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Epic Tales of Lower Haversack
Epic Tale Number 2
The Bells
by Roger Pattison

Esme was insistent. The fact that the church had no roof, to speak of, was not her disaster, and no reason to ignore the problem bell. Esme was quick to point out that the bell tower’s roof was perfectly sound, and the vicar was equally fast to note that availing himself of that estimable fact would reduce his congregation to a religious mountain climbing fanatic who would need to deliver his own sermon.

But Esme got her way. She rang a bell technician. So to speak.

"It looks like a bell" had said the phone call to the campanologist technician. Apparently, it also hung like one. It gleamed brassily in the evening, also in a very bell-like manner. It was high up in a bell tower. Ali had found all that to be correct; to the cost of a couple of scuffed shins, as she hyperventilated at the top of the sadistically psychopathic spiral stair of the bell tower.

"It also has a proper bell rope hanging from it," had continued the phone. It was a day or two ago that she had (unwisely) agreed to inspect the problem bell. It was a pleasant lady on the end of the phone called Esme; she almost fell over herself to be undemanding. "But we can't use it in the carillon for the Easter service, you see."

Ali didn't see.

"As you describe it, it would appear to be a perfectly sound bell to me, Esme" (and Ali should know, being well-qualified in the bell-tech department); "what makes you think you can't use it?" Ali waited as the caller obviously struggled with some extreme embarrassment.

"Because it goes 'moo'."

It was Ali's turn to wring out a silence.

"And," continued Esme, as there was otherwise no response at all from the other end "if we do, do that nice Handel carillon; dong, ding, ding, dong, moo; well, it just won't work, will it? D' you see our problem, Miss Bell?"

The problem was plain as a pikestaff. The lady was quite off her chump. The solution, Ali felt, threatened to be somewhat more obscure. That then, deals with the 'why', of why Ali Bell happened be at the top of a bell tower with scuffed shins. Ali retrieved her little bell hammer from a distressed tweed pocket, and reached out to tap the nearest bell.

"Dong" it went, quite sweetly.

"Ding" pealed the next one.

"Dong, ding."

"Moo!" went the fifth bell. Ali hung onto the handrail. She looked over the parapet into the graveyard. No cows.

"You see what I mean, Miss Bell," rose the voice of Esme from the emptiness far below. "You really can't have the Sunday morning peal with a 'Moo' in it. We have tried, Miss Bell; but wherever you a put a 'moo' in a peal of bells, Miss Bell, seems to sound equally ridiculous." Ali knew all about 'ridiculous' as the whole situation fell precipitously in the lap of it. She tentatively unlimbered her little bell hammer once more and tapped gingerly.


"We have had a vet to it, Miss Bell" called up Esme, distantly. "But he said it was a job for a specialist, and seemed very eager to leave. So we contacted your good self, Miss Bell." Miss Bell was already three-quarters of the way back down, with scuffed heels to match her scuffed shins; and seemed in just as much of a hurry to leave as the vet had been. "Do you have any recommendations, Miss Bell?" asked Esme hopefully, as Ali was jogging past to the car. She pulled open the driver's door and yelled across the graveyard.

"As the bloody bell won't speak properly, Esme, I recommend a bloody speech therapist!" There was a slamming car door, the sound of a fiercely revving engine and Miss Bell’s Robin Reliant was gone in a cloud of blue smoke.

The vicar’s excursion into the heady regions of the building trade had run into difficulties. There was just nobody around who would work for peanuts and trouser buttons. It was back to the drawing board; for which he had a paper clip.

Nevertheless, the bell was put on the speech therapist's waiting list, and a year later the appointment came to fruit, with Esme and errant bell waiting patiently for the speech therapist to acknowledge that someone had actually entered the room, marked 'Therese Pist."

"Yaaas?" she said without raising an eyelid from her Batman comic, incompetently concealed in a 'Speech Therapist Quarterly'.

"We of the Church Bell Tower Committee have this problem. She won't go 'Dong'." Esme patted the bell complacently.

"Nothing to worry about;" said Miss Pist, engrossed in the Penguin's antics while pulling a string of gum long enough to be later used to knit up a sweater, "Little girls don't normally go 'Dong'. That will be a hundred and fifty pounds. Next!"

"No, wait, Miss Pist, I know little girls don't go 'dong'."

"If you are aware of that, why..?" she looked up. "Where is the little girly, madam?"

"It's this little chap that has speech problem," Esme again patted the bell on her lap, "he goes 'Moo'." Genuinely intrigued, Miss Pist leaned over the desk.

"Can you demonstrate, madam?" After fishing out the little hammer, Esme made to hit the bell.

"What are you doing, madam?" said the therapist, with some alarm.

"I'm going to hit the bell, Miss Pist." Esme exhibited a puzzled frown.

"We don't hit anything in here, madam. What is the world coming to? Goodness me, madam. The very thought of it. The little chap is obviously suffering from a psychiatric condition. Might be contagious; just a second." She turned to push the stop-clock at her elbow, marked in various currencies. It seemed to go round very fast, thought Esme. "That's better. Now, where were we?"

"If I don't hit it, it won't do anything, Miss Pist."

"That, madam, is a general layperson's misinterpretation. We will try gentle persuasion." She spoke to the bell in quiet tones for a good half hour, and finally admitted that she would call in a second opinion, so she Pist off to the psychiatrist next door. His hair walked though the door a foot or so before he did, and then he pronounced with some dignity;

"Zis is a Tyrolean bell. Zey 'ave much trouble in zer Tyrol wiz zese bells, y' know. It belongs to zer schizophrenic cow; zer cow goes 'dong' und zer bell goes 'moo'. Simple."