Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/38

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Presidential Address.

boy, the dead's man natural heir. The bees were contented, and remained. Another woman, in Shropshire, more prudent, was heard telling the bees of her husband's death thus,—"Bees, bees, the poor Maister's dead, so now yo mun work for me." A member of the Folk-Lore Society, staying at West Malvern the summer before last, noticed a fine row of beehives in a cottage garden, and stopped to remark on them to the owner. After a little preliminary conversation she said,—"In some places I know they always tell the bees when there is a death in the family. Do they ever do so in this part of the country?" "Well 'm," replied the woman, "we didn't tell them when my aunt died, but when my husband's father died we did, because, you see, he was in the house." "A-ah!" ejaculated the lady, sympathetically, in the tone of one who had received new light on an important subject, "Yes, ma'"am," continued the good woman, pleased with the other's ready comprehension, "and it is surprising how they seem to understand you. They set up a loud sort of humming directly, quite a different noise to what they make at other times."

Again, when an ague-stricken girl in the Lincolnshire Fens pinned a lock of her hair to an aspen, with the petition, "Aspen-tree, aspen-tree, I prithee to shak' an' shiver i'stead o' me;"[1] when an old woodman in the same county humbly asked leave of the elder before he ventured to cut it;[2] when a boy in Needwood Forest shrieked with fright when someone burnt elder boughs, (which, there, are forbidden fuel), lest "the Devil should be down the chimney in a minute," (here we have a real "taboo" with its magico-religious sanction); when in the same district orders were given to refrain from burning fern, lest it should cause inconvenient rain; when hawthorn boughs are brought into the house on Ascension Day to preserve it from

  1. Henderson, Notes on the Folk-Lore of the Northern Countiesetc., p. 150.
  2. County Folklore, vol. v. (Lincolnshire), p. 20.