Page:The Folk-Lore Journal Volume 7 1889.djvu/60

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not be in the hands of some English readers of these notes if may be worth while to transcribe the passage : —

"Another custom which was quite interesting was the cutting of the last cane for grinding. When the hands had reached the last rows standing, the foreman (commandeur) chose the tallest cane, and the best labourer (le meilleur couteau) came to the cane chosen, which was the only one in the field left uncut Then the whole gang congregated around the spot, with the overseer and foreman, and the latter, taking a blue ribbon, tied it to the cane, and brandishing his knife in the air, sang to the cane as if it were a person, and danced around it several times before cutting it. When this was done, all the labourers, men, women, and children, mounted in the empty carts, carrying the last cane in triumph, waving coloured handkerchiefs in the air, and singing as loud as they could. The procession went to the house of the master, who gave a drink to every negro, and the day ended with a ball, amid general rejoicing." — " Customs and Superstitions in Louisiana," by Alcée Fortier, The American Journal of Folk-Lore, vol. I. No. ii., pp. 137 sq.

The Rev. J. S. Black tells me that in the counties of Fife and Kinross it is the custom for the reapers to seize and "dump" any person who happens to pass by the harvest fields. The person is seized by his (or her) ankles and armpits, lifted up, and the lower part of his person brought into violent contact with the ground. This is called "dumping" or "benjie." Mr. G. A. Aitken, a friend and agriculturist whom Mr. Black consulted on the subject, writes: "The only correction I can make is that it is usually administered to people visiting the harvest fields, not to those passing by. It is occasionally practised, in frolic, by the harvesters among themselves, but the custom is fast dying out in this quarter. 'Head-money' is usually demanded, and if that is[1] custom is 'the fashion of the field.' How far it extends to Perth and Forfar I don't know." Mr. Black, however, has no doubt that passers by, as well as visitors to the field, are

  1. So Mr. Aitken writes. Some words seem to have dropped out, the meaning apparently being that if head-money is refused by the victim he is dumped. [J. G. F.]