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Page:A book of folk-lore (1913).djvu/33

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belief that is so general, and which has been expanded by imagination into the travelling of such lights to fetch others.

What, we may ask, is the Will-o'-the wisp? Is it not the spirit of the man who has perished in a morass, dancing above where his body lies submerged? Some years ago a convict from Prince Town prison escaped. He was last seen flying over Foxtor Mire, and he never was seen again. Since then a blue flame has been observed occasionally hovering over the morass.

When the poet wrote:

he uttered a sentiment expressive of the nature of the soul common to the many. None who have stood by a deathbed can fail to observe how closely the parting of soul and body, the light fading from the eyes, and warmth leaving the body, resembles the extinction of a fire.

In Yorkshire, when a man is drowned, in order to find the place where the body is, a lighted candle is stuck in a loaf of bread which is committed to the water, and the light after a while floats above the spot where the corpse lies below the surface. When I was in Yorkshire in 1865 a man was drowned