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Copyright (C) 1997; Janet MacKay First UK Serial Rights
Tales of Hamish Iain Iye Haggis, Q.C.
(Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada)
by Janet MacKay

Chapter 3 - Hamish at Balmoral Mills

Hamish stretched out his long leg, and adjusted it on the footstool his friends placed in front of his comfy recliner hair. His knee was aching, as it always ached after a long journey. Sally Haggis knew just what to do, and sent one of the bairns upstairs to get the heather oil. She took a big fluffy towel out of the cabinet, and it laid across the open oven door to get snuggly warm.

Her husband, George, poured a glass of heather whisky for Hamish, and another for Great-Aunt Jane who lived with them. Great-Aunt Jane brewed the whisky for the household, with a secret formula which she kept to herself. Hamish complimented her on her whisky, making Great-Aunt Jane's face glow with pride.

"Straighten your leg out a bit more," Sally told Hamish, when she began to rub the soothing heather oil into his knee joint. George brought over the warm towel, so Sally could wrap it around his knee. Hamish relaxed, as the heather oil eased his knee joint.

George poured a glass of whisky for Sally, and one for himself. The bairns, Angus and Nancy, sipped on root beer. It was Sally herself who made the root heer, from her own special combination of extracts from various roots secured in the forest around their home. She never allowed it to ferment, so it was safe for the bairns.

It was a cosy scene, as they relaxed by the fireplace with its blazing log of wood. Angus and Nancy sat on the floor near Hamish, hoping he would tell them some of his wonderful stories. Hamish always enjoyed his room, with bookcases all around and pictures on the walls of earlier times in Balmoral Mills and Earltown.

There was a picture of the grist mill which John MacKay, the `Old Miller', built in Earltown in the 1820s. It showed the waterfall below the mill, and Hamish shuddered at the height of the falls. The water dropped into a deep gorge which continues for miles. Even a nimble haggis wouldn't want to scramble down there.

The old mill was gone now, but there was a millstone left at the foot of the waterfall. The Nova Scotia Museum wanted to remove it, so the water would not wear away its edges. But, descendants of the `Old Miller', still living on his original land grant, insisted it be left in the river. "Has anything more been done about the millstone?" Hamish inquired.

George stroked his wiry fur for a few minutes, then replied: "I doubt if it will be removed within our generation. I must say, I don't like the idea of the stone being taken down to Halifax. It should stay in Earltown, or it could be brought here. The `Old Miller's" son, Alexander MacKay, built our mill here in Balmoral. We could craft some interpretative plaques, to place around the millstone, to honour the `Old Miller' and his four sons who followed him in the profession. The bank across the road from the mill would be the ideal location."

"I think that's the best solution," said Hamish. "But will the `Old Miller's' family agree to that?"

"I do not know," replied George. "It is much better than letting the millstone go to Halifax. It will be hard to bring it up out of the gorge, but humans have clever ways of doing things. We should whisper the idea in their ear while they are sleeping, several times this winter, so they will think it is all their own idea!"

George leaned back in his recliner, and gave a hearty chuckle. It always amused him, how the haggai controlled the thinking of humans. The humans never suspected it, for it was a secret the haggai kept to themselves.

"I'm worried about the millstone beside the brook in Rossal, where the `Old Miller's" father had his grist mill in Rogart," Hamish told his friends. "I'm going to Rossal when I am in Scotland, and I will see what I can do. Did you know that Rossal has been sold, and it is no longer in the MacKay family?"

"I had heard that," said Sally. "Should we bring that millstone over to the Balmoral Mill? Would they let it out of the country? It would be a heavy piece of baggage, but perhaps it could come on ship."

"I doubt if that would be wise," Hamish replied. "It should stay in Scotland, for many of the family are still in Rogart. I should whisper in their ears, to erect it as a monument there. I plan to spend a lot of time in Rogart, and that would be a good plan."

"Tremendous plan!" exclaimed George. "Perhaps we could provide pictures of the Earltown mill, and the Balmoral Mill, for their interpretative plaques. We could include pictures of the Rossal mill and millstone on our display."

"I'll tell you what!" Sally piped up. "We could set this up as a link between New Scotland and Scotland. Folks are doing that a lot now, and this would be a special link just for Earltown and Balmoral, with Rogart!"

"I think that's a great idea!" Hamish exclaimed. "I'll bring that up when I am in Rogart. I'm sure they'll agree to it, but we will have to wait and see."

Sally glanced at the clock, and nodded to Angus and Nancy. They picked up some food baskets and went out the door. They were to serve the tables for the evening banquet, and needed to be at the mill early. Some of their young friends were also helping, and they liked to have a blether before the guests arrived.

George poured another round of drinks, and Hamish stretched out his knee again. Sally removed the towel wrapper, and his joint felt much better now. The haggai recliner chairs were made so a haggis's two short legs could touch the floor comfortably. But their longer, and often more troublesome, leg needed a footstool.

"It's time we left for the banquet," announced Sally. They quickly preened themselves, and Hamish picked up his briefcase. Great-Aunt Jane wrapped a shawl around herself, and reached for her cane. It was a short walk to the grist mill, and Hamish looked forward to the evening.

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