Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/260

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central Ohio, I remember that neither my playmates nor myself doubted, when we saw dragon-flies darting to and fro or hovering over ponds or swamp-lands, that they were carrying food to their friends the snakes; and the sight of a snake-feeder always put those who feared snakes on their guard.

Some years ago a friend of mine was spending the night in Boston. Her hostess advised her, upon retiring, to be sure and keep the bedclothes well over her feet during the night, as the house was infested with cockroaches, and it was said that the insects would gnaw one's toe-nails if opportunity offered. This suggests a rather popular New England superstition that if you kill a cricket the rest of the tribe will come unawares and bite holes in your clothes. We find the same superstition in Ireland. The Irish in general say that it is very lucky to have crickets come to take up their abode in your premises, only you must be very careful not to injure one. A young Irishman once told me that if by chance boiling water were spilled upon one, as might easily happen among the peasants who cook by an open fire, about the hearth of which the crickets like to live, the unlucky person who had done the injury would be sure to find that the crickets had gnawed holes in his socks and other garments during his sleep; at the same time and in the same room the clothes of other persons who had not harmed the crickets would be unmolested. A Maine saying is that, if one of the sprightly elves become imprisoned in some crevice, ill-fortune will surely attend any bystander who does not release him. In some places with us the cricket is said to be propitious, but there is a Maine belief that its chirping foretells sorrow. This is a probable outgrowth of the saddening effect of long-continued listening to the little reveler's music, so mingled in its cheer and pathos. We may pretty certainly conclude that our whimsies about the cricket have in the main been directly transplanted from the British Isles, while those of the latter region are, in turn, modified versions of ancient ancestral beliefs common to many branches of the Aryan race. In White's Selborne the author says, in speaking of crickets: "They are the housewife's barometer, foretelling her when it will rain; and are prognostic sometimes, she thinks, of ill or good luck, of the death of a near relation, or of the approach of an absent lover." Among various prognostications of death recounted in the poet Gray's Pastoral Dirge we find—

"And shrilling crickets in the chimney cried."

The Spectator says that the voice of the cricket has inspired more terror than the roaring of a lion. According to Pliny, the cricket was an insect greatly esteemed by ancient magicians.

It is often said that the house-fly is indigestible by the human