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IN time of war, a rich lord tried to escape from the country with his family and goods in a coach drawn by six horses. In their haste, the horses swerved from the path, and all were lost in a deep lake of black water. Since that time it has been haunted, and sometimes a black dog tries to entice boys in, or cats and birds are seen about it. One day a man was walking by the pool when his leg was seized, and he was dragged down, but he contrived to seize a bush of juniper, and saved p. 147 himself.1. Then he saw some maidens sporting in the water like white swans; but presently they vanished. One day a fisherman caught a black tail-less pike, when the voice of the old nobleman was heard asking, “Are all the swine safe?” And another voice answered, “The old tail-less boar is missing.” Many people, too, have seen a great hoop from a coach-wheel, as sharp as the edge of an axe, rise from the water.
1 Dreadful stories are told in many countries of the fiends inhabiting the undrained swamps. Monsters as terrible as those described in “Beowulf” are popularly believed to have haunted the English fens almost to the present day. Aino, in the Kalevala (Runo 4), was lured into a lake by the sight of some maidens bathing; and it is said that it is unsafe for sensitive people to venture near the banks of some of the Irish lakes in the evening, lest they should be lured into the water by the singing of the water-nymphs. In this connection, we may refer to the oft-quoted passage from the notes to Heywood’s Hierarchies of the Blessed Angels (1635): “In Finland there is a castle, which is called the New Rock, moated about with a river of unsounded depth, the water black, and the fish therein very distasteful to the palate. In this are spectres often seen, which foreshow either the death of the Governor, or of some prime officer belonging to the place; and most often it appeareth in the shape of a harper, sweetly singing and dallying and playing under the water.”—See Southey’s Donica.