by Angus Von Stulpnagel Jnr.
Once upon a time in a glen, not far away, there lived a very large badger. He was about the size of an old-fashioned hay bale, and was so old he could remember the days before old-fashioned hay bales. His name was Broc Cumhachdach. From his house, which was half way up a steep hill, at the edge of the forest, he could see for miles down the glen.
You would think Broc’s best friend would be a big animal like another badger, or a dog, or even a deer, but no, his best friend was a little red squirrel called Donny. Donny was smaller than the average squirrel, and much darker, his fur was a lovely chocolaty shade of red. The two had been the best of friends since Donny was very small. Broc had found him nearly frozen in a snowdrift, after a winter storm. Broc had looked after him until the spring and helped him build a wee house of his own not far away from Broc’s front door. They often visited each other and told stories, or sung songs.
One morning Broc was looking out of his doorway, down the glen, enjoying the sunny weather after a wet and windy night, when he saw Donny running out of the forest up the hill. He was in a terrible state, squeaking and shouting. When he got to Broc’s door he could hardly speak at all, because he had used all his breath getting up the hill. Old Broc was concerned, but had learned many years ago that there is little to be gained by rushing too much, so he just sat and waited for Donny to get enough breath back to say ” Éthe riverÉ need helpÉhurryÉ” Broc lifted the exhausted Donny onto his back and said,
“You just sit there and get your senses back, we’ll go down to the river. On the way you can tell me what this is all about”
Although Broc was big and old, and never seemed to be in any hurry, he was surprisingly quick. Trees and bushes seemed to step aside when he came down the hill; either that or he pushed them out of the way with his powerful shoulders. Either way, by the time Broc and Danny had reached the river, at the bottom of the forest, Donny had told Broc how he was playing at the riverbank, and had seen a log floating past with three squirrels hanging onto it. They had looked half drowned and so weak they could hardly call for help. The log had got caught in the middle of the river and Donny could not reach it, and was too small anyway, so he had gone for Broc’s help.
With Donny’s directions, Broc found the log, still stuck in the middle of the river, and headed straight for it not slowing down a bit, even when he was in the water. The three squirrels could hardly believe their eyes when they say what they thought was a big grey island coming for them, driven by a little brownish squirrel. With the last of their strength they climbed onto Broc’s back and he took them to the shore of the river. In no time at all they were all back on dry land and the squirrels were telling Broc and Donny how they had been at home and their tree had fallen into the river. It had stood at the riverbank and the rain must have washed the bank away. Mum and Dad squirrel had only just managed to get the little one out and hang onto the log, which used to be the branch their house was on, before they started floating downstream.
Once Broc had very gently checked they were only bruised and wet, he put them all on his back and climbed back up the hill to his house, where they sat in the sun and dried off. They stayed with Broc for a week until he was sure they had recovered.
The little Squirrel was called Leanaban and she played with Donny every day. As they were now the best of friends, they decided to stay together. With Broc’s help they built a new house right next to Donny’s, and are still the best of friends.
Maybe if you take a walk up the glen, and stand half way up a steep hill, at the edge of the forest, where you can see for miles down the glen, you will see old Broc, Donny, Leanaban, and her mum and dad. If you are very quiet you might even hear them tell each other stories or sing songs; but you will have to be very quiet.