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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
Cockles and Mussels

It was a beautiful, sunny day, which is an odd occurrence around the Western Isles of Scotland. It rains most of the time, but when the sun is out, it is appreciated by all. Bruce and Bonnie were flying towards the Isle of Barra after a good night’s sleep. A few clouds, puffy and white, floated by. "I love flying through the clouds, don’t you?" Bonnie asked. "It seems like we’re flying through big balls of cotton. The air is so fresh and moist and just look around; have you seen anything so pretty?"

Bruce looked at the clouds. "It is rather impressive. If we want to see Barra, we’ll have to drop below cloud level though."

"I’ve always wanted to go to Barra. I’ve heard such wonderful things about it. I especially want to see Kisimul Castle. It sounds so romantic," Bonnie sighed, a smile spread across her face.

"Come on, Bonnie. Let’s get out of the clouds," Bruce said and the two butterflies descended. They flew just above the waves of the rough sea.

"I hope the sea doesn’t get any rougher. I hope we don’t run into any whales. I hope a sea gull doesn’t eat us. I hope….." Bonnie rambled.

"Bonnie, enough already. We’ll be fine. Now there’s Barra up yonder. I think we’d best grab a bite to eat first. One never knows when the weather will change here," Bruce suggested.

"I’m sure we’ll find a garden somewhere on this island. So far we’ve been lucky. Flowers seem to grow in even in the most inhospitable of places," Bonnie said. The island appeared below them. "What a lovely beach! It looks like it’s been sprinkled with gold dust."

"You’re right. It does look like golden sand. Wow! Look at those hills. I believe they are called Ben Heaval and Ben Tangaval. Imagine the view from the top?" Bruce smiled.

"Forget it, Bruce. We’re not going to the top; not today anyway."

They flew above the dirt road leading into a small village. "I’m sure we’ll find flowers here," Bruce said. They spotted one. "I told you so."

They landed in a rose garden. "Lovely," Bonnie said and began to sip nectar.


Two dogs came running into the back garden and over to the rose bushes. One of them had a ball in its mouth and the other was trying to take it away. "BOW WOW!" went the small dog.

Cockles and Mussels

"Bruce, that dog looks like a reddish-brown sausage," Bonnie giggled, watching the dogs play tug of war.

"Hee hee. It does. The other’s just a mutt though. He’s rather boring color, plain old white with brownish patches," Bruce replied.

The dogs ran around the back garden, chasing each other and growling. The sausage dog wasn’t about to let go of the ball. Finally they settled down. The dog dropped the ball and lay down on the grass, panting heavily. Bonnie and Bruce looked at the tags around their necks. "That sausage dog’s name is Cockles and the mutt’s name is Mussels. How hilarious, Cockles and Mussels. Now, that’s cute," Bonnie laughed.

Bruce chuckled, "Those are silly names for dogs."

Just then Cockles stood up and stared at the ball, which lay about a foot in front of his nose. Mussels noticed and did the same. It was going to be a race for the ball. Mussels leapt and grabbed the ball in his mouth. Cockles growled and began to chase Mussels around, in and out of the rose bushes. "Be careful, lads," Bruce said as the rose bush rocked back and forth.

"Watch out," shouted Bonnie as the dogs headed straight for the roses again. "Hold on!"

Mussles came crashing into the roses. The ball flew out of his mouth and Cockles didn’t hesitate to quickly snatch it up and run off. "BOW WOW!" Mussels wasn’t very happy. "BOW WOW! BOW WOW! BOW WOW!" he shouted and chased Cockles into the front garden.

"What silly dogs! Looks like they’re having a grand time though," Bruce said.

"I think we’d better not hang around here too long. One more bash into the roses and we could be tossed into a thorn," Bonnie cautioned. "Let’s head towards the castle."

"Good idea," Bruce agreed and they fluttered away. No sooner had they left when the two dogs came running into the back garden again. This time Mussels had the ball and Cockles was grabbing onto his tail. "Hee hee," Bruce giggled.

As they flew towards the castle, they passed a sign that said, "WELCOME TO BARRADISE!"

"Now that’s funny," Bonnie smiled. "Barra, Barradise, Paradise. Good one!"

"There’s the castle, Bonnie. It’s very ancient, you know. I believe it was originally built in 1030, by the MacNeils. In fact, the MacNeils still own most of the island. The castle’s been fixed up. It looks magnificent sitting on the rocky outcrop, which is more like an island, isn’t it?" Bruce said.

"It’s lovely. Look how clear the water is around here. This place is what I call, unspoilt. Just beautiful!" Bonnie said, amazed.

They flew in and out of the castle walls, around the halls and through the windows. People were there exploring it and taking photographs. "I think of all the places we’ve been to, I like Barra the most. It might be because of Cockles and Mussels though," Bonnie laughed. "They were fun to watch, weren’t they?"

"They were fun. Are you ready to go on to our next destination or is there something else you’d like to see?" Bruce asked.

"Well, if its all right with you, I’d like to go back to see the dogs. We could sit on a fence and watch them, out of harm’s way, and then we can be off," Bonnie pleaded.

"I was hoping you’d say that. I’d love to watch the dogs too," Bruce smiled. They headed back and spent the afternoon watching Cockles and Mussels as they played their chasing games. It had been a grand day in Barra for the two butterflies.

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