Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/331

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Collectanea. 301

being the least objectionable, as it does not bode serious loss. Some years ago, a Caithness farmer used to fish at Brims with a retired fisherman who lived at the Hill of Forss. One lovely even- ing he waited in vain, and next day upbraided his friend for not coming when there was the prospect of such good fishing. "Good fishing ! I started from home expecting that, but faith ! when a hare crossed my path, I knew better, and went home again." In Caithness, a horse or a grouse is the most lucky creature to meet on the way to fish.

Mice nibbling among the nets are a sure sign of good luck.

To throw fresh water at a man on his way to his boat is a cer- tain indication that he wall be drowned. Even to ask where he is going when on his way to the sea is very improper, but it is well to throw a silver coin, an old shoe, or some salt, after him. A sure omen of good luck is for the fisherman's wife to throw, either in anger or jest, according to the temper she is in, a " besom," or broom, at her lord's head as he is leaving his home on his way to fish. If a man forgets anything, he must not return for it, and when he gets into the boat he must turn it so that the bow follows the course of the sun, never against it. A new boat must not go to sea for the first time on a Friday.

When a fisherman thinks there is too little wind to go to sea with, he whistles for more, or sticks a knife into the mast of his boat ; but if he does not carefully regulate his whistling, a hurri- cane may come along, in which case he remains at home. At sea he must be more careful, as there he has no way of escape if he " makes " too much wind. He may sing but not whistle, when baiting his line. Probably the safest way is to buy your wind from a " wise " woman, and the most likely places for you to find her are Shetland and the Hebrides. In the introduction to the Pirate, Sir Walter Scott tells of an old woman, Bessie Miller, who lived in Stromness, Orkney, who was said to be a hundred years old, and who, for a fee of sixpence, sold favourable winds to mariners. At that time ladies of her profession were plentiful in the islands to the north and west of Scotland. The most notorious wind-sellers in Caithness and Sutherlandshire were Mhor Bhan of Assynt and a woman named '\^'att at Duncansbay ; but they are long since dead. A fisherman told me the other day that Mhor Bhan was strangled by two young men who thought she had practised her art to their hurt. They