"He was wearing a
long grey cloak with a hood over his head. And he gave me this just
before I fell asleep." Kelric fished his shiral bead from inside
his tunic and held it up for Bishop Duncan to see.
Bishop Duncan and Lord
Dhugal stared at his bead with identical expressions of astonishment.
Lord Dhugal recovered
first and leaned in for a closer look, smiling at Kelric. "A
saint who not only tells stories but leaves gifts? I wish he'd come
visit me some night!"
"He did come!
_Honest_!" Kelric said earnestly.
But there was no
mockery in Lord Dhugal's face as he looked more closely at Kelric's
bead, then up at his father.
"It's just like
the one Kelson found on the beach on that day we saw that man three
years ago, Father," he told Bishop Duncan softly. "Same
size, same hole drilled through the center - everything."
"May I take a
closer look too, Kelric?" Bishop Duncan asked. He draped the
green cord over his palm and stared intently at the little bead.
"Amazing," he whispered. "Truly amazing. Kelric, what
did this saint look like, can you tell us?"
tall," Kelric said promptly. "He looked a lot like Daddy,
but older. He was nice to Stripes, too, and she liked him. Usually she
runs away from strangers. I couldn't see his feet, though."
"And you weren't
afraid of him? If a man without feet had come to see me in the middle
of the night when I was only three, I would have been scared."
"Don't you believe
me?" Kelric bristled a little.
"I have more
reason to believe you than not to believe you," Duncan soothed.
"He didn't frighten you, even a tiny bit?"
Kelric shook his head.
"His face was too kind - an' he reminded me of you."
He just caught Dhugal's
grin at his father and Duncan's answering roll of his eyes.
flattered," Duncan said simply and smiled at Kelric. "I've
been called much worse in my life. I don't suppose this saint told you
who he was?"
"He was a little
*strange*," Kelric admitted. "He said that in life he' d
been Camber MacRorie, the Earl of..Earl of.?" Kelric scowled in
annoyance at having forgotten the name.
"Culdi, I think it
was," Bishop Duncan supplied. "What else did he say?"
"He said that his
becoming a saint had been an accident. Bishop Duncan, do you know how
somebody can get sainted by accident?"
"I don't even know
that Camber was sainted 'by accident' as you put it, Kel" Bishop
Duncan answered, frowning a little in his puzzlement. "What I've
been able to read about that was Camber was sainted almost unanimously
by the Gwynedd Curia of the time. King Cinhil I supported it, too, and
he had been a priest before he was King."
"Did the story he
told you have anything to do with your bead?" Lord Dhugal asked.
Kelric shook his head.
"He told me about when his sons were young."
"Did he name his
Kelric said after a pause to think. "Ballard, and
maybe?" Bishop Duncan's voice was mild as it always was, but
sitting right next to the bishop, Kelric couldn't miss his keen
interest. Interest so keen that Kelric could have sworn he was as
excited as adults ever got.
"Do you know who
this Joram was, Father?" Lord Dhugal asked.
MacRorie was Saint Camber's son," Duncan said quietly. "I'
ve read about him in the account of Camber's canonization. According
to the little I've been able to worm out of Arilan, Joram was also one
of the founding members of the Camberian Council just after the
Restoration. He was also a Michaeline Knight, and the Michaelines were
instrumental in the Haldane Restoration. I've tried to find out more
about him, but references to the man beyond what I've already found
are just about non-existent. I must have gone through every book and
scroll in Kelson's library annexe by now."
He glanced over at
Kelric's shiral bead again, and his eyes narrowed. "It's on a
green cord," he said slowly. "The color green was
significant to Deryni in St. Camber's time too, but I can't remember
"You could ask
Prince Azim," Dhugal suggested. "I'll bet he knows at least
as much as Arilan, and he's usually more willing to talk to us about
Kelric gave an
impatient bounce. The conversation seemed to be getting very far away
from him. Why were adults so easily distracted?
Bishop Duncan caught
his impatience and grinned at him.
"Well Kel, it
seems as if you've had your first Camberian visit," he said in a
much more cheerful voice.
"It's a little
hard to explain, but Camber is very sociable for a saint," Duncan
chuckled. "Your father and I have both had encounters with him,
and he's come to talk to your Godfather a time or two, and now it
appears that he likes you, too. He may come back to see you again,
Kelric looked around
the Great Hall, wondering if Saint Camber might be invisibly standing
about watching and listening to his conversation this minute. Instead
he saw Mummy coming toward them, smiling.
Lord Dhugal and Bishop
Duncan stood at once when they saw her.
"We're ready to
go, now," Mummy said smiling. She held out her arms to Kelric to
jump into from his window seat.
where did that pretty bead come from?" Mummy asked after she'd
caught him and given him a hug.
Camber," Kelric answered, thinking much more about getting to the
beach than about beads or saints.
Mummy's blue eyes went
wide and she stared up at Bishop Duncan for corroboration. He smiled
down at her and nodded.
Mummy called, setting Kelric on the ground.
In a moment, Kelric
found himself surrounded by the King and Queen, by Mummy and Daddy,
Bishop Duncan and Lord Dhugal. Bishop Duncan quickly told them what
Kelric had said. After all of them had leaned down to examine the
shiral bead Kelric wore, they began to talk at a ferocious rate in low
voices. To Kelric's disappointment, all of them seemed to have
entirely forgotten about going to the beach; they didn't even look
toward the great hall door. They even seemed to have forgotten about
him. He slipped away from Mummy and went over to the hall door. Grooms
stood about holding the saddled horses in the courtyard below and the
carriage was waiting, too. It was warm and the gentle breeze made the
banners flap above the gatehouse leading out of the castle. The sky
was pale blue and Kelric could see a flock of white gulls wheeling in
the distant air above Coroth Bay. The breeze was filled with the scent
of water and clean, salty air. Looking back over his shoulder, Kelric
could see the grownups all talking away as if they planned to keep
doing it for the rest of the day, and felt a pang of despair.
Briony saw him by the
doors and came to join him, although she scowled at him. "Why did
you have to tell them Saint Camber visited you last night?" she
complained. "Now we'll _never_ get to the beach!"
"Why do grownups
talk so much?" Kelric mourned.
"Where'd you get
that bead?" Briony asked pointing to his shiral crystal, her eyes
bright with interest.
"Saint Camber gave
it to me."
"He did not!"
"Yes he did!"
Kelric closed his fist around his bead protectively. He liked his
older sister most of the time, but she was very good at talking him
into giving her things. He wanted to keep his shiral crystal.
She noticed and half
turned away from him, her nose turned in the air. "I don't want
your silly old bead," she told him in a lofty voice. "I have
the pearl Daddy gave me for my birthday. "It's not fair
though," she continued, pouting. "Boys don't wear jewelry.
Why didn't St. Camber bring me a shiral crystal, too?"
"Maybe he doesn't
Briony's blue eyes went
narrow, and her lips went all thin. She didn't like _that_ idea at
all, Kelric could tell.
"I'll bet he
_does_ like girls," she growled.
Briony doubled up her fists and stuck out her chin and lower lip.
"I'm sure he'll come visit me tonight."
"Oh yes, he
Kelric just stuck his
thumbs in his ears and wiggled his fingers while sticking out his
tongue at her. Then he ran back inside, feeling well pleased at having
made his sister jealous over St. Camber's visit. All at once, he
stopped and put his finger in his mouth. If St. Camber was watching
him for God to make sure he behaved, Kelric didn't think either the
saint or God would be pleased at the way he'd just acted. Bishop
Duncan didn't seem to think his soul was in danger, but what if Father
Tagas was right about mortal sin and Nurse and Bishop Duncan were
** But he's a Bishop,
and that's bigger than just being a priest**, Kelric thought. Surely,
that meant Bishop Duncan was right, since a bishop must know a lot
more about God than ordinary priests just as priests knew more than
He headed back to the
grownups again, though at a slower pace, and tugged at the first
sleeve he could reach which happened to be Lord Dhugal' s.
"What is it, Kel?"
Lord Dhugal asked. He tousled Kelric's hair.
"Aren't we going
to the beach at _all_?" Kelric pleaded.
All the solemn talk
ended when the King laughed. "Yes we are, and we 're leaving this
minute," the King said firmly. "I daresay we can talk about
St. Camber with our toes in the sand just as easily as we can talk
about him here."
He offered his right
hand to the queen and took Kelric's hand in his left. The queen's
greyhound puppy trotted after them with everyone else falling in
behind at their backs
Kelric couldn't help
giving a happy skip at his godfather's side. The King really was one
of the nicest kind of adults. He didn't say tiresome things like
"we'll leave presently" or "in a few minutes" and
then go right on talking. When he said "we're leaving now,"
he meant it.
Out in the courtyard,
the King helped Queen Araxie up the step into the carriage, and kissed
her hand before releasing it and turning to help Mummy in after her.
Kelric was bundled in next and last of all, the King lifted the
greyhound puppy. Kelric craned his neck out the carriage window,
watching as Daddy, the King, Bishop Duncan and Lord Dhugal mounted
their horses. He did feel a momentary pang of envy when he saw Uncle
Seandry lift Briony up to ride before the King in his saddle, however.
It would be very pleasant to ride in the open air in front of Daddy or
Bishop Duncan rather than having to ride inside the carriage with the
Mummy must have felt it
for she leaned down and kissed the top of his head then rested her
cheek against his hair. Afraid that he had hurt her feelings, Kelric
leaned against her and hugged her tightly. There were far worse ways
to ride to the beach than being enthroned on Mummy's lap with her arms
clasped around him. Especially when the carriage gave it's first lurch
leaving!" Kelric crowed in delight.