This week’s sentence was taken from one of Charles Dickens’ many delightful Christmas Books: The Chimes (A Goblin Story).
The sentence was:
‘A lamentable instance, Mr. Fish.’
A Christmas Karel
"It appears to be an elf, sir."
"I can see it's a bloody elf. What I am at a loss to explain, Mr. Fish, is what it is doing here."
"In the holding cell, Inspector?"
"In REALITY, Mr. Fish."
"I believe it materialised in the lounge bar of The Golden Calf, sir."
Inspector Bird, perennially indefatigable, raised his eyes to Heaven.
"Does it talk?"
"Not a peep, sir, but it was carrying this letter."
The Inspector eyed the envelope with suspicion. In neat copperplate script it bore the legend, 'To Whom It May Concern.'
He tore it open and read the contents aloud:
In light of recent developments, viz. burgeoning greed and hypocrisy, a catastrophic decline in belief in my own existence and the impossibility of finding good little girls and boys, deliveries are forthwith cancelled.
P.S. The elf's name is Karel. It is housetrained.'
They gazed down at the elf.
It gazed right back up at them.
"Any chance the old bugger's bluffing?"
The elf shook its head, disconsolately.
"He's really cancelling Christmas?"
"A lamentable instance, Mr. Fish."
"Indubitably so, sir."
"Christmas? Without greed and hypocrisy?
Christmas IS greed and hypocrisy!
If Claus goes through with this charade, what in Heaven's name will we be left with?"
Fish gazed at his feet.
"Um, peace on earth and goodwill to all men, sir? The birth of Jesus?"
"Pah! Humbug! Next thing you know we'll all be singing carols and giving fat geese to tiny cripples."
A constable handed Fish a sheet of paper and scurried out.
"Reports are coming in, sir: festive goods disappearing from shops, Christmas TV schedules mysteriously cancelled; trees, stockings and decorations vanishing from people's homes; all with a puff of coloured smoke and a kind of soft, plopping sound, it says here."
"Ye Gods, man! There'll be rioting in the streets! Murder! Mayhem! We've got to stop him."
The elf spoke at last.
"It's too late. He's already signed the contract."
"Contract? What contract?"
"He's doing the Fat Elvis circuit in Vegas."
The Inspector rolled his eyes.
"And what about the rest of you … er … guys?"
"We're launching 'Rudolf's', a chain of reindeer-meat burger bars.” He handed them a flyer. “The Fat Man says you’ve lost the true meaning of Christmas so you can bloody well do without it."
And with a puff of coloured smoke and a kind of soft, plopping sound, Karel vanished.
Fish and Bird wandered the station in a daze.
"Sir, all the mince pies have disappeared from the canteen. The tinsel has dropped off our festive handcuffs."
"So that’s it then, Mr. Fish. The end of the modern, materialistic Christmas.”
“Is there nothing left?"
"The Nativity scene is still there, sir. Apparently they all are. All over town."
They walked out into the street, passing family groups, freed from television and the tyrrany of greed.
“Ye Gods! They’re wassailing!”
In the distance, muffled by the fresh-falling snow, church bells were ringing.