The Long Way Home

Page 127

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She held out her hand, and from it dangled a large key.

“What’s that?” asked Beauvoir.

“The key to our cabin,” said Myrna.

“Is this a proposal?” he asked.

“We haven’t been at sea that long,” said Myrna, and heard a grunt of laughter from Gamache. “It’s an invitation. Our sofa turns into a bed.”

“But you’ll be using it,” Beauvoir pointed out.

“No, we’ll be in the bedroom.”

“Bedroom?”

“I believe they call it a stateroom,” said Myrna. “Feel free to use our shower, or the tub.”

“For a metaphoric bath?” Gamache asked Clara, who reddened.

Beauvoir’s eyes narrowed and he grabbed the key from her hand.

“And help yourself to what’s in the fridge,” said Myrna as they left, zigzagging back across the observation deck.

Beauvoir put the key in his pocket, next to the hare’s foot.

They talked a little longer, going back over some of the details. But still couldn’t see their way clear.

Gamache stood up. “I’m tired, and Clara’s right. We’ll arrive at the answer tomorrow.”

The two men got to the Captain’s Suite, having stopped at the Admiral’s to check on Chartrand and get their toiletries and clean clothing.

On opening the door to the Captain’s Suite, Beauvoir stopped.

“What is it?” Gamache asked. “Can you fit in?”

“The fleet could fit in,” said Beauvoir, and stepped aside so that the Chief could see.

The kitchen. The polished dining table. The picture windows. The armchairs. The closed mahogany door leading, presumably, to the stateroom where Clara and Myrna slept.

And then there was the sofa, opened to a large bed and made up with clean, crisp linens and pillows and a duvet.

“It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen,” whispered Beauvoir. “I’d like to marry this room.”

“Not while I’m in it,” said Gamache, brushing past him.

They took turns taking hot, sloshing baths, not trusting themselves to keep their footing in the shower. When Beauvoir emerged, wearing one of the fluffy bathrobes, he found Gamache gripping the edge of the dining table, examining one of Peter’s paintings.

“The lips,” said Beauvoir, joining him. They frowned up at the men and the men frowned down at them.

After traveling on this same waterway for two days, Beauvoir could appreciate even more what Peter had been trying to capture.

Peter had seen and felt and tried to paint the ever-changing face and fortunes of the river.

“We’re still at sea,” said Jean-Guy.

“But perhaps a little closer to the shore.”

“Yeah, well, the shore isn’t always such a great place to be,” said Beauvoir, stumbling over to the bed.

“True, mon vieux,” said Gamache. “I’m going to take a bath.”

Outside the picture window the darkness was complete, but every thirty seconds or so a fist of water hit it.

Half an hour later Gamache turned off the lights and got into bed.

“We’ll be there tomorrow,” said Beauvoir, already half asleep. “Do you think we’ll find Peter?”

“I do.”

Gamache drifted closer to sleep, thinking of what awaited them.

Isolation and the company of a madman could twist even the most stable person, never mind someone already foundering. As Peter was.

They would almost certainly find Peter Morrow the next day, but Gamache was far from sure if he’d be a Peter they’d want to find.

*   *   *

Jean-Guy woke up to pale pink light coming into the cabin and the smell of coffee. It was early. The women weren’t yet stirring.

But Gamache was up and at the dining table. Staring at Peter’s paintings and humming to himself.

“Okay, patron?” Jean-Guy asked, sitting up in bed. Something seemed off. Wrong.

And then he realized what it was. For the first time in days the Loup de Mer wasn’t lurching and twisting and heaving.

“Oui.” But Gamache’s voice and mind were far away.

“Are we still moving?” Beauvoir looked out the window.

The storm had gone, moving off down the river. Toward Anticosti, and Sept-Îles, Quebec City and finally Montréal.

On his way to the bathroom, Beauvoir paused at the table long enough to see that Peter’s painting had been turned around. So that the overwhelming sorrow was now giddy joy.

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