It was a lovely late summerís day.
The trees were filled with thick, green leaves.Acorns were growing on the
oaks. Ants were busily working, gathering food for winter, as were the
squirrels. They could be seen digging holes and hiding seeds and pine nuts
in them, then quickly covering them up. Ian and Mac were high in their
tree, looking down at the woods below. "What a lovely day, isnít it, Mac?"
Ian said, taking in a deep breath of fresh highland air.
"Aye, itís grand," Mac answered. He
turned his head when he heard sounds of people laughing. "Whatís this?" he
said, looking down.
A group of six young women and two
adult women dropped bags, boxes and packages at the bottom of Ian and
Macís tree. "Who are they?" Ian whispered. "What are they doing at our
"I donít know. Letís listen," Mac
"Weíll set up our tents here," one
of the women, Lindsay, ordered. "I want Megan and Moira to go and look for
some firewood. Shannon and Lisa, I need you to help me with the tents and
Lauren and Mary to help Helen unload boxes. All right, you heard me. Letís
get this campsite set up." The girls ran about and began their jobs.
"Theyíre camping at the bottom of
our tree. Now what will we do?" Ian asked. "Whatís all this about a
"Iím sure theyíll be safe. Theyíll
make one with rocks around it and the leaders will make sure it is out.
Donít worry. I think as soon as we can, we need to sneak down and get some
food, enough to last for a few days," Mac suggested. When all the girls
were busy, the raccoons snuck down the other side of the tree, ran into
the woods, gathered nuts, berries and a few grubs, and then climbed back
up the tree.
It wasnít long before the sun began
to set. "What are they cooking?" Ian asked. He smelled the aroma of
sizzling fish. "I smell fish and beans. I love beans. Do you think theyíll
have any leftovers?"
"If they do, theyíll just dump them
into the fire. There are no refrigerators around here," Mac said.
The girls ate the fish as the sun
set and darkness filled the woods. The campfire was glowing and the wood
was popping and sending little sparks up towards the two raccoons. "Itís
almost like a fireworks display, isnít it?" Ian laughed.
"Letís go snipe hunting," shouted
Giggles and cheers rang out. Helen
and Lindsay grabbed the flashlights and the girls followed them.
"Whatís a snipe?" Ian asked.
"I donít know. Letís follow them and
see," Mac said.
They climbed down the tree and
caught up with the girls, staying well behind. "Girls, look behind the
trees. Snipes like to hide there. Youíve all got your paper bags. Have
them ready," Lindsay said.
"We donít have paper bags," Ian
gulped. "What do we need them for? Have you seen a snipe behind the tree
before?" He was scared.
"I might have seen one the other
night," Mac said, not really knowing what a snipe was.
Suddenly the girls stopped. "Shhh,
girls, I just saw a snipe," Helen said, putting her arm out to stop the
girls. "I saw its eyes. They were glowing, red."
The girls screamed. Ian and Mac
screamed. "I donít want to catch a snipe, Mac. I donít want to see it.
Itís got red eyes," he gulped again, "that glow."
Helen headed for the tree. "Stay
there girls and Iíll see if I can catch it." She opened her paper bag and
moved closer. "I see it," she whispered.
The girls were huddled together, all
afraid and Ian and Mac held onto each other. "We donít have paper bags,
Mac. What if it runs towards us? What should we do?" Ian was nearly crying
"If it comes, run," Mac said.
"Iíve got it! Iíve got the snipe!"
Helen shouted and held up the bag. Suddenly she shook the bag and then
dropped it. "Oh no! It got away. Look out!" she shouted. The girls ran
screaming towards their tents. Mac and Ian ran screaming, heading for the
"Yikes! The snipeís on the loose,"
Helen and Lindsay started laughing.
"It works every time, doesnít it?" Helen said. "They really believe
thereís such a thing as a snipe."
Lindsay laughed, "You fooled them
good this time. Did you see the look of horror on their faces?"
The leaders walked slowly back to
the camp. Ian and Mac were in the tree, holding onto each other and
shaking in fright. The girls were in their tents, which were zipped up and
closed tightly. "Good night, girls," Lindsay said. "Sleep well."
"Iím not going to sleep tonight, not
while thereís a snipe running around," Ian sighed.
"I donít think snipes can climb
trees," Mac said, trying to calm Ian down. "I think weíre safe for
tonight. Watch your legs though. I think snipes like to eat toes," he
teased. Ian pulled his feet up and tucked them underneath his body.
It was a restless night for the
raccoons. While Mac wasnít nearly as frightened as Ian, he jumped up
whenever he heard a sound. Finally, they dozed off. They woke up to the
smell of bacon frying in a big black pan. They looked down. The girls were
sitting around the campfire eating bacon and eggs. "That smells good," Ian
said. "I want some bacon too," he pleaded.
The raccoons were pleased when the
campers went to look for insects to make a bug collection and left a few
slices of bacon in the pan. "Quick. Theyíre gone. Letís grab that bacon,"
Mac said. The two ran down the tree and took the bacon out of the pan. "Och,
thatís just too delicious. Letís have a wee look and see what else theyíve
got to eat."
They rummaged through all the girls
things and found several bags of sweets, some potato crisps, a bag of nuts
and some fresh apples. "Letís take these up the tree, before the girls
come back," Ian said. It was difficult for them to carry the food up, but
they eventually lifted the stash on their branch.
When the girls came back to camp
with their bugs, Shannon shouted, "Hey, someoneís been into my sweets!"
The other girls started checking and most of them had missing food.
"It was probably the snipe," Mary
Ian and Mac laughed. "It wasnít the
snipe. Not this time," Ian said.
As night fell, the girls gathered
around the campfire. It was a big one, with lots of orange flames. The
smell of burning wood floated into the air. "Letís tell scary stories,"
"Yeah. I know a good one," Lisa
said. "Do you want to hear it?"
The girls all shouted yes. "I donít
want to," Ian whined.
"A long time ago, in a forest, just
like this one, lived a wee lass and her mum. One night, after her mum
tucked her into bed, the lass, Amy, started hearing noises outside. She
called for her mum to come through but her mum didnít. Amy got up and
searched the whole house. Her mum was not there. She called her name but
she never answered," Lisa said.
"This is scary. What happened to
Lisaís mum?" Ian said.
"Shhhh. Letís listen," Mac said.
"Well, Amy put on her slippers and
picked up a candle from the table. She used a match and lit it and carried
it outside. She called for her mum, but there was no answer. Just then she
heard a noise behind her. It sounded like someone had stepped on a branch.
Amy turned around. There stood a huge monster. It had ten eyes and a huge
nose and four ears."
"Yikes! A monster?" Ian cried,
burying his head in his lap.
"The monster had blood on its mouth
and parts of Amyís mumís dress too. It moved closer and closer to Amy. She
could see its eyes glowing," Lisa said.
"Were they glowing red?" Mac asked.
"They glowed green and purple. It
reached out its arms to grab Amy and thenÖ..AHHHHHHHHH!" Lisa screamed at
the top of her lungs. The girls jumped and screamed and Megan nearly
fainted. Ian started to fall backwards and Mac jumped so high that he hit
his head on the branch above him. "I got you. I got you," Lisa laughed.
She was delighted to have scared them all.
"Time for bed," Helen said. The
girls went to their tents and Lindsay put the fire out.
Ian and Mac were terrified. "Do you
think the monster will come tonight?" Ian asked.
"Itís not real. It was just a story.
The girls have gone to bed. Letís go down to the camp. There are still
some embers glowing in the fire. Maybe thereís some food," Mac said.
Ian, more hungry than afraid,
climbed down the tree behind Mac. They went over to the campfire. It was
still warm. "Whatís this?" Ian asked, picking up a bag of marshmallows.
"I donít know, but the girls put
them on sticks and held them over the fire. Letís give it a try," Mac
whispered. They each found a stick and put a marshmallow on the end and
held it over the glowing embers.
"Itís turning black. I donít want my
to be burned," Ian complained. He lifted his stick and slipped the
marshmallow into his mouth. "Thatís good. Iíll have another," he said,
putting another white puffy marshmallow onto his stick. Mac let his get a
little burnt and then ate it.
The two raccoons ate the whole bag
of marshmallows. They heard someone move in the tent. "I think thereís
something out there," Lindsay said. "Iím going to check." She started to
unzip the tent.
"It might be a snipe," Helen
Ian and Mac darted up the tree as
Lindsay came out and went toward the fire. "Something ate all our
marshmallows. Looks like they roasted them," she said to Helen. "It was
probably just one of the girls. Oh well. Good night," she said, climbing
back into the tent.
Morning came quickly. Ian and Mac
watched them pack everything up and soon they were gone. The raccoons
climbed down and searched the ground for leftover food but there wasnít
even a sign of the fire left. "I guess theyíre not coming back," Ian
sighed. "Iíll miss them. It was sort of fun having them there."
"Iíll miss them too, but we did
learn a few things; marshmallows are good, bacon is delicious, and weíd
better not come down from the tree at night or the snipe will get us," Mac
Ian nodded his head and they headed
into the woods to look for more nuts and berries.