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HOME > Classical Novels > The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo > CHAPTER 17
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CHAPTER 17
Wednesday, June 11–Saturday, June 14


Blomkvist got help with the third jigsaw piece from an unexpected quarter.
After working on the images practically all night he slept heavily until well into the afternoon. He awoke with a headache, took a shower, and walked to Susanne’s for breakfast. He ought to have gone to see Vanger and report what he had discovered. Instead, when he came back, he went to Cecilia’s house and knocked on the door. He needed to ask her why she had lied to him about being in Harriet’s room. No-one came to the door.
He was just leaving when he heard: “Your whore isn’t home.”
Gollum had emerged from his cave. He was once tall, almost six foot six, but now so stooped with age that his eyes were level with Blomkvist’s. His face and neck were splotched with dark liver spots. He was in his pyjamas and a brown dressing gown, leaning on a cane. He looked like a Central Casting nasty old man.
“What did you say?”
“I said that your whore isn’t home.”
Blomkvist stepped so close that he was almost nose to nose with Harald Vanger.
“You’re talking about your own daughter, you fucking pig.”
“I’m not the one who comes sneaking over here in the night,” Harald said with a toothless smile. He smelled foul. Blomkvist sidestepped him and went down the road without looking back. He found Vanger in his office.
“I’ve just had the pleasure of meeting your brother,” Mikael said.
“Harald? Well, well, so, he’s ventured out. He does that a couple of times a year.”
“I was knocking on Cecilia’s door when this voice behind me said, quote, Your whore isn’t home, unquote.”
“That sounds like Harald,” Vanger said calmly.
“He called his own daughter a whore, for God’s sake.”
“He’s been doing that for years. That’s why they don’t talk much.”
“Why does he call her that?”
“Cecilia lost her virginity when she was twenty-one. It happened here in Hedestad after a summer romance, the year after Harriet disappeared.”
“And?”
“The man she fell in love with was called Peter Samuelsson. He was a financial assistant at the Vanger Corporation. A bright boy. Today he works for ABB. The kind of man I would have been proud to have as my son-in-law if she were my daughter. Harald measured his skull or checked his family tree or something and discovered that he was one-quarter Jewish.”
“Good Lord.”
“He’s called her a whore ever since.”
“He knew that Cecilia and I have…”
“Everybody in the village probably knows that with the possible exception of Isabella, because no-one in his right mind would tell her anything, and thank heavens she’s nice enough to go to bed at 8:00 every night. Harald on the other hand has presumably been following every step you take.”
Blomkvist sat down, looking foolish.
“You mean that everyone knows…”
“Of course.”
“And you don’t mind?”
“My dear Mikael, it’s really none of my business.”
“Where is Cecilia?”
“The school term is over. She went to London on Saturday to visit her sister, and after that she’s having a holiday in…hmmm, I think it was Florida. She’ll be back in about a month.”
Blomkvist felt even more foolish.
“We’ve sort of put our relationship on hold for a while.”
“So I understand, but it’s still none of my business. How’s your work coming along?”
Blomkvist poured himself a cup of coffee from Vanger’s thermos.
“I think I’ve found some new material.”
He took his iBook out of his shoulder bag and scrolled through the series of images showing how Harriet had reacted on J?rnv?gsgatan. He explained how he had found the other spectators with the camera and their car with the Norsj? Carpentry Shop sign. When he was finished Vanger wanted to see all the pictures again. When he looked up from the computer his face was grey. Blomkvist was suddenly alarmed and put a hand on Vanger’s shoulder. Vanger waved him away and sat in silence for a while.
“You’ve done what I thought was impossible. You’ve turned up something completely new. What are you going to do next?”
“I am going to look for that snapshot, if it still exists.”
He did not mention the face in the window.
 
Harald Vanger had gone back to his cave by the time Blomkvist came out. When he turned the corner he found someone quite different sitting on the porch of his cottage, reading a newspaper. For a fraction of a second he thought it was Cecilia, but the dark-haired girl on the porch was his daughter.
“Hi, Pappa,” Pernilla Abrahamsson said.
He gave his daughter a long hug.
“Where in the world did you spring from?”
“From home, of course. I’m on my way to Skellefte?. Can I stay the night?”
“Of course you can, but how did you get here?”
“Mamma knew where you were. And I asked at the café if they knew where you were staying. The woman told me exactly how to get here. Are you glad to see me?”
“Certainly I am. Come in. You should have given me some warning so I could buy some good food or something.”
“I stopped on impulse. I wanted to welcome you home from prison, but you never called.”
“I’m sorry.”
“That’s OK. Mamma told me how you’re always getting lost in your own thoughts.”
“Is that what she says about me?”
“More or less. But it doesn’t matter. I still love you.”
“I love you too, but you know…”
“I know. I’m pretty grown-up by now.”
He made tea and put out pastries.
What his daughter had said was true. She was most assuredly no longer a little girl; she was almost seventeen, practically a grown woman. He had to learn to stop treating her like a child.
“So, how was it?”
“How was what?”
“Prison.”
He laughed. “Would you believe me if I said that it was like having a paid holiday with all the time you wanted for thinking and writing?”
“I would. I don’t suppose there’s much difference between a prison and a cloister, and people have always gone to cloisters for self-reflection.”
“Well, there you go. I hope it hasn’t been a problem for you, your father being a gaolbird.”
“Not at all. I’m proud of you, and I never miss a chance to brag about the fact that you went to prison for what you believe in.”
“Believe in?”
“I saw Erika Berger on TV.”
“Pernilla, I’m not innocent. I’m sorry that I haven’t talked to you about what happened, but I wasn’t unfairly sentenced. The court made their decision based on what they were told during the trial.”
“But you never told your side of the story.”
“No, because it turned out that I didn’t have proof.”
“OK. Then answer me one question: is Wennerstr?m a scoundrel or isn’t he?”
“He’s one of the blackest scoundrels I’ve ever dealt with.”
“That’s good enough for me. I’ve got a present for you.”
She took a package out of her bag. He opened it and found a CD, The Best of Eurythmics. She knew it was one of his favourite old bands. He put it in his iBook, and they listened to “Sweet Dreams” together.
“Why are you going to Skellefte??”
“Bible school at a summer camp with a congregation called the Light of Life,” Pernilla said, as if it were the most obvious choice in the world.
Blomkvist felt a cold fire run down the back of his neck. He realised how alike his daughter and Harriet Vanger were. Pernilla was sixteen, exactly the age Harriet was when she disappeared. Both had absent fathers. Both were attracted to the religious fanaticism of strange sects—Harriet to the Pentecostals and Pernilla to an offshoot of something that was just about as crackpot as the Word of Life.
He did not know how he should handle his daughter’s new interest in religion. He was afraid of encroaching on her right to decide for herself. At the same time, the Light of Life was most definitely a sect of the type that he would not hesitate to lambast in Millennium. He would take the first opportunity to discuss this matter with her mother.
 
Pernilla slept in his bed while he wrapped himself in blankets on the bench in the kitchen. He woke with a crick in his neck and aching muscles. Pernilla was eager to get going, so he made breakfast and went with her to the station. They had a little time, so they bought coffee at the mini-mart and sat down on a bench at the end of the platform, chatting about all sorts of things. Until she said: “You don’t like the idea that I’m going to Skellefte?, do you?”
He was non-plussed.
“It’s not dangerous. But you’re not a Christian, are you?”
“Well, I’m not a good Christian, at any rate.”
“You don’t believe in God?”
“No, I don’t believe in God, but I respect the fact that you do. Everyone has to have something to believe in.”
When her train arrived, they gave each other a long hug until Pernilla had to get on board. With one foot on the step, she turned.
“Pappa, I’m not going to proselytise. It doesn’t matter to me what you believe, and I’ll always love you. But I think you should continue your Bible studies.”
“Why do you say that?”
“I saw the quotes you had on the wall,” she said. “But why so gloomy and neurotic? Kisses. See you later.”
She waved and was gone. He stood on the platform, baffled, watching the train pull away. Not until it vanished around the bend did the meaning sink in.
Mikael hurried out of the station. It would be almost an hour before the next bus left. He was too much on edge to wait that long. He ran to the taxi stand and found Hussein with the Norrland accent.
Ten minutes later he was in his office. He had taped the note above his desk.
 
Magda—32016
Sara—32109
R.J.—30112
R.L.—32027
Mari—32018
 
He looked around the room. Then he realised where he’d be able to find a Bible. He took the note with him, searched for the keys, which he had left in a bowl on the windowsill, and jogged the whole way to Gottfried’s cabin. His hands were practically shaking as he took Harriet’s Bible down from its shelf.
She had not written down telephone numbers. The figures indicated the chapter and verse in Leviticus, the third book of the Pentateuch.

(Magda) Leviticus, 20:16
“If a woman approaches any beast and lies with it, you shall kill the woman and the beast; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.”

(Sara) Leviticus, 21:9
“And the daughter of any priest, if she profanes herself by playing the harlot, profanes her father; she shall be burned with fire.”

(R.J.) Leviticus, 1:12
“And he shall cut it into pieces, with its head and its fat, and the priest shall lay them in order upon the wood that is on the fire upon the altar.”

(R.L.) Leviticus, 20:27
“A man or a woman who is a medium or a wizard shall be put to death; they shall be stoned with stones, their blood shall be upon them.”

(Mari) Leviticus, 20:18
“If a man lies with a woman having her sickness, and uncovers her nakedness, he has made naked her fountain, and she has uncovered the fountain of her blood; both of them shall be cut off from among their people.”

He went out and sat on the porch. Each verse had been underlined in Harriet’s Bible. Helita cigarette and listened to the singing of birds nearby.
He had the numbers. But he didn’t have the names. Magda, Sara, Mari, R.J., and R.L.
All of a sudden an abyss opened as Mikael’s brain made an intuitive leap. He remembered the fire victim in Hedestad that Inspector Morell had told him about. The Rebecka case, which occurred in the late forties. The girl was raped and then killed by having her head placed on smouldering coals. “And he shall cut it into pieces, with its head and its fat, and the priest shall lay them in order upon the wood that is on the fire upon the altar.&rdq............
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