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Angus the Tartan Goat
by Margo Fallis
The MacDougal Clan Feast

Mrs. MacDougal stood at the stove, stirring a pot of tattie soup. Scones baked in the oven, turning golden brown on top. The aroma in the kitchen lured Mr. MacDougal inside. “What’s that you’re making?” Mac took a deep breath.

“Och, it’s tattie soup and scones. Go and get Angus. I’ve made a wee something for him.”

The wind outside howled, carrying a chill with it. The tartan goat huddled behind the house. He heard his name being called and rushed to the door. “There you are, Angus. Mrs. MacDougal has made you something special. Come on in.” The goat followed his master indoors.

Mrs. MacDougal ladled the thick soup into two heavy, ceramic bowls, one for Mac and one for herself. She pulled the tray of scones out of the oven and placed them on a sturdy plate decorated with purple thistles and bluebells. After she’d set the butter dish down on the table, she turned to Angus. “Now it’s your turn.” Using a large spoon, she scooped turnips, potatoes and half a haggis from a heavy cast iron pot. “Do you smell that, Angus? It’s all for you.” The goat let out a loud bleat and ate the warm food. Steam rose from the plate, twisting in a spiral as it floated toward the ceiling.

After lunch Mrs. MacDougal put the dirty dishes into the sink and wiped her hands on a cloth. “You two find something to do for a while. Remember, we’re having guests over for supper tonight. Angus, I’ll have no nonsense from you.” A plump, waving finger pointed at Angus’s nose.

“What’s the occasion?” Mac stood and slipped on his woolen coat.

“Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten? It’s the MacDougal Clan celebration. All the MacDougals in the highlands of northern Scotland are coming to our village for a ceilidh. I’ve invited a few over for a hot meal beforehand. Off with you now and stay out of mischief.” After Mac and Angus had left, Mrs. MacDougal went to work. She pulled box after box out of the attic and stacked them near the couch. “Och, I’m glad I found this.” Several dozen yards of MacDougal tartan lay folded up in the top box. She lifted the yardage, fluffed it out and folded it back in a nice pile. “This will do just fine.” She spent several hours cutting the tartan into strips for ribbons, napkins and bows. “Very nice indeed.” She tied the bows onto the backs of the chairs, placed the napkins on the table next to the place settings and used the ribbon strips to decorate the food and walls. The rest of the afternoon was spent baking, roasting, sautéing and basting. When Mac arrived home, he sniffed. Mrs. MacDougal watched him and Angus. “Don’t even think of it, you two. There’ll be no nibbling. Mac, go and brush Angus’s hair. It looks shabby. Look at all the thistles stuck in his tartan coat. Polish his horns and brush his teeth. Many of the guests tonight are anxious to meet Angus. They’ve never seen a tartan goat before.”

Mac took care of Angus and then dusted off and polished his own bagpipes. He knew his wife would ask him to play tonight. Angus let out a bleat when Mac started practicing. He tapped his hooves and nodded his head back and forth. “Do I look fine, Angus?” Mac stood in front of the mirror admiring himself in his MacDougal tartan coat. “We make a fine pair, don’t we?” He laughed when he looked at the goat; their tartan matched perfectly. “There’ll be no eating my kilt, now, Angus. Mrs. MacDougal wasn’t happy that she had to make another one.” Angus let out a bleat.

Jamie Campbell was the first to arrive, since he lived in the croft next door. He wasn’t a MacDougal, but they included the lonely man in most of their activities. Soon the room was full of men in their kilts and women with MacDougal tartan sashes. Mac ushered them into the living room. A fire blazed in the fireplace; the logs popping with the heat.

Angus wandered in and out of the living room, stopping now and then to let the guests admire his tartan fur. “Och, it’s lovely, Mac. He’s tartan through and through.” They all said the same thing. Tiring of the repeated words, Angus clopped into the kitchen. Mrs. MacDougal was nowhere in sight. The table was covered with huge platters of ham, roast beef, boiled potatoes, haggis and turnips. Each platter wore a tartan cloth over it to keep the food warm. Angus bleated and let out a few loud baas. Unable to resist, he leaped onto the table and slid under the cloth covering the roast beef. Since his coat was the MacDougal tartan, as were the covers, Angus knew nobody would see him. His tongue slipped out of his mouth, licking the gravy from the beef. He pulled a slice over and chomped down. Before he knew it, the entire platter of roast beef had disappeared. People started filing into the room. Angus kept still, hoping nobody would notice.

“Mrs. MacDougal, this all looks lovely.” Jamie Campbell praised his neighbor.

“Thank you, Jamie. Please, everyone, take a seat wherever you’d like. There’s room for everyone. Mac, why don’t you say grace and then our guests can start eating.”

Mac blessed the food and pulled the covers off the platters. “Help yourselves to the ham.” When he reached the roast beef and lifted the cover, he saw more tartan underneath. He called to his wife. “Why did you put two covers over the roast beef?” Angus lay perfectly still. Mac, thinking he was pull off another cloth, grabbed hold of Angus’s ear and yanked. “What’s this?”

Angus jumped up onto his hooves and let out the loudest bleat he could. He clumsily clomped across the table, sticking his hooves into the guest’s food and into their hair. Screams echoed throughout the room. Mrs. MacDougal rushed through from the pantry. “Angus! You naughty goat! Mac, get Angus. He’s ruining my supper. Och, I’m sorry everyone. Angus! Outside. Now!” She slammed the door behind the frightened goat, turned around and took a few deep breaths. “Here now everyone, go ahead and take a new plate. There’s plenty of extra food. We’ll still have a grand feast. It’s not every day the MacDougal Clan gets together.”

The guests went on to enjoy the rest of the evening. Mac played his bagpipes and others danced the reel. Some even laughed about the tartan goat and how he hid on the table, saying it’ll make good story telling down the road. Later on they all headed to town for the ceilidh. As for Angus, he spent the night shivering in the cold and stayed there until the MacDougals returned home. Mac brought him in around midnight and let him lie in front of the dying fire. After Mac had gone to bed, Mrs. MacDougal snuck over to Angus. “You were a naughty goat tonight, Angus, but I still love you.” She put a plate of leftover ham down in front of him. “Go ahead and eat it.” She snuck back to bed, leaving the warm tartan goat to eat his ham.

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