have lost his Anchor. How odd.