Not that ghost story. Not A Christmas Carol, which we love dearly but have heard, and seen, and read over and over again. No, this is a Dickens ghost story different from that one.
Charles Dickens, you see, wrote many ghost stories. Not just one. And he wrote five tales specifically for Christmas. In today’s tale the two intersect. For The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain, by Charles Dickens, is both a Christmas tale and a ghost story. What could be better?
Mr. Redlaw is a chemist and renowned instructor. Well loved and much respected, he lives with secret sorrows he cannot dispel. Painful memories of the past accost him constantly.
A spirit visits him and offers to remove the sorrows and memories which plague him. No more shall he find himself weighed down by the past that he cannot change.
Redlaw agrees to the transaction. For it is a transaction: he will pass the same forgetting to all he meets. Of course, it comes with some very unintended consequences for both Redlaw and those in his community circle.
Beyond the story
This is a story about the importance of community. About the importance of memory. And it’s a story about the incredible influence we have, good or ill, on the people around us.
It’s also a story about Christmas. A story about the joy and closeness that Christmastime should bring. And it’s a story about redemption.
Dickens does a beautiful job, as always of bringing to life the world that is 1850 London. This story includes four different social classes, perhaps more. Chemist Redlaw shows us the educated, intellectual Londoner. Milly and her husband William introduce us to the Victorian servant class. They work for their living attending to the chemist, but they appear a different class than the failed newspaperman on the corner or the street waif that Milly feeds and shelters from compassion.
Read it yourself
The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain would be a great tale to tell around the Christmas fire. This Dickens ghost story brings home the importance of family and connection, even more than A Christmas Carol.
You can find it as a free read on Google Books and Amazon’s Kindle. If you want a hard copy for your book shelves, you can locate several different editions at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or your favorite bookseller.