Thursday, August 18

A Surprise in Holmesian Taste

Alert!  If you are my brother and you are reading this, you have got to stop!  Click off, turn around and keep on walking, pal.  Secret information will soon be disclosed here and it is definitely not for your ears. 

Alright, I think the coast is clear.  I'm quite excited.  It's my brother's birthday next Thursday and as I did last year, I am planning a fun surprise leading up to Thursday morning - a clue hunt if you will, but completely Sherlock Holmes themed.  It is extremely cool, slightly complicated and will take three days to complete- Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday - Thursday being the day on which I draw it to an end and conclude the hunt. 

If you are anything at all of a Sherlock Holmes fan, you will certainly pick up on the subtle references.  OK.  Hear we go.  I will talk you through it. 

1.  On Sunday afternoon, I will give him the instructions, but these instructions will be encoded in the Dancing Men script from The Adventure of the Dancing Men.  Example:

If he remembers the story well, this will be easy for him to crack, and if not, some common sense and research will soon have him reading the following message:
In three days, find three Garridebs.  One a day.  Tell no one. 
You will of course remember the three Garridebs from The Adventure of the Three Garridebs.  I will also give him three pages photocopied from Sherlock Holmes stories to use later on to crack ciphers. 

Now, the plan is that I will speak to three of his teachers, one that he has in first period on Monday, one that he has in first period on Tuesday, and a final one that he has in first period on Wednesday.  One a day, you see.  I am going to give them a little name tag to put on their shirt just for that lesson. 

2.  When my brother finds Monday's Garrideb, he will give him a little message.  It will read:

Time is of the essence my dear Holmes. Once you get this message, you must hurry to decrypt it to find the name of your confidant and follow my instructions to the letter. The code runs thus: page, line, word.

35 8
35 9    
(Note: This code, derived from The Valley of Fear refers to one of the words in a line on one of the pages I gave to him earlier, and it reveals the name Shinwell Johnson, a confidant of Holmes' in The Adventure of the Illustrious Client.)
You might recall having met and liked this gentleman in my drama class. Tall? Blonde? Funny? Yes, well, you will find he is an ex-criminal and agent for me, and you shall rely on him for your information. You must contact him at first break and address him with the aforementioned name. You will find that he uses some vulgar alias amongst the commoners. I refuse to wish you luck, but I doubt a man of your intellect appreciates such superstition anyhow. Moriarty.
This note refers my brother to one of my friends, to whom I will have given another message.  He will use the name that he decoded as a password.  The message will contain five orange pips, like those used in The Five Orange Pips, and the following:

Good work, Holmes.  You far exceed my expectations to have made it this far.  You must present these to me in person on the morning of the 25th.  That’s enough for one day.  Moriarty. 
3.  On Tuesday, my brother will find the second Garrideb and receive the following message:
So you continue to pursue this hopeless case? Your stubbornness will be the death of you someday, Holmes. Once again, you must hurry to decrypt this message and follow its instructions to the letter.


14 1
14 2
(Note:  This is the same code that I used on Monday, but it now reveals the name Fred Porlock, from The Valley of Fear, who actually isn't the same guy as Shinwell Johnson, even though I'm using the same friend fr convenience's sake.)
You met my man yesterday. However police movements of late have required him to assume a new alias. You must hurry to contact him at first break and address him with the aforementioned name if you insist on trying to beat me. Don’t get your hopes up, my fellow. Moriarty.
Same as on Monday, my brother will go to my friend, use the name as a password and will receive a new message.  It will contain the Freeman Society mark from The Valley of Fear (which I sadly couldn't find a picture of) and the following: 
You must present the Freeman’s Society mark to me in person on the morning of the 25th.  Call it a day, will you, Holmes?  Moriarty.
4.  On Wednesday, my brother will find the third Garrideb and receive the following message:
You really are too much, Holmes, but your stupidity is amusing, nonetheless. Who do you suppose will walk away the winner, at the end of this? For the last time, hurry to decrypt this message and follow its instructions to the letter. Moriarty.

31 14
31 15
(Note: This is the same code that I used on Monday, but it now reveals the name Langdale Pike, from The Adventure of the Three Gables, and of course I'm using the same friend again.)
For the last time, it may be, Holmes, you must trust to my confidant for your key. Once again he has assumed an alias for the protection of his identity. Rumours spread like the plague, he has found. I certainly hope you were not the gossiper responsible, though being secretive I have heard is a favourite trick of yours. At first break, hurry to contact him and address him with the aforementioned name.

No surprise, my brother then goes to my friend using the name as a password and receives the last message.  It contains the passwords and counterseign sequence used in The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual:
PERSON 1:  'Whose was it?'
PERSON 2:  'He who is gone.'
PERSON 1:  'Who shall have it?'
PERSON 2:  'He who will come.'
PERSON 1:  'What was the month?'
PERSON 2:  'The sixth from the first.'
PERSON 1:  'Where was the sun?'
PERSON 2:  'Over the oak.'
PERSON 1:  'Where was the shadow?'
PERSON 2:  'Under the elm.'
PERSON 1:  'How was it stepped?'
PERSON 2:  'North by ten and by ten, east by five and by five, south by two and by two, west by one and by one, and so under.'
PERSON 1:  'What shall we give for it?'
PERSON 2:  'All that is ours.'
PERSON 1:  'Why should we give it?'
PERSON 2:  'For the sake of the trust.'

And then the following message:
 I shall see you on the morning of the 25th.  Pray you are prepared to meet me and perhaps your end.  Moriarty.  
5.  That's practically it.  The next day is Thursday the 25th - his birthday.  He will present me with the five orange pips, the Freeman Society mark and perform the password and countersign of the Musgrave Ritual.  Then I give him his present - Sherlock Holmes the movie, (which happens to be his favourite movie), bound in brown paper and string. 

Now all that remains to be done is make the messages, make a couple of seals for the envelopes and eat an orange for the pips.  Wish me luck!


  1. Hi, Thanks for your comment on my blog's 'last post'. I've been blogging since 2005 and I now prefer to exchange with friends on FaceBook... Sorry, this comment is not related to your post!

  2. What a fantastic idea!!! Your brother is so lucky to have such a thoughtful sister :)

  3. Thanks! I spent a lot of time today organising things to make sure all my helpers for next week are prepared. I'm going to have to think of someway of thanking them! They're pretty wonderful.


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