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 goods, 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
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
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
"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 for?"
"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
small 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
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 it.
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
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
The child pulled a small coin purse from her pocket then reached up and
emptied 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
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 liked 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,
The little girl tugged on her grandpa's shirttail. "Here, Grandpa.
Here's your hanky. Blow your nose."
[ Author Unknown -- from E-mail Ministry ]
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