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Page:A book of folk-lore (1913).djvu/32

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up. At a considerable depth was found a firm layer of white lime of the length and breadth of a grave, and of considerable thickness. When this had been broken through there were found the bones of a human being. No tradition existed in the place to explain this burial, whether it had been a case of murder, or that the human being here buried had died of pestilence, none could tell--but it was abundantly clear that the burial had taken place at some considerable anterior period. The bones were removed, the pit filled up, the lime scattered abroad, and the surface again made smooth. When Billing was now brought back to the spot, the phenomenon did not return.

It is possible, it is even probable, that the popular superstition relative to lights seen above graves is due to the discharge of phosphuretted hydrogen from a decaying corpse. I drove over one day with my brother to see a church, and before entering it he thoughtlessly threw his overcoat across a grave. On our return he fainted, being overcome by the smell that his coat had acquired. And this grave was not of recent making, but was at the least eight years old. It is possible enough that such exhalations should become luminous, and thus start the