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Synopsis

Marcellus, as might well be expected, was exceedingly gratified by these incidents; and summoning one of the prisoners, by name Cortynius, he inquired of him the cause of the war, and by what chance it was that they were overcome and bound with the chains of captivity. And the person addressed, on obtaining liberty to speak, began to express himself in these terms: “My lord Marcellus, we believe in the living God alone. And we have a custom of such a nature as I shall now describe, which has descended to us by the tradition of our brethren in the faith, and has been regularly observed by us up to the present day. The practice is, that every year we go out beyond the bounds of the city, in company with our wives and children, and offer up supplications to the only and invisible God, praying Him to send us rains for our fields and crops. Now, when we were celebrating this observance at the usual time and in the wonted manner, evening surprised us as we lingered there, and were still fasting. Thus we were feeling the pressure of two of the most trying things men have to endure,—namely, fasting and want of sleep. But about midnight sleep enviously and inopportunely crept upon us, and with necks drooping and unstrung, and heads hanging down, it made our faces strike against our knees.

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