To Fortunatus, My Colleague in the Priesthood, My Lord Most Blessed, and My Brother Beloved with Profound Esteem, and to the Brethren Who are with Thee, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.
Your Holiness is well acquainted with Faventius, a tenant on the estate of the Paratian forest. He, apprehending some injury or other at the hands of the owner of that estate, took refuge in the church at Hippo, and was there, as fugitives are wont to do, waiting till he could get the matter settled through my mediation. Becoming every day, as often happens, less and less alarmed, and in fact completely off his guard, as if his adversary had desisted from his enmity, he was, when leaving the house of a friend after supper, suddenly carried off by one Florentinus, an officer of the Count, who used in this act of violence a band of armed men sufficient for the purpose. When this was made known to me, and as yet it was unknown by whose orders or by whose hands he had been carried off, though suspicion naturally fell on the man from whose apprehended injury he had claimed the protection of the Church, I at once communicated with the tribune who is in command of the coast-guard. He sent out soldiers, but no one could be found. But in the morning we learned in what house he had passed the night, and also that he had left it after cock-crowing, with the man who had him in custody. I sent also to the place to which it was reported that he had been removed: there the officer above-named was found, but refused to allow the presbyter whom I had sent to have even a sight of his prisoner. On the following day I sent a letter requesting that he should be allowed the privilege which the Emperor appointed in cases such as his, namely, that persons summoned to appear to be tried should in the municipal court be interrogated whether they desired to spend thirty days under adequate surveillance in the town, in order to arrange their affairs, or find funds for the expense of their trial, my expectation being that within that period of time we might perhaps bring his matters to some amicable settlement. Already, however, he had gone farther under charge of the officer Florentinus; but my fear is, lest perchance, if he be brought before the tribunal of the magistrate, he suffer some injustice. For although the integrity of that judge is widely famed as incorruptible, Faventius has for his adversary a man of very great wealth. To secure that money may not prevail in that court, I beg your Holiness, my beloved lord and venerable brother, to have the kindness to give the accompanying letter to the honourable magistrate, a man very much beloved by us, and to read this letter also to him; for I have not thought it necessary to write twice the same statement of the case. I trust that he will delay the hearing of the case, because I do not know whether the man is innocent or guilty. I trust also that he will not overlook the fact that the laws have been violated in his having been suddenly carried off, without being brought, as was enacted by the Emperor, before the municipal court, in order to his being asked whether he wished to accept the benefit of the delay of thirty days, so that in this way we may get the affair settled between him and his adversary.