Open main menu

Page:A book of folk-lore (1913).djvu/108

This page needs to be proofread.

who sought to limit application to lot to the cases where human judgment could not be certain of being right. It was still current in Germany in the seventh century, and with less change of adjuncts than we usually find in the adoption of heathen forms even by Christian saints.

That the lot was used to determine a sacrifice we know from the story of Jonah. When the storm fell on the ship the sailors "said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So, they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah."

In very much--indeed in exactly the same way--it is determined who is to be thrown overboard in an old English ballad still sung by our peasantry:--

'Twas of a sea-captain came o'er the salt billow
He courted a maiden, down by the green willow.
"O take of your father his gold and his treasure!
O take of your mother her fee without measure."

The damsel robs her parents, and flies with the sea captain in his vessel.

And when she had sailed today and tomorrow,
She was wringing her hands, she was crying in sorrow.
And when she had sailed, the days were not many,
The sails were outspread, but of miles made not any.