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Maigret is called to Charenton, Lock No. 1, where the owner of barges and quarries, Émile Ducrau had been stabbed and thrown into the canal. M goes to his house, and finds he is someone M likes. Ducrau offers 20,000 francs for the solution to the crime. M meets his wife, hears about his son, and Gassin, his old buddy, who runs his barge the Golden Fleece with his retarded daughter, Aline Gassin. M has seen Gassin in a drunken stupor at the café. It was he who found Ducrau in the water. M vists Aline, who is afraid of Ducrau. M and Ducrau walk to the Pont-Neuf, where Ducrau goes into the Tabac Henri IV, a kind of freighter's bourse. While he is there a boat comes up the river with the news that his son, Jean Ducrau, has hanged himself. In a note the boy claimed he'd been the one who'd stabbed his father.
The next day Bébert, an assistant lock-keeper is found hanging from the upper lock-gate. Ducrau confronts M with a newspaper article that says he will retire within a week, well before retirement age. M says it's true, and Ducrau offers him a job at up to 200,000 francs a year, which M refuses. At the funeral Gassin is found to be carrying a revolver, and he is arrested and the gun taken away. M has him released. Ducrau has confided to M that Aline is his daughter. He invites M to Samois, his country house on the Seine. Gassin appears nearby, followed by Lucas. Ducrau invites him in, and admits that he killed Bébert when he found him spying on Aline. During the night Gassin hangs himself. Ducrau is looking forward to a few years rest in jail.
Maigret of the Month: June, 2005