Martyred

"Will you recant your faith," the magistrate asked, scornfully. There came no reply from the accused. From where the crowd stood, the man piled atop the wood seemed a pitiful sight, one which children instinctively shielded their eyes from. "Will you recant your faith!"

Still, the man spoke not a word. It had gone on for an hour like this, the accused slapped and beaten to where his face was now disfigured. The magistrate had become frustrated each time, and now the signs were cropping up again. Even those in the crowd, gathered to see the spectacle had become weary of the officer's rage.

This time the magistrate stifled his anger before it could turn visible, swearing furiously beneath his breath. At that, a slight smile tugged at the edges of the accused malformed mouth. It appeared that this one was not to be made a martyr for his cause, that he would be forced to deny his cause publicly.

"I'll give you one last chance," the magistrate told him sharply, gathering a lit torch from one of the soldiers. "If you will recant your faith, turn your back on this God of yours, you will go free this minute." He said this, almost sardonically while sauntering up to the wooden steak where the accused was fastened to.

There came the smallest movement from the accused, a brief shake of the head, and then it lifted, eyes bloodshot. His words were audible over the sudden quietness from the crowd—some had thought the accused martyred already. "Eighty and seven years I served my Lord. How can I deny Him now?"