Tuesday, May 21, 2013
This period covers the maneuvering of the units as they close on each other and the Skirmish at Glendale farm
(Note all directions are as you face the map, so left is the left side of the map etc)
Lord Warwick was most displeased to hear from his scouts that Thornycroft village was occupied by two Royalist Militia battalions. It occurred to him that the Royalists were intending to use the crossroads at Thornycroft as the concentration for their forces in Gloucester, just as he intended it for his.
He realised that where two Battalions were in place now, soon be it a matter of hours or days there would be others.
On reaching Ashley Lane Manor a mile so from the Village the Duke sat down with the 4th Brigade commander Maj General Lauriston and his Regimental and Battalion commanders.
The options discussed had been for a rapid march on Thornycroft village with the 4th Brigade to meet up with the Confederate 6th Militia Brigade and launch a concentrated attack on the village, however the down side of that option was as all commanders were only too aware how viciously the Royalists were defending their homes and the battle in Thornycroft village could seriously bog down and delay him while further Royalist forces gathered nearby or came to the support of the defenders.
It had therefore been decided that the 4th brigade would take the Glendale farm and then swing across behind Thornycroft village and then attack the village front and rear. It was far better to destroy the Royalists piecemeal rather than giving them the opportunity to concentrate.
The 6th Militia Brigade would initially only be required to screen the village until the 4th Brigade was in position behind it.
Colonel Borthwick commander of the 8th Confederation Regiment were to lead the assault in Glendale Farm, his two Battalions the 17th and 18th Foote battalions would be the first to engage.
The terrain made a rapid approach to the farm difficult as the road way they were marching on had very high and thick hedge lines either side, so march column made for the most rapid movement, however if he had kept all his units on the road they would have been strung out for miles, so once they had reach Ashley Lane Manor, he kept the 17th on the road and the 18th marched cross-country south from the manor.
His intention was to engage any forces in the area of Glendale farm frontally with the 17th, while the 18th moved around to the left of Glendale farm crossed the river with the intention of outflanking any enemy in the area of the farm. The other Regiment with the 91st and 121st Battalions would move in a south easterly direction across country with the intention of crossing the river to the the right of the open woods.
These two battalions were to prevent any reinforcements reaching Glendale from Thornycroft Village or indeed from the south (bottom of Map) and if not required to block enemy units one or both Battalions could assist with the attack on the farm.
Skirmish at Glendale Farm
12:15pm The Confederate 18th battalion (700) reaches Periwinkle farm and bridge, it begins changing from road column into line, a move that takes 5 minutes. It soon becomes obvious to the Battalion commander Major Evans that the area he has to form and attack across is quite restricted. First he has the river, then there is the open woods to the left of the farm and then the river itself bends around the farm, so there is no room for fancy maneuvers, he will form line, and move on the farm.
12:20pm The Battalion is line and he has received reports that the farm is occupied by one enemy Battalion of Militia.
The Battalion begins to advance through the river, it is not to deep but very swift and before long his line is quite disordered, on reaching the other side his battalion begins to reform, but as they do so they come under fire from the enemy Militia Battalion who have not restricted themselves to the farm, in fact they have lined the thick hedge line that runs alongside the road that passes through Glendale Farm.
12:25pm - The Royalist 22nd Militia battalion opens fire on the Confederate 18th Battalion inflicting 80 casualties, the 18th is shaken but completes forming line.
12:30pm - 18th battalion opens fire back on the 22nd Militia battalion causing 35 casualties, the 22nd replied causing 105 casualties on the 18th battalion, Major Evans is becoming concerned for his Battalions cohesion.
Major Evans receives 2 reports the first was from the 17th Battalion which is now in position to attack the Royalist battalion in the flank. He looks to his right and indeed can see the 17th forming line in a perfect position to outflank the enemy, but then the 2nd report arrives saying another Royalist battalion has been seen further south near Glenorchy farm.
12:35pm – The Commander of the Royalist 22nd Militia Battalion Major Claude Baring was becoming a worried man, he had managed to contain and seriously hurt the enemy battalion to his front, but now another was forming in line on his left flank and a few minutes earlier he had seen two enemy Battalions disappear behind the woods to his right, looking to his rear he could see his regiments sister Battalion the 23rd rushing to join him, but they were to few, too late and too far away to be of immediate assistance.
Major Baring realised he had to withdraw now while he could, the enemy to his front was shaken and would take time to form for an advance, the Battalion to his left would have to cross the river which means it would halt to reform; so now was the time to move. He sent dispatch riders to the commander of the 23rd to see if he could delay the enemy Battalions coming around the right of the woods, he also advised him and the Brigade Commander in Thornycroft that he would fall back to an area north of Glenorchy farm. He envisaged that inevitably he would be forced back to defend the area Lord Burns Manor north through Burns Timber-mill and rest the new flank on the river near Crecy church. He also asked for any available reinforcements as the area he would need to hold was far to big for a mere two Battalions to contain 4 battalions. Having made the decision to move he urged his Battalion to move back south to take up a position near Glenorchy farm.
The Battalion moved out in good formation, the Confederates realised too late that the Royalists were withdrawing and by the time they gained Glendale farm the Royalists were forming a new line behind the hedges on the main road just to the right of then Glenorchy farm.
Thus ended the skirmish at Glendale farm the Confederate 18th Battalion suffering 180 casualties the defending Royalist Battalion lost 61 men.
The situation entered a period of relative calm at this stage. The Royalist 18th battalion managed to withdraw back to near Glenorchy Farm and took up positions on the roadway, protected by the large thick hedge line. The 17th Battalion moved down to the bend of the road to face off the Confederate Battalions that had moved by hind the open woods.
The Confederate battalions drew up close to the Royalist lines and then a General calm spread over the battlefield, it was 1:30pm, the time that Lord Warwick had designated as the start of the next phase of the battle.
Events on the Right Flank
Mag Gen Blair Stevenson received the order that his6th Militia Brigade was to screen the village of Thornycroft from the north, he was not to attack the village until the 4th brigade was in position to the south of the village.
However as General Stevenson fumed, when his lead units had arrived at Stavely farm all he could see in Thornycroft village was 1 miserable Royalist militia battalion. He had 5 Battalions, he should have stormed the village there and then and that would have settled the issue with a lot less pain than they would suffer if ordered to attack later today.
Now as he looked the Royalists had at least 3-4 battalions in or near the village, which meant a long hard slog for his men.
The General however was no fool, he knew Lord Warwick all to well and he had his mind set on the fact that the regulars were going to have the glory this day, and as far as General Stevenson was concerned they should have the blood as well.
The 4th Militia Brigade was formed in an arc around the northern outskirts of the village, from that point all he could do now was wait. He heard the firing and realised the 4th Brigade was in a battle for Glendale farm, a little later he received a message declaring that the farm had been captured.
General Stevenson had sent several messages advising his Lordship that many enemy battalions had been seen marching quickly to the Thornycroft region, yet he still received no orders to attack.
He looked at his pocket watch and it was 1:30pm, and finally he could hear more firing, this time coming from the region of Glenorchy farm.
Next Post Covers the main Battle
Friday, May 17, 2013
Battle for Thornycroft Village.
4th Brigade –
8th Foot Regiment = 17th Foot, 18th Foot,
9th Foot Regiment = 96th Foot, 121st Foot
6 th Militia Brigade –
4 Battalions of Militia
1 Battalion of Jager Militia
4th Militia Brigade -
5th Militia Brigade –
The Battle for Thornycroft Village was a totally unexpected affair, it was a most unlikely contest between what were two small flanking forces. The Royalist Duke of Gloucester had been ordered to gather his militia in the Bichester area so as to protect the left flank of the regular Royalist Army further to the east in Royston.
However on hearing that the Royalists had won a significant victory near Luton in Royston and in the expectation that the Royalists would advance into Northampton the Duke ordered his Militia to concentrate further north, if possible in the area of Banbury.
Meanwhile the Duke of Warwick with his original intention of advancing south parallel to the main Confederation Army asit moved south from Northampton to Royston was aiming for Bichester. The Duke had already committed 1 of his Regular Infantry Brigades to the Royston Campaign which left him with barely sufficient forces for an offensive in Gloucester. However he had received intelligence from Confederation sympathisers that the Duke of Gloucester had sent all his regular units to General Roberts in Royston, thus Warwick correctly assumed all Gloucester would have would be Militia and they were spread out over the county garrisoning towns and villages against rebellion and possible Confederation raiders.
The situation changed a little for the Duke of Warwick when he learnt that Lord Ashley had been defeated in Royston and as a consequence had retreated back into Northampton. Along with that news came a request for further reinforcements, a request that infuriated Warwick beyond belief. Having already committed half his regular Army to Lord Ashley in Royston he was being asked to now commit more when he was on the eve of his own advance through Gloucester. Finally however he decided that Ashley had to be reinforced or his own forces would become isolated being too far forward, so he dispatched his sole Cavalry force, two regiments of Heavy cavalry to Lord Ashley. This left him with the 4th Regular Brigade and the 6th Militia Brigade, he now had no Cavalry and no artillery; not a very satisfactory situation. It was quite evident to Warwick that a advance on London through Gloucester was now out of the question, the best he could hope to do was find a suitable place to to hold and defend until the situation in Northampton rectified itself.
Looking at the map Warwick saw the village of Thornycroft was a vital road junction and with no possibility of any significant Royalist forces in the area he would settle there and await events.
Meanwhile the Duke of Gloucester had received news of Warwick's advance and realised he was far two spread out to oppose Warwick at the outset, thus he had to decide on a point to concentrate his militia, the point he focused on was Thornycroft village, not too far forward but vital to hold in case Duke Warwick intended to swing east and take General Grahams force in Royston in the flank or rear.
Gloucester had 2 Battalions of the 4th Militia Brigade garrisoning the village so all that was required was that the other 6 Militia battalions move on the village and await events. Of course things were be a little precarious because all his artillery and Cavalry had been sent to Royston, so his Militia army had no eyes for reconnaissance and no support in artillery.
Thus the scene for the Skirmish at Thornycroft was set.
|The Battlefield at Thornycroft with DVs allocated.|
Thursday, May 16, 2013
It had been a long day for the Kings cryptographer, nothing seemed to work in regard to breaking the Vigenere code, over the last few hours he had resorted to frustrating guessing in hoping to find the keyword, all to no avail. He tried peoples names, cities, countries, even birds and animals nothing fitted, nothing worked.
His new friend Brother Andrew called in at the office and soon saw the work and its frustrations were taking their toll on Sam.
It had taken some convincing but eventually Andrew managed to talk Sam into going outside for some air, of course there were the normal security procedures Sam undertook when he left the office now. Everyone left the room while Sam presumably hid the code, but once done and doors locked the pair left palace buildings for the gardens.
It was late afternoon, spring was setting into summer and it was an unusually warm summer. They walked the paths of the elaborate gardens in silence, Andrew not wanting to burden Sam with to much conversation, just hoping the break and fresh air will do much to refresh and help him.
There were a number of people strolling in the gardens, they had even seen Lady Margret in the distance with a group of “her ladies”.
Sam asked “When will the King marry?”
Andrew smiled, “That is a question I suspect that is asked every day, but provisionally it is set for about 6 weeks time. I have to say though neither the King nor Lady Margret seem to be overly excited about the prospect, or if they are they keep it to themselves.”
Sam saw a bench set not far away, there were a group of young men fencing in the nearby, Sam said
“Lets take a seat for a while.”
They sat there for a few minutes in total silence, watching the men challenging each other, Sam only recognised one of the men, young Rodney the prat who described himself as the Kings confidant and secretary.
“Andrew how on earth did Rodney become the Kings Secretary, I remember him as a student I taught back in Oxford and I certainly would not have regarded him in any way as being academic or bright enough to be a clerk, let alone a Kings Secretary.”
Andrew nodded slightly, “We are not sure what the King sees in our Rodney, Brother Paul has asked him several times and all the King says is he finds Rodney funny and that he distracts him from the dreariness of being King. I can tell you Sam in confidence, that Brother Paul is not happy about the relationship, mainly because we have found Rodney has some questionable friends in the city.
The other aspect is that Rodney is not the Kings secretary Master Cawthorne has that responsibility, I think the relationship Rodney has with his majesty is more in the mind of Rodney that reality. In fact since an incident several weeks ago where there was quite a clean out of undesirables claiming attachments to his majesty, Rodney's relationship has definitely been waning.”
The two watched as Rodney just finished off another opponent, he paused as he saw Sam sitting on the bench seat, taking a kerchief from his bags on the ground nearby, we wiped his sweating brow and wandered over. He placed the sword he had been using into a long case and took from the case another rapier type sword and slid it into the scabbard attached to his belt.
After making some adjustments to his belt Rodney wandered over the Sam and Andrew.
He bowed in a rather extravagant manner, “Good afternoon to you Master Ogilvy, brother Andrew. Splendid afternoon for some exercise don’t you think.?”
Sam nodded, “In deed it is, we were just admiring your skills, you have quite a remarkable gift with your abilities with a sword; very skilful indeed.”
Rodney turned and watched as some of the other fellows continued their swordplay,
“I was fortunate enough to spend some time in France after I left Oxford, and while their I had the opportunity to learn from one of the French masters.”
Brother Andrew said “Yes Sam, Rodney is quite an accomplished duelist, it is said he has had a number of victims to his credit.”
“Brother Andrew, you are most unkind, the men I fought were not victims, they were fair opponents and I have been fortunate enough to be skilful enough to beat them all”.
Sam had been looking at the rapier Rodney was holding,
“Might I have look at that exquisite weapon Rodney, it looks dare I say it, quite beautiful?”
Rodney handed the rapier over, with an obvious amount of pride in his lethal weapon. “Do handle it with care Master Ogilvy, this is not the same weapon I used in practice over there with my friends, this is my own weapon I use to protect myself and my honour”.
Sam gently held the sword, Andrew noticed that Sam was paying considerable attention to a motif on the pommel. It was a blue wavy line that ran across a circular white background which seemed to be white pearl.
“Tell me, what is this motif, what on earth does it signify”
Rodney took the weapon quickly back from Sam hands.
“The Motif is the motif of my dear friend and mentor who taught me the skills of the rapier , Comte
“Indeed, it is a fine weapon Rodney, a fine weapon, but that motif what is the the significance of the blue line?”
Rodney's brow deepened, “I am sure I do not know Master Ogilvy, I was not rude enough to ask when the Comte offered me this weapon as a gift.”
“Of course, and I am sorry to sound so inquisitive, it is a fine weapon and you have right to be proud of it young man, and I see you do it justice with your skill.”
Rodney now smiled, “Thank you master Olgivy, anytime you wish I would be pleased to show you some of the basic arts of fencing.”
Sam waved his arms in protest, “No thank you, weapons and I do not make good bedfellows, I am more a man of the quill than the sword I am afraid.”
Rodney looked to Andrew, “And you brother Andrew, are you a man of weapons or quill as well.”
Andrew looked up from beneath his hood, “A man of god has no need of weapons, nor I am afraid to say do use the quill all that well.”
Rodney stood momentarily looking at the two men, then said,
“Well Gentlemen I must return to my fellows,.” he bowed and quickly made his way back to the group of young men.
Andrew turned and looked at Sam,
“So Sam what what all the questions about the motif about, I think our young Rodney was quite miffed that you showed more regard to it and not his fine blade.”
Sam smiled at Andrew,
“You recall the other day I had the belongings of the Courier that died brought into my office, well in amongst that mans clothes and equipment was a sword, and on the pommel of the sword was the same motif as that one on young Rodney's rapier.
Now what I am left wondering is how much of a coincidence is it that a sword with that motif is given to a young Englishman by a french noble man just happens to be the same motif found on the sword of a enemy courier.”
Andrew immediately stood up, his face was alight with smiles.
“Master Samuel Ogilvy you are a little genius, a little genius I say. Indeed the coincidence is a long draw, but from my immediate guess is that the motif is either that of the sword maker, which I doubt, or it is a method of recognition. But you can be sure my little genius friend we will check out our French Comte Pascal.”
Sam stood up as well and then added, “There is one other thing Andrew, while I was holding the rapier, I errr accidentally gave the pommel a twist, that pommel is on a thread and I am wondering.....”
Andrew took Sam by the head and kissed him on the forehead... “You magnificent little master spy, you were wondering if that is where a message may be kept. I can assure you Sam we will know the answer to that soon.”
Andrew strolled over the group of young men who were all beginning to pick up their equipment which lay sprawled out on the lawns nearby.
Rodney noticing Andrew approaching and Sam slowly following some distance behind smiled,
“Ahhh brother Andrew, come for a lesson in the art of fencing perhaps.”
“No Rodney not all, it was that Sam and I were just discussing your fine sword, and as I had not had the opportunity to have a closer look at myself I was wondering if you would be so kind as to allow me the opportunity before you fine Gentlemen all went about your business.?”
Rodney feeling a little suspicious asked,
“And what was it about my sword that so intrigued you both, it is for sure a fine blade, but it is after all merely another rapier.”
“Well it was Sam who intrigued me over the motif, we were discussing what the meaning of such a device would have, Sam thought it might be the sword makers insignia, I am less sure but before casting an opinion I was wondering if I may have a look.”
“Well brother Andrew, ordinarily I would be only too pleased to let you look at the sword, but I fear I have important duties with the King that I must attend to.”
“”Odd Rodney because the King is involved with the Prime Minister all day today, but none the less I wont delay you long, it is merely to satisfy a curiosity that is all.”
Rodney turned to leave, as he did so he said “No I must really get back to my duties brother Andrew, perhaps another time.”
Rodney had taken a few steps when Andrew said, “well Rodney, I am sorry but I must insist you allow me to look at the blade, if my curiosity is satisfied then you will be on your way.”
“And if your curiosity as you call it is not satisfied, then what?”
“Then Rodney I fear you may be in a small amount of bother, but why go to this length merely to not allow me to see your sword, when ordinarily you have been only to keen to show it off.”
“It is your manner sir, that I find objectionable, now I must go.”
Andrew then yelled,
“Do not take another step Rodney or I will have you arrested, now give me your sword if you please.”
Rodney placed his equipment down on the ground but drew his sword,
“Now brother Andrew if you want my sword why dont you come and take it from me.”
Sam butted in, “For goodness sake Rodney, this is silly; just let Andrew have a look at your sword, there is no need for all this.”
“”I have said no, and that is the end of the matter, now brother Andrew either withdraw or come and take my sword from me.”
At that moment Andrew pulled a pistol from under his cloak, aiming it directly at Rodney said,
“Now either I take the sword from you alive or dead, but either way I will take your sword.”
Rodney's face whitened on seeing the pistol, he looked to his friends and they all drew their own swords, emboldened with the support of his friends Rodney said;
“Now Brother Andrew, it appears you may shoot me, but my friends will have done you in as well.”
Andrew then with the other hand drew another pistol out from under the cloak.
Sam looked at him with utter bewilderment,
“Good god Andrew how many of those things have you under there?”
Andrew momentarily glanced at Sam with a smile, “ Just the two Sam, sadly I dont have anymore hands.”
“So much for a man of god has no need for weapons” Sam muttered.
Then looking at the group of four young men Andrew said,
“Now all this is reaching the heights of ridiculous, all I want is a look at your sword Rodney, now you have raised this to something that can only end in a lot of grief, for you and these young gentlemen. Now there are four of you, and I have two shots, so all you have to do is decide which two are to die, and then the others can do me in, if they are able.”
Just then one of Lady Margret’s ladies that was standing nearby noticed the group of men with swords and pistols, she screamed.
Almost immediately guards appeared in the gardens, Rodney taking the chance of the diversion suddenly lunged at Andrew, he was to far away to reach him in one step, but that was all he got before Andrew fired one of the pistols and Rodney stopped, shuddered and then fell to the ground. The other young men, looked at each other, then to Rodney laying on the ground.
Guards were now quickly approaching as Andrew said
“Now if you please Gentlemen, do not make this worse for yourselves, lay down your swords”.
The three remaining men did as they were told just as the guards arrived
Andrew looked at the senior Guard, “Take these three to the Guardroom, we will be questioning them later.”
By now more Guards were running to the gardens, also Brother Paul came with several men following.
By the time he arrived Sam was kneeling alongside Rodney's body, but he was already dead. He reached across the body and took Rodney's sword, just then Brother Paul finally arrived.
“What in gods name has happened here?” he asked first looking to Andrew and then to Sam.
Andrew replied, “We had some suspicions that Rodney may somehow be involved with the code Sam has been trying to break, Sam recognised the motif on Rodney's sword as the same as on the pommel of the dead courier. We asked Rodney if we could examine it and he refused, so I insisted and then he and his friends drew their swords, so I shot him.”
Meanwhile Sam was tinkering with the pommel on Rodney's sword and finally it came loose, first looking inside the pommel and then Sam sliding a finger into the hollow tube and he brought out 2 small pieces of paper, one had letters written on it, the other numbers. Sam was all smiles.
“If I am not mistaken, this list with the letters will be what I have been looking for, Im not sure about the one with numbers yet but I will need to work on the letters immediately.”
“Without so much as a talking or asking anyone if he could leave Sam wandered off back to his office, Paul told one of the guards to escort him back, while the rest of them tried to sort out what to do regarding these events that had just taken place in the Kings Gardens.
On reaching his office, Sam placed the small pieces of paper on the desk, and then reaching inside his shirt he pulled out a small leather pouch, from the pouch he extracted the coded message. At last he felt he had a list of words, one of which could very well be the keyword. The problem was, though he had a list with what looked like 8 words, he still had to decipher what the words were and if one was the keyword which one.
He stood looking at the small list, he started to pace the floor of his office, subconsciously he reached into his pocket and found that he had subconsciously put the top of Rodney's sword pommel in his pocket. He went back to his desk and sat staring at it as if almost daring it to tell him the secrets it held.
He looked at the list of subjects he had used to try and find the keyword, people names, cities, towns objects; but none had wielded a slightest hint, and now he had a motif, what did it signify. Obviously it had something to do with the enemy group in their midst, it was perhaps the way they could introduce themselves to other conspirators who may be strangers. But why a motif that look like a river running over a white back ground; “RIVERS” he shouted, “its rivers.”
He tried all the English rivers, he tried Scottish and Welsh rivers and 2 hours later he was till none the wiser. Then he recalled that the maker of the Motif was french Comte Pascal, so he made a list of French rivers and starting with the Seine he started on the code, an later Sam realised he was the first man to have broken the Vigenere code.
FROM PASCAL TO BEDFORD HAVE BEEN ASSURED PARCELS IN PLACE FOR THE WEDDING, HAVE YOUR GROUP READY FOR JULY 16TH AT THE SCHOOL ENSURE NO SURVIVORS URGENT NO SURVIVORS - 125
There was a knock on the door, “Sam it is Brother Paul, I must speak with you.” Sam rose from his chair, he checked through the small peep hole that had been placed in the door and then unlocked it.
Brother Paul and Andrew walked in, they had one look at him and knew instantly.
Andrew said “You have broken it Sam, tell me you have broken it.”
Sam walked over to the desk and handed the decoded message to Paul,
“Good God, they were going to strike on the day of the Kings wedding, but what are the parcels I wonder. They could be weapons, or even bombs, obviously they were going to concentrate at the palace school room before the attack.”
Sam asked 'Well where is the wedding to take place?”
“In the chapel here at the Palace, it is to be a small affair because of the security risk, it will have all the Royalist leadership there” Paul said. “Good god on that one day they would have snuffed out the entire Royal cause in one blow.”
Sam then said “Well I would be giving the chapel a thorough going over were I you, somewhere there must be weapons or as you say a bomb.”
Andrew was looking at the small list of names, he realised that same had placed French river names beside each series of coded words.
Sam said, “Each river is likely a conspirator, the list of numbers is the sequence the message it will follow, for example if the list of numbers had only 3 people to see it the list would be 3 numbers long each number represents a river on this list numbered from the top of the list, for example the Seine was no 1 and was Pascal the second number the Moselle was undoubtedly Bedford. The other person to receive the message was number 5, now in truth we dont know who number 5 is, but I am willing to bet it was Rodney. I believe the message was written by Pascal No1 , sent to Bedford No 2 and was then given to the courier to deliver it to number 5, Rodney.
When each recipient gets the message he uses his own river name in reverse as well as forward as the keyword so Seine become seine-enies when this keyword is placed under the number on the square I had prepared I could then located the letter in the alphabet that was corresponding to the coded letter.
Paul, took the message and placed it in his pocket,
“So it seems that Rodney did not receive the message he must have queried somehow, it is likely that Pascal or Bedford asked for a confirmation that it had been received, when he didnt get it he contacted Rodney to find out what happened to it. Rodney in his rather inept way hired a thug to kill Mathias and get the message, but the idiot simply killed Mathias and then Rodney sent him back a few days later to search the house which is where we found him. The I presume Rodney heard we had a new code breaker, so this time he decided to do the dirty work himself, the Guard on the door that day would have recognised him as one of the King friends so it was a simple matter for Rodney to get close enough to kill him. It would have been no hardship for Rodney to get a key for the door or the safe as they were kept in my office and sadly I am a remiss for not taking greater care of them.”
Sam then asked, “But why didn't he kill me, that would have solved the problem”.
Paul replied “No Sam, by killing you Rodney still didn't know what was in the message and clearly Pascal was not going to risk another messenger and another courier until he was sure this had been cleared up. Remember they didn't know what happened to their courier, they simply knew he didn't arrive so they most likely suspected we had intercepted him. So naturally they wouldn't risk exposing anymore couriers until they knew the truth of what happened to their man. So it was vital for Rodney to find the message and I suspect he was working a way out to get you alone, and then he would have extracted the whereabouts of the message and then killed you.”
Andrew then added, “Yes its clear they could not change the plans because this was a one in a lifetime chance to get the King and the Royalist leadership in one go, so they had to go through with it; therefore they had to get the message back before you could break it. I suspect that Rodney knew you had not broken it yet, so he was likely going to have struck soon..”
“Indeed” Sam said, “We are very fortunate that young Rodney was so completely stupid as to carry both the keywords and the number list on him; otherwise I fear french rivers would have been very far down the list of words I had been thinking off.”
“Yes well his ego was such that he likely never considered that anyone would dare take his sword of him, he must have become quite unnerved when you showed an interest in that Pommel.”
Sam asked “What now?”
“Well as off in a few minutes we will be searching the chapel, the grounds and everywhere around where the festivities are to take place, at the worst if we find nothing we will change the place and time, but I am confident we will find what we are looking for.”
Sam you have done the Royalist cause a great deal of good here, I hope you will stay as the Kings Cartographer, God only knows we need you, besides our enemies have now become your enemies and you will really only be safe here with us until this terrible war is over.
They were just about to leave when a messenger came in, he handed Paul a note. Paul looked at it for a moment and then said
“There has been another battle up north.”
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
The Kings new Cartographer Samuel Ogilvy along with his daughter and grand children were now established in Whitehall Palace. The Palace was immense and the impression one has from the outside on how the Palace functions is no where near the reality.
The Palace has become a city within a city, behind the old granite walls lies the heart of the new Kingdom.
The Palace is being rebuilt and modernised, replacing the archaic layout that the High Lords had established with the palace grounds.
Most of the Government offices were established in one of the new wings of the palace, there were living apartments for many people who either worked in running the Government or in running the Palace.
The wing where Sam and his family had been placed was new, modern and very functional, it even had access to the park and playing area within the Palace walls. A school had been established for the children of the many functionaries that worked and lived within the palace walls.
Sam's place of work was in a completely separate area of the palace, this was in the Government offices and was a very heavily guarded area, Sam's office was at the far end of the long corridor on the second floor, from his windows he could look out over the wall and see part of the great city of London, not that there was much to see.
His office was simple, it consisted of a desk, several cabinets and a very large safe. It had a few books that had once belonged to his old friend Mathias Fleming, who had been the Kings last cryptographer until he was recently murdered.
He was murdered presumably by someone who hoped Mathias had kept the secret coded message that Sam now was now responsible for. The murdered clearly hoping Mathias held the code on his person or in his home where his body was found, a message so secret it had been coded using the Vigenere code. The Vigenere system has never been broken, poor old Mathias had tried, and he had been unsuccessful, but none the less he had been murdered because he tried.
Brother Andrew the man that had come to Sam's home to tell him Mathias was dead and that the King required him to take over Marathi’s task of code breaking often called in to see how Sam was doing, as well as to bring new coded messages that had been intercepted and required decoding. But always he would ask about THE coded message, each time Sam simply shook his head both in frustration and to let Andrew know he had not made any progress.
Most of the other codes that came into his office were simple codes, the messages usually were communications between commanders, some between Parliamentarian spies but all were mundane and not very informative.
Sam quickly learnt to tell the difference between field reports and spy reports by the quality of the paper used and the size of each message. Most would be a substitution code with a keyword which meant a cipher alphabet must be written down somewhere and that made substitution codes quite vulnerable.
One substitution code of average length would usually take Sam 2-3 hours to break, and when he ran out of work on the mundane codes he always turned to the real purpose of his task, to break the Vigenere code.
This morning Andrew knocked on the door as usual, Sam unlocked the door but instead of walking into Sam's office with more messages he said,
“Come with me”
“Where are we going” Sam asked.
“The King wants to see you” Andrew replied and waved Sam out of the room, Sam quickly gathered the documents on his desk and placed them back in the safe, locked the door of his office and the guard took position outside.
As they began the long trek to the Kings quarters Sam asked,
“Why are we going to see the King?”
Andrew simply replied,
“Because the King has asked to see you, that is all.”
It took them almost ten minutes to reach the Kings office, Andrew told Sam to wait outside while he went in, the Guards on duty outside the Kings door eyed Sam with some suspicion, the wait becoming quite awkward.
A young man came out of the office, clearly a man of nobility he had that arrogance and stiffness that such young men of the modern nobility carried around with them. He wore very elegant clothes and had a most unusual sword at his side, Sam presumed the young man may be a dueler or possibly be one of those young men in the palace who had taken up sword play or fencing as it was becoming known as.
He stopped when he saw Sam, nodded and said
“Good morning, I dont believe we have met, who are you?”
Sam wasn’t bothered by the abruptness of the young man, he simply smiled and replied,
“Well Master Ogilvy what is your business wandering the halls of the Kings Palace?”
“I am on the Kings business and apparently I am awaiting an audience with the King, and sir I dont believe I got your name.”
“I am Rodney Belmont, the Kings confidant and secretary, I was not aware the King had anymore appointments this morning.”
Sam recognised the name, Rodney Belmont was the eldest son of Lord Belmont and had been a student of Sam's at Oxford but clearly he didn’t recognise Sam out of the university environment. At university young Belmont was considered by most of the faculty as being a “proper prat”.
Before the conversation continued much further a young woman approached from the Kings end of the corridor, paused outside the Kings rooms, but then smiled at Sam and Rodney.
“Good morning, Rodney are you waiting on the King?”
“No my lady I have just concluded my business with his majesty, when I came about Mr Olgivy hanging around the Kings doors, I was just enquiring in regard to his business in being here.”
Sam bowed to her, and smiled. The young woman returned the smile and said
“Though we havent met I have heard of Master Olgivy, I have met his daughter and grand children in the gardens yesterday.”
Rodney simply hummphed and said, “Well I have much to do and bowed slightly to the young woman and simply stormed off.
The young woman still smiling said
“I am sorry, we were not introduced I am Margret Hackett, you must not be offended by Rodney, you see he is an idiot and cannot help being stiff and rude.”
Sam now placed the young lady, Lady Margret was the daughter of Lord Hackett and soon to be married to the King.
“I was not offended in the least my Lady, I knew young Rodney when he was a student of mine at Oxford and he has not changed a whit.”
Lady Margret looked at the door to the Kings office, her smile dropping for a moment then said
“His Majesty is usually so busy these days, I had hoped to distract him away from his work this morning but I can see there is no chance, not if he has people lining up to see him.”
Just then Andrew opened the door and waved Sam to come in, seeing the woman there he bowed
“My Lady Margret, a rare pleasure”
Lady Margret smiled “As it is mine brother Andrew” and she then returned back down the corridor in the direction she had just come from.
Andrew quickly moved Sam into the Kings offices, they were large, huge by the standard of his own office and definitely more royal, and elegant, at one end was a large mahogany table and seated around the table were two men, one he recognised as the Prime Minister Edward Anders, the other Sam didnt know but noticed he wore the same gown as Andrew.
Andrew took Sam by the elbow and edged him closer to the desk, the King rose and before Andrew could do the introductions he said,
“So you are my new Cartographer, Master Ogilvy isnt it?”
“Indeed sire, correct on both accounts” Sam replied.
The King walked around the desk and stood before Sam,
“Mathias Fleming was beloved by us all here, beloved and highly valued; but he had left instructions that should anything happen to him we should seek you out, and now here you are master Ogilvy.”
The King then walked back to his desk, before he sat down he asked,
“Your family, are they comfortable?”
“Indeed Sire,”Sam replied, “very comfortable and very happy.”
The King sat down and looked to the Prime Minister,
“This gentlemen is the Honorable Edward Anders our Prime Minister.”. Edward Anders rose and shooks hands with Sam.
“We have met before Sire” the PM said, “I met Master Ogilvy when he and his family arrived at the palace on the first day.”
Then King then turned to the next man,
“This Gentlman is Brother Paul, believe it or not despite his grubby and disgraceful manner of dress he is in fact your employer.. Brother Paul looks after all my security and intelligence matters.”
Paul walked over to Sam, shook his hands and said
“I have heard many fine things about you Master Ogilvy, indeed many fine things and you are most welcome.”
As they shook hands Sam looked into Brother Paul’s eyes and immediately knew he should be afraid of this man, there was an aura around him that placed Sam's nerves on edge.
The King said,
“Why with brother Andrew and brother Paul here, I suspect you think my realm is run by a gaggle of Franciscan monks, and you know Master Ogilvy if you thought so I believe you might be correct.. We seem to have as many monks around here as we do soldiers. In fact I often have to remind people that this is a palace not a monestry.”
The King indicated that Sam should take a chair that was vacant, brother Andrew remained standing back near the door.
“Now Master Ogilvy Paul here tells me you have been most efficient in decoding the messages that have gone through your offices since you have arrived, and I am most pleased to hear this. But I am sure you know why I asked you here, I want to hear from you personally what you think about this message that has caused us so much angst and indeed considering poor Marathi’s demise so much sadness. Is there nothing you can tell us about it.”
“Well sire I believe the message was written in Europe, but for now the code still evades me.”
Paul interrupted Sam,
“Why do you say it was written in Europe?”
Because of the paper, the paper is definitely European, and is common in both France and the German states, also I believe the ink is possibly French.
The style of the writing in the message would suggest a personality that was proud, confident and a person that was well educated.”
The King said, “Well that narrows it down then, we are looking for a well educated European, how many of them can there be do you think Prime Minister?”
The King continued, “Well then can you tell us why this code is so devilishly difficult to break?”
“Sire the Vigenere Square as it is correctly known as is secure because it requires so many combinations to break it. This particular message has ten lines of text made up of four hundred and fifty six letters, forty five numbers and one hundred and thirty eight spaces. What makes this message so difficult is that normally a Vigenere Square does not include numbers, so their inclusion in the message is a unexpected surprise. At this stage I am assuming the numbers represent names, but they could be names of places or people. It is simply to soon to tell.”
The King nodded, “Well Master Ogilvy I am sure I do not need to tell you how urgent it is that we know what this message is about. Is their anything we can do to help you in the matter?”
Sam sat thinking for a moment and then asked
“Can you tell me about how the message was intercepted?”
Paul nodded, “We had been following a enemy courier for several weeks, in the hope he would lead us to other enemy contacts; he was a long distance courier and usually traveled between Dover and London , We know when he was in Dover he had access to Lord Hackett though we are reasonably certain the writer of the message was not Lord Hackett as we compared the handwriting, it was considerably different. Purely by chance the courier had an accident when returning to London, his horse stumbled and our men who had been following him rode up as to help him but he was found dead. They brought his body back here, and we found the message hidden in the pommel of the sword he wore.”
Sam then asked, “Is it possible I may see everything he wore and all the equipment he had on his horse, somewhere there must be a clue to the keyword. I say this because if this was just a normal courier, it is doubtful they would risk him memorizing it in case he forgot or as in this case something happened to him, somewhere they will have a symbol or word that will indicate the keyword.”
Paul said, “We can certainly have it delivered to your office master Ogilvy, but I assure you we and Mathias went over it all extremely carefully looking for that very thing.”
Sam nodded, “Well Brother Paul, I am sure it must be there so just one more look will not go astray.”
Paul said, “It will be done this morning”.
Sam nodded and then the King said,
“Well this has been most informative Master Ogilvy and I now feel more secure in the knowledge you are working on the problem, as Brother Paul said you will have all the equipment you asked for”
Having been dismissed Sam rose and bowed to the King and slowly backed out the door, once there Andrew whispered in his ear, “You don’t have to back out when in the Kings presence, once you have been dismissed you bow and simply turn and leave, the King realises you don’t have eyes in the back of your head, now come I will help navigate you back to your office.
The journey back was made in silence, Sam's head was spinning with all that had happened and when they turned the last corner of the corridor where Sams office was, Andrew grabbed his arm and pulled him back around the corner.
They both said at the same time “The guard isnt there”
Andrew told Sam to go back to the Guard rooms one corridor back and bring the guard up. Meanwhile from under his cloak Andrew drew a short sword, and made his way quietly to Sam's door, when he got there he found it was locked, and then for a moment realised he had likely made a huge mistake and possibly the guard had been called away, something he would be punished for.
There was a heavy thumping of feet on the corridor as 4 household Guards ran around the corner followed by Sam, when they got to he door Sam said
“The Guard has gone and the door is locked”
The officer in command of the detail said “Well he wouldn't just wander off, he had to have been led away or taken away”.
Sam unlocked the door of the office and walked in, there on the floor was the body of the guard, with blood flowing over the floor.
Paul said, “Well whoever did this had a key, and we know the guards don’t have any.” Then Paul and Sam both looked at the safe.
Sam went over and unlocked the safe, the document was missing.
Sam went over and unlocked the safe, the document was missing.
Paul whispered “Good God, we have been humbugged they have taken the code.”
The Guards were busy inspecting the body of their comrade when a young but clearly a senior officer walked in with more Guards behind.
“What the hell is going on here? He demanded.
Paul and Sam stood up, Paul said to Sam,
“This is General Anders, commander of the Kings Guard,” he then turned to the General and said “Someone has broken into Master Ogilvy’s office while we were away and has stolen a most secret document out of the safe.”
The General surveyed Sam up and down and then looked at the body on the floor, he walked over to the door,
“It wasn't forced” he said.
“No general, I just unlocked it when we came back”
The General walked out into the corridor and went to the window at the far end, he then returned,
“Whoever did it, left by that window, and I am picking they will be well gone. But what is more worrying is it had to be someone the guard knew, because this office is at the end of a corridor, so anyone approaching had to be wanting access to this office, the guard would have been prepared to challenge anyone unless he knew them.”
Paul nodded, “So the murderer had to be someone in the palace, and someone most likely known to the Guards, general I want you to talk to the Guards who have been on duty and question them regarding everyone they have seen in the area today, and I mean everyone.”
The General nodded and then asked “Can you tell me the nature of the document that has gone missing, it may help if we should find it.”
Sam said “General would you ask your men to leave the office for a moment, you and Paul may stay of course.”
General Anders ushered his men out of the room, and once they had gone Sam went to the corner of the room where an old chair was placed, taking the chair over to the desk he tipped it upside down on the desk, taking one of the back legs he started turning the leg as it screwed out of the seat. Once the leg was completely unscrewed he stuck his fingers down its hollowed centre and pulled out a document.
“This is what they wanted, it is a coded message General”.
Paul looked at Sam stunned,
“But I saw you put the document in the safe Sam.”
“No Paul, Im afraid because I dont trust anyone here I never had the message out of its hiding place, what you saw was me placing in the safe was a faked copy of the message. I had to play the charade just in case of situations like this, or if someone had burst in while I was working on the code they would expect to see it, or if I had to suddenly leave the office as I did with you they would see me place what they assume is the document in the safe. Im sorry Paul but I had no choice.”
Paul and first scowled at not being trusted, and then smiled.
“You did very well Sam, very well indeed; and I dont blame you for not trusting anyone including me.”
General Anders looked at the chair, then the safe,
“So whoever stole the document had a key to this office, a key to that safe and now has a fake document, how long will it take them to realise they have been duped.”
Sam said “Well if its in the hands of the person it was meant for they will know instantly, otherwise it wont be known until they receive the message.”
General Anders then opened the door and spoke to the officer of the Guard,
“I want want you to get the carpenter, I want the window at the end of the corridor fastened permanently with bars.
There will be two guards from now on, one at the door of this office the other at the corner of the corridor, they will remain in sight of each other and they will allow no one other than myself, Brothers Paul and Andrew and of course Master Ogilvy to enter this corridor, and Lieutenant I mean no one; not even the King. Anyone demanding access to this corridor will be held and I will be summoned, is that clear?”
“Yes General” the young officer said and then disappeared to ensure the body of the guard was taken away and to get the men positioned.
General Anders then turned to brother Andrew,
“Well brother Paul it seems you and I have some things to discuss, it seems we have a very active spy-murderer loose in the palace.”
The two men turned to leave, The General stopped,
“Master Ogilvy I will have someone clean up the blood straight away, and from now on when you leave home for work in the mornings and return there when ever you must, you will be escorted by one of my guard, you are not to move around the palace on your own, is that clear.”
“Yes General very clear,”
Just then three Guardsmen came up the corridor with a bundle of clothing and saddles,
“We were told to deliver these to this office general.”
Sam nodded, “Yes please just put them in the corner, I will attend to them immediately.”
The General looked at Sam and the odd collection being placed in the corner,
“Master Ogilvy you are a very strange man.” he then left the office. Andrew just smiled, shrugged his shoulders and followed the General out.
Sam sat down his chair at the desk and sighed very deeply
“What a day this is turning out to be” he mused to himself, and it was not even midday yet.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
Samuel Ogilvy enjoyed watching his grand children play, Stuart aged 10 was the eldest and had already threatened to join the army, something his grandfather frowned on most severely, then there was Charlotte, 8 years old and an extremely precocious young lady already. She was very much the image of her mother Anne, and without a doubt Samuel had the looks and temperament of his father.
Sadly their father was dead, he had been killed several months before when a troop of the Parliamentary council cavalry fleeing London when the King James announced his intention to assume the throne of England. Their father George had been a bookseller and had closed his shop early because of the unrest throughout London on that day, he was walking home when the cavalry came around the corner and one of the troopers according to witnesses simply rode George down, George suffered severe head injuries and died a day later without gaining consciousness.
The last few months had been trying times for the family in making the adjustment of not having their father, but considering those trying times they were managing. The bookshop had been closed, with the threat of war and the likelihood of attacks on London very few people bothered reading books or pamphlets any more, food was of a greater concern. The city was over crowded with refugees coming into the city from the nearby countryside and since the city itself was dependent on the food grown in Kent and Norfolk areas, areas which were now enemy territory the food supply was a trickle to what is was prior to the beginning of the civil war.
So Samuel had suggested that his daughter Anne and the two children move in with him, he lived on the outskirts of London, in what was considered rural land but was easily with walking distance to the out regions of London. He didnt fear raiders so close to the city, though he did worry that if the food situation in the city became desperate then people may start searching for food far and wide. On his small farm he tended his huge garden and small gathering of livestock which included several pigs, cows, hens and three horses.
Anne had very much taken to returning to her childhood home and as Samuel sat watching her and the children it certainly carried his mind back to a time when Ann’s mother was alive and she was out on the grass playing with the children just as Ann now was doing.
Samuel pottered with his numbers, he had been a mathematician professor at Oxford, he had an interest in mathematical codes for many years and shared his love for cryptology with an old fellow professor and friend Mathias Fleming, over the years of the friendship they shared and explored the intriguing aspects of codes and code breaking. Often they would send messages in code, it was a practice that was to last many years. Mathias had himself become a university professor but had retired very early from teaching in England and gone to teach in France and later Austria. He had returned late last year and had resumed the code game with his friend, each would write to the other in a code that the sender expected his friend to break. Samuel had decided to retire early from Oxford when his son-in-law had been killed and he returned to the family home with his daughter and her family.
The house had been rented out for quite sometime by family friends so Samuel had to unfortunately terminate the lease so as to ensure Anne and the children were felt safe.
He communicated via code letters with old Mathias who it was rumoured was now King James's cryptologists. They had for years regularly exchanged letters in codes, it was a game and the honours had been even in breaking each others codes. Sadly Samuel had not had a letter from Mathias in several weeks, he had written two days ago and hoped for an answer soon, meanwhile he simply resorted to creating his own code games. He had even begun to teach his daughter, though whilst it was mildly interesting to her she certainly did not share the same passion for the codes that her fathered harboured.
Events that next occurred could only later be called interesting, the interesting times began when a Franciscan Friar had ridden up to the farm asking for Samuel.
The fact that the friar had a horse was remotely interesting but even more so was that the Friar knew off Samuel to actually ask for him by name. Most Friars Samuel had seen walked everywhere, and Samuel was not remotely religious so there was no logical reason for a man of the cloth to know off him.
As the man began to dismount from his horse, Sam asked, “How do you know my name?'
The friar carried on dismounting and then turned to face Sam, he had what could only be described as a beautiful smile which showed perfect teeth, Samuel quickly assumed Franciscan Friars ate well and took good care of their teeth.
“Through a mutual friend, Mathias Fleming.”
The look on Samuel's face must have said it all,
“I don’t understand, I cannot imagine what Mathias would have in common with a Franciscan friar, he wasn’t exactly a religious man that I recall.”
The friar smiled then laughed,
“Indeed he was not and we used to have many hours of interesting debates over the subject, but Mathias was an open minded man and he allowed me to share in his friendship even if he wasn’t of my convictions.”
Samuel scratched his two day whiskers, then remembering his manners,
“Come inside and we shall have some tea and perhaps you can tell me what all this is about.”
As they went inside the house Samuel's daughter and children were gathered in the lounge, obviously they had been watching the proceedings through the window, with something that was more than mere interest.
As the two men entered the room the children stepped back behind their mother, supposedly for protection for she was the one holding the pistol poionted at the dark robed stranger.
Sam seeing the firearm scowled,
“Good god Anne, please put it way, you are likely to hurt someone”
A little confused Anne did as he asked and placed it in the high draw out of reach of the children.
“Anne my dear this is ahhhh..I am sorry I dont know your name”
The Friar stepped forward, “Brother Andrew” and then looking down at the children, “and these must be Charlotte and Stuart if I am not mistaken.”
Anne was stunned, as was Samuel, but it was Sam that asked the obvious question,
“How on earth did you know my grand-children's names?”
“Once again Samuel, it was Mathias. That and the fact I am blessed with a memory that allows me to recall conversations and events long since passed.”
“Well now brother Andrew ….”
“Simply Andrew if you would be so kind, may I call you Sam,”
Sam simply nodded and indicated the chairs by the windows,
“Well now Andrew take a seat and tell me what all this is about?”
Anne had taken the children out of the room and into the kitchen as she prepared some afternoon tea.
“Sam you obviously know of the work Mathias was doing.”
Sam picked up on the WAS doing,
“Has something happened to Mathias?”
“Yes Sam he is dead, we found his body in the backyard of his home only a few days ago.”
“Dead, but how?”
“He was murdered and we have a fair mind as to the people involved, because a few days ago we found a man going through Mathias house after we had removed his body. The intruder was known to us as a Parliamentarian sympathiser and we know some of the people he associates with but right now we cannot act without warning the entire network. We need to find out more about the people who killed our mutual friend before we act, the ones we are aware off are no doubt merely the low level scum, thieves and murderers alike, we need the people who organised this foul deed”.
“So why are you here Andrew, I am certainly no coroner nor am I an investigator, good god I don’t even like looking at a dead body.”
“No Sam I am not here to ask you to share in that aspect of our friends death, I am here because Mathias asked me to come to you should anything happen to him. He said there was no better mind for decoding cryptic messages than you. He even told us your abilities were far superior to his own, and if that be true you are indeed one gifted individual Sam.”
Sam nodded to himself,
“Well sadly Andrew, Mathias was one very modest man and I doubt there is another in the country who could match his abilities with codes, and I include myself in that., but why on earth would someone murder old Mathias, he was a harmless soul.”
“Well what I am about to tell you Samuel must not reach another ears, including your sister I fear.
We had intercepted a coded message, and it was unusual in that Mathias said it was in Vigenere code and that he had never seen its like before. Are you aware of the Vigenere code Sam?
“Yes indeed, it is supposed to be unbreakable, It was made by a Frenchman Blaise de Vigenere, it is rarely used if ever because it is so cumbersome and troubling to encode and to decode.”
Andrew nodded, “Yes that is almost exactly what Mathias said, he also said that if someone used this code, the message was of the utmost importance. He had been working on it over the last few days, he usually worked from home because he didnt feel comfortable in his office at the palace but when he didn’t turn up for several days we went to his house and unfortunately found his body.”
Sam thought for a few moments, “I assume you still have the message?”
“Yes we do, Mathias always left the messages in his office under lock and key, he always worked from memory, a memory that never failed him.
“So whoever killed Mathias does not know whether the code was broken or not?”
Andrew shook his head,
“No Sam they do not, though they may have his notes, but as he had not even broken the key word there would be nothing of interest to who ever sent the message. Therefore we can only assume whoever the recipient was, now realises it has gone missing and may be trying to retrieve it. I expect once they see that Mathias has not broken the code they will not change whatever was in the message, particularly since they also have killed the only man who could decode it; or so they thought.”
“And from what I gather you are here to ask me to take on the work that Mathias was doing, the work that got him killed?” Sam asked.
“Yes Sam, I am here to do that simply because Mathias was so insistent that if he were ever harmed or killed we turn to you for help. It is clear this message is no simple message between field commanders or even a spy report, many of whom Mathias has regularly broken. No I fear this message was so vital and so secretive they have used the one code they believed no one could break.”
“Yet you expected Mathias to break it and now he is dead because he tried and now you expect me to be capable of doing it along with the same prospects,”
“Well not exactly the the same prospects Sam, my errr leader has made rooms available for you in Whitehall Palace, we have rooms for you and your family and you will live in the safest place in England.”
“The safest place it maybe, but it is also the target for all the enemies that the King has brought down upon himself, enemies who will do whatever they can to kill the King and all around him.”
“Only if we allow them to Sam, that is why we are at war to stop the enemy armies, but there are other enemy forces, unseen ones and they are the ones we need your help to identify and defeat.”
“No Andrew I wont do it, I am sorry; but the risk is to great for my family, I feel we are safer here away from all that intrigue.”
“Well Sam allow me to ask you this, had you received Mathias answer to your last letter?”
“No I did not.” Sam replied.
“No you did not Sam because the enemy had already intercepted your letter, we know this because the individual whom we caught in Mathias's house told us after some convincing all he knew, which was in fact very little. But one of the scraps we did extract from him was that they had your last letter and it had been sent to their decoder to break it. Now Sam I know these exchanges between you and Mathias were a game in nature, but any day now the enemy will realise there is another cryptographer who is capable of at least trying to decode the Vigenere message. Since they will by now or will soon realise you were friends with Mathias how long do you think it will be before they and their thugs descend on you out here alone in the country.”
It did not take Sam too long to realise that his rather pointless game of messages with his friend and all of a sudden taken a turn that would place his family in great danger.
Sam's daughter came into the room with a tray of tea and cake, she looked at her father and instantly knew something was wrong.
“What’s happened father, what’s wrong?” she asked as if transfixed to the floor, the two children hugging her skirts as they stared at the man in the robes.
“Anne my darling, we must pack, quickly, we are leaving the farm.”
“Leaving but why and where are we to go?”
“Sweetheart we are going to live with the King in the palace.”
The clatter as the tray with cups, teapot and plates hitingt the floor was considerable, the racket that came from the children as they screamed in fear seeing their mother so shocked was quite deafening; but what really made a lot of noise was when two Royal dragoon troopers kicked the door open in the expectation of finding an enemy attacking the man they were there to protect. Instead they found a woman who was visibly shaking two crying children and a very confused Sam.
Sam turned to Andrew, pointing to the two troopers,
“Who in earth are they and where did they come from”
“They are my escort Sam, I asked them to stay back until I spoke to you and they along with the rest of their troop will by now have your farm surrounded to ensure we were not interrupted by certain people we did not want to interrupt us.”
Anne immediately blurted out as she closely gathered he children into her skirts,
“What people, father what is happening, why do we have soldiers in our house and why do we have to leave.”
Sam went to his daughter to give her a reassuring hug, but she was still shaking,
“My darling you have to trust me, we may be in some danger if we stay here and brother Andrew here has invited on urged us to go and stay with him at the Palace. You know my friend Mathias worked for the King, well I am to continue his work for a while my dear.”
“What has happened to Mathias, why must you continue his work, what danger” she asked almost in tears.
“Sweetheart I will answer all your questions once we are under way, for now I must ask you to collect all your things as I will do”.
He turned to Andrew, “Can I ask that you leave a guard here until I can arrange to have the house packed and the farm animals taken care off.”
“It shall be done Sam, I promise you, we will have several wagons here tomorrow and if you wish you can come back with them to help in the packing, under guard of course. For now however we must get you and your family away from the house. The captain will leave some men here overnight to protect your property.”
With that said the family rushed off to pack what was required, an hour later the Kings new Cryptographer was heading for the Palace, his new home and greater danger that he ever feared.
As he rode off, a stranger on a small rise some distance way closed his telescope as he watched the distant figures leave the farm heading towards London. Noting there were still soldiers at the farm house he decided to return to London and report what he had seen.