Open main menu

Page:A book of folk-lore (1913).djvu/81

This page needs to be proofread.

Another interesting feature in this charm is that the ague is impersonated as an evil sprite, against whom the incantation is launched.

There is a shallow river, the Wulf, that runs through the parish of Broadwood Widger, in Devon. It discharges into the Thrustle, thence into the Lyd, and so into the Tamar. The Wuif is liable to sudden rises, and then becomes impassable, and was so till the County Council built a bridge. Previously one going to Broadwood, or leaving it to go east, was constrained to traverse a ford. Now it was believed, before the bridge was built, that there was a spirit of gigantic size who waited at the ford to carry foot-passengers over, and there is a woman still alive who insists she was so conveyed across. That this belief owes something to a picture of a gigantic St Christopher that may have been in the church, but of which no traces now remain, is possible enough; that fresco, if it ever existed, did not, in my opinion, originate the conviction. The bearer across the stream is in all probability some ancient god, not happily in this case turned into a devil. Now I am convinced that this giant who wades through the river is none other than Thor, for in Norse story he is constantly represented