the Eastern Europeans to come up with a name like that.'

'Who identified the body?'

'A member of the Board of Deputies, Rabbi Mocatta. The deceased had no relations in this country, though he'd been here for several years. A teacher at the Jews' Free School by day and a rabbinical scholar in the evenings. A very earnest young man, according to the rabbi.'

'Will there be a postmortem?'

'That's the question the Jews and the coroner are trying to decide. The rabbi wants him in the ground tomorrow, but Vandeleur wants to open him up today. Nearly had us a fistfight in here a while ago.'

'May we view the body?'

'Help yourself. He's in there. I'll get P. C. Morrow to bring you the board and rope after he's had his cuppa. He caught a bad case of rubber legs a few minutes ago.'

Barker walked into the room the inspector had just quitted, and I joined him. Inside were several long tables containing still forms under sheets. In the middle of the room, and connected with one wall, was a larger, stationary table with troughs along all sides for the draining of bodily fluids. The atmosphere in here was more pungent. Large carboys of chemicals were set in two corners to fight the powerful stench of decay.

There was a body on the large table, its sheet rumpled from recent examinations. Without preamble, Barker seized the sheet and pulled it back. The corpse was that of a man a few years older than myself. His skin was ashen, almost grayish, and I noticed there were several bruises about his face and chest, which showed that he had suffered some ill-usage before his death. The skin around both eyes was dark and swollen, and his nose looked broken. Death appeared to be due to a nasty cut in the left side, just under the breastbone. In life, the poor fellow had worn his hair a little long for British custom, and though he sported a beard and mustache, if he had the traditional curls of Jewish tradition, they were tucked behind his ears. He reminded me of someone, but I couldn't remember who just then.

Barker didn't touch the body, but instead ran the tip of his walking stick under the shoulder and arm, then raised the wrist with it. The arm was stiff, and I assumed rigor mortis had set in. Then I saw what Barker was trying to show me. I saw it, and the ground careened out from under me. I hit the floor hard, my cheek taking most of the blow. Barker was there instantly, helping me up.

'He's beenЕ'

'Aye, lad. Take it easy.'

'He's been crucified!'

The next I knew, I was in another room, drinking strong tea from a tin cup next to Constable Morrow. His color was just beginning to return, but I was still quite pale. My cheek had begun to swell. I would have a nice welt by which to remember my visit.

I don't know what I had been expecting under that sheet, but I knew it was not an El Greco painting of Christ's passion come to life. Or death, rather. Those ashen limbs and that battered face would haunt me forever. My old Methodist preacher back in Wales was always fond of pouring on the agonies of the crucifixion, especially during Easter week, but his thousand words did not do justice to the picture I saw in the other room.

I could have sat there all day in that dark, quiet room, drinking muddy tea and trying to get over what I'd just seen, but I told myself I didn't have the luxury. I had already disgraced myself in front of my employer, and it was probable that he needed me to take notes. I took a final pull from the tin cup, wishing it contained something stronger than tea, and pushed myself up. My limbs were not quite as rubbery as before. I nodded to the constable and left the room. Barker was pacing in the corridor.

'Ah, lad. Good to see you up and about. How was your tea?'

'Not as good as the green tea we have at home, sir,' I lied through my teeth. 'But it's done the trick. I apologize for collapsing like that. I didn't expectЧ'

Barker waved his hand in dismissal. 'Who would? Don't count it against yourself. I already knew what to expect, but you didn't. Let's go back in.' He rubbed his hands together, impatient to get back to work.

Barker whisked the entire sheet off this time, and I noticed a few more details. The body was still clad in drawers, modern rather than first-century, and the feet had not been pierced. Logistically, I suppose it would have been impossible to transport and set up a man on an entire cross, so the killers had settled upon a representation. The nails piercing the hands would not have supported the body, and abrasions on the forearms showed that they had been tied to the cross with stout rope.

From where I stood at the foot of the table, I looked at the victim, with his fine Semitic features, the long hair and beard. I suppose I had blacked out from the sudden shock of finding Christ on a postmortem table in Tower Road. Now I saw the man, Louis Pokrzywa. Poor blighter, I thought. Whatever did you do to deserve this?

'He really did look like Christ,' I remarked. 'Or at least, as I pictured him.'

'Close enough, if it matters, lad,' Barker sniffed. 'But Isaiah fifty-three two states, 'He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.'†'

Just then a man came bustling into the room, and Barker continued his examination. He had a hawk nose, steel gray eyes, and white hair combed severely back and falling straight to his shoulders, like a music impresario. He wore a smock displaying every type of bodily fluid and gore a human corpse can produce, with a respectable collar and tie peeping out the top.

'Hello, Barker,' he said. 'Are you almost done here?'

'Yes, Dr. Vandeleur,' my employer responded. 'I am. Did you get your postmortem?'

'No, blast the luck. I would have loved to test the strain on the musculature of the arms and rib cage. One doesn't get the opportunity to examine a crucified body every day. A paper in front of the British Medical Association would have made me famous. But there's no question about the cause of death. It was that knife wound, straight up into the heart.'

'So he was not alive when he was crucified?'

'No, but he was for the drubbing they gave him. I'd say he must have received ten blows at least, some to the face, some to the rib cage. Either an entire party went at him, or one fellow who was hopping mad.'

'Any other marks?' Barker prompted.

'Scratches, splinters, and creosote smears on his back, where he was hoisted up the telegraph pole.'

'Telegraph pole?' I wondered aloud.

'Yes, they found him this morning in Petticoat Lane, hoisted up a pole right in the middle of the Jewish quarter of the City. That took brass,' Vandeleur said.

'And brains,' Barker added. 'They must have moved swiftly in the fog last night and set him up before the first vendors came with their barrows. Now the Sunday market is at its busiest, wearing away any clues they left. Llewelyn, would you please find Constable Morrow, and bring the beam and rope?'

'Yes, sir.'

There were two benches in the hallway, the first occupied by three biblical patriarchs who could only be the rabbi and his assistants waiting to claim the body, and the other by P. C. Morrow, looking somewhat improved. He had a long coil of rope over his shoulder and a length of wood across his knees. I motioned for him to bring them in. I noticed he followed me reluctantly.

Barker plucked the stout board out of the constable's hands the moment he saw it. It was a rough-hewn piece of wood, about five feet long, and gray with age. My employer turned it over. The entire length of the back had been written on in chalk. The legend read 'The Anti-Semite League. Psalm 22:14.'

Barker quoted it from memory. '†'I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.'†'

'Not a bad description,' Vandeleur said. 'His bones would have been out of joint while he was suspended, and the thrust of the knife up under the sternum into the lower left ventricle would have produced a watery discharge with the blood.'

'A Bible-quoting group of killers. I don't like it,' Barker rumbled, his chin buried in his coat. 'Murder and faith make nasty bedfellows. Hand me the rope there, Constable.'

My employer took the rope and counted the yards by measuring it between his outstretched hands. Then he examined the cut at both ends, the texture, and even the smell of the rope.

'Llewelyn, your notebook, if you please. This is common hemp, over an inch in diameter, and a little short of ten yards long. To what was the other end affixed, Constable?'

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