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Page:A book of folk-lore (1913).djvu/245

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he were actually suckling it. That was the curious method adopted to escape to a higher social stage. If among the Semitic and Aryan peoples there is found no trace of the couvade, it is because these peoples never did emerge from a social state in which the family did not exist, in which the patriarchate was not recognised, and recognised as the great social basis.

I will now take up another point. It may be noticed how that in most of our nursery tales relating to the adventures of several brothers it is always the youngest who comes out topmost.

The typical story is The White Cat. A king sends his three sons forth, promising to bestow the kingdom on him who shall present him with the smallest dog. This the youngest produces; then he subjects them to a fresh trial--he will confer the crown on him who can procure lawn so fine as to be drawn through a needle's eye.

Again the third son succeeds. The last trial is--succession to the throne is to be accorded to him who brings back the most beautiful princess. Again, and finally, the youngest triumphs, as he produces the White Cat transformed into a most miraculously beautiful damsel.

Generally, in the similar stories, the elder