“Don’t stop!” Tiny said.
David felt buffeted by a sudden sweat driven from anxiety and renewed fear. His heart throbbed in his throat. With a great effort, he continued reading. “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”
David continued on with this as the fire began to slowly smolder, though still giving just enough light to read. The ashes glowed and became hot enough to feel. The warmth began to work to their fingers and toes. Tiny threw pine needles on the coals and they smoked and sputtered, burning enough to keep the fire going and put out enough flames to see. As David read, he felt better, whether it was the working of the book as Tiny believed, or it was the product of focus on the words, he did not know, but he dared not stop and allow the fear to grip him again. Tiny laid on his back with his eyes closed in pain, whispering soft nothings.
The pages turned, one after another, and the fire burned on.
LORD, I cry unto thee: make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee.
Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.
Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties.
Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.
When their judges are overthrown in stony places, they shall hear my words; for they are sweet.
Our bones are scattered at the grave’s mouth, as when one cutteth and cleaveth wood upon the earth.
As David spoke these words, Charles stumbled into the light. He held a long piece of dried wood in front of him like a quarter staff. He dropped it on the ground and fell to his knees. David stopped reading.
“I lost the lamp,” Charles said. “I heard you speaking. I always thought you were just a few feet ahead of me, but I couldn’t see you.” To David’s shock, his older brother, always stern and proud, sat on his haunches, hung his head, and cried.
David and Tiny locked eyes, but did not speak. David took the long piece of wood Charles had brought in, cracked it to pieces, and put it on the still hot coals. New flames leapt up. David picked up the Bible and continued reading:
But mine eyes are unto thee, O GOD the Lord: in thee is my trust; leave not my soul destitute.
Keep me from the snares which they have laid for me, and the gins of the workers of iniquity.
Let the wicked fall into their own nets, whilst that I withal escape.
Slowly, as David read, the fog broke and the stars came out above them, shining white. A breeze picked up, but they were sheltered from it in the alcove of trees. With the fog gone, they were able to find lots of dead wood close at hand, and kept the fire burning bright. David continued reading, turning after Psalms to the gospels, then to other stories. Nobody slept.
If you are enjoying this story, please consider heading to Amazon and buying my Historical Fantasy book, Muramasa: Blood Drinker. I appreciate it!