The Long Way Home

Page 80

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Chartrand ordered scrambled eggs.

The rest had blueberry crêpes and bacon.

When the server came back with their food, Gamache asked if she knew of a Norman.

“First or last name?” she asked, pouring more coffee.

“We don’t know.”

“Non,” she said, and left.

“Did Peter say where he knew this Norman from?” Jean-Guy asked.

Chartrand shook his head. “I didn’t ask.”

“Can you think of a Norman in Peter’s life?” Gamache asked Clara. “A friend maybe? An artist he admired?”

“I’ve been trying to think,” she said. “But the name means nothing.”

“Where does No Man come in?” Jean-Guy asked.

“He doesn’t really,” Chartrand admitted. “Just some guy who set up an artist colony around here. It failed, and he moved on. Happens a lot. Artists need to make money and they think teaching or doing retreats will help make ends meet. It almost never does.” He smiled at Clara. “The retreat was abandoned long before Peter came here. Besides, Peter didn’t seem the joining sort.”

“He travels the fastest who travels alone,” said Gamache.

“I’ve always wondered if that’s true,” said Myrna. “We might go faster, but it’s not as much fun. And when we arrive, what do we find? No one.”

No man, thought Gamache.

“Clara? You’re quiet,” said Myrna.

Clara was leaning back in her chair, apparently admiring the view. But her eyes had a glazed, faraway look.

“Norman,” she repeated. “There was someone.” She looked at Myrna. “A professor named Norman at art college.”

Myrna nodded. “That’s right. Professor Massey mentioned him.”

“He was the one who set up the Salon des Refusés,” Clara said.

“Do you think it could be the same person?” Gamache asked.

Clara’s brows drew together. “I don’t see how. Peter took his course and thought it was bullshit. It couldn’t be the same person, could it?”

“Might be,” said Myrna. “Is he the one Professor Massey said was nuts?”

“Yes. I can’t believe Peter would want to track him down.”

“Excuse-moi.” Gamache had been listening to this and now he got up and took his phone to a quiet corner. As he spoke he turned and looked out the window. To the west. He talked for a couple of minutes, then returned to their table.

“Who’d you call?” Clara asked.

But Jean-Guy knew, even before the Chief answered the question. He knew by Gamache’s body language. His stance, his face, and where he’d gazed as he spoke.

To the west. To a village in a valley.

Beauvoir knew because that’s where he turned, when speaking with Annie.

Toward home.

“Reine-Marie. I asked her to go to Toronto. To talk to your old professor, see the records if possible. Find out what she can about this Professor Norman.”

“But we could call from here,” said Myrna. “It’d be faster and easier.”

“Yes, but this is delicate and we have no right to the files. I think Reine-Marie will get further than a phone call. She’s very good at getting information.”

Gamache smiled as he said it. His wife had spent decades working in the national archives of Québec. Collecting information. But the truth was, she was far better at guarding it than giving it out.

Still, if anyone could wheedle classified information out of an institution, she could.

He glanced again to the west, and there he met Beauvoir’s gaze.

TWENTY-FIVE

The plane gathered speed and bumped down the runway at Montréal’s Trudeau International Airport.

Reine-Marie had booked on the airline that flew into the small Island Airport in downtown Toronto, rather than the huge international airport outside the city. It was far more convenient.

But it meant a prop plane and not everyone on board was comfortable with that. Including the woman sitting beside her.

She gripped the armrest and had a grimace on her face like a death mask.

“It’ll be all right,” said Reine-Marie. “I promise.”

“How can you know, turnip head?” the woman snapped. And Reine-Marie smiled.

Ruth couldn’t be that frightened if she remembered to insult her.

The plane popped into the air. If a jet took off like a bullet, the small turboprop took off like a gull. Airborne, but subject to wind currents. It bobbed and wobbled and Ruth started praying under her breath.

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