His Honour Judge D.Clarkson, a raconteur of most meticulous detail, presented for our consideration three ancient mysteries.
First the mystery of the Mary Celeste, a brigantine built in Nova Scotia in 1860. In 1872 she left New York bound for Genoa with a cargo of industrial alcohol under the command of Captain Ben Briggs. On 4th December she was sighted drifting with an unlashed wheel, sails set, with not a soul on board! She was in good condition except that two hatch covers had been removed, the compass was missing and the yawl cut loose.
The second mystery involved the disappearance of all three lighthouse keepers from a lighthouse to the west of the Isle of Lewis in Scotland. On 26th December 1900 the relief ship found everything in order but no sign of any of the three keepers. The clocks had stopped on 15th December, there was an untouched meal, there were two sets of oilskins missing and one chair had been upturned. No bodies were ever found
The third mystery concerned the disappearance of 130 children from the town of Hameln in Germany which gave rise to the legend and poem of The Pied Piper of Hamlin
Judge Clarkson presented each case in detail, laying out all the available evidence of the time. During question time the forum discussed each case putting forward various possibilities.
The first and second cases proved inconclusive but in the case of the missing children of Hameln a forum member put forward the following very interesting suggestion:
The story springs from a visitation of the plague hence the rats. In this infestation the majority of the children die and possibly some adults. The town is quarantined but a visitor is allowed in wearing protective clothing which included a facemask and nose filter, hence the pied piper. The bodies of the children have to be buried, but not in the town. They are buried out of town in a mass grave, hence the magical cavern. Over the next two centuries the story is distorted by time or purpose into the legend of The Pied Piper of Hameln.