Cockington Bells

The villagers of Cockington, were hoping for a white Christmas. For several years, the weather provided cloud and rain. Not quite the atmosphere for a romantic festive season, so it brought much excitement when the first snow started to fall on the thatched roofs of the cottages, two day before the big day. The snow continued to fall constantly, to provide the perfect winter scene. The village has always popular with visitors for its charm, but now, with a blanket of snow, the village looked exceptionally beautiful.

Christmas Eve arrived, and by the evening, the clouds had cleared to reveal a full moon, and a congregation of bright sparkling stars. The clear, dry evening, was just the tonic, for a small group of villagers, who had assembled in the warmth of Marion and Jack’s front room, to prepare to go out singing a few carols. After a few renditions of Silent Night, as a practice, closely followed by a large glass of sherry, to group made their way outside. Jack, in preparation for the dark of the night, had placed a candle in a lantern on the end of a long pole. There was only one technical problem, the candle kept on going out, and had be rescued by the use of a match, which Jack had in his overcoat pocket.

The carol singers were doing well. The residents of the village gave money quite generously, even though the quality of the singing was a bit doubtful at times. The collection was indeed for a good cause, to repair the church roof, which had a few leaks.
Making their way slowly around the cottages, the singers enjoyed themselves, with the offer of a mince pie and a winter warmer, making it even more enjoyable. “Look, who is that coming towards us” observed Jack. The group turned and looked behind them to see a figure, dressed, in what seemed a monk’s habit, coming towards them. “Looks like someone is going to a fancy dress party”, said Marion. “Not sure about that” replied George noticing the man had a donkey in tow”. The group looked with amazement, yes, there was this figure heading their way. “Evening”, Jack greeted the figure as it came nearer; “Greetings” came a reply. As the figure came nearer, the group could see from beneath his hood, the face of a man. Just at that moment, the candle in the lantern went out again. “Typical” exclaimed Jack, foraging in his pocket for his box of matches. “I heard your singing, so I thought I would come over and say hello” said the man. Marion stepped forward to pat the donkey. “What is he called”, she asked. “Gordon” was the reply. “I am making my from the Abbey at Torre, to Buckfast, the Abbot has got tired of him, he is so stubborn”. “Shame” replied Marion. The group looked at each other, it was indeed odd, the Abbey at Torre, had been a ruin for hundred of years.

“What is your name”, enquired Jack with a smile. “Father Frederick” replied the man. It was then that the group noticed his face. He had a beard, and his face radiated with a golden glow. Even more striking was his eyes which appeared to emit light and sparkled like diamonds. “The man continued, “I see the sky is beautiful tonight”, they all agreed, he continued, “Look, there is Venus, and over there is the star Osiris, they are bringing so much love to you all”. The singers looked stunned. “Anyway, I must continue my journey, Love and Peace to you”. With that the man turned and walked away. To their astonishment, when he reached the corner of the road, he simply faded away completely. At that very moment, the candle in the lantern glowed so bright, the church bells rang out loudly, and the village was engulfed in the most beautiful light of the moon. Who was this stranger?

The carol singers stood for a while, and then burst into Silent Night. It seemed their voices were filled of beautiful love. A gift to all at Christmas.

By Ray Steed

Edited by Kate Whitmarsh


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