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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
Rock Climbing

Listen to this story here

"Mum, where are we going?" Minna asked. "Weíve been driving forever and Iím getting hungry. Can we pull over and get a bacon sandwich and some chips?" she pleaded.

"Minna, weíre almost there. I thought youíd enjoy going to the big city today. Be patient for another few minutes and weíll be in Edinburgh. Iíll park the car and weíll have a bite to eat. A bacon sandwich sounds delicious!" her mum replied.

Minna sat quietly looking out the window as they drove into town. "Is that the castle up there, on top of that huge rock?" she wondered. Her face was plastered against the window.

"Thatís Edinburgh Castle all right. First, letís find somewhere to eat," Mum said. They parked the car in a lot. "Iím sure we can find something to eat on Princes Street and you can see the castle too." They soon found a restaurant and sat down.

"What a lovely view! Is that a park?" Minna asked.

"Itís called Princes Street Gardens. My mum and dad used to bring me here when I was wee. Would you like to hear a story about that?" Mum asked. Just as Minna was about to reply, the waitress took their order. Soon they had a plate of steaming hot chips, salty and crisp, and a bacon sandwich. Mum had some tea and Minna had a lemonade. "You eat and Iíll tell you the story. She nibbled as she spoke. "One day, your granddad and gran brought me here to the Gardens. It was a lovely day. The sun was shining and the Gardens were filled with flowers. Granddad and Gran sat on a bench and I ran about on the grass, pretending to be a bird. I saw the castle and ran towards it. I remembered my dad telling me a story about how our ancestors climbed the big rock to get into the castle. It seems the English had taken it over and the Scots wanted it back. I was very curious. I went over to the rock and started to climb it. I was about twenty feet off the ground when my dad shouted, ĎMaisie! Get down off that rock!í I nearly fell as he frightened me. I tried to get down but when I looked down to the ground, I was horrified. I was up too high and was scared to move."

"Mum, did you climb it in your dress?" Minna wondered, taking a bite from her bacon sandwich.

"I was in a skirt and blouse, which was now filthy with dirt from the sooty rock. Your granddad wasnít happy with me. ĎCome down, lass, before you fall!í he called to me. I still was too scared to move. I clung to the rock like a bandage sticks to your skin."

"What did you do, Mum? How did you get down?" Minna asked.

"I refused to budge. Finally a park warden came along. He wasnít happy with me either. I heard him tell your granddad that I would be fined for climbing on the rock. It ended up with him climbing the rock and helping me get down with a rope. My skirt and blouse were ruined, covered with black soot and grime."

"What did Granddad do to you?" Minna frowned.

"At first he hugged me. He was glad I wasnít hurt and then he dragged me back to my mum and told her about the fine and what I had done. I had to stay in my room for 3 days and I had no sweets. I also didnít get any pocket money for six months."

Minna looked at her mum and started laughing. "Thatís funny, Mum. When weíre done eating, can we go into the Gardens and have you show me where you climbed?"

"If you want to, but donít tell anyone. Your dad doesnít even know. It will be our secret, all right?" her mum whispered.

After their chips and bacon sandwich had been gobbled down, they had a bowl of trifle with fresh cream. They crossed Princes Street and walked into the Gardens. Mum showed Minna the flower clock and all the statues. She saw the Walter Scott Monument and even fed the pigeons bits of shortbread that Minna had brought in her bag. When they reached the rock, she showed her daughter the exact spot where she had tried to climb. They laughed as Mum recalled how dirty her clothes were. "Can we go to the castle now?" Minna asked.

"Letís go, but I warn you, we have to walk up a steep path to get there," Mum said.

"Thatís okay, Mum. I can do it," Minna assured her.

They made it to the top and explored Edinburgh Castle. They ended up at the wall, looking down at the rock. "Imagine the brave men climbing the rock and capturing the castle back from the English. Itís a high rock; much higher than it seems!" Mum said.

They had a grand view of the city of Edinburgh and could see the Firth of Forth and the two bridges that spanned it. They headed back to the car, cutting through Princes Street Gardens, taking time to stop to look at the flower clock again. "That was a fun day, Mum. Thanks for bringing me to the city and for telling me your secret about Edinburgh Castle. I promise I wonít tell Dad," Minna said. She sat quietly on the drive home, thinking about the fun day she had with her mum.

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