Bells

In which we tell a story and hear a funny noise


Writing about the things that the staff say over in Another Part Of The Forest has reminded me of an old folk tale I read once, in a book of English “village fool” stories. I can’t find the book right now, so I’ll do my best to retell it.

It’s specifically about Another Part Of The Forest, and it tells of three travellers who were one day walking along the High Street, to meet a crowd of locals shouting loudly at people to get to church.

“What’s going on?” one asked.

“Well,” said the local, “we’re the local bellringers. Only our church has no bells, so we walk around the town telling people to come to church instead.”

“Never fear,” said the first of the travellers. “Me and my companions are the finest of craftsmen, your town is clearly in need, so we will each make you a bell for your church tower.”

A year later the travellers returned, each with a bell for the town. They were installed in the belfry, and the bellringers started to ring a peal with joy – only to find out that the bells made a slightly odd noise. Their peal went tink, tock, pluff.

“I thought you were the finest craftsmen of your trade!” said the lead bellringer.

“Indeed I am,” said the first craftsman. “I am the finest tinsmith in the county, and you have an exquisite tin bell.”

“So am I also,” said the second. “I am the finest carpenter in the county, and you have a perfect wooden bell.”

“I am but modest,” said the third, “and I can only claim to be the second-best leatherworker in the county. I have given you a top-quality leather bell.”

So that’s why, if you listen to the church bells in Another Part Of The Forest, you’ll still hear them going tink, tock, pluff.

(or at least that’s what the story says. I’ve never heard the bells ringing myself, so I can’t confirm that it’s true. Somehow I suspect not.)

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