Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Puzzle of Hunter Manor- Chapter 12: Connections

Gilbert walked into his bedroom. Lunch had been... interesting. He hoped Eudorra would read the note he tucked in with his phone and the tangram pieces. If not, he wasn't likely to get his phone back before tomorrow, and he really needed it so they could start communicating in a more subtle way. He would give her the afternoon to charge his phone and try to figure out the tangram. Until then, there was more Manor house to explore. He hadn't looked into the Theater or the Ballroom yet, and he was keen to know every nook and cranny, just in case Simon left any hints about the puzzle lying around. The lawyer had said that any room could contain a clue, and he intended to know every room like the back of his hand before the week was out.

He grabbed a notebook and pen from his duffel bag. He too would need to get some homework done while he was here. He had gotten most of it done before they had left home. It gave him a good excuse to avoid his mother, and stay locked up in his room. But for now, he would use the notebook to help take notes on each room in the Manor. He was about to head back out the door when his eye caught the note on his night stand.

He quickly walked over and picked it up to read it. His jaw dropped after he read the first line, then came back up and he nodded as he read the rest of the note.

"Mr. Gilbert Hawk,

I was cleaning the window in Mr. Henson's room earlier today, and was quite startled to see yourself and Ms. Eudorra Frank exiting the greenhouse together.

Please don't mind my being nosy, but if the two of you are working together it would behoove you to be a bit more discreet in your goings. I can help in this regard by providing a channel of communication between the two of you under the guise of my duties here in the Manor.

Should you require my assistance, all you need do is ring the bell.

Jared Monograhm
Butler, Hunter Manor"

'Well, that will certainly change things,' he thought. 'Eudorra will want to see this.'

But they weren't to meet until right before dinner at the tree house, and then only if she read the note. He bit his lip trying to decide what to do. Finally he rang the bell and Jared showed up a few minutes later.

"Jared, have you informed Eudorra about seeing us earlier today?"

"No, sir, I have not. I thought it best to leave that to yourself, as the one member of your family to take the instruction to work together seriously."

"Yeah, well... It is more to prove to my parents that I am not wasted space. I can use my head and figure things out."

"Very good, sir." Jared said through almost unmoving lips.

"If you would please take this note to Eudorra and deliver it in a subtle way, so that she sees it but her parent's don't, that would be great." Gilbert said, handing the note to Jared.

"Yes sir," he said with a smile and left the room.

As Gilbert watched him go, he couldn't help but trust the man. Simon had been right to trust him, he would follow his orders to a tee. Nothing beats a true friend. He was that way with Kevin, though only virtually. Shaking his head, Gilbert then grabbed his notebook and headed out the door himself, headed for the theater on the ground floor.

Eudorra sat at her desk staring at the crumpled pieces of paper before her. Her school books lay off to the side forgotten. Gilbert's phone lay plugged in beside her. His note had been good, but what a risk to hand it to her with her mother standing right there next to her! There had to be a better way to get information back and forth to each other, but for the life of her she couldn't think how.

She diverted her attention back to the pieces of paper in front of her. Each was a simple geometric shape, a large right triangle, two small triangles, and a rectangle, and two parallelograms. She had played with tangrams when she was a child, but nothing like these! There were words typed across each shape, so that they had to be placed in the right order for the message to make any sense. Also there was no key, no blank shape that she was trying to recreate.

The most frustrating part, was that she was sure she had the message figured out already, but the shape was not there! "Remember the lesson of the ring," but there was no shape to it! Having solved the first clue with Gilbert, she was positive that the shape that this sentence made when placed in the right order would produce the second symbol of the set. If only they knew what the first symbol meant, maybe that would give her a clue as to what the second symbol could be.

There was a knock at the door. Eudorra quickly flipped open one of her books on top of the pieces of paper and pulled one of her notebooks towards her.

"Come in," she called.

The door opened just a crack and Jared cautiously peeked into the room. When he was sure no one else was there, he entered and closed the door quietly behind him. Eudorra raised her eyebrows, what kind of behavior was this from a butler?

"Ms. Frank, I have a message here from Mr. Gilbert Hawk. He asked that I deliver it to you." He held a small piece of paper out towards her.

She took it, somewhat confused. Wasn't using the butler as a go between kind of obvious? Wouldn't his parents ask what was in the note he sent?

She opened it and read the same message that Gilbert had read just minutes before. She then looked up at Jared with new respect, and a bit of horror at having been seen.

"So, you saw us earlier?" she asked.

"Yes, miss. I was cleaning the windows on the second floor and happened to see your exit from the greenhouse. As I am able to go from room to room without question, it would be advisable to use me as a means of communication between myself and Mr. Gilbert."

Eudorra had to agree with this statement. It would be much less risky for them to interact with Jared, than it would for them to interact with each other.

"How will we let you know when we need to send a message to the other person?" she asked, still a bit skeptical.

"When I enter the room to clear or refresh the snack bar, I will ask if anyone would like anything else before I clear it. Make a pretense of wanting something from the tray and place your message upon it."

"That makes sense, how will you let us know if there is a message for us?"

"I will give you a nod as I place the tray, the message will be under the right-hand side of the tray when you go to get a drink or a snack, simply retrieve it  when no one is looking."

Eudorra was impressed. Jared had certainly put ample thought into this solution, and it looked like a good one.

"Okay, that sounds like a plan, and when we are in our rooms like now we just ring the bell?"

"Precicely, miss." he said with a smile.

"And you told Gilbert all of this as well?" she asked.

"No, I did not. He seemed to think room to room was adequate, perhaps I shall tell him the next time I come across him, or when either of you send a new note."

"Excellent work, Jared, I can see that you were invaluable to Simon. Did you help him set this whole thing up?"

"I did miss, though I shan't be able to give you any advice on where to look or go, as that is against my orders."

Eudorra was astounded. Jared was a butler's butler. Followed every command with exactness and never let anything get in the way of duty. Simon had done well in selecting him to work at the Manor, and to help him carry out this final master puzzle.

"Well, I don't have anything to send him right now. The last puzzle he gave me sure is a complicated one, I haven't been able to figure it out yet. If I do, I will certainly ring for you."

"Yes, miss. Now I must leave you, as I am sure Marie is in need of help in the kitchen."

He bowed from the room, and she watched him go, still in awe at his dedication to his late master. She cleared the text book and notebook from the table and stared at the pieces of paper once again. What was the lesson of the ring?

"What ring is he talking about?" Terrence asked. His hair was a mess, his sleeves were rolled up and his eyes were becoming bloodshot.

Annabel was pacing the room once more in her distress. She had worked the pieces of the puzzle for over an hour, and couldn't make anything of them. The sentence was easy enough, but the placement of the pieces still bothered her. Simon, she knew, would want every piece in its appropriate place before his message was clear.

"He's probably referring to the last puzzle Mort and I did together when we were kids." she said, her voice shaking in frustration. "I beat Mort by just feet in solving it. There was a box under the Gazebo that held the treasure, an emerald ring. After that we had lunch and Mort cracked. I think he threw up and everything, he didn't come back to the Manor after that."

"Should we look in the box where the ring was?"

"I had thought of that, but he never used the same place twice, so that wouldn't be like him."

"Where is the ring now?" Terrence asked.

"I have it here, it is upstairs in my jewelry box. I thought it would be fun to wear it again while we were here, just to tease Mort, but then this new puzzle utterly stumped us, so I haven't gotten it out."

"What does the ring look like?"

"Why does that matter? It is a simple gold ring with a large emerald set into it. Nothing special really," she said in an irritated tone.

"Go get it."

"What?" she asked spinning towards him.

"Go get it. It may have a clue that we need to solve this clue."

"Are you crazy? How would he know I even kept the ring?"

"Well, it is the last prize you won from him, I imagine he could guess that you would find that something worth holding on to." he said fixing her with an intense stare.

"Fine, but it probably won't help with anything." And she stomped from the room.

She returned a few minutes later holing the ring in her hand, examining it closely with a perplexed look on her face.

"It isn't as plain as I remember it. There are symbols written on it. I never noticed them before. Here look!"

Terrence took the ring and examined it. It was indeed a gold ring with a large emerald embedded on it, but on the sides of the band there were characters written. One side read "Aleph" and on the other side was a single character:

"What do you think it... Terrence, what are you doing?" Annabel gaped at him as he hurriedly reassembled the pieces:

"How did... Why did he... I don't understand!" Annabel was speechless. How had Simon known she would keep the ring all these years, and then bring it to the Manor?

"I could be wrong, but I think your uncle was trying to tell you something!" Said Terrence looking up triumphantly.

"But what is Aleph, what does it mean?" Annabel asked, "I can't understand a message I can't read!"

"Maybe your uncle was hoping you would look more closely at the ring and use your puzzle solving skills to find out for yourself."

So how was it?

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