"They found the girl with that crazy preacher and his woman. The preacher who thinks he's on some kind of mission to save the poor and homeless, proclaims himself the Messiah.
"The girl's wealthy family has been claiming for months that she was abducted, that her little sister witnessed it.
"But the signs of a breakin appear to have been faked.
"Two innocent men--petty criminals, but innocent in this--were hounded mercilessly. One died. It's hard to believe his death was completely natural, and not the end result of a beating.
"Then, four months after the disappearance, the little sister 'remembered' that it was the preacher who'd broken into their sleeping quarters and abducted the older girl at knifepoint.
"We haven't been able to ascertain the truth. Did the girl run away to become a disciple of the preacher? Did the parents force the little sister to confess that, then alter her story to include the 'abduction'? Did the girl convince the preacher she'd been mistreated at home, might even kill herself if he sent her back there?
"She's putting all the blame on him, of course. Echoing everything her parents have been saying. But perhaps Your Excellency should authorize a further investigation--"
"I don't care about the details," said an irritated Pontius Pilate. "The preacher and his woman--what are their names?"
"Ah...Yeshua, and Miriam of Magdala."
"I've heard of them. What's being done with them?"
"The townspeople are threatening to stone them to death."
A smile spread slowly across Pilate's face. "Excellent. They may save me a lot of trouble."