Pink heather bells swayed gently in
the morning breeze. Catriona, the sheep, stood munching on a prickly
purple thistle. She loved living in the highlands of Scotland. Her thick
wool kept her warm and protected her during the bitter cold winters.
"Bruce," she said to the spider that dangled from another thistle growing
nearby, "itís been so long since Iíve gone to visit my dear friend, Nessie,
over in Loch Ness. I think Iíll go and see her. Would you like to come
"Iíd love to go, Catriona. Iíve
heard you talk about Nessie before, but Iíve never met her. Let me climb
onto your back and Iíll go with you," the black, hairy spider replied.
Bruce swung over from the thistle to
Catrionaís wool using a strand of his web. He found a place to sit and
rested as Catriona bent over to get a drink from a little burn. The water
was cold and refreshing and flowed quickly through the glen. Bruce held on
tightly as they walked alongside it. After a while, Bruce cried out, "Oh
look! Thereís Angus. Whatís that highland bull up to now?"
Catriona approached Angus. He was
chewing the thick grass growing around his hooves. "Good morning, Bruce.
Good morning, Catriona. What are you two up to on this fine day?" he
"Weíre going to Loch Ness to visit
my dear friend, Nessie. I havenít seen her for a long time. Would you like
to come with us?" she asked.
"Why, certainly, young lassie. Iíd
love to go with you both," Angus answered, "but first, will you help me
untangle my long, reddish-brown hair from these bushes?
Catriona reached down and pulled his
hair from the gnarled, flowering broom bushes and then the three of them
were on their way. As they were walking along, Bruce asked, "Whatís that
horrible noise?" He put his hands over his tiny ears.
"Itís old Mr. MacTavish playing his
bagpipes. He stands outside his croft every morning and blows them,
driving all of us around nearby mad," said Angus. "The only one that
doesnít seem to mind the awful noise is his old Scotty dog, Malcolm. I
think he must be deaf by now."
Just then, Malcolm came running down
the path, barking at Angus, Bruce and Catriona. He stopped when he
recognized them. "Oh, itís only you. Where are you going? Are you coming
to hear Mr. MacTavish play his bagpipes?" he asked.
"We can hear them from here,
Malcolm. Weíre on our way to Loch Ness to visit my old friend, Nessie,"
explained Catriona. "I havenít seen her for a long time. Angus and Bruce
are coming with me. Would you like to come too?" she asked.
"Aye, Iíd love to. MacTavishís
bagpipes are driving me crazy. Iíve got to keep wax plugs in my ears so I
donít go deaf," Malcolm said. Malcolm joined the others and soon they were
on their way to Loch Ness. "Can we stop and pick some heather on the way
home?" Malcolm asked. "Mrs. MacTavish loves wee heather bells."
"We can stop on the way back. Iíll
keep an eye out for some other pretty flowers that grow around here too.
If I remember right, there are some beautiful rhododendrons that grow
around the loch," Catriona said.
"That would be lovely," Malcolm
The group plodded along beside the
burn. Catriona led the way with Bruce on her back, followed in single file
by Angus and Malcolm. They were enjoying the quiet walk when suddenly a
loud, piercing shriek came from the ground near Angusís foot. "Ouch!" They
stopped abruptly. Angus lifted his foot. He had stepped on Fiona, the
grouseís tail and had accidentally pulled one of her feathers out. "You
silly bull!" she screamed. "Look what youíve done. Oh, my poor tail!"
Angus looked down at Fiona and said,
"Iím sorry. I didnít see you down there. You were hidden in the gorse. All
I can see from up here are the yellow flowers growing all over the bush."
Fiona calmed down. "Iím sorry for
shouting. I was napping and you frightened me." She held up her tail and
looked at it. She noticed the missing feather lying on the ground. After
trying for a few minutes to stick it back in, she gave up and dropped it.
"Where are you all going? It looks like youíre having a parade or
Catriona explained that they were
going to visit Nessie. "Would you like to come with us?" she asked.
Fiona answered, "I might as well.
Iíll never finish my nap now." She snarled at Angus and then flapped her
wings and flew onto his back. "The least you can do is give me a ride."
Angus turned and looked back at her. She glared at him. "Well, you did
pull out one of my feathers."
The bull didnít really want the bird
to be there but he had stepped on her, so he nodded his head and the group
continued on their way through the glen towards the loch.
They soon came to a forest, thick
with pine, bracken and fern. "Whatís that noise?" Malcolm asked. "I hear
The others stopped and listened.
Just then a head popped up from behind a large fern. "Itís only me,
Duncan," he said, surprising the group.
"Duncan? Whatís a Shetland pony
doing in the ferns?" asked Bruce.
"Iím not hiding," Duncan replied.
"Come out here, where we can see
you. Iíll introduce you to my friends," Bruce said. The pony walked over
to the burn. "This is Angus, the highland bull, Fiona, the grouse,
Malcolm, the Scotty dog and you know Catriona, the highland sheep.
Friends, this is Duncan. He was born in the Shetland Islands, which are
way up in the North Sea, above mainland Scotland. He was captured in the
wild and brought here to the highlands and let go a few years ago," Bruce
The others looked at Duncan, who
smiled. "Would you like to come with us?" Angus asked.
"Where are you going?" he asked.
"Weíre going to visit Nessie,
Catrionaís friend," explained Fiona.
"Iíd love to go," Duncan said. He
walked over and got in line behind Malcolm. The six animals made their way
towards Loch Ness. After an hour or two they spotted it. They kept walking
and finally stopped to rest at some abandoned ruins, the ancient castle
Urquhart. It stood on the shores of the loch. They sat down on the tender
grass and rested
"Whereís Nessie?" asked Angus. "What
kind of animal is she anyway?"
"Sheís in the water. I have to go
down to the shore and call her. Why donít you stay here and Iíll be back
shortly," Catriona said. The sheep walked down to the edge of the water. "Nessie!"
she cried. "Baa. Baa. Nessie!" she called again.
The others stood and watched. "I
wonder if Nessie is a fish," Malcolm said.
Just then the water began to churn.
Angus, Malcolm, Duncan and Fiona stood up. "Whatís wrong with the water,
Catriona? Nessie must be a big fish," shouted Angus.
Bruce was still sitting on Fionaís
back. He too saw the water churn and crawled down into Catrionaís wool to
hide. "Nessie!" she shouted again. "Itís me, Catriona."
The others watched in horror as
suddenly a huge monstrous creature raised its head out of the water. It
was green, had sharp teeth and a very long neck. Pieces of plants clung to
the body. Malcolm, Fiona, Angus and Duncan ran into the castle to hide. "I
hope it doesnít eat Catriona," Fiona whispered to the others as they
peeked out through a hole in the castle wall.
"Hello Catriona," Nessie smiled.
"Itís been a long time since Iíve seen you. What have you been up to?"
Catriona smiled back. "Hello Nessie.
I was in mountains munching on some heather and thistle and thought of
you. I wanted to come and visit you and invited some of my friends to come
Nessie bent her head down to get a
closer look. "What friends? All I can see is a spider hiding in your
Catriona turned around. "Where did
they all go? They were here just a minute ago. Malcolm? Angus? Duncan?
Fiona? Where are you? Itís all right. Come out. This is my old friend,
Nessie. She wonít hurt you," she called to the others.
One by one the shy animals came out
from the castle ruins. Bruce crawled out of Catrionaís thick wool. "Nessie,
these are my friends," she said, introducing them.
Nessie said, "Hello everyone. Iím
Nessie. I live in the caves deep down under the water of Loch Ness. I stay
there most of the time. Sometimes people come and bother me so I stay
hidden unless an old friend like Catriona comes to visit me."
The others realized that the huge
monster wasnít going to hurt them. Angus was the first to speak. "What are
you? A dinosaur?"
Nessie laughed and said, "It doesnít
matter what I am. The point is that now Iím your friend too and you can
come to Loch Ness to visit me whenever you want."
For the next few hours they had fun
with Nessie. She gave them rides on her back through the deep, black
water. She took Malcolm over to a spot where she knew the most beautiful
rhododendrons grew and waited while he picked some for Mrs. MacTavish. She
splashed all over them and they laughed and laughed. Sadly, Catriona said,
"I think itís time to go home now."
The others had to agree. "Youíll
come and visit me again soon, wonít you?" Nessie pleased. They assured her
that they would be back soon and then left. As they reached the path that
went around the loch, they turned and saw Nessieís three humps and her
long neck and head sticking out of the water in the middle of the loch.
They watched as she quickly dove down and out of their sight.
"She must have gone back to her
cave," Malcolm said.
"She was nice," Fiona added.
"She was very big," Bruce laughed.
Duncan wondered, "Doesnít she get
lonely down there all by herself?"
"Iíd be lonely if I had to live in a
dark cave by myself," said Malcolm.
"Donít you worry. I happen to know
that Nessie has some friends that live in the cave with her. Sheíll be
just fine," Catriona assured the others. They headed for home, walking
through the heather-covered hills and valleys of the highlands, towards
the setting sun.