It was a bank like any other in a small country town: a long oak counter, five clerks bent over desks. Maigret made for the section of the counter marked Current Accounts, and one of the clerks stood up to serve him.
Maigret wanted to inquire about the exact state of the Saint-Fiacres’ fortune, and, above all about any deposits or withdrawals in the last few weeks, or even the last few days, which might provide him with a clue.
But for a moment he said nothing, simply looked at the young man, who maintained a respectful attitude, showing no sign of impatience.
“Emile Gautier, I suppose?”
He had seen him go past twice on a motorcycle, but he had been unable to distinguish his features. What revealed the bank clerk’s identity to him was a striking resemblance to the steward of the château. Not so much a detailed resemblance as a resemblance to the same peasant origins: clear-cut features and big bones.
The same degree of evolution, more or less, revealed by skin rather better cared for than that of the farm workers, by intelligent eyes, and by the self-assurance of an “educated man.”
But Emile was not yet a real city person.
His hair, although covered with brilliantine, remained rebellious; it stood up in a point on top of his head. His cheeks were pink, with that well-scrubbed look of country yokels on Sunday morning.
“That is correct,” he said.
He was not at all flustered. Maigret was sure that he was a model employee, in whom his steward had complete trust, and who would soon obtain promotion.
His black suit was made to measure, but by a local tailor, in a serge that would never wear out. His father wore a celluloid collar, but he wore a soft collar, with a ready-tied tie.
“Do you know me?” Maigret asked.
“No. I suppose you are the police officer … ”
“I would like some information about the state of the Saint-Fiacre account.”
“That’s a simple matter. I am in charge of that account, as well as all the others.”
He was polite, well mannered. At school, he must have been the teachers’ favorite.