Chapter 27a


Paris, November 15, 10 AM


Aden put them in a splendid hotel.  They were up in the late morning and after brunch decided to see the city.  The first stop was the Notre Dame. 


Along with Saint Peters of Rome, it is one of the world’s best known cathedrals.  A cathedral, of course, is the seat of a bishop.  And the bishop of Paris had a cathedral rarely matched.  It was huge.  The interior was like few enclosed spaces on earth.  It has been said that as one approaches an English cathedral that the cathedral seems greater and greater, and by the time one is inside one is totally in its spell.  A French cathedral seems dominating in the distance, becoming softer and more intimate as one approaches until at last one is alone with the experience. 


The great square towers of the front contrast with the elegant curved flying buttresses and garden at the back.  But the most loved feature is the gargoyles.  Originally, this architectural feature was simply a water spout to throw the rain away from the walls – and onto passing pedestrians – so that the water would not undermine the structure.  Such were the gargoyles at Chartres.  But here, as with most later gargoyles, the purpose was ornamentation, not function.  No two were alike.  There was the gargoyle that was eating a person; the gargoyle’s face had the expression, “I’m really going to regret this.”


But most striking was the “spitting gargoyle,” the most famous of all time.  It was a figure leaning with its chin on its palms.  It was a study in contrasts.  It had the horns of a devil while it had the wings of an angel.  Its mouth was drawn down in melancholy, and it may have been by design or an accident of the weathering of the rock, but there was a tear rolling down from the left eye.  Yet the tongue was thrust out in playful mockery.  The shoulders had the hard muscles of a man, but the hands and wrists the delicacy of a woman.   It had the face and neck of an ape but the body of a young man.  The back of the head was bare, but there were folds of cloth or curls of hair above the forehead. 


Inside, there was a place where a painting had been removed.  Behind it the stone had been discolored by its long sojourn under the canvas.  The stain looked vaguely like the shape of a woman.


Hapgood said, “Tracy.  Now is your chance to be famous.  Point at that, scream ‘the Virgin Mary’ and faint.  The whole world will say it’s a miracle.”  For Notre Dame means “Our Lady,” the Virgin, whom even Protestants despite their disdain for popish sentimentality cannot regard without a secret love.  Go ahead, and find a Protestant who can mash a lady bug, “Our Lady’s Bird,” without cringing. 


The great columns in the cathedral had the same compound shape as the columns at Salisbury and Chartres and Winchester after the Romanesque columns had been carved into Gothic shape, the shape of the folds in a girl’s skirt.  While gothic columns are light and frilly, Romanesque are full bodied and substantial.


They visited the church of the Magdalene, a Romanesque triumph dedicated to Mary, the Magdalene.  Jon said, “I wonder if Romanesque churches are all dedicated to Mary Magdalene and all Gothic churches to the Virgin Mary.”


“I am not sure that holds,” said Hapgood.


But indeed, the full Romanesque columns, the enclosing walls, the feel of the place were more fully the mature female than the delicate, scalloped and airy feel of the Gothic.


While a man is in sequence the crawling infant, the striding youth and old man on the cane, the woman of any age is at once the virgin, the lover and the mother.  Any little girl is capable of being seductive and playing with dolls.  Any mother or grandmother, however old and experienced, is capable of covering her ears at a carnal remark or throwing the bright and knowing eye at a man.


Small wonder that a woman can understand a man while a man finds a woman mysterious.  The man has as a fetus lived in a soup of female hormones, and the woman has never been driven by her testosterone.  The man has an X chromosome while the woman has no Y.  Yet a man is only one person at a time, while the woman is capable of multi-tasking at any age. 


Perhaps the Virgin Mary is the virgin and Magdalene is the lover.  Then there should be no Mary the mother, for if it were so we could never honor our masculine gods.  Yet Mary with the infant is an abiding icon, derived some say, from ancient Egyptian art.


At the front of the church was an enormous painting of Mary Magdalene.


“She’s pregnant,” said Tracy. 


They visited the great museum the Louvre.  Once a fortress, it had long been a royal palace and now was perhaps the world’s greatest art collection.  Here they saw the Winged Victory of Samothrace, a winged female descending onto a war galley.  Never before or since have wings been so convincingly wedded to the human form.  They saw the Venus de Milo, the sturdy, naked masterpiece that proclaimed to all the world, if there was any so unfortunate as not to know, what woman as lover was really like. 


There were lids of ancient Egyptian sarcophagi, placed so that the curious could learn that the inside of each lid was carved in the likeness of a naked woman, so that the smiling face of the mummy case looked up forever at an emblem of earthly pleasure.  There were statues of the hermaphrodite, not an incompletely developed male, but fully developed male and female in one body reclining in sleep in the pose of the ache of longing. 


There was a stone door recovered from a tomb of classical Greece.  The door was stone, but it was obviously an image of the front door of the home of the deceased, wood covered with leather with great bronze hasps.  If one stood before it long enough, one could see the original door of the house and imagine peering though the solid mass of the door into the household within, the secluded women, the study with its scrolls and the banquet room where the sound of pipe and lyre played counterpoint to the discussion of the world, the universe and the significance of life, where the foundations and question which would become the civilized world flowed with the wine. 


There was the statue of Cupid leaning down do accept the eager kiss of Psyche, soul longing for spirit, the arm of Psyche unnaturally elongated for the embrace. 


They saw the Mona Lisa, “la Giaconde,” the smiling one, the masterpiece of Leonardo, the greatest work of art of all time.  One could gaze upon her for weeks and not truly have seen her nor understood the most profound nature of joy. 


And they saw statues of Dianna, virgin goddess of the moon and of the hunt, love for her was transmogrified to the love of the Virgin Mary.  Her skirt fell in the folds of the columns of a Gothic cathedral.  


At Tracy’s insistence they visited the clothing stores.  Paris alone on earth could claim greater prestige, better taste and finer work in the enveloping of the female form than great New York. 


They had lunch at a sidewalk café, where they engaged a violinist to play “Claire de Lune” for them. 


Late that afternoon Aden, who was honestly trying to make up for the troubles he had caused, asked, “Is there anything else you want to see in Paris?”


Jon said, “Newton.  We are trying to learn about Newton.  Is there a physicist who can tell us more?”


“The Sorbonne, the great university of Paris.  Yes, I can find you a man of science there who can answer your questions.”


The man Aden found was Professor Riad Chelif.  They met him in a laboratory where he was working among banks of computers, lasers and instruments, studying the process of reducing molecules to a state so cold they lost their individual identity and became what is known as a Bose-Einstein condensate.


Chelif hardly looked up from his work as he talked.  Newton,” he said.  “A brilliant man.  Arab of course.”


“Really?” asked Jon.


“Certainly.  Infidels stole him from his family at birth.  He was sold to a rich and greedy farmer in England, who claimed him as a son, although he was obviously much too old himself to have one.


“Anyone who looks at his portrait can see it.  Fine, strong nose.  Dark, flashing eyes.  High spiritual forehead.  Lean frame.  Great mane of hair.  Do not tell me that he is a typical beer-soaked, pink-cheeked balding Englishman.”


“I take it this is a very personal theory,” said Aden.


“Yes.  No one believes their own eyes any longer except me.”


“We understand he made a prediction about the Second Coming, the end of history,” said Jon. 


“Yes, I know,” said Chelif.  “In 1692 as you Christians reckon time, he made mention of a mysterious package.  Although he destroyed many documents later in his life, this package remains a unexplained.  I suspect its contents had some bearing on this.”


“And when was it supposed to happen?” Jon persisted.


“One thousand, two hundred and sixty years after the antichrist seized control of the world.  The Pope is the antichrist and his power begins in effect from your year 800.”


“I thought, he thought,” said Jon, “That Charlemagne was the antichrist.”


“They are one and the same,” said Chelif.  “In the year 800 the pope made Charlemagne the emperor of Western Europe.  That alliance is what gave both of them their power.  Charlemagne as you know was not the legitimate king.  His grandfather, Charles Martel defeated the Moors at Tours but was no king.  He did it by sheer treachery.  But the end of light in the west did not come until his grandson usurped the throne.  The pope was powerless without the fighting arm of the Franks.”


“So that puts us at 2060.  That works,” said Jon.     


“We have an idea how he might have predicted it another way,” said Hapgood.  “It would have dated to about three hundred years after the world became a single trading community.  One might argue that it, or at least Europe, did so in mid to the late 1700’s based on an economy in turn based on Newton’s own work at the Royal Mint.  But the prediction would be based on statistics.  And modern statistics had not been invented in Newton’s time.”


“Not for the rest of us,” said Chelif, “But you remember this is Isaac Newton you are talking about.  He could have invented statistics before breakfast.  Besides Pascal with Fermat did some work on it before Newton published anything.  Yes, Newton could have used statistics.”


“What are you doing right now?” asked Ivan.


“I am studying the uncertainty of the location of matter as its energy approaches zero.  There are some peculiarities about it.”


“A few days ago we were talking about the location of a fly ball in baseball,” said Ivan.  “They are telling me that it travels the way it does because space is warped.”


“You are thinking about General Relativity.  I am working with Quantum Mechanics.  The relationship is difficult.  But if you want to catch that flying ball, stay with Newton.


“In fact only recently we physicists have discovered how one catches a fly ball.”


A sarcastic remark formed behind Ivan’s lips but did not emerge.


“We have known for years that if you are standing still and a ball is coming toward you, you are in the right location if two conditions hold.  The ball must be drifting neither left nor right and from where you stand it must seem to be rising at a constant rate.  It was more difficult to determine just how the outfielder moves so that he arrives at that location just at the right moment.”


“Practice helps,” said Ivan.


“Of course when the ball is within reach you are with your ancestors.”


“Dead?” asked Jon.


“No.  There is built into your brain, hardwired, the circuitry to grab at something moving past.  The ape uses this to grab a branch.  It must happen with extreme speed.  This we do not yet completely understand.”


With Hans Turelli suspected of the skyscraper atrocity, the party took no particular precautions as they left the Sorbonne.  Their respect for their enemy’s cunning, determination and resources received a major boost when they recognized a party of mercenaries appearing around a corner in front of them and starting toward them at a deliberate pace.  A quick glance backward revealed another group coming up from behind.  There were no open doorways or witnesses visible. 


 Ivan led the sprint diagonally to an alley.  By the time the others arrived, Ivan had lifted a manhole cover and started down.  When the others caught up Ivan was holding onto the iron hasps that formed a crude ladder down the descent.  He pointed downward and said, “Jump.”


They jumped into the flowing sewage below.  Ivan performed the idle gesture of closing the manhole cover.  There would be little chance that the mercenaries would not know where they had gone.  Then he jumped into the moving stream below.  The passage was dimly lit by lights protected behind iron grates.  The five began forcing their way through the thigh deep fluid up stream against the flow.  The stench was beyond description.


With Ivan helping Hapgood and Jon helping Tracy, they made their way to the next tributary, which came in from a tunnel on the right.  Aden, as if this was entirely his problem, was bringing up the rear so the others did not notice that he had fallen and was being swept back toward the manhole. 


As the four reached the corner, the manhole cover was lifted, and the mercenaries began jumping down into the sewer.  Aden had been carried under by the current and came up for air.  One of the mercenaries grabbed him just as the four Americans reached the shelter of the turn. 


Ivan counted heads and saw that Aden was missing.  He looked around the corner and saw Aden in the hands of Turelli’s men.  Just before he pulled back under shelter, he saw a middle aged man in business clothes drop among the black clad mercenaries.  It had to be Turelli himself.


Ivan from childhood had enormous experience gauging distances while he swam underwater.  But in Florida there are usually two kinds of water.  There is spring water, which is clear and moving.  And there is swamp water which does not move and is opaque.  So while Ivan had learned well to gauge distance in still black water and in clear moving water, his experience in opaque moving water was very little.  It would take all of his skill to deal with the two problems at once. 


After a moment of reflection, Ivan motioned to the others to go on ahead and then ducked beneath the surface, swimming downstream toward where Hans Turelli’s men held Aden.



Where he gauged Turelli to be standing, Ivan found a pair of legs.  With one strenuous sweep he brought the man under water with him.  In the next split second, Ivan made a decision.  Had he made the alternative decision, everything might have been different.  But Ivan was obliged to decide on the basis of past and present.  No man can know the future.


If it was Turelli, Ivan was justified by any law of god or man to snap his neck and leave the monster to choke to death in the flowing sewage.  But Ivan, attack minded and battle hardened as he was, had nonetheless never killed a man with his hands nor seen a friend die at human hands.  There was a significant chance that he had brought down only one of the mercenaries.


Killing a mercenary was also justifiable, but not quite the same as terminating the monster Ivan knew Hans Turelli to be.  So making mercy the better part of justice, Ivan straightened hand and wrist – the resistance of water makes an underwater punch ineffective – and drove his fingertips into his adversary’s celiac plexus.  The blow was enough to knock the breath out and produce a pancreatitis that would be significant for the next two or three days, but it was not enough to kill. 


Ivan released the now harmless body and swam, lung bursting with lust for air, back to the safety of the corner.  When he rose gasping from the foul water he could hear sounds of the pursuers as they recovered their savaged companion.


It was clear that they did not know in which direction Ivan had swum, much less who it had been who had delivered the underwater attack and then vanished.  Then Ivan heard Hans’ voice.  “Give up or I will kill this man.”


Ivan took a quick look around the corner.  Two of the mercenaries had unshipped their weapons, and Ivan was greeted by the chatter of gunfire and a sleet of bullets.  The sound was appalling in the hard confines of the sewer. 


Nothing impressed, Ivan ducked below the surface and swam a few yards in the direction of Turelli’s force.  He put his head up for in instant.  In that instant, the gunfire was renewed and Ivan saw that Aden had been released in the confusion and was making his way swiftly up the hasp ladder.  Ivan submerged instantly and swam back to the shelter of the corner. Slugs, refracted by the surface but slowed to ineffectiveness by water, dropped harmlessly around him.


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