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Elphinstone Kist   Stories for Bairns

    by: Wheeler, Les

Lang, lang ago in the days fan it only rained fan ye werna lookin there wis a wild cat bade on Pa Chien mountain. He hid a richt gweed conceit o himsel an wis affa prood, thinkin tae himsel that there wis naebody like him. The wild cat wis covered in the bonniest gowden hair that iver yiv seen an fan he waaked doon ower the land it gave aff a lowe in the sunlicht that wad near hae blint ye. The wye he walked aboot ye’d hae thocht he wis the verra McWild Cat himsel. He wis fully aware o fu bonnie he wis an he hid nae time for his neebors, the ither beasts o the mountains.

Noo, bidin gie near haun the wild cat wis a scaly anteater fa wis gey slow an nae affa bonny, but he wis a thochtfu cratur, aye willin tae lend a haun tae fowk an affa modest wi it. His back wis covered wi orra, roch scales an he likit nithin better than tae flick oot his lang, sticky tongue, wi the speed o licht, an gaither in ony emmerteens that wir feel eneuch tae pass near him.

Ae day the prood wild cat saa the anteater dwammin awa aneth a banyan tree. The wild cat, buttery lippit as iver, crept quaetly up intae the tree’s branches an shook the tree as hard as he could. An he shook an shook till the cracklin an rattlin o the leaves an branches waukent the sleepin anteater. But the anteater couldna hae gaen a docken. He jist shoochled ower a bittie an wint back tae sleep. The wild cat shoogled the tree mair nor iver, but aa it did wis caas an emmerteens’ nest tae fa doon fae the trunk o the tree tae land on the girss richt aside the anteater.

Weel, the anteater couldna believe his gweed fortune an he sterted gaitherin up thi emmerteens as fest as he could.

The wild cat wis in a richt bin aboot gaein the anteater sic an easy denner an loupit aff the branches an kickit the emmerteens’ nest intae the lang, dry girss aside the tree. “If ye wint tae ait they emmerteens ye’ll first boo doon tae me an admit that I’m the wild cat king,” roared the furious wild cat.

But the scaly anteater nivver heard him. He’d already daunnert aff intae the lang girss efter mair emmerteens, thinkin tae himsel fu kind hivven wis tae gie him sic a rich an easy denner.

The wild cat wis fair dementit wi rage an raced intae the lang girss. He cooried doon in the girss till he saa the anteater settle doon tae ait mair emmerteens an then, knockin twa steens thegither, set fire tae the girss. That wis a richt feel thing tae dee. In jist twa meenits the girss wis ableeze an the air fu o reek.
“Ha,” said the wild cat,”enjoy yersel ma freen, because ye’ll seen mak a braw roast denner.”

“Weel, that’s gweed o ye tae say that,” said a voice ahin him.
The wild cat spun roon tae see the anteater sittin fair content on the girss aside him.

“An I hae tae thank ye for a rael, bonny denner an a wunnerfu experience. Thir’s nithin mair pleasin than tae watch bricht gowden flames loupin up taewards a bricht blue lift. Ye should try it yersel sometime.”

“But...but yir alive!” stammmert the wild cat. “Fu kin that be? Fu wir ye nae brunt tae a cinner? Dis fire nae hairm ye? Could I hae a go at that mysel?” “Noo, jist caa canny, wild cat, ca canny,” said the anteater. “I’ll answer aa yir questions if ye’ll jist gie me a meenit an haud on. The fire’ll nae dee ye ony hairm at aa. It’s jist the verra thing for ye. I canna recommend it eneuch. Ye awa intae the burnin girss an try it for yersel, for it’s something ye’ll niver forget. Awa wi ye noo, on ye go. There’ll be a puckle roastit serpents an puddocks wytin for ye in there. Fit a gran denner that’ll mak!”

The thocht o aa that maet gart the wild cat slaver wi joy an wi a muckle loup he stottit intae the middle o the bleezin girss. A muckle skirl wis followed by a roar fae the middle o the burnin girss an the wild cat shot oot o the fire rinnin for its verra life. His bonny gowden hair hid bin brunt tae an orra mochy gray.
The canny anteater hid dug itsel a wee tunnel in the yird tae protect itsel an its scales hid keepit oot the fiery heat, but the wild cat’s fur nivver gaed that kine o protection.

The wild cat craaled back up the hill an tried tae clean its brunt fur, but it wis nae gweed at aa. It nivver got back its bonnie gowden hair. Nooadays it’s nae easy tae see a wild cat gyan aboot for thir that ashamed o themsels for haein eence bin sae affa prood that they keep thir orra mochy grey colour hidden awa in the hills.

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