If you've ever wondered where the money goes, the following story may ease your mind. Or not.
There's No Such Thing As Dinglemen
"There's no such thing as a dingleman. Stop filling our boy's head with such nonsense."
Ella Fraz bustled about her small kitchen setting the table for their simple dinner. Plates of cheese and cold meats set on one end while four different kinds of bread and five varieties of pickles adorned the other.
In the center were three of her prize yellow tulips. She plucked them at their peak of bloom and nursed them as long possible before their inevitable demise.
Little Handel Fraz looked wide-eyed at his granddad's thick grey moustache. It jiggled and danced as the granddad laughed.
"Oh, Ella. What is the harm in passing on the stories? Hmm? Our grandson should know what everyone else knows."
Granddad Frank leaned toward the young boy and winked. "I'll tell you at bedtime so grandma won't know."
After the meal he pushed back his chair. "A good meal you've put together again, grandma. I don't know how you do it."
"May I be excused, granddad?"
"Or course, boy. Go."
"I am sorry there wasn't so much tonight. I don't know where the money goes."
"We'll be fine, my dear. You didn't have much?"
"Our grandson is a growing boy. He needs more food than an old woman."
"Nonsense, you're younger than me and I'm nowhere near old." He stood up and wiped a few dark crumbs from his moustache. "I will go finish that clock now. The cuckoo is stubborn in that one."
Alone in her kitchen, Ella washed the dishes carefully and put them away all the while wondering how she could save even more money.
They'd never had much. They got by and raised their own son and thought they'd have the older years to themselves.
But it wasn't to be, and now as they neared retirement they had another boy to raise.
Handel was as good a boy as any seven year old could be; smart and happy and full of life. Maybe he made them younger. Or maybe he made them feel their age, she wasn't sure. But as much as she loved him, he was a strain on the pocket book.
Tomorrow was freshmarket day. She could get oranges for a treat. She counted out the coins from her purse and laid them in stacks on the table. Next she took out the paper money, smoothing each bill as she counted in her head.
She set out exactly what she needed for the next day's shopping and put the rest away.
As she passed Handel's room on the way to bed she heard her husband's voice.
"Tsk, dingleman stories."
"Can we get more of pretty red papers, daddy?"
"I don't know, daughter. We'll have to see what we find."
"Ooh, I can't wait."
"Now you be patient. We can only take what's there, and now that the new family's moved in we've less to pick from."
"When are we going?"
"Tonight, we'll check them again. It's been a few days since we tried. Go to sleep."
"None of your 'but dads' tonight. We've to be quiet and quick and see well in the dark to do this right. You won't be wanting to bring home the wrong decorations will you? Rest. I'll be having a nap myself. We'll leave at the knock of 12."
Brogryme tucked his daughter into the one piece wool covering and kissed her forehead.
"Daddy, what do the Big Ones call this?"
"A sock, Grandygirl. They wear them on their feet."
"Ooh, Big Ones must be very big if I can fit all of me in one."
It was a sock from a small Big One, but as he looked closely he saw he'd have to get a bigger sock soon. Grandy was growing. She'd soon be up to his shoulder.
"You keep an eye on our Grandy tonight. I'll not have the Big Ones finding her. And I suppose neither you, husband. No new wall paper is worth it."
"So true, wife." He settled in a fat chair by a pleasant fire. "I'll have some pipe first, then I'll shut my eyes."
And he settled more and puffed a bit on the licorice leaves and thought.
"Mogryme, what if I find one of the skyblues? It could take the place of the green by the mantle with the tear in it."
"It was torn when you brought it home."
"Aye. The Big Ones set such store by the pretty papers. Carry them around and trade them for Cloud knows what. You'd think they'd take better care of them."
His eyes popped open on the third knock of 12. He took Grandygirl from her warm sock and gently awakened her.
Frank Fraz was up early. He hadn't slept well and was sure someone had gotten in the house. But he'd told his grandson dingleman stories at bedtime and they were in his mind. His mind was already fraught with worry about how to support his family with his meagre clockmaker income.
Few people had cuckoo clocks either in the Old Country or in this new one. Even fewer wanted them.
He could fix any style of clock as long as it had hands. There weren't many of those left either.
It was worry and imagination, nothing more, he assured himself as he set out his tools for the day's work.
"Frank, did you move the banknotes? I had them on the table last night."
"Are you sure, grandma? Maybe you put them back in your purse by mistake?"
"No. I had them set out on the table. There was a twenty-dollar bill and two five dollar bills and--my coins are all knocked over."
"I haven't been near the table. You could have brushed against the coins."
"I didn't. That doesn't explain about the banknotes. I need that money. It's freshmarket day."
"Handel is still asleep?"
"You don't think it was him?" Ella was shocked at her husband's suggestion their grandson was a thief.
"No, of course not. Is some missing?"
"I see only one five dollar note. The others are...oh, wait."
A carefully folded green paper stuck out from underneath the tulip vase. She carefully removed it and smoothed it out on the table.
"I have found the twenty. But how did it get there?"
"I thought I heard something in the night. Maybe the dinglemen were here."
"There's no such thing. We need to search."
They looked under the table and in the refrigerator and everywhere else they thought it might be, and several places where they knew it couldn't be. The missing five dollar note remained missing.
"I guess there's no oranges this week," said Ella as she put the rest of the money in a zippered compartment of her purse.
"What's one more week without an orange? It's nothing," said Frank.
"Careful Grandygirl, they've stacked the shiny metal up. They're slippery. We oughtn't leave a trace."
"The papers are out waiting for us. Isn't that nice of them?"
"Do they do that daddy?"
"No, my girl, But sometimes I've seen them left out ready for their trading. It's easier than trying to get into their hiding places. It's a long night's work some nights."
"A green and two blues, daddy."
"Daughter, let's play a trick. Help me fold the green one up. Good girl."
"See those flowers? I'll push the vase up while you slide the folded paper under it. It will make them perplexed when they find it." He giggled.
"Purplplexed," said Grandy, and she giggled too because it was a funny word.
She stepped back into the stack of coins sending them sliding.
"It's okay, daughter, but we'd better hurry away."
Brogryme took one of the blue papers and stuffed it in the pocket behind his licorice pipe.
"That's enough for tonight. Let's go."
"Handel, how did you sleep?"
"Okay, I guess. I heard a funny noise in the night. Like a slidy crash noise."
"I did too, boy. The coins your grandmother stacked up were out of place this morning. And you know what else?"
He told Handel what they'd found.
"Was it the dinglemen, granddad?"
"Your grandmother says there's no such thing, but between you and me, Handel, I know it was."