Page:Historical Works of Venerable Bede vol. 2.djvu/119

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47
OF VENERABLE BEDE

that man, to whose life one year only is wanting, to be considered as having lived a short time when death stands at his door."

§ 41. On hearing these words she lamented the dreadful prophecy with many tears, but then having wiped her face, she with feminine boldness adjured him by the majesty of the Holy One, that he would tell her who would be the heir to the kingdom, seeing that Ecgfrid had neither sons nor brothers. After a short silence, he said, "Do not say that he is without heirs, for he shall have a successor, whom you shall embrace like Ecgfrid himself with the affection of a sister."—"But," said she, "I beseech you to tell me where he may be found." He answered, "You behold this great and spacious sea, how it aboundeth in islands. It is easy for God out of some of these to provide a person to reign over England." She therefore understood him to speak of Aldfrid, who was said to be the son of her father, and was then, on account of his love of literature, exiled to the Scottish islands. But she was aware that Ecgfrid proposed to make him a bishop, and wishing to know if the effect would follow the intention, she began by inquiring in this manner: "Oh, with what various intentions are the hearts of men distracted! Some rejoice in having obtained riches, others always eager after them are still in want: but thou rejectest the glory of the world, although it is offered thee, and although thou mightest obtain a bishopric, than which there is nothing more sublime on earth, yet thou preferrest the recesses of thy desert to this rank."—" But," said he, "I know that I am not worthy of so high a rank; nevertheless, I cannot shun the judgment of the Supreme Ruler, who, if he decreed that I should subject myself to so great a burden, would, I believe, restore me after a moderate freedom, and perhaps after not more than two years would send me back to my former solitude and quiet. But I must first request you in the name of our Lord and Saviour that