Ebenezer Scrooge gets one more visit from the past.
Belle loved Ebenezer Scrooge once, but his obsession with money drove her away. In the years since she has married, had children and been widowed, but she still remembers Ebenezer fondly. If she goes to see him, will he have changed for the better, or the worse?
Belle clutched the mantle before she turned on her smug brother-in-law. He would not help her. No man ever really had. William had been happy enough to leave her about her business as long as it didn’t interfere with his money-making and ambition. Charles was cut from the same cloth. Now Will would become the same. Who would defend the helpless if the men wouldn’t? She had to go to Ann’s landlord herself. She took a deep breath and turned to the room with a warm smile. “I had planned to wait until after dinner, but I have some small gifts for your daughters.”
Leticia’s girls, who had watched the argument in wide-eyed silence, now sat up. Belle rang the servant’s bell, and a moment later Hexam appeared at the door with a bow. “Hexam, will you fetch the gifts, please?”
He bowed again and left, returning moment later with small parcels which he handed to the girls. The girls cooed as they lifted the tiny, fashionable doll dresses from their boxes.
“Oh, aren’t those lovely?” Leticia said. “Did you get them from Miss Wren? Such amazing skill she has with a needle.” Leticia launched into a story about how they had discovered the crippled dressmaker as if she hadn’t bought dresses from her too.
“I wish you didn’t insist on going to those places,” Charles said when Leticia finished. “It is too dangerous for women in those parts of town.”
Belle glared at him, but looked away before he caught her. Men, were they all selfish fools? Hexam opened the dining room door and gestured for them to enter. Everyone settled at their accustomed places around the table. “Ann?” Belle asked, picking up her wine glass.
“Yes, Ma’am.” Ann paused between Will and Violet, holding the soup tureen with both hands while Mary, Belle’s other housemaid, ladled soup into bowls. “Who is your landlord?”
“Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge, Ma’am.”
Belle dropped her wine glass.