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The sea-mew is a bird of good omen to
the people on the coast of Morlaix. A small
species called tarak, white, with red beak and
feet, and a black spot on the head, appears in
April and goes away in September. The
period of its arrival is considered the
commencement of the season of fine weather.
Its perpetual cry is "Quit! quit! quit!"
the synonym in Bas-breton for "Go! go!
go!"  The constant prayer of the women on
these coasts is for the safety of their
husbands: at Roscoff they have a practice of
sweeping the chapel of the Holy Union after
Mass, after which they kneel down and blow
the dust in the direction the boats have gone,
hoping by this means to ensure a favouring
gale. In the little island of Sein, which is
but the prolongation of Cape Raz, the doors
of the cottages are never closed but when a
tempest threatens. When the first whistling
of the wind that announces the storm is
heard, the girls and women cry: "Shut the
doors quickly!  Listen to the Crierien, the
whirlwind follows them!"  These Crierien
are the shadows, the skeleton forms of ship-
wrecked men, who, weary of being tossed to
and fro in the stormy air, call earnestly for
burial. At Guingamp, when the body of a
drowned man cannot be found, a lighted taper
is fixed in a loaf of bread, which is then
abandoned to the retreating current; where
the loaf stops, they expect to discover the

No people are more superstitious than the
Bretons in all that concerns the dead. In
the district of St. Pol de Leon, if the
inhabitants see a stranger treading on the
graves in the churchyard, they call out:
"Quitte à ha lesse divan va anasun,"  literally:
"Begone from above my dead!"  In the
country round about Lesnaven they never
sweep a house at night: not merely on account
of the presumed services of the Buguel Nos,
but because they believe that sweeping brings
bad luck, and that the movement of the
broom disturbs the dead who walk there.
They say that on the eve of All Souls there
are more dead assembled in every house
than there are grains of sand on the sea-
shore. To provide for their wants that night,
they prepare quantities of pancakes. The
presence of the unsepultured dead has its
effect on the continuance of tempests. At
Quimper they think that storms never
subside till the bodies of those who have been
drowned are cast on shore. On the chances
of life and death, they believe that two
ravens are attached to each house, and
predict the several issues. Birth and marriage
have their superstitions as well as the closing
scene. At Carnac, when a child is taken to
be baptised, a bit of black bread is tied round
its neck to prevent the spells that might
otherwise be thrown upon it; and at the
christening festival a woman never allows
her child to be handed across the table.
For herself, when she leaves the church after
marriage, it is the custom at the same place
that she should be presented with a large
branch of laurel, loaded with apples, and
ornamented with ribbons; at the end of the
branch a live bird is fastened by a wedding
favour, and on reaching the churchyard wall
the ribbon is detached and the bird set at
liberty. To remind a bride of her domestic
duties, a distaff with some flax is presented
to her on the same occasion, and she spins it
off before she takes any share in the festivities
of the day. At Scaër two tapers are lighted at
the moment the marriage ceremony is ended:
one of them is set before the husband, the
other before the wife; the taper that burns
the palest, indicates which of the two is to
die first. At Kerneval there is a very odd
custom: the bride on the night of her wedding
is supplied with nuts to amuse herself
with during the hours of darkness!  While
on the subject of marriage I may mention a
very generally-received superstition which is
not confined to Brittany. The choice of the
fourth finger of the left hand for the wedding
ring arose from the belief that a nerve
proceeded from it, which communicated directly
with the heart. It was thought that the
moment when the husband placed the ring
on his bride's finger, was that which had the
greatest influence on their after-lives. If
the ring stopped on the finger before it
reached the first joint, the wife would rule
the roast; but, if he passed it on at once to
its right place the mastery remained with
him.  Some brides have been so impressed
by this tradition that they have made it a
point to crook their fourth finger at this
part of the marriage ceremony, so that the
ring shall stick in the way.

In many parts of Brittany they keep a
very watchful eye over the morals of the
young women. The fountain of Bodilis, near
Landividian, is famous as an ordeal to test
propriety of conduct. The pin which fastens
the habit-shirt is dropped into the water,
and if it reaches the bottom with the point
downwards, the girl is freed from all
suspicion; if, on the contrary, it turns the other
way and sinks head-foremost, her reputation
is irretrievably damaged. The fountain of
Baranton witnesses a more harmless experiment.
It is one of those springs which boil
up when a fragment of metal is thrown in,
and the children are in the habit of gathering
round its brink, and saying to it as they
stoop over the water, "Smile, fountain of
Baranton, and I will give you a pin!"
There is scarcely a fountain in Brittany that
is not consecrated by some religious monument.
In times of great drought, the villagers
go to them in procession to pray for rain.
Such an occurrence took place as late as the
month of August, eighteen hundred and
thirty-five, when all the inhabitants of Kon-
Kored (The Fairies' Valley), near Montfort,
proceeded to a neighbouring fountain with
banners and crosses, chanting canticles to