Chapter 17

 

           Note: these events occur concurrently with those of Chapters 14 through 16.


Sunday, Feb. 15
 

Nell and Lya arrived in Paris early in the morning, after taking the night train from Calais.  Lya was still in a state of shock after her terrifying nightmare in London, so Nell took charge and found a room for them at the Hotel Rivoli , a small, family-run establishment of moderate decor in the Marais district.   The rest of the day was spent unpacking and resting.  Later Nell sent a telegram to Alisa in London informing her where they were staying.  Lya carefully inventoried all her possessions to try and find what item was missing.


Monday, Feb. 16

The two decided to begin their stay in Paris by visiting  Sainte Chapelle  and  Notre Dame.  Being in religious surroundings seemed to reassure Lya.  The afternoon was spent exploring the Ile St. Louis.


Tuesday, Feb. 17

Lya seemed much more relaxed today, so Nell decided to take her shopping.  They visited Coco Chanel's boutique as well numerous other shops.  Lya purchased three pairs of shoes from a shop on the Avenue de l'Opera.  Lunch was purchased from the marvelous fromageries and bakeries along the way.


Wednesday, Feb. 18

Lya and Nell visited the  Eifel Tower .  After lunch they took a taxi ride through Paris.  After seeing the  Arc de Triomphe and Champs Elysee , Lya was startled when they drove past an Egyptian obelisk  in the  Place de la Concorde.  Nell quickly had the taxi driver return them to the hotel, where she reassured Lya that all was well.  Lya was convinced, however, that the Cult of the Black Pharaoh must surely be active in a city with such an ancient item of power.

Late that evening, Alisa Blankstone and Brother Paul arrived by train from Calais.  Brother Paul went to the seminary of St. Germain.  Alisa took a suite of rooms at the Paris Ritz .  She then telephoned Nell and arranged to meet them for lunch the next day.


Thursday, Feb. 19

Alisa, relieved to be out of Britain at last, visited a gun store and purchased two new derringers and a 9mm revolver, along with plenty of ammunition.  She also telephoned the hospital and spoke to Count Kurasov's secretary, Pierre Mandelovitch, who informed her that the Count was recovering quickly from his gunshot wound and might be released from the hospital next week.

That morning Lya received a telephone call from Brother Paul, informing her that he had arrived in Paris.  Lya asked that he meet her at the hotel as soon as possible.  He agreed, and came to the Hotel Rivoli.  His presence calmed Lya greatly, as he assured her that the power of holy faith would triumph over the occult.  Lya invited him to join them for lunch.

Alisa arrived at the cafe a little late and was pleased to find Nell and Lya well.  She noticed that Brother Paul seemed to exert a tremendous influence over Lya and resolved to watch him carefully, as his motives for being here were unclear to her.

That afternoon, Lya, Nell, and Brother Paul visited the Musee de Cluny.  Brother Paul provided many insights into medieval Church practices and architecture.  Afterwards, a stroll along the Left Bank and dinner at a cafe made for a very nice day.

Alisa spent the afternoon at the Paris offices of Peabody, Kidder, followed by dinner at the Ritz.


Friday, Feb. 20

Alisa spent the day at the  Paris Bourse .

Nell and Lya spent the day at the Louvre.  Nell steered Lya away from the Egyptian section of the museum, and spent most of the day in the Old Masters painting section.

Nell and Lya joined Alisa at the Paris Ritz for dinner and dancing that evening.


Saturday, Feb. 21

Nell and Lya visited the basilica of  Sacre Coeur.  After returning to the hotel, Lya continued writing up her report for Jonah Kensington.

Alisa visited Count Kurasov at the hospital and noted that he had almost fully recovered.  She spent the rest of the day shopping, visiting the luxury boutiques at the Place Vendome  and along the Champs Elysee.  She also visited a travel agent and obtained the  timetables  for the Orient Express .


Sunday, Feb. 22

Lya attended mass at the church of  St. Eustache.  Everyone spent the day resting.  That evening Alisa received a telegram from Rupert, informing her that he would be arriving the next evening on the Golden Arrow.


Monday, Feb. 23

Alisa spent the day at the Paris offices of her firm.  Nell and Lya visited the Palais Luxembourg and the Pantheon ,  followed by more shopping.

That evening, Nell, Lya, and Brother Paul visited Alisa's suite at the Ritz, where they waited for Rupert to arrive before going to dinner.  Their wait was interrupted by a bellboy, who delivered a package to Alisa.  It contained the urgent report from Velu and Jessica regarding the activities of the Cult of the Black Pharaoh in London.  Alisa quickly read through the report but would not let anyone else read it, citing confidentiality.  Lya, sensing that something was amiss, opened the door to the room and checked the hallway for any eavesdroppers but only saw the bellboy, delivering a platter to another room.

At that point Rupert arrived and the group took a taxi to the Ile St. Louis for dinner.

Afterwards, Alisa suggested that Brother Paul be dropped off first at his seminary.  She then got off at the Hotel Rivoli, along with Nell and Lya.  Rupert then asked the driver to take him to a nightspot on the Left Bank frequented by ex-soldiers and mercenaries.  Unfortunately, the driver took him instead to the Moulin Rouge, where he only found boorish tourists looking for "Parisian decadence".  After a drink he took another taxi back to the Ritz.

At the Rivoli, Alisa let Lya and Nell read the report from London.  She explained that she held its contents back earlier because she did not trust Brother Paul.

The report contained much of interest.  The activities of the Penhew Foundation through a series of front companies were described.  The prominence of Australia caused Lya to recall Professor Cowles, from the University of Sydney.  She resolved to obtain his lecture schedule, as a further conversation with him might be useful.  Shanghai and Hong Kong also seemed worthy of investigation.  Lya examined her notes regarding the travels  of Jackson Elias and confirmed that he did indeed visit China but not Australia.

The news of death of Ayesha caused great distress to everyone.  The letter to "Aubrey" was the cause for much speculation.    Alisa commented that this seemed to disprove the theory that Edward Gavigan had the Carlyle expedition murdered so he could become the director of the Penhew Foundation.

But the fact that a note with Lya's name and the hotels where she stayed was found in the secret room at the Penhew Foundation was quite shocking, indeed.  Lya seemed stunned by the news and said very little.  Nell suggested that they should leave Paris as soon as possible.

Alisa took a taxi back to the Ritz, where she found Rupert and informed him of the report's findings. Rupert speculated that if Jack Brady and Sir Aubrey Penhew were alive, who else might have survived the Carlyle expedition?  And why?  They both agreed that Brother Paul's activities seemed suspicious.  What kind of influence did he wield over Lya?  And why was he in Paris?

Alisa sent a telegram to Velu and Jessica, thanking them for their work and  asking them to contact Niles and Dan'l and have them come to Paris immediately.  She also asked if they were available for investigative work abroad.
 


Tuesday, Feb. 24

The next morning Lya rushed out of the hotel room without telling Nell where she was going.  Nell hurried after her and saw Lya driving away in a taxi.  Nell also hailed a taxi and followed Lya to St. Germain.  There she found Lya and Brother Paul in conversation.  Lya explained that it was time for her to "die" and take on a new identity.  This was the only way to break the psychic connection that the cultists had to her.  It would also be necessary to burn all of her possessions.  Brother Paul offered the refuge of the chuch.  As "Sister Sarah", she could travel in relative obscurity.  Nell was dubious but agreed to help.

Meanwhile, Alisa and Rupert visited Count Kurasov at the hospital.  He told them that he would be released on Wednesday and had already reserved rooms for himself and his entourage at the Hotel de Crillon .  He also invited Rupert and Alisa to attend the Paris Opera with him on Friday night.  It was his intent to leave Paris for Vienna on Monday and he invited them to join him in his private car.  Alisa and Rupert both accepted, as this seemed an excellent and secure way to travel.

After Alisa left, Rupert stayed with the Count to review his draft of the biography.

Alisa went to her Paris office and requested a report on "Western Mining and Exploration".  She then left a message for Nell at her hotel suggesting they get together to plan their trip to Vienna.

Nell left the church of St. Germain  in tears.  Hailing a taxi, she sobbed all the way back to the Hotel Rivoli.  Ignoring the message from Alisa at the front desk, she stumbled back to her room, weeping and wailing.  Eventually she telephoned Alisa at her office and told her that Lya had slipped on the ice at St. Germain and died from a concussion!

Alisa immediately telephoned Rupert and then went to the Hotel Rivoli.  Count Kurasov urged Rupert to go at once to his friends and to meet him the the Crillon on Thursday to continue the review.

Rupert then took a taxi to the Hotel Rivoli, where he met Nell and Alisa.  Nell then explained to them that this was all a ruse to foil any cultists following Lya.  "Lya" was indeed no more, having been replaced by Sister Sarah.  Brother Paul would provide the assistance of the Church in getting her a passport.  All of Lya Brighter's personal belongings must be destroyed.  Services were scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, at the church of St. Germain.

Rupert and Alisa were shocked and dismayed at the news.  Alisa telephoned the desk and informed them of Miss Brighter's demise and requested that a bottle of cognac  be sent up to the room immediately.  The hotel informed the Paris police and sent Lya's passport to them.

Nell sent telegrams to Mickey Mahoney at The Scoop, Jonah Kensington at Prospero Press, and Lya's brother in Boston informing them of her death.  She also sent a second telegram to Kensington requesting Professor Cowles' itineray, to be sent to her at the Hotel Sacher in Vienna.

Alisa sent a telegram to Jessica and Velu asking them to inform Niles and Dan'l that Lya had died and to come to Paris immediately.

Dinner was ordered from room service.  Nell gathered up all of Lya's belongings and took them to the manager.  He agreed (for a large tip) to burn them that evening in the incinerator, in Nell's presence.

Afterwards, Rupert and Alisa returned to the Ritz, where they discussed the strange events of this day.  They were both convinced that Lya's "demise" was the work of Brother Paul.  Had Nell been misled, and was Lya now in the hands of the cultists?  Rupert phoned Pierre Mandelovitch (the Count's secretary) and asked for a reference for a capable and discreet Paris detective.  He was referred to a M. Henri Douret, whom Rupert engaged to investigate Brother Paul's background and possible motives.


Wednesday, Feb. 25

Alisa went to the Hotel Rivoli and demanded that Nell take her to visit Lya so she could be sure that she was all right.  Nell agreed, and the two went to St. Germain.  There they met Brother Paul, who told them that Lya Brighter was being prepared for burial but that Sister Sarah could answer their questions about the recent tragic event.

Sister Sarah was a calm and serene woman of about the same age as Lya Brighter.  She assured them that all was for the best and that Lya Brighter was in a better world.  She gave Nell a piece of paper and asked that she send it to The Scoop.  It read:

"Mickey - please print this promptly.

"Scoop reporter Lya Brighter died on the morning of February 24, 1925 in an unfortunate fall on the grounds of the monastery St. Germain in Paris.  We will miss her contributions to this paper.

"The dead will be in touch from the other side."

Alisa and Nell returned to the hotel and found a detective waiting for them.  He asked them a few questions about the death of Lya Brighter and was told that Brother Paul was the only witness.

That afternoon Rupert arrived at the hotel and the three went to the funeral at St. Germain. There were floral arrangements from The Scoop, Count Kurasov, Half-Truths and Lies, and Alisa Blankstone.  The service was led by Brother Paul.  Sister Sarah sat in the back of the church, alone in her thoughts.  Niles and Dan'l were not in attendance, which worried Nell and Alisa.

Afterwards, Nell checked out of the Hotel Rivoli and moved into Alisa's suite at the Ritz.

Rupert again went in search of a Left Bank nightclub patronized by  veterans of the Great War and this time was successful.  He had an enjoyable evening and picked up some new stories which might later appear as "reminiscences".


Thursday, Feb. 26

The morning Brother Paul was contacted by the Paris police detective investigating the death of Lya Brighter.  He was skeptical of the "death by slipping on the ice" story, but Brother Paul was able to convince him that a higher purpose was being served by agreeing that Lya Brighter had died, and that no harm or embarrassment would ensue for France.

Sister Sarah had Brother Paul send a  telegram  to Nicholas Brighter in Boston and another telegram to Jonah Kensington.

Nell continued to wear black and spent the day in her room, in mourning for Lya.

The final report from Jessica Wright and Velu was delivered to Alisa at the Ritz.  It stated that the activities at Colchester had been suppressed and that the Egyptian Murders case was now officially closed.  Tewfik al -Sayed was being sought by the police.  The Penhew Foundation had not been implicated in any criminal activity.  And, Velu and Jessica were available for further investigative work abroad.

Rupert visited Count Kurasov at the Hotel Crillon and completed his interview and review of the manuscript.  It was agreed that the book would be published by Rupert in the fall, and that an exclusive  interview with the Count would appear in his newspaper soon after.

Rupert then received a report on Brother Paul from his investigator, Henri Douret.  He verified that Brother Paul was indeed a Jesuit, nominally assigned to Los Angeles but with no official duties.  Douret characterized Brother Paul as an "operative", often traveling on church business and sometimes involved in delicate matters.

Rupert told Alisa what he had learned.  They still did not trust Brother Paul, nor "Sister Sarah", and decided not to let them know of their travel plans.  They informed Nell that they would be checking out of the hotel on Friday morning and then travelling to Vienna, where they would stay at the Hotel Imperial (not the Sacher as previously planned).  They asked her to remain behind until Dan'l and Niles arrived, then travel with them, Brother Paul, and Sister Sarah to Vienna.  Nell suspected that this was not the full truth and that a romantic tryst was in the works, but she agreed with the plan.

Alisa informed her office that she would be traveling to Vienna on Monday via the Arlberg Orient Express and was asked to deliver bearer bonds to a customer in Zurich.  She was quite unhappy with this assignment, as it meant she would have to depart from the train in Zurich and spend two nights there, but agreed.


Friday, Feb. 27

Rupert and Alisa bid farewell to Nell and checked out of the Paris Ritz.  Their baggage was sent on to the train station for shipment to the Hotel Sacher in Vienna. After a taxi ride to the station and coffee, Rupert and Alisa then took a taxi back into Paris to the Hotel Crillon, carrying only their hand luggage.  They spent the day in their separate rooms, then joined Count Kurasov for an evening at the  Paris Opera .  Gounod's Faust was performed, with Fyodor Chaliapin  singing the role of Mephistopheles.

Meanwhile, Nell patiently waited at the Ritz.  Niles and Dan'l finally arrived around noon and were quite concerned about Lya's demise.  Nell explained the situation to them, and in turn heard about their yachting expedition to Colchester.

Nell took Niles and Dan'l to St. Germain to visit with Sister Sarah.  Still in mourning, Nell spent the rest of the day at  Sainte Chapelle , admiring the stained glass windows, while Niles and Dan'l visited the Invalides and the memorial to the fallen from the Great War.  That evening Nell, Niles, and Dan'l went out for dinner and dancing.

At Sister Sarah's request, Brother Paul mailed a package to Jonah Kensington containing the report and notes from the late Lya Brighter.


Saturday, Feb. 28

Late that afternoon, Brother Paul informed Sister Sarah that her passport had finally been arranged and that it was safe for her to leave Paris.  Nell, Niles, and Dan'l were informed and the group decided to leave Paris immediately.

After checking out from the hotel, the group went to the Gare l'Est  and purchased 2nd class tickets to Strasbourg.  Dan'l and Niles were glad that they were traveling by night, as they had little desire to see the battlefields of the Great War again.  In Strasbourg they changed trains and took a night train through the Black Forest to Ulm.

Back in Paris, Rupert sent a telegram to his friend Harry Letchwell in Venice informing him that he would be arriving in Vienna on Tuesday.


Sunday, Mar. 1

Arriving in Ulm at dawn, the group attended services at the minster and spent the rest of the day exploring the quaint old town.  Late that afternoon they took a local train to Munich, where they sampled the local beer and sausages at the Augustiner biergarten .


Monday, Mar. 2

The group decided to spend the day sightseeing in Munich.  They visited the former royal palace (where they saw a rococco court theater where Mozart had conducted the premiere of Idomeneo), the  Frauenkirche,  and the Alte Pinakotek museum.  Someone pointed out to them the bullet marks near the Feldherrnhalle  from the failed coup attempt by the local malcontents a couple of years ago.

Meanwhile, Rupert and Alisa departed Paris on the Arlberg Orient Express.  The journey was quite enjoyable, as they traveled from Paris through the wintry countryside in tasteful elegance.  They travelled in the Count's private railway car, along with the Count, his secretary Pierre, and six bodyguards.  Near Nogent-sur-Seine a delightful lunch was served by white-coated waiters.  The journey continued along the valleys of the Aube and the Marne, until the Vosges mountains were visible in the distance. At one point a drunken man attempted to make his way into the Count's private car but he was firmly ejected by Sasha.  The colossal statue of a lion was visible near the fortifications at Belfort.  After an excellent dinner, the train continued on into Switzerland as night fell.  The customs inspectors at Basel were polite but thorough.  Fortunately for Alisa  they were uninterested in weaponry, only tobacco, chocolate, and spirits.

At  Zürich  Alisa bid the group farwell, as she left to conduct business for her firm.  She took a taxi to the Grand Hotel Dolder .


Tuesday, Mar. 3

The next morning Nell, Niles, Dan'l, Brother Paul, and Sister Sarah took the train from Munich to Salzburg and traveled through spectacular Alpine scenery.  In Salzburg they visited the Mozart House and the Archbishop's palace before an excellent dinner followed by chocolate.

Alisa delivered her bearer bonds without incident and spent the rest of the day shopping in Zürich.

Rupert arrived with the Count's entourage in  Vienna.  He accompanied them to the Hotel Imperial , then told Pierre that he and Alisa would be staying at the Hotel Sacher and asked him to relay any messages to him at that address.  Pierre replied that the Count would be in Vienna for perhaps a week before continuing on to Vilnius and that he and Alisa were welcome to drop by.

Rupert then met Harry Letchwell in the Sacher bar and the two caught up on old times.  They agreed that Harry would bid on the book at the auction, while Rupert stayed in the background.


Wednesday, Mar. 4

Alisa spent the day at the Zurich exchange.  That evening she boarded the Arlberg Orient Express and continued her journey to Vienna.  After another superb dinner and stimulating conversation in the lounge car with other travellers she slept for about six hours until being awakened the next morning by the conductor, as the train neared Vienna.

Nell, Niles, Dan'l, Brother Paul, and Sister Sarah took the train from Salzburg to Vienna, arriving about noon.  Brother Paul and Sister Sarah were granted lodging at the Church of St. Anton, while Nell, Niles, and Dan'l took rooms at the Hotel Sacher.  There they met Rupert, who explained that Alisa would arrive later and that they had intended to stay at the Hotel Sacher all along.  He introduced Harry Letchwell to them as the man who had originally discovered that the book would be auctioned.

Nell, Niles, Dan'l, and Rupert spent the afternoon visiting the cafehauses of Vienna, sampling capuccino and incredible desserts.  That evening the group attended a performance of Zigeunerbaron at the  Volksoper.  Poor Lya, thought Nell - how she would have enjoyed this.



 

Thursday, Mar. 5

Alisa arrived in Vienna early that morning and took a taxi from the Westbahnhof to the Hotel Sacher.  There the group was finally reunited after having been split up for so many days.

After lunch, Alisa, Rupert, Harry, and Nell visited the  Auersperg auction house.  They examined the items that would be up for auction on the 9th and saw that an additional item - a rare medieval tarot card - had been added.  Harry was interested in the book Dark Cults of Africa, Rupert was interested in the African drum and fetish and the Arabian ring, while Alisa was interested in the Eskimo shaman bag and some other items.  They were told that the auction would be preceded by a dinner at 8 PM (formal attire, of course).  Credit would have to be arranged in advance.

That evening the group visited a subterranean multi-level winecellar (The Twelve Apostles) for dinner, followed by dancing at the Hotel Imperial.
 


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