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Page 42

Gamache was annoyed. That much was obvious. Not at being challenged, but by the arrogance, the haughty assumption of both superiority and martyrdom this monk had taken. And the others had supported.

Not all the others, Gamache could see. And Gamache saw something else with sudden clarity. This arrogant monk had done him a huge favor. And shown him something only vaguely hinted at before.

Here was a community divided, a fissure running through them. And this tragedy, rather than bridging it, was simply widening the gap. Something lived in that dark crevice, Gamache knew. And when he and Jean-Guy found it it would almost certainly have nothing to do with faith. Or God.

They left the monks to their stunned, and convenient, silence and walked toward the Blessed Chapel.

“You’re pissed,” said Beauvoir, almost running to catch up to Gamache’s long strides.

“Pissed off, perhaps, but not pissed,” said the Chief, with a smile. “Seems, Jean-Guy, we’ve landed in the only monastery on earth that doesn’t make liquor.”

Beauvoir touched the Chief’s arm to slow him down and Gamache stopped in the middle of the corridor.

“You old…”

At a look from Gamache, Beauvoir stopped what he was about to say, but also smiled.

“That was all an act,” Beauvoir lowered his voice, “you storming out. You wanted to show that asshole monk you wouldn’t be pushed around, unlike the abbot.”

“It wasn’t entirely an act, but yes. I wanted the others to know it was possible to challenge that monk. What’s his name anyway?”

“Frère Dominic? Frère Donat? Something like that.”

“You don’t know, do you.”

“Not a clue. They all look the same to me.”

“Well, find out, please.”

They’d started walking again, more slowly this time. When they reached the Blessed Chapel the Chief paused, glanced behind him to see the empty corridor, then walked through the center of the church, Beauvoir at his side.

Passing the pews, the two men mounted the steps, crossed the altar and Gamache took a seat on the front choir bench. The prior’s place. Gamache knew that because it had been empty at Vespers. It was directly across from where the abbot sat. Beauvoir sat down next to the Chief.

“Do you feel a song coming on?” he whispered, and Gamache smiled.

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“The main reason I pushed was to see what would happen. Their reaction was interesting, Jean-Guy, didn’t you find?”

“Interesting that monks would be so self-satisfied? I’ll alert the press.”

Like many Québécois of his generation, he had no use for the Church. It just wasn’t part of his life. Unlike previous generations. The Catholic Church wasn’t just a part of his parents’ lives, and his grandparents’, it ruled their lives. The priests told them what to eat, what to do, who to vote for, what to think. What to believe.

Told them to have more and more babies. Kept them pregnant and poor and ignorant.

They’d been beaten in school, scolded in church, abused in the back rooms.

And when, after generations of this, they’d finally walked away, the Church had accused them of being unfaithful. And threatened them with eternal damnation.

No, Beauvoir was not surprised that monks, when scratched, bled hypocrisy.

“What I found interesting was the divide,” said the Chief. His voice was quiet, but it echoed through the chapel. This was the sweet spot, he realized. Right here. Where the benches were. The Blessed Chapel had been designed for voices. To pick them up, and bounce them off the perfect angles. So that a whisper here would become clear anywhere else in the church.

Transmutation, thought Gamache. Not water into wine, but a whisper into an audible word.

How curious, again, that a silent order would create an acoustic marvel.

This was not the place for a private conversation. But then, the Chief didn’t care who overheard.

“Yes, that was pretty clear,” agreed Beauvoir. “They all look so calm and peaceful, but there was real anger there. That monk doesn’t like the abbot.”

“Worse,” said Gamache. “He doesn’t respect him. It’s possible to have a leader you wouldn’t choose as a friend. But you need to at least respect them. Trust them. That was quite a body-shot. Publicly accusing the abbot of bad judgment.”

“Maybe it’s true,” said Beauvoir.

“Maybe.”

“And the abbot let him get away with it. Would you?”

“Let someone insult me? Clearly you’re not paying attention. It happens all the time.”

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