Many years ago, the wife of an honourable counsellor took great pride in the completion of a lavish family vault in a fashionable cemetery. It was important to enjoy one’s monuments before occupation, and here, she felt, was a burial chamber in which the couple and their descendants could be laid to rest in a manner appropriate to their social standing. They were, after all, a rich and powerful family.
One night, a servant loyal to the lady of the house came to her to report that, without her consent, her husband has placed the body of a man of lower social rank and not related by blood into the new and previously unused mausoleum. According to the family’s faith, the tomb had now been desecrated and, as soon as word got out, would be entirely useless—the considerable cost of both the location and construction thus wasted, and nothing but a source of great humiliation to the family. The wife was furious and a great row ensued upon her husband’s return. He remonstrated, at length, concerning his sense of duty to the deceased, but his wife would not be swayed. Like most domestic disputes, it was an argument the husband could not win, head of the house or no, and he eventually retired in frustration, having failed to get very many words in edgeways. His wife, however, did not follow him to bed.
‘Suppose,’ she conjectured, in the presence of her faithful retainer, ‘that the corpse was removed, perhaps by some animal, ghoul, or necromancer. Would anyone really be the wiser?’
‘Were it done quickly, my lady, I would think not,’ replied her servant, who knew that his master had tasked two of his slaves with the interment, and that they could easily be bought off or otherwise silenced.
‘I fear my dear husband would also look rather foolish if he admitted that he had lost a body,’ she continued.
‘It would appear rather careless,’ the servant concurred.
‘Not an event he would likely advertise, then,’ said the wife of the honourable counsellor.
‘I would think not, mistress.’
‘Very deserted, these graveyards,’ added the lady.
‘You never know what might happen,’ agreed the servant.
Eager for reward or advancement, the loyal servant located the two slaves in question upon taking his leave. He got them powerful drunk, and then they all raided the tomb, sealing it back up behind them. They took the body out into the desert, dropped it into a shallow grave and then had another drink. This the servant had just poisoned. When the slaves were incapacitated and rolling in agony upon the sand, he slit their throats and buried them as well. Satisfied with a good night’s work, he returned to Arimathea.