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The sound of a barking frog

“I can’t rule out the possibility that there’s a good way of constructing espionage theories, i.e. one that doesn’t make the person proposing it sound like they are as mad as a box of frogs.”

You have to say, the Honorable Cryptologist Nick Pelling is handy with the language and whether he knows it or not I’ve been one of those frogs for a lot of years, and he’s right, it’s fun trying to concoct an espionage theory from what we know.

Starting with the ‘Code’

To look at, the Rubaiyat code appears to have been written in a hurry, it’s scrawled, corrected, crossed out, sloppy, there are random spaces in the lines and some confusion as to what the first letter of each line represents. M? W? V? I? Can’t blame the police for that, we have to view their overmark as accurate to the original ‘faint pencil impression’.

We, the box of frogs, believe the code was deliberately made sloppy by someone with a certain amount of cunning, cunning like a fox. And if we, the frogs, can make any sense of it then we must be considered as becoming as clever as foxes. Right? Put the Age of The Frog behind us.

~~

The Rubaiyat in this context existed to be exchanged. Any value residing in the book was not found by the police. If it was there it was hidden. If it was hidden it may have been done by using any one of the dozens of methods available.

This provides a problem for the recipient, after all the book has many pages, a couple of hundred lines in the quatrains – more than enough places to write an invisible text. I mean, where does a fellow go to apply his sock wash? Dunk the whole book into a bucket of the stuff and hope to get through a detailed examination of every line of every page before the entire book turns to sludge?

I’m thinking a man needs directions.

So it’s back to the sloppy code, which, remarkably, doesn’t look so sloppy when we eliminate the sloppy bits. It has order. It’s like looking at the one upright pillar of a temple where all the others have collapsed. Frogs would call that a signature, others would prefer to sign it off as a mathematical uncertainty coming home a body-length winner in a field of one hundred and thirty one.

Here you are then ma grenouille with the fox’s book in your hand, his unscrambled code by your side and his signature as plain as day. All that is left to do is find his directions.

M? W? R G  O A B  A B D

Crossed out line of six letters discarded.

M? W? T B  I M P  A N E T P

M L I  A B O  A I A Q C

I? V? T T  M T S  A M S T G A B

We can eliminate the fox, his job done ..

… and now we have a new code.

M R G O A B B D

M T B I M P N E T P

M L I A B O I A Q C

I T T M T S M S T G A B

Or alternatively:

M R G O A B   B D

M T B I M P   N E T P

M L I A B O     I A Q C

I T T M T S   M S T G A B

So it’s back to the cryptographers, and don’t say frogs can’t be helpful as well as tasty.

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