So drench'd it is with tempest, to the sun. -- Tennyson
Weeping, ringing his hands, casting up his tear-dimmed eyes to Heaven, Reikhild, the aged presbyter of the Catholic Goths, stood in his wrecked, desecrated church. It was the morning after the battle in the streets, and the spectacle which met his eyes could hardly fail to rend the heart of a pastor. What had been his Holy Sanctuary was now a revolting slaughterhouse, and among the fallen timbers, and shattered stones, and shapeless heaps of desolation, lay in their blood the torn limbs and putrescent corpses of hundreds of murdered men, which in the fierce summer sunlight had already begun to taint the air. His church was a ghastly ruin, an evitandum bidental, of which the very site would be thenceforward shunned as a haunt of demons, which no lustration would ever purify. On such an Aceldama no church could ever be built again. In the capital of the East the era of the Goths was at an end. Henceforward the billows of barbarian invasion would roll shoreward, and strike and be dissipated' on the cities of the Western world. With the Church had disappeared the congregation also. The occupation of the presbyter was gone; the work of his life was shipwrecked; the words of Reikhild, the son of Witiges, were ended.
Shocked beyond utterance by all that he had heard and witnessed, the old man tottered back to his lonely presbytery. But the scene had been altogether too much for him. Never had his aged sister seen him so pale; she noticed on his face, for the first time, that grey hue which is the harbinger of death. Nor was she mistaken. That very evening he took to his bed, and before a fortnight was over he had passed to his eternal rest.
Walamir still lay unconscious on the couch where they had laid him, and it was impossible for her to tend him with the incessant care needed by his critical condition now that she was beset by the new anxiety of her brother's illness. The parabolani were already hard at work in the ruined church, endeavouring to bury in one huge pit the unnumbered corpses of the dead which strewed the sacred precincts and the neighbouring streets. They laid the wife of Gaïnas in a separate grave. Philip and David had come to help them, while Eutyches went into the presbyter's house to see his wounded friend. He found Walamir in desperate case, unable to speak a word. The barb of the arrow by which he had been wounded was still embedded in the flesh of the shoulder, and unless it were cut out nothing could prevent a fatal termination. He must obviously be removed, and that at once. Eutyches hastened to the Patriarch, and begged that the young Goth might occupy his own bed and chamber till his recovery, or death, as he could himself easily sleep in an adjoining room in the many-chambered palace. Chrysostom, ever ready to do deeds of mercy, gladly assented, and the more so because the very limited hospital accommodation was already strained to its utmost capacity by the necessary tendance of wounded citizens, who in the present exasperation of feeling might resent the invasion of their privilege by a wounded Goth, even though that Goth was a mere boy, and though the secret that he was a son of Gaïnas was closely kept.
So Eutyches flew back to Philip, and with the aid of David and others of the parabolani carried Walamir in the easiest litter they could procure to the Patriarcheion. There the lad, still entirely unconscious, was laid with all tenderness on the bed of his friend, and Asclepias, the most skilful physician in Constantinople, was summoned to attend him. He pronounced that the arrow-head must be cut out without delay, and did not conceal that in the patient's present state of exhaustion the operation might end in death. But the boy had the magnificent physique of his father, and had been in that splendid health which is the natural result of purity and moderation. There was hope for him when there would be none for another.
He recovered consciousness during the consultation, and asked that his agony might be ended by the excision of the rankling barb. In those days anæsthetics were unknown, but Walamir begged Eutyches to hold his left hand, set his teeth hard, and bared his breast. He would not scream under the knife. He bore the agony without a groan, only when the iron was drawn but he turned white as death, and fainted away with the ensuing hæmorrhage.
Nothing more could be done for him, the physician said, but to give him perfect rest and quiet, and simple, healthful food in small quantities at frequent intervals. All that skill and tenderness could do was done. The Lady Olympias came daily to the Patriarch's palace to see that the wants of Chrysostom were properly attended to, and she often cared for the needs of the sick boy. Nicarete also took his case in hand, and tended him with all the skill which she had learnt from daily attention to the wants of the sick and suffering in the hospitals and in their own poor houses. And in the long evenings Eutyches, with look and smile a healing in themselves,' sat by his bedside, carrying out with unwearying solicitude every direction he had received, and feeling more and more closely drawn to the now helpless lad, who had so earnestly sought his friendship. When they had first met in the tent of Gaïnas, Walamir had been like a picture of early youth in its finest promise; now he lay there worn and wasted, and recognising no one, and with fortunes utterly ruined, and very nigh to death.
But in such a frame as his Nature fought hard against the ravages of illness. The wound in his leg was relatively trivial, and soon healed. The pure, untainted blood which coursed through his veins gradually wrought the cure of the other and more serious wound, and if only he could hold out against extreme weakness he might yet recover.
Eutyches anxiously awaited the hour when he should awake to perfect consciousness and the delirium would cease, in which he murmured constantly of the scenes of recent slaughter, which seemed to shroud his memory in a mist of blood.
At last the hour came. It was evening, and the warm sunlight streaming through the lattice, with an infinitely soft air from the sea, which, came in laden with the balm of the innumerable roses in the garden, shone and breathed on the boy's face. He woke sane, sighed, opened his eyes, and, looking round him, asked in a low voice:
Where am I?'
You are in the palace of the Patriarch John, Walamir,' said his friend.
And you?' he said, fixing his large blue eyes on the face of Eutyches -- 'surely you are he -- whom my brother Thorismund called the boy who looks like an angel?'
I am Eutyches, and your friend, and Philip is here, whom Thorismund loved well.'
How came I here? What has happened?'
'You were badly wounded.'
The words let loose upon him an avalanche of memories. For a time he did not speak; then a sob shook his frame and silent tears streamed down his cheeks. Oh, hide, hide from me the horrid vision!' he said, lifting his hand as though he would shut out the phantasmagoria of hideous recollections. My father?' he asked faintly.
The chief marched away with his army into Thrace.'
Thorismund escaped through the gates with some of his trusted warriors. He joined Gaïnas.'
Eutyches was silent.
Oh! you need not tell me. I remember, I remember all! And my people -- what happened to all the rest that day?'
Do not talk more now, dear Walamir. You shall hear all in time. Try now to sleep.'
Walamir was, in truth, too exhausted to ask more. He lay back and closed his eyes, but could only sink into short and troubled slumbers. That night Olympias and Pentadia took it in turn to watch by his bedside.
Next day he seemed weaker. His mind was working incessantly, and it had nothing but tragedies on which to dwell.
The next evening he told Eutyches that he did not think that he could live. But Eutyches cheered him, holding him by the hand. I fear,' he said, you do not desire to live. But you are young; only think how much happiness may yet lie in store for you.'
I am young,' he answered, and the sunlight is warm, and the sea air sweet, and these roses are beautiful' -- for Eutyches had put by his side the vase which David had given him, and it was full of roses -- 'but what have I to live for? My father and my brother are exiles, burning, perhaps vainly, for revenge. My mother is dead. My people are slain. I am homeless and friendless.'
Not friendless,' said Eutyches. We all love you. There is many a home which would receive you.'
Ay, as a slave,' he said, or a humble dependent. But that can never be for a son of Gaïnas and an Amaling of the Ostrogoths.'
Nay,' said Eutyches, '"
sufficient for the day is its own evil." God will provide. Trust Him for the future. You are a Christian, though an Arian. Do you not know that Christ loves you?'
How can the White Christ of the Romans love me?' he said. He must have deserted us. He must be angry with us about some formula we cannot understand. How else could He have suffered us to perish? Why else could He have thus smitten me into helplessness and misery?'
Oh, hush! hush!' said Eutyches. I know little, I understand little. To confess to you the simple truth, I seem to care little about the hard, unintelligible words of which every idle tongue prates. But if I do not understand the doctrine, I try to do the will. I love Christ, and I know that Christ is love; and He is my Master and my Lord, and I have given my youth to Him, that He may have it under His own holy keeping, to save it from itself, and save it for Himself. Do I tire you?'
The only answer was a pressure of the hand.
Well then, Walamir, I seem to myself to know nothing of life, and to see nothing but its mysteries. I am but an ignorant boy, but I doubt whether even wise men -- whether even he, the Patriarch, really understands what life means, or why God suffers us to be afflicted. I have not yet been much afflicted, though I, too, am an orphan, Walamir. The Patriarch gave me a home, and Philip loves me, and David, and you -- and I am happy; and for the rest, doubtless the day of anguish will come to me, as it has come to you. We are born: let that come which must come. Only, may God help us for a short time to bear it, and make us faithful. I am sure that He cares for us. Try to live, Walamir; pray that you may live and serve.'
Tell me more of your faith,' said Walamir.
I have been trained,' said Eutyches, from earliest childhood in holy homes. My father was a Catholic Goth. He died early. My mother loved God. I have been rocked in the cradle and nursed on the knees by saints of God, and that on which I built all my faith and all my love is that
God is love, and that Christ is God.'
Again the mind of the Gothic boy was actively at work, and sorrows rushed in on him like a flood. He felt very tired, and as if he were at the point to die.
Eutyches', he said, I think that I am dying. Lean my head upon your shoulder.'
Eutyches took him in his arms and pillowed the weary head on his shoulder. His tears fell on his friend's cheek as he stooped over him, but he spoke cheery words.
Walamir,' he said, something tells me you will not die, but live, and do great deeds. What you now need more than all is sleep. Nicarete takes care of you to-night. One night of good sleep, and you will recover. To-morrow morning I shall bring him to see you.'
Him?' asked Walamir.
The Patriarch John,' said Eutyches. We call him so among ourselves.'
The great and holy Patriarch who blessed me in my father's tent? He will not care to come and pray with a wretched, wounded, dying Gothic boy.'
He is all kindness,' said Eutyches. He will come, and you will live.'
The next morning, as Eutyches had prophesied, Walamir felt a little stronger. His wound was dressed by the good Nicarete, who was in her element in a sick-room. Then Chrysostom came and knelt by his bedside, and poured forth for him a deep, strong, short, and tender prayer. We have heard how many a life has been saved by an affusion of blood from the pulses of strong and healthy veins. Such a moral and spiritual affusion into the life of the young Ostrogoth was the prayer of Chrysostom. From that moment he visibly amended. Very soon he could be carried into the garden, and could lie under a couch in the deep shade, among the flowers. A little longer and he could walk thither, leaning on the arm of Eutyches, who had been partly set free from work to tend him in his recovery.
It was then that the very serious question arose what was to be done with him; in what way they could provide for his future?
Philip and his friends were discussing it together. Of course,' said Philip, 'he,' pointing his finger towards the Archbishop's study -- 'he would readily provide for him; but how, and where? That is the difficulty. After what has happened the people hate the very sight of a Goth. He would hardly be safe from insult in the streets. If anyone but ourselves knew that he was the son of Gaïnas, there are plenty of brutes and villains in the city who would strike him down.'
I wish we could keep him with us,' said Eutyches.
Impossible!' said David. He is born Ostrogoth. Much as he loves you, Eutyches, his temperament is as different from yours in most things as any nature could be. The spirit and the aspirations of his wild forefathers are in him. He will be a warrior, and in these days no other career is open to him. He could not live our quiet life. The pen may be for us; the sword must be for him.'
Would it be possible to send him back to his father?'
It would be full of risk,' said David; and in the present fortunes of Gaïnas the outlook for him would be desperate.'
Then, what has the wise David to suggest?' asked Philip; for I am quite sure that you would not say all this if you had no plan.'
I have, said David. 'Aurelian has been recalled from banishment. He is a Christian; a good man, a great soldier. You know him, Philip. Ask the Patriarch to go to Aurelian, and see if he cannot provide Walamir, as soon as he is quite well, with some place near his own person. He will do it; and among Aurelian's soldierly surroundings Walamir may be trained in arms and in the scenes and exercises which he loves, and yet in a Christian home.'
Admirable!' said Philip; nothing could be better. We shall change your name immediately from David to Solomon!'
And yours from Philip to Alexander,' said David with his grave smile.
Which?' said Philip -- 'the Great, or the Coppersmith?'
Oh! the Coppersmith, the Coppersmith, of course,' said Eutyches. That accounts for his being so much in the Chalkoprateia.'
Will nothing cure your audacity?' said Philip, and he tried to seize him; but Eutyches darted off, and Philip shook his fist. Wait till I catch you,' he said.
Alexander the Coppersmith did me much evil,' said Eutyches demurely. 'And that reminds me I never got the bronze what's-his-name which you owe me for not guessing that Eutropius was to be Consul.'
Oh, you scoundrel!' said Philip; you forfeited it by your impudence. But I have no time to thrash you now, for I must ask him, and then be off to Count Aurelian's.'
Chrysostom was struck by the good-sense of the proposal, and Aurelian, who had always retained a kindly regard for Philip, gave him a cordial welcome, and at once agreed to receive the young Goth as a member of his household. The Præfect was, indeed, purposely living in comparative retirement until the exasperation of feeling between the Romans and the Goths should have died down. But he still had soldiers about him, and, as he soon formed a warm attachment to the noble and friendless boy, he gave him the training of a skilled soldier and of a high-minded, honourable man, which bore fine fruit in later years.