Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/217

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


Collectanea. 203

("though it's bekeys it's yerself what's in it," I was told); I hope the spell is not thereby broken. ^

Well, off goes the "wise-man" with his bag, and his best foot foremost. And he has his eyes sharp about him. Should the first person he meets be a red-haired woman, his heart goes down ; but if it be a man of fire-touched locks it is a good omen.

Arrived, first thing is to find out. Has the beast been elf-shot at all ? She is ailing, and has gone back in her milk of course. But if, besides, her hair is standing along her back like a porcupine's quills, if her ears are lifeless and hanging, and her tail when twisted fails to manifest its usual anxiety to right itself, she has most of the symptoms of being " struck." ^ To make assurance doubly sure he measures her.

The measuring is a decretorial test, and the manner of it as odd as it is ancient. An eagle is taped across its outspread wings, from tip of flight-feather to tip of flight-feather, and is said to je so many feet across. A steed is ruled by a cunning contrivance hid away in a cane rod, and is appraised as so many hands high. But our patient is spanned from end of last joint of her tail to back of her head at the junction of the horns, if she have such, and the result is carefully recorded in the memory. The scale made use of is none of your foot or metric standards but the space from the mid-finger tip to to the knuckle of the elbow {i.e. to the "funny-bone"). This is the ell, the genuine and naturally-variable ell evidently

^It is a very curious coin. I have never seen the same as it. It is just the size of a Queen Anne shilling, but only half the thickness and weight. On the obverse is a King's head and the Roman figures vi. The face is a good one with a long, peaked beard. The crown is evidently the French crown, crosses and fleur-de-lys alternating. Round the head on the verge of the disc is, as far as I can make it out, CAROLUS : D : G : MA : BR : FR : ET : HI : REX : On the reverse are quartered the arms of France, Ireland and of another nation (three lions passant). The cross forms the four quarters of the shield and its points reach a good way beyond it. Only the words CHRISTO... REGNO are distinct round the margin; others inter- vening have been sheared off.

^ The unknowledgeable might profanely imagine she was merely out of sorts or "sick."