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Popular Tales of the West Highlands
THE STORY OF THE WHITE PET
From Mrs. MacTavish, widow of the late minister of Kildalton, Islay


SGEULACHD A PHEATA BHAIN.

Bha Tuathmach ann roimhe so aig an robh Peata bn; agus 'n uair a bha an Nollaig a' teannadh air smuaintich e gu 'marbhabh e 'm Peata bn. Chuala am Peata bn sin agus smuaintich e gun teichadh e, agus 'se sin a rinn e. Cha deachaidh e fada 'n uair a thachsir Tarbh air. Thubhairt an tarbh ris, Filte dhuitse a' Pheata bhin; cite am bheil thusa a' dol?" tha mi," ars' am peata bn, "a' falbh a dh' iarridh an fhortain, bha iad a' dol a m' mharbhadh a dh' ionnsuidh na Nollaig agus smuaintich mi gum b' fherr domh teicheadh." "S' ferr domhsa ars' an Tarbh falbh leat: oir bha iad a' dol a dhianadh a leithid eile ormsa." "Tha mi toileach ars m Peata bn; mar is m a' chuideachd 'sann is fherr 'n ln-aidhir." Ghabh iad air n aghaidh gus an do thachuir Củ orra. Filte dhuit a Pheata bhin," ars' an Cu "Failte dhuit fh choin." "Cite 'm bheil thu a' dol?" ars' an Cu. "Tha mi aig teicheadh bho 'n a chuala mi gun robh iad a' brath mo, mharbhabh air son na Nollaig. " "Bha iad a' dol a dhianadh a leithid cheủdna ormsa," ars' an Cu, "agus falbhaidh mi leibh. " "Thig, mata" ars' am Peata bn. Dh fhalbh iad an sin gus an do chomhlaich Cat iad. "Failte dhuit a Pheata bhin ars' an cat. Filte dhuit fh a Chait." "Caite am bheil thu a' dol?" ars' an Cat. Tha mi a' dol a dh' iarridh an fhortain," ars' am Peata ban, "a chionn gu 'n robh iad a' dol am' mharbhadh air an Nollaig." "Bha iad aig iomradh air mise mharbhadh cuideachd ars an Cat, "agus 's farr dhomh falbh leibh." "Thugainn mata," ars' 'm Peata bn. Ghabh iad an sin air an aghaidh gus an do choinnich Coileach iad. "Filte dhuit a Pheata bhin," ars' an Coileach. "Filte dhuit fh'," ars' am Peata bn. "Caite," ars' an Coileach, "am bheil thu a dol? "Tha mi," ars' am Peata bn. "a' falbh o 'n a bha iad a midhadh mo mharbabh. aig an Nollaig." "Bha iad a' dol am' mharbhabh-sa aig an am cheudna," ars' an Coileach, agus theid mi leibh." "Thig mata," ars' am Peata bn. Ghabh iad air an aghaidh gus an do thachair giadh orra. "Filte dhuit a Pheata bhin," ars' an gadh "Filte dhuit fh a gheoidh," ars' am Peata bn. "Caite am bheil thu a dol?" ars' an gadh. "Tha mise ars' am Peata ban, "a' teichadh, a chionn gu 'n robh iad a dol am' mharbhadh aig an Nollaig." "Bha iad a dol a' dhanadh sin ormsa cuideachd ars' an Gadh, "agus falbhaidh mi leibh. Ghabh a' chuideachd air an aghaidh gus an robh an oidhche 'teannadh orra, agus chunnaic iad solus beag fada bhuatha 's ge b'fhada bhuatha cha bh' fhada 'ga ruigheachd. An uair a rinig iad an tigh, thubhairt iad ri 'cheile gun amhairceadh iad a stigh air an uinneag a dh' fhaicinn co a bha anns an tigh; agus chunnaic iad meairlich a' cunntas airgid; agus thubhairt am Peata bn, "Glaoidhidh na uile aon aguinn a ghlaodh fin; glaoidhidh mise mo ghlaodh; agus glaoidhidh an Tarbh a ghlaodh fein; glaoidhidh an Củ a ghlaodh fein; agus an Cat a ghlaodh fein; agus an Coileach a ghlaodh fein; agus an Gil a ghlaodh fin." Leis sin thug iad aon ghir asda. An uair a chuala na meairlich a' ghir a bha muidh shaoil iad gun robh an donas ann, agus theich iad amach, agus dh' falbh iad do choille a bha dlủth daibh. An uair a chunnaic am Peata bn agus a chuideachd gun robh an tigh falamh 'chaidh iad a stigh, agus fhuair iad an t-airgid a bha aig na meairlich 'ga chunntas, agus roinn iad eatorra fein e. An sin smuaintich iad gun gabhadh iad mu thmh. Thubhairt am Peata bn, "Caite an caidil thus' an nochd a Thairbh." "Caidlidh mise," ars' an tarbh, "Củl an doruis far an bhaist domh." "Caite an caidil thu fein a Pheata bhin?" "Caidlidh mise," ars' am Peata bn am meadhan an ủlair far an bhaist domh." "Caite an caidil thus' a Choin?" ars' am Peata bn. "Caidlidh mise taobh an teine far an bhaist domh," ars' an Củ, "Caite an caidil thusa Chait?" "Caidlidh mis'," ars' an Cat, "ann am preas nan coinnleann far an toil leam a bhith." "Caite an caidil thus' a Choilich?" ars' am Peata bn. "Caidlidh mise," ars' an Coileach,, "air an sprr far an bhaist domh." "Caite an caidil thus a Gheidh?" "Caidlidh mise," ars' an Gadh air an dủnan far an robh mi cleachte ri bhith."

Cha robh iad fada air gabhail mu thamh an uair a thill fear do na meairlich a dh' amharc a stigh feuch am micheadh e an robh aon sa' bith 'san tigh. Bha na uile ni smhach agus dh' ealuith e air aghaidh gu preas nan coinnlean airson coinneal a lasadh e dheanadh soluis da, ach an uair a chuir e lmh 'sa bhocsa shbh an cat inean na laimh, ach thug e leis a' choinneal agus dh' fheuch e ri 'lasadh. An sin dh' eirich an củ agus chuir e earball ann am poit uisge bha aig taobh an teine; chrath e earball agus chuir e as a choinneal. Shaoil am meairleach an sin gu robh an donus 'san tigh agus theich e; ach an uair a bha e dol seachad air a' Pheata bhn thug e buille dha; mun d' fhuar e seachad air an tarbh thug e breab dha; agus thisich an coileach air glaoidhich; agus an uair a chaidh e mach thisich an gadh air a ghreadadh le 'sgiathan mu na luirgnean. Chaidh e don choillidh far an robh a chompanich, co luath 'sa bha 'na chasan. Dh' fheraich iad dheth cia mar chaidh dha. "Cha deachaidh," ars' esan, "ach meadhonach; an uair a chaidh mi gu preas nan coinnlean bha fear ann a shth deich sgeanan ann am laimh, agus an uair a chaidh mi gu  taobh an teine a lasadh na coinneal bha fear mor, dubh 'na luidhe ann a bha spreadadh uisge urra 'ga cuir as, agus an uair a thug mi lmh air dol amach bha fear mor am meadhan an urlair a thug utag domh, agus fear eil' aig củl an doruis a phut amach mi, agus bha ablach beag air an fharadh aig glaoidhich amach, "cuir an nios an so e 's foghnaidh mi fhein dha," agus bha Griasaich amach air an dủnan 'gam ghreadadh mu na casan le apran. A nuair a chual na meairlich sin cha do phill iad a dh' iarridh an cuid airgid, agus fhuair am Peata bn agus a chompanaich dhaibh fein e, agus chum e socair iad am feadh 'sa bha iad beo.

Mrs. MacTavish got this story from a young girl in her service, November 1859, who learned it in OA, a district of Islay, last year, when she was employed in herding cattle.

It is a version of the same tale as Grimm's "Bremer Stadt Musikanten," which appears to have been long known in Germany in various shapes.

The crowing of the cock is imitated in Gaelic and in German. The Gaelic is closer. "Bringt mir den Schelm her" is not so close to "kikeriki" as the Gaelic words - which I have tried to spell phonetically - are to the note of a cock. There is a bull in the Gaelic tale, instead of an ass; and a sheep and a goose, in addition to the dog, cat, and cock, which are common to both. There are six creatures in the one tale, commonly found about the Highland cottage, which is well described; four in the other, common about German cottages, My own opinion is, that the tale is common to both languages and old, but it might have been borrowed from a book so well known in England as Grimm's Stories are. It is worth remark, that the dog and the cat were to die at Christmas, as well as the sheep and bull, who might reasonably fear to be eaten anywhere, and who have been sacrificed everywhere; the goose, who is always a Christmas dish in the Highlands; and the cock, who should die last of his family, because the toughest. The dog was once sacrificed to Hecate on the 30th of every month; and there was a dog divinity in Egypt. Cats drew the car of Freya, a Norse divinity; they were the companions of Scotch witches, and did wondrous feats in the Highlands. See "Grant Stewart's Highland Superstitions." To roast a cat alive on a spit was a method of raising the fiend and gaining treasure, tried, as it is asserted, not very long ago. I myself remember to have heard, with horror, of a cruel boy, who roasted his mother's cat in an iron pot on a Sunday, while the rest were at church, though it was not said why he did it. A cock has been a sacrifice and sacred amongst many nations; for instance, a cock and a ram's head were emblems of Msculapius. The crowing of a cock is a terror to all supernatural, unholy beings, according to popular mythology everywhere. When the mother, in these stories, sends her children into the world to seek their fortune, she bakes a cake, and kills a cock. A fowl, as I am informed by a minister in one of the Orkneys, is still, or was lately, buried alive by nurses as a cure for certain childish ailments. In short, the dog, the cat, and the cock may possibly have had good reason to fear death at a religious festival, if this part of their history came from the East with the Celts. The goose also has been sacred time out of mind. Bernacle geese are supposed to be hatched from a seashell. The goose was the great cackler who laid the egg of the world, according to Egyptian inscriptions on coffins. He was the emblem of Seb; he is sacred at the present day in Ceylon. He was sacred in Greece and at Rome; and the Britons would not eat his flesh in the days of Caesar. Perhaps the custom of eating a goose at Christmas which, to the best of my knowledge, is peculiar to the Scotch Highlands, may be a custom begun by the British Christians to mark their conversion, and carried on ever since. Much will be found on this subject in "Rawlinson's Herodotus," p. 122, etc.; in "Mill and Wilson's History of British India;" and in books on Ceylon. At all events, this Gaelic story is well known in Islay, for MacLean writes that he has often heard it, and all the creatures mentioned in it have had to do with mythology at some period somewhere.

I suspect that it is one of the class given in "Contes et Apologues Indiens" (Paris, 1860), a class which includes such well known stories as "The Goose with the golden Eggs," as a man who cut down a tree to get at the fruit (No. 45); "The Belly and the Members," as a quarrel between the head and tail of a serpent (No. 40), a story which somewhat resembles that which is quoted in the introduction, as "MacLeod's Fool," "Le Sage et le Fou" (No. 18); "The two Geese that carried a Tortoise" (No. 14); "Le Jeune Brimane qui c' est sali le Doight" (No. 64), which is a schoolboy story in Scotland in another shape; "The Ass in the Lion's Skin" (No. 59); "Les Choses impossibles et les Reliques du Bouddha" (No. 110), which has a parallel in Gaelic, in broad Scotch, and in Norse. The Gaelic poet describes impossibilities, such as shell fish bringing heather from the hill, and the climax is a certain great laird dressed in homespun. The Scotch rhyme came to me from a little boy of five year's old, and is called "The Mantle Joe." It begins " 'Twas on a Monday Mornin' when the Cat crew Day;" There are "Twenty-four Weavers riding on a Paddock;" "A Hare and a Haddie racin' owre the Lea," and such like; and it ends, "Frae Beginning to the End its a' big Lees." The Norse song was written out for me by an officer on board a steamer, and includes "Two Squirrels taming a Bear," and other such events; and the Sanscrit, which Chinese and French savants have translated, names similar absurd events which might sooner happen than the discovery of the reliques of Buddha. In short, European stories are to be traced in the east, and this White Pet may be one of the kind.


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