Edie Kiglatuk's Christmas

Edie Kiglatuk's Christmas by M. J. McGrath

Book: Edie Kiglatuk's Christmas by M. J. McGrath Read Free Book Online
Authors: M. J. McGrath
Evangelical, she guessed from the name of the church on the leather folder.
evangelicals appeared every so often at home, on Ellesmere Island. Missionary work. Only in the summer though. Most of the villagers were happily Anglican or Catholic, or, like her, they stuck to the old beliefs, but the evangelicals usually made a convert or two. Edie guessed that was why they kept coming back.
    ‘The man you spoke to, he have an accent at all?’
    ‘An accent compared to what?’ Edie allowed herself to feel offended because, for an instant, it gave her the upper hand. Truro’s brow wrinkled, as though he was waiting for some addendum. Edie thought of the little boy in the snow and relented.
    ‘Some kind of accent, yes.’
    Truro nodded and went on.
    ‘The clothes the two were wearing, the long robes. The man’s facial hair. Are you aware that what you described is typical of the Old Believers?’
    ‘Since I already told you I don’t know what that means, I guess the answer’s no.’
    Detective Truro began to stroke his tie. He caught her eye and looked away. Then he reached out and turned off the camera.
    ‘Miss Kiglatuk, I have to ask you, why did you pick up the body?’
    Why had she? It was hard to say. At that moment, her thoughts had been swirling around in a blizzard in her mind.
    ‘I didn’t know what was in the parcel when I picked it up. And then, when I did, I guess I wanted to try to comfort him.’ She thought about the ghosts of people she’d loved and lost.
    Truro lifted his eyes from the desk and cut her an icy look.
    ‘You make a habit of comforting the dead, Miss Kiglatuk? You realize you could have seriously compromised our investigation?’
    She didn’t answer.
    Truro continued to look at her, his gaze fading away to a scowl. She held it. They sat like this for a moment.
    ‘The Old Believers are a religious cult. Are you familiar with that term?’
    She blew air down her nose. ‘I’m Inuit, not an idiot.’
    ‘Of course.’ His eye flipped across a typewritten page. ‘Your people here call themselves Eskimos, by the way.’
    ‘I’m guessing they call themselves Alaskans too,’ she said, ‘which, by the way, technically makes them your people.’
    ‘You believe in God, Miss Kiglatuk?’ Truro looked put out.
    She looked at the badge on his lapel.
    ‘Not in the way you do.’
    ‘In evil then.’
    ‘You mean, the Devil?’ She thought about the little boy lying frozen in the woods. If he’d asked whether she believed in devilishness, she’d have said, oh yeah, seen plenty of that, but a red guy with a forked tail? She shook her head.
    A look of frustration or maybe disappointment spread across Detective Truro’s face.
    ‘Let me tell you something about these people you ran into, the Old Believers. They’re not regular folk, like you and me.’
    She had to pinch herself to stop herself talking back. Regular folk? What did that mean?
    Truro didn’t appear to notice her expression and continued. ‘Originally, they came from Russia. People here still call them Russians though they haven’t actually lived there since they broke away from the Russian Orthodox Church hundreds of years ago andstarted wandering across the globe. They’ve been here in Alaska forty years and some of ’em still don’t even speak English. They’re closed people, they stick with their own, they call folk like us “worldly” and do their best to avoid us,’ he said. ‘We don’t know much about them, but we don’t much like what we do know.’
    He picked up a pen, see-sawed it about between his fingers.
    ‘You remember the cross, the one marked on the body?’
    She looked at him, aghast. How could he imagine she would forget it?
    ‘That silk stuff wrapped around the body of the little boy you found? The Believers use that for their religious ceremonies. The little house is a spirit house. It’s an Athabascan native tradition.’
    He turned the camera back on and Edie wondered if anything he

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