The sun was setting behind
the heather-covered hills that stood across the loch from Mungoís house.
The last of its golden rays filtered in through the kitchen window. Mungo
peeked outside. "Theyíll be here soon," he said to his cat, Ginger,
opening the back door to let her in. He noticed that there wasnít a cloud
to be seen. It was a beautiful clear night and soon the sky would be full
of twinkling stars. "You need to stay in the bedroom. The bairns wonít
leave you alone if they see you." He picked the cat up and put her in the
other room and shut the door.
Just then the doorbell
rang. It was Gregor. "Hi Mr. McGee. Iím here for story night. I canít wait
to hear what you are going to tell us about tonight. Last Fridayís story
was very scary," he said.
"Come on in," Mungo said,
waving goodbye to Gregorís parents as they drove away. "Youíre the first
one here tonight," he said. "You get first choice on the snacks."
Gregor sat down on the
floor and examined all the food. There were sausage rolls, meat pies,
scones with honey butter, bannocks, salt and vinegar flavored potato
crisps, and a tray of sweeties that Mungo had bought at the grocer. Gregor
had just reached for a sausage roll when the doorbell rang. Mungo opened
the door. There stood wee Hamish, Morag and Andy. "Come in," he smiled at
the bairns. "Go and help yourself," he said, pointing to the food. He was
about to shut the door when Gavin and wee Fiona showed up. They were
brother and sister. "Come in," he said to them. "Well, it looks as if
weíre all here. When youíre done feeding your faces, Iíll start the
"Is it going to be a scary
one?" Andy asked. "I had bad dreams last week after your story about the
Goblin Wind and the hag."
"I didnít," said Morag.
"Youíre a baby, Andy," she scoffed.
"No, heís not," Gavin said,
defending Andy. "It was a scary story." Gavin didnít take kindly to Morag
making fun of Andy.
Andy was the shy one of the
group. He was also several years younger than Gavin and Morag. "Will you
tell us a funny story tonight, Mr. McGee?" Andy asked.
"I want a funny story too,"
said wee Hamish.
"Me too," added wee Fiona.
"A funny story it is then.
Gather Ďround and find a comfortable place to sit," he urged the bairns.
He began his story. "Bruce was a huge highland bull. He had reddish-brown
hair that was very long. It was thick and rough and it looked like he had
ropes hanging from his back. His horns were long and stuck way out to the
side. Bruce could hardly see a thing because of all the hair hanging over
his eyes. He felt thirsty. The birds were chirping in the oak trees as he
walked towards the stream to get a drink. He kept tripping on rocks
because he couldnít see them."
"I tripped on a rock once.
It was raining and I was running into the house and I tripped. I scraped
my knee. I used to have a scab, but its gone now," wee Hamish told them.
Everyone looked at his knee to see if they could see remnants of the scab.
Mungo continued, "Iím sure
that hurt you, Hamish. Bruce reached the stream and bent his head down to
take a sip. His long tongue came out of his mouth and he slurped the cool,
refreshing water up. Some of his hair was hanging in the water. Bruce
didnít know it. When he raised his head, a silvery fish with green and
blue scales down its back, was hooked onto a clump of hair hanging over
The bairns giggled. "How
silly," said wee Fiona.
"It was a small fish, about
this big," he said, holding his fingers apart about six inches, "but it
held onto Bruceís hair. Bruce shook his head, trying to get the fish to
let go, but it held on tight and wouldnít let go at all. No matter what
Bruce did, the fish stayed hanging onto his hair. So Bruce walked around
with a fish dangling near his face. He could see it from the side of his
eyes. Its lips moved in and out and its tail wiggled back and forth,"
Mungo said, smiling.
Andy giggled. "Thatís
funny," he said.
"He walked back into the
field and began eating some rye grass. He was chewing away when he felt
something tickling his leg. He looked down. A centipede, about this long,"
Mungo said, holding his fingers apart about four inches, "crawled up onto
his back and wrapped itself around Bruceís long hair. Bruce tried to shake
it off, but the centipede held on tightly. Now Bruce had a fish and a
centipede holding onto his hairs. What could he do? He had to ignore
them," Mungo explained.
"Why didnít he bite the
fish off?" Morag asked.
"Why didnít he pull it off
with his tongue?" Gavin questioned, looking over at Morag. He stuck his
tongue out at her. She didnít seem to mind. She was Ďin loveí with Gavin
and any attention he paid to her was good.
"His tongue wasnít long
enough and the fish was hanging at the side of his face, so he couldnít
reach it with his mouth. As for the centipede; it was on his back and he
had no way of reaching it. Seeing there was nothing he could do, he walked
farther into the field and ate some oats and barley that was growing
there. One of the stalks of oat had an ugly brown spider on it. The spider
crawled onto Bruceís tail. Right away it began to spin a web," Mungo said.
"I hate spiders," said
"I hate them too," said wee
"I have some in a jar in my
house," Gregor said, smiling at wee Fiona. "Do you want to come and see
them?" he asked her.
"No!" she replied.
"Once, at my house, there
was a big spider web downstairs. It had a black spider in it and I
accidentally touched it. The web stuck to me and the spider tried to bite
me. I knocked it off my arm to the ground and stepped on it," Gavin said.
Andy looked at him. "I
donít kill spiders," he whispered.
"Why not?" asked wee
"My dad told me that I
should never kill a spider because a long time ago, King Robert Bruce,
watched a spider spin its web while he was hiding in a cave and that made
him want to go and fight. He won the war and Scotland became a country,"
Andy said, looking at the floor instead of at the other bairns.
"Thatís right, Andy; very
good. Anyway, back to the story. The spider spun its web on Bruceís tail.
Bruce turned around and saw the spider hanging from his tail in a web. He
shook his tail back and forth but the spider wouldnít come off, so Bruce
ignored it and started eating the oats again," Mungo said.
"Thatís three things now,"
Morag counted. "The fish, the centipede, and now a spider. How funny," she
Mungo continued, "A
bluebird was flying above the field, looking for something to eat. It saw
the fish hanging from Bruceís hair. Feeling hungry, it swooped down and
tried to take a bite of the fish. The fish started wiggling about and
Bruce moved his head back and forth, trying to chase the bluebird away. It
kept flying around his face. It wouldnít go away. It wanted the fish!
Bruce started walking away, hoping the bird would fly away, but it didnít.
All day long the bluebird stayed swooping about Bruceís head. This made
the fish wiggle about too."
HEE! HEE! HEE! HEE! HEE!
HEE! HEE! The bairns laughed and laughed, imagining the blue bird flying
"A bumblebee was gathering
pollen from a fluffy purple thistle. It just so happened that Bruce wanted
to eat that thistle and didnít see the bumblebee. He opened his mouth
wide. He chomped the thistle flower right off. The bumblebee barely had a
chance to escape. It was angry. It flew up into the air and came down,
stinging Bruce on his shoulder! Bruce hardly felt it because of all his
hair. The bumblebeeís stinger went right into Bruceís body. The bumblebee
tried to pull it out and it wouldnít come out. He was stuck. The bumblebee
had to stay on Bruceís shoulder all day long. It kept buzzing and
fluttering its wings, trying to fly away, but it couldnít," Mungo said.
"Did the bluebird see it?"
asked wee Fiona.
"Yes, the bluebird did see
it. Now it tried to eat the fish and the bumblebee. It was becoming very
annoying to Bruce to have the bluebird flying near his shoulder now too.
Bruce didnít know what to do. He had a fish, a centipede, a spider and a
bumblebee stuck to his hair and a bird flying around his head bothering
him. He walked to the nearby loch. He spotted several other highland
cattle grazing there. Angus, a bull, saw Bruce coming towards them. He
also saw the fish dangling from the hair around his face and the bluebird
flying around. ĎWhatís going on there?í Angus said to the others. ĎLook at
Bruce. Heís gone and caught a fish!í The cattle started laughing at
"Thatís not nice," said
"Itís not his fault,"
sighed wee Hamish.
"No, it wasnít his fault,
but they laughed at him. Bruce tried to ignore them. He went to the loch
to get a drink. He stuck his face into the water. Suddenly the fish let
go. It swam away into the deep loch. Bruce shook his face. There was no
more fish in his hair. He was so glad. Maybe the bluebird would fly away
now," Mungo said.
"Did it?" asked wee Fiona.
"No. It wanted the
bumblebee," Gavin said. He saw Morag staring at him. He stuck his tongue
out at her again. She only smiled an even bigger smile back.
"Thatís right. The bluebird
stayed around. The other highland cattle walked closer. ĎBeen doing a bit
of fishing?í asked Angus, the bull. Bruce ignored him and walked the other
direction. He could hear the cattle laughing at him as he plodded off.
Bruce saw a weeping willow tree up ahead. Its branches were long and hung
down to the ground. It was starting to get warm and he wanted to sit in
the shade. As he walked under the branches, one of them knocked the
centipede off his back. It fell to the ground and crawled away under a
leaf," Mungo told them.
"No more fish and no more
centipede. He still has the spider and the bumblebee in his hair and the
bluebird flying around, doesnít he Mr. McGee?" asked Gregor.
"Oh yes, they were still
there. Bruce rested in the shade of the willow tree. He lay down on the
grass and dozed off. The bluebird landed on top of Bruceís head and
perched there while he slept. Even though he was sleeping, his tail still
swatted flies and wiggled back and forth. One time he swung it against the
tree trunk. He hit it so hard that the spider flew out of its web and onto
the ground. It was angry and ran off behind some stones. When Bruce woke
up, the bluebird flew into the air. Bruce looked at his tail. There was no
more spider! He was glad. He looked at the bumblebee. It was still
fluttering its wings and trying to pull away from the bull. He could see
the bluebird, still flying around. Up in the tree, Bruce spotted a bird
nest. He could see it was filled with tiny baby bluebirds. The bluebird
must be trying to get food to feed her babies," Mungo explained.
"Oh? The bluebird had
babies in its nest. How cute," said Morag.
"Itís a mummy bluebird?"
asked wee Fiona.
"Yes, it was a mummy
bluebird. Bruce realized that the bluebird was just hungry, so he went
over to an ant nest and stepped on it with his big hooves. Thousands of
black ants came running out of the collapsed anthill. The bluebird swooped
down and started gobbling them up. Bruce watched as she filled her beak
and flew up to her nest. He could hear all the little bluebirds chirping
as their mummy dropped ants into their mouths. There were enough ants
there to feed them until they were big enough to leave the nest. Bruce
smiled and felt happy. Mummy bluebird chirped a pretty song of thanks for
him," Mungo clapped his hands with joy.
"That was nice of him to do
that," said Andy.
"I like bluebirds. They do
sing pretty. My daddy reads me a book about bluebirds every night before I
go to sleep," wee Hamish said.
"What happened to the
bumblebee then?" asked Gavin.
"Bruce walked on, leaving
the bluebirds to eat. He soon came to a field filled with bright
reddish-orange poppies. They were beautiful. There were thousands of
poppies. Do you know who likes poppies?" Mungo asked the bairns.
"Butterflies?" said Gregor.
"Bumblebees," smiled Andy.
"Thatís right, Andy.
Butterflies like poppies too, Gregor. The bumblebee that was stuck on
Bruceís shoulder saw all the poppies. He got so excited seeing all the
flowers filled with pollen, that he buzzed loudly. He pulled really hard
and fluttered his wings very quickly. The stinger came out and the
bumblebee flew off into the air," Mungo said.
Wee Fiona clapped her hands
excitedly and giggled. The others laughed too. "Thatís no more things
stuck in Bruceís hair," said Morag. "Iím sure he was happy." She looked at
Gavin and winked her eye. He shook his head back and forth in disgust.
"At last, Bruce was free.
He was so glad that he ran back to the loch and jumped in with a big
splash. Water gushed out, drenching Angus and the other highland cattle.
They started mooing angrily and walked away. Bruce swam about and had fun.
When he got out, he shook the water out of his fur. He checked to make
sure no more fish were hanging on him, and seeing there were none, he
walked back to the field of rye grass and ate until he was full."
"That was a funny story,
Mr. McGee," said Gregor.
Just then the doorbell
rang. "Time to go," Mungo said to the bairns. Their mums and dads were
there to pick them up.
"Can I take a sausage roll
home with me?" asked Gregor.
"Of course, lad. Take two
if youíd like," Mungo said.
"Can I have a meat pie to
take with me?" asked wee Hamish.
"You can all take whatever
you want," Mungo said. The bairns each took something they liked, waved
goodbye to Mr. McGee and went off with their mums and dads.
It was suddenly very quiet
in Mungoís house. He went into the bedroom and let Ginger out. Luckily
there were a few bits of food left for her to have for supper! "Another
grand night with the bairns," Mungo said to Ginger, "another grand night!"
Before Ginger finished nibbling on the crumbs, Mungo was sound asleep. She
meowed and finished licking the saucer clean.