Seagulls squawked overhead
as Ian and Mac ran along the narrow stone sea wall. It divided the tiny
fishing village of Drumclair from the rough waters of the North Sea. Waves
were splashing against it. "Be careful," Mac cautioned. "If you fall into
those waters, I wonít be able to save you."
Ian stopped and looked at
the water. "Maybe weíd better get down. Those waves are scaring me." He
hopped off the wall onto the sea grass that was growing along the side of
the paved road. A cool wind was blowing as Ian went to cross the road.
Just then a huge milk truck drove by, nearly squishing him.
"Watch out," Mac called,
pulling Ianís furry gray arm. "I donít know which is more dangerous, the
waves or the streets. Letís get out of harms way," he said. The two
raccoons ran towards the dock. As their feet stepped on the wooden boards,
they squeaked noisily. "Look, there are some fishing boats," Mac called
out. Each boat bobbed gently up and down on the waves. "This one looks
good to me," Mac said, jumping off the dock onto its deck. "Come on then,
Ian. Jump." Ian took a few steps backwards and ran, leaping onto the deck
of the small fishing boat.
Mac headed inside the cabin
of the boat. "Hereís a blanket. I say we curl up on it and wait until
daylight. After the sun rises we can head into the village and find
something to eat." He spread it out in a corner and without saying another
word lay down. Ian lay down next to him and the two were soon asleep.
The sun was about an hour
away from rising. Pink was mingling in with the grayness of the morning
sky when Innes Galbraith jumped onto the deck of his fishing trawler. His
son, Douglas followed, after untying the boat from the dock. "Looks like
itís going to be a rough one this afternoon," Innes commented, looking at
the reddening horizon. "Weíd better get our fish caught before noon."
Douglas listened while he
checked the nets for holes. It was his job to mend them. The small boat
headed out into the sea. Both men worked hard, preparing the boat for the
hopefully large catch theyíd soon be hauling in. When they were out in
deep water, the nets were lowered and pulled behind the ship as it sailed
out further and further away from the safety of the village.
Mac woke up first. The
noise of the chugging engine startled him. He sat up and peered out of the
small, glassless window. "Uh oh," he said, slinking down to the ground
next to Ian. "Wake up, Ian," he said, shaking him.
"Is it time for breakfast?"
Ian asked, unaware of where they were.
Mac pulled the other
raccoon up to look out the window. "Weíre at sea!" Ian called out. "I
canít swim," he gulped, falling down to the ground.
"I say we get out of here
before the fishermen come back. If they find us, they might toss us into
the sea with the fish," Mac warned. "Come on, Ian. Follow me." Mac peeked
around the corner. Both men were at the front of the boat working. "This
way," he whispered. They went around the side, which was too narrow for
Ianís liking, and soon found themselves standing on the back half of the
A door was open on the deck
floor. Ian and Mac peered inside. "Itís dark in there," Ian said, moving
away from it. "It smells too."
"Itís the only place left
to hide. Now follow me," Mac said, jumping into the hole. Ian had no
choice but to follow. It was very slippery and slimy inside and smelled
even worse than either of them could imagine. "Here. Letís hide over here
in the corner. Theyíll never find us there." The two raccoons moved into
the back corner. They sat, waiting and hoping that theyíd soon get back to
the dock so they could get out of there.
Suddenly the engines
stopped and a squeaky noise started up. "Whatís that noise and why did the
boat shop?" Ian asked.
"I donít know, but I think
weíll soon find out," Mac answered.
Just as he said that, they
noticed a net full of fish hanging over the hole they were in. "What are
they going to do with that net full of fish?" Ian asked. "I hope they
arenít putting it in here with us."
"I hope not too," Mac said,
but before he could utter another word the net fell and all the fish
dropped into the hole. Soon Ian and Mac were surrounded by thousands of
big slimy fish that were still alive and wriggling about.
"Help!" screamed Ian, who
had a fish tail in his ear. The fish kept coming in. In a few minutes both
raccoons were covered with the fish. They had to dig their way up to the
top of the pile. "I hate fish! Iím never going to eat another fish in my
life!" Ian cried.
Mac couldnít move. Too many
fish were in the hole. He looked at Ian, who had fish tails sticking into
every part of his body. Crabs galore were dumped in with the fish. They
were crawling all over the pile, their big pinchers waving around, ready
to snap at anything in their way. One was headed straight for Mac. "Help!
Help!" he screamed, as loud as a raccoon could scream. "The crabís going
to get me!"
Ian wiggled his body around
and finally was able to climb out of the hole. Mac, on the other hand,
sunk deeper and deeper down into the fish. The more he wiggled, the
further down he went. Just when he thought there was no hope, Ian grabbed
him by the hair on the back of his neck and pulled him out onto the deck.
"Thank you, Ian," Mac said. They lay still. The hole was filled with
mussels, oysters, crabs, and fish with big googley eyes. Some of their
mouths were opening and shutting, like they were trying to speak.
The two raccoons rolled
back and sat up on the deck, reeking of fish and salty seawater. They were
covered in fish scales. Mac noticed a lot of birds flying overheard.
"Seagulls! Hundreds and hundreds of seagulls! Where did they come from?"
Ian saw them too. "I suppose they want the fish," Mac said.
"I hope seagulls donít eat
raccoons," Ian worried.
"Iím not sure if they do or
not, so letís hide," Mac urged. The raccoons hid under a wooden crate.
Innes and Douglas walked back to where the fish were and started throwing
ice on top of them. When they finished, they shut the door and went into
the cabin of the boat to warm up.
Even though it was light
now, it started to rain. The waves got much higher. The little trawler
started rocking up and down, rolling from one side to the other, back and
forth. "I donít feel very good," Ian complained.
"Me neither," Mac said. He
looked over at Ian. "You look green."
"You do too," Ian
They lay still, afraid to
move. Both of them were seasick and very wet. "I just want to get back to
dry land and climb up a tree and sleep," Mac said.
After they had suffered in
misery for a while, they heard the engines start on the boat. "At last,"
Ian rejoiced. "Weíre heading for shore."
Mac looked through the
slats of the crate. The closer they got to the shore, the worse the waves
seemed to get, but finally, after a horrible day, the boat docked. Douglas
jumped off the ship and tied it up with a heavy rope. Much to their
dismay, Ian and Mac had to stay on board while all the fish were unloaded
into boxes. "Iím going for the hose so we can spray the boat down,"
Douglas said to his father.
"Hose? More water?" Ian
whined. "Not me!"
"Not me either," Mac added.
With that, the two raccoons threw the crate off and jumped from the boat,
running between a surprised Innesís legs. They ran through the streets of
the village and didnít stop until they were in the woods. They didnít care
if they had anything to eat. They didnít care if anyone saw them. They
were so happy to be on dry land. When at last they spotted an oak tree,
the raccoons climbed to the top and lay on a branch.
"Weíre still. What a
wonderful feeling," Ian said.
Mac didnít say a word
because he was sound asleep. Ian looked at the fish scales sticking all
over Macís and his fur. He sniffed the fishy smell all over himself.
"Tomorrow, weíll bathe. Tonight, we sleep." Ian said and joined Mac in