SPOILER ALERT! Some of the eggs discussed here may ruin the book for you, so please, please, don’t read this post until you’re done with Saving Ebenezer.
The page numbers are for paperback, but you can search for them on the Kindle version, or go to the chapters the egg is located in and read from there.
Egg #1: On page 8 (Chapter 1), you’ll read: Scrooge had the best doctors working on the boy’s condition, all of them happy to have Scrooge pay for this treatment or that, but never quite figuring out exactly what was wrong.
– Dickens didn’t write about an actual ailment, which has caused a bit of a debate over the century plus since he wrote the book. According to an article by Live Science, online sleuths believe that the condition could have been rickets or kidney disease. Another Live Science author believes he suffered from both conditions. A National Institute of Health publication agrees with the kidney disease. Because the debate continues, I wrote it in such a way as to leave the argument unhindered by my timeline.
Egg #2: On page 25 (Chapter 1), you’ll read: One of the smallest children opened the door. T’was the littlest sister of the family – Gillian or Lucy or, well, some such name – who was younger than Tiny Tim by three years or so. As far as Scrooge was concerned (for he did not trouble himself to know the specific information of ages), the younger children were younger and the older children were older, and only Tim really mattered.
– This is really fun! To the average reader, it just looks like I wrote Scrooge to be extra callous (I didn’t have to work hard, of course). However, to anyone familiar with the history of A Christmas Carol, you’ll notice a trick. In the original story, Martha, Belinda, Peter, and Tiny Tim are mentioned by name, and two younger children are alluded to, but never named. The only thing stated in the original, in Stave Three, is thus: “No, no. There’s father coming,” cried the two young Cratchits, who were everywhere at once. “Hide, Martha, hide!”
Depending on what adaptation you listen to or watch, the two youngest children are called Lucy, Gillian, Matthew, or Miranda. In my story, I simply showed Scrooge impatiently not knowing their names.
Egg #3: On page 13 (Chapter 1), you’ll read: He took pity on her just then, like maybe she was looking in on a man being taken by demons ten times worse than before.
– This egg isn’t from the original story, but from the Bible (remember that my story is a gospel-centered one first, and a sequel to the Dickens original second). In Matthew 12:43-45, the Bible talks about demons being cast out. When they can’t find another place to go, they return to the original host, bringing others with them. I didn’t write this in order to show that Scrooge was really possessed, but to show just how mean he’d been in previous times, and how it looked like he was going back to that level or, indeed, becoming worse.
Egg #4: On page 156 (Chapter 12), you read: It was always said of Scrooge, from that day forward, that he displayed Christ well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that also be said of us – of all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim used to observe, “God bless us, every one!”
– You’ll surely remember the famous line from Tiny Tim in the original story. “God bless us, every one,” is probably the most famous line from the entire book. However, I want to key in on the line right before it. In the original, it reads: it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. I owe this egg to my wife, who realized I’d ended with Tiny Tim’s famous line, but forgot Scrooge’s end. To that point, Scrooge is the most important character in my novella, because it is through his eyes we see the gospel play out. So, in wrapping his story up at the end, I repurposed the original (Alicia gave me the line and I played a little with it). I think it works well.
Egg #5: On page 30, and again on page 51, Scrooge is referred to as “old scratch.” This is a term used to describe the devil in that time period. It is also a term used to describe Scrooge in the original story (Stave 4). Using the term to describe Scrooge a little more informally, of course, was a nod to the original. It suggests that he has turned from being an “old scratch” and allows that maybe he had returned to his old ways. Read more about the term HERE.
Egg #6: Old Marley was at it again (pg 121). In A Christmas Carol (Stave 1), Ebenezer Scrooge thinks his door knocker turns into Marley’s face. I thought that was so interesting that I repurposed it to describe the door knocker being banged against its striker plate.
While the following points aren’t necessarily Easter eggs, I thought they made interesting insights into the Victorian Era. Please enjoy!
Number 1: On page 83, you read: “Fifteen pounds goes to helping you further that effort,” said Ebenezer. “Each of you will take two pounds and a half sovereign for yourself, to do as you see fit, and to spend as you please.”
– The original said two pounds and ten shillings. In researching the Victorian money system, I learned that ten shillings, which equaled a half pound, also went by the name half sovereign. I thought that was so cool I wrote it into the book.
Number 2: On page 121, you read: “Yes! Of course! I have some funds I’d like to show you. I know of a consol I can point you to as well. It pays a nice annuity.”
– When Bob Cratchit meets the widow Napier, he recommends that she settle her late husband’s affairs by starting a consol or some funds. This requires a bit of knowledge about Victorian Era investments. It probably goes without saying that investments weren’t as developed in that time as they are today. This was especially true for widows and, indeed, women in general. Part of that was due to shareholders of a company being libel for any debt incurred by the company. Unlike today, when a shareholder can be shielded against bankruptcy or lawsuit, in Victorian times, all shareholders could be held accountable. This made owning part of a business untenable for most Englanders.
However, funds would have been available and paid out a fairly modest interest. According to Pool, “funds” were national debt that often paid around five percent (5%). Good luck finding that return on a treasury bond today!
The other option for Mrs. Napier would have been the consol, which was short for consolidated annuity. This, according to Pool, paid out a slightly lower three percent (3%). Even at a smaller rate, this still paid out more than most bonds today.
How many of them did you see before reading this blog post? Email me at dan[at]navychristian.org to let me know!
By the way, I found Daniel Pool’s book, What Jane Austen ate and Charles Dickens Knew to be indispensable, not just in my own writing, but in reading Dickens as well (and, presumably, Austen). I highly recommend getting a copy at your local library or follow the link above (it is an affiliate link…I may receive a small commission if you use it).
Now that you’ve enjoyed Saving Ebenezer, let’s keep in touch! Sign up HERE for my monthly newsletter.