Page:A book of folk-lore (1913).djvu/117

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I pass now to an entirely different phase of folklore, but still connected with sacrifice.

It is said in Devonshire than the River Dart every year claimeth a heart. That is to say, that this river demands a human offering. At Huccaby Bridge is heard, in certain conditions of the wind the "Cry of the Dart", a strange wailing and then shrieking call. And it is supposed that this is the demand of the river for a victim. Some few years ago there was a marriage at Staverton church of a couple, one from Dartington. The party crossed the river at a ford in a cart. On their return there ensued a sudden freshet, and the conveyance was swept away and all drowned. "It is only the Dart demanding her hearts," was the comment on this occasion.

Sir Walter Scott, in The Pirate, notices the repugnance felt in rescuing drowning men from a wreck. The feeling is that the Sea, or the Goddess of the Sea, demands her victims. Among the seamen of Orkney and Shetland it was formerly deemed unlucky to rescue persons from drowning, since it was held as a matter of religious faith that the sea is entitled to certain victims, and if deprived would avenge itself on those who interfere.

On the Cornish coast the sea is heard calling for its victim. A fisherman or a pilot walking