“I hear the English killed him and buried him in the basement of that building.”
“Who told you that?” asked Émile.
“That did.” Patrick waved toward Le Journalist on the table in the front hall.
“We don’t know who killed him,” said Gamache firmly.
“Come on,” insisted Patrick. “Who else but the Anglos? They killed him to keep their secret.”
“Champlain?” asked Émile, and Patrick turned to him, nodding.
“Exactly. The Chief Archeologist says Champlain isn’t there, but he’s almost certainly lying. Covering up.”
“Why would he do that?”
“The Anglos bought him off.” Patrick was rubbing his two fingers together.
“They did no such thing, monsieur,” said Gamache. “Believe me, Samuel de Champlain is not buried in the Literary and Historical Society.”
“But Augustin Renaud was,” said Patrick. “You can’t tell me les Anglais didn’t have something to do with that.”
“Why was your name in Monsieur Renaud’s diary?” Gamache asked and saw a look of astonishment on Patrick’s face.
“My name?” Now Patrick was making a face, something between disdain and impatience. “Is this a joke? Can I see some ID?”
Gamache reached into his breast pocket and brought out his ID. The man took it, read it, stared at the name, stared at the photo and looked up at Gamache. Stunned.
“You’re him? That Sûreté officer? Jesus. The beard threw me off. You’re Chief Inspector Gamache?”
Patrick leaned closer. Gamache didn’t move, but grew even more still. A more observant man might have taken warning. “I saw you on TV of course. At the funerals.” He examined Gamache as though he was an exhibit.
“Monsieur—” said Émile, trying to stop Patrick.
“It must have been horrible.” And yet the man’s eyes were gleaming, excited.
And still Gamache was silent.
“I kept the magazine, L’actualité, with you on the cover. You know, that photo? You can sign it for me.”
“I will do no such thing.”
Gamache’s voice was low with a warning even, finally, Sean Patrick couldn’t miss. Patrick turned at the door, an angry retort on his lips, and froze. Chief Inspector Gamache was staring at him. Hard. His eyes filled with contempt.
Patrick hesitated then colored. “I’m sorry. That was a mistake.”
Silence filled the room and stretched on. Finally Gamache nodded.
“I have a few more questions,” he said and Patrick, docile now, returned. “Has anyone mentioned Champlain to you or wanted to know the history of your home?”
“People are always interested in that. It was built in 1751. My great-grandparents moved here in the late 1800s.”
“Do you know what was here before?” Émile asked.
Patrick shook his head.
“And these numbers,” Gamache showed him the numbers from the diary page. 9-8499 and 9-8572. “Do they mean anything to you?”
Again Patrick shook his head. Gamache stared at him. Why was this man’s name in a dead man’s diary? He could swear that while insensitive, Sean Patrick wasn’t lying. He seemed genuinely baffled when told Augustin Renaud had an appointment to meet him.
“What do you think?” Gamache asked Émile as they left. “Was he lying?”
“I actually don’t think so. So either Renaud meant another S. Patrick, or he planned to meet them but never actually set up the appointment.”
“But he seemed so excited about it. Why not follow through?”
They walked quietly for a few minutes, then Émile stopped. “I’m meeting some friends for lunch, would you like to join us?”
“Non, merci. I think I’ll go back to the Literary and Historical Society.”
“Of a sort.”
A few sightseers, of the more gruesome type of tourism, still hung round outside the Lit and His. What did they hope to see?
Gamache realized as he listened to them talk about Augustin Renaud and Champlain, about conspiracy theories, about les Anglais, that human nature hadn’t changed in hundreds of years. Two hundred years ago a similar crowd would have stood exactly where they were, huddled against the biting cold. Waiting to see the convict led to that large opening above the door, put on a small balcony, a noose around his neck, and thrown off. To swing, dead or dying, before the crowd that had gathered.