The next day was blank, though there was a notation for the following week. SC at 1pm on the Thursday.
The days stretched ahead, empty. Pages and pages, white and barren. A winter life. Not a lunch with a friend, not a meeting, not a personal comment. Nothing.
But what about his immediate past?
There were notations about books, page references, library references, articles. He’d made notes, done sketches of the old city, written addresses. Places, perhaps, he was considering for his next dig? All of them around the Notre-Dame Basilica.
It appeared he’d never considered any site outside a quite tight radius. Then what was he doing in the relative wilderness of the Lit and His? And if he was there simply to look for a book, as Émile had suggested, why was he in the basement, digging? And why ask to speak to the board?
Jean-Guy Beauvoir and Ruth Zardo stared at each other.
It felt like a cage match. Only one would emerge alive. Not for the first time in Ruth’s company, Beauvoir felt an unpleasant retraction below his belt.
“What do you want?” Ruth demanded.
“I want to talk,” snapped Beauvoir.
“Can’t it wait, asshole?”
“No, it can’t, you lunatic.” He paused. “Do you like me?”
Her eyes narrowed. “I think you’re anal, idiotic, cruel and perhaps slightly retarded.”
“And I think the same of you,” he said, relieved. It was as he thought, as he’d hoped.
“Well, glad we got that straight. Thank you for coming by, now, nighty night.” Ruth reached for the doorknob.
“Wait,” Beauvoir said, his hand out, almost touching her withered arm. “Wait,” he said again, almost in a whisper. And Ruth did.
Gamache leaned closer to the diary, a small smile on his face.
Literary and Historical Society.
There it was. Written as bold as could be in Renaud’s diary. Not for the day of the board meeting, the day he died, but a week earlier. And above it the names of four people he’d planned to meet there.
A Chin, a JD and two people named S. Patrick and F. O’Mara. Beneath that was a number 18-something. Gamache slid the desk lamp over so that the light pooled on the page. 1800, or maybe 1869 or 8.
“Or is it 1809?” Gamache mumbled to himself, squinting and flipping to the next page to see if, from the back, it was any clearer. It wasn’t.
He took off his reading glasses and leaned back in the chair, tapping the glasses absently on his knee.
1800 would make sense. That would be a time, six in the evening. Most Québécois used the twenty-four-hour clock. But—
The Chief Inspector stared into space. It actually didn’t make sense. The Lit and His closed at five in the afternoon. 1700 hours.
Why would Renaud arrange to meet four people there an hour after closing?
Maybe, thought Gamache, one of them had a key and would let them in.
Or, maybe Renaud didn’t realize the library would be closed.
Or, maybe he’d arranged to meet someone else there, a Lit and His volunteer not named who would open the door.
Had Augustin Renaud been to the Literary and Historical Society before the day he died? It seemed so. Not walking in like any normal patron, that didn’t seem Renaud’s style. No, the man needed something more dramatic, clandestine. This was a man, after all, who’d managed to break into the Basilica and start digging. The Literary and Historical Society would pose no physical or moral barrier. No door was locked to Augustin Renaud in his Quixotic quest for Champlain.
Gamache looked at his watch. It was after 11 P.M. Too late to call Elizabeth MacWhirter or any of the other board members, or to drop by. He wanted to see their faces when he asked the question.
He turned back to the diary. What wasn’t in question were Renaud’s feelings about this rendezvous. He’d circled it a few times and even made a couple of exclamation marks.
The amateur archeologist seemed exultant, as though arranging the meeting had been a coup. Gamache found the phone book and looked up Chin. It sounded like a Chinese name and he remembered that Augustin Renaud had once, famously, dug through a wall looking for Champlain and ended up in the basement of a Chinese restaurant.
Could Chin be the name of the restaurant, or the owner?
But there was no Chin. Perhaps it was someone’s first name. There weren’t many Chinese in Quebec City, it wouldn’t be hard to find out.
There were no O’Maras, but there was an S. Patrick living on rue des Jardins, in the old city. Gamache knew it. The small street wound along beside the Ursuline convent and ended right in front of the Notre-Dame Basilica.