The king arrives soon after the others leave and crosses the chamber in four broad strides.
“Show me the prince,” he says, clearly delighted.
The nurse unwraps the infant, who gives a faint cry. Edwin touches the tiny face with his calloused hand.
“Swaddle him. The ugly creature will catch a chill.”
“Do you acknowledge him?” I ask.
The king nods. “The first of many princes the queen and I will make together. My archbishop will baptize him tomorrow. Send him with his nurse and three ladies of your choosing.”
The queen looks crestfallen. “Can it not wait until I’m on my feet?”
“No,” the king says, gently. “Woden lurks to do us mischief. We must secure my son’s health and future.”
“What will you call our son?”
“Ethelhun, noble bear.”
When Paulinus anoints Ethelhun’s head with baptismal oil, something flutters above his head. Perhaps it’s smoke from the incense. Or perhaps it’s Woden’s revenge.
The prince dies a week later.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish