Gavin’s Bedtime Story
Excerpt from The Storm
“Can ye tell us a story afore we go ta bed? Please, Grandda?”
“Ooh aye, I’ll tell ye my favorite story of all, but ye mus’ promise to be quiet and let yer mam rest, the new bairn is making her verra tired.”
“We will, Grandda, Willie too.”
Willie nodded his head solemnly.
Once the lads were settled, one on each side he began, “Back in Scotland there was a man named Angus Stewart. When he was a young man, he had a beautiful wife and six bonnie bairns, and a lovely cottage and farm. But a sickness came and took his wife and all his bairns. He buried them all within a fortnight.
“After that, he wasna such a nice man anymore because he had endured such sadness. He ne’er smiled or had anything pleasant to say. He became the caretaker of the churchyard, where all the dead are laid to rest. There were three young lads who didna kin why he was as he was and they tormented him o’er and o’er. Turning loose his kine, dumping manure on his doorstep and any other mischief they could think up, they did to poor Angus.
“On All Hallow’s Eve, they waited until Angus was dead asleep and they banged pots, rang bells, and howled like demons. Poor Angus jumped from his bed and ran out the door yelling, ‘Whoever ye are, I will find ye, and when I die ye willna e’er ken a night of peaceful sleep again.’ He stumbled on the threshold and fell, hitting his heid on a large stone. He was dead afore the three lads could reach him.
“The lads left poor Angus lying dead on his own doorstep and ran all the way home. The next morn they met by the creek. The first lad said, ‘I dreamt of Angus all night. He said that for the rest of my life, every time I close my eyes to sleep, he will be waiting to torment me.’ The other two lads grew pale, ‘We had the same dream,’ they both said. And for the rest of their lives, every time they fell asleep, Angus Stewart was waiting to torment them all the night long.”
Gavin had been so engrossed in the telling of his tale that he had forgotten about the lads. When he looked down at them, Wee Gavin was sobbing and shaking and Willie was hiding under the blankets. “Ooch lads, was jus’ a story, no need to be scairt.” Both boys looked up at him and began crying in earnest.
“I...want...me….mam!” Willie wailed.
William bounded around the corner and scooped Willie up into his arms and attempted to sooth him. Gavin held poor Wee Gavin against his chest as he sobbed loudly into his shirt.
“Bring the laddies to their mam!” said a very tired voice from the other room.
Sheepishly, Gavin stood up, taking Wee Gavin in one arm and Willie in the other. “I’ll go, lad. I caused this stramash. She should be angry wit’ me not ye.”
He took the lads and gently placed them beside their mam. “Which story did ye tell them, Da?”
“It was aboot poor Angus Stewart, mam. I dinna want him to haunt my dreams,” Wee Gavin sobbed.
Charlotte raised an eyebrow at her da. “Do ye no remember what happened when ye told me that story?”
“I do now, lass. I am sorry, I was tryin’ to be a good grandda and let ye rest and I ha’ made a mess of it,” he said miserably.
“We love ye, Grandda. Yer story just scairt us a little,” Wee Gavin sobbed. “Can we sleep wit’ ye tonight? Please? We promise we’ll be good and quiet so mam can sleep.”
“Come on laddies, afore I get into anymore trouble tonight.”
The next day, Charlotte was outside in the yard taking down the laundry, when Fergus took off down the path. Wee Gavin squealed, “Grandda, Grandda!”
“Aye, I’m sure it is, go see,” she said smiling.
He came back a few minutes later holding a puppy and grinning from ear to ear. The puppy was a miniature version of Fergus.
“Look Mam, he looks just like Fergus.”
“Aye, he does,” she said looking at Fergus who was busy sniffing his son. “Where did ye find him?”
“Grandda gave him to me.”
“And where is yer grandda?”
“He’s washing the piss off his shirt.”
Charlotte laughed and took the puppy from her son. “Well, aren’t ye a bonnie wee pup. What shall we call ye?”
Willie sat down in front of her and reached up with his arms. She put the puppy on his lap and he immediately began licking Willie’s face making him giggle.
Gavin came into the yard then, smiling at Willie and the pup.
“Where did ye find him, Da?”
“A family down the mountain had a litter of pups and I saw that one and I couldna resist bringing him home. Fergus is getting older and ye’ll be wanting another dog and since I’d bet me life this one is his son….”
“I’m glad ye brought him home. He belongs wit’ his da. The lads love him already. We were just trying to find a name for him.”
“Can we call him Angus, Grandda? Like in the story ye told us?”
“Ooh, that’s a fine name. I think he likes it, see how he’s licking yer face,” Gavin laughed.
“I thought that story scared ye and yer brother, are ye sure ye want to name yer wee pup after that story?”
“How could we be scared of him? Angus dinna haunt anyone who dinna hurt him. Thank ye for the pup, Grandda. I will take verra good care of him, I promise.”
“See that ye do, lad. If ye treat him well he will always stay close by ye and look after ye. Just as Fergus has stayed by yer mam and looked after her.” The boy nodded solemnly at Gavin. “Now go wash up for dinner, I am starving.”