Page:A Book of Dartmoor.djvu/317

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The reader must excuse me if I tell the tales just as told to me, and mix up facts with what I consider fictions. I cannot doubt that these lights have been seen by others as well as by myself, and I am not surprised if here and there some superstition has attached itself to these phenomena.

The following story is told in the parish of Broadwoodwidger, where is a field in which, it is asserted, Will-o'-the-wisp is seen.

The farmer's son was delicate, and in haymaking time assisted in the work, and I have no doubt, notwithstanding his feeble lungs, in making sweet hay with the maidens. However, he over-exerted himself, broke a blood-vessel, and died. Ever since a blue flame has been seen dancing in this field, and even on the top of the haycocks.

The tale I have heard told, as a child, of a blue flame being seen leaving the churchyard and travelling down the lanes or roads to a certain door, and there waiting and returning accompanied by another flame, which appeared simultaneously with a death occurring in the house, is doubtless a distortion of a fact that such a flame as the Jack-o'-lantern does occasionally appear in graveyards.

A miner engaged at the Whiteworks crossed the moor on a Saturday to Cornwood, to see a brother who was dangerously ill, and started to return somewhat late on the Sunday afternoon. In consequence, night overtook him on the moor; he became entangled among the bogs, and was in sore distress, unable to proceed or to retreat.

Being an eminently God-fearing man, he took off his cap and prayed.