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HOW ENGLAND BECAME CHRISTIAN (CONTINUED)
BUT how about the "Angels" of Deira, for Deira was a
long way from Ethelbert's kingdom of Kent?
Many years—nearly fifty from the day when the three
fair-haired boys stood in the market-place of Rome—were
to pass before they heard the good news of the Saviour
Christ. King Ella, whose name had made Gregory think of
the word Alleluia, died about three years before
Augustine came to England. He left a son, Edwin by
mime, but this son did not succeed him in his kingdom,
which was seized by a powerful noble of the land. Edwin
had to fly for his life, and took refuge at the court
of a certain Redwald, King of East Anglia. This was
 twenty years after his father's death. Redwald was, in
a way, a Christian; perhaps King Ethelbert, who was his
over-lord, had compelled him to make a profession of
belief. But he was not single-hearted, for he still
kept the temples of the false gods open. The usurping
King of Deira sent messengers to Redwald, with promises
of reward if he would give up Edwin to him, and threats
of war if he should refuse. Redwald was almost
persuaded either to kill his guest or to give him up to
his enemies. Edwin knew the danger he was in. A friend
had told him what the King was thinking of, and had
promised to tell him of a safer place of refuge. But
Edwin would not listen to him. He said that he did not
believe that King Redwald would betray him; "if he is
minded to do so," he went on, "I would sooner die than
wander about any more." The friend then left him, and
Edwin sat in front of King Redwald's palace till it
grew dark, thinking how unhappy he was. Suddenly he
became aware that a stranger was standing by him; and
looking up he saw a man in a strange dress, whose face
he did not know.
"Why sit you here?" said the stranger.
EDWIN. "It matters little where I sit."
STRANGER. "I know your name, and the
cause of your trouble. What will you give me if I turn
King Redwald's heart to befriend you?"
 EDWIN. "All that I have."
STRANGER. "And what, if I give you
victory in battle, and the kingdom that is yours of
EDWIN. "I will give you myself. But
who are you?"
STRANGER. "That cannot yet be known.
But remember your promise, when you next feel this
And the stranger put his hand upon Edwin's head, and so
vanished out of his sight.
Almost at the same moment Edwin's friend came out of
the palace, and told him that King Redwald had changed
his mind, and was now resolved not to give up his
guest, even if by so doing he should bring war upon his
And indeed war did follow. The usurper was defeated,
and Edwin came into his father's kingdom of Deira.
Nine years afterwards, King Edwin sent envoys to
Eadbald, son of Ethelbert of Kent, asking for his
sister Ethelburga to wife. At first Eadbald would not
consent, for Edwin was yet a Pagan. Afterwards,
remembering, it may be, how his own mother, Bertha, had
helped to bring Ethelbert his father to the faith, he
let her go. Only he took Edwin's promise that she
should be suffered to worship God according to her
conscience, and he sent a certain Paulinus
 with her. This Paulinus had been sent by Gregory some
twenty years before to help Augustine.
The next year Edwin was nearly slain by a murderer,
sent by the King of Wessex. The man struck at the King
with a poisoned dagger, but a faithful servant that was
standing by threw himself between, was pierced by the
dagger, and so died in his master's stead. So the King
escaped, but he well-nigh lost his wife that same
day—it was Easter Day in the year 626—so frightened was
she by what had happened to her husband. However, both
she and her baby lived. When the King began to thank
his gods for this mercy, thinking that it was of their
giving, Paulinus told him that it was not so, but of
the mercy of the Saviour Christ, to whom he had prayed,
he said, for the Queen's life. "Let me punish this
wicked King of Wessex," said Edwin, "and I will myself
follow Christ." And to show that he meant what he said,
he suffered Paulinus to baptize the child. She was
christened the next Whitsunday, by the name of Eanfled.
The King of Wessex was punished for his wickedness;
but Edwin still delayed to declare himself a Christian.
At last Paulinus came to him, and laying his hand upon
his head, as the stranger had done ten years before,
asked him whether he remembered the sign, and bade him,
seeing that he had received all
 according to his desire, fulfil his promise. After this
Edwin lingered no more; only he would call a council of
his chiefs, and lay the thing before them, so that, if
it might be, all the nation might turn to the true God
and to His Christ, together with their King. So the
priests and nobles met in council.
First there rose in the assembly one Coifi, who was the
chief of the priests, and spake in this fashion: "The
gods to whom we give our prayers and our sacrifices
give us, it seems to me, nothing in return. No one of
all the people has been more diligent in worship than
I, yet many have been more happy and more prosperous.
If this new doctrine promises us more, I say that we
should follow it."
After him rose another, an ancient chief, and said:
"The soul of man, O King, seems to me like unto a bird
that flies into some room where you and your lords are
sitting at supper. Out of the darkness it flies, and
for a brief space sees the light and feels the warmth,
then it passes into the darkness again and is seen no
more. So it is with the soul. It comes out of
the dark, we know not whence; for a few years it
tarries among the things we know; then it goes again
into the dark, we know not whither. If the new doctrine
gives us light about the things unseen, I will leave
all to follow it."
 At last the King said, "Who will profane the temples of
SAXON KING AND HIS RETINUE.
Coifi the priest answered, "None is fitter for this
task than I, who have served them these many years."
Then he mounted a horse, and took a spear in his
hand—both things unlawful for a priest—and tilting at
the idol of the chief temple overthrew it.
On Easter Day in the year following King Edwin was
baptized, and multitudes of the people followed him,
till it seemed as if all Deira and the rest of the
North country was turned to Christ.
 But there was trouble to come. Penda, King of Mercia,
who was a heathen, leagued himself with a British king,
and these two meeting Edwin in battle, overthrew him
and slew him. Then all the land seemed to turn away
from the faith of Christ and to become heathen again.
As for Paulinus, he fled to Kent by sea, taking with
him Queen Ethelburga and her children.
But the light was not put out for long. Only when it
began to shine again, it came from another place. The
year after Edwin's death, Oswald, son of that same
usurper whom Redwald and Edwin had overcome and slain,
came back to his father's kingdom. He had been an exile
in Scotland for these seventeen years, and had there
learnt to follow the Christian faith. He sent therefore
for some one who should teach his people. First came a
certain Cormac, but he was a man of a harsh temper, and
could do nothing. Going back to those that sent him, he
said, "These English are so stubborn and barbarous that
it is useless to teach them." "Nay," said one of those
that heard him, Aidan by name, "you did not follow the
Apostles' command, and feed the babes with milk, but
would give them strong meat, which they could not
bear." Aidan, therefore, was sent in his place, and
with the help of King Oswald brought again all the
North country to
 the faith of Christ. So, after some sixty years,
Gregory's hopes for the "Angels" of Deira were