Christmas day broke cloudy and gray, but that didn’t dampen the high spirits at Ayton Lodge. Dougal and his family arrived slightly before Duncan and his clan, and soon, the Fraser grandchildren were running up and down the stairs and all around the house playing hide and seek. It was happy mayhem.
“Weans!” cried Ailsa from the kitchen as she was assembling hors d’oeuvres. “Noo jisthaudon! I’ll skelp your bahookyif I ketch ye!”
Ben looked quizzically at Maggie, who laughed and then translated. “She told the children to slow down or she’ll slap their behinds.”
Ben laughed. “Weans?”
Maggie grinned. “It’s short for “wee ones.”
“Is there a class I can take for Scottish? No – wait. I have a better idea. Why worry about taking classwhen I have my very own translator.”
Maggie smiled tenderly. “That, you do. That, you do.”
She headed towards the kitchen, saying, “Mum, let me give you a hand.”
“Anything I can do?” asked Ben.
Maggie called over her shoulder, “Well, maybe you can tame the weans.” She laughed.
Ben thought a bit and then headed over to the staircase. He caught the next child running down, grab bing her by the waist. “Would you like to hear a story about cowboys and Indians?” She stopped wiggling at hearing that and then shouted to her siblings and cousins. “Cowboys and Indians!!” The other four came running, and Ben took them into the sunroom.
“Let me tell you about the Lone Ranger and Tonto,” Ben started. The five quickly sat cross-legged on the floor in front of him, and peace came to Ayton Lodge as Ben enchanted the children with a tale of the Wild West.
Supper was soon served, and the family chatted easily: Duncan, the physician, told of humorous patients; Dougal, the history professor, relayed hapless students’ pleas for favorable grade treatment. Callum was spared demands for interesting stories – everyone knew his work was off limits. Kate and Jessie, wives to Dougal and Duncan respectively, were strategically seated within arm’s reach of the children at the far end of the table. Ailsa and Maggie were seated between the women with children. The men, who were seated together, were as far away from the bairns as physically possible. This arrangement allowed for the conversation.
After supper, gifts were exchanged, and Duncan and Dougal, with their respective families, drove back to Edinburgh.
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