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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
A Trip To The Big City

"Maggie, Iíve got to go down to Edinburgh tomorrow for business. Would you like to come wií me?" Grandpa asked his young granddaughter.

She looked up at him with excited eyes. "Grandpa, Iíd love to go. Can we go to the castle? Can we shop on Princes Street? Can we go on a double-decker bus?"

"Hold on there, lass. I canít promise weíll be able to go to the castle, but perhaps we can do a wee bit of shopping and go on the bus," he said. "Go and ask your gran if itís all right with her."

Maggie ran off to find her. She was outside in the garden. "Gran. Gran. Can I go with Grandpa to Edinburgh tomorrow?"

Gran stopped weeding the turnip patch. "Aye, lass. Go and have fun."

"Why donít you come too, Gran?" Maggie asked.

"Iíve got too much work here, lassie. My garden needs weeded and Iíve got to tend to the sheep," she explained. "You go and enjoy yourself."

Maggie hardly slept that night. Sheíd only been to Edinburgh once before, when she was a wee toddler. She was up before the sun rose over the horizon. Grandpa said they were to get an early start. Maggie ate breakfast, which consisted of porridge and a banana, then dressed and was ready to go. Grandpa waited for her outside. "Are you ready, lass?" he asked, smiling down at her.

Maggie was wearing a bright red skirt, a white blouse with little red flowers embroidered on the corner, a red cardigan, white socks and red shoes, and her brown pigtails were tied in red ribbons. "Iím ready, Grandpa," she said, excited.

He took her by the hand and they walked down to the bus station. They boarded soon after arriving and found a seat near the front. Maggie sat by the window. During the long drive down to Edinburgh she sat staring out of the window. The bus drove down narrow streets, going through many little villages. Gran had given her a bag filled with her favorite shortbread, one or two bannocks, and a bottle of Ribena, to drink and eat on the way down. She shared with her grandpa. "Weíre almost there," Grandpa nudged. "Look up there on the hill. Thatís the castle," he said softly.

"Can we go there? Please, Grandpa," she begged.

"Iím not sure if thereíll be time, lass, but if there is, weíll go."

The bus stopped and Maggie and her grandpa climbed down the steps. She looked around. The buildings seemed so tall. It was very noisy. She could hear cars honking and the roar of all their engines. The air was filled with the scent of car exhaust. Maggie loved it. She and Grandpa walked hand in hand to one of the big buildings and went inside. "Now, lass, sit quietly while I do my business. If you do, weíll go shopping."

Maggie sat quietly. She looked out the windows of the building, watching the cars, busses, and people walk past. At last, Grandpa came out. "Are you ready to go, Maggie?" he asked.

She jumped up and took his hand. "Can we go shopping now?" she asked.

Grandpa simply nodded yes. They went out and walked a block or two up to Princes Street. On one side of the street there are shops. On the other side is Princes Street Gardens, a huge park filled with trees, flowers, and statues. The castle sat off to one side like a silent giant in a sea of green. They went into several shops, purchasing a new doll for Maggie, and a big box of clotted cream fudge, which both of them nibbled on as they walked around. Seeing that Maggie was beginning to tire, Grandpa suggested, "Why donít we go for a ride on one of those double-decker busses?"

"Can we, Grandpa? Iíd love to," Maggie laughed.

When the next bus stopped, they climbed on board. It was the bus that went up to Edinburgh Castle. They sat on top, looking down at everything below them. "See that big monument over there? Thatís the Walter Scott Monument."

"Itís black," she noticed.

"Yes, it is. Thatís because of all the yearsí people burned coal in their fireplaces. Edinburgh used to be known as ĎAuld Reekieí," he explained.

"Thatís a funny name," she giggled. At last the bus stopped at the bottom of the hill near the castle. "Weíre going to the castle?" Maggie asked.

Grandpa smiled and nodded yes. He took her hand and they walked up to it. They stood at the wall and looked down on the city. They saw the Firth of Forth and the two bridges that spanned it. Maggie climbed on Mons Meg, a giant cannon, even though she wasnít supposed to, but her grandpa had let her. They went into St. Margaretís Chapel and Maggie loved the stained glass. Two hours passed quickly. Grandpa looked at his watch. "Oh dear. Itís time to go. Itís a long ride home still, lassie."

Granpa and Maggie walked down the hill, through the park and over to the bus station. They caught the next bus and started heading out of town. Maggie took one last glance back at the castle, the gardens and Princes Street. "Can we come back again?" she asked.

"Sure, lass. Weíll come again soon," Grandpa assured her. Maggie curled up in a ball on the seat next to him, cuddling her new doll, and fell asleep, tired after her wonderful day in Edinburgh.

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