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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
Ian & Mac Bedtime Stories - Uncle Ringtail

The telling of bedtime stories each night soon became a routine for Ian and Mac. Mac knew Ian slept better, plus he enjoyed telling the stories.

“What’ll it be tonight, Ian? Do you want a scary story, a mushy one, adventure, or what?

Ian thought about it. “Tell me about another of your ancestors. I like those stories.”

“Ancestor stories. I can do that. My grandfather, Jock Raccoon, and my grandmother, Curlers, had five children. Four of them were girls, but one was a boy raccoon. They named him Ringtail. His tail had more rings than any raccoon Jock and Curlers had ever seen. Ringtail was always getting into mischief. Since he was the only lad, he found great delight in teasing his sisters. He’d put pine cones in their beds and sap on top of their pillows.”

“That’s funny. I like this Ringtail uncle of yours already. Tell me more.” Ian chuckled.

“One day Uncle Ringtail went around the forest and gathered every thistle that he could find. He picked all the fluffy purple flowers off and kept the sharp, pokey stems, all covered with stickers. He took them and put them in his sister’s bed and when they climbed under their blankets that night, they all screamed. Needless to say Ringtail was throttled and made to sleep outside.”

A head poked over the branch. “Rubbish.”

Ian and Mac were so frightened that they nearly fell off their branch.

“Uncle Ringtail? What are you doing here?” Mac helped pull the elderly man up onto the branch.

“I was passing through the woods and thought I’d stop by and see my favorite nephew. How are you doing, Mac? What’s all this nonsense about me doing mean tricks to my lovely sisters?” Uncle Ringtail winked at Ian.

“My mum said you did that. She told me a lot of stories about you,” Mac said.

“It’s all rubbish. Let me tell you the real story. I was the only lad with four big sisters. They’d spend all their time brushing their fur and braiding their tails. It was impossible to bathe because they were always in the stream washing their fur. It wasn’t easy being the only lad.” Uncle Ringtail shook his head. “Not easy at all. I did go and gather all the thistles that I could find. There were hundreds of them growing near our tree. I pulled out all the purple fluff, like you said. I took it to my mum and she filled my pillow with it. Very soft indeed. You should try it sometime.”

“That sounds soft,” Ian said. “We don’t have pillows though.”

“Yes. Well, I see. I didn’t know what to do with all the sticker parts and stems. I put them in a pile and ran down to the stream. Who was there taking a bath?” Uncle Ringtail looked at Ian.

“Your sisters?”

“That’s right, Ian. All four of them. When I tried to get in the water they splashed on me and made me leave. I was fuming. Who did they think they were?” Ringtail’s veins bulged with anger. “Imagine having to live like that. Be thankful you’re both lads.”

“I’m glad,” Ian said.

“Me too,” Mac said. “If Ian tried that I’d rub his face in the muck.”

“I couldn’t do that to my sisters or my dad would have walloped me. He always told me never to hit a girl. I never did, but oh how I wanted to; especially Fanny. She was a pest; always whining and tattle telling. I had a few sore bottoms because of her.”

“Uncle Ringtail, finish the story,” Mac said.

“After they’d splashed all over me, I wanted to get even; yes I was. I sat on a hollow log and thought of things I could do to them. That’s when I remembered the thistles. I picked up two large leaves and laid the thistle stems on them. I gathered the up and carried them to the girl’s bed.”

“I thought you said you didn’t do that,” Ian said.

“Rubbish it is. Let me finish.” Uncle Ringtail scowled. “I pulled down the bedding on their bed and laid all the thistles out across the way. I put the sheet down on top of them so they wouldn’t see when they got ready to climb in. I pulled the blanket up and giggled. I hid behind their dresser drawers, waiting for them to come in to bed. It was horrid. I had to watch them brush their fur a hundred times each, brush their teeth and powder their noses. I almost passed out from boredom.  Finally Fanny pulled down the blanket and top sheet. She jumped onto the bed and all the thistle stickers poked into her bottom. She let out a screech.” Uncle Ringtail started laughing. Ian and Mac couldn’t help but laugh too.

“You should have seen her face. The circles around her eyes bulged and every hair on her body stuck up straight. She looked like a fluffy monster. She grabbed her bottom and ran around the room screeching. I hid behind the drawers having a fit of laughter. None of the other girls knew what had happened, so they all jumped on the bed. Within seconds they were all screeching and yelping. I couldn’t help it. I stood and pointed at them and laughed so hard I nearly wet my pants.” Ian and Mac were laughing so hard they nearly fell off the branch. Uncle Ringtail laughed so much that tears flowed from his eyes. “What a sight. Four girly raccoons running around the room holding their backsides. Their tails were filled with stickers. Unfortunately the joy didn’t last for long. My mum and dad heard the cries and came into the room. They couldn’t wait to tell them about what I’d done. My dad walloped me a good one. It was worth it though to see their faces. They all had sore bottoms for a week.”

“Good story, Uncle Ringtail. Do you want to stay here tonight and be on your way tomorrow?” Mac finally stopped laughing.

“You can, only if you promise not to put thistles under us in the night.” Ian burst out laughing again.

Ten minutes later they’d stopped chuckling. Uncle Ringtail spent the night. They all slept like logs, thankful there were no lassie raccoons around the tease them.

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