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been reaped with a rush and a shout, it is presented to the priest, who offers it to the local gods or bestows it on a beggar.
II. Passing to the second point of comparison between the Lityerses story and European harvest customs, we have now to see that in the latter the corn-spirit is often believed to be killed at reaping or threshing. In the Romsdal and other parts of Norway, when the haymaking is over, the people say that “the Old Hay-man has been killed.” In some parts of Bavaria the man who gives the last stroke at threshing is said to have killed the Corn-man, the Oatsman, or the Wheat-man, according to the crop. In the Canton of Tillot, in Lothringen, at threshing the last corn the men keep time with their flails, calling out as they thresh, “We are killing the Old Woman! We are killing the Old Woman!” If there is an old woman in the house she is warned to save herself, or she will be struck dead. Near Ragnit, in Lithuania, the last handful of corn is left standing by itself, with the words, “The Old Woman (Boba) is sitting in there." Then a young reaper whets his scythe, and, with a strong sweep, cuts down the handful.
It is now said of him that “he has cut off the Boba's head”; and he receives a gratuity from the farmer and a jugful of water over his head from the farmer's wife. According to another account, every Lithuanian reaper makes haste to finish his task; for the Old Rye-woman lives in the last stalks, and whoever cuts the last stalks kills the Old Rye-woman, and by killing her he brings trouble on himself. In Wilkischken (district of Tilsit) the man who cuts the last corn goes by the name of “The killer of the Rye-woman."* In Lithuania, again, the corn-spirit is believed to be killed at threshing as well as at reaping. When only a single pile of corn remains to be threshed, all the threshers suddenly step back a few paces, as if at the word of command. Then they fall to work, plying their flails with the utmost rapidity and vehemence, till they come to the last bundle. Upon this they Aling themselves with almost frantic fury, straining every nerve, and raining blows on it till the word “Halt !” rings out
2 W. Mannhardt, Myth. Forsch. p. 31. I W. Crooke, op. cit. p. 383.
o Ibid. p. 331. 3 Thid. p. 334.
Ibid. p. 330.
sharply from the leader. The man whose flail is the last to fall after the command to stop has been given is immediately surrounded by all the rest, crying out that “he has struck the Old Rye-woman dead.” He has to expiate the deed by treating them to brandy; and, like the man who cuts the last corn, he is known as “the killer of the Old Ryewoman.” Sometimes in Lithuania the slain corn-spirit was represented by a puppet. Thus a female figure was made out of corn-stalks, dressed in clothes,' and placed on the threshing-floor, under the heap of corn which was to be threshed last. Whoever thereafter gave the last stroke at threshing “struck the Old Woman dead.”? We have already met with examples of burning the figure which represents the corn-spirit. Sometimes, again, the corn-spirit is represented by a man, who lies down under the last corn; it is threshed upon his body, and the people say that “the Old Man is being beaten to death.” 4 We have already seen that sometimes the farmer's wife is thrust, together with the last sheaf, under the threshing-machine, as if to thresh her, and that afterwards a pretence is made of winnowing her." At Volders, in the Tyrol, husks of corn are stuck behind the neck of the man who gives the last stroke at threshing, and he is throttled with a straw garland. If he is tall, it is believed that the corn will be tall next year. Then he is tied on a bundle and flung into the river. In Carinthia, the thresher who gave the last stroke, and the person who untied the last sheaf on the threshing-floor, are bound hand and foot with straw bands, and crowns of straw are placed on their heads. Then they are tied, face to face, on a sledge, dragged through the village, and Aung into a brook.? The custom of throwing the representative of the corn-spirit into a stream, like that of drenching him with water, is, as usual, a rain-charm.
III. Thus far the representatives of the corn-spirit have generally been the man woman who cuts, binds, or
I W. Mannhardt, Myth. Forsch. p. 335. 2 lbid. p. 335. 3 Above, pp. 173, 181, 193.
4 W. Mannhardt, Korndimonen, p. 26.
6 Above, p. 182.
threshes the last corn. We now come to the cases in which the corn-spirit is represented either by a stranger passing the harvest-field (as in the Lityerses tale), or by a visiter entering it for the first time. All over Germany it is customary for the reapers or threshers to lay hold of passing strangers and bind them with a rope made of corn-stalks, till they pay a forfeit; and when the farmer himself or one of his guests enters the field or the threshingfloor for the first time, he is treated in the same way. Sometimes the rope is only tied round his arm or his feet or his neck. 1
But sometimes he is regularly swathed in Thus at Solör in Norway, whoever enters the field, be he the master or a stranger, is tied up in a sheaf and must pay a ransom. In the neighbourhood of Soest, when the farmer visits the flax-pullers for the first time, he is completely enveloped in flax. Passers-by are also surrounded by the women, tied up in flax, and compelled to stand brandy. At Nördlingen strangers are caught with straw ropes and tied up in a sheaf till they pay a forfeit.3 In Anhalt, when the proprietor or one of his family, the steward, or even a stranger enters the harvest-field for the first time after the reaping has begun, the wife of the chief reaper ties a rope twisted of corn-ears, or a nosegay made of corn-ears and flowers, to his arm, and he is obliged to ransom himself by the payment of a fine. In the canton of Putanges, in Normandy, the custom of tying up the owner of the land in the last sheaf of wheat is still practised, or at least was still practised some thirteen or fourteen years ago. The task falls to the women alone. They throw themselves on the proprietor, seize him by the arms, the legs, and the body, throw him to the ground, and stretch him on the last sheaf. Then a pretence is made of binding him, and the conditions to be observed at the harvest-supper are dictated to him. When he has accepted them, he is released and allowed to get up. At Brie, Isle de France, when any one
1 W. Mannhardt, op. cit. p. 32 599. Compare Revue des Traditions populaires, iii. (1888), p. 598.
2 W. Mannhardt, N/ythol. Forsch. p. 35 sq.
3 lbid. p. 36.
• O. Hartung, “Zur Volkskunde aus Anhalt,” Zeitschrift des Vereins für Volkskunde, vii. (1897), p. 153.
6 J. Lecæur, Esquisses du Bocage Normand, ii. 240 sq. (Condé-surNoireau, 1887).
who does not belong to the farm passes by the harvest-field, the reapers give chase. If they catch him, they bind him in a sheaf and bite him, one after the other, in the forehead, crying, “ You shall carry the key of the field.” 1
“ To have the key” is an expression used by harvesters elsewhere in the sense of to cut or bind or thresh the last sheaf;? hence, it is equivalent to the phrases “ You have the Old Man," “You are the Old Man," which are addressed to the cutter, binder, or thresher of the last sheaf. Therefore, when a stranger, as at Brie, is tied up in a sheaf and told that he will “carry the key of the field,” it is as much as to say that he is the Old Man, that is, an embodiment of the cornspirit.
Thus, like Lityerses, modern reapers lay hold of a passing stranger and tie him up in a sheaf. It is not to be expected that they should complete the parallel by cutting off his head; but if they do not take such a strong step, their language and gestures are at least indicative of a desire to do so. For instance, in Mecklenburg on the first day of reaping, if the master or mistress or a stranger enters the field, or merely passes by it, all the mowers face towards him and sharpen their scythes, clashing their whet-stones against them in unison, as if they were making ready to mow. Then the woman who leads the mowers steps up to him and ties a band round his left arm. He must ransom himself by payment of a forfeit. Near Ratzeburg, when the master or other person of mark enters the field or passes by it, all the harvesters stop work and march towards him in a body, the men with their scythes in front. On meeting him they form up in line, men and women. The men stick the poles of their scythes in the ground, as they do in whetting them; then they take off their caps and hang them on the scythes, while their leader stands forward and makes a speech. When he has done, they all whet their scythes in measured time very loudly, after which they put on their caps. Two of the women binders then come forward; one of them ties the master or stranger (as the case may be)
1 Mannhardt, Mythol. Forsch. p. 36. the same purpose as the “knot” in 2 For the evidence, see ibid. p. 36, the Cingalese custom, as to which see
The “key" in the European vol. i. p. 400 sq. custom is probably intended to serve 3 W. Mannhardt, op. cit. p. 39.
with corn-ears or with a silken band; the other delivers a rhyming address. The following are specimens of the speeches made by the reaper on these occasions. In some parts of Pomerania every passer-by is stopped, his way being barred with a corn-rope.
The reapers form a circle round him and sharpen their scythes, while their leader says
“ The men are ready,
The gentleman must be mowed.”
“We'll stroke the gentleman
If he says
That in these customs the whetting of the scythes is really meant as a preliminary to mowing appears from the following variation of the preceding customs. In the district of Lüneburg when any one enters the harvest-field, he is asked whether he will engage a good fellow. yes, the harvesters mow some swaths, yelling and screaming, and then ask him for drink-money.3
On the threshing-floor strangers are also regarded as embodiments of the corn-spirit, and are treated accordingly. At Wiedingharde in Schleswig when a stranger comes to the threshing-floor he is asked, “Shall I teach you the flaildance ?" If he says yes, they put the arms of the threshingflail round his neck as if he were a sheaf of corn, and
press them together so tight that he is nearly chocked. In
1 W. Mannhardi, Niyth. Forsch. p. 39 sq.
or the master, see ibid. p. 41; Lemke, Volksthümliches in Ostpreussen, i. 23 sy.
3 W. Mannhardt, Myth. Forsch. p. 41 sq.
4 W. Mannhardt, op. cit. p. 42.
? Ibid. p. 40. For the speeches made by the woman who binds the stranger