Relax, close your eyes and imagine that you live on a sheep farm in the Scottish highlands. This story is about two young brothers, Hamish and Dougal Woolly. One day their father had an accident and the two boys had to grow up fast. Listen carefully to their story.
“Oooops!” cried Mr Woolly. Hamish and Dougal rushed out to the farmyard to find their father on the ground, clutching his ankle. “I slipped off the ladder,” he explained. “And now I can’t stand up!”
The boys carried their father indoors. “You boys are going to have to take the sheep to market,” said Mr Woolly. “Use the ferry to cross the river. The forest is too dangerous.”
“But Father, that’ll take twice the time!” protested Hamish. “I'm not frightened of the forest.”
“Well, you should be! There are thieves and dangerous animals and I won’t be there to protect you. I want you to go by the river and no argument about it,” said Mr Woolly.
The boys rounded up the sheep and set out the next morning. When they reached the river there was no ferry to be seen. The boys waited and waited but no-one came.
“Lets go through the forest, said Hamish. “It’s much less effort.”
“But Father said it wasn’t safe,” said Dougal.
“Father worries too much,” replied Hamish.
In the end Hamish stormed off to the forest, taking half the sheep with him. “See you at the market!” he called.
Dougal sat with the remaining sheep wondering how to cross the river. “Perhaps I could make some stepping stones,” he thought, but the rocks he threw into the water sank out of sight. Then he built a raft but that sank, too.
“Those ideas didn't work, but I’ll keep trying,” he said. He toiled all day, but with no success. When it got dark he went to sleep, trusting the answer would be clearer in the morning.
By contrast, Hamish had a lazy day leading his sheep through the forest. When night fell, he lay down to sleep under a tree, full of confidence. “I’ll show Dougal,” he said.
In the forest, a gang of sheep rustlers led by Fingers the wolf had followed Hamish’s progress all day. In the dead of night Fingers, and his two mean-looking foxes, spirited away the sheep to their den.
“We’ll get a fine price for these sheep,” Fingers said.
Down by the river, the morning sun woke Dougal. “Got it!” he suddenly exclaimed. He climbed up to a tall tree and began chopping at its base with his axe. The tree fell right across the river forming a bridge for the sheep to cross.
In the forest Hamish woke to find all his sheep had gone. He searched and searched, but could find no trace of them. “I’ve let everyone down,” he thought sadly as he began his long, lonely walk home. “And we badly needed the money.”
Two days later Dougal arrived at the market and sold his sheep for a handsome profit. When he arrived home, his parents and Hamish were waiting to welcome him. Hamish looked so forlorn his father gave him a hug.
“The most important thing is that we’re all safe and together again, but I hope you’ve learned a lesson,” said Mr Woolly to Hamish. “There are no shortcuts. Success takes hard work.” The easiest solution to a problem isn’t always the best one — it can take a lot of effort and hard thinking to reach your goals. Help yourself by following advice from more experienced people.