The moon shone
down on the woods. Ian and Mac had returned to their tree after a day of
foraging for food. Mac was ready to go to sleep, but once again Ian
wasn’t. “Mac, it really helped me to sleep when you told me a bedtime
story last night. Will you tell me another one? I’m having problems
falling to sleep.”
“Why is it that
all of a sudden you can’t fall asleep? After all these years you’re now
having problems?” Mac scoffed at his friend.
“Mac, it must be
my age. I am older than you, you know.”
“Oh really. You
were born on the same day as me. I think you were born an hour before me.
That makes a big difference, does it?” Mac chuckled.
“Oh yes, it really
does. Please tell me another one. I loved the story about the fairy.” Ian
glanced at the stars. “I’ll lie still and curl up in a ball. You won’t
even know I’m here.”
“All right. I’ll
tell you another story. A long time ago, my great great great great great
great great grandfather, Malcolm, lived in the woods a bit further south
than here. He was a brave raccoon, quite the hero in raccoon history
books. Malcolm never was seen during the day. He only went out at night,
when it was dark and he could hide from owls and hawks. There were a lot
more of them in his time than there is now.”
We’re far enough north that the hawks think it’s too cold, but I know
there are some owls in these woods.” Ian’s gaze darted to the other trees,
hoping he would not see an owl.
“Let me finish.
Stop interrupting me. Malcolm was out one night hunting for some
blackberries. He loved blackberries. He saw a fire in the distance and
wondered what was happening. He crept closer and hid behind a bush. A boat
full of strangers pulled up onto the beach. They were Vikings.”
“Vikings. Oh no.”
dragged their long boat onto the sand and grabbed their swords and clubs
and other battle weapons. Malcolm, who was a loyal Scottish raccoon, knew
what the Vikings had in mind. They were going to slaughter the men who
were sleeping around the fire. He didn’t know what to do. Should he run
over to the sleeping Scotsmen and wake them up, risking them chopping his
head off with their axes, or should he just let things happen as they
would if he wasn’t there.”
“He should wake
them up, Mac. He should warn them about the Vikings.” Ian started biting
his nails. “This story is sort of scary, Mac. It better have a good ending
or I’ll never go to sleep.”
to wake the men up. He leaped from the bush and ran towards the men. What
he didn’t know was that the Scotsmen had laid thistles all around their
camp to keep the sheep in. When Malcolm ran over it, the stickery thorns
jabbed into his paws. Malcolm screamed at the top of his lungs. He hopped
about, landing on top of other thistles. His screams were so loud that he
woke up the Scotsmen. They grabbed their swords and axes and ran to see
who was making all the noise. That’s when they saw the Vikings, who were
hiding all around the camp. They beat the Vikings in battle and not one
Scotsman was hurt. Because of this, they made the thistle the national
flower of Scotland.”
“That’s a great
story, Mac. Is it true?” Ian felt a yawn growing.
“Yes it is true.
The story in the history books the human’s read says it was the Vikings
who stepped on the thistle and screamed, but we raccoons know better. It
was Malcolm! He was so excited he went home and wrote a poem. Would you
like to hear it?” Mac looked over at the sleepy Ian.
“All right, but
don’t mind me if I close my eyes. I’ll still listen.”
came from far away,
To slaughter the Scottish men while they lay.
The fire burned bright, providing heat
They slept with shoes upon their feet.
A raccoon, so brave and sure
Foraged at night for blackberries pure.
He spotted the Vikings and their boat
And wondered how it had stayed afloat.
Should he warn the Scots, or should he not?
Should he risk his neck if he’d be caught?
Bravery and courage flowed thru his veins,
The mighty Malcolm facing wind and rain,
Rushed toward the flames to warn his fellow man
And stepped upon the thistle as he ran.
He shouted as loud as he could, poor raccoon,
And shouted again under the light of the moon.
The Scots woke up and saw their enemies
And slaughtered them all and fell to their knees.
The raccoon was a hero, the master of that night
Who went down in history for choosing the right.
So if you have to risk your life for another’s sake,
Do it without thinking, but be sure you’re awake.”
Mac glanced at
Ian. He had fallen asleep during the poem, as Mac had hoped. Mac lay there
for a while thinking about Malcolm and how brave he’d been. He hoped that
if he ever found himself in a situation like that, he’d be just as brave.
As an owl hooted in the distance, Mac closed his eyes and fell asleep.