If Samuel de Champlain was such a symbol of Québec nationalism, were the members of the Champlain Society all separatists? Perhaps. But did it matter? As Émile said, it was more common in Québec to be one than not, especially among the intelligentsia. Québec separatists had formed the government more than once.
Then another thought occurred to him. Suppose Samuel de Champlain was found and found not to be the son of the King? He would become slightly less romantic, slightly less heroic, a less powerful symbol.
Might the separatists prefer a missing Champlain to one found and flawed? Perhaps they too wanted to stop Augustin Renaud.
“Did you notice the entry from last week?” Gamache decided to change the subject. He opened the diary and pointed. Émile read then looked up.
“Literary and Historical Society? So last Friday wasn’t his first visit there. And it says 1800. The time of the meeting?”
“I was wondering the same thing, but the library would have been closed.”
Émile looked at the page once again. The four names, the blurry, scribbled number. 18-. He squinted closer. “Maybe it’s not 1800.”
“Maybe not. I haven’t found any of the others but I did find an S. Patrick at 1809 rue des Jardins.”
“There’s your answer.” Émile called for the bill and stood up. “Shall we?”
Gamache downed the last of his café au lait and stood. “I called and left a message on Monsieur Patrick’s answering machine, saying we’d be there about noon. Before that I need to go to the Lit and His to ask them about that entry in Renaud’s diary. Could you do something for me while I do that?”
Gamache nodded out the window. “See that building?”
“9¾ rue Ste-Ursule?” said Émile, squinting at the building. “Does it really say that? What does a three-quarter apartment look like?”
“Want to see? It’s Augustin Renaud’s.”
The two men paid up and with Henri they walked across the snowy street and into the apartment.
“Good God,” said Émile. “It looks like a bomb went off.”
“Inspector Langlois and I spent much of last night putting it in order. You should have seen it before.” Gamache wound between the piles of research.
“All about Champlain?” Émile picked up a sheet at random and scanned it.
“Everything I’ve found so far is. His diaries were stuffed behind that bookshelf.”
“It seems so, but I’m not sure we can read much into that. He was pretty paranoid. Can you go through his papers while I go to the Lit and His?”
“Are you kidding?”
Émile looked like a kid loosed in the toy factory. Gamache left his mentor sitting at the dining table, reaching for a pile of papers.
Within minutes the Chief Inspector was at the old library, standing in the deserted hallway.
“May I tuna you?” Winnie asked from the top of the oak staircase.
“I was wondering if I could speak to you and whoever else is here.” He spoke English in hopes the librarian would switch to her mother tongue.
“Meet we maybe in bookstore reunion?”
She hadn’t taken the hint.
“Good idea,” said Gamache.
“Bunny day,” agreed Winnie and disappeared.
Gamache found Mr. Blake in the library and within minutes Winnie, Elizabeth and Porter had joined them.
“I have just a couple of questions,” said the Chief. “We’ve found evidence that Augustin Renaud came here a week before he died.”
He watched them as he spoke. To a person they looked surprised, interested, a little disconcerted, but none of them looked guilty. And yet one of them had almost certainly lied to him. One of them had almost certainly seen, perhaps even met, Renaud here. Let him in.
But why? Why had Renaud wanted to come here? Why had he brought four others?
“What was he doing here?” Gamache asked and watched as they first stared at him, then at each other.
“Augustin Renaud came to the library?” asked Mr. Blake. “But I didn’t see him.”
“Neither did I,” said Winnie, surprised into English.
Elizabeth and Porter each shook their heads.
“He might have come after the library closed,” said Gamache. “At six o’clock.”
“Then he wouldn’t have gotten in,” said Porter. “The place would’ve been locked. You know that.”