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Picture Book
A Surprise for Supper

Malcolm McBrown was a shepherd that lived in northern Scotland. He had a large flock of sheep, but he knew each and every one of them. Heíd given each one a name, like Fluffy, Rowena, Eugene and Perry. Malcolm and his wife, Orla, were lonely. They didnít have any children. Their cottage seemed empty and quiet, aside from all their animals.

They had chickens and roosters, sheep, a few highland cattle, a goat or two, three cats, and a dog named Ian.

As the sun rose over the heather-covered hills, Malcolm and Orla climbed out of bed. "Iíll be baking all day. I picked up a bag of sultana raisins at the shops and want to make some biscuits today. Iíve got a surprise for supper tonight," Orla giggled as she slipped on her dress.

Malcolm put on his green tartan kilt and sash as he did every day, and said, "Sounds delicious, Orla. When I get back from tending to the sheep, weíll have a real feast." After a hearty breakfast of porridge, sausage, eggs and fried tomato, Malcolm gave Orla a kiss on the cheek. "Donít work too hard," he smiled, grabbed his crook and shut the door behind him.

He walked toward the hillside where he kept his sheep. Ian followed him, barking and waving his tail. "What are you barking at, Ian?" Malcolm asked. "Do you see a fox, or a hare?"

Ian kept barking. Suddenly a grouse went flying out of the heather up into the air. Ian chased it for a while then came back, panting.

Malcolm laughed. He loved his dog even more than he loved his sheep. "Good dog," he said, bending down and petting his white shaggy fur. They walked the rest of the way in silence. Malcolm watched the bees buzzing around the heather bells. He noticed a patch of thistle that needed to be cut down before Orla saw it. He splashed through the small stream and began the climb up the hill.

When he reached the top the sheep came running towards him. "Aye, thereís my wee sheep. How are you all doing this fine morning," he said, petting each one. Ian ran around them, herding them into a group. "Letís move over to the other hill. The grass is greener and longer. Youíll get a better feeding there." The sheep went BAA! They followed him as he walked.

When they reached the new hill, Malcolm sat down on a large stone and let the sheep munch away on the grass. Ian came and lay down by his feet. Just then he saw a huge bird heading towards them. It seemed to be carrying something in its talons. He thought it was an eagle wanting to take away one of his sheep. He stood up and walked out into the grass for a better look. Ian stayed by his side. The sheep stopped munching on the grass and looked up. Just as the bird flew overhead, it dropped something. Malcolm saw that it was a stork. The bundle fell the ground and landed with a thud, right on top of Ian.

Malcolm poked the bundle with his wooden crook. It made a noise. He jumped back and then poked it again. This time it giggled. Confused, he bent over and undid the blue blanket that it was tied up in. It was a baby boy holding a red rattle with soft red spikes on it. "A bairn! The stork brought us a wee bairn, and a lad at that. I must take him to Orla. Do you see, my sheep; Ian; weíve got a wee laddie." He told the sheep to stay there and graze and that heíd be back later for them. He then picked the baby up and ran down the hill and home to the cottage. Ian ran behind him, barking joyously. "Orla, Orla, come quick. Iíve got a surprise for you," he called.

Orla came to the door. "What are you doing home?" she asked, "and what have you got there?"

Malcolm handed her the bundle. "The stork brought us a wee laddie. Heís ours, Orla. Heís ours. We have a bairn at last," he cried, wiping the tears of joy from his cheeks.

Orla held the baby close to her, cuddling him and enjoying the fresh sweet smell. His skin was soft and he only had a little curl of hair. "What should we call him?" asked Orla.

ĎLetís call him after my father, Douglas McBrown. Do you like that?" he asked his wife.

"I love it. Can we have his middle name be after my father, James?" she asked. Malcolm nodded. "Hello there, Douglas James McBrown," she said, tickling his cheek. Douglas laughed and cooed. Ian ran up to Douglas and licked his face. He liked the name too.

Later on that day, Malcolm took Ian and went back to see the sheep. He sat down on the big stone again. "Iíve got a wee bairn now. His name is Douglas. When heís bigger, heíll come with me to help. Heíll learn all your names and love you as much as I do," he said.

The sheep gathered round. They were happy for Malcolm. He petted them and when the sun sank behind the hills, he and Ian left them to sleep and went home to Orla and Douglas. Both of them had a surprise that day.

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