Told about thirty years ago by John Campbell, piper to his pupil, J. F. Campbell.
THERE was a shepherd once who went out to the hill to look after his sheep. It was misty and cold, and he had much trouble to find them. At last he had them all but one; and after much searching he found that one too in a peat hag half drowned; so he took off his plaid, and bent down and took hold of the sheep's tail, and he pulled! The sheep was heavy with water, and he could not lift her, so he took off his coat and he pulled!! but it was too much for him, so he spit on his hands, and took a good hold of the tail and he PULLED!! and the tail broke! and if it had not been for that this tale would have been a great deal longer.
This may be compared with Grimm's Golden Key. I have not given it in Gaelic, because, so far as I remember, the story was never told twice in the same words; and it can be told quite as well in any language. It is very well known in many districts in various shapes. I have a second version, which is called--
2. Ursgeal a' Ghamhna dhuinn, an aill leibh as a thoiseach e, The tale of the Brown Stirk. Do you wish from the beginning? It has nothing but a beginning; for the stirk fell over a rock and left his tail in the herdsman's hands; and the story comes to an untimely end with the Gaelic proverbial phrase--had the
tail been tougher the story had been longer. NA 'M BIODH AN T-URBALL NA BU RUIGHNE BHIODH AN T-URSGEUL NA B' FHAIDE.
3. According to a Skye version, a man put the stirk on a house top to eat a tuft of grass; the beast fell down the chimney, and the rupture of the tail was