Chapter Five starts out with Bod being told by Mistress Owens (his adopted mother) to go out to play. Bod doesn't really want to go out to play because it's cold outside, and he knows that something is in the air. He sees the inhabitants of the graveyard cleaning and dusting everywhere he goes. No one has any time for him at all, and he hears whispers about dancing the Macabray.
The next day, Bod is drawn by the smell of sweet flowers in the wintry air. He follows the path up to the Egyptian Walk where the perfume is heaviest. There, he sees the Lady Mayor (Mrs. Caraway) and three men cutting white blossoms to give to every man, woman, and child in Old Town. Bod continues wandering about, trying to find someone who can answer his questions. Night falls early during the winter; by half-past four, it is dark. He panics when he cannot find his usual friends nor even his guardian, Silas. In fact, no one seems to be around at all.
Eventually, Bod makes his way out of the graveyard and into Old Town. There, he hears music of a mysterious kind and sees people with the white blossoms pinned on their clothes. When the dead inhabitants of the graveyard march into town and commence dancing with the living inhabitants of Old Town, Bod finally understands what dancing the Macabray is all about. It is the dance of the living and the dead, the union of the humanity in both, past and present. When he dances with the Lady on the Grey, he is ecstatic with the joy of the moment. Later on, when he questions his guardian, Silas, about the Macabray, Silas tells him that nobody speaks about the Macabray. Ever.
“Because there are mysteries. Because there are things that people are forbidden to speak about. Because there are things they do not remember.”
Bod overcomes his fears when he learns what the Macabray is all about and learns not to let unanswered questions overly trouble him. In short, he learns that there are only some things in life he can control; his reaction is one of them. The chapter ends with Bod enjoying the feel of snowflakes on his face, only the third time in his life he has experienced this pleasure.