Page:Devonshire Characters and Strange Events.djvu/128

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DEVONSHIRE CHARACTERS

any one suspected was to throw her into a pond! If she sank, why she sank and was drowned, but had the satisfaction of being aware that her character was cleared, whereas if she floated, she was a convicted witch and was burnt.

I am not, however, sure that we are not too lenient with the professional White Witch nowadays, as the following incident will show. I do not name the locality, certainly not the persons, for nothing was proved.

A certain cattle-dealer three years ago was much troubled because his daughter who had had influenza did not rally, but was rather strange in her head. He went to the county capital to consult the White Witch. The latter showed him a glass of water, and said that the person who had overlooked his child was fair-haired and stout. Further, that she had never been inside his doors, but that she would enter them on the following Saturday.

The cattle-jobber looking into the glass of water thought he saw a face—it was that of a woman who lived not far from him. What he really saw was, of course, his own reflected, but with the words of the witch ringing in his ears and guided by his imagination he conceived that he saw a neighbour.

He returned home full of conviction and wrath. Next night the husband of the fair-haired, stout woman woke after midnight, and heard a strange crackling sound. He hastily dressed, and went outside his door, when he saw that the thatch of his house was in flames. He hastened to rouse his wife and family, there were six who slept in the house, and he had barely drawn them outside, before the roof fell in and the cottage was converted into one great bonfire. By the merest accident it was that six persons were not burned in their