So it ran on, to the great scandal of Lucius, who longed for better knowledge of the Gothic tongue to convince the old man of the folly of his heathen dreams. Meinhard, who was likewise rather shocked, explained that the father and son had been recent arrivals, who had been baptized because Euric required his followers to embrace his faith, but with little real knowledge or acceptance on the part of the father. Young Odorik had been a far more ardent convert; and, after the fashion of many a believer, had taken up the distinctions of sect rather than of religion, and, zealous in the faith he knew, had thought it incumbent on him to insult the Catholics where they seemed to him idolatrous.
A message on the road informed the travellers that they would find Odorik at the villa. Thither then they went, and soon saw the whole household on the steps in eager anticipation. A tall young figure, with a bandage still round his fair flowing locks, came down the steps as Verronax helped the blind man to dismount; and Odo, with a cry of ‘My son!’ with a ring of ecstasy in the sound, held the youth to his breast and felt him all over.
“Are we friends?” said Odorik, turning to Verronax, when his father released him.
“That is as thou wiliest,” returned the Arvernian gravely.
“Know then,” said Odorik, “that I know that I erred. I knew not thy Lord when I mocked thine honour to Him. Father, we had but half learnt the Christian’s God. I have seen it now. It was not thy blow, O Arvernian! that taught me; but the Master who inspired yonder youth to offer his life, and who sent the maiden there to wait upon her foe. He is more than man. I own in him the Eternal Creator, Redeemer, and Lord!”
“Yea,” said Sidonius to his friend AEmilius, “a great work hath been wrought out. Thus hath the parable of actual life led this zealous but half-taught youth to enter into the higher truth. Lucius will be none the worse priest for having trodden in the steps of Him who was High-priest and Victim. Who may abide strict Divine Justice, had not One stood between the sinner and the Judge? Thus ’Mercy and Truth have met together; Righteousness and Peace have kissed each other.’”
A HAMPSHIRE TRADITION
The Dane! the Dane! The heathen Dane
Is wasting Hampshire’s coast again—
From ravaged church and plundered farm
Flash the dread beacons of alarm—
Fly, helpless peasants, fly!
Ytene’s green banks and forest shades,
Her heathery slopes and gorse-clad glades
Re-echo to the cry—
Where is the King, whose strong right hand
Hath oft from danger freed the land?
Nor fleet nor covenant avails
To drive aloof those pirate sails,
In vain is Alfred’s sword;
Vain seems in every sacred fane
The chant—’From fury of the Dane,
Deliver us, good Lord.’