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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 40.djvu/361

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TRADITIONS of tailed men are very old and wide-spread. Tailed races are told of in many countries, whose home is, however, usually placed in some little-known region; and the stories of individuals who had tails can hardly be counted. A number of legends on the subject have been collected by Mr. S. Baring-Gould, and published in his Curious Myths of the Middle Ages. This author himself was brought up in the belief that all Cornishmen had tails, and was not undeceived till a good Cornish bookseller, with whom he formed a warm friendship, assured him that this was not the case; after which he satisfied himself that the man had sat his tail off; and his nurse informed him that that was what happened to men of sedentary habits.

Certain men of Kent were said to have had tails inflicted upon them in punishment for their insults to St. Thomas à Becket. The story runs that when the saint came to Stroud on the Medway, the inhabitants of the place, being eager to show some mark of contumely to him in his disgrace, did not scruple to cut off the tail of the horse on which he was riding; and for this, according to Polydor Vergil, "it so happened, by the will of God, that all the offspring born from the men who had done this thing were born with tails like brute animals. But this mark of infamy, which formerly was everywhere notorious, has disappeared with the extinction of the race whose fathers perpetrated the deed." The story seems to have been applied, with variations, to other Englishmen, now here, now there, so that John Bale complained, in the time of Edward VI, "that an Englyshman now can not travayle in another land by way of marchandyse or any other honest occupyinge, but it is most contumeliously thrown in his tethe that all Englyshmen have tails."

A Polish writer tells of a witch who transformed a bridal company, stepping over a girdle of human skin which she had laid in the doorway, into wolves. She afterward, by throwing dresses of fur over them, gave them their human forms; but the bride-groom's dress was not long enough to cover his tail, and he kept it; whence it became hereditary in his family. John Struys, a Dutch traveler, who visited Formosa in the seventeenth century, relates that a member of his party got separated from the rest and was mangled and killed by a wild man, who was afterward caught and tied up for execution, when, says the traveler, "I beheld what I had never thought to see. Ho had a tail more than a foot long, covered with red hair, and very like that of a cow. When he saw