The Prophet of Yonwood (Book of Ember #3)

A bird feeder hung from the porch roof, but there were no seeds in it. The curtains in all the windows were closed.

All these words, written so long ago, seemed to say to her, Remember us. We were here. We were real.

Beeson, wearing a rain jacket with the hood up over her

blotches of blood looked more like a soupspoon than an R. Several people told him angrily to be quiet.

...clearly not all these people who said that God spoke to them heard the same thing. All the fighting nations said God was on their side. How could God be on everyone's side?

down the stone steps to the windswept beach, her raven tresses flowing out behind her. She scanned the empty sands, and when she saw no sign of Blaine, a great cry of anguish escaped her lips. She could not live without him! She would sooner die!

How can you stand to do it? The poor little mouse!"

Grover shrugged. "It's nature," he said. "Nature likes the snake just as much as the mouse.

It’s for my God, the god of dogs, and snakes and dust mites and albino bears and Siamese twins, the god of stars and starships and other dimensions, the god who loves everyone and makes everything marvelous.

It was more of a castle than a house. It loomed over them, immense and massive, three stories high.

Kept talking about how she's studying every holy book she can get her hands on, aiming to understand God's word. I quoted St. Augustine to her. 'If you understand it, it isn't God.' Gave her a cup of chamomile tea.

like a pack of wolves across the planet, and people were afraid for the survival of the human race.

Nickie didn’t like listening to him because his voice always sounded too smooth.

Nickie was so tired of the Crisis. It had been going on now for months. On TV and the radio, it was all you ever heard about: how Our Side and Their Side had come almost, but not quite, to the point of declaring all-out war. In the last week or so, the radio had started broadcasting frightening instructions every hour: “In the event of a declaration of war or a large-scale terrorist attack, cities will be evacuated in an orderly fashion…. Residents will be directed to safe locations…. Citizens should remain calm….

Officer Gurney ran a strip of yellow tape around the back area of the café, roping it off so no one could disturb the site. Then he scanned the crowd. His eyes lit on a comfortably plump woman wearing a red down jacket that made her look even plumper. She had a short brownish-blond ponytail that stuck out through a hole in her red baseball hat. “Brenda,” said Officer Gurney. “What do you think?” Grover was in danger of being late for school by this time. He’d already been late twice this month. If he was late again, he might get a note sent home to his parents. But he had to risk it. This was too interesting to miss. The woman stepped forward. Grover knew her, of course; everyone did. Mrs. Brenda Beeson was the one who had figured out the Prophet’s mumbled words and explained what they meant. She and her committee—the Reverend Loomis, Mayor Orville Milton, Police Chief Ralph Gurney, and a few others—were the most important people in the town. Officer Gurney raised the yellow tape so Mrs. Beeson could duck under it. She stood before the window a long time, her back to the crowd, while everyone waited to see what she would say. Clouds sailed slowly across the sun, turning everything dark and light and dark again. To Grover, it seemed like ages they all stood there, holding their breath. He resigned himself to being late for school and started thinking up creative excuses. The front door of his house had stuck and he couldn’t get it open? His father needed him to help fish drowned rats out of flooded basements? His knee had popped out of joint and stayed out for half an hour? Finally Mrs. Beeson turned to face them. “Well, it just goes to show,” she said. “We never used to have people breaking windows and stealing things. For all our hard work, we’ve still got bad eggs among us.” She gave an exasperated sigh, and her breath made a puff of fog in the chilly air. “If this is someone’s idea of fun, that person should be very, very ashamed of himself. This is no time for wild, stupid behavior.” “It’s probably kids,” said a man standing near Grover. Why did people always blame kids for things like this? As far as Grover could tell, grown-ups caused a lot more trouble in the world than kids. “On the other hand,” said Mrs. Beeson, “it could be a threat, or a warning. We’ve heard the reports about someone wandering around in the hills.” She glanced back at the bloody rag hanging in the window. “It might even be a message of some sort. It looks to me like that stain could be a letter, maybe an S, or an R.” Grover squinted at the stain on the cloth. To him it looked more like an A, or maybe even just a random blotch. “It might be a B,” said someone standing near him. “Or an H,” said someone else. Mrs. Beeson nodded. “Could be,” she said. “The S could stand for sin. Or if it’s an R it could stand for ruin. If you’ll let me have that piece of cloth, Ralph, I’ll show it to Althea and see if she has anything to say about it.” Just then Wayne Hollister happened to pass by, saw the crowd, and chimed in about what he’d seen in the night. His story frightened people even more than the blood and the broken glass. All around him, Grover heard them murmuring: Someone’s out there. He’s given us a warning. What does he mean to do? He’s trying to scare us. One woman began to cry. Hoyt McCoy, as usual, said that Brenda Beeson should not pronounce upon things until she was in full possession of the facts, which she was not, and that to him the

pressed up against the rear wall, half hidden by shirts and dresses dangling from hangers, was a tall, thin girl with wide, terrified eyes. Her hands were wrapped around the muzzle of a small, wildly squirming dog.

She decided to keep this letter because of the strange way it was written.

She flicked off the TV.

She started back down the trail. If no dogs find the food, she thought, maybe squirrels will. Or that white bear. Or if no one finds it, then it can all be for God. Only not for the Prophet's God, her mean, picky God who dislikes so many things. It's for my God, the god of dogs and snakes and dust mites and albino bears and Siamese twins, the god of stars and starships and other dimensions, the god who loves everyone and who makes everything marvelous.

Signs of craziness, like Hoyt McCoy dancing around naked? Disgusting filthiness, like a smelly outhouse or rat-swarmed garbage?

The idea seemed to be that if you prayed extremely hard--especially if a lot of people prayed at once--maybe God would change things. The trouble was, what if your enemy was praying, too? Which prayer would God listen to?

The rhythm of his steps said, Happy to be here, happy to be here. Rays of sunlight shot between the clouds, making spots of light like polka dots on the ground.

Why did people always blame kids for things like this? As far as Grover could tell, grown-ups caused a lot more trouble in the world than kids.