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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
Finderís Keepers

"Catch the ball!" Cockles shouted to Mussels as he tossed his blue rubber ball high into the air.

Mussels ran, mouth open, towards it. "Iíve got it," he called back and caught the ball in his mouth. Instead of throwing it back though, the mutt ran away with it, heading towards the wildflower-covered hills.

"Bring it back," Cockles yelled. "Mussels, bring back my ball!"

Mussels, of course, didnít listen and ran up the hill. He could run much faster than the dachshund, Cockles. When he reached the top of the hill, Mussels looked down at the bottom of the hill. There were sheep grazing one half of the hillside, nibbling on the grass and heather. Mussels snickered as he watched Cockles struggling up to the top of the hill. Just before he got there, Mussels ran back down, heading for the sheep. "Canít catch me," he laughed.

Cockles was panting. That was hard work getting to the top. "Mussels!"

It was too late. Mussels was tossing the ball high into the air and running to catch it, having a grand time. Up, up, up it went, but this time when it came down, it landed right in the middle of the grazing sheep. One of them quickly stood on the ball. "BAA! BAA! BAA!"

"Now youíve done it, Mussels. The sheep have my ball!" Cockles shouted, running down the hill towards his friend.

Mussels walked up to the sheep. "Can I have the ball back?" he asked.

Soon all the sheep surrounded Mussels. "BAA! BAA! BAA! Go away. No, you canít have the ball. Itís mine now," snarled the biggest sheep, picking it up in his mouth. "I dare you to try to take it." Mussels looked at the angry sheep. "Now, go away and leave us alone," a sheep said and they started to butt Mussels with their heads.

Finderís Keepers

"Iím leaving. Iím leaving," he said and ran over to Cockles. "Uh, Cockles, weíve got a problem. The sheep have your ball and theyíre not going to give it back to you."

"What? Itís my ball. Why did you throw it to them? Youíd better get it back for me," Cockles said angrily.

"Iíve got a plan. Iíll ran around the sheep in a circle and confuse them and distract them and you sneak in and grab the ball," Mussels suggested.

"Right, Mussels. What makes you think heís going to drop it? Just because youíre running around doesnít make any difference," Cockles sighed.

"Letís give it a try at least," Mussels said. "All right? Here I go." He ran around the sheep barking loudly. "ARF! ARF! ARF!" The sheep stopped grazing and looked up at Mussels. They started to laugh.

Mussels was getting dizzy from running around in circles. "Hey, the sheep arenít afraid of me, theyíre laughing at me," he said. He stopped running, but was so dizzy that he fell to the ground and his four legs stood up in the air.

"Look at the dog. BAA! BAA! BAA! Heís made himself dizzy! Ha ha ha. Youíre not having the ball back, no matter what you do," one of them shouted and the rest of the sheep began to laugh out loud at Mussels.

Cockles walked over to him. "Well, that went well," he mocked. "Got any other big plans?"

Mussels stood up, though he still wobbled back and forth a bit. "That didnít go as well as Iíd planned. Time for plan number two," he said.

"Oh? And what is plan number two?" Cockles asked.

"Iím going to run back to the house and get some other things, like a tin can, a piece of rope and one of our bones," Mussels said.

"Make that one of your bones," Cockles replied.

"And Iíll bring a pile of our dog food too. They might like that," Mussels said and then he ran towards the house. He showed up a while later with the items. "Here, put the rope over there and the tin over there," he said, pointing with his tail.

"Iíll take the bone and food and put it over this way," Mussels said, walking toward the sheep.

Cockles did as instructed. Mussels shouted to the sheep, "Hey, sheep. Iíve brought you some things to trade for the ball. Come and see."

The sheep walked towards the tin can. "What do we want with this? Itís empty. BAA!" shouted one of them.

"Rope? What good is rope to a sheep?" chuckled another.

"We donít eat bones and we donít eat dog food. We eat grass," another sheep said.

Cockles could see the sheep standing with the ball in his mouth.

"Take your things and go home. Youíre not having the ball back," yet another sheep shouted. "BAA! BAA! BAA!"

"So much for plan number two," Cockles said.

"Plan number three is the best, but weíll have to wait until night time, when they are asleep. Weíll sneak up on them while theyíre snoozing and take the ball back," Mussels suggested.

"You mean youíll sneak up, donít you?" Cockles reminded.

"Right. Iíll sneak up," Mussels agreed.

The dogs headed home and napped until darkness fell. "Come on, Cockles. Come with me. Iíll get your ball," Mussels said, shaking his friend.

Cockles woke up and the two dogs headed for the flock of sheep. "Theyíre sleeping," Mussels said. The dogs hid behind a mulberry bush. "You stay here and Iíll sneak up." Mussels crept slowly into the flock of sheep. He could hear them snoring. "Aha, there he is," he whispered, seeing the big sheep with the ball under his wooly leg. Slowly, slowly, he crawled, on his tummy, inching his way through the tall grass towards the sleeping sheep. He was just about to grab the ball when he heard an ACHOOOO coming from the mulberry bush. All the sheep woke up.

"BAA! BAA! BAA! Itís the dog!" shouted the sheep. The others all came running.

"Run, Mussels. Run," called Cockles. The dog, unable to reach the ball, jumped up and ran as fast as he could toward the bush.

The sheep began to laugh at him. "Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha."

"Why did you have to sneeze? I almost had the ball in my hands," he said angrily at Cockles.

"Sorry. Couldnít help it. Iím allergic to mulberries, remember?"

"Weíd better get home. Weíll think of something in the morning," Mussels whined and the dogs ran home.

When the sun came up, Cockles woke up first. "Iíve got an idea. Why donít we offer to tell the sheep where the best grasses on the island are? Theyíd surely trade for that," he suggested, shaking Mussels.

"We can sure try," Mussels yawned, completely out of ideas.

They ran over to the sheep. This time Cockles did the talking. "Uh, excuse me sheep," he called to the sheep, which were hungrily eating the purple heather. "If youíll give me back my blue ball, Iíll tell you where the tastiest grass is in all of Barra."

The sheep huddled together and talked. "All right. Itís a deal. Hereís your ball," the big sheep said, running up and dropping it near Cockles feet.

Cockles made sure he had it tightly in his paw. "The best, tastiest, most delicious grass on the whole island of Barra is right here, where you are," Cockles said, laughing. He grabbed the ball in his mouth and ran off towards the house, with Mussels following. "Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha," Cockles giggled. "I tricked them."

"Very good, Cockles. You got your ball back," Mussels said.

"Next time you steal my ball, stay away from the sheep. Weíll not get away with anything so easily next time," Cockles warned.

He ran around the back garden playing with his ball. He was so happy to have it back. One time when he tossed it high into the air, Mussels was waiting for it. He grabbed it in his mouth. "Got it," he shouted and ran away with the ball, heading toward the hill again.

"Och, no; not again," Cockles sighed and ran after Mussels.

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