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Page 44

He wanted her to know what it was really like. How he felt.

He told her about the interminable prayers. There’d been another service at a quarter to eight that night. After dinner. After the monks had overheard them in the Blessed Chapel.

Her father had gotten up, bowed slightly, acknowledging the monks, then left. Walking with measured pace off the altar and through the back door, to the prior’s office. Beauvoir beside him.

All the way, until they got through the closed door to the corridor, Beauvoir could feel their eyes on him.

Jean-Guy told Annie how that felt. And about getting back to the office and spending the next half hour wrestling with the laptop, while her father continued to go through the prior’s papers.

And then they’d heard the singing.

When they’d first arrived in the abbey that afternoon, the chanting had merely bored Beauvoir. Now, he told Annie, it gave him the willies.

*   *   *

“And then,” Gamache typed, “Jean-Guy and I went back into the Chapel. Another service. Compline they call it. I need to get a schedule of these things. Did I tell you about the blueberries? My God, Reine-Marie, you’d love them. The monks cover them in handmade dark chocolate. I’ll bring you some back, if there are any left. Jean-Guy’s in danger of finishing them off. I, of course, am my normal, reticent self. Self-denial, c’est moi.”

He smiled and imagined his wife’s delight at a small batch of the chocolates. He also imagined her in their home. She wouldn’t be in bed yet. Annie had gone over for dinner, he knew. She had dinner with them every Saturday, since her separation from David. She’d have left by now and Reine-Marie would probably be sitting in the living room, by the fireplace, reading. Or in the television room at the back of their apartment, set up in Daniel’s old room. It now had a bookcase, a comfortable sofa strewn with newspapers and magazines, and the television.

“Off to watch TV5,” she’d say. “A documentary on literacy.” But a few minutes later he’d hear laughter and wander down the hall to find her snorting at some ridiculous Québécois sitcom. He’d get sucked in and before long they would both be laughing at the broad and contagious humor.

Yes, she’d be in there, laughing.

He smiled at the thought.

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*   *   *

“I swear to God,” Jean-Guy wrote, “the service went on forever. And they sing every word. Droning on and on. And we can’t even nap. It’s up and down, up and down. Your father is right there with them. I think he almost enjoys it. Is that possible? Maybe he’s just trying to mess with me. Oh, speaking of that, I have to tell you what he did with the monks.…”

*   *   *

“Compline was beautiful, Reine-Marie. They sang the whole thing. All in Gregorian chant. Think of Saint-Benoit-du-lac, and then some. Very peaceful. I think part of it’s because of the chapel. Simple. No adornments at all. Only one large plaque describing Saint Gilbert. There’s a room hidden behind it.”

Gamache paused in his typing. Thinking of that wall plaque, and the Chapter House hidden behind it. He’d have to get a schematic of the abbey.

Then he went back to his message.

“The chapel was in almost total darkness for the last service of the day, except for a few low lights on the walls behind the altar. Where candles or torches once were, I suppose. Jean-Guy and I sat in the pews, in darkness. You can imagine how much fun Jean-Guy was having. I could barely hear the chanting for all his snorting and huffing.

“There’s clearly something very wrong here, among the monks. An enmity. But when they sing it’s like all of that never happened. They seem to go to another place. A deeper place. Where no quarrels exist. A place of contentment and peace. Not even joy, I think. But freedom. They seem free from the cares of the world. That young monk, Frère Luc, described it as letting go of all thought. I wonder if that’s what freedom is?

“Either way, it was very beautiful. To hear those remarkable chants performed live, Reine-Marie. Amazing. And then, near the end, they slowly dimmed the lights until we were in complete darkness. But out of it, like a light we could only feel, came their voices.

“It was magical. I wish you were here.”

*   *   *

Then, Annie, it was finally over. When the lights came up the monks were gone. But that sneaky one, Frère Simon, came and told us it was bedtime. That we could do whatever we wanted, but they were all going to their cells.

“Your father didn’t seem displeased. In fact, I think he wanted them to have the long hours of the night to think about the murder. To worry.

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