Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/414

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372 Old- World Survivals in Ross-shire.

thing made of that metal may do ; a wedding ring, for instance. I have often seen people coming to the lady known as Herself in the parish to get the loan of her w'ed- ding ring, it being supposed to be of purer gold than any other procurable. But a gold piece of money is preferable to anything else, because the Queen's picture is on it. By divine right kings and queens are, of course, possessed of peculiar virtues as regards the art of healing ; and it is but natural to suppose that the real article, being somewhat un- get-at-able, a " counterfeit presentment " of the same is the next best thing. An old shepherd of ours who suffered from scrofula, or king's evil, often bewailed his inability to get within touching distance of Her late Gracious Majesty. He was convinced that by so doing his infirmity would at once be cured. " Ach, no!" he would say mournfully, "I must just be content to try and get to Lochaber instead some day, and get the leighiche (healer) there to cure me." The said leighiche is the seventh son of a seventh son, and as is well-known, such people are credited with being able to cure not only king's evil, but many other specific dis- eases.

I have lately read that the schoolmaster is abroad in the Highlands, and that consequently, all such old beliefs are being stamped out of the rising generation. Perhaps so; but two summers ago I paid a visit to the schoolhouse of a certain village. To my surprise, I found, although it was not vacation time, that the school was 'closed and the

midwife used to mutter a species of blessing over the child. I have not made a note of the particular form used in our part. Indeed, the old people are rather chary of giving these things away. The incantation for the red string (see p. ) I had last summer from a " skeely woman" who inherited eolas, or occult knowledge, from her mother. Somewhat similar ones are to be found in Carniina Gadelica, and also in Mackenzie's Gaelic Incantations. [The charm used with the red string is the sprain-charm,'given in Gaelic and English, as from South Uist, in Folk-Lore, xi., 449 ; used in English with a black woollen thread with nine knots in Shetland, Choice Notes, p. 37, and with a linen thread in Orkney, ibid., p. 64; recorded with '.Norwegian, Swedish, Flemish, and German parallels (the last from a tenth century MS.) by Grimm, Deutsche Mylhologie, 2nd od., 1181, 2. — El).].