Holmes Helps Out

"As I said, Watson, the solution proved quite elementary." As he paused and drew on his pipe, a mischevious smile crossed his face. "Indeed, Watson, I hardly think this particular problem would satisfy the magazine which publishes our histories...what is it? Ah yes, The Plump Idiot Coach."

I nearly choked on my brandy. "The Plump Idiot Coach, Holmes?"

"Yes, Watson, The Plump Idiot Coach. The magazine which subscribes to your chronicles of my adventures in the field of Diplomacy...or should I say 'Mad Policy.'"

"Holmes! Surely you know that the magazine you speak of is not The Plump Idiot Coach but The Diplomatic Pouch." As I said this, I began to realize what Holmes was up to, but the Foreign Secretary was ahead of me.

"Anagrams! But of course! I should have seen it right off!"

"Yes, anagrams," Holmes took up, "the rearranging of letters from one word or phrase to form other, completely different, words or phrases. Even before looking at the young Sultan's story, I had a hunch what he was up to when I read his lament on his English language spelling troubles. I imagine that our young friend the Sultan is actually quite fluent in the King's English, and his story, in fact, offers me ample evidence to this effect.

"The title he chose for his story, The Hunt for the Venison Camper, is all the instructions we need for reading it. As is certainly quite evident to even the most casual reader looking for such things, the phrase 'Venison Camper' is a perfect anagram for 'province names.'"

"The Hunt for the Province Names!" I exclaimed. (I did not offer my own opinion as to the ease with which Holmes could convert an anagram. My friend has his own concepts of simplicity, quite different from those of the average man.)

"Yes, Watson. With this goal in mind, and knowing that the Sultan explicitly mentioned that his reader should be more interested in what he did not write than in what he did, it was a mere matter of detection to locate the Sultan."

Lord Fortescue beamed with pleasure. "And that was all there was to it!"

"Quite so. All that remained was to use the ample evidence to deduce, once the anagram work was done, where the Sultan is vacationing."

Ready to give it a try? Take Holmes's challenge! Find and unravel the anagrams in the story and locate the Sultan.

"The anagram work alone seems daunting, Holmes!" Fortescue exclaimed! "I've been going over that story in my mind just now, and I must say that it would take me a considerable period of time to do what you did!"

"'Tis mere practice which lends a man his abilities, milord," Holmes replied. "I would encourage you all the more to try your hand at the task. You may be surprised at yourself. If you wish, however -- and Watson, you may wish to avail yourself of this as well -- I can provide you a generous head start. As you can see, I have, in the course of my investigation, marked up the original copy of the Sultan's fine work, circling those words or phrases which I identified as anagrams. You are welcome to begin from this copy."

Lord Fortescue said, "Thank you, Mr. Holmes, but no. I believe I will heed your words and take the more difficult path. I will use one of the copies we made at the FO and attempt to duplicate your remarkable effort as best I can."

I, however, was not so confident in my abilities, and found myself much more anxious to write about the event than to reconstruct it. "I'll take the original, Holmes. I don't mind accepting your offer of a leg up."

Would you, like Watson, prefer the additional assistance which Holmes offered? If so, decipher the anagrams in Holmes's marked-up copy of the story.

"Remember," Holmes added, "what the Sultan neglected is more important than what he provided, and untangling the anagrams is simply the all-important first step toward divining the devious young man's location."