Shakespeare's Dark Lady
Daniel had yet to succeed in getting Black Jenny out of his mind. Amelia had not given him another performance. He'd had a couple of stimulating fantasies of his own about her, courtesy of Prozac, and one wildly erotic dream.
Maybe the daily workout would clear his head..
It was Sunday. Amelia was out. He ate a light breakfast and bounded up the stairs to the gym, in shorts and T-shirt, only to find that he didn't have the place to himself after all. Cissy the vestigial virgin raised her head and leveled her eyes sideways from the training mat where she lay naked on her back, her fitness trainer kneeling beside her in nothing but pink panties.
The trainer, a trim flat-breasted woman with a muscular back and platinum hair, looked at him askance. But the corners of Cissy's mouth pulled back in a smile so odd he couldn't decide whether it was hostile or come-hither..
"Sorry." He turned to leave.
Something in Cissy's voice stopped him. The trainer reached over Cissy for a bottle of baby oil and poured a little into one palm. A sweatshirt hung over the lateral bar.
"Glad to see the back of Lawrence?" Cissy said as the trainer massaged her larger-than-life breasts. "I've learned the hard way to stay out of his sight when he's around."
Cissy seemed an unlikely ally in light of their unconsummated dislike for one another. Still, nice to know he wasn't the only one who preferred anybody's company to Lawrence Hungerford's.
"You either put up with that crap or you get the hell out of it," she said with her eyes squeezed shut. "That guy's a shaman looking for a hard-on the size of a totem pole. If you're the jealous type, quit while you're ahead."
She sat up and turned over on her stomach. He watched her back arch as she supported herself on both elbows. The breasts he'd thought too large hung gracefully, the nipples almost touching the rubber mat. The trainer was hacking and chopping at the smooth cheeks of her buttocks.
"You wouldn't be the first to bolt, Daniel. Daddy's girl brings out something in all her boyfriends."
He stepped over to the mat and glared down at her. The trainer ignored him.
"Trouble is, she's so rich and attractive," Cissy said. "And brainy. There aren't many people can live with all that tension."
"Meaning what? What's that got to do with Lawrence?"
"Meaning jealousy. Didn't you ever read those stories where two knights beat each other's brains out over a lady?"
He stalked over to the window. "What the hell are you getting at?"
"Why should she settle for two knights?" Her prima-donna voice was needling. "Why not three, four, maybe half a dozen? All her guys end up in the garbage, apart from Lawrence. The mofinch around here got daddy's girl figured out long ago."
"So just how do you happen to know so much?"
There was silence.
He picked up his towel, stole a last look at the George-cross badge of her buttocks, and closed the door-as turned off as he'd ever been in the presence of a naked woman.
Cissy and her innuendoes left him shaken. And he was starting to feel imprisoned, despite the fact that he now shared Amelia's fascination with the Dark Lady and had all day on his hands to wade through books rummaging for clues. It occurred to him to phone Peter Dunkley, his lawyer in London, just for a change of human contact.
"The police are surprisingly keen to find you," said Dunkley, who had friends at New Scotland Yard. "Considering that busting into a tomb, even a famous one, isn't that big a deal in the statute books."
"I've seen who's in charge of the investigation," Daniel said. "Detective Chief Inspector Tom Drake scares the hell out of me."
"Why is that?"
"It was Drake who gave me a rundown of the 1959 police report into my mother's death. That was back in 1985." As he spoke, he could still see the detective's blunt features and hear his blunter voice.
"They gave you the report?"
"Just a verbal summary. And even that was only on condition that I give Drake a copy of my own findings about her--the complete genetic profile, all the blueprints. So I never saw the 1959 report, just got Drake's surprisingly detailed account. The astonishing thing was, he admitted he'd been in on that investigation as a young detective constable newly promoted from copper on the beat. His details weren't second-hand--he'd actually been there and examined her body.
"They'd found her clothed, full of some unspecified drug, underwater--including her head, in the Victorian bathtub down the corridor from her hotel room. It was Drake, working with someone from forensics, who came up with the evidence to show she'd been slowly suffocated with a pillow, then her body dragged from bedroom to bathroom and dumped in the bath water. In the lavatory next to the bath they found a used and knotted condom. Someone had flushed the loo and left without checking to make sure it had gone down."
During the silence that followed, Daniel saw his mother's face in suffocation: her bulging eyes, her tongue bitten till it bled, blood vessels bursting in her cheeks, mouth gasping as air escaped when her head was finally released. Dead.
Something about Dunkley's silence made Daniel want to go on.
"By 1985 Drake was a very senior detective in the Metropolitan Police. And now it's Drake who's in charge of tracking me down."
Dunkley had something disturbing to add as Daniel was about to hang up.
"Drake has reopened the investigation into your mother's murder again. Through the same Incident Room at Scotland Yard that's looking for you."
"Where did you get this information?"
"I'm sorry, Daniel, I really can't tell you."
He knew Dunkley was "on the square"--a Freemason, like most of the big guns in the Met's CID--so he had little doubt where his facts came from and even less about their reliability.
He hung up. What, exactly, was going on here? It wasn't as if reopening that file would help them find him--or for that matter identify who his mother was after all those years. If that was their motive, it was out of all proportion. He had taken nothing from the hallowed grave apart from some body tissue and that sodding T-cross, which had been a lot more exciting for Amelia than for him. . .
What did Drake want? Probably the guy wouldn't be overly impressed if Daniel were to find a Shakespeare descendant; certainly not impressed enough to call off the dogs. Even finding a vaccine might not be enough. Assuming he could just figure out what Drake was after, Daniel was more than willing to give it to him. He couldn't go home again anyway until Drake was ready to let him.
At eleven he decided to risk a walk outside. He popped two tabs of P, donned his dark glasses, hunched his shoulders, and strolled into the real world, cutting across Radcliffe Yard in the sharp air to explore the Old Burying Ground. Nosing among the graves uncovered by a momentary thaw he searched in vain for early Hungerford headstones. Most of the inscriptions had been rubbed away by wind over the centuries.
He rewound his scarf tight under his chin and trudged on to Harvard Square to forage in the Coop bookstore for half an hour, and returned to the house armed with three more books on Shakespeare. He only had to switch on the TV to see that interest in the Bard had reached fever pitch.
He was back indoors long enough to look at a map of Cambridge, then on to Brattle Street again, heading west in the direction of Mt. Auburn Cemetery.
The cemetery was vast and desolate, an agoraphobic's nightmare. Under a solitary beech he made out two figures digging a grave. The elder, a man with a crinkly face and hands wizened to crepe, turned out to be eager to ply Daniel with information. His companion was half his age, a small man with hyperthyroid eyes who sized Daniel up from waist deep in the grave while Daniel pumped the old man for information.
The scene reminded him of graves he'd opened with research students in his early quest for the weeping gene, long before Shakespeare came into his life. Not to mention graves excavated in search of his mother's remains.
After this exchange it took only a couple of minutes to find the Hungerford mausoleum, a baroque affair half covered in lichen at the far perimeter of the graveyard. Bronze plaques, weathered green, clustered on the east wall. Albert and Edgar were there along with the belated James and a handful of others, the names of some of whom he recognized from their portraits. One read simply 'In memoriam Johanna Naresby Hungerford.' No dates. Edgar's wife Marguerite shared her husband's plaque. The newest was Sarah Hungerford's, inscribed with the name of the son she'd lost a few months before she died: William Randall Lawrence Hungerford. His date of birth and death were given - the same date.
A gust of wind blew across from the river, bringing with it a slashing rain. He stamped his feet and puffed into his bare hands. The raindrops trickling down his collar found a home inside his bones.
He took the steps down the south side of the mausoleum, and the turning at the bottom brought shelter from the wind. Here there was an iron grille. He seized hold of two bars, peered into the gloom and imagined decaying corpses: Amelia's ancestors. Immediately to the left he could make out a patch of tiny dark--maybe purple--death stools growing in a mossy patch on the stone floor. And a catafalque supporting a bronze casket.
His skin prickled. He didn't scare easily, but he felt certain he was being watched. Worse, when he tried to take his hands from the bars, his fingers were locked in place. He couldn't let go.
He'd been edgy to start with. Now he was panicky.
Janey, where are you?
Darkness was around him, wrapping him in its folds.
His hands came free at last. He jammed them into his pockets and hurried up the steps with one thought in mind: to get out of that place and return as quickly as possible to the haven of Hungerford House.
"By the way, what's a mofinch?"
"You've been talking to Cissy." She grinned. "It means motherfucker-in-charge.' Who was she talking about?"
"Who else but your father."
"You never know. Cissy has a very creative imagination."
The sound of her voice trilling arpeggios in the shower roused him before dawn the next morning. His diva dragged him downstairs and played the piano while he lay on the carpet with a cushion under his head. Last night's lovemaking had been passionate-and prolonged. He fell asleep halfway through the first movement of a Beethoven sonata she was attacking with bravura.
When he woke up she was still playing. Among the shadows of the room she was an ethereal portrait hung in the air. He blinked, and she seemed more substantial. She left the piano and came to sit beside him where he lay marooned on the carpet.
From this half-world he listened to her telling him about the correspondences between all things. There was, she informed him, a symmetry, a synchronicity. When he opened his eyes she was looking down at him, a pack of Tarot cards in her left hand.
"Would you like a reading?" she said. "This is a Frieda Harris deck. Lawrence gave it to me for my eighteenth birthday. It used to be Edgar Hungerford's."
"Kind of. This reading's for you, kid."
She shut her eyes. Her right hand was suspended over the cards while her lips moved silently. Then, while her mouth still flickered she shuffled the cards.
"These are the twenty-two major arcana. We'll do a quickie three-card spread. I shouldn't really be doing this for you, I know you too well and I can feel your anxiety trying to get in the way."
"Am I meant to do anything?"
She was still shuffling. "You've got to say what questions you want the Tarot to answer. Think carefully."
"I want to know if I'll find the vaccine."
"I can tell you that without the cards. You'll make a major discovery. Whether it will be the vaccine I can't say."
"Will you and I stay together?"
From left to right she laid out the top three cards from the shuffled pack, face up.
"Art," she said quietly, "then the Empress and Death."
He rolled toward her, supporting himself on his elbows.
"It will be difficult for us to stay together," she said, "but not impossible. The answer will depend on you, not me. Art paired with Death could be very positive, transformative. But the Empress stands in the way."
"Who's the Empress? Cissy? Your analyst?"
"We're dealing with archetypes, not people. Art is a clear warning that you mustn't rush into things. The Empress could be your own driving ambition."
He stared hard at the profiled Empress holding a flower. There were twin crescent moons and a bird that could be a swan or a pelican. The female figure of Art beside her was more sinister: a woman in green with two faces and four breasts pouring liquid into a gold cauldron at the edges of which hovered a white lion and a red eagle. A Latin inscription formed a halo around the woman. The right-hand card, number XIII, was Death, a helmeted skeleton wielding a scythe over a phantasmagoric background of humanoid forms and a snake, a fish and a scorpion.
"Am I doing the right thing by going to California?"
"Yes. Going or not going isn't going to change any risk that's already been laid down. Nor will the trip change you and me--our relationship, that is. This isn't about our relationship."
"What's it about, then?"
"The Empress is ill-defined in the middle position. You must overcome your greatest weakness--your oh-so-English reluctance to express your feelings to anyone. Without that you won't find the answer to the questions that matter in your life."
"The questions I asked?"
"The questions that are unconscious and unarticulated." She frowned. "This is your reading, but it's also someone else's and I can't see whose. It's as if there's a still higher force intervening."
"Will I find out who my mother was?"
He saw the pain move across her face. Then she gathered up the cards. "You should only read the Tarot for a stranger."
He sat up straight. "Murdered," he whispered.
She dropped the cards again. They fanned out around her knees. "I feel danger everywhere."
"I don't know. . . but someone is going to-or has already--died a violent death."
"Don't know that, either. End of reading."
Her face was ghostly in the faint pre-dawn light. She talked about Shakespeare for a little while--familiarly, as if the Bard were a close friend. Then, sprawled beside him on her stomach, she asked him if he had any idea who Mary Herbert was.
"Let's see¼.She was the Countess of Pembroke and the sister of Philip Sidney the soldier poet. Also the center of a talented circle of scientists and writers who visited her at Wilton--some even lived there--in the heyday of the Elizabethans. People like her uncle, the Earl of Leicester and Thomas Digges the Oxford mathematician and Sidney himself, before his death at Zutphen in 1586. Oh, and Dr. John Dee the astrologer."
"My, my, my. You've been doing your homework."
"What do you expect if you shut me up in your library with your books for the better part of three weeks?"
She rolled onto her back and folded her arms. "Doesn't it strike you that a lot of this woman's friends seemed to come from Wiltshire?"
"Not surprising, if that's where she lived." He leaned over to kiss the Bump.
"Wilton wasn't far from Brook House--one of the homes of the eighth Lord Mountjoy, Charles Blunt, in the mid-1590s. It wasn't far from Wardour Castle, home of the Arundels. Henry Wriothesley--the third Earl of Southampton, who received the dedication of Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis, and Lucrece--came from a family with Wiltshire origins."
"And Wriothesley's sister married an Arundel, didn't she?"
She nodded, turned onto her back and propped herself on her elbows. "Who else in the 1590s lived close to Wilton, Brook House and Wardour?"
"Henry Willoughby, who's supposed to have written about the Dark Lady in a poem he called his Avisa." He smiled when he saw from her look that he'd got it right. Then he leaned forward to push back a silky strand of hair that had drifted from behind her ear.
This wasn't the first time he'd come across Henry Willoughby. He knew he was supposed to have been a friend of Shakespeare's and maybe the missing link in the whole Dark Lady puzzle. The bizarre poem Willobie His Avisa, which had appeared in 1594, was obviously a parody on a real-life married woman and her affairs with six real-life men. One of these, "W.S.," was widely held to be Shakespeare, raising the possibility that if the true Avisa could be identified, so would the Dark Lady. He knew this to be Amelia's main line of inquiry in her search for Shakespeare's mysterious lover.
"Henry Willoughby wasn't quite the insignificant second son in a bastard line that he's been taken for," Amelia said. "A bit of a black sheep, maybe. He was Lord Mountjoy's third cousin and a distant relative of Southampton's in-laws the Arundels, through the Nottinghamshire Willoughbys. His uncle John Willoughby was involved in a land transaction with Southampton's sister."
Her fingers moved along the edge of a cushion. "Henry Willoughby's family were tenants of land belonging to the Herberts. He probably visited Wilton now and again and was on familiar terms with some of the Herberts' guests, one of whom was William Shakespeare. We know Shakespeare stayed there later in James's reign. Essex too, probably. Essex was on good terms with most members of the group and married Mary Herbert's former sister-in-law, Frances Walsingham. I've got a very interesting Elizabethan document, a letter or the draft of one, signed by a William Willoughby. Who I think was Henry Willoughby's son."
"Can I see it?"
"It's locked away in a vault. And it doesn't identify the Dark Lady or give any clues."
He looked over at the window, saw the faint gray light in the sky. A thaw had set in. Rain was falling, a drizzle so fine it was little more than morning dew. He hated dawn.
"What connected all the people you're talking about?"
"One person and his occult philosophy - the visionary Dr Dee. For a time he lived in the Herbert household. He was certainly the closest thing in Elizabethan England to the Renaissance ideal of the universal man."
"Like Philip Sidney?" he said.
"Sidney didn't come close. It isn't surprising Dee attracted Sidney's interest as well as Mary Herbert's. When I started hunting for the seeds of Rosicrucianism in the early 1600s I looked at Dee.
"There's little doubt a cult of the hermetic trinity existed at that time, practiced by an educated and aristocratic elite. Its adherents were illuminati or perfecti, men who measured up to the neoplatonist ideal of androgyny and perfectibility. That's the outstanding feature of Henry Willoughby as Shakespeare depicted him in the Sonnets.
"There couldn't have been more than a few dozen of these men in the whole of Europe. The cult was really aimed at putting its members in touch with a mystical truth: the reality beyond the world of illusion. They weren't really interested in political power.
"They earned themselves another name--like the Rosicrucians, they were the 'invisible' ones. The cult's rituals might have involved a resurrectionist and a dualist element. But they probably bore almost no resemblance to early masonic rites and certainly had little to do with the mythical Christian Rosenkreutz who's meant to have founded the Rosicrucian fraternity. And they're probably still around. Think of all the more esoteric orders in Freemasonry like the Rose Croix and the Knights Templars and the Red Cross of St. Constantine."
"I never knew many Freemasons apart from my ex-father-in-law and my lawyer," he said. "Never even felt a secret masonic handshake." He lay on his back again.
She leaned over and with a wicked laugh shook her hair all over his face till he choked and blew it away in a mock attempt to breathe.
"And you seriously believe that such a sect could still exist?"
"I'd be surprised if it didn't. We're not talking about Freemasons or Rosicrucians or thirteenth-century Templars--all those groups used a modern Christian Cross. The Tau cross is much more ancient and much more like the actual cross of Christ's crucifixion. My sense of it is that we're talking about a small sect that goes right back in a direct line to one branch of the Gnostics of the early centuries after Christ."
"Could they be in America?"
"They could be anywhere. This is a group so secret that almost nothing is known about them."
"What kind of secrets would a sect like that have?"
"Christian Kabbalistic. You've got to remember, what keeps all esoteric orders going is the idea that they alone are the repositories of some ancient knowledge. It's often identified with a great treasure, like the Holy Grail or the philosopher's stone."
"What's the mors osculi?"
She raised herself from the floor. "Where'd you get that from?"
"Just something I came across in the library."
"Not something written by me."
"You're holding back. I can tell."
She agreed with a hunch of her shoulders. "Not much is known about Death from the Kiss, the kiss of Shekinah. Or the mors iusti, the Death of the Just as it's also called. It's one of the best-kept secrets of Kabbalistic ritual."
"So I've read."
"My theory is that it's some kind of rite of beatification. Death in the body that's a rebirth of the soul. Death in the body may even be literal, not just symbolic--almost a martyrdom. There may be a sexual element on the quintessential level. The Kabbalists' Shekinah was God in his-her, if you like--female persona. The mors iusti may even be the final ceremony all adepts go through, kind of like the last rites but more. . . interactive."
"You mean actual human sacrifice?"
"Sort of. The sexual element suggests a role for Venus, probably in her avatar of Libitina the Roman deity in whom love and death are brought together."
"You say you have this 'paranormal thing. "Like some sort of sixth sense?"
She looked from the ceiling to his face. "What about it?"
"Is that like angel magic?"
"It's more what Dr. Dee called a 'wild talent.' A kind of gift--runs in my family. They used to call my great-great-grandfather 'the ghost-seer.'"
"Could he see ghosts?"
"Mmm. . . sometimes. Right here in this house. . . and in the garden."
He sat up. "Sometimes I think I may be a bit psychic too. Especially since I met you. What does it feel like?"
She stared at the fire. "It's like being everywhere at once, other places, even the future. Like I just know something is going to happen and then it happens."
"Not like angel magic?"
"Well, maybe a little bit, only nowadays we call it parapsychology. Wouldn't you like to be able to make time go slower instead of faster as you grow older? Have you ever seen a primary color that isn't supposed to exist?"
He shook his head. She was losing him now.
"That's kind of what it feels like. It's not something rational, but it's an ability that's latent in everyone. Like you said--you too, maybe. I think the sect was designed to put its members in touch with their abilities, to bring them to the surface. . . . When that magic ability is at its most advanced, there's power over the future and peoples' lives."
"What kind of power?"
"Total control, for good or evil."
"Now you're putting me on."
She didn't laugh or smile. She didn't say anything for a while. Then, finally, "Why don't you catch up on your sleep? I have an early faculty meeting."
In front of the library fire with Falstaff that afternoon, he tried without success to find a link between Mary Herbert Countess of Pembroke and an occult circle that might lead him to the Dark Lady's identity. When he left Hungerford House he'd lose his best chance to work out her identity. He read through the Dark Lady sonnets again, but if a clue to her name was there, he wasn't able to find it.
When Amelia came home in the evening, direct from her appointment with Katie Barber, he asked her what had come up in her hour. She downed two drinks and retreated into stony silence--which got his dander up, as usual, and as usual he let it go. Pressing Amelia when she was in one of her moods was about as rewarding as trying to have a meaningful conversation with Cissy.
In two days they'd be heading for Manhattan.
He yawned, mesmerized by the windshield wipers. The moon disappeared from one moment to the next behind clouds that brought flurries of a wettish snow. Amelia punched the radio switch on the dash and squeezed his knee.
"You look bushed," she said. "Why don't you sleep?"
Through his half-doze he noticed they'd come to a stoplight: Storrow Drive.
Her hand was on his knee again. He woke up, startled. Snow still fell. The wipers beat faster. He took in the slick pavement.
"Where are we?"
"The Mass Turnpike. We should make Highway Eighty-six by¼" She checked the clock. "Quarter past three."
He floated in and out of a light sleep, half-listening to public-radio classical selections during his waking moments. The snow had stopped. The Mass Turnpike was almost empty The radio was down low. . . .
He was roused by a newscaster's voice, much louder than the classical deejay's. A dry recap of the day's headlines had him nodding off again, then: "England's Shakespeare saga continues with a new twist. US Immigration have confirmed that Dr. Daniel Bosworth, the genetic scientist with the clue to Shakespeare's genes, entered the United States through Logan Airport three weeks ago. More on that story as soon as we have details. I'm Burt Auerbach, WEEI 590 News."
Amelia turned the radio off. "Marcus's controlled information leak. That's the start, and this is where things begin to heat up."
How had she known to have the right channel on and turn it up at the right time unless she'd been talking to Marcus?
"Good morning, Miss Hungerford."
In the lobby the Olympic Tower's concierge inclined his head in Daniel's direction and handed an unmarked key to Amelia. As they emerged from the elevator forty-eight floors later, the operator helped them with their bags and wished them a pleasant stay in New York.
The unnumbered door had a tiny spyhole. Twice the key turned full circle. He found himself in a sitting room with floor-to-ceiling glass on two sides looking up Fifth Avenue toward the oasis of Central Park. Most of the wall on the right was filled with a light impasto Ascension by Mantegna, hung in a gilt frame in deliberate contrast to the contemporary style of the room.
"Does Lawrence stay here much?" His voice sounded ragged even to him, and his nerves jangled from lack of sleep. It was barely dawn.
"He'd rather be out at Oyster Bay. If he's stuck late he crashes here. How about a drink?"
He stood with his nose pressed against the glass that formed the north wall, staring at the specks that were early people and cars on Fifth Avenue. He stifled a yawn.
She was at his side with a glass in her hand. "Suppose we go to bed? You want to be alert for the meeting. " She slipped her free hand into his.
He moved behind her and put his arms around her waist, resting his chin on her shoulder. They looked through the glass at the morning skyline until she turned in his arms, careful not to spill her drink, and looped her arms around his neck.
"You're my very own mad scientist and I love you madly."
He set her glass down on a shelf and within a minute had taken off her clothes. Without removing his own he made love to her slowly against the warm glass with New York spread out below.
Amelia wore a simple, elegant black silk suit. Daniel was dressed down in absent-minded-scientist's crumpled jacket and trousers under an old gabardine Burberry that had outlived fashion more than twice around. He felt scruffy beside her as they walked through the front entrance to where Lawrence's Bentley was waiting
"Good morning, Jasper," she said.
The chauffeur stood holding the door open, umbrella poised. They settled into the back seat for the trip up Madison Avenue to 61st Street, where they swung left toward Fifth Avenue. When they halted outside the Pierre Hotel, the chauffeur followed them at a discreet distance.
Inside the Cafe Pierre, a maitre d' in wing collar and black tie greeted them as if they were reigning monarchs. He took Daniel's coat, passed it to a flunky, and minced ahead of them across the black marble floor with its inlaid bronze dore. Daniel glanced around at the trompe-l'oeil murals and caught his reflection in an etched mirror. They were ushered to the table in the far corner.
Lawrence rose to kiss Amelia. Marcus stood and extended his hand-- fingers flat, thumb up, like a child pointing a pretend revolver. Daniel shook it and sat down on the gray banquette, his back to the wall beneath a bouquet of electric candles.
Lawrence's rap on the table with his knuckles produced the wine waiter in five seconds. "Herve, another bottle, please."
"Glad you could make the orientation meeting," Marcus said. In a two-button blazer and knit turtleneck, he looked younger and even better-looking than Daniel remembered. "I see you're not wearing sunglasses."
"Not much sun in here," Daniel said.
"I guess by tonight everybody will know you're with the Rostrum."
The neighboring tables were still largely empty. It wasn't yet noon.
Marcus produced a zipper folder and took out a thick volume. "The whole game plan's here, right down to your lab layout and the list of equipment. I'll run it by you on the plane tonight, and we can hash out any problems. By then the AIDS Campaign will have been relaunched with the Shakespeare Search."
"After what Marcus has planned, every man and his dog's going to want to talk with you," Lawrence said.
The wine waiter returned with a bottle he opened and placed in the bucket beside Lawrence's chair. Daniel turned his attention to the menu. As soon as they had ordered, Marcus returned to the business at hand.
"From here on media coverage is all-important."
"You don't expect me to appear on TV, do you?"
"I'll be doing most of that. Though the media have already gotten wind of the Search. We can't keep the lid on much longer. So far no one knows you're involved, and the less scuttlebutt the better. All the more reason why we have to move fast."
"What time's the press conference?"
"Four o'clock. It should be over soon after five, then you and I will be off to the Coast before it breaks on the tube."
Daniel considered this last statement as he looked from Marcus to his feuillete of scallops and mussels and found his appetite. Below table level Amelia stretched out a hand and squeezed his knee.
Lawrence turned to him. "What do you want to see happen if you actually find your green lamplighter?"
"Is that your Shakespeare guy?" Marcus said.
"Yes," he said. "Cunliffe-Jones mounted a green tell-tale lamp on top of the computyper we're using to test for Shakespeare's version of the weeping gene. When we get a match, the green lamp lights up."
"I'd like to use that for publicity," Marcus said. "'Green lamplighter'--just the right touch."
"To answer your question," Daniel said, turning to Lawrence, "I think if we do find someone it's up to him what happens. He may not want to be in the limelight."
Marcus smiled at "limelight" and swallowed a mouthful of sautéed shrimp and jumped back in. "If some guy's the one we're all hunting for, he's sure as hell going to want people to know about it."
"It's still up to him."
Marcus frowned. Lawrence pulled a cigar from his silver case.
"What's the security like in Mendocino?" Daniel asked.
"No problem," Marcus said. "You'll see."
"And big endorsements?"
"The strategy is rock-ribbed all the way. On top of the endorsements you know about, we can count on the moral support of Dr. Arthur Maynard of the AIDS diagnostic laboratory at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta." He gave Amelia a smile.Her smile back reminded Daniel of the smiles she sometimes gave her father, leaving him feeling as if he was down-and-out on the street with his nose pressed to the window of an upmarket restaurant.
"I'm set for several prime-time shows," Marcus said, "starting with Today . . ."
By the time they were served coffee, Lawrence's eyes had clouded over with some private vision. He'd said almost nothing throughout lunch. Daniel turned his attention to Amelia.
"I'm going to miss you," she said. She picked up the orchid that lay in the middle of the table. "Fifteen whole weeks before I'll be free to fly out and join you."
Marcus looked at his watch.
"Daniel, I'm going to reverse field on what I said in London about keeping you off TV. I met yesterday with Barbara Walters. I didn't think it would hurt to bring you out of the closet just this once."
"Who's Barbara Walters?"
"Just the high priestess of celebrity interviews."
He winced . "You cannot be serious. Why not an interview with a well-known scientist as host?"
"I'm sorry, Daniel, but it's too late to change anything now. Barbara wants to switch you with the main segment on 20/20 tonight."
"Don't you think appearing on an American chat show would damage my credibility?"
"Maybe in England, but this is America. We're different. And 20/20 isn't a talk show, it's a news-story show. Top-rated."
"Marcus, I value-no, I prize-my privacy. I don't-"
"I can insist that you be backlit, so no one can recognize you?"
"They'll still know my name."
"True, but you won't be recognizable in public by anyone. And Walters has been sworn to secrecy. The interview will be taped this afternoon, while I'm handling the press conference at Lincoln Center. By the time it airs tonight we'll be winging our way west."
"You'll have a dozen reporters in Mendocino by tomorrow," Daniel said.
"More than that, but don't worry about it. They'll be on the outside. Barbara will interview you at a secret rendezvous. She won't let us have editorial control or see the questions in advance--and some of them will be tough--but she won't go for the jugular if you're up front with her. It's a pity if all viewers are going to see is your head in shadow--really, you're quite mediagenic. Barbara would agree with me on that, but she sure as hell appreciates the reasons why you don't want to become a household face."
"Do I have a choice, dammit?"
"Now you've come this far, I'd say not much. You're either going to have to commit fully to the Search and leave public relations to me, or else you go back to England and face the music. There isn't any half-way house."
Daniel looked from Marcus to Lawrence, then Amelia.
She nodded. Daniel sighed. "For Amelia," he said, almost inaudibly. "I'll do it for Amelia's sake, and for no one else."
In Lawrence's bedroom, where Amelia and Daniel had spent the night, the pages of the Sunday papers still littered the floor, along with a pair of black satin panties and an empty carton of rum raisin ice cream. Amelia stood in front of the mirror brushing her hair. She could still taste Daniel's goodbye kiss on the tarmac at Teterboro before he climbed with Marcus into the Rostrum's Learjet bound for Napa Airport.
"I was thinking," she said, "Daniel's the first Englishman I've ever really liked."
"Probably not the first you've climbed into bed with," her father said.
Damn his outspokenness. It hadn't kept John F. Kennedy from offering to make Lawrence ambassador to Italy at the age of thirty-one. But it was inconvenient at times.
Lawrence settled down on the bed, his daughter cuddled up next to him, and aimed the clicker at the TV.
"Good evening. I'm Barbara Walters and with me is . . . . . . .."