“Even so,” said the monk, solemnly, “let Thine enemies perish, O Lord, but let them that love Thee be as the sun, when he goeth forth in his might.”
But those were not wanting who could not sympathise with the stern sentiment, remembering better and gentler lessons from the lips of the great Teacher and Master of souls.
“He has passed into the Hands of his God, there let us leave him,” said Father Cuthbert, who had just arrived at the moment. “It is not for us to judge a soul which has passed to the judgment seat, and is beyond the sentence of men.”
Meanwhile, they had borne Elfric first to the priory, for they judged it not well that he should yet be brought to his mother; they feared the sudden shock. Many of the good monks had studied medicine, for they were in fact the healers both of soul and body throughout the district, and they attended him with assiduous care. They put him to bed, they gave him cordials which soon produced quiet sleep, and watched by him for many hours.
It was not till the day had far advanced that he awoke, greatly refreshed, and saw Father Cuthbert and Alfred standing by him. They had allayed the fever, bound up the wound, which was not in itself dangerous, and he looked more like himself than one could have imagined possible.
And now they thought they might venture to summon the lady Edith; and Alfred broke the intelligence to her, for she knew not the events of the night.
“Mother,” he said; “we have news of Elfric, both bad and good, to tell you.”
“He lives then,” she said; “he lives!”
“Yes, lives, and is near; but he was wounded badly in the battle.”
“I must go to him,” she said, and arose, forgetting all possible obstacles in a mother’s love.
“He is near at hand, in the priory; you will find him much changed, but they say he will do well.”
She shook like an aspen leaf, and threw her garments around her with nervous earnestness.
“Come, mother, take my arm.”
“O Alfred, may I not come, too?” said little Edgitha.
“Yes, you may come too;” and they left the house.
Elfric heard them approach, and sat up in his bed, Father Cuthbert supporting him with his arm; while another visitor, Edgar himself, stood at the head of the bed, but retired to give place to the mother, as if he felt no stranger could then intrude, when the widow clasped her prodigal to her loving breast.
CHAPTER XXIV. SOW THE WIND, AND REAP THE WHIRLWIND.
When Alfred rebuilt the city of Winchester, after it had been burned by the Danes, he erected a royal palace, which became a favourite retreat of his successors.
Here the unhappy Edwy retired after his defeat, to find consolation in the company of Elgiva. Indeed he needed it. Northumbria had followed the example of Mercia, and acknowledged Edgar, and he had no dominions left north of the Thames, while it was rumoured that worse news might follow.