Ding Dong Bell
Puss is in the well

The nursery rhyme was scrawled in thick-black faux-curlicue script on a letter pinned on Jane Stuart's bureau at Golden. She grinned to see it as she sat down to her algebra homework, which she was completing with less diligence than ever our Superior Jane had known.

It was, of course, April first and spring was in the air. No sixteen year-old girl could ever be expected to fully concentrate on school when the robins were mating out of doors and squirrels abounded in the Humber ravine, chasing one another's peak-red tails.

Jane dared say mating. Ding Dong had taught her how to mimic the mating calls of red foxes and chipmunks and badger-eyed raccoons two summers ago. "You'll just have to be content with the Ding-Dong version since you're never here early enough to hear the real thing." he scoffed. He would not believe Jane that there was beauty galore in Toronto, too, until Dad got her a Polaroid last Christmas and Jane sent snapshots of the fairy scenery below Golden.

Ding Dong could not afford a camera but sent back poetry sketches of the same.

Who put her in?
Shingle, Poll' or Min.

Was it merely the Prince Edward Island bug that was biting our Jane? For she could not put pen to paper on her French essay on Rabelais. Loud, obnoxious, hilarious Pantagruel made her think of another character of comedy gold.

She wondered if he had gotten very far on his algebra at all. She had promised to bake him a certain rich, scrumptious chocolate cake if he passed his entrance for Queen's. She divulged to him, in deepest darkest secrecy last summer that the name of the cake was "Devil's Food." Mother would be shocked to see the title of the recipe, and alas, alack the day that Dad could not be trusted to keep secrets from Mother! So we turn to the Ding-Dong Bells of the world.

They had sat on the Lantern Hill stoop often last summer, learning algebra. The supplementary texts were not to be had on Prince Edward Island so conscientious Jane brought hers along. There was some delight in finishing your math while your muffins rose! And delight greater still in grumbling over uncooperative proofs together.

They couldn't fish her out
With Jody's rainbow trout.

Jody was appointed guardian of First Peter and Ding Dong offered to take Silver Penny this winter. Jane secretly called the Toronto cat after grandmother, for she was so old and cranky and yet not lacking in a cat's dignity. Ding Dong and Jody were the only ones in on the secret, though. Mother and Baby Robin Rose luckily did not guess what "Gramsie" really referred to.

What Jane didn't like was how he called her "Puss." He made a veritable song out of it, that insolent Ding-Dong! Jane simply did not think she was cat-like enough, but Ding Dong evidently thought her brown-yellow eyes were more than proof. Sometimes, to follow his scheme, Jane miaowed at dusk – she could meow particularly well and it always made Robin Rose giggle. Jane preferred to hoot like an owl, though – it always frightened the bats that swooped blindly by the bush.

She's trapped in the well
The well of Ding Dong Bell

Phyllis came to visit Jane at Golden sometimes – not very often because Grandmother would not approve. She sometimes came with her one boyfriend or another, most of whom were either tall or handsome or sleek or smart, or all of the above. Jane liked being friends with Phyllis and she even enjoyed her boyfriends' company – they were attractive and intellectual. She sometimes wondered candidly, but without malice, what they saw in the lithe little slip of a Phyllis.

Jane knew from girlhood a face could grow on you – a face that need not be attractive would seem attractive upon affection. Ding Dong's, for instance, was so comical – his curling hair, his oversized head, his large round eyes. Jane had laughed at it all her girlhood and found it easy to laugh with, too.

She wondered what he really thought of her cat eyes, her too-large mouth, her long limber body. He had called Shingle "pretty" the first time Shingle shed her overalls for a yellow calico skirt, and had taken her to the Hallowe'en dance.

Jane stared at Ding Dong's poem and wondered if he had timed it to arrive on April Fool's.

Suddenly she seized the Polaroid and positioned it before her face, pulling on a smile. She waved the photograph to print and saw her own enlarged face for the first time without shuddering. She titled the photography "The puss trapped in the well" and was careful to date it April 1st, too. Then she sealed it with trembling determination and tossed it with colder hands than Jane Stuart had known for a spell, into Dad's mail bag.

For in tiniest print was added the couplet to the sonnet:

Tell me if it's true?
Ding Dong loves Janey Stu.

A/N: This was inspired by the discussions on adriennelane's forum about the comic absurdity of Ding Dong as a beau for Jane. Can it be done - Elmer Bell and Jane Stuart- or is it just puppy love?