From Hector Boyd, Barra.
THERE was a gray goat and she had kids, and if she had, the fox went on a day around them, and he caught them, and he killed them, and he ate them. Then the goat came home, and she was black melancholy and miserable when she came and was without them before her. She took on her way and she reached the house of the russet dog, and she went up on the top of the house, and the fox cried out--
"Who is that on top of my bothy, maiden my deary,
That will not leave my caldrons to boil,
That will not leave my bonnachs to bake,
And that will not let my little one go to the well?"
"There is me gray goat, harried out,
Seeking the three kindly kidlings,
And the gray-bellied buck,
And the buck lad."
"Well then; by the earth that is beneath,
By the aether over head,
By the sun that is gone down,
That I have never seen thy set of kids."
There was no bird in the flock that she did not go to and she returned home and she did not get them.
This story is known to that section of the poorer Gaelic population, which is, and which has been young; but though everybody knows it, nobody will tell it. I persuaded an old woman on the banks of Loch Hourn, to tell it to me in part, and so far as it went her version was better.
Chaidh a gbobhar ghlas don traigh
Agus, bhrisd strabh a cas.
The gray goat went to the strand, and a straw broke her leg, and when she came home there were
Na tri minneana mine-glas
Agus am boc ceannaglas.
The three kindly kidlings-gray,
With bellies gray bellied,
And with backs gray back-ed,
And the buck gray-head.
And the ram (something, which I forget); and a whole party besides, whom my informant would not name; all gone away. And she went to the fox, and his clearing oath was:--
Air an draigheann air an dreas
Air an talamh fo mo chois
Air a ghrian seachad siar
Cha 'n fhaca, mise riamh
Do chuid meann.
By the blackthorn and the briar,
By the earth beneath my foot, p. 105
By the sun that has gone West,
I have never never seen
Thy set of kids.
It is manifest that there is a great deal more of this, but I have not got it. 1
105:1 May 1861.--I have received a much better version from Mr. Alexander Carmichael, from Carbost in Skye. The fox, disguised as the goat, after several trials gets in, and eats the kids. The goat goes to the houses of the gull, hoodie, and sheep, and at last to the fox. He lets her in, eats up a caldron of food, gives her none, and makes her scratch his paunch. The goat rips him up, out come the kids, and they go home. The rhymes are curious and whole very original.