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Deeds of Darkness;
Deeds of Light

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Donna Fletcher Crow

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Donna Fletcher Crow (US) is the author of forty-some books, mostly novels dealing with the history of British Christianity. She is the author of The Monastery Murders series; The Lord Danvers Victorian True-Crime series; The Elizabeth & Richard literary mysteries, GLASTONBURY,A Novel of the Holy Grail and more. www.donnafletchercrow.com

Fay Sampson

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Fay Sampson (UK) is a writer of adult and children's fiction and non-fiction, including A MALIGNANT HOUSE, #2 in the Susie Fewings series, a British Crime Club Pick. http://www.faysampson.co.uk

The Great Easter Vigil in A DARKLY HIDDEN TRUTH

By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ April 7, 2012

Just as the Great Easter Vigil, traditionally celebrated just before dawn on Easter morning, is thehigh point of the Christian year, so is it the climax of Felicity's search for the murderer in A Darkly Hidden Truth:

They met in total darkness on the wide gravel path in front of the church. Felicity guessed it must be something before four a.m. A lone bird on an overhead branch proclaimed its faith in the approaching dawn, but the sky showed not a streak of promise. At least it had quit raining, but the pre-dawn damp was just as chill.

 

The circle of gathered faithful, each having been handed an unlit candle, drew closer as Father Anselm approached the mound of kindling that in a few moments would flame forth as the new Paschal fire. Felicity looked around, trying to guess how many had assembled at this unearthly hour, but the darkness swallowed the outer reaches of the circle. A server knelt to strike a match as Father Anselm proclaimed, "Dear friends in Christ; On this most holy night in which our Lord Jesus passed over from death to life. . . we share in his victory over death."

 

At first Felicity thought the movement she sensed at the church porch must be a shadow from the flames leaping to the top of the dry kindling. Or even smoke wafting from the pyre. But then she knew, the soft creak she heard was not crackling kindling. Someone was sneaking into the newly unlocked church.

 

Behind her the ceremony of lighting the Paschal candle from the freshly kindled fire and then lighting all the candles held by the worshippers began as Felicity dashed for the church. The totality of the blackness inside the church made the darkness outside seem like noonday by comparison. Stepping into such a complete absence of light was disorienting. Even though her mind told her the floor was solid stone, Felicity was afraid to move for fear of stepping into a void.

 

And which way would she go? She listened, not even breathing, for a sound from her quarry. And then she more sensed than saw a movement. By the front right pillar. Where our Lady of Transfiguration hung.

 

She leapt forward. If that bearded Russian with the burning eyes thought he could undo all they had fought for in order to promote some hidden agenda of his. . .

 

The dark figure crossed the chancel. She wasn’t sure, but it looked like he was carrying something. She was closing in on him in the north aisle when the procession entered through the west door. "The light of Christ," sang Father Anselm, elevating the Paschal candle he carried. Behind him perhaps a hundred, candle-bearing processors answered as one, "Thanks be to God." The procession snaked forward up the south aisle, bringing the Light into a darkened world.

 

Felicity had paused only momentarily, but it had been enough to allow her object of pursuit to reach the sacristy door. She flung herself at the door, putting her foot over the threshold just as it would have slammed shut.

 

"The light of Christ."

 

"Thanks be to God." the procession was drawing nearer.

 

Suddenly the door flew open, a hand grabbed her roughly and yanked her inside, closing the sacristy door behind her. "Might as well make ourselves comfortable, my dear." He reached out and flicked on the light. "It’s a beastly long service."

 

He laughed loudly, but in the church beyond the cantor was singing the Exultet "This is the night ." The recitation of the saving acts of God had begun. The church would still be lit by only two pairs of candles at the reading desk, but cantors and readers would provide sufficient cover for any noise in the sacristy.

[The tension grows on both sides of the door as Felicity struggles to deal with her knife-weilding captor and in the sanctuary the Easter vivil progresses.]

In the room beyond Father Anselm proclaimed loudly, "Alleluia! Christ is risen."

 

What a moment to die, Felicity thought. Her captor lunged. She dropped to the floor and rolled.

The knife just grazed her ear. He would not miss the next thrust.

 

"The Lord is risen, indeed. Alleluia!" A fanfare of trumpets followed the triumphant shout, then the rejoicing erupted with the cantors singing Gloria in Excelsis and the congregation blowing noise makers and the bells pealing forth. Just beyond the terror in the sacristy the church flared into golden beauty as the flowers, altar cloths, gleaming crosses were all illumined by the light of hundreds of candles.

 

The jubilation echoed around her as Felicity tensed to evade the next attack.

Donna Fletcher Crow (US) is the author of forty-some books, mostly novels dealing with the history of British Christianity. She is the author of The Monastery Murders series; The Lord Danvers Victorian True-Crime series; The Elizabeth & Richard literary mysteries, GLASTONBURY,A Novel of the Holy Grail and more. www.donnafletchercrow.com

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Reader Comments:

I love some of your phrasings in this book, Donna. "Not a streak of promise," "unearthly hour..." Such wordings stay with you.

Happy Easter.
-jennymilch, April 7, 2012

Thank you, Jenny! And Easter Blessings to dyou.
-Donna, April 9, 2012

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