by Margo Fallis
The MacDougal Clan Feast
Mrs. MacDougal stood at
the stove, stirring a pot of tattie soup. Scones baked in the oven,
turning golden brown on top. The aroma in the kitchen lured Mr.
MacDougal inside. “What’s that you’re making?” Mac took a deep breath.
“Och, it’s tattie soup and
scones. Go and get Angus. I’ve made a wee something for him.”
The wind outside howled,
carrying a chill with it. The tartan goat huddled behind the house. He
heard his name being called and rushed to the door. “There you are,
Angus. Mrs. MacDougal has made you something special. Come on in.” The
goat followed his master indoors.
Mrs. MacDougal ladled the
thick soup into two heavy, ceramic bowls, one for Mac and one for
herself. She pulled the tray of scones out of the oven and placed them
on a sturdy plate decorated with purple thistles and bluebells. After
she’d set the butter dish down on the table, she turned to Angus. “Now
it’s your turn.” Using a large spoon, she scooped turnips, potatoes and
half a haggis from a heavy cast iron pot. “Do you smell that, Angus?
It’s all for you.” The goat let out a loud bleat and ate the warm food.
Steam rose from the plate, twisting in a spiral as it floated toward the
After lunch Mrs. MacDougal
put the dirty dishes into the sink and wiped her hands on a cloth. “You
two find something to do for a while. Remember, we’re having guests over
for supper tonight. Angus, I’ll have no nonsense from you.” A plump,
waving finger pointed at Angus’s nose.
“What’s the occasion?” Mac
stood and slipped on his woolen coat.
“Don’t tell me you’ve
forgotten? It’s the MacDougal Clan celebration. All the MacDougals in
the highlands of northern Scotland are coming to our village for a
ceilidh. I’ve invited a few over for a hot meal beforehand. Off with you
now and stay out of mischief.” After Mac and Angus had left, Mrs.
MacDougal went to work. She pulled box after box out of the attic and
stacked them near the couch. “Och, I’m glad I found this.” Several dozen
yards of MacDougal tartan lay folded up in the top box. She lifted the
yardage, fluffed it out and folded it back in a nice pile. “This will do
just fine.” She spent several hours cutting the tartan into strips for
ribbons, napkins and bows. “Very nice indeed.” She tied the bows onto
the backs of the chairs, placed the napkins on the table next to the
place settings and used the ribbon strips to decorate the food and
walls. The rest of the afternoon was spent baking, roasting, sautéing
and basting. When Mac arrived home, he sniffed. Mrs. MacDougal watched
him and Angus. “Don’t even think of it, you two. There’ll be no
nibbling. Mac, go and brush Angus’s hair. It looks shabby. Look at all
the thistles stuck in his tartan coat. Polish his horns and brush his
teeth. Many of the guests tonight are anxious to meet Angus. They’ve
never seen a tartan goat before.”
Mac took care of Angus and
then dusted off and polished his own bagpipes. He knew his wife would
ask him to play tonight. Angus let out a bleat when Mac started
practicing. He tapped his hooves and nodded his head back and forth. “Do
I look fine, Angus?” Mac stood in front of the mirror admiring himself
in his MacDougal tartan coat. “We make a fine pair, don’t we?” He
laughed when he looked at the goat; their tartan matched perfectly.
“There’ll be no eating my kilt, now, Angus. Mrs. MacDougal wasn’t happy
that she had to make another one.” Angus let out a bleat.
Jamie Campbell was the
first to arrive, since he lived in the croft next door. He wasn’t a
MacDougal, but they included the lonely man in most of their activities.
Soon the room was full of men in their kilts and women with MacDougal
tartan sashes. Mac ushered them into the living room. A fire blazed in
the fireplace; the logs popping with the heat.
Angus wandered in and out
of the living room, stopping now and then to let the guests admire his
tartan fur. “Och, it’s lovely, Mac. He’s tartan through and through.”
They all said the same thing. Tiring of the repeated words, Angus
clopped into the kitchen. Mrs. MacDougal was nowhere in sight. The table
was covered with huge platters of ham, roast beef, boiled potatoes,
haggis and turnips. Each platter wore a tartan cloth over it to keep the
food warm. Angus bleated and let out a few loud baas. Unable to resist,
he leaped onto the table and slid under the cloth covering the roast
beef. Since his coat was the MacDougal tartan, as were the covers, Angus
knew nobody would see him. His tongue slipped out of his mouth, licking
the gravy from the beef. He pulled a slice over and chomped down. Before
he knew it, the entire platter of roast beef had disappeared. People
started filing into the room. Angus kept still, hoping nobody would
“Mrs. MacDougal, this all
looks lovely.” Jamie Campbell praised his neighbor.
“Thank you, Jamie. Please,
everyone, take a seat wherever you’d like. There’s room for everyone.
Mac, why don’t you say grace and then our guests can start eating.”
Mac blessed the food and
pulled the covers off the platters. “Help yourselves to the ham.” When
he reached the roast beef and lifted the cover, he saw more tartan
underneath. He called to his wife. “Why did you put two covers over the
roast beef?” Angus lay perfectly still. Mac, thinking he was pull off
another cloth, grabbed hold of Angus’s ear and yanked. “What’s this?”
Angus jumped up onto his
hooves and let out the loudest bleat he could. He clumsily clomped
across the table, sticking his hooves into the guest’s food and into
their hair. Screams echoed throughout the room. Mrs. MacDougal rushed
through from the pantry. “Angus! You naughty goat! Mac, get Angus. He’s
ruining my supper. Och, I’m sorry everyone. Angus! Outside. Now!” She
slammed the door behind the frightened goat, turned around and took a
few deep breaths. “Here now everyone, go ahead and take a new plate.
There’s plenty of extra food. We’ll still have a grand feast. It’s not
every day the MacDougal Clan gets together.”
The guests went on to
enjoy the rest of the evening. Mac played his bagpipes and others danced
the reel. Some even laughed about the tartan goat and how he hid on the
table, saying it’ll make good story telling down the road. Later on they
all headed to town for the ceilidh. As for Angus, he spent the night
shivering in the cold and stayed there until the MacDougals returned
home. Mac brought him in around midnight and let him lie in front of the
dying fire. After Mac had gone to bed, Mrs. MacDougal snuck over to
Angus. “You were a naughty goat tonight, Angus, but I still love you.”
She put a plate of leftover ham down in front of him. “Go ahead and eat
it.” She snuck back to bed, leaving the warm tartan goat to eat his ham.
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