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The Vesper Bell Of Notre Dame
The Vesper Bell Of Notre Dame

The Vesper Bell Of Notre Dame

Franc68Lorient Montaner

'With our tongues we fall into idle words, into vain conversations, into laughter, into mockeries and malicious acts, into detraction of brothers and sisters whom we are unworthy to judge, nor we are worthy to condemn their offenses. Among Christians we are sinners'.—from the sacred texts of the Cathars.

A thousand tales have been told before, about the incessant legends that surround the myth of the ancient cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. Dauntless centuries have for so long witnessed the eerie occurrences of the manifold episodes of historical events and mysteries. There are the constant utterances of the ghosts and beings that roam the vibrant halls of the lofty cathedral at midnight freely, when those towering gargoyles pierce their beady and unwavering eyes, with an imperant stare that looms high, above the steep towers.

The myriad of whims of the city is breathed nightly, as the faithful keepers of the cathedral quicken their perceptive vigilance, upon the Parisian streets below. The congruous sounds of the heavy pipes of the organ chime in unison, as the vesper bells of Notre Dame ring with such a rousing excitement. The drifting clouds of the sky emerge in that shadowy dark gloom that encloses the cathedral, within a dreadful veil of secrecy. It is a fathomless secrecy conceived and concealed, within the embedded dogma of the religious fervour that has haunted mankind, since the precarious inception of religion.

The date was the 23rd of October 1889, when I had arrived at the Gare du Nord train station in Paris, at the invitation of Monsieur Hugo Bonheur, the respectable prefect of the Prefecture of the large Metropolitan City. He would be my faithful compeer for this indelible case.

I was told in his correspondence that I was cordially invited to the Exposition Universelle a world fair, as a guest. I had recently solved an important case in Vienna, Austria, but my stay in Paris would involve me, in a deadly string of murders that would occur in the ancient cathedral of Notre Dame, and would rivet Paris for a whole week in the spill of blood.

Perhaps my name you do not know, I am Jack Cauvain, a very punctilious and introspective chief inspector from London, who would solve the most difficult cases of Europe that had dealt with secret societies, cults and madmen. I was involved, with the greatest mysteries unresolved of supererogation in Europe, during the 19th century.

Upon my arrival, I was taken to the Grand Hotel Terminus, recently opened in May in one of the prestigious arrondisements of Paris. I had spent only a night, when upon the following day, I was visited by Bonheur, who had informed me that a strange murder had occurred within the cathedral.

He was standing outside of the door of my room of the hotel, dressed in his distinctive French coat that had seemed like a cape, and with his stylish short moustache. His familiar felted kepi hat, with a neutral shimmer trim and a bronze coloured band, brass studs on the sides, with tiny sequins and shimmer threads in the centre that had differed from my black English Bowler hat.

I was surprised by the tidings and immediately followed him to the cathedral, as he had informed me of the details along the way. Once there at the cathedral of Notre Dame, I was without a doubt impressed, by its asymmetrical medieval elements that had exuded the small island on the Seine River and the massive front doors.

The view of the southern façade from the river from afar, with natural sculptures and stained wrought glass gave it a unique appeal. The western façade, with a captivating north rose window, and the colossal Rayonnant transepts, column supports, and water sprouts of the gargoyles with the draining water and mystical chimeras in the foreground were imposing.

Once inside we were greeted by a Father Dupont, who was waiting for us, before the velvet riddel. He had explained to us that one of the confessors of the cathedral, who was in the confessional listening to a parishioner, was the unfortunate victim of the murderer. The murder had occurred exactly in the confessional, and the victim's throat was cut and a huge gash was seen completely.

The murdered priest had collected the prayer books and straightened the hassocks, before he went to the confessional. He had also perfumed with incense from the thurible the front entrance of the church. This strong scent I had smelt upon entering by the trumeau.

The sight was ghastly and disconcerting, and scant clues were left behind by the killer. It was apparent that the murderer had organised his meticulous plan of sleight to perfection, and his clever deed was effectuated, with extreme immediacy and truculent precision.

'Bon Dieu Father, what an atrocious death to bear in person. Never have I seen a case of this barbaric and violent nature in the city of Paris. It is totally unprecedented and unfathomable', confessed Bonheur to the priest.

'Indeed, it was a deplorable act. Unfortunately, one that I have seen several times before, whilst working on one of my numerous cases in England. The murderers always seem to amaze me, with their baseness and ingenuity', I had replied.

'Our priests perform spiritual counselling or the sacrament of pardon always. This gesture of Christ, through the sacrament and through the priest, teaches us, to implore forgiveness and give our hearts to him, putting us into direct communication with our Saviour. This is our divine solace in the end. We have never had a vicious murder of one of our priests in this cathedral, Inspector Cauvain. It is unseemly in nature', the priest answered, as he had sained.

'I understand the fundamental premise of your argument, and it is sustainable Father, but you must realise that murderers do not espouse the traditional beliefs and rationality that we with sane minds exemplify daily. Moreover, they expose their covert thoughts only when it serves the cause of their objective'.

'That is so eloquently asserted, and whatever assistance I can be to you and the investigation, I shall gladly offer my service'.

'Good, now we must proceed with the thorough investigation. There is much to do, since the killer has had until now, the advantage and we unfortunately the disadvantage'.

'I feel that you are correct, inspector. The murderer has certainly in my opinion succeeded in setting the possible pattern for the murders', said Bonheur.

'But not the investigation Bonheur—for that has not been established yet. Let us not forget that the most important element in solving a case is time itself', I told him.

'Time inspector, that is true. Unfortunately, our time to solve these murders is pending on our ability to cleverer than the criminal mind'.

'There is where we must apply conscientiously our reasoning, Bonheur. It will be not an easy task, but I am confident we can solve the case'.

The evidence that was discovered from the crime scene was vague and too inconclusive. Whilst the throat was slashed gruesomely, a visible sign of a madman and the brutal ferocity of the crime indicating that the culprit was unstable, there was relatively no concrete evidence to prove the origin of the duplicitous killer.

The method of the killing had seemed to imply a poniard was used perhaps—but it could have been another trenchant object. The only apparent and tacit proof of his macabre act was a drawn symbol on the wall of a lone and mysterious black cross that I had mistaken, for a terrible fleur-de-lis.

The depiction of the sable cross was a very substantial size that had imposed, with a significant apprehension. The symbol of the cross was presumably utilised, for the direct purpose of an arresting representation of trepidation and intimidation.

The notion of the murder being attached to vengeance or wrath of some hidden or political agenda was still too early to casually dismiss and was left to surmise as merely hypothetical. What would be his next course of action, I began to ponder diligently.

Was this only a murder—or was this the precursor to a series of more horrible murders? We both had concluded that these shreds of proof were not adequate to be able to determine the pattern of the murderer yet. This tactic of noesis I had learnt by rote in the academy.

Before we left, we had searched through the rest of the cathedral, including the tower and vestry. As we had departed from the cathedral, I heard the heavy sound of the tintinnabulation of metallic bells of Notre Dame from the belfry. It brought a chill of eeriness and dubiety that I had perceived, as an unsettling and unknown premonition.

Even though the bells captivated me for an instance, I had dismissed the sound as a coincidental occurrence. We had returned to the prefecture afterwards, where I was asked to assist in the investigation by Bonheur. His pensive expressions naturally were seen with absolute transparency, as he had seemed troubled, by the coercion and rampant prospect of a maniacal madman stirring the newspapers and concern of the Parisians.

We had discussed at length at the prefecture, the inexplicable murderer of the priest, and the potential of multiples unsolved murders galvanising the populace into an uncontrollable hysteria. Indeed, my strenuous duties and inquisitive mind as a sleuth would be summoned to undertake another analytical and mysterious case involving a determined and deplorable criminal, whose only objective and stimulus was to benefit his unavailing cause.

'If I may make any pertinent recommendations Bonheur, perhaps it would be wiser to refrain from enforcing any temporary curfew, until we can determine with resolution, if this is an isolated murder. And have gathered enough unequivocal facts of pertinence as well', I had said.

His reply was compliant, 'I am in unanimity with your suggestion inspector, and I shall have the gendarmes keep vigilance of the cathedral and surrounding area. For now, all that we can do is to wait'.

'Yes, we must wait, for I assure you that this case will be highly demanding, and it will require immediate supererogatory effort on our behalf. Therefore, let us be prepared to capture this ambivalent foe with caution and judgment. Moreover, he cannot hide from us forever my friend. My intuition is telling me that he will strike again'.

'Paris is a vast city, and he can hide from us, like the gargoyles of the night'.

'There is an obvious difference, he is not a nocturnal gargoyle, and I hope for the sake of the Parisians, I am correct in my predictable illation that we shall discover the truth behind the murder', I rejoined.

'Paris is full of many riddles and conundrums that remain unsolved', Bonheur had uttered.

'That is true, but it does not imply that we cannot resolve this case'.

'I still have my doubts, inspector'.

'Doubts. I suggest that you remember that even the criminal that commit crimes is susceptible to being discovered and ultimately apprehended'.

'Nothing would satisfy me more than the reward of resolving this case'.

'Then let us be more practical in our approach, Bonheur.

That night I had slept in my chamber, knowing that the possibility of another murder at the cathedral was opportune and the expectation for that was impending. I could not dissuade my ruminative thoughts from the possibility of collusion behind the cause of the murder. What had persisted in my brain was the only appurtenant manifestation of evidence that was uncovered at the crime scene, the arcane black cross drawn by the killer.

This was the only modicum of basal evidence discovered theretofore. How was I to project a clear description of the murderer, just from the limited proof gathered? Without a doubt, this was to be a very onerous or exigent case to be resolved, with the utmost diligence. When I awoke in the morning after a restless sleep, I had arrived at the prefecture by a cabriolet and immediately spoke to Bonheur, concerning the murder at the cathedral of Notre Dame last night.

We began a colloquy that had started with the church bells then ended, with the prospective suspect and his motive also. I had shared my musing and methodical contemplation with him, and we began to scrutinise the essential constituents of the case au courant. The precondition to solving the mystery was to ascertain the signification of the black cross that was drawn on one of the walls of the confessional.

We had deduced from our intuition that it was an intimation of the implication demonstrated in the case. If we could determine the origin and significance of the cross, then we could detect the intention of the killer. This information was indispensable and paramount.

Therefore, I had instructed Bonheur to investigate the provenance of the cross. Once that was deduced, then it would enable us to have a firm supposition or delineation of the suspect. Until that was not accomplished, we would have to tarry in our suspense.

That night the observant vigilance of the Gothic cathedral and the nearby parvis was requisite and secure—or at least we thought it had been. At around midnight the undaunted murderer struck anew, and this time the timely murder was committed in one of the towers, and the modus operandi of the killer was altered. It was what we had feared the duplication of the previous murder, except for the method the murder was perpetrated.

Once more the victim was a priest, and the murder differed too. The priest was horribly hanged, as the ghastly image of his listless torso swaying side to side, with a rope around his neck was daunting and vivid. When we had arrived at the cathedral, Father Dupont was expecting us, as he was horrified by the murder of another of his priests. It was obvious that the versatile killer was stalking and killing the priests of Notre Dame.

It was obvious as well that the murders were committed, for an apparent hidden cause, but the identity of the indomitable culprit was illusive and not unmasked. The unusual pattern of the evidence found was the same as before. Again, the depiction of the black cross was manifest, upon a wall of the tower. Furthermore, this was the sign that the villain had a purpose, he was willing to execute. Was he willing to die for this purpose? I had pondered his insouciance.

Bonheur had revealed to me that Father Dupont mentioned the bell-ringer saw, a strange man dressed in the religious habiliments of a priest. At first, the witness said he had only a chasuble. Then he had changed his mind and said he wore a cassock in his assertion. The cassock of the unidentified man was nothing exceptional, but it was telling. This was perchance the piece of importance we had needed to unveil the killer's identity, and I did not want to undermine the case.

Bonheur spoke to the lone witness, who was a young man by the name of Frédéric Bélibaste, who was of short and stocky stature, with glassy reading spectacles. Unfortunately for the case, his description of the individual was extremely vague and incomplete. All that he descried was what I had mentioned before of his clothing.

Definitely, it was not enough to make an accurate portrayal of our assailant, but this was a melioration for the case. It was urgent and imperative to react at once to this ominous situation, before he had succeeded in his unbridled task to murder. Despite our strict vigilance the villain was vulpine and calculating. As we had departed the cathedral, the loud sound of the metallic bells was heard.

We had returned to the prefecture, with the knowledge that the murders were several. It was vital that the identification of the murderer was exposed. In order truly to achieve that it was incumbent that we unravel the meaning of the cross. The case had exhibited such intricate speculations and limited details that required prompt improvisation.

We had visited the mortuaries, the transient abodes where bodies were consigned before buried in graves. There we had trawled for any relevant information, about the probability of other corpses relative to the case or pattern of the killer. We arduously went from one mortuary to another and spoke to the undertakers, but no significant discovery was found to be of great importance.

There was not one corpse that could be associated to the killer, since most of the victims were criminals, children, prostitutes and noblemen, not priests or clergymen. It was, of course, a scrupulous effort on our part to know the extension of the periphery of the murders. The demonstrative argument that there was no hidden cause behind these murders was voided of any justification.

'It is evident that we are going in circles looking for proof Bonheur, and the murders continue a consequential process. Therefore, we must be prudent to not underestimate the capacity of his ingannation and knowledge of the milieu', I said.

'Are you implying that there is more to this pattern of thought with the murderer, inspector?' Bonheur had asked.

'I am beginning to suspect that!'

'Let us hope that our wit is better than his!'

'If not, then I shall toast to the impression of his brilliance', I had professed.

'That would be an event that I would not want to miss. However, it still amazes me that the pattern of the murders has eluded our comprehension'.

'In due time, Bonheur. We shall eventually unravel the plot and the reason for these heinous murders'.

'I do not know, what I would do without your assistance, inspector'.

'I would reciprocate that gesture by saying that it is an honour to work this case with you'.

'I wish one day that we could solve more of these cases of murders together'.

'That would be a favourable boon for the both of us,' I said.

There were two murders and no true lead in solving the mystery of the killer. Apparently, we had concentrated relentlessly on deciphering the denotation of the cross, and enquiring at the cathedral the names of all the priests and inscribed parishioners known, and the hour of the mass and confession quotidianly. If the murderer was a local Parisian or foreigner, it was necessary for the investigation to proceed forth. Thus, we thought it was prudent and apposite to have our conversation with Father Dupont at the prefecture, so that the crucial meeting could be clandestine and not a distraction.

Once there, we asked him for the list we had requested. He had brought the compiled list and handed us the list, without any real hesitance or objection. The list of Father Dupont had consisted of mostly French denizens, as parishioners and clergymen.

Therefore, we had to conclude that the extraction of the villain was either French or a foreigner, who had visited the cathedral. A swift introspection was promptly warranted and germane, but we were also cognisant of the ensuing peril we were confronting then. This restive anxiety to apprehend the murderer was soon consuming my perceptive sentience. When I believed it was difficult to solve this haunting mystery, a sudden change to the case had transpired.

Father Dupont made a startling and a fascinating confession. He confessed to us after I had enquired of any disturbed priests present or erstwhile that there was a certain priest that perhaps was suspicious enough to fit the profile of the assassin. From the information divulged the man was a former priest by the name of Jacques Chevalier, who had been expelled. When asked the specific reason then for his immediate excommunication, Father Dupont had informed us it was confidential.

'It is always a shame that the secrecy of the priests must be sequestered, due to the ecclesiastical vows they have taken with an oath', Bonheur had uttered.

'The dogma and principles of the church do not interest me much Bonheur. Instead, what does urge me is the interest that has overtaken me to know the personality of this Jacques Chevalier mentioned', I acknowledged.

'What exactly are you pondering inspector that you seem very conscious in thought?'

'If you must know, I am musing in my mind the mystery behind what could have caused this former priest to have been excommunicated'.

'Perhaps, he was banished for heresy and prevarication', Bonheur had suggested.

'What you are alluding to is very practical. Until we speak to him, we shall only be left to hypothesise in unfounded speculation'.

'I am simply stating a possibility that we must take into strong consideration. We are dealing with murders that involve mystery and secrecy'.

'The only mystery that must be unravelled is the demonstration of the truth'.

'Wise words expressed indeed'.

'I hope for the sake of the people of Paris, this case can be resolved, inspector'.

Before we left the church, I had noticed the lavender drapery in the confessional was opened and my active curiosity impelled me to investigate. When I had reached the latticed opening of the confessional, I sat down and heard the heavy breathing of an inconnu, from behind the drapery. Naturally, the sound had startled me, and I wondered who was behind the confessional.

Then, I heard the strange voice of an individual that had sounded like a priest. He began to query, if I had come to the confessional to make an unfeigned confession. Logically, this was the natural tendency to embrace, the process of cleansing the pure soul of iniquitous misdeeds.

Because I was not a practitioner of the Catholic faith, I was uncertain of how to proceed. It was an inhibitive and unfamiliar position I had placed myself in, but my instinct had told me to continue, and I did. I began to confess several of my ambivalent thoughts I had procured that were not of my persuasion or inclination, involving my cases.

Then I had sensed that he was not an ordinary priest who took confessions. He began to tell me that these unhealthy tendencies would lead to my destruction and madness. What was more chilling was what occurred afterwards. He ended the sentence, by pronouncing my name, Inspector Cauvain.

Quickly, I had opened the drapery, and he was gone. I rose to my feet and had stepped outside, and he was nowhere to be located. Bonheur, who had been chatting with Father Dupont near the chancel, about more valuable details of the case had seen me troubled.

I explained to him that I had most likely had an encountered, with the murderer. I had asked Father Dupont, who would be at the confessional at that hour, and he told me no one. This, I found very interesting, but the issue of the excommunicated priest took precedence, over any preconception of the incident.

'What do you think of the excommunicated priest, inspector? If you ask me, he is most likely to know, who the murderer is', Bonheur had assured.

'It seems elementary Bonheur, but it is the tendency in these cases that the obvious is not always accurate nor reliable', I retorted.

'What do you mean? Perhaps I am incorrect in my assumption, but his direct connection to the church does imply a certain degree of involvement'.

'I must differ with that analogy. You see, although it does appear that the excommunicated priest would manifest the needed characteristics of a vengeful man, it is not entirely indicative of his absolute guilt. That is what we must be constantly aware of always in our investigation'.

'Is it not clear that we have a suspect that has a viable reason for these heinous crimes?'

'There is still a lot that we do not know, about the role of the priest. Hitherto, I shall ponder more the facts of his whereabouts than only his character'.

'Excuse me inspector, but is it not his character that must be questioned?'

'Indeed. However, until we have a timeline for his whereabouts, we can only assume of his unfit character'.

''Where do we begin?'

'Speaking to the priest'.

We could not impose upon Father Dupont or compel him to make a disclosure. Though it was a sine qua non, we had obtained at least the name and the address of the asylum this man was interned. It had appeared to be a very solid clue in solving the mystery of the case, but we could not afford to be unthinking. The options available were one, he could be the killer, or two he knew possibly, who the killer was or could be. It was merely a speculation that we were clinging to.

When we had arrived at the address of the asylum, we were granted permission to speak with Chevalier. We were led through a narrow corridor, where his room was located at the end. Once we had entered in the room, we saw a pallid and subdued man, with a countenance that had reflected an unsound individual, who was worn and haggard. He had been in that terrible and deathlike condition, since he was excommunicated. I thought in my mind, if the conversation would be a parley or a reasonable and amenable interaction, between us.

At least, this was my instinctive presupposition, but we would discover the truth of his isolated confinement and unhinged state of mind. I had decided that it was better that Bonheur spoke to him Frenchman to Frenchman. Perhaps he would be less revealing and sincere towards me being an Englishman, but he did not want to speak to Bonheur and I did not want to cavil.

Thus, I had told Bonheur to allow me to converse with him and assay the situation. Naturally, when we then spoke it was in French therewith. Because he was no longer an ordained or practising priest I would address him as Monsieur Chevalier. Bonheur's exasperation was expressed, and I had understood that completely, but I could not let that influence my steadfast position at all. I spoke to Bonheur in the cogent attempt of elucidating my judicious approach, and I had sought to assuage his irksome dismissal. I was mindful of the significance of his dutiful contribution to the developing case, and I had shared his passionate conviction in upholding the law.

I had assured Bonheur that I would have the answers we needed after conversing with Chevalier, and that what was important was solving the mystery at once. Bonheur had agreed and allowed me to communicate with Chevalier in privacy, whilst he remained outside in the corridor, until further notice.

At first, Chevalier was totally demure and reluctant to speak to me. After hearing the mention of the deliberate murders in the cathedral and its vicious nature, he paid attention and forgot his intractable nolition. I had assumed that he was familiar with what I was saying, since he often stared into my eyes observantly. The impending question was to what degree was he knowledgeable to the current episodes of the murders? That was the insoluble component to this uncomfortable ordeal I was confronting with him at the time.

His madness had manifested at unpredictable intervals, from what I was explained and would witness in person. He was indeed a selcouth and inscrutable fellow to describe or distinguish, and would demonstrate this through his erratic behaviour and responses towards me and Bonheur. I spoke to him, as I had perceived his blatant indifference.

'Monsieur Chevalier, I am Chief Inspector Jack Cauvain from London, and if you understand my words, please I need to know what, was the real reason for your excommunication? And what happened to cause you to be radical against the church? You see I am presently investigating a murder case in Paris involving a string of murders at the cathedral of Notre Dame'.

'Jack Cauvain. You are from London, monsieur?


'You speak of murders in the cathedral inspector, since when?' Chevalier had enquired.

'A few days ago. What do you know?' I asked for éclaircissement.

I had showed him a drawing of the black cross the killer drew at the crime scene. It would arrest his heightened anxiety, as a sudden reaction was observed with interest.

'What is it Monsieur Chevalier? What do you know of this symbolic cross?'

His answer was, 'It is the holy cross of the Cathars!'

'What about the Cathars, Monsieur Chevalier? What else can you tell me?' I implored.

'The Massacre at Belziers in 1209, Guillaume Bélibaste, was the last Cathar inspector!' Chevalier had annunciated.

'What else can you divulge to me that could assist in the case?'

His pupils were enlarged and fraught, with unbidden discomfort and fright that was uncontrollable. He began to be discursive and shook in convulsions, as he had muttered in Latin, Roman Catholic prayers. He was no longer sane and stable enough to continue answering the questions. We were forced to call the attendants to restrain him.

Even though his replies were brief, they were of great value. We knew then that the intrepid murderer was connected to the religious sect of Catharism. The constative presented a genuine account of the facts of the case and I had allowed his comportment—so that I could ascertain information.

We left the asylum and had returned to the prefecture, as we reflected upon the unique connection of the Cathar cross with the murders. We left behind a guard to watch over Chevalier, as we had pondered his declarative statement. I felt that he was our strongest lead to solving this puzzling case.

We had to research all that was known and written, about the extinct religion and beliefs of the Cathars. Also, it was of extreme urgency that we investigated the mystery of the massacre at Belziers in 1209, and who was Guillaume Bélibaste retrospectively?

How was this all connected to the clandestine murders at Notre Dame? I had instructed Bonheur to make a thorough check of the registered list of Father Dupont to see, if any foreigner had recently visited the cathedral. It was an indefatigable and absorbent process as well. The killer seemed to be disciplined, in planning the murders, but he was brutal in his austere wrath displayed.

Thence, we went to the local library in Paris to study documents of the Cathars. There was this deep and troubling animosity and deprecation, against the cryptocracy of the whole Catholic Church that had antedated these unfolding events. The following was the pertinent information extracted from the documents read.

The Vision of Isaiah was an apocalyptic visionary work of great antiquity and unquestioned authenticity, probably dating to before the second century; it had manifested early Gnostic Christian influence. The Vision of Isaiah was possessed by the Bogomils in the twelfth century and had reached the Languedoc in a Latin translation, by the early thirteenth century. Cathar possession and use of the Vision of Isaiah was attested and had witnessed both their access to transmissions of early Christian writings from the East, and their identification with traditions of Christianity that had preserved and honoured these writings.

The Cathars had valued this text not only because it seemingly supported their theology, but because it gave the testament to a primary and Gnostic visionary experience also. The primary goal of the Cathar eschatology was liberation from the apathy of the realm of limitation and corruption identified, with the extraneous material existence.

The Consolamentum the unique sacrament of the Cathars was the basis of their theology principally on the belief that the physical world, including the flesh, was irredeemably evil—as it had stemmed from the concept of the demiurge. The Gnostics, Cathars, and Beguines were considered to be heretics in the era of medieval Christianity.

The next question was then, how could this remarkable admission be equated to the Cathars in the end, without dubiety? It was plain to not be concealed any longer according to historical documents that the sect of the Cathars was an oppressed sect of Christianity, but what would verily compel a man who was supposedly a religious man, to commit such violent acts of deplorability? I had realised that it was futile to equivocate the obvious, the killer was filled with insurmountable vengeance.

'It is remarkable how one can be so passionately blinded by religion that we could ascribe a reverent nature to a cause or plight Bonheur', I declared.

'You must not forget that the criminal is as callous, as a butcher of an abattoir inspector', Bonheur had answered.

'Of course! I have never forgotten that important detail. I was merely stating the unambiguous foundation and nexus to this Cathar belief that surpasses the simplistic nature of comprehension'.

'I have to admit that I am not conversant with the Cathar faith, and because I am not truly a religious man, I cannot interject any religious interpretation', Bonheur had confessed.

'I am not also. You have eloquently expounded on the conclusive thought that I had not finished before. I shall take to consideration the profound signification of the implication of religion to man's delusionary aspiration for feckless grandeur'.

'That is the type of rational thinking that I admire about you, inspector'.

'Heed my words, when I acknowledge the fact that his downfall will be caused by his irresistible wrath'.

'I often wonder, why wrath is the one thing that leads a criminal to not only commit murder, but to commit that one mistake that results in his capture or self-destruction'.

'That is an excellent question to query Bonheur, but if we only knew that incontrovertible answer, we would have already resolved this case'.

'At least, we are heading in the right direction I hope, inspector'.

'Only time will tell. However, I am confident that the clues we have amassed, will ultimately expose the plot of the murderer to its finality'.

When we had left the library, I told Bonheur that I was going to return to the last mortuary visited to explore a lingering doubt that was troubling me, ever since we left that place. I could not entirely expound, except that I had told him, he would understand once we were there. We took a cabriolet to be more discreet. What was indicative of the murderer was his astute manner in employing his empirical sense emboldened.

Once at the mortuary, I asked the undertaker, if I could see any of the previous dead bodies I had not seen before. He told me that I was fortunate to have returned in time that there were bodies by the charnel house that were being prepared for cremation. They were corpses not to be buried or claimed by any family members.

The mortuary was a challenge to me, as we had entered the chamber and examined the rotting corpses with perscrutation. The corpses had the foul stench of death that repulsed us both. Bonheur was extremely anxious to know, what was it that I was searching for? I did not have time to share my doxastic thought. I had reiterated to him that I would be explanatory afterwards.

As I was examining the corpses with a thorough eye, I noticed that several of the corpses had the familiar marks of gashes inflicted that the victims at Notre Dame had. Who were these poor souls that were dead? We had been told that they were priests of other parishes of Paris, who had gone missing.

This was indeed, a perturbing revelation unveiled of a mens rea. We were then dealing, with multiple murders of other churches in the city. The killer was also very ambidextrous in his actions, and had no ambivalence expressed towards the church.

We were baffled to the extent of the plausibility of the killer being vengeful in his pervicaciousness, and I could only attempt to fathom in supposition the true components that had revolved around the murders. I was sanguine that we would soon catch the culprit, but Bonheur was not.

He was unsettled by the disquisition and blague of the Parisian newspapers, and the great effect they had on the public as well. If there was one thing that I could accredit to Bonheur, it was his savoir faire and his diligence. Despite the potential commotion that could have been stirred by the murders, he always appeared stoic when it came to adversity.

He did reflect in certain occasions a circumspect mien. I on the other hand was contemplative in nature, and au fait with the criminal mind. I did not overtly consider myself to be a devout man of faith, but I respected each man's predilection for spiritual devotion.

I had undertaken the task of connecting the Cathars to the murders, and at heighten degrees of rumination, I betook myself to linking the information given by Chevalier to the hour of the murders, and the pattern of thought of the criminal demonstrated. It was extremely crucial that the culprit be captured forthwith, since the case had received notable publicity and criticism.

All of this unwanted attention only distracted the progression of the case and was an absolute encumbrance. I was able to keep the mind of Bonheur on the case than on these draffish newspapers of banality. He then was focused and committed once more, in apprehending the villain. His keen perception and impassioned intuition were admirable and effective.

Nightfall had occurred, and our concern was preventing another murder at the cathedral. Along the way my inquisitive mind was immersed in the coincidental nexus of the current killings and the vanished religion of the Cathars again. I thought of the date of that massacre, but before I could extend my postulate, another untimely murder would befall upon the night.

This time the murder did not transpire at the cathedral but instead, at the asylum where Chevalier was committed. It was a coup de foudre, when we were notified of his death. It was too late, he was stone dead. His neck was broken completely, as his head was found in a horrid convolution.

'Good God Bonheur, it appears that the killer is one step ahead of us, and is studiously observing our movements and actions', I had communicated.

'Oui inspector, but the question that I am not certain, is someone assisting him in this calculated endeavour?' He asked.

'Indeed, and there is a practical perspective we must apply at all times, when we deal with such delicate criminal minds'.

'What do you mean?'

'Logic my friend! We are aware of the killer's inclination to execute his cause, and Chevalier was the logical step to take to entertain us. He the dauntless and subdolous killer wants us to believe, he is an absolute madman, who cannot be more intelligent and eximious than us in nous. He is not a nescient fool'.

'If that is true, then he has planned his next step to involve us?'

'That is precisely what I am thinking of at this moment!'

'Then time is of the essence. We cannot afford to waste more time'.

'Patience is the virtue that few men bear'.

'What does patience have to do with the killer?

'Perhaps nothing, or perhaps everything'.

It was clear the cruel murderer did not want him any longer alive. There was little evidence to be retrieved from the killer, except a cutting torn out from a newspaper describing the visit of the archbishop tomorrow in Paris. Immediately, I thought of this visit of the archbishop to Paris and the viable link to the murders. We were informed by one of the gendarmes that he had seen a mysterious man being escorted into the cathedral, from the back entrance.

Evidently, we were not aware that the archbishop was already in Paris. And what was even more surprising was the fact that he was staying within the chambers of the cathedral, despite the chaotic episodes of homicides that had occurred and the heavy presence of the gendarmes. Perhaps the thinking of the church was to keep the archbishop secured in a place, where the police would be more concentrated, especially with the murder of the former clergyman Chevalier at the asylum I had postulated.

I was a man of logic and rationalised with profound concentration, and could not allow my mind to be confused any longer. I had perceived that the target of that night was the archbishop himself, the ultimate goal of the Notre Dame killer. This was a fair inference to surmise, since he had circumvented us before.

Was he daring enough to attempt and execute his plan with vengeance, in spite of the very constant vigilance multiplied, as the situation had intensified, in a volatile manner? Would the killer strike again this night? The one consistency, in this case, was that the brash culprit had an unbounded impulse to kill at whatever prize, for his demented cause.

We had hurried to the cathedral, in order to thwart the killer and speak to Father Dupont at once. I had read the book of listed priests, and a certain name intrigued me that was noticeable. It was the name of Frédéric Bélibaste, It all became crystal clear to me that this man bore the same surname of Bélibaste, and was the prime suspect. The vesper bells of the cathedral had rung, as we heard it ring, with such a brute force; though I could not see the individual above ringing the bells. We had entered the cathedral to talk to Father Dupont, who was in his office with a breviary in his hand.

'Father Dupont, where is the archbishop, we know he is here in Paris. Where is he?' Bonheur asked with urgency.

'He is in his chamber, inspector? How did you know? This was done in privacy, and nobody knew he would be here. Only we knew, through an encyclical', he had questioned us.

'We don't have to waste time, with frivolous issues of bureaucracy. Take us to the chamber in a stound. My God, his life is in jeopardy Father Dupont!' I ejaculated.

There was a photograph that he had in his hand that had shown the priests of the cathedral, before an altar covered with a parament. There was a certain individual with the priests, who had resembled the witness, who saw vaguely the villain.

'Who is this man?'

'He is the good man, who rings the vesper bells of Notre Dame, Frederic Bélibaste'.

We had rushed to the chamber of the archbishop with clamancy, as I knew this madman was the actual assassin, we were searching with regard. When we had reached his chamber, the archbishop was not there inside. We heard the unusual footfalls nigh and a very loud clamour. It was the impetuous murderer dragging the archbishop up the narrow climb of the innumerable steps at the top of the spiral stairway of the great hall beneath the towers. We ran in pursuit, as we had reached the top at last. There we saw the killer, who wore a bauta mask over his face, with a sharp knife pointed at the neck of the archbishop.

'Give up, Bélibaste! We know who you are. You cannot escape, from this place now. You are totally surrounded Bélibaste. Look around, there is no escape for you', I had told him.

He spoke incoherent gibberish, as he had hesitated and quickly I was then compelled to shoot him. As he thrust forward, I had shot him again. The knife fell to the ground, as Bonheur had grabbed the archbishop and took him to safety. Afterwards, he had looked at us with a wild passion and screamed.

'Our cause Inspector Cauvain, shall live on forever—the Cathars are reborn!'

He fell over the tower and on the horns of the vigilant gargoyles below. He was dead, and solved was the mystery of the murders of the vesper bells of Notre Dame. It was thus determined that Frederic Bélibaste was indeed a direct relative of the once Guillaume Bélibaste, the last Cathar reported in the annals of the history of Catharism.

Normalcy was returned to the city, and I had remained in Paris to see the rest of the exposition and the wonderful placards of French on the buildings of the Parisian streets. Before I had departed the city, I returned to the cathedral as I marvelled inside, at the Gothic vault and the pipework in the pedals that sounded the organs, and the clangorous bells in the south tower rang anew, but this time announcing the mass.

The treasury that had contained reliquary, and housed important relics of Catholicism, including the purported Crown of Thorns, a fragment of the True Cross, and one of the Holy Nails of the cross of Jesus, were as well the objective of the murderer that were not purloined. The Cathars, members of a heretical medieval Christian sect which had professed a form of Manichaean dualism sought to achieve a great spiritual purity and macarism. Bélibaste upbraided the Catholic Church for what had happened to the sect.

He had an incontinent espousal of pathomania, and was selected as a devoted member of the extinct order of the (parfaits)—the 'perfect ones'—those who had committed themselves to the celibate rigours of the Cathar faith and its supernal message.

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About The Author
Lorient Montaner
About This Story
6 Nov, 2017
Read Time
37 mins
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