Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/257

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ANIMAL AND PLANT LORE.

flayed a liver-colored dog and clapped it yet palpitating to their sovereign's breast; and lie died."

There is a popular supposition of wide range, based upon I know not what, that it is very healthful for children to play with dogs. A weak child, it is thought, may gain strength by being with a dog, or, if diseased, the child may be cured by having the animal "take the disease"—for example, inflamed eyes or any disorder of the skin. Within a year a college graduate told me, in perfect good faith, of acquaintances, a Boston doctor and his wife, whose little girl had been greatly afflicted with some form of eczema which they all hoped would disappear, as the parents had purchased a fine dog to play with the child.

When a dog is teething, the upper incisors, according to a New England superstition, must be removed as soon as they become loose, or he may "swallow them and have fits" Perhaps even more generally received is the fancied danger of allowing a child's milk-tooth after extraction to fall into the possession of a dog or cat, lest the animal swallow it, and the child have a dog's or cat's tooth grow in place of the lost one. The Mexicans and Indians in Texas say that every animal has brains enough to tan its own skin; and so the latter, in the case of the wolf, panther, wild cat, and some other animals, is mainly prepared by rubbing into the flesh side of it the brains of its former wearer. A somewhat common fancy among children, perhaps too among adults as well, is that "every part strengthens a part"—that is, that the liver, heart, brains, and so on of animals, when eaten, go directly toward nourishing the corresponding organs in the eater. A similar doctrine was worked out in great detail by the American Indians, and is, I believe, held by many other savage tribes. It seems altogether probable that such beliefs, wherever found among civilized people, old or young, are survivals from remote antiquity, and that they are closely akin in their nature and origin to the well-known doctrine of signatures which has played so great a part in the systems of medicine of primitive peoples.

Mr. Charles Aldrich, of Webster City, Iowa, relates the following curious superstition: "A neighbor residing on a small farm near me has, on several occasions, spoken of his experience with 'hog mice.' He came to this country many years ago from Northamptonshire, England, where he had often seen these strange animals. They are also occasionally seen by him here in Iowa. This mythical rodent is about the size of a barn mouse, but its striking peculiarity as to its outward appearance is, that it has a head and face fashioned exactly like that of a hog. It is a very 'uncanny' little beast. If it merely runs across the body of a sleeping person, or of a domestic animal, such unfortunate person or animal will be grievously afflicted.