Two days remained until the festival.

How could he not have known? The truth was in evidence in the Vicar's earnest expressions of thanks, in the widows' gestured symbol when they came across him, in his increasingly uncommon and awkward conversations with his family. His fear became anger, then despair, and he considered many options: he could leave, but he would never be able to return to the life that he had known, and more importantly, it would be a betrayal of trust, even of hope. He was not certain that he would able to live with such a burden regardless.

He could seek the Vicar out and tell him what he had seen, what he suspected; but suppose he were wrong, and had sullied himself with doubt? Suppose he were right? In either case, the knowledge itself would be as agonizing as any uncertainty. He was nonetheless drawn to this option, for the Vicar was a compassionate man, and surely would find a way to ease his suffering.

Alternatively, he could bear his burden in silence, and accept what would befall him when the day of celebration was at hand.


An Iron Crucifix