Malcolm McBrown was a
shepherd that lived in northern Scotland. He had a large flock of sheep,
but he knew each and every one of them. Heíd given each one a name, like
Fluffy, Rowena, Eugene and Perry. Malcolm and his wife, Orla, were
lonely. They didnít have any children. Their cottage seemed empty and
quiet, aside from all their animals.
They had chickens and
roosters, sheep, a few highland cattle, a goat or two, three cats, and a
dog named Ian.
As the sun rose over the
heather-covered hills, Malcolm and Orla climbed out of bed. "Iíll be
baking all day. I picked up a bag of sultana raisins at the shops and
want to make some biscuits today. Iíve got a surprise for supper
tonight," Orla giggled as she slipped on her dress.
Malcolm put on his green
tartan kilt and sash as he did every day, and said, "Sounds delicious,
Orla. When I get back from tending to the sheep, weíll have a real
feast." After a hearty breakfast of porridge, sausage, eggs and fried
tomato, Malcolm gave Orla a kiss on the cheek. "Donít work too hard," he
smiled, grabbed his crook and shut the door behind him.
He walked toward the
hillside where he kept his sheep. Ian followed him, barking and waving
his tail. "What are you barking at, Ian?" Malcolm asked. "Do you see a
fox, or a hare?"
Ian kept barking.
Suddenly a grouse went flying out of the heather up into the air. Ian
chased it for a while then came back, panting.
Malcolm laughed. He loved
his dog even more than he loved his sheep. "Good dog," he said, bending
down and petting his white shaggy fur. They walked the rest of the way
in silence. Malcolm watched the bees buzzing around the heather bells.
He noticed a patch of thistle that needed to be cut down before Orla saw
it. He splashed through the small stream and began the climb up the
When he reached the top
the sheep came running towards him. "Aye, thereís my wee sheep. How are
you all doing this fine morning," he said, petting each one. Ian ran
around them, herding them into a group. "Letís move over to the other
hill. The grass is greener and longer. Youíll get a better feeding
there." The sheep went BAA! They followed him as he walked.
When they reached the new
hill, Malcolm sat down on a large stone and let the sheep munch away on
the grass. Ian came and lay down by his feet. Just then he saw a huge
bird heading towards them. It seemed to be carrying something in its
talons. He thought it was an eagle wanting to take away one of his
sheep. He stood up and walked out into the grass for a better look. Ian
stayed by his side. The sheep stopped munching on the grass and looked
up. Just as the bird flew overhead, it dropped something. Malcolm saw
that it was a stork. The bundle fell the ground and landed with a thud,
right on top of Ian.
Malcolm poked the bundle
with his wooden crook. It made a noise. He jumped back and then poked it
again. This time it giggled. Confused, he bent over and undid the blue
blanket that it was tied up in. It was a baby boy holding a red rattle
with soft red spikes on it. "A bairn! The stork brought us a wee bairn,
and a lad at that. I must take him to Orla. Do you see, my sheep; Ian;
weíve got a wee laddie." He told the sheep to stay there and graze and
that heíd be back later for them. He then picked the baby up and ran
down the hill and home to the cottage. Ian ran behind him, barking
joyously. "Orla, Orla, come quick. Iíve got a surprise for you," he
Orla came to the door.
"What are you doing home?" she asked, "and what have you got there?"
Malcolm handed her the
bundle. "The stork brought us a wee laddie. Heís ours, Orla. Heís ours.
We have a bairn at last," he cried, wiping the tears of joy from his
Orla held the baby close
to her, cuddling him and enjoying the fresh sweet smell. His skin was
soft and he only had a little curl of hair. "What should we call him?"
ĎLetís call him after my
father, Douglas McBrown. Do you like that?" he asked his wife.
"I love it. Can we have
his middle name be after my father, James?" she asked. Malcolm nodded.
"Hello there, Douglas James McBrown," she said, tickling his cheek.
Douglas laughed and cooed. Ian ran up to Douglas and licked his face. He
liked the name too.
Later on that day,
Malcolm took Ian and went back to see the sheep. He sat down on the big
stone again. "Iíve got a wee bairn now. His name is Douglas. When heís
bigger, heíll come with me to help. Heíll learn all your names and love
you as much as I do," he said.
The sheep gathered round.
They were happy for Malcolm. He petted them and when the sun sank behind
the hills, he and Ian left them to sleep and went home to Orla and
Douglas. Both of them had a surprise that day.