"What should we do tonight
with the bairns?" Mungo said to his cat. "Itís too late to do any
decorating or even making snacks. "Oh my." Mungo had been gone most of the
week visiting his brother in Glasgow. Heíd only returned an hour ago.
"Theyíll be here soon, Ginger. Maybe I should call it off. What do you
think, girl?" He stroked her soft fur.
DING DONG! "I supposed its
too late now. Theyíre here." He opened the door. "Hello and good evening
to you, Andy, wee Fiona and Gavin. Come in. Iím afraid there are no snacks
ready right now," he apologized. "I just returned from Glasgow this
afternoon, but never mind that, come in and sit down."
DING DONG! Mungo opened the
door again. "Hello, Morag. Howís Miss Campbell doing this evening?"
"Mr. McGee? You never call
us by our last names," Morag said.
"Iíve been in Glasgow. I
met so many people that I just got into the habit of calling them by their
last names. Go and have a seat with the others. Weíre waiting for Gregor
and wee Hamish." DING DONG! "And here they are now," he smiled, opening
the door. "Welcome, bairns. Have a seat." The group was sitting on the
couch. "Iím sorry my wee bairns but Iím not very prepared tonight."
"Itís all right, Mr. McGee.
We donít need any snacks," Andy said.
"You bairns sit in there
and talk and Iíll see what Iíve got in the refrigerator and cupboards.
Iíll be back shortly." Mungo excused himself and went into the kitchen.
"Well, Miss Campbell,"
Gavin said, sarcastically, "you know that the Campbells were murderers,
"What?" Morag said. "What
are you talking about?"
"Moragís not a murderer,"
wee Fiona said, hugging Morag tightly. "Donít say things like that,
"The Campbells are
murderers," Gavin said again.
"Stop saying that," Andy
interrupted. "Moragís mum and dad are very nice."
"It wasnít her mum and dad.
It was her great great or whatever grandfather," Gavin said.
Mungo came back through.
"All I could find were these chocolate covered biscuits. Iím afraid that
will have to do."
"Mr. McGee," Gregor said.
"Gavin is saying that Moragís grandfather was a murderer."
"What? Why would you say
such a thing?" he asked Gavin.
"My dad told me about how
the Campbells murdered the MacDonalds a long time ago. Iím a MacDonald and
Moragís a Campbell," Gavin explained.
"All right, bairns. I see
we need to talk. Iíll tell you the whole story, but enough of this
murderer stuff, Gavin. Thereíll be no more of that in this house, do you
hear?" Mungo said, crossly.
"Yes, Mr. McGee," he hung
his head and mumbled.
"The tragic event took
place over 300 years ago. Thereís a place not too far from here called
Glencoe. Itís cold there in the winter. Bitter winds blow down the
mountains and its not a place Iíd choose to live, but the MacDonalds built
their homes there and did quite well living there. They say the MacDonalds
were a hearty bunch."
"What does that mean?"
asked wee Hamish.
"It means they were strong. Theyíd have to be to live in a place as cold
as Glencoe. The men were strong and large in stature, very busy and quite
patient in dealing with the cold weather. There was a lot of trouble going
on in Britain and Europe at the time. William of Orange had the throne and
the Campbell family from Glenorchy supported him."
"William of Orange? What a
funny name," Gregor laughed.
"Did he eat oranges all the
time, or was he orange?" wee Fiona chuckled.
"He was called William of
Orange. He didnít eat too many oranges and no, he certainly wasnít the
color orange. How silly. The Campbells lived near the MacDonalds and they
had many arguments over land and other things. They didnít get along at
all. Sometimes people donít get along. Very sad. William of Orange
demanded that all the Clan Chiefs of Scotland were to obey him and accept
him as their king. The MacDonalds of Glencoe was supposed to go to a town
called Fort William and pledge his loyalty. Everyone had to do it before
New Yearís Day of 1692."
"I know when New Yearís Day
is. Itís January 1st," boasted Morag.
"Youíre right, Morag. The
Clan Chief of Glencoe bundled up in his tartans and headed to Fort
William. When he got there, William of Orangeís soldiers told him heíd
have to go somewhere else to pledge his loyalty. He wasnít very happy. He
had to ride on his horse to Inverary. It took him a whole week to get
there and it was in the middle of winter."
"Iíll bet he was freezing
cold," Andy said. "Did it snow?"
"Yes, it was snowing. By
the time he got to Inverary, he had missed the deadline, but they decided
to allow him to pledge his loyalty. Remember, he didnít want to, but did
it anyway. He went back to Glencoe and to his clan. A while later a group
of men from Argyll came to stay on their land. The leaderís name was
Robert Campbell. He was from Glen Lyon."
"Glen Lyon?" laughed wee
"Is there a lion in the glen?" Gregor chuckled.
Mungo looked around. He saw
that Gavin was very serious looking. "No, Gregor, there are no lions in
Scotland. Itís just the name of a place. The MacDonalds were very nice to
the men. They let them into their homes. They fed them and let them sleep
there. They stayed for two whole weeks."
"That was nice of the
MacDonalds," Morag said.
"Yes, it was. Whatís sad is
that one night, when it was very cold and dark, the men started going into
the MacDonaldís homes and killing them. The Clan Chief was shot while
trying to get out of his bed. They did all kinds of horrible things, which
Iíll not tell you, because they are so horrible. They slaughtered 38
MacDonalds. Luckily 150 or so managed to escape. They had to run into the
snow and cold without shoes on. More soldiers came to help the Argyll men,
but still the MacDonalds escaped. The soldiers were very angry. They said
they were going to hunt down and kill every MacDonald there was."
"Thatís horrible," said
Morag. "Who said that? Robert Campbell?"
"The truth is that very few
of the soldiers were Campbells. Most of them were not Campbells, Gavin.
Robert Campbell was taking orders from William of Orange. He is the one
who ordered the MacDonalds to be slaughtered. The men were simply obeying
orders. Thereís more to the story, but thatís enough. Itís one of the sad
things that has happened in Scotland," said Mungo. "So Gavin, you
shouldnít blame Morag or anyone else named Campbell. The Campbells did a
lot of good things for Scotland too."
That night the bairns
learned something valuable. Gavin changed his attitude towards Morag and
stopped blaming her family for what happened to his ancestors. "So, are we
friends now?" Morag asked Gavin. She hoped they were. She really liked
"Yes, weíre friends," he
said, shaking her hand. "But stop making eyes at me, okay?" he begged.
"All right, Gavin.
Friends," Morag smiled.
DING DONG! "Thatís your
mums and dads come to pick you up now. Have a good night. Iím going to bed
early. Itís been a long, busy week," Mungo said, opening the door.
After the bairns had left,
Mungo climbed into bed. Ginger curled up in a ball near his feet. The wind
picked up and Mungo could hear it blowing against the house. He thought
about the MacDonalds and how they must have felt that night, sighed, and
then fell fast asleep.