The Art of Deception
or Pride and Extreme Prejudice
This week continues a spy story set in late Georgian England, the year before Trafalgar. Last week Alice met the agent she would work with. It was … something of a surprise. The conversation continues.
Alice stood and pointed, “You!”
Roderick ignored Alice and demanded, “That was my question, I can’t possibly work with her, Lord Grey.”
“Nor I him, please Uncle.”
Lord Grey beamed at them, “I see you’ve met; excellent; saves time on tedious introductions.”
My apologies for creative punctuation.
The discussion will shortly turn to various items Sir Roderick brought back from “those rebellious colonists.” One of the things he absconded with is a copy of “Mr Jefferson’s machine.” Thomas Jefferson is one of the several inventors of a wheel cipher.
The wheel cipher, in this case a more modern implementation that was used until the start of the second world war, is not bad. It would have been difficult for 19th century cryptographers to break. But not impossible.
The US has a long history of using this system or its logical equivalent – strip ciphers. The message is put in one column and then some other column is read out as a cipher. Paper strips replaced the wheel cipher because they’re easier to change and more important in a battlefield situation, easier to destroy. Since nearly every soldier smoked, and the paper was typically nitrated, it would only take a touch of flame to hide the key.
These ciphers also illustrate an important concept in security. They (the modern ones) were not intended for top secret communications, but instead were used to handle tactical secrets. For example, to let the artillery know which German hill to shell without letting the Germans know until the shells fell on them.
It may seem strange that the British are still referring to the Americans as colonists. It took another war to finally convince them that independence was here to stay. The bad feelings lingered into the start of the first world war, where had the Germans been vaguely clueful, we could have come in on their side. The statue of Baron von Steuben at Valley Forge NHP was donated in 1915 by the ‘German-American Bund’ and German language newspapers were common in the US until the Zimmerman telegram and the Lusitania.
Still working on a cover idea – hard even though I’m a dashed good photographer (if I say so myself). That and editing the manuscript to put more description/reaction into it. (not to mention a few thousand words).
Frankenkitty is available.
What happens when teenagers get to play with Dr Frankenstein’s lab notebooks, a few odd chemicals and a great big whopping coil? Mayhem, and possibly an invitation to the Transylvanian Neuroscience Summer School.
Like poor Cecelia, ” The Curious Profession of Dr Craven” is back from the dead.
I’ve released a sweet regency romance, Miss DeVere This is a fun read.