It was magnificent, the perfect home for a rising entrepreneur. Of course, the land had been cheap, after all, this was the Gut, the underside of the lowest levels of the city, He knew though that the area was going to be the next up and coming district, after all, there was a respected Doctor living with his family just down the way – he hadn’t met them yet, but he was sure they would appreciate a solid business man like himself as a neighbour. Of course there was also Mumsy Abigail up on the heights, if anyone was going to bring social standing and respectability to an area, it was her!
The building work had gone quickly, they certainly knew how to expedite things here, with sufficient cash to motivate them. He was able to move in with his full staff of servants at the start of December and was looking forward to spending a sumptuous Christmas surrounded by the Great and the Good. Ah, the investment possibilities here were endless and he would be welcomed with open arms! All that was needed was a proper symbol to announce his arrival!
The tree arrived by barge and was then hauled by a team of eight horses up to the mansion. The entrepreneur stood at the top of his colonnaded entrance, smoking the biggest cigar money could buy and watching in pleasure as the work gang hauled on the ropes, pulling the enormous tree into place. As soon as it was secure, teams of women appeared with baskets of the finest, most expensive ornaments that could be found, dressing the tree in all it’s magnificence. The bulbs were carefully screwed into the wiring that had been tacked in place on the tree’s trunk and branches, this tree was going to be illuminated by the very latest in modern science.
That evening, he had his staff gather on the stairs to the left and right of the front entrance, naturally below himself, and in strict order of hierarchy, to watch as he ceremoniously plugged in the lights. There were oohs and aahhs as the true beauty and magnificence of the tree became apparent. As the staff filed back into the house to prepare his dinner, the entrepreneur felt full of pride and Christmas Spirit – though that might have been helped by the large brandy his butler had just placed in his hand. He took a last look at the tree, turned, and went in, knowing that now the City would know the greatness of the man they were dealing with…….
As usual, he rose early to take a constitutional prior to his breakfast, breathing deeply of the fresh morning air as he stepped through the front door, held open y two deferential footmen. He looked upwards to gaze on his tree and was stunned to see that where last night it had risen to an elegant point topped by a hand made glass star covered in gold leaf, the top six feet was missing. What he now had was a beautifully decorated, truncated pyramid. He was ruined, he would be the laughing stock of the City, no one would ever take him seriously again, and even worse, the servants would snicker at him behind his back. He felt to his knees and wept, why would anyone steal just the top of the tree, and in the name of the Builder, how?
Down in a secret lair, several urchins sat bathed in the candle-lit glow of their new tree. There was no electricity where they were, but the bulb holders held candles just as well, and the dancing light made the baubles glitter wonderfully.
“Fits just nice there, just the right size.” commented one, his orange tail swishing around his feet. “Sure it won’t be missed?”
“Naw, bloke had a girt big tree, ain’t gonna worry bout this little bit, an them decorations are the kosher deal, right enough.”
They sat back, picking up their cups and drinking in concert. The winter looked like it was going to be bad, but for now, it looked like Christmas might just work out fine.