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White Ladies

[Les Dames Blanches ]. A species of fée in Normandy. They lurk in ravines, fords, bridges, and other narrow passes, and ask the passenger to dance. If they receive a courteous answer, well; but if a refusal, they seize the churl and fling him into a ditch, where thorns and briars may serve to teach him gentleness of manners.

The most famous of these ladies is La Dame d'Aprigny, who used to occupy the site of the present Rue St. Quentin, at Bayeux, and La Dame Abonde. “Vocant dominam Abundiam pro eo qnod domibus, quas frequentant, abundantiam bonorum temporalium praestare putantur non aliter tibi sentiendum est neque aliter quam quemadmodum de illis audivisti.” (William of Auvergne 1248.) (See Berchta.)

One kind of these the Italians Fata name;
The French call Fée; we Sybils, and the same Others White Dames,
 and those that them have seen.
Night Ladies some, of which Habundia's queen.

Ilierarchic viii. p. 501.

The White Lady.
The legend says that Bertha promised the workmen of Neuhaus a sweet soup and carp on the completion of the castle. In remembrance thereof, these dainties were given to the poor of Bohemia on Maundy Thursday, but have been discontinued.

The most celebrated in Britain is the White Lady of Avencl', the creation of Sir Walter Scott.

White Lady of German legend.
A being dressed in white, who appears at the castle of German princes to forebode a death. She last appeared, it is said, in 1879, just prior to the death of Prince Waldemar. She carries a bunch of keys at her side, and is always dressed in white. The first instance of this apparition occurred in the sixteenth century, and the name given to the lady is Bertha von Rosenberg (in Bohemia).

Twice, we are told, she has been heard to speak, once in December, 1628, when she said, “I wait for judgment!” and once at the castle of Neuhaus, in Bohemia when she said to the princes, “ `Tis ten o'clock.”

The White Lady of Ireland.
The Banshee.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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