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Page 43

“But one of your subordinates?”

“That too has happened, as you know. And I don’t automatically fire them. I want to know where it’s coming from. Get at the root. That’s far more important.”

“So where’s this coming from, do you think?”

It was a good question. One Gamache had been asking himself as he’d left the dining hall, and walked through the church.

That this was an abbey divided was obvious. The murder wasn’t, in fact, an isolated event, but the latest in probably an escalating series of blows.

The prior had been attacked with a stone.

And the abbot had also just been attacked. With words.

One killed instantly, the other slowly. Were they both victims of the same person? Were the abbot and the prior on the same side of the divide? Or opposite sides? Gamache looked across the slate floor, past the altar, to the far side. Where the abbot sat.

Two men, of an age, staring at each other for decades.

One in charge of the abbey, the other in charge of the choir.

When they’d been in the garden that morning and Gamache had taken the abbot aside for a talk, he’d had the impression that the abbot and the prior were very close.

Closer, perhaps, than the Church would officially condone.

Gamache had no problem with that. Indeed, he completely understood and would find it surprising if some of these men didn’t find comfort in each other. It seemed perfectly natural to him. What he wanted to know, though, was what had started the rift. Where did the crack begin? What blow, minor or otherwise, had started it all?

And he wanted to know where the abbot and the prior stood. Together? Or apart?

The Chief’s mind went to what the young monk had said, just before Frère Simon had arrived to announce dinner. Gamache told Beauvoir about their conversation.

“So not everyone was happy about the recording,” said Beauvoir. “Why not, I wonder. It was a huge hit. Must have made a fortune for the abbey. And you can tell. New roof, new plumbing. Geothermal system. It’s incredible. As great as those chocolate-covered blueberries are, I can bet they didn’t pay for the heating system.”

“And Frère Mathieu was apparently planning a new recording,” said Gamache.

“Do you think he was killed to stop him?”

Gamache was quiet for a moment. And then he slowly turned his head. Beauvoir, sensing a new awareness in the Chief, also looked into the gloom. The only lights in the Blessed Chapel were sconces on the walls behind the altar. The rest was in darkness.

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But in that darkness they could just make out small, white shapes. Like tiny vessels.

Slowly the armada took shape. They were cowls. The white hoods of the monks.

They’d come back into the chapel and were standing in the darkness. Watching.

And listening.

Beauvoir turned to Gamache. There was a very small smile on his face, only noticeable to someone very close. And in his keen eyes there was a gleam.

He’s not surprised, thought Beauvoir. No, it was more than that. He’d wanted them to come. To hear their conversation.

“You old…” Beauvoir whispered, and wondered if the monks had heard that too.

TWELVE

Beauvoir lay in bed. It was surprisingly comfortable. A firm single mattress. Soft flannel sheets. A warm duvet. Fresh air came in through the open window and he could smell the forest and hear the lapping of the lake on the rocky shore.

And in his hand he held his BlackBerry. He’d had to unplug the reading lamp in order to charge up the BlackBerry. It was a fair trade. Light for words.

He could have left the device in the prior’s office, plugged into a power bar.

He could have. But he didn’t.

Beauvoir wondered what time it was. He hit the space bar and the snoozing BlackBerry woke up and told him he had one message and that it was 9:33.

The message was from Annie.

Back from dinner with her mother. It was a chatty, happy message and Jean-Guy found himself falling into the words. Joining her. Sitting beside her as Annie and Madame Gamache had their omelette and salad. As they’d talked about their days. Reine-Marie telling Annie that her father had been called away on a case. In a remote abbey. The one with the chants.

And Annie having to pretend this was news.

She felt horrible, but also confessed to finding their clandestine relationship thrilling. But mostly, she longed to tell her mother.

Beauvoir had written Annie earlier, when he’d gotten back to his bedroom. His cell. And told her everything. About the abbey, the music, the recording, the dead prior, the insulted abbot. He’d been careful not to make it all sound easy or fun.

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