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Elphinstone Kist   Stories for Bairns

    by: Wheeler, Les

Back in the days lang ago fan fowk wir aye fechtin wi een anither a chiel caad Oliver Cromwell hid gotten rid o King Charles I an cut aff his heid. He then taen ower England an wis for takkin ower Scotland as weel. Noo, there wir fowk fa thocht that he’d nae richt tae dee that, but Cromwell’s airmy wis ower strong for them an they his tae dee aa they could jist tae survive.

Een o the things Cromwell wintit wis the ‘Honours o Scotland’ – that wis the croon, sword an sceptre; the Scottish Croon Jewels. But thir wir fowk fa werena for lettin Cromwell hae them and Honours landit up in Dunnottar Castle jist aside Steenhive. Fan the ‘Roondheids’, that’s fit Cromwell’s supporters wir caad because o the shape o the helmets his airmy wore, heard aboot far the croon jewels were they sent an airmy tae get them back. The airmy wis commandit by General Lambert an he demandit that George Ogilvie, the Governor o Dunnottar haun them ower tae him. But the Governor refused an the castle wis surrounded by Lambert’s airmy an naebody could get in an naebody could get oot. Nae even maet wis allowed in. Dunnottar’s hich on the cliffs an wis affa difficult tae attack but Lambert thocht he could stairve the fowk in the castle in tae giein up. Ae thing that wis allowed in wis some medicines for Margaret Ogilvie, the Governor’s wife fa wis nae weel.

The wife o the minister o Kinneff Kirk, Mary Grainger, wis allowed in tae tak in medicine an bandages for Mrs. Ogilvie an her man, the Reverend James Grainger. He wis already in the castle for he widna leave his fowk fan they wir in sic a steer o trouble. Mrs. Grainger an her maid, Alison wir kenspeckle figures gyan in an oot o the castle an the sodjers gairdin the doors got eesed tae seein them.

Ae day fan the twa weemin wir veesitin an argy-bargy got up aboot fit wis tae be deen wi the croon, sceptre an sword.
“We canna hing on muckle langer,” said the Governor, “We’re near haun oot o maet an we’ll be aitin sea maws neist. We’ll hae tae gie in seen. Fit can wi dee aboot the Honours?”

“Weel,” said the Rev. Grainger, “we canna bury them, this rock’s ower hard an there’s nae pint in tryin tae hide them for Cromwell’s airmy will either find them or burn the buildin till there’s nithin left.”
“I’ve an idea,” said Mrs. Grainger, “Alison an I could smuggle them oot. The sodjers ootside are eesed tae us gyan back an fore. We could walk throu them get on oor horses an be hame afore they’d jalouse fit hid happened.”

“Na, na. Wi canna hae that,” said the Governor. “D’ye ken fit the sodjers wid dee tae ye if you an Alsion wir found oot?”

“Besides that, ye aye arrive wi bundles an parcels, ye dinna leave wi them,” said Rev. Grainger. “That plan’s nae eese av aa.”

“But fit if we wir comin fae a direction they wid expeck us tae come fae cairryin baskets?” spiert Mrs. Grainger.

“Fit div ye mean?” spiert the Governor.

“Weel,” explained Mrs. Grainger, “If we were comin up fae the rocks aneth the castle cairryin baskets o dulse, fit wid be wrang wi thon? Far else wid ye get dulse but doon on the rocks.”

“Ye’ll need tae explain a bittie mair,” said the minister, “ Fu dee ye expeck tae find the Honours on the rocks an fu are ye tae get doon there yersel?

“Here’s aa wi need tae dee,” said Mrs. Grainger. “Alison will heid for the bottom o the cliffs alang the rocks. I’ll arrive at the gate as usual wi a lot o lint bandages, a fyow mair nor usual but the gairds will nivver ken the difference. Noo, ye mak up a wee cheer that I can sit on. Mak a rope wi the bandages an syne ye’ll lower me doon tae the bottom o the cliff an I’ll be haudin a basket wi the croon, sceptre an sword in it. Alison’ll help me at the bottom o the cliff. We’ll hap the croon jewels in dulse an set aff back tae Kinneff Kirk."

“Are ye gyan gyte, umman!” wis Rev. Grainger’s answer tae the plan.

“James, fit else can wi dee? Is aa this time sufferin in here tae be for nithin?”

Rev. Grainger lookit at his wife an the servin lass an shook his heid. “Aye. Maybe ye’re richt. Ye’ll need tae prepare a place tae hide the Honours an I think I ken jist the place. Get Wattie fae the smiddy tae help ye. He’s a true chiel an wid dee onythin tae help the King. Get Wattie tae help ye shove back the poopit an lift een o the flagsteens unnerneth. Dig oot a hole an fan ye get back tae the Kirk, an God willin, ye will, ye can beery the honours in the yird aneth the poopit.”

“That seems tae be settled, then. Mrs. Grainger, Alison, Scotland will nivver forget fit ye’re deein for the country,” said the Governor an the plan wint intae action.

The neist day Mrs. Grainger arrived at Dunnottar an, as usual, wis let intae the castle withoot ony bother. Eence inside she got oot the lint an it wis twistit intae ropes an tied tae a wee cheer that Rev. Grainger hid made up. They wint tae the back o the castle that looks doon tae the bottom o the cliff an Mrs. Grainger wis lowert ower the side wi the croon jewels in a dulse basket that she wis cairryin. It wis a relieved Mrs. Grainger that felt rocks unner her fit efter fit seemed an age traivellin doon the side o the cliff. Alison wis there tae help her.

Alison hid already gaithert a wheen o dulse an it wisna lang afore the honours were hidden aneth a pile o dulse in twa separate baskets. The twa lassies stertit up the cliffs an Mrs. Grainger hid tae waatch an see the sodjer fa hid lettin her intae the castle didna see her comin up fae the rocks or he micht hae jaloused fit wis gyan on.

Fan they got tae the tap o the cliff they were in for a begeck for fa wis staunin there but General Lambert himsel.
“An fit hiv ye twa bin up till?” he spiers.

Alison lookit worried but Mrs. Grainger wis quick wi an excuse, “Wiv bin gaitherin dulse. Nithin better for the caul on a frosty day!”

The General lookit at the baskets syne gaed his heid a shak, “You sea gyan fowk’ll ait onything. Gyads! Saeweed for denner! Fit could be worse?”
An wi that he turnt roon an tellt the serjint o the gaird tae, “Escort the lasses tae thir shelts an get us aa fae the smell o the dulse!”

Withoot anither wird or a look roon the twa lasses marched tae thir wee shelts, mounted an trotted aff on the road tae Kinneff Kirk. Eence at Kinneff they met in wi Wattie fa hid already shiftit the poopit an raised the flagsteen. The Scottish Croon jewels wir beeriet an the poopit shoved back on tap. Tae help pit the Roonheids aff lookin for the Honours a rumour wis spread that Sir John Keith, youngest son o the Earl Marishal had managed tae get the Honours smuggled oot tae France. But they bade in Kinneff Kirk for acht year until Charles II wis back on the throne an the honours wir returned tae thir hame in Edinburgh Castle. But things micht hae bin far different if it hidna bin for twa lasses fa saved the Honours o Scotland.

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