WebNovel A Struggle For Rome Volume Iii Part 61

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A Struggle For Rome is a web novel completed by Felix Dahn. This lightnovel is presently completed.

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“I know by the shudder which pa.s.ses across me that this is the wise King of Ravenna! First came a stronger, now a greater man. Let us do this dead man homage.”

And, with great exertion, he rose upright in his litter, and bent his head reverently before the corpse.

Then followed the wounded, supported by or carried in the arms of their followers. This part of the procession was opened by Aligern, who was carried on a broad shield by Wachis and Liuta, a.s.sisted by two warriors. Then came the chests and coffers, the baskets and vessels, containing the royal treasure and the goods of the different families, which, until then, had been hidden in the wagons.

Afterwards came the great ma.s.s of the unarmed people–women, girls, children, and old people–for the boys, from ten years of age upwards, would not part with the weapons which had been entrusted to them, and marched in a separate corps.

Na.r.s.es smiled as the little fair-haired heroes pa.s.sed, looking up at him with anger and defiance.

“Well,” he said, “the Goths have taken care that the Emperor’s successors and their generals shall not want work!”

The procession was closed by the rest of the Gothic army.

Innumerable boats lent their a.s.sistance in the embarkation of the people and their scanty possessions. Presently all were on board the high-decked vessels of the Northmen.

The corpses of Teja and Theodoric, the royal banner, and the royal treasure, were taken into Harald’s ship. The great Dietrich of Bern was placed upon his throne at the foot of the mainmast, and his lion-standard hoisted to the mast-head. Old Hildebrand installed himself at the foot of the throne.

In the stern of the ship, Adalgoth and Wisand had laid down the body of Teja. The mighty Harald and his beautiful sister approached it sorrowfully. The Viking laid his mailed hand gently upon the dead man’s breast, and said:

“I could not save thee, bold and daring King! I could not save thee and thy people. Nothing remains but to take thee and the rest of thy folk to the land of the strong and the true, from which you should never have departed. Thus, after all, I bring back to King Frode the Gothic nation.”

But Haralda said:

“I will preserve the body of the n.o.ble dead by secret arts, so that it shall endure until we land in our home. There we will vault for him and King Thidrekr a hill-grave near the sea, so that they may together hear the roar of the breakers and hold converse with each other; for they were worthy of each other. Look, my brother! the enemy’s army stands in ranks upon the strand; they lower their flags and weapons in reverence, and the sun sinks glowing behind Misenum and yonder islands; a crimson glow covers the sea as with a royal mantle; our white sails are coloured red, and red gold shines upon our weapons! Look how the south wind spreads out the banner of King Thidrekr! The wind, which obeys the will of the G.o.ds, points to the north! Up, brother Harald! weigh anchor! direct the rudder! turn the dragon’s prow! Up, Freya’s wise bird! Fly, my falcon!”–and she tossed her falcon into the air–“point out the way! to the north! to Thuleland! Home! home we take the last of the Goths!”

FOOTNOTE: [Footnote 1: Theodoric.]

THE END.

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