Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Game of Life (09/11/08)
TITLE: The 'Great' Great Danes
By Colin Swann
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Harry was just back from his routine ramble round the Haverstock Estate.
“Yes dear, that wretched scruffy tramp was scrounging by the front gates again – so to avoid him I've come in through the back workers' entrance.”
“He may think your father's still alive – as you know he used to send Cook with the leftovers for him,” said Elizabeth.
“I'm not encouraging that; if I go round by the main gates, he's inevitably there and the dogs always bound over to him, sniffing and licking his muck. One of these days they'll catch more than fleas from him.”
Harry was proud of his two Great Danes; along with his immaculately manicured Bentley and the Haverstock Mansion, they were symbols of his inherited riches and success. His esteemed opinion of his status in society made him feel smugly satisfied. He would daily strut across his estate in a Harris Tweed jacket, deerstalker and breeches or be chauffeured through the city in his Bentley - these actions made him feel good about himself.
“Why don't you follow your father's example and send Cook out with some scraps for him? Your father was wise – as soon as he had a meal in his hands he cleared off.”
Yes, Father was generous with most people but not with me.
His father had endeavoured to teach him the value of getting something for something and not something for nothing – Harry was his first born and the inheritor of his estate. His pocket money was meagre and had to be earned through what Harry complained was 'hard labour'. These tough lessons in childhood, and beyond, had formed an intransigent and mean-spirited character.
I had to struggle in those early days but it was worth my effort. Got me through Public School and to the Bar Council. I suppose Father knew what was best for me. I think he was proud of my achievements as a top barrister serving Central Government.
Life had been a hard slog for Harry but he was now enjoying the fruits of his success in retirement. He needn't have ever worked as his family were extremely well-heeled. The miserly uncharitable giving throughout his life, set against his fat salary had brought even more fortune into the family pot. The reward to him was: look at me – look at all I've achieved – look at all I own.
Harry didn't know, but he was born the same day and year as the ragged old beggar. Life had dealt the scrounger a nasty hand. He had spent most of his young life in hospital and an orphanage; and later, living rough on Harry's land, (something else that stuck in the Earl of Haverstock's craw).
They had been born the same day and they lived in the same rural area but that is where the similarities parted company. The tramp was by the world's standards a low-life loser who hadn't even tried to pick himself up out of the gutter. His local name was 'Raggy the Tramp' and living in this snobbish area hadn't been easy but he'd managed to survive.
Raggy often thought what might have been if he'd been given a break in life. I would have been satisfied just to have had a menial job, a loving family and a humble home – why have I missed out on all these meaningful things?
However, Harry was the living testimony of a winner in life. He had a lovely wife and family, his children were all successful and he had a fine mansion to live in.
It was an unbelievable coincidence: the rich man and the beggar died on the same day. It was a cold dismal winter's day. The tramp had frozen to death in the undergrowth in Haverstock Wood. Harry had breathed his last in a warm four poster bed surrounded by his family.
They both found out when they entered the hereafter that the winning post was not at the end of this earth-life but at the starting line for the next.
It is the Lord, the judge of the quick and the dead, who makes the final decision of who are winners and losers.
Surprisingly, it was the vagabond who won in the game of life. Luke Chapter 16 verses 19-31 RSV.
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