Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/225

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Collectanea. 187

A Cambridgeshire Witch.

{Communicated through Miss Beatrix Wherry.)

Mrs. Smith was born about 18 10 and died about 1880. My father was then clergyman of the parish (in Cambridgeshire), and I have heard him say there were such crowds of people at her funeral that they pushed each other right into the grave, all expecting that she would burst her coffin. He was obliged to stop and speak to them, " and a fine lecture he gave them," a woman told me when lately I revisited my old home, "and serve 'em right too, for their wonderful ignorance, believing in such things."

On the occasion of the same visit I asked another old

acquaintance, Mrs D , if she could tell me anything about

Mrs. Smith. "Oh yes," she said, "she used to live near us and would often come to see mother. Sometimes we would lay a knife or a pair of scissors just inside the door, and then she would say, ' I can't come in, my sole is coming off my shoe,' and she couldn't come in until we had taken the knife away, because a witch can't pass over steel. Other times we would hide a knife under the cushion on the arm-chair and ask her to sit down, but she would pick up the cushion and say, ' Why, you have got a knife hidden there ! ' "

I then asked if it was true that she had power over animals. " Oh yes ! " was the reply, " my mother saw a waggon opposite the public-house down the road there, and the horses couldn't move it. The man was cursing, and thrashing 'em something cruel, and the horses was pulling, but they couldn't move the cart nohow. At last he got so wild, he caught hold of a pitchfork and drove it into the horse's knee, but even then [!] it couldn't go on. Well, Mrs. Smith she came down the road. ' Don't treat the poor horses like that,' she says, and directly she spoke off went the horses as if nothing was the matter. Then there was a woman here as had a pig as was taken wonderful bad, a-whirling round in the field and frothing at the mouth. Well, the woman she sent for a man to kill it, and he came a-sharpening his knife, when all of a sudden the pig