Mr. and Mrs. Cratchit grew quiet, each staring into the fire and contemplating the meaning of this monumental transformation in the nature of Bob's employer. In fact, contemplation of the news of Mr. Scrooge's metamorphosis kept Bob Cratchit sitting up by the fire long after his wife and children had retired. And truth be told, even after he extinguished his bedside candle and crawled into bed beside Mrs. Cratchit, who was by then sound asleep, Bob tossed and turned himself upon the bed in unison with the thoughts that were tossing and turning in his head: Had Mr. Scrooge suffered apoplexy? No, that seemed unlikely since according to the housekeeper he seemed in fine physical health as he dressed and left for his nephew's house. Had the old housekeeper been in earnest? If not, what possible reason might she have for spinning such a tale about her employer? Such thoughts whirled in Bob's mind throughout the sleepless night. It was only around four o'clock the next morning that he finally gave into sleep having concluded that Mr. Scrooge's nephew must have offered his uncle some sort of monetary reward for attending the nephew's Christmas dinner, although how Fred might have come by money to use for such a purpose was a mystery Bob could not explain since he had never known Mr. Scrooge's nephew to have a particular fortune. However, not being a man of a strongimagination, Bob Cratchit could think of no other circumstances in which the uncle would consent to attend Christmas dinner at the home of the nephew.

Due to his inability to sleep on Christmas night, Bob awoke the morning of December 26th long past his normal rising time on work days. Mrs. Cratchit, who was almost always up before Bob to make his tea and bread and to send him off to Mr. Scrooge's bleak counting house with a warm meal and a gentle kiss, still slept soundly, exhausted no doubt from the merriment of the family's Christmas celebration

Realizing that he was considerably behind his time, Bob Cratchit leapt out of bed, threw on his clothes and dashed out the door of his humble abode, grabbing his white comforter and hat and making for Mr. Scrooge's counting house full steam.

Later, Mrs. Cratchit awoke to find her husband absent from her bed and realizing he had left for Mr. Scrooge's drab, cold counting house, felt not a little ashamed of herself for failing to fortify him with a warm cup of tea, a slice of buttered bread and a kiss to sustain him through an arduous day of working alongside his odious employer in that dreary office.

Throughout the day as she went about performing her normal household duties, Mrs. Cratchit pictured Bob hard at work, copying figures into ledgers, his fingers numb with cold under the ever-watchful evil eye of Mr. Scrooge. Several times she reminded herself that she had resolved to think more kindly of Scrooge, but her heart was not in the promise, and she found it increasingly difficult to avoid falling back into her regular habit of indulging in complete contempt and resentment whenever the thought of Ebenezer Scrooge entered her mind.

As time grew near that evening for her husband to arrive home from work, Mrs. Cratchit prepared a warm and satisfying meal made up of leftover turkey and gravy, roasted potatoes with butter and slices of toasted bread. As she poured boiling water from the large iron kettle into the small teapot now set upon the table, Bob Cratchit entered their tiny house in happy spirits despite the cold that crept in behind him through the open door.

"Good evening my dear!" cried Bob, hanging up his white comforter, his hat, and a gray greatcoat next to the door. "Good evening children!"

Mrs. Cratchit cast a loving glance over her shoulder at her husband as she poured the water, then abruptly turned her head back to look at him with special attention to the very handsome gray greatcoat he had removed from his body and hung next to the door.

"Bob!" she exclaimed, "where on earth did you get that greatcoat?"

"How I got that warm and wonderful coat, my dear," said Bob, taking his seat at the table where all the Cratchit children soon joined him, "is but one of the experiences I had today by which you will all be amazed to the point that you will be incapable of speech after I relate them to you!"

Mrs. Cratchit seated herself in her usual place across from Bob. "Bob," she said timidly, "what has happened?" For the nearly ten years Bob had been employed by Ebenezer Scrooge, Mrs. Cratchit had lived in fear that he would arrive home one night with the dreaded news that Mr. Scrooge had followed through on his oft-uttered threat to reduce Bob's wages or, even worse, remove him from his situation altogether. Yet such an occurrence could not account for Bob's high spirits and new greatcoat! She looked in earnest at her husband as he told the story:

"I arrived at the counting house several minutes past my time this morning, and I relished the hope that I would not find Mr. Scrooge already there. Alas," said Bob with a sigh and a smile, "that hope was in vain. For there he sat upon his stool going over his ledgers as he normally does. I entered the counting house as quietly as I could—yes Tim as quiet as a mouse-and made my way to my own desk only to hear Mr. Scrooge angrily call my name the moment I seated myself upon my stool. 'Mr. Cratchit!' he called in a stern and loud voice."

At this point, Mrs. Cratchit and all the Cratchit children were convinced that the next sentence Bob uttered would contain the news of his dismissal from Mr. Scrooge's employ. They continued to look upon him in rapt attention.

Bob, passing around a plate with slices of warm, buttered bread upon it, continued, "I went into his office and apologized profusely for my late arrival and assured him heartily that it would never be repeated. I even offered to come in all the earlier the next morning, but he simply shook his head and declared that this sort of thing could no longer be tolerated and that he was, therefore, about to raise my salary!"

Mrs. Cratchit and the children looked at one another in puzzlement and then again at Bob. Peter gasped in unison with his sister and mother. " Bob!" Mrs. Cratchit exclaimed in disbelief and amazement. "You can't be in earnest! Surely you are not…"

"Wait my dear," Bob said, holding his hand up to stop her from interrupting so that he might continue telling this astounding account of his experiences that day with Mr. Scrooge. "There is much more to tell. He did indeed say that he was going to raise my salary. And he said that he was intent upon helping my family in any way he could and that we would discuss the prospects later in the day over a bowl of Christmas punch! All this he told me in such a kind and gentle tone and with such an expression of good will upon his face as I had never seen or heard in him these ten years."

Mrs. Cratchit set down the bowl of potatoes she had been about to pass around the table and fell back into her chair, astonished and speechless just as her husband had predicted.

"And he was good as his word!" Bob exclaimed, pausing to take a sip of the steaming hot tea Belinda had just poured into his cup. Smiling at his daughter, he continued, "This afternoon he asked me to accompany him to a public house where he ordered us each a smoking bishop and a plate of cheese and meat. And yes my dear he paid for every bit of it! While we ate and drank, he told me that he knows he's been a foolish and mean-spirited old man these last many years but that he's come to his senses, seen the error of his ways and intends to make things right by his nephew Fred, by myself and my family and by his fellow members of the human race! Why on our way back to the counting house he even insisted on stopping in at a nearby establishment that sells clothing for gentlemen and buying me the greatcoat you now see hanging by our door!"

Listening to her husband's incredible story, Mrs. Cratchit felt a strange sensation welling up in her heart as a smile spread slowly but steadily across her face for her heart was now filling with something more than sympathy for Mr. Scrooge which, up until this moment, had been the most benign and generous emotion she had ever been able to muster in response to that gentleman's name being mentioned or to the thought of him entering her mind. Now, though, she was feeling genuine gratitude toward Mr. Scrooge. He had taken Bob out for a nice lunch and purchased him a badly needed greatcoat that would keep her dear husband warm on the long walk to and from the counting house each day. What's more, he had apparently done the unthinkable and actually raised Bob's salary and that would mean that her darling Tiny Tim could see a doctor who might be able to help him! Mrs. Cratchit scarcely allowed herself to believe that with proper attendance upon his condition by a goodly doctor, her Tim might even be able to walk one day without the worn wooden crutches he now required in order to move about in the world. As she continued contemplating the myriad of possibilities Bob's additional salary would allow, she entertained the thought that her children could have some badly needed new clothing, the family might have more adequate servings of food and she herself might be able to afford a new gown!

"Father," said Tiny Tim, interrupting his mother's pleasant reverie.

"Yes Tim?" replied Bob Cratchit, smiling tenderly at his little son.

"Was it Mr. Scrooge who sent us the turkey?"

"Why Tim I do believe you are quite right!" replied Bob. "I did not inquire of Mr. Scrooge regarding the turkey as we were told by the poulterer that the gentleman who sent it wished to remain anonymous, but I have no doubt that that gentleman was indeed Mr. Scrooge." (available on Kindle for $0.99, Mrs Cratchit's Christmas)