Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/218

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204 Collectanea.

retained in our out-of-date English system of weights and measures for the express purposes of the Elf-doctor, for by other mortals it is now used never.

The cow is spanned once, she is spanned twice — beginning now at the horns and ending with the tail. She is spanned a third and last time, in reverse order from last time before. If she grows shorter every spanning, or if no two spannings correspond (which let me whisper never does not happen), this is a triumphant argument. There is no more about it. Of the calamity that has befallen the poor animal there is any longer "no possible doubt whatever."

Notwithstanding all, and the finding of even the stroke dints beneath the beast's body, the doctor is sometimes out. What professional gentleman is there but is now and again at fault? Last year a rather viciously-inclined neighbour of mine played a nasty trick. He brought one of my old friends to his stable and showed him the wrong cow, a cow in fact in perfect health. My friend examined the beast, twisted her tail and spanned her the magic thrice. " Badly sthruck ! Badly sthruck ! " he emphatically declared. " She's at death's doore." Forthwith he was shown to the byre ^ " doore " rather uncere- moniously indeed and was pelted from it with many aggravating epithets, "quack" and "swindler" being the most parliamentary of them.

It was a mean advantage, a mean, mean advantage !

As against this let me detail another " case." The lamest and hoariest of my good medical friends often rehearses it, and with it routs, as he imagines, the scoffers and sceptics all, horse and foot. Yesterday evening I had purposely a long chat with him. We sat together on a nice dry-sod " ditch " ^

^The common word for "cow-house" in County Leitrim. "In Connacht, and in Ireland generally, the "ditch" is usually not the trench, but the clay bank or fence. The trench alongside of it we call the "sheugh."

" It neither grew in syke nor ditch, Nor yet in ony sheugh, But at the gates of Paradise That birk grew fair eneugh."

The Wife of Usher's Well.