Open main menu

Page:A book of folk-lore (1913).djvu/48

This page needs to be proofread.


the spot. The body had vanished, but in its place appeared a goat charged with glittering trinkets, that eluded all attempts to catch it. This mysterious goat is still visible. Any one who can catch it by the tail and hold on will be drawn to where are collected the precious articles received by the damsel.

In a good many places it is believed that witches are transformed after death into hares; and a lady wrote to me from the Isle of Man that she could not get her servants to eat hare, because it might be the body of some old woman transformed.

It is not, however, only into quadrupeds that human souls pass. When I was a small boy an old woman in the place, who could neither read nor write, told me a folk-tale that is very similar to one Grimm collected in Germany. A mother died, and the father married again. He had by his first wife a daughter; by the second a son. The brother loved his half-sister dearly, but the wicked stepmother hated her. "Child," said the stepmother one day, "go to the grocer's shop and buy me a pound of candles." She gave her the money, and the little girl went, bought the candles, and started on her return. There was a stile to cross. She put down the candles whilst she got over the stile; up came a dog