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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
The Adventures of Fish and Chips - Book 1

The boat rushed across the loch, it's engine churning the water in its wake. A moss-covered rock jutted out of the water. “There it is,” Fish shouted. “I've got the map. The treasure is supposedly buried on the other side of that island. Go around to the back of it.” James Edward Cameron Ross pointed to the left.

“You're awfully bossy for a ten year old,” his older brother said. “Maybe I should toss you overboard and you can swim with the other fish, Fish.” Harry rustled Fish's reddish brown hair.

“Leave him alone, Harry. You're always teasing him. This time he knows what he's talking about,” Chips scowled.

“You're lecturing me? A girl named Chips? How did your parents ever come up with that nickname from Fiona Moira Campbell?” Harry steered the boat towards the rocky shore.

“It doesn't matter, does it. Just do as Fish asks,” Chips said.

“Yes, Ma'm.” Fourteen year old Harry rode the boat onto the pebbles. “There. We're here on Haggis Island. I suppose we're going to see wild haggis running around.” The boy roared with laughter.

Ignoring him, Fish said, “I found this map behind an old picture Mum and Dad had in the loft. I think it's real. It says there's a chest of gold buried here.”

“Who buried it here? There were no pirates in this area, unless I missed something in my school studies,” Harry said.

“Not pirates, Harry; the Spanish Armada. During the war a Scottish ship, the HMS Ormsdon, captured a Spanish ship. They took all the treasure, gold, emeralds, rubies and all that, and put it in their hold. They were on their way back to Edinburgh when a storm came up and carried the ship clear up here. It finally crashed into Haggis Island and sunk. Two men from the coast watched the ship flounder and rowed over to this island. Their names were Angus McGregor and Walter Lamont. They found the wreckage, salvaged all the gold and jewels and then rowed back home. Neither of them wanted anyone else to find it.” Fish took a deep breath.

“Why didn't they go back and get it later and when did you hear such story?” Harry glanced at his brother.

“I learned about it in school. They didn't go back to get it because they both went out fishing the next day and their boat sunk. The only reason anyone knows about the gold is because one of the men told his wife. People have been searching for the gold since that day. The map was hidden by Angus McGregor and stayed that way until I found it a few days ago. I've been researching the shipwreck and it's true, Harry. Chips and I want to find it.”

“Fish and Chips. What a team! I hope you find it and that I get my share for riding you over here in the dingy.” Harry stepped out of the boat. “Come on. Help me tie this up and we'll search for the gold. I hope your map has good directions.”

The three of them looked around the ancient volcanic rock.

“There's not much on this island, is there, Fish?” Chips crunched her nose to the side. “Looks rather barren. There's hardly a tree or a bush in sight. I agree with Harry. I hope the map is accurate.”

Fish pulled it out of his pocket. “Here we are right here,” he pointed, showing the others their location. “It says we have to climb to the highest spot of the island. That's high, don't you think?”

“I hope we don't die trying to get up there. The rock is covered with wet moss and bird poop,” Chips said, shaking her head. “Why do we have to climb to the highest point? Surely they didn't bury it up there. Everyone knows you bury treasure in the sand on the beach.”

“Not always,” Harry added. “The sea erodes the beach. It's been over 400 years since they buried it. The sand surely would have been washed away. Of course, they weren't planning on leaving it in there for that long. Let's just follow the map and see what happens. If nothing else, I'm having a good time watching the two of you make total fools of yourselves.”

Fish and Chips ignored him. A trail wound its way up to the top, though narrow and slippery. Flocks of screeching birds flew into the air with each step they took. “I can see our house,” Fish said. “I can see your house too, Chips.”

“Me too. This loch is much larger than I thought it was,” she said.

“Answer me this, Fish. If the ship was carried by the sea up the coast, how on earth did it wreck on this island in the middle of a loch?” Harry put his arms on his hips.

“This is a salt water loch, or at least part of it is,” Fish answered.

“Salt water? Don't be daft, lad.” Harry sat on the jagged stones. “I know it's tidal. I've just never thought much about it before now.”

“A sea river comes into the loch during high tide. It mixes with the fresh water, so by the time it comes here, it's pretty diluted. The ship must have drifted in during high tide.” Fish shrugged his shoulders.

“All right, Fish. We're up here. What do we do next?” Chips didn't feel like spending her entire day on top of the rock admiring the scenery.

“What's the rush? What else is there to do? I'm tired of looking for birds in the moor and I'm tired of digging up blocks of peat. At least here we don't have to do chores.” Fish glanced at the map. “We have to go down this other side about half way. There's a cave.” He showed them the path on the map.

“Let's get going then. It looks like it might rain later. We'd better hurry,” Chips said.

They clambered down the trail, careful not to slip. “Is this it? It looks like a cave.” Harry stuck his head inside.

“Go in and find out then.” Chips leaned her hand on the rim of the cave. “Watch out for haggis. They say wild haggis live in caves.”

“Very funny, Chips.” Harry ducked his head and went into the cave. Fish and Chips followed. “It's dark. Did one of you bring a torch?”

“I did,” Fish said. He pulled one out of his pocket and handed it to his brother. “Here.”

Harry turned it on and shone it about the cave. “I can't see any treasure chests in here.”

“It's not buried in here. We have to look for a marking. The marking points to a key,” Fish said.

“A key? They buried a key to the chest in a cave under a marking? This sounds like its out of a Robert Louis Stevenson book. I suppose you're not going to tell me we have to make a bargain with a ghost?” Harry swung the beam of the torch along the walls.

“The marking looks like a...” Fish didn't finish.

“A skull and crossbones? Come on, Fish. This is a joke,” his brother said.

“No, it's not. It's real. We're not looking for a skull and crossbones. We are looking for a triangle with a circle inside it. I doubt very much if Angus or Walter spent too much time carving something elaborate on the cave wall. Start looking.” Fish ran to the back of the cave and ran his hands along it, feeling for an indentation.

“I found it,” Chips shouted. “It's a triangle with a circle inside, just like you said.” She followed the point of the triangle down to the ground. Brushing the dirt out of the way, she felt a hole. “I think I've got it.” She stuck her fingers in and pulled out a long, rusty key.

“It's a key!” Harry took it from Chips, shining the torch on it. “It's rusted and definitely old-fashioned.”

Fish ran over to them. “Wow! It is real. Now all we have to do is follow the map to the treasure.”

“Does X mark the spot?” Harry burst out laughing. “Sorry, Fish,” he said, seeing his brother's scowl.

“Where do we go next, Fish?” Chips took the key and put it in her pocket. “It'll be safe in here.”

“We have to go down the trail. There's another cave and it can only be found when the tide is out.” Fish stood high above the entrance to the cave and stared down. “The tide is out right now. Come on before it starts coming in again.”

“Fish, the sky's getting dark. I don't want to be stranded out here all day and night.”

“Don't you trust my boating skills, Chips?” Harry poked her in the ribs.

“Not really. My dad has a hard time with a boat in the stormy waters of this loch. You know about that. Your dad nearly drowned a few years ago, Harry.” Chips frowned and glanced at the sky.

“She's right. Let's get on with this.” Harry headed down the trail. “We need to get to the bottom.” Half an hour later they stood in front of the cave. “The tide is out. Let's go inside. What are we looking for this time?”

“They carved a square with a triangle inside,” Fish said.

Harry shook his head. “They weren't very creative, were they.”

“Use the torch, Harry and let's find the marking. Once we find it, Fish, what then?” Chips stepped into the cave. Water rushed in, splashing on her legs. “The tide's starting to come in. Well?”

Fish looked at the map. “There's a stone in the shape of a horse. We need it to get into the chest.”

“A horse? Why in the world do we need a horse-shaped stone to get into the treasure? Sounds like Angus and Walter were a wee bit off their heads if you ask me.” Harry twisted his fingers around in a circle just off his ear. “Madmen.”

“Harry, if you're going to be negative, just go sit in the boat and wait. Otherwise be quiet and help look for the square. Use the torch.” Chips sighed. “Start looking. I don't like this at all. The tide's coming in and there's a storm on the horizon. Let's just hurry up and do this.”

It only took a few minutes to find the marking and the stone. Fish put it in his pocket and they rushed out of the cave just as the waves rolled in. “That was close. We'd have been trapped in there and drowned,” Harry said.

“What next, Fish?” Chips felt her pocket to make sure the key was still there.

“Back down to the beach. After we get off the rock, we have to take fifteen steps.”

“Fifteen of your size steps, or fifteen of Harry's size steps?” Chips looked down at the map. “It doesn't say. I suppose it would be more Harry's size. Walter and Angus were grown men.”

Once they reached the sand, Harry took the steps, stretching his legs as far as he could. “Thirteen, fourteen, fifteen. This is it then?”

“It should be.” Fish looked around.

“What's wrong, Fish?” Chips showed concern.

“I forgot to bring a spade. What will we dig it up with?”

“Our bare hands, I suppose.” Harry knelt and started moving wet sand to the side. “Well? Are you two going to leave me to do all the work, or are you going to help?”

Fish and Chips knelt and pushed the sand out of the way. They dug until the hole was deep enough for Fish to stand it.

“Where's the treasure chest?” Harry tapped his foot on the sand.

“I'm not digging one more handful, Fish. This has been a complete waste of time.” Chips rambled on.

Fish eyed the walls. “I see something. Jump down in here with me.”

“No way. One of us has to stay up here. Besides that, the tide is coming in and in a few minutes that hole will be under water.” Harry refused to move.

Chips jumped into the hole. “There is something.” She and fish dug with their fingers. “It's a chest. It's true. There is a chest.”

Harry changed his mind and jumped in. “I'll help you.”

Ten minutes later they had the chest in their hands. Harry said, “You two climb out and stand near the hole. You're going to have to help me from up there.” He grabbed the sides and struggled to lift it to his knees. “Grab it. It's heavy.”

Fish and Chips reached down, grabbed the handles and pulled it out onto the ground.

Harry climbed out and the three of them sat staring at it. The first waves lapped at their feet. “Let's take this to higher ground.”

“What about our boat? Did we pull it far enough so that the tide doesn't carry it out?” Chips glanced at Harry.

“Yes, I think so. Let's take the chest back to the boat. We can take it home and open it there.” Harry dragged it across the sand. “Are you going to help me with this thing or just stand there all day?”

Chips stood behind the chest and pushed it. “We don't have to climb back the way we came, do we? Can't we walk around the beach?” She looked at the incoming waves. “If we hurry, I'm sure we can make it.” Huffing and puffing, they hauled it all the way around the island.

“There's the boat!” Fish left the other two with the chest and ran. “The tide is about to carry it out. Run!”

“Hey! Get back here and help!” Chips felt the first raindrops fall, splattering on her face. She and Harry lugged the chest to the dingy. She looked at the sky. Gray clouds, dark and heavy, unloaded their moisture on the island. “We're doomed. We can't possibly go home in this weather. Harry, we're all going to have to help lift this thing into the boat.”

“If we put it in the dingy, then the waves might carry it and the dingy away,” Harry said.

“What?” Fish glanced at the waves. “The storm's not that bad.”

“We're going to have to take it to the cave,” Harry said.

Chips glared at Fish. “Now, pull the boat onto the sand.”

The waves grew and the rain came down harder with every passing moment. “All right. Let's get to the cave and wait this storm out. We can open the chest in the cave,” Fish said.

“It will be nearly impossible to carry this heavy chest all the way up there. However, I might be motivated if I knew it held rubies and emeralds and gold.” Harry snickered.

“You're right. We should open it right here. I'm rather excited, aren't you?” Fish winked at Chips. “We might become the richest people in Scotland in just a few minutes.”

Chips reached into her pocket. “Here's the key.”

Harry opened the lid. “What? There's another compartment. Give me that horse-shaped stone, Fish.” Harry pushed it into a matching shaped hole. The second lid popped open.

“Bottles?” Chips stared at the glass.

Fish lifted one of them up. “It's Spanish wine. That's their treasure? We did all this work for a case of wine?”

Chips laughed. “This is brilliant.”

Harry laughed too. “Wine? I suppose to 16th century men this would be a treasure. Say, if this wine is over 400 years old, it must be worth a pretty penny. I say we take it to Hamish McMillan at the Heather and Thistle Inn. He'd probably give us a few quid for it. At least we can have enough money for a fish supper, eh Fish?” Harry nudged his brother.

Fish sighed. “I wanted it to be gold and jewels, not wine.”

“Don't fret, Fish. We'll have lots of other adventures. I hear there's a load of Celtic treasure buried in the Garlochie Hills. Maybe we can search for that.” Chips patted Fish on the back.

“Enough of this, glum behavior. We'll get paid a pretty penny for this wine.” Harry slapped Fish on the shoulder.

They spent the next few hours telling stories of ghosts and robbers and even shared a few haggis tales. The storm passed and Harry took them and their cache of wine back to shore. Immediately they headed for the Heather and Thistle Inn. Hamish was quite pleased to see the wine, paid them enough to bring long-lasting smiles to their faces. After a fish supper, Fish and Chips and Harry headed home, knowing they'd never forget their day at Haggis Island.

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