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Page 43

And yet, the massive horse let her touch him. Let her groom him. Let her ride him. As did Chester and Macaroni. If any creatures had earned the right to buck it was them. But instead, they chose to be the gentlest of beasts.

Outside now she could hear voices.

“You’ve already shown us the photograph.” It was one of her guests, and Dominique knew which one. André Castonguay. The gallery owner. Most of the guests had left but two remained. Messieurs Castonguay and Marois.

“I’d like you to look again.”

It was Chief Inspector Gamache, come back. She glanced out the square of light at the end of the barn, hiding slightly behind Buttercup’s enormous bottom. She felt a little uneasy and wondered if she should make her presence known. They were standing in the sunshine, leaning against the fence rails. Surely they knew this wasn’t a private place. Besides, she was there first. Besides, she wanted to hear.

So she said nothing, but continued to curry Buttercup, who couldn’t believe his luck. The grooming was going on so much longer than usual. Though what appeared to be undue fondness for his rump was worrisome.

“Perhaps we should look again,” came François Marois’s voice. He sounded reasonable. Friendly even.

There was a pause. Dominique could see Gamache hand a picture each to Marois and Castonguay. The men looked then exchanged photographs.

“You said you didn’t know the dead woman,” said Gamache. He also sounded relaxed. A casual conversation with friends.

But Dominique wasn’t fooled. She wondered if these two men were taken in. Castonguay, perhaps. But she doubted Marois was.

“I thought,” Gamache continued, “you might have been surprised and needed another look.”

“I don’t—” Castonguay began, but Marois laid a hand on his arm and he stopped.

“You’re quite right, Chief Inspector. I don’t know about André but I’m embarrassed to say I do know her. Lillian Dyson, right?”

“Well, I don’t know her,” said Castonguay.

“I think you need to search your memory more thoroughly,” said Gamache. His voice, still friendly, carried a weight. It wasn’t quite as light as a moment ago.

Behind Buttercup, Dominique found herself praying Castonguay would take the rope offered by the Chief Inspector. That he’d see it for what it was. A gift and not a trap.

Castonguay looked out into the field. All three did. Dominique couldn’t see the field from where she stood, but she knew that view well. Looked at it every day. Often sat on the patio at the back of their home, private from the guests, with a gin and tonic at the end of the day. And stared. The way she’d once stared out the window of her corner office on the seventeenth floor of the bank tower.

The view from her windows now was more limited, but even more beautiful. Tall grasses, tender young wild flowers. Mountains and forests, and the broken-down old horses lumbering about in the fields.

In her view there was nothing more magnificent.

Dominique knew what the men were seeing, but not what they were thinking.

Though she could guess.

Chief Inspector Gamache had returned. To interview these two men again. Ask them the same questions he’d asked before. That much was clear. As was the conclusion.

They’d lied to him the first time.

François Marois opened his mouth to speak but Gamache silenced him with a movement.

No one would rescue Castonguay but himself.

“It’s true,” the gallery owner said at last. “I guess I do know her.”

“You guess, or you do?”

“I do, OK?”

Gamache gave him a stern look and replaced the photographs.

“Why did you lie?”

Castonguay sighed and shook his head. “I didn’t. I was tired, maybe a little hung-over. I didn’t take a good enough look at the picture the first time, that’s all. It wasn’t deliberate.”

Gamache doubted that was true but decided not to press it. It would be a waste of time and only make the man more defensive. “Did you know Lillian Dyson well?” he asked instead.

“Not well. I’d seen her at a few openings recently. She’d even approached me.” Castonguay said this as though she’d done something unsavory. “Said she had a portfolio of work and could she show me.”

“And what did you say?”

Castonguay looked at Gamache with astonishment. “I said no, of course. Do you have any idea how many artists send me their portfolios?”

Gamache remained silent, waiting for the haughty response.

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