The Ebb-Tide

Robert Louis Stevenson led an interesting life.  Poor health figured heavily in it, but by the time he took up residence on Upolu island in Samoa, he felt "there was never any man had so many irons in the fire."
He had already toured the Pacific extensively with his family on a yacht, had made friends with King Kalākaua of Hawaii, and had used his power of the pen to have several European officials recalled, for incompetency. He established a close bond with the Samoans, took the native name of Tusitala ("Storyteller"), and was establishing himself on an extensive estate.
Several South Pacific-themed books joined his other noted books, such as "Treasure Island" and "Kidnapped", on the shelf.
"The Ebb-Tide" was one of these. Lloyde Osbourne, the co-author, was his step-son; as they had traveled together and shared their experiences, he was perhaps a natural collaborator. They drew a detailed portrait of three wastrels ashore in Papeete: Herrick, an Englishman who couldn't seem to do anything right in business, Davis, an American ship captain who had managed to lose his last ship but fail to be one of those drowned, and Huish, a Cockney of disreputable background. Driven to extreme measures by extreme penury, Davis arranged for them to crew on a plague ship anchored in the harbor.
Desperation later prompted them to hatch a scheme to steal and sell the champagne cargo and the schooner, but their life of crime was quickly cut off by evidence that the former officers, now dead of smallpox, had had the same idea.
Finally, through misadventures, it appeared that their literal salvation lay through a chance-met Englishman, Attwater, on an uncharted isle. They needed food; Attwater had it. They wanted wealth; Attwater had accumulated ten years output of methodical pearl fishing with dozens of natives. And Attwater in his role as the settlement's preacher had already buried nearly all of the inconvenient natives, as smallpox had reached the isle. No matter what kind of salvation was called for - they all lay through Attwater.
What could three recreants do with such temptation?
I just finished my LibriVox audiobook of "The Ebb-Tide," and it should appear in the catalog in a few days. Please enjoy!


More Puzzling Decryptions

In Jan 2010, I posted about my daily attention to the "cryptoquote" printed in the newspaper. Well, I've kept that activity up, and in true engineering fashion have continued refining my technique to wring out inefficiency.  Last year I eliminated a whole phase of my spreadsheet setup that was intended to keep me from mistakenly double-using letters.

Alas, revisiting the past sometimes means acknowledging mistakes. In my prior post, I listed as "unique letter solution time" a number which actually had to do with spreadsheet setup, not solution. Mea culpa.

In comparing my 2009 full-year results with 2011's:  "unique letter prep" is down 3.1 seconds (25%!) and "unique letter solution" is down 3.9 seconds (13%), so better setup is most of my improvement.

I admit, though, that constantly doing these puzzles is rewiring my brain. This morning, I looked at the character group "ITUIKT" and knew immediately it represented the word "PEOPLE." With 4 unique letter (I, T, U, K)  substitutions already known, I was off to the races!

Ensculptic House Sold!

I was just reviewing some of my previous posts, and I suddenly wondered if the Ensculptic House (look down just three posts) ever sold. It did!  And just the month after I posted about it: 

Now, how likely is it that some couple in Virginia read about it here, and were so entranced by the house they bought it sight unseen?  - Such a couple DID buy the house, and I only wonder if this blog was responsible!