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WHAT A RUMANIAN BABY HAS TO BEAR. STRANGE BELIEFS HELD BY THE PEOPLE OF OUR NEW ALLY. By MRS. HERBERT ViVIAN. [Mrs. Vivian has lived for 3 ears in Rumania and has a thorough knowledge of the peasants and their customs. She has re- cently returned from a visit to the country.] Some of the prettiest children in Europe may be found in Rumania, but an English baby would never believe me if I told it what the poor little Rumanian infant has to put up with when it first comes into the world. When I stayed in the country villages I was fascinated by the charming little soft- eyed things. They are slender and refined looking, of the Italian type-a great contrast to the squat Mongol faced Bulgarians over the border. The Rumanian peasant is devoted to chil- dren, and apparently never thinks he can have too many of them. He says that one child is much worse than none at rill. This is chiefly because infant mortality is so high, and he fears to lose his one ewe lamb. When a peasant has lost several babies one after another he devises rather an in- genious scheme to baffle the bad fairies, who, of course, are at the bottom of all the mis- chief. He instructs the godmother to steal the next born and allows her to take it home for a day or two. Presently she comes round with it and shows it to the parents. They profess great admiration, and pretend they have never seen it before. Then they offer to adopt it, and sometimes give her a few coins to make the transaction still more businesslike. This is all done to deceive the fairies, hoping that, if the spite- ful creatures don't know the baby is really the parents', they may leave it alone. Before a baby is borii, the mother has to be excessively careful and on her best be- haviour. She mustn't steal anything, how- ever tempting it may be, first on general principle, and secondly for a good practical reason because if she does the image of the object stolen will certainly appear im- printed on the baby's body. After the baby's birth there arc certain ceremonies which must on no account be omitted. The baby must be bathed in water in which a white goose has had its bath first. This precaution will help to keep off witches. In some parts of the country they pickle the poor little dear in, salt for twelve hours and then wash it in hot wine and water. It doesn't do to pour the bath water away care- lessly, it might be spilt inadvertently over a lurking fairy and the baby's chances ruined for life, so it is taken to a cleiii spot near the house where one would not expect to find a fairy and there disposed of. The peasants believe still in the Three Fates, whom they call sometimes the White Ones and sometimes simply They. The night before the christening the White Ones come to the house to write what is called the Child's Luck. It is most impor- tant that They shall not be disturbed. Doors are locked downstairs, a table is set with food, and even the dogs are often sent away so thai their barking shall not annoy the visitors. The christening ceremony is a great ordeal for the unfortunate baby, and perhaps it is just as well that. etiquette prescribes the parents should not be present and see what their poor child has to go through. The font is full of cold water, and the poor little thing is ducked right under the water. This is repeated three times, and one can imagine what the baby's feelings must be like when it eventually emerges, scarlet in face and body, and roaring at the top of its voice, with its temper probably ruined for life. Its godmother then begins rubbing it hard with holy oil, and presently it is given the Sacrament. Mother and babies are devoted to each other, and there is perhaps a more comfort- able affection between parents and children than between husband and wife, for one Rumanian proverb says, He who does not beat his wife does not love her" A funny old saying tells mothers they may kiss their babies as often as they will, provided only they never kiss th^oa in the palms of-their, little hands, for that would doom them to be thieves. Mothers have quite a simple plan for teach- ing a backward child how to walk. This re- luctance they put down to timidity or want of initiative. So they attach its ankles with a red cord and lay it in the doorway. Then they fetch a knife and solemnly sever the cord. This is called cutting the baby's fear. [Tnvy law H. J. II.

Yr lesu.

Eisteddfod Aberystwyth.