By Jeff Daiell
Most of us are familiar with the five chapters of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. But there was a sixth chapter that has never been published. A summary can now be provided.
First, a summary of the fifth chapter:
Christmas, December 25th, 1842, a Sunday. As chronicled by Dickens, Ebenezer Scrooge has repented of his unkindness toward Bob Cratchit.
December 26th, 1842, a Monday. Scrooge vows to give Bob a raise and allow him more coal for warmth in the office. It is clear he will also pay for the operation Tiny Tim needs.
And now, the unpublished sixth chapter:
December 27th, 1842, a Tuesday. Bob Cratchit walks defeatedly into the offices of Scrooge and Marley. Whispering, he tells Scrooge, "Mr. Scrooge, I don't know what to do. I got a notice from the Lord High Mayor's office yesterday, doubling my property taxes. They're giving a subsidy to a big firm that employs some of his relatives. I can't pay the new rate, even with the raise you gave me. Is there anything you can do to help?"
Ashen-faced, Scrooge holds up a sheaf of papers. "I'm out of business, Bob. The City Council yesterday rewrote the regulations governing this industry to favor firms that make many times per year what we do. They're big contributors to both of the bigger parties, and I can't match that. So you and I are both out of work!"
The regulations carry fines for non-compliance, of course. By the time Scrooge is able to shut down Scrooge and Marley, the fines exceed all the money he had saved. He is unable to fulfill his promise of a donation to the poorhouse. He also has no money left for Tiny Tim's operation. The children in the poorhouse are turned out into the street. Tiny Tim dies within a year.
And the supporters of the higher property taxes and stronger regulations continue to brand the opponents of such measures as "callous" and "cold-hearted".