night rolled around quickly. Mungo walked up the aisles of the shop,
looking for some seashells, dried starfish, and other items that could be
found under the sea. Tonight, when the bairns came, he was going to have a
surprise for them. For the last few days he’d hammered wood together to
make a large square and brought in several bags of sand to make a sandbox.
He picked up a few shovels and sand buckets and hurried home.
When wee Hamish arrived,
Mungo opened the door smiling. "Come in," he said. Wee Hamish ran into the
living room. The bairns were always excited to see what Mungo had up on
his walls or lying around the house that would give them a clue to that
Mungo put Ginger into the
bedroom as usual. As he walked back through, wee Hamish asked, "Mr. McGee,
are we talking about the sea tonight?" He gazed at the walls. There were
pictures of mermaids, fish, whales, and shipwrecks. On the table sat the
shells and starfish he’d bought earlier at the shops.
DING DONG! The other bairns
arrived and ran inside. They were soon picking up the shells and putting
them to their ears, listening, trying to hear the ocean. Wee Fiona held a
starfish in her hand. "It’s prickly," she giggled, rubbing her fingers
over its rough surface.
"Look at the shark!" Andy
said. He stared at the picture on the wall. Its mouth was gaping and
showing its sharp teeth.
"I love this fish," Gregor
said, pointing at a bright green and orange fish that had big lips and was
Morag and Gavin were
looking at the shipwreck. "Do you think there might be treasure in that
chest?" Morag asked.
Gavin thought about how
he’d like to find a treasure chest. "I’ll bet it is filled with gold
doubloons and jewels. That’s probably a pirate ship."
Morag glanced at Gavin. She
began to swoon as she imagined him as a dashing pirate. "You’d make a
handsome pirate," she said, not realizing she’d spoken her thoughts. Gavin
shook his head and went to stand by Gregor.
"Bairns, come over here and
see what I’ve got for you tonight. I’ve made some pasta salad with sea
shell pasta, there are oyster crackers, chips with clam dip, and small
shrimp to dip in this cocktail sauce," Mungo said, pointing to the red
sauce, "but be careful, it’s a bit spicy. After you’ve eaten that, we’ll
have cupcakes and ice cream."
"Yeah!" the group cried out
and started eating the food. It didn’t take long for them to finish.
"We’re going to have our
story outside tonight. I’ve got a surprise for you. Follow me," Mungo
"Wow, a sandbox?" cried
Gregor. "Can we play in it?"
"There are enough buckets
and shovels for you all. While I sit on the chair and tell my story, you
build a big sandcastle for me," Mungo said. The children ran into the
sandbox. Each found a place to sit. Soon they’d begun making a pile in the
middle. "All right, bairns, I’ll begin my story. Long ago there was a man
named Alexander Selkirk. He was born right here in Scotland, in a town
called Largo. Alexander didn’t want to be a shoemaker like his father, so
he ran away and began sailing on ships. One of the ships he was on was
very much like a pirate ship. All the captain wanted to do was to rob
"A pirate ship? Did the
ships have gold and jewels?" Gavin asked as he patted down the sand with
"The gold and jewels that
were on the ship had been stolen from other ships. Alexander didn’t want
to do that. He loved sailing, not stealing," Mungo said.
"I don’t like to steal
either," wee Fiona said. "I wouldn’t steal anyone’s gold or jewels."
"Alexander didn’t like to
either. He got into an argument with the captain and asked to be taken off
the ship. The captain was more than happy to do that and he left Alexander
on an island in the middle of nowhere. The ship sailed away leaving
Alexander alone. He found out later that the ship had been sunk in a storm
and everyone on it had drowned," Mungo said.
"I’ll bet he was glad he
was on the island and not drowning," Andy said, patting the sand down
"He was glad, but he was
left alone for six long years," Mungo added.
"Did he have a pet monkey,
or a pet lizard?" asked wee Hamish.
"I’m sure he had some pets.
Maybe he had a pet parrot or some other kind of bird," Mungo explained.
"My Uncle Jamie has a
parrot. It squawks and even speaks some words. I feed it peanuts and seeds
when I go to visit," Gregor said.
"What did Alexander eat?"
asked Morag as she poured a bucket of sand upside down to make a tower.
She smoothed it out with her fingers and made it pointed.
"He had to make spears out
of sticks and try to catch fish. He probably found clams on the beach and
crabs too and ate them. Maybe he found coconuts, though I don’t think
there are any coconuts in that part of the world," Mungo said.
"What part of the world?"
"Off the coast of Chile, in
South America. That’s a long way from here. He managed to find food to
eat. One day a ship came by. They rescued Alexander and not too long after
that, he was captain of his own ship. He did come back to Scotland for a
while, but then went back out to sea, where he died. He loved the sea."
"That was a nice story, Mr.
McGee," said Gregor.
"How’s the castle coming
along?" Mungo asked. He stood up and looked. "Oh, that’s a fine castle.
Look at the towers and windows. You’ve even put a moat on it. Very good!
What a good job you are doing. I am going in the house to get my camera
and take a photo. I’ll let Ginger out of the bedroom. She’ll enjoy seeing
the castle too." Soon Ginger came running out of the house and directly to
the bairns. Mungo came out with his camera and took some photos of them.
"I’ll give you all a copy of the photos when I pick them up," he promised.
The parents started to
arrive. Mungo had the bairns stand up and brush the sand off their clothes
and arms. The bairns showed their parents the sandbox and the big
sandcastle they’d made. When they’d all left, Mungo covered it with a
piece of plastic, as it often rained at nights. He spent the next hour
taking the pictures of the sea creatures off the wall. He carefully put
the seashells and starfish into a box and stuck it in the top of his
closet, where it would stay until he needed it again. After he’d cleaned
up, he put a movie on to watch on video, "Treasure Island," and enjoyed
watching the pirates and their buried treasure.