The Feast of Maythorn

Ages ago, Ambrose the Wayfarer dug Maythorn Well at the site of Benearth River. He drank of the living water and immediately he was healed of the blisters on his feet.

One Morningstarday, Ambrose journeyed many hours to Maythorn Well, so that the Sun was at her peak by the time he arrived, and he suffered a terrible thirst. But he had forgotten to bring a bucket, and the well was deep. “I shall die of thirst!” he cried.

Just then, a woman fair of form, of the nearby city of Mannaton, came to Maythorn Well, carrying a bucket on her head, for her womb was barren and no man would have her; she had no child.

When Ambrose the Wayfarer saw the woman he said, “Woman, I am thirsty. Give me to drink from the well.”

The woman dared not tell Ambrose the reason she had come to the well in the heat of midday, but lowered her bucket and gave Ambrose to drink first.

And Ambrose said, “Woman, how art thou called?”

And the woman said, “Man, I am called Rowena, daughter of Nun,” said the woman.

And Ambrose said, “Because thou hast done me this kindness, and didst not begrudge me the first drink, my blessings upon thee fall, thee and thy husband and thy children ever after.”

And the woman said, “Man, I have no husband.”

And Ambrose said, “Woman, take me to thy father, that I may ask thy hand in marriage.”

And the woman said, “Man, my father sleeps the long sleep.”

And Ambrose said, “Woman, be thou my bride.”

And the woman said, “Man, thou dost honor me.”

At the third hour from midday, Ambrose gave the woman a ring, woven from a branch of the nearby maythorn tree. Thus was she his bride.


In the years to come, Rowena bore Ambrose twelve sons and twelve daughters. And they all drank from Maythorn Well, and watered their cattle.

Then the sons of Ambrose built the city of Ambrosia around the well, and Ambrose and Rowena were its first King and Queen.


Every year, at the spring evenday, the people of Ambrosia City remember the first meeting of Ambrose and Rowena on the Feast of Maythorn.

At sunup, a man and a woman are chosen by lot to be Ambrose and Rowena. A procession is formed, symbolizing their journey to Maythorn Well ages ago.

At midday, they perform the tryst of their ancestors at Maythorn Well, and after three hours they are married. Crowns are placed on their heads, and they are King and Queen for the day.

Then the Maythorn Day King Ambrose gives water from the well to all the city, and all take a drink, and their families and their cattle, and the crops are watered. Then the remaining water is poured into baths, and the sick come to bathe, hanging their clothes in the maythorn tree and being given white dresses by the Maythorn Day King Ambrose.

Then the fattest cow is slaughtered for the Maythorn Day dinner, and all the city have their fill. When dinner is ended, the Maythorn Day King Ambrose leads the men in songs of rejoicing, while the women hide treats for the children to find before sundown. All the children who find the treats keep them; all who fail are whipped soundly and sent to bed.


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