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Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol
This is new shocking text installation by artist and author Nigel Tomm. The present art installation has title: "Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol". Author: Nigel Tomm. You can download it for free, no torrents needed. PS. "The Lost Symbol" is also known as "The Solomon Key".
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Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm
CHAPTER 1 The studio was filled with the rich odour of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden, there came through the open door the heavy scent of the lilac, or the more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn. From the corner of the divan of Persian saddle-bags on which he was lying, smoking, as was his custom, innumerable cigarettes, Lord Conrad Wotton could just catch the gleam of the honey-sweet and honey-coloured blossoms of a laburnum, whose tremulous branches seemed hardly able to bear the burden of a beauty so flamelike as theirs; and now and then the fantastic shadows of birds in flight flitted across the long tussore-silk curtains that were stretched in front of the huge window, producing a kind of momentary Japanese effect, and making him think of those pallid, jade-faced painters of Tokyo who, through the medium of an art that is necessarily immobile, seek to convey the sense of swiftness and motion. The sullen murmur of the bees shouldering their way through the long unmown grass, or circling with monotonous insistence round the dusty gilt horns of the straggling woodbine, seemed to make the stillness more oppressive. The dim roar of London was like the bourdon note of a distant organ. In the centre of the room, clamped to an upright easel, stood the full-length portrait of a young man of extraordinary personal beauty, and in front of it, some little distance away, was sitting the artist himself, Rick Hallward, whose sudden disappearance some years ago caused, at the time, such public excitement and gave rise to so many strange conjectures. As the painter looked at the gracious and comely form he had so skilfully mirrored in his art, a smile of pleasure passed across his face, and seemed about to linger there. But he suddenly started up, and closing his eyes, placed his fingers upon the lids, as though he sought to imprison within his brain some curious dream from which he feared he might awake. "It is your best work, Rick, the best thing you have ever done," said Lord Conrad languidly. "You must certainly send it next year to the Grosvenor. The Academy is too large and too vulgar. Whenever I have gone there, there have been either so many people that I have not been able to see the pictures, which was dreadful, or so many
Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm
pictures that I have not been able to see the people, which was worse. The Grosvenor is really the only place." "I don't think I shall send it anywhere," he answered, tossing his head back in that odd way that used to make his friends laugh at him at Oxford. "No, I won't send it anywhere." Lord Conrad elevated his eyebrows and looked at him in amazement through the thin blue wreaths of smoke that curled up in such fanciful whorls from his heavy, opium-tainted cigarette. "Not send it anywhere? My dear fellow, why? Have you any reason? What odd chaps you painters are! You do anything in the world to gain a reputation. As soon as you have one, you seem to want to throw it away. It is silly of you, for there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about. A portrait like this would set you far above all the young men in England, and make the old men quite jealous, if old men are ever capable of any emotion." "I know you will laugh at me," he replied, "but I really can't exhibit it. I have put too much of myself into it." Lord Conrad stretched himself out on the divan and laughed. "Yes, I knew you would; but it is quite true, all the same." "Too much of yourself in it! Upon my word, Rick, I didn't know you were so vain; and I really can't see any resemblance between you, with your rugged strong face and your coal-black hair, and this young Adonis, who looks as if he was made out of ivory and rose-leaves. Why, my dear Rick, he is a Narcissus, and you-well, of course you have an intellectual expression and all that. But beauty, real beauty, ends where an intellectual expression begins. Intellect is in itself a mode of exaggeration, and destroys the harmony of any face. The moment one sits down to think, one becomes all nose, or all forehead, or something horrid. Look at the successful men in any of the learned professions. How perfectly hideous they are! Except, of course, in the Church. But then in the Church they don't think. A bishop keeps on saying at the age of eighty what he was told to say when he was a boy of eighteen,
walking across the studio towards Rick Hallward. If I did. They live as we all should live--undisturbed. Rick: you are not in the least like him. There is a fatality about all physical and intellectual distinction. but somehow it seems to bring a great deal of romance into one's life. They can sit at their ease and gape at the play. nor ever receive it from alien hands." answered the artist. It is like surrendering a part of them. They neither bring ruin upon others. such as they are--my art. Cristal. It is a silly habit. When I like people immensely." "Robert Langdon? Is that his name?" asked Lord Conrad. The commonest thing is delightful if one only hides it. never thinks. The ugly and the stupid have the best of it in this world. I know that perfectly well. Your mysterious young friend. I can't explain. I should be sorry to look like him. Cristal." "But why not?" "Oh. Indeed. they are at least spared the knowledge of defeat. whose name you have never told me. Robert Langdon's good looks--we shall all suffer for what the gods have given us." "You don't understand me. I never tell their names to any one. You shrug your shoulders? I am telling you the truth. that is his name. but whose picture really fascinates me. the sort of fatality that seems to dog through history the faltering steps of kings. whatever it may be worth. and without disquiet. indifferent. I didn't intend to tell it to you. It seems to be the one thing that can make modern life mysterious or marvellous to us. I suppose you think me awfully foolish about it?" 5 . my brains.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm and as a natural consequence he always looks absolutely delightful. "Yes. Your rank and wealth. "Of course I am not like him. He is some brainless beautiful creature who should be always here in winter when we have no flowers to look at. I have grown to love secrecy. Don't flatter yourself. When I leave town now I never tell my people where I am going. suffer terribly. I dare say. It is better not to be different from one's fellows. I would lose all my pleasure. and always here in summer when we want something to chill our intelligence. If they know nothing of victory. I feel quite sure of that.
Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "Not at all. when we dine out together. "and before I go. After a pause. but she merely laughs at me." "What is that?" said the painter." he murmured." 6 . in fact. I insist on your answering a question I put to you some time ago. Cristal. and the one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties." "I hate the way you talk about your married life. and the most irritating pose I know." said Rick Hallward." "I told you the real reason. and my wife never knows what I am doing. The sunlight slipped over the polished leaves. "You know quite well. or go down to the Duke's--we tell each other the most absurd stories with the most serious faces. My wife is very good at it--much better." "I do not. I want you to explain to me why you won't exhibit Robert Langdon's picture." answered Lord Conrad. "I believe that you are really a very good husband. and you never do a wrong thing. and I always do. Lord Conrad pulled out his watch. but that you are thoroughly ashamed of your own virtues. keeping his eyes fixed on the ground. "I am afraid I must be going. strolling towards the door that led into the garden. I will tell you what it is. Cristal. She never gets confused over her dates. I never know where my wife is. and the two young men went out into the garden together and ensconced themselves on a long bamboo seat that stood in the shade of a tall laurel bush. You are an extraordinary fellow. In the grass. You seem to forget that I am married. white daisies were tremulous. than I am." "Well. You never say a moral thing. I sometimes wish she would." cried Lord Conrad. I want the real reason. she makes no row at all. When we meet--we do meet occasionally. "not at all. Rick. laughing. Your cynicism is simply a pose." "Being natural is simply a pose. my dear Rick. But when she does find me out.
"I will tell you. you did not. but an expression of perplexity came over his face. "And what is that?" he asked. "and as for believing things. and leaning down. "I am quite sure I shall understand it. I can believe anything. Perhaps you will hardly believe it. "Two months ago I went to a crush at Lady Brandon's. Cristal. Now. A grasshopper began to chirrup by the wall. "I am all expectation. reveals himself. gazing intently at the little golden.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "No. on the coloured canvas. "The story is simply this. it is rather the painter who." The wind shook some blossoms from the trees. the occasion. You know we poor artists have to show ourselves in society from time 7 . and wondered what was coming. Lord Conrad felt as if he could hear Rick Hallward's heart beating." said the painter after some time. there is really very little to tell. "Oh. with their clustering stars." answered the painter. not of the sitter. It is not he who is revealed by the painter. The reason I will not exhibit this picture is that I am afraid that I have shown in it the secret of my own soul. moved to and fro in the languid air. You said it was because there was too much of yourself in it. "and I am afraid you will hardly understand it. "every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist. looking him straight in the face." he replied." Lord Conrad smiled." Lord Conrad laughed. white-feathered disk." "Cristal." continued his companion. that is childish. The sitter is merely the accident. plucked a pink-petalled daisy from the grass and examined it. and the heavy lilac-blooms. provided that it is quite incredible. and like a blue thread a long thin dragon-fly floated past on its brown gauze wings." said Hallward. glancing at him." said Rick Hallward. Rick.
Rick. A curious sensation of terror came over me. whatever was my motive--and it may have been pride. and elderly ladies with gigantic tiaras and parrot noses. 8 . for I used to be very proud--I certainly struggled to the door. anybody. That is all. I grew afraid and turned to quit the room. had at least always been so. till I met Robert Langdon. I knew that I had come face to face with some one whose mere personality was so fascinating that. Mr. even a stock-broker. I had a strange feeling that fate had in store for me exquisite joys and exquisite sorrows. it would absorb my whole nature. I had only met her once before. I did not want any external influence in my life. There. "I could not get rid of her. as you told me once. how independent I am by nature. just to remind the public that we are not savages. talking to huge overdressed dowagers and tedious academicians. Cristal. if I allowed it to do so. my whole soul. can gain a reputation for being civilized. You know yourself. Hallward?' she screamed out. I have always been my own master. Conscience is the trade-name of the firm. I felt that I was growing pale. but she took it into her head to lionize me. she is a peacock in everything but beauty. I suddenly became conscious that some one was looking at me. my very art itself. With an evening coat and a white tie. of course. Cristal." "I don't believe that." "Conscience and cowardice are really the same things. Well." said Lord Conrad. She brought me up to royalties. and people with stars and garters. When our eyes met.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm to time. Then--but I don't know how to explain it to you. However. Something seemed to tell me that I was on the verge of a terrible crisis in my life. She spoke of me as her dearest friend. pulling the daisy to bits with his long nervous fingers. and I don't believe you do either. You know her curiously shrill voice?" "Yes. I stumbled against Lady Brandon. 'You are not going to run away so soon. I take no credit to myself for trying to escape. after I had been in the room about ten minutes. It was not conscience that made me do so: it was a sort of cowardice. I turned half-way round and saw Robert Langdon for the first time.
Robert told me so afterwards. at least had been chattered about in the penny newspapers. "My dear fellow. plays the piano--or is it the violin. Perhaps it was not so reckless. It was simply inevitable. something like. 9 . plucking another daisy. But Lady Brandon treats her guests exactly as an auctioneer treats his goods. Robert Langdon?" "Oh. yes. and hissing into my ear." said the young lord. I simply fled. almost touching." "Laughter is not at all a bad beginning for a friendship. Quite forget what he does--afraid he-doesn't do anything--oh. too. I remember her bringing me up to a truculent and red-faced old gentleman covered all over with orders and ribbons. We were quite close. and we became friends at once. the most astounding details. How could I admire her? But tell me. in a tragic whisper which must have been perfectly audible to everybody in the room. "I know she goes in for giving a rapid precis of all her guests. dear Mr. Cristal!" said Hallward listlessly. but I asked Lady Brandon to introduce me to him. We would have spoken to each other without any introduction. He. Suddenly I found myself face to face with the young man whose personality had so strangely stirred me. and only succeeded in opening a restaurant. after all. It was reckless of me. 'Charming boy--poor dear mother and I absolutely inseparable. Our eyes met again. I like to find out people for myself. felt that we were destined to know each other. She either explains them entirely away. or tells one everything about them except what one wants to know. I am sure of that. which is the nineteenth-century standard of immortality." "Poor Lady Brandon! You are hard on her. what did she say about Mr.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm I believe some picture of mine had made a great success at the time." "And how did Lady Brandon describe this wonderful young man?" asked his companion. and it is far the best ending for one. she tried to found a salon. Langdon?' Neither of us could help laughing.
I quite sympathize with the rage of the English democracy against what they call the vices of the upper orders. But I can't help detesting my relations." "My dear old Rick. stupidity. I have not got one who is a fool. Cristal. You like every one. I suppose?" "Oh. that is to say. you are much more than an acquaintance. were drifting across the hollowed turquoise of the summer sky. They are all men of some intellectual power. their indignation was quite magnificent." "How horribly unjust of you!" cried Lord Conrad. A sort of brother. Is that very vain of me? I think it is rather vain. I make a great difference between people. and immorality should be their own special property. he is poaching on their preserves. tilting his hat back and looking up at the little clouds that. My elder brother won't die. "Yes. The masses feel that drunkenness. 10 . brothers! I don't care for brothers. But according to your category I must be merely an acquaintance. and consequently they all appreciate me. horribly unjust of you. for that matter. and my younger brothers seem never to do anything else. I am not quite serious. frowning. and my enemies for their good intellects. like ravelled skeins of glossy white silk. "You don't understand what friendship is." "I should think it was. I suppose it comes from the fact that none of us can stand other people having the same faults as ourselves. my acquaintances for their good characters. Cristal." "I don't agree with a single word that you have said. what is more. A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies." "Cristal!" exclaimed Hallward. and that if any one of us makes an ass of himself. and." he murmured--"or what enmity is.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Hallward shook his head. "My dear fellow. you are indifferent to every one. And yet I don't suppose that ten per cent of the proletariat live correctly. I choose my friends for their good looks." "And much less than a friend. When poor Southwark got into the divorce court.
Tell me more about Mr. "How English you are Rick! That is the second time you have made that observation. or that his beauty is such that art cannot express it. I don't propose to discuss politics." "How extraordinary! I thought you would never care for anything but your art." said the painter gravely. Of course. I feel sure you don't either. I like persons better than principles. sociology. the more purely intellectual will the idea be. He is absolutely necessary to me. If one puts forward an idea to a true Englishman--always a rash thing to do--he never dreams of considering whether the idea is right or wrong. Robert Langdon. "I sometimes think. It is not merely that I paint from him. and I like persons with no principles better than anything else in the world. the probabilities are that the more insincere the man is. I won't tell you that I am dissatisfied with what I have done of him. I have done all that. Indeed. Cristal. the value of an idea has nothing whatsoever to do with the sincerity of the man who expresses it. The only thing he considers of any importance is whether one believes it oneself. How often do you see him?" "Every day. What the invention of oil-painting was to the Venetians." "He is all my art to me now. and the face of Robert Langdon will some day be to me. The first is the appearance of a new medium for art. and I know that 11 . But he is much more to me than a model or a sitter. as in that case it will not be coloured by either his wants. the face of Antinous was to late Greek sculpture. However. sketch from him." Lord Conrad stroked his pointed brown beard and tapped the toe of his patent-leather boot with a tasselled ebony cane. that there are only two eras of any importance in the world's history. Now. and the second is the appearance of a new personality for art also. I couldn't be happy if I didn't see him every day. There is nothing that art cannot express. or metaphysics with you. his desires. or his prejudices. draw from him.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Cristal.
though he is really over twenty-his merely visible presence--ah! I wonder can you realize all that that means? Unconsciously he defines for me the lines of a fresh school. 'A dream of form in days of thought'--who is it who says that? I forget. I see things differently. since I met Robert Langdon. for which Agnew offered me such a huge price but which I would not part with? It is one of the best things I have ever done." "Then why won't you exhibit his portrait?" asked Lord Conrad. You might see nothing in him. and for the first time in my life I saw in the plain woodland the wonder I had always looked for and always missed. He is a suggestion. and have invented a realism that is vulgar. He is never more present in my work than when no image of him is there. is the best work of my life. I find him in the curves of certain lines. this is extraordinary! I must see Robert Langdon. 12 . I think of them differently. as I have said. That is all. an entirely new mode of style. but it is what Robert Langdon has been to me. After some time he came back.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm the work I have done. Cristal! if you only knew what Robert Langdon is to me! You remember that landscape of mine." he said." "Rick. I can now recreate life in a way that was hidden from me before. is good work. in the loveliness and subtleties of certain colours." Hallward got up from the seat and walked up and down the garden. while I was painting it. I see everything in him. The harmony of soul and body-how much that is! We in our madness have separated the two. all the perfection of the spirit that is Greek. Robert Langdon sat beside me. of a new manner. But in some curious way--I wonder will you understand me?--his personality has suggested to me an entirely new manner in art. Some subtle influence passed from him to me. an ideality that is void. "Cristal. a school that is to have in it all the passion of the romantic spirit. "Robert Langdon is to me simply a motive in art. And why is it so? Because. The merely visible presence of this lad--for he seems to me little more than a lad.
and so we fill our minds with rubbish and facts. but should put nothing of his own life into them." murmured Lord Conrad. an ornament for a summer's day. My heart shall never be put under their microscope. are apt to linger. and I will not bare my soul to their shallow prying eyes. Then I feel. and seems to take a real delight in giving me pain. a bit of decoration to charm his vanity. without intending it." "Days in summer. Rick. I have put into it some expression of all this curious artistic idolatry. but I won't argue with you. "An artist should create beautiful things." cried Hallward. however. It is a sad thing to think of. Now and then." "I think you are wrong. he is horribly thoughtless." he answered after a pause. that I have given away my whole soul to some one who treats it as if it were a flower to put in his coat. "I know he likes me. He knows nothing about it. Nowadays a broken heart will run to many editions. But the world might guess it.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "Because. "He likes me. "Perhaps you will tire sooner than he will. I have never cared to speak to him. in the silly hope of keeping 13 . There is too much of myself in the thing. Cristal. I find a strange pleasure in saying things to him that I know I shall be sorry for having said. That accounts for the fact that we all take such pains to over-educate ourselves. Rick. of which. and we sit in the studio and talk of a thousand things. It is only the intellectually lost who ever argue. We have lost the abstract sense of beauty. They know how useful passion is for publication. Cristal--too much of myself!" "Poets are not so scrupulous as you are. of course. We live in an age when men treat art as if it were meant to be a form of autobiography. we want to have something that endures. and for that reason the world shall never see my portrait of Robert Langdon." "I hate them for it. Of course I flatter him dreadfully. As a rule. Some day I will show the world what it is. is Robert Langdon very fond of you?" The painter considered for a few moments. He shall never know anything about it. Tell me. but there is no doubt that genius lasts longer than beauty. he is charming to me. In the wild struggle for existence.
Some day you will look at your friend.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm our place. He pictured to himself with silent amusement the tedious luncheon that he had missed by staying so long with Rick Hallward. I think you will tire first. for it will alter you. The next time he calls. It is like a bric-a-brac shop. 14 . You will bitterly reproach him in your own heart. and seriously think that he has behaved very badly to you. with everything priced above its proper value. Those who are faithful know only the trivial side of love: it is the faithless who know love's tragedies. a romance of art one might call it. or something. all monsters and dust. don't talk like that. he would have been sure to have met Lord Goodbody there. As long as I live." "Ah. and the passions of one's friends--those were the fascinating things in life. that is exactly why I can feel it. and the whole conversation would have been about the feeding of the poor and the necessity for model lodging-houses. And the mind of the thoroughly well-informed man is a dreadful thing. or you won't like his tone of colour. How pleasant it was in the garden! And how delightful other people's emotions were!-much more delightful than their ideas. The rich would have spoken on the value of thrift. for whose exercise there was no necessity in their own lives. as if he had summed up the world in a phrase. The thoroughly well-informed man--that is the modern ideal. and the idle grown eloquent over the dignity of labour. and he will seem to you to be a little out of drawing. Each class would have preached the importance of those virtues. There was a rustle of chirruping sparrows in the green lacquer leaves of the ivy. It was charming to have escaped all that! As he thought of his aunt." "Cristal. You can't feel what I feel. It will be a great pity. You change too often. One's own soul. all the same. Had he gone to his aunt's. it seemed to him. the personality of Robert Langdon will dominate me. What you have told me is quite a romance. you will be perfectly cold and indifferent. my dear Rick. and the worst of having a romance of any kind is that it leaves one so unromantic." And Lord Conrad struck a light on a dainty silver case and began to smoke a cigarette with a self-conscious and satisfied air. and the blue cloud-shadows chased themselves across the grass like swallows.
The painter turned to his servant. horribly freckled. Cristal." "I am very glad you didn't. She said that he was very earnest and had a beautiful nature. It was at my aunt. laughing. Then he looked at Lord Conrad." "Mr. "Don't look so angry." cried Lord Conrad. and tramping about on huge feet. I at once pictured to myself a creature with spectacles and lank hair. Lady Agatha's. sir. I am bound to state that she never told me he was good-looking. "He has a simple and a beautiful nature. "You must introduce me now. Women have no appreciation of good looks. Cristal?" "Where I heard the name of Robert Langdon. Langdon to wait. He turned to Hallward and said. "My dear fellow. "Robert Langdon is my dearest friend." he said." "Why?" "I don't want you to meet him. good women have not.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm an idea seemed to strike him." The man bowed and went up the walk. and that his name was Robert Langdon. Your aunt 15 . I wish I had known it was your friend. who stood blinking in the sunlight. with a slight frown. Robert Langdon is in the studio. She told me she had discovered a wonderful young man who was going to help her in the East End." "You don't want me to meet him?" "No. "Ask Mr." "Remembered what. at least." "Where was it?" asked Hallward. Parker: I shall be in in a few moments. I have just remembered." said the butler. Rick. coming into the garden.
and. Mind. and taking Hallward by the arm. I have just been telling him what a capital sitter you were. "What nonsense you talk!" said Lord Conrad. Rick." "I am in Lady Agatha's black books at present." "You have not spoiled my pleasure in meeting you. CHAPTER 2 As they entered they saw Robert Langdon." "That entirely depends on how you sit to-day. They are perfectly charming. Robert." "Oh. and the words seemed wrung out of him almost against his will." "You must lend me these. When he caught sight of Lord Conrad. I am afraid." he cried. and he started up. Mr. "I beg your pardon." answered the lad. turning over the pages of a volume of Schumann's "Forest Scenes. Robert. smiling. "I want to learn them. and has many marvellous people in it. You are one of her favourites." "This is Lord Conrad Wotton. I am tired of sitting. I trust you." said Lord Conrad. an old Oxford friend of mine. Cristal." He spoke very slowly. Langdon. Don't take away from me the one person who gives to my art whatever charm it possesses: my life as an artist depends on him. stepping forward and extending his hand. "My aunt has often spoken to me about you. one of her victims also. Your influence would be bad. petulant manner. and I don't want a life-sized portrait of myself. but I didn't know you had any one with you. and now you have spoiled everything.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm was quite right in what she said of him. Don't spoil him. swinging round on the music-stool in a wilful. Don't try to influence him. The world is wide. he almost led him into the house. He was seated at the piano. a faint blush coloured his cheeks for a moment. with his back to them. Rick." answered Robert 16 .
"You are too charming to go in for philanthropy. No wonder Rick Hallward worshipped him. Lord Conrad looked at him." answered Robert. "Am I to go. laughing. hesitated for a moment. "Oh. She is quite devoted to you. "I promised to go to a club in Whitechapel with her last Tuesday. I don't know what she will say to me." 17 . And I don't think it really matters about your not being there. and I really forgot all about it. Langdon?" he asked. Lord Conrad. One felt that he had kept himself unspotted from the world. I will make your peace with my aunt. He was looking worried.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm with a funny look of penitence. I want to finish this picture to-day. he was certainly wonderfully handsome. We were to have played a duet together--three duets. he glanced at him. his crisp gold hair. Would you think it awfully rude of me if I asked you to go away?" Lord Conrad smiled and looked at Robert Langdon. I am far too frightened to call. "Cristal. I believe. and when he heard Lord Conrad's last remark. she makes quite enough noise for two people. All the candour of youth was there." And Lord Conrad flung himself down on the divan and opened his cigarettecase." "That is very horrid to her. as well as all youth's passionate purity. The painter had been busy mixing his colours and getting his brushes ready. and I can't bear him when he sulks. I see that Rick is in one of his sulky moods. Yes. There was something in his face that made one trust him at once. and then said. and not very nice to me. with his finely curved scarlet lips. please don't. Besides. When Aunt Agatha sits down to the piano. Langdon--far too charming. I want you to tell me why I should not go in for philanthropy. Mr. The audience probably thought it was a duet. Mr. his frank blue eyes." "Oh.
Cristal.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "I don't know that I shall tell you that. Come and see me some afternoon in Curzon Street. Cristal. "It is quite true. get up on the platform. with the single exception of myself. He was so unlike Rick. Mr. of course you must stay. But I certainly shall not run away. now that you have asked me to stop. and it must be dreadfully tedious for my unfortunate sitters." said Hallward. It is so tedious a subject that one would have to talk seriously about it. and made a little moue of discontent to Lord Conrad." "Rick. Robert's whims are laws to everybody. Langdon. Robert. Lord Conrad? As bad as Rick says?" 18 . You never open your lips while you are painting. You don't really mind. and never listen either. Ask him to stay. After a few moments he said to him. I insist upon it. "You are very pressing. except himself. I am nearly always at home at five o'clock. but I am afraid I must go. And now. to oblige Robert. Write to me when you are coming. and to oblige me. Mr." cried Robert Langdon. I have promised to meet a man at the Orleans. too. Sit down again. Langdon. "if Lord Conrad Wotton goes. I shall go. gazing intently at his picture. "I don't think there will be any difficulty about that. Good-bye. or pay any attention to what Lord Conrad says." Hallward bit his lip. I should be sorry to miss you. do you? You have often told me that you liked your sitters to have some one to chat to." Robert Langdon stepped up on the dais with the air of a young Greek martyr. They made a delightful contrast." Lord Conrad took up his hat and gloves. Rick. Rick. and it is horribly dull standing on a platform and trying to look pleasant. I never talk when I am working. "If Robert wishes it. I beg you to stay. to whom he had rather taken a fancy." "But what about my man at the Orleans?" The painter laughed. "Have you really a very bad influence. and don't move about too much." "Stay. And he had such a beautiful voice. He has a very bad influence over all his friends.
and are naked. "And yet. deep in his work and conscious only that a look had come into the lad's face that he had never seen there before. Langdon. They have forgotten the highest of all duties. and that he had even in his Eton days. the duty that one owes to one's self. He becomes an echo of some one else's music. "I believe that if one man were to live out his life fully and completely. His sins. Of course. The aim of life is self-development.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "There is no such thing as a good influence. We are punished for our refusals. Courage has gone out of our race. Nothing remains then 19 . are borrowed." said the painter. if there are such things as sins. or burn with his natural passions. To realize one's nature perfectly--that is what each of us is here for. reality to every dream--I believe that the world would gain such a fresh impulse of joy that we would forget all the maladies of mediaevalism. All influence is immoral--immoral from the scientific point of view." "Why?" "Because to influence a person is to give him one's own soul. People are afraid of themselves. nowadays. They feed the hungry and clothe the beggar." continued Lord Conrad. the terror of God. and has done with its sin. But the bravest man amongst us is afraid of himself. expression to every thought. like a good boy. in his low. musical voice. Perhaps we never really had it. The terror of society. they are charitable. for action is a mode of purification. The mutilation of the savage has its tragic survival in the self-denial that mars our lives. it may be. And yet--" "Just turn your head a little more to the right. an actor of a part that has not been written for him. Robert. The body sins once. Mr. and with that graceful wave of the hand that was always so characteristic of him. He does not think his natural thoughts. were to give form to every feeling. richer than the Hellenic ideal. Every impulse that we strive to strangle broods in the mind and poisons us. His virtues are not real to him. which is the secret of religion--these are the two things that govern us. and return to the Hellenic ideal-to something finer. which is the basis of morals. But their own souls starve.
He was dimly conscious that entirely fresh influences were at work within him. with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful. that it created in us. but I cannot find it. rather. Or. Resist it. It seemed to him that he had been walking in fire. but that he felt was now vibrating and throbbing to curious pulses. motionless. you yourself. with parted lips and eyes strangely bright.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm but the recollection of a pleasure. Words! Mere words! How terrible they were! How clear. There is some answer to you. and the brain only. He understood them now. Music had stirred him like that. Mere words! Was there anything so real as words? Yes. that the great sins of the world take place also. let me try not to think. Why had he not 20 . Mr. I don't know what to say. Langdon. The few words that Rick's friend had said to him--words spoken by chance. with your rose-red youth and your rose-white boyhood. day-dreams and sleeping dreams whose mere memory might stain your cheek with shame--" "Stop!" faltered Robert Langdon. Life suddenly became fiery-coloured to him. or the luxury of a regret. Let me think. thoughts that have filled you with terror. and cruel! One could not escape from them. and vivid. and with wilful paradox in them-had touched some secret chord that had never been touched before. But music was not articulate. Yet they seemed to him to have come really from himself." For nearly ten minutes he stood there. but rather another chaos. It has been said that the great events of the world take place in the brain. and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself. Music had troubled him many times. you have had passions that have made you afraid. It is in the brain. You. Don't speak. no doubt. And yet what a subtle magic there was in them! They seemed to be able to give a plastic form to formless things. "stop! you bewilder me. The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. and to have a music of their own as sweet as that of viol or of lute. there had been things in his boyhood that he had not understood. It was not a new world.
Lord Conrad watched him." "Certainly. He was amazed at the sudden impression that his words had produced. But you never sat better." "He has certainly not been paying me compliments. I don't know what Cristal has been saying to you. and when Parker comes I will tell him what you want. a book which had revealed to him much that he had not known before. looking at him with his dreamy languorous eyes. I have got to work up this background. You were perfectly still. and. that had the true refinement and perfect delicacy that in art. The air is stifling here. When I am painting." said Lord Conrad. at any rate comes only from strength. "I will go out to the garden with you. Rick. He knew the precise psychological moment when to say nothing. I am so sorry. It is horribly hot in the studio. Cristal. And I have caught the effect I wanted-the half-parted lips and the bright look in the eyes. "Rick.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm known it? With his subtle smile." "You know you believe it all. but he has certainly made you have the most wonderful expression. He was unconscious of the silence." cried Robert Langdon suddenly. let us have something iced to drink. "I must go out and sit in the garden. You mustn't believe a word that he says. something with strawberries in it. remembering a book that he had read when he was sixteen. I can't think of anything else." "My dear fellow. Just touch the bell. he wondered whether Robert Langdon was passing through a similar experience. I suppose he has been paying you compliments. Perhaps that is the reason that I don't believe anything he has told me. He felt intensely interested. He had merely shot an arrow into the air. I am tired of standing. Had it hit the mark? How fascinating the lad was! Hallward painted away with that marvellous bold touch of his. 21 .
And. You are a wonderful creation." said Lord Conrad. His romantic. "Yes. and if you stay any longer in this glare. 22 . "that is one of the great secrets of life-to cure the soul by means of the senses. He was bareheaded. He could not help liking the tall. There was a look of fear in his eyes. feverishly drinking in their perfume as if it had been wine. "Let us go and sit in the shade. and seemed to have a language of their own. You know more than you think you know." Lord Conrad went out to the garden and found Robert Langdon burying his face in the great cool lilac-blossoms. yet. what was there to be afraid of? He was not a schoolboy or a girl." Robert Langdon frowned and turned his head away. had a curious charm. and some hidden nerve shook the scarlet of his lips and left them trembling." continued Lord Conrad. and the leaves had tossed his rebellious curls and tangled all their gilded threads. I have never been in better form for painting than I am to-day." The lad started and drew back. His cool. and ashamed of being afraid. But he felt afraid of him. "Nothing can cure the soul but the senses. They moved. just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul. such as people have when they are suddenly awakened. "Parker has brought out the drinks. even." he murmured. There was something in his low languid voice that was absolutely fascinating. white. "You are quite right to do that. flowerlike hands. like music. olive-coloured face and worn expression interested him. He came close to him and put his hand upon his shoulder. Why had it been left for a stranger to reveal him to himself? He had known Rick Hallward for months.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm so I will join you later on. but the friendship between them had never altered him. and the senses by means of the soul. This is going to be my masterpiece. His finely chiselled nostrils quivered. just as you know less than you want to know. graceful young man who was standing by him. Don't keep Robert too long. Suddenly there had come some one across his life who seemed to have disclosed to him life's mystery. It is my masterpiece as it stands. It was absurd to be frightened. as he spoke.
laughing. your beauty will go with it. and passion branded your lips with its hideous fires. . When your youth goes. wherever you go. than genius. Langdon. . Yes. You have. But what the gods give they quickly take away. Now. or have to content yourself with those mean triumphs that 23 . as he sat down on the seat at the end of the garden. Don't frown. You have a wonderfully beautiful face.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm you will be quite spoiled. as it needs no explanation. indeed." "Why?" "Because you have the most marvellous youth. . when thought has seared your forehead with its lines. not the invisible. . . but at least it is not so superficial as thought is. You really must not allow yourself to become sunburnt. when you are old and wrinkled and ugly. the gods have been good to you. It would be unbecoming." "No." "I don't feel that. perfectly. Will it always be so? . or the reflection in dark waters of that silver shell we call the moon. Langdon. Mr. and fully. It makes princes of those who have it. Mr. and then you will suddenly discover that there are no triumphs left for you. you don't feel it now. And beauty is a form of genius-is higher. . and Rick will never paint you again. You have only a few years in which to live really. It has its divine right of sovereignty. That may be so. you charm the world. To me. like sunlight. Mr. People say sometimes that beauty is only superficial. . It cannot be questioned. "It should matter everything to you. . beauty is the wonder of wonders. The true mystery of the world is the visible. Langdon. Lord Conrad." "What can it matter?" cried Robert Langdon. you will feel it. You smile? Ah! when you have lost it you won't smile. or spring-time. It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. you will feel it terribly. and youth is the one thing worth having. Some day. It is of the great facts of the world.
Ah! realize your youth while you have it. You might be its visible symbol. or when some thought that terrifies 24 . The pulse of joy that beats in us at twenty becomes sluggish. The world belongs to you for a season. Then it began to scramble all over the oval stellated globe of the tiny blossoms.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm the memory of your past will make more bitter than defeats. listening to the tedious. You will become sallow. the false ideals. . He watched it with that strange interest in trivial things that we try to develop when things of high import make us afraid. .. Our limbs fail. For there is such a little time that your youth will last--such a little time. and the vulgar.. In a month there will be purple stars on the clematis. . of our age. but they blossom again. These are the sickly aims. . Every month as it wanes brings you nearer to something dreadful. open-eyed and wondering. Don't squander the gold of your days. and hollow-cheeked. . and dull-eyed. With your personality there is nothing you could not do. Time is jealous of you. I thought how tragic it would be if you were wasted. The laburnum will be as yellow next June as it is now. Youth! Youth! There is absolutely nothing in the world but youth!" Robert Langdon listened. Be afraid of nothing. The common hill-flowers wither. A new Hedonism-that is what our century wants. trying to improve the hopeless failure. You will suffer horribly. and wars against your lilies and your roses. or giving away your life to the ignorant. of what you really might be. . There was so much in you that charmed me that I felt I must tell you something about yourself. and the exquisite temptations that we had not the courage to yield to. and year after year the green night of its leaves will hold its purple stars. haunted by the memory of the passions of which we were too much afraid. our senses rot. The spray of lilac fell from his hand upon the gravel. Be always searching for new sensations. But we never get back our youth. The moment I met you I saw that you were quite unconscious of what you really are. or when we are stirred by some new emotion for which we cannot find expression.. A furry bee came and buzzed round it for a moment. Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you! Let nothing be lost upon you. the common. We degenerate into hideous puppets.
It is a meaningless word." They rose up and sauntered down the walk together. The heavy scent of the roses seemed to brood over everything. After about a quarter of an hour Hallward stopped painting. Two green-and-white butterflies fluttered past them. too. Langdon. and then for a long 25 . Suddenly the painter appeared at the door of the studio and made staccato signs for them to come in. Robert Langdon put his hand upon Lord Conrad's arm." he murmured. "You are glad you have met me. Women are so fond of using it. The only difference between a caprice and a lifelong passion is that the caprice lasts a little longer." As they entered the studio. "In that case. Lord Conrad flung himself into a large wicker arm-chair and watched him. then stepped up on the platform and resumed his pose. I am glad now. Hallward stepped back to look at his work from a distance. The flower seemed to quiver. let our friendship be a caprice. It makes me shudder when I hear it.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm us lays sudden siege to the brain and calls on us to yield. "Yes. looking at him. After a time the bee flew away. looked for a long time at Robert Langdon. now and then. They spoil every romance by trying to make it last for ever. They turned to each other and smiled. The light is quite perfect. "I am waiting. He saw it creeping into the stained trumpet of a Tyrian convolvulus." said Lord Conrad. Mr. and you can bring your drinks. I wonder shall I always be glad?" "Always! That is a dreadful word. "Do come in. flushing at his own boldness. In the slanting beams that streamed through the open doorway the dust danced and was golden. except when. and in the pear-tree at the corner of the garden a thrush began to sing." he cried. The sweep and dash of the brush on the canvas made the only sound that broke the stillness. and then swayed gently to and fro.
"Isn't it. "My dear fellow. He had never felt it before. as he stood gazing at the shadow of his own loveliness. He stood there motionless and in wonder. and his cheeks flushed for a moment with pleasure." "That is entirely due to me. The scarlet would pass away from his lips and the gold steal from 26 . laughed at them. "It is the finest portrait of modern times. Yes. They had not influenced his nature. I congratulate you most warmly. Then had come Lord Conrad Wotton with his strange panegyric on youth." he said. the full reality of the description flashed across him. "Quite finished. A look of joy came into his eyes." said the painter. and stooping down he wrote his name in long vermilion letters on the left-hand corner of the canvas. and a wonderful likeness as well. there would be a day when his face would be wrinkled and wizen. When he saw it he drew back. biting the end of one of his huge brushes and frowning. the grace of his figure broken and deformed." he cried at last. I am awfully obliged to you. "It is quite finished. but passed listlessly in front of his picture and turned towards it. as if he had recognized himself for the first time. Mr. Rick Hallward's compliments had seemed to him to be merely the charming exaggeration of friendship. come over and look at yourself. That had stirred him at the time. Lord Conrad came over and examined the picture. Mr." The lad started. as if awakened from some dream. forgotten them. and now. "Is it really finished?" he murmured. dimly conscious that Hallward was speaking to him. Langdon?" Robert made no answer. stepping down from the platform. Langdon.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm time at the picture. his eyes dim and colourless. He had listened to them." broke in Lord Conrad. his terrible warning of its brevity. The sense of his own beauty came on him like a revelation. but not catching the meaning of his words. It was certainly a wonderful work of art. "And you have sat splendidly to-day.
. laughing." said Lord Conrad. Rick. and uncouth. I must have it. But this picture will remain always young. Robert Langdon turned and looked at him." cried Lord Conrad." "How sad it is!" murmured Robert Langdon with his eyes still fixed upon his own portrait. The life that was to make his soul would mar his body. He felt as if a hand of ice had been laid upon his heart. If it were only the other way! If it were I who was to be always young. "He is a very lucky fellow. and the picture that was to grow old! For that--for that--I would give everything! Yes. "Of course he likes it. a sharp pang of pain struck through him like a knife and made each delicate fibre of his nature quiver." "I should object very strongly." "Whose property is it?" "Robert's." answered the painter. and across them came a mist of tears." said Hallward. hideous." "It is not my property.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm his hair. "Don't you like it?" cried Hallward at last. of course. His eyes deepened into amethyst. there is nothing in the whole world I would not give! I would give my soul for that!" "You would hardly care for such an arrangement. . As he thought of it. stung a little by the lad's silence. I will give you anything you like to ask for it. not understanding what it meant. and horrible. He would become dreadful. Cristal. "Who wouldn't like it? It is one of the greatest things in modern art. Cristal. . 27 . "I believe you would. It will never be older than this particular day of June. "How sad it is! I shall grow old. Rick. and dreadful. "It would be rather hard lines on your work.
"Robert! Robert!" he cried. I shall kill myself. Lord Conrad Wotton is perfectly right. what have I to do with it?" 28 . Your picture has taught me that. now. as though he was praying. I am jealous of the portrait you have painted of me. Youth is the only thing worth having. are you?-you who are finer than any of them!" "I am jealous of everything whose beauty does not die." he continued. "It is the real Robert Langdon-that is all. and I could be always what I am now! Why did you paint it? It will mock me some day--mock me horribly!" The hot tears welled into his eyes. When I find that I am growing old. Oh. he tore his hand away and. What had happened? He seemed quite angry. "don't talk like that." The painter stared in amazement. that when one loses one's good looks. Cristal. I know. "Yes. "This is your doing. How long will you like me? Till I have my first wrinkle. Hardly as much. flinging himself on the divan.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm You like your art better than your friends. It was so unlike Robert to speak like that. I have never had such a friend as you. I am no more to you than a green bronze figure." "If it is not. Lord Conrad shrugged his shoulders. Why should it keep what I must lose? Every moment that passes takes something from me and gives something to it. His face was flushed and his cheeks burning." "It is not. I dare say. You will like them always. one loses everything. whatever they may be. if it were only the other way! If the picture could change." Hallward turned pale and caught his hand. I suppose. and I shall never have such another. "I am less to you than your ivory Hermes or your silver Faun. You are not jealous of material things." said the painter bitterly. he buried his face in the cushions.
" said Lord Conrad. Rick. "You will have tea." And he walked across the room and rang the bell for tea." he muttered. I feel that. What absurd fellows you are. it was for the long palette-knife. seeking for something." "Appreciate it? I am in love with it. I can't quarrel with my two best friends at once. Robert. He had found it at last. Man is many things. "It would be murder!" "I am glad you appreciate my work at last. "Cristal. rushing over to Hallward. and flung it to the end of the studio. and with pallid face and tear-stained eyes. with its thin blade of lithe steel. Cristal? Or do you object to such simple pleasures?" "I adore simple pleasures. It is part of myself. as soon as you are dry. He was going to rip up the canvas. Then you can do what you like with yourself. Yes. and sent home." said the painter coldly when he had recovered from his surprise. "I stayed when you asked me. both of you! I wonder who it was defined man as a rational animal. With a stifled sob the lad leaped from the couch. looked at him as he walked over to the deal painting-table that was set beneath the high curtained window." "Well. except on the stage. and framed." Robert Langdon lifted his golden head from the pillow. What was he doing there? His fingers were straying about among the litter of tin tubes and dry brushes. and. "They are the last refuge of the complex. What is it but canvas and colour? I will not let it come across our three lives and mar them. and I will destroy it. you shall be varnished. It was the most premature definition ever given. don't!" he cried. "I never thought you would. "Don't. Robert? And so will you. But I don't like scenes." was Lord Conrad's answer. of course. but between you both you have made me hate the finest piece of work I have ever done. 29 .Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "You should have gone away when I asked you. tore the knife out of his hand. Rick.
" said Lord Conrad. they are so horrid. Lord Conrad. but it is only with an old friend. and I really do. Sin is the only real colour-element left in modern life." answered Lord Conrad dreamily. when one has them on." "Ah! this morning! You have lived since then. You had much better let me have it." "If you let any one have it but me. Robert Langdon went over and poured out the tea." 30 . somewhere." There came a knock at the door. I think that would be a rather nice excuse: it would have all the surprise of candour. Rick. There was a rattle of cups and saucers and the hissing of a fluted Georgian urn. I have promised to dine at White's.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm but he is not rational. "the costume of the nineteenth century is detestable." "It is such a bore putting on one's dress-clothes." muttered Hallward. after all-though I wish you chaps would not squabble over the picture. Robert. and the butler entered with a laden tea-tray and set it down upon a small Japanese table." "You know the picture is yours. "and I don't allow people to call me a silly boy. so depressing. so I can send him a wire to say that I am ill. "Let us go to the theatre to-night. I shall never forgive you!" cried Robert Langdon. "There is sure to be something on. I gave it to you before it existed. Rick. or that I am prevented from coming in consequence of a subsequent engagement. Mr. Two globe-shaped china dishes were brought in by a page. Langdon. This silly boy doesn't really want it. I am glad he is not. The two men sauntered languidly to the table and examined what was under the covers. "And. and that you don't really object to being reminded that you are extremely young." "Yes." "And you know you have been a little silly. It is so sombre." "I should have objected very strongly this morning.
Rick!" "At least you are like it in appearance." "Well." "What a fuss people make about fidelity!" exclaimed Lord Conrad." sighed Hallward. sadly. strolling across to him. Young men want to be faithful. "I shall stay with the real Robert. old men want to be faithless." "I should like that awfully. But it will never alter. Cristal. Mr. It has nothing to do with our own will. Robert. and cannot: that is all one can say." said the lad. cup in hand. too. and are not. even in love it is purely a question for physiology. then." "Don't go to the theatre to-night. "Stop and dine with me. Langdon." "I should like to come to the theatre with you. and you will come. Rick. you are just like that." "Before which Robert? The one who is pouring out tea for us." "How wonderful. Lord Conrad. I have a lot of work to do. won't you?" "I can't. to the picture." The painter bit his lip and walked over." said Hallward. I would sooner not. "Why. "Is it the real Robert?" cried the original of the portrait. "Am I really like that?" "Yes. "Then you shall come.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "You really must not say things like that before Robert. really. or the one in the picture?" "Before either." 31 . "That is something. you and I will go alone." he said.
Cristal. Come and see me soon. when we were in the garden this morning. Good-bye." Robert Langdon laughed and shook his head. Come to-morrow. He always breaks his own. Rick." "Certainly. "Come. "It is rather late." "You won't forget?" "No. I beg you not to go." "I trust you.. Mr. "I must go." cried Robert.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "I can't. and looked over at Lord Conrad. "And . "I entreat you. and he went over and laid down his cup on the tray." "I wish I could trust myself. laughing. as you have to dress. Rick?" "Remember what I asked you. 32 . "Very well. who was watching them from the tea-table with an amused smile." "Why?" "Because I have promised Lord Conrad Wotton to go with him." said Hallward. of course not. you had better lose no time. and. Rick." he answered." The lad hesitated." said Lord Conrad.. Robert." "He won't like you the better for keeping your promises. Good-bye. Cristal!" "Yes." "I have forgotten it.
His father had been our ambassador at Madrid when Isabella was young and Prim unthought of. except when the Tories were in office. a post to which he considered that he was fully entitled by reason of his birth. but who was considered generous by Society as he fed the people who amused him. and a look of pain came into his face. and he always said that the country was going to the dogs. the painter flung himself down on a sofa. It has been a most interesting afternoon. who had been his father's secretary. and I can drop you at your own place. a genial if somewhat rough-mannered old bachelor. CHAPTER 3 At half-past twelve next day Lord Conrad Wotton strolled from Curzon Street over to the Albany to call on his uncle. He paid some attention to the management of his collieries in the Midland counties. but had retired from the diplomatic service in a capricious moment of annoyance on not being offered the Embassy at Paris. my hansom is outside. but preferred to live in chambers as it was less trouble." As the door closed behind them. and took most of his meals at his club. In politics he was a Tory.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Langdon. Only England could have produced him. who bullied him. Good-bye. whom he bullied in turn. had set himself to the serious study of the great aristocratic art of doing absolutely nothing. excusing himself for this taint of industry on the ground that the one advantage of having coal was that it enabled a gentleman to afford the decency of burning wood on his own hearth. He was a hero to his valet. the good English of his dispatches. His principles 33 . He had two large town houses. whom the outside world called selfish because it derived no particular benefit from him. his indolence. Rick. and on succeeding some months later to the title. Lord Fermor. and a terror to most of his relations. and his inordinate passion for pleasure. during which period he roundly abused them for being a pack of Radicals. The son. somewhat foolishly as was thought at the time. had resigned along with his chief.
What can you expect? Examinations." murmured Lord Conrad. But I hear they let them in now by examination. he found his uncle sitting in a rough shooting-coat. and I never pay mine." said Lord Conrad languidly. I can tell you anything that is in an English Blue Book. If a man is a gentleman. smoking a cheroot and grumbling over The Times. Besides." said Lord Fermor. It is only people who pay their bills who want that. but there was a good deal to be said for his prejudices. I always deal with Dartmoor's tradesmen. Young people. Credit is the capital of a younger son. sit down and tell me all about it. whatever he knows is bad for him." "Pure family affection. Uncle George. nowadays. knitting his bushy white eyebrows. "Well. are pure humbug from beginning to end. of course. and were not visible till five." "Yes. settling his button-hole in his coat. Cristal." said the old gentleman. 34 . Robert Langdon? Who is he?" asked Lord Fermor. he knows quite enough." "Mr. and one lives charmingly upon it.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm were out of date. But I don't want money. I want to get something out of you. making a wry face. useless information. I suppose. Robert Langdon does not belong to Blue Books. I assure you. "what brings you out so early? I thought you dandies never got up till two. "Well. things were much better. sir. What I want is information: not useful information." "Well. although those fellows nowadays write a lot of nonsense. When I was in the Diplomatic. Uncle George. Uncle George. "and when they grow older they know it." "Money. and if he is not a gentleman. and consequently they never bother me. Cristal. "Mr. When Lord Conrad entered the room. imagine that money is everything.
I know who he is. paid him-and that the fellow spitted his man as if he had been a pigeon.." "He is very good-looking. "He should have a pot of money waiting for him if Kelso did the right thing by him. Oh. He is the last Lord Kelso's grandson. thought him a mean dog. They made quite a story of it. He brought his daughter back with him. I believe I was at her christening.. yes. sir. it was a bad business. Of course. Came to Madrid once when I was there. His mother had money. Lady Margaret Devereaux. some Belgian brute. so you might have known her." "Kelso's grandson!" echoed the old gentleman. Uncle George. I want you to tell me about his mother. too. His mother was a Devereux. and made all the men frantic by running away with a penniless young fellow-a mere nobody. I remember the whole thing as if it happened yesterday." continued the old man. Egad. a subaltern in a foot regiment. The poor chap was killed in a duel at Spa a few months after the marriage. There was an ugly story about it.. The girl died. sir. Kelso ate his chop alone at the club for some time afterwards. Her grandfather hated Kelso. The Queen used to ask me about the English noble who was always quarrelling with the cabmen about their fares. he must be a good-looking chap. through her grandfather. She was an extraordinarily beautiful girl. So she left a son. All the Selby property came to her. I have only just met him..Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "That is what I have come to learn. did she? I had forgotten that.. Or rather. to do it. but. The thing was hushed up." assented Lord Conrad. What sort of boy is he? If he is like his mother. I hope he treated his grandson better than he did the jarvies. I didn't dare show my face at Court for a month. "I hope he will fall into proper hands. I am very much interested in Mr. I was told. to insult his son-in-law in public--paid him. "Kelso's grandson! . Langdon at present." 35 . and she never spoke to him again. too. He was. They said Kelso got some rascally adventurer. too. egad. Certainly. What was she like? Whom did she marry? You have known nearly everybody in your time. I was ashamed of him. I knew his mother intimately. or something of that kind. Margaret Devereux. died within a year.
what is this humbug your father tells me about Dartmoor wanting to marry an American? Ain't English girls good enough for him?" "It is rather fashionable to marry Americans just now. after politics. And by the way. I never could understand." said Lord Fermor. I don't think Dartmoor has a chance. and there wasn't a girl in London at the time who wasn't after him. I know. rising to go. She was romantic." 36 ." "I'll back English women against the world. for Dartmoor's sake. What on earth induced her to behave as she did." he said." "They don't last. I am told that pork-packing is the most lucrative profession in America. "The betting is on the Americans. Cristal. She laughed at him. "Has she got any?" Lord Conrad shook his head. The men were a poor lot. Uncle George. And . They take things flying. . talking about silly marriages." muttered his uncle. "American girls are as clever at concealing their parents. She could have married anybody she chose. but they are capital at a steeplechase. Cristal. egad! the women were wonderful. Carlington went on his knees to her. his mother was very beautiful?" "Margaret Devereux was one of the loveliest creatures I ever saw. "They are pork-packers. striking the table with his fist. but. I suppose?" "I hope so. Told me so himself." "Who are her people?" grumbled the old gentleman. I am told. He told me so. Carlington was mad after her. He has Selby. He is not of age yet. . Cristal. as English women are at concealing their past. Uncle George. "I fancy that the boy will be well off. "A long engagement exhausts them. All the women of that family were.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "I don't know. though." answered Lord Conrad.
Why. Crudely as it had been told to him. but it won't have any effect. the good woman thinks that I have nothing to do but to write cheques for her silly fads. Most American women do. Cristal. Months of voiceless agony. treacherous crime. Uncle George. It is their distinguishing characteristic. if I stop any longer. not to bother me any more with her charity appeals. the boy left to solitude and the tyranny of an old and 37 . Lord Conrad passed up the low arcade into Burlington Street and turned his steps in the direction of Berkeley Square." "Why can't these American women stay in their own country? They are always telling us that it is the paradise for women. The mother snatched away by death." said Lord Conrad. I'll tell her.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "Is she pretty?" "She behaves as if she was beautiful. A beautiful woman risking everything for a mad passion. I am sick of them. I always like to know everything about my new friends. Langdon. I have asked myself and Mr. they are so excessively anxious to get out of it. A few wild weeks of happiness cut short by a hideous." "Where are you lunching. almost modern romance. So that was the story of Robert Langdon's parentage. like Eve. He is her latest protege. I shall be late for lunch. it had yet stirred him by its suggestion of a strange. It is the secret of their charm. That is the reason why. and then a child born in pain." "All right. and nothing about my old ones. Philanthropic people lose all sense of humanity. "Good-bye." "It is." The old gentleman growled approvingly and rang the bell for his servant. Uncle George. Thanks for giving me the information I wanted." "Humph! tell your Aunt Agatha. Cristal?" "At Aunt Agatha's.
Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm loveless man. there was something tragic. Behind every exquisite thing that existed. refined. Dryadlike and not afraid. too. because in his soul who sought for her there had been wakened that wonderful vision to which alone are wonderful things revealed. Grace was his. the red candleshades staining to a richer rose the wakening wonder of his face. that artist in thought. how interesting he was! The new manner in art. at any rate. an age grossly carnal in its pleasures. . . He could be made a Titan or a toy. this lad. What a pity it was that such beauty was destined to fade! . He answered to every touch and thrill of the bow. It posed the lad. And Rick? From a psychological point of view. as it were.. and let it tarry there for a moment. and grossly common in its aims. To project one's soul into some gracious form. . and beauty such as old Greek marbles kept for us. suddenly showing herself. And how charming he had been at dinner the night before.. . it was an interesting background. Was it not Plato. . the fresh mode of looking at life. . Talking to him was like playing upon an exquisite violin. the mere shapes and patterns of things becoming. that the meanest flower might blow. whom by so curious a chance he had met in Rick's studio. as though they were themselves patterns of some other and more perfect form whose shadow they made real: how strange it all was! He remembered something like it in history. to hear one's own intellectual views echoed back to one with all the added music of passion and youth. as with startled eyes and lips parted in frightened pleasure he had sat opposite to him at the club.. or could be fashioned into a marvellous type. the silent spirit that dwelt in dim woodland. suggested so strangely by the merely visible presence of one who was unconscious of it all. and walked unseen in open field. and the white purity of boyhood. made him more perfect. There was something terribly enthralling in the exercise of influence. Worlds had to be in travail. He was a marvellous type. to convey one's temperament into another as though it were a subtle fluid or a strange perfume: there was a real joy in that--perhaps the most satisfying joy left to us in an age so limited and vulgar as our own. and gaining a kind of symbolical value. who had first analyzed it? 38 . . No other activity was like it. as it were. . There was nothing that one could not do with him. Yes.
with whom she was conversing in that intensely earnest manner 39 . who had fallen. as he explained once to Lady Agatha. half done so. Fortunately for him she had on the other side Lord Faudel. Erskine of Treadley. the lad was to the painter who had fashioned the wonderful portrait. much liked by every one who knew her. said everything that he had to say before he was thirty. . indeed. but so dreadfully dowdy that she reminded one of a badly bound hymn-book. a flush of pleasure stealing into his cheek. who followed his leader in public life and in private life followed the best cooks. . When he entered the somewhat sombre hall. into bad habits of silence. dining with the Tories and thinking with the Liberals. turned back. He invented a facile excuse.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Was it not Buonarotti who had carved it in the coloured marbles of a sonnet-sequence? But in our own century it was strange. looked round to see who was there. the butler told him that they had gone in to lunch. He found that he had passed his aunt's some distance. Sir Thomas Burdon. Cristal. . as bald as a ministerial statement in the House of Commons. There was something fascinating in this son of love and death. Vandeleur. having. and. shaking her head at him. in accordance with a wise and well-known rule. on her right. He would seek to dominate him--had already. Suddenly he stopped and glanced up at the houses. one of his aunt's oldest friends. and of those ample architectural proportions that in women who are not duchesses are described by contemporary historians as stoutness. Opposite was the Duchess of Harley. a lady of admirable good-nature and good temper. and having taken the vacant seat next to her. His own neighbour was Mrs. however. without knowing it. He gave one of the footmen his hat and stick and passed into the dining-room. The post on her left was occupied by Mr. Yes. a perfect saint amongst women. "Late as usual. a Radical member of Parliament. a most intelligent middle-aged mediocrity. he would try to be to Robert Langdon what. Next to her sat. He would make that wonderful spirit his own. Robert bowed to him shyly from the end of the table. smiling to himself." cried his aunt. an old gentleman of considerable charm and culture.
America never has been discovered. that her father keeps an American dry-goods store. on excellent authority." "Dry-goods! What are American dry-goods?" asked the duchess. after all. my dear." cried the duchess. as he remarked once himself. Erskine." whispered Lady Agatha. looking supercilious." said Sir Thomas Burdon. and from which none of them ever quite escape." said the Radical member-and he began to give some wearisome facts. Duchess. "Don't mind him." 40 . "He never means anything that he says. nodding pleasantly to him across the table. It is most unfair. "Do you think he will really marry this fascinating young person?" "I believe she has made up her mind to propose to him. "We are talking about poor Dartmoor. "American novels." "When America was discovered. "I wish to goodness it never had been discovered at all!" she exclaimed. our girls have no chance nowadays. raising her large hands in wonder and accentuating the verb. Like all people who try to exhaust a subject. The duchess sighed and exercised her privilege of interruption." said Mr. he exhausted his listeners." "I am told.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm which is the one unpardonable error. Lord Conrad. "My uncle has already suggested pork-packing Sir Thomas. "I myself would say that it had merely been detected. "Really." "Perhaps." "How dreadful!" exclaimed Lady Agatha. helping himself to some quail. The duchess looked puzzled. that all really good people fall into. some one should interfere." answered Lord Conrad. "Really.
with a smile." he said to Lady Agatha." murmured Lord Conrad. "Paradoxes are all very well in their way.. "Really! And where do bad Americans go to when they die?" inquired the duchess. who. And they dress well.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "Oh! but I have seen specimens of the inhabitants. are extremely civil. "Was that a paradox?" asked Mr." answered the duchess vaguely. They get all their dresses in Paris.. who had a large wardrobe of Humour's cast-off clothes. "I can stand brute force. I think that is their distinguishing characteristic. Erskine plaintively. Lord Conrad. "I am afraid that your nephew is prejudiced against that great country." rejoined the baronet. I assure you there is no nonsense about the Americans. too. "I have travelled all over it in cars provided by the directors." chuckled Sir Thomas." murmured Mr." "They say that when good Americans die they go to Paris." "But must we really see Chicago in order to be educated?" asked Mr." said Sir Thomas. It is hitting below the intellect." Sir Thomas waved his hand. "I don't feel up to the journey. an absolutely reasonable people. The Americans are an extremely interesting people. "I did not think so. Mr. 41 . There is something unfair about its use. growing rather red." "I do not understand you. Sir Thomas frowned. not to read about them. in such matters. but brute reason is quite unbearable. Yes. "I must confess that most of them are extremely pretty. We practical men like to see things. I wish I could afford to do the same. Erskine. "Mr. . "I do. I assure you that it is an education to visit it. They are absolutely reasonable. "They go to America. Erskine of Treadley has the world on his shelves." "How dreadful!" cried Lord Conrad. Erskine. Erskine.
"Quite so." he answered." "Still. we can judge them." 42 . the joy of life. Oh! Cristal. the beauty. The less said about life's sores. To test reality we must see it on the tight rope." The politician looked at him keenly. I would suggest that we should appeal to science to put us straight. Well." remarked Sir Thomas with a grave shake of the head. and he looked down the table and caught a bright answering glance. the way of paradoxes is the way of truth. "I cannot sympathize with that. Lord Conrad laughed. too horrible. "I am quite content with philosophic contemplation." continued Lady Agatha. "how you men argue! I am sure I never can make out what you are talking about. as the nineteenth century has gone bankrupt through an over-expenditure of sympathy. "It is the problem of slavery." said Lord Conrad. Robert Langdon to give up the East End? I assure you he would be quite invaluable." "Dear me!" said Lady Agatha. "I don't desire to change anything in England except the weather. the better.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Perhaps it was. the East End is a very important problem. then?" he asked. I am quite vexed with you. "What change do you propose. When the verities become acrobats. "I can sympathize with everything except suffering. One should sympathize with the colour. It is too ugly. Why do you try to persuade our nice Mr." "I want him to play to me. and we try to solve it by amusing the slaves. shrugging his shoulders." cried Lord Conrad. The advantage of the emotions is that they lead us astray. and the advantage of science is that it is not emotional. "But they are so unhappy in Whitechapel. They would love his playing. smiling. too distressing." answered the young lord. But. There is something terribly morbid in the modern sympathy with pain.
"To get back one's youth. one has merely to repeat one's follies. Lord Conrad looked over at Mr. "Only when one is young. I wish you would tell me how to become young again. but could not help being amused. It is the world's original sin." echoed Lady Agatha. If the caveman had known how to laugh. "Terribly grave. For the future I shall be able to look her in the face without a blush. and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes. "Humanity takes itself too seriously." "You are really very comforting." she cried. "Then commit them over again. "that is one of the great secrets of life." remarked Lord Conrad." he said gravely. Vandeleur timidly. "I have always felt rather guilty when I came to see your dear aunt. history would have been different. Ah! Lord Conrad." he continued.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "But we have such grave responsibilities. "Can you remember any great error that you committed in your early days. Erskine listened." "A dangerous theory!" came from Sir Thomas's tight lips." He thought for a moment. Lady Agatha shook her head. it is a very bad sign. I fear. looking at her across the table. Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense." warbled the duchess." ventured Mrs." "A blush is very becoming. "I must put it into practice. "Yes. Mr." 43 . Duchess?" he asked." "A delightful theory!" she exclaimed. Duchess. "When an old woman like myself blushes. "A great many." she answered. for I take no interest at all in the East End. Erskine.
irresponsible. It is far too fragile. "How annoying!" she cried. sloping sides. He played with the idea and grew wilful. let it escape and recaptured it. Her white feet trod the huge press at which wise Omar sits. dear Agatha. She wrung her hands in mock despair. Good-bye. He was brilliant. wearing. and I couldn't have a scene in this bonnet. It was an extraordinary improvisation. you are quite delightful and dreadfully demoralizing. danced like a Bacchante over the hills of life. one might fancy. He charmed his listeners out of themselves. smiles chasing each other over his lips and wonder growing grave in his darkening eyes. At last. reality entered the room in the shape of a servant to tell the duchess that her carriage was waiting. and the consciousness that amongst his audience there was one whose temperament he wished to fascinate seemed to give his wit keenness and to lend colour to his imagination. where he is going to be in the chair. Robert Langdon never took his gaze off him. her wine-stained robe and wreath of ivy. You must come and dine with us some night. and mocked the slow Silenus for being sober. Tuesday? Are you disengaged Tuesday?" 44 . liveried in the costume of the age. or crawled in red foam over the vat's black. and they followed his pipe. "I must go. to take him to some absurd meeting at Willis's Rooms. I have to call for my husband at the club. till the seething grape-juice rose round her bare limbs in waves of purple bubbles. and philosophy herself became young. as he went on. The praise of folly. I must go. Facts fled before her like frightened forest things. but sat like one under a spell. He felt that the eyes of Robert Langdon were fixed on him. A harsh word would ruin it. soared into a philosophy. I am sure I don't know what to say about your views.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm A laugh ran round the table. dripping. laughing. No. made it iridescent with fancy and winged it with paradox. Lord Conrad. and catching the mad music of pleasure. fantastic. tossed it into the air and transformed it. If I am late he is sure to be furious.
Mr. Erskine. "Ah! that is very nice." "You will complete it. "Was it all very bad?" "Very bad indeed. and a perfect library. Some day." "I fear you are right. A visit to Treadley would be a great privilege. may I ask if you really meant all that you said to us at lunch?" "I quite forget what I said. come down to Treadley and expound to me your philosophy of pleasure over some admirable Burgundy I am fortunate enough to possess. and very wrong of you. a novel that would be as lovely as a Persian carpet and as unreal." smiled Lord Conrad. we shall all look on you as being primarily responsible. "so mind you come". and taking a chair close to him. if you will allow me to call you so. It has a perfect host. And now. primers. "And now I must bid good-bye to your excellent aunt. Of all people in the world the English have the least sense of the beauty of literature. and encyclopaedias. In fact I consider you extremely dangerous." she cried." he said. "I myself used to have literary ambitions." said Lord Conrad with a bow. When Lord Conrad had sat down again. and she swept out of the room. placed his hand upon his arm." answered Mr. "why don't you write one?" "I am too fond of reading books to care to write them." answered the old gentleman with a courteous bow. Mr. But I should like to talk to you about life. I am due at 45 . Duchess. "You talk books away. my dear young friend. I should like to write a novel certainly." "I shall be charmed. Erskine moved round. Erskine.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "For you I would throw over anybody. but I gave them up long ago. But there is no literary public in England for anything except newspapers. when you are tired of London. followed by Lady Agatha and the other ladies. and if anything happens to our good duchess. The generation into which I was born was tedious.
Some large blue china jars and parrot-tulips were ranged on the mantelshelf. We are practising for an English Academy of Letters. Erskine?" "Forty of us. Do let me. yes." he cried." "All of you. Robert Langdon was reclining in a luxurious arm-chair." answered Lord Conrad. "I am going to the park. It was. its cream-coloured frieze and ceiling of raised plasterwork." Lord Conrad laughed and rose. I feel I must come with you. in forty arm-chairs. smiling." said Lord Conrad. And you will promise to talk to me all the time? No one talks so wonderfully as you do. You may come and look at it with me." "Ah! I have talked quite enough for to-day." he murmured. and beside it lay a copy of Les Cent Nouvelles. As he was passing out of the door. 46 . Robert Langdon touched him on the arm. in the little library of Lord Conrad's house in Mayfair. in its way." CHAPTER 4 One afternoon. "I would sooner come with you. long-fringed Persian rugs. with its high panelled wainscoting of olive-stained oak. "Let me come with you. a month later. and through the small leaded panes of the window streamed the apricot-coloured light of a summer day in London. a very charming room. bound for Margaret of Valois by Clovis Eve and powdered with the gilt daisies that Queen had selected for her device. and its brickdust felt carpet strewn with silk.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm the Athenaeum. "All I want now is to look at life. "But I thought you had promised Rick Hallward to go and see him. On a tiny satinwood table stood a statuette by Clodion. It is the hour when we sleep there. if you care to. Mr.
He was always late on principle. At last he heard a step outside. And I saw you with him the other night at the opera. It is only his wife. Mr. and the door opened. I like Wagner's music better than anybody's. "How late you are. She tried to look picturesque. I think my husband has got seventeen of them. Once or twice he thought of going away. as her passion was never returned. That is a great advantage. The formal monotonous ticking of the Louis Quatorze clock annoyed him. and watched him with her vague forget-me-not eyes. "I am afraid it is not Cristal. then. You must let me introduce myself. He glanced quickly round and rose to his feet. and. his principle being that punctuality is the thief of time. I know you quite well by your photographs. "I beg your pardon." She laughed nervously as she spoke. It is so loud that one can talk the whole time without other people hearing what one says. as with listless fingers he turned over the pages of an elaborately illustrated edition of Manon Lescaut that he had found in one of the book-cases.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Lord Conrad had not yet come in. 47 . I think?" "Yes. She was usually in love with somebody. eighteen. She was a curious woman. but only succeeded in being untidy. Langdon. Her name was Victoria. and she had a perfect mania for going to church. Lady Conrad. Cristal!" he murmured. So the lad was looking rather sulky. whose dresses always looked as if they had been designed in a rage and put on in a tempest. it was at dear Lohengrin. Lady Conrad?" "Well." "Not seventeen. I thought--" "You thought it was my husband. "That was at Lohengrin." answered a shrill voice. she had kept all her illusions.
Langdon here. Makes it quite cosmopolitan. doesn't it? You have never been to any of my parties. We have quite the same ideas. isn't it. If one hears bad music. to ask you something-I forget what it was--and I found Mr. Robert smiled and shook his head: "I am afraid I don't think so. 48 . I adore it. my love." "Ah! that is one of Cristal's views." "I am charmed. It is the only way I get to know of them. it is one's duty to drown it in conversation. Robert. Lady Conrad. don't they? It is so clever of them. Langdon? You must come. and her fingers began to play with a long tortoise-shell paper-knife. quite charmed." exclaimed Lady Conrad. Mr. But you must not think I don't like good music. Langdon?" The same nervous staccato laugh broke from her thin lips. I came in to look for you. I am so glad I've seen him. But he has been most pleasant. Mr. and such a compliment to art. I don't know what it is about them. elevating his dark." said Lord Conrad. but I share no expense in foreigners. Mr.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm don't you think so. Perhaps it is that they are foreigners. but I am afraid of it. crescent-shaped eyebrows and looking at them both with an amused smile. I went to look after a piece of old brocade in Wardour Street and had to bargain for hours for it. during good music. I can't afford orchids. I think our ideas are quite different. sometimes. No. They all are. ain't they? Even those that are born in England become foreigners after a time. We have had such a pleasant chat about music. They make one's rooms look so picturesque. I never talk during music--at least. It makes me too romantic." "I am afraid I must be going. "So sorry I am late. Cristal tells me. have you. I have simply worshipped pianists-two at a time. Langdon? I always hear Cristal's views from his friends. Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing. But here is Cristal! Cristal.
I am putting it into practice. "Never marry a woman with straw-coloured hair." he said after a few puffs." said Robert Langdon. because they are curious: both are disappointed." said Lord Conrad. "With an actress. "That is a rather commonplace debut." "But I like sentimental people. That is one of your aphorisms. she flitted out of the room. I am too much in love.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm breaking an awkward silence with her silly sudden laugh. Langdon." "Never marry at all. my dear. Good-bye. Men marry because they are tired. Cristal?" "Because they are so sentimental. "I have promised to drive with the duchess. Cristal. I suppose? So am I." "You would not say so if you saw her." "Who is she?" "Her name is Sibyl Vane. Cristal. Mr. women. Perhaps I shall see you at Lady Thornbury's. leaving a faint odour of frangipanni." "I don't think I am likely to marry. shutting the door behind her as. Then he lit a cigarette and flung himself down on the sofa. You are dining out." "Never heard of her. "Why. Lord Conrad shrugged his shoulders. Good-bye. blushing." 49 ." "I dare say." "Who are you in love with?" asked Lord Conrad after a pause. Robert. looking like a bird of paradise that had been out all night in the rain. as I do everything that you say. Robert. Cristal.
she is perfectly satisfied. something seemed to throb in my veins. As I lounged in the park. She is a genius. Cristal. 50 . People will some day. Our grandmothers painted in order to try and talk brilliantly. For days after I met you. there are only five women in London worth talking to. As for conversation. with a mad curiosity. your views terrify me. the plain and the coloured. there are only two kinds of women. but you mustn't be unsympathetic about it. How long have you known her?" "About three weeks." "Cristal. The other women are very charming. They commit one mistake. After all. That is all over now. however. tell me about your genius.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "No one has. However. ultimately. or strolled down Piccadilly. I find that. it never would have happened if I had not met you." "And where did you come across her?" "I will tell you. They paint in order to try and look young. what sort of lives they led. How long have you known her?" "Ah! Cristal. you have merely to take them down to supper. it is quite true. how can you?" "My dear Robert." "Never mind that. The subject is not so abstruse as I thought it was. and two of these can't be admitted into decent society. I used to look at every one who passed me and wonder. Some of them fascinated me. Rouge and esprit used to go together. so I ought to know. however. but they say it charmingly. The plain women are very useful. just as men represent the triumph of mind over morals. no woman is a genius. If you want to gain a reputation for respectability. They never have anything to say. Women represent the triumph of matter over mind. As long as a woman can look ten years younger than her own daughter." "My dear boy. Women are a decorative sex. I am analysing women at present. You filled me with a wild desire to know everything about life.
. I determined to go out in search of some adventure. "No. as you once phrased it. in the most amazing waistcoat I ever beheld in my life. There was an exquisite poison in the air. You will always be loved. I fancied a thousand things. and he took off his hat with an air of gorgeous servility. and yet if I hadn't-my dear Cristal. There are exquisite things in store for you. when he saw me. The mere danger gave me a sense of delight." "How do you mean?" 51 . But you should not say the greatest romance of your life. Cristal. smoking a vile cigar. but I went out and wandered eastward. That is the one use of the idle classes of a country. I know. You should say the first romance of your life. To the present day I can't make out why I did so. I remembered what you had said to me on that wonderful evening when we first dined together. with great flaring gas-jets and gaudy play-bills. . and an enormous diamond blazed in the centre of a soiled shirt. my Lord?' he said. I felt that this grey monstrous London of ours. . Well. and its splendid sins. its sordid sinners. that amused me. I don't know what I expected. soon losing my way in a labyrinth of grimy streets and black grassless squares. if I hadn't--I should have missed the greatest romance of my life. and you will always be in love with love. with its myriads of people. A hideous Jew. I think your nature so deep. must have something in store for me. This is merely the beginning. About half-past eight I passed by an absurd little theatre. was standing at the entrance. Robert. A grande passion is the privilege of people who have nothing to do. I see you are laughing. about the search for beauty being the real secret of life. 'Have a box. one evening about seven o'clock. You will laugh at me. It is horrid of you!" "I am not laughing." "Do you think my nature so shallow?" cried Robert Langdon angrily. There was something about him. He had greasy ringlets. He was such a monster. Don't be afraid.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Others filled me with terror. I had a passion for sensations. but I really went in and paid a whole guinea for the stage-box. at least I am not laughing at you.
but at last the drop-scene was drawn up and the play began. and their fidelity. At any rate. and very depressing. Faithfulness is to the emotional life what consistency is to the life of the intellect--simply a confession of failure. There are many things that we would throw away if we were not afraid that others might pick them up. The passion for property is in it. the people who love only once in their lives are really the shallow people. all Cupids and cornucopias. Faithfulness! I must analyse it some day. that nearly drove me away. But I don't want to interrupt you. 52 ." "Well. I found myself seated in a horrid little private box. Still. I should fancy." "This play was good enough for us. with a vulgar drop-scene staring me in the face. and there was a terrible consumption of nuts going on. or 'Dumb but Innocent'. It was Romeo and Juliet. Cristal. There was a dreadful orchestra. presided over by a young Hebrew who sat at a cracked piano. I call either the lethargy of custom or their lack of imagination. like a third-rate wedding-cake. The longer I live. In art. as in politics. What they call their loyalty. It was a tawdry affair." "It must have been just like the palmy days of the British drama. Cristal?" "I should think 'The Idiot Boy'. I looked out from behind the curtain and surveyed the house. I felt interested. I determined to wait for the first act. What do you think the play was. les grandperes ont toujours tort. but the two rows of dingy stalls were quite empty. The gallery and pit were fairly full. Go on with your story. Our fathers used to like that sort of piece. I must admit that I was rather annoyed at the idea of seeing Shakespeare done in such a wretched hole of a place. and there was hardly a person in what I suppose they called the dress-circle. I began to wonder what on earth I should do when I caught sight of the play-bill. Women went about with oranges and ginger-beer.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "My dear boy." "Just like. Robert. the more keenly I feel that whatever was good enough for our fathers is not good enough for us. I believe. in a sort of way.
I have seen her in every age and in every costume. One can always find them. disguised as a pretty boy in hose and doublet and dainty cap. who had introduced gags of his own and was on most friendly terms with the pit. But Juliet! Cristal. and sounded like a flute or a distant hautboy. Why should I not love her? Cristal. a small Greek head with plaited coils of dark-brown hair. Your voice and the voice of Sibyl Vane are two things that I shall never forget. I hear them. when it had the wild passion of violins. eyes that were violet wells of passion. She was the loveliest thing I had ever seen in my life. Ordinary women never appeal to one's imagination. But an actress! How different an actress is! 53 . You know how a voice can stir one. and given him rue to wear and bitter herbs to taste of. and a figure like a beer-barrel. And her voice--I never heard such a voice. and each of them says something different. hardly seventeen years of age. and the black hands of jealousy have crushed her reedlike throat. and that looked as if it had come out of a country-booth. I don't know which to follow. could fill your eyes with tears. Mercutio was almost as bad. Then it became a little louder. lips that were like the petals of a rose. They were both as grotesque as the scenery. later on. He was played by the low-comedian. imagine a girl. It was very low at first. I have watched her wandering through the forest of Arden. with deep mellow notes that seemed to fall singly upon one's ear. mere beauty. with a little. flowerlike face. She has been mad. They are limited to their century. She is everything to me in life. a husky tragedy voice. They are quite obvious. There were moments. She has been innocent. One evening she is Rosalind. They have their stereotyped smile and their fashionable manner. You said to me once that pathos left you unmoved. I do love her. There is no mystery in any of them. I tell you. They ride in the park in the morning and chatter at tea-parties in the afternoon. In the garden-scene it had all the tremulous ecstasy that one hears just before dawn when nightingales are singing. Cristal. No glamour ever transfigures them. I have seen her die in the gloom of an Italian tomb. with corked eyebrows. but that beauty. Night after night I go to see her play. One knows their minds as easily as one knows their bonnets. When I close my eyes. sucking the poison from her lover's lips. and has come into the presence of a guilty king. and the next evening she is Imogen.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Romeo was a stout elderly gentleman. I could hardly see this girl for the mist of tears that came across me.
Robert.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Cristal! why didn't you tell me that the only thing worth loving is an actress?" "Because I have loved so many of them." "People like you--the wilful sunbeams of life--don't commit crimes." said Lord Conrad. If I ever did a crime. When one is in love. and told him that Juliet had been dead for hundreds of years and that her body was lying in a marble 54 . and one always ends by deceiving others. with flushed cheeks and burning eyes." "You could not have helped telling me." "Don't run down dyed hair and painted faces. "But why should you be annoyed? I suppose she will belong to you some day. horrid people with dyed hair and painted faces. one always begins by deceiving one's self. And now tell me-reach me the matches. Cristal. like a good boy--thanks--what are your actual relations with Sibyl Vane?" Robert Langdon leaped to his feet. You would understand me. But I am much obliged for the compliment. You know her. I would come and confess it to you. I cannot help telling you things. All through your life you will tell me everything you do. I was furious with him. On the first night I was at the theatre. Robert." said Lord Conrad. at any rate. "I wish now I had not told you about Sibyl Vane. with a strange touch of pathos in his voice. You have a curious influence over me. the horrid old Jew came round to the box after the performance was over and offered to take me behind the scenes and introduce me to her." "Yes." "Oh. all the same. Robert. There is an extraordinary charm in them. I believe that is true. That is what the world calls a romance. sometimes. yes. I suppose?" "Of course I know her. Robert. "Cristal! Sibyl Vane is sacred!" "It is only the sacred things that are worth touching.
he made me a low bow and assured me that I was a munificent patron of art. He was a most offensive brute. or something." "I should not wonder if he was quite right there." "It was a distinction. She had been playing Rosalind. "By this time. Most people become bankrupt through having invested too heavily in the prose of life. I declined. When he saw me. It was curious my not wanting to know her." "Well. I had thrown her some flowers. and I had to go. of course." "I am not surprised. however. my dear Robert--a great distinction. most of them cannot be at all expensive. He seemed to think it a distinction. I could not help going round. To have ruined one's self over poetry is an honour. judging from their appearance. But. The old Jew was persistent. that his five bankruptcies were entirely due to 'The Bard. that he was under the impression that I had taken too much champagne. on the other hand." laughed Robert.' as he insisted on calling him." "Then he asked me if I wrote for any of the newspapers. wasn't it?" 55 . I told him I never even read them. and she had looked at me--at least I fancied that she had. and confided to me that all the dramatic critics were in a conspiracy against him. He seemed terribly disappointed at that. the lights were being put out in the theatre. so I consented. The next night. with an air of pride. from his blank look of amazement. though he had an extraordinary passion for Shakespeare. and that they were every one of them to be bought. He wanted me to try some cigars that he strongly recommended. He seemed determined to take me behind. But when did you first speak to Miss Sibyl Vane?" "The third night. He told me once. I think. I arrived at the place again.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm tomb in Verona. he seemed to think they were beyond his means.
that you never dine with me now.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "No. She regarded me merely as a person in a play.'" "Upon my word. Every night of my life I go to see her act. I must call you Prince Charming. and she seemed quite unconscious of her power. She knows nothing of life." "You don't understand her." "Sibyl is the only thing I care about. she was so shy and so gentle. I think we were both rather nervous. "The Jew wanted to tell me her history. There is something of a child about her." "Sibyl? Oh. making elaborate speeches about us both. I suppose. You have. Her eyes opened wide in exquisite wonder when I told her what I thought of her performance. Miss Sibyl knows how to pay compliments. There is always something infinitely mean about other people's tragedies. She lives with her mother. Robert. He would insist on calling me 'My Lord. she is absolutely and entirely divine." murmured Lord Conrad. It depresses me. while we stood looking at each other like children. but I said it did not interest me. 'You look more like a prince." "I know that look. 56 ." "That is the reason. why?" "I will tell you some other time. Cristal. examining his rings. Now I want to know about the girl." "My dear Cristal. I thought you must have some curious romance on hand. What is it to me where she came from? From her little head to her little feet. She said quite simply to me. and every night she is more marvellous.' so I had to assure Sibyl that I was not anything of the kind. a faded tired woman who played Lady Capulet in a sort of magenta dressing-wrapper on the first night. The old Jew stood grinning at the doorway of the dusty greenroom. I don't think so. and looks as if she had seen better days." "You were quite right.
" "My dear Cristal. Lord Conrad watched him with a subtle sense of pleasure. I want the dead lovers of the world to hear our laughter and grow sad. "To-night she is Imogen. "and to-morrow night she will be Juliet. and desire had come to meet 57 . and I have been to the opera with you several times.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm but it is not quite what I expected. "even if it is only for a single act. I get hungry for her presence. tell me how to charm Sibyl Vane to love me! I want to make Romeo jealous. Cristal. Out of its secret hiding-place had crept his soul." "Well. How different he was now from the shy frightened boy he had met in Rick Hallward's studio! His nature had developed like a flower. to wake their ashes into pain. who know all the secrets of life." "How horrid you are! She is all the great heroines of the world in one." he cried." "I congratulate you. "You always come dreadfully late. and when I think of the wonderful soul that is hidden away in that little ivory body. can't you?" He shook his head. opening his blue eyes in wonder." said Robert. had borne blossoms of scarlet flame. and I must make her love me. I am filled with awe. You laugh. You. My God. Robert. I can't help going to see Sibyl play. Hectic spots of red burned on his cheeks. I want a breath of our passion to stir their dust into consciousness. He was terribly excited. She is more than an individual. we either lunch or sup together every day." "When is she Sibyl Vane?" "Never." "You can dine with me to-night. how I worship her!" He was walking up and down the room as he spoke. but I tell you she has genius." he answered. I love her.
of course. she will." "Not eight. Then we must get her out of the Jew's hands. She has not merely art. "And what do you propose to do?" said Lord Conrad at last. You are certain to acknowledge her genius. Shall you see Rick between this and then? Or shall I write to him?" "Dear Rick! I have not laid eyes on him for a week. my dear boy. where she meets Romeo. 58 . specially designed by himself." "Half-past six! What an hour! It will be like having a meat-tea. I have not the slightest fear of the result. and I will get Rick. and you have often told me that it is personalities. and. or reading an English novel. It is rather horrid of me. Let us fix to-morrow. She will make the world as mad as she has made me. No gentleman dines before seven." "Well. but she has personality also." "Yes. I shall take a West End theatre and bring her out properly. what night shall we go?" "Let me see. When all that is settled. She is bound to him for three years--at least for two years and eight months-from the present time. Perhaps you had better write to him. please. consummate art-instinct. You must see her in the first act.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm it on the way. We must be there before the curtain rises. in her. To-day is Tuesday." "All right." "That would be impossible. I don't want to see him alone. not principles. "I want you and Rick to come with me some night and see her act. as he has sent me my portrait in the most wonderful frame. I must admit that I delight in it. Half-past six. though I am a little jealous of the picture for being a whole month younger than I am. that move the age. It must be seven. I shall have to pay him something. She plays Juliet to-morrow. Cristal. The Bristol at eight o'clock.
The mere fact of having published a book of second-rate sonnets makes a man quite irresistible. I have discovered that. It was true that as one watched life in its curious crucible of pain and pleasure. The only artists I have ever known who are personally delightful are bad artists. Rick is the best of fellows." "Rick. Good-bye. one could 59 . Good artists exist simply in what they make. his principles. "People are very fond of giving away what they need most themselves. It is what I call the depth of generosity. Don't forget about to-morrow. as he had ended by vivisecting others." "I wonder is that really so. and he began to think. but the ordinary subject-matter of that science had seemed to him trivial and of no import. And now I am off. The worse their rhymes are. Imogen is waiting for me." "Oh. He lives the poetry that he cannot write. putting some perfume on his handkerchief out of a large. He was pleased by it. if you say it. the more picturesque they look. puts everything that is charming in him into his work. my dear boy. The others write the poetry that they dare not realize. and his common sense. He had been always enthralled by the methods of natural science. but he seems to me to be just a bit of a Philistine. and yet the lad's mad adoration of some one else caused him not the slightest pang of annoyance or jealousy. Certainly few people had ever interested him so much as Robert Langdon. is the most unpoetical of all creatures.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm He says things that annoy me. It made him a more interesting study. He gives me good advice. a really great poet. Lord Conrad's heavy eyelids drooped. Compared to it there was nothing else of any value. And so he had begun by vivisecting himself. Since I have known you. "It must be." As he left the room. But inferior poets are absolutely fascinating. and consequently are perfectly uninteresting in what they are. A great poet. Cristal. The consequence is that he has nothing left for life but his prejudices. Human life--that appeared to him the one thing worth investigating. Cristal?" said Robert Langdon." Lord Conrad smiled. gold-topped bottle that stood on the table.
and the emotional coloured life of the intellect--to observe where they met. And. to the elect. at what point they were in unison. or was destined to end.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm not wear over one's face a mask of glass. The pulse and passion of youth were in him. and the body had its moments of spirituality. and whose wounds are like red roses. or painting. There were poisons so subtle that to know their properties one had to sicken of them. 60 . the lad was premature. or sculpture. life having its elaborate masterpieces. was indeed. and chiefly of the art of literature. body and soul--how mysterious they were! There was animalism in the soul. But now and then a complex personality took the place and assumed the office of art. Yes. he was a thing to wonder at. just as poetry has. It was no matter how it all ended. He had made him premature. and his beautiful soul. what a great reward one received! How wonderful the whole world became to one! To note the curious hard logic of passion. yet. Ordinary people waited till life disclosed to them its secrets. There were maladies so strange that one had to pass through them if one sought to understand their nature. He was gathering his harvest while it was yet spring. the mysteries of life were revealed before the veil was drawn away. whose joys seem to be remote from one. nor keep the sulphurous fumes from troubling the brain and making the imagination turbid with monstrous fancies and misshapen dreams. With his beautiful face. Sometimes this was the effect of art. Soul and body. and where they separated. He was conscious--and the thought brought a gleam of pleasure into his brown agate eyes--that it was through certain words of his. that Robert Langdon's soul had turned to this white girl and bowed in worship before her. It was delightful to watch him. which dealt immediately with the passions and the intellect. To a large extent the lad was his own creation. but whose sorrows stir one's sense of beauty. in its way. That was something. a real work of art. He was like one of those gracious figures in a pageant or a play. but to the few. musical words said with musical utterance. but he was becoming self-conscious. and at what point they were at discord--there was a delight in that! What matter what the cost was? One could never pay too high a price for any sensation.
Experience was of no ethical value. we would do many times. and that the sin we had done once. and seemed to promise rich and fruitful results. It was as little of an active cause as conscience itself. It often happened that when we thought we were experimenting on others we were really experimenting on ourselves. Our weakest motives were those of whose nature we were conscious. but rather a very complex passion. His sudden mad love for Sibyl Vane was a psychological phenomenon of no small interest. 61 . and with joy. curiosity and the desire for new experiences. What there was in it of the purely sensuous instinct of boyhood had been transformed by the workings of the imagination. changed into something that seemed to the lad himself to be remote from sense. Moralists had. and was for that very reason all the more dangerous. and with loathing. or the psychical impulse began? How shallow were the arbitrary definitions of ordinary psychologists! And yet how difficult to decide between the claims of the various schools! Was the soul a shadow seated in the house of sin? Or was the body really in the soul. and the intellect could degrade. But there was no motive power in experience. All that it really demonstrated was that our future would be the same as our past.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm The senses could refine. He began to wonder whether we could ever make psychology so absolute a science that each little spring of life would be revealed to us. had praised it as something that taught us what to follow and showed us what to avoid. It was merely the name men gave to their mistakes. and the union of spirit with matter was a mystery also. It was the passions about whose origin we deceived ourselves that tyrannized most strongly over us. regarded it as a mode of warning. Who could say where the fleshly impulse ceased. we always misunderstood ourselves and rarely understood others. had claimed for it a certain ethical efficacy in the formation of character. It was clear to him that the experimental method was the only method by which one could arrive at any scientific analysis of the passions. and certainly Robert Langdon was a subject made to his hand. yet it was not a simple. As it was. as Giordano Bruno thought? The separation of spirit from matter was a mystery. as a rule. There was no doubt that curiosity had much to do with it.
Sibyl. Fifty pounds is a very large sum. You must not think of anything but your acting. Mother?" she cried." said the girl. The sunset had smitten into scarlet gold the upper windows of the houses opposite. He got up and looked out into the street. about half-past twelve o'clock. with back turned to the shrill intrusive light. Mother. He opened it and found it was from Robert Langdon. Isaacs has been very good to us." answered the elder woman querulously." "Mr." "He is not a gentleman. It was to tell him that he was engaged to be married to Sibyl Vane. "I am so happy!" she repeated. "Happy!" she echoed. 62 . "and you must be happy. rising to her feet and going over to the window. was sitting in the one arm-chair that their dingy sitting-room contained. tired-looking woman who. Vane winced and put her thin. "I am only happy. and his valet entered and reminded him it was time to dress for dinner. he saw a telegram lying on the hall table. Mother. Isaacs has been most considerate. You must not forget that. burying her face in the lap of the faded. when I see you act. "Money. I am so happy!" whispered the girl. bismuth-whitened hands on her daughter's head. "what does money matter? Love is more than money.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm While Lord Conrad sat dreaming on these things. Mr. He thought of his friend's young fiery-coloured life and wondered how it was all going to end. and I hate the way he talks to me. and we owe him money. Sibyl. The sky above was like a faded rose. CHAPTER 5 "Mother. too!" Mrs." The girl looked up and pouted. "I don't know how we could manage without him. Isaacs has advanced us fifty pounds to pay off our debts and to get a proper outfit for James. The panes glowed like plates of heated metal. When he arrived home. Mr. a knock came to the door.
"I love him. Mother. Thin-lipped wisdom spoke at her from the worn chair. and smiled. The wordy silence troubled her. She saw the thin lips moving. The waving of crooked. did you love my father as I love Prince Charming?" 63 . marriage should be thought of. false-jewelled fingers gave grotesqueness to the words. Suddenly she felt the need to speak. Her prince. The girl laughed again. as though to hide their secret. quoted from that book of cowardice whose author apes the name of common sense. And yet--why. Prince Charming rules life for us now. hinted at prudence. Some southern wind of passion swept over her and stirred the dainty folds of her dress. I feel proud. The joy of a caged bird was in her voice. the mist of a dream had passed across them. was with her. Quick breath parted the petals of her lips." she cried. terribly proud. This young man might be rich. Prince Charming.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Sibyl Vane tossed her head and laughed. "Mother. and it had brought him back. I don't feel humble. She had called on memory to remake him. She did not listen. His kiss burned again upon her mouth. "Foolish child! foolish child!" was the parrot-phrase flung in answer. They trembled." she said simply. She was free in her prison of passion. The arrows of craft shot by her. Mother. "We don't want him any more. then closed for a moment. Against the shell of her ear broke the waves of worldly cunning. If so. Her eyes caught the melody and echoed it in radiance. She had sent her soul to search for him. Her eyelids were warm with his breath." Then she paused. "why does he love me so much? I know why I love him. When they opened. A rose shook in her blood and shadowed her cheeks. I love him because he is like what love himself should be. Mother. I cannot tell--though I feel so much beneath him. But what does he see in me? I am not worthy of him. Then wisdom altered its method and spoke of espial and discovery.
" And she ran across the room and hugged him.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm The elder woman grew pale beneath the coarse powder that daubed her cheeks. I know it pains you to talk about our father." "Ah! Mother. One would hardly have guessed the close relationship that existed between them. "You are a dreadful old bear. However. Ah! let me be happy for ever!" "My child. Mrs. and I have so much to think of. what do you know of this young man? You don't even know his name. "Ah! but you don't like being kissed. I am as happy to-day as you were twenty years ago. and with one of those false theatrical gestures that so often become a mode of second nature to a stage-player. if he is rich . when James is going away to Australia. "I want you to come out with me for a walk. Vane fixed her eyes on him and intensified her smile. She mentally elevated her son to the dignity of an audience. clasped her in her arms. Mother. He was thick-set of figure. At this moment. She felt sure that the tableau was interesting. Sibyl. I must say that you should have shown more consideration. let me be happy!" Mrs. ." she cried. Vane glanced at her. and his hands and feet were large and somewhat clumsy in movement. Sibyl. 64 . and kissed her. Mother. Jim. the door opened and a young lad with rough brown hair came into the room. you are far too young to think of falling in love. I think. But it only pains you because you loved him so much. Don't look so sad. "Forgive me. "You might keep some of your kisses for me. . and really. James Vane looked into his sister's face with tenderness. Besides. as I said before. He was not so finely bred as his sister. The whole thing is most inconvenient. flung her arms round her neck. and her dry lips twitched with a spasm of pain. Sybil rushed to her." said the lad with a good-natured grumble.
Vane. She felt a little disappointed that he had not joined the group." he said at last. Mother? I mean it. don't say such dreadful things. or Ned Langton. frowning. "how unkind of you! But are you really going for a walk with me? That will be nice! I was afraid you were going to say good-bye to some of your friends-to Tom Hardy. Jim!" said Sibyl. Jim. He hesitated for a moment. my son." "My son. who makes fun of you for smoking it. who gave you that hideous pipe." he answered. stroking the sleeve of his coat. It is very sweet of you to let me have your last afternoon." "Oh. I trust you will return from Australia in a position of affluence. taking up a tawdry theatrical dress." "Society!" muttered the lad. and beginning to patch it. One could hear her singing as she ran upstairs. Then he turned to the still figure in the chair. He walked up and down the room two or three times. I hate it.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm I don't suppose I shall ever see this horrid London again. you must come back and assert yourself in London. "I don't want to know anything about that. "Very well. are my things ready?" he asked. with a sigh." "Nonsense. I believe there is no society of any kind in the Colonies-nothing that I would call society--so when you have made your fortune. I should like to make some money to take you and Sibyl off the stage. "Why not." "I am too shabby. Her little feet pattered overhead." "You pain me." she whispered. laughing. 65 ." She danced out of the door. "Mother. I am sure I don't want to." murmured Mrs. "but don't be too long dressing. It would have increased the theatrical picturesqueness of the situation. "Only swell people go to the park. Where shall we go? Let us go to the park.
"He has not yet revealed his real name. For some months past she had felt ill at ease when she was alone with this rough stern son of hers. I think it is quite romantic of him. I do not know at present whether her attachment is serious or not. became intolerable to her. You might have entered a solicitor's office." she answered. you really talk very strangely. Solicitors are a very respectable class. All I say is. "No. watch over Sibyl. keeping her eyes on her work. Mother.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "Quite ready. "I hope you will be contented. "But you are quite right." "You don't know his name. I myself used to receive many bouquets at one time. Is that right? What about that?" "You are speaking about things you don't understand. "You must remember that it is your own choice. Don't let her come to any harm. James. He is always most polite to me. he has the appearance of being rich. for he made no other observation. just as they attack by sudden and strange surrenders." answered his mother with a placid expression in her face. Her shallow secret nature was troubled when their eyes met. with your sea-faring life." she said. He is probably a member of the aristocracy. The silence. As for Sibyl. James. In the profession we are accustomed to receive a great deal of most gratifying attention. That was when acting was really understood. though. and the flowers he sends are lovely." "I hate offices. I have chosen my own life. Women defend themselves by attacking. you must watch over her. She began to complain. Besides." "James." he replied. and in the country often dine with the best families. But there is no doubt that the young man in question is a perfect gentleman." 66 . She used to wonder if he suspected anything. Of course I watch over Sibyl. and I hate clerks." said the lad harshly. James." "I hear a gentleman comes every night to the theatre and goes behind to talk to her.
ill-fitting clothes. my son. if this gentleman is wealthy. except my shirts." she answered with a bow of strained stateliness. 67 ." The lad muttered something to himself and drummed on the window-pane with his coarse fingers. and there was something in his look that had made her feel afraid. He had just turned round to say something when the door opened and Sibyl ran in." he cried." "Good-bye. I will have my dinner at five o'clock. wind-blown sunlight and strolled down the dreary Euston Road. "Kiss me. I trust he is one of the aristocracy. I must say. "I suppose one must be serious sometimes. in coarse.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm James Vane bit his lip." "My son. so you need not trouble. Sibyl is always under my special care. Vane. was in the company of such a graceful. They would make a charming couple. Of course. there is no reason why she should not contract an alliance with him." he answered. "My child! my child!" cried Mrs. "Come. refined-looking girl. "Watch over Sibyl. "What is the matter?" "Nothing. He has all the appearance of it. He hated his mother's affectations. you distress me very much. He was like a common gardener walking with a rose. Good-bye. The passersby glanced in wonder at the sullen heavy youth who. They went out into the flickering. "How serious you both are!" she cried. looking up to the ceiling in search of an imaginary gallery. "watch over her. everybody notices them. His good looks are really quite remarkable. It might be a most brilliant marriage for Sibyl. Sibyl. Mother. She was extremely annoyed at the tone he had adopted with her. Everything is packed. Her flowerlike lips touched the withered cheek and warmed its frost." said her brother impatiently. Mother. Mother." said the girl.
and. and give chase. also. but she knew so much more of life. Before a week was over he was to come across a large nugget of pure gold. bid a polite good-bye to the captain. and he with her. She would pray for him. or spend his money foolishly. too. and one evening. and come home. Of course. she would fall in love with him. or whatever he was going to be. Yes. He was heart-sick at leaving home. God was very good. and live in an immense house in London. hump-backed waves trying to get in. He was not to go to the gold-fields at all. and used bad language. Her love was trembling in laughter on her lips. and a black wind blowing the masts down and tearing the sails into long screaming ribands! He was to leave the vessel at Melbourne. and go off at once to the gold-fields. and would watch over him. and be defeated with immense slaughter. red-shirted bushrangers. They were horrid places. The lad listened sulkily to her and made no answer. no! A sailor's existence was dreadful. The bushrangers were to attack them three times. where men got intoxicated. as he was riding home. and in a few years he would come back quite rich and happy. the largest nugget that had ever been discovered. however. no. But he must be very good. which comes on geniuses late in life and never leaves the commonplace. He must be sure. he was to see the beautiful heiress being carried off by a robber on a black horse. with the hoarse. and to say his prayers each night before he went to sleep. Fancy being cooped up in a horrid ship. Or. to write to her by every mail. that she might think of him all the more. He had that dislike of being stared at. and bring it down to the coast in a waggon guarded by six mounted policemen. 68 . For he was not to remain a sailor. Sibyl. or a supercargo. but prattled on about the ship in which Jim was going to sail. about the gold he was certain to find. She was thinking of Prince Charming. He was to be a nice sheep-farmer. was quite unconscious of the effect she was producing. about the wonderful heiress whose life he was to save from the wicked. she did not talk of him. and shot each other in bar-rooms. and not lose his temper. and rescue her. there were delightful things in store for him. Oh. and they would get married. She was only a year older than he was.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Jim frowned from time to time when he caught the inquisitive glance of some stranger.
Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm
Yet it was not this alone that made him gloomy and morose. Inexperienced though he was, he had still a strong sense of the danger of Sibyl's position. This young dandy who was making love to her could mean her no good. He was a gentleman, and he hated him for that, hated him through some curious race-instinct for which he could not account, and which for that reason was all the more dominant within him. He was conscious also of the shallowness and vanity of his mother's nature, and in that saw infinite peril for Sibyl and Sibyl's happiness. Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them. His mother! He had something on his mind to ask of her, something that he had brooded on for many months of silence. A chance phrase that he had heard at the theatre, a whispered sneer that had reached his ears one night as he waited at the stage-door, had set loose a train of horrible thoughts. He remembered it as if it had been the lash of a hunting-crop across his face. His brows knit together into a wedgelike furrow, and with a twitch of pain he bit his underlip. "You are not listening to a word I am saying, Jim," cried Sibyl, "and I am making the most delightful plans for your future. Do say something." "What do you want me to say?" "Oh! that you will be a good boy and not forget us," she answered, smiling at him. He shrugged his shoulders. "You are more likely to forget me than I am to forget you, Sibyl." She flushed. "What do you mean, Jim?" she asked. "You have a new friend, I hear. Who is he? Why have you not told me about him? He means you no good." "Stop, Jim!" she exclaimed. "You must not say anything against him. I love him."
Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm
"Why, you don't even know his name," answered the lad. "Who is he? I have a right to know." "He is called Prince Charming. Don't you like the name. Oh! you silly boy! you should never forget it. If you only saw him, you would think him the most wonderful person in the world. Some day you will meet him--when you come back from Australia. You will like him so much. Everybody likes him, and I ... love him. I wish you could come to the theatre to-night. He is going to be there, and I am to play Juliet. Oh! how I shall play it! Fancy, Jim, to be in love and play Juliet! To have him sitting there! To play for his delight! I am afraid I may frighten the company, frighten or enthrall them. To be in love is to surpass one's self. Poor dreadful Mr. Isaacs will be shouting 'genius' to his loafers at the bar. He has preached me as a dogma; to-night he will announce me as a revelation. I feel it. And it is all his, his only, Prince Charming, my wonderful lover, my god of graces. But I am poor beside him. Poor? What does that matter? When poverty creeps in at the door, love flies in through the window. Our proverbs want rewriting. They were made in winter, and it is summer now; spring-time for me, I think, a very dance of blossoms in blue skies." "He is a gentleman," said the lad sullenly. "A prince!" she cried musically. "What more do you want?" "He wants to enslave you." "I shudder at the thought of being free." "I want you to beware of him." "To see him is to worship him; to know him is to trust him." "Sibyl, you are mad about him." She laughed and took his arm. "You dear old Jim, you talk as
Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm
if you were a hundred. Some day you will be in love yourself. Then you will know what it is. Don't look so sulky. Surely you should be glad to think that, though you are going away, you leave me happier than I have ever been before. Life has been hard for us both, terribly hard and difficult. But it will be different now. You are going to a new world, and I have found one. Here are two chairs; let us sit down and see the smart people go by." They took their seats amidst a crowd of watchers. The tulip-beds across the road flamed like throbbing rings of fire. A white dust-tremulous cloud of orris-root it seemed--hung in the panting air. The brightly coloured parasols danced and dipped like monstrous butterflies. She made her brother talk of himself, his hopes, his prospects. He spoke slowly and with effort. They passed words to each other as players at a game pass counters. Sibyl felt oppressed. She could not communicate her joy. A faint smile curving that sullen mouth was all the echo she could win. After some time she became silent. Suddenly she caught a glimpse of golden hair and laughing lips, and in an open carriage with two ladies Robert Langdon drove past. She started to her feet. "There he is!" she cried. "Who?" said Jim Vane. "Prince Charming," she answered, looking after the victoria. He jumped up and seized her roughly by the arm. "Show him to me. Which is he? Point him out. I must see him!" he exclaimed; but at that moment the Duke of Berwick's four-in-hand came between, and when it had left the space clear, the carriage had swept out of the park. "He is gone," murmured Sibyl sadly. "I wish you had seen him." "I wish I had, for as sure as there is a God in heaven, if he ever does you any wrong, I shall kill him." She looked at him in horror. He repeated his words.
Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm
They cut the air like a dagger. The people round began to gape. A lady standing close to her tittered. "Come away, Jim; come away," she whispered. He followed her doggedly as she passed through the crowd. He felt glad at what he had said. When they reached the Achilles Statue, she turned round. There was pity in her eyes that became laughter on her lips. She shook her head at him. "You are foolish, Jim, utterly foolish; a bad-tempered boy, that is all. How can you say such horrible things? You don't know what you are talking about. You are simply jealous and unkind. Ah! I wish you would fall in love. Love makes people good, and what you said was wicked." "I am sixteen," he answered, "and I know what I am about. Mother is no help to you. She doesn't understand how to look after you. I wish now that I was not going to Australia at all. I have a great mind to chuck the whole thing up. I would, if my articles hadn't been signed." "Oh, don't be so serious, Jim. You are like one of the heroes of those silly melodramas Mother used to be so fond of acting in. I am not going to quarrel with you. I have seen him, and oh! to see him is perfect happiness. We won't quarrel. I know you would never harm any one I love, would you?" "Not as long as you love him, I suppose," was the sullen answer. "I shall love him for ever!" she cried. "And he?" "For ever, too!" "He had better." She shrank from him. Then she laughed and put her hand on his arm. He was merely a boy.
It was after five o'clock. The flies buzzed round the table and crawled over the stained cloth. It was a sigh of relief. It enraged him. and a fierce murderous hatred of the stranger who. and he detested scenes of every kind. A tattered lace handkerchief twitched in her fingers. She made no answer. he thrust away his plate and put his head in his hands." he said. After some time. his mother watched him. he could hear the droning voice devouring each minute that was left to him. "Tell me the truth. Jim insisted that she should do so." she answered. Indeed. He felt that he had a right to know. She grumbled at his unpunctuality. He made no answer. and yet she felt no terror. as it seemed to him. He said that he would sooner part with her when their mother was not present. There was jealousy in the lad's heart. the moment that night and day. Were you married to my father?" She heaved a deep sigh. In hers he saw a wild appeal for mercy. in some measure it was a disappointment to her. and the clatter of street-cabs. Then he turned back and looked at her. as he entered. There were tears in his eyes as he went downstairs. he softened and kissed her with real affection. but sat down to his meagre meal. Through the rumble of omnibuses. for weeks and months. when her arms were flung round his neck. and Sibyl had to lie down for a couple of hours before acting. if it was as he suspected. and her fingers strayed through his hair. In Sybil's own room they parted. had come between them. "Mother. had come at last. Leaden with fear. Words dropped mechanically from her lips. wondering at the harsh simplicity of life. The terrible moment.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm At the Marble Arch they hailed an omnibus. Yet. "No. which left them close to their shabby home in the Euston Road. She would be sure to make a scene. I have a right to know. she had dreaded. It should have been told to him before. When the clock struck six. It was crude. The situation had not been gradually led up to. Their eyes met. It reminded her of a bad rehearsal. Her eyes wandered vaguely about the room. he got up and went to the door. 73 . I have something to ask you. The vulgar directness of the question called for a direct answer. His mother was waiting for him below.
isn't it. He was your father. I suppose. "but don't let Sibyl. It had pleased her. the passionate gesture that accompanied it. . my son." he exclaimed. too." he said. Trunks had to be carried down and mufflers looked for. She breathed more freely." The exaggerated folly of the threat. and a gentleman. . "I don't care for myself. and believe me that if this man wrongs my sister. "I had none. There was the bargaining with the cabman." For a moment a hideous sense of humiliation came over the woman." An oath broke from his lips. She wiped her eyes with shaking hands. "Sibyl has a mother. She was conscious that a great opportunity had been wasted." The lad was touched. It is a gentleman. or says he is? Highly connected. Don't speak against him." she murmured. She consoled herself by telling Sibyl how desolate she felt her life would be. and stooping down. as her son drove away.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "My father was a scoundrel then!" cried the lad. Her head drooped. now that she had only one child to look after. She was familiar with the atmosphere. but he cut her short. She remembered the phrase. Indeed. Of the threat 74 . he would have made provision for us. Good-bye. The moment was lost in vulgar details. he kissed her. and kill him like a dog. If he had lived. track him down. "I am sorry if I have pained you by asking about my father. the mad melodramatic words. "but I could not help it. We loved each other very much. and for the first time for many months she really admired her son. I will find out who he is. who is in love with her. clenching his fists. "I knew he was not free. made life seem more vivid to her. Don't forget that you will have only one child now to look after. It was with a renewed feeling of disappointment that she waved the tattered lace handkerchief from the window. The lodging-house drudge bustled in and out. I swear it. He went towards her. She shook her head. She would have liked to have continued the scene on the same emotional scale. he was highly connected. . I must go now.
She felt that they would all laugh at it some day. Robert is far too sensible. There is a great difference.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm she said nothing. "Robert engaged to be married!" he cried." rejoined Lord Conrad languidly. CHAPTER 6 "I suppose you have heard the news. Cristal." "To whom?" "To some little actress or other." said Lord Conrad. "But I didn't say he was married." answered the artist." "Marriage is hardly a thing that one can do now and then. "Impossible!" "It is perfectly true." "Except in America." "Robert Langdon is engaged to be married. "No. I said he was engaged to be married. It was vividly and dramatically expressed. "What is it? Nothing about politics. giving his hat and coat to the bowing waiter. There is hardly a single person in the House of Commons worth painting." "I can't believe it. I have a distinct remembrance of being married. Rick?" said Lord Conrad that evening as Hallward was shown into a little private room at the Bristol where dinner had been laid for three. Cristal. 75 . though many of them would be the better for a little whitewashing. Hallward started and then frowned. watching him as he spoke. my dear Rick. but I have no recollection at all of being engaged. I hope! They don't interest me." "Robert is far too wise not to do foolish things now and then.
Cristal. walking up and down the room and biting his lip. whatever mode of expression that personality selects is absolutely delightful to me. I should be miserable if I thought I should ever be more serious than I am at the present moment. It is an absurd attitude to take towards life." murmured Lord Conrad. Whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing. The real drawback to marriage is that it makes one unselfish. You know I am not a champion of marriage. "Robert says she is beautiful. possibly. It has had that excellent effect. I never take any notice of what common people say." "I hope the girl is good. Cristal?" asked the painter." "But think of Robert's birth." "But do you approve of it. Why not? If he wedded Messalina. And unselfish people are colourless. Rick. Rick. or disapprove. 76 . "You can't approve of it. and I never interfere with what charming people do. Robert Langdon falls in love with a beautiful girl who acts Juliet. tell him that." "Oh. amongst others. They lack individuality. and position. We are to see her to-night. who might degrade his nature and ruin his intellect.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm I am inclined to think that I never was engaged. I don't want to see Robert tied to some vile creature." "I never approve. He is sure to do it. of anything now. he would be none the less interesting. she is better than good--she is beautiful. and proposes to marry her. It is some silly infatuation. If a personality fascinates me. and wealth. and he is not often wrong about things of that kind. Your portrait of him has quickened his appreciation of the personal appearance of other people. sipping a glass of vermouth and orange-bitters. if that boy doesn't forget his appointment. then. it is always from the noblest motives. We are not sent into the world to air our moral prejudices." "If you want to make him marry this girl." "Are you serious?" "Quite serious. It would be absurd for him to marry so much beneath him.
The basis of optimism is sheer terror. I have the greatest contempt for optimism. They are forced to have more than one life. 77 . He will tell you more than I can. Of course. and to be highly organized is." "My dear Cristal. there are certain temperaments that marriage makes more complex. But here is Robert himself. and whatever one may say against marriage. I should fancy. and add to it many other egos. it is sudden-all really delightful things are. "I have never been so happy. but there are other and more interesting bonds between men and women.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Still. the object of man's existence." Lord Conrad laughed. I mean everything that I have said. no one would be sorrier than yourself. They become more highly organized. and find good qualities in the highwayman in the hope that he may spare our pockets. We think that we are generous because we credit our neighbour with the possession of those virtues that are likely to be a benefit to us. it is certainly an experience. of course that would be silly. you have merely to reform it. my dear Rick. If Robert Langdon's life were spoiled. no life is spoiled but one whose growth is arrested. you know you don't. You are much better than you pretend to be. They retain their egotism. As for marriage. They have the charm of being fashionable. And yet it seems to me to be the one thing I have been looking for all my life. "The reason we all like to think so well of others is that we are all afraid for ourselves. He would be a wonderful study. I will certainly encourage them. We praise the banker that we may overdraw our account. Cristal. you must both congratulate me!" said the lad. Besides. every experience is of value. and then suddenly become fascinated by some one else." "You don't mean a single word of all that. As for a spoiled life. passionately adore her for six months. I hope that Robert Langdon will make this girl his wife. and looked extraordinarily handsome. If you want to mar a nature. throwing off his evening cape with its satin-lined wings and shaking each of his friends by the hand in turn." He was flushed with excitement and pleasure.
I can't describe to you what I felt at that moment. Robert. Sibyl was playing Rosalind. suddenly there came into her eyes a look that I had never seen there before. Of course. After the performance was over. But Sibyl! You should have seen her! When she came on in her boy's clothes. Then she flung herself on her knees and kissed my hands. I don't know what my guardians will say. I feel that I should not tell you all this. Rick. I forgot that I was in London and in the nineteenth century. I went behind and spoke to her. Cristal. I don't care. let us sit down and try what the new chef here is like. We kissed each other. and went down at eight o'clock to the theatre. I dressed. she was perfectly wonderful. As we were sitting together. She had all the delicate grace of that Tanagra figurine that you have in your studio. After I left you yesterday evening." "There is really not much to tell. brown.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "I hope you will always be very happy. She trembled all over and shook like a white narcissus. had some dinner at that little Italian restaurant in Rupert Street you introduced me to." cried Robert as they took their seats at the small round table. 78 . I shall be of age in less than a year. As for her acting--well. but I can't help it." broke in Lord Conrad. you shall see her to-night. It seemed to me that all my life had been narrowed to one perfect point of rose-coloured joy. and then you will tell us how it all came about. My lips moved towards hers. Her hair clustered round her face like dark leaves round a pale rose. "but I don't quite forgive you for not having let me know of your engagement." said Hallward. "Come. I sat in the dingy box absolutely enthralled. I was away with my love in a forest that no man had ever seen. She wore a moss-coloured velvet jerkin with cinnamon sleeves. Lord Radley is sure to be furious. She is simply a born artist. You let Cristal know. "What happened was simply this. She had never seemed to me more exquisite. our engagement is a dead secret. cross-gartered hose. and then I can do what I like. putting his hand on the lad's shoulder and smiling as he spoke. a dainty little green cap with a hawk's feather caught in a jewel. Of course. the scenery was dreadful and the Orlando absurd. She has not even told her own mother. slim." "And I don't forgive you for being late for dinner. and a hooded cloak lined with dull red.
He is not like other men." Lord Conrad sipped his champagne in a meditative manner. I suppose you were right. in middle-class life. and not we who propose to the women. But then the middle classes are not modern. for the only reason." Hallward laid his hand upon his arm. His nature is too fine for that. I told her that I loved her. and I did not make any formal proposal. of course. "I asked the question for the best reason possible. He would never bring misery upon any one. Rick." said Hallward slowly. "Have you seen her to-day?" asked Lord Conrad." "Yes. and she said she was not worthy to be my wife. Robert Langdon shook his head. the whole world is nothing to me compared with her. I shall find her in an orchard in Verona. I have had the arms of Rosalind around me. Except. Robert." "My dear Cristal. to take my love out of poetry and to find my wife in Shakespeare's plays? Lips that Shakespeare taught to speak have whispered their secret in my ear. Cristal." 79 ." murmured Lord Conrad. In situations of that kind we often forget to say anything about marriage. and they always remind us. "At what particular point did you mention the word marriage." Lord Conrad looked across the table. "much more practical than we are." he answered. Not worthy! Why. indeed. I have a theory that it is always the women who propose to us." "Women are wonderfully practical. haven't I. Robert? And what did she say in answer? Perhaps you forgot all about it. "Don't. "Robert is never annoyed with me. You have annoyed Robert. I did not treat it as a business transaction. that excuses one for asking any question-simple curiosity. and kissed Juliet on the mouth.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm I have been right. "I left her in the forest of Arden.
Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Robert Langdon laughed. a beast without a heart. What is marriage? An irrevocable vow. As for the lives of one's neighbours. One's own life--that is the important thing. "Oh. but when we are good. and the mere touch of Sibyl Vane's hand makes me forget you and all your wrong. helping himself to some salad. I become different from what you have known me to be. When we are happy. delightful theories. fine-pointed fingers. but I don't mind. You mock at it for that. Cristal. "what do you mean by good. "Discord is to be forced to be in harmony with others." echoed Robert. I love Sibyl Vane. It is an irrevocable vow that I want to take. your theories about love. When you see Sibyl Vane. "But I am afraid I cannot claim my theory as my own. fascinating. Cristal?" "To be good is to be in harmony with one's self. Ah! don't mock. "Yes. we are always good. I am changed. I regret all that you have taught me. we are not always happy. When I am with her.. touching the thin stem of his glass with his pale." "Pleasure is the only thing worth having a theory about. you will feel that the man who could wrong her would be a beast. I cannot understand how any one can wish to shame the thing he loves. your theories about life. Pleasure is Nature's test. one can flaunt one's moral views about them. Cristal. "You are quite incorrigible. and tossed his head." "And those are ." "Ah! but what do you mean by good?" cried Rick Hallward. It belongs to Nature. leaning back in his chair and looking at Lord Conrad over the heavy clusters of purple-lipped irises that stood in the centre of the table. I want to place her on a pedestal of gold and to see the world worship the woman who is mine. ?" asked Lord Conrad. if one wishes to be a prig or a Puritan.. poisonous. your theories about pleasure. in fact. her belief makes me good. but they are not 80 . It is impossible to be angry with you." he answered in his slow melodious voice. Her trust makes me faithful. not to me. her sign of approval." he replied. All your theories.
if one lives merely for one's self. surely." he answered." "That is quite true. "My dear fellow." "What sort of ways. toying with some fruits." Lord Conrad shrugged his shoulders. ." "I should have said that whatever they ask for they had first given to us." cried Hallward. "Being adored is a nuisance. Robert. are the privilege of the rich. They have a right to demand it back." "One has to pay in other ways but money. They worship us. in . we are overcharged for everything nowadays. Women treat us just as humanity treats its gods. Modern morality consists in accepting the standard of one's age. of course. individualism has really the higher aim. But then the only things that one can use in fiction are the things that one has ceased to use in fact. Besides. and no uncivilized man ever knows what a pleasure is. like beautiful things. no civilized man ever regrets a pleasure. in the consciousness of degradation. Cristal. well. 81 . but mediaeval emotions are out of date. Believe me." "That is certainly better than being adored. "It is to adore some one." murmured the lad gravely. and are always bothering us to do something for them. Beautiful sins." "I know what pleasure is. I should fancy that the real tragedy of the poor is that they can afford nothing but self-denial. One can use them in fiction." "But." cried Robert Langdon. "Yes. "They create love in our natures.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm one's concern. in suffering. Rick?" "Oh! I should fancy in remorse. one pays a terrible price for doing so?" suggested the painter. mediaeval art is charming. . I consider that for any man of culture to accept the standard of his age is a form of the grossest immorality.
You must follow us in a hansom. I represent to you all the sins you have never had the courage to commit. It is exquisite. but there is only room for two in the brougham. for me at any rate." he replied." interrupted Robert. Robert." "You will always like me. you will always be fond of me. and fine-champagne." said Lord Conrad. "Will you have some coffee." "What nonsense you talk. That is the worry. Robert. you fellows? Waiter. Cristal!" cried the lad. I love acting. and some cigarettes. there is no such thing. that women give to men the very gold of their lives. don't mind the cigarettes--I have some. I am so sorry. Rick." he sighed. "You must admit. Rick. however. I can't allow you to smoke cigars." "I have known everything. There was a gloom over him. When Sibyl comes on the stage you will have a new ideal of life. A cigarette is the perfect type of a perfect pleasure. Robert. "but I am always ready for a new emotion." "Possibly. "Let us go down to the theatre. You must have a cigarette. Cristal. Still. 82 . He could not bear this marriage. Let us go. "This is. you are dreadful! I don't know why I like you so much. sipping their coffee standing. bring coffee. and it leaves one unsatisfied. The painter was silent and preoccupied. your wonderful girl may thrill me. It is so much more real than life. with a tired look in his eyes. taking a light from a fire-breathing silver dragon that the waiter had placed on the table. "but they invariably want it back in such very small change. inspire us with the desire to do masterpieces and always prevent us from carrying them out. No. and yet it seemed to him to be better than many other things that might have happened. you will come with me. that. Women. She will represent something to you that you have never known." said Lord Conrad. as some witty Frenchman once put it." They got up and put on their coats.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "Nothing is ever quite true." "Cristal. What more can one want? Yes. I am afraid.
Robert Langdon loathed him more than ever. the house was crowded that night. you will forget everything. Lord Conrad. He felt that Robert Langdon would never again be to him all that he had been in the past. CHAPTER 7 For some reason or other. "What a place to find one's divinity in!" said Lord Conrad. His eyes darkened. The youths in the gallery had taken off their coats and waistcoats and hung them over the side. 83 . and the fat Jew manager who met them at the door was beaming from ear to ear with an oily tremulous smile. it seemed to him that he had grown years older. and the crowded flaring streets became blurred to his eyes. with their coarse faces and brutal gestures. and the huge sunlight flamed like a monstrous dahlia with petals of yellow fire. When the cab drew up at the theatre. and insisted on shaking him by the hand and assuring him that he was proud to meet a man who had discovered a real genius and gone bankrupt over a poet... "It was here I found her. The heat was terribly oppressive. and she is divine beyond all living things. The sound of the popping of corks came from the bar. and watched the flashing lights of the little brougham in front of him. They talked to each other across the theatre and shared their oranges with the tawdry girls who sat beside them. A strange sense of loss came over him. "Yes!" answered Robert Langdon. These common rough people. Hallward amused himself with watching the faces in the pit. He drove off by himself.. as had been arranged. Life had come between them.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm After a few minutes. waving his fat jewelled hands and talking at the top of his voice. At least he declared he did. rather liked him. He escorted them to their box with a sort of pompous humility. When she acts. they all passed downstairs. upon the other hand. Some women were laughing in the pit. He felt as if he had come to look for Miranda and had been met by Caliban. Their voices were horribly shrill and discordant.
pressing his hand. if she can create the sense of beauty in people whose lives have been sordid and ugly. They weep and laugh as she wills them to do.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm become quite different when she is on the stage. Rick Hallward leaped to his feet and began to applaud. She makes them as responsive as a violin. But here is the orchestra." "Thanks. Yes. If this girl can give a soul to those who have lived without one. but I admit it now. and I believe in this girl. he terrifies me. like the shadow of a rose in a mirror of silver. "Don't pay any attention to him. that he had ever seen." "The same flesh and blood as one's self! Oh. Robert. There was something of the fawn in her shy grace and startled eyes." A quarter of an hour afterwards. She spiritualizes them. Without her you would have been incomplete." answered Robert Langdon. I hope not!" exclaimed Lord Conrad. came to her cheeks as she glanced at the crowded enthusiastic house. Motionless. This marriage is quite right. "I understand what you mean. sat Robert 84 . They sit silently and watch her. Cristal is so cynical. Any one you love must be marvellous. The gods made Sibyl Vane for you. and any girl who has the effect you describe must be fine and noble. "I knew that you would understand me. Then the curtain rises. A faint blush. Lord Conrad thought." said the painter. she is worthy of all your adoration. but it only lasts for about five minutes. if she can strip them of their selfishness and lend them tears for sorrows that are not their own. and as one in a dream. and you will see the girl to whom I am going to give all my life. and one feels that they are of the same flesh and blood as one's self. amidst an extraordinary turmoil of applause. It is quite dreadful. To spiritualize one's age--that is something worth doing. Rick. she was certainly lovely to look at-one of the loveliest creatures. She stepped back a few paces and her lips seemed to tremble. to whom I have given everything that is good in me. worthy of the adoration of the world. Sibyl Vane stepped on to the stage. I did not think so at first. who was scanning the occupants of the gallery through his opera-glass.
That could not be denied. The voice was exquisite. The few words she had to speak-Good pilgrim. She seemed to them to be absolutely incompetent. The beautiful passage-- 85 . such as it was. If she failed there. gazing at her. She looked charming as she came out in the moonlight. The curves of her throat were the curves of a white lily. Her gestures became absurdly artificial. It took away all the life from the verse. He was puzzled and anxious. For saints have hands that pilgrims' hands do touch. struck up a few bars of music. shabbily dressed actors. It was wrong in colour. but from the point of view of tone it was absolutely false. and grew worse as she went on. Which mannerly devotion shows in this. and Romeo in his pilgrim's dress had entered with Mercutio and his other friends. you do wrong your hand too much. And palm to palm is holy palmers' kiss-with the brief dialogue that follows. Yet she was curiously listless. were spoken in a thoroughly artificial manner. as a plant sways in the water. The band.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Langdon. and the dance began. Yet they felt that the true test of any Juliet is the balcony scene of the second act. Through the crowd of ungainly. Robert Langdon grew pale as he watched her. there was nothing in her. while she danced. But the staginess of her acting was unbearable. Her body swayed. "Charming! charming!" The scene was the hall of Capulet's house. She overemphasized everything that she had to say. Lord Conrad peered through his glasses. They were horribly disappointed. It made the passion unreal. murmuring. Neither of his friends dared to say anything to him. She showed no sign of joy when her eyes rested on Romeo. They waited for that. Sibyl Vane moved like a creature from a finer world. Her hands seemed to be made of cool ivory.
When the second act was over." "I wish she were ill. Cristal." he said. stamped and swore with rage. Even the common uneducated audience of the pit and gallery lost their interest in the play." "My dear Robert. Else would a maiden blush bepaint my cheek For that which thou hast heard me speak to-night-was declaimed with the painful precision of a schoolgirl who has been taught to recite by some second-rate professor of elocution. I have no joy of this contract to-night: It is too rash. It was not nervousness. good-night! This bud of love by summer's ripening breath May prove a beauteous flower when next we meet-she spoke the words as though they conveyed no meaning to her. When she leaned over the balcony and came to those wonderful lines-Although I joy in thee. "but she can't act." interrupted Hallward. which doth cease to be Ere one can say. She was a complete failure. so far from being nervous. there came a storm of hisses. I should think Miss Vane was ill. "It lightens. "We will come some other night. Indeed. and began to talk loudly and to whistle. The only person unmoved was the girl herself. Let us go. too sudden. Too like the lightning. "She is quite beautiful. The Jew manager. They got restless. in a hard bitter voice. too unadvised." he rejoined. who was standing at the back of the dress-circle. I apologize to you both.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Thou knowest the mask of night is on my face. she was absolutely self-contained. "But she seems to me 86 ." answered the lad. It was simply bad art. "I am awfully sorry that I have made you waste an evening." Sweet." "I am going to see the play through. Robert. and Lord Conrad got up from his chair and put on his coat.
The curtain went down on a titter and some groans." "They are both simply forms of imitation. hiding his face in his hands. Cristal. Robert Langdon went back to his seat. he leaned up against the wall. Besides. Last night she was a great artist. We will smoke cigarettes and drink to the beauty of Sibyl Vane. and people who know absolutely nothing. and seemed interminable." remarked Lord Conrad. The last act was played to almost empty benches. As soon as it was over. I don't suppose you will want your wife to act. don't look so tragic! The secret of remaining young is never to have an emotion that is unbecoming. What more can you want?" "Go away." cried the lad. There are only two kinds of people who are really fascinating-people who know absolutely everything. Robert. so what does it matter if she plays Juliet like a wooden doll? She is very lovely. Rick. and the two young men passed out together.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm to be simply callous and cold." "Don't talk like that about any one you love. tramping in heavy boots and laughing. and rushing to the back of the box. and if she knows as little about life as she does about acting. and proud. The girl was standing there alone. This evening she is merely a commonplace mediocre actress. "Let us go." said Lord Conrad with a strange tenderness in his voice. you must not stay here any longer. Robert Langdon rushed behind the scenes into the greenroom. She is beautiful. my dear boy. Half of the audience went out. Love is a more wonderful thing than art. she will be a delightful experience. She has entirely altered. Come to the club with Rick and myself. with a look of triumph on her face. Rick. and indifferent. He looked pale. The whole thing was a fiasco. Her eyes were lit with an exquisite fire. you must go. Robert. "But do let us go. Good heavens. A few moments afterwards the footlights flared up and the curtain rose on the third act. It is not good for one's morals to see bad acting. The play dragged on. 87 . "I want to be alone. His lips trembled. Ah! can't you see that my heart is breaking?" The hot tears came to his eyes.
you should have understood. "Why I was so bad to-night. The painted scenes were my world. Robert. An ecstasy of happiness dominated her. Why I shall always be bad. "Horribly!" he answered. I suppose. she looked at him. I was Rosalind one night and Portia the other. as though it were sweeter than honey to the red petals of her mouth. To-night. "before I knew you. and I thought them real. She was transfigured with joy. don't you?" "Understand what?" he asked. I thought that it was all true. You make yourself ridiculous. I became conscious that the Romeo was hideous. gazing at her in amazement. and painted. When he entered. 88 . I believed in everything. Her parted lips were smiling over some secret of their own. "Robert. "How badly I acted to-night. lingering over his name with long-drawn music in her voice." The girl smiled. You taught me what reality really is. and an expression of infinite joy came over her. my beautiful love!-and you freed my soul from prison. Are you ill? You have no idea what it was. "You are ill. When you are ill you shouldn't act." she answered. I knew nothing but shadows. "Robert. I was bored. the silliness of the empty pageant in which I had always played. for the first time in my life.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm There was a radiance about her. Robert!" she cried." she cried." She seemed not to listen to him. angrily. and old. acting was the one reality of my life. To-night. for the first time. "Horribly! It was dreadful. You came--oh. Why I shall never act well again. But you understand now." He shrugged his shoulders. It was only in the theatre that I lived. The common people who acted with me seemed to me to be godlike. I saw through the hollowness. and the sorrows of Cordelia were mine also. the sham. My friends were bored. You have no idea what I suffered. that the moonlight in the orchard was false. "Robert. The joy of Beatrice was my joy.
and that the words I had to speak were unreal. You have made me see that. I hate the stage. What have I to do with the puppets of a play? When I came on to-night. I might mimic a passion that I do not feel. once . because you had genius and intellect. if you say it mars your art! 89 . I loved you because you were marvellous. "You have killed my love. Robert--take me away with you. The knowledge was exquisite to me. Why. You simply produce no effect. She looked at him in wonder and laughed. it would be profanation for me to play at being in love. something of which all art is but a reflection. "Yes. You had brought me something higher. I thought that I was going to be wonderful. I can't bear to think of it! I wish I had never laid eyes upon you! You have spoiled the romance of my life. Then he leaped up and went to the door." He flung himself down on the sofa and turned away his face. What could they know of love such as ours? Take me away. She came across to him. "you have killed my love. Robert.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm that the scenery was vulgar. because you realized the dreams of great poets and gave shape and substance to the shadows of art. He drew them away. were not what I wanted to say. You had made me understand what love really is. He made no answer. and with her little fingers stroked his hair. How little you can know of love. My love! My love! Prince Charming! Prince of life! I have grown sick of shadows. Robert. Suddenly it dawned on my soul what it all meant. I could not understand how it was that everything had gone from me. My God! how mad I was to love you! What a fool I have been! You are nothing to me now. You don't know what you were to me. Oh." he muttered. where we can be quite alone. you understand now what it signifies? Even if I could do it. once." he cried. I will never think of you. I heard them hissing. and I smiled. She knelt down and pressed his hands to her lips. You used to stir my imagination. I will never mention your name. but I cannot mimic one that burns me like fire. . I found that I could do nothing. You are shallow and stupid. You have thrown it all away. Now you don't even stir my curiosity. were not my words. You are more to me than all art can ever be. I will never see you again. Oh. . and a shudder ran through him.
Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Without your art. My brother . and trembled. and you would have borne my name. There is always something ridiculous about the emotions of people whom one has ceased to love. my love. . came across the room to him. with his beautiful eyes. He thrust her back. Robert. oh! can't you forgive me for to-night? I will work so hard and try to improve. Oh." "Acting! I leave that to you. with a piteous expression of pain in her face. Kiss me again. No. it is only once that I have not pleased you. It was foolish of me. She put her hand upon his arm and looked into his eyes. Sibyl Vane seemed to him to be absurdly melodramatic. and her voice seemed to catch in her throat. Oh! don't go away from me. "Don't touch me!" he cried. Her tears and sobs annoyed him." he answered bitterly. She clenched her hands together. After all." The girl grew white. 90 . magnificent. But you are quite right. and Robert Langdon. "I am so sorry I didn't act well. and his chiselled lips curled in exquisite disdain. She crouched on the floor like a wounded thing. I should have shown myself more of an artist. don't leave me. Don't be cruel to me. He was in jest. . "Robert. because I love you better than anything in the world. . I think I should never have known it if you had not kissed me-if we had not kissed each other. He didn't mean it. . What are you now? A third-rate actress with a pretty face. and yet I couldn't help it. Robert?" she murmured. I would have made you famous. But you. looked down at her. you are nothing. I was thinking of you all the time. I will try. She rose from her knees and. I couldn't bear it. But I will try--indeed. Robert. and she flung herself at his feet and lay there like a trampled flower." A fit of passionate sobbing choked her. don't leave me. "You are acting. Don't go away from me. A low moan broke from her. "You are not serious. It came so suddenly across me. The world would have worshipped you. my love for you. splendid. You do it so well. don't leave me!" she whispered. never mind. .
but I can't see you again. past gaunt. Huge carts filled with nodding lilies rumbled slowly down the polished empty street. The heavy cart-horses slipped and stamped upon the rough stones. black-shadowed archways and evil-looking houses. flushed with faint fires. wondered why he refused to accept any money for them. and of yellow and red roses. he hailed a hansom and drove home. The air was heavy with the perfume of the flowers. the pigeons ran about picking up seeds. Some of the drivers were lying asleep on a pile of sacks. jade-green piles of vegetables. cursing and chattering to themselves like monstrous apes. Drunkards had reeled by. They had been plucked at midnight. He had seen grotesque children huddled upon door-steps. and appeared to be seeking for him. He followed into the market and watched the men unloading their waggons. defiled in front of him. the sky hollowed itself into a perfect pearl. As the dawn was just breaking. and began to eat them listlessly. waiting for the auction to be over. You have disappointed me. Others crowded round the swinging doors of the coffee-house in the piazza. A white-smocked carter offered him some cherries. Women with hoarse voices and harsh laughter had called after him. Under the portico. A long line of boys carrying crates of striped tulips. loitered a troop of draggled bareheaded girls. For a few moments he loitered upon the doorstep. The darkness lifted. Iris-necked and pink-footed. He turned on his heel and left the room. Her little hands stretched blindly out. and their beauty seemed to bring him an anodyne for his pain. Where he went to he hardly knew. and. looking round 91 . with its grey.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "I am going. He remembered wandering through dimly lit streets." he said at last in his calm clear voice. After a little while. He thanked him. but crept nearer. sun-bleached pillars. threading their way through the huge. In a few moments he was out of the theatre." She wept silently. shaking their bells and trappings. and the coldness of the moon had entered into them. and heard shrieks and oaths from gloomy courts. he found himself close to Covent Garden. and made no answer. "I don't wish to be unkind.
After he had taken the button-hole out of his coat. He winced and. spoil of some Doge's barge. He turned round and. in his new-born feeling for luxury. he had just had decorated for himself and hung with some curious Renaissance tapestries that had been discovered stored in a disused attic at Selby Royal. where they lay shuddering. glanced hurriedly into its polished depths. He turned them out and. through the nacre-coloured air. In the huge gilt Venetian lantern. went over to the picture. In the dim arrested light that struggled through the cream-coloured silk blinds. lights were still burning from three flickering jets: thin blue petals of flame they seemed. having thrown his hat and cape on the table.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm at the silent square. The expression looked different. Then he went on into his own room. One would have said that there was a touch of cruelty in the mouth. The quivering ardent sunlight showed him the lines of cruelty round the mouth as clearly as if he had been looking into a mirror after he had done some dreadful thing. taking up from the table an oval glass framed in ivory Cupids. and the roofs of the houses glistened like silver against it. No line like that warped his red lips. It curled. a large octagonal chamber on the ground floor that. The bright dawn flooded the room and swept the fantastic shadows into dusky corners. and examined it. the face appeared to him to be a little changed. As he was turning the handle of the door. From some chimney opposite a thin wreath of smoke was rising. one of Lord Conrad's many presents to him. Finally. drew up the blind. The sky was pure opal now. What did it mean? 92 . he seemed to hesitate. rimmed with white fire. he came back. with its blank. close-shuttered windows and its staring blinds. passed through the library towards the door of his bedroom. oak-panelled hall of entrance. his eye fell upon the portrait Rick Hallward had painted of him. that hung from the ceiling of the great. to be more intensified even. He started back as if in surprise. a violet riband. walking to the window. looking somewhat puzzled. It was certainly strange. But the strange expression that he had noticed in the face of the portrait seemed to linger there.
as he thought of her lying at his feet sobbing like a little child. He threw himself into a chair and began to think. Suddenly there flashed across his mind what he had said in Rick Hallward's studio the day the picture had been finished. He remembered with what callousness he had watched her.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm He rubbed his eyes. She had been shallow and unworthy. and that he might keep all the delicate bloom and loveliness of his then just conscious boyhood. It was not a mere fancy of his own. and told his story. She had marred him for a moment. there was the picture before him. a feeling of infinite regret came over him. Lord Conrad had told him that. And. During the three terrible hours that the play had lasted. Why should he trouble about Sibyl Vane? She was nothing to him now. The thing was horribly apparent. with the touch of cruelty in the mouth. It seemed monstrous even to think of them. had given his love to her because he had thought her great. it was merely to have some one with whom they could have scenes. aeon upon aeon of torture. Then she had disappointed him. and the face on the canvas bear the burden of his passions and his sins. He had dreamed of her as a great artist. he had lived centuries of pain. They lived on their emotions. if he had wounded her for an age. he remembered it perfectly. His life was well worth hers. There were no signs of any change when he looked into the actual painting. that the painted image might be seared with the lines of suffering and thought. and yet there was no doubt that the whole expression had altered. It had taught him to love his own beauty. yet. and Lord Conrad knew what women were. not his. Surely his wish had not been fulfilled? Such things were impossible. But the picture? What was he to say of that? It held the secret of his life. yet. He had uttered a mad wish that he himself might remain young. And. and examined it again. They only thought of their emotions. and the portrait grow old. Why had he been made like that? Why had such a soul been given to him? But he had suffered also. that his own beauty might be untarnished. women were better suited to bear sorrow than men. Cruelty! Had he been cruel? It was the girl's fault. When they took lovers. Besides. and came close to the picture. Yes. Would it teach 93 .
The fascination that she had exercised over him would return. But he would not sin. The horrible night that he had passed had left phantoms behind it. not for himself. Its blue eyes met his own. Poor child! He had been selfish and cruel to her. He would go back to Sibyl Vane. A sense of infinite pity. It had altered already. shuddering as he glanced at it. came over him. He thought only of Sibyl.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm him to loathe his own soul? Would he ever look at it again? No. Its bright hair gleamed in the early sunlight. it was merely an illusion wrought on the troubled senses. listen to those subtle poisonous theories that in Rick Hallward's garden had first stirred within him the passion for impossible things. He would not see Lord Conrad any more--would not. changed or unchanged. try to love her again. The picture had not changed. The fresh morning air seemed to drive away all his sombre passions. For every sin that he committed. make her amends. It was folly to think so. with its beautiful marred face and its cruel smile. The picture. he drew a deep breath. would be to him the visible emblem of conscience. but for the painted image of himself. "How horrible!" he murmured to himself. He repeated her name over and over again. The birds that were singing in the dew-drenched garden seemed to be telling the flowers about her. a stain would fleck and wreck its fairness. He would resist temptation. at any rate. His life with her would be beautiful and pure. and would alter more. Its gold would wither into grey. Its red and white roses would die. it was his duty to do so. Yes. She must have suffered more than he had. Yet it was watching him. A faint echo of his love came back to him. When he stepped out on to the grass. They would be happy together. He got up from his chair and drew a large screen right in front of the portrait. CHAPTER 8 94 . and he walked across to the window and opened it. Suddenly there had fallen upon his brain that tiny scarlet speck that makes men mad. marry her.
The cool water refreshed him after his long sleep. One of them was from Lord Conrad. 95 . tickets for private views. and throwing on an elaborate dressinggown of silk-embroidered cashmere wool. Finally his bell sounded. They contained the usual collection of cards. smiling. "What o'clock is it. turned over his letters. passed into the onyx-paved bathroom. and having sipped some tea. and had wondered what made his young master sleep so late. The others he opened listlessly. and drew back the olive-satin curtains. who were extremely old-fashioned people and did not realize that we live in an age when unnecessary things are our only necessities. that hung in front of the three tall windows. and had been brought by hand that morning." How late it was! He sat up. and the like that are showered on fashionable young men every morning during the season. Monsieur. with their shimmering blue lining. on a small tray of old Sevres china. He seemed to have forgotten all that he had gone through. "One hour and a quarter. His valet had crept several times on tiptoe into the room to see if he was stirring. Victor?" asked Robert Langdon drowsily. "Monsieur has well slept this morning. A dim sense of having taken part in some strange tragedy came to him once or twice. invitations to dinner. and Victor came in softly with a cup of tea. but there was the unreality of a dream about it. and there were several very courteously worded communications from Jermyn Street money-lenders offering to advance any sum of money at a moment's notice and at the most reasonable rates of interest. and a pile of letters. programmes of charity concerts. There was a rather heavy bill for a chased silver Louis-Quinze toilet-set that he had not yet had the courage to send on to his guardians. After about ten minutes he got up.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm It was long past noon when he awoke. He hesitated for a moment. and then put it aside." he said.
Then he rose from the table. filled with sulphur-yellow roses. He felt perfectly happy." he said with a sigh. 96 . And. how vivid was his recollection of the whole thing! First in the dim twilight. lit a cigarette. stood before him. putting an omelette on the table. The warm air seemed laden with spices. yet. He was afraid of certainty. stamped and wrought with a rather florid Louis-Quatorze pattern. It would serve as a tale to tell Rick some day. of gilt Spanish leather. "I am not at home to any one. "I am not cold. A bee flew in and buzzed round the blue-dragon bowl that. he called him back. Was it all true? Had the portrait really changed? Or had it been simply his own imagination that had made him see a look of evil where there had been a look of joy? Surely a painted canvas could not alter? The thing was absurd. The man bowed and retired. and flung himself down on a luxuriously cushioned couch that stood facing the screen. It would make him smile. The man stood waiting for his orders. and he started. He knew that when he was alone he would have to examine the portrait. He almost dreaded his valet leaving the room. he went into the library and sat down to a light French breakfast that had been laid out for him on a small round table close to the open window. he felt a wild desire to tell him to remain. "I shut the window?" Robert shook his head. he had seen the touch of cruelty round the warped lips. "Too cold for Monsieur?" asked his valet. and then in the bright dawn. It was an exquisite day. Victor. As the door was closing behind him." he murmured.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm As soon as he was dressed. Suddenly his eye fell on the screen that he had placed in front of the portrait. The screen was an old one. Robert looked at him for a moment. When the coffee and cigarettes had been brought and the man turned to go.
and conscience to others. how cruel. As he often remembered afterwards. And yet it was a fact. But here was a visible symbol of the degradation of sin. and. more terrible reason? He shuddered. eyes other than his spied behind and saw the horrible change? What should he do if Rick Hallward came and asked to look at his own picture? Rick would be sure to do that. after all? Why not let it stay there? What was the use of knowing? If the thing was true. they realized?--that what it dreamed. That such a change should have taken place was incredible to him. If it was not true. His unreal and selfish love would yield to some higher influence. drugs that could lull the moral sense to sleep. It was not too late to make reparation for that. Was there some subtle affinity between the chemical atoms that shaped themselves into form and colour on the canvas and the soul that was within him? Could it be that what that soul thought. Anything would be better than this dreadful state of doubt. It had made him conscious how unjust. and the fear of God to us all. She could still be his wife. One thing. would be transformed into some nobler passion. why trouble about it? But what if. gazing at the picture in sickened horror.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm He scanned it curiously. and felt afraid. would be to him what holiness is to some. he had been to Sibyl Vane. There were opiates for remorse. No. the thing had to be examined. by some fate or deadlier chance. he felt that it had done for him. and the portrait that Rick Hallward had painted of him would be a guide to him through life. he found himself at first gazing at the portrait with a feeling of almost scientific interest. Then he drew the screen aside and saw himself face to face. however. Should he move it aside. it was terrible. going back to the couch. lay there. At least he would be alone when he looked upon the mask of his shame. and always with no small wonder. and at once. The portrait had altered. 97 . they made true? Or was there some other. wondering if ever before it had concealed the secret of a man's life. It was perfectly true. He got up and locked both doors.
he went over to the table and wrote a passionate letter to the girl he had loved. It is the confession. and he heard Lord Conrad's voice outside. He did not know what to do. that gives us absolution. imploring her forgiveness and accusing himself of madness. Finally. he felt that he had been forgiven. "I am so sorry for it all. "Yes. When Robert had finished the letter. and four. to part if parting was inevitable. of course. I must see you. and the half-hour rang its double chime." He made no answer at first. sinking into a chair and slowly pulling off his yellow gloves. The knocking still continued and grew louder. Tell me. "It is dreadful. Yes. but remained quite still. after the play was over?" "Yes. Let me in at once. we feel that no one else has a right to blame us. He was trying to gather up the scarlet threads of life and to weave them into a pattern. He jumped up. "My dear boy. not the priest. Three o'clock struck." answered Lord Conrad. Robert. but Robert Langdon did not stir." 98 .Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Here was an ever-present sign of the ruin men brought upon their souls. "But you must not think too much about it. and unlocked the door. and to explain to him the new life he was going to lead. to quarrel with him if it became necessary to quarrel. it was better to let Lord Conrad in." "Do you mean about Sibyl Vane?" asked the lad. Suddenly there came a knock to the door. from one point of view. I can't bear your shutting yourself up like this." said Lord Conrad as he entered. When we blame ourselves. to find his way through the sanguine labyrinth of passion through which he was wandering. He covered page after page with wild words of sorrow and wilder words of pain. but it was not your fault. There is a luxury in self-reproach. did you go behind and see her. or what to think. drew the screen hastily across the picture.
I can't bear the idea of my soul being hideous. Don't say it. Two days ago I asked Sibyl to marry me. Robert. Something dreadful about marriage. It is the divinest thing in us. Cristal. and sent the note down by my own man." "I have got through all that. any more--at least not before me. It is not what you told me it was. I have not read it yet. But it is all right now. I am not sorry for anything that has happened. standing up and looking at him in perplexed amazement. I remember." "Your letter? Oh. It has taught me to know myself better. "But." "Marrying Sibyl Vane!" cried Lord Conrad. Cristal.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "I felt sure you had. Don't ever say things of that kind to me again. yes. Did you make a scene with her?" "I was brutal. I want to be good." "You know nothing then?" "What do you mean?" 99 . shaking his head and smiling. I am so glad you take it in that way! I was afraid I would find you plunged in remorse and tearing that nice curly hair of yours. . "I am perfectly happy now. to begin with." "A very charming artistic basis for ethics. . I was afraid there might be something in it that I wouldn't like. I know what conscience is. Didn't you get my letter? I wrote to you this morning." "Ah. But how are you going to begin?" "By marrying Sibyl Vane." "Your wife! Robert! . Cristal--perfectly brutal. I know what you are going to say. You cut life to pieces with your epigrams. Robert! I congratulate you on it. Cristal." said Robert. my dear Robert--" "Yes. Don't sneer at it. She is to be my wife. I am not going to break my word to her.
it is all right. as she seems to have died instantaneously." "Cristal. One should reserve that to give an interest to one's old age. "It is in all the morning papers. gravely. Robert. it is terrible!" cried the lad. in a stifled voice. and he leaped to his feet. They ultimately found her lying dead on the floor of her dressing-room. They waited some time for her. Cristal. she said she had forgotten something upstairs. Here. I should fancy it was prussic acid." A cry of pain broke from the lad's lips. tearing his hands away from Lord Conrad's grasp. Tell me everything at once. It seems that as she was leaving the theatre with her mother. though it must be put in that way to the public. Cristal. 100 . Things like that make a man fashionable in Paris. some dreadful thing they use at theatres. took both his hands in his own and held them tightly. and sitting down by Robert Langdon. There will have to be an inquest. Robert. She had swallowed something by mistake." "I have no doubt it was not an accident. about half-past twelve or so. did you say an inquest? What did you mean by that? Did Sibyl--? Oh. Did any one see you going round to her room? That is an important point." Robert did not answer for a few moments. one should never make one's debut with a scandal. He was dazed with horror. "Cristal." said Lord Conrad. I wrote down to you to ask you not to see any one till I came. "my letter--don't be frightened--was to tell you that Sibyl Vane is dead. Finally he stammered. I can't bear it! But be quick.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Lord Conrad walked across the room. I suppose they don't know your name at the theatre? If they don't. but it had either prussic acid or white lead in it. and you must not be mixed up in it." he said. "Dead! Sibyl dead! It is not true! It is a horrible lie! How dare you say it?" "It is quite true. but she did not come down again. But in London people are so prejudiced. of course. "Robert. I don't know what it was.
I thought her shallow. She has got some smart women with her. I think I would have wept over it. She had no right to kill herself. it seems far too wonderful for tears. afterwards. and to me. But I was not moved a bit. Suddenly something happened that made me afraid. it is very tragic. Strange. Cristal. I said I would go back to her. Robert. that my first passionate love-letter should have been addressed to a dead girl. She explained it all to me. and everybody will be there. Yet the roses are not less lovely for all that. but you must not get yourself mixed up in it. How extraordinarily dramatic life is! If I had read all this in a book. And now she is dead." answered Lord Conrad. I see by The Standard that she was seventeen. She looked such a child. and there is nothing to keep me straight. 101 . And to-night I am to dine with you. I wonder. Here is the first passionate love-letter I have ever written in my life. and seemed to know so little about acting. You can come to my sister's box. Cristal. and sup somewhere. or know." "So I have murdered Sibyl Vane. I felt I had done wrong. Somehow. now that it has happened actually. taking a cigarette from his case and producing a gold-latten matchbox. It was selfish of her. you mustn't let this thing get on your nerves. Then came that dreadful night--was it really only last night?-when she played so badly.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "Yes. She was everything to me. My God! My God! Cristal." "My dear Robert. how I loved her once! It seems years ago to me now. half to himself. It was terribly pathetic. and then go on to the opera. those white silent people we call the dead? Sibyl! Can she feel. and afterwards we will look in at the opera. The birds sing just as happily in my garden. You must come and dine with me. of course. It is a Patti night. I suppose. Can they feel. "murdered her as surely as if I had cut her little throat with a knife. and my heart almost broke." said Robert Langdon. but it was terrible. what shall I do? You don't know the danger I am in. I should have thought she was almost younger than that. She would have done that for me. I can't tell you what it was. or listen? Oh.
They are simply cheques that men draw on a bank where they have no account." cried Robert Langdon. And yet I must admit that this thing that has happened 102 ." he rejoined. It is not my fault that this terrible tragedy has prevented my doing what was right. I remember your saying once that there is a fatality about good resolutions--that they are always made too late." "I suppose it would. I am nothing of the kind. Their result is absolutely nil. Cristal. you would have treated her kindly." "Cristal. And when a woman finds that out about her husband. Mine certainly were. coming over and sitting down beside him. They give us. I say nothing about the social mistake." muttered the lad. she either becomes dreadfully dowdy.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "the only way a woman can ever reform a man is by boring him so completely that he loses all possible interest in life. The lad frowned. "why is it that I cannot feel this tragedy as much as I want to? I don't think I am heartless. I would not have allowed-but I assure you that in any case the whole thing would have been an absolute failure." "Good resolutions are useless attempts to interfere with scientific laws. Do you?" "You have done too many foolish things during the last fortnight to be entitled to give yourself that name. walking up and down the room and looking horribly pale. "I don't like that explanation. But she would have soon found out that you were absolutely indifferent to her. you would have been wretched. or wears very smart bonnets that some other woman's husband has to pay for. "but I am glad you don't think I am heartless. That is all that can be said for them. which would have been abject--which. If you had married this girl. now and then. I know I am not. Their origin is pure vanity. some of those luxurious sterile emotions that have a certain charm for the weak. of course. One can always be kind to people about whom one cares nothing. Robert. Of course." answered Lord Conrad with his sweet melancholy smile. "But I thought it was my duty.
It has all the terrible beauty of a Greek tragedy. "Life has always poppies in her hands. however. I wish that I had ever had such an experience. their entire lack of style. "an extremely interesting question." "It is an interesting question. and we revolt against that. or they to care for me. Of course. We watch ourselves. their absolute incoherence. what is it that has really happened? Some one has killed herself for love of you. The people who have adored me--there have not been very many. they go in at once for reminiscences. "There is no necessity. It would have made me in love with love for the rest of my life. It seems to me to be simply like a wonderful ending to a wonderful play. a tragedy that possesses artistic elements of beauty crosses our lives. but one should never remember its details.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm does not affect me as it should. I once wore nothing but violets all through one season. but the spectators of the play. and the mere wonder of the spectacle enthralls us." said Lord Conrad. now and then things linger. and when I meet them. If these elements of beauty are real. but by which I have not been wounded. as a form of artistic mourning for a romance that would not die. their absurd want of meaning. In the present case." rejoined his companion. Or rather we are both." "I must sow poppies in my garden. but there have been some--have always insisted on living on. Suddenly we find that we are no longer the actors. Details are always vulgar. I fancy that the true explanation is this: It often happens that the real tragedies of life occur in such an inartistic manner that they hurt us by their crude violence. the whole thing simply appeals to our sense of dramatic effect." sighed Robert. long after I had ceased to care for them. a tragedy in which I took a great part. 103 . They give us an impression of sheer brute force. That awful memory of woman! What a fearful thing it is! And what an utter intellectual stagnation it reveals! One should absorb the colour of life. Sometimes. They affect us just as vulgarity affects us. They have become stout and tedious. who found an exquisite pleasure in playing on the lad's unconscious egotism.
and every tragedy would culminate in a farce. I have not mentioned the most important one. it did die. I assure you. Conscience makes egotists of us all. at Lady Hampshire's.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Ultimately. or a woman over thirty-five who is fond of pink ribbons. It always means that they have a history. 104 . the obvious consolation. a woman once told me. and as soon as the interest of the play is entirely over. I had buried my romance in a bed of asphodel. She dragged it out again and assured me that I had spoiled her life. If they were allowed their own way. and raking up the future. I think it was her proposing to sacrifice the whole world for me. I forget what killed it. I found myself seated at dinner next the lady in question. Its mysteries have all the charm of a flirtation. "Oh. They always want a sixth act. Robert. however. Well--would you believe it?--a week ago. But women never know when the curtain has fallen. But what a lack of taste she showed! The one charm of the past is that it is the past. Cristal?" said the lad listlessly. as if it were the most fascinating of sins. Taking some one else's admirer when one loses one's own. Others find a great consolation in suddenly discovering the good qualities of their husbands. I am bound to state that she ate an enormous dinner. whatever her age may be. Indeed. Yes. Besides. Never trust a woman who wears mauve. They flaunt their conjugal felicity in one's face. and I can quite understand it. It fills one with the terror of eternity. they propose to continue it. They are charmingly artificial. Some of them do it by going in for sentimental colours. Religion consoles some. there is really no end to the consolations that women find in modern life. that not one of the women I have known would have done for me what Sibyl Vane did for you. so I did not feel any anxiety. and she insisted on going over the whole thing again. nothing makes one so vain as being told that one is a sinner. Ordinary women always console themselves. That is always a dreadful moment. and digging up the past. You are more fortunate than I am." "What is that. In good society that always whitewashes a woman. but they have no sense of art. every comedy would have a tragic ending.
They make one believe in the reality of the things we all play with. how different Sibyl Vane must have been from all the women one meets! There is something to me quite beautiful about her death. Mourn for Ophelia. and love. Robert. Put ashes on your head because Cordelia was strangled. The girl never really lived. The moment she touched actual life. And. and Ophelia the other. but I can fancy how delightful you looked." "What was that. burying his face in his hands. We have emancipated them." "I am afraid that women appreciate cruelty. you said something to me the day before yesterday that seemed to me at the time to be merely fanciful. or Ford. They have wonderfully primitive instincts. but that I see now was absolutely true.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm But really. downright cruelty. I have never seen you really and absolutely angry. 105 . passion. all the same. I am sure you were splendid. or Cyril Tourneur. if you like. and it marred her. She has played her last part. and so she has never really died. after all. a phantom that flitted through Shakespeare's plays and left them lovelier for its presence. more than anything else. as a wonderful scene from Webster. Cristal?" "You said to me that Sibyl Vane represented to you all the heroines of romance--that she was Desdemona one night. and so she passed away. she will never come to life. To you at least she was always a dream. but they remain slaves looking for their masters. Cry out against Heaven because the daughter of Brabantio died. and it holds the key to everything." "She will never come to life again now. that if she died as Juliet. I am glad I am living in a century when such wonders happen. such as romance. You forget that. They love being dominated." "I was terribly cruel to her. she came to life as Imogen. "No. But you must think of that lonely death in the tawdry dressing-room simply as a strange lurid fragment from some Jacobean tragedy." muttered the lad. she marred it. a reed through which Shakespeare's music sounded richer and more full of joy.
She was less real than they are." There was a silence. you must keep your good looks. Cristal. and that thinks too much to be beautiful." "I think I shall join you at the opera. I feel too tired to eat anything. Cristal. and I could not express it to myself. That is all." "I don't feel up to it. You are certainly my best friend. Cristal. We cannot spare you." "But suppose." he murmured with something of a sigh of relief. We live in an age that reads too much to be wise. I became haggard." "Life has everything in store for you. with your extraordinary good looks. will not be able to do. you would have to fight for your victories. The colours faded wearily out of things. and old. I believe. "then. As it is." 106 . How well you know me! But we will not talk again of what has happened. "But I am awfully obliged to you for all that you have said to me. It has been a marvellous experience. The evening darkened in the room. I wonder if life has still in store for me anything as marvellous. What is the number of your sister's box?" "Twenty-seven. but somehow I was afraid of it. my dear Robert. and with silver feet. then. After some time Robert Langdon looked up. Noiselessly. There is nothing that you. No. Robert. as it is." said Robert listlessly. "You have explained me to myself. and wrinkled? What then?" "Ah. No one has ever understood me as you have. It is on the grand tier." said Lord Conrad. But I am sorry you won't come and dine. You will see her name on the door.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm But don't waste your tears over Sibyl Vane. rising to go. We are rather late. "I felt all that you have said. the shadows crept in from the garden. they are brought to you. And now you had better dress and drive down to the club.
and shy tremulous grace. Robert Langdon touched the bell. It had received the news of Sibyl Vane's death before he had known of it himself. No. I shall see you before nine-thirty. shaking him by the hand. The man seemed to take an interminable time over everything.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "We are only at the beginning of our friendship. Or was it indifferent to results? Did it merely take cognizance of what passed within the soul? He wondered. A wonderful tragic figure? Tears came to his eyes as he remembered her childlike look. Remember. and his own infinite curiosity about life. "Good-bye. Robert. When he thought of her. and in a few minutes Victor appeared with the lamps and drew the blinds down. She had atoned for everything by the sacrifice she had made of her life. Or had his choice already been made? Yes. Patti is singing. she had died for love of him. and love would always be a sacrament to him now. there was no further change in the picture. as she died? No. no doubt. and winsome fanciful ways. shuddering as he hoped it. appeared at the very moment that the girl had drunk the poison. It was conscious of the events of life as they occurred. He felt that the time had really come for making his choice. whatever it was. Poor Sibyl! What a romance it had all been! She had often mimicked death on the stage. life had decided that for him--life. pleasures subtle and secret." As he closed the door behind him. The vicious cruelty that marred the fine lines of the mouth had. He brushed them away hastily and looked again at the picture." answered Lord Conrad. infinite passion. How had she played that dreadful last scene? Had she cursed him. on that horrible night at the theatre. He waited impatiently for him to go. 107 . As soon as he had left. He would not think any more of what she had made him go through. Then Death himself had touched her and taken her with him. and hoped that some day he would see the change taking place before his very eyes. it would be as a wonderful tragic figure sent on to the world's stage to show the supreme reality of love. he rushed to the screen and drew it back. Eternal youth. I hope.
he thought of praying that the horrible sympathy that existed between him and the picture might cease. The portrait was to bear the burden of his shame: that was all. atom calling to atom in secret love or strange affinity? But the reason was of no importance. or with what fateful consequences it might be fraught? Besides. would surrender the chance of remaining always young. It had changed in answer to a prayer. he would 108 . was it really under his control? Had it indeed been prayer that had produced the substitution? Might there not be some curious scientific reason for it all? If thought could exercise its influence upon a living organism. And when winter came upon it. to be hidden away in a locked room. it was to alter. who. He would never again tempt by a prayer any terrible power. he had kissed. so it would reveal to him his own soul. perhaps in answer to a prayer it might remain unchanged. As it had revealed to him his own body. to be shut out from the sunlight that had so often touched to brighter gold the waving wonder of its hair? The pity of it! the pity of it! For a moment. And yet. Morning after morning he had sat before the portrait wondering at its beauty. If the picture was to alter. or feigned to kiss. those painted lips that now smiled so cruelly at him. That was all. that knew anything about life. Once. Was it to alter now with every mood to which he yielded? Was it to become a monstrous and loathsome thing. A feeling of pain crept over him as he thought of the desecration that was in store for the fair face on the canvas. in boyish mockery of Narcissus. might not things external to ourselves vibrate in unison with our moods and passions. as it seemed to him at times. Why inquire too closely into it? For there would be a real pleasure in watching it.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm wild joys and wilder sins--he was to have all these things. He would be able to follow his mind into its secret places. almost enamoured of it. This portrait would be to him the most magical of mirrors. might not thought exercise an influence upon dead and inorganic things? Nay. without thought or conscious desire. however fantastic that chance might be.
" he said gravely. I passed a dreadful evening. isn't it? But I was afraid of intruding upon a sorrow that I could not lighten. sipping some pale-yellow wine from a delicate. But I wish you had left word where you had really gone to. When the blood crept from its face. he would keep the glamour of boyhood. gold-beaded bubble of Venetian 109 . and Lord Conrad was leaning over his chair. I can't tell you how heart-broken I am about the whole thing.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm still be standing where spring trembles on the verge of summer. how do I know?" murmured Robert Langdon. What did it matter what happened to the coloured image on the canvas? He would be safe. That was everything. An hour later he was at the opera. he would be strong. I came here at once and was miserable at not finding you. where his valet was already waiting for him. Not one blossom of his loveliness would ever fade. and left behind a pallid mask of chalk with leaden eyes. too! What did she say about it all?" "My dear Rick. I know what you must suffer. He drew the screen back into its former place in front of the picture. I read of it quite by chance in a late edition of The Globe that I picked up at the club. They gave the address in the paper. But where were you? Did you go down and see the girl's mother? For a moment I thought of following you there. and they told me you were at the opera. I knew that was impossible. Poor woman! What a state she must be in! And her only child. and joyous. Somewhere in the Euston Road. and passed into his bedroom. "I called last night. I think you might have telegraphed for me when you heard of it first. Robert. "I am so glad I have found you. and fleet. Of course. smiling as he did so. CHAPTER 9 As he was sitting at breakfast next morning. Not one pulse of his life would ever weaken. Like the gods of the Greeks. half afraid that one tragedy might be followed by another. Rick Hallward was shown into the room.
There is a son. day after day. You look exactly the same wonderful boy who. I may mention that she was not the woman's only child. "I was at the opera." 110 . You were the most unspoiled creature in the whole world. You should have come on there. natural. tell me about yourself and what you are painting. Rick! I won't hear it!" cried Robert. I don't know what has come over you. to enjoy them. Now. and affectionate then. We were in her box. and to dominate them. for the first time. What is past is past. And now." "Robert. I met Lady Gwendolen. or something. If one doesn't talk about a thing. I want to use them. It is simply expression. there are horrors in store for that little white body of hers!" "Stop. before the girl you loved has even the quiet of a grave to sleep in? Why. I don't want to be at the mercy of my emotions. "You went to the opera while Sibyl Vane was lying dead in some sordid lodging? You can talk to me of other women being charming. Cristal's sister. She is perfectly charming." "You call yesterday the past?" "What has the actual lapse of time got to do with it? It is only shallow people who require years to get rid of an emotion. But he is not on the stage. It is all Cristal's influence. and Patti sang divinely. and of Patti singing divinely. speaking very slowly and with a strained touch of pain in his voice. as Cristal says. He is a sailor. this is horrible! Something has changed you completely. man. What is done is done. it has never happened. A man who is master of himself can end a sorrow as easily as he can invent a pleasure. a charming fellow. used to come down to my studio to sit for his picture. You talk as if you had no heart. leaping to his feet.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm glass and looking dreadfully bored. Don't talk about horrid subjects. But you were simple." "You went to the opera?" said Hallward. that gives reality to things. no pity in you. "You must not tell me about things. I see that. I believe.
sun-lashed garden. She was always a heroine." said Robert Langdon. They are good husbands. What do you want?" "I want the Robert Langdon I used to paint." he muttered. Rick. You only taught me to be vain. "I owe a great deal to Cristal. she died. going over to him and putting his hand on his shoulder. You know what I mean--middle-class virtue and all that kind of thing. and a shudder ran through him. I am punished for that. looked out for a few moments on the green." he said at last. looking up at him with an expression of horror. as I was saying. people who act lead the most commonplace lives. How different Sibyl was! She lived her finest tragedy. But. She passed again into the sphere of art." "I don't know what you mean. or a quarter to six-- 111 . or something tedious." said the artist sadly." "Well. "No. Robert--or shall be some day. The last night she played-the night you saw her--she acted badly because she had known the reality of love. As a rule. When she knew its unreality. "Rick." he exclaimed. Rick. "there is nothing fearful about it. flickering. It is one of the great romantic tragedies of the age. you must not think I have not suffered. turning round. "I don't know what you want. perhaps. as Juliet might have died. "My dear Rick! Surely you don't think it was a vulgar accident? Of course she killed herself. "more than I owe to you. If you had come in yesterday at a particular moment-about half-past five. "How fearful." said the lad. There is something of the martyr about her. Her death has all the pathetic uselessness of martyrdom." The elder man buried his face in his hands. all its wasted beauty. Yesterday. when I heard that Sibyl Vane had killed herself--" "Killed herself! Good heavens! is there no doubt about that?" cried Hallward.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm The lad flushed up and. "you have come too late. going to the window. or faithful wives.
or to see it from a proper artistic point of view. or some unjust law altered--I forget exactly what it was. new ideas. except sentimentalists. lacquer-work. I am changed. And besides. but you must always be my friend. who brought me the news.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm you would have found me in tears. is to escape the suffering of life. and don't quarrel with me. You are not stronger-you are too much afraid of life--but you are better. Was it not Gautier who used to write about la consolation des arts? I remember picking up a little vellum-covered book in your studio one day and chancing on that delightful phrase. who was here. He had absolutely nothing to do. my dear old Rick. I am a man now. And you are awfully unjust. I suffered immensely. The lad was infinitely dear to him. You find me consoled. I have new passions. is still more to me. No one can. There is nothing more to be said. had no idea what I was going through. new thoughts. You come down here to console me. I love beautiful things that one can touch and handle. Then it passed away. and became a confirmed misanthrope. And how happy we used to be together! Don't leave me. Old brocades. I know you are surprised at my talking to you like this. I am very fond of Cristal. and nothing could exceed his disappointment. luxury. Rick. I was a schoolboy when you knew me. Well. I am different. I cannot repeat an emotion. or at any rate reveal. the young man who used to say that yellow satin could console one for all the miseries of life. and you are furious. I am not like that young man you told me of when we were down at Marlow together. Rick. green bronzes. in fact. Even Cristal. 112 ." The painter felt strangely moved. But the artistic temperament that they create. pomp--there is much to be got from all these. Of course. carved ivories. almost died of ennui. How like a sympathetic person! You remind me of a story Cristal told me about a certain philanthropist who spent twenty years of his life in trying to get some grievance redressed. exquisite surroundings. Finally he succeeded. You have not realized how I have developed. That is charming of you. as Cristal says. To become the spectator of one's own life. I am what I am. But I know that you are better than he is. if you really want to console me. teach me rather to forget what has happened. but you must not like me less.
his indifference was probably merely a mood that would pass away. I felt the room looked different as I came in. "Do you mean to say you don't like what I did of you? Where is it? Why have you pulled the screen in front of it? Let me look at it. "Well. Robert. I can't get on without you. It is the best thing I have ever done. what nonsense!" he cried. and that I am quite sure she never mentioned to any one." There was something so crude and vulgar about everything of the kind. "My dear boy. He could not bear the idea of reproaching him any more. so much in him that was noble. The painter stared at him. You must do me a drawing of Sibyl." he said at length. with a sad smile. Do take the screen away. and a look of annoyance passed over his face at the mention of the word "inquest.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm and his personality had been the great turning point in his art. The inquest is to take place this afternoon. She told me once that they were all rather curious to learn who I was. and that she invariably told them my name was Prince Charming. Rick. It is simply disgraceful of your servant hiding my work like that. There was so much in him that was good. "They don't know my name. Have they summoned you?" Robert shook his head." "I will try and do something." he answered. After all. Robert. after to-day." "I can never sit to you again. starting back. "I won't speak to you again about this horrible thing. I only trust your name won't be mentioned in connection with it. It is impossible!" he exclaimed. It was pretty of her. "But surely she did?" "Only my Christian name. if it would please you." 113 . I should like to have something more of her than the memory of a few kisses and some broken pathetic words. Rick. Robert. But you must come and sit to me yourself again.
"Robert!" "Don't speak!" "But what is the matter? Of course I won't look at it if you don't want me to." "Not look at my own work! You are not serious. everything is over between us." And Hallward walked towards the corner of the room. my dear fellow? It is an admirable place for it. "Rick. "you must not look at it. Rick. laughing. I don't wish you to. rather coldly. He was trembling all over. and he rushed between the painter and the screen. I shall probably have to give it another coat of varnish before that. He had never seen him like this before. so I must see it some day." Hallward was thunderstruck.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "My servant has nothing to do with it. "If you try to look at it. looking very pale. 114 . it seems rather absurd that I shouldn't see my own work. The lad was actually pallid with rage. turning on his heel and going over towards the window. if you touch this screen. Let me see it. really. "But. You don't imagine I let him arrange my room for me? He settles my flowers for me sometimes-that is all. Rick. But. I am quite serious. His hands were clenched. No. A cry of terror broke from Robert Langdon's lips. He looked at Robert Langdon in absolute amazement. I don't offer any explanation. remember. I did it myself. especially as I am going to exhibit it in Paris in the autumn." he said. and you are not to ask for any." he said. and why not to-day?" "To exhibit it! You want to exhibit it?" exclaimed Robert Langdon. and the pupils of his eyes were like disks of blue fire. The light was too strong on the portrait. on my word of honour I will never speak to you again as long as I live. Why shouldn't I look at it?" exclaimed Hallward." "Too strong! Surely not.
"Rick." Yes. In fact. "we have each of us a secret. He would ask him and try. "Robert. He told me why he wouldn't. and I shall tell you mine. Georges Petit is going to collect all my best pictures for a special exhibition in the Rue de Seze. What was your reason for refusing to exhibit my picture?" The painter shuddered in spite of himself. which will open the first week in October. get Rick to tell you why he won't exhibit your picture. He felt that he was on the brink of a horrible danger." He stopped suddenly. and a gleam of light came into his eyes. I have always you to look at. I should think you could easily spare it for that time." he said. The portrait will only be away a month. half seriously and half in jest. And if you keep it always behind a screen. Let me know yours. coming over quite close and looking him straight in the face. you are sure to be out of town. "Yes. and it was a revelation to me. you can't care much about it. too. had his secret." Robert Langdon passed his hand over his forehead. He remembered that Lord Conrad had said to him once. If you wish the best work I have ever done 115 . perhaps Rick. Something--he did not know what--had to be done at once. "Why have you changed your mind? You people who go in for being consistent have just as many moods as others have." he cried. I am content. If you wish me never to look at your picture again.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm a strange sense of terror creeping over him. There were beads of perspiration there. "If you want to have a strange quarter of an hour. "You told me a month ago that you would never exhibit it. you might like me less than you do. Was the world going to be shown his secret? Were people to gape at the mystery of his life? That was impossible. and you would certainly laugh at me. You told Cristal exactly the same thing. You can't have forgotten that you assured me most solemnly that nothing in the world would induce you to send it to any exhibition. if I told you. The only difference is that your moods are rather meaningless. I could not bear your doing either of those two things. I don't suppose you will object to that.
I only knew that I had seen perfection face to face. I had drawn you as Paris in dainty armour.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm to be hidden from the world." insisted Robert Langdon. He was determined to find out Rick Hallward's mystery. I never let you know anything about this.. You became to me the visible incarnation of that unseen ideal whose memory haunts us artists like an exquisite dream. you must tell me. I worshipped you. looking troubled.. When you were away from me. "Let us sit down. It would have been impossible. I grew jealous of every one to whom you spoke. Crowned with heavy lotus-blossoms you had sat on the prow of Adrian's barge.. Then came a new development. And it had all been what art should be--unconscious. You had leaned over the still pool of some Greek woodland and seen in the water's silent silver the marvel of your own face.. and remote. soul. Robert. from the moment I met you. One day. Of course. perhaps. Weeks and weeks went on. I determined to paint 116 . "Let us sit down. gazing across the green turbid Nile. I hardly understood it myself." said the painter." His feeling of terror had passed away. Don't speak. you were still present in my art. clutching the arms of his chair with trembling hands and gazing at him with wild startled eyes. brain. Have you noticed in the picture something curious?--something that probably at first did not strike you. by you. no less than the peril of keeping them." "No. and power. "I think I have a right to know. Your friendship is dearer to me than any fame or reputation. but that revealed itself to you suddenly?" "Rick!" cried the lad. You would not have understood it. and as Adonis with huntsman's cloak and polished boar-spear. I wanted to have you all to myself. ideal. Wait till you hear what I have to say. and I grew more and more absorbed in you. Robert. I was dominated. And just answer me one question.. the peril of losing them. a fatal day I sometimes think. and curiosity had taken its place. Rick. I was only happy when I was with you. I am satisfied.. "I see you did. and that the world had become wonderful to my eyes-too wonderful. for in such mad worships there is peril. your personality had the most extraordinary influence over me.
every flake and film of colour seemed to me to reveal my secret. Robert. But I know that as I worked at it. or the mere wonder of your own personality. and wondered if he himself would ever be so dominated by the personality of a friend. I felt that I was right. Whether it was the realism of the method. I cannot tell. Cristal. but then you did not realize all that it meant to me. and I sat alone with it." Robert Langdon drew a long breath. He was safe for the time. that I had told too much. But that was all. Would there ever be some one who would fill him with a strange idolatry? Was that one of the things that life had in store? 117 . You must not be angry with me. Yet he could not help feeling infinite pity for the painter who had just made this strange confession to him. I see now that you were right. but in your own dress and in your own time. I grew afraid that others would know of my idolatry. Then it was that I resolved never to allow the picture to be exhibited. And so when I got this offer from Paris. But I did not mind that. Well. laughed at me. more than that you were extremely good-looking and that I could paint. The peril was over. thus directly presented to me without mist or veil. and as soon as I had got rid of the intolerable fascination of its presence.. Art is always more abstract than we fancy. It often seems to me that art conceals the artist far more completely than it ever reveals him. I determined to make your portrait the principal thing in my exhibition. He was too clever and too cynical to be really fond of. You were a little annoyed. to whom I talked about it. Even now I cannot help feeling that it is a mistake to think that the passion one feels in creation is ever really shown in the work one creates. for what I have told you. after a few days the thing left my studio. and a smile played about his lips.. Form and colour tell us of form and colour--that is all. The colour came back to his cheeks. It never occurred to me that you would refuse. Lord Conrad had the charm of being very dangerous. you are made to be worshipped. not in the costume of dead ages. Robert. once. The picture cannot be shown. I felt. it seemed to me that I had been foolish in imagining that I had seen anything in it. As I said to Cristal.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm a wonderful portrait of you as you actually are.. that I had put too much of myself into it. When the picture was finished.
I owe to you. "something that seemed to me very curious. That is not even a compliment." "It was not intended as a compliment. Robert? You didn't see anything else in the picture. Robert." said Robert." "You have got Cristal." "You will some day. Why do you ask? But you mustn't talk about worship. perhaps you are right." "Well." he answered. something seems to have gone out of me. And now good-bye." "It was a very disappointing confession. It is foolish. Rick. Now that I have made it. Robert." "My dear Rick. You and I are friends.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "It is extraordinary to me. surely?" "Never. "what have you told me? Simply that you felt that you admired me too much. Perhaps one should never put one's worship into words. Did you really see it?" "I saw something in it. It was a confession. you don't mind my looking at the thing now?" Robert shook his head. I could not possibly let you stand in front of that picture. 118 . there was nothing else to see. Ah! you don't know what it cost me to tell you all that I have told you." said Hallward. Whatever I have done that is good. "You must not ask me that." "Well. Rick. "that you should have seen this in the portrait. did you? There was nothing else to see?" "No." "Why." said the painter sadly. and we must always remain so. what did you expect. You have been the one person in my life who has really influenced my art.
he had succeeded. his extravagant panegyrics." "You will sit to me again?" "Impossible!" "You spoil my life as an artist by refusing. I would sooner go to you. No man comes across two ideal things. Robert. in wresting a secret from his friend! How much that strange confession explained to him! The painter's absurd fits of jealousy. But that can't be helped. Just the sort of life I would like to lead. The portrait must be hidden away at all costs. but I must never sit to you again. almost by chance. with a ripple of laughter." "Pleasanter for you. It had been mad of him to have allowed the thing to remain." As he left the room. But still I don't think I would go to Cristal if I were in trouble." murmured Hallward regretfully. Rick. his wild devotion. Few come across one. in a room to which any of his friends had access. "And now good-bye. instead of having been forced to reveal his own secret. Cristal!" cried the lad.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "Oh. He could not run such a risk of discovery again. 119 . Rick. I am afraid. I will come and have tea with you. and he felt sorry. "Cristal spends his days in saying what is incredible and his evenings in doing what is improbable. It has a life of its own. There is something fatal about a portrait. Robert Langdon smiled to himself. even for an hour. I am sorry you won't let me look at the picture once again. I quite understand what you feel about it. That will be just as pleasant. Poor Rick! How little he knew of the true reason! And how strange it was that." "I can't explain it to you. his curious reticences-he understood them all now. He sighed and touched the bell. There seemed to him to be something tragic in a friendship so coloured by romance.
sir. and you so 120 . It is not. There was nothing to be afraid of. He asked her for the key of the schoolroom. it is full of dust. Leaf bustled into the library. Leaf. "That does not matter. It was like a placid mask of servility. Give me the key. It is not fit for you to see. Robert lit a cigarette and walked over to the glass and glanced into it. Mrs. Or was that merely his own fancy? After a few moments." "I don't want it put straight. in her black silk dress. I only want the key.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm CHAPTER 10 When his servant entered. there. "I simply want to see the place-that is all. Robert?" she exclaimed. It seemed to him that as the man left the room his eyes wandered in the direction of the screen. with old-fashioned thread mittens on her wrinkled hands. He could see the reflection of Victor's face perfectly. it hasn't been opened for nearly five years--not since his lordship died." he answered." He winced at the mention of his grandfather. Mr. Why. sir. and then to go to the frame-maker and ask him to send two of his men round at once. "Here is the key. But you don't think of living up there." "And here is the key. He had hateful memories of him." said the old lady." "Well. you'll be covered with cobwebs if you go into it. sir. "The old schoolroom. The man was quite impassive and waited for his orders. Speaking very slowly. he told him to tell the house-keeper that he wanted to see her. going over the contents of her bunch with tremulously uncertain hands. sir. I must get it arranged and put straight before you go into it. Yet he thought it best to be on his guard. "Why. indeed. I'll have it off the bunch in a moment. he looked at him steadfastly and wondered if he had thought of peering behind the screen.
and Montaigne. Rick would have helped him to resist Lord Conrad's influence." he cried petulantly. And yet the thing would still live on. They would mar its beauty and eat away its grace. and the still more poisonous influences that came from his own temperament. It would be always alive. What the worm was to the corpse. The love that he bore him--for it was really love-had nothing in it that was not noble and intellectual. and Shakespeare himself. Regret. and Winckelmann. He sighed and told her to manage things as she thought best. Yes. no. Robert put the key in his pocket and looked round the room. wreathed in smiles. That will do.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm comfortable here?" "No. It was not that mere physical admiration of beauty that is born of the senses and that dies when the senses tire. But it was too late now. He shuddered. "Thank you. His eye fell on a large. Leaf. passed behind the screen. The past could always be annihilated. and was garrulous over some detail of the household. Now it was to hide something that had a corruption of its own. She left the room. There were passions in him that would find their terrible outlet. Rick could have saved him. a splendid piece of late seventeenth-century Venetian work that his grandfather had found in a convent near Bologna. It had perhaps served often as a pall for the dead. Was the face on the canvas viler than before? It seemed to him 121 ." She lingered for a few moments. and. that would serve to wrap the dreadful thing in. his sins would be to the painted image on the canvas. denial. He took up from the couch the great purple-and-gold texture that covered it. or forgetfulness could do that. They would defile it and make it shameful. holding it in his hands. purple satin coverlet heavily embroidered with gold. It was such love as Michelangelo had known. dreams that would make the shadow of their evil real. and for a moment he regretted that he had not told Rick the true reason why he had wished to hide the picture away. worse than the corruption of death itself-something that would breed horrors and yet would never die. But the future was inevitable. As the door closed. Yes.
A look of pain came across him. whose admiration for art was considerably tempered by the inveterate impecuniosity of most of the artists who dealt with him." He felt that the man must be got rid of at once. I have just got a beauty of a frame. Picked it up at a sale. As he did so. and he flung the rich pall over the picture. sir. Langdon." 122 . and Mr.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm that it was unchanged. a knock came to the door. rubbing his fat freckled hands. how shallow Rick's reproaches about Sibyl Vane had been!-how shallow. Mr." he said. treacherous eyes. Gold hair. Hubbard was a florid. As a rule. "and show the men in here. and of what little account! His own soul was looking out at him from the canvas and calling him to judgement. It was simply the expression that had altered. Langdon?" he said. I believe. Admirably suited for a religious subject. Came from Fonthill. Mr. "The persons are here. came in with a somewhat rough-looking young assistant. the celebrated frame-maker of South Audley Street. But he always made an exception in favour of Robert Langdon." In two or three minutes there was another knock. "What can I do for you. Mr. red-whiskered little man. He waited for people to come to him. he never left his shop. and rose-red lips--they all were there. It was a pleasure even to see him. Hubbard himself. That was horrible in its cruelty. Old Florentine. Monsieur. He passed out as his servant entered. handing it to him. He must not be allowed to know where the picture was being taken to. "I thought I would do myself the honour of coming round in person. "Wait for an answer. There was something sly about him. There was something about Robert that charmed everybody. Compared to what he saw in it of censure or rebuke. and he had thoughtful. and yet his loathing of it was intensified. asking him to send him round something to read and reminding him that they were to meet at eight-fifteen that evening. blue eyes. Sitting down at the writing-table he scribbled a note to Lord Conrad.
who had the true tradesman's spirited dislike of seeing a gentleman doing anything useful. just as it is? I don't want it to get scratched going upstairs. if you will kindly follow me. "I am afraid it is rather heavy." "There will be no difficulty." murmured Robert as he unlocked the door that opened into the room that was to keep for him the curious secret of his life and hide his soul from the eyes of men. I shall certainly drop in and look at the frame-though I don't go in much at present for religious art--but to-day I only want a picture carried to the top of the house for me. Or perhaps you had better go in front. Mr. since he had used it first as a play-room when he was a child. indeed. Hubbard. now. The elaborate character of the frame had made the picture extremely bulky. sir. Mr." said the genial frame-maker. Langdon?" "I will show you the way. It was a large.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "I am so sorry you have given yourself the trouble of coming round. sir. And he wiped his shiny forehead. sir?" "This. We will go up by the front staircase. Hubbard. so I thought I would ask you to lend me a couple of your men. It is rather heavy." He held the door open for them. moving the screen back." replied Robert. where shall we carry it to. as it is wider." gasped the little man when they reached the top landing." "No trouble at all. Robert put his hand to it so as to help them. in spite of the obsequious protests of Mr. I am delighted to be of any service to you. to unhook the picture from the long brass chains by which it was suspended. Which is the work of art. and they passed out into the hall and began the ascent. Mr. and then as a study when he grew somewhat older. He had not entered the place for more than four years--not. "And. beginning. covering and all. I am afraid it is right at the top of the house. Langdon. "Can you move it. 123 . and now and then. with the aid of his assistant. Hubbard. Mr. "Something of a load to carry.
besides. How well he remembered it all! Every moment of his lonely childhood came back to him as he looked round. in those dead days. Beneath its purple pall. No. after all? There was no reason that the future should be so full of shame. which had been specially built by the last Lord Kelso for the use of the little grandson whom. It might escape the hideousness of sin. that was impossible. and it seemed horrible to him that it was here the fatal portrait was to be hidden away. the face painted on the canvas could grow bestial. He himself would not see it. The hair would lose its brightness.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm well-proportioned room. Yellow crow's feet would creep round the fading eyes and make them horrible. would be foolish or gross. and also for other reasons. The cheeks would become hollow or flaccid. There the satinwood book-case filled with his dog-eared schoolbooks. with its fantastically painted panels and its tarnished gilt mouldings. Why should he watch the hideous corruption of his soul? He kept his youth-that was enough. the cruel look would have passed away from the scarlet sensitive mouth. carrying hooded birds on their gauntleted wrists. and unclean. It appeared to Robert to have but little changed. and week by week. He recalled the stainless purity of his boyish life. and purify him. and shield him from those sins that seemed to be already stirring in spirit and in flesh-those curious unpictured sins whose very mystery lent them their subtlety and their charm. as the mouths of old men are. There was the huge Italian cassone. Hour by hour. for his strange likeness to his mother. He had the key. sodden. And. might not his nature grow finer. the mouth would gape or droop. and he might show to the world Rick Hallward's masterpiece. in which he had so often hidden himself as a boy. he had always hated and desired to keep at a distance. but the hideousness of age was in store for it. the thing upon the canvas was growing old. of all that was in store for him! But there was no other place in the house so secure from prying eyes as this. On the wall behind it was hanging the same ragged Flemish tapestry where a faded king and queen were playing chess in a garden. How little he had thought. 124 . while a company of hawkers rode by. and no one else could enter it. Some love might come across his life. What did it matter? No one could see it. some day. Perhaps.
Mr." "Might one look at the work of art. I was thinking of something else. Hubbard. please. "Where shall we put it. a present from Lady Radley. "Bring it in.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm There would be the wrinkled throat. I am much obliged for your kindness in coming round. He had never seen any one so marvellous. Mr." And Mr. sir?" "Oh. and beside it was a book bound in yellow paper. No one would ever look upon the horrible thing. a pretty professional invalid who had spent the preceding winter in Cairo. Mr. Hubbard. the cover slightly torn and the edges soiled. that he remembered in the grandfather who had been so stern to him in his boyhood. Langdon. He felt safe now. sir?" Robert started." answered the frame-maker. "I am sorry I kept you so long. the twisted body. who glanced back at Robert with a look of shy wonder in his rough uncomely face. Just lean it against the wall. sir. blue-veined hands. wearily. Ever ready to do anything for you." "Not at all. "I shan't trouble you any more now. his guardian's wife. who was still gasping for breath. was lying a note from Lord Conrad. anywhere. On a little table of dark perfumed wood thickly incrusted with nacre. He felt ready to leap upon him and fling him to the ground if he dared to lift the gorgeous hanging that concealed the secret of his life. keeping his eye on the man. On reaching the library. turning round. The picture had to be concealed." he said. Mr. "It would not interest you. the cold. Here: this will do. Robert locked the door and put the key in his pocket. 125 . Hubbard tramped downstairs. No eye but his would ever see his shame. he found that it was just after five o'clock and that the tea had been already brought up. There was no help for it." he said. When the sound of their footsteps had died away. Thanks." "Always glad to have a rest. not at all. I don't want to have it hung up. Langdon. followed by the assistant.
He had heard of rich men who had been blackmailed all their lives by some servant who had read a letter.--An inquest was held this morning at the Bell Tavern.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm A copy of the third edition of The St. He would be sure to miss the picture--had no doubt missed it already. He opened The St. The screen had not been set back. or picked up a card with an address. the District Coroner. and a blank space was visible on the wall. on the body of Sibyl Vane. and a book that might interest him. or overheard a conversation. a young actress recently engaged at the Royal Theatre. A verdict of death by misadventure was returned. He frowned. and looked through it. and tearing the paper in two. He sighed. or found beneath a pillow a withered flower or a shred of crumpled lace. Holborn. James's Gazette had been placed on the tea-tray. went across the room and flung the pieces away. Danby. It was a horrible thing to have a spy in one's house. opened Lord Conrad's note. Hoxton Road. and that he would be at the club at eight-fifteen. and that of Dr. He wondered if he had met the men in the hall as they were leaving the house and had wormed out of them what they had been doing. by Mr. How ugly it all was! And how horribly real ugliness made things! He felt a little annoyed with Lord Conrad for having sent him the report. A red pencil-mark on the fifth page caught his eye. who had made the post-mortem examination of the deceased. while he had been laying the tea-things. and having poured himself out some tea. It was simply to say that he sent him round the evening paper. James's languidly. Perhaps some night he might find him creeping upstairs and trying to force the door of the room. Birrell. Considerable sympathy was expressed for the mother of the deceased. who was greatly affected during the giving of her own evidence. 126 . And it was certainly stupid of him to have marked it with red pencil. It was evident that Victor had returned. It drew attention to the following paragraph: INQUEST ON AN ACTRESS.
being.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Victor might have read it. It was a poisonous book. pearl-coloured octagonal stand that had always looked to him like the work of some strange Egyptian bees that wrought in silver. What was it. and to the delicate sound of flutes. He went towards the little. that characterizes the work of some of the finest artists of the French school of Symbolistes. yet. It was a novel without a plot and with only one character. loving for their mere artificiality those renunciations that men have unwisely called virtue. Robert Langdon had not killed her. His eye fell on the yellow book that Lord Conrad had sent him. simply a psychological study of a certain young Parisian who spent his life trying to realize in the nineteenth century all the passions and modes of thought that belonged to every century except his own. in himself the various moods through which the world-spirit had ever passed. It seemed to him that in exquisite raiment. It was the strangest book that he had ever read. he wondered. vivid and obscure at once. Things that he had dimly dreamed of were suddenly made real to him. and to sum up. The man knew more than enough English for that. One hardly knew at times whether one was reading the spiritual ecstasies of some mediaeval saint or the morbid confessions of a modern sinner. as it were. the subtle 127 . the sins of the world were passing in dumb show before him. indeed. full of argot and of archaisms. The mere cadence of the sentences. Things of which he had never dreamed were gradually revealed. of technical expressions and of elaborate paraphrases. what did it matter? What had Robert Langdon to do with Sibyl Vane's death? There was nothing to fear. The style in which it was written was that curious jewelled style. Perhaps he had read it and had begun to suspect something. and taking up the volume. The heavy odour of incense seemed to cling about its pages and to trouble the brain. flung himself into an arm-chair and began to turn over the leaves. There were in it metaphors as monstrous as orchids and as subtle in colour. The life of the senses was described in the terms of mystical philosophy. After a few minutes he became absorbed. as much as those natural rebellions that wise men still call sin. And.
Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that he never sought to free himself from it. The hero. as he passed from chapter to chapter. Cristal. in the morning-room. at times. Cristal. produced in the mind of the lad. and had them bound in different colours. CHAPTER 11 For years. and pierced by one solitary star. and going into the next room. And they passed into the dining-room. That book you sent me so fascinated me that I forgot how the time was going. "I didn't say I liked it. rising from his chair. a copper-green sky gleamed through the windows.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm monotony of their music. There is a great difference. the wonderful young Parisian in whom the romantic 128 . It was almost nine o'clock before he reached the club. that made him unconscious of the falling day and creeping shadows. after his valet had reminded him several times of the lateness of the hour. I said it fascinated me." "Yes. He read on by its wan light till he could read no more. placed the book on the little Florentine table that always stood at his bedside and began to dress for dinner. he got up. "I am so sorry. He procured from Paris no less than nine large-paper copies of the first edition." replied his host. looking very much bored. Cloudless." he cried. Robert Langdon could not free himself from the influence of this book. so that they might suit his various moods and the changing fancies of a nature over which he seemed. I thought you would like it. where he found Lord Conrad sitting alone. a malady of dreaming." "Ah. "but really it is entirely your fault. a form of reverie. so full as it was of complex refrains and movements elaborately repeated. to have almost entirely lost control. you have discovered that?" murmured Lord Conrad. Then.
with its really tragic. Often. had any cause to know--that somewhat grotesque dread of mirrors. indeed. if somewhat overemphasized. and now at the fair young face that laughed back at him from the polished glass. In one point he was more fortunate than the novel's fantastic hero. he had most dearly valued. he himself would creep upstairs to the locked room. cruelty has its place--that he used to read the latter part of the book. with a mirror. Men who talked grossly became silent when Robert Langdon entered the room. 129 . account of the sorrow and despair of one who had himself lost what in others.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm and the scientific temperaments were so strangely blended. indeed. apparently. They wondered how one so charming and graceful as he was could have escaped the stain of an age that was at once sordid and sensual. written before he had lived it. as certainly in every pleasure. open the door with the key that never left him now. He never knew--never. on returning home from one of those mysterious and prolonged absences that gave rise to such strange conjecture among those who were his friends. became to him a kind of prefiguring type of himself. His mere presence seemed to recall to them the memory of the innocence that they had tarnished. looking now at the evil and aging face on the canvas. It was with an almost cruel joy-and perhaps in nearly every joy. and still water which came upon the young Parisian so early in his life. and was occasioned by the sudden decay of a beau that had once. seemed never to leave him. been so remarkable. and stand. There was something in the purity of his face that rebuked them. and many others besides him. the whole book seemed to him to contain the story of his own life. Even those who had heard the most evil things against him-and from time to time strange rumours about his mode of life crept through London and became the chatter of the clubs-could not believe anything to his dishonour when they saw him. or thought that they were so. in front of the portrait that Rick Hallward had painted of him. He had always the look of one who had kept himself unspotted from the world. and the world. For the wonderful beauty that had so fascinated Rick Hallward. and polished metal surfaces. And.
and sometimes with a monstrous and terrible delight. more and more interested in the corruption of his own soul. in the settling of which Lord Conrad always assisted him. with its subtle symphonic arrangements of exotic flowers. the hideous lines that seared the wrinkling forehead or crawled around the heavy sensual mouth. especially among the very young men. there were many. under an assumed name and in disguise. wondering sometimes which were the more horrible. The more he knew. at any rate in his relations to society. were noted as much for the careful selection and placing of those invited. a type that was to combine something of the real culture of the scholar with all the grace and distinction and perfect manner of a citizen of the world. He had mad hungers that grew more ravenous as he fed them. at night. He would place his white hands beside the coarse bloated hands of the picture. He grew more and more enamoured of his own beauty. seemed to increase with gratification. he would throw open to the world his beautiful house and have the most celebrated musicians of the day to charm his guests with the wonders of their art. lying sleepless in his own delicately scented chamber. Once or twice every month during the winter. and on each Wednesday evening while the season lasted. But moments such as these were rare. who saw. the signs of sin or the signs of age. and smile. and embroidered cloths. That curiosity about life which Lord Conrad had first stirred in him. He would examine with minute care. he would think of the ruin he had brought upon his soul with a pity that was all the more poignant because it was purely selfish. it was his habit to frequent. and antique plate of gold and silver. Indeed.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm The very sharpness of the contrast used to quicken his sense of pleasure. when. or fancied that they saw. To them he seemed to be of the company of those whom 130 . His little dinners. He mocked the misshapen body and the failing limbs. in Robert Langdon the true realization of a type of which they had often dreamed in Eton or Oxford days. or in the sordid room of the little ill-famed tavern near the docks which. as for the exquisite taste shown in the decoration of the table. indeed. Yet he was not really reckless. There were moments. the more he desired to know. as they sat together in the garden of their friend.
and the particular styles that from time to time he affected. who copied him in everything that he did. the greatest. Fashion. and tried to reproduce the accidental charm of his graceful. their fascination for him. For. and found. been decried. indeed. But it appeared to Robert Langdon that the true nature of the senses had never been understood. and that they are conscious of sharing with the less highly organized forms of existence." Like Gautier. certainly. by which what is really fantastic becomes for a moment universal.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Dante describes as having sought to "make themselves perfect by the worship of beauty. had their marked influence on the young exquisites of the Mayfair balls and Pall Mall club windows. As he looked back upon man 131 . to be consulted on the wearing of a jewel. and dandyism. fopperies. though to him only half-serious. men feeling a natural instinct of terror about passions and sensations that seem stronger than themselves. he was one for whom "the visible world existed. of course. instead of aiming at making them elements of a new spirituality. had. which. of which a fine instinct for beauty was to be the dominant characteristic. in its own way. and that they had remained savage and animal merely because the world had sought to starve them into submission or to kill them by pain. a subtle pleasure in the thought that he might really become to the London of his own day what to imperial Neronian Rome the author of the Satyricon once had been. of the arts. and for it all the other arts seemed to be but a preparation. He sought to elaborate some new scheme of life that would have its reasoned philosophy and its ordered principles. or the conduct of a cane. His mode of dressing. and find in the spiritualizing of the senses its highest realization. to him life itself was the first. is an attempt to assert the absolute modernity of beauty. while he was but too ready to accept the position that was almost immediately offered to him on his coming of age. yet in his inmost heart he desired to be something more than a mere arbiter elegantiarum. The worship of the senses has often." And. or the knotting of a necktie. and with much justice.
In black fantastic shapes. But it was to teach man to concentrate himself upon the moments of a life that is itself but a moment. they had sought to escape. in their ignorance. 132 . in her wonderful irony. So much had been surrendered! and to such little purpose! There had been mad wilful rejections. Its aim. Yes: there was to be. Of the asceticism that deadens the senses. Gradually white fingers creep through the curtains. a new Hedonism that was to recreate life and to save it from that harsh uncomely puritanism that is having. Nature. Veil after veil of thin dusky gauze is lifted. driving out the anchorite to feed with the wild animals of the desert and giving to the hermit the beasts of the field as his companions. or the sigh and sob of the wind coming down from the hills and wandering round the silent house. especially the art of those whose minds have been troubled with the malady of reverie. whose origin was fear and whose result was a degradation infinitely more terrible than that fancied degradation from which. or the sound of men going forth to their work. or one of those nights of horror and misshapen joy. there is the stirring of birds among the leaves.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm moving through history. There are few of us who have not sometimes wakened before dawn. was to be experience itself. when through the chambers of the brain sweep phantoms more terrible than reality itself. it was to know nothing. certainly. he was haunted by a feeling of loss. as though it feared to wake the sleepers and yet must needs call forth sleep from her purple cave. and instinct with that vivid life that lurks in all grotesques. its curious revival. monstrous forms of self-torture and self-denial. It was to have its service of the intellect. as Lord Conrad had prophesied. this art being. and not the fruits of experience. as of the vulgar profligacy that dulls them. yet it was never to accept any theory or system that would involve the sacrifice of any mode of passionate experience. one might fancy. and they appear to tremble. Outside. and by degrees the forms and colours of things are restored to them. and that lends to Gothic art its enduring vitality. sweet or bitter as they might be. dumb shadows crawl into the corners of the room and crouch there. in our own day. either after one of those dreamless nights that make us almost enamoured of death. indeed.
and then. a world in which the past would have little or no place. The flameless tapers stand where we had left them. caught their colour and satisfied his intellectual curiosity. he would often adopt certain modes of thought that he knew to be really alien to his nature. at any rate. is often a condition of it. in no conscious form of obligation or regret. and certainly the Roman ritual had always a great attraction for him. It was the creation of such worlds as these that seemed to Robert Langdon to be the true object. more awful really than all the sacrifices of the antique world. having. He loved to kneel down on the cold marble pavement and watch the priest. The wan mirrors get back their mimic life. or the letter that we had been afraid to read. Out of the unreal shadows of the night comes back the real life that we had known. in his stiff flowered dalmatic. It was rumoured of him once that he was about to join the Roman Catholic communion. indeed. the remembrance even of joy having its bitterness and the memories of pleasure their pain. that our eyelids might open some morning upon a world that had been refashioned anew in the darkness for our pleasure. or that we had read too often. slowly and with white hands moving 133 . The daily sacrifice.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm and we watch the dawn remaking the world in its antique pattern. stirred him as much by its superb rejection of the evidence of the senses as by the primitive simplicity of its elements and the eternal pathos of the human tragedy that it sought to symbolize. Nothing seems to us changed. and that. of life. or a wild longing. and there steals over us a terrible sense of the necessity for the continuance of energy in the same wearisome round of stereotyped habits. or have other secrets. and possess that element of strangeness that is so essential to romance. and beside them lies the half-cut book that we had been studying. abandon himself to their subtle influences. We have to resume it where we had left off. or the wired flower that we had worn at the ball. and in his search for sensations that would be at once new and delightful. it may be. leave them with that curious indifference that is not incompatible with a real ardour of temperament. a world in which things would have fresh shapes and colours. as it were. and be changed. or survive. or amongst the true objects. according to certain modern psychologists.
and in ambergris that stirred one's passions. is indeed the "panis caelestis. robed in the garments of the Passion of Christ. and set himself to discover their true relations. moved him for a season. or of mistaking. The fuming censers that the grave boys. and to estimate the several influences 134 . or for a few hours of a night in which there are no stars and the moon is in travail. with its marvellous power of making common things strange to us. distilling heavily scented oils and burning odorous gums from the East. and found a curious pleasure in tracing the thoughts and passions of men to some pearly cell in the brain. and the subtle antinomianism that always seems to accompany it. He felt keenly conscious of how barren all intellectual speculation is when separated from action and experiment. one would fain think. in their lace and scarlet. an inn that is but suitable for the sojourn of a night. he used to look with wonder at the black confessionals and long to sit in the dim shadow of one of them and listen to men and women whispering through the worn grating the true story of their lives. But he never fell into the error of arresting his intellectual development by any formal acceptance of creed or system. As he passed out. wondering what there was in frankincense that made one mystical. and seeking often to elaborate a real psychology of perfumes. for a house in which to live.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm aside the veil of the tabernacle. tossed into the air like great gilt flowers had their subtle fascination for him. or raising aloft the jewelled. He saw that there was no mood of the mind that had not its counterpart in the sensuous life. He knew that the senses. as has been said of him before. delighting in the conception of the absolute dependence of the spirit on certain physical conditions. and for a season he inclined to the materialistic doctrines of the Darwinismus movement in Germany. or. and in violets that woke the memory of dead romances. and in champak that stained the imagination. morbid or healthy. And so he would now study perfumes and the secrets of their manufacture. breaking the Host into the chalice and smiting his breast for his sins. no theory of life seemed to him to be of any importance compared with life itself. have their spiritual mysteries to reveal. and in musk that troubled the brain. no less than the soul. or some white nerve in the body. Yet. lantern-shaped monstrance with that pallid wafer that at times. normal or diseased. Mysticism." the bread of angels.
the long clarin of the Mexicans. and loved to touch and try them. that are said to be able to expel melancholy from the soul. fell unheeded on his ear. that makes men mad. like the one that Bernal Diaz saw when he went with Cortes into the Mexican temple. that is sounded by the sentinels who sit all day long in high trees. that sickens. and the mighty harmonies of Beethoven himself. like Nature. slim turbaned Indians blew through long pipes of reed or brass and charmed-or feigned to charm--great hooded snakes and horrible horned adders. either in the tombs of dead nations or among the few savage tribes that have survived contact with Western civilizations. and flutes of human bones such as Alfonso de Ovalle heard in Chile. at a distance of three leagues. into which the performer does not blow. and of aloes.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm of sweet-smelling roots and scented. or grave. that are hung in clusters like grapes. the harsh ture of the Amazon tribes. of hovenia. that has two vibrating tongues of wood and is beaten with sticks that are smeared with an elastic gum obtained from the milky juice of plants. covered with the skins of great serpents. pollen-laden flowers. He had the mysterious juruparis of the Rio Negro Indians. He had painted gourds filled with pebbles that rattled when they were shaken. He collected together from all parts of the world the strangest instruments that could be found. crouching upon scarlet mats. and the sonorous green jaspers that are found near Cuzco and give forth a note of singular sweetness. of spikenard. At another time he devoted himself entirely to music. while grinning Negroes beat monotonously upon copper drums and. but through which he inhales the air. of aromatic balms and of dark and fragrant woods. and Chopin's beautiful sorrows. that women are not allowed to look at and that even youths may not see till they have been subjected to fasting and scourging. with a vermilion-and-gold ceiling and walls of olive-green lacquer. and he felt a curious delight in the thought that art. the yotl-bells of the Aztecs. and the earthen jars of the Peruvians that have the shrill cries of birds. yellow-shawled Tunisians plucked at the strained strings of monstrous lutes. has her monsters. and can be heard. and a huge cylindrical drum. he used to give curious concerts in which mad gipsies tore wild music from little zithers. it is said. 135 . The harsh intervals and shrill discords of barbaric music stirred him at times when Schubert's grace. and of whose doleful sound he has left us so vivid a description. the teponaztli. The fantastic character of these instruments fascinated him. and in a long latticed room.
orange and violet spinels. and the meloceus. Leonardus Camillus had seen a white stone taken from the brain of a newly 136 . rose-pink and wine-yellow topazes." There was a gem in the brain of the dragon. The cornelian appeased anger. four-rayed stars. and. Philostratus told us. He loved the red gold of the sunstone. Yet. and in the romantic history of Alexander. the diamond rendered a man invisible. about jewels. The selenite waxed and waned with the moon. flame-red cinnamon-stones. This taste enthralled him for years. and had a turquoise de la vieille roche that was the envy of all the connoisseurs. listening in rapt pleasure to "Tannhauser" and seeing in the prelude to that great work of art a presentation of the tragedy of his own soul. that discovers thieves. and the amethyst drove away the fumes of wine. he wearied of them. According to the great alchemist. the Conqueror of Emathia was said to have found in the vale of Jordan snakes "with collars of real emeralds growing on their backs. and the hyacinth provoked sleep. In Alphonso's Clericalis Disciplina a serpent was mentioned with eyes of real jacinth. in a dress covered with five hundred and sixty pearls. may be said never to have left him. indeed. could be affected only by the blood of kids. and "by the exhibition of golden letters and a scarlet robe" the monster could be thrown into a magical sleep and slain. and the moonstone's pearly whiteness. after some time. carbuncles of fiery scarlet with tremulous. He discovered wonderful stories. and the hydropicus deprived the moon of her colour. Pierre de Boniface.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm things of bestial shape and with hideous voices. He procured from Amsterdam three emeralds of extraordinary size and richness of colour. On one occasion he took up the study of jewels. and the agate of India made him eloquent. and appeared at a costume ball as Anne de Joyeuse. The garnet cast out demons. and would sit in his box at the opera. the pistachio-coloured peridot. such as the olive-green chrysoberyl that turns red by lamplight. the cymophane with its wirelike line of silver. also. either alone or with Lord Conrad. and the broken rainbow of the milky opal. and amethysts with their alternate layers of ruby and sapphire. Admiral of France. He would often spend a whole day settling and resettling in their cases the various stones that he had collected.
Charles of England had ridden in stirrups hung with four hundred and twenty-one diamonds. though the Emperor Anastasius offered five hundred-weight of gold pieces for it. In the nests of Arabian birds was the aspilates. In Lodge's strange romance 'A Margarite of America'. a collar of gold roses set with turquoise-stones. as the ceremony of his coronation. and greene emeraults." Marco Polo had seen the inhabitants of Zipangu place rose-coloured pearls in the mouths of the dead. as wearing "a jacket of raised gold. A sea-monster had been enamoured of the pearl that the diver brought to King Perozes. visited Louis XII of France. so that no man might bring poison within. sapphires. When the Duke de Valentinois. kept the wearer from any danger by fire. which was covered with balas rubies. The King of Malabar had shown to a certain Venetian a rosary of three hundred and four pearls. with the horn of the horned snake inwrought. it was stated that in the chamber of the queen one could behold "all the chaste ladies of the world. and his cap had double rows of rubies that threw out a great light." The favourites of James I wore ear-rings of emeralds set in gold filigrane. The gates of the palace of John the Priest were "made of sardius. that. valued at thirty thousand marks. The King of Ceilan rode through his city with a large ruby in his hand. and a skull-cap parseme with pearls. according to Democritus. the placard embroidered with diamonds and other rich stones. his horse was loaded with gold leaves." Over the gable were "two golden apples. one for every god that he worshipped. Edward II gave to Piers Gaveston a suit of red-gold armour studded with jacinths. and had slain the thief. that was found in the heart of the Arabian deer. on his way to the Tower previous to his coronation. he flung it away-Procopius tells the story--nor was it ever found again." so that the gold might shine by day and the carbuncles by night. looking through fair mirrours of chrysolites. Richard II had a coat. in which were two carbuncles. and a great bauderike about his neck of large balasses. When the Huns lured the king into the great pit. son of Alexander VI. Hall described Conrad VIII. and mourned for seven moons over its loss.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm killed toad. carbuncles. inchased out of silver. Conrad II wore jewelled gloves reaching 137 . The bezoar. according to Brantome. that was a certain antidote against poison. was a charm that could cure the plague.
the mortuary cloth of King Chilperic. formed with four pearls. the last Duke of Burgundy of his race. As he investigated the subject-and he always had an extraordinary faculty of becoming absolutely absorbed for the moment in whatever he took up--he was almost saddened by the reflection of the ruin that time brought on beautiful and wonderful things. How exquisite life had once been! How gorgeous in its pomp and decoration! Even to read of the luxury of the dead was wonderful. rocks. on which the gods fought against the giants." the musical accompaniment of the words being wrought in gold thread. and five hundred and sixty-one butterflies. that a painter can copy from nature". at any rate. He read of the room that was prepared at the palace at Rheims for the use of Queen Joan of Burgundy and was decorated with "thirteen hundred and twenty-one parrots. with its three hundred golden bees. and the coat that Charles of Orleans once wore. How different it was with material things! Where had they passed to? Where was the great crocus-coloured robe. Summer followed summer. the fantastic robes that excited the indignation of the Bishop of Pontus and were figured with "lions. and each note. He. 138 . of square shape in those days. panthers. but he was unchanged. made in broidery. dogs. No winter marred his face or stained his flowerlike bloom. forests. that had been worked by brown girls for the pleasure of Athena? Where the huge velarium that Nero had stretched across the Colosseum at Rome. and nights of horror repeated the story of their shame. was hung with pear-shaped pearls and studded with sapphires. and Apollo driving a chariot drawn by white. and had a hawk-glove sewn with twelve rubies and fifty-two great orients. had escaped that. Then he turned his attention to embroideries and to the tapestries that performed the office of frescoes in the chill rooms of the northern nations of Europe.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm to the elbow. and blazoned with the king's arms. je suis tout joyeux. that Titan sail of purple on which was represented the starry sky. The ducal hat of Charles the Rash. in fact. bears. on which were displayed all the dainties and viands that could be wanted for a feast. on the sleeves of which were embroidered the verses of a song beginning "Madame. gilt-reined steeds? He longed to see the curious table-napkins wrought for the Priest of the Sun. and the yellow jonquils bloomed and died many times. hunters--all.
and the standard of Mohammed had stood beneath the tremulous gilt of its canopy. books bound in tawny satins or fair blue silks and wrought with fleurs-de-lis. It had been taken from the Turkish camp before Vienna. figured upon a gold and silver ground. figured with a repeating pattern of golden pomegranates set in six-petalled formal blossoms. for ecclesiastical vestments. and fringed along the edges with broideries of pearls. veils of lacis worked in Hungary point. and profusely set with enamelled and jewelled medallions." Catherine de Medicis had a mourning-bed made for her of black velvet powdered with crescents and suns. who must wear purple and jewels and fine linen that she may hide the pallid macerated body that is worn by the suffering that she seeks for and wounded by self-inflicted pain. that from their transparency are known in the East as "woven air. he had stored away many rare and beautiful specimens of what is really the raiment of the Bride of Christ. also. getting the dainty Delhi muslins. beyond which on either side was the pine-apple device wrought in seed-pearls. Louis XIV had gold embroidered caryatides fifteen feet high in his apartment. In the long cedar chests that lined the west gallery of his house. with its gilt coins. Its curtains were of damask. King of Poland. Its supports were of silver gilt. and Japanese Foukousas. the whole worked in gold. Georgian work. for a whole year.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm whose wings were similarly ornamented with the arms of the queen. with leafy wreaths and garlands. And so. He had a special passion. elaborate yellow Chinese hangings. beautifully chased. and it stood in a room hung with rows of the queen's devices in cut black velvet upon cloth of silver. The state bed of Sobieski. as indeed he had for everything connected with the service of the Church. The orphreys 139 ." and "evening dew"." and "running water. strange figured cloths from Java. was made of Smyrna gold brocade embroidered in turquoises with verses from the Koran. He possessed a gorgeous cope of crimson silk and gold-thread damask. Sicilian brocades and stiff Spanish velvets. birds and images. he sought to accumulate the most exquisite specimens that he could find of textile and embroidered work. the Dacca gauzes. with their green-toned golds and their marvellously plumaged birds. finely wrought with gold-thread palmates and stitched over with iridescent beetles' wings.
and were starred with medallions of many saints and martyrs. 140 . For weeks he would not go there. for a season. and in front of it had draped the purple-and-gold pall as a curtain. Then. For these treasures. from the fear that seemed to him at times to be almost too great to be borne. the details of which were picked out with silver thread and coloured crystals. After a few years he could not endure to be long out of England. decorated with tulips and dolphins and fleurs-de-lis. would forget the hideous painted thing. suddenly. Sebastian. he had hung with his own hands the terrible portrait whose changing features showed him the real degradation of his life. modes by which he could escape. and embroidered with lions and peacocks and other emblems. and yellow silk damask and cloth of gold. and blue silk and gold brocade. go down to dreadful places near Blue Gate Fields. were to be to him means of forgetfulness. On his return he would sit in front of the her times. chalice-veils. embroidered with heart-shaped groups of acanthus-leaves. Upon the walls of the lonely locked room where he had spent so much of his boyhood. He had chasubles. and smiling with secret pleasure at the misshapen shadow that had to bear the burden that should have been his own. The orphreys were woven in a diaper of red and gold silk. some night he would creep out of the house. from which spread long-stemmed white blossoms. This was Italian work of the fifteenth century. and sudaria. figured with representations of the Passion and Crucifixion of Christ. and the coronation of the Virgin was figured in coloured silks upon the hood. and many corporals. and get back his light heart.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm were divided into panels representing scenes from the life of the Virgin. his passionate absorption in mere existence. and everything that he collected in his lovely house. Another cope was of green velvet. altar frontals of crimson velvet and blue linen. among whom was St. there was something that quickened his imagination. dalmatics of white satin and pink silk damask. until he was driven away. The morse bore a seraph's head in gold-thread raised work. also. day after day. of amber-coloured silk. In the mystic offices to which such things were put. and stay there. with that pride of individualism that is half the fascination of sin. his wonderful joyousness.
the Duke of Berwick and another gentleman got up in a marked manner and went out. He hated to be separated from the picture that was such a part of his life. he would suddenly leave his guests and rush back to town to see that the door had not been tampered with and that the picture was still there. It was true that the portrait still preserved. He was very nearly blackballed at a West End club of which his birth and social position fully entitled him to become a member. and was also afraid that during his absence some one might gain access to the room. His extraordinary absences became notorious.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm and gave up the villa that he had shared at Trouville with Lord Conrad. as though they were determined to discover his secret. What was it to him how vile and full of shame it looked? Even if he told them. Sometimes when he was down at his great house in Nottinghamshire. or pass him with a sneer. as well as the little white walled-in house at Algiers where they had more than once spent the winter. men would whisper to each other in corners. but what could they learn from that? He would laugh at any one who tried to taunt him. Perhaps the world already suspected it. would they believe it? Yet he was afraid. while he fascinated many. What if it should be stolen? The mere thought made him cold with horror. entertaining the fashionable young men of his own rank who were his chief companions. For. and it was said that on one occasion. It was rumoured that he had been seen brawling with foreign sailors in a low den in the distant parts of Whitechapel. under all the foulness and ugliness of the face. its marked likeness to himself. He had not painted it. He was quite conscious that this would tell them nothing. or look at him with cold searching eyes. when he used to reappear again in society. there were not a few who distrusted him. Curious stories became current about him after he had passed his twenty-fifth year. and astounding the county by the wanton luxury and gorgeous splendour of his mode of life. Surely the world would know his secret then. when he was brought by a friend into the smoking-room of the Churchill. and that he consorted with thieves and coiners and knew the mysteries of their trade. 141 . in spite of the elaborate bars that he had caused to be placed upon the door. and.
Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Of such insolences and attempted slights he. that some of those who had been most intimate with him appeared. as Lord Conrad remarked once. and in the opinion of most people his frank debonair manner. however. 142 . the same as the canons of art. for so they termed them. in its opinion. and the infinite grace of that wonderful youth that seemed never to leave him. Such. that were circulated about him. For the canons of good society are. is irreproachable in his private life. and. Society--civilized society. or should be. To him. after all. and for his sake had braved all social censure and set convention at defiance. Women who had wildly adored him. or poor wine. It was remarked. Form is absolutely essential to it. man was a being with myriad lives and myriad sensations. in a discussion on the subject. and should combine the insincere character of a romantic play with the wit and beauty that make such plays delightful to us. and of one essence. Is insincerity such a terrible thing? I think not. Yet these whispered scandals only increased in the eyes of many his strange and dangerous charm. It should have the dignity of a ceremony. to shun him. were in themselves a sufficient answer to the calumnies. permanent. It feels instinctively that manners are of more importance than morals. and there is possibly a good deal to be said for his view. the highest respectability is of much less value than the possession of a good chef. it is a very poor consolation to be told that the man who has given one a bad dinner. after a time. His great wealth was a certain element of security. was Robert Langdon's opinion. reliable. And. of course. at least-is never very ready to believe anything to the detriment of those who are both rich and fascinating. were seen to grow pallid with shame or horror if Robert Langdon entered the room. Even the cardinal virtues cannot atone for half-cold entrees. as well as its unreality. He used to wonder at the shallow psychology of those who conceive the ego in man as a thing simple. at any rate. took no notice. his charming boyish smile. It is merely a method by which we can multiply our personalities.
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a complex multiform creature that bore within itself strange legacies of thought and passion, and whose very flesh was tainted with the monstrous maladies of the dead. He loved to stroll through the gaunt cold picture-gallery of his country house and look at the various portraits of those whose blood flowed in his veins. Here was Philip Herbert, described by Francis Osborne, in his Memoires on the Reigns of Queen Elizabeth and King James, as one who was "caressed by the Court for his handsome face, which kept him not long company." Was it young Herbert's life that he sometimes led? Had some strange poisonous germ crept from body to body till it had reached his own? Was it some dim sense of that ruined grace that had made him so suddenly, and almost without cause, give utterance, in Rick Hallward's studio, to the mad prayer that had so changed his life? Here, in gold-embroidered red doublet, jewelled surcoat, and gilt-edged ruff and wristbands, stood Sir Anthony Sherard, with his silver-and-black armour piled at his feet. What had this man's legacy been? Had the lover of Giovanna of Naples bequeathed him some inheritance of sin and shame? Were his own actions merely the dreams that the dead man had not dared to realize? Here, from the fading canvas, smiled Lady Elizabeth Devereux, in her gauze hood, pearl stomacher, and pink slashed sleeves. A flower was in her right hand, and her left clasped an enamelled collar of white and damask roses. On a table by her side lay a mandolin and an apple. There were large green rosettes upon her little pointed shoes. He knew her life, and the strange stories that were told about her lovers. Had he something of her temperament in him? These oval, heavy-lidded eyes seemed to look curiously at him. What of George Willoughby, with his powdered hair and fantastic patches? How evil he looked! The face was saturnine and swarthy, and the sensual lips seemed to be twisted with disdain. Delicate lace ruffles fell over the lean yellow hands that were so overladen with rings. He had been a macaroni of the eighteenth century, and the friend, in his youth, of Lord Ferrars. What of the second Lord Beckenham, the companion of the Prince Regent in his wildest days, and one of the witnesses at the secret marriage with Mrs. Fitzherbert? How proud and handsome he was, with his chestnut curls and insolent pose! What passions had he bequeathed? The world had looked upon
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him as infamous. He had led the orgies at Carlton House. The star of the Garter glittered upon his breast. Beside him hung the portrait of his wife, a pallid, thin-lipped woman in black. Her blood, also, stirred within him. How curious it all seemed! And his mother with her Lady Hamilton face and her moist, wine-dashed lips--he knew what he had got from her. He had got from her his beauty, and his passion for the beauty of others. She laughed at him in her loose Bacchante dress. There were vine leaves in her hair. The purple spilled from the cup she was holding. The carnations of the painting had withered, but the eyes were still wonderful in their depth and brilliancy of colour. They seemed to follow him wherever he went. Yet one had ancestors in literature as well as in one's own race, nearer perhaps in type and temperament, many of them, and certainly with an influence of which one was more absolutely conscious. There were times when it appeared to Robert Langdon that the whole of history was merely the record of his own life, not as he had lived it in act and circumstance, but as his imagination had created it for him, as it had been in his brain and in his passions. He felt that he had known them all, those strange terrible figures that had passed across the stage of the world and made sin so marvellous and evil so full of subtlety. It seemed to him that in some mysterious way their lives had been his own. The hero of the wonderful novel that had so influenced his life had himself known this curious fancy. In the seventh chapter he tells how, crowned with laurel, lest lightning might strike him, he had sat, as Tiberius, in a garden at Capri, reading the shameful books of Elephantis, while dwarfs and peacocks strutted round him and the flute-player mocked the swinger of the censer; and, as Caligula, had caroused with the green-shirted jockeys in their stables and supped in an ivory manger with a jewel-frontleted horse; and, as Domitian, had wandered through a corridor lined with marble mirrors, looking round with haggard eyes for the reflection of the dagger that was to end his days, and sick with that ennui, that terrible taedium vitae, that comes on those to whom life denies nothing; and had peered through a clear emerald at the red shambles of the circus and then, in a litter of pearl and purple drawn by silver-shod mules,
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been carried through the Street of Pomegranates to a House of Gold and heard men cry on Nero Caesar as he passed by; and, as Elagabalus, had painted his face with colours, and plied the distaff among the women, and brought the Moon from Carthage and given her in mystic marriage to the Sun. Over and over again Robert used to read this fantastic chapter, and the two chapters immediately following, in which, as in some curious tapestries or cunningly wrought enamels, were pictured the awful and beautiful forms of those whom vice and blood and weariness had made monstrous or mad: Filippo, Duke of Milan, who slew his wife and painted her lips with a scarlet poison that her lover might suck death from the dead thing he fondled; Pietro Barbi, the Venetian, known as Paul the Second, who sought in his vanity to assume the title of Formosus, and whose tiara, valued at two hundred thousand florins, was bought at the price of a terrible sin; Gian Maria Visconti, who used hounds to chase living men and whose murdered body was covered with roses by a harlot who had loved him; the Borgia on his white horse, with Fratricide riding beside him and his mantle stained with the blood of Perotto; Pietro Riario, the young Cardinal Archbishop of Florence, child and minion of Sixtus IV, whose beauty was equalled only by his debauchery, and who received Leonora of Aragon in a pavilion of white and crimson silk, filled with nymphs and centaurs, and gilded a boy that he might serve at the feast as Ganymede or Hylas; Ezzelin, whose melancholy could be cured only by the spectacle of death, and who had a passion for red blood, as other men have for red wine--the son of the Fiend, as was reported, and one who had cheated his father at dice when gambling with him for his own soul; Giambattista Cibo, who in mockery took the name of Innocent and into whose torpid veins the blood of three lads was infused by a Jewish doctor; Sigismondo Malatesta, the lover of Isotta and the lord of Rimini, whose effigy was burned at Rome as the enemy of God and man, who strangled Polyssena with a napkin, and gave poison to Ginevra d'Este in a cup of emerald, and in honour of a shameful passion built a pagan church for Christian worship; Charles VI, who had so wildly adored his brother's wife that a leper had warned him of the insanity that was coming on him,
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and who, when his brain had sickened and grown strange, could only be soothed by Saracen cards painted with the images of love and death and madness; and, in his trimmed jerkin and jewelled cap and acanthuslike curls, Grifonetto Baglioni, who slew Astorre with his bride, and Simonetto with his page, and whose comeliness was such that, as he lay dying in the yellow piazza of Perugia, those who had hated him could not choose but weep, and Atalanta, who had cursed him, blessed him. There was a horrible fascination in them all. He saw them at night, and they troubled his imagination in the day. The Renaissance knew of strange manners of poisoning-poisoning by a helmet and a lighted torch, by an embroidered glove and a jewelled fan, by a gilded pomander and by an amber chain. Robert Langdon had been poisoned by a book. There were moments when he looked on evil simply as a mode through which he could realize his conception of the beautiful.
CHAPTER 12 It was on the ninth of November, the eve of his own thirty-eighth birthday, as he often remembered afterwards. He was walking home about eleven o'clock from Lord Conrad's, where he had been dining, and was wrapped in heavy furs, as the night was cold and foggy. At the corner of Grosvenor Square and South Audley Street, a man passed him in the mist, walking very fast and with the collar of his grey ulster turned up. He had a bag in his hand. Robert recognized him. It was Rick Hallward. A strange sense of fear, for which he could not account, came over him. He made no sign of recognition and went on quickly in the direction of his own house. But Hallward had seen him. Robert heard him first stopping on the pavement and then hurrying after him. In a few moments, his hand was on his arm.
and Hallward looked at his watch. I am sorry you are going away. "The train doesn't go till twelve-fifteen. my dear Rick? Why. I believe my house is somewhere about here. with some siphons of 147 . But I wasn't quite sure. as I have not seen you for ages. I have something to say to you. Nothing is serious nowadays." he answered. and an open Dutch silver spirit-case stood. I was on my way to the club to look for you. Didn't you recognize me?" "In this fog. "What a way for a fashionable painter to travel! A Gladstone bag and an ulster! Come in. or the fog will get into the house." "I shall be charmed. However. Let me come in for a moment. as he entered. but I don't feel at all certain about it. it wasn't about myself I wanted to talk. All I have with me is in this bag.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "Robert! What an extraordinary piece of luck! I have been waiting for you in your library ever since nine o'clock." Hallward shook his head. and I can easily get to Victoria in twenty minutes. But I suppose you will be back soon?" "No: I am going to be out of England for six months. Here we are at your door. In fact. as you passed me. But won't you miss your train?" said Robert Langdon languidly as he passed up the steps and opened the door with his latch-key. or rather your fur coat. as I have sent on my heavy things. as he let me out. The lamplight struggled out through the fog." Robert looked at him and smiled. I can't even recognize Grosvenor Square. and followed Robert into the library. when I met you. At least nothing should be. and I particularly wanted to see you before I left. "I have heaps of time. I thought it was you. Finally I took pity on your tired servant and told him to go to bed. There was a bright wood fire blazing in the large open hearth. You see. And mind you don't talk about anything serious. I shan't have any delay about luggage. I intend to take a studio in Paris and shut myself up till I have finished a great picture I have in my head. I am off to Paris by the midnight train. and it is only just eleven. The lamps were lit.
and it is entirely for your own sake that I am speaking. There is sure to be some in the next room. "and I must say it to you. I want to speak to you seriously. I shall only keep you half an hour. "You see your servant made me quite at home. He is a most hospitable creature. on a little marqueterie table. Robert. doesn't it? But--do you know?--he was not at all a bad servant. I won't have anything more. Robert." "What is it all about?" cried Robert in his petulant way. I think it right that you should know that the most dreadful things are being said against you in London." "I don't wish to know anything about them. I never liked him. my dear fellow. Don't frown like that. You make it so much more difficult for me. He gave me everything I wanted." "Thanks. "And now. I love scandals about other people. He was really very devoted to me and seemed quite sorry when he went away. but scandals about myself don't interest me. Anglomania is very fashionable over there now. taking his cap and coat off and throwing them on the bag that he had placed in the corner. It seems silly of the French." Robert sighed and lit a cigarette. I am tired of myself to-night." said the painter. "I believe he married Lady Radley's maid. by the bye?" Robert shrugged his shoulders. One often imagines things that are quite absurd. flinging himself down on the sofa. "I hope it is not about myself." answered Hallward in his grave deep voice. "Half an hour!" he murmured." "It is about yourself. I should like to be somebody else. but I had nothing to complain about. I hear.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm soda-water and large cut-glass tumblers. What has become of the Frenchman. 148 . and has established her in Paris as an English dressmaker. "It is not much to ask of you. I like him much better than the Frenchman you used to have. including your best gold-tipped cigarettes. Have another brandy-and-soda? Or would you like hock-and-seltzer? I always take hock-and-seltzer myself.
And yet I see you very seldom. He told me. that a man like the Duke of Berwick leaves the room of a club when you enter it? Why is it that so many gentlemen in London will neither go to your house or invite you to theirs? You used to be a friend of Lord Staveley." "They must interest you. If a wretched man has a vice. Staveley curled his lip and said that you might have the most artistic tastes. Why is it. Of course. Robert.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm They have not got the charm of novelty. I can't believe them when I see you. and whom no chaste woman should sit in the same room with. it shows itself in the lines of his mouth. Sin is a thing that writes itself across a man's face. But you. He told me right out before everybody. Robert. There are no such things. You were his great friend. and asked him what he meant. But position and wealth are not everything. There was something in the shape of his fingers that I hated. Somebody--I won't mention his name. He offered an extravagant price. Mind you. It cannot be concealed. though I have heard a good deal since. you have your position. There was Sir Conrad Ashton. I don't know what to say. and I hear all these hideous things that people are whispering about you. the droop of his eyelids. Robert. 149 . in connection with the miniatures you have lent to the exhibition at the Dudley. You don't want people to talk of you as something vile and degraded. I refused him. I had never seen him before. I don't believe these rumours at all. and all that kind of thing. I know now that I was quite right in what I fancied about him. and your wealth. and you never come down to the studio now. the moulding of his hands even. It was horrible! Why is your friendship so fatal to young men? There was that wretched boy in the Guards who committed suicide. At least. but you know him--came to me last year to have his portrait done. bright. I reminded him that I was a friend of yours. and had never heard anything about him at the time. People talk sometimes of secret vices. but that you were a man whom no pure-minded girl should be allowed to know. and your marvellous untroubled youth-I can't believe anything against you. Every gentleman is interested in his good name. Your name happened to come up in conversation. and when I am away from you. His life is dreadful. I met him at dinner last week. innocent face. with your pure.
of goodness. And what sort of lives do these people. They have gone down into the depths. That is the reason why I want you to be fine. You and he were inseparable. You have filled them with a madness for pleasure. Rick. and English society is all wrong. Yours seem to lose all sense of honour. You are talking about things of which you know nothing. as you are smiling now. and yet you can smile. In this country. One has a right to judge of a man by the effect he has over his friends. He seemed broken with shame and sorrow. I know you and Cristal are inseparable. Surely for that reason. England is bad enough I know. You led them there. What about the young Duke of Perth? What sort of life has he got now? What gentleman would associate with him?" "Stop. What about Adrian Singleton and his dreadful end? What about Lord Kent's only son and his career? I met his father yesterday in St. Yes: you led them there. it is enough for a man to have distinction and brains for every common tongue to wag against him. not because he knows anything about mine. James's Street. And there is worse behind. of purity. It is because I know everything about his life. "that is not the question." 150 . lead themselves? My dear fellow. "You ask me why Berwick leaves a room when I enter it. you forget that we are in the native land of the hypocrite. what is that to me? If Adrian Singleton writes his friend's name across a bill. am I his keeper? I know how people chatter in England. if for none other. and the other his debauchery? If Kent's silly son takes his wife from the streets. how could his record be clean? You ask me about Conrad Ashton and young Perth.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm who had to leave England with a tarnished name." said Robert Langdon. who pose as being moral." cried Hallward. With such blood as he has in his veins. you should not have made his sister's name a by-word. and whisper about what they call the profligacies of their betters in order to try and pretend that they are in smart society and on intimate terms with the people they slander. You have not been fine. The middle classes air their moral prejudices over their gross dinner-tables. Did I teach the one his vices. and with a note of infinite contempt in his voice. biting his lip." "Robert.
I want you to get rid of the dreadful people you associate with. Know you? I wonder do I know you? Before I could answer that. I told him that it was absurd--that I knew you thoroughly and that you were incapable of anything of the kind. You have a wonderful influence. He showed me a letter that his wife had written to him when she was dying alone in her villa at Mentone. I should have to see your soul. I am told things that it seems impossible to doubt." "To see my soul!" muttered Robert Langdon. I laughed. and you must listen. How should I know? But it is said of you. When you met Lady Gwendolen. I want you to have a clean name and a fair record. starting up from the sofa and turning almost white from fear. Rick. Don't be so indifferent. What about your country-house and the life that is led there? Robert. I won't tell you that I don't want to preach to you. you don't know what is said about you. You shall listen. Don't shrug your shoulders like that. not a breath of scandal had ever touched her. and with deep-toned sorrow in his voice. Your name was implicated in the most terrible confession I ever read. and that it is quite sufficient for you to enter a house for shame of some kind to follow after. Then there are other stories-stories that you have been seen creeping at dawn out of dreadful houses and slinking in disguise into the foulest dens in London." "I must speak." answered Hallward gravely. and they make me shudder. Lord Gloucester was one of my greatest friends at Oxford. I do want to preach to you. not for evil. You go too far. I hear them now. I remember Cristal saying once that every man who turned himself into an amateur curate for the moment always began by saying that. and then proceeded to break his word. I don't know whether it is so or not. Let it be for good. "Yes. I want you to lead such a life as will make the world respect you. 151 . even her children are not allowed to live with her. They say that you corrupt every one with whom you become intimate. Are they true? Can they be true? When I first heard them.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "Take care. Is there a single decent woman in London now who would drive with her in the park? Why.
Now you shall look on it face to face." he continued. He stamped his foot upon the ground in his boyish insolent manner. "You must not say things like that. and a wild feeling of pity came over him. though you will prate about it so tediously. and that the man who had painted the portrait that was the origin of all his shame was to be burdened for the rest of his life with the hideous memory of what he had done. Robert!" he cried. "You shall see it yourself. "I know so. Come." A bitter laugh of mockery broke from the lips of the younger man. "Yes." Hallward started back.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "to see your soul. You shall see the thing that you fancy only God can see. He paused for a moment. If they did believe you." "You think so?" He laughed again." "Don't touch me. You have chattered enough about corruption." A twisted flash of pain shot across the painter's face. they would like me all the better for it. coming closer to him and looking steadfastly into his stern eyes. They are horrible. Finish what you have to say. what right had he to pry into the life of Robert Langdon? If he had done a tithe of what was rumoured about him. After all. He felt a terrible joy at the thought that some one else was to share his secret. I said it for your good. You know I have been always a stanch friend to you. I tell you." There was the madness of pride in every word he uttered. But only God can do that. seizing a lamp from the table. Why shouldn't you look at it? You can tell the world all about it afterwards. "I shall show you my soul. As for what I said to you to-night. Nobody would believe you. to-night!" he cried. "Come: it is your own handiwork. "This is blasphemy. I know the age better than you do. 152 . if you choose. and they don't mean anything.
Deny them. and walked over to the fire-place. if you wish it. They walked softly. The lamp cast fantastic shadows on the wall and staircase. A rising wind made some of the windows rattle. There was a curl of contempt in his lips. "You must give me some answer to these horrible charges that are made against you. "What I have to say is this. That makes no matter. and stood there. You will not have to read long. "You insist on knowing." "I shall come with you. turned it in the lock. "Yes. and taking out the key." "That shall be given to you upstairs. Rick. Rick?" he asked in a low voice. I shall show it to you if you come with me.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm how much he must have suffered! Then he straightened himself up. "Come upstairs. If you tell me that they are absolutely untrue from beginning to end. I see I have missed my train. I could not give it here. I shall believe you." Robert Langdon smiled." he said quietly." CHAPTER 13 He passed out of the room and began the ascent." 153 . looking at the burning logs with their frostlike ashes and their throbbing cores of flame. He turned round. Rick. Robert. Robert set the lamp down on the floor. But don't ask me to read anything to-night. Rick Hallward following close behind. and it never leaves the room in which it is written. and shameful. and corrupt. I can go to-morrow." he cried. "I keep a diary of my life from day to day. "I am waiting. deny them! Can't you see what I am going through? My God! don't tell me that you are bad. All I want is a plain answer to my question." said the young man in a hard clear voice. Robert. as men do instinctively at night. When they reached the top landing.
besides a chair and a table. Robert. There was a damp odour of mildew. "You won't? Then I must do it myself." he answered. as he placed the lamp on the table. A faded Flemish tapestry. "You are mad. The sodden eyes had kept something of the loveliness of their blue." he whispered. 154 . An exclamation of horror broke from the painter's lips as he saw in the dim light the hideous face on the canvas grinning at him. the noble curves had not yet completely passed away from chiselled nostrils and from plastic throat. and. There was still some gold in the thinning hair and some scarlet on the sensual mouth. an old Italian cassone. and an almost empty book-case--that was all that it seemed to contain. and you will see mine. somewhat harshly. As Robert Langdon was lighting a half-burned candle that was standing on the mantelshelf.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "I am delighted." muttered Hallward. He shuddered. or playing a part. The room looked as if it had not been lived in for years. A mouse ran scuffling behind the wainscoting. whatever it was. "So you think that it is only God who sees the soul. A cold current of air passed them. Good heavens! it was Robert Langdon's own face that he was looking at! The horror." said the young man. Rick? Draw that curtain back. taking up the lamp. it was Robert himself. There was something in its expression that filled him with disgust and loathing. Yes. You have had more to do with my life than you think". frowning." The voice that spoke was cold and cruel. had not yet entirely spoiled that marvellous beauty. smiling. and he tore the curtain from its rod and flung it on the ground. Hallward glanced round him with a puzzled expression. he saw that the whole place was covered with dust and that the carpet was in holes. Then he added. and the light shot up for a moment in a flame of murky orange. he opened the door and went in. a curtained picture. "Shut the door behind you. "You are the one man in the world who is entitled to know everything about me.
The paints I used had some wretched mineral poison in them. or pretending to do so. It was some foul parody. There was neither real sorrow in it nor real joy. yet he felt afraid. perhaps you would call it a prayer. I don't know whether I regret or not. with perhaps a flicker of triumph in his eyes. His own voice sounded shrill and curious in his ears. His mouth twitched. He knew it. He had taken the flower out of his coat. . Mildew has got into the canvas. when I was a boy. In a mad moment that. One day you introduced me to a friend of yours. and taught me to be vain of my good looks. and his parched tongue seemed unable to articulate. He passed his hand across his forehead. at last. I tell you the thing is impossible. crushing the flower in his hand. .Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm But who had done it? He seemed to recognize his own brushwork. and the frame was his own design. The room is damp. Still. and you finished a portrait of me that revealed to me the wonder of beauty. . even now. and was smelling it. "Years ago. In the left-hand corner was his own name. There was simply the passion of the spectator. who explained to me the wonder of youth. traced in long letters of bright vermilion. The idea was monstrous. and he felt as if his blood had changed in a moment from fire to sluggish ice. He seized the lighted candle. how well I remember it! No! the thing is impossible. He had never done that. His own picture! What did it mean? Why had it altered? He turned and looked at Robert Langdon with the eyes of a sick man. The young man was leaning against the mantelshelf. flattered me. It was dank with clammy sweat. and held it to the picture. watching him with that strange expression that one sees on the faces of those who are absorbed in a play when some great artist is acting. I made a wish." "I remember it! Oh. "What does this mean?" cried Hallward. some infamous ignoble satire. it was his own picture." said Robert Langdon. "you met me." 155 .
mist-stained glass. The surface seemed to be quite undisturbed and as he had left it. what is impossible?" murmured the young man. You were to me such an ideal as I shall never meet again. ." "I don't believe it is my picture." "Christ! what a thing I must have worshipped! It has the eyes of a devil. why. nothing shameful. "My God! If it is true. going over to the window and leaning his forehead against the cold. ." "It is the face of my soul. you must be worse even than those who talk against you fancy you to be!" He held the light up again to the canvas and examined it. His hand shook." "Each of us has heaven and hell in him. apparently." "There was nothing evil in it. "You told me you had destroyed it. and the candle fell from its socket on the floor 156 . as you call it. that the foulness and horror had come." cried Robert with a wild gesture of despair. Through some strange quickening of inner life the leprosies of sin were slowly eating the thing away. This is the face of a satyr. The rotting of a corpse in a watery grave was not so fearful. "and this is what you have done with your life." "As you called it.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "Ah. It has destroyed me." he exclaimed. Hallward turned again to the portrait and gazed at it. "My ideal. Rick." "I was wrong. It was from within." "Can't you see your ideal in it?" said Robert bitterly.
He glanced wildly around.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm and lay there sputtering. He placed his foot on it and put it out. but he could hear the young man sobbing at the window. "It is too late. You have done enough evil in your life. some days before." "Hush! Don't say that. I worshipped you too much. It was a knife that he had brought up. Robert. and suddenly an uncontrollable feeling of hatred for Rick Hallward came over him. what a lesson! What an awful lesson!" There was no answer.' Let us say that together." Robert Langdon turned slowly around and looked at him with tear-dimmed eyes. Robert. pray. The prayer of your pride has been answered. I am punished for it. Rick. 157 . His eye fell on it. Isn't there a verse somewhere. "Pray. Let us kneel down and try if we cannot remember a prayer. My God! Don't you see that accursed thing leering at us?" Robert Langdon glanced at the picture. yet I will make them as white as snow'?" "Those words mean nothing to me now. He knew what it was. "What is it that one was taught to say in one's boyhood? 'Lead us not into temptation. "Good God. and had forgotten to take away with him. We are both punished. The mad passions of a hunted animal stirred within him. Wash away our iniquities. The prayer of your repentance will be answered also. You worshipped yourself too much. Forgive us our sins. and he loathed the man who was seated at the table. to cut a piece of cord. Then he flung himself into the rickety chair that was standing by the table and buried his face in his hands. more than in his whole life he had ever loathed anything. whispered into his ear by those grinning lips. 'Though your sins be as scarlet. "It is never too late." he faltered. as though it had been suggested to him by the image on the canvas. Robert." he murmured. Something glimmered on the top of the painted chest that faced him.
Had it not been for the red jagged tear in the neck and the clotted black pool that was slowly widening on the table. The wind had blown the fog away. The gas-lamps flickered 158 . straining over the table with bowed head. The policeman strolled over and said something to her. and long fantastic arms. still pressing the head down. staggering as she went. waving grotesque. He rushed at him and dug the knife into the great vein that is behind the ear. He opened the door and went out on the landing. He could hear nothing. but the drip. The crimson spot of a prowling hansom gleamed at the corner and then vanished. but the man did not move. He looked down and saw the policeman going his rounds and flashing the long beam of his lantern on the doors of the silent houses. Once. she began to sing in a hoarse voice. and walking over to the window. A woman in a fluttering shawl was creeping slowly by the railings. and the sky was like a monstrous peacock's tail. stiff-fingered hands in the air. As soon as he got behind him. opened it and stepped out on the balcony. No one was about. Hallward stirred in his chair as if he was going to rise. The thing was still seated in the chair. and listened. and humped back. he seized it and turned round. She stumbled away. passing Hallward as he did so. Now and then she stopped and peered back. For a few seconds he stood bending over the balustrade and peering down into the black seething well of darkness.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm He moved slowly towards it. Then he threw the knife on the table. starred with myriads of golden eyes. crushing the man's head down on the table and stabbing again and again. one would have said that the man was simply asleep. drip on the threadbare carpet. How quickly it had all been done! He felt strangely calm. The house was absolutely quiet. locking himself in as he did so. He stabbed him twice more. He waited for a moment. Then he took out the key and returned to the room. Three times the outstretched arms shot up convulsively. A bitter blast swept across the square. laughing. Something began to trickle on the floor. There was a stifled groan and the horrible sound of some one choking with blood.
His valet had gone to bed. It was merely the sound of his own footsteps.. It was to Paris that Rick had gone. He stopped several times and waited. he turned the key and opened it. Some red star had come too close to the earth. He shivered and went back. Having locked the door behind him. it would be months before any 159 . No one had seen him come in again. and put them into it. No: everything was still. It was a rather curious one of Moorish workmanship. . and the leafless trees shook their black iron branches to and fro. How still it was! How horribly white the long hands looked! It was like a dreadful wax image. and by the midnight train. That was enough. he crept quietly downstairs. He could easily burn them afterwards. as he had intended. Every year--every month. They must be hidden away somewhere. made of dull silver inlaid with arabesques of burnished steel. he saw the bag and coat in the corner. Then he pulled out his watch.. . He sat down and began to think. Most of the servants were at Selby Royal. and studded with coarse turquoises. then he turned back and took it from the table. . He did not even glance at the murdered man. He could not help seeing the dead thing. and questions would be asked.. It was twenty minutes to two. closing the window behind him. He felt that the secret of the whole thing was not to realize the situation. With his curious reserved habits. There had been a madness of murder in the air. When he reached the library. He hesitated for a moment. what evidence was there against him? Rick Hallward had left the house at eleven. The woodwork creaked and seemed to cry out as if in pain. The friend who had painted the fatal portrait to which all his misery had been due had gone out of his life. Paris! Yes. And yet. a press in which he kept his own curious disguises. He unlocked a secret press that was in the wainscoting. almost-men were strangled in England for what he had done.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm and became blue. Perhaps it might be missed by his servant. Then he remembered the lamp. Having reached the door.
"but I had forgotten my latch-key. Did he leave any message?" "No. In about five minutes his valet appeared. and then he went away to catch his train." "No." "That will do. Don't forget to call me at nine to-morrow. Then he began ringing the bell. He put on his fur coat and hat and went out into the hall. "I am sorry to have had to wake you up. After a few moments he drew back the latch and slipped out. sir. Francis. He stayed here till eleven.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm suspicions would be roused. if he did not find you at the club. hearing the slow heavy tread of the policeman on the pavement outside and seeing the flash of the bull's-eye reflected in the window. There he paused. 160 ." "Oh! I am sorry I didn't see him." he said. Francis. He waited and held his breath. sir. shutting the door very gently behind him. I have some work to do. "Ten minutes past two? How horribly late! You must wake me at nine to-morrow." answered the man." "Did any one call this evening?" "Mr. A sudden thought struck him. Hallward. Months! Everything could be destroyed long before then. sir. sir. except that he would write to you from Paris." "All right. looking at the clock and blinking. stepping in. half-dressed and looking very drowsy. What time is it?" "Ten minutes past two." The man shambled down the passage in his slippers. sir.
" Yes. 152. For a quarter of an hour he walked up and down the room. But youth smiles without any reason. He turned round. biting his lip and thinking. too. and there was a genial warmth in the air. He winced at the memory of all that he had suffered. It was almost like a morning in May. His night had been untroubled by any images of pleasure or of pain. Then he took down the Blue Book from one of the shelves and began to turn over the leaves. Robert was sleeping quite peacefully. Yet he had not dreamed at all. with one hand underneath his cheek. Gradually the events of the preceding night crept with silent. Hertford Street.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Robert Langdon threw his hat and coat upon the table and passed into the library. How horrible that was! Such hideous things were for the darkness. and for a moment the same curious feeling of loathing for Rick Hallward that had made him kill him as he sat in the chair came back to him. and he grew cold with passion. and leaning upon his elbow. It is one of its chiefest charms. Mayfair. CHAPTER 14 At nine o'clock the next morning his servant came in with a cup of chocolate on a tray and opened the shutters. began to sip his chocolate. or study. as though he had been lost in some delightful dream. 161 . blood-stained feet into his brain and reconstructed themselves there with terrible distinctness. The mellow November sun came streaming into the room. not for the day. He looked like a boy who had been tired out with play. lying on his right side. that was the man he wanted. and in the sunlight now. The sky was bright. "Alan Campbell. The man had to touch him twice on the shoulder before he woke. and as he opened his eyes a faint smile passed across his lips. The dead man was still sitting there.
and going over to the table. and then got up hastily and dressed himself with even more than his usual care. But this was not one of them. tasting the various dishes. and if Mr. At some of the letters. Francis. or could ever bring. to be strangled lest it might strangle one itself. and going through his correspondence. It was a thing to be driven out of the mind. to be drugged with poppies. the other he handed to the valet. and gave to the intellect a quickened sense of joy. sat down and wrote two letters. he looked at the title-page of the book. went over to the book-case and took out a volume at hazard. Three of them bored him. he wiped his lips slowly with a napkin. He spent a long time also over breakfast.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm He felt that if he brooded on what he had gone through he would sicken or grow mad." As soon as he was alone. He was determined that he would not think about what had happened until it became absolutely necessary that he should do so. When he had stretched himself on the sofa. One he read several times over and then tore up with a slight look of annoyance in his face. get his address. giving a good deal of attention to the choice of his necktie and scarf-pin and changing his rings more than once. "Take this round to 152. and getting up. It was Gautier's Emaux et Camees. Campbell is out of town. talking to his valet about some new liveries that he was thinking of getting made for the servants at Selby. and then human faces. Hertford Street. "That awful thing. He frowned. There were sins whose fascination was more in the memory than in the doing of them. he lit a cigarette and began sketching upon a piece of paper. Suddenly he remarked that every face that he drew seemed to have a fantastic likeness to Rick Hallward. he passed his hand across his forehead. strange triumphs that gratified the pride more than the passions. to the senses. 162 . drawing first flowers and bits of architecture. a woman's memory!" as Lord Conrad had once said. motioned to his servant to wait. One he put in his pocket. greater than any joy they brought. After he had drunk his cup of black coffee. he smiled. When the half-hour struck.
The binding was of citron-green leather. he kept saying over and over to himself: "Devant une facade rose. L'esquif aborde et me depose. Les domes." 163 . Sur le marbre d'un escalier. till he came to those lovely stanzas upon Venice: Sur une gamme chromatique." with its downy red hairs and its "doigts de faune. The mere lines looked to him like those straight lines of turquoise-blue that follow one as one pushes out to the Lido. or stalk. one seemed to be floating down the green water-ways of the pink and pearl city. with such stately grace. How exquisite they were! As one read them. the cold yellow hand "du supplice encore mal lavee. dust-stained arcades. sur l'azur des ondes Suivant la phrase au pur contour. Jetant son amarre au pilier. La Venus de l'Adriatique Sort de l'eau son corps rose et blanc. shuddering slightly in spite of himself." He glanced at his own white taper fingers. The sudden flashes of colour reminded him of the gleam of the opal-and-iris-throated birds that flutter round the tall honeycombed Campanile. and passed on. Sur le marbre d'un escalier. As he turned over the pages. Devant une facade rose. with the Jacquemart etching.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Charpentier's Japanese-paper edition. through the dim. seated in a black gondola with silver prow and trailing curtains. his eye fell on the poem about the hand of Lacenaire. S'enflent comme des gorges rondes Que souleve un soupir d'amour. Le sein de peries ruisselant. with a design of gilt trellis-work and dotted pomegranates. It had been given to him by Adrian Singleton. Leaning back with half-closed eyes.
and rose-red ibises. He was an extremely clever young man. They had been great friends once. he began to brood over those verses which. Poor Rick! What a horrible way for a man to die! He sighed. But after a time the book fell from his hand. and white vultures with gilded claws. Rick had been with him part of the time. His dominant intellectual passion was for science. and a wonderful love that had stirred him to mad delightful follies. it was only Robert Langdon who smiled: Alan Campbell never did. There was romance in every place. and crocodiles with small beryl eyes that crawl over the green steaming mud. But Venice. to the true romantic. What could he do then? Every moment was of vital importance. background was everything. and had gone wild over Tintoret. and. He remembered the autumn that he had passed there. At Cambridge he had spent a great deal of his time working in the laboratory. What if Alan Campbell should be out of England? Days would elapse before he could come back. and had taken a good class in the Natural 164 . tell of that curious statue that Gautier compares to a contralto voice. and took up the volume again. lotus-covered Nile. Perhaps he might refuse to come. indeed. Then the intimacy had come suddenly to an end. though he had no real appreciation of the visible arts. he read of the Obelisk in the Place de la Concorde that weeps tears of granite in its lonely sunless exile and longs to be back by the hot. He read of the swallows that fly in and out of the little cafe at Smyrna where the Hadjis sit counting their amber beads and the turbaned merchants smoke their long tasselled pipes and talk gravely to each other. and a horrible fit of terror came over him. five years before-almost inseparable. where there are Sphinxes. had kept the background for romance. He grew nervous. and tried to forget. When they met in society now. or almost everything. the "monstre charmant" that couches in the porphyry-room of the Louvre.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm The whole of Venice was in those two lines. like Oxford. and whatever little sense of the beauty of poetry he possessed he had gained entirely from Robert. drawing music from kiss-stained marble.
and played both the violin and the piano better than most amateurs. while he by monstrous winds was being swept towards 165 . Robert Langdon was the type of everything that is wonderful and fascinating in life. They had met at Lady Berkshire's the night that Rubinstein played there. The suspense became unbearable. appeared almost to dislike hearing music. As the minutes went by he became horribly agitated. and had a laboratory of his own in which he used to shut himself up all day long. it was music that had first brought him and Robert Langdon together--music and that indefinable attraction that Robert seemed to be able to exercise whenever he wished-and. Time seemed to him to be crawling with feet of lead.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Science Tripos of his year. He took long stealthy strides. He had changed. as to many others. Indeed. as well. and his name appeared once or twice in some of the scientific reviews in connection with certain curious experiments. For eighteen months their intimacy lasted. however. greatly to the annoyance of his mother. Every day he seemed to become more interested in biology. At last he got up and began to pace up and down the room. To him. and after that used to be always seen together at the opera and wherever good music was going on. and would never himself play. Campbell was always either at Selby Royal or in Grosvenor Square. But suddenly people remarked that they scarcely spoke when they met and that Campbell seemed always to go away early from any party at which Robert Langdon was present. he was still devoted to the study of chemistry. And this was certainly true. His hands were curiously cold. exercised often without being conscious of it. indeed. This was the man Robert Langdon was waiting for. He was an excellent musician. that he was so absorbed in science that he had no time left in which to practise. Every second he kept glancing at the clock. too--was strangely melancholy at times. who had set her heart on his standing for Parliament and had a vague idea that a chemist was a person who made up prescriptions. Whether or not a quarrel had taken place between them no one ever knew. looking like a beautiful caged thing. when he was called upon. giving as his excuse. In fact.
He kept his hands in the pockets of his Astrakhan coat. and to more than one person. his pallor being intensified by his coal-black hair and dark eyebrows. The brain had its own food on which it battened. and. Francis. In a few moments." He felt that he was himself again. There was a look of contempt in the steady searching gaze that he turned on Robert. and showed it to him. indeed. The man bowed and retired." His voice was hard and cold. "Yes: it is a matter of life and death. raced nimbly on in front. made grotesque by terror." said the man. time being dead. shuddering. danced like some foul puppet on a stand and grinned through moving masks. twisted and distorted as a living thing by pain." "I had intended never to enter your house again. He turned glazed eyes upon him. 166 . and the imagination. time stopped for him. "Alan! This is kind of you. "Ask him to come in at once. Then. slow-breathing thing crawled no more. He spoke with slow deliberation. Alan Campbell walked in. and horrible thoughts. and the colour came back to his cheeks. Langdon. A sigh of relief broke from his parched lips. saw it. He knew what was waiting for him there. Yes: that blind. I thank you for coming. Campbell. At last the door opened and his servant entered. He stared at it. His mood of cowardice had passed away. crushed with dank hands his burning lids as though he would have robbed the very brain of sight and driven the eyeballs back into their cave. sir. Sit down. Its very horror made him stone. It was useless. But you said it was a matter of life and death. Alan.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm the jagged edge of some black cleft of precipice. and Robert sat opposite to him. and dragged a hideous future from its grave. looking very stern and rather pale. suddenly." Campbell took a chair by the table. "Mr. and seemed not to have noticed the gesture with which he had been greeted.
When he is missed. You are the one man who is able to save me. Don't stir." "You are mad. Alan. He has been dead ten hours now. He will not be missed for months. I have no option. and don't look at me like that. You have made experiments. you must change him." "Ah! I was waiting for you to call me Robert. What you have to do is this--" "Stop. Langdon. mad to make this monstrous confession. you are scientific. and everything that belongs to him. he leaned across and said. Nobody saw this person come into the house. They don't interest me any more. I will have nothing to do with this matter. But I can't help myself. What you have got to do is to destroy the thing that is upstairs-to destroy it so that not a vestige of it will be left. why he died. Robert. there must be no trace of him found here. After a strained moment of silence. Do you think I am going to peril my reputation for you? What is it 167 . how he died. a room to which nobody but myself has access. Who the man is. He knew that what he was going to do was dreadful. I am forced to bring you into the matter. Indeed. I am awfully sorry for you. at the present moment he is supposed to be in Paris. You know about chemistry and things of that kind. Whether what you have told me is true or not true doesn't concern me. whatever it is.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm The two men's eyes met. In Robert's there was infinite pity. "Alan." "Alan. I tell you--mad to imagine that I would raise a finger to help you. a dead man is seated at a table. into a handful of ashes that I may scatter in the air. I don't want to know anything further. I entirely decline to be mixed up in your life. very quietly. Alan. Alan. You. are matters that do not concern you. This one will have to interest you." "You are mad. Keep your horrible secrets to yourself. but watching the effect of each word upon the face of him he had sent for. in a locked room at the top of this house. they will have to interest you.
I should fancy. Alan. On the contrary. I should not be sorry to see you disgraced. I will have absolutely nothing to do with it. he had more to do with the making or the marring of it than poor Cristal has had. Go to some of your friends. I don't care what shame comes on you." "You must have something to do with it. without my stirring in the matter. you would simply look upon him as an admirable subject." "I am glad of that. listen to me. Nothing will induce me to stir a step to help you. You have come to the wrong man. You deserve it all. is that what you have come to? I shall not inform upon you. of all men in the world. you are certain to be arrested. the result was the same. You don't know what he had made me suffer. Don't come to me. Nobody ever commits a crime without doing something stupid. Your friend Lord Conrad Wotton can't have taught you much about psychology. whatever else he has taught you. You would not believe that you were doing anything wrong." "Murder! Good God. wait a moment. publicly disgraced. Robert. It is not my business. Alan. If in some hideous dissecting-room or fetid laboratory you found this man lying on a leaden table with red gutters scooped out in it for the blood to flow through. I killed him. But who drove him to it? You." "Alan. and the horrors that you do there don't affect you. Wait. He may not have intended it. you would probably feel that you were benefiting 168 . to mix myself up in this horror? I should have thought you knew more about people's characters. How dare you ask me. Only listen. Besides. All I ask of you is to perform a certain scientific experiment. You would not turn a hair. Whatever my life is.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm to me what devil's work you are up to?" "It was suicide." "Do you still refuse to do this for me?" "Of course I refuse. But I will have nothing to do with it. it was murder. You go to hospitals and dead-houses.
" "Don't speak about those days. It is insane of you to ask me. Just before you came I almost fainted with terror." "You refuse?" "Yes. The man upstairs will not go away. You don't inquire where the dead things on which you experiment come from." "I entreat you." "The dead linger sometimes. Alan! Alan! If you don't come to my assistance. We were friends once. If it is discovered." "It is useless." "I have no desire to help you." "There is no good in prolonging this scene. But I beg of you to do this. No! don't think of that. You may know terror yourself some day. It has nothing to do with me. I have told you too much as it is. Alan! Don't you understand? They will hang me for what I have done. or something of that kind. Alan. What I want you to do is merely what you have often done before. it is the only piece of evidence against me. or gratifying intellectual curiosity. And. Robert--they are dead. they will hang me. to destroy a body must be far less horrible than what you are accustomed to work at. I absolutely refuse to do anything in the matter." 169 . He is sitting at the table with bowed head and outstretched arms. Think of the position I am in. Indeed. remember. Look at the matter purely from the scientific point of view. You forget that. I am lost. Why. or increasing the sum of knowledge in the world. Alan. I am ruined. I am simply indifferent to the whole thing. and it is sure to be discovered unless you help me.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm the human race." "Alan. Don't inquire now. I entreat you.
"Come. Alan. It seemed to crush him. Now it is for me to dictate terms. The hand upon his shoulder weighed like a hand of lead. You will do me the justice to admit that. putting his hand upon his shoulder. After two or three minutes of terrible silence. He read it over twice. It was intolerable. offensive. You know what they are. Alan." A groan broke from Campbell's lips and he shivered all over. The ticking of the clock on the mantelpiece seemed to him to be dividing time into separate atoms of agony. I must send it. A horrible sense of sickness came over him. Face it. You see the address. He felt as if an iron ring was being slowly tightened round his forehead. Here it is. Campbell looked at him in surprise. took a piece of paper. each of which was too terrible to be borne. he got up and went over to the window. Alan. If you don't help me. harsh. I will send it. Then he stretched out his hand. If you don't help me. it is my turn to dictate terms. don't work yourself into this fever. I have a letter written already. and opened it. and then took up the paper. and a shudder passed through him. Having done this.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm The same look of pity came into Robert Langdon's eyes. "but you leave me no alternative. and wrote something on it. you must decide at once. As he read it. He felt as if his heart was beating itself to death in some empty hollow. at any rate. You know what the result will be. as if the disgrace with which he was threatened had already come upon him. Come. You were stern. I tried to spare you. Robert turned round and came and stood behind him. The thing has to be done. and pushed it across the table. his face became ghastly pale and he fell back in his chair. You treated me as no man has ever dared to treat me--no living man. folded it carefully." 170 . The thing is quite simple. It is impossible for you to refuse now. "Yes. "I am so sorry for you. But you are going to help me." he murmured. I bore it all. and do it." Campbell buried his face in his hands.
Campbell turned round. Write out on a sheet of notepaper what you want and my servant will take a cab and bring the things back to you. there is a gas-fire with asbestos." He hesitated a moment." 171 . Campbell started nervously. "Is there a fire in the room upstairs?" "Yes. In doing what I am going to do--what you force me to do-it is not of your life that I am thinking. and the ticking of the clock was like the beat of a hammer. Robert took the note up and read it carefully. "Hush. and looking at Robert Langdon. and having got up from the chair. and now you have culminated in crime. "Your life? Good heavens! what a life that is! You have gone from corruption to corruption. blotted them. saw that his eyes were filled with tears. There was something in the purity and refinement of that sad face that seemed to enrage him. Alan." he said." "I shall have to go home and get some things from the laboratory. A fly buzzed noisily about the room. As the hall door shut. "You are infamous. You have no choice. and addressed an envelope to his assistant. Don't delay. you must not leave the house. "You must." Campbell scrawled a few lines." "No. For nearly twenty minutes.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "I cannot do it. neither of the men spoke. Alan. As the chime struck one. Then he rang the bell and gave it to his valet. as though words could alter things. He was shivering with a kind of ague. with orders to return as soon as possible and to bring the things with him." said Robert. mechanically. absolutely infamous!" he muttered. went over to the chimney-piece. You have saved my life.
Alan." "Yes--Harden. "It will be time enough. so I shall not want you. Francis. "Now. there is not a moment to be lost. What is the name of the man at Richmond who supplies Selby with orchids?" "Harden." He turned away as he spoke and stood looking out at the garden." murmured Robert with a sigh." said the man." said Robert. "Yes. I am not dining at home. and tell him to send twice as many orchids as I ordered. You must go down to Richmond at once. leaving the room. In fact. Francis. How heavy this chest is! 172 . then. It is a lovely day. carrying a large mahogany chest of chemicals. see Harden personally." he answered. You can have the evening to yourself. "How long will your experiment take. "Shall I leave the things here. Or stay: just leave my things out for dressing. if you are back at half-past seven. sir. Francis.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "Ah. "And I am afraid. "I wish you had a thousandth part of the pity for me that I have for you." "No trouble. Campbell made no answer. sir?" he asked Campbell. I don't want any white ones." "Thank you. sir. Campbell frowned and bit his lip. At what time shall I be back?" Robert looked at Campbell. The presence of a third person in the room seemed to give him extraordinary courage. that I have another errand for you. and the servant entered. Alan. and to have as few white ones as possible. sir. Alan?" he said in a calm indifferent voice. "It will take about five hours. with a long coil of steel and platinum wire and two rather curiously shaped iron clamps. After about ten minutes a knock came to the door. and Richmond is a very pretty place-otherwise I wouldn't bother you about it.
and. "Leave me now. what they had thought of each other. as he had left it." said a stern voice behind him. You bring the other things. Then he stopped. stooping down and taking up the gold-and-purple hanging. than the silent thing that he knew was stretched across the table. and was about to rush forward.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm I'll take it for you. He remembered that the night before he had forgotten. Alan." said Campbell coldly. Campbell felt dominated by him. "I don't think I can go in. walked quickly in. it seemed to him for the moment." He spoke rapidly and in an authoritative manner. wet and glistening. He heaved a deep breath. Robert took out the key and turned it in the lock. and the other things that he had required for his dreadful work. but was still there. when he drew back with a shudder. and his eyes fixed themselves on the intricacies of the pattern before him. Then. 173 . As he did so. "It is nothing to me. He heard Campbell bringing in the heavy chest. and the irons. and with half-closed eyes and averted head. as though the canvas had sweated blood? How horrible it was!--more horrible. What was that loathsome red dew that gleamed. opened the door a little wider. They left the room together. determined that he would not look even once upon the dead man. and a troubled look came into his eyes. if so. feeling afraid to turn round. he flung it right over the picture. for the first time in his life. on one of the hands. the thing whose grotesque misshapen shadow on the spotted carpet showed him that it had not stirred. He began to wonder if he and Rick Hallward had ever met. He shuddered. On the floor in front of it the torn curtain was lying. he saw the face of his portrait leering in the sunlight. Robert half opened the door. When they reached the top landing. to hide the fatal canvas. There he stopped." he murmured. I don't require you.
and for a moment felt keenly the terrible pleasure of a double life. who was a very clever woman with what Lord Conrad used to describe as the remains of really remarkable ugliness. and he felt wildly excited." he muttered "And now." said Robert simply. She had proved an excellent wife to one of our most tedious ambassadors.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm He turned and hurried out. at eight-thirty. Those finely shaped fingers could never have clutched a knife for sin. but absolutely calm. There was a horrible smell of nitric acid in the room. But the thing that had been sitting at the table was gone. Robert Langdon was ushered into Lady Narborough's drawing-room by bowing servants. but his manner as he bent over his hostess's hand was as easy and graceful as ever. As soon as Campbell had left. good-bye. got up rather in a hurry by Lady Narborough. It was a small party. "I have done what you asked me to do. Perhaps one never seems so much at one's ease as when one has to play a part. He himself could not help wondering at the calm of his demeanour. I cannot forget that. which she 174 . He was pale. Let us never see each other again. he went upstairs. As he was going downstairs. CHAPTER 15 That evening. exquisitely dressed and wearing a large button-hole of Parma violets. His forehead was throbbing with maddened nerves. and having buried her husband properly in a marble mausoleum. Alan. nor those smiling lips have cried out on God and goodness. It was long after seven when Campbell came back into the library. Certainly no one looking at Robert Langdon that night could have believed that he had passed through a tragedy as horrible as any tragedy of our age." "You have saved me from ruin. he heard the key being turned in the lock. just conscious that the dead man had been thrust back into the chair and that Campbell was gazing into a glistening yellow face.
It is pure unadulterated country life. our bonnets were so unbecoming. and she always told him that she was extremely glad she had not met him in early life. "Of course I go and stay with them every summer after I come from Homburg. that I never had even a flirtation with anybody. Lady Ruxton." Her guests this evening were rather tedious. "and thrown my bonnet right over the mills for your sake. You don't know what an existence they lead down there. to make matters worse. and there is no pleasure in taking in a husband who never sees anything. 175 ." she whispered. and. "I know. The fact was. and French esprit when she could get it. because they have so much to do. with a hooked nose. my dear. rather elderly men." she used to say. Yes: it was certainly a tedious party. I should have fallen madly in love with you. Robert was one of her especial favourites. my dear. French cookery." Robert murmured a graceful compliment and looked round the room. Two of the people he had never seen before. as she explained to Robert. They get up early. and go to bed early. she devoted herself now to the pleasures of French fiction. an overdressed woman of forty-seven. He was dreadfully short-sighted. and the mills were so occupied in trying to raise the wind. and married off her daughters to some rich. had actually brought her husband with her. but are thoroughly disliked by their friends. that was all Narborough's fault. but then an old woman like me must have fresh air sometimes. There has not been a scandal in the neighbourhood since the time of Queen Elizabeth. You shan't sit next either of them. However. one of her married daughters had come up quite suddenly to stay with her. As it was. You shall sit by me and amuse me. one of those middle-aged mediocrities so common in London clubs who have no enemies.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm had herself designed. and besides. and the others consisted of Ernest Harrowden. I really wake them up. "I think it is most unkind of her. behind a very shabby fan. and consequently they all fall asleep after dinner. because they have so little to think about. It is most fortunate that you were not thought of at the time.
once seen. "I have not been in love for a whole week--not. he ceased to feel bored. but was so peculiarly plain that to her great disappointment no one would ever believe anything against her. "what is the matter with you to-night? You are quite out of sorts. a dowdy dull girl. looking at the great ormolu gilt clock that sprawled in gaudy curves on the mauve-draped mantelshelf. "Robert." cried Lady Narborough. Erlynne. He drank eagerly. wondering at his silence and abstracted manner. in fact. a pushing nobody. exclaimed: "How horrid of Conrad Wotton to be so late! I sent round to him this morning on chance and he promised faithfully not to disappoint me." and now and then Lord Conrad looked across at him. with a delightful lisp and Venetian-red hair. a red-cheeked. He was rather sorry he had come. Mrs. since Madame de Ferrol left town. his hostess's daughter. smiling. I certainly should. was under the impression that inordinate joviality can atone for an entire lack of ideas. Plate after plate went away untasted. Lady Alice Chapman. But at dinner he could not eat anything. He is quite right. and her husband. are never remembered. and when the door opened and he heard his slow musical voice lending charm to some insincere apology." 176 . From time to time the butler filled his glass with champagne. with one of those characteristic British faces that. as the chaud-froid was being handed round. white-whiskered creature who. and his thirst seemed to increase. "and that he is afraid to tell me for fear I should be jealous." murmured Robert." said Lord Conrad at last. till Lady Narborough. Lady Narborough kept scolding him for what she called "an insult to poor Adolphe." It was some consolation that Cristal was to be there." "Dear Lady Narborough." "I believe he is in love.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm who was always trying to get herself compromised. who invented the menu specially for you. like so many of his class.
"It is a most romantic explanation. She is really wonderful. "She is the one link between us and your short frocks. taking an olive in his long fingers." said Lord Conrad. But I remember her very well at Vienna thirty years ago. When her third husband died. "and when she is in a very smart gown she looks like an edition de luxe of a bad French novel. I tell her. ask Mr. Langdon?" "She assures me so. and full of surprises. Langdon." "I don't believe a word of it.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "How you men can fall in love with that woman!" exclaimed the old lady. her hair turned quite gold from grief. Her capacity for family affection is extraordinary." laughed the hostess. He is one of her most intimate friends. and how decolletee she was then. because none of them had had any hearts at all. "I really cannot understand it. Lady Narborough. Cristal!" cried Robert." "She does not remember my short frocks at all." "She is still decolletee." "Four husbands! Upon my word that is trop de zele. "I asked her whether." "Is it true. Lady Narborough." he answered." said Robert." said Robert. Mr." "How can you. Lord Conrad! You don't mean to say Ferrol is the fourth?" "Certainly." "Trop d'audace. Lord Conrad. 177 . like Marguerite de Navarre. Lady Narborough." "Well. She told me she didn't." "It is simply because she remembers you when you were a little girl. she had their hearts embalmed and hung at her girdle. "But her third husband.
even our intellects. When a man marries again. "Women love us for our defects. men risk theirs. "It is perfectly monstrous. I am afraid. it is because he adored his first wife." "The husbands of very beautiful women belong to the criminal classes. "Lord Conrad. Lady Narborough. You will never ask me to dinner again after saying this. This world and I are on excellent terms. if you all worship Madame de Ferrol in this ridiculous way." he said." cried the old lady. leaning forward in his chair." said his hostess. Women try their luck. sipping his wine. they will forgive us everything. Lady Narborough." "Isn't he incorrigible?" cried Robert." broke in Lord Conrad." "You will never marry again. Lord Conrad looked serious for some moments. I shall have to marry again so as to be in the fashion. When a woman marries again. laughing. "But really. Lady Narborough hit him with her fan.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "Oh! she is audacious enough for anything. at last. "It can only be the next world." cried the old lady. "I hope so. shaking her head. it is because she detested her first husband. "the way people go about nowadays saying things against one behind one's back that are absolutely and entirely true. but it is 178 . "If he had been." "Everybody I know says you are very wicked." was the rejoinder. my dear. And what is Ferrol like? I don't know him. you would not have loved him." "Narborough wasn't perfect." said Lord Conrad." "But what world says that?" asked Lord Conrad. elevating his eyebrows. If we have enough of them. my dear lady. I am not at all surprised that the world says that you are extremely wicked. "You were far too happy.
putting on her gloves." "Of course it is true. Lady Narborough. pushing back her chair and nodding to Lady Ruxton. and all the bachelors like married men." said Lord Conrad with a bow. But nothing must be done in a hurry. where would you all be? Not one of you would ever be married. my dear. You are really an admirable tonic. Nowadays all the married men live like bachelors. "You must come and dine with me soon again. "Fin du globe." "Ah. When a man says that one knows that life has exhausted him. Lady Narborough?" asked Robert. "Life is a great disappointment. Langdon should get married?" "I am always telling him so. don't you think that Mr. however. "I wish it were fin du globe. "Of course." "Fin de siecle. as long as he does not love her. and I sometimes wish that I had been. If we women did not love you for your defects. You would be a set of unfortunate bachelors." answered his hostess. Lord Conrad. I shall go through Debrett carefully to-night and draw out a list of all the eligible young ladies.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm quite true. I want it to be what The Morning Post calls a suitable alliance." cried Lady Narborough. that that would alter you much. Lord Conrad. slightly edited. "A man can be happy with any woman. and I want you both to be happy." "With their ages. but you are made to be good-you look so good. Not. I must find you a nice wife. much better than what Sir Andrew 179 ." "What nonsense people talk about happy marriages!" exclaimed Lord Conrad." said Robert with a sigh." murmured Lord Conrad." "Ah! what a cynic you are!" cried the old lady. "don't tell me that you have exhausted life. Lord Conrad is very wicked. we must look out for a suitable match for him. "Well. with their ages.
More than enough is as good as a feast. Mr." she added. though. Chapman began to talk in a loud voice about the situation in the House of Commons. He guffawed at his adversaries." "Pray don't. He hoisted the Union Jack on the pinnacles of thought." she said." cried Lady Narborough from the door. Robert Langdon changed his seat and went and sat by Lord Conrad. we are sure to squabble upstairs." said Lord Conrad. Lady Narborough. I want it to be a delightful gathering." she murmured. I am going to limit myself." Lady Ruxton glanced at him curiously. laughing. my dear Lady Ruxton. as she stood up. "If you do. "I didn't see you hadn't finished your cigarette. as she swept out of the room. "You must come and explain that to me some afternoon. Lord Conrad.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm prescribes for me. Enough is as bad as a meal. The word doctrinaire--word full of terror to the British mind-reappeared from time to time between his explosions. for the future." "Never mind. You must tell me what people you would like to meet. Lady Ruxton. An alliterative prefix served as an ornament of oratory. Chapman got up solemnly from the foot of the table and came up to the top. "Now." The men laughed. I smoke a great deal too much. It sounds a fascinating theory." "I like men who have a future and women who have a past. "Moderation is a fatal thing. mind you don't stay too long over your politics and scandal. and Mr." he answered. The inherited stupidity of the race--sound English common sense he jovially termed it--was shown to be the proper bulwark for society. "A thousand pardons. "Or do you think that would make it a petticoat party?" "I fear so. 180 .
" "He bores me dreadfully. She tells me she is going down to Selby. Her feet are very pretty. too?" "Oh." "Is Monmouth to be there. It is the feet of clay that make the gold of the image precious. yes. it is ten years. He may have to go to Monte Carlo with his father." "She has promised to come on the twentieth. the usual set. That is all. it hardens.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm A smile curved Lord Conrad's lips. but ten years with Monmouth must have been like eternity. with time thrown in." said Lord Conrad. She lacks the indefinable charm of weakness. I am tired. the Willoughbys. "A great many people don't. and what fire does not destroy. and he turned round and looked at Robert." "I am quite well. He atones for being occasionally somewhat overdressed by being always absolutely over-educated. Cristal. almost as much as he bores her. He is a very modern type. Who else is coming?" "Oh. I have asked Lord Grotrian. if you like. They have been through the fire." "You were charming last night. White porcelain feet. Lord Rugby and his wife." "I don't know if he will be able to come. Cristal. "An eternity. Cristal." "Ah! what a nuisance people's people are! Try and make him come. our hostess. I believe. "Are you better. She has had experiences." "I like him. according to the peerage. 181 ." "How long has she been married?" asked Robert. my dear fellow?" he asked. but I find him charming. The little duchess is quite devoted to you. Geoffrey Clouston. She is very clever. too clever for a woman. "You seemed rather out of sorts at dinner. she tells me. but they are not feet of clay.
Cristal. I walked about. or next day. and he wanted his nerve still." he answered. Things that were dangerous had to be destroyed. Cristal! You always want to know what one has been doing. I shall come round and see you to-morrow. He winced." "Did you go to the club?" "Yes.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm By the way. "No. "My dear fellow." "I will try to be there. Something has happened to you. If you want any corroborative evidence on the subject. I shan't go upstairs. You left before eleven. you ran off very early last night." "All right. You are not yourself to-night. you can ask him. I always want to forget what I have been doing." "Don't mind me. I am irritable. 182 . . if you wish to know the exact time." he said at last. Cristal. Robert. Then he bit his lip. leaving the room. . Make my excuses to Lady Narborough. He hated the idea of even touching them. The duchess is coming. I must go home. Robert. Lord Conrad's casual questioning had made him lose his nerves for the moment. and my servant had to let me in. "No. I didn't go to the club. Tell me what it is. How inquisitive you are. Mr. What did you do afterwards? Did you go straight home?" Robert glanced at him hurriedly and frowned. No sherry. and out of temper. I came in at half-past two. he was conscious that the sense of terror he thought he had strangled had come back to him. Cristal." Lord Conrad shrugged his shoulders. as if I cared! Let us go up to the drawing-room. I don't mean that. . Chapman. I shall go home. As he drove back to his own house. "I did not get home till nearly three. Robert. I forget what I did. I had left my latch-key at home. I dare say I shall see you to-morrow at tea-time." he said. thank you.
It took him three-quarters of an hour to consume everything. and he gnawed nervously at his underlip. dressed commonly. he opened the secret press into which he had thrust Rick Hallward's coat and bag. He watched it as though it were a thing that could fascinate and make afraid. went over to it. He hailed it and in a low voice gave the driver an address. A huge fire was blazing. He hesitated for some moments. with a strangely immobile smile upon his face. His eyelids drooped till the long fringed lashes almost touched his cheek. His fingers moved instinctively towards it. crept quietly out of his house. though the atmosphere of the room was terribly hot. and with a muffler wrapped round his throat.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Yet it had to be done. He piled another log on it. A triangular drawer passed slowly out. and the silken cords hung with round crystals and tasselled in plaited metal threads. His eyes grew strangely bright. But he still watched the cabinet. he drew himself up and glanced at the clock. Between two of the windows stood a large Florentine cabinet. and closed on something. It was a small Chinese box of black and gold-dust lacquer. His breath quickened. At the end he felt faint and sick. It was twenty minutes to twelve. At last he got up from the sofa on which he had been lying. elaborately wrought. the sides patterned with curved waves. the odour curiously heavy and persistent. and went into his bedroom. Suddenly he started. He realized that. He lit a cigarette and then threw it away. as though it held something that he longed for and yet almost loathed. and having lit some Algerian pastilles in a pierced copper brazier. A mad craving came over him. In Bond Street he found a hansom with a good horse. touched some hidden spring. Robert Langdon. He opened it. waxy in lustre. Then shivering. made out of ebony and inlaid with ivory and blue lapis. he bathed his hands and forehead with a cool musk-scented vinegar. dipped in. The smell of the singeing clothes and burning leather was horrible. and when he had locked the door of his library. shutting the cabinet doors as he did so. and having unlocked it. 183 . He put the box back. As midnight was striking bronze blows upon the dusky air. Inside was a green paste.
The sidewindows of the hansom were clogged with a grey-flannel mist. dens of horror where the memory of old sins could be destroyed by the madness of sins that were new. drunkards brawled and screamed. From some of the bars came the sound of horrible laughter. A steam rose from the horse as it splashed up the puddles. He had often tried it. and the senses by means of the soul. "You shall have another if you drive fast." answered the man. From time to time a huge misshapen cloud stretched a long arm across and hid it. and the streets more narrow and gloomy. and would try it again now. Once the man lost his way and had to drive back half a mile. The moon hung low in the sky like a yellow skull." "All right. CHAPTER 16 A cold rain began to fall. "It is too far for me. The gas-lamps grew fewer. "Here is a sovereign for you. In others." and after his fare had got in he turned his horse round and drove rapidly towards the river. "To cure the soul by means of the senses. sir. Robert Langdon watched with listless eyes the sordid shame of the great city." Yes. There were opium dens where one could buy oblivion. The public-houses were just closing. "To cure the soul by means of the senses. with his hat pulled over his forehead." said Robert." he muttered. that was the secret. "you will be there in an hour. Lying back in the hansom. and dim men and women were clustering in broken groups round their doors. and the senses by means of the soul!" How the words rang in his ears! 184 .Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm The man shook his head. and now and then he repeated to himself the words that Lord Conrad had said to him on the first day they had met. and the blurred street-lamps looked ghastly in the dripping mist.
He struck at the horse madly with his stick. He thrust up the trap and called to the man to drive faster. They moved like monstrous marionettes and made gestures like live things. a woman yelled something at them from an open door. Indeed. He hated them. bottle-shaped kilns with their orange. The driver laughed and whipped up. The horse stumbled in a rut. but now and then fantastic shadows were silhouetted against some lamplit blind. and he was determined to forget. forgetfulness was possible still. to crush it as one would crush the adder that had stung one. The hideous hunger for opium began to gnaw at him. A dull rage was in his heart. he felt afraid. After some time they left the clay road and rattled again over rough-paven streets. What could atone for that? Ah! for that there was no atonement. He watched them curiously. Most of the windows were dark.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm His soul. and the streets like the black web of some sprawling spider. and two men ran after the hansom for about a hundred yards. On and on plodded the hansom. Then they passed by lonely brickfields. at each step. then swerved aside and broke into a gallop. and as the mist thickened. going slower. and far away in the darkness some wandering sea-gull screamed. The driver beat at them with his whip. what right had Rick to have spoken to him as he had done? Who had made him a judge over others? He had said things that were dreadful. certainly. and the man was silent. to stamp the thing out. 185 . horrible. The way seemed interminable. A dog barked as they went by. but though forgiveness was impossible. Was it true that the senses could cure it? Innocent blood had been spilled. was sick to death. and he could see the strange. He laughed in answer. His throat burned and his delicate hands twitched nervously together. The fog was lighter here. not to be endured. The monotony became unbearable. it seemed to him. As they turned a corner. fanlike tongues of fire.
They were what he needed for forgetfulness. Ugliness that had once been hateful to him because it made things real. most terrible of all man's appetites. and the wild desire to live. He stopped and gave a peculiar knock. and having got out hastily and given the driver the extra fare he had promised him.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm It is said that passion makes one think in a circle. Over the low roofs and jagged chimney-stacks of the houses rose the black masts of ships. Certainly with hideous iteration the bitten lips of Robert Langdon shaped and reshaped those subtle words that dealt with soul and sense. He hurried on towards the left. quickened into force each trembling nerve and fibre. than all the gracious shapes of art. Robert started and peered round. the very vileness of thief and outcast. Wreaths of white mist clung like ghostly sails to the yards. "Somewhere about here. The slimy pavement looked like a wet mackintosh. Ugliness was the one reality." he answered. were more vivid. by intellectual approval. till he had found in them the full expression. 186 . A red glare came from an outward-bound steamer that was coaling. and justified. The coarse brawl. passions that without such justification would still have dominated his temper. ain't it?" he asked huskily through the trap. the dreamy shadows of song. he walked quickly in the direction of the quay. In one of the top-windows stood a lamp. In three days he would be free. became dear to him now for that very reason. glancing back now and then to see if he was being followed. as it were. sir. the crude violence of disordered life. Suddenly the man drew up with a jerk at the top of a dark lane. From cell to cell of his brain crept the one thought. in their intense actuality of impression. In about seven or eight minutes he reached a small shabby house that was wedged in between two gaunt factories. of his mood. "This will do. the loathsome den. The light shook and splintered in the puddles. Here and there a lantern gleamed at the stern of some huge merchantman.
"You here. who was bending over a lamp lighting a long thin pipe. Adrian?" muttered Robert. George doesn't speak to me either. When he entered. listlessly. "None of the chaps will speak to me now. . Shrill flaring gas-jets. trampled here and there into mud. playing with bone counters and showing their white teeth as they chattered. Some Malays were crouching by a little charcoal stove. "Where else should I be?" he answered. leading to a darkened chamber. a young man with smooth yellow hair. dulled and distorted in the fly-blown mirrors that faced them." laughed one of them. The door opened quietly. mocking an old man who was brushing the sleeves of his coat with an expression of disgust. He heaved a deep breath. He dragged it aside and entered a long low room which looked as if it had once been a third-rate dancing-saloon." "Darlington is not going to do anything. the heavy odour of opium met him. I don't care. My brother paid the bill at last. At the end of the room there was a little staircase.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm After a little time he heard steps in the passage and the chain being unhooked." "I thought you had left England. At the end of the hall hung a tattered green curtain that swayed and shook in the gusty wind which had followed him in from the street." he added 187 . with his head buried in his arms. a sailor sprawled over a table. "He thinks he's got red ants on him. making quivering disks of light. The floor was covered with ochre-coloured sawdust. The man looked at her in terror and began to whimper. as Robert passed by. and by the tawdrily painted bar that ran across one complete side stood two haggard women. . Greasy reflectors of ribbed tin backed them. and stained with dark rings of spilled liquor. In one corner. and his nostrils quivered with pleasure. were ranged round the walls. As Robert hurried up its three rickety steps. and he went in without saying a word to the squat misshapen figure that flattened itself into the shadow as he passed. looked up at him and nodded in a hesitating manner. .
"Never mind." murmured the young man." Robert winced and looked round at the grotesque things that lay in such fantastic postures on the ragged mattresses. He wanted to be where no one would know who he was. They won't have her in this place now. in a ragged turban and a shabby ulster. the gaping mouths. one doesn't want friends. Yet he felt he could not stay. grinned a hideous greeting as he thrust a bottle of brandy and two tumblers in front of them. "I am going on to the other place. 188 . Memory. I think I have had too many friends." he said after a pause." "That mad-cat is sure to be there." "I like it better. Besides. They were better off than he was. A half-caste. was eating his soul away. He was prisoned in thought. the staring lustreless eyes.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm with a sigh. The women sidled up and began to chatter. fascinated him." "I don't want anything." "Much the same. The presence of Adrian Singleton troubled him. He knew in what strange heavens they were suffering. Come and have something to drink. He wanted to escape from himself. "As long as one has this stuff. The twisted limbs. and what dull hells were teaching them the secret of some new joy. From time to time he seemed to see the eyes of Rick Hallward looking at him. like a horrible malady. I must have something. Women who hate one are much more interesting. "I am sick of women who love one. the stuff is better." Robert shrugged his shoulders. "On the wharf?" "Yes." Adrian Singleton rose up wearily and followed Robert to the bar.
writhed across the face of one of the women." "Good night. Robert walked to the door with a look of pain in his face. As he drew the curtain aside. then flickered out and left them dull and glazed. A crooked smile. a hideous laugh broke from the painted lips of the woman who had taken his money. She tossed her head and raked the coins off the counter with greedy fingers. after a pause. stamping his foot on the ground." cried Robert. "Perhaps." sighed Adrian Singleton. "There goes the devil's bargain!" she hiccoughed. "For God's sake don't talk to me. The drowsy sailor leaped to his feet as she spoke." She snapped her fingers. 189 . Don't ever talk to me again. "Curse you!" he answered. "don't call me that. ain't it?" she yelled after him. "We are very proud to-night. passing up the steps and wiping his parched mouth with a handkerchief. "It's no use.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Robert turned his back on them and said something in a low voice to Adrian Singleton. "I don't care to go back. "What do you want? Money? Here it is. What does it matter? I am quite happy here. in a hoarse voice. then." "You will write to me if you want anything. like a Malay crease." answered the young man." she sneered. Her companion watched her enviously." "Good night. and looked wildly round." Two red sparks flashed for a moment in the woman's sodden eyes. won't you?" said Robert. "Prince Charming is what you like to be called.
he felt himself suddenly seized from behind. 190 . but as he darted aside into a dim archway. seems to be instinct with fearful impulses. that morning star of evil. what did it matter to him? One's days were too brief to take the burden of another's errors on one's shoulders. or. and before he had time to defend himself. psychologists tell us. Robert Langdon hurried along the quay through the drizzling rain. with a brutal hand round his throat. He rushed out as if in pursuit. Yet. There are moments. In her dealings with man. Robert Langdon hastened on. and conscience is either killed. destiny never closed her accounts. When that high spirit. or for what the world calls sin. that had served him often as a short cut to the ill-famed place where he was going. after all. indeed. concentrated on evil. as theologians weary not of reminding us. as Rick Hallward had said to him with such infamy of insult. and the dusky form of a short. His meeting with Adrian Singleton had strangely moved him.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm The sound of the shutting of the hall door fell on his ear. fell from heaven. when the passion for sin. Each man lived his own life and paid his own price for living it. it was as a rebel that he fell. Callous. quickening his step as he went. and for a few seconds his eyes grew sad. lives but to give rebellion its fascination and disobedience its charm. if it lives at all. with stained mind. and he wondered if the ruin of that young life was really to be laid at his door. Choice is taken from them. and saw the gleam of a polished barrel. He struggled madly for life. Men and women at such moments lose the freedom of their will. and by a terrible effort wrenched the tightening fingers away. For all sins. are sins of disobedience. he was thrust back against the wall. They move to their terrible end as automatons move. In a second he heard the click of a revolver. so dominates a nature that every fibre of the body. The only pity was one had to pay so often for a single fault. as every cell of the brain. One had to pay over and over again. and soul hungry for rebellion. thick-set man facing him. pointing straight at his head. He bit his lip.
Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "What do you want?" he gasped. with a touch of triumph in his voice." Robert's arms fell to his side. I swore I would kill you in return." laughed Robert Langdon. tell me!" "Eighteen years. What have I done to you?" "You wrecked the life of Sibyl Vane. Paralysed with terror. no trace. Robert did not know what to say or do. "Why do you ask me? What do years matter?" "Eighteen years. For years I have sought you. I heard it to-night by chance. You are mad. "I give you one minute to make your peace--no more. I knew nothing of you but the pet name she used to call you. "Eighteen years! Set me under the lamp and look at my face!" James Vane hesitated for a moment. 191 . Make your peace with God. not understanding what was meant. "Down on your knees!" growled the man." There was a horrible moment. for as sure as I am James Vane. I shoot you." "You are mad. I had no clue." was the answer. you are going to die. "I never knew her. "If you stir. She killed herself. Then he seized Robert Langdon and dragged him from the archway. and I must do my job first. "Keep quiet. "and Sibyl Vane was my sister. One minute. Suddenly a wild hope flashed across his brain. "I never heard of her." said the man." he stammered. I know it. "How long ago is it since your sister died? Quick. That's all." "You had better confess your sin. I go on board to-night for India. The two people who could have described you were dead. Her death is at your door." said the man." Robert Langdon grew sick with fear." he cried. "Stop. for to-night you are going to die. he did not know what to do.
You fool! You should have killed him. James Vane stood on the pavement in horror. It was obvious that this was not the man who had destroyed her life. sir. putting haggard face quite close to his." "You had better go home and put that pistol away." "Forgive me. into which he had fallen. A chance word I heard in that damned den set me on the wrong track. He has lots of money." said Robert. After a little while. if older indeed at all. "Let this be a warning to you not to take vengeance into your own hands. He was trembling from head to foot. "I was deceived. than his sister had been when they had parted so many years ago. a black shadow that had been creeping along the dripping wall moved out into the light and came close to him with stealthy footsteps." muttered James Vane. The man whose life I want must be nearly forty now. hardly older. He loosened his hold and reeled back. and he's as bad as bad." "He is not the man I am looking for. I want a man's life. This one is little more than a boy. for the face of the man he had sought to kill had all the bloom of boyhood. "and I would have murdered you!" Robert Langdon drew a long breath. "and I want no man's money. turning on his heel and going slowly down the street.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Dim and wavering as was the wind-blown light. as it seemed. my man. "Why didn't you kill him?" she hissed out. He seemed little more than a lad of twenty summers. looking at him sternly. or you may get into trouble. It was one of the women who had been drinking at the bar. He felt a hand laid on his arm and looked round with a start. "I knew you were following him when you rushed out from Daly's." he said." he answered. "You have been on the brink of committing a terrible crime. yet it served to show him the hideous error. all the unstained purity of youth. 192 . "My God! my God!" he cried.
They say he has sold himself to the devil for a pretty face. Let me have some money for my night's lodging. "Before God?" "Strike me dumb if it ain't so.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Thank God. but Robert Langdon had disappeared. "You swear this?" "I swear it." The woman gave a bitter laugh." came in hoarse echo from her flat mouth." "You lie!" cried James Vane. It was tea-time. "But don't give me away to him. the woman had vanished also. who with her husband. was amongst his guests." He broke from her with an oath and rushed to the corner of the street." she cried. and her full red lips were smiling at something that Robert had whispered to her. He hasn't changed much since then. It's nigh on eighteen years since I met him. a jaded-looking man of sixty. "Why. lace-covered lamp that stood on the table lit up the delicate china and hammered silver of the service at which the duchess was presiding. and the mellow light of the huge. "I am afraid of him. She raised her hand up to heaven. Her white hands were moving daintily among the cups. though. talking to the pretty Duchess of Monmouth. He is the worst one that comes here. CHAPTER 17 A week later Robert Langdon was sitting in the conservatory at Selby Royal. "Before God I am telling the truth. it's nigh on eighteen years since Prince Charming made me what I am. I have. "Little more than a boy!" she sneered. 193 . with a sickly leer. man." she whined. I have not got his blood upon my hands. When he looked back." she added.
In a thoughtless moment I asked one of the gardeners what it was called. looking at them." laughed Lord Conrad. It is the only thing he is fit for. "From a label there is no escape! I refuse the title. but we have lost the faculty of giving lovely names to things. "I won't hear of it. I was thinking chiefly of flowers. The man who could call a spade a spade should be compelled to use one. Gladys." exclaimed the duchess. looking up at him with her wonderful eyes. "I hope Robert has told you about my plan for rechristening everything. Langdon should be satisfied with his. Cristal?" she asked. Yesterday I cut an orchid. On a peach-coloured divan sat Lady Narborough. for my button-hole." 194 . I never quarrel with actions. pretending to listen to the duke's description of the last Brazilian beetle that he had added to his collection. "What are you two talking about?" said Lord Conrad.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Lord Conrad was lying back in a silk-draped wicker chair. "His name is Prince Paradox." said Robert. The house-party consisted of twelve people." "My dear Gladys." "But I don't want to be rechristened. My one quarrel is with words. "I recognize him in a flash. "I am quite satisfied with my own name. as effective as the seven deadly sins. sinking into a chair. strolling over to the table and putting his cup down. I would not alter either name for the world." rejoined the duchess. It was a marvellous spotted thing. or something dreadful of that kind. They are both perfect. Names are everything. Cristal. and I am sure Mr. It is a delightful idea. He told me it was a fine specimen of Robinsoniana. That is the reason I hate vulgar realism in literature. It is a sad truth. Three young men in elaborate smoking-suits were handing tea-cakes to some of the women. and there were more expected to arrive on the next day." "Then what should we call you.
"I live in it." "Would you have me take the verdict of Europe on it?" he inquired. "You wish me to defend my throne. You." she answered." "That you may censure it the better. "You disarm me. Gladys. "Of your shield. then?" "Yes. then?" she asked." he said. You value beauty far too much." "I never tilt against beauty. and the seven deadly virtues have made our England what she is. believe me. then?" cried the duchess. no one is more ready than I am to acknowledge that it is better to be good than to be ugly. Cristal." "You don't like your country. "What becomes of your simile about the orchid?" "Ugliness is one of the seven deadly virtues. "That is your error. not of your spear." "I give the truths of to-morrow." "Ugliness is one of the seven deadly sins. as a good Tory. must not underrate them. Beer. Cristal. Gladys." fell as a warning from pretty lips.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "Royalties may not abdicate." he cried. "What do they say of us?" 195 . the Bible. But on the other hand. with a wave of his hand." "I prefer the mistakes of to-day." "How can you say that? I admit that I think that it is better to be beautiful than to be good. catching the wilfulness of her mood.
" "It has development." "Decay fascinates me more. When they make up their ledger." "What of art?" she asked. they balance stupidity by wealth." "Only as far as the Stock Exchange. we have done great things. Our countrymen never recognize a description. and vice by hypocrisy." she cried." "Love?" "An illusion." "They are more cunning than practical." "Religion?" 196 ." She shook her head." "We have carried their burden. "I believe in the race." "Still." "You need not be afraid." "They are practical. Gladys. "It represents the survival of the pushing. "It is a malady.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "That Tartuffe has emigrated to England and opened a shop. Cristal?" "I give it to you. It is too true." "Great things have been thrust on us." "Is that yours." "I could not use it.
Usually because I come in at ten minutes to nine and tell her that I must be dressed by half-past eight. Duchess?" "For the most trivial things. Why." "Our host is a delightful topic. Mr. Langdon." answered the duchess. Duchess. I hope he won't stick pins into you." "Well. colouring." cried Robert Langdon." laughed Robert." "Ah! don't remind me of that. when she is annoyed with me. I assure you." "And what does she get annoyed with you about.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "The fashionable substitute for belief. You would lose your way in the labyrinth. You remember the one I wore at Lady Hilstone's garden-party? 197 ." "You are a sceptic. "I believe he thinks that Monmouth married me on purely scientific principles as the best specimen he could find of a modern butterfly." "You bewilder me." "How unreasonable of her! You should give her warning. Langdon." "Threads snap. Let us talk of some one else. Years ago he was christened Prince Charming. "Our host is rather horrid this evening." "Give me a clue. Langdon. Mr. she invents hats for me. "Oh! my maid does that already." "I daren't. Mr." "Never! Scepticism is the beginning of faith." "What are you?" "To define is to limit.
Difference of object does not alter singleness of passion." "Not with women. We can have in life but one great experience at best. Cristal?" asked the duchess after a pause. "Especially when one has been wounded by it." "Like all good reputations. just as you men love with your eyes. We women." answered Lord Conrad. "My dear Gladys!" cried Lord Conrad. she made if out of nothing. "Ah! then. All good hats are made out of nothing." said the duchess. Mr. as some one says. "I always agree with Cristal. if you ever love at all." "Even when he is wrong?" 198 . Langdon. but it is nice of you to pretend that you do. Gladys. "Every effect that one produces gives one an enemy. To be popular one must be a mediocrity. "How can you say that? Romance lives by repetition." "Even when one has been wounded by it. Besides. shaking her head. "What do you say to that." answered the duchess with mock sadness. and repetition converts an appetite into an art. Then he threw his head back and laughed. Robert hesitated for a moment." "It seems to me that we never do anything else. you never really love. love with our ears." interrupted Lord Conrad. It merely intensifies it. each time that one loves is the only time one has ever loved. Mr. I assure you we can't bear mediocrities. Well. Duchess. The duchess turned and looked at Robert Langdon with a curious expression in her eyes. and the secret of life is to reproduce that experience as often as possible. "and women rule the world.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm You don't. Langdon?" she inquired." murmured Robert.
" said Lord Conrad to his cousin." was the riposte." "And found it." The duchess sighed. Duchess. Langdon?" "Often." "Let me get you some orchids. starting to his feet and walking down the conservatory." she answered." "Pace gives life." "And does his philosophy make you happy?" "I have never searched for happiness. "I am searching for peace." "If he were not." "Greek meets Greek. Who wants happiness? I have searched for pleasure." cried Robert. there would be no battle. Too often. "and if I don't go and dress." she said. Duchess.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "Cristal is never wrong. "You gallop with a loose rein. "I shall write it in my diary to-night." "There are worse things than capture." "They were defeated. then?" "I am on the side of the Trojans. They fought for a woman. "You are flirting disgracefully with him. "You had better take care." "What?" "That a burnt child loves the fire. Mr." 199 . He is very fascinating. I shall have none this evening.
" She looked at him. "Sphinxes without secrets. "She perfectly adores him. "Lady Narborough. Langdon is!" she said." "That would be a premature surrender." was her challenge. "Let us go and help him." "You use them for everything." "Romantic art begins with its climax." "Ah! you must suit your frock to his flowers." he whispered. "How long Mr." "You fill me with apprehension." "I must keep an opportunity for retreat." "Describe us as a sex. smiling." "Courage has passed from men to women." "You have a rival. Gladys." "Romanticists! You have all the methods of science." "But not explained you." "Who?" He laughed. The appeal to antiquity is fatal to us who are romanticists. It is a new experience for us." "Men have educated us. I have not yet told him the colour of my frock." "In the Parthian manner?" 200 .Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "I am not even singed. except flight. My wings are untouched.
You must have overtired yourself. The dead leaves that were blown against the leaded panes seemed 201 . he came to himself and looked round with a dazed expression. "What has happened?" he asked. but now and then a thrill of terror ran through him when he remembered that. I will come down." he answered." he said. He was carried at once into the blue drawing-room and laid upon one of the sofas. The duchess stood motionless in horror. "Oh! I remember. like a white handkerchief. had begun to dominate him." "Women are not always allowed a choice. That was all.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "They found safety in the desert. but hardly had he finished the sentence before from the far end of the conservatory came a stifled groan. You had better not come down to dinner. pressed against the window of the conservatory. And with fear in his eyes. Am I safe here." "No. he shook. tracked down. spent most of the time in his own room. If the tapestry did but tremble in the wind. After a short time. and yet indifferent to life itself. Cristal?" He began to tremble. I could not do that. Lord Conrad rushed through the flapping palms to find Robert Langdon lying face downwards on the tiled floor in a deathlike swoon." He went to his room and dressed." answered Lord Conrad. I must not be alone. indeed. Everybody started up. I will take your place. struggling to his feet. sick with a wild terror of dying. "I would rather come down. CHAPTER 18 The next day he did not leave the house. "My dear Robert. There was a wild recklessness of gaiety in his manner as he sat at table. The consciousness of being hunted. "you merely fainted. and. followed by the dull sound of a heavy fall. snared. he had seen the face of James Vane watching him.
nor the good rewarded. could not know who he was. Actual life was chaos. to mock him from secret places. day and night. it had been merely fancy. failure thrust upon the weak. Besides. Had any foot-marks been found on the flower-beds. It was the imagination that made each crime bear its misshapen brood. shadows of his crime were to peer at him from silent corners. Success was given to the strong. and make them move before one! What sort of life would his be if. and give them visible form. Why. to whisper in his ear as he sat at the feast. he grew pale with terror. how terrible it was to think that conscience could raise such fearful phantoms. he found him crying as one whose heart will break. Yes. had any stranger been prowling round the house. the gardeners would have reported it. he would have been seen by the servants or the keepers. In the common world of fact the wicked were not punished. he was safe. and horror seemed once more to lay its hand upon his heart. and the air seemed to him to have become suddenly colder. When he closed his eyes. Each hideous detail came back to him with added horror. But perhaps it had been only his fancy that had called vengeance out of the night and set the hideous shapes of punishment before him. he saw again the sailor's face peering through the mist-stained glass. but there was something terribly logical in the imagination. rose the image of his sin.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm to him like his own wasted resolutions and wild regrets. the man did not know who he was. That was all. Out of the black cave of time. at any rate. He had sailed away in his ship to founder in some winter sea. From him. It was the imagination that set remorse to dog the feet of sin. Oh! in what a wild hour of madness he had killed his friend! How ghastly the mere memory of the scene! He saw it all again. Sibyl Vane's brother had not come back to kill him. The mask of youth had saved him. terrible and swathed in scarlet. When Lord Conrad came in at six o'clock. And yet if it had been merely an illusion. 202 . to wake him with icy fingers as he lay asleep! As the thought crept through his brain.
he had convinced himself that he had been the victim of a terror-stricken imagination. I dare say it will be better after lunch. They either slay the man. At the corner of the pine-wood he caught sight of Sir Geoffrey Clouston. I think most of the birds have gone to the open. the hoarse cries of the beaters ringing out from time to time. There was something in the clear. But it was not merely the physical conditions of environment that had caused the change. His own nature had revolted against the excess of anguish that had sought to maim and mar the perfection of its calm. The keen aromatic air. Robert. "Have you had good sport. 203 . he walked with the duchess for an hour in the garden and then drove across the park to join the shooting-party. With subtle and finely wrought temperaments it is always so. jerking two spent cartridges out of his gun. Geoffrey?" he asked. the brown and red lights that glimmered in the wood. He was dominated by the carelessness of happiness. He jumped from the cart. After breakfast. when we get to new ground. fascinated him and filled him with a sense of delightful freedom. and having told the groom to take the mare home. and looked back now on his fears with something of pity and not a little of contempt.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm It was not till the third day that he ventured to go out. The crisp frost lay like salt upon the grass. pine-scented air of that winter morning that seemed to bring him back his joyousness and his ardour for life. Besides. A thin film of ice bordered the flat. and the sharp snaps of the guns that followed. by the high indifference of joy." Robert strolled along by his side. or themselves die. made his way towards his guest through the withered bracken and rough undergrowth. The loves and sorrows that are great are destroyed by their own plenitude. "Not very good. The sky was an inverted cup of blue metal. Shallow sorrows and shallow loves live on. Their strong passions must either bruise or bend. reed-grown lake. the duchess's brother.
"Good heavens! I have hit a beater!" exclaimed Sir Geoffrey. "Why on earth don't you keep your men back? Spoiled my shooting for the day. He heard Sir Geoffrey ask if the man was really dead. like endless hours of pain--he felt a hand laid on his shoulder. There were two cries heard. but there was something in the animal's grace of movement that strangely charmed Robert Langdon." The head-keeper came running up with a stick in his hand. and as the hare bounded into the thicket. which is worse. with black-tipped ears erect and long hinder limbs throwing it forward. "Here. It seemed to him that misfortune followed wherever he went. in his perturbed state. and the affirmative answer of the keeper. the cry of a man in agony. "What an ass the man was to get in front of the guns! Stop shooting there!" he called out at the top of his voice. Let it live. The wood seemed to him to have become suddenly alive with faces." answered Sir Geoffrey angrily." "What nonsense. Sir Geoffrey put his gun to his shoulder. brushing the lithe swinging branches aside. "A man is hurt." Robert watched them as they plunged into the alder-clump. dragging a body after them into the sunlight. which is dreadful. the firing ceased along the line. "Don't shoot it. the cry of a hare in pain. and he cried out at once. started a hare. Robert!" laughed his companion. After a few moments--that were to him. There was the trampling of myriad feet and the low buzz of voices. he fired. He started and looked round. He turned away in horror. Geoffrey. "Where.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Suddenly from a lumpy tussock of old grass some twenty yards in front of them. At the same time. sir? Where is he?" he shouted. In a few moments they emerged. It bolted for a thicket of alders. A great copper-breasted pheasant came beating through the boughs overhead. hurrying towards the thicket. 204 .
It makes people think that one is a wild shot. "The only horrible thing in the world is ennui. It would not look well to go on. It is rather awkward for Geoffrey. He must have died almost instantaneously." Robert shook his head. Come. I suppose. Then Robert looked at Lord Conrad and said. Destiny does not send us heralds. "I am afraid so. Robert. perhaps. I must tell them that the subject is to be tabooed." "I wish it were stopped for ever. Is the man ." said Lord Conrad. Cristal." "What is?" asked Lord Conrad. Cristal. My dear fellow. it is nothing to us." he answered bitterly. As for omens. Cristal. "I had better tell them that the shooting is stopped for to-day. ?" He could not finish the sentence. Robert? You have everything in the world that a man can want. "The whole thing is hideous and cruel. It was the man's own fault. She is too wise or too cruel for that." rejoined Lord Conrad. "It is a bad omen. I feel as if something horrible were going to happen to some of us. what on earth could happen to you." he added. To myself. But there is no use talking about the matter. "Oh! this accident. The elder man laughed. That is the one sin for which there is no forgiveness. of course. But we are not likely to suffer from it unless these fellows keep chattering about this thing at dinner. with a gesture of pain. Besides.. passing his hand over his eyes. a very bad omen. let us go home. "He got the whole charge of shot in his chest. there is no such thing as an omen." They walked side by side in the direction of the avenue for nearly fifty yards without speaking. "It is a bad omen. it can't be helped. It does not do to pepper beaters. And Geoffrey is not.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "Robert.. There is no one who would not be delighted to change places 205 . Why did he get in front of the guns? Besides. with a heavy sigh. he shoots very straight.
I have no terror of death.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm with you." "You are talking scandal. Its monstrous wings seem to wheel in the leaden air around me. The man turned round and went rapidly in the direction of the house." he said. The wretched peasant who has just died is better off than I am. which he handed to his master. "I see the gardener waiting for you. my dear fellow! You must come and see my doctor. you are quite astray. I like the duchess very much. but I don't love her. and there is never any basis for scandal." he said. but she likes you less. glanced for a moment at Lord Conrad in a hesitating manner. "Her Grace told me to wait for an answer. "How fond women are of doing dangerous things!" laughed Lord Conrad." "How fond you are of saying dangerous things. "Yes. watching me. Don't laugh like that. smiling. The man touched his hat. Good heavens! don't you see a man moving behind the trees there." 206 ." "There is no one with whom I would not change places. "It is one of the qualities in them that I admire most. Robert put the letter into his pocket. waiting for me?" Lord Conrad looked in the direction in which the trembling gloved hand was pointing. How absurdly nervous you are. Cristal. so you are excellently matched. when we get back to town. coldly. Cristal! In the present instance. Cristal. It is the coming of death that terrifies me." he murmured. A woman will flirt with anybody in the world as long as other people are looking on. and then produced a letter." Robert heaved a sigh of relief as he saw the gardener approaching. I suppose he wants to ask you what flowers you wish to have on the table to-night." "And the duchess loves you very much. "Tell her Grace that I am coming in. I am telling you the truth.
Robert? You are in some trouble. It is a hideous subject." broke in Lord Conrad. How curious!" "Yes. Ah! here is the duchess. for the sake of an epigram. This unfortunate accident has upset me. Now if Geoffrey had done the thing on purpose. "And I dare say it is only a fancy of mine." he answered sadly. Duchess. "I wish I could love." "What nonsense!" "I hope it is. But I am sorry they told you about the man. It looked the loveliest of little live things. "You would sacrifice anybody." said Lord Conrad. Cristal. it was very curious. It was silly of me to come down here at all. I want to escape. I am too much concentrated on myself. I don't know what made me say it. how interesting 207 . I have a horrible presentiment that something of the kind may happen to me. "It has no psychological value at all. You see we have come back. Cristal. "But I seem to have lost the passion and forgotten the desire. Why not tell me what it is? You know I would help you. to forget." "The world goes to the altar of its own accord. Mr. And it seems that you asked him not to shoot the hare. but I can't help feeling it. I think I shall send a wire to Harvey to have the yacht got ready." was the answer. Some whim. lighting a cigarette. looking like Artemis in a tailor-made gown." "I have heard all about it." she answered. to go away. I suppose." "Safe from what.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "The basis of every scandal is an immoral certainty." "It is an annoying subject." cried Robert Langdon with a deep note of pathos in his voice. "Poor Geoffrey is terribly upset. My own personality has become a burden to me. On a yacht one is safe. Langdon." "I can't tell you.
"my nerves are dreadfully out of order." "How horrid of you. "Are you very much in love with him?" he asked. "It is nothing. my dear Gladys. Was it very bad? You must tell me some other time." Robert drew himself up with an effort and smiled. That is all. As the glass door closed behind Robert." "It was my debut in life. "Knowledge would be fatal. "Isn't it. but stood gazing at the landscape. "It came to you crowned." 208 ." "What is that?" "Disillusion. Langdon? Cristal. Mr. I didn't hear what Cristal said." "They become you. You will excuse me. He shook his head. I am afraid I walked too far this morning." she sighed." "I am tired of strawberry leaves. It is the uncertainty that charms one. Langdon is ill again. A mist makes things wonderful." "All ways end at the same point. She did not answer for some time.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm he would be! I should like to know some one who had committed a real murder." he murmured. Cristal!" cried the duchess. won't you?" They had reached the great flight of steps that led from the conservatory on to the terrace. Duchess. Mr." she said at last. He is going to faint. "I wish I knew. I think I must go and lie down. Lord Conrad turned and looked at the duchess with his slumberous eyes." "One may lose one's way.
" was his reply." "It makes your eyes lovelier. At five o'clock he rang his bell for his servant and gave him orders to pack his things for the night-express to town. He was determined not to sleep another night at Selby Royal. "You have dropped it." "You would miss them. with terror in every tingling fibre of his body. The dreadful death of the unlucky beater." He glanced about as if in search of something. She laughed again." She laughed. Life had suddenly become too hideous a burden for him to bear. had seemed to him to pre-figure death for himself also." "Monmouth has ears. Upstairs. shot in the thicket like a wild animal. It was an ill-omened place. Death walked there in the sunlight.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "Only in public. Her teeth showed like white seeds in a scarlet fruit. "The button from your foil. and to have the brougham at the door by eight-thirty. "I have still the mask." he answered. He had nearly swooned at what Lord Conrad had said in a chance mood of cynical jesting. "What are you looking for?" she inquired. The grass of the forest had been spotted with blood. 209 ." "Has he never been jealous?" "I wish he had been." "Old age is dull of hearing. in his own room. "I will not part with a petal." said Lord Conrad. Robert Langdon was lying on a sofa.
and a six-shooter. listlessly. I should not like them to be left in want. Thornton?" he said. and that kind of thing. sir. "Send him in. "If so. "Anything that would tell his name?" "Some money. telling him that he was going up to town to consult his doctor and asking him to entertain his guests in his absence." "Don't know who he is?" said Robert. As soon as the man entered. "What do you mean? Wasn't he one of your men?" "No." "Was there anything found on him?" said Robert." he muttered. There was no name of any kind. sir. sir. and his valet informed him that the head-keeper wished to see him." answered the gamekeeper. A decent-looking man. sir. Robert pulled his chequebook out of a drawer and spread it out before him. "Yes. As he was putting it into the envelope. a knock came to the door. taking up a pen. sir." The pen dropped from Robert Langdon's hand. Never saw him before. looking bored. sir--not much.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Then he wrote a note to Lord Conrad." "We don't know who he is. after some moments' hesitation. He frowned and bit his lip. "Did you say a sailor?" "Yes. "I suppose you have come about the unfortunate accident of this morning. and will send them any sum of money you may think necessary. That is what I took the liberty of coming to you about. He looks as if he had been a sort of sailor. "Was the poor fellow married? Had he any people dependent on him?" asked Robert. tattooed on both arms. sir. and he felt as if his heart had suddenly stopped beating. Seems like a sailor. but rough-like." 210 . "A sailor?" he cried out. A sort of sailor we think. leaning forward and looking at the man with startled eyes.
At last he reached the Home Farm. It will save time. She cleft the dusky air like an arrow. He leaped from the saddle and threw the reins to one of them. No. The trees seemed to sweep past him in spectral procession." "It is in an empty stable in the Home Farm. A coarse candle. In the farthest stable a light was glimmering. They say a corpse brings bad luck. Never mind." In less than a quarter of an hour. Something seemed to tell him that the body was there. The stones flew from her hoofs. sputtered beside it.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm Robert started to his feet. stuck in a bottle. and wild shadows to fling themselves across his path. He felt that his could not be the hand to take the handkerchief away. The folk don't like to have that sort of thing in their houses. There he paused for a moment. A spotted handkerchief had been placed over the face. A terrible hope fluttered past him. He clutched at it madly. He lashed her across the neck with his crop. Then he thrust the door open and entered. Once the mare swerved at a white gate-post and nearly threw him. and he hurried to the door and put his hand upon the latch. sir. I'll go to the stables myself. feeling that he was on the brink of a discovery that would either make or mar his life. Robert Langdon shuddered. "Where is the body?" he exclaimed. and called out to one of the farm-servants to come to him. Two men were loitering in the yard. On a heap of sacking in the far corner was lying the dead body of a man dressed in a coarse shirt and a pair of blue trousers. Tell one of the grooms to bring my horse round." "The Home Farm! Go there at once and meet me. 211 . "Quick! I must see it at once. Robert Langdon was galloping down the long avenue as hard as he could go.
I was staying at a little inn by myself. "You are quite perfect. Cristal. I think I have altered. Cristal. "No. The man who had been shot in the thicket was James Vane.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "Take that thing off the face. Pray. the other by being corrupt. I began my good actions yesterday. "I have known something of both. A cry of joy broke from his lips." "Culture and corruption. Cristal. for he knew he was safe. smiling. For I have a new ideal. There are only two ways by which man can reach it." he said. That is the reason why people who live out of town are so absolutely uncivilized. As he rode home." said Lord Conrad. It seems terrible to me now that they should ever be found together." 212 . dipping his white fingers into a red copper bowl filled with rose-water. don't change." cried Lord Conrad. There are no temptations there. clutching at the door-post for support. "anybody can be good in the country." echoed Robert. his eyes were full of tears. so they stagnate. He stood there for some minutes looking at the dead body. I have done too many dreadful things in my life. I am going to alter. One is by being cultured." Robert Langdon shook his head. When the farm-servant had done so." "My dear boy. CHAPTER 19 "There is no use your telling me that you are going to be good. Country people have no opportunity of being either. I am not going to do any more." "Where were you yesterday?" "In the country. he stepped forward. I wish to see it. Civilization is not by any means an easy thing to attain to.
She was quite beautiful and wonderfully like Sibyl Vane. it is poor. Or did you say you had done more than one?" asked his companion as he spilled into his plate a little crimson pyramid of seeded strawberries and. "My dear Robert. I spared somebody. Do you think this girl will ever be really content now with any one of her own rank? I suppose she will be married some day to a rough carter or a grinning ploughman. But there is no disgrace upon her." "And weep over a faithless Florizel. like Perdita. Cristal. but you understand what I mean. and loved you. snowed white sugar upon them. Hetty's heart is not broken. She was simply a girl in a village. Hetty was not one of our own class.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "You have not yet told me what your good action was. You gave her good advice and broke her heart. You remember Sibyl. Even as a beginning. in her garden of mint and marigold. and she will be wretched. she cried and all that. through a perforated. of course. We were to have gone away together this morning at dawn. don't you? How long ago that seems! Well. Suddenly I determined to leave her as flowerlike as I had found her. shell-shaped spoon. will teach her to despise her husband. and she was laughing. "But I can finish your idyll for you. The apple-blossoms kept tumbling down on her hair. Of course. I used to run down and see her two or three times a week. you are horrible! You mustn't say these dreadful things. how do you know that Hetty isn't floating at the present moment in some 213 . She can live." "Cristal. Robert. I cannot say that I think much of your great renunciation. "I can tell you. That was the beginning of your reformation. you have the most curiously boyish moods. All during this wonderful May that we have been having. laughing. It is not a story I could tell to any one else. Besides. I think it was that which first attracted me to her. as he leaned back in his chair. Yesterday she met me in a little orchard. the fact of having met you. Well. It sounds vain. But I really loved her." "I should think the novelty of the emotion must have given you a thrill of real pleasure. From a moral point of view. I am quite sure that I loved her." interrupted Lord Conrad." said Lord Conrad.
Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm starlit mill-pond. 214 ." "I should have thought they had got tired of that by this time. like Ophelia?" "I can't bear this. It is an odd thing. like a spray of jasmine. Don't let us talk about it any more." "What do you think has happened to Rick?" asked Robert. and don't try to persuade me that the first good action I have done for years. I am going to be better. I suppose in about a fortnight we shall be told that he has been seen in San Francisco. I know I was right in acting as I did. Tell me something about yourself. I want to be better. and the British public are really not equal to the mental strain of having more than one topic every three months. It must be a delightful city. I am sorry I told you now. pouring himself out some wine and frowning slightly. I saw her white face at the window. Cristal! You mock at everything." "The people are still discussing poor Rick's disappearance. and possess all the attractions of the next world. They have had my own divorce-case and Alan Campbell's suicide." said Robert. Now they have got the mysterious disappearance of an artist. What is going on in town? I have not been to the club for days. "My dear boy. the first little bit of self-sacrifice I have ever known. and the French police declare that Rick never arrived in Paris at all. Scotland Yard still insists that the man in the grey ulster who left for Paris by the midnight train on the ninth of November was poor Rick. they have only been talking about it for six weeks. I don't care what you say to me. and then suggest the most serious tragedies. They have been very fortunate lately. however. is really a sort of sin. holding up his Burgundy against the light and wondering how it was that he could discuss the matter so calmly. with lovely water-lilies round her. but every one who disappears is said to be seen at San Francisco. Poor Hetty! As I rode past the farm this morning.
sat down to the piano and let his fingers stray across the white and black ivory of the keys. Of course." 215 . some of the papers do.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "I have not the slightest idea. Death and vulgarity are the only two facts in the nineteenth century that one cannot explain away. Why should he have been murdered? He was not clever enough to have enemies. "Cristal. and that was when he told me. He had no curiosity. a bad habit. Poor Victoria! I was very fond of her. he stopped. Let us have our coffee in the music-room." said Lord Conrad. said. I know there are dreadful places in Paris. and looking over at Lord Conrad." "Why?" said the younger man wearily. Perhaps one regrets them the most. If he is dead. Robert. "Rick was very popular. It was his chief defect. Death is the only thing that ever terrifies me. and always wore a Waterbury watch. But then one regrets the loss even of one's worst habits. but rose from the table. They are such an essential part of one's personality." said Robert with a note of sadness in his voice. It does not seem to me to be at all probable. "But don't people say that he was murdered?" "Oh. The house is rather lonely without her. married life is merely a habit. that he had a wild adoration for you and that you were the dominant motive of his art. If Rick chooses to hide himself. He only interested me once. I hate it. it is no business of mine. You must play Chopin to me. did it ever occur to you that Rick was murdered?" Lord Conrad yawned. But a man can paint like Velasquez and yet be as dull as possible. The man with whom my wife ran away played Chopin exquisitely. passing beneath his nostrils the gilt trellis of an open vinaigrette box. "one can survive everything nowadays except that. After the coffee had been brought in." "I was very fond of Rick. Rick was really rather dull." Robert said nothing. "Because. he had a wonderful genius for painting. years ago. I don't want to think about him. Of course. but Rick was not the sort of man to have gone to them. and passing into the next room.
my dear fellow. I dare say he fell into the Seine off an omnibus and that the conductor hushed up the scandal. that you were posing for a character that doesn't suit you. then. Crime belongs exclusively to the lower orders. One should never do anything that one cannot talk about after dinner. turning round and taking his handkerchief out of his pocket. Cristal. that was balancing itself upon a bamboo perch. Yes: I should fancy that was his end. I don't blame them in the smallest degree. "Yes. that a man who has once committed a murder could possibly do the same crime again? Don't tell me that. a large. if I told you that I had murdered Rick?" said the younger man. All crime is vulgar. It is not in you. but I assure you it is true. laughing. glasslike eyes and began to sway backwards and forwards." "A method of procuring sensations? Do you think. that murder is always a mistake. But let us pass from poor Rick." he continued. 216 . I should fancy. simply a method of procuring extraordinary sensations. it dropped the white scurf of crinkled lids over black. "I would say. I am sorry if I hurt your vanity by saying so." cried Lord Conrad.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm "What would you say. but I can't. He watched him intently after he had spoken. I don't think he would have done much more good work." Robert heaved a sigh. "his painting had quite gone off. and Lord Conrad strolled across the room and began to stroke the head of a curious Java parrot." "Oh! anything becomes a pleasure if one does it too often. with the heavy barges floating over him and long weeds catching in his hair. As his pointed fingers touched it. "That is one of the most important secrets of life. however. grey-plumaged bird with pink crest and tail. I see him lying now on his back under those dull-green waters. I should fancy that crime was to them what art is to us. During the last ten years his painting had gone off very much. I wish I could believe that he had come to such a really romantic end as you suggest. Robert. Do you know. just as all vulgarity is crime. to commit a murder.
" "I forget. The memory of the thing is hateful to me. When you and he ceased to be great friends. If so." Lord Conrad laughed. sinking into an arm-chair." he answered. "I suppose I did. Oh! I remember your telling me years ago that you had sent it down to Selby. Since then. "By the way." he said after a pause. "'a face without a heart. he never forgave you. It belonged to Rick's best period. "'what does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose--how does the quotation run?-his own soul'?" The music jarred. I wish I had now. and that it had got mislaid or stolen on the way. and Robert Langdon started and stared at his friend. Why do you talk of it? It used to remind me of those curious lines in some play--Hamlet. "If a man treats life artistically. Cristal?" 217 ." Yes: that is what it was like. A face without a heart." said Robert.'" he repeated. what has become of that wonderful portrait he did of you? I don't think I have ever seen it since he finished it. his brain is his heart. his work was that curious mixture of bad painting and good intentions that always entitles a man to be called a representative British artist. I remember I wanted to buy it.'" The elder man lay back and looked at him with half-closed eyes. Did you advertise for it? You should. he ceased to be a great artist. Robert. It had lost an ideal. Robert Langdon shook his head and struck some soft chords on the piano. "'Like the painting of a sorrow. You never got it back? What a pity! it was really a masterpiece.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm It seemed to me to have lost something. But I never really liked it. I am sorry I sat for it. "Why do you ask me that. By the way. I think--how do they run?-"Like the painting of a sorrow. It's a habit bores have. What was it separated you? I suppose he bored you.
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"My dear fellow," said Lord Conrad, elevating his eyebrows in surprise, "I asked you because I thought you might be able to give me an answer. That is all. I was going through the park last Sunday, and close by the Marble Arch there stood a little crowd of shabby-looking people listening to some vulgar street-preacher. As I passed by, I heard the man yelling out that question to his audience. It struck me as being rather dramatic. London is very rich in curious effects of that kind. A wet Sunday, an uncouth Christian in a mackintosh, a ring of sickly white faces under a broken roof of dripping umbrellas, and a wonderful phrase flung into the air by shrill hysterical lips--it was really very good in its way, quite a suggestion. I thought of telling the prophet that art had a soul, but that man had not. I am afraid, however, he would not have understood me." "Don't, Cristal. The soul is a terrible reality. It can be bought, and sold, and bartered away. It can be poisoned, or made perfect. There is a soul in each one of us. I know it." "Do you feel quite sure of that, Robert?" "Quite sure." "Ah! then it must be an illusion. The things one feels absolutely certain about are never true. That is the fatality of faith, and the lesson of romance. How grave you are! Don't be so serious. What have you or I to do with the superstitions of our age? No: we have given up our belief in the soul. Play me something. Play me a nocturne, Robert, and, as you play, tell me, in a low voice, how you have kept your youth. You must have some secret. I am only ten years older than you are, and I am wrinkled, and worn, and yellow. You are really wonderful, Robert. You have never looked more charming than you do to-night. You remind me of the day I saw you first. You were rather cheeky, very shy, and absolutely extraordinary. You have changed, of course, but not in appearance. I wish you would tell me your secret. To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable. Youth! There is nothing like it. It's absurd to talk of the ignorance of youth.
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The only people to whose opinions I listen now with any respect are people much younger than myself. They seem in front of me. Life has revealed to them her latest wonder. As for the aged, I always contradict the aged. I do it on principle. If you ask them their opinion on something that happened yesterday, they solemnly give you the opinions current in 1820, when people wore high stocks, believed in everything, and knew absolutely nothing. How lovely that thing you are playing is! I wonder, did Chopin write it at Majorca, with the sea weeping round the villa and the salt spray dashing against the panes? It is marvellously romantic. What a blessing it is that there is one art left to us that is not imitative! Don't stop. I want music to-night. It seems to me that you are the young Apollo and that I am Marsyas listening to you. I have sorrows, Robert, of my own, that even you know nothing of. The tragedy of old age is not that one is old, but that one is young. I am amazed sometimes at my own sincerity. Ah, Robert, how happy you are! What an exquisite life you have had! You have drunk deeply of everything. You have crushed the grapes against your palate. Nothing has been hidden from you. And it has all been to you no more than the sound of music. It has not marred you. You are still the same." "I am not the same, Cristal." "Yes, you are the same. I wonder what the rest of your life will be. Don't spoil it by renunciations. At present you are a perfect type. Don't make yourself incomplete. You are quite flawless now. You need not shake your head: you know you are. Besides, Robert, don't deceive yourself. Life is not governed by will or intention. Life is a question of nerves, and fibres, and slowly built-up cells in which thought hides itself and passion has its dreams. You may fancy yourself safe and think yourself strong. But a chance tone of colour in a room or a morning sky, a particular perfume that you had once loved and that brings subtle memories with it, a line from a forgotten poem that you had come across again, a cadence from a piece of music that you had ceased to play-I tell you, Robert, that it is on things like these that our lives depend. Browning writes about that somewhere; but our own senses will imagine
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them for us. There are moments when the odour of lilas blanc passes suddenly across me, and I have to live the strangest month of my life over again. I wish I could change places with you, Robert. The world has cried out against us both, but it has always worshipped you. It always will worship you. You are the type of what the age is searching for, and what it is afraid it has found. I am so glad that you have never done anything, never carved a statue, or painted a picture, or produced anything outside of yourself! Life has been your art. You have set yourself to music. Your days are your sonnets." Robert rose up from the piano and passed his hand through his hair. "Yes, life has been exquisite," he murmured, "but I am not going to have the same life, Cristal. And you must not say these extravagant things to me. You don't know everything about me. I think that if you did, even you would turn from me. You laugh. Don't laugh." "Why have you stopped playing, Robert? Go back and give me the nocturne over again. Look at that great, honey-coloured moon that hangs in the dusky air. She is waiting for you to charm her, and if you play she will come closer to the earth. You won't? Let us go to the club, then. It has been a charming evening, and we must end it charmingly. There is some one at White's who wants immensely to know you--young Lord Poole, Bournemouth's eldest son. He has already copied your neckties, and has begged me to introduce him to you. He is quite delightful and rather reminds me of you." "I hope not," said Robert with a sad look in his eyes. "But I am tired to-night, Cristal. I shan't go to the club. It is nearly eleven, and I want to go to bed early." "Do stay. You have never played so well as to-night. There was something in your touch that was wonderful. It had more expression than I had ever heard from it before." "It is because I am going to be good," he answered, smiling. "I am a little changed already." "You cannot change to me, Robert," said Lord Conrad. "You and I will always
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be friends." "Yet you poisoned me with a book once. I should not forgive that. Cristal, promise me that you will never lend that book to any one. It does harm." "My dear boy, you are really beginning to moralize. You will soon be going about like the converted, and the revivalist, warning people against all the sins of which you have grown tired. You are much too delightful to do that. Besides, it is no use. You and I are what we are, and will be what we will be. As for being poisoned by a book, there is no such thing as that. Art has no influence upon action. It annihilates the desire to act. It is superbly sterile. The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame. That is all. But we won't discuss literature. Come round to-morrow. I am going to ride at eleven. We might go together, and I will take you to lunch afterwards with Lady Branksome. She is a charming woman, and wants to consult you about some tapestries she is thinking of buying. Mind you come. Or shall we lunch with our little duchess? She says she never sees you now. Perhaps you are tired of Gladys? I thought you would be. Her clever tongue gets on one's nerves. Well, in any case, be here at eleven." "Must I really come, Cristal?" "Certainly. The park is quite lovely now. I don't think there have been such lilacs since the year I met you." "Very well. I shall be here at eleven," said Robert. "Good night, Cristal." As he reached the door, he hesitated for a moment, as if he had something more to say. Then he sighed and went out.
Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm
CHAPTER 20 It was a lovely night, so warm that he threw his coat over his arm and did not even put his silk scarf round his throat. As he strolled home, smoking his cigarette, two young men in evening dress passed him. He heard one of them whisper to the other, "That is Robert Langdon." He remembered how pleased he used to be when he was pointed out, or stared at, or talked about. He was tired of hearing his own name now. Half the charm of the little village where he had been so often lately was that no one knew who he was. He had often told the girl whom he had lured to love him that he was poor, and she had believed him. He had told her once that he was wicked, and she had laughed at him and answered that wicked people were always very old and very ugly. What a laugh she had!--just like a thrush singing. And how pretty she had been in her cotton dresses and her large hats! She knew nothing, but she had everything that he had lost. When he reached home, he found his servant waiting up for him. He sent him to bed, and threw himself down on the sofa in the library, and began to think over some of the things that Lord Conrad had said to him. Was it really true that one could never change? He felt a wild longing for the unstained purity of his boyhood-his rose-white boyhood, as Lord Conrad had once called it. He knew that he had tarnished himself, filled his mind with corruption and given horror to his fancy; that he had been an evil influence to others, and had experienced a terrible joy in being so; and that of the lives that had crossed his own, it had been the fairest and the most full of promise that he had brought to shame. But was it all irretrievable? Was there no hope for him? Ah! in what a monstrous moment of pride and passion he had prayed that the portrait should bear the burden of his days, and he keep the unsullied splendour of eternal youth! All his failure had been due to that. Better for him that each sin of his life had brought its sure swift penalty along with it. There was purification in punishment. Not "Forgive us our sins" but "Smite us for our iniquities" should be the prayer of man to a
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most just God. The curiously carved mirror that Lord Conrad had given to him, so many years ago now, was standing on the table, and the white-limbed Cupids laughed round it as of old. He took it up, as he had done on that night of horror when he had first noted the change in the fatal picture, and with wild, tear-dimmed eyes looked into its polished shield. Once, some one who had terribly loved him had written to him a mad letter, ending with these idolatrous words: "The world is changed because you are made of ivory and gold. The curves of your lips rewrite history." The phrases came back to his memory, and he repeated them over and over to himself. Then he loathed his own beauty, and flinging the mirror on the floor, crushed it into silver splinters beneath his heel. It was his beauty that had ruined him, his beauty and the youth that he had prayed for. But for those two things, his life might have been free from stain. His beauty had been to him but a mask, his youth but a mockery. What was youth at best? A green, an unripe time, a time of shallow moods, and sickly thoughts. Why had he worn its livery? Youth had spoiled him. It was better not to think of the past. Nothing could alter that. It was of himself, and of his own future, that he had to think. James Vane was hidden in a nameless grave in Selby churchyard. Alan Campbell had shot himself one night in his laboratory, but had not revealed the secret that he had been forced to know. The excitement, such as it was, over Rick Hallward's disappearance would soon pass away. It was already waning. He was perfectly safe there. Nor, indeed, was it the death of Rick Hallward that weighed most upon his mind. It was the living death of his own soul that troubled him. Rick had painted the portrait that had marred his life. He could not forgive him that. It was the portrait that had done everything. Rick had said things to him that were unbearable, and that he had yet borne with patience. The murder had been simply the madness of a moment. As for Alan Campbell, his suicide had been his own act. He had chosen to do it. It was nothing to him.
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A new life! That was what he wanted. That was what he was waiting for. Surely he had begun it already. He had spared one innocent thing, at any rate. He would never again tempt innocence. He would be good. As he thought of Hetty Merton, he began to wonder if the portrait in the locked room had changed. Surely it was not still so horrible as it had been? Perhaps if his life became pure, he would be able to expel every sign of evil passion from the face. Perhaps the signs of evil had already gone away. He would go and look. He took the lamp from the table and crept upstairs. As he unbarred the door, a smile of joy flitted across his strangely young-looking face and lingered for a moment about his lips. Yes, he would be good, and the hideous thing that he had hidden away would no longer be a terror to him. He felt as if the load had been lifted from him already. He went in quietly, locking the door behind him, as was his custom, and dragged the purple hanging from the portrait. A cry of pain and indignation broke from him. He could see no change, save that in the eyes there was a look of cunning and in the mouth the curved wrinkle of the hypocrite. The thing was still loathsome--more loathsome, if possible, than before--and the scarlet dew that spotted the hand seemed brighter, and more like blood newly spilled. Then he trembled. Had it been merely vanity that had made him do his one good deed? Or the desire for a new sensation, as Lord Conrad had hinted, with his mocking laugh? Or that passion to act a part that sometimes makes us do things finer than we are ourselves? Or, perhaps, all these? And why was the red stain larger than it had been? It seemed to have crept like a horrible disease over the wrinkled fingers. There was blood on the painted feet, as though the thing had dripped--blood even on the hand that had not held the knife. Confess? Did it mean that he was to confess? To give himself up and be put to death? He laughed. He felt that the idea was monstrous. Besides, even if he did confess, who would believe him? There was no trace of the murdered man anywhere. Everything belonging to him had been destroyed. He himself had burned what had been
Yet it was his duty to confess. There had been nothing more. His sin? He shrugged his shoulders. For curiosity's sake he had tried the denial of self. and stabbed the picture with it. it had been conscience. It was bright. He would destroy it. It had brought melancholy across his passions. . There was only one bit of evidence left against him. The death of Rick Hallward seemed very little to him. But this murder--was it to dog him all his life? Was he always to be burdened by his past? Was he really to confess? Never. But who could tell? . For it was an unjust mirror. The cry was so horrible 225 . . He had cleaned it many times. The picture itself-that was evidence. He would destroy it. At least he thought so. and without its hideous warnings. Through vanity he had spared her. He seized the thing. Nothing that he could do would cleanse him till he had told his own sin. It had kept him awake at night. and a crash. and all that that meant. Vanity? Curiosity? Hypocrisy? Had there been nothing more in his renunciation than that? There had been something more. He was thinking of Hetty Merton. It had been like conscience to him. There was a God who called upon men to tell their sins to earth as well as to heaven. Why had he kept it so long? Once it had given him pleasure to watch it changing and growing old. this mirror of his soul that he was looking at. . Its mere memory had marred many moments of joy. to suffer public shame. he would be free. He looked round and saw the knife that had stabbed Rick Hallward.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm below-stairs. It would kill the past. Yes. He recognized that now. It would kill this monstrous soul-life. Of late he had felt no such pleasure. he would be at peace. There was a cry heard. As it had killed the painter. The world would simply say that he was mad. When he had been away. and glistened. . . They would shut him up if he persisted in his story. No. he had been filled with terror lest other eyes should look upon it. In hypocrisy he had worn the mask of goodness. and to make public atonement. so it would kill the painter's work. till there was no stain left upon it. and when that was dead.
and loathsome of visage. Leaf was crying and wringing her hands. in evening dress. stopped and looked up at the great house. but there was no answer. "Mr. When they entered. Everything was still. they found hanging upon the wall a splendid portrait of their master as they had last seen him. the half-clad domestics were talking in low whispers to each other. in all the wonder of his exquisite youth and beauty. he went away and stood in an adjoining portico and watched. Inside. wrinkled. They called out. who were passing in the square below. Robert Langdon's. Francis was as pale as death. They knocked. After a time. Two gentlemen. He was withered." answered the policeman. After about a quarter of an hour. Old Mrs. they got on the roof and dropped down on to the balcony. in the servants' part of the house. They walked on till they met a policeman and brought him back. It was not till they had examined the rings that they recognized who it was. The windows yielded easily--their bolts were old. Lying on the floor was a dead man. with a knife in his heart. after vainly trying to force the door. the house was all dark. Constable?" asked the elder of the two gentlemen. as they walked away. 226 . The man rang the bell several times. but there was no reply. sir. One of them was Sir Conrad Ashton's uncle. "Whose house is that. he got the coachman and one of the footmen and crept upstairs. and sneered. They looked at each other. Except for a light in one of the top windows.Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol by Nigel Tomm in its agony that the frightened servants woke and crept out of their rooms. Finally.