Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/221

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Collectanea. 207

Three-mearne-water is used in several obscure rustic rites. The name explains the article : it is running water taken from a spot at which three townlands meet. (I have noted many such eerie places, and in particular, one at the junction of three parishes, whose virtue was formerly famed far and near.)

Its influence is most powerful if it be dipped up before sunrise, in that "darkest hour before dawn." One of my authorities thinks most highly of the moments before sunset, of that interval between the genuine and apparent sinking of the "westering sun" below the horizon. Doctors indeed, Elf Doctors included, differ on many points, but I will merely follow steadily what I believe to be the safest authorities, and will ignore minor details.

While the light-armed errand-boy is executing his commission of trust, the Elf-Doctor himself steals out softly and alone to gather "erribs" — mdgo "herbs." What these "erribs"are is a secret beyond price, and none dare ask it. Still, for the sake of humanity and cattle, I will venture to disclose it.

It springs up profusely in light moss, or in a track where a last year's " whin-bush " (as we call " furze " around here) was burned down. It grows close to the ground with corymbs of yellow-green flowers. Its popular name is Lady's Mantle, (more properly. Our Lady's Mantle), and its botanical one Alchemilla vulgaris. It is a modest, pretty little thing to look at, but its beauty is ecHpsed by its hardy northern sister, Alchemilla alpina^ with its serrated leaflets, underlined with grey satin. The two must by no means be confounded.

As soon after the messenger's return as they can detach themselves from the enchantments of good-fellowship, all atten- tion is once more focussed on the stricken cow, and the cure at last is made, with all due solemnity. It is simple enough. In a pail are put {a) the expressed juice of the " erribs," {h) the coins, copper and silver, and one flint from the elf-pouch, {c) a pinch of salt, and {d) finally the three-mearne-water, with ordinary spring water ad lib.

It is the supreme fact of the cure that the cow takes three sups of this concoction. The three sups, as any open-minded logician can see, are implicitly contained in a hearty drink of