|Long Answer (worth the read):
The first piper of the MacCrimmons was called Iain Odhar, or Sallow John, of whom little is known. He was succeeded by his son Donald, better known as Domhnull Mor, or Big Donald, who, being a special favorite with MacLeod, was sent to Ireland to complete his musical education. This Donald Mor had a brother called Patrick, who on account of some defect in his eyes was as Padruig Caogach. He lived on the MacLeod estates, Glenelg, Ross-shire.
This young man had a quarrel with his foster brother, a native of Kintail. Sometime after the dispute, while he was in the act of washing his face in a burn or rivulet joining his dwelling, the Kintail man came behind him, and treacherously with his dirk gave him a mortal blow. This being made known to Donald Mor at Dunvegan, he prepared to revenge the untimely death of his brother, and taking his pipes up to MacLeod's room, he threw them on the bed. MacLeod, surprised, demanded to know what had occurred. In few words he related to him the affair, when the laird pacified the enraged piper, and promised him, on condition of his remaining at home, to see justice done before the expiration of twelve months. MacLeod thought that his wrathful piper would forget the cruel murder by that time, and allow his ire to abate; but such as not the case, for on the termination of the twelve months eh set out himself for Glenelg, without informing anyone of his intention, and finding on his arrival there that the murderer of his brother had gone to Kintail, he pursued his journey thither.
The offender having been apprised of his arrival, concealed himself in the house of a friend; and the inhabitants of the village not choosing to deliver him up, MacCrimmon was so enraged that he resolved to set their houses on fire-a resolution which he found an opportunity of carrying into effect that night, and burned eighteen of their houses, which caused the loss of several lives. Donald then made his escape to Lord Reay's country, where he remained for some time under the protection of Donald Diabhul Mackay, afterwards Lord Reay, with whom he had been formerly acquainted.
As soon as Lord Kintail was apprised of this affair he offered a great reward for the apprehension of MacCrimmon, and sent a party in pursuit of him; buy they returned without being able t trace the fugitive. He, however, thought it prudent to seek a place of concealment in a more remote district, and wandered among the hills for a considerable time, making several nocturnal visits to his friend Mackay; who, to avoid detection, recommended him to one of his shepherds, with whom he was assured he might remain in safety, and, for greater security, a bed was constructed concealed in the wall of the house.
Soon afterwards Lord Kintail, whose daughter had been married to Donald Diabhul, having learned where MacCrimmon was lurking, dispatched his son and twelve men to seize him. It was a very wet day, and Donald Mor happened to be at home when the party approached the house; but while they were at a distance the shepherd's wife espied them, and immediately gave the alarm to the unfortunate piper, who betook himself to the bed already mentioned, and the woman made a large fire, which was always in the middle of the house, for the entertainment of his pursuers. On their arrival they were welcomed, and asked to be seated, civilities of which they gladly availed themselves, being thoroughly soaked by the rain. The woman then spread their plaids on ropes, which had been placed along the house, for the purpose of forming a safe passage for MacCrimmon's retreat, whom she then apprized of the opportunity, and thus he affected his escape, unobserved my MacKenzie or any of the party. All this was the work of a moment, and MacKenzie was hardly seated when he asked where their guest Donald Mor was concealed. "I know nothing about him," replied the shepherd; "I have indeed heard that your father has offered a great reward for his apprehension, but he has not come my way, else I should certainly have given him up." A lengthened conversation regarding MacCrimmon then ensued, and MacKenzie, finding he could gather nothing from the faithful couple, ordered his men to search the house and its vicinity, which they did, but to no purpose. The night continued extremely rainy and boisterous, so that the party was glad to remain in the shepherd's cot; and, after partaking of what refreshment it could afford, retired to rest.
The goodwife managed matters well. She made MacKenzie's bed in a coroner of the house by itself, so that there might be an easy access to it. When all were fast asleep, MacCrimmon, having been informed of what had passed, entered the house, and taking Mackenzie√Ę‚,¨‚?Ęs arms and part of those of the men, laid them once across the other over the place where MacKenzie lay, and took his departure without disturbing anyone, the party after their fatigues sleeping very soundly. When MacKenzie awoke in the morning and found so many arms placed over him, he called to his men to get up, saying, "I might have been a dead man for aught you could have done for me. If Donald Mor MacCrimmon be alive, it was he that did this; and it was as easy a matter for him to take my life as to do so."
On going out they saw MacCrimmon walking on the other side of the river, with his claidheamh-mor, or great sword, in his hand. Seeing the man they were in pursuit of, they prepared to ford the stream, with the intention of seizing or dispatching him; but MacKenzie threatened to shoot the first man who would dare to touch him. Hen then approached MacCrimmon, and desired him to cross the river. "No," replied he, "it is as easy for you to come to me as it is for me to go to you." "If you will come over," rejoined MacKenzie, "I pledge my word of honour that you shall not be injured." "Not so," says the other, "swear all your men, and I will take your own word;" which was accordingly done, and MacCrimmon crossed over the river. MacKenzie then asked him if it was he who put the arms over the bed during the night, when he was answered in the affirmative. Then, said MacKenzie, "you might have easily taken my life at that time, so I now promise to procure your pardon if you will be at my father's house this day three weeks." This being agreed to, MacKenzie took his departure for the residence of Donald Diabhul, where he remained a few days, and then proceeded to Kintail, and told his father all that had happened. MacCrimmon also went to Donald Diabhul, who consented to accompany him to his father-in-law's, and arrived the evening of the appointed day at the house of Lord Kintail's fiddler. They were shown into an upper room, where Mackay left his companion, and went alone to Lord Kintail's. By some means the fiddler discovered that his guest was Donald Mor; he therefore sent for a party of men in order to secure and carry him before his Lordship, claiming the reward for his capture. So after everything had been arranged, the wary musician went upstairs and said to MacCrimmon, whose door was secured inside, that his wife had laid him a wager that he would not come down and drink his share of a bottle with them. MacCrimmon replied that he had no objections to do so, and, opening the door, came out. There was along with the fiddler a younger son of Lord Kintail, who had formerly seen MacCrimmon, and who took an opportunity to whisper to him, "Will you go downstairs where a house full of people await to take you prisoner?" Donald Mor immediately knocked the fiddler downstairs, and again fastened himself in the room. The youth went straight to inform Donald Diabhul, whom he met on the way, and he on hearing what had taken place, made all possible haste, and arrived just in time to save the piper by producing a pardon for him, received d from Lord Kintail. All then dispersed peaceably, and Mackay and MacCrimmon proceeded to the castle of the Lordship, where they made merry all night, and next day the piper returned to Skye, where he remained without many further adventures until his death.
This is an excerpt from:
"The Martial Music of the Clans", pp. 115-121.
Written by "Fionn", originally published in 1904.
Published by Scotpress, PO Box 778, Morgantown, WV.
This book was a gift to me, ordered from http://www.bibliofind.com for less than $5 US. Old writing style and printface, but an interesting read.
5/10/00 LongPiper email@example.com