The train chugged through
the hills. It looked like a monstrous black snake, winding its way around
and around the mountains with tight coils. Billowing smoke poured out of
the funnel on top. Colin looked out the window and gazed silently at the
trees, streams, and many stones. It had been a long trip for him from the
city. He was starting to get anxious as the conductor had walked by and
told him that it wouldnít be long before theyíd be stopping at the tiny
village, Branach. He was hoping his Auntie Kathleen would be there waiting
The train came to a stop.
The chugging slowed down until there was no noise at all except for the
people trying to get off the train. Colin pushed his reddish-brown hair
out of his steel blue eyes, picked up his bag and climbed down the steps.
Auntie Kathleen was standing there with Duncan, his cousin. She ran up to
Colin and hugged him. "Was it a nice train ride?" she asked, taking his
bag from him.
"It was long, but nice,"
"Hi, Colin," Duncan said.
The boys hadnít seen each other since last summer. Both had grown taller
and looked very much alike, having the same color hair and eyes. "I canít
wait to show you my hideout. We are going to have so much fun," he said,
Colin was happy to be
there. He and Duncan got along very well and enjoyed each otherís company.
"Itís very quiet here," he noticed as they walked towards the car. The
train started back up and chugged up the hill. "Aside from the train, that
is," he laughed.
They got into the car and
drove thru the hills towards home. Colin and Duncan sat in the back seat,
talking away. When they got to the house, Duncan showed Colin where heíd
be sleeping, which was in his room. Colin was glad for that.
He unpacked his bag and
changed into some clean clothes. Auntie Kathleen fixed he and Duncan a big
plate of shepherdís pie and gave them each a few gingerbread biscuits.
"Letís go to my hideout now, Colin," Duncan said, anxiously. "Is that all
right, Mum?" he asked. She nodded yes.
"All right," Colin said.
They ran outside. Colin
looked around. The sky was bluer than he had ever seen. The clouds were
puffy and white, and looked like mounds of cotton balls squished together.
There were a lot of big gray stones, tall birch and oak trees and many
flowers. Colin didnít hear cars honking or people screaming like he heard
in the city. He liked the quiet.
They came to a small
stream, trickling through the grass. Colin noticed the water was brown. He
even saw small fish swimming in it. "Duncan, why is the water brown? Are
there are fish in the water? Can we go fishing?" he asked.
"You ask a lot of
questions. The water is brown because it runs through peat, which is like
the moor, or bog. Do you get it?"
"I know what peat is,
Duncan," Colin assured him.
"Weíll fish tomorrow. I
know a spot in the river just around the bend where we can catch trout and
salmon, big ones too," he answered.
"Wow. I canít wait," Colin
They walked through the
tall grass. Colin noticed that the whole hillside seemed to be purple.
"What are those purple flowers? They are everywhere?"
"Heather. We have lots of
flowers around here. There are bluebells near the house, and you can
always find thistle, but they are prickly, so be careful," Duncan warned.
"I will be," Colin said.
"There are a lot of flowers in your garden. By the way, whereís the
"See that pile of stones
over there? The big ones? Thatís where we are going," Duncan explained.
"Thereís a cave in there. Itís very damp and thereís green moss growing on
the inside, but I donít think anyoneís ever been in there before."
"I hope there arenít snakes
or big spiders," Colin said, concerned.
"Letís go find out," Duncan
called out, running towards the cave. Colin ran after him. The two of them
soon were standing at the entrance. "Iíll go in first," Duncan
"Go right ahead," Colin
said, allowing him to do so.
They went inside. It was
cool and dark. "I brought a torch," Duncan said, pulling out a flashlight.
He shined it around the cave. The boys walked back further. "Whatís that?"
Duncan said, walking quickly towards a pile of something in the corner.
"I hope itís not a dead
body, or a snake" Colin replied.
"Colin, look at this. Itís
some kind of treasure!" Duncan bent down and picked it up. "Here, you hold
the torch," he said, handing it to Colin. Duncan held up a helmet. "Wow,
it looks like an old helmet from the days of the Highland clans!" He
picked up another item. It was a brooch. "Look at this! Itís a brooch.
Itís filled with jewels. I wonder if they are worth a lot of money?"
Duncan handed Colin the
helmet. He stared at it with amazement. He set it down and took the
brooch. He was looking at it carefully. It had a thistle, with an eagle
sitting on top of it. "Duncan, I think this is a historical artifact. What
else is there?" he asked.
"A historical artifact?
Itís treasure. Letís see what else there is. Shine the torch over here,"
he urged. "Wow, itís a sword! Look at this, would you, Colin."
Colin leaned over. "Wow. It
is a sword. Look at the handle. Itís carved with Celtic symbols!"
"How do you know that?"
"I studied it in school,"
he said, feeling somewhat proud.
"The sword is shiny and
made of steel or something. It must be a thousand years old. Weíre going
to be rich," Duncan cried out.
The boys gathered all the items, the sword, the brooch, the helmet, and
several silver goblets and took them home to show Duncanís mum. She called
the curator of the museum and he came out to the house. The things the
boys found in the cave did turn out to be very old and valuable. The
curator took them, leaving the boys disappointed. Theyíd wanted the
riches, but seemed to be pleased enough when he left them a reward.
"Colin, now you have enough money to enjoy your stay here in Branach and
still have enough to take home," Auntie Kathleen smiled.
The next day the boys went
fishing. Duncan caught three trout. Colin caught one. He didnít mind. He
was so excited to have caught one fish. Auntie Kathleen cooked the fish
for supper that night. They were delicious.
Colin spent the next few
weeks exploring the hills and dales of the glen. He climbed trees. He
milked a highland cow and learned how to sheer sheep. He helped plant and
tend to the vegetable garden. When the flower garden needed weeded, Colin
was the first to offer to help. He enjoyed the scent of the pink and
yellow roses and bright red primroses. Duncan and Colin had many
adventures as they walked through the woods and along the riverbanks. They
even found some cave drawings. They had great fun!
The time passed too quickly
and Colin had to return home to the city. School was going to start soon
and he needed to get prepared. Auntie Kathleen said goodbye to Colin at
the train station and invited him to come back the following summer.
Duncan hugged Colin. He didnít want him to go. He liked having someone
there to play with. "Iíll be back next summer," Colin said, wiping the
tears from his eyes, "or maybe you could come to the city and visit me."
"Weíll see," said Auntie
Colin climbed up the steps
of the train. He sat down and stared out the window. As the train chugged
away, Duncan and Auntie Kathleen waved goodbye. Colin waved back. He sat
silently the rest of the trip home. He thought about the adventures heíd
been on and the treasure they found and was happy that he still had at
least half of the reward money left. He remembered fishing and his first
trout. Colin could almost taste the big, red, juicy tomatoes heíd grown
and picked from the vegetable garden. Pink, purple, red, yellow and orange
danced in his head as he thought of the flowers heíd grown and cared for.
Never would he forget the beautiful purple heather and how it blanketed
the hills. He chuckled, thinking of how soft and squishy the cowís felt
when he milked them. What a wonderful summer that had been. Colin fell
asleep with visions of sheep and the soft, fluffy wool of their fleece. He
would remember this summer forever.