his man saw a mouse creep out of his mouth and run away; every one searched for the animal, but could not find it, and the miller never awoke. In Bohemia it was considered dangerous to go to sleep while thirsty, as the soul was sure to wander abroad in search of water. Baring-Gould tells the story of three laborers, having lost their way in the woods, and, parched with thirst, seeking in vain for water. At last one of them lay down and fell asleep, while the others continued their search until they found a spring. After drinking they returned to their comrade, when they saw a little white mouse run out of his mouth, go to the spring, drink, and then return to the sleeper. In German superstition the souls of the dead assume the forms of mice, and when the head of a house dies it is said that even the mice of the house abandon it, and that, in general, every apparition of mice is considered a funereal presage; the funeral of St. Gertrude, represented surrounded by mice, being thus accounted for.
The position of the mouse in the folk-lore of the soul is not quite clear. The Mojaves believe that curling upward with the smoke from the funeral pyre the soul rises and floats eastward to the region of the rising sun; but, if its purity has been sullied with crime or stained with human blood, it is transformed into a rat and must remain four days in a rat-hole to be purified before it can share the joys of heaven. Mr. Ralston tells us that in the Nijogorod Government the Milky-Way is called the Mouse-Path, the mouse being a well-known figure of the soul. Miss Phipson says that the dormouse, from its awakening from sleep with the return of spring, was sometimes employed in ecclesiastical art as a type of the resurrection. Per contra, Mr. Conway assures us that the shudder which some nervous persons feel at the sight of even a harmless mouse is a survival of the time when it was believed that in this form unshriven souls or unbaptized children haunted their former homes, and from the many legends that report the departure of unhallowed souls in the shape of this timid creature.
Birds vie with mice in the honor of being human soul-bearers. The heathen Bohemians thought that the soul flew out of the mouths of the dying in the shape of birds. Grimm says such ideas were common in pagan Scandinavia. In the Edda of Sæmund it is said that souls in the form of singed birds flit about the nether world like SAvarms of flies. The Bohemians thought that bird-shaped souls flew restlessly from tree to tree until the bodies were
- Grimm, loc. cit.
- "Curious Myths," p. 461.
- De Gubernatis, "Zoölogical Mythology," vol. ii, p. 67.
- Bancroft, "Native Races of the Pacific Coast," vol. iii, p. 526.
- "Songs of the Russian People," p. 109.
- "Animal Lore," p. 131.
- "Demonology and Devil Lore," vol. i, p. 128.
- "Teutonic Mythology," vol. ii, p. 828.