I’m too old to travel on winter roads, but King Aldfrid summons me, so I leave Streoneshalh at first light. The messenger said the king is sick unto death. When we reach the king’s villa at Driffield, my escort announces me. Immediately, servants guide me to the king’s chamber.
Torches light the room. They and the fire make the air thick with smoke. I stand a moment, waiting for my eyes to adjust. The king lies in a bed covered in furs. A priest administers Communion and makes the sign of the cross. We pass at the doorway.
There’s a stool next to the bed. I hold Aldfrid’s hand and pray for his recovery.
“I won’t recover.” He speaks so softly, I have to lean over to hear him.
“You can’t know that, Your Majesty. No illness defeats God.”
Aldfrid makes a weak smile. “I was wrong to oppose Bishop Wilfrid. You must help me make it right.
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