Sophie wondered how long it would take Fache to figure out she had not left the building. Seeing
that Langdon was clearly overwhelmed, Sophie questioned whether she had done the right thing by
cornering him here in the men's room.
What else was I supposed to do?
She pictured her grandfather's body, naked and spread-eagle on the floor. There was a time when
he had meant the world to her, yet tonight, Sophie was surprised to feel almost no sadness for the
man. Jacques Saunière was a stranger to her now. Their relationship had evaporated in a single
instant one March night when she was twenty-two. Ten years ago.Sophie had come home a few
days early from graduate university in England and mistakenly witnessed her grandfather engaged
in something Sophie was obviously not supposed to see. It was an image she barely could believe
to this day.
If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes...
Too ashamed and stunned to endure her grandfather's pained attempts to explain, Sophie
immediately moved out on her own, taking money she had saved, and getting a small flat with
some roommates. She vowed never to speak to anyone about what she had seen. Her grandfather
tried desperately to reach her, sending cards and letters, begging Sophie to meet him so he could
explain. Explain how!?Sophie never responded except once—to forbid him ever to call her or try
to meet her in public. She was afraid his explanation would be more terrifying than the incident
Incredibly, Saunière had never given up on her, and Sophie now possessed a decade's worth of
correspondence unopened in a dresser drawer. To her grandfather's credit, he had never once
disobeyed her request and phoned her.
Until this afternoon.
"Sophie?" His voice had sounded startlingly old on her answering machine. "I have abided by your
wishes for so long... and it pains me to call, but I must speak to you. Something terrible has
Standing in the kitchen of her Paris flat, Sophie felt a chill to hear him again after all these years.
His gentle voice brought back a flood of fond childhood memories.
"Sophie, please listen." He was speaking English to her, as he always did when she was a little girl.
Practice French at school. Practice English at home."You cannot be mad forever. Have you not
read the letters that I've sent all these years? Do you not yet understand?" He paused. "We must
speak at once. Please grant your grandfather this one wish. Call me at the Louvre. Right away. I
believe you and I are in grave danger." Sophie stared at the answering machine. Danger?What
was he talking about?
"Princess..." Her grandfather's voice cracked with an emotion Sophie could not place. "I know I've
kept things from you, and I know it has cost me your love. But it was for your own safety. Now
you must know the truth. Please, I must tell you the truth about your family."
Sophie suddenly could hear her own heart. My family?Sophie's parents had died when she was
only four. Their car went off a bridge into fast-moving water. Her grandmother and younger
brother had also been in the car, and Sophie's entire family had been erased in an instant. She had a
box of newspaper clippings to confirm it.
His words had sent an unexpected surge of longing through her bones. My family!In that fleeting
instant, Sophie saw images from the dream that had awoken her countless times when she was a
little girl: My family is alive! They are coming home!But, as in her dream, the pictures evaporated
Your family is dead, Sophie. They are not coming home.
"Sophie..." her grandfather said on the machine. "I have been waiting for years to tell you. Waiting
for the right moment, but now time has run out. Call me at the Louvre. As soon as you get this. I'll
wait here all night. I fear we both may be in danger. There's so much you need to know."
The message ended.
In the silence, Sophie stood trembling for what felt like minutes. As she considered her
grandfather's message, only one possibility made sense, and his true intent dawned.
It was bait.
Obviously, her grandfather wanted desperately to see her. He was trying anything. Her disgust for
the man deepened. Sophie wondered if maybe he had fallen terminally ill and had decided to
attempt any ploy he could think of to get Sophie to visit him one last time. If so, he had chosen
Now, standing in the darkness of the Louvre men's room, Sophie could hear the echoes of this
afternoon's phone message. Sophie, we both may be in danger. Call me.
She had not called him. Nor had she planned to. Now, however, her skepticism had been deeply
challenged. Her grandfather lay murdered inside his own museum. And he had written a code on
A code for her.Of this, she was certain.
Despite not understanding the meaning of his message, Sophie was certain its cryptic nature was
additional proof that the words were intended for her. Sophie's passion and aptitude for
cryptography were a product of growing up with Jacques Saunière—a fanatic himself for codes,
word games, and puzzles. How many Sundays did we spend doing the cryptograms and crosswords
in the newspaper?
At the age of twelve, Sophie could finish the Le Mondecrossword without any help, and her
grandfather graduated her to crosswords in English, mathematical puzzles, and substitution ciphers.
Sophie devoured them all. Eventually she turned her passion into a profession by becoming a
codebreaker for the Judicial Police.
Tonight, the cryptographer in Sophie was forced to respect the efficiency with which her
grandfather had used a simple code to unite two total strangers—Sophie Neveu and Robert
The question was why?
Unfortunately, from the bewildered look in Langdon's eyes, Sophie sensed the American had no
more idea than she did why her grandfather had thrown them together.
She pressed again. "You and my grandfather had planned to meet tonight. What about?"
Langdon looked truly perplexed. "His secretary set the meeting and didn't offer any specific reason,
and I didn't ask. I assumed he'd heard I would be lecturing on the pagan iconography of French
cathedrals, was interested in the topic, and thought it would be fun to meet for drinks after the
Sophie didn't buy it. The connection was flimsy. Her grandfather knew more about pagan
iconography than anyone else on earth. Moreover, he an exceptionally private man, not someone
prone to chatting with random American professors unless there were an important reason.
Sophie took a deep breath and probed further. "My grandfather called me this afternoon and told
me he and I were in grave danger. Does thatmean anything to you?"
Langdon's blue eyes now clouded with concern. "No, but considering what just happened..."
Sophie nodded. Considering tonight's events, she would be a fool not to be frightened. Feeling
drained, she walked to the small plate-glass window at the far end of the bathroom and gazed out in
silence through the mesh of alarm tape embedded in the glass. They were high up—forty feet at
Sighing, she raised her eyes and gazed out at Paris's dazzling landscape. On her left, across the
Seine, the illuminated Eiffel Tower. Straight ahead, the Arc de Triomphe. And to the right, high
atop the sloping rise of Montmartre, the graceful arabesque dome of Sacré-Coeur, its polished
stone glowing white like a resplendent sanctuary.
Here at the westernmost tip of the Denon Wing, the north-south thoroughfare of Place du Carrousel
ran almost flush with the building with only a narrow sidewalk separating it from the Louvre's
outer wall. Far below, the usual caravan of the city's nighttime delivery trucks sat idling, waiting
for the signals to change, their running lights seeming to twinkle mockingly up at Sophie.
"I don't know what to say," Langdon said, coming up behind her. "Your grandfather is obviously
trying to tell us something. I'm sorry I'm so little help."
Sophie turned from the window, sensing a sincere regret in Langdon's deep voice. Even with all the
trouble around him, he obviously wanted to help her. The teacher in him,she thought, having read
DCPJ's workup on their suspect. This was an academic who clearly despised not understanding.
We have that in common,she thought.
As a codebreaker, Sophie made her living extracting meaning from seemingly senseless data.
Tonight, her best guess was that Robert Langdon, whether he knew it or not, possessed information
that she desperately needed. Princesse Sophie, Find Robert Langdon.How much clearer could her
grandfather's message be? Sophie needed more time with Langdon. Time to think. Time to sort out
this mystery together. Unfortunately, time was running out.
Gazing up at Langdon, Sophie made the only play she could think of. "Bezu Fache will be taking
you into custody at any minute. I can get you out of this museum. But we need to act now."
Langdon's eyes went wide. "You want me to run?"
"It's the smartest thing you could do. If you let Fache take you into custody now, you'll spend
weeks in a French jail while DCPJ and the U.S. Embassy fight over which courts try your case. But
if we get you out of here, and make it to your embassy, then your government will protect your
rights while you and I prove you had nothing to do with this murder."
Langdon looked not even vaguely convinced. "Forget it! Fache has armed guards on every single
exit! Even if we escape without being shot, running away only makes me look guilty. You need to
tell Fache that the message on the floor was for you,and that my name is not there as an
"I willdo that," Sophie said, speaking hurriedly, "but after you're safely inside the U.S. Embassy.
It's only about a mile from here, and my car is parked just outside the museum. Dealing with Fache
from here is too much of a gamble. Don't you see? Fache has made it his mission tonight to prove
you are guilty. The only reason he postponed your arrest was to run this observance in hopes you
did something that made his case stronger."
"Exactly. Like running!"
The cell phone in Sophie's sweater pocket suddenly began ringing. Fache probably.She reached in
her sweater and turned off the phone.
"Mr. Langdon," she said hurriedly, "I need to ask you one last question." And your entire future
may depend on it."The writing on the floor is obviously not proof of your guilt, and yet Fache told
our team he is certainyou are his man. Can you think of any other reason he might be convinced
Langdon was silent for several seconds. "None whatsoever."
Sophie sighed. Which means Fache is lying.Why, Sophie could not begin to imagine, but that was
hardly the issue at this point. The fact remained that Bezu Fache was determined to put Robert
Langdon behind bars tonight, at any cost. Sophie needed Langdon for herself, and it was this
dilemma that left Sophie only one logical conclusion.
I need to get Langdon to the U.S. Embassy.
Turning toward the window, Sophie gazed through the alarm mesh embedded in the plate glass,
down the dizzying forty feet to the pavement below. A leap from this height would leave Langdon
with a couple of broken legs. At best.
Nonetheless, Sophie made her decision.
Robert Langdon was about to escape the Louvre, whether he wanted to or not.