Chapter I. Apprentice
Thirty-three days ago,
House of the Scottish Rite Temple
1733 16th Street N. W., Washington, D.C.
The morning air was thick with allegorical symbolism, starting with the two sphinxes guarding the Scottish Rite Temple’s main doorway. Thomas Moore could almost hear his name being called by the two outer guards, along with every paper, record, booklet, photo, and book that occupied the Temple library’s stacks and cabinets.
Thomas was awestruck by the largess of the Temple and its library. He had spent many hours lately both in the U.S. Library of Congress as well as the National Archives of Canada, but there was something different about this building and its extensive collections. Both the Library of Congress and National Archives were organized and methodical, but here there was a labyrinth of rooms and aisles bursting with collective mindsets and philosophies, an extensive general Masonic Collection covering every aspect of Freemasonry that had ever existed. There was the collection of past and present Sovereign Grand Commanders from around the world. There was the Abraham Lincoln Collection.
There was the Robert Burns Library. Other collections included the Claudy Collection on the works of Goethe and the L. M. Taylor Collection of esoteric literature. And, finally, there was the Albert Pike Collection.
The awestruck Thomas must have appeared amusing to the Masonic and history scholars who had spent their lifetimes among the stacks; he also attracted the attention of the only woman present in this bastion of male fraternity. As she leaned back in her chair, she eyed Thomas with an equal sense of intrigue and amusement. This neophyte, this freshly-entered apprentice, was much more interesting than the eighteenth-century text written by Benjamin Franklin that she was perusing.
This lone female scholar, Janet Rose, was in her early thirties and was completing a PhD in Masonic philosophy and esoteric symbolism at Georgetown University. Her father, Solomon, a prominent Freemason in his own right, had thought that it was odd that a university established by the Jesuits would allow his daughter, an Ashkenazi Jew from New York, to study anything relating to the esoteric, especially since his daughter’s bold attitudes resembled that of a modern-day witch.
It didn’t hurt Janet’s chances that her grandfather, David Joshua Rose, had broken tradition and donated a very considerable sum of money to the Catholic university. He had a way of knowing how to pave the way for his grandchildren into mainstream America. David’s public reputation as one of the foremost Jewish medieval scholars in the United States didn’t hurt Janet’s chances either when she applied for the prestigious George Washington Scholarship, which she subsequently won.
Janet noticed that Thomas hadn’t moved, except for his head, which appeared to be taking everything in as if photographing the place and instantly depositing the images in a digital file within his brain. Since no one else showed the least bit of inclination to help this man-boy, Janet rose up from her chair and walked toward Thomas. Her curiosity had gotten the best of her. Ichabod Crane is searching for the Headless Horseman, she thought.
Thomas had also noticed her. This beautiful woman is coming toward me. Oh my God! She’s extending her hand toward me! What am I supposed to do?
Extending his hand in return, he smiled at this goddess of the Temple. Janet grasped his hand a little too firmly and shook it enthusiastically. Keeping her voice low, Janet whispered, “Hi, I’m Janet Rose. I’ve spent most of my last two years devouring this library and its contents. It’s like a candy store of esoteric signs, symbols, and tokens for someone as ravenous as myself. Can I help you find what you’re looking for?”
“Well, I really don’t know where to begin. I’m a landscape architect by profession. I live in Montreal but travel quite a bit, as my firm does a lot of international business. But that’s not why I’m here. I’m actually on holiday and love the capital’s architecture and planning. But that’s not why I’m here either.”
Janet laughed a little too loud, “Thomas, do you always ramble on like this? Maybe you should get to the point!”
“Sorry . . . did I say sorry again? It’s a bad trait that we Canadians have--always apologizing. Anyway, the reason that I’m here is because my grandfather passed away about a year ago and left me some money and a trunk full of family pictures, war memorabilia, medals, and such, as my family has quite a military history. My grandfather knew that I was interested in history and our family’s genealogy, so it seemed logical that he would leave its contents to me, as most of my family just doesn’t care about our ancestry.”
“Thomas, please get to the point,” Janet was almost pleading with him. This man is irritating me to no end, and I just met him five minutes ago.
“Well,” Thomas continued, “about a month ago I decided to rummage through the trunk and discovered that it had a false bottom. After carefully removing the bottom, I discovered three worn and stained envelopes that contained correspondence over several decades between my great-great-grandfather, W. J. B. Macleod Moore and an Albert Pike.”
Janet involuntarily put her hand to her mouth and gave a little sigh. The Pike Letters! They do exist, after all this time! “Thomas, do you have any idea who your great-great-grandfather and Albert Pike were?”
Thomas felt as though he had just been drawn into some sort of conspiracy--a conspiracy that included him as the hero and opposite him, the heroine. “Well, the only thing that I know is what I’ve read on the internet since my discovery of the letters. . . . It was definitely a lot to take in so that’s why I am here. I have the letters in my satchel but I have no idea where to begin.”