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Saturday, July 1, 2017

Gabriel's Tale - Chapter 6

As you will see I was a little more adventurous this month and did several watercolor paintings.  I got stuck right away trying to draw a British stationwagon, but once I found a good photo on-line I was off and running.  If you get a chance to check out Levens Hall you will see it has some truly weird unique topiaries.

I was listening to a TED Talk by a brain researcher who explained how we learn and why at the end of an hour of practicing a new motor skill (like drawing) we may achieve a new level of competence but the next day we have to start all over again.  It's because when we practice a new skill our brains produce a chemical that aids the short-term memory.  But to permanently acquire the skill you have to change the structure of the brain and you can only do that with repetition over a period of time.  So the bad news is you have to practice, practice, practice.  But the good news is it will eventually pay off!

Last month Gabriel had just arrived in Liverpool and left the freighter in a sack.  Here is this chapter's highlights. . . .

Chapter 6 – Liverpool

Harry waved goodbye to his shipmates then slung his duffle bag onto his back  tucking the sack carrying Gabriel under his arm.  Bent over from the weight he trudged down the alley to wait for the bus that would take him home to his family in one of the neighborhoods of Liverpool.  He’d grown up there, as had his father and grandfather.  His mother was from Scotland.  If Gabriel had known this he may not have made a mad dash for freedom like he did the moment Harry opened the sack to check on him. 

No, Fella! Where‘re you goin’?” shouted Harry, startled by Gabriel’s sudden bolt from the sack.  Gabriel looked over his shoulder but did not stop.  He was sorry to leave Harry.  I’m very grateful for all you’ve done for me, but I really must get going.  Edinburgh’s my destination, not Liverpool. 


There, ahead, was a man who was putting luggage into the back of a car.  Two children were standing on the sidewalk with a woman.  “Dear, did you remember to bring the children’s coats?” the woman asked the man, then added, “It might be chilly up north.”

“Oh, that’s right.  I’ll go get them,” he said.

North?  Gabriel thought.  Scotland’s north.  The man had left the back of the car open while the woman was busy getting the children into the back seat of the car.  This is my chance!  He kept low to the ground until he reached the car, then putting his front paws on the bumper jumped into the car and found a space in which to hide between two bags.  He just fit.  Soon the man returned.  He laid the coats on top of everything and closed the back of the car. 


Gabriel listened to the chatter coming from the front of the car for a while, but soon he was asleep.  “What’s that noise?” the little girl asked.

“I don’t know.  I don’t hear anything,” the boy said back.

“What’s wrong back there?” the woman asked.

“Mary says she hears a noise in the back with the bags,” the boy replied.

“It sounds like someone snoring,” Mary volunteered. 

“It’s just that little gremlin that keeps following us around,” her brother teased.

Mary squealed with fright, waking Gabriel from his deep sleep.  Her mother was about to tell the little boy to quit teasing his sister when everyone’s eyes grew twice their size as Gabriel let out a howl.

“Ahhhhhh!” the boy screamed.  Mary started to giggle, delighted to see her brother frightened for once!


Gabriel was fully awake now.  He felt the car stop and heard the little girl who was still giggling.  The boy was annoyed that he was being laughed at.  The woman was trying to calm every one down.

“Maybe we should all get out of the car,” the woman suggested, “before you start removing bags just in case whatever “it” is jumps into the back seat?”  The little girl’s eyes grew wide.  She quit laughing and quickly got out of the car.

They all stood along side the car while the man removed each bag.  Gabriel knew his escape route was blocked.

“Well, will you look at that!” the man exclaimed cheerily.  The rest of the family crowded around the back of the car to see Gabriel sitting there looking embarrassed.  Now what do I do? he thought. 

“Can we keep him, Daddy?” the little girl asked excitedly.  Oh, no, thought Gabriel.  Without hesitating to think it through Gabriel darted past everyone and headed for the gardens of Levens Hall--an old estate famous for its topiary gardens. 


Soon Gabriel found himself amongst bushes that had been trimmed to look like circles, triangles and squares.  Very strange, he thought as he ran past one.  Just then the gardener spotted him.  “Hey! You’re not allowed in here!” he shouted.

Gabriel ran through, then over, then around the bushes until he came to a small footbridge.  He darted across the stream and soon found himself in what they called the Park.  There he saw the woods off in the distance and decided to make a run for it. 


On his way across the field, however, Shep, the Border Collie tending the sheep, caught sight of Gabriel and took off after him.  It was Shep’s job to guard the sheep and he had to make sure whatever was running across his field stayed clear of them.  Gabriel saw Shep running toward him and quickly changed directions.  Now he was running toward a herd of deer that had been standing at the edge of the woods.  They saw him and began to scatter in several directions.....  
Gabriel was running in circles trying to decide which way to go.  This might have gone on all afternoon if a thunderstorm hadn’t suddenly popped up over the whole scene.  With one loud clap of thunder everyone scattered in opposite directions and Gabriel found himself in the woods—alone.  He hurried to find shelter in a hollow log to wait out the storm.  With the sun hidden behind the clouds it had grown quite dark.  Exhausted, he was soon sound asleep.

Next month:  Chapter 7 - Into the Woods:  Gabriel spends the night in the woods and takes time to help a fellow animal before he continues his journey.

❤️Take Joy❤️


  1. Oh, Gabriel ~ your adventure continues, and once more we are left on the edges of our seats as you get closer to Scotland! Stay safe, sweet one, from the storm overhead!
    The topiary at Levens Hall are quite something else, aren't they? A cross between Edward Scissorhands and Alice in Wonderland quirkiness about them.

    1. They are indeed! There is lots more to the story than I present here, so I'm glad it's holding your interest with just the snippets.

  2. That is a gorgeous station wagon! I just love your drawings. And the story, once again leaves us hanging. What a brave little adventurer is Gabriel!

    1. Thank you Dotsie! Yes, he is very brave considering he'd never left the yard when he was still a snowman! But love gives us courage!

    2. Dotsie, I meant to tell you that the stationwagon is a 1969 Austin Mini 1000 Countryman.

  3. Gabriel is a smart little fellow hitching a ride north. I'm left wondering how he will continue his journey to his destination. Very nice illustrations, Cathy. Oh, I enjoyed Leven's Hall and the topiaries. I'm making note of this interesting place. ♥

    1. Thank you, Martha Ellen. That's good to hear.....that you're left wondering! 😊

  4. Wonderful pictures and story. I could just imagine Gabriel running in circles and being herded by Shep. One of Tavi's friends is a sheep dog and she always tries to herd him! Sarah x

    1. Thank you, Sarah. That's funny about Tavi trying to be herded by a sheep dog! Does she succeed?


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