The Armless Bellringers
There was a monastery in France at the edge of a cliff
overlooking a beautiful valley, and because its bells could be heard
over such a wide area, it developed a reputation for attracting only the
finest bellringers in the country.
There was always a bit of dread when a bellringer passed on or
retired, and one year, when they spread the word of their need for a new
master, there was a dearth of qualified candidates. They would have
been good enough for any other monastery, but not this one. Better to
have silent bells than anything less than the best.
As they were despairing at the quality of candidates, a man with no
arms paid a visit to apply for the position. The monks were amazed and
protested that this was no time for joking. But the man insisted, said
he was from a family of famous bellringers, and he would show them what
he could do. He drew back, lowered his head, and charged full speed at
the bell. The monks were horrified, but could not stop him. And the
sound — oh my, you should have been there! It was indeed a sound worthy
of that monastery. It rang thruout the valley, and people everywhere
stopped in their tracks and nodded to each other that at last a worthy
bellringer had been found.
But alas, it was not to be. For the impact so stunned the poor
armless man that he stumbled dizzily and fell over the cliff. The head
monk ran down the steps to where a crowd had gathered, and a policeman
spoke to him. “Do you know this man?” The monk sighed, “No, but his face
rings a bell.”
The search continued. One day not long after, another armless man
showed up and presented himself as the previous man’s brother. He was
there to uphold the family honor, and would show them what a good
bellringer could do. The monks protested, but too late — he also drew
back and charged full speed into the bell. And once again, the most
beautiful sound pealed out over the valley, such that even the birds
circled around to see what was happening. And once again, he was so
stunned that he too fell over the cliff in a daze.
Once again the head monk scrambled down the stairs to meet the crowd
and a policeman. Again he was asked if he knew the deceased. “No, but
he’s a dead ringer for his brother.”
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