The name of the small island town had long been disputed. In the town lived two prominent families, and depending upon whom you asked, you would most certainly receive two distinctly different stories of the towns name and its true founders. The Itty family would proudly relate to those willing to listen, the bravery of their forebear Red Itty, and how he'd led the group to the paradise they now called the Itty-Bitty City.
The Bitty family, on the other hand would adamantly disagree, sighting that the facts told by the unreliable Itty family were somewhat skewed and the true leader of the group had been none other than the renowned explorer Little Sam Bitty. Thus the name of their fair province was not the Itty-Bitty City at all, but was the City of Bitty-Itty.
On one fact though, they did however agree. The group fleeing the mainland in search of freedom, had founded this community nearly a hundred years ago. Leaving the big city, each in their homemade crafts, they searched for a land that they could live free, a place where they had no one to fear, and on the shores of this tiny island they found such a place.
Life in the big city had reduced their proud race to nothing more than scavengers, relying on the Colossal's ignorance of them for their very survival. By scavenging at night and acquiring only what they needed for survival, they had cleverly managed to stay clear of the Colossals for centuries. As long as the nightly haul wasn't noticeably large, the Colossals would think that they had merely misplaced the objects that could no longer be found. But the onslaught of the overpopulated cities was making the task of staying out of sight more and more difficult.
Though life on the Island was not without its danger, the Itty's and the Bitty's could live free, with no reason to hide other than the occasional snake or seagull in search of its daily meal. The island would be nothing short of paradise if not for the constant squabbling among the two clans. Talks between the elders had broken down and the two families decided to live their lives as separatists and do everything possible to ignore the other. They each established their own government, elected their own officials, chartered their own schools, and did the many other day to day things within their own circle, never daring to cross the line.
The separatist movement kept the peace for a time, but faltered when both families laid claim to the bell that adorned the lead ship in their expedition, the same bell that passionately rang as the scout shouted, "land ho!" Each group wanted the bell for their newly constructed Town Halls, and was ready to fight for their inherent rights to it.
Jason Itty and Minnie Bitty, the two littlest of the litl'ns played among the sand dunes, chasing hermit crabs, and occasionally catching one for the wild ride. They didn't care that their last names were not the same. They didn't care about any feuds or stupid old bell. What they did care about was adventure and having fun with their bestest friend in the whole wide world.
"What do you suppose all the fuss is over this ding-dang bell, Minnie?"
She giggled. "That's funny Jasonthe ding-dang bell. You get itthe ding-dang bell, like the sound."
"Yeah, Minnie," he said with a bit of concern. "But what are we gonna do about it?"
"Whatcha mean, Jason? We're just litl'ns, too small to do much of anything about anything. Besides, those crazy biggins will get over it. It's just a dumb old bell."
"I don't knowI heard rumors, rumors that their may be a war."
"War? What's a war, Jason?"
"Uncle Thaddeus said it was when folks couldn't agree on something, and they'd fight to see who got to be right."
"Well, me and Sissy fight all the time, it aint so bad, really."
"Not that sort of fighting, Minnie. It's where the biggins fight each other and some of them might get hurt or even die."
A look of concern swept over her young face. "You mean they would actually kill over that stupidding-dang bell?" she asked, with no amusement this time.
"That's what Uncle Thaddeus said. He said there were wars all the time back on the mainland."
"Then we have to do something, Jason. We just gotta."
"I got an idea, but it'll get us in tons of trouble, I'm sure of it."
"Heck, I don't care," she said. "Momma says trouble is my middle name."
Back in town at opposing town halls, tempers began to flare. "They have no right to keep us from the bell," someone yelled from the crowd. "It's part of our heritage, our history."
"Yeah!" someone else yelled. "I say we take it, and if they get in the way, thenthey'll just have to pay the consequences."
A loud overpowering cheer erupted from the crowd as Petty Bitty, Mayor of Bitty-Itty, pounded his gavel on the wooden tabletop, trying to restore order to the unruly crowd. "Order! Order!" he yelled. "We must have order! We've lived peaceably here for nearly a century. We can't allow something like this turn us into warmongers. We'd be no better than those we came here to escape."
"This is different," a feisty young Bitty yelled. "We have the right and obligation to defend what is rightfully ours."
The crowd roared again. "Wait," Mayor Bitty begged. "Wait! You must give me time to negotiate. I'm sure we can come to a peaceful agreement."
"You can't negotiate with an Itty," the young Bitty protested. "We've tried that before. They don't understand reason."
Jason and Minnie watched, as on each end of town the crowds grew angrier. "We have to work quick," he said. "They won't wait much longer."
"What're we gonna do, Jason? We can't let them fight."
"Don't worry, Minnie. Just get Sissy, Tommy and Chester, and meet me at your Uncle Albert's house as quick as you can."
"Uncle Albert's house?"
"Just go, Minnie. We don't have time, just go."
As the groups of biggins began their separate marches toward the resting place of the historic craft that had led the way to their independence, the litl'ns met at Uncle Albert's house. Professor Albert Bitty was the island's number one scientist, inventor and all around quack.
"So, genius, what's this great plan of yours?" Sissy Bitty asked sarcastically.
"Chester," Jason said, "I need you to go to the front door and keep the professor occupied."
"How am I supposed to do that?"
"I don't know, Chester. Have one of those sneezing fits you have, or something. Just keep him busy. The rest of us," he said as he looked around, "are gonna borrow his flying machine."
"Count me out," Sissy said. "That aint borrowing, that's stealing."
"Please, Sissy, please," Minnie whined. "We've gotta stop them."
Sissy paused. "Okay," she finally said, "but you're gonna take the blame if we get caught."
"Deal," Jason said.
The machine turned out to be heavier than it looked and it was all they could do to move it. The sides were smooth with no clear place to get a handhold, but with a great deal of effort they managed to get it out of the workshop. Once outside, however, they found that the smooth body of the heavy cylinder slid easily along the grass, allowing them to make quick progress.
Chester rejoined the group once he saw they were clear of the professor's house. "What's this on the side?" he asked. "BIC, he spelled out."
"Don't know," Jason said. "Maybe it stands for Big Idiot Colossals," he added with a giggle.
They managed to reach the beach only minutes ahead of the two angry mobs. "So, what next?" Sissy asked.
"Tommy, you're the best climber," Jason said, continuing to ignore Sissy. "We need you to climb the mast and tie this rope to the bell."
Jason quickly attached the other rope end to the bottom of the cylinder, while the other three smoothed out the linen ball-shaped canopy with the open end facing the cylinder.
Jason studied the cylinder, and turned the large wheel several times causing sparks to fly, but no flame. "Anybody got an idea of how this thing works?" he asked.
"Sure," Minnie said. "The cylinder is filled with a synthetically enhanced gaseous hydrocarbon C4H10 butane, which is released by this simple see-saw lever release system, allowing the fuel to be propelled through the modified high-pressure valve. When ignited by the wheel spinning over the spark-producing pyrophoric alloy, it creates a jet effect, producing a large amount of forced air heat and thus inflating the balloon, causing it to rise."
Everyone looked at the youngest litl'n with astonishment.
"What?" she asked, shrugging and holding her palms upward. "That's what Uncle Albert says anyway."
The group chuckle was quickly washed away by the sound of the approaching mobs, and they busily went to work. They tied the valve open, releasing a loud hiss of gas, and with a group effort the wheel was spun, igniting the flame.
As the mobs simultaneously appeared on different ends of the beach, the balloon broke free from the ground and began to loft upward, pulling the slack from the rope. Everyone including the five litl'n watched in awe as the balloon made its way skyward. No one gave notice to the rope entwined around Minnie's ankle, until the loud shrill escaped when it pulled her feet from under her and lifted her upward.
Portions of each group ran to rescue the little girl, others still bent on greed raced to save the bell that was being lifted from its perch. As the roaring flame continued to force the balloon higher the group slowly began to lose its hold on the rope and little Minnie Bitty, bit-by-bit slipped away. The group desperate to save the bell turned its attention to the hopeless efforts of the others, and at that moment life on the island changed forever, as they gave up on the bell to save one of their own. With a joint effort, enough control of the flying craft was gained to release Minnie from her entanglement.
Kitty Bitty held her daughter tightly as the balloon caught the winds aloft, quickly moved out to sea with the bell in tow and disappeared over the horizon, never to be seen again.
That night at the celebration of peace, the two towns joined as one and was renamed The No-bell City. For their part in bringing peace to the island, the five litl'ns were honored and awarded the No-bell Peace Prize.