Saved by the Bells


Painting by Gabriel von Max

There is a saying, “every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings”.

Once there was an evil King who hated angels. He blamed them for not protecting him from the horrors of his troubled childhood. Every child in his day learned from fairy tales told to them from cradle to school, that it is the angels who are charged with protecting children from harm, seeing them through to adulthood. The King fumed with anger over what he believed to be utter neglect by his angel. (In truth, he was a spoiled, dark-tempered child who was never satisfied.)

Hoping to eliminate all angels from the land, on the first day of his reign as King, he commanded every bell far and wide silenced forevermore. There would be no lauds or vespers tolled from church steeples, no hourly reminders in the town squares or dinner bell calls in the farmers’ fields.

The people feared him, so just as he had ordered, all bells were muted. The deafening silence had an unintentional consequence. Instead of gaining wings, every single angel lost their feathers until they were grounded. This pleased the evil King very much, until he learned that they retained all of their special powers of prophecy, wisdom, healing and the like. He was infuriated and ordered every angel killed, sending his armies out across the land to carry out the deed.

When the compassionate people near and far heard about the King’s plan to kill the angels, they opened up the cellars of their humble homes offering them sanctuary. In return for their kindness the angels prepared special oil lamps for their gracious hosts. To receive an angel lamp was a considered a great blessing and promised that your life would be charmed with good fortune for eternity – even after your soul left this realm and moved on to the next.

As more and more townsfolk harbored the poor angels in their midst, more and more light filled their dark villages. The blessings of the lamps also gave the people wisdom, strength and determination, the likes of which no one had ever seen. They realized that their selfish, overbearing King was in fact, selfish and overbearing and they started to grumble, “If they wished to ring their bells from the town squares, church steeples and farm fields, who was he to stop them!”  Who was he indeed!

So the people made a plan to ring every bell in the land at the very same moment and on every hour henceforth. When at last the bells began to sing and gong and ding-a-ling dong, the land started to vibrate and the people cheered one and…almost all.

The King who had been lazing in dreary silence that fateful morning was startled to his feet by the clanging racket. He cupped his ears in rage and called for his commander to dispatch the army to quiet the blasted bells.  But no one could hear him above the cling-clanging cacophony and the castle that had languished in disrepair, began to shake and crumble and quake until it came tumbling down, silencing the King forever.

Never again were the bells kept from doing what bells are created to do. And the angels soon regained their wings, never forgetting the kindness of the poor and lowly, blessing them graciously with music, hope and true happiness forevermore.

~kat – 16 February 2017

For Jane Dougherty’s Sunday Strange Microfiction Challenge based on this Gabriel von Max painting.


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