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Page:A book of folk-lore (1913).djvu/232

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I have mentioned elsewhere[1] the strong objection I found was entertained in Yorkshire against having a child baptised in a new font in a new church, the deeply--rooted conviction being that such a child became the perquisite of the devil.

A like prejudice exists against being the first person to cross the threshold of a new house, as it is supposed that ill-luck, probably death, will ensue to him or her who either daringly or unwittingly does so enter a house for the first time. I am not sure that the practice of asking some stranger to cut the first sod, and making of that an honour, is not an ingenious way devised of passing on the ill--luck that would have fallen on one engaged on the undertaking for which the sod has to be cut, to another person ignorant of what it entails. We had in Devonshire an addition made to our churchyard, to which, as on a lower level, descent had to be made by a flight of steps. The utmost repugnance was felt by the villagers to have one of their dear ones be the first laid in it. At last a

  1. Strange Survivals. Methuen & Co.