Page:Historical Works of Venerable Bede vol. 2.djvu/280

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

he had so often provoked the count by such heinous crimes, he vowed never to take any compensation for his life. The criminal, in despair, considered his only chance to lie in his being able to get rid of his fetters and flee to the sanctuary of St. Cuthbert; for his prison was in the same town where the saint rests, namely, in Durham. He therefore tried every means which his ingenuity or strength could devise, but without effect, for the fear of the count made the guards doubly solicitous to keep him securely. He groaned in agony, and as his conscience made him now fear more for his soul than for his body, he in humility of heart offered up a petition to God's beloved confessor. Whilst he promised repentance and amendment of life, if he only might escape, he suddenly saw himself released from his fetters, and the road of safety open before him. Joyful at this event, but still solicitous how he might escape the guards, he trusted all his hope of safety to the protection of the holy father. Meanwhile the guards were occupied in other matters, and had no suspicion of what he was doing; wherefore, seeing a chance of escape, he shook off the chains, and ran with all speed to the monastery, which he entered alone, and made the doors fast with bars behind him. It happened, too, by accident, that when the brethren had left the church after Prime, he found no one therein but himself.

§ 27. When this was known to the soldiers of the count, who happened also to be in the town, one of them, named Barwic, who took precedence of all others at court, followed the prisoner to the gates of the monastery, which he found fastened, and seeing the man within, he called out in indignation, "Why do we lose time? Let us break open the gates. We must not mind the privilege of this dead man, or thieves and murderers will escape here, and insult us because they are out of our reach." Scarcely had he spoken these words, when he exclaimed that he felt an arrow from above