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What do you think could have happened? I think Rowan Morrison was murdered under circumstances of pagan barbarity, which I can scarcely bring myself to believe as taking place in the th century. Now, it is my intention tomorrow to return to the mainland and report my suspicions to the Chief Constable of the West Highland Constabulary. And I will demand a full inquiry takes place into the affairs of this heathen island. You must, of course, do as you see fit, Sergeant. Perhaps it’s just as well that you won’t be here tomorrow, to be offended by the sight of our May Day celebrations here. Broome, would you kindly show the Sergeant out? This way, sir. Good-bye. Fair maid, says he, your kettle’s cracked the cause is plainly told There hath so many nails been drove mine own could not take hold There’s hardly any produce. Well, that’s it the crops failed. And it’s Rowan! Rowan and the crops failed! Sacrifice. Perhaps it’s just as well that you won’t be here to be offended by the sight of our May Day celebrations tomorrow. We carry death out of the village! We carry death out of the village! “May Day festivals. “Primitive man lived and died by his harvest. “The purpose of his spring ceremonies was to ensure a plentiful autumn. “Relics of these fertility dramas are to be found all over Europe. “In Great Britain, for example, one can still see “harmless versions of them danced in obscure villages on May Day. “Their cast includes many alarming characters: “A man-animal, or hobbyhorse, “who canters at the head of the procession charging at the girls; “A man-woman, the sinister teaser, “played by the community leader or priest; “And a man-fool, Punch, “most complex of all the symbolic figures “the privileged simpleton and king for a day. “Six swordsmen follow these figures “and at the climax of the ceremony lock their swords together “In a clear symbol of the Sun. “In pagan times, however, these dances were not simply picturesque jigs. “They were frenzied rites ending in a sacrifice “by which the dancers hoped desperately to win over the goddess of the fields. “In good times, they offered produce to the gods and slaughtered animals, “but in bad years, when the harvest had been poor, “the sacrifice was a human being. Rowan’s not dead! “Sometimes the victim would be drowned in the sea “or burnt to death in a huge sacrificial bonfire. Sometimes the six swordsmen ritually beheaded the virgin. ” Dear God in Heaven, even these people can’t be that mad. “The chief priest then skinned the child, “and wearing the still-warmed skin like a mantle, “led the rejoicing crowds through the streets. “The priest thus represented the goddess reborn and guaranteed another successful harvest next year. ” Good morning, Sergeant! I need to get to my plane. Oh, well, on May Day, I’d better take you out myself. That’s it. Here, right. I shall be back shortly with some more police officers. Have a good flight then! Hey, you come back here! I said, come back here! What’s the matter? Won’t she go? No. Has anyone been here? Not to my knowledge, Sergeant.



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