The two men and Henri set out along rue St-Jean, past the restaurants and tourist shops, to a tiny side street called rue Couillard, and there they found Chez Temporel.
Theyd been coming to this café for fifteen years, ever since Superintendent Émile Comeau had retired to old Quebec City, and Gamache had come to visit, to spend time with his mentor, and to help with the little chores that piled up. Shoveling, stacking wood for the fire-place, sealing windows against drafts. But this visit was different. Like no other in all the winters Chief Inspector Gamache had been coming to Quebec City.
This time it was Gamache who needed help.
So, Émile leaned back, cupping his bowl of café au lait in slender hands. Hows the research going?
I cant yet find any references to Captain Cook actually meeting Bougainville before the Battle of Québec, but it was 250 years ago. Records are scattered and werent well kept. But I know theyre in there, said Gamache. Its an amazing library, Émile. The volumes go back centuries.
Comeau watched his companion talk about sifting through arcane books in a local library and the tidbits he was unearthing about a battle long ago fought, and lost. At least, from his point of view lost. Was there a spark in those beloved eyes at last? Those eyes hed stared into so often at the scenes of dreadful crimes as theyd hunted murderers. As theyd raced through woods and villages and fields, through clues and evidence and suspicions. Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears, Émile remembered the quote as he remembered those days. Yes, he thought, that described it. Chasmed fears. Both their own, and the murderers. Across tables across the province he and Gamache had sat. Just like this.
But now it was time to rest from murder. No more killing, no more deaths. Armand had seen too much of that lately. No, better to bury himself in history, in lives long past. An intellectual pursuit, nothing more.
Beside them Henri stirred and Gamache instinctively lowered his hand to stroke the shepherds head and reassure him. And once again Émile noted the slight tremble. Barely there now. Stronger at times. Sometimes it disappeared completely. It was a tell-tale tremble, and Émile knew the terrible tale it had to tell.
He wished he could take that hand and hold it steady and tell him it would be all right. Because it would, he knew.
Watching Armand Gamache he noticed again the jagged scar on his left temple and the trim beard hed grown. So that people would stop staring. So that people would not recognize the most recognizable police officer in Québec.
But, of course, it didnt matter. It wasnt them Armand Gamache was hiding from.
The waitress at Chez Temporel arrived with more coffee.
Merci, Danielle, the two men said at once and she left, smiling at the two men who looked so different but seemed so similar.
They drank their coffees and ate pain au chocolat and croissants aux amandes and talked about the Carnaval de Québec, starting that night. Occasionally theyd lapse into silence, watching the men and women hurrying along the icy cold street outside to their jobs. Someone had scratched a three-leaf clover into a slight indent in the center of their wooden table. Émile rubbed it with his finger.
And wondered when Armand would want to talk about what happened.
It was ten thirty and the monthly board meeting of the Literary and Historical Society was about to start. For many years the meetings had been held in the evening, when the library was closed, but then it was noticed that fewer and fewer members were showing up.
So the Chairman, Porter Wilson, had changed the time. At least, he thought hed changed the time. At least, it had been reported in the board minutes that it had been his motion, though he privately seemed to remember arguing against it.
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