Down the drain

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Down the drain

500 Words: The Kindness of Strangers


That was the sound my mother heard as I happily dropped the only key to my grandfather’s house down the drain.I was about 12 months old and having a lovely time sitting up in my pram as my mother wheeled me home after a visit to my mother’s aunts.

We were staying at my grandfather’s home in a small village in Malta.

My mother tells me that I had started to grizzle and she was taking me home to have an afternoon nap.

It was a bit of a walk from one relative’s village to the other, so to keep me occupied and to stop me from crying, my mother had given me the only house key that my grandfather owned.

And I had just lost it!┬áMy grandfather was quite elderly and also very strict. My mother was afraid to go back to his house without his key – he had a bad temper!

As she stood in the street, quietly crying and staring at the house key which she could see shining in the sunlight, two young boys who were on their way home stopped to see what had happened.The boys sprung into action. First they tried to loosen the grate over the drain – no luck.

Next they tried to poke long sticks down it to hook the key on – again no luck.

One of the boys then had a brilliant idea. He had a packet of chewing gum unopened in his bag. He took out a stick and started chewing.

When it was nicely masticated he popped it out of his mouth and stuck it onto the end of the longest, thinnest and strongest stick he and his friend could find.

Slowly and very carefully the boy manoeuvred the gum-covered stick through the grate and down to where the key was lying.

Mum watched on nervously as the boys, lying flat on their tummies and with their heads down, gently pushed and prodded at the key, trying to get it to stick to the gum.

At last, success!My mother was overjoyed and so thankful to the two young strangers.

She didn’t have much money but what little she had in her purse she tried to give to the boys. The kind strangers refused to take any payment and went on their way, laughing and happy with their good deed and their cleverness.My grandfather was never the wiser about what had happened to his only house key.

And my mother never let me play with the key to anything, ever again!


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