Scope and Contents
Story entitled 'Alasdair Og Mac Righ Shasunn agus Alasdair dubh a bhrathair' [Young Alexander son of the King of England and Dark Alexander his brother] collected from Donull MacCuieinn [Donald MacQueen] Fearann-an-letha [Fearann an Leagha/Fernilea, An t-Eilean Sgitheanach/Isle of Skye] on 18 February 1861. The story tells how Rìgh Shasunn [King of England] was old and bedridden. He had two sons Alasdair Òg and Alasdair Dubh, the former being legitimate and the latter illegitimate. Alasdair Òg would not let Alasdair Dubh see the king in case the king left any of his inheritance to Alasdair Dubh, especially as the king no longer remembered Alasdair Dubh. Assured that he would inherit everything, Alasdair Òg allowed Alasdair Dubh to see his father. He told the king that he was his son and the king was displeased that they had not been allowed to see each other. Alasdair Dubh also said that we was poor and that Alasdair Òg had never given him anything. The king said he had nothing left to give Alasdair Dubh but a trunk with a cloak but in the cloak Alasdair Dubh found around two hundred pounds. After the king died and Alasdair Òg was crowned Alasdair Dubh went to him to ask to build an alehouse, which Alasdair Òg allowed. Every nobleman who came to visit Alasdair Òg was [locked up by four men??] and soon news of this spread throughout the kingdom and all the nobles turned from Alasdair Òg to Alasdair Dubh. Angered by this Alasdair Òg goes to Alasdair Dubh and says that he will lose his head unless he finds four questions he cannot answer. Alasdair Dubh then sets off on a journey to find the four questions. Driven by thirst, he finds a stream with the best water and so he traces the stream to its source. There he finds the remains of snakes and wonders how such delicious water can come from such disgusting things and decides that that will be his first question. Next he came across a cow and a bull grazing in a lush field but they were nothing but skin and bone. He decides that this will be his next question for his brother. He then found a mare and a stallion in a bare field which were fat and healthy and he wondered how this could be and then decided that this would be the next question. Alasdair Dubh then found six of the most beautiful [rods/twigs?] he had ever seen. Although the silver [rods/twigs] were beautiful it was the golden one which he wanted. He went to pick the gold [rod/twig] but the silver ones moved and hit his hand with excruciating pain. Once the pain had subsided, he tried again but instantly the same thing happened and the pain was so sore tha the did not try to pick the [rod/twig] again. Then Alasdair Dubh came across a bothy, in which there was an old woman who was managing to heat the whole of her abode with a very small fire. [?]He decided that this was another question for his brother, although he now had five questions, and that he would return home. On the way, he came across the most beautiful castle but despite going around it four times he could not see a door or a window on it so he went on. As he looked back at the castle he saw a handsome nobleman standing at a door crying. He went back to speak to him and the nobleman told him that although he had questions for his brother, Alasdair Òg had been schooled in mystical ways and would be able to answer them. He gave Alasdair Dubh a [letter?] and said that once Alasdair Òg has answered his questions he was to give him the [shirt] and then the nobleman disappeared. Alasdair Dubh returned and asked Alasdair Òg all the questions, all of which he was able to interpret correctly. As he was about to lose his head, he handed Alasdair Òg the [letter] as the nobleman had told him and Alasdair Òg began crying, saying that he nobleman and castle he had seen were God and heaven. He then said tha this life was over and that Alasdair Dubh would inherit his kingdom. He gave Alasdair Dubh instructions as to how he should meet his end, which reluctantly Alasdair Dubh followed. As Alasdair Òg's heart and lungs were put on the [stop? stump??] three black crows were seen over the [stop/stump] and the skies opened and out came three white doves sweetly singing. The crows and doves fought over the [stop/stump] but the doves prevailed and took the [stop/stump] back where they had come from. Alasdair Dubh gave Alasdair Òg a proper burial and became king, marrying and reigning happily for a long time. The note states that the informant had heard the story from Donull Mac a Fhi [Donald MacPhee], the miller at Talamhsgeir [Talaisgeir/Talisker] who was great story-teller and tradition bearer and was well-respected.