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What They Say In New England
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To cut the finger-nails on Sunday morning is a sign you will do something you are ashamed of before the week is out.

An old rhyme has it:

It is better you were never born,
Than on the Sabbath pare hair or horn.

There is a finger-nail jingle for the days of the week:

Cut them on Monday, cut them for wealth,
Cut them on Tuesday, cut them for health,
Cut them on Wednesday, cut them for news,
Cut them on Thursday, a new pair of shoes,
Cut them on Friday, cut them for woe,
Cut them on Saturday, a journey to go,
Cut them on Sunday, cut them for evil,
And be all the week as cross as the Devil.

Whistle to keep your courage up. In particular it is well to whistle when in the night you have to go along a lonely roadway.

Formerly many people were afraid to pass a graveyard after nightfall for fear of seeing ghosts. This fearsome feeling has not entirely faded out even yet.

When the Devil comes among humankind, he is fondest of taking the form of a black cat, but at times a black dog suits his purposes better. It is said, too, that he is pleased on occasion to exhibit himself in the shape of a black pig on the ridgepole of a house.

Professor Charles Eliot Norton remembers that when he was a boy he, with some companions, met a woman whom the others told him was a witch. They said that if a knife was stuck in one of her footprints it would make her turn and look back. One of the boys got out his knife, and thrust the blade into one of the woman's footprints. The little company turned their eyes half fearfully toward the witch's receding figure; but for some reason or other she failed to look around.

Pass me salt, pass me sorrow.

It used to be taken as a pretty sure sign that a man was conceited if he went about with his hat-brim turned up in front.

To use the side of the thimble instead of the tip to push the needle with is the sign of a good sewer.

It is well to have a piece of a branch cut from a mountain-ash in the house. It is as good to keep out witches as a horseshoe nailed over the door.

When a house burns, and another is built on the same spot, that, too, will burn soon.

Just so many stitches as you take on you,
Just so many lies you'll have told about you.

To "take stitches on you" is to repair a garment that you are wearing at the time you do the sewing.

Always pick up a pin with its head toward you; for that will insure your having a ride soon.

When you churn, turn the crank straight forwards all the time. If you turn it backwards, you will undo your work and soon bring the contents of the churn back to cream again.

Wet your finger and hold it above your head, and it will show you which way the wind blows. It will feel coolest, and will dry quickest, on the side whence the wind comes.

If you wipe at the same time on the same towel with another person, it is a sign you two will quarrel.

"I don't believe half of these things they say are true."

If you have a scratch on the back of your hand, and it points toward your thumb, it is a sign you are going to have a ride. If the scratch is a long one, the ride will be long; if short, the ride will be short.


Nearer the thumb,
Sooner it'll come.

If the bottom of your foot itches, you may know that you are to step on strange lands.

When a spark forms on the end of the wick in the candle-flame, moisten the tip of your finger with your tongue, touch the spark lightly with it, and if it adheres to your finger, you can confidently look for a letter within a day or two.

If you put on both stocking and shoe on one foot before putting on the stocking on the other foot, it is the sign that you are to meet with an accident.

Sing before breakfast, cry before supper.

If your nose itches, you may know that you are going to quarrel. Others have it that this is a sign you are going to get mad.

Pull out a hair, touch it with the flame of a match, and if it curls up quickly it is a sign you are cross in your disposition. Instead of using fire, you can, if you choose, pull the hair between a finger and the thumb nail to discover whether it will curl up quickly or not.

Pull out a gray hair, and ten or twelve will come in its place.

If you pull one of your fingers, and the joint cracks, it is a sign you have told a lie.

Broad finger-nails indicate generosity. Long finger-nails indicate a lack of thrift.

If you go out visiting on Monday, it is a sign you will go out visiting every day that week.

On the inner side of a horse's legs is a horny scab about the size of a dollar. It used to be said that flakes from this made excellent bait for fishing.

A sore on the tip of the tongue is a sign you have told a lie.

If a person's front teeth are far apart, it is a sign that person is going to be a wanderer.

Put the wrong foot out of bed first when you get up in the morning, and you will be cross all day. Always get up right foot foremost.

If you take hold of a chair, and twist it about on one leg, it is a sign you are going to quarrel.

When we have one fire in town, there's always three in a short time.

Wash and wipe together,
Live in peace forever.

Bright red auroras were formerly said to be the sign that a great battle had been fought, or was soon to be fought. Its flaming streamers betokened blood and slaughter. There was this fiery omen in the sky at the time of the battle of Bunker Hill, and other contests of the Revolution, as well as of the older French and Indian wars.

Often when two persons make a bargain they at its conclusion "Shake hands on it" to make it binding.

When you get up in the morning be sure to dress your right foot first. If you don't, you will meet with a disappointment that day.

When a girl asked her mother on which side she should make the buttonholes in a garment she was making, the mother would respond, "Always make them on the left side. Remember this, that you don't want to be on the buttonhole side of heaven, and you won't have to ask again." This refers to the parable wherein the goats were divided from the sheep, and went to the left of the throne.

In haying time, if you can "step your shadow," it is noon. This means that you must be able to step on the shadow of your head. You cannot do this in northern countries except on summer noons when shadows are short.

Step over the graves in the cemetery or go around them. If you walk on them, woe will come to you in some form.

If you eat crumbs 'twill make you wise,
If you leave the crust
You're sure to bust.

This is schoolboy poetry recited to a mate who, in eating his lunch, throws away the crust.

"There's a good deal of pizen in people, especially in red-headed men. All folks hev some, but there's more pizen in a red-headed man than in a man that has black hair a good deal. In London, a red-headed man that was a sailor sold himself to a doctor for quite a sum of money.

"The doctor strung him up by his heels, and put a toad at his mouth; and the man died, and a great lot of green, nasty-looking pizen oozed out that the doctor said was very valuable."

Drop a dish of victuals, and you will hear bad news.

Grass will not grow under a "gallus" where a man has been hung.

Sneeze on Monday, sneeze for danger,
Sneeze on Tuesday, kiss a stranger,
Sneeze on Wednesday, sneeze for a letter,
Sneeze on Thursday, for something better,
Sneeze on Friday, sneeze for sorrow,
Sneeze on Saturday, see your sweetheart to-morrow,
Sneeze on Sunday, your safety seek,
The Devil'll have you the rest of the week.

When a child gets dizzy whirling, he needs only to whirl in the opposite direction to turn himself back to stability.

When you comb your hair, don't burn such as gathers on your comb. If you do, it will make you cross.

Don't have any metal about you when there is a thunder-storm. It will draw the lightning, and you will like enough get struck. The boys who understand this take care not to have a jacknife or any such thing on their persons in thunder-storm, and some women when they hear the storm's muttering approach take off their rings, hide the scissors, and cover the sewing-machine. There are those who shut the blinds; and draw the curtains to keep out sight and sound, and then lie down on a feather bed to wait for the storm to pass.

If the back of your legs itch, you may know that you are to go on a long journey.

When you play hi-spy, and are "it," and want to know where the others have hid, take a stick and put it up on end and let it fall. If it falls three times in the same direction, that shows you the way to go to find the hiders.

After you have had a tooth pulled out, don't touch the cavity with your tongue, and the next tooth that comes will be a gold tooth.

When you move to a new house always send beforehand a loaf of bread and a new broom.

Sneeze early and you will hear some news, or get a present that same day.

Button your coat wrong, or draw on a stocking inside out, and matters will go crooked that day.

Rock an empty cradle, and you will injure the child that usually sleeps in it.

When, in pitching up hay, your fork gets caught and taken up on the load, you have lost a day's work. That is, your work won't amount to anything that day, or else you'll never get any pay for it.

Drop your hoe or your rake, and you will likewise lose a day's work.

Talk to yourself, and you talk to the Devil.

If the basting-threads are in a garment, that is a sign it is not paid for.

It is a sign a man's clothes are not paid for if the little size cards are still on them.

It is a good sign to take out your work; that is, if you have to pull out your stitches because you have made a mistake. It proves that you will live to wear the garment out.

Do you want to know whether you love butter or not? Get some one to hold a buttercup under your chin. If they can see a yellow reflection from its burnished petals on your chin, then you do love butter. If not, you don't.

Stumpy fingers are a sign that one must work for a living.

You can get a hundred dollars for a million old postage-stamps. I never heard that any one got that many, nor can I find out who is going to pay the hundred dollars, but a good many young people in the cities have made up their minds to collect the million stamps. They are most successful when they or their friends can pick over the letters that come to offices or stores. I suppose if one could average a hundred stamps every week-day the year through, he would be doing pretty well. At that rate, if the collector persevered, he would get his million stamps in about thirty years. If he spent ten minutes a day soaking off, drying, and caring for the stamps, he would in that length of time put in three hundred full days of ten hours each. When he received his hundred dollars, he would therefore be paid for his time at the rate of thirty-three and one-third cents a day.

When the bars of the northern lights shoot up in a cone shape, like guns stacked, that is a sure sign of war.

If you want the cake you make to be light, stir the batter only one way.

Hemlock-trees attract lightning. It is said that you need put no lightning-rods on your buildings if you will only set up a tall hemlock pole near them. The lightning will hit that pole, rather than the buildings, every time.

All sound-minded people have the largest half of their heads in front of their ears. A man with the heaviest part of his head back of his ears you may be pretty sure is an idiot.

Sleep before midnight is "beauty sleep." Therefore if you wish to be handsome go to bed early.

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