IT was not easy to know what should be done with the
survivor of the two Saxon captives. The villa had no
proper provision for the safe custody of prisoners; and
the problem of keeping a man under lock and key,
without a quite disproportionate amount of trouble, was
as difficult as it would be in the ordinary country
house of modern times.
"I shall send him to the camp at the Great Harbour,"
said the Count, a few days after the scene described in
our last chapter. "It is quite impossible to keep him
unless we chain him hand and foot, or set half a dozen
men to guard him; and even then he is such a giant that
he might easily overpower them. At the camp they have
got a prison, and stocks which would hold him as fast
Carna's face clouded over when she heard the Count's
determination, but she said nothing. The lively Ælia
 "My dear father, you will break poor Carna's heart if
you do anything of the kind. She is bent on making a
convert of the noble savage. And anyhow, whatever else
she may induce him to worship, he seems ready, from
what I have seen, to worship her. And besides, what
harm can he do? He has no arms, and he can't speak a
word of any language known here. If he were to run away
he would either be killed or be starved to death."
"Well, Carna," said the Count, with a smile, "what do
you say? Will you stand surety for this young pagan?
Or shall I make him your slave, and then, if he runs
away, it will be your loss?"
"I hope," said the girl, "that you won't send him to
the camp, where, I fear, they hold the lives of such as
he very cheap."
"Well," replied the Count, "we will keep him here, at
all events for the present, and I will give the bailiff
orders to give him something to do in the safest place
that he can think of."
Accordingly the young Saxon was set to work at the
forge attached to the villa, and proved himself a
willing and serviceable labourer. No more suitable
choice, indeed, could have been made. That he was a man
of some rank at home everything about him seemed to
show—nothing more than his hands, which were delicate,
and unusually small in proportion to his almost
gigantic stature. But the
 greatest chief among his people would not have
disdained the hammer and anvil. Was not Thor a mighty
smith? And was it not almost as much a great warrior's
business to make a good sword as to wield it well when
it was made? So the young man, whose mighty shoulders
and muscular arms were regarded with respect and even
astonishment by his British fellow-workmen, laboured
with a will, showing himself no mean craftsman in the
blacksmith's art. Sometimes, as he plied the hammer,
he would chant to himself, in a low voice, what sounded
like a war-song. Otherwise he remained absolutely
silent, not even attempting to pick up the few common
words which daily intercourse with his companions gave
him the opportunity of learning. There was an air of
dignity about him which seemed to forbid any of the
little affronts to which a prisoner would naturally be
exposed; his evidently enormous strength, too, was a
thing which even the most stupid of his companions
respected. Silent, self-contained, and impassive, he
moved quietly about his daily tasks; it was only when
he caught a glimpse of Carna that his features were
lighted up for a moment with a smile.
CEDRIC AT THE FORGE.
The idea of opening up any communication with him
seemed hopeless, when an unexpected, but still quite
natural, way out of the difficulty presented itself. An
old peddler, who was accustomed to
 supply the inmates of the villa with silks and
jewellery, and who sometimes had a book in his pack for
Carna, paid in due course one of his periodical
visits. The old man was a Gaul by birth, a native of
one of the States on the eastern bank of the Rhine, and
in youth he had been an adventurous trader, extending
his journeys eastward and northward as far as the
shores of the Baltic. The risk was great, for the
Germans of the interior looked with suspicion on the
visits of civilized strangers; but, on the other hand,
the profits were considerable. Amber, in pieces of a
size and clearness seldom matched on the coasts of
Gaul and Britain, and beautiful furs, as of the seal
and the sea-otter, could be bought at very low prices
from these unsophisticated tribes, and sold again to
the wealthy ladies of Lutetia
at a very considerable advantage. In these wanderings
Antrix—for that was the peddler's name—had acquired a
good knowledge of the language—substantially the same,
though divided into several dialects—spoken by the
German tribes; and, indeed, without such knowledge his
trading adventures would have been neither safe nor
profitable. As he approached old age Antrix had judged
it expedient to transfer his business from Gaul to
 he found to be a dangerous place for a peaceable
trader, having lost more than once all the profits of a
journey, and, indeed, a good deal more, by one of the
marauding bands by whom the country was periodically
overrun. Britain, or at least the southern district of
Britain, was certainly safer, and it was this that for
the last ten years he had been accustomed to traverse,
till he had become a well-known and welcome visitor at
every villa and settlement along the coast.
Here then chance, or, as Carna preferred to think,
Providence, had provided an interpreter; and it so
happened that, whether by another piece of good
fortune, or an additional interposition, his services
were made permanently useful. The old man had found his
journeys becoming in the winter too laborious for his
strength, and it was not very difficult to persuade him
to make his home in the villa for two or three months
till the severity of the season should have passed.
Every one was pleased at the arrangement. Antrix was an
admirable teller of tales, and his had been an
adventurous life, full of incident, with which he knew
how to make the winter night less long. The Count saw a
rare opportunity, such as had never come to him before,
of learning something about the hardy freebooters whom
it was his business to overawe; and Carna had the
liveliest hopes of making a proselyte, if she
 could only make herself, and the message in which she
had so profound a faith, understood.
The young Saxon's resolution and pride did not long
hold out against the unexpected delight of being able
once more to converse in his own language, and he soon
began to talk with perfect freedom—for, he had no
idea of having anything to conceal—about his home and
his people. He was the son, they learnt from him, of
the chief of one of the Saxon settlements near the
mouth of the Albis.
The people lived by hunting and fishing, and, more or
less, by cultivating the soil. But life was hard. The
settlements were crowded; game was growing scarce, and
had to be followed further afield every year; the
climate, too, was very uncertain, and the crops
sometimes failed altogether. In short, they could not
live without what they were able to pick up in their
expeditions to richer countries and more temperate
climates. On this point the young Saxon was perfectly
frank. The idea that there was anything of which a
warrior could possibly be ashamed in taking what he
could by the strong hand had evidently never crossed
his mind. To rob a neighbour or fellow-tribesman he
counted shameful—so much could be gathered from
expressions that he let drop; as to others, his simple
morality was this—to keep what you had, to take what
others could not keep.
 The Count found him curiously well informed on what may
be called the politics of Europe. He was well aware of
the decay of the Roman power. Kinsmen and neighbours of
his own had made their way south to get their share in
the spoil of the Empire. Some, he had heard, had
stopped to take service with the enemy; some had come
back with marvellous tales of the wealth and luxury
which they had seen. About Britain itself he had very
clear views. The substance of what he said to the Count
was this: You won't stop here very long. My father says
that you have been weakening your fleet and armies here
for years past, and that you will soon take them away
altogether. Then we shall come and take the country. It
will hardly be in his time, he says. Perhaps it may not
be in mine. It is only you that hinder us; it is only
you that we are afraid of. We shall have the island; we
must have it. Our own country is too small and too
barren to keep us."
Of his own adventures the young Saxon had little to
say. This was the first voyage that he and his brother
had taken. Their father was in failing health, and
their mother, who had but one other child, a girl some
ten years younger, had kept them at home, till she had
been unwillingly persuaded that they were losing caste
by taking no part in the warlike excursions of their
countrymen. "We had a fairly successful
 time," went on the young chief, with the absolute
unconsciousness of wrong with which a hunter might
relate his exploits; "took two merchantmen that had
good cargoes on board, and had a right royal fight with
the people of a town on the Gallic coast. We killed
thirty of them; and only five of our warriors went to
the Walhalla. Then we turned homeward, but our ship
struck on a rock near some islands far to the west,
and had almost gone to the bottom. With great labour we
dragged her ashore, and set to work repairing her; but
our chief smith and carpenter had fallen in the battle,
and we were a long time in making her fit for sea. This
was the reason why we were going home so late, and also
why we lagged behind our comrades when you were chasing
us. By rights we were the best crew and had the
swiftest ship, but she had been clumsily mended, and
dragged terribly in the water."
The Count listened to all this with the greatest
interest, and plied the speaker with questions, all of
which he answered with perfect frankness. He found out
how many warriors the settlement could muster, what
were the relations with their neighbours, whether there
had been any definite plans for a common expedition.
On the whole, he came to the conclusion that though
there was no danger of an overpowering
 migration from this quarter such as Western and
Southern Europe had suffered from in former times,
these sea-faring tribes of the East would be an
increasing danger to Britain as years went on.
Personally the prospect did not concern him greatly;
his fortunes were not bound up with the island. Still
he loved the place and its people; it troubled him to
see what dark days were in store for them. And taking a
wider view—for he was a man of large sympathies—he was
grieved to see another black cloud in an horizon
already so dark. Would anything civilized be left, he
thought to himself, when every part of Europe has been
swept by these hosts of barbarians?
Before long another source of interest was discovered
in the young Saxon. The Count happened to overhear him
chanting to himself, and though he could not
distinguish the words, he recognized in the rhythm
something like the camp-songs that he had often
listened to from German warriors in Stilicho's camp.
Here again the peddler's services as an interpreter
were put in requisition, and though the old man's
Latin, which went little beyond his practical wants as
a trader, fell lamentably short of what was wanted,
enough was heard to interest the villa family, which
had a literary turn, very much. What the young man had
sung to himself was an early Saga, a curious romance
of heroes fighting with monsters,
 as unlike as can be conceived to anything to be found
in Roman poetry—verse in its rudest shape, but still
making itself felt as a real poet's work.
Lastly, Carna, now that she had found a way of
communicating her thoughts, threw herself with ardour
into the work of proselytizing the stranger. Here the
peddler was more at home in his task as interpreter.
Carna used the dialect of South Britain, with which he
was far more familiar than he was with Latin—it
differed indeed but little from his native speech. The
topics too were familiar, for he had been brought up in
the Christian faith, and though he scarcely understood
the girl's zeal, he was quite willing to help her as
much as he could.
Carna found her task much more difficult than she had
expected. She had thought in her simple faith that it
would be enough for her to tell to the young heathen
the story of the Crucified Christ for him to fall down
at once and worship. He listened with profound
attention and respect. This, perhaps, he would have
accorded to anything that came from her lips; but,
beyond this, the story itself profoundly interested
him. But it must be confessed that there was a good
deal in it which did not commend itself to his
warrior's ideal of what the God whom he could worship
should be. He was a soldier, and he could scarcely
conceive of anything great or good that was outside a
soldier's virtues. The gods of his own
 heaven, Odin and Thor and Balder, were great
conquerors, armed with armour which no mortal blow
could pierce, wielders of sword and hammer which were
too heavy for any mortal arm to wield. He could bow
down to them because they were greater, immeasurably
greater than himself, in the qualities and gifts which
he most honoured. Now he was called upon to receive a
quite different set of ideas, to set up a quite
different standard of excellence. The story of the
Gospels touched him. It roused him almost to fury when
he heard how the good man who had gone about healing
the sick and feeding the hungry had been put
shamefully to death by His own countrymen, by those who
knew best what He had done. If Carna had bidden him
avenge the man who had been so ungratefully treated, he
would have performed her bidding with pleasure. But to
worship this Crucified One, to depose for Him Odin,
Lord of Battles—that seemed impossible.
Still he was impressed, and impressed chiefly by the
way in which the preacher seemed to translate into her
own life the principles of the faith which she tried to
set forth to him. She had told him that this Crucified
One had died for him. He could not understand why He
should have done so, why He should not have led His
twelve legions of angels against the wicked, swept them
off from the face of the earth, and established by
force of arms a kingdom of justice.
 Still the idea of so much having been given, so much
endured for his sake touched him, especially when he
saw how passionately in earnest was this wonderful
creature, this beautiful prophetess, as, with the
German reverence for women, he was ready to regard
her, how eager she was to do him good, how little, as
he could not but feel, she thought of herself in
comparison with others.
As long as Carna dwelt on these topics she made good
way; when she wandered away from them, as naturally she
sometimes did, she was not so successful. One day it
unluckily occurred to her that she would appeal to his
"Do not refuse to listen," she said to him, "for if He
is infinitely good to those who love Him, He can also
be angry with those who love Him not."
"What will He do with them?" asked the young Saxon.
"He will send them to suffer in everlasting fire."
"Ah!" answered the youth, "I have heard from our wise
men of such a place into which Odin drives cowards, and
oath-breakers, and such as are false to their friends.
But they say it is a place of everlasting cold, and
this indeed seems to me to be worse than fire."
"Yes," said Carna, "there is such a place of torment,
and it is kept not only for the wicked, as you say, but
for all who do not believe."
 "Will the Lord Christ then banish thither all who do
not own Him as their Master, and call themselves by His
"Yes—and think how terrible a thing it would be if it
should happen to you."
"And that is why you are so anxious to persuade me?"
"And why you were so troubled about my brother when you
could not make him understand before he died?"
"Yes. Oh! it was dreadful to think he should pass away
when safety was in his reach."
"And you think that the Lord Christ has sent him to
that place because he did not know Him?"
"I fear that it must be so."
"Then He shall send me also. For how am I better
because I have lived longer? No—I will be with my
brother, whom I loved, and with my own people."
And neither for that day nor for many days to come
would he speak again on this subject. Carna was greatly
troubled; but she began to think whether there might
not be something in what the young man had said.
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