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Article by Sandy Munro (1996)

THE DRAGON RETURNS
 
THE DRAGON RETURNS

It was Springtime and Mhairi and Angus had grown up since the Dragon left. Angus' Dad managed to get the kids to come out and help with the lambing. So they went out to the hill behind Loch Dearg.

"Oh Dad, why can't you get a sheepdog like the other farmers?" complained Mhairi.

"They cost too much and it would have to chase off otters and foxes," answered her Dad.

"I would teach it to. Mr Douglas' dog has just had a litter of pups - can we get one PLEASE?" begged Mhairi.

"I suppose it would be a big help, but you can look after it," retorted her Dad.

Angus came running over the hill. He looked puffed.

"Ho, Angus! What do you think about getting a dog?" shouted Mhairi.

"Yes, that would be great and it would save me chasing the sheep!" laughed her brother.

After a few hours they eventually got home. Mhairi ran out of the door, making her way to the farm to see if she could get one of the new pups.

At lunch time while Angus was eating his broth, he felt a tugging at his foot. He looked down and there was a wee Border Collie pup.

"Well, hello there," said Angus, but before he could say anything else Mhairi came in and said "I see you found him then!"

"I did that, the wee rascal he is!" answered Angus.

The pup was soon welcomed and they got a lecture from their Dad about looking after it. Angus decided to go for a walk to Ben Dearg so he told his Mum. She insisted that he take the dog. Then he got his rope, fishing rod and a wee bundle of food. Just as he was going out of the door a voice asked, "Can I come?" It was Mhairi. Angus replied, "Why?"

"Because I'm bored," she moaned.

"Well, hurry up then," he shouted crossly.

Angus had managed to get Mhairi to hold the pup on the string in case it ran away and all three went to the forest at the loch. Strange things could happen at Loch Dearg. Mhairi and Angus knew that, especially after last year... The loch was just down the track from Ben Dearg. They had been going a while when they stopped for an apple.

"Look at Ben Dearg Angus!" said Mhairi.

"Ah, it's a beautiful sight!" Angus said, "And there's Loch Dearg over there," he added

"Angus, what's that thing swimming in the water with red around it?"

"It's probably just a pesky otter."

Then the dog, for the first time, barked a very strange woof.

When they were at the foot of Ben Dearg they stopped for a picnic.

"Mum makes the loveliest sandwiches," boasted Mhairi.

Have you only just noticed, Mhairi!" laugher Angus.

A storm was starting to brew up in the sky.

"Angus, let's go down to the loch and get shelter in amongst the trees."

Off they ran down to the loch, hurriedly.

"I think we'll have to stay here all night," said Angus.

"Mum will be worried about us," Mhairi thought.

Angus climbed a tree and with his fishing rod he knocked down some leaves for bedding. They covered themselves in the leaves and went to sleep, but before Mhairi went to sleep she asked her brother, "Do you think we'll ever see Donald and old Alex again?"

"I hope so, maybe they'll come in the summer."

During the night, Mhairi woke up. She thought she heard a noise in the loch so she walked over and peered in. Must be just an otter, she thought to herself. Just as she was about to go back over to the bed something grabbed her from behind. It was slimy, wet and bony. She screamed. The pup got up and barked loudly. Angus quickly got up and saw the beast. He thought fast, picked up a branch and threw it in the air. It whacked the beast on the back of the head and the creature jumped into the loch and swam away, roaring in pain. While all this was going on the pup was grabbing onto the beast's leg.

"What was that?" Mhairi asked in a petrified voice.

"I don't know but are you hurt?"

"No, I'm alright."

"You just try and get some morc sleep," ordered Angus. "I'll watch over us, I'm not sleepy anyway and if anything comes this wee pup here will attack them." They both laughed and Mhairi went to sleep.

Morning came and the two children got up and they washed themselves in the loch.

After they had an apple and Angus managed to catch a fish and gut it for the pup, Mhairi asked him, "I wonder what we saw last night?"

"I don't know but I was scared," he answered..

"Maybe it was the legendary monster of Ben Dearg."

"It could be but Dad said don't listen to those folk tales Granny tells us."

"Let's go back home," Mhairi said in a tired voice.

On the way they took a short cut through the deer forest, but they saw something in the foreground. At first they thought it was a deer but as they got closer they realised it was the beast.

"Is that what we saw last night, Angus?" whispered Mhairi.

"Yes it is, but stay calm," he ordered, "and when it comes to you hit it with this branch and run."

"I do wish Donald was here," thought Mhairi.

The beast was lurching closer and closer. It leapt in the air at Angus from behind and knocked him over and stabbed him in the arm with its mighty claw. Mhairi screamed at the blood but thought fast. However, before she could hit the monster it turned round and crunched the branch with its mighty jaws.

Before the creature could hurt her a strong wind began and down came a bright green shape from the sky. The beast ran off in fright and a voice said, "Hello you two, how are you?"

"Donald, it's you," said the very scared and cheerful voices.

"Yes, I thought I would come and see you both."

"Where's Alex?" asked Mhairi.

"Alex, er Alex died two days ago. That's the real reason I came back."

"Oh, that's sad. I know you and he were close."

"Yes, well how are you two?"

"We're fine," said Angus, "we're heading back home.

"I'll take you there if you want, but tell me, what was that thing back there?"

"That's what I want to know," said Angus.

"And who is this wee thing?"

"That's our new pet," answered Mhairi.

The two children jumped on Donald's back and Donald held the pup by the scruff of the neck in his mouth and WHOOSH off they went.

"Why don't you come down and meet our Mum and Dad," asked Angus.

"I would like that," replied Donald.

The two kids went inside and fetched their Mum and Dad.

"Mum and Dad, this is Donald the Dragon," introduced Mhairi.

That night he slept in the barn. In the morning Mhairi got up and went to fetch the milk,but there was something wrong, someone was injured badly. Mhairi's Mum had told people about the Dragon being back but the people trusted the Dragon this time and instead of blaming him they asked him to help them, especially the wife of the man everyone suspected the Dragon of killing when he first appeared. The Dragon agreed to help to find this beast, so later in the afternoon they got ready to go. Angus was allowed to take his Dad's gun, but only if he took care of it.

WHOOSH, off they went. They searched around the mountain first, and the forest, but just as they were leaving Mhairi saw something in the water in pursuit of a seal. They swooped down to take a look. Just as they were about a metre away from the water the beast jumped out and bit the Dragon's wing. He crashed down to the shore.

"Are you in a lot of pain?" asked Angus.

"Yes, could you go and get John Beagle at the mountain, he'll know what to do."

"Yes," he said and off he went.

He soon arrived back and John started to tend the Dragon's wounds. Just as they were about to move the Dragon over to shelter in the forest the beast came roaring out of the water and that look in his eye said that he wanted to finish off the Dragon. Angus wasn't going to let that happen, so he thought fast, turned around and shot the beast through the head. The creature fell to the ground howling in pain and died.

"Good shot, Angus."

"Thanks, John."

"Good riddance to that monster," said Mhairi in disgust.

They buried the beast just at the edge of the forest and started to go home.

"Are you alright to go home on your own on the horse, John?"

"Aye, I'll be fine. Just you take care of that wing."

"Alright," the Dragon assured John.

"Bye" they shouted to each other as the Dragon took off. Donald asked if the two kids wanted to come to Old Alex's funeral. They went to Donald's huge stony and rocky cave. They buried Alex, sang some hymns and then said a prayer. Donald had a tear in his eye and Mhairi and Angus comforted him.

"Angus why don't we bring Donald back to our house for a while?"

"Yeah, while he gets over Alex's death, do you want to Donald?"

"That would be grand," he answered.

When they got home the Dragon and the kids had some food and played games. Donald was too big to hide in 'hide and seek' and was too good to be 'it' because he flew in the air.

At night he slept in the barn with the lovely warm coats of the Highland cows. In the morning when everyone was up, the Dragon told everyone how comfy it was that night. He asked if he could stay another night.

"Let's go and take the pup a walk," suggested Mhairi.

"Alright Mhairi, we'll flyover to the shore and get the pup in the water," said Donald, "and at the same time get some rope for a lead off the shore."

Then Donald said, "I have to go now."

"Go where?" asked Mhairi.

"I have to go home," he replied.

" Do you have to?" said Mhairi in tears.

"Yes, all my family will be waiting for me."

"Never knew you had a family," said Angus, puzzled.

"Yes, a wee son and a lovely wife."

"You'd better get back to your family, but you'd better visit. Bye Donald," said Angus.

"Bye," cried the Dragon.

"Oh please don't cry you two, I'll be back," the Dragon pleaded and off he went, "Goodbye," he shouted.

"I'll never forget you!" cried Mhairi as the Dragon flew into the sunset.

Sandy Munro, aged 11.
Images associated with this article:-

The dragon returns
Coll Magazine - Article by Sandy Munro

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