One of them had killed Brother Mathieu.
“What’re you looking for, mon père? You might not need proof, but you need a sign. What sign in their faces are you looking for? Guilt?”
The abbot shook his head. “I wasn’t looking for guilt. I was looking for pain. Can you imagine the pain he must have been in, to do this? And the pain he still feels?”
The Chief scanned their faces again, and finally came to rest on the man right beside him. Gamache did see pain in the face of one of the monks. Dom Philippe. The abbot.
“Do you know who did this?” Gamache asked again, quietly. So that it was only audible to the abbot and the sweet autumn air around them. “If you do, you must tell me. I’ll find him eventually, you know. It’s what I do. But it’s a terrible, terrible process. You have no idea what’s about to be unleashed. And once it starts, it won’t stop until the murderer is found. If you can spare the innocent, I’m begging you to do it. Tell me who did this, if you know.”
That brought the abbot’s full attention back to the large, quiet man in front of him. The slight breeze tugged at the graying hair just curling by the Chief Inspector’s ears. But the rest of the man was still. Firm.
And his eyes, deep brown like the earth, were thoughtful.
And Dom Philippe believed Armand Gamache. The Chief Inspector had been brought to the monastery, admitted to their abbey, to find the murderer. It was what this man was always meant to do. And he was almost certainly very good at it.
“I would tell you if I knew.”
“We’re ready,” Beauvoir called from the boat.
“Bon.” Gamache held the abbot’s eyes for another moment then turned to see the boatman’s large hand resting on the outboard motor, ready to pull the cord.
“Captain Charbonneau?” Gamache invited the Sûreté inspector to take a seat.
“Is it possible to keep this quiet?” asked Dom Philippe.
“I’m afraid not, mon père. The news will get out, it always does,” said Gamache. “You might consider issuing a statement yourself.”
He saw the distaste on the abbot’s face and suspected that wouldn’t happen.
“Au revoir, Chief Inspector,” said Dom Philippe, extending his hand. “Thank you for your help.”
“You’re welcome,” said Gamache, taking the hand. “But it isn’t over yet.” At a nod from Gamache, the boatman yanked the cord and the motor leapt into life. Beauvoir dropped the rope into the boat and it drifted away. Leaving Gamache and Beauvoir standing on the dock.
“You’re staying?” asked the abbot, bewildered.
“Yes. We’re staying. I leave with the murderer, or not at all.”
Beauvoir stood beside Gamache and together they watched the small boat chug down the sunset bay, and around the corner. Out of sight.
The two Sûreté investigators remained there until the sound had disappeared.
And then they turned their backs on the natural world and followed the robed figures back into the monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups.
Beauvoir spent the early evening setting up their Incident Room in the prior’s study while Chief Inspector Gamache read the interviews with the monks, and spoke to some in more depth.
A picture was emerging. How accurate it was was impossible to say, but it was clear and surprisingly consistent from man to man.
After Vigils at five in the morning, the monks had had breakfast and prepared for the day. There was another service at seven thirty, Lauds. It ended at eight fifteen. Then their workday began.
Work was any number of things, but for each man it was much the same each day.
They worked in the garden, or with the animals. They cleaned the abbey, did the archives, did repairs. Cooked the meals.
Each man was, it turned out, quite expert in his field. Whether it was as a chef or gardener, engineer or historian.
And they were all, without exception, exceptional musicians.
“How does this happen, Jean-Guy?” Gamache asked, looking up from his notes. “That they’re all remarkable musicians?”
“You’re asking me?” Beauvoir’s voice came from beneath the desk, where he was trying to reconnect the laptop. “Dumb luck?”
“Dumb luck would be you getting that thing to work,” said the Chief. “I think there’s another agency at work here.”
“I hope you don’t mean divine.”
“Not entirely, though I wouldn’t rule it out. No, I think they must have been recruited.”