Thursday, March 21, 1867
Sister Genoveffa turned to Serafina. “I want you to find my mother’s killer.”
Serafina rummaged in her reticule for a notebook.
Sister Genoveffa ran a hand down her beads, holding the crucifix in her lap like a revolver. “I understand your investigation will be more difficult because of the delay. It took me long enough to realize she’d been murdered. Should have discovered it before she died. If I had, she’d still be alive.” The nun slammed the cross into her thigh.
Serafina’s heart jumped.
“If my word’s not enough, if you need to exhume her body to prove poisoning, by all means, do so,” Genoveffa said. “Doubtless my grandfather will give his permission.”
As she scribbled some notes, Serafina could hear shuffling feet in the sacristy. “Why do you suggest exhumation? To quell my disbelief? Or perhaps you still harbor a vestige of doubt.”
Serafina saw emotions cross Sister Genoveffa’s face like fast-moving clouds—anger, exasperation, regret, sorrow. Tears welled in the nun’s eyes.
This woman, Serafina thought, has no one to share her pent-up feelings. Locked in a dungeon of her own making. She reached out and held Genoveffa’s hand. “I believe you.”
“Thank you.” The nun drew out a linen and covered her face.
With that, Serafina wrapped her arms around the poor woman. “My task is to find the killer. Digging up the dead is a job for lawyers.”
Photo: Ceiling detail, La Martorana, Palermo. Credit: dottorpeni (Flickr)