“Someone was here with this, uh, woman…with her before she died. Or maybe they were, you know, responsible for her death,” he muttered.
“Huh? What do you mean?” asked Paign.
Before Anders could answer, Freida answered with more irritation than she felt, “Well, she didn’t tie herself up and wait to die, did she?”
“Hmphf!” Paign snorted.
“Anders, who do you think tied up the widow, then?” Freida continued, ignoring Paign.
“Well, that’s the rub, Freida. I don’t believe this is the widow, after all,” Anders said, scratching his chin.
“What? Why do you say that?” Paign asked his cousin.
“Hm,” Anders replied, walking over to the mummy. “First, her hair is brown. We know the widow was quite elderly, right? Certainly not young enough to have hair any other color than white or grey.”
“Second, her clothing doesn’t fit what we know about the widow. She’d wandered about the valley, scorned by her neighbors until it undid her wits, eh? But as you can see, this woman has a colorful dress under this nice cloak.”
Freida, swallowing hard, carefully touched the dead woman’s dress, rubbing it between her fingers. It felt like silk.
“Third, this woman’s shoes are in reasonably good shape. Not what you’d expect to find on a vagabond.”
Paign only then realized the mummy had shoes on, but said nothing.
But it was true. This woman’s shoes were scuffed up, as well as cracked from the dry air, Freida could plainly see, but that was to be expected since she’d gotten up Ruar’s Ridge and all the way into this deep section of the cavern.
“Finally, we’d expect to find the widow still wearing her wedding ring to the Parson Vellhelmina. And this woman has a ring on, to be sure. But it isn’t on her left hand ring finger like you’d suppose. It’s on the wrong hand, as well as the wrong finger. And it looks very expensive, too!” Anders pointed, triumphantly, at the desiccated hand.
“But, if it isn’t the widow, then who could it be?” Freida asked, feeling faintly nauseated and lightheaded. She sat down beside Tiny and hugged him.
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