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The Secret Lock


When I did at last reach the door it was fast closed, and on sliding a panel set before a grating the light that came in thereby showed unto me that my passage was barred by the king's secret lock. Before the handle of the door might be turned, it was needful to place the hands of three several dials in their proper places. If you but knew the proper letter for each dial, the secret was of a truth to your hand; but as ten letters were upon the face of every dial, you might try nine hundred and ninety-nine times and only succeed on the thousandth attempt withal. If I was indeed to escape I must waste not a moment.

Now, once had I heard the learned monk who did invent the lock say that he feared that the king's servants, having such bad memories, would mayhap forget the right letters; so perchance, thought I, he had on this account devised some way to aid their memories. And what more natural than to make the letters form some word? I soon found a word that was English, made of three letters—one letter being on each of the three dials. After that I had pointed the hands properly to the letters the door opened and I passed out. What was the secret word?

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