Page:Historical Works of Venerable Bede vol. 2.djvu/257

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Miraculous draught of fishes § 3. Meanwhile the ninth hour of the day (3 o'clock) was approaching, and those who had gone out to fish, brought home three boats full, and said that they had never caught such an abundance during the three years which they had passed in those marshes. Delighted at such an instance of God's mercy, they spent the day in greater glee than usual, and at the approach of night went each to rest himself after the labours of the day. All the others were soon buried in sleep, but Alfred alone lay awake in his bed, thinking with a sad heart of his sufferings and exile, and wondering much about the stranger and the unexpected draught of fishes. On a sudden a light from heaven, brighter than the beams of the sun, shone upon his bed. Struck with terror, he forgot all his former anxieties, and looked in amazement on the brightness of the light. In the midst of which there appeared an elderly man, bearing the pontifical fillet on his black locks, but having a most benignant look, and bearing in his right hand a copy of the Holy Gospels, adorned most marvellously with gold and jewels. He advanced and calmed the fears of the astonished king with these words, "Let not the brilliancy of my coming disturb you, beloved King Alfred, nor the fear of barbarian cruelty any longer harass you: for God, who does not despise the groans of his poor servants, will soon put an end to your troubles, and I, from henceforth, will be your constant helper." The king was comforted by these words, and asked him earnestly who he was, and why he had come. Then the elderly man, smiling, said, "I am he to whom you this day ordered bread to be given; but I took not so much pleasure in the bread and wine, as in the devotion of your soul. But, whereas you ask me my name, know that I am Cuthbert, the servant of God, and am sent to explain to you, in familiar terms, how you may be relieved from the persecution, which has so long afflicted you. In particular, therefore, I advise you to cherish