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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
A Royal Night

DING DONG! "Oh, hello, Morag. So glad to see you better again. Come on in. You’re the first to arrive tonight," Mungo said. Morag hadn’t made it to last Friday’s storytelling, as she had been ill.

"What are we doing tonight?" Morag asked.

"Tonight, we’re going to be kings and queens. Oh, by the way, did you enjoy the picture wee Fiona brought you last Friday?" Mungo asked.

"It was lovely. That was very nice of wee Fiona to do that. She also told me the story of Greyfriar’s Bobby and it made me feel much better," Morag said, remembering wee Fiona’s lovely gift. "We’re going to be kings and queens tonight, Mr. McGee? Why?"

DING DONG! "I’ll explain shortly." Mungo opened the door. "Well, its Andy and Gregor. Welcome. Come in. Look who’s back. It’s Morag!"

Gregor and Andy ran inside and spoke to Morag. DING DONG! "The last of them," Mungo said opening the door. "Hello wee Fiona, Gavin and wee Hamish. I’m so happy to see you all. Come inside with the others." He shut the door behind them. "Lads and lassies, tonight we’re going to be kings and queens. If you’ll look on the table, there is a gold crown for each of you to wear on your head." Mungo had spent hours that morning cutting the crowns from yellow construction paper.

"Why are we going to be queens?" asked wee Fiona.

"I’m not a queen. I’m a king!" said wee Hamish.

"Bairns, get your crowns on and gather around. I’ve got to put Ginger in the bedroom first, and oh, eat the snacks while I do that, please," Mungo said, carrying the large cat into the bedroom.

"What kind of snacks is there tonight?" Morag asked Gavin, smiling widely. "Did you miss me last week?" she asked him.

"Uh, not really," Gavin said, "but I sort of did."

Morag smiled a bigger smile.

The bairns helped themselves to some trifle. "This is delicious," Andy said. He scooped a spoonful of rich, thick cream into his mouth.

"I love trifle," Gregor added.

Each bairn filled their bowl up with the sweet treat, grabbed a spoon and napkin, and sat down in front of Mungo’s chair. He came back through and sat down. "Now that Ginger’s safe in the bedroom, we’ll begin our story. I see you’ve all got some trifle and are wearing your crowns. Very good. Long ago there was an English king and his name was Edward I. He didn’t like the Scottish people at all."

"Why not?" asked Gregor.

"He wanted all the people in Britain to bow down to him, but some of the Scottish people didn’t want to. They wanted to be a free country, separate from England," Mungo explained.

"Oh, okay," Gregor replied.

"King Edward took a lot of soldiers and went to Scotland to fight in a battle. The English won and just to show Scotland that they were in power, they went to Scone Palace and took the Coronation Stone," Mungo said.

"What’s the Coronation Stone?" asked Morag.

"The Stone is a large stone that was very sacred to the ancient Scots. There are all kinds of stories about its origin, but nobody knows for sure where it really came from. Some people say it came from Biblical days. Others say it comes from Ireland, but no matter where it came from, it ended up in Scotland. I’ll tell you more about it later. All the ancient kings of Scotland knelt on it when they were coronated to be kings."

"What does corated mean?" wee Fiona asked.

"The word is coronated, wee Fiona. It means that when a man became the king, he knelt down on the stone and another man, a special man whose job it was to do that, pronounced him to be king. For hundreds of years all the kings of Scotland used that stone. It was very special and sacred to the Scots. When Edward I took it out of the palace at Scone, he took it back to England."

"I’ve never heard of Scone Palace. I know that my mum makes scones," Gregor laughed.

"Very funny, Gregor. There is a royal palace at Scone, or there once was. It’s very beautiful, especially in autumn, when all the ivy turns red. It clings to the building, crawling up from the ground. They also have peacocks there. Back to the story then; when King Edward I took the Stone to England, he put it inside Westminster Abbey, under his throne. He did this to make the Scots angry and show them he was the ruler over them."

"What year did King Edward take the stone?" Gavin asked.

"He took it in 1296. That was a long time ago, wasn’t it? The Stone is called by many names. It’s known as the Coronation Stone, the Stone of Scone, the Stone of Destiny and even Jacob’s Pillow."

"Why is it called Jacob’s Pillow? How can a stone be a pillow?" wee Hamish laughed.

"One of the legends behind the Stone is that it belonged to Jacob, who is mentioned in the book of Genesis, in the Bible. They say he used it as a pillow. While he was sleeping on it, he had a vision. God spoke to him and told him that his descendants would spread all across the world until they returned to the Promised Land," Mungo explained.

"What’s the Promised Land?" asked wee Fiona.

"Right now, its Israel," Mungo answered.

"Then what happened? How did it get to Scotland?" Andy asked.

"When Jacob awoke, he decreed the stone a holy relic. He left it at Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. In 602 BC, Jerusalem was destroyed and so was the temple. A few people managed to escape and carried the stone to Ireland. They thought it would be safe there. That’s a long way from Jerusalem. It took them a long time to get to Ireland. They went to many other places first."

"Didn’t the Stone get heavy, carrying it all around the world?" asked Morag.

"I’m sure it did, Morag. In the Irish history books it suggests this story is true. They put the Stone somewhere safe, at a place called Tara. The royalty of Ireland lived there. The kings of Ireland were also crowned while sitting, or kneeling on the Stone. Eventually it was taken to Scotland where it remained until King Edward I took it."

"Where is it now? Is it still in Westminster Abbey?" Gavin asked.

"As a matter of fact, it was recently returned to Scotland and now sits in Edinburgh Castle," Mungo concluded. "You can ask your mums and dads to take you there to see it."

"That was interesting," said Morag. "I didn’t know that. Thanks for telling us about it."

"It was my pleasure. What we are going to do now is to put jewels on our crowns. Everyone take off your golden crown and put it on the table," Mungo said. Mungo brought out dishes filled with cut out red ‘rubies’, green ‘emeralds’, white ‘diamonds’ and other assorted ‘jewels’ made of construction paper. He also placed some glue on the table. "Everyone decorate your crowns as you’d like. You can add as many jewels as you want." He also had some jars of glittery sprinkles. "Be careful not to make too big a mess with the glitter," he begged.

Oh what fun they had. Morag put ‘rubies’ all over her crown. Wee Fiona covered hers with ‘emeralds’. "I like green," she said as she glued them on. Andy put blue ‘sapphires’ and green ‘emeralds’ on his. Gavin put ‘diamonds’ on his. Gregor and wee Hamish glued all the different colors on theirs. Wee Hamish put so many on that you could hardly see the gold color of the crown. All of them put glitter on theirs and made a big mess on the table and floor. Glitter stuck to their arms and got on their clothes too, but the bairns were having so much fun that Mungo didn’t worry about it.

DING DONG! "It’s your mums and dads," Mungo said. "Why don’t you put your crowns on before I open the door," he laughed.

When the parents came in and saw their bairns, they smiled. After a brief explanation of the night’s story, the bairns left. Mungo heard them begging their parents to take them to see the Stone. Mungo cleaned up the cut paper jewels and the glue, and had to vacuum up all the glitter off the floor. He then let Ginger out of the room and sat down in his chair with a bowl of trifle. It had been a royal night indeed.

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