Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/340

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304 Havipshire Folklore.

The Rufus oak must be distinguished from the similarly- gifted one at Cadnam. I know that insignificant-looking oak-tree well, but have never had the luck to be there on Christmas Day to see it magic out in freshly-opened leaf. I can only say that, when last I went by it, a fev/ weeks after one Christmas season, it was as bare of leaf as any of its undistinguished neighbours ! It is not without interest to note that the tree which influenced the fatal shaft that slew the Red King was an oak, for in some parts of the county it is held that oaks draw thunder. I was taking refuge one day in a wayside inn during a severe storm, and, speaking to an old countryman about Alice Holt Forest, whither I was bound, was advised by him not to go there that day as " there be iron in the o-ak what draws it," though the big chalk pit by Odiham, a few miles to the north-west, sends thunder away. Perhaps it is because of this dangerous characteristic that they say ravens will not build in oak-trees. Another dangerous thing is the blackthorn, as a wound from it is hardest to heal.

We thus get the old magic oak, ash, and thorn, potent to save or destroy, to heal and to wound.

According to Canon Vaughan, cures with herbs are no longer regarded in the county, as he tells a story of an old woman who was " the last of the simple-gatherers of Hamp- shire." ^^ The story is worth repeating, as it suggests a con- nection between black and white magic in this matter. The old woman was gathering herbs in the Forest of Bere, and on returning home one night with her spoils was offered a sovereign for her " harbs " by a " sharp-featured man."

adds, — " I have not seen, but I am satisfied with the evidence of a friend, whose veracity is, in my mind, equal to self sight. This gentleman was, a few years ago, called upon to determine a wager, that a leaf should be produced on Christmas Day, to the size of a filbert, which he then gathered to the satisfac- tory decision of the bet." {Tour to the West of Englatid, Mayor's The British Tourists, vol. iv, pp. 288-9.)

^^ The Wild- Flowers of Selborne, pp. 23-4.