“Venturing outside of Three Pines for the new one. St. Lawrence River is such a presence here in Quebec. Almost mythic, I want to explore the idea of the characters on an odyssey of sorts – and what better way than using the river as an allegory. Fingers crossed I do it justice.”
Their first port of call along the coast was Anticosti Island, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
“Says here,” said Clara, reading from a guidebook she found in the passenger lounge, “that there’ve been four hundred shipwrecks off Anticosti.”
“Oh really,” said Jean-Guy, folding his arms across his chest. “Tell me more.”
“Apparently it’s known as the cemetery of the Gulf,” she said.
“I was being sarcastic,” said Beauvoir.
“I know,” said Clara. “But at least we now know what that pilot meant when he said the big challenge for the ship was the Graves. We get it behind us early.”
“This isn’t the Graves,” said Gamache. He got up from the arborite table in the lounge and walked to the windows. Through the dirty streaks he could see the island approaching. It was huge and almost completely uninhabited. By humans.
The only settlement was Port-Menier, where fewer than three hundred people lived. But the waters teemed with huge salmon and trout and seals. And the forests were full of deer and moose and grouse.
Gamache stepped through the door to the deck, followed by Clara, Myrna, Jean-Guy, and Marcel Chartrand. The air was cooler than in Baie- Saint- Paul. Fresher. A mist hung over the forest and crept onto the river, softening the line between land and water and air.
It felt as though they were approaching the past. A primordial forest so lush and green and unspoiled it could not possibly exist in the age of space travel, cell phones, Botox.
The only signs of habitation were the light house and the row of
bright wooden homes along the shore.
“What’s that?” asked Clara.
“What?” asked Chartrand.
“That.” Clara cocked her head to one side and pointed into the air. Applause. Clapping.
She scanned the shore. Perhaps it was a tradition. Perhaps when the supply ship arrived, the residents came out and applauded. She would. But that wasn’t quite right. It wasn’t quite human.
“It’s the trees,” said Chartrand. He guided her gently around until Clara was looking away from the harbor, toward the forest.
“They’re happy to see us,” he said quietly.