National Geographic : 1963 Jun
story a day from the liner. Fine but what was I to write for the next four days? The heroine of the story was in her air-conditioned crate in M-79; Messrs. Chatelain and Serullaz had told me all they were going to tell me, and so there I was, a newspaper reporter with nothing to report. "What am I going to do?" I mused. "Dream up something?" Suddenly I was humming the refrain of an old song: "I'll See You In My Dreams." Not a bad idea, I thought. I would see Mona Lisa in my dreams and so have something to write about. That night, dinner began with caviar and progressed through a series of elaborate courses which undoubtedly helped me dream. In fantasy, I wandered into M-79 to pay my respects to the lady. Mona Lisa, of course, has learned lots of languages from the mil lions of travelers who have gazed at her over the centuries. "Shall I address you as Signora or Madame?" I asked, bowing as I imagined a Versailles courtier would have done. Lisa could not have been more cordial. She had somehow escaped from her crate and stood leaning against the starboard wall. "In the beginning, when dear Leonardo painted me in Flor ence," she said, "you would have called me Signora. But I have spent the last 446 years in France -that is, except for the time I was stolen in 1911 and retrieved in Italy two years later. Therefore, I suppose you should address me as Madame. But why don't you just call me Lisa?" "Merci," I said, thrilled by my progress. "My name is Edward, or as the French say, Edouard. Now for some questions." I asked the big one first. "Lisa," I said, "people have been speculating for centuries about your smile. They have de scribed it as enigmatic, mysteri ous, baffling, and so on. You have a chance to help me scoop the ,UOACHROMES BY NATIONALGEOGRAPHICPHOTOGRAPHERROBERTF. SISSON (0 N.G.S .