| Jolly Solly |

It Happened at Midnight

"We received reports of building being done at night here. That’s against the rules”



Eli, of Eli’s animal center, was building a succah. The animals raised their heads. They listened to the strange sounds.

Soon the succah was almost ready. Eli was pleased.

Suddenly, a ruckus was heard at the entrance gate. Eli and his helpers hurried over to see what was going on.

Uh-oh. Mr. Ingleton was at the gate. He was the environmental inspector. He looked grim.

“How can I help you, sir?” Eli asked. He was polite. But he didn’t open the gate. The inspector wasn’t allowed to inspect without notice.

“I’m here with a closure order,” replied Mr. Ingleton. He waved an official-looking paper. “This requires your center to close within 48 hours.” He couldn’t hide a smile. The inspector hated Eli’s place. He had been trying to close it down for years. Trouble was, the center was so well run, he’d never managed it.

“B-but why?” asked Eli in shock. “We’ve done nothing wrong.”

“Aha! That’s what you say. However, we received reports of building being done at night here. That’s against the rules.”

Eli was stunned.

“But that’s impossible!” he cried. “We haven’t done any building at night.”

Mr. Ingleton shuffled his papers.

“Well, I have a record here of a complaint, received at midnight. It was from a neighbor. I’ll be back in two days to enforce the closing order.”

And with that, he marched off. Eli and his helpers gaped at each other.

What a disaster! How could they close the animal center? Where would all the animals go? And what about the many visitors; how could they disappoint them?

“Why don’t you call that clown friend of yours?” asked Izzy, one of the helpers. “He helped you with Mr. Ingleton before.”

Eli sighed.

“I don’t know,” he replied. “It all seems so final. I’m not sure there’s anything he can do.”

But Izzy insisted, and Jolly Solly was called. The clown was very concerned to hear about the problem.

“Are you sure nobody did any work here at night?” he asked.

“I’m sure,” replied Eli. “We’re very careful not to disturb the neighbors.”

“Hmm,” mused Jolly Solly. “Perhaps the noise came from somewhere else. Tell you what! I’ll spend the night at your center, and see if I can hear anything. We’ll work this out together, never fear.”

That night, Jolly Solly made himself comfortable in an unused office. Soon all was silent. The clown himself was almost asleep when he heard it:


He hurried out of the office. There was the succah, but it was dark and empty. He peered over the wall to see if any neighbors were banging, but all the houses were dark and silent. Where could the banging be coming from?

Jolly Solly walked slowly around, searching for an intruder. He jumped when he saw a movement, but it was only Tuki. The parrot stuck his head out of his cage, happy to see his dear friend.

“Hello, old thing,” Jolly Solly greeted the parrot.

“Pop goes the weasel,” Tuki replied solemnly.

“Have you been watching the succah-building?” asked Jolly Solly.

As soon as he heard the word succah, Tuki opened his beak.

“Bang-bang-bang!” he said at once, He sounded just like a hammer on wood.

Jolly Solly jumped.

“I do believe I’ve found the intruder,” he declared. Tuki opened his beak for a new round of banging, but the clown quickly shushed him. It wouldn’t do for Mr. Ingleton to get another complaint of night noise!

The next morning, Eli and his assistants were all amused to hear about the parrot’s antics.

“But what do we do about the closure order?” one of them asked.

“I’ll speak to Mr. Ingleton,” replied Jolly Solly. “Once I explain what happened, there’s no way he’ll be able to close us down. But Tuki will have to have his cage moved to a quieter area for a while.”

Eli and his assistants thanked Jolly Solly for his help.

As the clown walked away, he felt someone try to snatch his hat off. This time, he knew immediately who the culprit was.

“Manny!” he called sternly. “Stop monkeying around!”

(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 878)

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