Anders stopped for moment and pushed some dirt and gravel around with his boots. Tiny started pawing at Anders’s boots, thinking he was starting a game.
Looking up at Freida, he quietly added, “Reverend Pearsson asked if I’d gotten to the section in the journal that discussed the poisoning…the poisoning of the good Reverend Vellhelmina.”
“What? The parson was…poisoned?” Freida cried out. “Did Olaf know who did it? Or how?”
“No and yes,” replied Anders. “I mean, yes, no and yes. That is to say that, yes, according to the information that Reverend Pearsson has, the Reverend Vellhelmina was poisoned. He is not certain who did it, but he made it clear that he has strong suspicions about who was behind the murder. He believes several were involved but one man was behind the conspiracy, as well as the cover-up that followed. And, finally, yes, he knows how it was done, because the ladies that helped with Communion hid the chalice afterwards.”
“Oh, no. Please, no. You are not saying that the Reverend Vellhelmina was murdered in his own church, during Holy Communion, are you?” she gasped.
Freida’s face looked like the Reverend Pearsson’s had yesterday, Paign noticed: ashen. Tiny squirmed, concerned about his mistress.
“That’s precisely what Reverend Pearsson is saying happened. Apparently, right after the congregation had been served Communion, the Communion elder gave the cup to the Reverend so he could commune…just like we do now. Parson Vellhelmina drank from the cup, then set it on the altar. He was just beginning his blessing when he began choking and coughing violently. The congregation was already alarmed, but then he fell to the floor, convulsing. At that point, several ran up to the altar area. Olaf was the first to reach him, just as he vomited. By now, the parson was twitching uncontrollably, coughing and retching over and over again. Within a few minutes, he was dead, lying in Olaf’s arms. According to what we were told yesterday, Olaf then started yelling, ‘Where is he? Where did the jackal run to?’ even while clutching the lifeless body of his pastor.”
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