Chapter 16b


Oak Island


Ivan answered.  “Edgar Allen Poe.  Somebody stole the stone and then kidnapped Poe.  He was the only one in the world who could have broken it.  But he couldn’t.  Jon, what’s twelve times eighteen?”


“Two hundred fifty two.”


“Call it two hundred to allow for a diagram.  Can you crack a code with two hundred letters?”


“Usually it would take more.  You’d need a hint.  Like if it was divided into words.”


“Or if you knew the word it started with.”


“Or any word you knew was in it.  You’d just have to keep trying.”     


“But they didn’t know what words in it might be.  They thought it was directions.  But it wasn’t directions about how to get to the treasure.  Because there wasn’t any treasure.  Or if there is, it’s some piddling little thing of no account to anybody.  O there may be gold down there, but that was the treasure.  The stone told the secret.  Or how to find the secret.


“The greedy bastards kidnapped Poe and then killed him and made it look like he’d drunk himself to death.”


“Speaking of which,” said Jon, “I think Tracy and I are ready to quit.  You are entirely too wide awake.”  He spoke as if he had been shocked sober.


“It was right in front of their noses, but they didn’t know what it was,” said Ivan.  “And now it’s gone.  And there’s nowhere else to look.  It’s a dead end.” 


“I thought you all were going to England,” said James.  “Don’t you have the name of a guy there?”


“That’s right,” said Hapgood.  “We could go on if anybody’s still game.”  He looked around.  Ivan looked like he was ready for anything.  Jon shrugged in agreement.  Tracy nodded.  James.  Will you be coming?”


“Not me.  I don’t have a passport.  I don’t think they let you into England on a driver’s license and a birth certificate.  Besides, it’s a long way from my brothers.  I’ve been getting a little homesick.”


“You’ll be all right?” asked Jon.


“I’ll be okay.  I’ll take the long way around to Virginia.  Anybody asks, I’m just the driver and you all are going to England.” 


“We’ll miss you,” said Tracy. 


“Yes.  It’ll be like losing an arm,” said Jon.


“You’ll be good.  Just take care of Hap for me.  His great grandchildren want to see him again.”


They went to supper.


While the five had been conversing with the Canadian police, Ali had been pondering the long delay of a phone call from his son.  He had spent the morning in Athens visiting such places as the temple of Dionysus, of which only the auditorium remained, and the remains of the holy place at Eleusis, much encroached on by modern civilization.  The last was the site of ancient fertility ceremonies.  Although the word suggested ‘freedom’ if spoken with a lisp and the seasonal event was a time of social license, the ceremonies were thought to contain an element of purification.  Wild tales had always circulated around the Eleusinian Rites or Mysteries.


As for Dionysus, he was the God of wine, the theatre, celebration and presumably sexual indulgence and fertility.  The odd thing was that Dionysus and Apollo divided the year between them.  Apollo’s share was the larger, but fully a third of the year was the season of carnival, the winter time still being a time of holidays among the Western infidels.  The names of the gods contained more puns.  Apollo sounded like the god of staying on top of things and Dionysus sounded like god of plunging in. 


It smelled of deviltry and free sex to Ali Kamali, but he thought perhaps he should bear in mind that all of this was long before the Prophet, so they could not have known better.  The relationship between sex and fertility was obvious, so it looked like the Greeks spent a third of their year concerned with fertility.  And it would not mean raising grain.  Raising grain was done spring through fall.  The season of celebration and fertility was the season of winter.  Besides, Greece had been a shipping power.  It seemed that the ancients spent a lot of effort worrying about something that should have happened as a matter of course.


Ali would have spent some time looking at the remains of the days when Muslims ruled the land, but he had had an appointment with the professor of Islamic studies at the University and cut his touring short.


“Why do people fight wars, Professor?”


“It is our sin.  We do many evil things.”


“But I mean from the view of history.  War is always upon us.  Half the monuments in this city seem to celebrate war in one way or the other.”


“When we see the true nature of war, it is out desire as humans to find meaning in it, so we celebrate any accomplishment.”


“One of these ancient Greeks, I think Aristotle, said that your teeth were not made so the front teeth could slice and the back grind, but rather it was an accident.  And it only persisted because it served a function.”


“He was a very clever man, but he knew not the True Way.”


“Nor anyone at the time nor most men since.  But his logic is compelling.  Things happen by accident, and those things that work persist.  What valuable function could this thing we call war possibly serve?”


“I think most men fight in self defense.  We are suspicious of each other.  And the first to strike always has an advantage.  Besides, it gets rid of the excess population.”


“Wandering among the ruins, I find that their greatest single concern was fertility.  One would think that excess population was not a problem but rather the contrary.”


“Of course.  They needed the young people for soldiers.”


“Tell me, professor.  Is it true that the Serbian people are Byzantine?”


“So they say.”


“And Byzantium was the true continuation of Rome, and Rome was founded by Trojans?”


“That is the story.  And in their myth the Trojan War was started because of the jealousy of women, or goddesses, which is the same thing.  The Apple of Discord was cast amongst the guests at a wedding.  Upon it was written, ‘For the fairest.’  Three goddesses vied for it.  And the result was that Paris, prince of Troy, abducted Helen, a woman of Greece, and this resulted in the war.”


“And it was unrest in Serbia that caused World War I, which led directly to the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire, which was done in such way that we still are having trouble amongst us.”




“And indirectly it was the cause of World War II.”


“Everyone believes that.”


“So we are all still fighting the Trojan War.  The Apple of Discord works well.”


“I do not believe anyone thinks that.


“Another thing, professor.  Our custom of secluding our women.  The ancient Greeks did so.  Where did we get the custom?”


“It was already very old at the time of the Prophet.”


“Yes, indeed.  But return to the story that Paris ran away with Helen.  It appears that she was nothing loathe to follow him.  Clearly the story was written for an audience, and it had to be plausible to the audience that Helen had some reason to go with Paris.  Perhaps in Troy, which was Asia Minor and which thus was more kin to us, she could expect more freedom than in Greece.”




“Their historian Herodotus makes no mention of such a custom as secluding women among our people.  Yet then as now we found it valuable to try to understand each others intent, so if it was our custom he might have known.”


“He wrote out of ignorance. A man will say anything to decorate a book.”


“Is it possible that the custom was introduced to us by Alexander, who was Greek and who overran us?  Could it be a relic of ancient pagans?”


“Certainly.  But it is our own pagan ancestors.  Nobody thinks that Alexander taught us to seclude women.”


Ail stood and walked to the window, where he stood looking out in the direction of the Aegean Sea.  “Professor, it is written that Allah sent his prophets into the world to teach.  And they went into the world and taught the truth.  Some of them were stoned, some burned alive.  And some addressed great cheering crowds and had cities and mosques named after them.  And in the end Allah called them back and asked, ‘How did it go?  Did you make any converts?  Did they understand?  Did they listen?’  And they answered Him, ‘We have no idea.  Only Allah can see into the heart of man.  Only Allah can know whether our words found homes.’


“So I hesitate to speak of what may be in the mind of another man, but it seems to me that they are going extinct and they know it, the Western unbelievers.  And they have no plan.  It would seem prudent to suspect that if they see they are going extinct and cannot make a plan to prevent it, then something of what they believe is wrong.”


“Truly said,” responded the professor. 


Ali kept his next thought to himself.  One of the things the West believed was that there was no limit to the good of human genetic diversity; his son had told him that.  The idea was now being challenged by an insignificant little group, but challenged still.  Suppose, just suppose they were right.


That might account for the accomplishments of ancient Greece, which were so glorious even in the eyes of their most fervent enemies.  The social isolation of the women would have meant that even the most intelligent women married family friends, and that amounted to marrying family.  So their population had not declined, particularly the population of the gifted.  It was their demographic endurance that had made the Greek flowering possible.  Any culture could have done it given time.


And it accounted for the Egyptian triumphs as well.  Although they were not known to have the social restrictions of Greece, they lived in a long narrow valley, each village working fields that reached from desert to river bank.  That alone would have restricted the social horizon of the farmers.  That might have permitted their culture to endure and thus to advance so. 


It that were true, then the mobilization of people to build the pyramids was the worst thing that ever happened to Egypt, and Alexander was the best thing that ever happened to Persian or Arab.  But Ali knew that his asking as much aloud would not make his host happier.   


They exchanged blessings and Ali departed for the Plaka district, where he had coffee until his son Aden called.  Aden was in the condition, unusual for him, of having to explain a botched job.


Ali listened for a bit before saying, “So you abducted the girl, and some other men took her away from you.”


“That is correct, father.”


“One thing at a time.  Why did you abduct the girl?”


“Well if we were going to have to kill them, and we didn’t know, then I wished to have the girl safeguarded.  Otherwise, I was going to stage a rescue.  The man who seemed to rescue her would become her friend, even help them in their quest, and be able to keep track of them.”


“And why did you not befriend them yourself?  You had met them.”


“I am being deported, father.  I must leave tomorrow.  It would be too much to ask for her to accept two friends in so short a time.”


“Yes, of course.  And who do you think took her from you?”


“It was mercenaries working for Hans Turelli, the boss of Giga Corp.  They took her to his headquarters.  Later she was seen again with the others, so it seems clear that they are working for Turelli.”


“Yes, of course.  Turelli is a powerful man; we must watch and do nothing.  I care not to deal with his wrath.  But how very strange.  Why would he send them to you?  Surely Turelli has geneticists in his organization.”


By happenstance Turelli was shouting into his own phone at the same time.  “Yes, I know we have geneticists in Giga Corp!  But I want more.  I want the best.  Find out who’s sharp and get them on my payroll!”


He hung up and jabbed his intercom.  “Send in the guard.”


A stone faced young man entered and stood rigidly.  Turelli said, “So they tell me you were found trussed up like a Christmas pig with your pants down around your ankles.”


“Yes, Sir.”


“And there wasn’t a mark on you or any sign of struggle in the room.”


“Yes, Sir.  No, Sir.  I mean that is correct, Sir.”


“And you have no idea how this happened, so they tell me.”


“That is correct, Sir.  I do not even remember you sending her away with me.  I do not know what happened.”


“Well in that case, let me explain what happened.”  He got up and walked to the guard.  “SHE OUTSMARTED YOU!”


“Yes, Sir.”


“Now usually when I send a man to do a job, and it later appears that he has made no effort to do it, but is found with has pants around his ankles, usually I say, I give him less responsibility in the future.  But this time I am of a mind to give you a promotion.  Yes, there will be a pay increase.  You will have all the resources of Giga Corp behind you.


“Your new responsibility will be to find them and bring them in.  All of them.  Fit to answer questions.  Now I do not expect brilliance.  But I expect one thing.”


“What is that, Sir?”


“Don’t drop your guard again.  And call me ‘Boss.’  Everybody else does.” 


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