|Dark clouds are hanging over the River Styx, the boundary between Earth and the underworld, the underworld of Hell. There, Ichabod Dribble and Alfonso Stray are complaining this day about the endless ringing of the bells, the constant ringing of the bells.
Ichabod griped: “Bells, bells, bells, bells, hour after hour!”
“I know,” sighed Stray, looking rather glum.
“You seem sad, but these bells make me irate!”
“I hate them, too, Ichabod--please make no mistake! They peal and chime throughout the day, and keep us wide awake!”
They then leaned on their shovels; they heard another bell. Stray looked across at Ichabod:
“I’ll tell ya, this is hell!”
“Yes, and what is even worse (Dribble then motioned with his thumb), is that it is a mere mosaic of chime and peal, of ring and hum! In fact, listen...I think--"
Throughout the spacious cavern, they winced as three bells rang; a high-pitched chime, a wicked peal, a devil of a clang. Ichabod just gritted his teeth, then looked again at Stray, who looked a little gray.
Both of them felt this unease deep down inside their bones, subject to the whims of these incessant tones. But just as they were set to shovel sulfur all the more, they noticed level foreman Moody standing by Hell’s door.
Said Stray: “Perhaps if you go talk with him...heck, give it one more try!”
Ichabod did not look up: “But Stray, you know he’s such a peevish guy! Remember just the other day, when an ax fell in the pit, and Moody yelled and kicked the door--he really had a fit!”
“I do remember that,” said Stray, “He sure can be a screamer. Ever since the company changed hands, he seems a lot more meaner.”
“Yeah, and I even heard,” chimed Ichabod, “that he disagreed with you-know-who--to stop this change of ownership, but nonetheless the change went through. So now we have a brand new ring--in hell she tolls! And I have a feeling Moody was raked over the coals."
Stray shot back: “That, no doubt, explains his demeanor, acting like a scalded rat! Those two were very tight, that‘s a well-know fact.”
Yet Stray still wondered: “Well, in spite of all that, how do we escape these bells?”
Dribble offered thoughtfully: “We’ve been direct, yet that fell flat; perhaps we need to deal with Moody by adopting a completely different tact. Maybe what we need is a little slight-of-hand, a little deception of sorts, a little trickery of plan!”
Ichabod laid it out for Stray, and Stray found the strategy sound. Instead of complaining about the bells, they’d praise them all around. They thought they found the foreman’s weakness, for in witnessing the fit, they were sure he was the type to do and act the opposite. Anyway, that’s what they thought.
(Ichabod began the praise of bells:)
“Oh, Moody, how sweet the sound of bells! What fine chime, what ring, how beautiful the peal! And made, no doubt, of the finest nickel-plated steel!”
(Moody was contrite:)
“No, they’re made of Satan-less Steel, Dribble...but that’s a quibble.”