Il Mondo di Mauro & Lisi


THE MYSTERY OF LUXEMBOURG - The first assignment

the first chapters

written by Diletta Nicastro
translated by Giulia De Gasperi



01 Prologue


L’ Équipe, Saturday July 27 20..

 Henno Case: Coach Antignac Arrested

 Important turning point in the case that has shaken our junior athletic community in the last few weeks. Yesterday morning in Brest police has arrested Marie Henno and her coach, Samuel Antignac following the positive results to chlorine-testosterone of counter blood test analysis.
Samuel Antignac could face eighteen months of prison. Marie Henno, underage, won’t probably face any charges being the victim of Antignac who gave her illegal substances without her knowledge.
A month ago, Marie Henno, 17, won the 200-meter race at the youth national championship. At the end of the competition she was tested for the usual anti-doping examinations and resulted positive to chlorine-testosterone. Henno, shocked and in tears, declared her innocence stating she never took performance-enhancing drugs. Police searched Antignac’s house and found several banned substances, among which oxandrolone and nandrolone. Samuel Antignac, son of a police agent and not a well-known coach (he coaches and teaches Art History in a high school in Brest) could not explain their presence in his wardrobe.
Not matter the final sentence, the gold medal will be given to second place Miranda Villain. In the meantime, Henno has stated that after this shocking news, she will take some time off to decide if she wants to continue with athletics or not.

In his office in Marseille, Philippe Dillemann was reading the newspaper article. He was smiling. He knew Samuel Antignac well. He had been his classmate in high school, attending Art History and Gym classes together with Samuel. They had often talked about their ideas on sports and about how Samuel never learnt to foresee events thus getting into troubles all the time without realizing it. Samuel was now in prison. But he would get out soon. His father was a policeman. He had to get in touch with him as soon as possible.
Philippe drank some of the iced tea that his faithful Luis had brought him. He then took a newspaper clip a few days old and read it once more.

Nice Matin, Wednesday July 24 2002

Villa robbed in Côte d’Azur

Robbery last night in a villa in Antibes. This is the third robbery since the beginning of the month. The alarm system did not go off because it was disarmed before the burglary. Two valuable paintings and some silverware were stolen. The thief, known now as the Smurf of Jewellery because of his short stature, hasn’t been identified yet. The investigation goes on.

He had thought about it for a long time. It certainly was François Bergeret. He was the only one who matched the description. Very good with electrical systems and less than five feet tall.  He knew where to find him.
He was limping now, thanks to the policeman who shot him during the last job he did (he fired back though) so he had to find accomplices, clever and fit. Those were the kind of people he was looking for.
He would return to Brest, he had been gone for too long anyway. There, he would meet face to face with his old dear friend, Samuel. He had not seen him in ten years. He sneered happily. Then, with his powerful voice he summoned Luis.

This all happened more or less three years before Mauro and I were involved in The Mystery of Luxembourg. We found out all about this only at the end of the entire adventure. Had we known it before, we could probably have avoided a lot of troubles. Or nothing at all would have changed anyway.

02 The adventure begins

Who would have thought that I would get myself into all sorts of troubles when I decided to leave for Luxembourg with my brother? I thought I was getting some days off just before Christmas, before studying for my university exams. Instead and because I am so good at getting into troubles (as my brother would say) I almost fell into a gorge, almost 100 feet deep.
Everything began last December 15th. I was reading one of my favourite adventure books, under a cosy blanket on my bed, in our small apartment in Rome. I was totally immersed in a dangerous chase in the Amazon forest, when my brother Mauro Cavallieri came home and straight into my bedroom. His hair was messy and his tie undone. Mauro is ten years older than I am and to me he is more a father/tutor figure than a brother. He has always looked after me (even too much some time) since our parents died in a car accident years ago.
‘What happened?’, I asked surprised. He was frowning and looked tired as if he were carrying a heavy weight on his shoulders.
Mauro sat next to me on the bed. He went straight to the issue at hand. ‘Lisi, I am leaving tomorrow and I am not sure when I will be back. I hope to make it for Christmas’ Eve, but I can’t promised that right now’, he was touching his neck while he said that. Our personalities are different (he is wise and intelligent, I am impulsive and a bit of a rebel), but everyone can see that our physical appearance is similar, even though I don’t see as many similarities as other people do. I am shorter than Mauro is, barely reaching his shoulders. We have the same black hair and brown eyes.
‘Oh, but…why…I mean, it never happened before that you had to leave so suddenly’, I babbled, putting the book down with a perplexed look on my face.
‘True, but since UNESCO promoted me Inspector last September, we both knew they could send me around the world anytime. That day has come. See for yourself’. He handed me a newspaper folded on page 16. A small piece of news was circled in red.

Work of art stolen

 Last night the XVII century statue of archangel Saint Michel was stolen from its church in Luxembourg. There was only a witness, a priest that was woken up by the noise. The thieves drove away on a laundry truck leaving no trace behind.

‘Is it under your jurisdiction?’
‘And the reporters devoted only five sentences to the case in a newspaper!’ I tossed the newspaper on the bed.
‘I am not surprised about that. Some newspapers ignored the news altogether.’
‘But it is absurd! I mean, if UNESCO has this church on its World Heritage List, it means that its historical significance is important!’.
‘If news reporters should follow every single one of the 800 sites we look after they wouldn’t have any room left to write about anything else
‘Mauro, come on! How is it that this isn’t bothering you! You are always going about UNESCO here and UNESCO there, how important it is to protect and preserve our cultural and natural heritage for future generations and how your values are reflected in UNESCO’s! Then a moron comes along who decides to steal a statue that you protect and they put the news next to a fight between puppeteers! Of course, you should speak up about it!’.
‘There is nothing to speak up about; we need actions. And it is for this very reason that to bring some money at home I am not a journalist but an UNESCO inspector. And for the same reason I am leaving tomorrow’.
‘Ok, maybe you are right. If you were impulsive as I am, they would never have promoted you Inspector after only five years and you would still be making photocopies despite your brilliant thesis on UNESCO’s World Heritage. Sometimes your wisdom drives me crazy. I would be more direct, to the point, you know? I would rebel…’.

‘Yes, you would do the wrong thing at the wrong time. As always’.
‘You are being silly!’ and I threw my pillow at him.
‘Silly, eh? You have just said a lot of stupid things but you didn’t ask me the only logic question you should have thought of. Do you think I care about what the newspapers say? Don’t you think that what Belardino tells me if far more important?’.
‘Right, your boss. I didn’t think about him’.
I had never met Augusto Belardino but Mauro had often spoken about him, his words filled with enthusiasm, constantly pointing out how much Belardino reminded him of our father. I do not know why I remember him only vaguely; a memory that fades in with the photos that are in our living room and with the stories that our uncle Antonio and aunt Susanna Pedron told us. They took care of us until they returned to Padua, leaving me with Mauro who had come then of age.
‘This is my first official assignment and the fact that they have given it to me is a sign of great trust. When they told me, I felt my legs shaking’.
‘Your legs shaking? You? I can’t believe it!’.
‘ I am a human being too, you know?’.
‘Really? I never knew. I always thought you were a strict custodian and that was it’.
‘I am not going to answer you today because I have other things on my mind, but stop it, ok?’.
‘Ok, go on’.
‘The truth is that they thought about me and I am very proud of it and also a bit scared’.
‘And why is that? You are the best they have and they have chosen you because they know you are going to find the thieves!’.
‘So, I am not only a strict custodian…’ he teased me while getting up.
‘That is something different. I mean, yes, you are, but you are very good at your job’.
‘Wait, I need to write this down. December 15, 7:03pm, Lisi praised me’.
‘That isn’t fair! My friends are always telling me how charming and reassuring you are!’.
‘I will tell you something, Lisi. You and your friends are separate people, individuals, even if you don’t seem to realize that.’
‘This is not what I wanted to say!’.
‘All right, that is enough for now. I need to get my stuff ready. My plane is leaving tomorrow morning at 9:00 and I still have tons of things to do’.
I followed him in the hall. ‘Ok, but I don’t like the way you talk about my friends, Rebecca and Agla. It isn’t true that we do everything together all the time. For example, right now, they are playing volleyball’.
‘And that is only because you are too short and they don’t want you in the team’. Mauro opened a drawer and began sorting through his shirts.
‘And they are right. I make a poor impression next to them. But this is not the point. What I meant is that we are not the same. They are more trendy than I am in the way they dress, for example’.
‘This is because you are too involved in reading your adventure novels and in volunteering and you don’t have any time to go shopping’.
‘And also, they do not have the chance to leave for Luxembourg just like that’, I said without listening to him, hugging the door.
Mauro froze with his ties in his hand and turned towards me.
‘What did you say?’.
‘Do you think I could come with you?’.
‘No way’.
‘Please, pretty please. I promise I won’t bother you. I will leave you alone when you are busy. I would tour the city and I would be by myself’.
‘And that is the problem! I can already picture myself coming to the rescue because you got yourself into some troubles. No, I don’t want you to make my life more difficult’, and he tossed a couple of engine magazines that always found a spot in his suitcase.
‘Come on, it is a great idea. So you won’t be worried about me being all by myself during the holidays and I will have the chance to see a European capital! If there are monuments you protect, it means that it is worth a visit’.
‘Well, there are monuments we protect all over the world. Even here, the city centre of Rome, or the Vatican City, you don’t need to go far’, Mauro teased me, but I understood from his tone of voice that he was giving up and I ran to hug him.
‘Thank you, thank you, my big brother. I swear you won’t regret it’.
‘Already am’, he said, trying to free himself from my hug. ‘At least I will be far less worried knowing I will be able to check on you closely’.

And so began our very first adventure that took us through the twists and turns of old Luxembourg, following a mysterious Irish man, listening to conversations taking place too early in the morning and trying to solve unsolvable charades.

[1] Mauro’s note: Italy, with its 47 sites, is the most represented country in UNESCO World Heritage. The last added sites, in June of 2011, are Longobards in Italy. Places of the power (568-774 A.D.) and Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps (together with Switzerland, Austria, France, Germany and Slovenia)


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