Page:Notes on the folk-lore of the northern counties of England and the borders.djvu/122
the throats of three bears; as these sounds die away they will be succeeded by as many horse-laughs, after which the form of her future husband will appear. If he is deeply attached to her, he will change the position of the water pails; if not, he will pass out of the room without touching them. Tradition tells how, on one occasion, the lover who had been thus invoked, while moving the pails of water, let fall a rope with a noose at the end, which the young woman took up the next morning and laid in her press. She was married soon afterwards to the man whose form she had beheld, but within a fortnight of the marriage he hung himself with that very rope in a fit of intoxication.
The use of holly in this form of divination recalls a somewhat different use made of it in Northumberland. We hear there of he-holly and she-holly, according as it is with or without prickles, and the leaves of the she-holly are alone deemed proper for divination. These “smooth and unarmed” leaves, as Southey calls them, must be plucked, late on a Friday, by persons careful to preserve an unbroken silence from the time they go out to the next morning’s dawn. The leaves must be collected in a three-cornered handkerchief, and on being brought home nine of them must be selected, tied with nine knots into the handkerchief, and placed beneath the pillow. Dreams worthy of all credit will attend this rite, though, if the old rhyme
Or, trying simple charms and spells,