Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/205

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Folk- Lore of the Wye Valley. 169

Now I had been told that Luke used to do some protective charming every year for a farmer now dead, in which the burning of salt figured. As this is in itself an evil and unlucky thing, I asked questions, but got no answer save an uncomfortable look. But the little old woman from the other side of the hearth burst out excitedly : " Burn salt ? why, yes ! you can fetch a man wi' that ! If a girl have been wronged by a man, or if you do want revenge, you can fetch him back at midnight. You do make a good fire, and you mustn't speak or let any one stir it. An' as it strikes midnight you do put the salt on the fire, and wishes him back to speak to you. An' as it strikes you finishes, and him will come, aye ! — through water ! ! No poker, no tongs in the corner, or him will take 'em, and stir out the trouble you be making. That'll bring un back, it will, I know, for I did try myself! " Here old Luke broke in, " Don't you do it, don't you listen, Missy. They as are good at charming mustn't do the devil's work, and that's devil's work, that is."

But that the charmer himself sometimes used to burn salt in his charming is certain. I do not know if it was a case of fighting evil with evil, but a farmer's widow told me how in her husband's time old Luke used to come to charm the cattle. He would ask for half a pound of salt and go off alone to the " folder." After a while he would send it back to the kitchen to be burned. But he would not tell what he did.

The same woman told me how he cured one of their farm lads who suffered from nose-bleeding to a dangerous extent. Physicians were in vain, so his mother took him to old Luke. — " Yes Miss, he got out the Bible right enough, and put the key in it, and the boy did turn it round, and Luke did say something, and the boy wasn't to touch it after he turned it round the last time, and the boy did hold the Bible whilst old Luke he did put the key down his back ; and he's never had no bleeding