IT was nearly sunset on the second day of the great
battle of Badon Hill.
The long, desperate fight was over, and the great
British champion had turned back for a time the tide of
Saxon invasion. The heathen dead lay, rank by rank, as
they had fallen, every man in his place, in the great
wedge-like formation which had resisted all the efforts
of the Britons during the first day of the struggle,
and had been with difficulty broken through on the
The King was sitting amidst a circle of his knights on
the top of the hill, resting from his toils. His
cross-hilted sword stood fixed in the ground before
him. On one side lay his helmet, bearing for its crest
a dragon wrought in gold; on the other, his shield, on
which was blazoned the figure of the Virgin.
 A priest approached, walking in front of a party of
four who were carrying a litter, and who, at a sign
from their leader, set it down before the King.
"My lord," said the priest, "I was traversing the
field to see whether I could serve any of the wounded
with my ministrations, when word was brought to me that
a Saxon desired to talk with me. He could speak the
British tongue, it was told me, a thing almost unheard
of among these barbarians. I did not delay to visit the
man, and finding that he desired above all things to
speak to your lordship, I took it upon myself to order
that he should be brought."
The wounded man raised himself with some difficulty,
and by the help of one of the bearers, into a sitting
posture. He was of almost gigantic proportions, and
though his hair and beard were white as snow, showed
little of the waste and emaciation of age.
One of the King's knights recognized him at once.
"I noted him," said he, "for a long time during the
battle. He was in the front rank, and stood close to a
young chief, whose guardian he seemed to be. I observed
that he was content to ward off blows that were aimed
at the young man, but never dealt any himself. What
came to him and his charge afterwards I do not know,
for the tide of battle carried me away."
 "What do you want?" said the King.
"My lord King," said the old man, speaking British
fluently, though with a foreign accent, "the knight
speaks true. Neither to-day, nor yesterday, nor indeed
through all the years during which my people have
fought with yours, have I stained my hands with British
blood. Indeed for forty years I have not set foot on
this island. But this year I was constrained to come,
for the young Prince of my people, Logrin by name, was
with the army, and his father had given him into my
charge, and I could not leave him. All day, therefore,
I stood by him, and warded off the blows with such
strength and skill as I had, and when his death hour
came, for he fell on the morning of the second day, I
cared no more for my own life. So much I say that you
may listen to me the more willingly, though report says
of you that you are generous, not to friends only, but
also to foes. But I have something to say that is of
more moment. Many years ago I was a prisoner in this
land, having been taken by one of the ships of Count
Ælius. Many things happened to me during my sojourn
here of which it does not concern me to speak, except
of this. There was in the household of the Count a
maiden, his daughter by adoption, but of British birth,
Carna by name. She was very anxious to bring me to
faith in her Master, Christ; and I was no little moved
by her words, and still
 more by the example of her goodness. But I loved her,
and this love seemed to hinder me, for how could I tell
whether it were truth itself or the love that was
persuading me? And would not he be the basest of men
who for love of a woman should leave the faith of his
fathers? So I remained, though it was half against my
own mind, in my unbelief, and when she would not take
me for her husband, being unbaptized, we parted, and I
saw her no more. But her words, and the memory of her,
have dwelt with me unceasingly, and now that God has
brought me back to this land, I desire to have that
which once I refused. But tell me, my lord King, have
you any knowledge of this lady Carna?"
"Yes," said the King, "I know her well, and by the
ordering of God, as I do not doubt, she is in this very
place this day, for she gives her whole time to
ministering to such as are in trouble or sorrow. She
shall be sent for forthwith, and the archbishop also
who will, if he thinks fit, administer to you the holy
rite of baptism."
Cedric, for as my readers will have guessed it was he,
bowed his head in assent, and after swallowing a
cordial which the King's physician put to his lips,
sank back upon the litter.
In about half an hour Carna appeared. She was dressed
in the garb of a religious house, for she had taken the
vows, and she was followed by a small
 company of holy women who, like her, had devoted their
lives to the service of their poor and suffering
brothers and sisters in Christ. Time had dealt gently
with her, as he often does with gentle souls. The
glossy chestnut hair of the past was changed indeed to
a silvery white, and her face was wasted with fast and
vigil; but her complexion was clear and delicate as of
old, and her eyes as lustrous and deep.
When she saw and recognized the wounded man—for she did
recognize him at once—a sweet and tender smile came
over her face. Her gift of intuition seemed to tell her
that her prayers were answered, and that the soul for
which her supplications had gone up day by day, from
youth to age, had been given to her.
"Carna," said the dying man, "God has brought me back
to you after many years, and before it is too late.
Your God is my God, and your country my country—but not
here. Once I could not own it, fearing lest my love
should be leading me into falsehood; but all things are
now made clear. But, my lord King," he went on, feebly
turning his head to Arthur, "bid them make haste, for I
would be baptized before I die, and my time is short."
The priest had departed on another errand, and the King
was perplexed. The physician whispered in his ear—
 "He has not many moments to live."
"Baptize him, my lord King, yourself," said Carna; "it
is lawful in case of need, and none can do it more
"I will willingly be his sponsor," said the knight who
had first spoken, "for there was never braver man
wielded axe or sword."
The King dipped his hand in a golden cup that stood on
the table by his chair, sprinkled the water thrice on
the dying man, as he pronounced the solemn formula, and
signed on his forehead the sign of the Cross. He then
put the cross-shaped hilt of his sword to the lips of
the newly baptized. Cedric devoutly kissed it. The next
minute he was dead.
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