Excerpt: Jacob T. Marley

Do you love the classic story of remorse and redemption in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens? Then you'll love R. William Bennett's prequel, written in the style of Dickens, as he rewinds the story and focuses the spotlight on Scrooge’s miserly business partner, Jacob T. Marley, who was allowed to return as a ghost to warn Scrooge away from his ill-fated path.

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Marley’s death was but a beginning. To those of us still mingling with the living, death may seem quite a terminal affair, yet in its vacuum new possibilities spring forth, not just for those left behind but for the dead as well. Marley’s death did, in fact, represent a beginning for several people. As the grand old narrator has so deftly and pleasantly informed us, it was at first a long, slow beginning of the transformation of one Ebenezer Scrooge. Indeed, he needed to percolate for seven long years, steeping himself in the boiling liquid of greed and avarice, before he was ready for that dreadful, wonderful night that began with Marley’s ghostly visit. It was a beginning for many kind souls who surrounded Scrooge’s life: Bob Cratchit, Nephew Fred, Tiny Tim, and even the boy who tried to sing a carol for Ebenezer outside the countinghouse on that Christmas Eve. For in each of those good folk, small seeds of ideas, known by some as inspiration, by others as compassion or goodly character, moved them to play a role in the redemption of the old, miserly Scrooge. And finally, it was a beginning for the detestable Jacob Marley himself.

Now, I suppose that one might be convinced, after some debate on semantics, of the nature of this event being a beginning for each of those aforementioned. Each, that is, but Jacob Marley. True, we know from the account of Scrooge that Jacob was doomed to wander the earth, visiting those he had not helped and feeling the anguish of what might have been, had he been the man he might. But that feels a bit more like an eternal ending rather than anything that deserves to be placed at the start of a conversation.

However, it was a most remarkable beginning for Jacob. For there was a great deal more happening to him than Scrooge could see from his chair by the fire in his bedroom. In fact, the greatest effect Jacob Thelonius Marley would have on this world would begin on Christmas Eve in the moments before he would leave his corpse behind and would stretch until . . .

Well, this is our story . . .

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