The Old Bell Ringer

 Once upon a time there was an old bell ringer who woke his village with bells every day. He had been ringing bells since he was a lad, and the tradition was so ingrained in the village, that no one bothered to set alarm clocks or keep roosters around or even worry at all about waking up in the morning. 

    One day, the bells did not ring.

    The villagers woke far later than usual — they knew this because the sun was up much higher in the sky. But, even though this was completely out of the ordinary, no one thought to check on the old bell ringer except one little girl.

    Cautiously, she made her way up the bell tower to check on the old ringer, only to find him lying flat on the wood slats trying to reach for the bells. But he was too sick to do so. The little girl helped the old man to sit up, and listened carefully as he told her everything she needed to know about bell ringing.

    The little girl was scared to pull the big ropes, but she knew that someone must do it. And so, she put into practice what the old man had taught her. Very bravely and in just the right way, she pulled the chords that rang the bells.

    The old bell ringer smiled at her, and then he slipped away into his next adventure.

    The little girl looked at the ringer sadly, and then she turned once again to the bells. She rang out a peal that would always be remembered in the little village. She rang the bells so fiercely, and with so much tender love for the old bell ringer, that the village immediately heard in the bells the story of what had happened. 

    A hush fell over the village, a long silence filled with sorrow. Sorrow that they had not done more for the old bell ringer. Sorrow that they had taken him for granted. Sorrow that they had not been able to say goodbye.

    After the long silence, the village lined up around the bell tower, each to pay tribute to the old ringer.

    And from then on, as the little girl became the bell ringer, the village never woke up to the sound of bells without a feeling of gratitude.

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