Jules Verne

That is good! those are two English words. Then _ohe--syk;_ then _rym_ once more, and then the word _oto."_

Judge Jarriquez let the paper drop, and thought for a few minutes.

"All the words I see in this thing seem queer!" he said. "In fact, there is nothing to give a clue to their origin. Some look like Greek, some like Dutch; some have an English twist, and some look like nothing at all! To say nothing of these series of consonants which are not wanted in any human pronunciation. Most assuredly it will not be very easy to find the key to this cryptogram."

The magistrate's fingers commenced to beat a tattoo on his desk--a kind of reveille to arouse his dormant faculties.

"Let us see," he said, "how many letters there are in the paragraph."

He counted them, pen in hand.

"Two hundred and seventy-six!" he said. "Well, now let us try what proportion these different letters bear to each other."

This occupied him for some time. The judge took up the document, and, with his pen in his hand, he noted each letter in alphabetical order.

In a quarter of an hour he had obtained the following table:

    _a_ =  3 times     _b_ =  4  --     _c_ =  3  --     _d_ = 16  --     _e_ =  9  --     _f_ = 10  --     _g_ = 13  --     _h_ = 23  --     _i_ =  4  --     _j_ =  8  --     _k_ =  9  --     _l_ =  9  --     _m_ =  9  --     _n_ =  9  --     _o_ = 12  --     _p_ = 16  --     _q_ = 16  --     _r_ = 12  --     _s_ = 10  --     _t_ =  8  --     _u_ = 17  --     _v_ = 13  --     _x_ = 12  --     _y_ = 19  --     _z_ = 12  -- ---------------- Total . . . 276 times.

"Ah, ah!" he exclaimed. "One thing strikes me at once, and that is that in this paragraph all the letters of the alphabet are not used. That is very strange. If we take up a book and open it by chance it will be very seldom that we shall hit upon two hundred and seventy-six letters without all the signs of the alphabet figuring among them. After all, it may be chance," and then he passed to a different train of thought. "One important point is to see if the vowels and consonants are in their normal proportion."

And so he seized his pen, counted up the vowels, and obtained the following result:

    _a_ =  3 times     _e_ =  9  --     _i_ =  4  --     _o_ = 12  --     _u_ = 17  --     _y_ = 19  -- ---------------- Total . . . 276 times.

"And thus there are in this paragraph, after we have done our subtraction, sixty-four vowels and two hundred and twelve consonants. Good! that is the normal proportion. That is about a fifth, as in the alphabet, where there are six vowels among twenty-six letters. It is possible, therefore, that the document is written in the language of our country, and that only the signification of each letter is changed. If it has been modified in regular order, and a _b_ is always represented by an _l,_ and _o_ by a _v,_ a _g_ by a _k,_ an _u_ by an _r,_ etc., I will give up my judgeship if I do not read it. What can I do better than follow the method of that great analytical genius, Edgar Allan Poe?"

Judge Jarriquez herein alluded to a story by the great American romancer, which is a masterpiece. Who has not read the "Gold Bug?" In this novel a cryptogram, composed of ciphers, letters, algebraic signs, asterisks, full-stops, and commas, is submitted to a truly mathematical analysis, and is deciphered under extraordinary conditions, which the admirers of that strange genius can never forget. On the reading of the American document depended only a treasure, while on that of this one depended a man's life. Its solution was consequently all the more interesting.

The magistrate, who had often read and re-read his "Gold Bug," was perfectly acquainted with the steps in the analysis so minutely described by Edgar Poe, and he resolved to proceed in the same way on this occasion. In doing so he was certain, as he had said, that if the value or signification of each letter remained constant, he would, sooner or later, arrive at the solution of the document.