weather-chart of the year, for the peelings which contain damp salt indicate the rainy months, and the peelings with dry salt stand, of course, for the fair months.
And if any member of the family is courageous enough to consult the oracle as to the length of time which is yet allotted to him on
THE EARL OF LYTTON'S NIECE ON A SNOW-BICYCLE
earth, he will presently take the Bible, and the first Psalm which strikes his eye contains in stanzas the number of years which he is yet given to live.
If Mother wishes to safeguard her chickens from all beasts of prey, she will now proceed to the chicken-coop and clip the wings of the fowls before midnight, but she must be careful not to go within hearing distance of the stable where the cattle are housed, for the hour from eleven to midnight on Christmas eve is the sacred time when the dumb beasts are able to converse together—and disaster is predicted for the inquisitive who takes it upon himself to listen.
The head of the house, too, has his duties. All day he has been busy shoveling snow and tying bands of straw around the trunks of the trees in the orchard; with lantern in hand, he now makes a last round of inspection, for the trees thus equipped in Christmas week are supposed to yield an unusually plentiful crop in the coming year.
Christmas eve is, moreover, that time of the year when romance reigns on earth, and while the older members of the family are busily occupied i%their own way, an unmarried son or daughter of the house will probably slip out into the clear winter's night, and, while the church-bells are calling to midnight mass, she or he will drink three sips from each of nine different fountains—an easy task in this land of numerous public springs. After completing this curious rite, the supreme moment in the life of the young person concerned is at hand, for, if the spell works, the future mate will surely be standing at the church door, and a regular courtship is usually begun. With the majority of the younger contingent of the congregation attending this nocturnal mass, it is, of course, quite likely that the truly chosen one just “happens” to stand at the door. As everybody of the village is acquainted with the custom, it is readily surmised by those 'waiting for the service to begin that their still missing unmarried friends must be “visiting the fountains” prior to their arrival at church.
MAKING SNOW FIGURES AN AGREEABLE PASTIME
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