From John Campbell, Strath Gearloch, Ross-shire.
ON the day when O'DONULL came out to hold right and justice, he saw a young chap coming. His two shoulders were through his old SUAINAICHE (sleeping coat?) his two ears through his old AIDE, hat, his two squat kick-er-ing tatter-y shoes full of cold roadway-ish water, three feet of his sword sideways on the side of his haunch, after the scabbard had ended.
He blest with easy true-wise maiden's words.
O'Donull blest him in the like of his own words.
O'Donull asked him what was his art?
"I could do harping," said the Ceabharnach.
"There are twelve men with me," said O'Donull, "and we will go to look on them."
"I am willing to do that," said the Ceabharnach.
When they went in O'Donull asked them to begin.
"Hast thou ever heard music, A Ceabharnach, finer than that?"
"I came past by the Isle of Cold, and I did not hear a screech in it that was more hideous than that."
"Wouldst thou play a harp thyself, Ceabharnach'? said O'Donull.
"Here is her player, and who should not play!"
"Give him a harp," said O'Donull.
"Well canst thou play a harp," said O'Donull.
"It is not as thou pleasest but as I please myself, since I am at work."
The music of the Ceabharnach put every harper O'Donull had asleep.
"I will be taking fare thee well," said the Ceabharnach to O'Donull.
"Thou wilt not do that to me," said O'Donull, "thou must awaken my men."
"I am going to take a turn through Eirinn," said the Ceabharnach; "if I come the way they will see, and if I come not they will be thus with thee."
He left him, and he met with one herding. "Thy master's harpers are asleep, and they will not wake till they are awakened. Go thou and awaken them, and thou wilt get what will make a rich man of thee!"
"How shall I do that?" asked the herd.
"Take a tuft of that grass and dip it in water, and shake it on them, and thou wilt awaken them."
He left the man, and he reached SEATHAN MOR MAC AN IARLE, great Seathan the son of the Earl, thirteen miles on the western side of Lumraig.
He saw a young chap coming; his two shoulders were through his old coat, his two ears through his old hat, his shoes full of cold roadway-ish water, three feet of his sword sideways on the side of his haunch after the scabbard was ended.
He asked him what was his trade? He said that he could do juggling.
"I have jugglers myself; we will go to look on them."
"I am willing enough," said the Ceabharnach.
"Shew thy juggling," said the great Seathan, "till we see it."
He put three straws on the back of his fist and he blew them off it.
"If I should get half five marks," said one of the king's lads, "I would make better juggling than that."
"I will give thee that," said the Ceabharnach.
He put three straws on the back of his fist and the fist went along with the straws.
"Thou art sore, and thou wilt be sore," said his master; "my blessing on the hand that gave it to thee."
"I will do other juggles for thee," said the Ceabharnach.
He caught a hold of his own ear, and he gave a pull at it.
"If I could get half five marks," said another of the king's lads, "I would make a better juggle than that."
"I will give thee that," said the Ceabharnach.
He gave a pull at the ear and the head came away with the ear.
"I am going away," said the Ceabharnach.
"Thou wilt not leave my set of men so."
"I am for taking a turn through Eirinn. If I come the way I will see them, and if I come not they will be so along with thee."
He went away, and he met with a man threshing in a barn. He asked him if his work could keep him up.
"It was no more than it could do."
"I," said the Ceabharnach, "will make thee a free man for thy life. There are two of thy master's lads, one with his fist off, and one with his head off. Go there and put them on again, and thy master will make thee a free man for life."
"With what shall I bring them alive?"
"Take a tuft of grass, hold it in water, shake it on them, and thou wilt heal them."
He went away and he came to FEAR CHUIGEAMH MUGHA, 1 a nasty man that could not bear a man to go the way of his house, to look at him when he was taking his food. There were twelve men with axes at the outer gate, and twelve men of swords on the inner gate; a porter at the great door.
They saw a young chap coming, his two shoulders through his old coat, his two ears through his old hat, his two squat kick-ering tatter-y shoes full of cold roadway-ish water.
He asked their license in to see Fear Chuigeamh Mugha.
One of them raised his axe to drive his head off, but so it was that he struck it on his own comrade.
They arose on each other till they killed each other; and he came to the men of the sword, one raised his sword to strike off his head, but he cut the head off his comrade with it, and they all fell to slaying each other.
He reached the porter; he caught him by the small of the legs, and he struck his head on the door.
He reached the great man as he sat at his dinner; he stood at the end of the board.
"Oh evil man," said the king, "great was thy loss before thou camest here," as he rose to catch hold of his sword to strike his head off. His hand stuck to the sword, and his seat stuck to the chair, and he could not rise; no more could his wife leave her own place. When he had done all he wished he went away, and he met a poor man that was travelling the world.
"If thou wilt take my advice," said the Ceabharnach,
[paragraph continues] "I will make a lucky man of thee as long as thou art alive."
"How wilt thou do that?" said the man.
"The king and the queen are fast in their chairs; go thou and loose them, and the king will make a great man of thee."
"How shall I loose them?"
"Shake water on them and they will arise."
He went out of that, and he reached ROB MAC SHEOIC MHIC LAGAIN with a pain in his foot for seven years.
He struck palm to bar. The porter asked "Who was there?"
He said there was a leech.
"Many a leech has come," said the porter. "There is not a spike on the town without a leech's head but one, and may be it is for thy head that one is."
"It might not be," said the Ceabharnach. "Let me in."
"What is putting upon thee, Rob?" said the Ceabharnach.
"My foot is taking to me these seven years. She has beat the leech and leeches."
"Arise and stretch out thy foot with the stitch," said the Ceabharnach; "and let's try if thou canst catch the twelve leeches, or if the twelve leeches will catch thee."
He arose, no man could catch him; and he himself could catch every other one.
"I have but one begotten, a champion of a girl, and I will give her to thee and half my realm."
"Be she good or bad," said the Ceabharnach, "let her be mine or thine."
An order was made for a wedding for the Ceabharnach;
but when they had got the wedding in order, he was swifter out of the town than a year-old hare. He came to TAOG O-CEALLAIDH, who was going to raise the spoil of CAILLICHE BUIDHNICHE.
A young chap was seen coming, his two shoulders through his old coat, his two ears through his old hat, his two squat kick-ering tatter-y shoes full of cold roadway-ish water, three feet of his sword sideways on the side of his haunch after the scabbard was ended.
"What's this that puts on thee?" said the Ceabharnach. "Hast thou need of men?"
"Thou wilt not make a man for me," said O-Ceallaidh.
"I shall I not get a man's share if I do a man's share?"
"What's thy name?" said Taog.
"There is on me (the name of) Ceabharanach Saothrach Suarach Siubhail--the servile, sorry, strolling kern."
"What art thou seeking for thy service?
"I am but asking that thou shouldst not forget my drink."
"Whence camest thou?"
"From many a place; but I am an Albanach."
They went to raise the raid of the carlin. They raised the spoil, but they saw the following coming.
"Be stretching out," said great Taog to the Ceabharnach, "Thou wilt not make thy legs at least. Whether wouldst thou rather turn the chase or drive the spoil with thy set of men?"
"I would not turn the chase, but if the chase would turn, we would drive the spoil at least."
The Ceabharnach cut a sharp, hard whistle, and the drove lay down on the road.
He turned to meet them. He caught each one of the slenderest legs, and the biggest head, and he left them stretched legs on head. He returned after the spoil.
"Thyself and thy lot of men can hardly drive the spoil."
"The spoil will never get up," said Taog.
He cut a whistle: the drove got up, and he drove it home.
It happened that the great man forgot to give the first drink to the Ceabharnach.
"Mine is the half of the spoil," said the Ceabharnach.
"That is more than much for thee," said the king.
"Many a time was I," said the Ceabharnach, "and Murcha MacBrian hewing shields and splitting blades; his was the half of the spoil, and mine was the other half."
"If thou art a comrade of that man, thou shalt have half the spoil," said Taog.
But he went away, and he left themselves and the spoil.
"Health be with thee, oh Ceabharnach. Arise not for ever."
3. A third version of this curious tale was told to me in South Uist, by MacPhie. It was very like the version told by James Wilson, blind fiddler in Islay.
It is evidently a composition fallen to bits, and mended with prose, and it is equally clear that it points to Ireland, though the hero was made a Scotchman by the three old men.
As a picture of bygone manners, this is curious, and I know nothing at all like it in any collection of popular tales.
I believe it to be some bardic recitation half-forgotten. It is said that in the mouth of one reciter in Islay, the story used to last for four hours,
I lately (September 1860) heard MacPhie repeat his version in part. It was a mixture of the two versions here given, and a fifth, Irish grandee, was added.
321:1 The man of Munster, Cuige mumhe.