Epilogue

PAINTING RECOVERED IN CHÂTEAU FIRE

Police searching the remains of the château belonging to Count Carlos Scarlioni, a well-known and highly respected art collector, today recovered the stolen picture of the Mona Lisa.

The house was destroyed yesterday afternoon by a fire which is believed to have originated in the cellar. The famous painting was located in a tiny brick room in the basement of the château, along with the charred frames of five other paintings. It is not believed that any of these paintings were in any way valuable.

Count Scarlioni is believed to have perished in the fire, but as yet no trace of his remains have been found. Two bodies have been recovered from the fire and identified as those of the Countess Scarlioni and the Scarlionis' butler.

The police are declining to comment at this stage on the possibility that the Count was connected with the theft of the Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece. Investigations are continuing.

- The Paris Chronicle, 20 May 1979

‘The one nearest the wall?’

‘Yes! It was the only one that survived the fire.’

‘Never!’

‘Yes!’

There was disbelief in Duggan's voice. ‘But it's a fake! You can't hang a fake Mona Lisa in the Louvre!’

It was late on Sunday afternoon. The Doctor, Romana and Duggan stood on the observation deck of the Eiffel tower, surveying the City of Life around them.

‘How can it be a fake if Leonardo painted it?’ asked the Doctor.

Duggan scowled. ‘With the words ‘this is a fake!’ written on the canvas in felt-tip pen?’

The Doctor nodded. ‘Yes, but it doesn't affect what it looks like!’

Duggan sighed, infuriated. ‘It doesn't matter what it looks like!’

The Doctor raised an eyebrow. ‘Doesn't it? Some people would say that was the whole point of a painting.’

‘But they'll find out!’ protested Duggan. ‘They'll x-ray it!’

‘Serves them right!’ snapped the Doctor. ‘If they have to x-ray a painting to find out whether it's good or not, they might as well have it painted by a computer.’

Romana nodded. ‘Like we have at home.’

Duggan frowned as the Doctor agreed with his companion. ‘Home,’ he said, a note of concern in his tone. ‘Where do you two come from?’

‘From?’ The Doctor shrugged. ‘Here and there... mostly there. I suppose the best way to find out where you come from is to find out where you're going and work backwards.’

‘All right, then,’ said Duggan. ‘Where are you going?’

The Doctor leaned close to Duggan and whispered, ‘I don't have the faintest idea.’

Romana shook her head disdainfully. ‘Neither do I.’

The Doctor smiled a wide, beaming smile. ‘Goodbye, Duggan,’ he said simply. He shook Duggan's hand, and Romana kissed him lightly on the cheek. Duggan eyed the pair with the same bewilderment that had prevailed ever since he'd met them.

Then they were gone. Duggan could hear their voices.

‘Where are we going?’

‘Are you talking philosophically or geographically?’

‘Philosophically.’

‘I haven't the faintest idea.’

‘Oh. How about geographically, then?’

‘I still haven't the faintest idea...’

‘Shall we take the lift or fly?’

‘Let's not be ostentatious.’

‘All right, let's fly then.’

‘That would be silly. We'll take the lift.’

The voices trailed off into the breeze. They must, Duggan decided, have taken the lift.

A few minutes later he had wandered over to look out over the Parc du Champ de Mars, a long strip of flat green parkland stretching out from the base of the tower. He stood for a while, not knowing quite what to do next, but aware that, sooner rather than later, he would have to face the difficult task of presenting his report to the British Art Society. He thought he could see two tiny figures that might have been the Time Lords striding away across the park. Then they turned around.

Although it would have seemed impossible for them to see anyone at that distance, let alone single him out, they did. The Doctor waved, and yelled out something that sounded remarkably like, ‘Bye bye, Duggan!’

Duggan smiled and watched the two figures long after they had finally disappeared from sight. And then he did something that might have seemed out of character for him to the Time Lords. Atop the observation platform of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, 1979, Detective Sergeant (Retired) James Duggan laughed long and hard for a good minute.

A while later he wandered the streets of Paris aimlessly, feeling light-headed, exhausted and relieved. He came to a postcard stall indistinguishable from the hundreds of other postcard stalls he'd passed every day for the whole time he'd been in Paris. And he bought a postcard.

After paying for it, Duggan pledged to keep it for the rest of his life; after all, it was his only reminder of the Doctor and Romana, Count Scarlioni and his wife, the château, the Jagaroth, the fact that a fake painting was now hanging in the Louvre...or rather a genuine painting with the words ‘THIS IS A FAKE!’ written under it, and what was generally the wildest, craziest, mixed-up case he would ever undertake throughout his career as a private detective.

Duggan looked at the postcard with the picture of the Mona Lisa on it once more; then he put it inside his trenchcoat and walked away into the evening of a Paris Spring.

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