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<   No. 1919   2008-04-28   >

Comic #1919

1 Prof. Jones: {looking behind them as Minnesota Jones and Monty stare at Notre Dame} Erm, Junior... the Nazis are driving past in a truck...
2 Monty: What?!
3 Monty: Wait here. I'll jump on that horse and chase them! {jumps on the horse and chases the Nazis}
4 Prof. Jones: {watching the truck and Monty on the horse race off into the distance} Why is there a horse standing in front of Notre Dame?
4 Minnesota Jones: Dramatic necessity.

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Notre Dame de Paris is of course better known for its bells than its horses.

In the 1820s, the Archbishop of Paris sought far and wide for a new bellringer, to replace the previous one, who had died suddenly without leaving a suitably trained apprentice. For two years he was unsuccessful in finding a qualified applicant. One day, a strange man came to his office, to apply for the job. The man had terrible disfigurements, but claimed to have years of experience ringing bells. The bishop decided to give him a chance and instructed him to demonstrate.

The stranger climbed the bell ropes and gave a rousing demonstration of his ringing skills, sounding the bells such as they had not been heard at Notre Dame in the past two years. Preparing to bring the round of ringing to a fitting finale, the stranger swung on a secondary bell rope and leapt for the rope of the main, 13-tonne bell. Unfortunately his grasp missed, and he fell, landing head first on another of the great bells, which knocked him senseless. As the bell sounded with the impact, the man plummeted to the floor of the cathedral, where he gasped his last breath in front of the horrified archbishop. The deacon of the cathedral rushed over to assist, asking the archbishop who the strange man was.

The archbishop replied, "I don't know, but his face rings a bell."

Another two years passed, in which the bells of Notre Dame remained silent once more. Until the day when another man showed up at the archbishop's office. He too was horribly disfigured, but claimed to be an experienced bellringer, like his brother before him, who had died so tragically two years earlier. The archbishop, by now desperate for someone to resume the ringing duties for the great cathedral, asked him to show his skill.

The stranger climbed the bell ropes and rang the bells so beautifully that it brought the archbishop to tears. For miles around Notre Dame, the people of Paris, hearing the bells, knew joy as they had not known for years. Bringing his triumphant round of ringing to a finish, the stranger jumped from one bell rope to another, but he too misjudged and lost his grip, falling head first on to a secondary bell and then falling the height of the tower to his doom. He died on the spot, again before the distraught figure of the archbishop. The deacon raced to the scene, and asked the archbishop who this new man was.

The archbishop solemnly intoned, "I don't know, but he's a dead ringer for his brother."

2018-12-30 Rerun commentary: For two years after this tragic incident, the bells of Notre Dame remained silent once more. The position of bellringer was advertised widely, but many people now saw the job as cursed, and no applicants came forward. The archbishop was becoming more desperate by the day.

But then one day another stranger appeared at the door of the mighty cathedral. He was badly stooped and one arm hung lower than the other. The archbishop immediately saw the family resemblance, for this was the younger brother of the first two applicants who had so tragically died. He had come, he said, to redeem the family name with his own bellringing skills, finely honed over the past few years. The archbishop simply waved him towards the bell tower, where the ropes dangled from the huge bells far above.

As the archbishop watched in amazement, the new man grabbed a rope and began climbing the tower, leaping from rope to rope as his weight rang each bell in turn, forming a heart-melting sequence of notes. The great peal of bells developed and reached a climax of pure joyousness as the man edged his way towards the top of the tower. The archbishop felt that all his prayers had been answered, as this man could ring the bells in a way that praised God's glory to the highest.

With the round of ringing coming to an end, the man began working his way down the bell ropes again, leaping across from one to the other with amazing agility. But then he missed a rope with his outstretched arm and flew past it, headed for the hard stone wall of the tower! He quickly hooked a leg around the rope as he flew past, and it caught on his foot, but then the man twisted and fell head first, causing the rope to tangle about his leg. Thus restrained, he swing heavily and dashed his head against the unforgiving stone of the tower wall, his final pendulous swing causing a discordant note to ring out from the great bell attached to the rope far above as he took his last breath.

Hearing the tragic ending note, the deacon rushed out to see what had happened. He found the archbishop sadly clinging to the fateful rope, trying to shake it to loosen its grip on the strange man's leg so that his body could be recovered. The deacon asked who this man, so horribly killed, was.

The archbishop replied, "I don't know. But now I'm at the end of my rope."

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