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Aesop's Fables in Scots #6

More fabulous extracts from our first ebook.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024
11 mins

The Crab an' His Ma

An auld clawed critter, her shell encrusted wi' barnacles, turned tae her wee bairn scuttin' aboot on the seabed. "Ach, laddie," she grumbled, "why d'ye gang about sidelins like a stuck clock? Straight's the way tae dae it, I tell ye!"

The wee crab, nae bigger than a thimble, blinked up at his ma wi' his beady wee eyes. "Show me then, gudewife," he chirped, "an' I'll copy yer fine form like a wee parrot!"

The auld crab puffed up her chest, shell cracklin' like driftwood, an' tried tae walk proper like. But nae matter how she huffed an' puffed, her wee claws kept hitchin' her sideways. She stumbled an' bumbled, a wee crustacean ballerina haein' a bad day.

Finally, wi' a resigned sigh, she plopped doon on a seaweed cushion. "Aye, laddie," she admitted, her voice softer than the lap o' the tide, "seems I was spoutin' nonsense. Sometimes, the way we're made is the best way tae be."

The wee crab scuttled closer, nudging his ma's shell wi' his pincer. "See, Ma?" he said, eyes twinklin'. "Sideways is nae just safer, it's faster, an' lets us find the juiciest morsels! An' besides, it looks braw, like a wee dance!"

The auld crab chuckled, a bubbly sound like seashells chimin'. "Aye, ye're right," she agreed. "Maybe I should get oot o' my shell an' learn a wee thing or two frae ye!"

Moral:  It's easier tae preach nor tae practise.

The Cuddy an' His Shimmer

A braw day in the simmer, an' a fellae hires a trusty cuddy fer a wee jaunt. Off they set, the man hummin' a tune an' the owner trailin' behind like a sheepdog, keen tae keep the critter movin'. But the noon sun beat down like a forge hammer, an' the fellae, sweatin' like a stookie, yearned for a wee snooze in the cuddy's shady patch.

"Haud on a tick," he cried, ploppin' doon under the beast's belly. "This braw shadow's just the ticket for a wee kip!"

But the owner, lookin' like a spittin' image o' a grumpy gnome, planted his feet like rowan roots. "Nay, nay," he growled, "Ye hired the cuddy, nae his shadow! Pay for the shade, an' then ye can snooze all ye like!"

The fellae, his blood hotter than a haggis on Hogmanay, argued back, swearin' blind that the whole cuddy, shade an' all, was his for the day. From words, it escalated tae shoves, fists flailin' like hayforks in a barnyard brawl. Meanwhile, the cuddy, seein' his chance, gave a snort an' a kick, an' off he shot like a startled rabbit, vanishin' intae the shimmerin' heat haze.

Left standin' in the dust, the fellae an' the owner stared at each ocht other, jaws gapin' like beached cod. Their fight for a wee bit o' shade had cost them the whole shebang.

Moral:  Some folks cannae see the forest for the trees, or in this case, the cuddy for his shadow.

The Hingin' Man an' His Laddies

An auld farmer, his breath raspy like autumn leaves, saw the curtain o' life drawin' near. He gathered his lads close, eyes glimmerin' like the setting sun. "My wee men," he rasped, "I'm sailin' off to the Land o' Nod soon, but I leave ye a gift – a treasure hid within the vines o' our vineyard. Dig, an' ye'll find it!"

No sooner did their da wink for the last time, than the lads, eyes sparklin' like silver drachmas, gripped their spades an' forks. They tore through the soil, turnin' the land upside down like a haggis on Hogmanay. Days bled into weeks, blisters bloomed on their palms, but nary a glint o' gold did they unearth.

Disappointment hung heavy like mist in the hills, but somethin' curious happened. The vines, nourished by their sweat an' toil, flourished like never before. Plump grapes, sweeter than summer berries, hung in abundance, promising a bountiful harvest.

As the lads looked upon their handiwork, a slow smile spread across their faces. They realised the true treasure wasn't buried beneath the earth, but woven into the very roots of their labour. The lesson their da left them wasn't about greed, but about the magic o' hard work, the reward o' perseverance, an' the sweet taste o' honest toil.

Moral:  Aye waurk brings its ain reward, even if it's no juist gowd or gear.

The Cuddy an' the Cook

A weel-heeled bloke, pockets lined like a haggis at Hogmanay, threw a swanky bash for his pals an' cronies. His wee dug, tail waggin' like a metronome, saw his chance tae score a scranny invite for his ain mutt mate. He scampered up, eyes shinin' brighter than a dram in a darkened pub, an' barked, "My gaffer's haein' a feast fit for a king! Heaps o' grub, nae scrimpin', come chow down wi' me the night!"

The invited dug, a scrawny scrap o' fur, bounded over like a kelpie on a rampage. Seein' the mountains o' mince an' the rivers o' gravy in the kitchen, he thought tae himself, "This is ma lucky day! I'm gonna gorge masel' rotten, enough tae last a fortnight!" His tail wagged like a maypole in a hurricane, tellin' his pal how chuffed he was tae be there.

But just then, the cook, a grumpy git wi' a face like a dropped kipper, spotted him. Fury in his eyes, he grabbed the wee scallywag by the scruff o' the neck an' chucked him oot the windie like a rogue thistle! The dug landed with a yelp, then limped off, howlin' like a banshee in a blizzard.

He bumped intae a pack o' his mates, who sniffed at him an' asked, "So, how was the grub? Did ye stuff yer belly like a sausage casing?" The wee scallywag, tail hangin' lower than a wet sock, puffed up his chest an' lied, "Oh, it was braw! Wine flowin' like the Clyde, I ate an' drank so much I cannae even remember how I got oot!"

Moral:  Takin' favours frae others can leave ye with a sour taste an' a bruised backside! Sometimes, it's better tae hold yer head high an' wait for yer own feast,

The Cuddy Crowned King

Afore a grand gatherin' o' a' the creatures o' the wild, the wee cuddy danced an' pranced, his antics sparklin' brighter than a kilt pin in the sun. So smitten were the beasts, they crowned him "Cuddy the First," King o' the Critters!

Now, the tod, a crafty varmint wi' a smile like a frozen burn, couldnae stomach the cuddy's rise tae power. One day, stumblin' across a rusty gin wi' a juicy haggis bait, he hatched a devious plan. He scurried off tae find the cuddy, tail swishin' like a metronome, an' purred, "My gracious King! Behold a wee treat I found! Too grand for a humble fox like me, it seemed fit only for yer royal belly. Will ye do me the honour o' acceptin'?"

The cuddy, gullible as a bairn at the circus, bounded towards the bait, only tae snap his paw straight intae the rusty jaws o' the trap. His screechin' could wake the very crows in the glen! He glared at the tod, spittin' venom like a grumpy hedgehog, "Ye treacherous beast! Led me intae danger like a moth tae a flame!"

The tod, wi' a chuckle colder than a Highland winter, just smirked an' rasped, "Cuddy the First, they call ye? King o' the Beasts? And ye fall for a trick simpler than a bowl o' oatmeal! Aye, maybe the crown sits a wee bit heavy on yer furry head, eh?"

Moral:  A flashy performance can land ye a fancy title, but it takes witt tae keep it, and greed can be a right sore trap.

The Rogues an' the Chanter

A gaggle o' rogues, pockets thinner than a kilt in July, broke intae a fine hoose. But after ransackin' the place, nae jewels nor gold did they find, just a braw chanticleer struttin' in his coop. Grinnin' like thieves at a market, they slung the cocky fella ower their shoulders an' skedaddled.

Back in their hidey-hole, thinkin' o' grub, one o' the rogues grabbed the chanticleer, ready tae twist his neck like a wet dishcloth. But the wee bird, his voice clear as a Highland burn, squawked, "Haud yer horses, mucky mates! Gie me a wee chance, an' ye'll find I'm worth a king's ransom! I'll be yer dawn herald, wakenin' honest folk tae their toil wi' my crow! Nae mair snoozin' till noon for yer weary bones!"

The rogue, face lookin' like a haggis after a good stovin', spat back, "Aye, that ye might! You an' yer blasted alarmin' calls! Makin' our lives harder than pickin' pockets in a kilt! Dinnae fash yer feathered wee head, ye're goin' in the pot!"

Moral:  Thae wha try tae keep honest folk on the richt road can sometimes be seen as the enemy by those takin' the wrang path.

The Crofter an' His Chance

A crofter, sweat glistenin' on his brow like wee diamonds, was turnin' the earth wi' his plough, when somethin' glinted in the furrow. He dug it out, his heart thumpin' like a kelpie's drum, an' behold! A clay pot brimmin' wi' golden pieces! The man, happier than a haggis at Hogmanay, danced a jig right there in the field. Frae that day on, he'd leave a wee thank-you offerin' at the wee altar o' the Earth Moither, grateful for his newfound wealth.

But Lady Luck, fickle creature that she is, took a wee umbrage at this. She appeared to the crofter, face stormy like a Highland squall, and huffed, "Dinnae go givin' Earth the credit, ye daft wee gomeril! I was the one who tossed that treasure yer way! Never a word o' thanks tae me! But mark my words, if ill winds blow an' yer riches flee, don't blame me then, oh no! You'll be singin' a different tune!"

Moral:  Aye gie thanks tae the richt haund, no jist the ane that fills yer cup.

Jura an' the Mucky Midget

Jura, rumblin' like a Highland storm, sent a wee message tae a' the critters o' the land, barkin' aboot a braw prize for the beast wi' the bonniest bairn. In amongst the elephants an' eagles, strutted a wee cuddy, cradlin' a bairn that looked like a haggis crossed wi' a pug! Wrinkled, bald as a newly shorn sheep, the wee critter set the gods snortin' wi' laughter until their sides ached.

But the cuddy, fiercer than a kilted warrior, cuddled her wee sprog even tighter, eyes blazin' wi' love. "Jura can shove his prize," she cried, voice as strong as a waterfall. "This beastie's the brawest wee button in all o' creation, an' nae fancy feathers or fancy prizes can change that!"

Moral:  Beauty is in the e'e o' the beholder, and a mither's love kens nae bounds.

The Gaffer an' His Brawlin' Bairns

An auld fellae, his head full o' grey like a Highland mist, had lads who couldnae stop scrappin' for the life o' them. Nothin' he did, nae pleadin', nae belt, could get them livin' like a haggis at Hogmanay – peaceful an' snug. So, decidin' tae show them their silly ways, he hatched a wee plan.

He called the lads in, eyes twinklin' like a dram in a darkened pub, and laid a hefty bundle o' sticks in front o' them. "Right ye muckle gomerils," he chuckled, "show me yer strength! Snap this wee pile in half like it was a stale oatcake!"

One by one, the lads puffed up their chests like roosters in a barnyard, grabbed the bundle, and strained with all their might. Grunts an' groans filled the air, but nary a crack did the bundle make. Defeated, they hung their heads like wilted heather.

The gaffer, a crafty wee bugger, just grinned an' untied the bundle. He handed each lad a single stick, watchin' their brows furrow in confusion. "Now, try it," he rasped, eyes sparklin' with mischief.

With a flick o' their wrists, one by one, the sticks snapped like twigs in a storm. The lads, faces redder than a kilt in July, gaped at the pile o' broken bits.

The gaffer, his voice full o' wisdom, pointed at the heap. "See that, ye daft wee gowks? Together, ye're a fortress, strong enough tae weather any gale. But split asunder, ye're just kindling wood, waitin' tae be picked off by any wee fechtin' breeze. Remember, unity is yer shield, yer strength, yer brawest treasure. So hold tight tae each other, an' nae wind o' misfortune will ever break ye!"

Moral:  There's nae strength like the strength o' unity, divided ye crumble, thegither ye conquer.

The Lamp

A wee glais lamp, chock-full o' oil, sputtered wi' a clean, steady gleam, blawin' its ain trumpet aboot bein' brighter than the sun himsel'. But nae sooner haein' said it, than a wee gurl o' a wind cam' skitin' ower an' blaffed it oot like a snuff. "Och aye," chuckled the fellae re-licht'n' it wi' a match, "ye jist stick tae yer ain glow an' dinnae fash yerse aboot the sun. The starnies themsels nae need tae be relit ilka wee while like ye!"

Moral:  A braw licht can bring comfort, but nae flicker should think it rivals the sun. Even the smalled gust can snuff it oot, while the stars shine on.

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