Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/216

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

202 Collectanea.

ordinary course to announce his death, about which I was, I may say, very sorry, for we were great friends. "And what was he to you ? " I enquired. " Well," he replied after a thought, " he was my gran'father's gran'uncle ! " We are a long-lived race down here among the hills of Leitrim.

To return to the Elf-Doctor. No sooner does he get his "sick call" than he is off hot-foot to his patient, well aware of the kind and fulness of the hospitality in store for him. He does not neglect to bring his precious elf-bag. In this purse are three or four flints, a silver piece called, no matter what it in reality happens to be, a " thirteen-pence piece " and three separate coppers, usually three bad half-pence. The little stones in the pouch are sometimes as many as seven or eight, though one alone is used. They are small flint-stones, some black, but most white. Flint, black or white, is not found in County Leitrim, nor nearer, I think, than Antrim, and hence these stones are here rare. One of the three Doctors has four rather small flint arrow-heads, the reversion of which I am promised. They were found, he states, by his grandfather's father or some other far-away ancestor, near a fort,^ on a farm which was much subject to the disease ; and he shows them once in a while as a very special mark of favour as the identical arrows that are discharged by the "gentry" to drive off too-meddlesome milch-cows from precincts sacred to their honours. Marauding milch-cows alone seem to bother the fairies : they alone are victims to their ire. Innocent calves or sheep they will let alone, roam where they will.

" The thirteen-pence piece " (so called) must be of silver and must have a cross on it. Nothing further is essential. A two-shilling piece would, I am told, answer very well. But cross-marked silver coins that are impassable, or considered so, are in greatest vogue. I should advise those interested in numismatics — or coin-collectors, old coin-collectors I mean — to have a look out for those elf-bags. There is a good Queen Anne shilling in mine (that is to be), and the silver coin in another was exchanged with me for a two-shilling piece,

^ Generic term in Co. Leitrim for any rath, dun, or mound covered with bushes and brambles.