Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/254

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In addition to the horns, arms and pieces of human flesh may he dug up in suspicious places, and this is the carrion on which witches and wizards feed. Any one tasting a morsel of such food is himself thereby converted into a wizard. Witches and wizards have midnight feasts, so says the legend, at which they gorge themselves with human carrion. Hence it is that in many parts the dead are not buried till putrefaction sets in, and graves are watched a considerable period after interment. The detective may not be known as such to a wizard, and may pretend to follow the same art in order to gain his confidence. If, then, the wizard offers the detective human carrion, no further proof of guilt is needed. Whether such food is ever offered to these rogues it is difficult to say, as their word is accepted without question or inquiry.

Witches can. cause milk to flow down through a straw from the roof of a house,[1] and by this means rob their neighbors of the milk of their goats and cows. When I read of this superstition for the first time it reminded me of an incident, connected with a similar Celtic superstition, which happened in Sutherlandshire about twelve years ago. In that region a superstition still lingers that witches can "steal the feet" of cows by walking through the fields while the dew is on the grass, dragging a rope made of cow-hair after them. A Thurso mason, well acquainted with north country superstitions, was employed in the district at the time referred to, and got a quantity of new milk daily from a crofter's wife. At the beginning of August she sent to say she could no longer let him have new milk, as that went to the shooting lodge, but he could have milk from which the cream had been taken. The wily rogue sent her the following message: "Tell your mother I do not wish to be nasty, but I must have new milk, if not by fair means, then otherwise. I shall take it from the rafters of the house rather than want." Next morning the girl appeared with skimmed milk, thin and blue. Malcolm had meantime made his preparations. He had bored one of the roof couples, and fixed a bladder filled with milk in the thatch so as to empty its contents through the hole when required. He then carefully plugged the hole. When he saw the quality of the milk sent, he asked the girl into the house that she might see what happened there. He next took an auger and bored the plug away, when down came a stream of rich milk and cream. After that he had but to ask what he required. No one dared refuse his most extravagant demands. His reputation as a wizard spread far and near over the country side, and still lingers there among the superstitious.

Wizards visit their victims while asleep, and "instill" a power-

  1. This is pretty general in East Central and South Africa.