THERE was a king and a queen, and they had a daughter,
and the queen found death, and the king married another. And the last
queen was bad to the daughter of the first queen, and she used to beat
her and put her out of the door. She sent her to herd the sheep, and was
not giving her what should suffice her. And there was a sharp (horned)
grey sheep in the flock that was coming with meat to her.
The queen was taking wonder that she was keeping alive
and that she was not getting meat enough from herself, and she told it
to the henwife. The henwife thought that she would send her own daughter
to watch how she was getting meat, and Ni Mhaol Charach, the henwife's
daughter, went to herd the sheep with the queen's daughter. The sheep
would not come to her so long as Ni Mhaol Charach was there, and Ni Mhaol
Charach was staying all the day with her. The queen's daughter was longing
for her meat, and she said-"Set thy head on my knee and I will dress
thy hair." And Ni Mhaol Charach set her head on the knee of the queen's
daughter, and she slept.
The sheep came with meat to the queen's daughter, but
the eye that was in the back of the head of the bald black-skinned girl,
the henwife's daughter, was open, and she saw all that went on, and when
she awoke she went home and told it to her mother, and the henwife told
it to the queen, and when the queen understood how the girl was getting
meat, nothing at all would serve her but that the sheep should be killed.
The sheep came to the queen's daughter and said to her-
"They are going to kill me, but steal thou my skin
and gather my bones and roll them in my skin, and I will come alive again,
and I will come to thee again."
The sheep was killed, and the queen's daughter stole her
skin, and she gathered her bones and her hoofs and she rolled them in
the skin; but she forgot the little hoofs. The sheep came alive again,
but she was lame. She came to the king's daughter with a halting step,
and she said, "Thou didst as I desired thee, but thou hast forgotten
the little hoofs."
And she was keeping her in meat after that.
There was a young prince who was hunting and coming often
past her, and he saw how pretty she was, and he asked, "Who's she?"
And they told him, and he took love for her, and he was often coming the
way; but the bald black-skinned girl, the henwife's daughter, took notice
of him, and she told it to her mother, and the henwife told it to the
The queen was wishful to get knowledge what man it was,
and the henwife sought till she found out who he (was), and she told the
queen. When the queen heard who it was she was wishful to send her own
daughter in his way, and she brought in the first queen's daughter, and
she sent her own daughter to herd in her place, and she was making the
daughter of the first queen do the cooking and every service about the
The first queen's daughter was out a turn, and the prince met her, and
he gave her a pair of golden shoes. And he was wishful to see her at the
sermon, but her muime would not let her go there.
But when the rest would go she would make ready, and she
would go after them, and she would sit where he might see her, but she
would rise and go before the people would scatter, and she would be at
the house and everything in order before her muime would come. But the
third time she was there the prince was wishful to go with her, and he
sat near to the door, and when she went he was keeping an eye on her,
and he rose and went after her. She was running home, and she lost one
of her shoes in the mud; and he got the shoe, and because he could not
see her he said that the one who had the foot that would fit the shoe
was the wife that would be his.
The queen was wishful that the shoe would fit her own
daughter, and she put the daughter of the first queen in hiding, so that
she should not be seen till she should try if the shoe should fit her
When the prince came to try the shoe on her, her foot
was too big, but she was very anxious that the shoe should fit her, and
she spoke to the henwife about it. The henwife cut the points of her toes
off that the shoe might fit her, and the shoe went on her when the points
of the toes were cut.
When the wedding-day came the daughter of the first queen
was set in hiding in a nook that was behind the fire.
When the people were all gathered together, a bird came
to the window, and he cried-
"The blood's in the shoe, and the pretty foot's in
the nook at the back of the fire."
One of them said, "What is that creature saying?"
And the queen said-"It's no matter what that creature is saying;
it is but a nasty, beaky, lying creature." The bird came again to
the window; and the third time he came, the prince said-"We will
go and see what he is saying."
And he rose and he went out, and the bird cried-
"The blood's in the shoe, and the pretty foot's in
the nook that is at the back of the fire."
He returned in, and he ordered the nook at the back of
the fire to be searched. And they searched it, and they found the first
queen's daughter there, and the golden shoe on the one foot. They cleaned
the blood out of the other shoe, and they tried it on her, and the shoe
fitted her, and its like was on the other foot. The prince left the daughter
of the last queen, and he married the daughter of the first queen, and
he took her from them with him, and she was rich and lucky after that.
"He has an eye in the back of his head," is
a common saying for some one preternaturally sharp.
This story has some resemblance to Argus, who had a hundred
eyes, and slept with two at a time; and was set by Juno (a queen) to watch
Jo, a human being changed into a heifer.
The sheep that came alive and was lame, is like Norse
mythology (Edda). "Thorr took his he-goats and killed them both,
and after that they were flain and borne to the kettle... . Then laid
Thorr the goatskins away from the fire, and told the husband and his household
they should cast the bones into the goatskins... . Thor. . hallowed the
goatskins, then stood up the goats, and one of them was halt in one of
his hind feet."
One of the people had broken the thigh for the marrow.
I know nothing in any story quite like the first part,
but it is like Cinderella (Grimm, English), where the birds and the shoe
appear; but with a wholly different set of incidents. It is like One Eye,
Two Eyes, and Three Eyes, but in that story the church and the golden
shoe do not appear.
It has some resemblance to Bellin the Ram of the Countess
The second part is closer to the Norse versions of Cinderella
than to the English story, and may be compared with part of Katie Woodencloak,
where the birds and the shoe appear; and where there is a going to church.
I have many Gaelic versions of the incidents, all of which
resemble each other; the golden shoe is sometimes transferred to a man,
which I take to be some confusion in the memory of the person who tells
Campbell, J. F. Popular Tales of the
West Highlands: Orally Collected. London: Alexander Gardner, 1890-1893.
(Reprint available from Detroit: Singing Tree Press, 1969.) Amazon.com: Buy the book in paperback (Volume 1)or paperback (Volume 2).