Page:Journal of American Folklore vol. 12.djvu/639

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

Readings. 291


Garments of the Dead. — The obstinacy with which savage beliefs are retained by the rural population of Europe is illustrated by an item presented in the " Revue des Traditions Populaires," 1900, p. 323.

" In the part of the arrondissement of Dinan which lies near the sea, it is believed that people will rise dressed after the manner in which they have been interred ; for this reason, when a very poor person dies, demand is made on charitable souls to furnish a garment suitable to replace his rags. Lately a well-to-do peasant ordered his heirs to put at his side in the coffin a large umbrella of blue cotton. To pass to the other side is to cross the sea, and many suppose that the coffins float on an interior sea in order to go to the other world ; the good man wanted his umbrella to use for a sail."

Love-Charms at Wishing- Wells. — On page 490 of the same Journal, some account is given of the practices usual in the department of the Var.

" At Ollioules, maidens dip in the hollow of their hand a little water from the spring called Bonnefont, and present it to the young men. In case the latter so much as touch the lips, they are forced to love their unsuspected enchanter.

" At Montrieux, the girl who desires to take a husband offers an oak- leaf to the capricious current of a brook. If the water carries off her frail burden, it means happiness in the union ; if, on the contrary, the leaf de- lays its course, and revolves in uncertainty, the presage is one of misfor- tune, it is the austere coif of Saint Catherine which appears on the horizon. At the well of Capeau, the beliefs and practices are identical ; but the leaf is replaced by a prosaic pin."

Fairies as Fishes. — A story of superstition narrated in the same Jour- nal, p. 549, appears to retain of a trace of the animal nature of spirits be- lieved to exist in fairy wells. The collector has entitled the tale " Le pois- son merveilleux."

" Long ago, in the youth of my grandmother's great-grandmother, the youths and maidens met together in order to fish in the ponds of Guebriand, where was to be found a marvellous fish, which was a fairy. This fish was brilliant, and illuminated the neighboring water with the brightness of ten candles. No one attempted to capture him, for they knew that this was impossible, but such as had the luck to see him were fortunate during a whole year, and any one who could put his finger in the water, brightened by his rays, would be so his life long. One night malefactor attempted to get possession of the fish, thinking that such ownership would procure him infinite riches. He was punished, for he drowned himself ; but from that day the beautiful fish of light has never been seen; it is known throughout the country that he drew into the subterranean water the per- son who attempted to take him ; the proof is that the body has never been

�� �