The Gift (short story)
- You may wish to consult
The Giftfor other, similarly-named pages.
General (Brigadier) Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart has retired and convinced his wife, Doris, to buy him a boat for Christmas. On Christmas Eve, whilst Doris is doing some late-night shopping, Alistair takes the boat out for a pre-Christmas test drive (unbeknownst to his wife). During his trip, Alistair spots a young girl in the water. Taking her back to his house, an argument ensues with the recently returned Doris over whether they should call the emergency services or whether Alistair should deal with the situation himself. Their disagreement is interrupted by the arrival of an old man looking for his granddaughter. Despite never meeting this incarnation, Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart believes that the old man is the Doctor.
At first the Doctor appears very concerned for Susan’s well-being; however, after hearing Doris protest about ever buying the boat for Alistair, the Doctor appears to forget all about Susan and becomes more interested in Alistair’s boat. When the Doctor suggests the boat be sold, Alistair gets very upset and leaves the house in a rage.
Without Alistair present, Doris suggests to the Doctor that he indeed knows her husband before today’s encounter. Confiding in Doris, the Doctor confirms that he recognises Alistair as one of his oldest friends, despite not having physically met Lethbridge-Stewart in his own timeline. Realising that this whole “Susan” incident was just a ploy to meet Alistair, Doris asks the Doctor how her husband will die. Unable to answer her question directly, the Doctor tells her that all of his incarnations will be present at the funeral and will behave themselves (though some will argue at the wake). However, when Doris asks the Doctor to take the boat away with him, he replies that he is unable to do so, as such a decision cannot be made by him. However, the Doctor implies that this is his Christmas gift to the Lethbridge-Stewart family: the gift of choice.
When Alistair returns, the Doctor and Susan have left, leaving the Brigadier and Doris to make the decision together.
to be added
- The novel No Future claims that the Brigadier was born in 1930, and in this story Doris says that the Brigadier is over seventy.
- Doris refers to this being the Brigadier's second retirement, after his brief return to duty in TV: Battlefield.
- The Brigadier says that he and the First Doctor almost met during the events of TV: The Three Doctors.
- The Doctor tells Doris that they should get rid of their boat, but fails to comment further as he can't tell them their future. Doris dies in a boating accident in the early 2010s. (PROSE: The Shadows of Avalon)
- The Doctor tells Doris that all his incarnations will behave themselves at the Brigadier's funeral, but some of them will argue at the wake. Arguments have been a staple of many multiple-Doctor stories: the Second and Third Doctors quickly got on each others' nerves in TV: The Three Doctors and The Five Doctors, only working together in the former due to the authority of the First Doctor; in TV: Time Crash, the Fifth and Tenth Doctors briefly bickered, the Fifth calling the Tenth a "skinny idiot babbling about everything he sees," while the Tenth derided the Fifth for going "hands free" (i.e. no sonic screwdriver) and wearing a decorative vegetable in his lapel. In PROSE: The Eight Doctors, it is mentioned that the Seventh Doctor wasn't well liked by any of the others.
- Multiple incarnations of the Doctor were present at the Brigadier's funeral, including at least the Second, Third, Sixth, Seventh, Ninth and Eleventh Doctors. (PROSE: Shroud of Sorrow)