“Why was Archibald Campbell poisoned?” I snapped.
“First, please, about my soul … ”
I stared at her, trying to discern whether she only mocked me. To my astonishment, Visha bowed her head and tears flowed down her pale cheeks. She lifted her eyes to me.
“Do you not see that I have been taught there is no hope, no life, only power and death? I have heard that this God gives hope but I know nothing beyond the mockery I have heard all my life. They say I must beat my breast and say, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner,’ and then they laugh. I cannot tell if this is truly what I must do, or if God would strike me dead with lightning for speaking to Him.
“Does not God open the earth and swallow the proud alive? I have been very proud of my beauty, of my skill with the sword, of my poisons. Does He not chase those who worship idols with poisonous snakes? I have clasped the knees of Kali in prayer a hundred times. Is there not a plague that devours prostitutes? I have received many men into my bed. And do not murderers go into a lake of fire burning forever? I have been told at one time or another that all these fates await me. And then the teller laughs and laughs at my fear. But whether any of these things are real or not, I know that my fear is real.”
“But there was also a seditionist and a murderer who was pardoned, in whose place Jesus Christ was condemned and crucified. That man, condemned to death, went free, and Christ died instead. Another criminal hung on a cross beside Him, confessed himself worthy of death, but asked Christ to remember him and was told he would join the Lord in paradise that very day. The Lord is gracious, slow to anger, and of great mercy.”
“I have much need of mercy.”
“Will you acknowledge Christ as your Savior and turn away from your sin?”
More tears flowed. I did not know what to do. Nothing had prepared me for this event. No killer I had ever faced had begged to accept Christ. I had long since ceased to expect repentance from the wicked people I pursued.
“Will you surrender yourself to the authorities to answer for your crimes?”
“Florrie, I should, and I am willing, but I have an idea that I had better help you stop Dodge first.” Visha flashed the first full, genuine smile I had seen on her beautiful face.