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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
The Horrible Haggis


Morag was a wee lassie that lived in the Highlands of Scotland. She lived with her mum and dad in a cottage near the edge of the woods. Moragís granny lived at the other side. If Morag wanted to visit her, she had to go through the woods. Either her mum or dad went with her and never allowed her to go by herself. There were creatures in the woods, foxes, wolves, and the most dangerous of all, the haggis. Though Morag and her mum and dad had never seen a haggis, theyíd heard stories, and at night, as they lay safe in their beds, they heard itís frightening moans.

Horrible Haggis

Moragís dad had to go into town. "Iíll be gone all day," he told them and then left.

Moragís mum was busy in the kitchen, baking rhubarb pies and making some treacle toffee. On the counter was a huge salmon that Moragís dad had caught early that morning before sheíd even got out of bed. "Can we go and see Granny today?" she asked her mum.

"We canít, hen. Iíve got to finish these pies and toffee and then I have to fix the salmon, and make some hot scones for supper tonight. We can go tomorrow," she said.

"But Mum, Granny isnít feeling well and Iím worried about her. Can I please take a basket to her? I will fill it with shortbread, oatcakes, sausage rolls, a few bannocks, and the leftover grouse from last night," Morag pleased.

"Oh no, hen, you canít go alone. Iíll not let you walk through the woods alone. Itís not safe. I heard the haggis last night. Itís moans were low and very scary, Morag."

"Mum, Iím a big girl now. Iíll run as fast as I can. Please let me go and see Granny," she whined.

Her mum thought about it for a while and said, "Och, all right, lassie, but you run as fast as you can and donít stop until youíre at your grannyís house. Fill the basket and be off with you then."

Morag was excited. This was her first trip to Grannyís house by herself. She wasnít afraid of the haggis. She put four pieces of shortbread into the basket and then added six sausage rolls, a dozen oatcakes, three bannocks, and the grouse. She put a tartan cloth on top and shut the basket. "Iím ready, Mum."

Her mum was a bit hesitant to let her go, but decided that she was old enough to do it. "Hurry, Morag. No stopping to pet the rabbits or play with the birds! Gií us a hug then, lassie."

Morag wrapped her arms around her mumís waist. "Iíll be careful," she assured her. She put on her wooly tartan cape, pulling the hood up over her dark brown hair. "Cheerio, Mum," she said and hurried into the woods. She hadnít gone far when she heard a lark singing. She looked around for it and saw it high up on a branch of a birch tree. She stopped and listened to it for a few minutes, trying to imitate its warbles. Remembering her mumís instructions to not stop, she hurried on. After a few minutes, a large pale brown hare hopped across her path. Itís ears were long, its tail fluffy and round, and itís whiskers wiggled back and forth as it leapt behind a currant bush. Morag was going to chase it, but then remembered what her mum had said. She hurried on her way. She wasnít too far from the end of the woods when she heard a loud moaning sound. She stopped and listened. "Whatís that noise?" she whispered. She heard it again. "It must be the haggis," she said, frightened. She held tightly onto the basket and ran as fast as she could to her grannyís house, not even turning to look back now and then.

She ran up to her grannyís front door and knocked. "Let me in, Granny," she cried. "The haggis is chasing me. Itís going to eat me. Please hurry, Granny."

Her granny was sitting in her rocking chair in front of the fire. "Goodness me, lassie, hold on. Iím old and canít move quickly anymore," she said as she walked slowly to the door. She pulled it open and saw Morag, standing in her tartan cape and carrying a basket. "Come in, lass."

Morag went inside and put the basket down on the kitchen table. She started taking things out of it so Granny could see. "Granny, here are some goodies for you." She stopped talking and went to look out the window.

"What are you looking at?" Granny asked.

"The haggis. It was in the woods," she replied.

Granny walked over and stood next to Morag, gazing out the window. "In all my years Iíve never seen the haggis. Not once. I hear its moans, but never seen it. I wonder if there is such a thing."

Morag looked at her. "If itís not a haggis, what is moaning?"

"I donít know, but youíd think someone would have seen it by now. All Iíve ever seen is a wolf, a few foxes, hedgehogs, and hares. Never seen a haggis. In fact, I donít even know what a haggis looks like."

"Mum told me once that it was fat and round, with a snout like a pig, and it has sharp teeth, and long claws on his feet," Morag said, walking over to the couch and sitting down.

Granny sat in her chair. "Oh Morag, thereís no such thing as that. Itís all nonsense. Tell me, would you like to spend the night here with your granny? Iíll call your mum and ask her if itís all right?

"Oh yes, Granny. Iíd love to stay here."

Granny called and asked Moragís mum and she said it was fine. She and Morag spent the day together, having fun. That night Morag slept in the same bed with her Granny. As they lay there, they heard a noise outside. It sounded like someone getting into the trash. "Whatís that noise, Granny?" Morag asked, snuggling closer to her.

Granny got up and looked out the window. She could see the moon glowing and the stars shining. She saw a shadow. Something was moving in back of the house. Morag peeked through the curtains. "Itís the haggis, Granny. Iím scared," she cried out, running into the bedroom and pulling the blankets up over her head.

Granny looked again. There was a shadow. Maybe it was just a fox, or perhaps a cat. It looked to big for either of those though. After a while she didnít see the shadow any longer so she went upstairs and crawled into bed with Morag. "Whatever it was, its gone now," she said, hugging Morag tightly.

When the sun rose behind the hills and the mist disappeared, Granny and Morag got up. Granny stoked the fire with chunks of peat and cooked a big pot of porridge. While Morag ate, Granny had an idea. She was going to find out once and for all if there was a haggis hiding in the woods and if it was mean and dangerous. She left Morag at the table, "Iíll be back in a little while, Morag. Stay here and eat, then read a book by the fire."

Off she went into the woods. She saw a few ravens and owls, high in the trees. Occasionally a fox would trot by in the distance. She had just passed a rowan tree covered with red berries when she heard a moaning sound. She stopped. "There it is," she whispered, listening carefully. Again the moans came, moving through the forest in loud echoing noises. She went in the direction of the moan. Slowly she crept. Just then something bumped into the back of her. She screamed, thinking it was the haggis about to eat her. She turned around and it was Morag. "Morag, what are you doing here? I told you to stay in the cottage."

"I was scared, Granny. I wanted to be with you," Morag explained.

"All right, lass. But be quiet. I think its up ahead."

They stepped over fallen branches, around large green ferns and oak tree trunks. Another moan was heard, sending chills up Grannyís spine. "Sit right here, Morag," she ordered. Granny parted a bush of gorse. There, sitting at a fire was an old man. He was dressed in tattered clothes and had no shoes on. He wore a cap, like an elf would wear, and had a long beard, gray and dirty. Suddenly he turned around and looked right at Granny. She gasped.

"Come out," he muttered. Granny took Morag by the hand and the two of them headed towards the fire. "Well, what have we here? A wee lass and her granny? What are you doing in my woods?"

"My nameís Morag and this is my Granny. Are you a haggis?" she asked.

The man started laughing. "A haggis? Why on earth are you asking that lass?"

"My mum and dad, and all the other folks in the village, say thereís a haggis that lives in the forest and it eats people. We can hear it groaning all the time," she answered.

The old man laughed and laughed. "Thatís not a haggis, lass. Thatís me. My nameís Robbie MacRufus by the way. And you are?" he asked.

"Iím Morag, and this is my granny," she answered, reaching her hand to shake his.

"Well, Morag, youíre a bonnie wee lass. Never mind all this talk of monsters and moans. You see, I suffer from some rheumatism and I moan a lot. Iíve got a rather loud voice. Besides that, a haggis isnít a monster, its something you eat."

Granny, feeling foolish, started laughing along with him. Morag joined in. They spent the day with Robbie. Before they left, Morag asked, "Robbie, why do you live out here all by yourself? Wouldnít you rather live in the village with the rest of us?"

"No, lass, I like it out here. At night I see the stars, and itís so quiet I can hear them whispering to each other. Me and the animals, well, we get along just fine. Donít worry about me, lass."

Morag had a thought. "Robbie, can granny and I come and visit you every day?" She smiled at him.

Robbie replied, "Why sure, lass. You and your granny are welcome here anytime, but donít bring too many people with you. I like my quiet."

"Oh, all right. Granny and I will keep it a secret, wonít we granny?" Her granny nodded.

Every day Granny and Morag went to visit Robbie in the woods. Sometimes they took him shortbread, sometimes they took him bannocks, and sometimes he cooked porridge, or mince and tatties for them.

From then on whenever Moragís mum and dad, or any of the villagers, heard the groans and warned her of the haggis, she laughed, but she never told anyone. Robbie was their secret.


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