A Remnant of Superstition.
There are still some "out-of-the-way places" where the people firmly adhere to a superstitious and unqualified belief in the existence of such beings as witches and wizards, whom they imagine to be endowed with powers of evil wherewith to torment their fellow-creatures. One of this class is the hero of the present paragraph, who resides in an outlandish situation adjoining the moors, a little above Meltham, and answers to the remarkable cognomen of "Jee o' Jonny’s o' Ann's." One morning within the last two or three weeks, this worthy and his son were proceeding to their daily occupation, when by some surprising influence their progress was suddenly arrested, and they were brought to a dead stand. Father and son immediately concluded themselves as the subjects of some enchantment, but how to get out of it was a question it seemed difficult to solve. At last a bright idea struck the son, and immediately pulling off their shoes, on his happy suggestion, they were able to prosecute their journey to the scene of their labour. In order to escape from the power of the witch or wizard, our hero resolved to make a journey for the purpose of consulting a notorious "wise man" in a neighbouring county. Accordingly, staff in hand, like the celebrated Hadfield, the husband of Mary of Buttermere, he on the following day measured the long dree miles to the residence of the Staleywood wizard, and was there more fully confirmed in his belief that he was "witched." The "sage" informed him that on his return home he would find the witch baking bread in his house, but if he did not speak to her she would have no power over him. It turned out as he had been told ; and, on entering his house, he motioned his wife not to speak to the woman. Things then went on in their ordinary course for several days ; but on Monday week, while at his work, Joe had the misfortune to hurt his foot rather seriously, and on going home, found to his dismay that his wife had spoken to the woman at the very moment the accident happened to him. Things went on again, however, as usual for several days, till on the afternoon of yesterday week, when Joe's foot being nearly healed, he hobbled as far as the Swan Inn to smoke his pipe, and have a crack with the company. After a while his tongue became loosened, and he freely communicated his witchcraft troubles. One of the company, in a confidential tone, informed him that if he would fill the keyhole of his outer door with flour, the witch would then have no power over him. Joe took this hint too, and as the speaker understood the "dodge," he was invited to accompany Joe home to put it in force. He did so, and having indulged in a good "blow out" of the best viands the house could boast of, as a reward for his labour, he returned to the public-house to amuse his boon companions with the tale of poor Joe’s credulity.