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Nocturne’s Reaping® : Dirge

Chapter 9

 

The following day, the schedule was altered again. Since the instructors were helping with a test flight, morning classes were cancelled. Instead of just sitting in the dorms waiting, several of the girls on Nora’s floor suggested they go watch the planes take off. Nora wasn’t so sure. They were given such little time to themselves that to lose even a moment of privacy seemed wrong. But it became clear to Nora that Elsie, in particular, wasn’t going to stop bugging her until she agreed to accompany her. What was worse, it seemed Elsie wasn’t likely to go at all without Nora. Tina was planning on going, but, as it turned out, Elsie didn’t care whether Tina went or not. A rift had developed between Tina and Elsie after the previous night’s argument. They hadn’t spoken since their return to the room. Nora figured that the feud would resolve itself in time. Apparently, though, that time hadn’t yet come.

So, rather than having to stay alone in the room with just Elsie, and possibly having to hear all about her anger towards Tina, Nora decided to head outside. Elsie and Nora met up with a group of girls in an open field. The grass was rather yellow and tall as it waved in the slight breeze. Still, despite the wind, the air was rather hot and stifling. Yet, Nora breathed it in — trying to feel the sensation of being alive — even though it was somewhat unpleasant.

When Nora felt some of the others looking in her direction, she smiled. They lost interest. Then, overhead there suddenly flew a jet … then another. At first, it reminded Nora of the Founders’ Day celebration. But then, the smell from the exhaust became a bit suffocating, especially in the heat. A thick haze seemed to settle over the field. Nora began to be overtaken with dry coughs; that additional misfortune was it for her.

“I’ve seen enough.” Nora announced as she started to walk off the field.

Moments later, she heard footsteps behind her. Then, the sound of the planes became louder than before — and that noise had been pretty loud. In fact, it was so loud that it hurt Nora’s ears. She clasped her ears with her hands. And yet, it did little to block out the ferocious rumbling. Seconds later, there was an explosion, a sensation of heat, and the sound of screaming. The screaming seemed to come from the girls surrounding Nora.

Nora turned around, fearing the worst. Since all of the girls had started to make their way off the field before the explosion, they seemed fine. It turned out to be one of the planes that caused the explosion. It had crashed into a storage shed by the control tower on the other side of the field.

But as happy as she was to see that the girls she was with weren’t injured, it occurred to Nora that someone was most likely dead. Anyone who remained in that plane couldn’t be alive, not after that crash. Nora watched as the men and women who worked at the facility slowly began to gather together in order to extinguish the fire. Nora seemed mesmerized by the scene at first. Gradually, however, the wind began to shift, and the suffocating smoke headed in her direction. The fumes from the burning jet fuel began to choke Nora; it seemed to scorch her throat.

“I need to get out of here.” Nora coughed to herself.

As Nora began to walk away, she was surprised to find she couldn’t hear the others following her. Then again, maybe the ringing in her ears was loud enough that she wasn’t able to hear them behind her anymore. She cast a look back toward them. Then, they suddenly started heading her way again. Suddenly, she and the others seemed to instinctively hold the top of their shirts over their mouths as they rushed back to their dorm — possibly the action was the result of a memory of fire drills from their elementary years. On the other hand, it was possible none of the others had gone to school. So, more than likely, they were just following her lead. Since Nora sincerely doubted they were merely being considerate and were waiting for her in the field, there had to be another reason why they seemed to be incapable of initiating any action. After all, most of them were strangers. So, instead, Nora figured they were most likely in shock.

“How sad.” a girl named Tracy wheezed. “What a terrible accident!”

“If it was an accident …” Elsie scoffed.

Everyone looked at Elsie.

“You can’t say it hasn’t occurred before or won’t happen again. One way or the other; isn’t it the same thing — death?”

 

***

 

 

When the rain began to fall later that day, Nora found herself with a rare moment alone. Elsie was taking a shower. So, while it wasn’t ideal, this opportunity would be Nora’s only chance for solitude. There was an old ball field with a dugout, which Nora had seen from afar. If Nora could make it there without getting soaked, she could possibly have a moment of peace — one she could count on.

Nora grabbed a notebook and walked as fast as she could down the halls. She didn’t want to run; it might draw too much attention to her. She quickly headed outside. The first obstacle was behind her; no one tried to stop her. And after a quick look around, it appeared that no one from the dorm was following her either. Nora was grateful to see through the beads of rain that the dugout was empty. Though, really, the fact that no one was around was not a surprise. Not only was it raining, but the recruits were given so little time to themselves that no one probably thought of going to the dugout — if they even knew it existed.

Nora entered the dugout and sat on the bench. When she sat down, she was surprised when a drop of water fell upon her knee. She looked up expecting a leak from the awning above her. When she found none, she touched her face. Her notebook had managed to keep her head dry, but there was a drop of water on her cheek anyway. Nora found she was crying. She hadn’t cried since the night she told Tina about her family. Then, suddenly, she felt someone nearby. When she looked up, there was Jack just a few feet away. He stood at the entrance of the dugout; his hair was soaking wet.

“I saw you leaving the dorm. I was outside talking with some guys about the accident.” he told her.

Nora looked down.

“Yeah.” Nora uttered.

Jack sat down next to her. He leaned back and looked at the rain.

“You seem different somehow — not smiling.” he started. “Though I do remember you that way, it just seems odd under the circumstances.”

Nora looked over at him questioningly. Some time passed.

“I’ve been wondering something …” Nora started. “… could you have gotten away if I hadn’t been with you?”

Jack hesitated.

“Yes and no. I mean, I might have been able to get us both out of it. If I had known what was about to happen, I’d have taken the risk.”

“You could have left me behind.” Nora mentioned.

Jack looked at Nora quizzically. She had seen that look before when they were on the roof together. She had no idea what it meant. She decided to go ahead and ask him.

“What?” she wondered aloud.

“You don’t recognize me, do you?” he put forth.

Now, Nora was particularly confused.

“Of course. From the plaza the other day.” she responded.

“No, before that.” Jack paused. “We met, if you can call it that, a long time ago. You gave me a peach.”

Nora turned a perplexed look out into the distance. Then, suddenly, she turned her face swiftly towards him.

“You!” Nora exclaimed. “I saw you in that gutter when I was a child. I gave you the peach I had with me.”

Jack smiled.

“Now you’ve got me smiling.” he said softly.

“I wish I could have gone back after that day. I really wanted to, but we moved soon after that. You know, I had started to worry that moment was all a dream.”

Nora smiled briefly. But then, just like that the moment was gone, and she frowned again.

“Someone I know doesn’t think what happened today was an accident. What do you think?” Nora queried.

Nora looked at him from over her shoulder.

“I say I don’t know.” Jack replied.

Nora looked down.

“Is that why you’re here at this dugout?” he pursued.

“I don’t know … that’s part of it. But there are a lot of other issues I’ve been trying not to think about as well.”

“Such as …”

“Such as the confinement exercise — I’ve heard it’s coming up. I’m not exactly sure what that term means, but it doesn’t sound good. I don’t know how I’m going to handle it.”

Nora looked at Jack.

“I’m trying to take everything moment to moment — I’m trying not to think about it. But now, I wonder whether the plane crash today was because those on board went through that confinement exercise or something like it. Maybe those people couldn’t handle what they thought was coming.”

“I don’t know.” Jack replied. “Part of me wishes I did. Certainly, I wish I could reassure you.”

“I know. Still, at least I’m helping protect my family from the threat, right?” Nora asked Jack. “I don’t want my brother to end up here.”

Jack just looked at her.

“I want to spare them all from this experience. I want to do my part. But mostly, I don’t want them in trouble because of me. But what if I can’t …” she breathed. “… what if I can’t help, and all I’m doing is destroying myself for nothing?”

Nora looked at Jack for a moment. He just looked back at her.

“I guess, as you said, there aren’t any assurances you can give me.”

“No.” Jack admitted.

Nora nodded. Then, she stared out into the rain. Surprisingly, she felt herself relaxing as the drops crept slowly downward. The tension inside her began to lift. She almost felt as though she could sleep there. Maybe she felt safer with Jack, or maybe she could just picture herself somewhere else during better times. Nora closed her eyes, so she could complete the effect. Yes, she could definitely stay here forever. She could imagine being able to decide to stay here or leave if she wanted. She could imagine herself just outside her apartment building on the steps, her parents and her brother waiting inside. Jack could be there; they could be on their first date. Nora managed a slight smile.

“There you are smiling again.” Jack mentioned.

She opened her eyes again and looked at him.

“So, you never said, is that what you prefer?” Nora asked him. “Me … when I’m smiling, I mean.”

“Not necessarily. It’s either way, really. Though, I do wish you had reason to smile. Still, just being here with you like this is nice, too. It’s nice to be above ground with you.”

Nora looked at him sympathetically. How bad must it be down there?

“At least I have some good memories.” Nora acknowledged.

“Oh, I have some of those. That time with you was one of them.” he returned.

Nora crossed her arms, not out of anger but because she was suddenly cold. She leaned forward. She felt like sobbing. It occurred to her that her listening to him just now had caused her feelings to surface again. Nora suddenly felt his arm around her shoulder. She felt this overwhelming desire to lean into his chest and cry. So, that was exactly what she did. She could hear him breathing as her tears dried up. And though her neck was getting stiff in this position, she dared not move. She wasn’t sure she’d have another moment like this again, and she knew she’d regret it if she didn’t make it last at least as long as she could.

Copyright © Jennifer Alice Chandler 2016

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Nocturne’s Reaping® : Dirge

Chapter 8

 

The next day was a lot like the last day. And the day after that was the same as the day after that. It was always the same group, the same time, the same dismissal. Then, one day the room was crowded, and all of the people who’d been transported to the facility at the same time, even those who were assigned to a different dormitory, were there. That meant Jack was most likely there.

When Nora got to her seat, she sat on the edge of it and looked around her. Unfortunately, the room was so crowded she couldn’t see Jack anywhere. Every time she thought she’d seen him, the guy would turn, and she found it wasn’t him. Yet, she could almost feel his eyes upon her. It reminded her of something from her past, but she couldn’t quite remember what it was. Nora considered.

Today there was a new face on the stage. He was an older gentleman with a round shape and spectacles. He seemed rather serious to Nora as he sat pensively on a chair near the podium. At least, he didn’t appear to be as high strung as the other male lecturer. Then, the lecture began. Apparently, the guest lecturer didn’t feel like repeating himself, so they decided to have all of the recruits attend one lecture. Nora was happy to hear this man planned on giving lectures at least a couple of times a week. This man’s intended schedule meant that Jack would be around — assuming she could find him.

Nora thought of continuing to look around for Jack. Maybe he was one of the recruits who’d been given a fold-out chair in the back, or one of the ones who had to stand in the aisles on the side. The room was so crowded; it was stifling. How could she find him? Then again, how could she not look for him? After some serious fretting, Nora decided not to draw attention to herself. After all, even if she wasn’t able to find him today there was always next week. And yet, it was a hard decision to make. Nothing about this place could be counted on. In the end, however, Nora didn’t want to risk getting into trouble; she might be taken from the room for disrupting the lecture.

For, Nora soon realized that this speaker was even more serious than the other man — and that was saying something. After all, the first speaker ended up having quite the temper. In addition, this guy must have some power if he was dictating his own schedule. Still, there was nothing that said Nora couldn’t let her eyes wander around the room; she just couldn’t move her head too obviously. Unfortunately, with her limited ability to look around, Nora wasn’t able to spot Jack.

The time ticked by, and it became obvious that the recruits weren’t going to be given a break this time. This man had such clout that the Administration was just going to let him speak until he finished. It would have been nice if the recruits had been warned about this inconvenience ahead of time. However, maybe the delay wasn’t planned but was at this man’s whim. Nora wondered who he could possibly be. Then again, who were any of these people? How could Nora not have heard of an organization like this one before? They couldn’t have just popped up overnight. And if they had existed awhile, what had they been planning or even scheming all this time? And what was in store for Nora and the others? Say they flew those planes and came back. Would they then be released? Or, would they keep being sent out until the threat was over — if it were ever over? And assuming they did succeed, would they be considered heroes or liabilities? The secrecy of this campaign bothered Nora tremendously. And, try as she might, she couldn’t convince herself it was all going to turn out all right.

The lecture was finally over, and there was a long wait in line for the restroom. Nora had wanted to go get her food before the wait. But then, who would watch her plate while she was gone? After all, Elsie and Tina were already in line. So, she decided to join the line as well. It occurred to her that Jack might be gone by the time she arrived in the cafeteria, but it couldn’t be helped. They had just spent too much time at that lecture. Besides, she wasn’t even sure that he was around. She hadn’t been able to spot him during or after the lecture.

Then, just as she came out of the restroom, she saw him, standing near a vending machine by the cafeteria line. She approached; he then looked over at her casually. Afterward, he eased into the lunch line. Then, Nora and the two other girls, who had kindly waited a little while for her, filed in behind a couple of the other recruits, who were behind Jack. Nora felt a thrill from his presence, which melted away a tinge of the overwhelming despair inside of her.

“You know, there’s one question I just thought of — how could they still be alive?” Tina asked. “I mean, they’ve been in that cage for years.”

“Let’s not talk about it.” Elsie interjected.

Nora looked down as the cook ladled a large amount of casserole onto her plate.

“I’ve heard they can store food for a long time after they feed.” Jack suddenly mentioned.

Nora shifted her eyes over toward Jack. He was standing on the other side of Elsie. He leaned back and looked around Elsie at Nora. The way Jack looked at her; it reminded her of something, but Nora couldn’t force herself to look at him long enough to remember. Nora suddenly wished that she could stay with him like this despite the topic of conversation. Yet, the use of the word “feed” after seeing that video — not to mention what she had seen happen in the city that night — caused her stomach to drop.

“But surely, since they’ve been in there so long … I mean, they couldn’t possibly store food for that long.” Tina mentioned.

“I imagine they eat their dead if they have to.” Jack concluded.

“That’s disgusting!” Elsie exclaimed. “How am I supposed to eat now?! You two are ruining my appetite!”

Tina laughed. She seemed more as she had when Nora first met her.

“I’m surprised no one has researched ways to wipe them out by now.” Nora gathered the nerve to put forth.

“Well, one thing is for sure, I won’t feel bad when we wipe them out!” Tina exclaimed.

Nora managed to briefly exchange glances with Jack once more. It seemed he was not so optimistic as Tina was. The group moved into the cafeteria. The room was, as expected, more crowded than usual. But, surprisingly, it was even worse than it had been the night of the buffet. Nora assumed it was because they hadn’t all eaten at once then.

“You’d think they’d have us eat in shifts.” Tina criticized.

“I think they usually do.” Elsie suggested.

“So, why do they need so many of us anyway?” Tina started then stopped. She gripped her tray. “Huh, I guess it turned out to be a good thing after all that it took so long for us to get here. Look! There’s a spot opening up.”

Tina glided forward and headed for the table. Jack broke away from the three girls at that moment and headed for a table filled with boys his own age. Nora guessed it made sense he would sit with the other boys. He couldn’t sit with a group of girls without people wondering why. Still, Nora found she would miss him. His being around her made her feel better. He was the only one who made Nora feel even remotely safe since she was separated from her family. Plus, he was the only one she knew coming into this place. She had felt that from the moment they first spoke he had been concerned about her in particular. Now, given how he had so easily left her after their short reunion, she worried that she read too much into his behavior before. Maybe they both just happened to be in the same area that first day, and he would have done the same for anyone. Nora was disappointed and rather dismayed by that conclusion. Nora went to sit by her roommates. She suddenly remembered the experience she had had her first day of high school. She thought about how grateful she would have been had she had someone to sit by that day — as she had been put into a different district than her friends from middle school. She supposed having someone to sit with was still pretty meaningful now. Nora sat down and began to eat.

“So, you were really taken by mistake?” Elsie asked seconds later.

Nora bit into a carrot. She cast a look at Tina, who appeared guilty. Nora wondered how long it had taken Tina to divulge Nora’s secret. Had it just happened?

“If that’s true, why not just tell them?” Elsie wondered.

Apparently, Tina hadn’t disclosed everything.

“What good would it do?” Nora asked. She looked down and became evasive. “I’m here now.”

“Still, your parents probably have clout.” Elsie believed.

Nora’s brow furrowed.

“No, the area I was taken from is close to where I used to live. My parents would try to help me, but they’d probably be sent here too to shut them up.”

“So, that’s why you were there that day …” Tina started then drifted off. “I wondered.”

It was clear by Nora’s expression that she wasn’t happy with Tina.

“No, I’m pretty sure I told you that. In fact, I told you a lot of things you apparently weren’t listening to.” Nora retorted.

“You don’t have to worry about me!” Elsie piped up. “I won’t say anything!”

Nora managed a smile.

“Neither will I. Not anymore. I promise.” Tina remarked. “I just didn’t know Elsie was off-limits.”

Nora found that last statement hard to believe. Perhaps, Tina could understand now why Nora hadn’t wanted Elsie to know. After all, Elsie’s lack of discretion had just made things difficult for Tina. Then again, Tina hadn’t exactly been discreet either. Even so, Nora’s immediate concern was that she unfortunately couldn’t think of a way to smooth over the obvious truth: she really hadn’t wanted Elsie to know.

“That’s good.” Nora finally allowed.

A few moments passed.

“Did you hear the people behind us talking?” Elsie asked suddenly.

Nora looked around her.

“Not here.” Elsie corrected in a high-pitched whisper. “At the auditorium.”

“No, not really.” Nora returned.

“Me neither.” Tina put forth.

“I heard the people who’ve been here the longest, who came before us, are going out on a test run tomorrow.” Elsie informed them.

Her hand was shaking as she reached for the pepper. Not surprisingly, the pepper tipped over onto the table.

“Oh, isn’t that bad luck?” she gasped.

“No, that’s salt, if you believe that sort of thing.” Tina corrected.

“I don’t need any more bad luck.” Elsie whispered softly.

“So, how long were they here before we came?” Tina pursued.

“I don’t know.” Elsie admitted. “How long could it be — given that it hasn’t been long since the nebula reapers escaped?”

“Maybe these other recruits were trained before the nebula reapers escaped.” Tina offered.

“Either way, it seems we’re next to go.” Elsie pointed out.

“If they have enough planes …” Tina argued. “The first group might just keep using them.”

“Haven’t you seen them bringing more planes onto the complex grounds?” Elsie asked. “I saw it from the window.”

Tina grew silent for a moment.

“Plus, why do they need so many planes?” Elsie pondered quietly. “If their plans work the first time …”

“Nice, Elsie, nice.” Tina remarked.

“What?”

“Maybe the planes will need to be repaired, and they don’t want to wait to repair them. Did you ever think of that?” Tina countered.

Elsie cast her eyes downward and grew silent.

“I don’t think we should talk about this here.” Nora suggested.

“Funny. I don’t think we should talk about this at all!” Tina burst forth.

Nora was a bit surprised by Tina’s reaction. Tina had seemed so brazen before in the lunch line. Nora had to admit it did seem as though it was a bad sign that they needed so many planes. But Nora doubted the Administration knew for sure that it wasn’t going to do any good. What would be the point to all of this effort if they thought that? No one outside these walls knew about their activities here; at least, Nora doubted that they did. So, all of this effort couldn’t just be to lead people to believe something was being done. Nora recalled the morning after the nebula reapers escaped; the radio had given them no information. What’s more, no one she knew then seemed particularly concerned about what had happened. In fact, it wasn’t until she got here that she found out what really took place. Nora then chided herself. What a price to pay to learn the truth! Nora stared off into space. She caught Jack looking at her from the nearby table. When she forced herself to smile, he looked away. Nora wondered what his reaction meant.

Copyright © Jennifer Alice Chandler 2016

Romans 4

What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?

For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.

For what saith the Scripture? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS COUNTED UNTO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,

Saying, “BLESSED ARE THEY WHOSE INIQUITIES ARE FORGIVEN, AND WHOSE SINS ARE COVERED.

“BLESSED IS THE MAN TO WHOM THE LORD WILL NOT IMPUTE SIN.”

Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.

How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.

And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:

And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.

For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith.

For if they which are of the Law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect:

Because the Law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.

Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the Law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,

(As it is written, “I HAVE MADE THEE A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS,”) before Him [Or, like unto Him] whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.

Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, “So shall thy seed be.”

And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb:

He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;

And being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform.

And therefore “IT WAS IMPUTED TO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;

But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;

Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification (Romans 4: 1-25).

Acts 10

There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,

A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.

He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.

And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.

And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:

He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.

And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually;

And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.

On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:

And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,

And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:

Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.

And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.

But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.

And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.

Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate,

And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there.

While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, “Behold, three men seek thee.

“Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.”

Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?

And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.

Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him.

And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends.

And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.

But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.

And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together.

And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?

And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,

And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.

Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee.

Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.

Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

But in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him.

The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (He is Lord of all:)

That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached;

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him.

And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:

Him God raised up the third day, and shewed Him openly;

Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with Him after He rose from the dead.

And He commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is He which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.

To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins.

While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,

Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days (Acts 10: 1-48).

Isaiah 57

The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.

He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.

“But draw near hither, ye sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulterer and the whore.

“Against whom do ye sport yourselves? against whom make ye a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue? are ye not children of transgression, a seed of falsehood,

“Enflaming yourselves with idols under every green tree [Or, among the oaks], slaying the children in the valleys under the clifts of the rocks?

“Among the smooth stones of the stream is thy portion; they, they are thy lot: even to them hast thou poured a drink offering, thou hast offered a meat offering. Should I receive comfort in these?

“Upon a lofty and high mountain hast thou set thy bed: even thither wentest thou up to offer sacrifice.

“Behind the doors also and the posts hast thou set up thy remembrance: for thou hast discovered thyself to another than Me, and art gone up; thou hast enlarged thy bed, and made thee a covenant with them; thou lovedst their bed where thou sawest it [Or, thou providest room].

“And thou wentest to the king with ointment, and didst increase thy perfumes, and didst send thy messengers far off, and didst debase thyself even unto hell.

“Thou art wearied in the greatness of thy way; yet saidst thou not, ‘There is no hope’: thou hast found the life [Or, living] of thy hand; therefore thou wast not grieved.

“And of whom hast thou been afraid or feared, that thou hast lied, and hast not remembered Me, nor laid it to thy heart? have not I held My peace even of old, and thou fearest Me not?

“I will declare thy righteousness, and thy works; for they shall not profit thee.

“When thou criest, let thy companies deliver thee; but the wind shall carry them all away; vanity shall take them: but he that putteth his trust in Me shall possess the land, and shall inherit My holy mountain”;

And shall say, “Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumblingblock out of the way of My people.”

For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

“For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before Me, and the souls which I have made.

“For the iniquity of his coveteousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid Me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart.

“I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners.

“I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near,” saith the LORD; “and I will heal him.”

But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.

“There is no peace,” saith my God, “to the wicked.” (Isaiah 57: 1-21)

Isaiah 3

For, behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water,

The mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient,

The captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator [Or, skilful of speech].

And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them.

And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable.

When a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father, saying, Thou hast clothing, be thou our ruler, and let this ruin be under thy hand:

In that day shall he swear, saying, I will not be an healer; for in my house is neither bread nor clothing: make me not a ruler of the people.

For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen: because their tongue and their doings are against the LORD, to provoke the eyes of His glory.

The shew of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves.

Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings.

Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him.

As for My people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O My people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.

The LORD standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people.

The LORD will enter into judgment with the ancients of His people, and the princes thereof: “for ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses.

“What mean ye that ye beat My people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor?” saith the Lord GOD of hosts.

Moreover the LORD saith, “Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet:

“Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will discover their secret parts.”

In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls [Or, net-works], and their round tires like the moon,

The chains [Or, sweet balls], and the bracelets, and the mufflers,

The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings,

The rings, and nose jewels,

The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins,

The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails.

And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty.

Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war.

And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate [Or, emptied] shall sit upon the ground (Isaiah 3: 1-26).

Luke 18

And He spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

Saying, “There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:

“And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, ‘Avenge me of mine adversary.’

“And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I fear not God, nor regard man;
“‘Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’ ”

And the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge saith.

“And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them?

“I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?”

And He spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous [Or, as being righteous], and despised others:

“Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

“The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank Thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

“‘I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.’

“And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner.’

“I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

And they brought unto Him also infants, that He would touch them: but when His disciples saw it, they rebuked them.

But Jesus called them unto Him, and said, “Suffer little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

“Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.”

And a certain ruler asked Him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

And Jesus said unto him, “Why callest thou Me good? none is good, save One, that is, God.

“Thou knowest the commandments, ‘DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT KILL, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, HONOUR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER.’ ”

And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.

Now when Jesus heard these things, He said unto him, “Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow Me.”

And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.

And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, He said, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!

“For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”

And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved?

And He said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”

Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed Thee.

And He said unto them, “Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake,

“Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.”

Then He took unto Him the twelve, and said unto them, “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished.

“For He shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on:

“And they shall scourge Him, and put Him to death: and the third day He shall rise again.”

And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.

And it came to pass, that as He was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging:

And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant.

And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.

And he cried, saying, Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.

And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.

And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto Him: and when he was come near, He asked him,

Saying, “What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee?” And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight.

And Jesus said unto him, “Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee.”

And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God (Luke 18: 1-43).