And again he set his hand to his eyes as if shading them, as does a man at noontide.
“What ails you?” one of the men asked, wondering.
“I have no ailment—none. I see once more!” he cried. “Look you, yonder is the blessed moon, and there lies a broken tree; and see, there are fires on the hills of the Welshmen!”
Then with both hands wide before him he said:
“Now I see that I have set my hands on one who can be naught but a saint most holy, for therefrom I have my sight again. Who is this that has been slain?”
The men answered him, telling him. The blind man had heard, of course, of the poor young king, and had, indeed, been brought hither from wherever he lived that he might share in the largess of the wedding day.
Now the men would go their way with him again, wondering, but yet half doubting the truth of what the man said.
“It is in my mind that you have not been so blind as you would have us think,” said one, growling.
The man pointed at the cart as it went.
“Would I lie in that presence?” he said.
And with that he broke into the song I had heard. Some old chant of victory it was, which he made to fit his case, being somewhat of a gleeman, as so many of these wanderers are. And there the men left him in the road, singing and careless of aught save his recovered sight, and hastened after the party.
Yet it was not until the next day that they told the tale, and whether the once blind man was ever found again I cannot tell; but I have set this down as I knew of it, because it was the first of many healings wrought by the saint we loved. I ken well that the tale is told nowadays in a more awesome way; but let that pass. Tales of wonder grow ever more strange as the years go on.
Men call Ethelbert a martyr now, I suppose because he was slain. That is not quite what we mean by a martyr, for that is one who gives up his life rather than deny his Lord. Yet Ethelbert was indeed a witness to the faith all his life, and so the name may stand.
So presently they brought back the body to Fernlea, and its resting was ready in the little church which had come into the strange dream by the riverside. And I knew, as I watched by it all the rest of that night till the hour of prime, that this was what the vision foreboded.
Now that I had Hilda safe with the archbishop, it mattered nothing to me if all the world knew that I was yet here. So when Ealdwulf, the archbishop himself, asked me to ride with him to Sutton Palace and tell Offa of the finding, I said that I was most willing. I should see Selred, and maybe bring him away with me, and at least could tell him that all was well with Hilda.