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all days between the 18th and the child was bewitched ; and the 30th are invariably good.
mother should moisten its forehead Both mother and child must be with the water before it is cold, carefully watched over during the and give it (still counting backfirst few days after the birth, and wards) nine drops to drink. all evil influences averted. The The child that has been bevisit of another woman who has witched may likewise be held herself a babe at the breast, may above a red-hot ploughshare on deprive the young mother of her which a glass of wine has been milk; and any one who enters the poured; or else a glass of water house without sitting down, will in which a red-hot horse-shoe has assuredly carry off the infant's been placed, given to drink. sleep.
In almost every village there If the child be subject to fre. used, not long ago, to be old quent and apparently groundless women who made a regular' trade fits of crying, that is a sure sign out of preparing the water which that it has been bewitched, either was to undo evil spells. by someone whose eyebrows are The Saxon mother is careful not grown together, and may conse- to leave her child aione until it quently be supposed to have the has been baptised, for fear of the evil eye, or by one of the invisible malignant spirits, who may steal evil spirits whose power is great it away, leaving an uncouth elf in before the child has been taken its place. Whenever a child grows to church; but even a person with up clumsy and heavy, with large quite commonplace eyebrows may head, wide mouth, stump nose, convey evil by unduly praising and crooked legs, the gossips are the child's good looks, unless the ready to swear that it has been mother remembers to spit on the changed in the cradle, more espeground as soon as the words are cially if it prove awkward and spoken.
slow in learning to speak. I will here quote a few speci- guard against such an accident, mens of the various recipes in vogue it is recommended to mothers for undoing such evil spells:- obliged to leave their infants alone,
Nine straws, which must be to place beneath the pillow either counted backwards from nine till a prayer-book, a broom, a loaf of one, should be placed in a jug of bread, or a knife stuck point upwater, drawn from the river with wards. the current, not against; into this Very cruel remedies have someare thrown parings of wood from times been resorted to in order to off the cradle, the doorstep, and force the evil spirits to restore the the four corners of the room in child they have stolen, and take which the child was born, also back their own changeling. For nine pinches of ashes, likewise instance, the unfortunate little counted backwards. When all creature suspected of being an elf these various ingredients have
have was placed astride upon a hedge been boiled up together, the water and beaten with a thorny branch is poured boiling hot into a large till it was quite bloody; it was basin, and the pot left in it upside- then supposed that the evil spirits down. If the boiling water draws brought back the stolen child. itself into the jug (as of course it The infant should not be suffered will), that is proof positive that to look at itself in the glass till
To " is the
after the baptism, nor should it be baptismal ceremony, then it will held near an open window. A be pious and good-tempered; but if very efficacious preservative against it cries, it will be bad-tempered or all sorts of evil spells is to hang unlucky: therefore the first quesround the child's neck a little tri- tion asked by the parents on the angular bag stuffed with grains of return from church is generally, incense, wormwood, and various "Was it a quiet baptism?" and if aromatic herbs, and with an adder's such has not been the case, the head embroidered outside ; a gold sponsors are apt to conceal the coin sewed into the cap will like- truth. wise keep the spirits away.
In some places the christening Two godfathers and two god- procession returning to the house mothers are generally appointed of the parents finds the door at Saxon peasant christenings, and closed. After knocking for some it is customary that one couple time in vain, a voice from within should be old and the other young ; summons the godfather to name but in no case should a husband and seven bald men out of the parish. wife figure as god-parents at the When this has been answered, a same baptism, but each one of the further question is asked as to the quartet must belong to a different gospel read in church; and only family. This is the general custom ; on receiving the answer, “ Let the but in some districts the rule de- little children come to me, mands two godfathers and one door lung open, saying, “Come godmother for a boy—two god- in; you have hearkened attentivemothers and one godfather for a ly to the words of the Lord.”
The god-parents next inquiring, If the parents have lost other " Where shall we put the child ?” children before, then the infant receive the following answer :should not be carried out by the
“ On the bunker let it be, door in going to church, but hand
That it may jump like a flea ; ed out by the window, and brought
Put it next upon the hearth, back in the same way.
Heavy gold it will be worth. be carried by the broadest street,
On the floor then let it sleep, never by narrow lanes, else it will
That it once may help to sweep;
On the table in a dish, learn thieving
It will grow then like a fish.” The god-parents must not look round on their way to church; and After holding it succesively on the first person met by the chris- each of these places, it is finally tening procession will decide the put back into the cradle, while sex of the next child to be born the guests prepare to enjoy the -a boy if it be a man.
Tauf Schmaus or christening banIf two children are baptised out quet. of the same water, one of them Each person is expected to bring will soon die; and if several boys a small contribution in the shape are christened successively in the of eggs, bacon, fruit, or cakes; and same church, there will be war in the ged-parents do not fail to come the land as soon as they are grown each laden with a bottle of good up. Many girls denote fruitful wine, besides some other small vintages for the country when they gift for the child. have attained a marriageable age. The banquet is a noisy and
If the child sleeps during the merry one, and many are the
games and jokes practised on these For full four weeks after the occasions. One of these, called birth of her child must she stay the Badspringen (jumping the at home, and durst not step over bath), consists in putting a lighted the threshold of her courtyard. candle on a washing-trough, which even though she has resumed all is placed upside down on the her daily occupations within the ground. All the young women
first week of her recovery.
61 present are invited to jump over may not go outside till my time without upsetting or putting out is out; the Herr Vater would be the light. Those who are suc- sorely angered if he saw me,” is cessful in this evolution will be the answer I have often heard mothers of healthy boys. If they from woman who declined to are bashful, and refuse to jump, come out on to the road. Neither or should they be awkward enough may she spin during these four to upset the candle, they will be weeks, lest her child should suffer childless, or have only girls.
from dizziness. The Spiesstanz, or spit-dance, is When the time of this enforced also usual on these occasions. Two retirement has elapsed, the young roasting-spits are laid the mother repairs to church along ground crosswise, as in the sword- with her infant to be blessed by dance, and the movements exe- the pastor ; but before so doing cuted much in the same manner.
she is careful to seek the nearest Sometimes it is the grandfather well and throw down a piece of of the new-born infant who opens bread into its depths, probably as the performance, proud of display- an offering to the Brunnenfrau ing his agility as he sings :
supposed to reside in each water,
and who is said to lure little chilPurple plum so sweet,
dren down to her. See my nimble feet,
With these first four weeks the How I jump and slide,
greatest perils of infancy are conHow I hop and glide; See how well I dance,
sidered to be at an end ; but no See how well I prance.
careful mother will fail to observe Purple plum so sweet,
the many little customs and reguSee my nimble feet.”
lations which alone will ensure the
further health and wellbeing of But if the grandfather be old and her child. feeble, and if the godfathers can- Thus she will always remember not be induced to exert themselves, that the baby may only be washed then it is usually the midwife who, between sunrise and sunset, and for a small consideration, under- that the bathing-water may not takes the dancing.
be poured out into the yard at a It is hardly ever customary for place where any one can step over the young mother to be seated at it, which would entail sickness or table along with the guests; and death, or at the very least deprive even if she be well and hearty the child of its sleep. enough to have baked the cakes Two children which cannot and milked the cows on that same yet speak must not be allowed to day, etiquette demands that she kiss each other, or neither of them should play the interesting invalid will ever learn to talk. and lie in bed till the feasting be A book laid under the child's over.
pillow will make it an apt scholar;
and the water in which a young about, or it will be all over with puppy has been washed, if used him; and not for the world would for the infant's bath, will cure it they send for a doctor, who can of all skin diseases.
only be regarded as an omen of Whoever steps over a child as approaching death. it lies on the ground will cause it Some old woman versed in magic to die within a month. Other formulas, and learned in the decocprognostics of death are to rock an tion of herbs and potions, is hasempty cradle, to make the child tily summoned to the bedside ; and dance in its bath, or to measure the unfortunate man would probit with a yard-measure before it ably be left to perish without incan walk.
telligent advice, unless the pastor,
hearing of his illness, takes it upon Death, to the Saxon peasants, himself to send for the nearest appears in the light of a treach- physician. erous enemy, who must be met By the time the doctor has arwith open resistance, and may be rived, the illness has made rapid conquered by courageous opposi- strides, and most likely the assisttion or conciliated with a bribe. ance comes too late. The first “ He has put off death again with care of the doctor on entering the a slice of bread,” is said of a man room will be to remove the warm who has unexpectedly survived fur cap and the heavy blankets, some great danger.
which are wellnigh stilling the When the first signs of an ap- patient, and order him to be unproaching illness declare them- dressed and comfortably laid in selves in a man, all his friends are his bed. He prescribes cooling strenuous in advising him to hold compresses, and a medicine to be out against it, not to let himself taken at regular intervals, but go, but to grapple with this foe shakes his head and gives little which has seized him unawares. hope of recovery. Even though all the symptoms of Already this death is regarded typhus fever be already upon him, as a settled thing in the village, for though his head be burning like many of the gossips now remember fire, and his limbs heavy as lead, to have heard the owl shriek in the he is yet exhorted to bear up passing nights, or there has been an against it, and on no account to unusual howling of dogs just about let himself lie down, for that midnight. Others call to mind would be a concession to the how over-merry the old man had enemy.
been four weeks ago, when his In this way many a man goes youngest grandchild was chrisabout with death upon his face, tened, and that is ever a sign of determined not to give in, till he approaching death. “And only a drops at last senseless in the field week ago," says another village or yard where he has been working authority, “when we buried old till the last moment.
mother Barbara, there Even then his family are not amazing power of dust round the disposed to let him rest. With grave, and the Herr Vater sneezed well-meaning but mistaken kind- twice during his sermon; and that, ness, they endeavour to rouse him as everyone knows, infallibly by shouting in his ear. He must means another funeral before long. be made to wake up and walk Mark my words, ere eight days
have passed he will be lying under the next person who falls ill. It the nettles.”
is a pity to waste it on me, for I The village carpenter, who has feel that my time has come, and long been out of work, now hangs nothing can do me any more good. about the street in hopes of a job. Send for the preacher, that I niay “How is the old man?” he anx- make my peace with God." iously inquires of a neighbour. The last dispositions as to house
“ The pastor has just gone in to and property have been made in knock off the old sinner's irons,” is the presence of the pastor or the irreverent answer.
preacher. The house and yard are “ Then I may hope to be called to belong to the youngest son, as in soon for making his coat (coffin). is the general custom among the High time I was able to turn an Saxons. The elder son and the honest penny again. I have a daughter are to be otherwise proheap of damaged boards which vided for. The small back-room were refused by the railway en- belongs to the widow, as jointure gineers still lying on my hands." for the rest of her life; likewise
Sometimes, however, it is the a certain proportion of grain and thrifty peasant himself who, know- fruit is assured to her. The exact ing the ways of village carpenters, spot of the grave is indicated, and and foreseeing this inevitable con- two ducats are to be given to the tingency, has taken care to provide Herr Vater if he will undertake himself with a well-made solid to preach a handsome funeral coffin years before there was any oration. probability of its coming into use. When it becomes evident that He has himself chosen out the the last death-struggle is approachboards, tested their soundness, and ing, the mattress is withdrawn driven a hard bargain for his pur- from under the dying man, for, chase, laying himself down in the as every one knows, he will excoffin to assure himself of the pire more gently if lying on length being sufficient. For many straw. years this useless piece of furni- Scarcely has the breath left his ture has been standing in the loft, body than all the last clothes he covered with dust and cobwebs, has worn are taken off and given and serving perhaps as a receptacle to a gipsy. The corpse is washed for old iron or discarded shoes; and and shaved and dressed in bridal now it is the dying man himself, attire-the self-same clothes which who, during a passing interval of forty years previously he had consciousness, directs that his coffin donned on his wedding morning, should be brought down and clean- and which ever since have been lyed out, his glassy eye recovering a ing carefully folded by, and strewpassing brightness as he congrat- ed with sprigs of lavender, in the ulates himself on his wise fore- large Iruhe (bunker), waiting for thought.
the day when their turn must come Death is indeed approaching round again. with rapid strides. Only two A snowy sheet spread over spoonfuls of the medicine pre- layer of wood-shavings is the restscribed has the patient swallowed. ing-place of the body when it is “ Take it away," he says, when he laid in the coffin ; for the head, a realises his situation— " take it little pillow stuffed with dried away, and keep it carefully for flowers and aromatic herbs, which