eastward, looking out over a spectacular view that took in Lake Washington with the floating—and occasionally sinking— Evergreen Point bridge in the foreground, and, farther off, the thrusting, jagged wall of the Cascades, glinting with an early layering of snow.

The setting wasn’t wasted on Bruno. “Some view,” he said appreciatively. “Right out over Husky Stadium.”

But as soon as they were seated, he was back to his subject, addressing them all. “Did you know that in 1799, Napoleon asked his men to leave him alone inside the Great Pyramid for a few minutes, just like Alexander the Great did, back in—whenever it was. And when he came out he was white as a ghost. When they asked him about it, all he did was shake his head and tell them he never wanted to talk about it again. No one’s ever been able to explain it.”

“If it smelled the way it did when I was there,” Gideon said, “I think I might be able to explain it.”

A smaller man might have taken offense, but Bruno merely laughed his happy laugh. “Okay, but there’s some kind of energy there. Explain to me why, if you wrap a wine bottle in a damp newspaper and stand on the very top of the pyramid, and hold it up above your head, and the conditions are right, sparks come out of—”

“Honey,” Bea said, “give the poor man some rest. Let’s go get our food, and then make your pitch.”

It was Mediterranean buffet night at the faculty club. Julie and Gideon found themselves facing each other across the salad section of the buffet table, over platters of hummus, cold stuffed grape leaves, and feta-cheese- and-tomato salad.

“Not that I’m not having a good time,” Julie said, “but have you figured out what this is about yet?”

Gideon shook his head. They’d been wondering since Rupert had called to ask them to dinner. Gideon taught at the university’s Port Angeles branch, sixty miles and a half-hour ferry ride from the main campus in Seattle, and didn’t ordinarily come into the city more than once every two or three weeks. Julie, a supervising ranger at Olympic National Park’s Port Angeles headquarters, got in even less frequently. It had been six months since their last meal at the faculty club. And never before had they gotten an invitation from Rupert LeMoyne.

But this had been more like a summons than an invitation, and Rupert had been firm about Julie’s attendance as well. “The Gustafsons would like her to be there too,” was all he could, or would, say.

“Whatever his pitch is, you’d better say yes,” Julie told him, ladling yogurt dressing onto her salad, “or poor Rupert is liable to disintegrate right in front of us.”

“Well, you know, he has a tough job,” Gideon said charitably.

Back at the table, Rupert turned the wine list over to Bruno, who proved unpretentiously knowledgeable. A bottle of St. Emilion and another of Oregon Pinot Gris were chosen to go with the main course, the black-tied waitress was sent on her way, and business was gotten down to.

“I’ll bet you’ve been trying to figure out why we asked Rupert to bring you two along today,” Bruno said.

“Not at all,” Gideon said. “It’s nice to be invited.”

“Well, we have a proposition to make. Rupert, you listen up too.”

Rupert listened up.

“What we have in mind, Gideon—why don’t you explain it, hon?”

“Sure,” Bea said. “We’d like you—”

“We being the Horizon Foundation,” Bruno said. “I’m on the board, you know.”

“We’d like you,” Bea said again, “to be part of a project—”

“This has been in the planning stages for over a year,” Bruno said.

“Honey,” Bea sang, “if you want to explain it, go right ahead.”

“No, no, you go ahead.”

“All right, then.” She waited a moment to see if he meant it, then went on. “The foundation is going to do a documentary—”

“You’re going to like this,” Bruno got in, then flinched back into his chair under the force of Bea’s scowl and let her finish.

Gideon didn’t like it.

The Horizon Foundation was a nonprofit, Philadelphia-based institution that endowed archaeological projects around the world, among them the work of the famous Horizon House in Luxor. When the foundation’s board of directors had concluded that the Horizon House endowment was in need of beefing up after thirty years of inflation, Bruno had come up with the idea of a promotional and educational video on their activities. More than that, he and Bea had volunteered to underwrite it. The Gustafsons, who made yearly visits to Egypt anyway, would be going there at the end of November—in six weeks—to accompany the documentary crew that would tape Reclaiming History: The Story of Horizon House.

So far, so good. But what they were asking now—the “pitch”—was that Gideon come along to serve as one of the narrators; a sort of color-man, according to Bea, who would provide general information on ancient Egypt and its inhabitants to balance the drier, more specialized presentations by Horizon staff members. In return, and on the assumption that he would refuse personal remuneration, they would be pleased to make a token donation of $25,000 earmarked for the anthropology department. Over and above their annual contribution, naturally.

“Why, that’s extremely generous,” Rupert burbled. “Gideon, that being the case,” he said slyly, “I think we might see our way after all to getting you that Grenz X-ray unit you’ve been asking for. You could find all those foreign particles you’re always after. What do you say?”

“I don’t think so,” Gideon said reluctantly.

Even Julie looked surprised.

Well, he was flattered, Gideon explained, but his field was Pleistocene evolution, not Egyptology; his sole claim

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