Legends of Innis-Sark (3)

The most effective way of neutralizing the evil influence is to spit on the object and say, "God bless it!" But another must do it at your request, and sometimes people refuse, fearing to anger the fairies by interfering with their work, whether for good or evil. But the islanders have such faith in the anointing with spittle that they will often solicit a passing stranger to spit on the afflicted person. Indeed, a stranger is considered to have more power than a neighbour.

A woman who kept a small day-school had reason to think that her son, a fine lad of twelve years old, was bewitched, for when he had eaten up the whole dish of stirabout at supper, he asked for more. And she said—

"My son, you had enough for three men. Go to your bed and sleep."

But next morning he was worse and more ravenous, for he ate up all the bread that his mother had made for the scholars just as she took it from the oven, and not a single cake was left. Then she knew that witchcraft was on the boy, and she stood by the door to watch for a stranger. At last one came by, and she cried to him—

"Come in, come in, for the love of God, and spit on the face of my son!"

"Why should I spit on your son, O woman?" he answered; and he fled away, for he thought she was mad.

Then she sent for the priest, and his reverence poured holy water over him, and laid his hands upon his head while he prayed. So, after a time, the power of the witchcraft was broken, and the boy was restored to his right mind.