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Elphinstone Kist   Stories for Bairns

William Wallace an the Lassie wi the Rosie Cheeks     by: Wheeler, Les

Sir William Wallace wis affen on the run fae the English an this wis ae time fin he wis tryin tae get intae Perth for a meetin wi some freens. He wis on his own an spied a rosie-cheeked lassie waashin claes in the River Tay an laying them oot tae bleach in the sun. Wallace wint up an spoke tae the lassie askin her fit news thir wis in that airt.

“There’s nae muckle news here ither than the English are aa ower the place tryin tae capture Scotland’s true hero, but we’ll dee aa in oor pooer tae shield him,” said the lass.

“An fa micht that hero be?” spiert Wallace for he wis sure the lassie hadna recognised him.

“Fa else but Sir William Wallace,” said the quine. “There’s naebody else fa’ll tak on the English an drive them oot o oor country. Ye see that wee inn ower there? There a boorich o English sodjers wint in there nae half an oor ago. I’ll tell ye this, if I wis a man wi the strength I’d gyan in there an sort oot the lot o them. I’d dee onything tae help Wallace!”

“Weel,” said Wallace, “If I hid a meck on me I’d gyang intae yon inn jist tae hae a gweed look at they sodjers.”

Noo, the lassie wis poor an workit hard for her livin but that day she’d gotten half a croon in her pocket that she wis gyan tae spend in the toon o Perth on her wye hame.
She lookit at this tall, strappin chiel an felt sorry for him that he’d nae siller an he seemed willin tae gyang an see fit he could dee aboot the English sodjers in the inn.
“Tak this,” she said giein him the halfcroon, “buy yersel some maet an drink an see fit ye can dee tae help Sir William Wallace!”

“I’ll serve Wallace jist as weel as I wid serve mysel,” said the stranger an thankin her hertily he strode aff in the direction o the inn.

Wallace hadna gaen verra far fan he cam across a beggarman dressed in rags. “Fu ye deein, aul man,” spiert Wallace, “an fit news the day?”

“News, maister?” said the aul man, “It’s aye the same. They say that Sir William Wallace is hereaboots an a fair boorich o English sodjers is on the hunt for him. I wint tae than inn ower there tae ask for a bittie loaf an saa at least fifteen o them inside aitin an drinkin like lairds.”

“That’s gweed news,” said Wallace. “I’ve aye wintit tae see English sodjers close at haun. He then taen the halfcroon he’d jist gotten fae the lassie fae his pooch an said, “Will he sell me yir aul cloak for this bittie o siller? It couldna be muckle gweed tae ye but it wid dee me fine.”

The beggar wis fair pleased tae swap his aul cloak for half a croon an Wallace pit it on. Syne he pullt his cap weel ower his een, an pickin oot a gweed, thick, thorn stick, he hirpelt ower tae the inn an knockit on the door.

The captain o the English sodjers opened the door an spiered fit the aul beggar winted.
“I’m jist seekin a copper or twa,” said the ‘beggar’. “I’m an aul cripple man an canna wirk. I jist traivel aboot the country beggin for my daily breid.”

Noo the English captain thocht that a man fa traivels aa ower the country micht hear a lot a gossip an micht even ken far aboot Wallace wis, sae he put his haun in his pooch an took oot a pyokie that wis full o gowden coins. He taen a haunfae o coins an held them in front o the ‘beggar’.
“Did you ever hear of a man called William Wallace?” he askit slowly. “That man is a traitor even though ignorant, common folk here think he is a hero. I am here to take him – alive or dead. Have you heard of this man?”

“Och, aye,” said the ‘beggar’, “I’ve heard o him an seen him. I even ken far he is tae be foond!”
“I’ll pay you fifty pounds in gold,” said the captain, “fifty pounds of real money if you can lead us to William Wallace and another fifty pounds once we capture him!”
“Pit the siller on the bench,” instructed the ‘beggar’, “ for it’s in my pooer tae tak ye tae Wallace.”
The captain coontit oot the siller an pit it on the bench that stood ootside the inn an the ‘beggar’ pickit it up. Syne he faced the captain. “Weel, yir fairly gyan tae see Wallace an feel the strength o his sword airm. Afore the bumbazed captain could grab his sword Wallace hid taen his thick thorn stick an cloutit the captain that hard on the heid that he split his skull open an the captain fell deid!

Wallace didna wait a meenit. He drew his sword, ran up the stairs an burst intae the chaumer far the sodjers wir aitin an drinkin. Afore they could get up Wallace hid stabbed them aa throwe the hert.

The inn-keeper’s wife cam in an couldna believe fit hid happened. “Dyod be here!” she said, “Are ye a man or are ye the Deil himsel?”
“Na, I’m jist William Wallace,” said the ‘beggar’, “an I wish aa English sodjers in Scotland wir jist like this eens.”
“Amen tae that,” said the wife an drappit doon on her knees afore Wallace. “Jist think! The Great an Gweed Wallace in oor inn.”
“The hungry Wallace, ye mean,” said the knight lauchin. “If ye like me that much could ye get aff yir knees an get me something tae ait an drink?”
“That I will an richt speedily,” said the wife.

The umman hid hardly finished servin the maet fan anither band o sodjers arrived an surroonded the inn. The beggar fa’d sellt Wallace his cloak had tellt the story in the toon an fan the English sodjers heard the story they some thocht that it wis Wallace an heided stracht for the inn.

Fan they arrived they demandit that Wallace gie himsel up or he wid die. They charged intae the hoose an heided up the stairs thinkin Wallace wid be on his ain, but they’d forgotten the innkeeper an his wife. The aul man taen doon his aul claymore fae the waa an the wife seized an aul spear an taen up positions at either side o Wallace. “Ye hae a fecht on yer hauns , noo,” said the aul wife.

Wallace an the aul fowk stood at the top o the stairs an the narra stairs stoppit ower mony sodjers getting at them. Wallace hid the stregth o ten men an wi the help o the aul man wi his claymore an the aul wife wi her spear they held aff an syne killt every een o the sodjers.

“Noo, maybe, I can ait my meal in peace,” said Wallace, “an then I’ll need tae get awa for I some think that fin news o this gets aboot there’ll be mair English sodjers that ivver aroon here. Maybe, gweedman, ye could get help an toss aa these bodies intae the river sae that the English winna find them here an blame you.”
“Nae problem at aa,” said the aul man, “There’s nae a body in Perth widna like tae help Sir William Wallace. Leave it tae us.”

Sae eence mair Wallace set aff on the road north an as he wis waakin ower the north Inch he passed the rosy-cheeked lassie fa wis still busy at her wirk.
“I hope ye saa the English,” said she tae Wallace, “an that ye managed tae get some mait?”
“I did that,” said Wallace, “an thanks tae you I’ve aiten weel, an seen the English sodjers an, by certes, they’ve seen me! The English are nae likely tae forget the day I met in wi them at the inn by the River Tay.”
Syne he put his haun in his pooch an drew oot twenty poun in real gowd. “Tak that,” he said tae the lassie, “Yir halfcroon brocht me luck an this is yir share o the luck!”

An wi that he strode aff tae the north, leavin ahin a lassie fa wis fair bumbazed an fa couldna believe that she wisna dreamin. Even fan she thocht aboot it aa mony years efter she couldna believe that it wis a human fa hid gaen a rosie-cheeked lassie twenty pouns in gowd because she gave him half a croon an fan fowk in Perth heard o the thirty English sodjers floating deid in the Tay they were inclined tae think like the lassie that something mair nor human wis at wirk.

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