A long time ago, in the enchanting little town of Candyland, there lived a certain Mr. Ice-Cream.
The people of the town were not very fond of Mr. Ice-Cream. They were too polite to say anything to his face, of course, but when he was not around, they would often talk about what a strange man he was.
“I mean,” Ms. Biscuit would say when they gathered at the pub in the evenings, “We don’t know much about him, do we? He wasn’t born ‘ere, like the rest of us. He’s from… where was it again?”
“North,” Old Man Cider would say, nodding knowingly.
“North!” Ms. Biscuit would continue, “They’re just not like us.” She would look around, screwing up her face in an expression of displeasure, making sure her audience was indeed hanging on to her every word, and then she would go on. “Why did he suddenly move here? Where is his family? And why is he so damn cold all the time?”
Mr. Ice-Cream indeed had no family. He did not even have a cat. He lived alone in a small but cozy house near the town center. But he smiled at everyone, bade everyone good morning, and at the end of the day asked everyone if they had a good day. At first, it seemed he would fit right in, but then there was that incident with Mr. Muffin at the market.
Mr. Muffin was browsing the old bookshop for a book that he had not already read to his grandchildren, when he saw Mr. Ice-Cream enter the shop. Eager to welcome the newest member of their town, Mr. Muffin went ahead, with his usual flurry of questions regarding the town, the mayor, and the weather, and he grasped Mr. Ice-Cream’s hand for a shake. Immediately he let go and stepped back. It was colder than the snows of December.
Mr. Ice-Cream apologized and left the shop promptly, but then everyone else eventually started to feel it too. Mr. Ice-Cream was not just cold to the touch, but he seemed to radiate an aura of cold. His house seemed to be always cold too. You could feel the chilly air if you just walked past an open window, even though it was late spring.
Very soon, the townspeople began being less subtle in their behavior towards Mr. Ice-Cream. They would avert their eyes and move away whenever Mr. Ice-Cream was out for a walk. Most would not even talk to him directly. Those who did, would usually keep a distance.
It was hard to say what Mr. Ice-Cream felt about this attitude of his fellow inhabitants of Candyland. He always wore a scarf, so you could not see his expressions, but he soon stopped going out for walks unless he absolutely needed to. It went on like this for a month or two.
Meanwhile, the summer that year was the worst in decades. Nature was not kind. Rivers dried, crops did not grow, and many families started running out of food or money.
It was on one afternoon around this time, a couple of months after the market incident, that Mr. Ice-Cream saw Little Lollipop sitting on the sidewalk opposite his home. The little boy looked quite weak. Mr. Ice-Cream went out and asked him, in his kindest voice, what the trouble was.
“We haven’t had anything to eat all week, Mr. Ice-Cream,” said Little Lollipop, almost crying, “The whole family is starving.”
“I see,” said Mr. Ice-Cream in a grave voice. He looked thoughtful for a long while, and then said, “Well, I have something that might help.” From inside the house, he fetched a tub and handed it to the little boy.
The tub was cold. Little Lollipop, surprised, asked, “What is this?”
“Why, it is ice-cream, of course!” said Mr. Ice-Cream as if it was the most obvious answer in the world, “My name is Mr. Ice-Cream, is it not? What else would I have? Now take this home. Go on. Share this with your family.”
Little Lollipop was somewhat confused, but he was too hungry so he took it home. It was indeed ice-cream. Vanilla flavored, sweet scented, and delicious. Their whole family ate that night.
The news of Mr. Ice-Cream’s generosity spread quite fast. It seemed he always had ice-cream. The house that was usually avoided by everyone, now was visited by many strangers who looked weak and hungry but always left with a tub of ice-cream and a smile on their faces.
Sometimes people came even from neighboring localities. You could see hungry children from Snacktown or Dessertville lining up at Mr. Ice-Cream’s house. Even Ms. Biscuit had to grudgingly admit that Mr. Ice-Cream was doing something noble. Very soon, their town was once again full of happy faces, and every one of them praised Mr. Ice-Cream.
The first winds of autumn reached eventually, and it brought rain. People were ecstatic. Mr. Ice-Cream did not go out much these days, even though he was welcome everywhere. The children who still went to his house, sometimes to get ice-cream, and sometimes just to talk to him, said that he was not doing so well. Perhaps he had a fever because he was not as cold as he used to be anymore.
Little Lollipop’s mother Ms. Lollipop could not help but worry. She called for the best doctor from Breakfastburge. The doctor arrived three days later. When they went to the house, there was no response. They made their way in and found that Mr. Ice-Cream had passed away.
“Well, he was made of ice-cream, of course!” chided Doctor Toast, “His name was Mr. Ice-Cream, for crying out loud! He gave parts of himself away so people here could eat, live, and be happy! Didn’t anyone realize? It was so obvious!”
As he left the house, the doctor seemed to be muttering something about stupid villagers wasting his time. After he left, the townspeople looked at each other, utterly confused. After a minute or two, most of them shrugged and went on their way. Little Lollipop and his mother stood still in front of the empty house for a while. Then they left as well.