Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cluny's Cage

Building forts was a favourite childhood activity after we moved to our home in Terrace with it's forested lot at the back.

One of my favourites was one we called Cluny's cage. The name was based on Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Kidnapped, which features the Jacobite Highlander Alan Breck fleeing across Scotland from his enemies, moving from one safe house to another.

One of these hidden sanctuaries was Cluny's cage and we decided to build our own. My brother was handy with an axe, and he felled a few small trees. We formed these into a square, log cabin style, piling one on top of another and hewing the corners to fit. But the business required a lot of logs. Though originally we wanted it to be high enough to stand up in, we didn't get that far.

As we didn't know how to make a door, we built a stile as an entrance. At the door, we gave the password before entering, just like at Cluny's Cage in the story.

Like the original that inspired it, the fort was small and plain. The lack of windows wasn't a problem. It helped us feel suitably hidden inside. We could see out well enough through the wide cracks between the logs. We built a plank roof over half the fort and left the rest open. That summer, we were rebel Highlanders in flight. Cluny's Cage meant safety.

My mother had an electric wringer washer by then, and I remember it sounding out another name from the book: Colin Roy, Colin Roy, sang the agitator as it washed our clothes.

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