Download PDF by William Napier: Attila

By William Napier

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Starlings and kites make their nests in the eaves of palaces and villas where generals and emperors once talked. The sun has set and it is cold in my chamber, and I am very old. My supper is a little white bread and a mouthful or two of thin, watered wine. The Christian monks with whom I live, in this high and lonely monastery, teach that sometimes this bread and this wine are the flesh and blood of God. It is true that wonders are many, and even this may be so. But to me it is only bread and wine; and it will suffice.

Then the horsemen, the fury of their charge undiminished even after covering a mile or more of hard, sunbaked ground - long after a troop of Roman cavalry would have begun to slacken and tire - scythed into the aghast and petrified column. Both Stilicho and his tribune had their fists bunched up on the pommels of their saddles, pushing themselves up and straining to see. ‘In the Name of Light,’ murmured the general. ’ said the tribune. The horsemen cut through the column in seconds, then, with unbelievable dexterity, wheeled round and cut in again from the other side.

He backed up against the wall and waited. ’ Serena faced Galla Placidia and her eyes did not flinch. She was shorter than the princess, and perhaps twice her age, but there was no denying her beauty. Her hair was simply coiffed, and her stola of white silk left her neck and shoulders bare but for a slim necklace of Indian pearls. Her eyes, edged with fine laughter lines, were dark and lustrous, and few men in the court were strong enough to refuse her wishes when she expressed them in her low and gentle voice, turning her gaze and her wide smile full upon them.

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