So encouraged, the frightened child rattled out some lines, then halted, her memory had failed, and she had to be reminded of the rest. At last she also was free, ran to her mother’s bosom, and was comforted with cakes.
Now arrived the supreme moment – that of the final selection. The choosing girl, in whose hand was the apple, stood before those who alone remained. She began: –
Drops of dew.
Although there was so vast a concourse present, not a sound could be heard save the voice of the girl repeating the jingle, and the rush of the holy water over the weir. Every breath was held.
Nine and ten,
Golden pippin, now I cast
Thou, Portumna, touched at last.
At once the girl who had cast the apple withdrew, as also did the girl who skipped to the basin and cast in her garland. One alone remained – Perpetua; and the high priestess, raising her hand, stepped forward, pointed to her, and said “Est.” ’
A princess of Lemuria
apple-girls – the counting games – choosing the sacrifice
Perpetua – in perpetuity