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And he was hardly in a position to be fulfilling his duties in Riez just now.

I know full well that I cannot expect to weather many more winters." "Come, Excellency!

Faustus was bound to be a fire-eater on the subject of heretics, having only last year been driven from his bishopric and sent scurrying to Soissons by the Arian Visigoths. But Faustus' obsession dated back much further than that—back to his youth on the misty island that had put forth the fleet now filling the Loire estuary.

Old as Faustus was, it still came as a shock to realize that he had been born just a couple of years after the day—the last day of 406, to be exact—when the Suevi and Vandals and their rabble of allies had crossed the frozen Rhine into a Gaul that had been stripped of troops by Stilicho to defend Italy, and the world had begun to go horribly wrong.

We must observe the proprieties and wait until your election has become official." Bishop Faustus of Riez chuckled patronizingly.

"Nevertheless, we all know that the final decision is a mere formality.

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