“But I only asked for them on Thursday,” I said, bewildered. It was now Sunday morning. How could she have managed such a feat? One of the sheets of paper bore a title and date—Arca Noë 1675—in a neat, feminine hand, along with a price and the name and address of a book dealer.
“Ysabeau knows every dealer in London.” Phoebe’s mouth lifted into a mischievous smile, changing her face from attractive to beautiful. “And no wonder. The phrase ‘the price isn’t important’
will galvanize any auction house, no matter the lateness of the hour, even on the weekend.”
I picked up another volume—Kircher’s Obeliscus Pamphilius— and opened the cover. Matthew’s sprawling signature was on the flyleaf.
“I had a rummage through the libraries here and at Pickering Place first. There didn’t seem much point in purchasing something that was already in your possession,” Phoebe explained. “Matthew has wide-ranging tastes when it comes to books. There’s a first edition of Paradise Lost at Pickering Place and a first edition of Poor Richard’s Almanack signed by Franklin upstairs.”
“Pickering Place?” Unable to stop myself, I traced the letters of Matthew’s signature with my finger.
“Marcus’s house over by St. James’s Palace. It was a gift from Matthew, I understand. He lived there before he built Clairmont House,” Phoebe said. Her lips pursed. “Marcus may be fascinated by politics, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for the Magna Carta and one of the original copies of the Declaration of Independence to remain in private hands. I’m sure you agree.”
My finger rose from the page. Matthew’s likeness hovered for a moment above the blank spot where his signature had been. Phoebe’s eyes widened.
“I’m sorry,” I said, releasing the ink back onto the paper. It swirled back onto the paper, re-forming into my husband’s signature. “I shouldn’t practice magic in front of warmbloods.”
“But you didn’t say any words or write down a charm.” Phoebe looked confused.
“Some witches don’t need to recite spells to make magic.” Remembering Ysabeau’s words, I kept my explanation as brief as possible.
“Oh.” She nodded. “I still have a great deal to learn about creatures.”
“Me, too.” I smiled warmly at her, and Phoebe gave me a tentative smile in return.
“I assume you’re interested in Kircher’s imagery?” Phoebe asked, carefully opening another of the thick tomes. It was his book on magnetism, Magnes sive De Arte Magnetica. The engraved title page showed a tall tree, its wide branches bearing the fruits of knowledge. These were chained together to suggest their common bond. In the center God’s divine eye looked out from the eternal world of archetypes and truth. A ribbon wove among the tree’s branches and fruits. It bore a Latin motto: Omnia nodis arcanis connexa quiescunt. Translating mottoes was a tricky business, since their meanings were deliberately enigmatic, but most scholars agreed that it referred to the hidden magnetic influences that Kircher believed gave unity to the world: “All things are at rest, connected by secret knots.”
“‘They all wait silently, connected by secret knots,’” Phoebe murmured. “Who are ‘they’? And what are they waiting for?”
With no detailed knowledge of Kircher’s ideas about magnetism, Phoebe had read an entirely different meaning in the inscription.
“And why are these four disks larger?” she continued, pointing to the center of the page. Three of the disks were arranged in a triangular fashion around one containing an unblinking eye.
“I’m not sure,” I confessed, reading the Latin descriptions that accompanied the images. “The eye represents the world of archetypes.”
“Oh. The origin of all things,” Phoebe looked at the image more closely.
“What did you say?” My third eye opened, suddenly interested in what Phoebe Taylor had to say.
“Archetypes are original patterns. See, here are the sublunar world, the heavens, and man,” she said, tapping in succession each of the three disks surrounding the archetypal eye. “Each one of them is linked to the world of archetypes—their point of origin—as well as to one another. The motto suggests we should see the chains as knots, though. I’m not sure if that’s relevant.”
“Oh, I think it’s relevant,” I said under my breath, more certain than ever that Athanasius Kircher and the Villa Mondragone sale were crucial links in the series of events that led from Edward Kelley in Prague to the final missing page. Somehow, Father Athanasius must have learned about the world of creatures. Either that or he was one himself.
“The Tree of Life is a powerful archetype in its own right, of course,” Phoebe mused, “one that also describes the relationships between parts of the created world. There’s a reason genealogists use family trees to show lines of descent.”
Having an art historian in the family was going to be an unexpected boon—from both a research standpoint and a conversational one. Finally I had someone to talk to about arcane imagery.
“And you already know how important trees of knowledge are in scientific imagery. Not all of them are this representational, though,” Phoebe said with regret. “Most are just simple branching diagrams, like Darwin’s Tree of Life from On the Origin of Species. It was the only image in the whole book. Too bad Darwin didn’t think to hire a proper artist like Kircher did—someone who could produce something truly splendid.”
The knotted threads that had been waiting silently all around me began to chime. There was something I was missing. Some powerful connection that was nearly within my grasp, if only . . .
“Where is everybody?” Hamish poked his head into the room.
“Good morning, Hamish,” Phoebe said with a warm smile. “Leonard has gone to pick up Sarah and Fernando. Everybody else is here somewhere.”
“Hullo, Hamish.” Gallowglass waved from the garden window. “Feeling better after your sleep, Auntie?”
“Much, thank you.” But my attention was fixed on Hamish.
“He hasn’t called,” Hamish said gently in response to my silent question.
I wasn’t surprised. Nevertheless, I stared down at my new books to hide my disappointment.
“Good morning, Diana. Hello, Hamish.” Ysabeau sailed into the room and offered her cheek to the daemon. He kissed it obediently. “Has Phoebe located the books you need, Diana, or should she keep looking?”
“Phoebe has done an amazing job—and quickly, too. I’m afraid I still need help, though.”
“Well, that is what we are here for.” Ysabeau beckoned her grandson inside and gave me a steadying look. “Your tea has gone cold. Marthe will bring more, and then you will tell us what must be done.”
After Marthe dutifully appeared (this time with something minty and decaffeinated rather than the strong black brew that Phoebe had poured) and Gallowglass joined us, I brought out the two pages from Ashmole 782. Hamish whistled.
“These are two illuminations removed from in the sixteenth century—the manuscript known today as Ashmole 782. One has yet to be found: an image of a tree. It looks a little like this.” I showed them the frontispiece from Kircher’s book on magnestism. “We have to find it before anyone else does, and that includes Knox, Benjamin, and the Congregation.”
“Why do they all want so badly?” Phoebe’s shrewd, olive-colored eyes were guileless. I wondered how long they would stay that way after she became a de Clermont and a vampire.
“None of us really know,” I admitted. “Is it a grimoire? A story of our origins? A record of some kind? I’ve held it in my hands twice: once in its damaged state at the Bodleian in Oxford and once in Emperor Rudolf’s cabinet of curiosities when it was whole and complete. I’m still not sure why so many creatures are seeking the book. All I can say with certainty is that is full of power—power and secrets.”
“No wonder the witches and vampires are so keen to acquire it,” Hamish said drily.
“The daemons as well, Hamish,” I said. “Just ask Nathaniel’s mother, Agatha Wilson. She wants it, too.”
“Wherever did you find this second page?” He touched the picture of the dragons.
“Someone brought it to New Haven.”
“Who?” Hamish asked.
“Andrew Hubbard.” After Ysabeau’s warnings I wasn’t sure how much to reveal. But Hamish was our lawyer. I couldn’t keep secrets from him. “He’s a vampire.”
“Oh, I’m well aware of who—and what—Andrew Hubbard is. I’m a daemon and work in the City, after all,” Hamish said with a laugh. “But I’m surprised Matthew let him get near. He despises the man.”
I could have explained how much things had changed, and why, but the tale of Jack Blackfriars was Matthew’s to tell.
“What does the missing picture of the tree have to do with Athanasius Kircher?” Phoebe asked, bringing our attention back to the matter at hand.
“While I was in New Haven, my colleague Lucy Meriweather helped me track down what might have happened to the Book of Life. One of Rudolf’s mysterious manuscripts ended up in Kircher’s hands. We thought that the illumination of the tree might have been included with it.” I gestured at the frontispiece to Magnes sive De Arte Magnetica. “I’m more certain than ever that Kircher had at least seen the image, based solely on that illustration.”
“Can’t you just look through Kircher’s books and papers?” Hamish asked.
“I can,” I replied with a smile, “provided the books and papers can still be located. Kircher’s personal collection was sent to an old papal residence for safekeeping—Villa Mondragone in Italy. In the early twentieth century, the Jesuits began to discreetly sell off some of the books to raise revenue.
Lucy and I think they sold the page then.”
“In that case there should be records of the sale,” Phoebe said thoughtfully. “Have you contacted the Jesuits?”
“Yes.” I nodded. “They have no records of it—or if they do, they aren’t sharing them. Lucy wrote to the major auction houses, too.”
“Well, she wouldn’t have got very far. Sales information is confidential,” Phoebe said.
“So we were told.” I hesitated just long enough for Phoebe to offer what I was afraid to ask for.
“I’ll e-mail Sylvia today and tell her that I won’t be able to clear out my desk tomorrow as planned,” Phoebe said. “I can’t hold Sotheby’s off indefinitely, but there are other resources I can check and people who might talk to me if approached in the right way.”
Before I could respond, the doorbell rang. After a momentary pause, it rang again. And again. The fourth time the ringing went on and on as though the visitor had jammed a finger into the button and left it there.
“Diana!” shouted a familiar voice. The ringing was replaced by pounding.
“Sarah!” I cried, rising to my feet.
A fresh October breeze swept into the house, carrying with it the scents of brimstone and saffron. I rushed into the hall. Sarah was there, her face white and her hair floating around her shoulders in a mad tangle of red. Fernando stood behind her, carrying two suitcases as though their collective weight were no more than a first-class letter.
Sarah’s red-rimmed eyes met mine, and she dropped Tabitha’s cat carrier on the marble floor with a thud. She held her arms wide, and I moved into them. Em had always offered me comfort when I felt alone and frightened as a child, but right now Sarah was exactly who I needed.
“It will be all right, honey,” she whispered, holding me tight.
“I just spoke to Father H, and he said I’m to follow your instructions to the letter, Mistress . . .
Madame,” Leonard Shoreditch said cheerfully, pushing past Sarah and me on his way into the house. He gave me a jaunty salute.
“Did Andrew say anything else?” I asked, drawing away from my aunt. Perhaps Hubbard had shared news of Jack—or Matthew.
“Let’s see.” Leonard pulled on the end of his long nose. “Father H said to make sure you know where London begins and ends, and if there’s trouble, go straight to St. Paul’s and help will be along presently.”
Hearty slaps indicated that Fernando and Gallowglass had been reunited.
“No problems?” Gallowglass murmured.
“None, except that I had to persuade Sarah not to disable the smoke detector in the first-class lavatory so she could sneak a cigarette,” Fernando said mildly. “Next time she needs to fly internationally, send a de Clermont plane. We’ll wait.”
“Thank you for getting her here so quickly, Fernando,” I said with a grateful smile. “You must be wishing you’d never met me and Sarah. All the Bishops seem to do is get you more entangled with the de Clermonts and their problems.”
“On the contrary,” he said softly, “you are freeing me from them.” To my astonishment, Fernando dropped the bags and knelt before me.
“Get up. Please.” I tried to lift him.
“The last time I fell to my knees before a woman, I had lost one of Isabella of Castile’s ships. Two of her guards forced me to do so at sword point, so that I might beg for her forgiveness,” Fernando said with a sardonic lift to his mouth. “As I’m doing so voluntarily on this occasion, I will get up when I am through.”
Marthe appeared, taken aback by the sight of Fernando in such an abject position.