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Chapter XIV.—Flight of Athanasius.

But he fled again, saying to his intimates, ‘Let us retire for a little while, friends; it is but a small cloud which will soon pass away.’ He then immediately embarked, and crossing the Nile, hastened with all speed into Egypt, closely pursued by those who sought to take him. When he understood that his pursuers were not far distant, his attendants were urging him to retreat once more into the desert, but he had recourse to an artifice and thus effected his escape. He persuaded those who accompanied him to turn back and meet his adversaries, which they did immediately; and on approaching them they were simply asked ‘where they had seen Athanasius’: to which they replied that ‘he was not a great way off,’ and, that ‘if they hastened they would soon overtake him.’ Being thus deluded, they started afresh in pursuit with quickened speed, but to no purpose; and Athanasius making good his retreat, returned secretly to Alexandria; and there he remained concealed until the persecution was at an end. Such were the perils which succeeded one another in the career of the bishop of Alexandria, these last from the heathen coming after that to which he was before subjected from Christians. In addition to these things, the governors of the provinces taking advantage of the emperor’s superstition to feed their own cupidity, committed more grievous outrages on the Christians than their sovereign had given them a warrant for; sometimes exacting larger sums of money than they ought to have done, and at others inflicting on them corporal punishments. The emperor learning of these excesses, connived at them; and when the sufferers appealed to him against their oppressors, he tauntingly said, ‘It is your duty to bear these afflictions patiently; for this is the command of your God.’

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