Chapter 18-20

 

CHAPTER 18

Fache sprinted down the Grand Gallery as Collet's radio blared over the distant sound of the alarm.

"He jumped!" Collet was yelling. "I'm showing the signal out on Place du Carrousel! Outside the bathroom window! And it's not moving at all! Jesus, I think Langdon has just committed suicide!"

Fache heard the words, but they made no sense. He kept running. The hallway seemed never-ending. As he sprinted past Sauniere's body, he set his sights on the partitions at the far end of the Denon Wing. The alarm was getting louder now.

"Wait!" Collet's voice blared again over the radio. "He's moving! My God, he's alive. Langdon's moving!"

Fache kept running, cursing the length of the hallway with every step.

"Langdon's moving faster!" Collet was still yelling on the radio. "He's running down Carrousel. Wait... he's picking up speed. He's moving too fast!"

Arriving at the partitions, Fache snaked his way through them, saw the rest room door, and ran for it.

The walkie-talkie was barely audible now over the alarm. "He must be in a car! I think he's in a car! I can't - "

Collet's words were swallowed by the alarm as Fache finally burst into the men's room with his gun drawn. Wincing against the piercing shrill, he scanned the area.

The stalls were empty. The bathroom deserted. Fache's eyes moved immediately to the shattered window at the far end of the room. He ran to the opening and looked over the edge. Langdon was nowhere to be seen. Fache could not imagine anyone risking a stunt like this. Certainly if he had dropped that far, he would be badly injured.

The alarm cut off finally, and Collet's voice became audible again over the walkie-talkie. "... moving south... faster... crossing the Seine on Pont du Carrousel!" Fache turned to his left. The only vehicle on Pont du Carrousel was an enormous twin-bed Trailor delivery truck moving southward away from the Louvre. The truck's open-air bed was covered with a vinyl tarp, roughly resembling a giant hammock. Fache felt a shiver of apprehension. That truck, only moments ago, had probably been stopped at a red light directly beneath the rest room window.

An insane risk, Fache told himself. Langdon had no way of knowing what the truck was carrying beneath that tarp. What if the truck were carrying steel? Or cement? Or even garbage? A forty-foot leap? It was madness.

"The dot is turning!" Collet called. "He's turning right on Pont des Saints-Peres!"

Sure enough, the Trailor truck that had crossed the bridge was slowing down and making a right turn onto Pont des Saints-Peres. So be it, Fache thought. Amazed, he watched the truck disappear around the corner. Collet was already radioing the agents outside, pulling them off the Louvre perimeter and sending them to their patrol cars in pursuit, all the while broadcasting the truck's changing location like some kind of bizarre play-by-play.

It's over, Fache knew. His men would have the truck surrounded within minutes. Langdon was not going anywhere.

Stowing his weapon, Fache exited the rest room and radioed Collet. "Bring my car around. I want to be there when we make the arrest."

As Fache jogged back down the length of the Grand Gallery, he wondered if Langdon had even survived the fall.

Not that it mattered.

Langdon ran. Guilty as charged.

Only fifteen yards from the rest room, Langdon and Sophie stood in the darkness of the Grand Gallery, their backs pressed to one of the large partitions that hid the bathrooms from the gallery. They had barely managed to hide themselves before Fache had darted past them, gun drawn, and disappeared into the bathroom.

The last sixty seconds had been a blur.

Langdon had been standing inside the men's room refusing to run from a crime he didn't commit, when Sophie began eyeing the plate-glass window and examining the alarm mesh running through it. Then she peered downward into the street, as if measuring the drop. "With a little aim, you can get out of here," she said. Aim? Uneasy, he peered out the rest room window.

Up the street, an enormous twin-bed eighteen-wheeler was headed for the stoplight beneath the window. Stretched across the truck's massive cargo bay was a blue vinyl tarp, loosely covering the truck's load. Langdon hoped Sophie was not thinking what she seemed to be thinking.

"Sophie, there's no way I'm jump - "Take out the tracking dot." Bewildered, Langdon fumbled in his pocket until he found the tiny metallic disk. Sophie took it from him and strode immediately to the sink. She grabbed a thick bar of soap, placed the tracking dot on top of it, and used her thumb to push the disk down hard into the bar. As the disk sank into the soft surface, she pinched the hole closed, firmly embedding the device in the bar.

Handing the bar to Langdon, Sophie retrieved a heavy, cylindrical trash can from under the sinks. Before Langdon could protest, Sophie ran at the window, holding the can before her like a battering ram. Driving the bottom of the trash can into the center of the window, she shattered the glass.

Alarms erupted overhead at earsplitting decibel levels.

"Give me the soap!" Sophie yelled, barely audible over the alarm. Langdon thrust the bar into her hand. Palming the soap, she peered out the shattered window at the eighteen-wheeler idling below. The target was plenty big - an expansive, stationary tarp - and it was less than ten feet from the side of the building. As the traffic lights prepared to change, Sophie took a deep breath and lobbed the bar of soap out into the night.

The soap plummeted downward toward the truck, landing on the edge of the tarp, and sliding downward into the cargo bay just as the traffic light turned green.

"Congratulations," Sophie said, dragging him toward the door. "You just escaped from the Louvre."

Fleeing the men's room, they moved into the shadows just as Fache rushed past.

Now, with the fire alarm silenced, Langdon could hear the sounds of DCPJ sirens tearing away from the Louvre. A police exodus.Fache had hurried off as well, leaving the Grand Gallery deserted.

"There's an emergency stairwell about fifty meters back into the Grand Gallery," Sophie said. "Now that the guards are leaving the perimeter, we can get out of here."

Langdon decided not to say another word all evening. Sophie Neveu was clearly a hell of a lot smarter than he was.

CHAPTER 19

The Church of Saint-Sulpice, it is said, has the most eccentric history of any building in Paris. Built over the ruins of an ancient temple to the Egyptian goddess Isis, the church possesses an architectural footprint matching that of Notre Dame to within inches. The sanctuary has played host to the baptisms of the Marquis de Sade and Baudelaire, as well as the marriage of Victor Hugo. The attached seminary has a well-documented history of unorthodoxy and was once the clandestine meeting hall for numerous secret societies.

Tonight, the cavernous nave of Saint-Sulpice was as silent as a tomb, the only hint of life the faint smell of incense from mass earlier that evening. Silas sensed an uneasiness in Sister Sandrine's demeanor as she led him into the sanctuary. He was not surprised by this. Silas was accustomed to people being uncomfortable with his appearance.

"You're an American," she said.

"French by birth," Silas responded. "I had my calling in Spain, and I now study in the United States."

Sister Sandrine nodded. She was a small woman with quiet eyes. "And you have never seen Saint- Sulpice?"

"I realize this is almost a sin in itself." "She is more beautiful by day." "I am certain. Nonetheless, I am grateful that you would provide me this opportunity tonight." "The abbe requested it. You obviously have powerful friends." You have no idea, Silas thought.

As he followed Sister Sandrine down the main aisle, Silas was surprised by the austerity of the sanctuary. Unlike Notre Dame with its colorful frescoes, gilded altar-work, and warm wood, Saint- Sulpice was stark and cold, conveying an almost barren quality reminiscent of the ascetic cathedrals of Spain. The lack of decor made the interior look even more expansive, and as Silasgazed up into the soaring ribbed vault of the ceiling, he imagined he was standing beneath the hull of an enormous overturned ship.

A fitting image, he thought. The brotherhood's ship was about to be capsized forever. Feeling eager to get to work, Silas wished Sister Sandrine would leave him. She was a small woman whom Silas could incapacitate easily, but he had vowed not to use force unless absolutely necessary. She is a woman of the cloth, and it is not her fault the brotherhood chose her church as a hiding place for their keystone.She should not be punished for the sins of others.

"I am embarrassed, Sister, that you were awoken on my behalf."

"Not at all. You are in Paris a short time. You should not miss Saint-Sulpice. Are your interests in the church more architectural or historical?"

"Actually, Sister, my interests are spiritual."

She gave a pleasant laugh. "That goes without saying. I simply wondered where to begin your tour."

Silas felt his eyes focus on the altar. "A tour is unnecessary. You have been more than kind. I can show myself around."

"It is no trouble," she said. "After all, I am awake."

Silas stopped walking. They had reached the front pew now, and the altar was only fifteen yards away. He turned his massive body fully toward the small woman, and he could sense her recoil as she gazed up into his red eyes. "If it does not seem too rude, Sister, I am not accustomed to simply walking into a house of God and taking a tour. Would you mind if I took some time alone to pray before I look around?"

Sister Sandrine hesitated. "Oh, of course. I shall wait in the rear of the church for you."

Silas put a soft but heavy hand on her shoulder and peered down. "Sister, I feel guilty already for having awoken you. To ask you to stay awake is too much. Please, you should return to bed. I can enjoy your sanctuary and then let myself out."

She looked uneasy. "Are you sure you won't feel abandoned?" "Not at all. Prayer is a solitary joy." "As you wish." Silas took his hand from her shoulder. "Sleep well, Sister. May the peace of the Lord be with you." "And also with you." Sister Sandrine headed for the stairs. "Please be sure the door closes tightly on your way out."

"I will be sure of it." Silas watched her climb out of sight. Then he turned and knelt in the front pew, feeling the cilice cut into his leg.

Dear God, I offer up to you this work I do today... .

Crouching in the shadows of the choir balcony high above the altar, Sister Sandrine peered silently through the balustrade at the cloaked monk kneeling alone. The sudden dread in her soul made it hard to stay still. For a fleeting instant, she wondered if this mysterious visitor could be the enemy they had warned her about, and if tonight she would have to carry out the orders she had been holding all these years. She decided to stay there in the darkness and watch his every move.

CHAPTER 20

Emerging from the shadows, Langdon and Sophie moved stealthily up the deserted Grand Gallery corridor toward the emergency exit stairwell.

As he moved, Langdon felt like he was trying to assemble a jigsaw puzzle in the dark. The newest aspect of this mystery was a deeply troubling one: The captain of the Judicial Police is trying to frame me for murder

"Do you think," he whispered," that maybe Fache wrote that message on the floor?" Sophie didn't even turn. "Impossible." Langdon wasn't so sure. "He seems pretty intent on making me look guilty. Maybe he thought writing my name on the floor would help his case?"

"The Fibonacci sequence? The P. S. ? All the Da Vinci and goddess symbolism? That had to be my grandfather."

Langdon knew she was right. The symbolism of the clues meshed too perfectly - the pentacle, TheVitruvian Man, Da Vinci, the goddess, and even the Fibonacci sequence. A coherent symbolic set, as iconographers would call it. All inextricably tied.

"And his phone call to me this afternoon," Sophie added. "He said he had to tell me something. I'm certain his message at the Louvre was his final effort to tell me something important, something he thought you could help me understand."

Langdon frowned. O, Draconian devil! Oh, lame saint! He wished he could comprehend the message, both for Sophie's well-being and for his own. Things had definitely gotten worse since he first laid eyes on the cryptic words. His fake leap out the bathroom window was not going to help Langdon's popularity with Fache one bit. Somehow he doubted the captain of the French police would see the humor in chasing down and arresting a bar of soap. "The doorway isn't much farther," Sophie said." Do you think there's a possibility that the numbers in your grandfather's message hold the key to understanding the other lines?" Langdon had once worked on a series of Baconian manuscripts that contained epigraphical ciphers in which certain lines of code were clues as to how to decipher the other lines.

"I've been thinking about the numbers all night. Sums, quotients, products. I don't see anything. Mathematically, they're arranged at random. Cryptographic gibberish."

"And yet they're all part of the Fibonacci sequence. That can't be coincidence."

"It's not. Using Fibonacci numbers was my grandfather's way of waving another flag at me - like writing the message in English, or arranging himself like my favorite piece of art, or drawing a pentacle on himself. All of it was to catch my attention."

"The pentacle has meaning to you?"

"Yes. I didn't get a chance to tell you, but the pentacle was a special symbol between my grandfather and me when I was growing up. We used to play Tarot cards for fun, and my indicator card always turned out to be from the suit of pentacles. I'm sure he stacked the deck, but pentacles got to be our little joke."

Langdon felt a chill. They played Tarot? The medieval Italian card game was so replete with hidden heretical symbolism that Langdon had dedicated an entire chapter in his new manuscript to the Tarot. The game's twenty-two cards bore names like The Female Pope, The Empress, and The Star.Originally, Tarot had been devised as a secret means to pass along ideologies banned by the Church. Now, Tarot's mystical qualities were passed on by modern fortune-tellers.

The Tarot indicator suit for feminine divinity is pentacles, Langdon thought, realizing that if Sauniere had been stacking his granddaughter's deck for fun, pentacles was an apropos inside joke.

They arrived at the emergency stairwell, and Sophie carefully pulled open the door. No alarm sounded. Only the doors to the outside were wired. Sophie led Langdon down a tight set of switchback stairs toward the ground level, picking up speed as they went.

"Your grandfather," Langdon said, hurrying behind her," when he told you about the pentacle, did he mention goddess worship or any resentment of the Catholic Church?"

Sophie shook her head. "I was more interested in the mathematics of it - the Divine Proportion, PHI, Fibonacci sequences, that sort of thing."

Langdon was surprised. "Your grandfather taught you about the number PHI?"

"Of course. The Divine Proportion." Her expression turned sheepish. "In fact, he used to joke that I was half divine... you know, because of the letters in my name." Langdon considered it a moment and then groaned.

s-o-PHI-e.

Still descending, Langdon refocused on PHI.He was starting to realize that Sauniere's clues were even more consistent than he had first imagined.

Da Vinci... Fibonacci numbers... the pentacle.

Incredibly, all of these things were connected by a single concept so fundamental to art history that Langdon often spent several class periods on the topic.

PHI.

He felt himself suddenly reeling back to Harvard, standing in front of his" Symbolism in Art" class, writing his favorite number on the chalkboard.

1. 618

Langdon turned to face his sea of eager students. "Who can tell me what this number is?"

A long-legged math major in back raised his hand. "That's the number PHI." He pronounced it fee.

"Nice job, Stettner," Langdon said. "Everyone, meet PHI."

"Not to be confused with PI," Stettner added, grinning. "As we mathematicians like to say: PHI is one H of a lot cooler than PI!"

Langdon laughed, but nobody else seemed to get the joke. Stettner slumped." This number PHI," Langdon continued," one-point-six-one-eight, is a very important number in art. Who can tell me why?"

Stettner tried to redeem himself. "Because it's so pretty?" Everyone laughed." Actually," Langdon said," Stettner's right again. PHI is generally considered the most beautiful number in the universe."

The laughter abruptly stopped, and Stettner gloated.

As Langdon loaded his slide projector, he explained that the number PHI was derived from the Fibonacci sequence - a progression famous not only because the sum of adjacent terms equaled the next term, but because the quotients of adjacent terms possessed the astonishing property of approaching the number 1. 618 - PHI!

Despite PHI's seemingly mystical mathematical origins, Langdon explained, the truly mind-boggling aspect of PHI was its role as a fundamental building block in nature. Plants, animals, and even human beings all possessed dimensional properties that adhered with eerie exactitude to the ratio of PHI to 1.

"PHI's ubiquity in nature," Langdon said, killing the lights," clearly exceeds coincidence, and so the ancients assumed the number PHI must have been preordained by the Creator of the universe. Early scientists heralded one-point-six-one-eight as the Divine Proportion."

"Hold on," said a young woman in the front row. "I'm a bio major and I've never seen this Divine Proportion in nature."

"No?" Langdon grinned. "Ever study the relationship between females and males in a honeybee community?"

"Sure. The female bees always outnumber the male bees."

"Correct. And did you know that if you divide the number of female bees by the number of male bees in any beehive in the world, you always get the same number?"

"You do?" "Yup. PHI." The girl gaped. "NO WAY!"

"Way!" Langdon fired back, smiling as he projected a slide of a spiral seashell. "Recognize this?"

"It's a nautilus," the bio major said. "A cephalopod mollusk that pumps gas into its chambered shell to adjust its buoyancy."

"Correct. And can you guess what the ratio is of each spiral's diameter to the next?" The girl looked uncertain as she eyed the concentric arcs of the nautilus spiral. Langdon nodded. "PHI. The Divine Proportion. One-point-six-one-eight to one." The girl looked amazed.

Langdon advanced to the next slide - a close-up of a sunflower's seed head. "Sunflower seeds grow in opposing spirals. Can you guess the ratio of each rotation's diameter to the next?" "PHI?" everyone said." Bingo." Langdon began racing through slides now - spiraled pinecone petals, leaf arrangement on plant stalks, insect segmentation - all displaying astonishing obedience to the Divine Proportion.

"This is amazing!" someone cried out.

"Yeah," someone else said," but what does it have to do with art?"

"Aha!" Langdon said. "Glad you asked." He pulled up another slide - a pale yellow parchment displaying Leonardo Da Vinci's famous male nude - The Vitruvian Man - named for Marcus Vitruvius, the brilliant Roman architect who praised the Divine Proportion in his text De Architectura.

"Nobody understood better than Da Vinci the divine structure of the human body. Da Vinci actually exhumed corpses to measure the exact proportions of human bone structure. He was the first to show that the human body is literally made of building blocks whose proportional ratios always equal PHI."

Everyone in class gave him a dubious look.

"Don't believe me?" Langdon challenged. "Next time you're in the shower, take a tape measure."

A couple of football players snickered.

"Not just you insecure jocks," Langdon prompted. "All of you. Guys and girls. Try it. Measure the distance from the tip of your head to the floor. Then divide that by the distance from your bellybutton to the floor. Guess what number you get."

"Not PHI!" one of the jocks blurted out in disbelief.

"Yes, PHI," Langdon replied. "One-point-six-one-eight. Want another example? Measure the distance from your shoulder to your fingertips, and then divide it by the distance from your elbow to your fingertips. PHI again. Another? Hip to floor divided by knee to floor. PHI again. Finger joints. Toes. Spinal divisions. PHI. PHI. PHI. My friends, each of you is a walking tribute to the Divine Proportion."

Even in the darkness, Langdon could see they were all astounded. He felt a familiar warmth inside. This is why he taught. "My friends, as you can see, the chaos of the world has an underlying order. When the ancients discovered PHI, they were certain they had stumbled across God's building block for the world, and they worshipped Nature because of that. And one can understand why. God's hand is evident in Nature, and even to this day there exist pagan, Mother Earth-revering religions. Many of us celebrate nature the way the pagans did, and don't even know it. May Day is a perfect example, the celebration of spring... the earth coming back to life to produce her bounty. The mysterious magic inherent in the Divine Proportion was written at the beginning of time. Man is simply playing by Nature's rules, and because art is man's attempt to imitate the beauty of the Creator's hand, you can imagine we might be seeing a lot of instances of the Divine Proportion in art this semester."

Over the next half hour, Langdon showed them slides of artwork by Michelangelo, Albrecht Durer, Da Vinci, and many others, demonstrating each artist's intentional and rigorous adherence to the Divine Proportion in the layout of his compositions. Langdon unveiled PHI in the architectural dimensions of the Greek Parthenon, the pyramids of Egypt, and even the United Nations Building in New York. PHI appeared in the organizational structures of Mozart's sonatas, Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, as well as the works of Bartok, Debussy, and Schubert. The number PHI, Langdon told them, was even used by Stradivarius to calculate the exact placement of the f-holes in the construction of his famous violins.

"In closing," Langdon said, walking to the chalkboard," we return to symbols" He drew five intersecting lines that formed a five-pointed star. "This symbol is one of the most powerful images you will see this term. Formally known as a pentagram - or pentacle, as the ancients called it - this symbol is considered both divine and magical by many cultures. Can anyone tell me why that might be?"

Stettner, the math major, raised his hand. "Because if you draw a pentagram, the lines automatically divide themselves into segments according to the Divine Proportion."

Langdon gave the kid a proud nod. "Nice job. Yes, the ratios of line segments in a pentacle allequal PHI, making this symbol the ultimate expression of the Divine Proportion. For this reason, the five-pointed star has always been the symbol for beauty and perfection associated with the goddess and the sacred feminine."

The girls in class beamed.

"One note, folks. We've only touched on Da Vinci today, but we'll be seeing a lot more of him this semester. Leonardo was a well-documented devotee of the ancient ways of the goddess. Tomorrow, I'll show you his fresco The Last Supper, which is one of the most astonishing tributes to the sacred feminine you will ever see."

"You're kidding, right?" somebody said. "I thought The Last Supper was about Jesus!" Langdon winked. "There are symbols hidden in places you would never imagine."

"Come on," Sophie whispered. "What's wrong? We're almost there. Hurry!"

Langdon glanced up, feeling himself return from faraway thoughts. He realized he was standing at a dead stop on the stairs, paralyzed by sudden revelation.

O, Draconian devil! Oh, lame saint!

Sophie was looking back at him.

It can't be that simple, Langdon thought. But he knew of course that it was. There in the bowels of the Louvre... with images of PHI and Da Vinci swirling through his mind, Robert Langdon suddenly and unexpectedly deciphered Sauniere's code.

"O, Draconian devil!" he said. "Oh, lame saint! It's the simplest kind of code!"

Sophie was stopped on the stairs below him, staring up in confusion. A code? She had been pondering the words all night and had not seen a code. Especially a simple one.

"You said it yourself." Langdon's voice reverberated with excitement. "Fibonacci numbers only have meaning in their proper order. Otherwise they're mathematical gibberish."

Sophie had no idea what he was talking about. The Fibonacci numbers? She was certain they had been intended as nothing more than a means to get the Cryptography Department involved tonight. They have another purpose? She plunged her hand into her pocket and pulled out the printout, studying her grandfather's message again.

13-3-2-21-1-1-8-5

O, Draconian devil!

Oh, lame saint!

What about the numbers?

"The scrambled Fibonacci sequence is a clue," Langdon said, taking the printout. "The numbers area hint as to how to decipher the rest of the message. He wrote the sequence out of order to tell us to apply the same concept to the text. O, Draconian devil? Oh, lame saint? Those lines mean nothing.

They are simply letters written out of order."

Sophie needed only an instant to process Langdon's implication, and it seemed laughably simple. "You think this message is... une anagramme?" She stared at him. "Like a word jumble from a newspaper?"

Langdon could see the skepticism on Sophie's face and certainly understood. Few people realized that anagrams, despite being a trite modern amusement, had a rich history of sacred symbolism.

The mystical teachings of the Kabbala drew heavily on anagrams - rearranging the letters of Hebrew words to derive new meanings. French kings throughout the Renaissance were so convinced that anagrams held magic power that they appointed royal anagrammatists to help them make better decisions by analyzing words in important documents. The Romans actually referred to the study of anagrams as ars magna - "the great art."

Langdon looked up at Sophie, locking eyes with her now. "Your grandfather's meaning was right in front of us all along, and he left us more than enough clues to see it."

Without another word, Langdon pulled a pen from his jacket pocket and rearranged the letters in each line.

O, Draconian devil! Oh, lame saint! was a perfect anagram of... Leonardo Da Vinci! The Mona Lisa!

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