There was there before now a farmer, and he had a leash of daughters, and much cattle and sheep. He went on a day to see them, and none of them were to be found; and he took the length of the day to search for them. He saw, in the lateness, coming home, a little doggy running about a park.
The doggy came where he was-"What wilt thou give me," said he, "if I get thy lot of cattle and sheep for thee?" "I don't know myself, thou ugly thing; what wilt thou be asking, and I will give it to thee of anything I have?" "Wilt thou give me," said the doggy, "thy big daughter to marry?" "I will give her to thee," said he, "if she will take thee herself."
They went home, himself and the doggy. Her father said to the eldest daughter, Would she take him? and she said she would not. He said to the second one, Would she marry him? and she said, she would not marry him, though the cattle should not be got for ever. He said to the youngest one, Would she marry him? and she said, that she would marry him. They married, and her sisters were mocking her because she had married him. He took her with him home to his own place. When he came to his own dwelling-place, he grew into a splendid man. They were together a great time, and she said she had better go see her father. He said to her to take care that she should not stay till she should have children, for then she expected one. She said she would not stay. He gave her a steed, and he told her as soon as she reached the house, to take the bridle from her head and let her away; and when she wished to come home, that she had but to shake the bridle, and that the steed would come, and that she would put her head into it.
She did as he asked her; she was not long at her father's house when she fell ill, and a child was born. That night men were together at the fire to watch. There came the very prettiest music that ever was heard about the town; and every one within slept but she. He came in and took the child from her. He took himself out, and he went away. The music stopped, and each one awoke; and there was no knowing to what side the child had gone.
She did not tell anything, but so soon as she rose she took with her the bridle, and she shook it, and the steed came, and she put her head into it. She took herself off riding, and the steed took to going home; and the swift March wind that would be before her, she would catch; and the swift March wind that would be after her, could not catch her.
She arrived. "Thou art come," said he. "I came," said she. He noticed nothing to her; and no more did she notice anything to him. Near to the end of three quarters again she said, "I had better go see my father." He said to her on this journey as he had said before. She took with her the steed, and she went away; and when she arrived she took the bridle from the steed's head, and she set her home.
That very night a child was born. He came as he did before, with music; every one slept, and he took with him the child. When the music stopped they all awoke. Her father was before her face, saying to her that she must tell what was the reason of the matter. She would not tell anything. When she grew well, and when she rose, she took with her the bridle, she shook it, and the steed came and put her head into it. She took herself away home. When she arrived he said, "Thou art come." "I came," said she. He noticed nothing to her; no more did she notice anything to him. Again at the end of three quarters, she said, "I had better go to see my father." "Do," said he, "but take care thou dost not as thou didst on the other two journeys." "I will not," said she. He gave her the steed and she went away. She reached her father's house, and that very night a child was born. The music came as was usual, and the child was taken away. Then her father was before her face; and he was going to kill her, if she would not tell what was happening to the children; or what sort of man she had. With the fright he gave her, she told it to him. When she grew well she took the bridle with her to a hill that was opposite to her, and she began shaking the bridle, to try if the steed would come, or if she would put her head into it; and though she were shaking still, the steed would not come. When she saw that she was not coming, she went out on foot. When she arrived, no one was within but the crone that was his mother. "Thou art without a houseman to-day," said the crone; and if thou art quick thou wilt catch him yet. She went away, and she was going till the night came on her. She saw then a light a long way from her; and if it was a long way from her, she was not long in reaching it. When she went in, the floor was ready swept before her, and the housewife spinning up in the end of the house. "Come up," said the housewife, "I know of thy cheer and travel. Thou art going to try if thou canst catch thy man; he is going to marry the daughter of the King of the Skies." "He is!" said she. The housewife rose; she made meat for her; she set on water to wash her feet, and she laid her down. If the day came quickly, it was quicker than that that the housewife rose, and that she made meat for her. She set her on foot then for going; and she gave her shears that would cut alone; and she said to her, "Thou wilt be in the house of my middle sister to-night." She was going, and going, till the night came on her. She saw a light a long way from her; and if it was a long way from her, she was not long in reaching it. When she went in the house was ready swept, a fire on the middle of the floor, and the housewife spinning at the end of the fire. "Come up," said the housewife, "I know thy cheer and travel." She made meat for her, she set on water, she washed her feet, and she laid her down. No sooner came the day than the housewife set her on foot, and made meat for her. She said she had better go; and she gave her a needle would sew by itself. "Thou wilt be in the house of my youngest sister to-night," said she. She was going, and going, till the end of day and the mouth of lateness. She saw a light a long way from her; and if it was a long way from her, she was not long in reaching it. She went in, the house was swept, and the housewife spinning at the end of the fire. "Come up," said she, "I know of thy cheer and travel." She made meat for her, she set on water, she washed her feet, and she laid her down. If the day came quickly, it was quicker than that that the housewife rose; she set her on foot, and she made her meat; she gave her a clue of thread, and the thread would go into the needle by itself; and as the shears would cut, and the needle sew, the thread would keep up with them. "Thou wilt be in the town to-night." She reached the town about evening, and she went into the house of the king's hen wife, to lay down her weariness, and she was warming herself at the fire. She said to the crone to give her work, that she would rather be working than be still. "No man is doing a turn in this town to-day," says the hen wife; "the king's daughter has a wedding." "Ud!" said she to the crone, "give me cloth to sew, or a shirt that will keep my hands going." She gave her shirts to make; she took the shears from her pocket, and she set it to work; she set the needle to work after it; as the shears would cut, the needle would sew, and the thread would go into the needle by itself. One of the king's servant maids came in; she was looking at her, and it caused her great wonder how she made the shears and the needle work by themselves. She went home and she told the king's daughter, that one was in the house of the hen wife, and that she had shears and a needle that could work of themselves. "if there is," said the king's daughter, "go thou over in the morning, and say to her, 'what will she take for the shears.' " In the morning she went over, and she said to her that the king's daughter was asking what would she take for the shears. "Nothing I asked," said she, "but leave to lie where she lay last night." "Go thou over," said the king's daughter, "and say to her that she will get that." She gave the shears to the king's daughter. When they were going to lie down, the king's daughter gave him a sleep drink, so that he might not wake. He did not wake the length of the night; and no sooner came the day, than the king's daughter came where she was, and set her on foot and put her out. On the morrow she was working with the needle, and cutting with other shears. The king's daughter sent the maid servant over, and she asked "what would she take for the needle?" She said she would not take anything, but leave to lie where she lay last night. The maid servant told this to the king's daughter. "She will get that," said the king's daughter. The maid servant told that she would get that, and she got the needle. When they were going to lie down, the king's daughter gave him a sleep drink, and he did not wake that night. The eldest son he had was lying in a bed beside them; and he was hearing her speaking to him through the night, and saying to him that she was the mother of his three children. His father and he himself was taking a walk out, and he told his father what he was hearing. This day the king's daughter sent the servant maid to ask what she would take for the clue; and she said she would ask but leave to lie where she lay last night. "She will get that," said the king's daughter. This night when he got the sleep drink, he emptied it, and he did not drink it at all. Through the night she said to him that he was the father of her three sons; and he said that he was. In the morning, when the king's daughter came down, he said to her to go up, that she was his wife who was with him. When they rose they went away to go home. They came home; the spells went off him, they planted together and I left them, and they left me.
This is but another version of No. III., "The Hoodie;" but it has certain magic gifts which I have not found in any other Gaelic story; and the little dog who goes to the skies, and is about to marry the daughter of the king, and is transformed into a man at home, may turn out to be a Celtic divinity. When so little is known of Celtic mythology, anything may be of use. The raven, the crow, and the serpent, have appeared as transformed beings of superior power. Now, the little dog appears, and there are mystic dogs elsewhere in Gaelic stories, and in other Celtic countries. In the Isle of Man is the well-known "Modey dhu," black dog which used to haunt Peel Castle, and frightened a soldier to death.
In a carious book, written to prove Gaelic to be the original language (History of the Celtic Language, by L. MacLean, 1840), there is a great deal of speculation as to the Farnese Globe; and the dog-star in particular is supposed to have been worshipped by the Druids. Without entering into such a wide field, it is worth notice that "Anubis," the dog-star, was son of Osiris and Nephthys, had the nature of a dog, and was represented with the head of one. He was a celestial double deity, and watched the tropics. The servant lad who told this story; and the old woman, MacKerrol, from whom he learned it, are not likely persons to have heard of Anubis, or the Farnese Globe; so anything got from them may be taken at its value, whatever that may be. The opinion that Celts came from the East by way of Phnicia, has been held by many, and some one may wish to follow the trail of the little dog; so I give his history as it came to me, rather than fuse it into one story with the Hoodie, as I was at first tempted to do before the plan of this work was decided on.
The beginning of this tale is the Gaelic "Once upon a time."
TRIUR is a collective noun of number for three, and answers to leash; or to pair, brace, dozen, for two; twelve.
STEUD is clearly the same word as steed. It is commonly used in these stories, and I have never heard it used in conversation. It is feminine, like FALAIRE, the other word commonly used for a horse in stories and poetry; and hardly ever in ordinary speech.
Many words are derived from steud, and I do not think that it is imported.
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).