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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
The Milkmaid

Cadran grabbed hold of her dress and gently tugged it out from under the stool.  “Hold still, Hannah,” she said, squeezing the cow’s teats. Creamy white milk gushed out with a squirt, into the half filled pail. The cow seemed to still be slightly agitated. “Would you like me to sing you a wee song?” she asked the cow, who replied with a loud MOO.

Cadran began to sing. Her voice was soothing and pleasant. Soon Hannah settled right now and let Cadran finish milking her. Soon the bucket was filled to the rim. Cadran patted Hannah softly on her upper thigh and sent her on her way. She picked the heavy pail up, using two hands, and carried it over to the large wooden barrel. Milk from all of the cows was collected in it, and then the barrel was rolled into the house, where the milk would be made into cheese and butter. Every morning it was the same thing. Hannah wouldn’t give her milk until Cadran sang her a song.

One day Cadran went to visit her grandmother, who lived on one of the islands, off the northwestern coast of Scotland. Her father had to take over milking the cows while Cadran was gone. He pulled the milking stool up next to Hannah and grabbed her teat. Hannah gave a loud ‘MOO’ and took a step. Father couldn’t reach her teeth. He scooted the stool up. “Come on now, Hannah. Give us some milk this morning,” he softly spoke. He grabbed hold of her teat and started to squeeze. Hannah gave a loud ‘MOO’ and stepped another step forward. No matter how hard he tried, no matter how often he moved the stool, Hannah would not let him milk her.

Frustrated, he went into the house and called for Caitlin. She was Cadran’s younger sister. “I need your help with Hannah. She won’t let me milk her,” he said.

“Just sing to her, Father. She likes ‘Over the Sea to Skye’, Caitlin told him.

“All right, I’ll give it a try,” he answered, and went out to find Hannah. He sat down on the wooden stool and started singing the song. Hannah turned her head and looked at him. She seemed to be smiling. “Come on, Hannah. Give us some milk, will you please,” he begged. As he sang, he reached up to grab hold of Hannah’s teat. She took a step. “Hannah, don’t do that. I’m singing your favorite song. Listen,” he urged. He sang a whole verse of the song. Hannah seemed settled so he reached up and grabbed hold of her teat. She took another step up.

Father, being frustrated once more, went into the house. “Caitlin, come here. Hannah won’t let me milk her, even when I sing.”

Caitlin smiled at her father. She stood brushing her long auburn hair. “Let me try then.” She went out to see Hannah. Father followed her. She pulled up the stool and started singing to the cow. Her voice was soft, melodious, and soothing. Hannah stood still and let Hannah fill a bucket of milk. She handed it to her father. “There you go,” she said, smiling. She went into the house.

Father stood looking at the cow. “What’s wrong with my voice?” he asked her, rubbing her back. “Don’t I sing good?” he chuckled.

Hannah let out a loud ‘MOO’.

“I suppose that means no, I don’t sing good,” he laughed. He poured the bucket of milk into the large barrel.

Every morning, for a week, Father went to milk Hannah. It was the same thing each day. She wouldn’t let him milk her, no matter what songs he sang to her. Every morning he had to go and find Caitlin..

Soon Cadran came home from visiting her grandmother. Her father was very happy to see her. Caitlin was very happy to see her. Hannah was very happy to see her too. When the sun rose the next morning, Cadran went to milk Hannah. Hannah gave a loud ‘MOO’ and filled the bucket with delicious milk. Father came to do chores. He watched and listened to Cadran singing to the cow. “I’m glad you’re back,” he said to his daughter. “MOO,” went Hannah.

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