Friday, 2 March 2012

Meeting the Baron (1)

The Major and Ilse were shown into Baron Wilhelm’s study. He immediately stood to greet them. “…and I’m especially please to meet you young lady”

“Well, then perhaps I can tell you about the Alsace communication that came into my possession, my father has been too concerned with my appearance to pay any attention to it” Ilse looked cross and determined to have her way

“Really, and what makes it so important” replied the Baron trying to keep control of the meeting.

“It was written in code and is some sort of agreement between Prussia and Alsace over splitting Pommaine between them”

“Perhaps we ought to cover this first as it seems relevant to our situation. Now can you show me what this message contains Ilse?”

“Of course” Ilse pulled out a sheaf of papers from her bag “Here is the original message”

“I see and how did you obtain it?”

“It was in the saddlebags of a horse I stole in Traunsberg” at the Baron’s raised eyebrows she continued “I didn’t realise it was a Alsatian courier’s horse until after I had escaped”

“Very well, I see it’s a code, so how did you work out the message”

Ilse pushed up her sleeves “right, first I looked for obvious patterns such as double letters that normally give an initial clue like MM in Pommaine, then I looked for common letter groups, but with no luck. It was only when I relaxed then looked again that I saw the letters were in groups of four.”

“I see it now you have pointed it out”

“Once I had reversed the groups I found the pattern, it used the keyword kraut and the rest of the alphabet reversed, and here is the translation”

“Excellent work! Normally we pass the information to Professor Töring at the University for him and his Mathematics students to find the code”

“I know!”

“How?” demanded the baron

“Well, he has written some interesting papers on the subject”

“But those had limited circulation!”

Von Barner interjected “I admit only recently discovered my daughter’s capabilities in espionage”

Feeling the conversation was drifting in the wrong direction Ilse asked “The part I don’t understand in the agreement is how they define Upper and Lower Pommaine”

“Ah, that’s an old term from the very early days of the Empire, when much of what is now the Frei Stadt was called lower Pommaine. Hmm, it seems that Prussia is out to occupy us should all the current claimants to Pommaine die, while Alsace will occupy Pommaine proper. A very fortunate discovery, I’ll pass on a suitable warning to the Emperor.”

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