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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
The Christmas Bell

Jingle jingle jingle! The box was filled with dozens of small gold, silver, red, and green bells. Katie carried the cardboard box over to the tree. She had a long piece of white cord and started stringing the bells onto it. She put a green one on first, then a red one, a silver one and a gold one. Katie used all the bells in the box; all but one Ė Melody. There wasnít room on the string for any more bells. The little silver bell sat alone in the box. Katie, anxious to put the chain of bells up on her Christmas tree, tossed the almost empty box across the room.

Jingle jingle jingle! The bells dangling across the tree giggled and jingled merrily as they hung among the brightly colored red, blue, orange, green, yellow and purple lights, the glass ornaments, the shimmering tinsel, and fragrant popcorn and cranberry ropes.

Melody rolled out of the box and went bumpety-bump across the wooden floor. She rolled, and rolled, and rolled, and went right down the heater vent. She slid down, down, down and fell onto the cold, cement floor in the basement. She rolled, and rolled, and rolled some more and stopped right outside a mouse hole, giving a little jingle. Melody opened her eyes, feeling rather dizzy. She looked around the dark room. There were cobwebs and piles of moldy newspapers, and it smelled damp.

Martin, the mouse, woke up when he heard the jingling sounds coming from outside his hole. He yawned, stretched, and got out of bed. Brrrrr, it was cold. Rubbing his furry arms, he walked towards the hole. He saw a small silver bell lying on the floor. Curious, he picked it up, using two hands, and carried it inside his hole. He noticed how shiny it was. He shook it. Jingle jingle jingle! Martin started to laugh. He shook it again. Jingle jingle jingle!

"Stop that! Youíre making me dizzy!" Melody said. Martin dropped the bell. He was so surprised to hear it talk. He looked at the silver bell and noticed it had big green eyes and a cheerful smile. "Hi! My name is Melody. Iím a jingle bell."

"How did you end up outside my mouse hole?" Martin asked.

"I rolled down the heater vent and then across the floor, which, by the way, is very cold. Whatís your name?" asked Melody.

"Martin," the mouse replied. He walked over to her, picked her up and put her on his bed. He looked at her and saw his reflection. "Hee hee hee," he giggled.

"Why are you laughing?"

"I can see myself. You are so shiny. My nose is cute," Martin said, grinning.

"Itís cold down here, Martin. Why donít you move upstairs where itís warmer?"

"I canít do that. Thereís a C-A-T up there. Heíll eat me."

"Whatís a C-A-T?" Melody asked, giving a little jingle as she moved.

"A cat! Thereís a big, fluffy, meowing cat that lives upstairs. If I go up there, heíll gobble me up. I have to stay in the basement. It is too cold down here for the cat. Sometimes I get hungry, especially when I smell food cooking."

Melody looked at Martin. He was a skinny mouse. His nose was long and his eyes were bulgy and dirty brown. "Martin, I can help you. If you take me back upstairs, I will help you find a way to stop the cat from eating you."

Martin got excited. "You can? Okay. Letís do it. Iíll carry you upstairs." Martin picked Melody up and carried her up each step to the top, which wasnít easy, as he was a little mouse. They squeezed under the closed door. "Now what?" he asked, "whereís the cat?"

"Shhhhh," Melody whispered. Both of them could smell gingerbread baking. "Follow me," she urged. She rolled across the floor toward the living room. Martin followed, looking behind him and all around for the cat. "Look at the tree," she told him. The two stood silently, gazing up at the huge Christmas tree. It was beautiful. "There wasnít enough room on the string for me. See all the other bells?" Melody sighed and felt sad. Katie was sitting on the carpeted floor, looking at all the packages under the tree.

"Uh, Melody. What about the cat?" Martin whispered, terrified.

"Oh yes, the cat. Hereís what we do. Letís go back into the kitchen and find the plate of chocolate fudge on the table. Iíve got an idea." She rolled onto the linoleum floor and Martin stayed close to her. He helped her up to the table and they stood in front of the plate of fudge. It was dark brown and had nuts in it and smelled so chocolaty. "Delicious," said Melody.

Martin sniffed it. "Mmmm, it does smell good." He took a finger and pulled a piece off and ate it. "It is delicious," he said, reaching for more.

"Donít, Martin. We need it. Help me," Melody said. They gathered all the fudge and started shaping it. After a while they stood back. Martin licked his fingers. They had made a giant, chocolate fudge mouse. It had a pointed nose like Martins and a long fudge tail.

"Wow! Itís me!" said Martin. His eyes bulged out even further.

"Letís hide over there, behind that plate of peppermint sticks," she told Martin. "Be very quiet." She started calling the cat. "Here kitty. Here kitty. Here kitty."

"Yikes! What are you doing?" Martin asked. "Why are you calling the cat?"

"Shhhh. Just watch."

The cat came strutting into the kitchen. He looked up and saw the fudge mouse. "Meow," it went, thinking it was a real mouse. It pounced onto the table, nearly crunching Melody. It started eating the fudge. It ate, and ate, and ate, until there was none left. When it had finished, the cat sat on the table feeling very sick. That was a lot of fudge and nuts that it had eaten.

Melody rolled over to Martin. "Jump out and start yelling at the cat. Tell him that you want him to eat you too!"

"What?" Martin gulped. "What if he does eat me?"

"Trust me. He wonít."

"Okay," Martin said. He jumped out from behind the peppermints and ran up to the cat. He started shouting, "Eat me. Eat me too. One mouse isnít enough. Eat me!"

The cat looked at Martin. He was so full of Ďmouseí that the thought of eating another one made him feel very sick. "No! No! No! I never want to eat another mouse again in my life." The cat jumped off the table and ran into the other room.

Martin smiled. "There now, Martin, the cat will never bother you again," Melody assured him. Martin went down to the basement and gathered all his belongings and brought them upstairs to a mouse hole near the Christmas tree. Melody, not having anywhere else to go, moved in with him. Every night they enjoyed listening to the bells jingle, watching the lights glowing, and smelling the popcorn and cranberries. It was going to be a merry Christmas for both of them.

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