An Accursed Race eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 28 pages of information about An Accursed Race.
by this unfortunate race—­who were forbidden to occupy land, or to bear arms, the usual occupations of those times.  They had some small right of pasturage on the common lands, and in the forests:  but the number of their cattle and live-stock was strictly limited by the earliest laws relating to the Cagots.  They were forbidden by one act to have more than twenty sheep, a pig, a ram, and six geese.  The pig was to be fattened and killed for winter food; the fleece of the sheep was to clothe them; but if the said sheep had lambs, they were forbidden to eat them.  Their only privilege arising from this increase was, that they might choose out the strongest and finest in preference to keeping the old sheep.  At Martinmas the authorities of the commune came round, and counted over the stock of each Cagot.  If he had more than his appointed number, they were forfeited; half went to the commune, half to the baillie, or chief magistrate of the commune.  The poor beasts were limited as to the amount of common which they might stray over in search of grass.  While the cattle of the inhabitants of the commune might wander hither and thither in search of the sweetest herbage, the deepest shade, or the coolest pool in which to stand on the hot days, and lazily switch their dappled sides, the Cagot sheep and pig had to learn imaginary bounds, beyond which if they strayed, any one might snap them up, and kill them, reserving a part of the flesh for his own use, but graciously restoring the inferior parts to their original owner.  Any damage done by the sheep was, however, fairly appraised, and the Cagot paid no more for it than any other man would have done.

Did a Cagot leave his poor cabin, and venture into the towns, even to render services required of him in the way of his he was bidden, by all the municipal laws, to stand by and remember his rude old state.  In all the towns and villages the large districts extending on both sides of the Pyrenees—­in all that part of Spain—­they were forbidden to buy or sell anything eatable, to walk in the middle (esteemed the better) part of the streets, to come within the gates before sunrise, or to be found after sunset within the walls of the town.  But still, as the Cagots were good-looking men, and (although they bore certain natural marks of their caste, of which I shall speak by-and-by) were not easily distinguished by casual passers-by from other men, they were compelled to wear some distinctive peculiarity which should arrest the eye; and, in the greater number of towns, it was decreed that the outward sign of a Cagot should be a piece of red cloth sewed conspicuously on the front of his dress.  In other towns, the mark of Cagoterie was the foot of a duck or a goose hung over their left shoulder, so as to be seen by any one meeting them.  After a time, the more convenient badge of a piece of yellow cloth cut out in the shape of a duck’s foot, was adopted.  If any Cagot was found in any town or village without his badge,

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An Accursed Race from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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