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The Bell of Atri
(Old stories of Italy)
Japanese ←→ Japanese ＆ English ←→ English
Once upon a time, there was a town called Atri in Italy.
One day, a big bell was hung from a tower at the town square by the order of the King.
And there was a long rope hanging from the bell.
“What does it sound like?”
The townspeople, filled with joyful expectations, surrounded the tower and waited for the arrival of the King.
Before long, the King arrived in a carriage and said to the crowd.
“This bell was hung as ‘the Bell of Justice’, not only to tell the hour or let you enjoy its sound.
“The Bell of Justice?”
People wonderingly stared at the King.
“That’s right. It’s the Bell of Justice.
If someone bullied you or went hard on you, you may want to come here and ring this bell.
When the bell was rung, a judge will come at once and listen to you.
Then, he will tell you what is right.”
“So, anyone can ring the bell?”
“Yes, anyone can ring the bell.
Even a kid can ring the bell.
Look! That’s why this hanging rope is long enough.”
Since that day, people being given a hard time or involved in a fight had come to the tower and rung the bell in Atri.
As the King said, a judge showed up when the bell was rung to tell who was right or what was the truth.
The bell enabled the townspeople to enjoy their daily lives.
After so many people pulled the rope over the years, the rope snapped and a grapevine was replaced until a new rope was provided.
Meanwhile, there lived a rich man lived outside of Atri.
He used to be a brave man with a strong sense of justice and would beat up bad people on a horse when he was young.
But as he got older, he was turning into a mean and stingy guy.
One day, the rich man thought,
“Isn’t there any way to save more money?
I know! Maybe I shouldn’t feed my horse.”
Thus, he stopped feeding his horse which fought together with him in the old days.
As a result, the meager horse stumbled to Atri.
When he reached under the tower at the square, he started to munch the grapevine hanging from the bell instead of a rope.
Whenever the horse bit into the grapevine, the sound of the bell going 'ding dong’ was heard.
The townspeople and a judge rushed to the square and watched the horse.
“Oh, poor horse. What made him so meager like this?”
“Since horses like him can’t talk, he must be trying to tell us he’s having a hard time by ringing the bell.”
A short time later, the owner of the horse was summoned to the square.
The judge said to the rich man,
“This horse should have served you faithfully for a long time.
Shouldn’t half of the money you saved go to this horse?”
The rich man got choked up by seeing the horse munching the grapevine.
He finally realized what he had done to the horse.
Since then, he took good care of the horse and they both lived happily ever after.
The bell of Atri surely was ‘the Bell of Justice’ for the horse as well as many people.
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