“Still thro’ the gap, the struggling river toils, and still below, the horrid cauldron boils.”

He read aloud his favourite poet. That Burns actually stood on this ground always brought him inspiration.

Inspired thinking had got him this far. Tired, thirsty and determined. This ended today.

Such wild beauty, he breathed in the pine and garlic. Memories of home.
How did he get here, why did he roam? Questions for another day, he contemplated the foam below.

He heard a sound so jumped from one branch to the next his magnificent tail blowing in the wind. On the trail of the dastardly Grey Menace, his nemesis.

His name, Redlocks, the finest red squirrel detective in the Highlands, probably in the low lands too for that matter.

He was close. He could smell it.

“Still, below, the horrid cauldron boils.” The ghosts of the past whispering to him.

Redlocks crept closer to the mouth of the foyers falls, slippery and slithery. Grey jumped on him from somewhere above, they wrestled back and forth, nearer and nearer to the ledge.

Redlocks trusty helper Dr. Hedges (he was a hedgehog if species are important to you) had gone to help an injured swallow further back along the track so was not on paw to lend a prickle.

Oh it was a terrible duel!! Their tails entwined, how cruel. Grey had brought great suffering to Redlocks’s kin, disease, destruction, suffering.

Using all his strength he gave Grey a terrific shove, Grey lost his paw grip and plunged down the falls.

But remember their tails a jumble, so poor old Redlocks also took a tumble. Falling all those feet below. Icy cold oblivion.

Did he survive? No one knows. Before his final fight he’d left a note for Hedges, fearing things would end with ledges.

“My dear friend,

Finally the scourge of Grey has ended and reds can thrive again.

“And still, below, the horrid cauldron boils.”

Forever yours


Copyright John de Gruyther 2016

This poem/story was inspired by a recent trip to foyers and my children hunting through the woods for red squirrels. You may have noticed that I’ve borrowed some plot elements from another story about a well known detective of a human variety.


Photography by Claire Ball, a very talented photographer from Inverness. She kindly gave permission for me to use her picture here, after my son fell in love with her photography during our recent visit to the Highlands. Check out her work by following the link.


2 thoughts on “Redlocks

  1. I don’t know what I love more… the writing, or that lovely photo! Well, I love them both for different reasons, so I suppose that means I love them both – 😉

    Squirrels over here don’t have those lovely long ears… but I saw several black squirrels in Wisconsin. I am sure they would love to meet their long-eared overseas neighbors!


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