THERE were out between Lochaber and Baideanach two shepherds who were neighbours to each other, and the one would often be going to see the other. One was on the east side of a river, and another on the west. The one who was on the west side of the river came to the house of the one who was on the east of it on an evening visit. He staid till it was pretty late, and then he wished to go home. "It is time to go home," said he. "It is not that which thou shalt do, but thou shalt stay to-night," said the other, "since it is so long in the night." "I will not stay at all events; if I were over the river I don't care more." The houseman had a pretty strong son, and he said, "I will go with thee, and I will set thee over the river, but thou hadst better stay."--"I will not stay at all events."--"If thou wilt not stay I will go with thee." The son of the houseman called a dog which he had herding. The dog went with him. When he set the man on the other side of the river, the man said to him, "Be returning now, I am far in thy debt." The strong lad returned, and the dog with him. When he reached the river as he was returning back home, he was thinking whether he should take the stepping-stones, or put off his foot-clothes and take below. He put off his foot-clothes for fear of taking the stepping-stones, and when he was over there
in the river, the dog that was with him leaped at the back of his head. He threw her off him; she leaped again; he did the same thing. When he was on the other side of the river, he put his hand on his head, and there was not a bit of a bonnet on it. He was saying, whether should he return to seek the bonnet, or should he go home without it. "It's disgusting for me to return home without my bonnet; I will return over yet to the place where I put my foot-clothes off me; I doubt it is there that I left it." So he returned to the other side of the river. He saw a right big man seated where he had been, and his own bonnet in his hand. He caught hold of the bonnet, and he took it from him. "What business hast thou there with that?--It is mine, and thou hadst no business to take it from me, though thou hast got it." Over the river then they went, without a word for each other, fiercely, hatingly. When they went over, then, on the river, the big man put his hand under the arm of the shepherd, and he began to drag the lad down to a loch that was there, against his will and against his strength. They stood front to front, bravely, firmly on either side. In spite of the strength of the shepherd's son, the big man was about to conquer. It was so that the shepherd's son thought of putting his hand about an oak tree that was in the place. The big man was striving to take him with him, and the tree was bending and twisting. At last the tree was loosening in the earth. She loosened all but one of her roots. At the time when the last root of the tree slipped, the cocks that were about the wood crowed. The shepherd's son understood that when he heard the cocks crowing that it was on the short side of day. When they heard between them the cocks crowing, the big man said, "Thou has stood well,
and thou hadst need, or thy bonnet had been dear for thee." The big man left him, and they never more noticed a thing near the river.
There is a bogle story in W. Grant Stewart's "Highland Superstitions" (published 1823 and 1851), in which a man is dragged towards a river by a supernatural being, whom he kills with his dirk.
2. I have another story like this, which was sent to me by a young gentleman, a member of the Ossianic Society of Glasgow. It has some likeness to No. 28, The Smith, and is a good illustration of this part of popular mythology. When the people of Kintyre, MUINTIR CHEAN TIREADH were coming home from the northern airt from fighting against Prince Charles, under their chieftain, the man of Skipnish, they were going together, each band that was nearest as neighbours. So one little company staid behind the great band, in CEAN LOCH GILP, Lochgilphead. The one who was hindmost of this company, who was called by the nickname of IAN DUBH MOR, Big Black John, heard an unearthly noise, when he was come in front of a fall that was at
[paragraph continues] A MHAOIL DUBH, on the northern side of TAIRBAIRT CHEANTIREAIDH, Tarbert (which may be rendered Land's-end drawboat.)
He went on, and in a burn below the fall, a terrible being met him; he drew his blade. Said the being to him, "Strike me." "I will not strike, thou monster, " said John; but BRODAIDH MI THU, "I will prod thee."
"Prod me," the being would say. "I will not prod thee, monster, but I will strike thee," John would say.
They fought thus for a great time till the cock crew; and the being said to Ian, "Thou wilt now be going, but before thou goest, take thy choice of the two following things--EALAN GUN RATH NO, RATH GUN EALAIN, speechless art, or artless speech."
John chose speechless art, and so it happened. He was a blacksmith, as skilful as ever drew hammer on anvil; but he was not much better for that; there was no penny he earned that he would not spoil, and that would not go in some way that was not easily explained. As an instance of art, he could mend a saw, though thou hadst a bit in either hand, in such a way that it could not be seen where it was broken; and a gun in the same way. There would be a covering on the smithy windows when he would be mending such things.
Big Black John got great power over witchcraft, BUITSEACHAS, and evil eye.
There was a man in Skipnish who had made money by smuggling, but he began to lose his money, for his malt refused to yield its product, till at last he lost the whole of what he had made; and he was a poor man. He went at last to IONARAIR, Ayr, where John was dwelling at that time. John told him that it was enmity that was doing the ill. He did not learn who was spoiling him. He said to him, "Go home and thou wilt get back the produce of the malt;" and so he did. Each TOGAIL (mashing) he made began to give more than the other, till the produce he got frightened him. He followed on thus till the loss was made up, and after that he got but the usual product.
The following are stories of the same kind. The prevailing notions are, that supernatural beings exist which cannot withstand the power of iron, and that there are men and women who deal with them. These are from Mr. Hector Urquhart, written in English, and given in his own words.
3. One day last week, as I was walking up Glenfyne, I overtook an old man who was carting coals up to the Lodge. "Good
day to you, John." "Good day to yourself," says John. From good days to showery days, I asked John if there was any virtue in iron against witchcraft or fairy spells. "Indeed, and that's what there is," says John. So, when we came to the Lodge, I wrote the following story from his telling:--"On a certain year and me a young lad, all our cows lost the milk, one after one; we guessed what was wrong with them, and my big brother lost no time in going to Appin, to consult the man of the RED BOOK. He no sooner entered his house than the man told him what moved him from home. 'It's your own neighbour's wife,' says he, 'that spoilt your cows; she is this moment in your house, inquiring whether you went from home to-day, and where did you go to; and to make it double sure to you, that it's her who spoilt your cows, she will meet you under the lintel of your door coming out as you are going in. Go you now home, and take a shoe of an entire horse, and nail it to your byre-door; but let no living person know of it.'
"My brother came home, and as the man of the red book told him, this identical woman met him on the threshold as he was going in to the house. I do not know how he managed to get hold of the laird's stallion, but the shoe was nailed on our byre door before sunrise next morning, so our cows had plenty milk from that day forth."
4. "This must be a wonderful book, John," says I; "do you know how this man came to have it? Well," says John, "I'll tell you that."
"Once upon a time, there lived a man at Appin, Argyllshire, and he took to his house an orphan boy. When the boy was grown up, he was sent to herd; and upon a day of days, and him herding, there came a fine gentleman where he was, who asked him to become his servant, and that he would give him plenty to eat and drink, clothes, and great wages. The boy told him that he would like very much to get a good suit of clothes, but that he would not engage till he would see his master; but the fine gentleman would have him engaged without any delay; this the boy would not do upon any terms till he would see his master. 'Well, says the gentleman, 'in the meantime write your name in this book.' Saying this, he put his hand into his outer pocket, and pulling out a large red book, he told the boy to write his name in the book. This the boy would not do; neither would he tell his name, till he would acquaint his master first.
[paragraph continues] 'Now,' says the gentleman, 'since you will neither engage, or tell your name, till you see your present master, be sure to meet me about sunset to-morrow, at a certain place.' The boy promised that he would be sure to meet him at the place about sunsetting. When the boy came home he told his master what the gentleman said to him. 'Poor boy,' says he, 'a fine master he would make; lucky for you that you neither engaged nor wrote your name in his book; but since you promised to meet him, you must go; but as you value your life, do as I tell you.' His master gave him a sword, and at the same time he told him to be sure and be at the place mentioned a while before sunset, and to draw a circle round himself with the point of the sword in the name of the Trinity. 'When you do this, draw a cross in the centre of the circle, upon which you will stand yourself; and do not move out of that position till the rising of the sun next morning.' He also told him that he would wish him to come out of the circle to put his name in the book; but that upon no account he was to leave the circle; I but ask the book till you would write your name yourself, and when once you get hold of the book keep it, he cannot touch a hair of you head, if you keep inside the circle.'
"So the boy was at the place long before the gentleman made his appearance; but sure enough he came after sunset; he tried all his arts to get the boy outside the circle, to sign his name in the red book, but the boy would not move one foot out of where he stood; but, at the long last, he handed the book to the boy, so as to write his name therein. The book was no sooner inside the circle than it fell out of the gentleman's hand inside the circle; the boy cautiously stretches out his hand for the book, and as soon as he got hold of it, he put it in his oxter. When the fine gentleman saw that he did not mean to give him back the book, he got furious; and at last he transformed himself into a great many likenesses, blowing fire and brimstone out of his mouth and nostrils; at times he would appear as a horse, other times a huge cat, and a fearful beast (uille bheast); he was going round the circle the length of the night; when day was beginning to break he let out one fearful screech; he put himself in the likeness of a large raven, and he was soon out of the boy's sight. The boy still remained where he was till he saw the sun in the morning, which no sooner he observed, than he took to his soles home as
fast as he could. He gave the book to his master; and this is how the far-famed red book of Appin was got."
I have heard many old people say that they went from all parts to consult the red book of Appin, though this is the best story I heard about it. You ask if there were virtue in iron; you must know that iron was the principal safeguard against evil spirits, etc., etc.; which I shall show in my next letter on the fairies.
5. The next is from the telling of a dancing master, a north country highlander, and written by my friend Mr. John Campbell of Kilberry, in Argyllshire. The supernatural being described as Bauchan, is probably BOCAN, a little buck, a hobgoblin, a ghost, a sprite, spectre (Armstrong and other Die.); and he seems but a half-tamed specimen of the same genus as the terrible being before described.
COLUINN GUN CHEANN, The Headless Trunk. Coluinn gun Cheann was a very celebrated Bauchkan, who favoured the family of the Macdonals of Morar, for ages immemorial, and was frequently seen about their residence, Morar House; which is situated on the main land, opposite the point of Slaate, in the Island of Skye. Though a protector of the family, he was particularly hostile to the neighbourhood, and waged war, especially with all the strong men he could meet with; for this purpose he particularly haunted the "Mile Reith," or "Smooth Mile," one end of which was not above 200 yards from the Mansion (I know the place well); the other end of the Mile terminated at a large stream, called the River Morar, famed in history for salmon fishing; after sunset, people did wisely to avoid that part, for then the "COLUINN GUN CHEANN" was sure to keep his vigils; and any stray man who passed was sure to become a victim, the bodies being always found dead, and in the majority of instances mutilated also. As he took care never to appear, except to a solitary passenger, it was in vain to send a party against him. He was seldom, if ever, seen by women, and did no harm either to them or to children. Once it happened that a distant relative, but intimate friend of Raasay's, dared his fate, and remained a victim on the ground. This came to the ears of "IAN GARBH, MACGILLIE CHALLUM, RAASAY," "Big John, the son of M'Leod of Raasay;" he was celebrated for his prowess and strength, and never had been vanquished in any fight, though he had tried with the strongest. He told his step-mother of the news he had heard
from the Mainland, and asked her advice, as he usually did, before he undertook any exploit of the kind. She advised him to go, and avenge the blood of his friend. After his preparations were made, and not without a blessing from the Oracle, he set out on his circuitous journey, and met the "COLUINN" after sunset, on the Mile Reith, and a battle did ensue, and I daresay it was a very stiff one. Before sunrise it was necessary for the Coluinn to be off, as he never could be seen in daylight. Whether finding he made no progress discouraged him or not, we can't say, but Ian got the victory. Being determined to get a sight of the Coluinn, and also to prove his Victory to others, Ian tucked him under his arm, to carry him to the nearest light. The Coluinn had never been heard to speak; but being in this predicament, called out, "LEIG AS MI," "Let me go." "CHA LEIG MI AS THU," "I will not let thee go." Leig as mi, he repeated; but still the answer was Cha leig mi as thu. "Leig as mi, agus chan fheachear an so mi gu brath tuileadh." "Let me go, and I shall never be seen here any more." "Ma bhoidachais thu air a leobhar, air a chonail, agus air a stocaidh dhubh, bi falbh.' "If thou swear that on the book, on the candle, and on the black stocking, begone!" After making the Coluinn promise this on his knees, Ian liberated him. The Coluinn flew off, singing the following doleful words--"S fada uam fein bonn beinn Hederin, s fada uam fein bealach a bhorbhan," which we can only translate by--
"Far from me is the bill of Ben Hederin,
Far from me is the pass of murmuring."
[paragraph continues] This lament was repeated as long as Ian could bear, and these words are still sung by women in that country to their children, to the following notes, which tradition says was the very air:--
In the next, from the same source, the same being appears fully tamed; still supernatural, still possessed of extraordinary: strength, but attached to a family, and a regular brownie.
6. In the neighbourhood of Loch Traig, in Lochaber, Callum Mor MacIntosh held a little farm. There were rumours of his having intercourse with a mysterious personage called a bauchan, but of his first acquaintance with him there are no authentic accounts. One thing, however, is certain, that on some occasions he was supernaturally aided by this bauchan, while at others, having in some way excited his displeasure, Callum was opposed in all his schemes, and on several occasions they came the length of fighting hand to hand, Callum never suffering much injury. On one occasion, as Callum was returning from Fort-William market, he met his friend the bauchan within a short distance of his own house, and one of these contests took place, during which Callum lost his pocket-handkerchief, which, having been blessed and presented to him by the priest, was possessed of a peculiar charm. The fight being ended, Callum hurried home; but, to his dismay, found that he had lost his charmed handkerchief, for which he and his wife in vain sought. Callum felt certain he had to thank the bauchan for this mishap, and hurried back to the scene of action. The first object that met his view was the bauchan, busily engaged in rubbing a flat stone with the identical handkerchief. On seeing Callum, he called out, "Ah you are back; it is well for you, for if I had rubbed a hole into this before your return you were a dead man. No doctor on earth or power could save you; but you shall never have this handkerchief till you have won it in a fair fight." "Done," said Callum, and at it they went again, and Callum recovered his handkerchief. Peats were almost unknown at that time, and Callum, when the weather grew cold, took his axe, and felled a large birch tree in the neighbouring forest, the branches supplied wood for the fire for several days, and Callum did not trouble himself to lay in a store nearer hand-when, lo! a snow storm came on, and blocked up the country, so that he was cut off from his supply. There was no means of access to the tree; and careful as Callum's wife was, the last branch was almost consumed,
and the fire burnt low. Up started Callum with an exclamation, "Oh! wife, would that we had the tree I felled in the forest! it would keep us warm this night." Hardly had he spoken when the house was shaken and the door rattled; a heavy weight had fallen near the door. Callum rushed to see what the cause was, and there was the wished-for tree, with the Bauchan grinning at him--"S ma am Bauchan fathast, ged a sgain an Sagart"--(the Bauchan is still kind, though the Priest should burst)--said the wife. On another occasion it happened that Callum left the farm he was in and went to one adjoining which he had taken carrying with him his wife and all his furniture. In the nighttime Callum turned to his wife and said, "Well, it is well we have all with us; only one thing have we forgotten, the hogshead in which the hides are being barked; that we have forgotten" "No matter for that," said the wife; "there is no one to occupy the place yet a while, and we have time to get it home safe enough;" and so the matter rested; but on going round the end of the house next morning, what did Callum see but his own identical hogshead, hides and all. It had been transported the distance of five miles of most rugged, rocky district. None but a goat could have crossed the place, and in the time it would have bothered one to do it, but the Bauchan managed it, and saved Callum a most troublesome journey. If you will go and take a look at it--the spot is there yet--and I would like to see how soon you would manage it, let alone the hogshead.
Poor Callum, however, was obliged, with many of his neighhours, to leave Lochaber; indeed, he was amongst the first embarking at Arisaig for New York. The passage was a tedious one, but it ended at last, and without any particular adventures but on arriving they had to perform a quarantine of many days. On getting pratique, Callum was in the first boat which landed, and happened to have stowed himself in the bows of the boat, and when she grounded, was the first man to jump on shore. Directly his feet touched the ground, who should meet him in the shape of a goat but the Bauchan, "Ha, ha Callum, ha mi sho air thoseach orst." Ha, Malcolm, I am here before thee. Here ends our story; but rumour says that Callum was the better of the Bauchan's help in clearing the lands of his new settlement, and that, till he was fairly in the way of prosperity, the Bauchan abstained from teasing and provoking poor Callum.
The next makes the supernatural beings robbers, and is a further argument in favour of the theory that all these traditions are fictions founded on fact; recollections of wild savages living in mountain fastnesses, whose power, and strength, and cavern dwellings were enlarged and distorted into magic arts, gigantic stature, and the under-ground world. I translate the story from Gaelic, written by Rector MacLean from the telling Of JOHANNA MACCRIMMON in Berneray, August 1859. This woman is a native of Skye, and descended from the celebrated pipers. Her father, grandfather, and uncles were pipers. She learned the story from her grand-uncle Angus MacCrimmon.
7. A gentleman had AIREACH, a herd's dwelling, and he was out in a far-off glen long in the year with his herd women and his calf herd. They had every man they needed, and they were there till the middle of summer was. Then the herd woman said that she must go to seek things that she wanted.
The herd woman went away, and she had a great distance to go before she should reach the farm.
She said to the herd, in spite of the length of the path, that she would try to be back that night. When the evening was coming, the herd was wearying that the herd woman was not coming. Then he put the cattle to rights AGUS BHLIGH E EUD, and he milked them, and there were wild showers of snow in the beginning of the night. He went home when the beginning of night was, and he set in order his own food, after he had taken a thought--DUIL A THOIRT DETH--that the herd woman would not come. He took his foods and he shut the door as well as he could, thinking that no man would come near him that night. He put NA BEAIRTEAN FRAOICHE (the bundles of heather) behind the CÒMHLA (door), 1 and then he sat to toast himself at the fire because the SIDE (weather) was so cold. He was taking his dinner there, when he heard a great TARTAR (noise) coming towards the door. Then he got up from the door with great fear, and he noticed a being striking the door again. He was thinking, and he did not know what to do, that if the door were struck a third time it would be in.
He got up, and the door was struck a third time. Then he crouched in a corner at the lower end of the shealing when he saw the door being driven in.
He did not know now whether he should stay as he was or hide himself. When he noticed the door being pushed in, there came in a beast, and she went up to the fire.
The heather took fire and he saw this nasty beast standing at the fire. And she had a great long hair, and that creature was--A CNAMH A CIR--chewing the cud, as though there were a sheep or a cow. The horns that were on her were up to the top of the shealing. The poor man that was within thought that it was time for him to take his legs along with him, and he went out through the night and the winnowing and snow in it.
He found one of the horses, and he reached his master's house before the day came. Here there he struck in the door of his master furiously, and his master awoke and be went where he was, and he told his master the UAMHAS--terrible wonder that had come upon him since the herd woman left him.
The master went, and the eldest son he had and himself, and they took a gun with them. They went as fast as they could to try to catch the beast to kill her. There was the worth of much money in the shealing, and they thought it a loss that they should want it. Then when they were coming near the shealing the gentleman put a charge in the gun, to be all ready--DEISEAL.--(This word is said to be derived from South--about the old practice being to make a turn sun-wise before doing anything of importance).
They reached the shealing, and they let off a shot in. Though he let off the shot he did not notice a thing, and fear would not let one of them search within. They were thus at the door and they perceived the beast showing herself out. It was hardly that she dragged herself out of the door of the shealing.
There out went they--the gentleman and his son! They went in such a great perturbation, that they did not remember the horses; but they stretched out on foot, fleeing before the beast that was there. What but that the beast followed after them till they reached the house, and they thought she would have finished them before they should arrive. When they reached the farm, one of the gentlemen's men met him, and the gentleman told him that he was almost dead at all events, that
he had hopes of reaching the house, and that he should go to try to meet the beast, and keep her back a space.
The man went to meet the beast that was here, and she full of the snow; and he looked keenly at her. He returned to his master to tell him what sort of beast it was, and he said, "Come out here that you may come and see the beast."
When they went out to see the beast, what was here but the buck goat, full of the snow, and the master was shamed that be should have fled from the like of that beast.
The herd fled by the way of the banks of the shore; when he saw his master running away, and they had no tale of him. Three of the servants were sent about the glen to try if they could find him; and they were not finding him at all.
He was lost thus for three days and three nights, and they had no hope that they would find him for ever. On the third day he was going at the side of the shore, and water-horses and wild beasts coming on land on the shores. What should he fall in with but a dwelling-place there. He went in. There was no man there but a little russet man. The little russet man put welcome on him, and he asked him to come forward-that he was welcome. He asked of the little russet man what was the meaning of his staying in such a place, that there was no man with him.
"Oh," said the little russet man, "it is not allowed me to tell anything."
"I will tell thee," said the herd, "what sent me in here. It is that I fled from UAMHAS--a terrible wonder."
"This is the thing thou shalt do," said the little russet man. "Thou shalt stretch thyself on this bed up here, and thing or thing that thou seest in thy sleep, remember on thy death that thou dost not tell it."
Then when he went to stretch himself in the bed, what should meet him in the bed but the body of a man; and he took to trembling with fear, but he did not move. He thought he would stay as he was; that the dead man was not to touch him at all events. Then he heard great speaking coming towards the house; he was not long so till he noticed a great clatter coming, and what was this but--SEISEAR FEAR (collective singular noun of number, six man)--six men coming in and a cow with them. The master that was over the six, said to the little russet
man, Didst thou see or perceive a man coming this way since early earliness."
"I did not see," said he, "he might come the way unknown to me."
"Shut the door," said the big man, "and all without be they without, and all within within."
Then they put the cow on the fire in a great caldron after they had torn it asunder in quarters. When they had put this on the fire it was not long till they noticed the next clatter, and what was here but another band coming.
What should this band have but another cow flayed, and they had a pit within, and there they salted her. When the flesh that was in the kettle was cooked, they took their supper all together.
The poor man that was here in the bed did not know on earth what he should do for fear. Here when it was coming near on the mouth of the day, the little russet man went out to look what likeness was on the night.
When he came in, said they to him, "What seeming is on the night?" "There is a middling seeming," said he; but it is I who saw the terrible man DUINE FUATHASACH since I went out, as though he were listening to you. I think that it is FHUAMHAIR CHREIG DALLAIG the giant of crag dallag, who is there.
There out went every man of them, and the one that would not wait on his bow he would seize on his sword to kill him.
When the little russet man, who was within, thought that they had hurried well from the house, he said to the one who was in the bed, "Thou one that art up come down as fast as thou didst ever." Then he stretched to the poor man who was in the bed, as fast as ever he did, a stocking full of dollars, and he gave him bread and cheese. "If thou ever didst it, do it now," said the little russet man to the herdsman. The herdsman went, and he reached the house of his master whole and healthy.
The moral of this tale seems to be, that he who runs away from fancied danger may fall into real peril; but what bears upon the theory of the origin of such stories is, that the real peril is from "water-horses" and "robbers," who have a little red (RUAGH) man who plays the part of the enchanted princess, and the friendly cat, and the woman who is the slave of the giants, and the robbers; the character which appears in all collections of popular tales to befriend the benighted stranger, or the wandering
prince. And what is more, the fancied danger was from a creature under the form of a goat. Why a man should be frightened by a goat, appears from the last of following two stories, translated from the Gaelic of Hector Urquhart, and written from the telling of John Campbell in Strath-Gairloch, Ross-shire. He is now (1859) sixty-three.
8. At some time of the world the load of Gearloch TIGHEARNA GHEARLOCH had a CEATHEARNACH, who used to be slaying FUATHAN, bogles, and routing out the spoilers. The name of this stalwart man was UISTEAN MOR MAC GHILLE PHADRIG. Uistean was on a day hunting, and he saw a great wreath of mist above him, and heard the sweetest music he ever heard, but he was not seeing a thing but the mist itself. He cast a shot that was in his gun at the wreath of mist, and the very finest woman he ever saw fell down at his side. He took her with him to his own house, but there was not a word of speech in her; and she was thus for a year with him, and she never saw a thing that she could not do. And Uistean was thus in the mountain as usual slaying the bogles, FUATHAN, and on a day at the end of a year, and he in the mountain, the night come on him as he was coming home. There he saw a light in a hill; he reached where the light was, and he stood in the door, and NA SITHICHEAN, the fairies, were within making music and dancing, and the butler that they had going round about amongst them and giving them the drink. Uistean was looking at this: and the butler said, "It is a year from this night's night that we lost the daughter of Iarla Anndrum, the Earl of Antrim. She has the power of the draught on her that she does not speak a word, till she gets a drink from the cup that is in my hand. And the butler was going round about till he reached where Uistean was, and he gave the CORN (cup) to Uistean. No sooner got Uistean a hold of the cup in his hand than he took his soles out (of that), and they after him. They were here coming close to (shearing on) Uistean, and when they were come within sight of the town the cock crowed. One said, "It is as well for us to return;" but another said, "It is but BOGAG FOGHAIR, a Spring soft one." At the end of a while another cook crowed. "But it is time to return now; this is the black cook of March"--and they returned; but Uistean did not let go the cup till they reached his own house, and till he had given a draught to her from the cup, and as soon
as she had drunk a draught from the cup, she had speech as well as another. And Uistean went on the spot, back with the cap, and he left it on the hill; and when Uistean came back to his own house she told him that she was the daughter of the Earl of Antrim, and that the fairies had taken her from childbed. Uistean gave her two choices, whether would she rather stay by him, or be sent back to Eirinn; and she had rather go home. They went, and when they reached the house of the Earl of Antrim, she stayed in a little house that was near upon the castle for that night, and when they began to give them news, the housewife told them that the daughter of the Earl of Antrim was exceedingly ill, and that there was no leech in Eirinn that could do her good. Uistean said that he was the great doctor of the King of the Gaeldom, and that he would heal her, and that he would not ask payment till she should be healed.
The Earl was right well pleased his like to become about, and it was told to the one who was on the bed, that a great Scottish doctor was come to her town that could cure her. But this did not please her at all, and she would not let him come near her. But Uistean said that he would go there though it was ill with her; and he went where she was, with his naked sword in his hand. She who was in the bed cast an eye on him, and she said, "If I had been to put my thumb on the apple of thy throat on the night that thou wert born, thou couldest not do this to me this day."
And when Uistean went to the bed, she went as a flame of fire out at the end of the house.
Then Uistean gave his own daughter by the hand to the Earl of Antrim, whole and healthy. The Earl of Antrim gave Uistean his two choices, that he should stay with him, or a bag of gold and go home. Uistean took the bag of gold, and he came home; and he began at killing Fuathan, as he was before.
This story joins Fairies and Fuathan, and has many relations in other languages, and the next joins the whole to the French Loup Garou, of which I heard from a peasant in France in November 1859, but the wolf is a goat in the Highlands.
9. Some time after this, word went to Uistean that there was a Fuath on TOMBUIDHE GHEARRLOCH on the yellow knoll of Gairloch, and this Fuath was killing much people, and sending others out of the husk (or the gates) of their hearts, A COCRAIL
[paragraph continues] AN CRIDHE, because no man could take the path after the night or darkness should come.
Uistean came, and on the way at the foot of the knoll Uistean went into the house of a yellow-footed weaver that was living there. Said the weaver to Uistean, "Thou hadst best stop the night."
"Well, I will do that," said Uistean; "I am going to kill the Fuath of Tombuidh to-night."
"Perhaps that is not so easy," said the weaver; "with what wilt thou kill Gabhair Mhoil-Bhui, the goat of Maol-buidh?"
"With the gun," said Uistean.
"What," said the weaver, "if the gun will not suit?"
"If it will not suit," said he, "I will try the sword on her."
"What," said the weaver, "if the sword will not come out of the sheath?"
"Well," said Uistean, "I will try my mother's sister on her."
And on every arm that Uistean named, the weaver laid ROSAD, a spell, but on the dirk which he called his mother's sister the weaver could not lay a spell. Then Uistean went up to the top of the knoll, and on the top of the knoll was a pit in which the goat used to dwell.
She let out a MEIGAID bleat, and Uistean said, "Dost thou want thy kid thou skulker?"
"If I do, I have got it now," said she. Then Uistean laid hands on his gun, but she would not give a spark. Then he laid hands on his sword, but it would not come out of the sheath. "Where now is thy mother's sister?" said the goat.
When Uistean heard this he sprang on the goat, and the first thrust he gave her with the BIODAG dirk, she let out a roar.
"It seems odd to me, poor beast, if I do not give thy kid milk now."
And he did not see the goat any more. Uistean turned back to the weaver's house, and when he kindled a light, he found the weaver under the loom pouring blood.
"If it was thou who madest so much loss on the yellow knoll, thou shalt not get off any farther," said Uistean.
Then he killed the weaver under the loom, and no man was slain on the yellow knoll since then, by the goat or bogle.
These two stories are certain enough. It was by my mother I heard them, and many a tale there is of Uistean, if I had mind of them.
JOHN CAMPBELL, Strath Gairloch, Ross-shire.
10. I have another version of this same tale written by a school-master, at the request of Mr. Osgood Mackenzie. It is in very good Gaelic, but to translate it would be repetition, for it is almost the identical. I do not mention the name of the writer, for it might be displeasing to him. The narrator is Alexander Macdonald, Inverasdale. The goat is called GABHAR MHOR RHIBEAGACH FHEUSAGACH, a great hairy-bearded goat; and the dirk is called CATRIONA PUITHAR MO SHEANA MHATHAIR, Catherine, my grandmother's sister. He finds the BREABADAIR weaver in bed, with a wound in his thigh, and gives him his death thrust there.
I have given these specimens of a particular class of tales which are common enough, as they came to me, because they seem to be fair illustrations of the popular creed as to spirits; and to show that the so-called spirits are generally very near mortal men. My belief is, that bocan, bodach, fuath, and all their tribe, were once savages, dressed in skins, and that gruagach was a half-tamed savage banging about the houses, with his long hair and skin clothing; that these have gradually acquired the attributes of divinities, river gods, or forest nymphs, or that they have been condemned as pagan superstitions, and degraded into demons; and I know that they are now remembered, and still somewhat dreaded, in their last character. The tales told of them partake of the natural and supernatural, and bring fiction nearer to fact than any class of tales current in the Highlands, unless it be the fairy stories of which a few are given under number 28, etc.
105:1 It is quite common in Highland cottages to keep a large bundle of heather or brushwood to stuff into the doorway on the windward side; sometimes it is the sole door.