Being the Random Yarns of Emily Cotton, Merry Scrivener of Fact & Fiction Historical, Animal, & Minimal to Amuse, Inform, & Enlighten.

Chapter 13 of Eva’s Secret

13. Acts of Faith

Casa Cerra: Tuesday night, August 30, 1513

It was after the servants’ usual bedtime when Eva got back to Leonor’s room. She opened the door gently so as not to wake Analina, who had to rise early to stoke the kitchen fires. The light of a crescent moon shining through the west-facing window revealed an unexpected problem: there was no place for her to sleep.

Analina lay on a straw pallet arranged on the floor. Leonor’s bed was slightly wider, but she was curled up in a fetal position that used all the space in the middle.

Eva would have to make a thin pallet out of the clothing she had put in the old wooden chest. She did not mind. Anything was better than being held in chains until the dreaded Alcazar arrived to abuse her.

The lid of the box creaked, and Analina sat bolt upright, instantly awake. When she saw it was only Eva, she relaxed against the wall. “Eva! I thought you— I thought Alcazar—” Analina stopped, and then finished lamely, “I thought you weren’t going to be here tonight.”

“Cerra wants me to finish translating for Leonor, so I don’t have to go until she leaves,” Eva whispered. “I’m sorry I woke you.”

“It’s not a problem, I’ve learned to fall asleep as quickly as I rouse.” Analina patted the straw pallet. “You can share with me, and we’ll spoon like I used to do with my little sister. There aren’t any other covers.”

Eva sank down onto the straw, realizing how tired she was. “It’s only a one-night reprieve. Tomorrow—” Eva trailed off. Tomorrow was the auto-da-fé. She put her aching head in her hands. Surely her father would mend his ways rather than be burned at the stake.

Analina shook her head. “Cerra gave you to Alcazar because he thinks you are a nobody. Tell the señor your real name. He can get more money for Eva de Pazia.”

Eva was startled. “You know who I am?”

“You helped treat me once, in the Hospital of Santa Ana. They stitched up a slash on my cheek, see?” Analina turned her head to show a six-inch scar that began beside her ear and ended at the jawline. “The nun called you Evita, but the other patient addressed you as señorita de Pazia.”

“But how did you recognize my face?” Eva wondered. “Didn’t I have a larvita over my nose and mouth? Suor Lucia, the abbess, was very strict about our wearing them—she claimed the herbs filtered out the disease humors.”

“When you first came, I wasn’t sure it was you,” Analina admitted. “But it was your eyes, that green flecked with yellow. I remember staring at them the whole time while you bent over me holding my head still. I bet the señor hasn’t bothered to look at you. You have your own kind of appeal.”

Eva blushed at the compliment, but she shook her head. “Baltasar Cerra already knows who I am. He warned me that if the Inquisition got wind I didn’t really elope, they would seize me and put me to the question.” The enormity of what Eva had done in her ignorance overwhelmed her once more. She had only wanted to take away her father’s wealth. But instead, she had condemned him to torture, and destroyed Elias, and cost all Casa de Pazia’s faithful servants their jobs.

“The foul priests! I have heard that they torture family members, just in case there are hidden valuables. But don’t worry, Eva, the Inquisition won’t search Casa Cerra for you.” Analina jerked her head towards the silent form of Leonor. “The señor has a deal with the Santa Casa—he’s been taking marketable girls and youths off their hands for years.”

And she, Eva, had walked right into Andres’ trap. She was a selfish, foolish, ruined girl, and it would soon be plain that she wasn’t even virgin. Not that Cerra appeared to be much concerned about that, if he was handing her over to the horrible Alcazar. She shuddered. “Cerra said he decided to give me to Alcazar instead of the Inquisition.”

“That don’t sound like the señor.” Analina was puzzled. “Even if you aren’t a raving beauty, it isn’t like Baltasar Cerra to throw away the profit he could make on a de Pazia daughter.”

 “It’s because he wants to catch my brother Elias. Cerra thinks that if he gives me to Alcazar, my brother will try to rescue me. But what does Cerra want with him?”

“Is he educated?” Leonor, still facing the wall, had apparently been awake and listening to the whole exchange.

“He’s brilliant at languages.” Eva could not keep the pride from her tone, after all Leonor’s bragging about her family’s intellectual accomplishments. “My brother can speak, read and write Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, Latin, Greek, and Arabic.”

“If your brother can do all that, he’s worth his weight in gold to an Ottoman buyer.” Now Leonor sat up and faced them. “My youngest brother was educated in Hebrew and Greek, and I heard Cerra’s agent bargaining for him when he bought me from the Inquisitor in Seville. But Cardinal Cisneros got wind of it and the deal was off.”

“But they said he’s hiding from the Inquisition, too. And if I’m not supposed to be Eva de Pazia, then how will Elias even find out what is happening to me?”

“They must know how to reach him, somehow,” Analina said. “I’ll bet Alcazar will make you write and beg him to come get you, and then they will grab him.”

“I won’t. No matter what Alcazar does to me.” I’ve already endured rape, and beatings, and shame. Eva crossed her arms, dreading what lay before her. “I can’t protect my body, but he won’t have my will. I’ll die first.”

“Why don’t you pray for deliverance?” Leonor’s voice was bitter. “You told me that prayer solves everything.”

“I never said prayer would keep bad things from happening to you. Prayer changes how we deal with things inside, so we don’t go around always feeling sorry for ourselves.” Thinking of poor little Zara, Eva spoke bluntly. “It’s a bad, cruel world. Lots and lots of children and women and sick people and cripples and slaves suffer terrible things. But God doesn’t want us to just wallow in self-pity. He has work for us to do, whatever condition we find ourselves in.”

“And so long as you’re alive, God can make things better,” Analina added. “You don’t know what the future holds. Who knows—you might fall in love with this man you are going to!”

“I don’t believe in miracles.” Leonor pulled the covers back over her head.

“It doesn’t take a miracle—” Analina stopped, staring at Eva. “Hey, wait—if you’re Eva de Pazia, then your brother was—is—the miracle boy! The one who died and came back to life!”

Leonor stuck her head out from under the covers. “Returning from death isn’t a miracle, it happens all the time. My uncle was a physician, and he said sick people often fall into a really deep kind of unconsciousness that looks like death. Then when they wake up, everybody says it was a miracle, when it was just a totally natural occurrence.”

“But Elias wasn’t sick—he had a terrible fall. The back of his skull was caved in.”

“What happened?” Analina was goggle-eyed. “I always wondered—everybody talked about the boy who came back from death, but there were all different stories about what killed him.”

“It was a barb stallion whose temper was so treacherous, they named him the Borgia. Elias set out to gentle him. He knew how to fall if he was thrown.” Eva felt the incident coming back fresh, although it had been four years. “And he was thrown—but there was an old plowshare propped right where he fell, and the back of his head struck hard against the point. He died instantly. I know—I ran to him and felt for his pulse at the throat where the nuns taught me you can always feel it if the heart is still beating.”

Eva’s hearers were rapt. She felt like Blanca, spinning her tales—except this one was true, and better than any fairy-tale could hope to be.

“They laid him out in the best room, with the pillow soaking red from his poor battered head, while we waited for the priest to come give the last rites.”

“Why did you send for a priest, if you knew he was already dead?” Leonor asked.

“It’s custom. Nobody knows how long the soul remains after the body dies,” Eva said. “It doesn’t do any harm, and it might spare the departed time in purgatory.”

“And then Fray Matias came and performed the miracle,” Analina said.

“No, that isn’t what really happened.” Eva was almost as surprised as her hearers to hear the denial that came from her own lips. Somewhere deep within a memory she could not access, the statement reverberated with the ring of truth.

“But all Granada knows the story!” Analina protested. “That’s how Fray Matias got the position of Abbe at Holy Cross.”

“What ‘everybody knows’ isn’t necessarily the truth,” Leonor put in. “Eva was there. Let her tell what really happened.”

Eva had never before told anyone about the vision she was given. But Leonor needed to hear what Jesu could do.

But would she believe? Eva prayed her words would be right. She began hesitantly. “I laid down on the bed next to Elias’ body, holding him close and begging God to bring him back. And then I remembered a sermon Bishop Talavera preached—a story in the Bible, where the prophet Elias was named after raised a boy from the dead.”

“The prophet’s name wasn’t Elias, that’s a Latin corruption,” Leonor corrected. “It’s really Elijah. In Hebrew, that means ‘Yahweh is Lord’.”

“That’s one of my favorite Bible stories, too,” Analina nodded. “The widow’s son dies, and the man of God stretches himself out on the child and breathes life back into him.”

“Yes. And just a few weeks before this, I had tried praying directly to God instead of the virgin or the saints, and Jesu answered.” Eva shuddered, thinking of her father’s final visit. “I was desperate, and so I did the same thing.”

She thought of the way she had put her lips against Elias’ cold ones, trying to repeat the prophet’s actions. “I was there, praying over and over, and I felt Elias take my hand. Except I also knew that his hands were resting at his sides. But he pulled me away from where I lay next to him—though I was still there, I could see me crying. And that’s when I knew it was a vision.

“We floated away from Casa de Pazia, into a kind of tunnel, all dark and formless. But we were moving towards a light. And the tunnel opened out into the most beautiful country—” Eva paused, unable to explain how the grass was so green, and the flowers vibrant with colors she had no words for.

“Go on,” Analina urged.

“There was some kind of city, off in the distance. Fray Hernando—Bishop Talavera, that died earlier that spring, came to greet us. That was how I knew it was heaven. He was laughing, so full of joy, and all the care-lines were gone from his face. On his shoulder he was carrying Stormy—that’s a kitten I had. Beside me I heard Elias cry out ‘Raya!’ and there, trotting towards us like she had springs for legs, was the white mare that was his first pet. Then I saw Mama running beside the horse, keeping up easily.”

“There are animals in heaven?” Analina asked.

“Yes, every kind!” Eva said. “I even saw a snake, very pretty red and black stripes, mama was wearing it like a bracelet. And there was a lion grazing among a flock of the cutest baby camels with rabbit ears and tails. Out of the midst of them bounded Inigo de Mendoza, Elias’ best friend who died when he was eight. And there was Old Ines, who used to sell water, but she wasn’t old anymore, and her donkey—oh, lots of people and animals who had gone on before.”

Eva felt a renewed awe at the best part of the memory. “And then they all parted, because a man of light was coming. He was so bright, I couldn’t look at him—not his face, or his clothes, or anything. But he came alongside and—it was kind of like he held Elias—all warmth and love. I knew it was Jesu.”

A vestigial trace of that warmth encircled her. “He took us away and showed us a strange land—a wide treeless plain with snow-capped peaks that reared higher than the Sierras, mountains that went straight up and straight down, cut by raging torrents. And then the picture zoomed just like we were a hawk stooping down, and we saw herds and herds of the baby camels, shepherded by a race of dark people.”

“You were seeing Africa,” breathed Analina.

“I don’t think so. The people were short and their hair was straight.” Eva remembered. “But what was most important was the way Jesu felt about them—it glowed all around him and touched us too, the love he had for those people. And then my Lord began to weep, and I saw why: the people were sick, dying by the thousands, and they were crying out for help.” Eva teared up just thinking of it. “I saw a palace covered with beaten gold, where their ruler was dying too, and his heir with him. And when we came close enough, I saw it was smallpox.”

Eva shuddered. “Next we were whirled high again, where we could see fantastic cities of stone with golden buildings, and there were armies, everybody at war with everybody else. Jesu’s sadness was so deep that it was as though my heart were being crushed in a vise.”

She stopped to mop her face. “Right then I heard voices coming down the corridor outside the bedroom, and Elias wasn’t holding my hand any more. I was back on the bed with his body, cold and stiff. And I knew that he had gone to heaven, and I was left behind without him.”

Leonor and Analina did not interrupt while Eva recovered herself. “I didn’t want to see any of the people outside the door, so I hid behind the big prie-dieu in the alcove next to the bed. I pressed against the tiled wainscot, and suddenly it gave way, just swung inward, and I lost my balance and fell into a kind of shaft.”

“Were you hurt?” Analina and Leonor asked in unison.

“No—it was so narrow, I got kind of stuck. But my hand brushed a metal loop set into the wall, and I realized that it was one rung of a ladder.” Telling it, Eva could smell the dank stone scent of the shaft. “I scrambled up it like a squirrel, passing the panel which had swung shut again, until I came out in an attic crawlspace.” Circles of light showed against the underside of the roof. Eva saw they came from holes in the dusty wooden slats, gaps that were integrated into the pattern of plaster spikes that decorated the blue chamber’s ceiling.

“I could see what went on through peep-holes. Fray Matias was there to give the last rites.” Eva grasped for the elusive memory that this re-telling had stirred up. There was a something she had seen—it had to do with Fray—now Abbe—Matias. Something evil.

But the wonder of what followed had driven out every other thought.

Elias’ lifeless body was stretched out on the bed in the room below, and Fray Matias was already on his way to the door. Eva‘s grief was so deep, she felt as though she would die. And then, inexplicably, her terrible sadness was replaced by elation, and a certainty that her prayer was answered.

Elias’ eyes flew open, and he cried out, “Father!”

“Elias?” Fray Matias strode swiftly back to the bed. He grabbed Elias’ hand and pulled him upright in the bed, stuffing pillows behind to support him. But Elias swung his legs over the side and stood, glowing. “I had a vision of Jesu. He said I must go back, because he had great things for me to do.”

Everybody came running at the priest’s shouts. Fray Matias told the gathering group, “During the last unction, I felt that God was calling me to pray for the lad’s healing. I felt such a spiritual opposition, I could hardly breathe, but I persevered and labored greatly, and God granted my prayers!”

“Eva?” Leonor’s question brought her out of her reverie.

“Sorry, I was lost in the memory. Elias just got up. From where I was hiding, I saw that the back of his head was no longer caved in—it was completely whole, even the hair clean, although the pillow was still all blood-soaked. It was a real miracle of God.”

“But you said Abbe Matias didn’t do anything,” Analina said. “He said it was his prayers that accomplished the miracle.”

“It wasn’t his prayers that did it, because he didn’t pray. He didn’t even do the last rites, not properly. He cursed, and he was—obscene.” Eva frowned. She could not remember the particulars.

 “Fray Matias was almost to the door and when Elias sat up, he was more shocked than anybody. But he used it to make himself important.”

“He lied,” Leonor stated. “No wonder they picked him for chief Inquisitor. That’s what the Inquisition does. They lie, and they take what is not theirs, and they claim to speak for God. In our law, anybody who claims to speak for God falsely is put to death.”

“But my vision really was from God.”

“How do you know it wasn’t just a dream? Have you met, or even heard about, people like those you saw, with their rabbit-camels?”

“No. But Elias gave public testimony about what he experienced when he was dead. He described the land where dark people with herds of baby camels lived. But,” Eva looked at her hearers, “I never told him—until now I never told anybody—about my trip to heaven.”

“Your brother was brought back from death for a divinely appointed mission.” Analina crossed herself. “You should look to yourself instead of worrying about him. If God wills it, then who could interfere?”

“I could,” Eva said miserably. “If you think about it, God doesn’t will any of the awful things people do. But he lets us do them.”

And then she knew the reason God had let her share Elias’ experience: so that she would be able to withstand whatever happened to her rather than undo Elias’ life work.

Tabita

After Spots had left, Tabita came out of her hiding place. The old man saw her and made small friendly noises in cat-language, holding his hand at petting level.

For a moment, Tabita was tempted to let him stroke her. But then she remembered the encumbering harness. She did not know what it was about, but still, she did not want a stranger discovering the twists of yarn under her fur. So she very politely asked to be let out.

He understood, and held open the door for her with grave courtesy.

The dogs were nowhere to be seen or smelled. Dogs generally hunted in the daylight; they did not see as well as cats. She crept out, every hair on the alert, staying in the moon-shadow. Spots was just entering a two-story building on the far side of the central court, almost against the city wall. Perhaps she would find Eva in there.

Tabita sprinted across the open space, but the door shut before she reached it. She explored around the edge of the building—there were often other ways in, ways that a human would not fit through, but allowed for the passage of a smallish cat.

There was a little room with a man sleeping in it near the door. A guard room. It was a dead end, but there was one use: the roof was low enough at the back for Tabita to climb. Getting higher would allow her to see, hear, and smell a wider area.

From the guardroom roof, she was able to climb along a slim ledge, the kind that marked the beams of a second-story floor on the inside. It was narrow but she could navigate it, and it would be useful as a route out of reach of dogs. She proceeded along the face of the building, away from the door Spots had entered, then continued around the corner, approaching the stable-yard. This was the alley she had fled through this afternoon. Another corner, and she was overlooking the dogs’ domain. Beneath the smell of horses and mules and even a camel was the scent of canine urine and scat. Tabita’s night-sensitive eyes made out their sleeping forms, snoring in a pile on the far side.

She followed the ledge along the third side of the building until she was blocked by a taller wall that abutted at right angles. Tabita climbed to the top of that and found herself looking down into a courtyard of pounded earth with a single tall carob tree next to a watering trough. A mangy camel couched next to a dark, low opening in the wall of Spot’s lair.

She peered along that wall. Further down Tabita could see a balcony, but on the camel-court side the convenient ledge had been sloped with extra mortar to prevent any foothold. Tabita followed the top of the barrier that separated the camel-court from the stable-yard until it ended at another building reeking of equine manure; obviously one leg of a stable block. She jumped down a few feet onto the roof. Horses shifted below her, most asleep.

After a rooftop circuit of the L-shaped stable, Tabita retraced her steps to the end nearest the camel-court. A square second story towered up here. She smelled feathers and bird-droppings and recognized the small upper addition as a dovecote.

She was hungry.

They had made little shelving perches outside the nest openings, and using these Tabita was able to scramble to the pointed roof at the very top. From this high vantage point, she could see over the city rampart to the mountains where the sun rose, downhill over the roof of Spot’s two-story lair that blocked her view of the central courtyard and the tumble of structures that flanked the Darro river valley, across the gulf of space and up again to where the Alhambra hill was crowned with its massive fortress.

Tabita tensed. The wind shifted, bringing another odor to her nose, one that had been hidden beneath the much stronger scent of horse, dog, and camel: Elias!

He was somewhere down there, in the courtyard with the camel. Tabita gathered herself and sprang lightly down onto the roof in front of the dovecote window.

The place where she landed was steeper than she had anticipated; her claws could find no purchase to stop her momentum. Tabita slid down, leaving scratches in the terracotta tiles, until they ended abruptly. She plunged over the edge of the drop.

Instinctively she turned, positioning herself to land feet-first.

She saw the torch bracket in the wall and twisted in mid-air to avoid it. One projecting iron finger grazed her side, and then she slammed to a stop with a sinew-stretching jerk.

She dangled by the horrible yarn-harness five feet from the ground.

Cathedral Square, Granada: Wednesday August 31, 1513

Rickety wooden risers, hastily constructed for the occasion, creaked dangerously under the packed numbers. The afternoon heat was oppressive. It sweated from the bodies that surrounded Eva, beat down on her shawl-covered head, radiated off the stone facade of Granada Cathedral. Casa Cerra’s men-at-arms must be baking in their armor, although they had partial shade from the canopy erected over Baltasar Cerra where he sat on a folding stool in front of his assembled household.

Three stakes had been set up in the center of the square, piled high with seasoned wood. A crucifix faced away from them. To the side, some fifty paces away, a dais had been raised, strategically placed where the occupants would be shaded from the afternoon sun by the five great plane trees to the west of it. Eva saw the red of cardinal’s robes, flanked on either side by the jewel-encrusted miter of Bishop Rojas and the black robes of Abbe Matias, the chief Inquisitor.

Beneath the royal insignia was a richly dressed nobleman representing the king. Eva wondered why it was not Governor Mendoza, but then she saw Blanca’s father off to the side of the square with his sons Antonio and Luis. They sat still as mounted statues in front of a contingent of troops.

The crowd-hum was subdued, even quiet. Not a sleepy quiet, although it was the normal hour of siesta; rather it was an ominous quiet, a sullen grumbling composed of equal parts resentment and fear.

“This is supposed to be a demonstration for all of us Moriscos, but they are afraid it may turn into a demonstration of another kind.” Matron pointed to the tall figure on Cerra’s right. “Even Alcazar came fully armed today.”

Eva stared at the dreaded majordomo who would be her new master, but could see nothing other than his back, steel-crested morion helmet and the half-cape, slung over one shoulder to leave his sword arm free.

Her attention was diverted by jeers from the eastern side of the square, where peasants from the countryside jostled for standing room. These voluntary attendees, most in the garb of northern Castile, wore a more festive air. They parted for a procession of penitents: barefoot men and women being led, pushed, some even carried, by men-at-arms in the livery of the Inquisition. Their charges were wearing tall conical hats of brown paper and coarse tunics of various colors. Some were green; others brown. Yellow ones had flames and stick figures painted on them. These were worn by people who needed help walking, miserable hobbling human wrecks.

After the penitents lined up in front of the dais, Bishop Rojas rose and gave a sermon. Where once Eva had believed every word, now they rang hollow with hypocrisy. How could these brutal tortures be commanded by Jesu, who ordered his followers to love their enemies and forgive every harm done against them?

The Mass was over. An officiating priest called a name, and soldiers shoved the first trembling man forward. His sentence was to pay a fine and wear the sanbenito four years. He kissed the cross held out and accepted absolution, almost incoherent in his gratitude.

There followed more sentences. After the fines came the penitents—all young men—who were given several years serving in the galleys.

“Ho! I’d rather be burned,” Matron muttered to Josemona. “Get the torture over all at once.”

“Ay. That sickly youth there won’t last six months under the whip.”

Eva’s dread mounted. The number of accused was getting fewer. Could one of the cripples that remained be her father?

Then the yellow-clad ones were led out: First, a kind old doctor Eva knew from the hospital. He was accused of Judaizing, holding satanic masses, and eating the flesh of Christian children.

How could anybody believe that of Doctor Solomon? All they had to do was look at his years of service! They tied him to one of the stakes.

The next cripple was a woman. She was accused of being party to his crimes. Just as they were tying her to the stake, she gave a thin cry, begging for mercy, swearing repentance.

The priests untied her from the stake and let her kiss the crucifix. Eva prayed that her father might also repent.

Then an executioner strangled her.

They lit the pile of fagots. Eva wanted to faint. She tried to look away. But outside of her will, her eyes remained locked on in fascinated horror as the flames surrounded what was left of Doctor Solomon. The sickening odor of roasting flesh filled the air.

He lifted his voice in a clear cry: “Hear O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is One!”

The Morisco section of the crowd gave a low, sullen rumble, but the Castilian peasantry roared like beasts.

Abbe Matias rose and stood at the podium. He stood until the crowd was silent. And then he began to speak—gibberish, it sounded to Eva. A Jewish cabal, whatever that was, a conspiracy to murder King Ferdinand’s natural son—what was a natural son? Weren’t all children natural?—and more about using blood for sorcery, witchcraft. The whole business made no sense at all. The stench from the smoldering corpse made her ill. Where was her father?

And then they names the man behind this evil: her brother, Elias de Pazia. There was more, much more, horrible accusations against Elias, but Eva could not take it in.

They brought out a straw effigy of her brother and tied it to one of the two remaining stakes. And then the last of the yellow-clad prisoners was half-dragged, half carried to the other. It was Iago de Pazia.

Torches were brought for lighting. The pale flames danced, almost invisible in the hot bright air. Her father was shaking his head wildly. Eva read his lips, the pleading gestures.

He wanted to repent!

But Abbe Matias did not see; the Inquisitor was busy speaking to the Cardinal, who was also not paying attention to the proceedings.

Eva quailed in dread. If Iago de Pazia died apostate, his soul would spend eternity in hell, and she, his own daughter, would be the one who had damned him!

She rose from her place, waving her arms. “Wait! He wants to repent!”

Now she had Abbe Matias’ attention. He sent a soldier running towards them. The torch-bearer was lighting the straw effigy.

Eva screamed again. “Stop!” She bounded down the risers. “Can’t you see he wants to repent!”

Just as she reached the bottom, a short cloak, heavy with braid, whipped around her upper body, muffling her cries. Eva was jerked off her feet and slammed prone onto the ground. Somebody twisted the ends of the cloth so that she could not get free. A knee on the back of her head pressed her cloth-bound face into the ground.

From above and to the side, she heard a rough, angry voice. “What’s the meaning of this disturbance?”

The folds of cloth around her nose and mouth were suffocating. Eva could hardly breathe.

“Only a kitchen wench prone to falling fits.” That was Cerra. “I would have left her at home but for the Cardinal’s decree that all must attend. My man Alcazar has her under control now.”

Eva struggled against her captor. Surely it would be a good example if the apostate repented! But the twist tightened around her arms, and the boot pressed heavier against her head.

“Well, keep her quiet. Anything could start a riot, today.”

 “Yes, the mood is dangerous,” Cerra agreed. “Too bad they didn’t have the younger de Pazia himself at that stake, instead of merely an effigy.”

Eva strained her ears to hear the guard’s answer.

“The Devil takes his own back,” the guard said. “He got off easy, dying as he did. But the effigy will have to serve, for nobody’s going to dig up a plague-corpse!”

Elias, dead of the plague? Eva’s mind refused to take it in; she sank gratefully into the blackness of oblivion.

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