Finally he got to his feet.
Gilbert of Sempringham had died in 1189. He’d been an active member of the Church for sixty years. Gamache did the math.
That meant …
Gamache looked back at the plaque and the words almost scraping the floor. That meant his friend, the archbishop, the one he’d helped, was Thomas Becket.
Thomas à Becket.
Gamache turned his back to the plaque, and faced the Blessed Chapel.
Thomas à Becket.
Gamache stepped forward, picking his way slowly between the pews, lost in thought. He stepped onto the altar, and swung the flashlight in a slow arc around him until it came back to where it began. And then he turned it off. And let the night, and the silence, close back in.
Saint Thomas Becket.
Who was murdered in his cathedral.
Wolf in sheep’s clothing. It was from the bible, but was famously quoted by Thomas à Becket, who’d called his killers “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”
T. S. Eliot had written a play about those events. Murder in the Cathedral.
“Some malady is coming upon us,” Gamache quoted under his breath. “We wait. We wait.”
But the Chief Inspector didn’t have long to wait. Within moments the silence was broken.
Chanting. Getting closer.
The Chief took a few steps, but couldn’t get all the way off the altar before he saw the monks, hoods up, filing toward him. Each carrying a candle. They walked right by him as though he wasn’t there, and took their accustomed places at the benches.
Their chanting stopped and as a man they removed their hoods.
And twenty-three pairs of eyes stared at him. A man in pajamas and dressing gown, standing in the middle of their altar.
“What did you say?” asked Beauvoir, not even bothering to hide his amusement. They were in the prior’s office, before heading for breakfast.
“What could I say?” asked Gamache, looking up from making a few notes. “I said, ‘Bonjour,’ bowed to the abbot, and took a seat in one of the pews.”
“You stayed? In your pajamas?”
“It seemed a bit late to leave,” smiled Gamache. “Besides, I was wearing a robe. Like them.”
“You were wearing a bathrobe.”
“Still…” said the Chief.
“I think I’m going to need therapy,” mumbled Beauvoir.
Gamache went back to his reading. He had to admit, this wasn’t how anyone had expected to start the day. The monks by finding a man in pajamas on their altar at five A.M. Vigils, and Gamache by being that man.
And Beauvoir could not have expected such a gift of a story to land in his lap first thing in the morning. His only regret was not seeing it for himself. And possibly taking a picture. If the Chief cut up rough about his relationship with Annie that photo would surely silence him.
“You asked me to find out who that monk was who insulted the abbot at dinner last night,” said Beauvoir. “His name’s Frère Antoine. Been here since he was twenty-three. Fifteen years.”
Beauvoir had done the math. He and Frère Antoine were exactly the same age.
“And get this,” Beauvoir leaned across the desk, “he was the soloist on that recording.”
The Chief also leaned forward. “How d’you know?”
“Those bells woke me up early. I assumed it was some sort of alarm. Apparently the monks found a man in his pajamas on their altar this morning.”
“I don’t believe it.”
“Anyway, once those damned bells woke me up, I headed to the showers. That young monk who stays in the porter’s office, Frère Luc, had the stall next to mine. We were alone, so I asked him who that monk was who’d challenged the abbot. Guess what else Frère Luc told me.”
“He said the prior planned to replace Frère Antoine and make him the soloist on the new recording.” Beauvoir watched the Chief’s eyes widen.
“Him, Luc. Me, Beauvoir.”
Gamache leaned back in his chair and thought for a moment. “Do you think Frère Antoine knew that was the plan?”
“I don’t know. More monks arrived and I didn’t have a chance to ask.”
Gamache glanced at his watch. It was almost seven. He and Beauvoir must have just missed each other in the showers.
If it was slightly unorthodox to eat at the same table with all the suspects, it was definitely unorthodox to shower with them. But there were private stalls, and no option.