Saturday, January 5, 2013

Cipher Wheel

He immediately guessed what the first thing was, though he had never seen one before: a cipher wheel. It was an assembly of two copper discs around a common axis with an overall diameter of about 3 inches. The outer wheel was stationary and had uppercase letters inscribed around the edge in an orderly ABC fashion, with some letters missing and 4 numbers: 1,2,3,4. The inner wheel rotated and had lowercase letters arranged in a random order.  He could tell that a few letters were missing here as well, but the arrangement was such that there was a one to one relationship between the set of letters on the inside wheel with the letters on the outside circle as the inner disc was rotated. So this was a cipher wheel. It was an enigma that was meant to code a message, and as such was a mystery that included his family, Rebekah, and several others who would probably remain unknown. He was sure Rebekah would be happy to see it.

The second item was another bag. He opened it and was immediately surprised; in it were coins! He took several out and turned them around; he did not know how much they were worth, but they fit the description of treasure. Some looked like they had Spanish words, others were German, but they all glistened of Gold. It was unexpected and wonderful, and added to the mystery of it all. The third item was another small book. He thumbed through it quickly and concluded it contained more clues since there was the familiar square arrangement of letters.

He put the items back into the bag and set about hiding the brick opening. He locked the door and tried his best to use the mortar to match the grain of the brick. He wondered again how his father made this secret compartment – he wondered even more how he came to have a father who was involved with such secret dealings. It was sad that the religious establishment forced people to resort to such measures just to communicate with each other, over of all things notorious, the Bible. He walked through the building, made sure that the place was secure, and then grabbed his things and locked up.

On the way home he clutched the bag with a similar level of paranoia and excitement that he had when he took Luther’s things home over a year ago. Fortunately he made it home without incident in the twilight of the evening. Heinrich opened the door and found everyone preparing for the evening meal. They stopped what they were doing to greet Heinrich and received their own version of anticipatory excitement when they saw his big smile and the bag in his hands. To the table they all went, with Heinrich at the head preparing for the unveiling.

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