The Bell Ringer

Last Updated: April 21, 2000
A bishop advertises a job to ring the bell in his tower. The only job applicant is a hunchback with no arms. Bishop: "How can you do the job? You can't pull the rope!" Hunchback: "I have a plan - but we have to go to the top of the tower, where the bell is." .. So they climb all those stairs to the top of the tower. Bishop: "Ok, show me your plan."

The hunchback runs and jumps at the bell, striking it with his head. Sure enough, he rings the bell. The bishop asks him, "How did you learn to ring the bell like this?" The hunchback replies, "Actually, I first learned on the guitar," and walks over to a guitar on the wall and starts banging his head on it, and Lo! Beautiful music comes out.

So despite his misgivings, the bishop hired the hunchback to ring the bell.

Every day the hunchback comes in and rings the bell. One day, the hunchback decides to try to ring the bell louder. He goes to the farthest corner of the tower, and runs as fast as he can toward the bell. When he jumps up and hits it with his head, the bell rings clear and loud. Unfortunately, the hunchback hit the bell so hard he's a little groggy. He staggers around a bit, and falls out a window to the street below.

A crowd gathers around the hunchback's mangled body lying in the street; the bishop goes out to investigate the commotion.

The policeman arrives and again asks: "Who is this guy?" The bishop replies: "I don't know his name, but his face rings a bell."

The policeman then asks if the bishop had hired the hunchback. "Yes," replies the Bishop, "but I had a hunchback there nothing good would come of this job interview."

The policeman then asks if the bishop can tell him anything about the hunchback. The bishop replies, "Not much, but he could play a guitar just like a ringing a bell."


The next day, a man (who has arms) arrives, claiming to be the hunchbacks brother. "Hi, I've come to take over my brother's job." The bishop offers his condolences for the loss of his brother, and then escorts him to the tower.

"Your brother used to ring the bell with his face," said the Bishop. "Will you do that, too, or will you use your arms?" The hunchback's brother replies "If my brother can ring it with his face, so can I!" So saying, he runs full bore at the bell, glances off it with his face, falls out the window and to his death in the street below.

The bishop rushes down to see what he can do for the poor man. A crowd gathers. A policeman arrives and asks the bishop "Do you know who this man is?" The bishop replies, "No, but he's a dead ringer for his brother."


So once again the church was left without a bell ringer. An advertisement was placed in the local paper and within days a young man who possessed two stout arms applied for the job. The bishop was greatly impressed with the fellow's bell-ringing skill, and he offered the job. The young man accepted and the bishop began to fill out some paperwork. He said, "Now what is your name?" The fellow replied, "I cannot tell you, but I will whisper it to the bell." Now this seemed somewhat unusual to the bishop, but he needed a bell ringer, so he nodded his approval. The young man leaned toward the bell, cupped his hands around his mouth, and whispered something unintelligible to the bell. The bishop, wondering if he was doing the right thing, left the young man to his work.

For weeks the skies above the city were filled with the most glorious tones imaginable, until one day -- quite by accident -- the young man slipped, fell out the side of the belfry, and plunged to his death upon the pavement below. A crowd gathered 'round; a policeman knelt beside the body; the bishop walked outside to investigate the commotion. The policeman looked up at the bishop and asked, "Do you know this man's name?" The bishop paused, and then replied slowly, "No, he tolled the bell."


So once again the church was left without a bell ringer. An advertisement was placed in the local paper and within days another young man who possessed two stout arms applied for the job, and the bishop asked him to demonstrate his skill with the rope. The man replied, "I have no need for the rope--just watch this!" With that, he dropped his jaw, tilted his head backward, and produced a perfect E above high C. As he held the note, the bell began to resonate with sympathetic vibrations, and a beautiful tone could be heard throughout the city. The beauty of the sound was incredible, and the man was hired on the spot.

With his unique skill, it soon became obvious that the man could ring the bell without even entering the belfry. Each day at noon he would simply walk along the sidewalk by the church, drop his jaw, tilt his head backward, produce a perfect E above high C, and ring the bell to the amazement of all. Until one day, quite by accident, the vibrations caused the rope holding the bell to snap, and the bell flew out the side of the belfry, plunged toward the ground, and crushed the man to his death upon the pavement below. A crowd gathered 'round; a policeman knelt beside the body; the bishop walked outside to investigate the commotion. The policeman looked up at the bishop and asked, "Do you know this man's name?" The bishop paused, and then replied slowly, "No, but he was a real humdinger!"


This time the church placed two ads in the paper, one for putting the bell back in the tower, the other for ringing the bell. A troll showed up to put the bell back in the tower. Although loath to hire a troll, the bishop decided to let him put the bell back in the tower (the troll was big and strong). After the troll put the bell back, it demanded the job of bell ringer. The bishop refused, telling the troll that he would scare away all the church members. The troll became enraged and chased the bishop around the bell. Around and around they ran, with the troll getting closer and closer. Suddenly, the troll's arm snagged on the bell rope. Infuriated the troll pulled the rope with all its strength. The bell swung forward and then back again, pulling the troll off its feet and out the window, where it fell to its death.

A horrified crowd gathered, and the tired bishop made his way down the belfry, arriving just as the policeman arrived. The policeman asked the bishop "What happened?" The bishop explained that he had refused the troll the bell ringing job and the troll began chasing him. "How did you escape?" asked the policeman. The bishop's reply: "I was saved by the bell."


Contributers: "dcoble", Peter Hall, and myself.