Ned was a carpenter. His father had been a carpenter. His entire family as far back as he knew had been carpenters. He loved thinking up new ideas, ever attracted by life’s oddities. But now he could see that his business was about to end. No one seemed to be interested in his furniture anymore. Someone had come to the town with a new way of carpentry, making everything more intricately designed than Ned. This was drawing almost all attention away from his work. Ned knew at least part of the reason why people didn't come to him any more was because he was so forgetful. He would make a cabinet for Frank and give it to Barney. They never really minded him getting mixed up for very long even though they would get annoyed at the time because Ned had such a carefree nature.
He had to go out into the world to find a living. His mother had begged him not to go, but Ned had no choice. She eventually agreed to let him go and said she would stay in her rocking chair and pray for his safe return until he came back. His mother would always sit in her rocking chair and pray when she was worried about something. It was all she really ever did.
Ned had been walking for a couple of hours whistling in the way he did when he had been working on furniture. He was looking around taking in the trees and grass and hills of the country side. Suddenly he saw what looked like a trapdoor fixed into a nearby hill. Ned stopped looking at it feeling very confused. He knew that trapdoors were definitely not usually in hills.
His curiosity aroused, Ned walked over to the trapdoor and looked at it closely. He could see that it had been made very well with metal hinges and an exquisitely made lock. He had never been outside of his home town before and didn't know what to expect. In fact he had barely heard anything about what was beyond the town boundary.
The door felt cold to the touch. It looked like it had rarely been used if at all. Ned hesitantly tried to open it. He had to pull very hard but the trapdoor opened. There was a very wet ladder going down into darkness. After much thought he decided to climb down the ladder to see where it went.
Ned hadn't been going far when he felt his foot slip. He grabbed for the ladder with his free hand, but too late! Ned felt himself falling and he lost his grip on the ladder with his other hand. Oh why had he been so careless on a slippery ladder?! The last that was heard of Ned was a piercing whistle as he fell.
The mother of whistling Ned was praying in her rocking chair for the rest of her life. When Fred and Barney thought of Ned, as they did whenever they needed something different made, they wished Ned had been a little more like his mother and that she had picked up something from her son’s example. “Life just doesn’t deal even hands,” Barney observed to Fred as they raised a glass to Ned in fond memory.