Quatrain by Medler, John - HTML preview

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Morse translated the text into his notebook:


The page, the soldier, the hero,

The defender of Cicero,

The astrologer, the doctor,

The best Latin grammarian,

Della Rovere is his friend,

The botanist, the scholar,

The alleged heretic,

The enemy of Monsieur Dolet,

The greatest champion of Virgil

(the work of Homer is infantile)

The historian, the teacher,

In later life, the great author,

What you seek is, perhaps,

In the tomb of his ancestor

Look at this map and you will see

The future of the mankind revealed!


“What do you think it means?” asked Zach.

“I think this is an easy one,” said Morse. “This is referring to Julius Caesar Scaliger, Nostradamus’ one-time friend and mentor. In his early life, Scaliger was a page and a soldier and, he claimed, a war hero. He was an astrologer and a doctor and a Latin grammarian. He was the personal doctor to the Bishop Antonio della Rovere, who was his friend and patron. He wrote a great compendium of plants in which he catalogued hundreds of species of plants, so he could certainly be called a botanist. In 1538, he was accused of heresy, but later acquitted. He hated a man named Dolet, who was a contemporary of his at the time, and even wrote a poem vulgarly applauding his death. He was a historian, a teacher, and an author in later life. There is no question this refers to Julius Caesar Scaliger. So all we have to do is find the tomb of his ancestor, which is listed on the map. And I know exactly where that is!”

“Where is it?” asked Zach.

“In Verona, Italy. In the 1300s, the Scaliger family members were the Lords of Verona. Julius Caesar Scaliger always claimed to be a descendant of the royal family of Scaligers. In the ancient church of Santa Maria Antica, which still exists today, there are a series of tombs, or ‘tempietti,’ enclosing the sarcophagi of the great Scaliger Lords of Verona, which must be what Julius Caesar Scaliger is referring to as the tomb of his ancestor.”

“What about the picture of the horse at the bottom?” asked Zoey.

“The most spectacular of the Scaliger tombs is the tomb of Cangrande Scaliger, which is raised over the top of an archway leading into the Church. Directly on top of the sarcophagus is a huge equestrian statue. That is the horse. So the clue must be hidden inside the tomb of Cangrande Scaliger in Verona!”

Just then, the cab pulled up to the airport. Morse put the scrolls away in his bag. After paying the fare, the three rushed into the airport. Morse looked at the electronic screens for Ryan Air showing outgoing flights. It was now 9 p.m. Paris time. Unfortunately, there were no further flights tonight going to Paris or London or anywhere in the United States. There was a 9:45 p.m. flight to Bordeaux; a 9:30 p.m. flight to Rome; a 9:30 p.m. flight to Verona; a 9:50 flight to Venice; a 10:00 p.m. flight to Monaco; and a 10:00 p.m. flight to Madrid.

Morse went up to the Ryan Air counter. Are there any flights first thing in the morning leaving from Bordeaux, Rome, Verona, Venice, Monaco, or Madrid going directly to the United States? The agent spent a few minutes checking her screens.

“The earliest flight I have is Air France Flight 5377 leaving Verona, Italy, tomorrow at 10:50 a.m. arriving in New York, NY at 9:25 p.m. I also have an Alitalia flight leaving from Rome at 11:15 a.m., arriving in New York, NY at 10:30 p.m.”

“We will take the Air France flight,” said Morse.

His children looked at him suspiciously.


“You promised us we are going to go home,” said Zach.

“We are going home, first thing in the morning.”

“But let me guess,” said Zach, “When we get to Verona, we may do a little sight-seeing first?”

Morse shrugged. “Well, if we are just killing time, we might as well solve the final clues of the mystery, don’t you think?”

“You are unbelievable,” said Zach. “All I can say is, when we get home, my hair better grow back soon.”