Long ago before earth was awashed with acid rain and layered with greenhouse gases, there lived three young people whose lives intersected and formed a love triangle. Unbeknownst to Elizabeth, she of the warm chestnut hair and sparkling hazel eyes, the two lads vying for her heart would have topped the most wanted criminal list had the two rivals’ good friend, Horace, not stepped in to arbitrate. The three friends stood outside a few feet away from The Bedfordshire Inn.
“Fellows, quit your quarrelsome ways. If you want to win Elizabeth’s hand, I suggest you both do it in a civilized manner befitting the gentlemen you both are. Women love gifts. Therefore, I suggest you present her a token of your affection every day.”
“What? I can’t ask my father to increase my allowance. A daily gift?” Silas, the shorter and slighter of the three friends, said.
“Even if I can afford it, that seems a bit much, isn’t it?” Ebenezer, the more refined but the stingiest of the three, asked.
“May I remind you that I just now broke up a duel that was about to take place between my two good friends.”
“There must be a better way,” Silas said.
“Actually, I do have an idea. But, let’s go in and have a drink over it.” Horace motioned his friends to follow him to the Inn.
“There now . . .” Horace faced his two friends over their tankards of ale. “Here’s what I propose to you both. Each gives the lovely Elizabeth a gift every other day, until the eve of Christmas. Beginning tomorrow, the eve of Christmas will be 12 days away. That means six different presents from each of you. But, you will not say the gift is from you. It will be anonymous . . . “
Both Silas and Ebenezer asked why they would want to do such a thing.
“Allow me to finish, gentlemen . . . The presents you give will be unusual or entertaining. Something that will catch her attention and make her heart grow fonder as they continue to come in. The gifts will read, ‘From your anonymous admirer.’ By the eve of Christmas, I will visit her and ask her to rank the gifts. The one whose gifts are ranked higher will be the one to admit as her anonymous admirer. The winner will pay back the losing bloke any amount the poor bloke had paid for the gifts he gave. Both of you will give me the documents that report how much you spent so I will make sure the loser gets what’s owed him. The best part is on Christmas day, the final gift the winner gives will be a proposal of marriage. What better way to top off all those presents? And . . . no one gets hurt, or dare I say, killed.”
“My heart will hurt if she does not choose me,” Silas said.
“But you see, you will be hurt anyway if the gifts you give her are not those that please her the most. That indicates you don’t know her temperament enough, and you are mismatched. You just saved yourself a lifetime of misery, my dear friend. This way, the one whose gifts she ranks highly proves himself to know her well, and what a harmonious life you will have together.”
“What a sensible idea, fellows,” Ebenezer said, as he raised his tankard of ale. “Let’s drink . . . may the best man win.”
They clinked their tankards with one another. Horace also suggested that he deliver the gifts so Elizabeth gets the hint the secret admirer could be either Silas or Ebenezer because she knows Horace is friends with them.
After they ran out of celebrating the genius of their grand plan, they left the inn. The two friends flipped a coin to see who would be first to give a gift.
(This is A Christmas Tale Countdown series, Part 1)