Chapter 21-23

 

CHAPTER 21

The Mona Lisa.

For an instant, standing in the exit stairwell, Sophie forgot all about trying to leave the Louvre.

Her shock over the anagram was matched only by her embarrassment at not having deciphered the message herself. Sophie's expertise in complex cryptanalysis had caused her to overlook simplistic word games, and yet she knew she should have seen it. After all, she was no stranger to anagrams - especially in English.

When she was young, often her grandfather would use anagram games to hone her English spelling. Once he had written the English word" planets" and told Sophie that an astonishing sixty-two other English words of varying lengths could be formed using those same letters. Sophie had spent three days with an English dictionary until she found them all.

"I can't imagine," Langdon said, staring at the printout," how your grandfather created such an intricate anagram in the minutes before he died."

Sophie knew the explanation, and the realization made her feel even worse. I should have seen this!She now recalled that her grandfather - a wordplay aficionado and art lover - had entertained himself as a young man by creating anagrams of famous works of art. In fact, one of his anagrams had gotten him in trouble once when Sophie was a little girl. While being interviewed by an American art magazine, Sauniere had expressed his distaste for the modernist Cubist movement by noting that Picasso's masterpiece Les Demoiselles d'Avignon was a perfect anagram of vile meaningless doodles.Picasso fans were not amused.

"My grandfather probably created this Mona Lisa anagram long ago," Sophie said, glancing up at Langdon. And tonight he was forced to use it as a makeshift code.Her grandfather's voice had called out from beyond with chilling precision.

Leonardo Da Vinci! The Mona Lisa!Why his final words to her referenced the famous painting, Sophie had no idea, but she could think of only one possibility. A disturbing one.

Those were not his final words... .

Was she supposed to visit the Mona Lisa? Had her grandfather left her a message there? The idea seemed perfectly plausible. After all, the famous painting hung in the Salle des Etats - a private viewing chamber accessible only from the Grand Gallery. In fact, Sophie now realized, the doors that opened into the chamber were situated only twenty meters from where her grandfather had been found dead.

He easily could have visited the Mona Lisa before he died.

Sophie gazed back up the emergency stairwell and felt torn. She knew she should usher Langdon from the museum immediately, and yet instinct urged her to the contrary. As Sophie recalled her first childhood visit to the Denon Wing, she realized that if her grandfather had a secret to tell her, few places on earth made a more apt rendezvous than Da Vinci's Mona Lisa.

"She's just a little bit farther," her grandfather had whispered, clutching Sophie's tiny hand as he led her through the deserted museum after hours.

Sophie was six years old. She felt small and insignificant as she gazed up at the enormous ceilings and down at the dizzying floor. The empty museum frightened her, although she was not about to let her grandfather know that. She set her jaw firmly and let go of his hand.

"Up ahead is the Salle des Etats," her grandfather said as they approached the Louvre's most famous room. Despite her grandfather's obvious excitement, Sophie wanted to go home. She had seen pictures of the Mona Lisa in books and didn't like it at all. She couldn't understand why everyone made such a fuss.

"C'est ennuyeux," Sophie grumbled.

"Boring," he corrected. "French at school. English at home."

"Le Louvre, c'est pas chez moi!" she challenged.

He gave her a tired laugh. "Right you are. Then let's speak English just for fun."

Sophie pouted and kept walking. As they entered the Salle des Etats, her eyes scanned the narrow room and settled on the obvious spot of honor - the center of the right-hand wall, where a lone portrait hung behind a protective Plexiglas wall. Her grandfather paused in the doorway and motioned toward the painting.

"Go ahead, Sophie. Not many people get a chance to visit her alone."

Swallowing her apprehension, Sophie moved slowly across the room. After everything she'd heard about the Mona Lisa, she felt as if she were approaching royalty. Arriving in front of the protective Plexiglas, Sophie held her breath and looked up, taking it in all at once.

Sophie was not sure what she had expected to feel, but it most certainly was not this. No jolt of amazement. No instant of wonder. The famous face looked as it did in books. She stood in silence for what felt like forever, waiting for something to happen.

"So what do you think?" her grandfather whispered, arriving behind her. "Beautiful, yes?" "She's too little." Sauniere smiled. "You're little and you're beautiful."

I am not beautiful, she thought. Sophie hated her red hair and freckles, and she was bigger than all the boys in her class. She looked back at the Mona Lisa and shook her head. "She's even worse than in the books. Her face is... brumeux."

"Foggy," her grandfather tutored.

"Foggy," Sophie repeated, knowing the conversation would not continue until she repeated her new vocabulary word.

"That's called the sfumato style of painting," he told her," and it's very hard to do. Leonardo Da Vinci was better at it than anyone."

Sophie still didn't like the painting. "She looks like she knows something... like when kids at school have a secret."

Her grandfather laughed. "That's part of why she is so famous. People like to guess why she is smiling."

"Do you know why she's smiling?"

"Maybe." Her grandfather winked. "Someday I'll tell you all about it." Sophie stamped her foot. "I told you I don't like secrets!" "Princess," he smiled. "Life is filled with secrets. You can't learn them all at once."

"I'm going back up," Sophie declared, her voice hollow in the stairwell. "To the Mona Lisa?" Langdon recoiled. "Now?" Sophie considered the risk. "I'm not a murder suspect. I'll take my chances. I need to understand what my grandfather was trying to tell me."

"What about the embassy?"

Sophie felt guilty turning Langdon into a fugitive only to abandon him, but she saw no other option. She pointed down the stairs to a metal door. "Go through that door, and follow the illuminated exit signs. My grandfather used to bring me down here. The signs will lead you to a security turnstile. It's monodirectional and opens out." She handed Langdon her car keys. "Mine is the red SmartCar in the employee lot. Directly outside this bulkhead. Do you know how to get to the embassy?"

Langdon nodded, eyeing the keys in his hand.

"Listen," Sophie said, her voice softening. "I think my grandfather may have left me a message at the Mona Lisa - some kind of clue as to who killed him. Or why I'm in danger." Or what happenedto my family. "I have to go see."

"But if he wanted to tell you why you were in danger, why wouldn't he simply write it on the floor where he died? Why this complicated word game?"

"Whatever my grandfather was trying to tell me, I don't think he wanted anyone else to hear it. Not even the police." Clearly, her grandfather had done everything in his power to send a confidential transmission directly to her.He had written it in code, included her secret initials, and told her to find Robert Langdon - a wise command, considering the American symbologist had deciphered his code. "As strange as it may sound," Sophie said," I think he wants me to get to the Mona Lisabefore anyone else does." "I'll come." "No! We don't know how long the Grand Gallery will stay empty. You have to go."

Langdon seemed hesitant, as if his own academic curiosity were threatening to override sound judgment and drag him back into Fache's hands.

"Go. Now." Sophie gave him a grateful smile. "I'll see you at the embassy, Mr. Langdon." Langdon looked displeased. "I'll meet you there on one condition," he replied, his voice stern. She paused, startled. "What's that?"

"That you stop calling me Mr.Langdon."

Sophie detected the faint hint of a lopsided grin growing across Langdon's face, and she felt herself smile back. "Good luck, Robert."

When Langdon reached the landing at the bottom of the stairs, the unmistakable smell of linseed oil and plaster dust assaulted his nostrils. Ahead, an illuminated SORTIE/EXIT displayed an arrow pointing down a long corridor.

Langdon stepped into the hallway.

To the right gaped a murky restoration studio out of which peered an army of statues in various states of repair. To the left, Langdon saw a suite of studios that resembled Harvard art classrooms - rows of easels, paintings, palettes, framing tools - an art assembly line.

As he moved down the hallway, Langdon wondered if at any moment he might awake with a start in his bed in Cambridge. The entire evening had felt like a bizarre dream. I'm about to dash out of the Louvre...a fugitive.

Sauniere's clever anagrammatic message was still on his mind, and Langdon wondered what Sophie would find at the Mona Lisa...if anything. She had seemed certain her grandfather meant for her to visit the famous painting one more time. As plausible an interpretation as this seemed, Langdon felt haunted now by a troubling paradox.

P. S. Find Robert Langdon.

Sauniere had written Langdon's name on the floor, commanding Sophie to find him. But why? Merely so Langdon could help her break an anagram?

It seemed quite unlikely.

After all, Sauniere had no reason to think Langdon was especially skilled at anagrams. We've never even met.More important, Sophie had stated flat out that she should have broken the anagram on her own. It had been Sophie who spotted the Fibonacci sequence, and, no doubt, Sophie who, if given a little more time, would have deciphered the message with no help from Langdon.

Sophie was supposed to break that anagram on her own.Langdon was suddenly feeling more certain about this, and yet the conclusion left an obvious gaping lapse in the logic of Sauniere's actions.

Why me? Langdon wondered, heading down the hall. Why was Sauniere's dying wish that his estranged granddaughter find me? What is it that Sauniere thinks I know?

With an unexpected jolt, Langdon stopped short. Eyes wide, he dug in his pocket and yanked out the computer printout. He stared at the last line of Sauniere's message. P. S. Find Robert Langdon. He fixated on two letters. P. S. In that instant, Langdon felt Sauniere's puzzling mix of symbolism fall into stark focus. Like a peal of thunder, a career's worth of symbology and history came crashing down around him. Everything Jacques Sauniere had done tonight suddenly made perfect sense.

Langdon's thoughts raced as he tried to assemble the implications of what this all meant. Wheeling, he stared back in the direction from which he had come.

Is there time?

He knew it didn't matter.

Without hesitation, Langdon broke into a sprint back toward the stairs.

CHAPTER 22

Kneeling in the first pew, Silas pretended to pray as he scanned the layout of the sanctuary. Saint- Sulpice, like most churches, had been built in the shape of a giant Roman cross. Its long central section - the nave - led directly to the main altar, where it was transversely intersected by a shorter section, known as the transept. The intersection of nave and transept occurred directly beneath the main cupola and was considered the heart of the church... her most sacred and mystical point.

Not tonight, Silas thought. Saint-Sulpice hides her secrets elsewhere.

Turning his head to the right, he gazed into the south transept, toward the open area of floor beyond the end of the pews, to the object his victims had described.

There it is.

Embedded in the gray granite floor, a thin polished strip of brass glistened in the stone... a golden line slanting across the church's floor. The line bore graduated markings, like a ruler. It was a gnomon, Silas had been told, a pagan astronomical device like a sundial. Tourists, scientists, historians, and pagans from around the world came to Saint-Sulpice to gaze upon this famous line.

The Rose Line.

Slowly, Silas let his eyes trace the path of the brass strip as it made its way across the floor from his right to left, slanting in front of him at an awkward angle, entirely at odds with the symmetry of the church. Slicing across the main altar itself, the line looked to Silas like a slash wound across a beautiful face. The strip cleaved the communion rail in two and then crossed the entire width of the church, finally reaching the corner of the north transept, where it arrived at the base of a most unexpected structure.

A colossal Egyptian obelisk.

Here, the glistening Rose Line took a ninety-degree vertical turn and continued directly up the face of the obelisk itself, ascending thirty-three feet to the very tip of the pyramidical apex, where it finally ceased.

The Rose Line, Silas thought. The brotherhood hid the keystone at the Rose Line.

Earlier tonight, when Silas told the Teacher that the Priory keystone was hidden inside Saint- Sulpice, the Teacher had sounded doubtful. But when Silas added that the brothers had all given him a precise location, with relation to a brass line running through Saint-Sulpice, the Teacher had gasped with revelation. "You speak of the Rose Line!"

The Teacher quickly told Silas of Saint-Sulpice's famed architectural oddity - a strip of brass that segmented the sanctuary on a perfect north-south axis. It was an ancient sundial of sorts, a vestige of the pagan temple that had once stood on this very spot. The sun's rays, shining through the oculus on the south wall, moved farther down the line every day, indicating the passage of time, from solstice to solstice.

The north-south stripe had been known as the Rose Line. For centuries, the symbol of the Rose had been associated with maps and guiding souls in the proper direction. The Compass Rose - drawn on almost every map - indicated North, East, South, and West. Originally known as the Wind Rose, it denoted the directions of the thirty-two winds, blowing from the directions of eight major winds, eight half-winds, and sixteen quarter-winds. When diagrammed inside a circle, these thirty-two points of the compass perfectly resembled a traditional thirty-two petal rose bloom. To this day, the fundamental navigational tool was still known as a Compass Rose, its northernmost direction still marked by an arrowhead... or, more commonly, the symbol of the fleur-de-lis.

On a globe, a Rose Line - also called a meridian or longitude - was any imaginary line drawn from the North Pole to the South Pole. There were, of course, an infinite number of Rose Lines because every point on the globe could have a longitude drawn through it connecting north and south poles. The question for early navigators was which of these lines would be called the Rose Line - the zero longitude - the line from which all other longitudes on earth would be measured.

Today that line was in Greenwich, England. But it had not always been. Long before the establishment of Greenwich as the prime meridian, the zero longitude of the entire world had passed directly through Paris, and through the Church of Saint-Sulpice. The brass marker in Saint-Sulpice was a memorial to the world's first prime meridian, and although Greenwich had stripped Paris of the honor in 1888, the original Rose Line was still visible today.

"And so the legend is true," the Teacher had told Silas. "The Priory keystone has been said to lie' beneath the Sign of the Rose."

Now, still on his knees in a pew, Silas glanced around the church and listened to make sure no one was there. For a moment, he thought he heard a rustling in the choir balcony. He turned and gazed up for several seconds. Nothing.

I am alone.

Standing now, he faced the altar and genuflected three times. Then he turned left and followed the brass line due north toward the obelisk.

At that moment, at Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport in Rome, the jolt of tires hitting the runway startled Bishop Aringarosa from his slumber.

I drifted off, he thought, impressed he was relaxed enough to sleep.

"Benvenuto a Roma,"the intercom announced.

Sitting up, Aringarosa straightened his black cassock and allowed himself a rare smile. This was one trip he had been happy to make. I have been on the defensive for too long.Tonight, however, the rules had changed. Only five months ago, Aringarosa had feared for the future of the Faith. Now, as if by the will of God, the solution had presented itself.

Divine intervention.

If all went as planned tonight in Paris, Aringarosa would soon be in possession of something that would make him the most powerful man in Christendom.

CHAPTER 23

Sophie arrived breathless outside the large wooden doors of the Salle des Etats - the room that housed the Mona Lisa.Before entering, she gazed reluctantly farther down the hall, twenty yards or so, to the spot where her grandfather's body still lay under the spotlight.

The remorse that gripped her was powerful and sudden, a deep sadness laced with guilt. The man had reached out to her so many times over the past ten years, and yet Sophie had remained immovable - leaving his letters and packages unopened in a bottom drawer and denying his efforts to see her. He lied to me! Kept appalling secrets! What was I supposed to do? And so she had blocked him out. Completely.

Now her grandfather was dead, and he was talking to her from the grave.

The Mona Lisa.

She reached for the huge wooden doors, and pushed. The entryway yawned open. Sophie stood on the threshold a moment, scanning the large rectangular chamber beyond. It too was bathed in a soft red light. The Salle des Etats was one of this museum's rare culs-de-sac - a dead end and the only room off the middle of the Grand Gallery. This door, the chamber's sole point of entry, faced a dominating fifteen-foot Botticelli on the far wall. Beneath it, centered on the parquet floor, an immense octagonal viewing divan served as a welcome respite for thousands of visitors to rest their legs while they admired the Louvre's most valuable asset.

Even before Sophie entered, though, she knew she was missing something. A black light.She gazed down the hall at her grandfather under the lights in the distance, surrounded by electronic gear. If he had written anything in here, he almost certainly would have written it with the watermark stylus.

Taking a deep breath, Sophie hurried down to the well-lit crime scene. Unable to look at her grandfather, she focused solely on the PTS tools. Finding a small ultraviolet penlight, she slipped it in the pocket of her sweater and hurried back up the hallway toward the open doors of the Salle des Etats.

Sophie turned the corner and stepped over the threshold. Her entrance, however, was met by an unexpected sound of muffled footsteps racing toward her from inside the chamber. There'ssomeone in here! A ghostly figure emerged suddenly from out of the reddish haze. Sophie jumped back.

"There you are!" Langdon's hoarse whisper cut the air as his silhouette slid to a stop in front of her. Her relief was only momentary. "Robert, I told you to get out of here! If Fache - "Where were you?" "I had to get the black light," she whispered, holding it up. "If my grandfather left me a message - "Sophie, listen." Langdon caught his breath as his blue eyes held her firmly. "The letters P. S... . do they mean anything else to you? Anything at all?"

Afraid their voices might echo down the hall, Sophie pulled him into the Salle des Etats and closed the enormous twin doors silently, sealing them inside. "I told you, the initials mean Princess Sophie."

"I know, but did you ever see them anywhere else? Did your grandfather ever use P. S. in any other way? As a monogram, or maybe on stationery or a personal item?"

The question startled her. How would Robert know that? Sophie had indeed seen the initials P. S. once before, in a kind of monogram. It was the day before her ninth birthday. She was secretly combing the house, searching for hidden birthday presents. Even then, she could not bear secrets kept from her. What did Grand-pere get for me this year? She dug through cupboards and drawers. Did he get me the doll I wanted? Where would he hide it?

Finding nothing in the entire house, Sophie mustered the courage to sneak into her grandfather's bedroom. The room was off-limits to her, but her grandfather was downstairs asleep on the couch.

I'll just take a fast peek!

Tiptoeing across the creaky wood floor to his closet, Sophie peered on the shelves behind his clothing. Nothing. Next she looked under the bed. Still nothing. Moving to his bureau, she opened the drawers and one by one began pawing carefully through them. There must be something for me here! As she reached the bottom drawer, she still had not found any hint of a doll. Dejected, she opened the final drawer and pulled aside some black clothes she had never seen him wear. She was about to close the drawer when her eyes caught a glint of gold in the back of the drawer. It looked like a pocket watch chain, but she knew he didn't wear one. Her heart raced as she realized what it must be.

A necklace!

Sophie carefully pulled the chain from the drawer. To her surprise, on the end was a brilliant gold key. Heavy and shimmering. Spellbound, she held it up. It looked like no key she had ever seen. Most keys were flat with jagged teeth, but this one had a triangular column with little pockmarks all over it. Its large golden head was in the shape of a cross, but not a normal cross. This was an even-armed one, like a plus sign. Embossed in the middle of the cross was a strange symbol - two letters intertwined with some kind of flowery design.

"P. S. ," she whispered, scowling as she read the letters. Whatever could this be?

"Sophie?" her grandfather spoke from the doorway.

Startled, she spun, dropping the key on the floor with a loud clang. She stared down at the key, afraid to look up at her grandfather's face. "I... was looking for my birthday present," she said, hanging her head, knowing she had betrayed his trust.

For what seemed like an eternity, her grandfather stood silently in the doorway. Finally, he let out a long troubled breath. "Pick up the key, Sophie."

Sophie retrieved the key.

Her grandfather walked in. "Sophie, you need to respect other people's privacy." Gently, he knelt down and took the key from her. "This key is very special. If you had lost it..."

Her grandfather's quiet voice made Sophie feel even worse. "I'm sorry, Grand-pere.I really am." She paused. "I thought it was a necklace for my birthday."

He gazed at her for several seconds. "I'll say this once more, Sophie, because it's important. You need to learn to respect other people's privacy."

"Yes, Grand-pere."

"We'll talk about this some other time. Right now, the garden needs to be weeded." Sophie hurried outside to do her chores. The next morning, Sophie received no birthday present from her grandfather. She hadn't expected one, not after what she had done. But he didn't even wish her happy birthday all day. Sadly, she trudged up to bed that night. As she climbed in, though, she found a note card lying on her pillow. On the card was written a simple riddle. Even before she solved the riddle, she was smiling. I know what this is! Her grandfather had done this for her last Christmas morning.

A treasure hunt!

Eagerly, she pored over the riddle until she solved it. The solution pointed her to another part of the house, where she found another card and another riddle. She solved this one too, racing on to the next card. Running wildly, she darted back and forth across the house, from clue to clue, until at last she found a clue that directed her back to her own bedroom. Sophie dashed up the stairs, rushed into her room, and stopped in her tracks. There in the middle of the room sat a shining red bicycle with a ribbon tied to the handlebars. Sophie shrieked with delight.

"I know you asked for a doll," her grandfather said, smiling in the corner. "I thought you might like this even better."

The next day, her grandfather taught her to ride, running beside her down the walkway. When Sophie steered out over the thick lawn and lost her balance, they both went tumbling onto the grass, rolling and laughing.

"Grand-pere,"Sophie said, hugging him. "I'm really sorry about the key."

"I know, sweetie. You're forgiven. I can't possibly stay mad at you. Grandfathers and granddaughters always forgive each other."

Sophie knew she shouldn't ask, but she couldn't help it. "What does it open? I never saw a key like that. It was very pretty."

Her grandfather was silent a long moment, and Sophie could see he was uncertain how to answer.

Grand-pere never lies. "It opens a box," he finally said. "Where I keep many secrets." Sophie pouted. "I hate secrets!" "I know, but these are important secrets. And someday, you'll learn to appreciate them as much as I do."

"I saw letters on the key, and a flower."

"Yes, that's my favorite flower. It's called a fleur-de-lis. We have them in the garden. The white ones. In English we call that kind of flower a lily."

"I know those! They're my favorite too!"

"Then I'll make a deal with you." Her grandfather's eyebrows raised the way they always did when he was about to give her a challenge. "If you can keep my key a secret, and never talk about it ever again, to me or anybody, then someday I will give it to you."

Sophie couldn't believe her ears. "You will?"

"I promise. When the time comes, the key will be yours. It has your name on it." Sophie scowled. "No it doesn't. It said P. S. My name isn't P. S. !" Her grandfather lowered his voice and looked around as if to make sure no one was listening. "Okay, Sophie, if you must know, P. S. is a code. It's your secret initials."

Her eyes went wide. "I have secret initials?"

"Of course. Granddaughters always have secret initials that only their grandfathers know." "P. S. ?" He tickled her. "Princesse Sophie."

She giggled. "I'm not a princess!" He winked. "You are to me." From that day on, they never again spoke of the key. And she became his Princess Sophie.

Inside the Salle des Etats, Sophie stood in silence and endured the sharp pang of loss. "The initials," Langdon whispered, eyeing her strangely. "Have you seen them?" Sophie sensed her grandfather's voice whispering in the corridors of the museum. Never speak ofthis key, Sophie.To me or to anyone.She knew she had failed him in forgiveness, and she wondered if she could break his trust again. P. S. Find Robert Langdon.Her grandfather wanted Langdon to help. Sophie nodded. "Yes, I saw the initials P. S. once. When I was very young."

"Where?"

Sophie hesitated. "On something very important to him."

Langdon locked eyes with her. "Sophie, this is crucial. Can you tell me if the initials appeared with a symbol? A fleur-de-lis?" Sophie felt herself staggering backward in amazement. "But... how could you possibly know that!" Langdon exhaled and lowered his voice. "I'm fairly certain your grandfather was a member of a secret society. A very old covert brotherhood."

Sophie felt a knot tighten in her stomach. She was certain of it too. For ten years she had tried to forget the incident that had confirmed that horrifying fact for her. She had witnessed something unthinkable. Unforgivable.

"The fleur-de-lis," Langdon said," combined with the initials P. S. , that is the brotherhood's official device. Their coat of arms. Their logo."

"How do you know this?" Sophie was praying Langdon was not going to tell her that he himselfwas a member.

"I've written about this group," he said, his voice tremulous with excitement. "Researching the symbols of secret societies is a specialty of mine. They call themselves the Prieure de Sion - the Priory of Sion. They're based here in France and attract powerful members from all over Europe. In fact, they are one of the oldest surviving secret societies on earth."

Sophie had never heard of them.

Langdon was talking in rapid bursts now. "The Priory's membership has included some of history's most cultured individuals: men like Botticelli, Sir Isaac Newton, Victor Hugo." He paused, his voice brimming now with academic zeal. "And, Leonardo Da Vinci." Sophie stared. "Da Vinci was in a secret society?"

"Da Vinci presided over the Priory between 1510 and 1519 as the brotherhood's Grand Master, which might help explain your grandfather's passion for Leonardo's work. The two men share a historical fraternal bond. And it all fits perfectly with their fascination for goddess iconology, paganism, feminine deities, and contempt for the Church. The Priory has a well-documented history of reverence for the sacred feminine."

"You're telling me this group is a pagan goddess worship cult?"

"More like the pagan goddess worship cult. But more important, they are known as the guardians of an ancient secret. One that made them immeasurably powerful."

Despite the total conviction in Langdon's eyes, Sophie's gut reaction was one of stark disbelief. Asecret pagan cult? Once headed by Leonardo Da Vinci? It all sounded utterly absurd. And yet, even as she dismissed it, she felt her mind reeling back ten years - to the night she had mistakenly surprised her grandfather and witnessed what she still could not accept. Could that explain - ?

"The identities of living Priory members are kept extremely secret," Langdon said," but the P. S. and fleur-de-lis that you saw as a child are proof. It could only have been related to the Priory."

Sophie realized now that Langdon knew far more about her grandfather than she had previously imagined. This American obviously had volumes to share with her, but this was not the place. "I can't afford to let them catch you, Robert. There's a lot we need to discuss. You need to go!"

Langdon heard only the faint murmur of her voice. He wasn't going anywhere. He was lost in another place now. A place where ancient secrets rose to the surface. A place where forgotten histories emerged from the shadows.

Slowly, as if moving underwater, Langdon turned his head and gazed through the reddish haze toward the Mona Lisa.

The fleur-de-lis... the flower of Lisa... the Mona Lisa.

It was all intertwined, a silent symphony echoing the deepest secrets of the Priory of Sion and Leonardo Da Vinci.

A few miles away, on the riverbank beyond Les Invalides, the bewildered driver of a twin-bed Trailor truck stood at gunpoint and watched as the captain of the Judicial Police let out a guttural roar of rage and heaved a bar of soap out into the turgid waters of the Seine.

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