Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/208

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igS Collectanea.

The third story I was told by Mrs. Tardif was one which she remembered her great-grandfather telling her when she was a child. When he was a young man he went, with one or two others of the family, to visit his wife's uncle, who was ill, for the purpose of trying to persuade the sick man to destroy a " bad book " which he had in his possession. In this book there were directions for establishing communication with the Devil, and numerous spells. If the possessor of the book was annoyed by any of his neighbours he would go indoors, unlock the box or chest in which the book was kept, lay the book on the table, and proceed to read aloud whatever spell seemed to him to fit the case. It might be one for killing his neighbour's pigs, or for causing the cattle to fall ill — or maybe that weeds should come up in the fields instead of the wheat which had been sown. From what was told me I gather that this old man was peculiarly vindictive even for a sorcerer. I do not know what arguments his visitors used, but at last they got the key of the little chest out of the old man, and permission to destroy the accursed book, which they took away with them. The obvious thing to do was to burn the book, but knowing that the Devil or his angels would keep an eye over it, the family decided not to attempt to burn it in an ordinary fire, but to wait till baking day, when they would place it in the brick oven among the blazing furze. When the day came, the family being assembled and an immense fire of furze burning in the oven, the book was placed on the wooden " paule " or shovel which was used for the bread, and put inside the oven. But though more and more furze was added to the fire that book would not burn, and at last they gave it up, and when the furze was raked out the book came too, unsinged, and it was placed again in a strong chest and the key thrown away.

A man and his wife, named Denise, lived for some years within five minutes' walk from us ; the woman was a white witch, but the husband was also supposed to know " a bit too much," as the neighbours put it. The trouble with white witches is that they are apt to use their power badly, and Denise was rather apt to do this. A farmer happened one day to offend an old woman with the evil eye, and she told him that she would make him sorry for it. A few days after this he went to look at two fields of wheat