Precious and the Mystery of Meercat Hill

BOOK: Precious and the Mystery of Meercat Hill
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First published in Great Britain in 2012 by
Polygon, an imprint of
Birlinn Ltd
West Newington House
10 Newington Road
Edinburgh EH9 1QS

ISBN 978 1 84697 231 7
eBook ISBN 978 0 85790 216 0

Text copyright © Alexander McCall Smith 2012
Illustration and design © Iain McIntosh 2012

The rights of the copyright holders have been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, recording or otherwise, without permission in writing from the Publisher.

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

Printed and bound in Italy by
Grafica Veneta S.P.A.










of a girl called Precious. It is also the story of a boy whose name was Pontsho, and of another
girl who had a very long name. Sometimes people who have a very long name find it easier to shorten it. So this other girl was called Teb. There is no room here, I’m afraid, to give her full
name, as that would take up quite a few lines. So, like everybody else, we’ll call her Teb.

Precious’s family name was Ramotswe, which sounds like this – RAM – OT – SWEE. There: try it yourself – it’s not hard to say. She lived in a country called
Botswana, which is in Africa. Botswana is very beautiful – it has wide plains that seem to go on and on as far as the eye can see, until they join the sky, which is high and empty. Sometimes,
you know, when you look up at an empty sky, it seems as if it’s singing. It is very odd, but that is how it seems.

There are hills that pop up on these plains. The hills look rather like islands, and the plains look a bit like the sea. Here is a picture of what that is like.

Precious lived with her father, Obed, in a small house outside a village. Obed was a good, kind man who wore a rather battered old hat. That hat was well-known in the village and even further

“Here he comes!” people would say when they saw his hat in the distance. “Here comes Obed!”

On one occasion Obed lost his hat while walking home in the dark. A wind blew up and lifted it right off his head, and because there was no light he was unable to find it. The next day, when he
went back to the place where he had lost the hat, there was still no sign of it. He searched and searched, but without success.

“You could buy a new one, Daddy,” Precious suggested.

Obed shook his head. “A new hat is never as comfortable as an old one,” he said. “And I loved that hat.” He paused, looking up at his daughter. “It saved my life,
you know.”

Precious wondered how a hat could save your life. “Please tell me about that,” she said. She loved her father’s stories, especially when he told them at bedtime. There is
something very exciting about a bedtime story, and it is even better if the story is told after the lights have been turned out. The words sound different, I think – as if they are being
whispered just for you and for nobody else. The words are all about you, like a warm blanket.

So Obed told her about the hat that evening, when it was already dark outside and the African sky was filling with stars.

“Quite a few years ago,” he began, “before you were even born, I worked for a while on a farm. It was a very dry place, as there was not much rain in that part of the country.
But each year the rains came, and the land would turn green as the plants returned to life. That could happen so quickly – sometimes overnight.

“My job was to see that the cattle were getting water to drink. We had boreholes to pump the water up from deep wells. Then the cattle could slake their thirst from drinking troughs. I had
to go and check that everything was working properly and fix it if it was not.

BOOK: Precious and the Mystery of Meercat Hill
6.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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