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Elphinstone Kist   Stories for Bairns

The Tale o Birly Wheel     by: Blackhall, Sheena

Birkie McNab wis a creashie auld fisher chiel wi a tarry hat, a muckle wide
belt, an wellies sae big they cud haud the hale o the Nor Sea in them. His
jaiket rikkit o dulse an his hauns war roch as buckies. Noo Birkie didna
bide in a hoose wi a wee gairden, or a flat at the tap o a skyscraper, bit in a
boatie caad Rosy Lil, wi dizzens o roses peintit roon her sides. She hid nets
the colour o oranges, wee cork floats,an creels tae nab nippy wee partens
an labsters.

Bit the maist important member o Rosy Lil's crew wis Birly, the boatie's
wheel. There wisna a harder-wirkin wheel the length an braidth o the hale
Nor Sea. Ilkie evenin he steered Rosy Lil oot frae the herbour wi her lichts
glintin like starnies ower the watter. He steered her far oot tae the deep
green sea tae drap the creels, splyter, splooter splat, richt doon tae the
boddom o the ocean.It wis fine tae showd aboot like a cork an lippen tae the
skelp o the watter wallopin teetle the sides o Rosy Lil on the lang simmer
nichts.

Ae nicht, something awfa happened. A gurly win grew up blawin the
clouds near inside oot, cowpin the boatie up n' doon like a see-saw. The
waves grew derker an derker... they blootered,an dunted an thrashed, an
smashed the boatie's hull, till Birly Wheel thocht they'd be caad tae
smithereens. At first Birly managed fine, wi Birkie the skipper's firm haun
haudin him ticht. Bit syne, his hauns let go. He wis caad clean tae the foun
o the boat wi ae byodnar wave, an Birly Wheel birled roon an roon an roon
till his heid grew licht.

Rosy Lil wis fleggit. 'Birly Wheel' she cried, 'Fit'll we dee? Wioot Birkie tae
guide us we'll aa be drooned an tint. Oh, fit are we gaun tae dee?"
'I'll steer us hame masel, ' quo Birly Wheel.

An that he did. It wis a gey coorse darg fur the wee wheel alane in the muckle
sea. The waves careered ower the bows an cowped in linns alang the deck wi Birly Wheel strainin inno the win. Rosy Lil dived an lowped an walloped frae
side tae side jist like a cloot in a washin machine. Ae meenit a wave wad heist
her up – the neist it wad caa her doon. Puir Birly felt fit tae brakk, bit ay he held firm. Niver hid ony ship's wheel wirked sae hard. The thunner gurled, the lichtenin flashed an still he keepit Rosie Lil on course. Wi a sigh o relief he spied the licht hoose blinkin an twinkin an guidin his road hame.

Yon nicht, as Rosy Lil hirplit inno the herbour, fowk ran doon the steps o the
quey, an men drappit their nets tae see the feyest sicht! There wis Rosy Lil, trauchled an hashed, sailin tae her ain wee berth like ony ither eident, cannie
boatie ... bit there wis naebody haudin the wheel. Fowk ran frae far an wide tae
see this wunner. Syne, Birkie warssled tae his feet. He'd chappit his heid in the faa, bit wis weel eneuch noo tae takk ower the wheel again..

'Foo lucky,' said the fowk, ' tae be cairriet back tae shore bi the win'.’
Birkie keckled. 'Na, na,' quo he proodly. 'I hae the skeeliest ain o the crew
tae thank fur yon, ma wee wheel Birly.'
An he gied the boatie's wheel a pat that gart Birly birl fur pleasure, as
thegither they docked bi the quey, wabbit, weariet, trauchelt, foonert an fair
ferfochan, bit awfa gled at last, tae be safe an soun at hame.



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