Pappy ran a little Novelty Shop. He didn't make much money, but he enjoyed the company. His wife was dead and his daughter had moved away many years ago. He was so lonely.
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 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 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 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 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 and 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 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 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 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, Dad."
As tears flowed down Pappy's face, the little girl tugged on his shirttail. "Here, Grandpa. Here's a hanky. Blow your nose.
By Phyllis Caldwell
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