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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
Cockles and Mussels

It was a beautiful, sunny day, which is an odd occurrence around the Western Isles of Scotland. It rains most of the time, but when the sun is out, it is appreciated by all. Bruce and Bonnie were flying towards the Isle of Barra after a good nightís sleep. A few clouds, puffy and white, floated by. "I love flying through the clouds, donít you?" Bonnie asked. "It seems like weíre flying through big balls of cotton. The air is so fresh and moist and just look around; have you seen anything so pretty?"

Bruce looked at the clouds. "It is rather impressive. If we want to see Barra, weíll have to drop below cloud level though."

"Iíve always wanted to go to Barra. Iíve heard such wonderful things about it. I especially want to see Kisimul Castle. It sounds so romantic," Bonnie sighed, a smile spread across her face.

"Come on, Bonnie. Letís get out of the clouds," Bruce said and the two butterflies descended. They flew just above the waves of the rough sea.

"I hope the sea doesnít get any rougher. I hope we donít run into any whales. I hope a sea gull doesnít eat us. I hopeÖ.." Bonnie rambled.

"Bonnie, enough already. Weíll be fine. Now thereís Barra up yonder. I think weíd best grab a bite to eat first. One never knows when the weather will change here," Bruce suggested.

"Iím sure weíll find a garden somewhere on this island. So far weíve been lucky. Flowers seem to grow in even in the most inhospitable of places," Bonnie said. The island appeared below them. "What a lovely beach! It looks like itís been sprinkled with gold dust."

"Youíre right. It does look like golden sand. Wow! Look at those hills. I believe they are called Ben Heaval and Ben Tangaval. Imagine the view from the top?" Bruce smiled.

"Forget it, Bruce. Weíre not going to the top; not today anyway."

They flew above the dirt road leading into a small village. "Iím sure weíll find flowers here," Bruce said. They spotted one. "I told you so."

They landed in a rose garden. "Lovely," Bonnie said and began to sip nectar.


Two dogs came running into the back garden and over to the rose bushes. One of them had a ball in its mouth and the other was trying to take it away. "BOW WOW!" went the small dog.

Cockles and Mussels

"Bruce, that dog looks like a reddish-brown sausage," Bonnie giggled, watching the dogs play tug of war.

"Hee hee. It does. The otherís just a mutt though. Heís rather boring color, plain old white with brownish patches," Bruce replied.

The dogs ran around the back garden, chasing each other and growling. The sausage dog wasnít about to let go of the ball. Finally they settled down. The dog dropped the ball and lay down on the grass, panting heavily. Bonnie and Bruce looked at the tags around their necks. "That sausage dogís name is Cockles and the muttís name is Mussels. How hilarious, Cockles and Mussels. Now, thatís cute," Bonnie laughed.

Bruce chuckled, "Those are silly names for dogs."

Just then Cockles stood up and stared at the ball, which lay about a foot in front of his nose. Mussels noticed and did the same. It was going to be a race for the ball. Mussels leapt and grabbed the ball in his mouth. Cockles growled and began to chase Mussels around, in and out of the rose bushes. "Be careful, lads," Bruce said as the rose bush rocked back and forth.

"Watch out," shouted Bonnie as the dogs headed straight for the roses again. "Hold on!"

Mussles came crashing into the roses. The ball flew out of his mouth and Cockles didnít hesitate to quickly snatch it up and run off. "BOW WOW!" Mussels wasnít very happy. "BOW WOW! BOW WOW! BOW WOW!" he shouted and chased Cockles into the front garden.

"What silly dogs! Looks like theyíre having a grand time though," Bruce said.

"I think weíd better not hang around here too long. One more bash into the roses and we could be tossed into a thorn," Bonnie cautioned. "Letís head towards the castle."

"Good idea," Bruce agreed and they fluttered away. No sooner had they left when the two dogs came running into the back garden again. This time Mussels had the ball and Cockles was grabbing onto his tail. "Hee hee," Bruce giggled.

As they flew towards the castle, they passed a sign that said, "WELCOME TO BARRADISE!"

"Now thatís funny," Bonnie smiled. "Barra, Barradise, Paradise. Good one!"

"Thereís the castle, Bonnie. Itís very ancient, you know. I believe it was originally built in 1030, by the MacNeils. In fact, the MacNeils still own most of the island. The castleís been fixed up. It looks magnificent sitting on the rocky outcrop, which is more like an island, isnít it?" Bruce said.

"Itís lovely. Look how clear the water is around here. This place is what I call, unspoilt. Just beautiful!" Bonnie said, amazed.

They flew in and out of the castle walls, around the halls and through the windows. People were there exploring it and taking photographs. "I think of all the places weíve been to, I like Barra the most. It might be because of Cockles and Mussels though," Bonnie laughed. "They were fun to watch, werenít they?"

"They were fun. Are you ready to go on to our next destination or is there something else youíd like to see?" Bruce asked.

"Well, if its all right with you, Iíd like to go back to see the dogs. We could sit on a fence and watch them, out of harmís way, and then we can be off," Bonnie pleaded.

"I was hoping youíd say that. Iíd love to watch the dogs too," Bruce smiled. They headed back and spent the afternoon watching Cockles and Mussels as they played their chasing games. It had been a grand day in Barra for the two butterflies.

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