Ding Dong Bell

Donald Shephard

One fine Indian summer day, Ab complained to her mother, Phab, that Glob-the-Obese was not being quite as romantic after the birth of their daughter, Brab, as he was before. Phab deduced that Glob was wandering astray and objected to Ob who was encouraged to give Glob what he called the ďObís obscure cure chat.Ē

They met as arranged in the elderberry wine cellars. Ob was at ease with Glob-the-Obese. What was said in that underground haven has been lost. Was Ob noxious to Glob? One phrase remained in the befuddled mind of the younger gnome as he left Ob. It was ďMarch straight home, Glob.Ē He took the advice literally. He stamped a credibly straight path through Pumpernickelís pumpkin patch, across a cricket field interrupting a particularly chirpy family picnic and sending them hopping in all directions. He marched on, stamping up onto the cover of the village well which disintegrated under his weight. He plummeted down the well. The toes of his boots caught upon some bricks and his body wedged against his legs. He was stuck with his back against one wall, his knees supporting two of his three chins, and his arms locked by his side.

Meanwhile, Ob climbed the hill to report to Phab. On the way he stopped by Globís garden. Ob relieved himself at an angle through the fence into the vegetable garden. It was an oblique Ob leak onto Globís leeks. As he stood there pondering the ways of the world, Ob heard an echoing rumbling, grumbling sound. He tracked it down to the well and stood peering into the darkness with an ashen face. What obscene thing had Ob seen?

Returning from their fishing trip, Hob and Nob met Ob. They returned his borrowed fishing tackle. They were unusually fishless. Was Obís tackle coarse? A hubbub of globular proportion drew them to the well. Ob gave them the responsibility to rescue their good fellow. They did not argue for the ways of Ob, the Ob vias, are always obvious. They determined the amount of danger to him. It was, after all, impossible for him to fall further into the well. Therefore, the two worthies retired to their homes for supper. Hob wandered over to Nobís cottage to assess the various options for removing such a large object as Glob from the village well. They took, for inspirational purposes only, a glass or two of elderberry wine, counting, as gnomes do, only the first and last glass. Inspiration came slowly, darkness fell, Hob and Nob slept.

The next day having secured their strength with a hearty breakfast, the two friends called upon the well dweller.

ďGlob, my old friend, how are you today?Ē asked Hob respectfully. Globís reply is not easily translated into this language. Perhaps he was ironically dehydrated in his position as well stopper. Hob and Nob waited till the colorful flow of adjectives subsided before telling Glob their plan. First and foremost Ab sensed Globís absence and ran to provide him with sustenance. She tied a sausage on a string and lowered it to him so he could bite off a piece at a time. She lowered his liquids on the same string with a sponge attached to it. It was deemed unholy to put elderberry wine on a sponge and so he was confined to filtered tea. Did Ab use sieve or strainer to filter the tea? That is an abusive question.

Satisfied that Glob would be fed and watered, they laid out the mechanics of their rescue plan. Nob was a cooper of shire-wide renown. He would make a series of barrels with central spindles and pegs to form cogs in a machine. Across the top of the largest barrel, Nob would build a long arm such as were seen on capstans on sailing ships. Hob and Nob would push on the lever, the cogs would turn, a rope anchored to the largest barrel would coil around the lesser cogs turn up to a pulley atop a trestle over the well and drop down to their good friend. Just how it was to be attached to Glob was as yet undetermined.

ďDonít worry, Glob, it will take us a week to build this machine so we have time to come up with a solution.Ē They told him as they set off for lunch at the tavern before beginning construction.

Now it is true that it would have taken Hob and Nob on their own a week to build all those barrels, cogs, and the trestle but they were helped. Just as people have little people called gnomes, so gnomes have little gnomes called sprites. It is hard to see little people except out of the corner of your eye but you can hear the different voices on the wind. Gnomes chant songs while sprites use more complex harmonies. Also sprites have little sprites called sylphs with names like Earth and Air. Sprite voices are appropriately like flames gurgling and wind in the trees while sylphs have the sweet high voices of boy sopranos. Finally, sprites have nano-sprites so small and fast they only have time and space for one letter to their names. Their voices sound like passerine birdsong. The two nano-sylphs of particular interest to Glob-in-the-well are T and S, or Tommy Stout, in the language of the gnome nursery rhyme.

When Glob stopped the well for the gnomes, he also cut off the water supply of the sprites, sylphs and nano-sylphs. The sprites rigged a ladder of spider web gossamer, lowered it down to Glob and sent Elan and Esprit down to crawl over him in search of a hidden passage to the water. Such was the perfection of the fit between Glob-the-Obese and the well shaft that they were unsuccessful in their work. Elan and Esprit, conceded defeat, and called for the help of the sylphs. Earth and Air dropped nimbly down to Glob and had him in stitches before ceasing their unsuccessful attempt at finding a passage through. The sylphs asked for help from the nano-sylphs. T and S slipped inside Globís shirt, under his belt, through some rather hairy and aromatic cracks and crevices and out through a hole in his pocket. The route was tortuous but they had pulled along a single threat of gossamer to guide their way back. They looped it around Globís boots and returned.

Globís restricted diet resulted in the unthinkable. He shrank. By the day after his discovery, he had lost more than the combined weight of two sylphs. Earth and Air climbed down with string to reinforce the gossamer threads. Two days after that Glob had shed so many globules that Elan and Esprit were able to pull a good sized hemp line along the same path.

At the end of the week, Hob and Nobís machine was ready. They pushed the lever that turned the capstan that pulled the rope tight from pulley to Glob. They pushed till there was no slack in the line. Then they stopped. They could move the lever no more. Hob and Nob installed a ratchet in the machine to hold the line tightly, took their supper and waited for the inspiration of a nightís sleep. After breakfast the next day, they called for more help. The sprites sent Elan and Esprit who leant against Hob and Nob who pushed the capstanís lever to no avail. The sprites rallied the sylphs to their aid. Air and Earth dug in behind Elan, Esprit, Hob and Nob with no more success. The sylphs recalled the nano-sylphs. The ratchet hung tantalizingly close to dropping but did not make it. When all seemed lost, T snuck into Hobís mouth and S slipped into Nobís. They flashed a signal between the two, whacked away at the respective uvulas and presto, synchronized coughing. The effect was extra exertion on the lever making the ratchet arm fall into place and the capstan turn. Glob roared up the well.

ďI moved! Do that again, I moved!Ē The rescuers got up a rhythm as they worked. Set up position, cough, push, rest. Set up again, cough, push, rest. As they worked, they sang. At first it was only the tinkling voices of the nano-sylphs. They were joined by the sweet notes of the sylphs followed by the harmonizing of the sprites and the chanting of the gnomes including a resounding bass from within the well. T and S were two very wet and exhausted nano-sylphs after being coughed up thirty-nine times.

Ab hugged Glob as he appeared over the side of the well head. She kissed his salty eyes and lifted Brab up to do the same. Brab had heard the rescue song sung repeatedly. Without knowing its meaning, she knew the words.

Glob-who-once-was-Obese and Ab agreed that although he would never stray again, neither would he ever ďmarch straight home.Ē They walked in a beautifully curvaceous line up the street where they lived, called Abroad Road, to their cottage by the beech tree. As they walked Brab sang.

Ding, dong, bell, Glob is in the well.

Who put him in? Ab and Phab and kin.

Who pulled him out? Hob and Tommy Stout.

What a naughty lot to tease,

And try to drown Glob-the-Obese,

Who marched, a straight and narrow line

When drinking elderberry wine.

Her friends found Abís truce hard to understand. Glob had sinned. Ab solved the problem with a nice cup of tea, it was Abís solution.

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