“Why do I always have to do all the cleaning?” asked Jack.
“If you prefer you can buy the groceries, cook, feed the cat, look after the garden, do the washing up and clean everyone’s shoes,” replied his mother.
‘Huh!’ said Jack and he began to push the vacuum cleaner backwards and forwards more vigorously than usual. As soon as the job was done he intended going out in the fresh air for a walk in the woods at the back of his parent’s garden.
He grabbed the sandwiches his mum had made for his lunch and slammed the door shut with a more than usually loud bang just to save himself the trouble of talking to her to let her know he’d gone out.
As always the walk soon began to calm him down and he was just beginning to realise that his mother really did have an awful lot to do, when he came across a part of the wood he’d never seen before. It didn’t look any different from the rest of the trees except for a tree stump that had recently been left behind when a very large tree had been cut down.
He’d been day dreaming along without taking much notice of where he was going. Now he was paying attention to his surroundings he realised that although the stump had caught his eye in the first place it was the fact that something had been left on the cut surface that had really made him take notice.
He went over to have a closer look. It must have been a very large tree; the stump was roughly six feet in diameter! The surface had been cut horizontally and very cleanly which was a bit unusual but it was the object standing in the middle of the table-like surface which had made him go over to examine it.
The basic form was very much like a bell. It ws apparently made of wood and had been beautifully polished until it gleamed in the sunlight shining through the trees. About eighteen inches across the bell mouth it was a wonderful piece of the cabinet maker’s art.
Being a normal inquisitive lad Jack went over and tried to pick it up. He couldn’t move it, even when he tried to slide the thing across the surface it was standing on. It almost seemed that it might be growing from the wooden stump. He had a bit of a giggle thinking that polished wooden bells don’t grow on trees!
He took off his jacket and laid it on a free area of the table-like surface and really put his back into trying to shift the thing. Not a hope! Well here was a challenge and no mistake.
Jack decided that he might be able to think a bit more clearly if he just sat quietly eating his lunch, so he reached for the sandwiches he’d put in his jacket pocket when he’d left the house. His mum made beautiful corned beef and cucumber sandwiches and secretly Jack was rather fond of them.
‘Oh lord it was going to be one of those mornings!’
The whole packet had gone missing. He must have dropped it somewhere on his walk. He had a quick look round before deciding to go home and have his lunch there. He might even find the packet lying on the path if he went the whole way back. It was a pity he couldn’t take the bell shaped object with him but that was that.
As he picked up his jacket he gave the bell a hefty shove one last time, more in hope than in anger and to his amazement he had to be quick to stop it flying off the tree stump. He had a closer look at the underside now that he was able, but it didn’t look any different in finish or texture to the outside. Never mind at least he could take it home now and have a more careful look in comfort; there was something very strange going on here.
He was still tapping and prodding the thing when his father came home from work, so he took it upstairs to his bedroom to continue his examination in private. Half an hour later he was no wiser. There were no obvious joints or cracks; it was still apparently a lump of polished wood! He did try scratching the surface with his knife but found he was unable to mark it, so he threw it into a corner of his room and went downstairs for his supper.
After he’d gone to bed that night he lay awake trying to think of a reason why anyone should shape a lump of wood and finish it so beautifully to no purpose? Then there was the mystery of why at first he’d been unable to pick it up and why had it suddenly become possible?
Next morning he woke up to a very strange situation. His mother was standing by his bed with his early morning cup of tea.
“My goodness you have been busy, your room is looking as clean as a new pin! Why you’ve even cleaned the inside of the windows, and however did you manage to wash the curtains and dry them?”
His mother was standing awestruck, holding his cup of tea in one hand and gazing round his room in amazement.
Jack looked at her bleary eyed before taking a look round his room for himself. He had to admit his room did much cleaner than usual but it was certainly not due to anything he’d done.
It was while he was drinking his tea and waking up properly that he thought about the wooden bell. Whatever had happened in his room overnight he still needed to have a word with his father.
He raised the subject at breakfast time while his mother was still exclaiming excitedly about the wonderful job Jack had done tidying and cleaning his bedroom.
“Sounds interesting son, lets get the thing down here and I’ll see if I can figure out what its supposed to do”
He prodded and tapped just as Jack had done, he even went out to his workshop to get a file to try and make a mark on the shiny surface. All to no avail!
Finally he looked up and had begun to speak to his wife before realising that her hand was shaking as she pointed at the windows. He jumped up and put his arm round her.
“Its OK old girl it’s only the windows being...” his voice petered out as the whole family watched in amazement while the windows apparently cleaned themselves. All the dust and dirt in the room was disappearing while they watched!
Dad looked at Jack. “I think we’d better go back to the woods were you found this thing and take a look at this tree stump you say you found. In fact I think we’ll all go there for a picnic.