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Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall, Vol. 2, by William Bottrell, [1873], at

A Modern Sancreed Witch.

Only t’other day a farmer of Sancreed had three or four dairy-cows to let, and a woman who lived near by offered to take them, but as he didn't altogether like this woman he wouldn't close the bargain with her, and another neighbour soon agreed for the dairy. When the woman heard who had been preferred, she told everybody she met with that Jemmy—the man who took the cows—should rue the day that he ventured to cross her path. "For if I didn't know the right hour and minute," said she, "I would ill wish him every minute of the day till the spell was cast." A week or so after the first cow was in milking, Jemmy and his wife came to the farmer's house one night and said, "we believe that our cow must be ill-wished, for her milk is all bucked and gone to cruds (curds), with only a mere skin of cream on the pans; if you don't believe it come and see for yourself." The farmer and some of his family went home with the dairy-man, and found the milk like it often is in summer when the buck (spittle-fly) is on the grass, that, so it is believed, makes milk curdle then without becoming sour. The farmer and his wife couldn't tell what to think of milk being in that state early in spring; he took home the cow, however, and let the dairy-man have another, and when she was milked by Jemmy her milk 'runned' too, like that of the former one, which was then all right in the master's dairy. And so it continued with all the other cows Jemmy had; it was only for a day now and then, that any cream rose; other things went wrong with him and his family, and the farmer was at last obliged to take back his cows because there was no chance of his dairy-man making. the rent. Meanwhile the woman who coveted them bragged how she had served Jemmy out for interfering.

"The very night I heard that he had took the cows," said she, "I went on my knees under a white-thorn tree by the crossroads, and there, for best part of that night, I called on the

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powers till they helped me to cast the spells that gave old Jemmy and his family plenty of junket and sour milk for a time." In fact she was proud to make her neighbours believe her to be a witch.

We suppose the reason why this would-be witch chose the cross-road thorn as a suitable place for her hellish work, was because many such trees are said to have sprung from stakes driven into suicides’ graves; also on account of those sites being often visited by Old Nick and his headless dogs when they take their nightly rounds to see if any spirits have wandered from their assigned resting-places.

We may remark that, although the Black-huntsman's hounds are said to have neither heads nor tails, yet according to our popular mythology, they are believed to have the former appendages, with the same lineaments they bore when they dwelt on earth in human forms, but they make their heads invisible, to ordinary mortals, that they may not be known.

The same applies to apparently headless coach-drivers, horses, &c., that were frequently seen in old times.

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