Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/287

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The Scape-Goat in European Folklore. 273

visitors and then throw himself into the water; then he had to pass three times underneath the bridge with his head under water. This done he proceeded to the town; but before he did so, he mounted a waggon, holding on his wrist a wren, its head covered with a hood such as is used in falconry, and silk tassels on its feet. To one side of the waggon were assigned the people who had married within seven years of the ceremony, to the other side those who hoped to enter into the bonds of matri- mony; and the two parties then struggled till one pulled the waggon over to its side. Then the king entered the town with his wren and seated himself on a large stone ; three times in succession he called upon the Seigneur de Laroche or his representative to receive his homage. Then he plucked feathers from the wren and threw them in the air. This done, the Seigneur or his representative took the place of the king, received from him the wren and his homage. In the early part of the seventeenth century a wooden wren was made fast to a pole after the homage had been rendered, and each inhabitant of the town had to shoot an arrow at it ; if it was not hit they had to give to the Seigneur a silver bow of the value of sixty livres.^

It is apparent at a glance that these ceremonies are by no means of simple origin. Perhaps we may inter- pret the dipping and walking in the water as a rain charm ; the shooting at the wren, a point to which I shall return later, is usually a distinct ceremony, un- connected with the hunting, which, we may suppose, preceded the rites here described ; or perhaps it is rather an alternative form to the hunt. The association of the custom with the homage to the lord of the manor can hardly be anything but late ; perhaps it is the nucleus round which other, previously-disconnected, ceremonies have focussed. It may be that the tug-of-war between

^ La Tradition, iv. i66. S