Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница

* * *

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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница. 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Silas gazed 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница.”

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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница, 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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, The Vitruvian 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница?”

“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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница’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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 belly button 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Dьrer, 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 Bartуk, Debussy, and Schubert. The number Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница. “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 all equal 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница scrambled Fibonacci sequence is a clue,” Langdon said, taking the printout. “The numbers are a 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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!

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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница’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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница . . .

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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница, 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 Stylo de Lumiere Noire 4 страница 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.


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