Ethelmund had only just sat down to his dinner when they heard the knock.

Ethelmund had only just sat down to his dinner when they heard the knock. He had not even taken a bite.

“Now who’s that?” he sighed.

“I’ll get it,” his sister-​​in-​​law said and began to push back her chair. “You just eat.”

“No, no,” he grumbled and put his fork down. “I’ll get it. I hope the lightning didn’t start a fire, or something.”

'I hope the lightning didn't start a fire, or something.'

“The rain will surely put it out if it did,” Colburga said. “Hear it coming down!”

“Probably just someone who wants to take shelter out of it,” Hildegith said. This was a common enough occurence, living as they did at the crossroads, though certainly there had been few occasions requiring shelter during that long, dry summer.

“Osric! Come on in out of the wet!” Ethelmund said when he had opened the door.

'Come on in out of the wet!'

It was only Osric Odda, who lived in Alwy Hogge’s old house across the crossroads. But surely Osric could have gone home if he had only wanted to get in out of the rain…

'I'm sorry to interrupt your dinner.'

“I’m sorry to interrupt your dinner,” he said softly to Ethelmund.

“No trouble. Won’t you join us?” Ethelmund asked.

“No, no. I’m afraid you’ll have to miss it, too. We need Hildegith to go on up to Gunnilda’s, and maybe you too. Aelfie already went up. Alwy was struck by lightning and killed up on the downs. We just brought him home.”


“What?” Ethelmund gasped.

“And, Ethelmund, I know it’s a bad time for you, but I guess Gunnilda might like you to make his coffin for him, because you were his friend. He’ll need a real long one. Alwy was a real big man.”

'Alwy was a real big man.'