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Posted by TerryS ( on December 14, 2000 at 16:42:04:


Pappy was a pleasant-looking old fellow. He had the
whitest hair which he kept neatly cut and combed. His
eyes were blue, though faded with age, and they seemed
to emit a warmth from within. His face was quite
drawn, but when he smiled, even his wrinkles seemed to
soften and smile with him. He had a talent for
whistling and did so happily each day as he dusted and
swept his pawnshop; even so, he had a secret sadness,
but everyone who knew him respected and adored him.

Most of Pappy's customers returned for their good, and
he did not do much business, but he did not mind. To
him, the shop was not a livelihood as much as a
welcome pastime.

There was a room in the back of his shop where he
spent time tinkering with a menagerie of his own
precious items. He referred to this back room as
"memory hall." In it were pocket watches, clocks, and
electric trains. There were miniature steam engines
and antique toys made of wood, tin, or cast iron, and
there were various other obsolete trinkets as well.

Spending time in memory hall delighted him as he
recalled many treasured moments from his past. He
handled each item with care, and sometimes he would
close his eyes and pause to relive a sweet, simple
childhood memory.

One day, Pappy was working to his heart's content
reassembling an old railroad lantern. As he worked, he
whistled the melody of a railroad tune and reminisced
about his own past as a switchman. It was a typical
day at the shop. Outside, the sun illuminated the
clear sky, and a slight wind passed through the door.
Whenever the weather was this nice, Pappy kept the
inner door open. He enjoyed the fresh air--almost as
much as the distinctive smell of antiques and old
engine oil.

As he was polishing his newly restored lantern, he
heard the tinkling of his bell on the shop door. The
bell, which produced a uniquely charming resound, had
been in Pappy's family for over a hundred years. He
cherished it dearly and enjoyed sharing its song with
all who came to his shop. Although the bell hung on
the inside of the main door, Pappy had strung a wire
to the screen door so that it would ring whether the
inner door was open or not. Prompted by the bell, he
left memory hall to greet his customer.

At first, he did not see her. Her shiny, soft curls
barely topped the counter.

"And how can I help you, little lady?" Pappy's voice
was jovial. "Hello, sir." The little girl spoke almost
in a whisper. She was dainty. Bashful. Innocent. She
looked at Pappy with her big brown eyes, then slowly
scanned the room in search of something special.

Shyly she told him, "I'd like to buy a present, sir."

"Well, let's see," Pappy said, "who is this present

"My grandpa. It's for my grandpa. But I don't know
what to get." Pappy began to make suggestions. "How
about a pocket watch? It's in good condition. I fixed
it myself," he said proudly.

The little girl didn't answer. She had walked to the
doorway and put her smalll hand on the door. She
wiggled the door gently to ring the bell. Pappy's face
seemed to glow as he saw her smiling with excitement.

"This is just right," the little girl bubbled. "Momma
says grandpa loves music."

Just then, Pappy's expression changed. Fearful of
breaking the little girl's heart, he told her, "I'm
sorry, missy. That's not for sale. Maybe your grandpa
would like this little radio."

The little girl looked at the radio, lowered her head,
and sadly sighed, "No, I don't think so."

In an effort to help her understand, Pappy told her
the story of how the bell had been in his family for
so many years, and that was why he didn't want to sell

The little girl looked up at him, and with a giant
tear in her eye, sweetly said, "I guess I understand.
Thank you, anyway."

Suddenly, Pappy thought of how the rest of the family
was all gone now, except for his estranged daughter
whom he had not seen in nearly a decade.

Why not, he thought. Why not pass it on to someone who
will share it with a loved one? God only knows where
it will end up anyway.

"Wait...little lady." Pappy spoke just as the little
girl was going out the door--just as he was hearing
his bell ring for the last time. "I've decided to sell
the bell. Here's a hanky. Blow your nose."

The little girl began to clap her hands. "Oh, thank
you, sir. Grandpa will be so happy."

"Okay, little lady. Okay." Pappy felt good about
helping the child; he knew, however, he would miss the
bell. "You must promise to take good care of the bell
for your grandpa--and for me, too, okay?" He carefully
placed the bell in a brown paper bag.

"Oh, I promise," said the little girl. Then, she
suddenly became very still and quiet. There was
something she had forgotten to ask. She looked up at
Pappy with great concern, and again almost in a
whisper, asked, "How much will it cost?"

"Well, let's see. How much have you got to spend?"
Pappy asked with a grin.

The child pulled a small coin purse from her pocket
then reached up and empited two dollars and
forty-seven cents onto the counter. After briefly
questioning his own sanity, Pappy said, "Little lady,
this is your lucky day. That bell costs exactly two
dollars and forty-seven cents."

Later that evening as Pappy prepared to close up shop,
he found himself thinking about his bell. Already he
had decided not to put up another one.

He thought about the child and wondered if her grandpa
like his gift. Surely he would cherish anything from
such a precious grandchild.

At that moment, just as he was going to turn off the
light in memory hall, Pappy thought he heard his bell.
Again, he questioned his sanity; he turned toward the
door, and there stood the little girl. She was ringing
the bell and smiling sweetly.

Pappy was puzzled as he strolled toward the small
child. "What's this, little lady? Have you changed
your mind?"

"No," she grinned. "Momma says it's for you."

Before Pappy had time to say another word, the child's
mother stepped into the doorway, and choking back a
tear, she gently said, "Hello, Dad."

The little girl tugged on her grandpa's shirttail.
"Here, Grandpa. Here's your hanky. Blow your nose."

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