“Murder?” he finally whispered. “Here?” He returned to Gamache. “And you’ve come to find out which of us did it. The Chief Inspector, you said. So we get the boss?”
Gamache smiled. “Not the big boss, I’m afraid. I also have bosses.”
“Don’t we all,” said Dom Philippe. “At least yours can’t see everything you do.”
“And know everything I think and feel,” said Gamache. “I’m grateful for that every day.”
“Though neither can they bring you peace and salvation.”
Gamache nodded. “That much is certain.”
“Patron?” Beauvoir was standing a few feet away.
Excusing himself, Gamache walked over to his Inspector.
“We’re ready to move the body. But where should we take him?”
Gamache thought about that for a moment, then looked at the two praying monks. “That man over there,” Gamache pointed to Frère Charles, “is the médecin. Go with him to get a stretcher and take Frère Mathieu back to the infirmary.” Gamache paused for a moment, and Beauvoir knew him well enough to wait. “He was the choir director here, you know.” Gamache looked once again at the balled-up body of Frère Mathieu.
To Beauvoir this was just another fact. A piece of information. But he could see it meant more to the Chief.
“Is that important?” asked Beauvoir.
“It could be.”
“It’s important to you, isn’t it,” said Beauvoir.
“It’s a shame,” said the Chief. “A great loss. He was a genius, you know. I was listening to his music on the way in.”
“I thought maybe you were.”
“Have you ever heard it?”
“Hard not to. It was everywhere a couple years ago. Couldn’t turn on a damned station without hearing it.”
Gamache smiled. “Not a fan?”
“Are you kidding? Of Gregorian chants? A bunch of men singing without instruments, practically in a monotone, in Latin? What’s not to love?”
The Chief smiled at Beauvoir and returned to the abbot.
“Who could have done such a thing?” Dom Philippe asked under his breath when Gamache resumed his seat. “I’ve been asking myself that all morning.” The abbot turned to his companion. “And why didn’t I see it coming?”
Gamache was silent, knowing the question wasn’t directed at him. But the answer would come from him, eventually. And he realized something else.
Dom Philippe had not tried to imply that an outsider had somehow done this. He’d not even tried to convince Gamache, or himself, that it was an accident. An unlikely fall.
There was none of the usual squirming away from the awful truth.
Frère Mathieu had been murdered. And one of the other monks had done it.
On the one hand Gamache admired Dom Philippe’s ability to face reality, no matter how terrible. But Gamache was also puzzled that this man so easily accepted it.
The abbot claimed to be astonished that murder should happen here. And yet he didn’t do what would be most human. He didn’t look for another explanation, no matter how ludicrous.
And Chief Inspector Gamache began to wonder just how shocked Dom Philippe really was.
“Frère Mathieu was killed between eight fifteen, when your service ended, and twenty to nine, when he was found by your secretary,” said the Chief. “Where were you at that time?”
“Right after Lauds I went to the basement to discuss the geothermal system with Frère Raymond. He looks after the physical plant. The engineering of the monastery.”
“You have geothermal here?”
“That’s right. Geothermal heats the monastery and solar panels power it. With winter coming I had to make sure it was working. I was down there when Brother Simon found me and told me the news.”
“What time was that?”
“Close to nine, I think.”
“What did Frère Simon say?”
“Only that it appeared Frère Mathieu had had some sort of accident in my garden.”
“Did he tell you that Frère Mathieu was dead?”
“Eventually. As I rushed back he came out with it. He’d gone to get the doctor first and then me. By then they knew it was fatal.”
“But did he tell you any more?”
“That Mathieu had been killed?”
“That he’d been murdered.”
“The doctor did. When I arrived here the doctor was standing at the door waiting. He tried to stop me from going closer, and said Mathieu wasn’t just dead, but that it looked as though someone had killed him.”