Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

e

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

e. Afterwards, the succession runs thus: a oidh nr s t u yo f glm w b k p q x . E predominates so remarkably that an

k x individual sentence of any length is rarely seen, in which it is not the prevailing character.

“Here, then, we have, in the very beginning, the groundwork for something more than a mere guess. The general use which may be made of the table is obvious—but, in this particular cipher, we shall only very partially require its aid. As our predominant character is 8, we will commence by assuming it as the e of the natural alphabet. To verify the supposition, let us observe if the 8 be seen often in couples-for e is doubled with great frequency in English—in such words, for example, as meet,' 'fleet,' speed,' seen,' been,' agree,' &o. In the present instance we see it doubled no less than five times, although the cryptograph is brief.

“Let us assume 8, then, as e. Now, of all words in the language, the’ is most usual ; let us see, therefore, whether there are not repetitions of any three characters, in the same order of collocation, the last of them being 8. If we discover repetitions of such letters, so arranged, they will most probably represent the word “the.' Upon inspection, we find no less than seven such arrangements, the characters being ;48. We may, therefore, assume that; represents t, 4 represents h, and 8 represents emthe last being now well confirmed. Thus a great step has been taken.

“But, having established a single word, we are enabled to establish a vastly important point; that is to say, several commencements and terminations of other words. Let us refer, for example, to the last instance but one, in which the combination ;48 occurs-not far from the end of the cipher. We know that the ; immediately ensuing is the commencement of a word, and, of the six characters succeeding this the,' we are cognizant of no less than five. Let us set these characters down, thus, by the letters we know them to represent, leaving a space for the unknown

t eeth. “Here we are enabled, at once, to discard the 'th, 'as forming no portion of the word commencing with the first t; since, by ex

6

6

6

a

periment of the entire alphabet for a letter adapted to the vacancy, we perceive that no word can be formed of which this th can be a part. We are thus narrowed into

tee,

and, going through the alphabet, if necessary, as before, we arrive at the word 'tree,' as the sole possible reading. We thus gain another letter, r, represented by (, with the words the tree' in juxtaposition.

“Looking beyond these words, for a short distance, we again see the combination ;48, and employ it by way of termination to what immediately precedes. We have thus this arrangement :

the tree ;4(*?34 the, or, substituting the natural letters, where known, it reads thus :

the tree thrf?3h the. Now, if, in place of the unknown characters, we leave blank spaces, or substitute dots, we read thus :

the tree thr...h the, when the word 'through' makes itself evident at once. But this discovery gives us three new letters, 0, u and g, represented by $ ? and 3.

“Looking now, narrowly, through the cipher for combinations of known characters, we find, not very far from the beginning, this arrangement,

83(88, or egree, which, plainly, is the conclusion of the word degree,' and gives us another letter, d, represented by t.

“ Four letters beyond the word degree,' we perceive the combination

;48(388. “ Translating the known characters, and representing the unknown by dots, as before, we read thus :

th rtee. an arrangement immediately suggestive of the word “thirteen,' and again furnishing us with two new characters, i and n, represented by 6 and *.

“Referring, now, to the beginning of the cryptograph, we find the combination,

5311t.

6

[ocr errors]

“ Translating, as before, we obtain

· good, which assures us that the first letter is A, and that the first two words are “A good.'

“ It is now time that we arrange our key, as far as discovered, in a tabular form, to avoid confusion. It will stand thus :

5 represents a
t

d
8
3
4

h
6

i

e

[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

“We have, therefore, no less than ten of the most important letters represented, and it will be unnecessary to proceed with the details of the solution. I have said enough to convince you that ciphers of this nature are readily soluble, and to give you some insight into the rationale of their development. But be assured that the specimen before us appertains to the very simplest species of cryptograph. It now only remains to give you the full translation of the characters upon the parchment, as unriddled. Here it is :

A good glass in the bishop's hostel in the devil's seat forty-one degrees and thirteen minutes northeast and by north main branch seventh limb east side shoot from the left eye of the death's-head a bee line from the tree through the shot fifty feet out."" But,” said I, “ the enigma seems still in as bad a condition

How is it possible to extort a meaning from all this jargon about devil's seats,' .death’s-heads,' and · bishop's hotels ??"

“I confess,” replied Legrand,“ that the matter still wears a serious aspect, when regarded with a casual glance. My first endeavor was to divide the sentence into the natural division in. tended by the cryptographist.”

“ You mean, to punctuate it ?” “ Something of that kind."

66

as ever.

[ocr errors]

6

6

“But how was it possible to effect this ?

“I reflected that it had been a point with the writer to run his words together without division, so as to increase the difficulty of solution. Now, a not over-acute man, in pursuing such an object, would be nearly certain to overdo the matter. When, in the course of his composition, he arrived at a break in his subject which would naturally require a pause, or a point, he would be exceedingly apt to run his characters, at this place, more than usually close together. If you will observe the MS., in the present instance, you will easily detect five such cases of unusual crowding. Acting upon this hint, I made the division thus :

"A good glass in the Bishop's hostel in the Devil's seat-fortyone degrees and thirteen minutes-northeast and by northmain branch seventh limb east sideshoot from the left eye of the death's-heada bee-line from the tree through the shot fifty feet

out.'»

[ocr errors]

“Even this division,” said I, “ leaves me still in the dark.

“ It left me also in the dark,” replied Legrand, " for a few days; during which I made diligent inquiry, in the neighborhood of Sullivan's Island, for any building which went by the name of the Bishop's Hotel ;' for, of course, I dropped the obsolete word

hostel.' Gaining no information on the subject, I was on the point of extending my sphere of search, and proceeding in a more systematic manner, when, one morning, it entered into my head, quite suddenly, that this · Bishop's Hostel' might have some reference to an old family, of the name of Bessop, which, time out of mind, had held possession of an ancient manor house, about four miles to the northward of the Island. I accordingly went over to the plantation, and re-instituted my inquiries among the older negroes of the place. At length one of the most aged of the women said that she had heard of such a place as Bessop's Castle, and thought that she could guide me to it, but that it was not a castle, nor a tavern, but a high rock.

“I offered pay her well for her trouble, and, after some demur, she consented to accompany me to the spot. We found it without much difficulty, when, dismissing her, I proceeded to examine the place. The castle' consisted of an irregular assemblage of cliffs and rocks-one of the latter being quite remark.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

able for its height as wel, as for its insulated and artificial appearance. I clambered to its apex, and then felt much at a loss as to what should be next done. “ While I was busied in reflection, my eyes

fell

upon a narrow ledge in the eastern face of the rock, perhaps a yard below the summit upon which I stood. This ledge projected about eighteen inches, and was not more than a foot wide, while a niche in the cliff just above it, gave it a rude resemblance to one of the hol. low-backed chairs used by our ancestors. I made no doubt that here was the devil's-seat alluded to in the MS., and now I seemed to grasp the full secret of the riddle.

“ The 'good glass,' I knew, could have reference to nothing but a telescope ; for the word glass' is rarely employed in any other sense by seamen. Now here, I at once saw, was a telescope to be used, and a definite point of view, admitting no variation, from which to use it. Nor did I hesitate to believe that the phrases, “ forty-one degrees and thirteen minutes,' and northeast and by north,' were intended as directions for the levelling of the glass. Greatly excited by these discoveries, I hurried home, pro. cured a telescope, and returned to the rock.

“I let myself down to the ledge, and found that it was impossible to retain a seat upon it except in one particular position. This fact confirmed my preconceived idea. I proceeded to use the glass. Of course, the 'forty-one degrees and thirteen minutes' could allude to nothing but

evation above the visible hori. zon, since the horizontal direction was clearly indicated by the words, 'northeast and by north. This latter direction I at once established by means of a pocket-compass; then, pointing the glass as nearly at an angle of forty-one degrees of elevation as I could do it by guess, I moved it cautiously up or down, until my attention was arrested by a circular rift or opening in the foliage of a large tree that overtopped its fellows in the distance. In the centre of this rift I perceived a white spot, but could not, at first,

distinguish what it was. Adjusting the focus of the telescope, I / again looked, and now made it out to be a human skull.

"Upon this discovery I was so sanguine as to consider the enigma solved; for the phrase "main branch, seventh limb, east side,' could refer only to the position of the skull upon the tree,

6

a

6

« ElőzőTovább »