Two curious incidents occurred after the capture of Mauger Rivelar. The first took place just a few days later when Ivor Severtsson claimed to have had an accident with a stack of falling wine barrels. The injuries from the mishap were severe-a broken nose and severely lacerated jaw as well as the loss of several of his front teeth. Before his wounds had even begun to heal he announced his intention of leaving Lincoln immediately and returning to his homeland of Norway. Although Helge, his aunt, was rendered disconsolate by his decision, it was remarked by the neighbours that Reinbald did not seem greatly distressed by Ivor’s departure and that the younger Severtsson brother, Harald, had been pleased to speed his sibling on his way. Some of them also noticed that Captain Roget of the sheriff’s town guard was standing outside the merchant’s house on the day that Ivor left and had watched the former bailiff ride towards the southern exit from the town with a satisfied smile on his face.

The second happening was not until many months later, long after Mauger Rivelar had undergone the penalty of being hanged, drawn and quartered for his crimes. After his arrest, all of the buildings within the castle ground were searched in an attempt to locate the poison he had used, but no trace was ever found. It was not until a new priest was appointed to St. Bavon’s Church in Butwerk and ordered some straggling brambles in a corner of the graveyard to be cleared away that a leather bag containing a compound of Helleborus niger was discovered. The two gravediggers that were carrying out the task of clearing the undergrowth first discovered the bodies of several dead rats and then, after upending a flat stone that lay over the place where the vermin had been digging, a large scrip. The surface of the bag had been chewed, and the contents had oozed into the cavity where it had been concealed. Underneath the bag were two honey pots, their bright amber colour dulled by being buried in the earth for so long. The wax seals at the necks had melted in the heat of summer, and the contents had run out of the containers and mixed with the substance that had been in the scrip. The cross pattee etched into the bottoms of the jars was nearly obliterated by dirt and neither of the men noticed it.

The gravediggers did not realise the import of their discovery, but they nonetheless called the priest and showed him what they had found. Wrinkling his nose in distaste, he ordered the men to shovel the whole mess, including the bodies of the dead rats, into a hempen sack and dispose of it. The gravediggers did as they were instructed, securing the bag tightly before they took it to the Werkdyke and threw it onto the deep pile of rubbish in the ditch.

Вы читаете A Plague of Poison
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