should be able to find an experienced lawyer to represent you.”

“The nobles of the Echach Cobo are powerful,” complained the fugitive. “They will not rest until they have taken vengeance on me.”

“The law says that a killing in self-defence is not murder,” Fidelma reminded him.

Ulam Fionn laughed sharply. “And I must prove self-defence?”

She shook her head. “Your accusers must prove murder,” she pointed out.

“Well, I prefer not to fall into their hands to argue the matter.”

Brother Mongan coughed sharply. “That is not the way to look at things, my son,” he intoned somewhat piously. “You are safe here for a while but you must heed the counsel of this learned lawyer. When you are in a more reflective mood, you may consider what course you must follow.”

Fidelma turned to the religieux. “Thank you, Brother Mongan. I am sure that you will add your voice in advising that the best course is for Ulam Fionn to resort to the law and put his case before Abbot Sionna and his Brehon.”

“I will advise him, my daughter,” agreed the religieux. “Is there anything else that I can assist you with?”

Fidelma thought for a moment.

She had carried out the legal requirements, but she had a strange feeling of dissatisfaction. She did not really want to leave. She wondered if it was because, should Ulam Fionn be truthful in his claim, and it was certainly a possibility, then she ought to help him resolve the matter. After all, she knew some powerful families could find ways to thwart justice, and if it was a case of self-defence then she did not wonder that the man was afraid to seek resolution in the law.

She glanced round the interior of the chapel.

“Are you comfortable here?” she suddenly asked. “It must be cold and draughty living in this old chapel.”

“I get by,” replied the fugitive, curious at her sudden concern.

“Do not bother yourself on that account, daughter,” began Brother Mongan. “There is a small cellar below the altar where there is warmth and comfort. We…”

He suddenly cut off and dropped his eyes.

“I am comfortable enough,” Ulam Fionn added quickly.

“Then I need hear no more,” Fidelma said, as if making up her mind. “Everything seems in order.”

Brother Mongan accompanied her to the door of the chapel.

“Is this the first time that you have had to offer sanctuary to a fugitive?” she asked at the door.

“It is,” replied the other, seeming relieved by her approval.

“It is difficult to know what to do, to make sure we follow the law,” she went on. “I suppose you have read the Cáin Snádud?”

Brother Mongan frowned slightly. “The what?”

“The law of legal protection.”

He shook his head. “I am no scholar, my daughter. I leave interpretation of the law in the hands of good people like yourself. I am merely concerned with issues of the Faith.”

“Of course,” Fidelma replied. “But you did seem to know and obey the legal requisites.”

“I knew the basic rules, of course,” replied the religieux. “What one of us in authority over a chapel or an abbey would not know those?”

“Indeed. And you are fortified by the fact that the Faith also offers such sanctuary so that it does not conflict with the civil law.”

“Just so, just so.” Brother Mongan smiled.

“What is it that Scripture quotes that gives the foundation for the bestowal of sanctuary? Nescitis quia templum Dei estis et Spiritus Dei habitat in vobis … ?”

“Just so, just so,” agreed Brother Mongan again.

“From Paul’s letter to the Hebrews, I think.”

“You are very learned, my daughter,” Brother Mongan agreed gravely. “I wish you a safe journey back to the school of Brehon Morann.”

Fidelma raised a hand in farewell, then mounted her horse and rode away.

Two days later she was seated before the fire in the chamber of the Brehon Morann and sipping a glass of mulled wine, which the chief professor had offered her.

“I congratulate you, Fidelma. But how were you able to resolve this matter?”

Fidelma examined the fire pensively for a moment, as if the dancing flames would help her clarify her thoughts.

“It was not hard.” She spoke slowly. “Mostly, I suppose, it was merely a guess.”

Brehon Morann snorted sceptically.

“A guess? Do you realise what might have happened if your guess had been wrong? There should be no guesswork in law.”

“I did not think it was wrong at the time,” she said calmly.

“You have a legally trained mind. Take me through the process that produced the result.”

“I first went to see Abbot Sionna, as you told me. While speaking to me, he mentioned in passing that Brother Mongan was a scholar. A copyist of the Pauline letters, among other works.”

“And so?”

“When I arrived at the chapel, I saw that there were two horses tethered outside. As you know, a religieux does not own or ride a horse unless he’s of special rank or privilege. Brother Mongan had no such rank. The abbot told me Brother Mongan was the son of a poor farmer. So I wondered why two horses were there. Ulam Fionn said he was there alone. Then I recalled Faichen Glas saying he suspected Ulam Fionn had fled in this direction to join his cousin, Ulpach. I began to suspect that the other horse was that belonging to Ulpach.

“Having cleared up the matter of the legality of the sanctuary, I thought I would take the matter a step further and ask to see Ulam Fionn, to see if Ulpach was also sheltering in the chapel. He was not. Only Ulam Fionn and Brother Mongan were there. They swore that Ulam Fionn was the only one seeking sanctuary there. But what made me even more suspicious was when I asked about the comfort of residing in the chapel. Brother Mongan was about to talk about the cellar under the chapel and how comfortable it was. He caught himself in time, and Ulam Fionn tried to pass over his mistake quickly enough. I went along with it. My guess was that there was something in the cellar that they did not want me to see.”

Brehon Morann looked at her carefully.

“Suspicions only? Guesswork only? You needed more than that to do what you did.”

Fidelma smiled softly.

“I needed only the confidence of my interpretation of what my ears heard and my eyes saw. Abbot Sionna said that Brother Mongan was a scholar. When I congratulated him on his knowledge of the law and said he must have read the Cáin Snádud he replied that he did not know it and that he was no scholar at all. So I quoted a line that is to be found in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians-the line that says “Know you not that you are in the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” I quoted the line in Latin. It is the scripture that is often used to support the concept of sanctuary, for one cannot use violence in the temple of God. But I said it was from the letter to the Hebrews. Brother Mongan congratulated me on my knowledge.”

“Ah, and were he a scholar and copyist of the letters of Paul, he would have known better.”

“Exactly so.”

“So you rode back to Abbot Sionna?”

“And he sent the abbey’s Brehon and half a dozen stout members of the abbey. They went into the chapel, took hold of Ulam Fionn and his companion, and found in the cellar below the trussed-up form of the real Brother Mongan.”

“With the fake Brother Mongan turning out to be…?”

“Ulam Fionn’s cousin, Ulpach,” she ended triumphantly.

“A sad tale. Had Ulam Fionn and Ulpach sought genuine sanctuary, it probably would have been granted and

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