Gamache sat back on his haunches and looked at his mentor, who was smiling.
Even in the dim light of the basement Gamache could see Émile’s eyes were bright. “Well, Chief?” said Émile, straightening up. “What next?”
“There’s only one thing to do now, Chief,” smiled Gamache. He picked up the box of Chiniquy journals. “Go for a drink.”
The two men returned upstairs and with Madame Renaud’s permission they left with the box. Just around the corner was the Café Krieghoff and a chilly minute later they were there, sitting at a corner table by the window, away from other patrons. It was six in the evening and the work crowd was just arriving. Civil servants, politicians from the nearby government offices, professors, writers and artists. It was a bohemian hangout, a separatist haunt, and had been for decades.
The waitress, clad in jeans and a sweater, brought them a bowl of nuts and two Scotches. They sipped, nibbled the nuts, and read from Chiniquy’s journals. It was fascinating stuff, insight into a mind both noble and mad. A mind with absolutely no insight into itself, a mind filled with purpose and delusion.
He would save souls and screw his superiors.
Gamache’s phone vibrated and he took the call.
“Salut Jean-Guy. How are you?”
The question was no longer simply politesse but was asked with sincerity.
“I’m actually doing well. Better.”
And he sounded it. There was an energy to the younger man’s voice Gamache hadn’t heard in months.
“You? Where are you? I hear lots of noise.”
Beauvoir’s laugh came down the telephone line. “Deep into a case, I see.”
“Bien sûr. And you?” He could hear sounds as well.
“The bistro. Research.”
“Of course. Poor one.”
“I need your help,” said Beauvoir. “About the murder of the Hermit.”
It took Chief Inspector Gamache a moment to tear himself away from the 1860s Québec of Charles Chiniquy’s journals to the quaint village of Three Pines today.
And yet, it wasn’t that much of a leap. He suspected Three Pines probably hadn’t changed all that much in the last 150 years. Had Father Chiniquy chosen to visit the tiny hamlet he’d have seen the same old stone houses, the clapboard homes with dormers and smoking chimneys. He’d have walked across the village green to the shops made of faded rose brick, pausing perhaps to admire the trinity of trees at the very center of the community.
Only the people had changed in Three Pines in the past 150 years, with the possible exception of Ruth Zardo. Gamache could only imagine how Ruth would have greeted Father Chiniquy. He smiled at the thought of the drunken mad poet meeting the sober mad minister.
Well, take this then. Ruth had written. Have some more body.
Drink and eat.
You’ll just make yourself sick. Sicker.
You won’t be cured.
Would Chiniquy have cured her? Of what? Her drinking, her poetry? Her wounds? Her words?
“How can I help?” he asked Beauvoir, picturing his second in command sitting in the bistro in front of the fire with a micro-brewery beer and a bowl of salty chips.
“If Olivier didn’t kill the Hermit it comes down to five other suspects,” said Beauvoir. “Havoc Parra and his father Roar. Vincent Gilbert and his son Marc or Old Mundin.”
“Go on.” Gamache looked out the window of the Café Krieghoff to the cars crawling along the snowy evening street and the cheerful holiday lights still up. The capital had never looked prettier.
“There are two questions. Who had the opportunity and who had the motive? From what I can see, Roar, Havoc and Marc had the opportunity. Roar was cutting the trails that led right to the Hermit. The cabin was on Marc’s land and he could have walked those trails at any time and found it.”
“C’est vrai,” said the Chief, nodding as though Beauvoir could see him.
“Havoc worked late every Saturday and could have followed Olivier to the cabin.”
Gamache paused, remembering the case, remembering the night the Hermit had been killed. “But it wasn’t just Havoc in the bistro, Old Mundin also came in every Saturday night around closing time to get furniture to repair. He was there the night of the murder.”
“That’s true,” agreed Beauvoir. “Though he mostly went straight home before the bistro was locked up. But, yes, he’s a possibility.”
“So that’s Roar and Havoc Parra, Old Mundin and Marc Gilbert. All could have found the cabin and killed the Hermit. So why is Vincent Gilbert still a suspect? As you say, he doesn’t seem to have had the opportunity to find the cabin.”