Mary McNeil lived in Scotland with her granny. She was so small everyone called her ‘Wee Mary.’ Wee Mary loved to highland dance. Her favourite was ‘The Sword Dance’. It made her so happy skipping over her shiny silver swords as her kilt swished back and forth behind her.
And when her granny watched her, it made her happy too. Wee Mary always danced until her cheeks were glowing and she was bursting with happiness.
It was Tuesday night and Mary went to her dance class as usual. When she arrived, she discovered it was that time of year again – The Braemar Highland Games auditions! Wee Mary longed to go to the highland games but every year the bigger girls were chosen instead of her.
[Illustration note: the bigger girls are all huddled round a poster about the auditions – and wee Mary is jumping behind them trying to get a look]
The games were fantastic! Wee Mary’s granny had told her all about them:
the deafening sound of the spectacular pipe bands; the bulging muscles of the men tossing-the-caber and throwing-the-hammer and, best of all, the nimble highland dancers performing for the queen!
Wee Mary needed to grow. And fast!
The next morning she told her granny, “Granny, I need to grow before the auditions.”
“Oh?” said Granny. “How are you going to do that dear? Growing takes time.”
“Milk will make me grow,” insisted Mary.
So Wee Mary drank lots…and lots…and lots of milk!
…she felt very, very, very sick!
“Oh Granny, I don’t feel so good,” moaned Wee Mary.
“Silly sausage!” said Granny. Off you go to school; the fresh air will make you feel better.”
At lunchtime Wee Mary had another idea. Lucy grabbed her legs and Anna grabbed her arms.
“Pull!” she shouted.
The girls pulled …and pulled…and pulled…
“Owwww,” screamed Wee Mary, “Stop!”
The girls crashed to the ground in a heap.
“I know what’ll cheer you up,” said Lucy, “come on, show us how to do that crazy twirling dance again.”
Soon they were all flying through the air shrieking with laughter.
After school, Wee Mary asked hopefully, “Have I grown Granny?”
[Illustration note: Wee Mary is standing up against the kitchen door where she marks her height as she grows]
“Nope” replied Granny with a sigh. You’re still the same perfect size you were this morning.”
Wee Mary trudged upstairs, and just as she reached the last step she saw them – Granny’s Sunday best high heels! She sneaked them into her bedroom and put them on. She looked much bigger. She felt much bigger. She started to dance…and then…
…over her ankle she went, crashing to the floor with a cry of pain!
Granny dashed upstairs.
“I think it’s broken!” sobbed Wee Mary. “I just wanted to be bigger.”
“Silly sausage!” said Granny. “What have I told you? Growing takes time.”
She pulled wee Mary onto her lap.
“Och, it’s fine. Some frozen peas will fix it”
That night, Wee Mary lay wide awake wondering if she’d ever dance again.
Next morning, Wee Mary warily placed her feet on the floor and s-l-o-w-l-y stood up. She tried pointing her toes…then…stepping from side to side…then…a little hop and a skip.
“Yippee! My ankle’s fine Granny,” she shouted, as she bounded down the stairs.
“Great!” said Granny. “Now eat up your porridge; it’ll make you grow big and strong.”
“Don’t you know that growing takes time Granny? From now on I’m going to practice even harder. Then I’ll be soooo good, the judges won’t be able to say no.”
And that’s exactly what she did. Wee Mary danced everywhere she went!
[Illustration note: Mary dances in many comical unusual places]
At the auditions Wee Mary and Granny waited anxiously. When they called her name, Granny smiled and said, “Just dance how you always dance.”
Wee Mary’s heart raced and her legs wobbled. But as soon as she started to dance she forgot about everything else. She danced until her cheeks were glowing and she was bursting with happiness!
When she had finished, there was a stunned silence from the judges, and then finally…
…“Bravo!” they cheered, getting to their feet.
And that year Wee Mary did dance for the Queen at the Braemar Highland Games (with just a little help from Granny).
[Illustration note: Granny is the piper at the side of the stage]