rolled in from the sea, covering the hills of Inverlarich in a ghostly
layer of morning fog. Fish lay in his bed, wide awake and thinking about
what he wanted to do later on that day. When his mum called him down to
breakfast, he leaped from his bed and rushed into the kitchen, eager and
hungry. Platters of kippered herrings, fried bread, sausages, and eggs
smothered in baked beans awaited his lips.
you have planned for the day, Fish?” His mother handed him a fork.
about you, Harry? What are you doing?” Their father questioned the older
to town. There's a fair today with games and rides. Me and my pals want to
hang around there.” Harry gobbled down a mouthful of fried bread.
know there was a fair. I guess I'll go and get Chips and we'll head over
there too.” Fish scooped up some beans.
away from me, Fish. I don't want to see your ugly face anywhere near me.”
Harry snarled at his brother.
What an awful thing to say!” Maureen's mouth fell open with disgust.
worry, Mum. Chips and I don't plan to go near Harry and his stupid pals.”
Fish glared at Harry.
of this lads. Finish your breakfast and be on your way. Your mum and I are
looking forward to a nice quiet day at home.” Hugh Ross put his hand on
top of his wife's.
of the meal was eaten in silence. When Fish finished he disappeared out
the back door, a scowl plastered across his face.
stood at her front door, waiting for her friend. “I knew you'd come by.
You heard the fair was in town, didn't you?”
you wanting to go?”
course, Fish. I've got my pocket money right here.” Chips patted her
to town. The aroma of candy floss floated through the air towards them. “I
hear they're going to have cheeses and jams and all sorts of biscuits and
sweeties. I can't wait.” Fish picked up his pace, eager to get to the
Norman church, surrounded by an acre or two of grass and trees, was the
setting for the fair. As Fish and Chips arrived, they were greeted by
booths selling hot sausage rolls, meat pies, haggis, hamburgers and
haddock and salty chips. Bottles of vinegar stood next to tomato sauce and
Branston pickle. A ferris wheel spun slowly in circles, carrying children
high above the town. Giggles and screams of fear came from another ride
that spun. Dizzy girls climbed out once the ride ended, elbowing each
other with teasing remarks.
if we're going to eat, we should go on the rides first, or we might get
sick.” Chips led Fish across the grass. “Oh look. There's a tinker.
Tinkers tell fortunes. Let's go and have ours told. I'd like to know who
I'm going to marry and how many children I'm going to have.”
guffawed. “Right, Chips. Why don't you ask what job you're going to have
and how rich you'll be.”
I will.” Chips ran up to the tinker's wagon.
A man sat
on the steps of the brightly painted carriage. Fish slowed, not anxious to
get to close to the stranger.
red hair looked dirty and matted. His clothes were torn and sewn with
want your fortune told?”
I'm not sure about him though.” Chips turned to look at Fish.
inside, both of you and sit. My name is Seamus. I'm from Ireland,” he
said, leading them into the wagon. “If you'll sit here, I'll tell you your
on a stool. Fish stood, glancing around at Seamus's wares. “You've got a
lot of junk in here.”
Chips snapped at her friend. “That's not nice to say.”
right. I collect items. Some call it rubbish. I call it gold.” Seamus
picked something off the counter. “See this?” He held it in his hand. “I
found this in Ireland, on one of the moors. I think it's enchanted, maybe
magic. I believe it has powers.”
sort of powers?” Chip's gaze went to the object.
rolled it around in his hand. “It might look like a piece of white quartz,
but it's a crystal. I can see things in it.”
raised his eyebrows and his chin, hoping for a closer look.
wonderful. Can I see it? Is this how you tell the future?” Chips smiled at
He put it
in her hand. “How does it make you feel when you hold it?”
me feel warm inside. Where did you get it?”
it near Tara, home of the Irish kings of old. I believe some of their
essence was captured in this stone,” Seamus said. “Go ahead and hold it
while I tell your future. Young man, Fish, please sit while I attend to
scooted back on a bench and sat quietly watching.
isn't your real name. Your real name is something Highland, like Mairi.
No, it's not that. It's Fiona.”
gasped. “How did you know that?”
everything. I see in your future that you will become a great writer of
tales. You will use your imagination, a gift from your ancestors, to write
marvelous wonders, full of adventure, romance and mystery. You will marry
and have three children, two girls and a boy. Your future husband is
someone you know right now, a friend, and nothing will ever stop your love
for him. You will live here, in Inverlarich and raise your family in
happiness and love. Good health has been bestowed upon you, along with
wisdom, strength and frivolity.” Seamus hesitated, taking deep breaths.
“There is one thing I see that may present danger to you at some time. You
need always listen to your parents counsel and guidance. When they warn
you of danger, pay attention. If you do this, you will live in peace as
long as you live.”
opened her eyes. “Wow! That's a great future. Fish, why don't you let him
don't want to know anything about my future. What if he tells me I'm going
to die tomorrow?” Fish stood and headed for the door. “None of this for
chased after him. “Stop, Fish.”
came outside and sat on the steps. “You can keep the crystal, Chips...I
mean, Fiona. Keep it close to your heart. Guard it and when you hold it in
your hands, remember your ancestors. You are a descendant of the kings of
Tara. Did your mum or dad ever tell you?”
looked at the crystal in her palm. “No. I knew I had some Irish blood, but
I had no idea. How amazing! I'll tell Mum and Dad and see what they say.”
grabbed her hand. “Come on, Chips. Let' go on some of the rides. I'm
starving and want a piece of shortbread.”
waved goodbye to Seamus. She noticed another man going into the wagon
right after they left. “I think he'll have a lot of customers today.”
joined the throngs of fair attendees, going on the rides and eating every
sugary sweet they could afford. After feasting on rubbish all day, they
were ready to go home. Fish saw Harry near the spinning ride with his
pals. His first instinct was to wave, but he thought better of it and ran
off with Chips.
night Fish told his parents about the tinker and what he'd said to Chips.
woke up the next morning excited about the day. “Fish, do you and Chips
want to come rock climbing with me this afternoon?”
dropped his fork. “What? You're asking us to go? Yesterday you threatened
to beat me up if I spoke to you at the fair.”
coughed. “That was rotten of me. A few of my pals are going, but you two
can come.” He looked at his father.
noticed the grin. “Sure. I'll go and tell Chips and see if she wants to go
breakfast he rushed to her house.
climbing? I've always wanted to do that. Does Harry really want us to come
or did your parents make him ask us?” Chips invited Fish into the house.
my dad made him, but Harry's being nice about it. We're going after lunch.
I'll go home and come back later to pick you up.” Fish ran home. When he
came back later that day he saw Chips and her parents at the front door.
it's all right with us if Chips goes rock climbing, but we don't want her
to climb. She can stay at the bottom and help you with the ropes, but we'd
rather she didn't do anything more than that.” Mr. Campbell nodded at
of them headed for the cliffs. “Why is your mum and dad so afraid? Harry's
been rock climbing for a few years now. I've done it too. It's safe, as
long as you don't do anything foolish.”
felt the crystal in her pocket. She'd picked it up off her drawers and
stuck it in there earlier. “By the way, Fish, I talked to my mum and she
said on her side of the family that we go back to the early Irish kings of
Tara. I thought that was so cool. That means the tinker was telling the
truth and he really does know the future.”
it's a load of rubbish. He just guessed. I'm sure he guessed at your name
too. Nobody can tell the future; not a tinker, not a gypsy or a fortune
teller.” Fish sighed.
neared the loch the birds swooped at them. “They don't want us near their
nests. They think we're climbing the cliffs to disturb them.” Chips
shielded her eyes from the sun. “I can't blame them.” She stopped and
grabbed Fish by the arm. “You know, Fish, you should be more open minded.
I happen to believe him and I'm going to do what my parents said. You
remember what the tinker warned me about don't you? He said to do what my
parents told me and I'd be safe. That's what I am going to do.”
You stay on the ground like a baby. I'm going to show Harry that I'm his
equal.” Fish pulled his arm away and ran off, leaving her to catch up.
to see you finally made it. Jack's up there already. Why don't you go
next, Fish. Chips can go up after me.” Harry wrapped the roping around his
scaled the cliff without any problems. He stood at the top and waved at
Chips. She waved back.
Peter and Kyle climbed and then it was Harry's turn.
right, Chips, wait until I go up and then you come.” Harry put his feet on
the stone wall of the cliff.
climbing, Harry. I'm staying down here.” Chips folded her arms across her
chest. Her thoughts went to the crystal in her pocket.
Your choice.” He started up the cliff. He'd gone up about halfway when a
loud scream came.
the rope! It's coming undone!” Fish ran back and forth across the top of
the cliff, shouting to his brother.
looked up and as he did, the rope slipped out of the grip. Being
experienced, he grabbed onto the cliff wall before the rope fell to the
ground, landing at Chip's feet.
toss a rope down. Hang on!” Peter lowered another rope. Harry reached for
it with his free hand and looped it around his waist. He let himself slide
back to the ground, landing on his bottom next to Chips.
gulped. ”I'd have fallen if I'd gone up. I'd have died!”
minutes later the others stood next to her. Harry brushed the sand off his
pants and hands and started rolling up the rope.
Chip's hand. “You'd have been hurt, Chips. I'm glad you listened to your
parents and didn't go.” He pulled her to a hug.
afternoon sun lowered in the sky. “I say we have a bonfire. I came by the
other day and stacked up some wood. Peter, run home and ask Mum for some
food. We'll barbecue.” Gregor urged his younger brother to go quickly.
fire blazed and sparks popped and floated into the sky, Peter came back
with an ice chest full of food. They feasted on roasted chicken and potato
they'd finished eating Chips stood gazing into the flames. She took the
crystal stone out of her pocket and held it in her hand. A vision unfurled
in the fire. She saw Tara in all its glory and men and women walking about
the hillside. Sheep bleated and darted between the royalty. “My
ancestors.” She whispered and nobody heard.
watched Chips. He knew she was in deep thought. He walked over to her.
“Chips, are you all right?” He noticed the tear rolling down her cheek.
fine, Fish. You know what? I'm not going to call you Fish any more. Your
name is James and my name is Fiona. It's about time we put that Fish and
Chips stuff to a rest, don't you think?” Chips smiled, wiping her tears
away. “After all, we're to be married some day and have three children. I
don't think they'd like it too much if we called each other Fish and
eyes bulged and then a grin spread across his face. “Fiona, are you ready
to go home?”
think I am, James.” They walked hand in hand into the moonlight.