Note: I couldn’t think of a story this week. Fortunately, my club bore McGuffin has a story for any occasion! Merry Christmas!
McGuffin and the Joyous Season By Jeff Baker
What got McGuffin talking this time was the workmen trying to bring a Christmas tree in through the door into the clubroom with the billiard table where we all were, as usual.
“Ah, the tinsel, the carols, all the trappings of this time of year!” McGuffin said as he helped himself to eggnog there in the clubroom. “My own contributions to the festivities have been humble,” he went on. “Except for when the Royal Family called upon me to select their Christmas tree.”
Aubrey-Smith nudged me as he began looking for an exit. Unfortunately, the Christmas tree blocked any escape and McGuffin went on.
It was a week before Christmas (McGuffin said) and I had received a message from the King, as it was then. Plans for an official tree had fallen through, and knowing my reputation, they felt I was the man for the job.
I had to act quickly and in secret; Under cover of night I travelled to an area I knew where I believed I could find the perfect tree. The moon was high and bright and there was snow on the ground when I found it—an immense fir, one of the proud descendants of the firs brought to England a century earlier. I pulled my axe out of my backpack and began to chop down the tree. It took a while but I worked swiftly and soon the tree fell to the ground with a crash. But while I deftly stepped to the side, I was careless enough to allow the strap of my backpack to become caught in one of the branches as it fell. Not only was I pulled onto the falling tree but the tree began to slide down the snow-covered hill towards the ocean! I was stunned, and could do little but hold on for dear life as the tree fell into the ocean with a splash and I began to move quickly out to sea! By the time I untangled myself from the branches and my backpack I was far out to sea in the middle of the night. I tried to steer the big tree but to no avail. My only recourse was to hang on for dear life and make do with the nuts that were stuck in the tree branches from the adjoining trees. Between those, the rations I happened to have in my backpack and the precious water in my canteen I was able to survive during the days I was out to sea without any sight of land. One morning, by a miracle, I saw I was headed for land; an island with a cove. The swift current that I was caught in quickly deposited myself and my tree on the shore. I found that the natives were friendly and largely spoke English. And, to my amazement, I was near the coast of Java—I had traveled two-thirds of the way around the world!
It did not take long to send word back to Britain to tell them where I was and to arrange for return passage on one of the Crown’s cargo ships. But I learned of the most remarkable surprise of my journey; it was December 25, and I had somehow made landfall on Christmas Island.
McGuffin leaned back in his chair and reached for another eggnog.
“Really, McGuffin,” Aubrey-Smith said. “Halfway around the world…”
“Two-thirds,” McGuffin corrected.
“Yes,” Aubrey-Smith said. “Two-thirds around the world on a Christmas tree? And what about the Royal Family? What happened when they didn’t get their tree?”
McGuffin sipped his eggnog and gestured behind him at a spot on the trophy wall. We walked over and stared at a framed picture we had never noticed before. The picture was small, just a black-and-white snapshot. McGuffin standing on a beach next to a large fir tree he and some natives were propping up like a prize fish. Next to the snapshot in the frame was a note on royal stationary.
A most appreciative note.
“As you can see,” McGuffin said, “their Majesties were most understanding.”