Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Classical Novels > The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo > CHAPTER 23
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】
Friday, July 11

He awoke at 6:00 with the sun shining through a gap in the curtains right in his face. He had a vague headache, and it hurt when he touched the bandage. Salander was asleep on her stomach with one arm flung over him. He looked down at the dragon on her shoulder blade.
He counted her tattoos. As well as a wasp on her neck, she had a loop around one ankle, another loop around the biceps of her left arm, a Chinese symbol on her hip, and a rose on one calf.
He got out of bed and pulled the curtains tight. He went to the bathroom and then padded back to bed, trying to get in without waking her.
A couple of hours later over breakfast Blomkvist said, “How are we going to solve this puzzle?”
“We sum up the facts we have. We try to find more.”
“For me, the only question is: why? Is it because we’re trying to solve the mystery about Harriet, or because we’ve uncovered a hitherto unknown serial killer?”
“There must be a connection,” Salander said. “If Harriet realised that there was a serial killer, it can only have been someone she knew. If we look at the cast of characters in the sixties, there were at least two dozen possible candidates. Today hardly any of them are left except Harald Vanger, who is not running around in the woods of Fr?skogen at almost ninety-three with a gun. Everybody is either too old to be of any danger today, or too young to have been around in the fifties. So we’re back to square one.”
“Unless there are two people who are collaborating. One older and one younger.”
“Harald and Cecilia? I don’t think so. I think she was telling the truth when she said that she wasn’t the person in the window.”
“Then who was that?”
They turned on Blomkvist’s iBook and spent the next hour studying in detail once again all the people visible in the photographs of the accident on the bridge.
“I can only assume that everyone in the village must have been down there, watching all the excitement. It was September. Most of them are wearing jackets or sweaters. Only one person has long blonde hair and a light-coloured dress.”
“Cecilia Vanger is in a lot of the pictures. She seems to be everywhere. Between the buildings and the people who are looking at the accident. Here she’s talking to Isabella. Here she’s standing next to Pastor Falk. Here she’s with Greger Vanger, the middle brother.”
“Wait a minute,” Blomkvist said. “What does Greger have in his hand?”
“Something square-shaped. It looks like a box of some kind.”
“It’s a Hasselblad. So he too had a camera.”
They scrolled through the photographs one more time. Greger was in more of them, though often blurry. In one it could be clearly seen that he was holding a square-shaped box.
“I think you’re right. It’s definitely a camera.”
“Which means that we go on another hunt for photographs.”
“OK, but let’s leave that for a moment,” Salander said. “Let me propose a theory.”
“Go ahead.”
“What if someone of the younger generation knows that someone of the older generation is a serial killer, but they don’t want it acknowledged. The family’s honour and all that crap. That would mean that there are two people involved, but not that they’re in it together. The murderer could have died years ago, while our nemesis just wants us to drop the whole thing and go home.”
“But why, in that case, put a mutilated cat on our porch? It’s an unmistakable reference to the murders.” Blomkvist tapped Harriet’s Bible. “Again a parody of the laws regarding burnt offerings.”
Salander leaned back and looked up at the church as she quoted from the Bible. It was as if she were talking to herself.
“Then he shall kill the bull before the Lord; and Aaron’s sons the priests shall present the blood, and they shall throw the blood round about against the altar that is the door of the tent of meeting. And he shall flay the burnt offering and cut it into pieces.”
She fell silent, aware that Blomkvist was watching her with a tense expression. He opened the Bible to the first chapter of Leviticus.
“Do you know verse twelve too?”
Salander did not reply.
“And he shall…” he began, nodding at her.
“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.” Her voice was ice.
“And the next verse?”
Abruptly she stood up.
“Lisbeth, you have a photographic memory,” Mikael exclaimed in surprise. “That’s why you can read a page of the investigation in ten seconds.”
Her reaction was almost explosive. She fixed her eyes on Blomkvist with such fury that he was astounded. Then her expression changed to despair, and she turned on her heel and ran for the gate.
“Lisbeth,” he shouted after her.
She disappeared up the road.
Mikael carried her computer inside, set the alarm, and locked the front door before he set out to look for her. He found her twenty minutes later on a jetty at the marina. She was sitting there, dipping her feet in the water and smoking. She heard him coming along the jetty, and he saw her shoulders stiffen. He stopped a couple of paces away.
“I don’t know what I did, but I didn’t mean to upset you.”
He sat down next to her, tentatively placing a hand on her shoulder.
“Please, Lisbeth. Talk to me.”
She turned her head and looked at him.
“There’s nothing to talk about,” she said. “I’m just a freak, that’s all.”
“I’d be overjoyed if my memory was what yours is.”
She tossed the cigarette end into the water.
Mikael sat in silence for a long time. What am I supposed to say? You’re a perfectly ordinary girl. What does it matter if you’re a little different? What kind of self-image do you have, anyway?
“I thought there was something different about you the instant I saw you,” he said. “And you know what? It’s been a really long time since I’ve had such a spontaneous good impression of anyone from the very beginning.”
Some children came out of a cabin on the other side of the harbour and jumped into the water. The painter, Eugen Norman, with whom Blomkvist still had not exchanged a single word, was sitting in a chair outside his house, sucking on his pipe as he regarded Blomkvist and Salander.
“I really want to be your friend, if you’ll let me,” he said. “But it’s up to you. I’m going back to the house to put on some more coffee. Come home when you feel like it.”
He got up and left her in peace. He was only halfway up the hill when he heard her footsteps behind him. They walked home together without exchanging a word.
She stopped him just as they reached the house.
“I was in the process of formulating a theory…We talked about the fact that all this is a parody of the Bible. It’s true that he took a cat apart, but I suppose it would be hard to get hold of an ox. But he’s following the basic story. I wonder…” She looked up at the church again. “And they shall throw the blood round about against the altar that is the door of the tent of meeting…”
They walked over the bridge to the church. Blomkvist tried the door, but it was locked. They wandered around for a while, looking at head-stones until they came to the chapel, which stood a short distance away, down by the water. All of a sudden Blomkvist opened his eyes wide. It was not a chapel, it was a crypt. Above the door he could read the name Vanger chiselled into the stone, along with a verse in Latin, but he could not decipher it.
“‘Slumber to the end of time,’” Salander said behind him.
Blomkvist turned to look at her. She shrugged.
“I happened to see that verse somewhere.”
Blomkvist roared with laughter. She stiffened and at first she looked furious, but then she relaxed when she realised that he was laughing at the comedy of the situation.
Blomkvist tried the door. It was locked. He thought for a moment, then told Salander to sit down and wait for him. He walked over to see Anna Nygren and knocked. He explained that he wanted to have a closer look at the family crypt, and he wondered where Henrik might keep the key. Anna looked doubtful, but she collected the key from his desk.
As soon as they opened the door, they knew that they had been right. The stench of burned cadaver and charred remains hung heavy in the air. But the cat torturer had not made a fire. In one corner stood a blowtorch, the kind used by skiers to melt the wax on their skis. Salander got the camera out of the pocket of her jeans skirt and took some pictures. Then, gingerly, she picked up the blowtorch.
“This could be evidence. He might have left fingerprints,” she said.
“Oh sure, we can ask the Vanger family to line up and give us their fingerprints.” Blomkvist smiled. “I would love to watch you get Isabella’s.”
“There are ways,” Salander said.
There was a great deal of blood on the floor, not all of it dry, as well as a bolt cutter, which they reckoned had been used to cut off the cat’s head.
Blomkvist looked around. A raised sarcophagus belonged to Alexandre Vangeersad, and four graves in the floor housed the remains of the earliest family members. More recently the Vangers had apparently settled for cremation. About thirty niches on the wall had the names of the clan ancestors. Blomkvist traced the family chronicle forward in time, wondering where they buried family members who were not given space inside the crypt—those not deemed important enough.
“Now we know,” Blomkvist said as they were re-crossing the bridge. “We’re hunting for the complete lunatic.”
“What do you mean?”
Blomkvist paused in the middle of the bridge and leaned on the rail.
“If this was some run-of-the-mill crackpot who was trying to frighten us, he would have taken the cat down to the garage or even out into the woods. But he went to the crypt. There’s something compulsive about that. Just think of the risk. It’s summer and people are out and about at night, going for walks. The road through the cemetery is a main road between the north and south of Hedeby. Even if he shut the door behind him, the cat must have raised Cain, and there must have been a burning smell.”
“I don’t think that Cecilia Vanger would be creeping around here in the night with a blowtorch.”
Salander shrugged.
“I don’t trust any last one of them, including Frode or your friend Henrik. They’re all part of a family that would swindle you if they had the chance. So what do we do now?”
Blomkvist said, “I’ve discovered a lot of secrets about you. How many people, for example, know that you’re a hacker?”
“No-one except me, you mean.”
“What are you getting at?”
“I want to know if you’re OK with me. If you trust me.”
She looked at him for a long moment. Finally, for an answer, she only shrugged.
“There’s nothing I can do about it.”
“Do you trust me?” Blomkvist persisted.
“For the time being,” she said.
“Good. Let’s go over to see Frode.”
This was the first time Advokat Frode’s wife had met Salander. She gave her a wide-eyed look at the same time as she smiled politely. Frode’s face lit up when he saw Salander. He stood to welcome them.
“How nice to see you,” he said. “I’ve been feeling guilty that I never properly expressed my gratitude for the extraordinary work you did for us. Both last winter and now, this summer.”
Salander gave him a suspicious glare.
“I was paid,” she said.
“That’s not it. I made some assumptions about you when I first saw you. You would be kind to pardon me in retrospect.”
Blomkvist was surprised. Frode was capable of asking a twenty-five-year-old pierced and tattooed girl to forgive him for something for which he had no need to apologise! The lawyer climbed a few notches in Blomkvist’s eyes. Salander stared straight ahead, ignoring him.
Frode looked at Blomkvist.
“What did you do to your head?”
They sat down. Blomkvist summed up the developments of the past twenty-four hours. As he described how someone had shot at him out near the Fortress, Frode leaped to his feet.
“This is barking mad.” He paused and fixed his eyes on Blomkvist. “I’m sorry, but this has to stop. I can’t have it. I am going to talk to Henrik and break the contract.”
“Sit down,” said Blomkvist.
“You don’t understand…”
“What I understand is that Lisbeth and I have got so close that whoever is behind all of this is reacting in a deranged manner, in panic. We’ve got some questions. First of all: how many keys are there to the Vanger family crypt and who has one?”
“It’s not my province, and I have no idea,” Frode said. “I would suppose that several family members would have access to the crypt. I know that Henrik has a key, and that Isabella sometimes goes there, but I can’t tell you whether she has her own key or whether she borrows Henrik’s.”
“OK. You’re still on the main board. Are there any corporate archives? A library or something like that, where they’ve collected press clippings and information about the firm over the years?”
“Yes, there is. At the Hedestad main office.”
“We need access to it. Are there any old staff newsletters or anything like that?”
“Again I have to concede that I don’t know. I haven’t been to the archives myself in thirty years. You need to talk to a woman named Bodil Lindgren.”
“Could you call her and arrange that Lisbeth has access to the archives this afternoon? She needs all the old press clippings about the Vanger Corporation.”
“That’s no problem. Anything else?”
“Yes. Greger Vanger was holding a Hasselblad in his hand on the day the bridge accident occurred. That means that he also might have taken some pictures. Where would the pictures have ended up after his death?”
“With his widow or his son, logically. Let me call Alexander and ask him.”
“What am I looking for?” Salander said when they were on their way back to the island.
“Press clippings and staff newsletters. I want you to read through everything around the dates when the murders in the fifties and sixties were committed. Make a note of anything that strikes you. Better if you do this part of the job. It seems that your memory…”
She punched him in the side.
Five minutes later her Kawasaki was clattering across the bridge.
Blomkvist shook hands with Alexander Vanger. He had been away for most of the time that Blomkvist had been in Hedeby. He was twenty when Harriet disappeared.
“Dirch said that you wanted to look at old photographs.”
“Your father had a Hasselblad, I believe.”
“That’s right. It’s still here, but no-one uses it.”
“I expect you know that Henrik has asked me to study again what happened to Harriet.”
“That’s what I understand. And there are plenty of people who aren’t happy about that.”
“Apparently so, and of course you don’t have to show me anything.”
“Please…What would you like to see?”
“If your father took any pictures on the day of the accident, the day that Harriet disappeared.”
They went up to the attic. It took several minutes before Alexander was able to identify a box of unsorted photographs.
“Take home the whole box,” he said. “If there are any at all, they’ll be in there.”
As illustrations for the family chronicle, Greger Vanger’s box held some real gems, including a number of Greger together with Sven Olof Lindholm, the big Swedish Nazi leader in the forties. Those he set aside.
He found envelopes of pictures that Greger had taken of family gatherings as well as many typical holiday photographs—fishing in the mountains and a journey in Italy.
He found four pictures of the bridge accident. In spite of his exceptional camera, Greger was a wretched photographer. Two pictures were close-ups of the tanker truck itself, two were of spectators, taken from behind. He found only one in which Cecilia Vanger was visible in semi-profile.
He scanned in the pictures, even though he knew that they would tell him nothing new. He put everything back in the box and had a sandwich lunch as he thought things over. Then he went to see Anna.
“Do you think Henrik had any photograph albums other than the ones he assembled for his investigation about Harriet?”
“Yes, Henrik has always been interested in photography—ever since he was young, I’ve been told. He has lots of albums in his office.”
“Could you show me?”
Her reluctance was plain to see. It was one thing to lend Blomkvist the key to the family crypt—God was in charge there, after all—but it was another matter to let him into Henrik Vanger’s office. God’s writ did not extend there. Blomkvist suggested that Anna should call Frode. Finally she agreed to allow him in. Almost three feet of the very bottom shelf was taken up with photograph albums. He sat at the desk and opened the first album.
Vanger had saved every last family photograph. Many were obviously from long before his time. The oldest pictures dated back to the 1870s, showing gruff men and stern women. There were pictures of Vanger’s parents. One showed his father celebrating Midsummer with a large and cheerful group in Sandhamn in 1906. Another Sandhamn photograph showed Fredrik Vanger and his wife, Ulrika, with Anders Zorn and Albert Engstr?m sitting at a table. Other photographs showed workers on the factory floor and in offices. He found Captain Oskar Granath who had transported Vanger and his beloved Edith Lobach to safety in Karlskrona.
Anna came upstairs with a cup of coffee. He thanked her. By then he had reached modern times and was paging through images of Vanger in his prime, opening factories, shaking hands with Tage Erlander, one of Vanger and Marcus Wallenberg—the two capitalists staring grimly at each other.
In the same album he found a spread on which Vanger had written in pencil “Family Council 1966.” Two colour photographs showed men talking and smoking cigars. He recognised Henrik, Harald, Greger, and several of the male in-laws in Johan Vanger’s branch of the family. Two photographs showed the formal dinner, forty men and women seated at the table, all looking into the camera. The pictures were taken after the drama at the bridge was over but before anyone was aware that Harriet had disappeared. He studied their faces. This was the dinner she should have attended. Did any of the men know that she was gone? The photographs provided no answer.
Then suddenly he choked on his coffee. He started coughing and sat up straight in his chair.
At the far end of the table sat Cecilia Vanger in her light-coloured dress, smiling into the camera. Next to her sat another blonde woman with long hair and an identical light-coloured dress. They were so alike that they could have been twins. And suddenly the puzzle piece fell into place. Cecilia wasn’t the one in Harriet’s window&md............
Join or Log In! You need to log in to continue reading

Login into Your Account

  Remember me on this computer.

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved