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Page:A book of folk-lore (1913).djvu/111

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looked closer there was observable an undercurrent of alarm that found expression in the faces of the older men and women of the throng, at least in those of such persons as had their daughters flower-crowned.

"For this day was especially dedicated to the founder and patron of the town, who supplied it with water from his unfailing urn, and once in every seven years a human victim was offered in sacrifice to the god Nemausus, to ensure the continuance of his favour by a constant efflux of water, pure, cool and salubrious.

"The victim was chosen from among the daughters of the old Gaulist families of the town, and was selected from among girls between the ages of seven and seventeen. None knew which would be chosen and which rejected. The selection was not made by either priest or priestess attached to the temple. Nor was it made by the magistrates. Chance or destiny alone determined who was to be chosen out of the forty-nine who appeared before the god.

When the priest and priestesses drew up in lines between the people and the fountain, the aedile of the city standing forth, read out from a roll the names of seven times seven maidens; and as each name was called,