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6. At this stage
reflections I endeavored to remember, and did remember, with entire distinctness, every incident which occurred about the period in question. The weather was chilly (oh, rare and happy accident !), and a fire was blazing upon the hearth. I was heated with exercise and sat near the table. You, however, had drawn a chair close to the chimney. Just as I placed the parchment in your hand, and you were in the act of inspecting it, Wolf, the Newfoundland, entered, and leaped upon your shoulders. With
caressed him and kept him off, while your right, holding the parchment, was permitted to fall listlessly between your knees, and in close proximity to the fire. At one moment I thought the blaze had caught it, and was about to caution you, but, before I could speak, you had withdrawn it, and were engaged in its examination. When I considered all these particulars, I doubted not for a moment that heat had been the agent in bringing to light, upon the parchment, the skull which I saw designed upon it. You are well aware that chemical preparations exist, and have existed time out of mind, by means of which it is possible to write upon either paper or vellum, so that the characters shall become visible only when subjected to the action of fire. Zaffre, digested in aqua regia, and diluted with four times its weight of water, is sometimes employed; a green tint results. The regulus of cobalt, dissolved in spirit of nitre, gives a red. These colors disappear at longer or shorter intervals after the material written upon cools, but again become apparent upon the reapplication of heat.
“I now scrutinized the death's-head with care. Its . outer edges — the edges of the drawing nearest the edge of the vellum --- were far more distinct than the others. It was clear that the action of the caloric had been imperfect
or unequal. I immediately kindled a fire, and subjected every portion of the parchment to a glowing heat. At first, the only effect was the strengthening of the faint lines in the skull; but, upon persevering in the experiment, there became visible, at the corner of the slip, diagonally opposite to the spot in which the death’s-head was delineated, the figure of what I at first supposed to be a goat. A closer scrutiny, however, satisfied me that it was intended for a kid." “Ha! ha!” said I, “ to be sure I have no right to laugh
- a million and a half of money is too serious a matter for mirth but you are not about to establish a third link in your chain — you will not find any special connection between your pirates and a goat — pirates, you know, have nothing to do with goats; they appertain to the farming interest."
“But I have just said that the figure was not that of a goat.”
"Well, a kid then pretty much the same thing."
“Pretty much, but not altogether,” said Legrand. “ You may have heard of one Captain Kidd. I at once looked upon the figure of the animal as a kind of punning or hieroglyphical signature. I say signature, because its position on the vellum suggested this idea. The death'shead at the corner diagonally opposite, had, in the same manner, the air of a stamp, or seal. But I was sorely put out by the absence of all else — of the body to my imagined instrument — of the text for my context.”'
“I presume you expected to find a letter between the stamp and the signature.”
Something of that kind. The fact is, I felt irresistibly impressed with a presentiment of some vast good fortune impending. I can scarcely say why. Perhaps, after
all, it was rather a desire than an actual belief; but do you know that Jupiter's silly words, about the bug being of solid gold, had a remarkable effect upon my fancy? And then the series of accidents and coincidences — these were so very extraordinary. Do you observe how mere an accident it was that these events should have occurred upon the sole day of all the year in which it has been, or may be, sufficiently cool for fire, and that without the fire, or without the intervention of the dog at the precise moment in which he appeared, I should never have become aware of the death's-head, and so never the possessor of the treasure ?"
“But proceed, I am all impatience.”
stories current, the thousand vague rumors afloat, about money buried, somewhere upon the Atlantic coast, by Kidd and his associates. These rumors must have some foundation in fact. And that the rumors have existed so long and so continuous, could have resulted, it appeared to me, only from the circumstànce of the buried treasure still remaining entombed. Had Kidd concealed his plunder for a time, and afterward reclaimed it, the rumors would scarcely have reached us in their present unvarying form. You will observe that the stories told are all about moneyseekers, not about money-finders. Had the pirate recovered his money, there the affair would have dropped. It seemed to me that some accident say the loss of a memorandum indicating its locality -- had deprived him of the means of recovering it, and that this accident had become known to his followers, who otherwise might never have heard that treasure had been concealed at all, and who, busying themselves in vain, because unguided, attempts to regain it, had given first birth, and then universal currency,
to the reports which are now so common. Have you ever heard of any important treasure being unearthed along the coast ?
Never." “ But that Kidd's accumulations were immense, is well known. I took it for granted, therefore, that the earth still held them; and you will scarcely be surprised when I tell you that I felt a hope, nearly amounting to certainty, that the parchment so strangely found, involved a lost record of the place of deposit."
“ But how did you proceed ? ”
“I held the vellum again to the fire, after increasing the heat, but nothing appeared. I now thought it possible that the coating of dirt might have something to do with the failure; so I carefully rinsed the parchment by pouring warm water over it, and having done this, I placed it in a tin pan, with the skull downward, and put the pan upon a furnace of lighted charcoal. In a few minutes, the pan having become thoroughly heated, I removed the slip, and to my inexpressible joy, found it spotted in several places, with what appeared to be figures arranged in lines. Again I placed it in the pan, and suffered it to remain another minute. Upon taking it off, the whole was just as you see it now."
Here Legrand, having re-heated the parchment, submitted it to my inspection. The following characters were rudely traced, in a red tint, between the death's-head and the goat:
530 11 305))6*:4826) 4 1.) 4) :806 * ;487860) 85;;]8*; :*8 83(88) 5 * † ;46(;88 * 96* ? ;8)* *(;485):5 * †2:**(;4956 * 2(5* — 418 8* ;4069285) ;)6 + 8) 4 + 1;1(19:48081;8:8 11:48 85;4)485 + 528806 * 81(19:48;(88:4 (? 34;48) 4 1;161;: 188;
But,” said I, returning him the slip, “ I am as much in the dark as ever. Were all the jewels of Golconda awaiting me upon my solution of this enigma, I am quite sure that I should be unable to earn them.”
“And yet,” said Legrand, “ the solution is by no means so difficult as you might be led to imagine from the first hasty inspection of the characters. These characters, as any one might readily guess, form a cipher -- that is to say, they convey a meaning; but then, from what is known of Kidd, I could not suppose him capable of constructing any of the more abstruse cryptographs. I made up my mind at once that this was of a simple species such, however, as would appear to the crude intellect of the sailor absolutely insoluble without the key." "And you really solved it?"
Readily ; I have solved others of an abstruseness ten thousand times greater. Circumstances, and a certain bias of mind, have led me to take interest in such riddles, and it may well be doubted whether human ingenuity can construct an enigma of the kind which human ingenuity may not, by proper application, resolve. In fact, having once established connected and legible characters, I scarcely gave a thought to the mere difficulty of developing their import.
“ In the present case — indeed in all cases of secret writing—the question regards the language of the cipher; for the principles of solution, so far especially as the more simple ciphers are concerned, depend upon, and are varied by, the genius of the particular idiom. In general, there is no alternative but experiment (directed by probabilities) of every tongue known to him who attempts the solution, until the true one be attained. But, with the cipher now before us, all difficulty was removed by the