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Popular Tales of the West Highlands
THE DAUGHTER OF THE SKIES
From James MacLauchlan, servant, Islay.


There was there. before now a farmer, and he had a leash of daughters, and much cattle and sheep. He went on a day to see them, and none of them were to be found; and he took the length of the day to search for them. He saw, in the lateness, coming home, a little doggy running about a park.

The doggy came where he was - "What wilt thou give me," said he, "if I get thy lot of cattle and sheep for thee?" "I don't know myself, thou ugly thing; what wilt thou be asking, and I will give it to thee of anything I have?" "Wilt thou give me," said the doggy, "thy big daughter to marry? "I will give her to thee," said he, "if she will take thee herself."

They went home, himself and the doggy. Her father said to the eldest daughter, Would she take him? and she said she would not. He said to the second one, Would she marry him? and she said, she would not marry him, though the cattle should not be got for ever. He said to the youngest one, Would she marry him? and she said, that she would marry him. They married, and her sisters were mocking her because she had married him.

He took her with him home to his own place. When he came to his own dwelling place, he grew into a splendid man. They were together a great time, and she said she had better go see her father. He said to her to take care that she should not stay till she should have children, for then she expected one. She said she would not stay. He gave her a steed, and he told her as soon as she reached the house, to take the bridle from her head and let her away; and when she wished to come home, that she had but to shake the bridle, and that the steed would come, and that she would put her head into it.

She did as he asked her; she was not long at her father's house when she fell ill, and a child was born. That night men were together at the fire to watch. There came the very prettiest music that ever was heard about the town; and every one within slept but she. He came in and took the child from her. He took himself out, and he went away. The music stopped, and each one awoke; and there was no knowing to what side the child had gone.

She did not tell anything, but so soon as she rose she took with her the bridle, and she shook it, and the steed came, and she put her head into it. She took herself off riding, and the steed took to going home; and the swift March wind that would be before her, she would catch; and the swift March wind that would be after her, could not catch her.

She arrived. "Thou art come," said he. "I came," said she. He noticed nothing to her; and no more did she notice anything to him. Near to the end of three quarters again she said, "I had better go see my father." He said to her on this journey as he had said before.

She took with her the steed, and she went away; and when she arrived she took the bridle from the steed's head, and she set her home.

That very night a child was born. He came as he did before, with music; every one slept, and he took with him the child. When the music stopped they all awoke. Her father was before her face, saying to her that she must tell what was the reason of the matter. She would not tell anything. When she grew well, and when she rose, she took with her the bridle, she shook it, and the steed came and put her head into it. She took herself away home. When she arrived he said, "Thou art come." "I came," said she. He noticed nothing to her; no more did she notice anything to him. Again at the end of three quarters, she said, "I had better go to see my father." "Do," said he, "but take care thou dost not as thou didst on the other two journeys." "I will not," said she. He gave her the steed and she went away. She reached her father's house, and that very night a child was born. The music came as was usual, and the child was taken away. Then her father was before her face; and he was going to kill her, if she would not tell what was happening to the children; or what sort of man she had. With the fright he gave her, she told it to him. When she grew well she took the bridle with her to a hill that was opposite to her, and she began shaking the bridle, to try if the steed would come, or if she would put her head into it; and though she were shaking still, the steed would not come. When she saw that she was not coming, she went out on foot. When she arrived, no one was within but the crone that was his mother. "Tbou art without a houseman to day," said the crone; and if thou art quick thou wilt catch him yet. She went away, and she was going till the night came on her. She saw then a light a long way from her; and if it was a long way from her, she was not long in reaching it. When she went in, the floor was ready swept before her, and the housewife spinning up in the end of the house. "Come up," said the housewife, "I know of thy cheer and travel. Thou art going to try if thou canst catch thy man; he is going to marry the daughter of the King of the Sides." "He is!" said she. The housewife rose; she made meat for her; she set on water to wash her feet, and she laid her down. If the day came quickly, it was quicker than that that the housewife rose, and that she made meat for her. She set her on foot then for going; and she gave her shears that would cut alone; and she said to her, "Thou wilt be in the house of my middle sister to night. " She was going, and going, till the night came on her. She saw a light a long way from her; and if it was a long way from her, she was not long in reaching it. When she went in the house was ready swept, a fire on the middle of the floor, and the housewife spinning at the end of the fire. "Come up," said the housewife, "I know thy cheer and travel." She made meat for her, she set on water, she washed her feet, and she laid her down. No sooner came the day than the housewife set her on foot, and made meat for her. She said she had better go; and she gave her a needle would sew by itself. "Thou wilt be in the house of my youngest sister to night," said she. She was going, and going, till the end of day and the mouth of lateness. She saw a light a long way from her; and if it was a long way from her, she was not long in reaching it. She went in, the house was swept, and the housewife spinning at the end of the fire. "Come up," said she, "I know of thy cheer and travel." She made meat for her, she set on water, she washed her feet, and she laid her down. If the day came quickly, it was quicker than that that the housewife rose; she set her on foot, and she made her meat; she gave her a clue of thread, and the thread would go into the needle by itself; and as the shears would cut, and the needle sew, the thread would keep up with them. "Thou wilt be in the town to night." She reached the town about evening, and she went into the house of the king's hen wife, to lay d6wn her weariness, and she was warming herself at the fire. She said to the crone to give her work, that she would rather be working than be still. "No man is doing a turn in this town to day," says the hen wife; "the king's daughter has a wedding." "Ud!" said she to the crone, "give me cloth to sew, or a shirt that will keep my hands going." She gave her shirts to make; she took the shears from her pocket, and she set it to work; she set the needle to work after it; as the shears would cut, the needle would sew, and the thread would go into the needle by itself One of the king's servant maids came in; she was looking at her, and it caused her great wonder how she made the shears and the needle work by themselves. She went home and she told the king's daughter, that one was in the house of the hen wife, and that she had shears and a needle that could work of themselves. "If there is," said the king's daughter, "go thou over in the morning, and say to her, 'what win she take for the shears.' " In the morning she went over, and she said to her that the king's daughter was asking what would she take for the shears. "Nothing I asked," said she, "but leave to lie where she lay last night." "Go thou over," said the king's daughter, "and say to her that she will get that." She gave the shears to the king's daughter. When they were going to lie down, the king's daughter gave him a sleep drink, so that he might not wake. He did not wake the length of the night; and no sooner came the day, than the king's daughter came where she was, and set her on foot and ppt her out. On the morrow she was working with the needle, and cutting with other shears. The king's daughter sent the maid servant over, and she asked "what would she take for the needle?" She said she would not take anything, but leave to lie where she lay last night. The maid servant told this to the king's daughter. "She will get that," said the king's daughter. The maid servant told that she would get that, and she got the needle. When they were going to lie down, the king's daughter gave him a sleep drink, and he did not wake that night. The eldest son he had was lying in a bed beside them; and he was hearing her speaking to him through the night, and saying to him that she was the mother of his three children. His father and he himself was taking a walk out, and he told his father what he was hearing. This day the king's daughter sent the servant maid to ask what she would take for the clue; and she said she would ask but leave to lie where she lay last night. "She will get that," said the king's daughter. This night when he got the sleep drink, he emptied it, and he did not drink it at all. Through the night she said to him that he was the father of her three sons; and he said that he was. In the morning, when the king's daughter came down, he said to her to go up, that she was his wife who was with him. When they rose they went away to go home. They came home; the spells went off him, they planted together and I left diem, and they left me.

NIGHEAN RIGH NAN SPEUR.

Bha siod ann roimhe so tuathanach, 's triủtir nigheanan aige, 's mran cruidh is chaorach. Dh' fholbh e la 'am faicinn 's cha robh gin r'a fhaotainn dhiu, 's thug e fad an latha 'gan iarraidh. Chunnaic e, anns an anamoch a' tighinn dachaidh, cuilean beag a' ruith feadh pirce. Thinig an cuilean far an robh e, "De bheir thu dhmhs'," urs' esan, "ma gheobh mi do chuid cruidh is caorach dhuit?" "Cha n 'eil fhios 'am fin a ruid ghrannda. De bhios thu 'g iarraidh? 's bheir mise dhuit e de ni sam bith a th' agam." "An d' thoir thu dhomh," urs' an cuilean, "do nighean mhr r'a psadh." "Bheir mise dhuit i, urs' esan, "ma ghabhas i fin thu." Chaidh iad dhachaidh, e fin 's an cuilean. Dh' fhoighneachd a h-athair d'a nighean bu shine an gabhadh i e, 's thuirt i nach gabhadh. Thuirt e ris an darna t am psadh ise e, 's thuirt i nach gabhadh. Thuirt e ris an darna t am psadh ise e, 's thuirt i nach psadh, ged nach faighte an crodh gu brth. Thuirt e ris an t b ige am psadh ise e, 's thuirt i gum psadh. Phs iad, 's bha' peathraichean a magadh urra airson gu do phs i e. Thug e leis dhachaidh i d'a ite fin. Nur a thinig e g' a ite cmhnuidh fin dh' fhs e 'na dhuine ciatach. Bha iad cmhla ủine mhr, 's thuirt ise gum b' fherra dhi dol a dh' amharc a h-athar. Thuirt esan rithe i thoirt an aire nach fhanadh i gus am biodh clan aice. Bha i torrach 'san am. Thuirt i nach fanadh. Thug e dhi steud, 's thuirt e rithe, cho luath 's a ruigeadh i 'n tigh an t-srian a thoirt as a ceann, 's a leigeil air folbh, 's nur a bhiodh toil aice tighinn dachaidh nach robh aic' ach an t-srian a chrathadh, 's gun d' thigeadh an steud 's gun cuireadh i 'ceann innte. Rinn i mar a dh' iarr e urra. Cha robh i fad' an tigh a h-athar nur a dh' fhs i gu bochd 'sa chaidh a h-asaid. An oidhche sin bha daoine cruinn aig a' ghealbhan 'ga 'faire. Thinig an aona chel a bu bhinne chualas riamh feadh a' bhaile, 's chaidil a' h-uile duine stigh ach ise. Thainig esan a stigh 's thug e uaithe am pisde. Ghabhe 'mach 's dh' fholbh e. Stad an cel, 's dhuisg gach duine, 's cha robh fios de 'n taobh a chaidh am pisde. Cha d' innis i ni sam bith, ach cho luath 's a dh' 'eiridh i thug i leatha an t-srian, 's chrath i i, 's thinig an steud, 's chuir i 'ceann innte. Ghabh i air mharcachd urra, 's ghabh an steud air folbh dhachaidh; bheireadh ise air a ghaoith luath Mhrt a bh' air thoiseach orra, 's cha bheiseadh a ghaoth luath Mhrt a bha na digh orra. Rinig i.

"Thinig thu," urs' esan. "Thinig," urs' ise. Cha do leig e rud sam bith air rithe, 's cha mhotha leig ise rud sam bith orra risan. Dlủith air ceann tri rithean a rithisd thuirt ise, " 'S fherra dhomh dol a dh' amharc m athar. " Thuirt e rithe air an t-siubhal so mar a thuirt e roimhid. Thug i leatha an steud 's dh' fholbh i. Nur a rinig i thug n t-srian a ceann na steud, 's leig i dhachaidh i, 's an oidhche sin fin chaidh a h-asaid. Thinig esan mar a rinn e roimhid le cel. Chaidil a' h-uile duine, 's thug e leis am pisde. Nur a stad an cel dhủisg iad air fad. Bha 'h-athair air a h-aodann ag rdh rithe gum feumadh i innseadh de bu chiall de 'n ghnothach. Cha 'n innseadh ise ni sam bith. Nur a dh' fhs i gu math, 's a dh' irich i, thug i leatha, an t-srian, chrath i i, 's thinig an steud, 's chuir i ceann innte. Ghabh i air folbh dhachaidh. Nur a rinig i thuirt esan. "Thinig thu. Thinig," urs' ise. Cha do leig e rud sam bith aire rithe, 's cha mhotha 'leig ise urra risan. An ceann tri rithean a rithisd thuirt i, " 'S fherra dhomh dol a dh' amharc m' athar." "Dan," urs' esan, "ach thoir an aire nach dan thu mar a rinn thu an da shiubhal roimhid." "Cha dan," urs' ise. Thug e dhi an steud, 's dh' fholbh i. Rinig i tigh a h-athar, 's dh' asaideadh i 'n oidhche sin fin. Thinig an cel mar a b bhaist, 's thugadh am pisd' air folbh. Bha 'h-athair air a h-aodann an sin, 's e 'dol a 'marbhadh mar an innseadh i d 'bha tachairt do na pisdean, no d 'n sersa duine a bh' aice. Leis an eagal a chuir e urra dh' innis i dha e. Nur a dh' fhs i gu math, thug i leatha an t-srian gu cnoc a bha ma 'coinneamh, 's thisich i air crathadh na srine feuch an d'thigeadh an steud, na'n cuireadh i 'ceann innte, 's ged a bhiodh i 'crathadh fhathasd cha d' thigeadh an steud. Nur a chunnaic i nach robh i 'tighinn ghabh i mach 'na cois. Nur a rinig i cha robh duine stigh ach a' chailleach a bu mhthair dha. "Tha thusa gun fhear tighe an diugh," urs' a' chailleach, " 's ma bhios thu tapaidh beiridh thu air fhathasd."

Ghabh i air folbh, 's bha i 'folbh gus an d' thinig an oidhche orra. Chunnaic i 'n sin solus fada uaithe, 's ma b fhada uaithe cha b' fhada bha ise 'ga 'ruigheachd. Nur a chaidh i stigh bha urlar ridh sguabte roimhpe, 's bean an tighe 'sniomh shuas an ceann an tighe. "Thig a nis," ursa bean an tighe, "tha fios do sheud 's do shiubhail agamsa. Tha thu folbh feuch am beir thu air t-fhear. Tha e 'folbh a phsadh nighean rgh nan speur." "Tha!" urs' ise. Dh' irich bean an tighe; rinn i biadh dhi; chuir i air uisge 'ghlanadh a cas; 's chuir i 'laidhe i. Ma bu luatha a thinig an latha bu luaithe na sin a dh' irich bean an tighe 'sa rinn i biadh dhi. Chuir i air a cois i 'n sin airson folbh, 's thug i dhi siosar a ghearradh leis fin, 's thuirt i rithe. "Bidh thu ann an tigh mo phiuthar mheadhonachsa nochd." Bha i 'folbh 's a' folbh, gus an d' thinig an oidhche urra. Chunnaic i solus fada uaithe,' s ma b fhada uaithe cha b fhada bha ise 'ga ruigheachd. Nur a chaidh i stigh bha 'n tigh ridh, sguabte; gealbhan air meadhon an urtair, 's bean an tighe 'sniomh an ceann a' ghealbhain. "Thig a nis," ursa bean an tighe, "tha fios do sheud 's do shiubhail agamsa." Rinn i biadh dhi; chuir i air uisge; ghlan i casan 's chuir i laidhe i. Cha bu lủaithe a thinig an latha na 'chuir bean an tighe air a cois i, 's a rinn i biadh dhi. Thuirt i rithe gum b fherra dhi folbh, 's thug i dhi snthad a dh' fhuaigheadh leatha fin. Bidh thu ann an tigh mo pheathar is ige a nochd," urs' ise.

Bha i folbh 's a' folbh gu deireadh latha 's beul anamoich. Chunnaic i solus fada uaithe, 's ma b' fhada uaithe cha b' fhada bha ise 'ga ruigheachd. Chaidh i stigh. Bha 'n tigh sguabte, 's bean an tighe 'sniomh os ceann a' ghealbhain. "Thig a nis," urs' ise, "tha fios do sheud 's do shiubhail agamsa." Rinn i biadh dhi, chuir i air uisge, ghlan i 'casan, 's chuir i laidhe i. Ma bu luath a thinig an latha, bu luaithe n a sin a dh' irich bean an tighe; chuir i air a cois i, s rinn i biadh dhi. Thug i dhi ceairsle shnth 's rachadh an snthainn anns an t-snthad leis fin, 's mur a ghearradh an siosar, s mur a dh' fhuaigheadh an t-snthad, chumadh a cheairsle snth ruitha. "Bidh thu anns a' bhaile nochd." 

Rinig i 'm baile ma fheasgar's chaidh i stigh do thigh chailleach chearc an rgh. Shuidh i 'leigeil a sgis; bha i ga garadh aig a' ghealbhan; thuirt i ris a' chaillich obair a' thoirt dhi, gum b fherr leatha 'bhi 'g obair na bhi 'na tmh. "Cha 'n 'eil duine danadh turn 's a' bhaile so 'n diugh," ursa a' chailleach; "tha psadh aig nighean an rgh." "Ud!" urs' ise ris a' chaillich, "thoir dhomh aodach r'a fhuaghal, na line 'chumas mo lmh air folbh." Thug i dhi lintean r'a dhanadh. Tbug i mach siosar a a pca; chuir i dh' obair e; chuir i 'n t-snthad a dh' obair as a dhigh. Mar a ghearradh an siosar dh' fhuaigheadh an t-snthad, 's rachadh an snth anns an t-snthaid leis fin. Thinig t do shearbhantan an rgh stigh; bha i 'g amharc urra; 's bha e cur ioghnadas mr urra dmur a bha i 'toirt air an t-siosar 's air an t-snthad oibreachadh leotha fin. Chaidh i dhachaidh, 's dh' innis i do nighean an rgh gun robh t ann an tigh chailleach nan cearc, 's gun robh siosar agus snthad aice a dh' oibreachadh leotha fin. "Ma tha," ursa nighean an rgh, "theirig thusa nunn anns a' mhaidinn., 's abair rithe de 'ghabhas i air an t-siosar." Anns a' mhaidinn chaidh i 'nunn, 's thuirt i rithe gun robh nighean an rgh a' foighneachd d ghabhadh i air an t-siosar. "Cha 'n iarr mi," urs' ise, "ach cead laidhe far an do laidh i fin an rair." "Theirig thusa nunn," ursa nighean an rgh, " 's abair rithe gum faigh i sin." Thug i 'n siosar do nighean an rgh.

Nur a bha iad a' dol a laidhe thug nighean an rgh deoch chadail dsan, air alt 's nach dhủisgeadh e. Cha do dhủisg e fad na h-oidhche, 's cha bu luaithe a thinig an latha na thinig nighean an rgh far an robb ise, 'sa chuir i air a cois i. An la 'r na mhireach bha i 'g obair leis an t-snthaid, 's a' gearradh le siosar eile. Chuir nighean an rgh an searbhanta nunn a dh' fhoighneachd d ghabhadh i air an t-shthaid. Thuirt i nach gabhadh ni sam bith ach cead laidhe far an do laidh i rair. Dh innis an searbhanta so do nighean an rgh. "Gheobh i sin," ursa nighean an rgh. Dh innis an searbhanta gum faigheadh i siod, 's fhuair i'n t-snthad. Nur a bha iad a' dol a laidhe thug nighean an rgh deoch chadail da, 's cha do dhủisg e 'n oidhche sin. Bha 'm mac a bu shine bh' aige arm an leaba lmh riutha, 's bha e 'ga 'cluinntinn a' bruidhinn ris feadh na h-oidhche, 's ag rdh ris gum b'i mthair a thriủir chloinn'i. Bha athair 's e fin a' gabhail srid a mach, 's dh' innis e d'a athair d 'bha e'cluinntinn. An latha, so chuir nighean an rgh an searbhanta a dh'fheraich de'ghabhadh i air a' cheairsle, 's thuirt i rithe nach iarradh i ach cead laidhe far an do laidh i 'n rair, "Gheobh i sin," ursa nighean an rgh. An oidhche so nur a fhuair e 'n deoch chadail thaom e i, 's cha d' l e idir i. Feadh na h-oidhche thuirt ise ris gum b e athair a triủir mac, 's thuirt esan gum b' e.

Anns a mhaidinn, nur a thinig nighean an rgh nuas, thuirt e rithe i 'dhol suas, gum bi 'bhean a bha leis. Nur a dh' eiridh iad dh' fholbh iad airson dol dachaidh. Thinig iad dachaidh; dh' fholbh na geasan deth. Chuir iad cmhla 's dhealaich mise riutha, 's dhealaich iadsan riumsa.

This is but another version of No. III., The Hoodie;" but it has certain magic gifts which I have not found in any other Gaelic story; and the little dog who goes to the skies, and is about to marry the daughter of the king, and is transformed into a man at home, may turn out to be a Celtic divinity. When so little is known of Celtic mythology, anything may be of use. The raven, the crow, and the serpent, have appeared as transformed beings of superior power. Now, the little dog appears, and there are mystic dogs elsewhere in Gaelic stories, and in other Celtic countries. In the Isle of Man is the well known "Modey dhu," black dog which used to haunt Peel Castle, and frightened a soldier to death.

In a curious book, written to prove Gaelic to be the original language (History of the Celtic Language, by L. MacLean, 1840), there is a great deal of speculation as to the Farnese Globe; and the dog star in particular is supposed to have been worshipped by the Druids. Without entering into such a wide field, it is worth notice that "Anubis," the dog star, was son of Osiris and Nephthys, had the nature of a dog, and was represented with the head of one. He was a celestial double deity, and watched the tropics. The servant lad who told this story; and the old woman, MacKerrol, from whom he learned it, are not likely persons to have heard of Anubis, or the Farnese Globe; so anything got from them may be taken at its value, whatever that may be. The opinion that Celts came from the East by way of Phnicia, has been held by many, and some one may wish to follow the trial of the little dog; so I give his history as it came to me, rather than fuse it into one story with the Hoodie, as I was at first tempted to do before the plan of this work was decided on.

The beginning of this tale is the Gaelic "Once upon a time."

Bha siod ann roimhe so.
Was yonder in it ere this.

TRIUR is a collective noun of number for three, and answers to leash; or to pair, brace, dozen, for two; twelve.

STEUD is clearly the same word as steed. It is commonly used in these stories, and I have never heard it used in conversation. It is feminine, like FALAIRE, the other word commonly used for a horse in stories and poetry; and hardly ever in ordinary speech.

Many words are derived from steud, and I do not think that it is imported.


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