I wrote this simple, old-fashioned children’s story many years ago, long before I was a grandpa myself. This is its first, and perhaps last, publication. I do wish it were illustrated. Maybe I should take on that challenge. I might surprise myself. I would have to. Then again, I do so love the pictures in your head. Isn’t that what makes our friendship so easy to imagine, so vital, and so real?
The whole great countryside was asleep. The night was clear and cold, and the stars were winking above the farmhouses and fields.
But inside an old stone cottage, there was one little boy who could not sleep. It was Simon. Simon was still awake, because Grandpa, who always slept beside him, was snoring too loudly.
“Lo-ho, lo-ho,” Grandpa said as he breathed in, and as he breathed out. “Ho-ho, lo-ho.”
It was now very late, and Simon didn’t know what to do. Quietly, he sat up and looked around the room.
Papa was stretched out asleep by the fireplace, and Mama was there beside him.
Grandma, who always seemed so busy during the day, was sound asleep in her chair, cozy beneath her favorite quilt.
Big Brother was asleep, and Sister too.
Even the family’s lazy old dog, Bobo, was asleep.
Everyone was asleep but Simon!
Simon lay back down beside Grandpa, feeling like the only person in the world who was still awake.
Meanwhile, Grandpa went right on snoring. “Lo-ho,” he said. “Lo-ho.”
Simon tried putting his hands over his ears, but he heard the snoring anyway.
Then he rolled himself up into a little ball. But that didn’t do a bit of good.
He unrolled himself and closed his eyes as tight as he could. He whispered the word Sleep over and over. That almost worked, but a few minutes later his eyes popped open by themselves and Simon was more awake than ever.
Well, if Simon couldn’t fall asleep, then he would have to think of some way to make Grandpa stop snoring. At the same time he knew he must not disturb his grandfather, because he worked hard all day and needed his rest.
Simon’s first idea was to poke Grandpa in the stomach with his little finger. He did this, ever so lightly.
But it didn’t work.
“Lo-ho, lo-ho,” Grandpa snored.
Then he remembered how much Grandpa liked ripe tomatoes and fresh green cucumbers. So he whispered softly in his ear, “Grandpa, are you hungry? The tomatoes and cucumbers are ripe.”
But that didn’t work either, and Grandpa kept on snoring.
“Lo-ho, lo-ho,” he said.
Simon couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed. But then he remembered something Grandpa liked even better than tomatoes and cucumbers, and that was Grandma’s raisin pie. Grandma made the best raisin pie in the world.
“Grandpa?” whispered Simon again. “There’s a big raisin pie baking in the oven. I think it’s almost ready.”
“Lo-ho, lo-ho-ho,” answered Grandpa.
Now Simon was beginning to wonder if Grandpa would ever stop snoring. But just then he remembered how much his grandfather liked to go fishing during the summer.
“Grandpa, let’s go fishing,” Simon whispered hopefully.
But, “Lo-ho-ho, lo-ho-ho,” snored Grandpa.
“Grandpa, the cows are singing in the barn,” said Simon.
“Ho-and-lo, lo-and-ho,” snored Grandpa.
“Grandpa, the horses are dancing in the garden.”
“Heave-ho,” answered Grandpa, “heave-ho.”
“Grandpa, the chickens are up on the roof,” said Simon.
“Happity-lo, hippity-ho,” snored Grandpa.
“Grandpa, there’s corn in your ear.”
“And a crow in the snow,” snored Grandpa, “a crow in the snow.”
Well, it was just no use! Simon had tried everything he could think of, and Grandpa was still snoring! Only now, he was snoring louder than ever!
Simon sat up again and looked around the room.
Everyone was still asleep — Papa and Mama by the fireplace, Grandma in her chair, Big Brother and Sister, and even lazy old Bobo. But how could they sleep with all that noise?
Simon lay back down. Then he looked out the window and up at the night sky.
A big round moon was just coming up.
And how many stars there were! One couldn’t hope to count them all, not even in a million years.
“One, two, three,” Simon said to himself.
The moon rose a little higher.
“Four, five, six.”
And the stars shined a little brighter.
“Seven, eight, nine.”
For some reason, Simon’s eyes felt heavy. It wasn’t easy to keep them open. But he must, because there were so many stars, and he had to count them all.
“Ten, eleven, twelve.”
Simon didn’t know it, but he was almost asleep.
“Thirteen . . . fourteen . . . fifteen . . .”
And the whole great countryside was quiet, except for Grandpa’s snoring.
Then, lo-ho, the moon went down, and one by one the stars all turned into butterflies.