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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/631

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THE VALUE OF WITNESS TO THE MIRACULOUS.

go back to the point at which we left him, secretly perusing the letter of Deacon Deusdona. As he tells us, its contents were—

that he (the deacon) had many relics of saints at home, and that he would give them to me if I would furnish him with the means of returning to Rome; he had observed that I had two mules, and, if I would let him have one of them and would dispatch with him a confidential servant to take charge of the relics, he would at once send them to me. This plausibly expressed proposition pleased me, and I made up my mind to test the value of the somewhat ambiguous promise at once;[1] so giving him the mule and money for his journey I ordered my notary Ratleig (who already desired to go to Rome to offer his devotions there) to go with him. Therefore, having left Aix-la-Chapelle (where the emperor and his court resided at the time) they came to Soissons. Here they spoke with Hildoin, abbot of the monastery of St. Medardus, because the said deacon had assured him that he had the means of placing in his possession the body of the blessed Tiburtius the martyr. Attracted by which promises he (Hildoin) sent with them a certain priest, Hunus by name, a sharp man (hominem callidum), whom he ordered to receive and bring back the body of the martyr in question. And so, resuming their journey, they proceeded to Rome as fast as they could. (Cap. i, 3.)

Unfortunately, a servant of the notary, one Reginbald, fell ill of a tertian fever, and impeded the progress of the party. However, this piece of adversity had its sweet uses; for, three days before they reached Rome, Reginbald had a vision. Somebody habited as a deacon appeared to him and asked why his master was in such a hurry to get to Rome; and when Reginbald explained their business, this visionary deacon, who seems to have taken the measure of his brother in the flesh with some accuracy, told him not by any means to expect that Deusdona would fulfill his promises. Moreover, taking the servant by the hand, he led him to the top of a high mountain and, showing him Rome (where the man had never been), pointed out a church, adding: "Tell Ratleig the thing he wants is hidden there; let him get it as quickly as he can and go back to his master"; and, by way of a sign that the order was authoritative, the servant was promised that from that time forth his fever should disappear. And as the fever did vanish to return no more, the faith of Eginhard's people in Deacon Deusdona naturally vanished with it (et fidem diaconi promissis non haberent). Nevertheless, they put up at the deacon's house near St. Peter da Vincula. But time went on and no relics made their appearance, while the notary and the priest were put off with all sorts of excuses—the brother to whom the relics had been confided was gone to Beneventum and not expected back for some time, and so on—until Ratleig and Hunus began to despair, and were minded to return, infecto negotio.

  1. It is pretty clear that Eginhard had his doubts about the deacon, whose pledge he qualifies as sponsiones incertæ. But, to be sure, he wrote after events which fully justified skepticism.