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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
The Adventures of Fish and Chips - Book 10

Mist rolled in from the sea, covering the hills of Inverlarich in a ghostly layer of morning fog. Fish lay in his bed, wide awake and thinking about what he wanted to do later on that day. When his mum called him down to breakfast, he leaped from his bed and rushed into the kitchen, eager and hungry. Platters of kippered herrings, fried bread, sausages, and eggs smothered in baked beans awaited his lips.

“What do you have planned for the day, Fish?” His mother handed him a fork.

“What about you, Harry? What are you doing?” Their father questioned the older brother.

“I'm off to town. There's a fair today with games and rides. Me and my pals want to hang around there.” Harry gobbled down a mouthful of fried bread.

“I didn't know there was a fair. I guess I'll go and get Chips and we'll head over there too.” Fish scooped up some beans.

“Stay away from me, Fish. I don't want to see your ugly face anywhere near me.” Harry snarled at his brother.

“Harry! What an awful thing to say!” Maureen's mouth fell open with disgust.

“Don't worry, Mum. Chips and I don't plan to go near Harry and his stupid pals.” Fish glared at Harry.

“Enough of this lads. Finish your breakfast and be on your way. Your mum and I are looking forward to a nice quiet day at home.” Hugh Ross put his hand on top of his wife's.

The rest of the meal was eaten in silence. When Fish finished he disappeared out the back door, a scowl plastered across his face.

Chips stood at her front door, waiting for her friend. “I knew you'd come by. You heard the fair was in town, didn't you?”

“Yes. Are you wanting to go?”

“Of course, Fish. I've got my pocket money right here.” Chips patted her pants.

They ran to town. The aroma of candy floss floated through the air towards them. “I hear they're going to have cheeses and jams and all sorts of biscuits and sweeties. I can't wait.” Fish picked up his pace, eager to get to the fairgrounds.

The Norman church, surrounded by an acre or two of grass and trees, was the setting for the fair. As Fish and Chips arrived, they were greeted by booths selling hot sausage rolls, meat pies, haggis, hamburgers and haddock and salty chips. Bottles of vinegar stood next to tomato sauce and Branston pickle. A ferris wheel spun slowly in circles, carrying children high above the town. Giggles and screams of fear came from another ride that spun. Dizzy girls climbed out once the ride ended, elbowing each other with teasing remarks.

“I think if we're going to eat, we should go on the rides first, or we might get sick.” Chips led Fish across the grass. “Oh look. There's a tinker. Tinkers tell fortunes. Let's go and have ours told. I'd like to know who I'm going to marry and how many children I'm going to have.”

Fish guffawed. “Right, Chips. Why don't you ask what job you're going to have and how rich you'll be.”

“I think I will.” Chips ran up to the tinker's wagon.

A man sat on the steps of the brightly painted carriage. Fish slowed, not anxious to get to close to the stranger.

The man's red hair looked dirty and matted. His clothes were torn and sewn with patches.

“Ah, you want your fortune told?”

“I do. I'm not sure about him though.” Chips turned to look at Fish.

“Come inside, both of you and sit. My name is Seamus. I'm from Ireland,” he said, leading them into the wagon. “If you'll sit here, I'll tell you your future.”

Chips sat on a stool. Fish stood, glancing around at Seamus's wares. “You've got a lot of junk in here.”

“Fish!” Chips snapped at her friend. “That's not nice to say.”

“It's all right. I collect items. Some call it rubbish. I call it gold.” Seamus picked something off the counter. “See this?” He held it in his hand. “I found this in Ireland, on one of the moors. I think it's enchanted, maybe magic. I believe it has powers.”

“What sort of powers?” Chip's gaze went to the object.

Seamus rolled it around in his hand. “It might look like a piece of white quartz, but it's a crystal. I can see things in it.”

Fish raised his eyebrows and his chin, hoping for a closer look.

“That's wonderful. Can I see it? Is this how you tell the future?” Chips smiled at the man.

He put it in her hand. “How does it make you feel when you hold it?”

“It makes me feel warm inside. Where did you get it?”

“I found it near Tara, home of the Irish kings of old. I believe some of their essence was captured in this stone,” Seamus said. “Go ahead and hold it while I tell your future. Young man, Fish, please sit while I attend to your friend.”

Fish scooted back on a bench and sat quietly watching.

“Chips isn't your real name. Your real name is something Highland, like Mairi. No, it's not that. It's Fiona.”

Chips gasped. “How did you know that?”

“I know everything. I see in your future that you will become a great writer of tales. You will use your imagination, a gift from your ancestors, to write marvelous wonders, full of adventure, romance and mystery. You will marry and have three children, two girls and a boy. Your future husband is someone you know right now, a friend, and nothing will ever stop your love for him. You will live here, in Inverlarich and raise your family in happiness and love. Good health has been bestowed upon you, along with wisdom, strength and frivolity.” Seamus hesitated, taking deep breaths. “There is one thing I see that may present danger to you at some time. You need always listen to your parents counsel and guidance. When they warn you of danger, pay attention. If you do this, you will live in peace as long as you live.”

Chips opened her eyes. “Wow! That's a great future. Fish, why don't you let him tell yours.”

“No. I don't want to know anything about my future. What if he tells me I'm going to die tomorrow?” Fish stood and headed for the door. “None of this for me.”

Chips chased after him. “Stop, Fish.”

Seamus came outside and sat on the steps. “You can keep the crystal, Chips...I mean, Fiona. Keep it close to your heart. Guard it and when you hold it in your hands, remember your ancestors. You are a descendant of the kings of Tara. Did your mum or dad ever tell you?”

Chips looked at the crystal in her palm. “No. I knew I had some Irish blood, but I had no idea. How amazing! I'll tell Mum and Dad and see what they say.”

Fish grabbed her hand. “Come on, Chips. Let' go on some of the rides. I'm starving and want a piece of shortbread.”

Chips waved goodbye to Seamus. She noticed another man going into the wagon right after they left. “I think he'll have a lot of customers today.”

They joined the throngs of fair attendees, going on the rides and eating every sugary sweet they could afford. After feasting on rubbish all day, they were ready to go home. Fish saw Harry near the spinning ride with his pals. His first instinct was to wave, but he thought better of it and ran off with Chips.

That night Fish told his parents about the tinker and what he'd said to Chips.

Harry woke up the next morning excited about the day. “Fish, do you and Chips want to come rock climbing with me this afternoon?”

Fish dropped his fork. “What? You're asking us to go? Yesterday you threatened to beat me up if I spoke to you at the fair.”

Harry coughed. “That was rotten of me. A few of my pals are going, but you two can come.” He looked at his father.

Chips noticed the grin. “Sure. I'll go and tell Chips and see if she wants to go with us.”

After breakfast he rushed to her house.

“Rock climbing? I've always wanted to do that. Does Harry really want us to come or did your parents make him ask us?” Chips invited Fish into the house.

“I think my dad made him, but Harry's being nice about it. We're going after lunch. I'll go home and come back later to pick you up.” Fish ran home. When he came back later that day he saw Chips and her parents at the front door.

“Fish, it's all right with us if Chips goes rock climbing, but we don't want her to climb. She can stay at the bottom and help you with the ropes, but we'd rather she didn't do anything more than that.” Mr. Campbell nodded at Fish.

The two of them headed for the cliffs. “Why is your mum and dad so afraid? Harry's been rock climbing for a few years now. I've done it too. It's safe, as long as you don't do anything foolish.”

Chips felt the crystal in her pocket. She'd picked it up off her drawers and stuck it in there earlier. “By the way, Fish, I talked to my mum and she said on her side of the family that we go back to the early Irish kings of Tara. I thought that was so cool. That means the tinker was telling the truth and he really does know the future.”

“I think it's a load of rubbish. He just guessed. I'm sure he guessed at your name too. Nobody can tell the future; not a tinker, not a gypsy or a fortune teller.” Fish sighed.

As they neared the loch the birds swooped at them. “They don't want us near their nests. They think we're climbing the cliffs to disturb them.” Chips shielded her eyes from the sun. “I can't blame them.” She stopped and grabbed Fish by the arm. “You know, Fish, you should be more open minded. I happen to believe him and I'm going to do what my parents said. You remember what the tinker warned me about don't you? He said to do what my parents told me and I'd be safe. That's what I am going to do.”

“Fine. You stay on the ground like a baby. I'm going to show Harry that I'm his equal.” Fish pulled his arm away and ran off, leaving her to catch up.

“I'm glad to see you finally made it. Jack's up there already. Why don't you go next, Fish. Chips can go up after me.” Harry wrapped the roping around his brother.

Fish scaled the cliff without any problems. He stood at the top and waved at Chips. She waved back.

Gregor, Peter and Kyle climbed and then it was Harry's turn.

“All right, Chips, wait until I go up and then you come.” Harry put his feet on the stone wall of the cliff.

“I'm not climbing, Harry. I'm staying down here.” Chips folded her arms across her chest. Her thoughts went to the crystal in her pocket.

“What? Your choice.” He started up the cliff. He'd gone up about halfway when a loud scream came.

“Harry, the rope! It's coming undone!” Fish ran back and forth across the top of the cliff, shouting to his brother.

Harry looked up and as he did, the rope slipped out of the grip. Being experienced, he grabbed onto the cliff wall before the rope fell to the ground, landing at Chip's feet.

“We'll toss a rope down. Hang on!” Peter lowered another rope. Harry reached for it with his free hand and looped it around his waist. He let himself slide back to the ground, landing on his bottom next to Chips.

She gulped. ”I'd have fallen if I'd gone up. I'd have died!”

A few minutes later the others stood next to her. Harry brushed the sand off his pants and hands and started rolling up the rope.

Fish took Chip's hand. “You'd have been hurt, Chips. I'm glad you listened to your parents and didn't go.” He pulled her to a hug.

The afternoon sun lowered in the sky. “I say we have a bonfire. I came by the other day and stacked up some wood. Peter, run home and ask Mum for some food. We'll barbecue.” Gregor urged his younger brother to go quickly.

After the fire blazed and sparks popped and floated into the sky, Peter came back with an ice chest full of food. They feasted on roasted chicken and potato salad.

When they'd finished eating Chips stood gazing into the flames. She took the crystal stone out of her pocket and held it in her hand. A vision unfurled in the fire. She saw Tara in all its glory and men and women walking about the hillside. Sheep bleated and darted between the royalty. “My ancestors.” She whispered and nobody heard.

Fish watched Chips. He knew she was in deep thought. He walked over to her. “Chips, are you all right?” He noticed the tear rolling down her cheek.

“I'm fine, Fish. You know what? I'm not going to call you Fish any more. Your name is James and my name is Fiona. It's about time we put that Fish and Chips stuff to a rest, don't you think?” Chips smiled, wiping her tears away. “After all, we're to be married some day and have three children. I don't think they'd like it too much if we called each other Fish and Chips.”

Fish's eyes bulged and then a grin spread across his face. “Fiona, are you ready to go home?”

“Yes, I think I am, James.” They walked hand in hand into the moonlight.

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