Mungo lit the candle inside
the carved pumpkin that was sitting on his front porch, just outside the
door. He turned the light off and walked out into the lane to see what it
looked like. "Perfect," he said, giggling. "Storytelling night will be
wonderful!" Every Friday night the bairns would come to Mungoís house for
storytelling time. They would soon be showing up. Tonight theyíd be coming
in costumes. The living room was decorated with pictures of pumpkins,
haystacks and all manner of autumn leaves. "What a grand night for an
autumn festival," he said to Ginger, picking her up and carrying her into
the bedroom. "You, my sweet cat, have to stay in here tonight." He shut
the door behind him.
DING DONG! The first of the
bairns had arrived. Mungo was surprised when he opened the front door and
all of them stood there. "Oh look at you all. You put on such wonderful
costumes," he said, inviting them in. "Tonight there are toffee apples,
chocolates of every kind you can imagine, fruit juices, cakes, biscuits,
and all kinds of filled pastries," Mungo said to the delighted group. Heíd
bought everything he could find at the grocers that had an autumn color to
it. The cake was filled with orange icing and had yellow, orange and red
sprinkles on top. The biscuits were covered with creamy white icing with
orange, red, and yellow sweeties on them. Everything looked like autumn.
"Now, let me see your costumes," Mungo said.
Wee Fiona came up to Mungo
first. "Iím a ballerina," she said, twirling herself around in her pink
"Donít you look beautiful,"
he said, hugging her.
Gavin came over. He was
dressed up as a knight in shining armor. "Oh dear," Mungo said. "How will
you ever walk or sit in that costume?"
Gavin laughed. "Itís not
really tin. Itís made of shiny plastic. See, I can sit down," he said,
"Very good, Gavin. Did you
bring a sword?" Mungo asked.
"Oh yes, itís over on the
couch," he said, pointing. "Iím going to go now and eat a toffee apple."
He walked over to the snacks and started eating. The toffee was chewy and
stringy and Mungo chuckled as he watched Gavin attempt to eat it.
"Iím a soldier," said Andy.
He was dressed in camouflage clothes. "I donít like guns though, so Iím
pretending that I donít need one."
"Thatís well, Andy. You are
rather hard to see with all that camouflage stuff on," Mungo said. "Have
you tried the biscuits? Theyíre very delicious."
"Iíll go and have one right
now," Andy said, heading towards the snacks.
"Iím a fairy princess,"
said Morag. Mungo looked at her. She was dressed in a pale blue robe,
covered with hundreds of glittery sparkles. She wore a silver crown on her
head and had a wand.
"Arenít you the beautiful
one," Mungo said; "youíd better be careful not to get toffee on that
Morag danced over to the
place Gavin was sitting, eating his apple. "I can cast a spell on you and
make you fall in love with me," she said to him.
Gavin stopped eating. "Go
away, Morag, or Iíll put sticky sweets all over your nice blue robe."
Morag danced away, unaffected by Gavinís rejection, heading for the juice.
Gregor and wee Hamish both
came and stood by Mungo. "Mr. McGee," said Gregor. "Iím a wizard. Can you
tell? I found this pointed hat and long wizard cape."
"I could tell right away
you were a wizard, Gregor. What are you supposed to be?" he asked wee
"Iím dressed as a gypsy.
Canít you tell?" he asked.
"Of course. I see it now.
You have a scarf tied around your head, youíve got a tambourine which is
lying over there on the couch, and you are wearing bright, colorful
clothes. Youíre even wearing a pretend golden earring. Where did you get
this outfit?" Mungo asked.
"My gran was a gypsy. She
brought us these when she went visiting some relatives," wee Hamish said,
running off to nibble on some cake.
"Gather round," Mungo said,
a few minutes later. The bairns took their snacks and sat down on the
floor around his feet. "Tonight my story is going to be about autumn time.
Youíve all noticed the leaves changing color and how cold itís getting.
That means its autumn. Thatís why we are having this party; we are going
to celebrate a rewarding summer. Many years ago, not very far away from
here, lived a big black bear. He was the biggest bear in all of Scotland.
All summer long the bear, that was nicknamed Rory, went about the
countryside, scaring people. When he saw families eating a picnic under
some trees, heíd growl and stand on his back legs and frighten the
families away. Then heíd eat their whole picnic."
"I went on a picnic once,"
wee Hamish said. "Ants got all over our food and I didnít see a bear."
"This was before you were
born, wee Hamish. Rory did other things that werenít so nice. Jock
McAllister was over at the river fishing and had just caught a few large
trout. Rory growled and snarled and ran towards Jock. He was so scared
that he dropped his fishing pole and ran across the river. Rory helped
himself to all of Jockís trout. One time auld Mrs. Lamont had just
finished baking three pies. One was filled with plump, juicy plums, one
was an apple pie with cinnamon and nutmeg and walnuts, and the other was
filled with gooseberries. She was so happy with the way the crust was
golden brown. Her pies were perfect. She was having a party that night.
She put the pies on the window ledge to cool and went about cleaning her
house. Rory smelled the pies. He walked right up to the window and carried
all three pies off into the woods and ate them. He even tossed the pie
tins into the bushes instead of taking them back to auld Mrs. Lamont. You
can imagine how upset auld Mrs. Lamont was," Mungo said.
"I love pies," said Gregor.
"Gooseberry is my favorite too."
"Pies smell good," added
Andy. "I wouldnít ever steal one from Mrs. Lamont though."
"Well, Rory would and Rory
did. He had gooseberries and apples and plums stuck all over his black
fur. He was always doing mean things. The folks were happy that autumn was
coming and then soon after, winter, because Rory hibernated during those
months. If he were sleeping, heíd not be causing mischief. One autumn,
Rory decided that he didnít want to hibernate. He hid in his cave and let
all the people think he was sleeping, but he was thinking up things to do
that were rotten and mean. Angus MacTavish was painting his croft. He had
the bucket of white wash sitting out, along with several brushes. Heíd
just finished the first coat and went inside to get a bite to eat. Rory
came by and took the bucket of white wash and spilled it all over Angusís
grass and then ran to the other side of the house. When Angus came out and
saw the mess, he wondered how it had spilled. While he was busy cleaning
it up, Rory went in through the front door and ate all the food in Angusís
kitchen, including a roasted pumpkin and a cheesecake with strawberry
topping," Mungo said.
"Rory is a greedy bear. Why
didnít he hibernate?" asked Morag.
"What is hibenay?" asked
"Hibernate," Gavin said
slowly. "Itís when bears and other animals go to sleep for the whole
winter and donít come out until spring. They usually sleep in caves."
"Very good, Gavin," Mungo
congratulated. "Rory was a greedy bear and spent the whole autumn causing
trouble. Every time Jock McAllister went fishing, heíd walk out into the
river and leave his catch on the bank, near his tackle box. Every time,
Rory would go and take the fish when Jock wasnít watching. Jock didnít
know what was happening. He thought he was going crazy. He never got to
eat one of his fish. Rory took them all. So it went all autumn. One good
thing was that Rory was getting sleepier and sleepier as each day went by.
The closer it came to winter, the more tired he got. Why? Because bears
hibernate and thereís nothing he could do to stop that. Finally, when the
first winter snow came, Rory went to his cave and fell asleep," Mungo
"What about in the spring
when he wakes up. Wonít he still be getting into trouble?" asked Gavin.
"The people in the village
all got together one night and held a big meeting. They talked about all
the strange things that had been happening. They decided that it must have
been Rory. Heís the only creature that would do mean things like that. One
of the people who lived in the village, Duncan Johnston, suggested that
they go into Roryís cave while he was sleeping, put him into the back of a
wagon, and take him somewhere far away. The villagers agreed. So they
snuck into Roryís cave. It took the strength of every man in the village
to pick him up. Luckily for them Rory was sleeping very soundly. They
picked him up and put him in the back of Jamie Reidís wagon. He drove the
bear twenty miles into a deserted glen. He took him where there were no
villages around. Jamie dumped Rory onto the ground, threw a few branches
of pine tree on top of him so heíd stay warm when it snowed, and then
drove back to the village," Mungo said.
"What happened when Rory
woke up?" wee Fiona asked.
"When spring came around
and the sun came out, Rory woke up. A wren was sitting on his head,
singing and chirping. Rory sat up. He didnít know where he was or how he
got there. Angrily, he stood up and let out a loud roar. It was so loud
that it scared all the birds away. From that day on, Rory had to eat
berries and honey from beehives, like other bears did. There were no more
apple pies, no more trout, and no more mischief."
"That was a funny story.
Iím glad that Rory isnít around here. I wouldnít want him to come into my
house and eat my food," said Gregor.
"I donít think there are
any bears around here any more," Mungo assured the frightened boy. "Now,
bairns, letís listen to some bagpipe music, do a wee dance or two and then
weíll bob for apples." For the next hour they danced, which wasnít easy to
do in a knight costume, but Gavin tried his hardest. They bobbed for
apples and got wet. Only wee Hamish managed to get an apple in his teeth
and to do that, he had to dunk his entire head into the water. After
theyíd dried themselves off, Mungo let them finish off the snacks.
DING DONG! It was time for
them to go home. After the last bairn had left, Mungo let Ginger out of
the bedroom. She meowed and wanted outside. Mungo opened the back door for
her and she ran out. Suddenly he heard the echo of a loud roar. He hadnít
told the bairns that Rory still lived in the woods up north and if they
listened carefully, they could still hear his angry roars. Mungo smiled
and went inside, followed by Ginger. He ate the last toffee apple and let
Ginger lick the crumbs up.