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seven ox-hides on the work.
"One of them got a bit of dust in his eye, and the other sought for it with an anchor, and found during his search a three-masted ship, which was so large that a little boy who went aloft was a white-haired man when he got back again. There were seven parishes in that ship.” The “Book of Noodles” might receive two fresh illustrations of the wide extent of Gotham from the Sylt legends. A Dutch ship laden with cheeses was wrecked on the coast, and fishermen came from far and near to secure what plunder they could before the Strandvogt, or shore superintendent, came on the scene. Among these fishers were two men from the neighbouring island of Föhr. They, unhappily for themselves, met Pua Moddersthe hero of many tales, a kind of master-thief-and him they asked where the cheeses were to be found. “ There are no more left on the shore," said he, "in case the Strandvogt gets hold of them, but there are plenty in the bay. Look over there to the nor’-west ; you'll see a red one in the water, but you must look sharp if you want to get it.” The men from Föhr set off at once in their boat, only to find the reflection of the full moon ! And so arose two proverbs : “As red as the Föhr men's moon, who took it for Dutch cheese,” and another, “ Catch the moon !” An English version of this Gotham story is that a villager going home late took the reflection of the moon in a horse-pond for a green cheese, and roused his neighbours to help him to get it. They worked with a will, until a passing cloud covered the moon and sank their cheese, when they returned home deeply vexed that after all their treasure had escaped them. It is said (Clouston, "The Book of Noodles," 1888, p. 45) that this story is also related of the villagers near the Marlborough Downs, in Wiltshire, and the sobriquet of "moonrakers," applied to Wiltshire folk in general, is said to have had its origin in the incident; and Latin, Talmudic, and Indian versions of the story are not lacking.
Pua Modders had many wonderful adventures of which I have given an account elsewhere (“Heligoland and the Islands of the North Sea,” 1888, pp. 109-116), but one of his most ingenious tricks was this, which I retell for the sake of the parallel which follows. He had been mocked by his fellow-Sylters because he had no red jacket to wear on Sundays and holidays. “I don't want one,” he said, disparagingly. “Hear him," said the others, “Pua Modders won't have a red jacket because he can't get one."! In other words, “sour grapes." Pua, for the first time in his life, was ashamed. He
· This phrase is a proverb in Sylt for the dissatisfied ; thus "Pua Modders wilth niin ruad Knappesii haa, om dat hi niinen so kuth.”
had never any money, and he could not steal a red jacket in Sylt, because the theft would instantly have been discovered. So he left Sylt and went northwards to Rämoe, another island of the same Frisian group. There he found the people verily in a strange quandary. They wanted to move their church some yards to the south, without taking it down. One day the whole population was assembled, energetically discussing, as only men of Gotham could, how the church was to be removed. At last into the excited throng strode a stranger in a blue jacket-none other than Pua Modders, but no one knew him in Rämoe. “I can manage this, I think,” said he ; "you must all go to the north side of the church, and push with all your might and main. The church was built by a few, it must yield to the strength of many. But you might push too far. To know when you have pushed far enough, you should put one of your red jackets on the south side of the church, two yards from the wall ; when you have pushed far enough, the jacket will be out of sight." This seemed excellent advice, particularly from a stranger. The jacket was duly laid on the sand two yards from the south side of the church, and all the people went to the north side and pushed. Pua, as engineer in chief, went from one side to the other to see how the work progressed. After some hours of perspiring toil, Pua triumphantly bade the Rämoers cease and come round. It was indeed marvellous: the jacket was gone, and the church must therefore now be in the position they wished it to be ; there was great rejoicing. I am sorry to say that Pua, however, had zu viel Dummheit as to wear the red jacket the following Sunday, and was forced to make a very precipitate retreat to his native land. I retell this story, as mentioned above, in order to compare it with a very similar story told of the men of Belmont, near Lausanne, who are the typical Swiss Gothamites. They, too, wished to move their church—in their case, three yards further westward-so they carefully marked the exact distance by leaving their coats on the ground. Then they set to work to push with all their might against the eastern wall. In the meantime, a thief had gone round to the west side and stolen their coats. “Diable !” exclaimed they on finding that their coats were gone, “we have pushed too far !” (Clouston, p. 55.)
So far, little has been said about Heligoland. It is not because it does not lie nearest my thoughts, for while I have some personal knowledge of Sylt and Föhr, I have an intimate acquaintance with the island which until recently was a British colony, and may almost venture to claim friendship with every man there. But familiarity, though it does not breed contempt, certainly makes it more difficult
to write about this wind-swept scrap of rock. Heligoland has had no Hansen, and although Oetker and others have written volume after volume about it—the bibliography of Heligoland is astonishing-they say little about the island customs. The literary instinct of the natives—and it is but small-runs to song-writing. There is only one prose work extant which is written in Heligolandish, and it is the pilot-book or guide, and is not printed. The printed songs are not very interesting, but it is always difficult for a foreigner to get at the real songs of a people. One capital song I have heard at different fishermen's parties is both clever and amusing, but it is as slanderous as it is amusing, and is never likely to be printed ; indeed the paternal German Government may very likely prohibit its “innocent merriment" altogether. “Frisia non cantat” is a common saying, but it does not apply to Heligoland, where boys and men alike find no greater pleasure—unless it be in dancing-than in singing twentyminutes-long ballads, with an absorption in their task which even makes the glass of beer by their side stand untouched till the end is reached, and some refreshment is felt to be needed before a new ditty is started.
Unlike their German neighbours, but like the Scots, the Heligolanders' chief festival is at the New Year. New Year's Day appears to be the merriest, maddest day in all the Frisians' calendar. Often have island lads told me of their freaks and riot on Sylvester abend, what we call Hogmanay in Scotland. Oetker says the fires have ceased to be lighted on Sylvester abend, but as mentioned above I have had the spot on the cliffs pointed out to me where the boys leap and dance round a fire on that night. It should be observed that the festival of the New Year is called Joölfest among the Frisians, and Juulfest among the Danes, i.e. Yule, and in old days the rejoicings were on December 13, St. Lucian's Day. With the change in the sun's course which was calculated to occur about then, the Frisian year began with merry-making long commemorative (though the roisterers on later days little knew of it) of Freia. Arnkiel, writing of the Danes, says : “They pray for a good new and fruitful year, and give Yule or New Year presents. They used to offer a pig on this festival. The people drank and ate much, and played, and danced the Yule game. At this festival to Freia the young people made merry, and became engaged or got married. In short, all that goes toward a good beginning for the year, full of friendship to all—that was the Yule merry-making.”
This description of the Danish Jöölfest may be transferred to Heligoland. No day, says Oetker, is so longed for as New Year's Day. From early dawn to midnight the people visit each other with all manner of good wishes, health, happiness, and blessing, and a pathetic wish among lonely seamen-“rüm Hert,” or “a quiet heart”; or a fisherman is wished "brav Letjen,” i.e. "lots of cod"; a young man "en jong Famel," "a young maid”; a girl "en jong Freirer," i.e. "a brave wooer”; the head of a house “vell vertîn maist en nicks verlis,” “much gain with little loss.” He who is greeted replies, “Det giv Gott wêr om so !”
Oetker tells how on Hogmanay, Sylvester abend, or what Heligolanders call Gröter-Inn or salutation-night, every family tries to have something extra good at the supper, and those who are far away
—and widely do the Heligolanders wander, though only temporarilywhen they celebrate their feast abroad try to have a bit of island cod. fish to make the feast seem more homelike. The festivities in the island last a week ; everyone gets a present, though it be only a glass of wine or a biscuit ; the poor, but they are indeed few, are so rich enough in attention all this season that they feel the less any difference between their condition and that of their neighbours. And to every guest the Heligolander calls, as he leaves the threshold, "Komm wêr !” (“Come back '), and the visitor replies with the same hearty courtesy, “Köm wel, ja, ich komme wohl." No doubt the indiscriminate hospitality has its faults, as it has in Scotland, for “a deepgoing ship” (a "jippgungen Skepp”), as a good toper is called, can get easily too much ; but it is the Neujahr, and the police have blind eyes where there is no harm. Teetotallers are “wêterhendrägers,"' presumably because, like the lobster boats from which their name is derived, they carry little. The innkeepers stand treat on New Year's Day to all their accustomed visitors.
In the ceremonies connected with death, the women of Heligoland play an important part. It is the female relatives and friends of a man just dead who make all the arrangements for the funeral. They fix where the burial place is to be, and send by a young girl intimation to certain of the dead man's friends and old companions where he is to be laid to rest. Not lightly would such a message be misunderstood ; the men to whom the message is delivered repair to the graveyard, and dig their friend's grave. In the dead man's house the body lies by itself wrapped in white clothes, and thither the women repair one by one, or in little groups, to watch a while by the bier. If two or three are together, the otherwise oppressive silence is broken by whispered talk of the dead man and his end, whether any uncanny omens had come true. If the man was drowned, a mode of death always indicated by the word "verunglückt,” there will be talk of whether the death-light, or “Dweilêcht,” was seena mysterious warning of coming misfortune which might be seen at street corners, or in sheds, or even by a sick man himself as he lay in bed ; nowadays the rumour would be that the doomed man had seen a bisterk Ding, or wicked thing, go before him at night in the streets—a thing dark and mysterious, but resembling a black sheep.
The bier is carried to the dead-house by the grave-diggers ; eight other men, also designated by the old women through their girl messenger, lift the body on to the bier ; then the grave-diggers carry the body to the grave with a psalm or dirge. In the case of a man drowned at sea whose body has not been recovered there is a mourning service, or Beringen, four weeks after his death. On the Düne or Sandy Island, a mile away, loneliest and tiniest of all graveyards, are buried the nameless remains of those whom the North Sea casts up from time to time on the island's shores.
Before I end this paper I may say that as I have written elsewhere somewhat largely of Frisian matters I have felt myself constrained as far as possible to limit my notes to legends of the islanders which have not already appeared in English. I confess, however, that the translation of any stories is unsatisfactory. When one gets to know the people whose heritage the stories are, they acquire a meaning and frequently a pathos which it is difficult to convey with the story, so that half in despair one resolves to leave
The story of Cambuscan bold. Great indeed as is the charm of Grimm and of Andersen, I incline to give Hansen-unknown though he is in Great Britain-a place beside them, and it has frequently occurred to me to wonder why his “Sagen" have never appeared in an English translation. A literal translation is iinpossible, for his book is a veritable hotch-potch ; but a version of his Frisian legends, arranged with some regard to subject, and with notes (they would always be necessary, and might be made most in. structive), should be of interest in this land, which is by race so intimately associated with the North Frisian Islands. Local colour has had great interest with all folklorists; but although I had for a time the fortune to reside where Grimm once lived, and to be familiar with the associations of his neighbourhood, and although no one who has spent a day in the quaint city of Andersen's birthplace -Odense, in the island of Fünen-will doubt the influence upon him of local colouring, most of all does one find in Hansen the very spirit and breath of the people among whom he lived. As a boy he sat at the feet of the old. old woinen whose eyes had grown dim