Quatrain by Medler, John - HTML preview

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So Cassiopeia has three possibilities-- +, A, or B. Morse wrote on his notebook: Cassiopeia= + , A, or B.

“Cetus is much bigger, and runs between 1 and 3 hours. So Cetus= A, B, or C.

“Ursa Minor is between 15 and 19 hours. So on our astrolabe, that equates to P, Q, R, S, T. Ursa Minor = P, Q, R, S, or T.

“Gemini is between 6 hours and 8 hours, so that’s F, G, H. Gemini = F, G, H.

Morse continued to make notes from the planisphere and the astrolabe, until he had summarized his notes as follows:


-------------------- Between Hours-----------Letter from Astrolabe

CASSIOPEIA------- 0, 1, 2--------------------- +, A, B

CETUS---------------1, 2, 3----------------------A, B, C

URSA MINOR------15, 16, 17, 18, 19---------P, Q, R, S, T

GEMINI--------------6, 7, 8----------------------F, G, H

SCORPIO------------16, 17, 18------------------Q, R, S

URSA MAJOR-------8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14---L, M, N, O

PERSEUS------------3, 4, 5-----------------------C, D, E

CANCER-------------8, 9--------------------------H, I

CYGNUS-------------19, 20, 21------------------T, V, X

ORION----------------5, 6, 7----------------------E, F, G


“Now all we have to do,” said Morse, “is to pick one letter from our choices for each constellation and we will have our ten-letter word to open the vault!”

Morse put his pencil in his mouth, and began chewing on the eraser.

“Well, for Scorpio, we can probably get rid of the ‘Q,’ because there is no ‘U,’ and only a handful of words have a Q without a U. And under Orion, we can certainly eliminate ‘F,’ because no word that I know of ends with ‘TF,’ ‘VF,’ or ‘XF.’ We can probably eliminate the ‘G’, because no word ends in ‘TG,’ ‘VG,’ or ‘XG.’ That means the last letter is almost certainly ‘E.’”

Father du Bois followed along. “Under Scorpio, we can get rid of the ‘X,’ because I cannot think of any words ending in ‘XE.’ And under Cancer, we can get rid of the ‘H,’ because no word ends in ‘HTE’ or ‘HVE.’ That means the letter for Cancer must be an ‘I.’” Father du Bois summarized what they had so far:

Letter from Astrolabe


CASSIOPEIA----------+, A, B

CETUS------------------A, B, C

URSA MINOR---------P, R, S, T

GEMINI----------------F, G, H

SCORPIO--------------R, S

URSA MAJOR--------H, I, K, L, M, N, O

PERSEUS--------------B, C, D





Morse looked at the letters and was having trouble definitively ruling out any other letter. He focused on what they did know. If one assumed that the “+” symbol could act as a blank, then the word they were seeking was either 9 or 10 letters long and it ended in either “BITE,” “BIVE,” “CITE,” “CIVE,” “DITE” or “DIVE.” He tried to come up with as many combinations as he could think of but nothing sounded right.

Zach looked over his father’s shoulder. “Maybe you have to do something with those letters over the top of the door, the thing about love in your heart,” Zach suggested. Morse was irritated his son was interrupting his train of thought, but then he stopped. He looked over the doorway again. “Seuls peuvent entrer ceux qui ont le coeur plein d’amour.” “Love,” thought Morse. “What does love have to do with it?” Then he remembered that many of the clues related to Greek gods. Perhaps the Greek goddess of love….. Of course!

“Oh, my goodness,” said Professor Morse. “It is much easier than I thought. It has been staring us in the face the entire time. He showed the notepad to Father du Bois and the children. He put the correct letters in bold print, and lined out the incorrect letters:

Letter from Astrolabe

CASSIOPEIA----------- +, A, B

CETUS-------------------+, A, B, C

URSA MINOR---------- O,P

GEMINI------------------F, G, H

SCORPIO----------------R, S

URSA MAJOR----------H, I, K, L, M, N, O

PERSEUS----------------B, C, D


CYGNUS-----------------T, V


“+APHRODITE,” said Morse. “The Greek goddess of love! Only those with love in their heart may enter.” Morse quickly turned the first dial on the left to the “cross” symbol, and then turned the rest of the dials so that they spelled out “APHRODITE.” Morse turned the handle. The lock on the vault clicked open. Morse smiled broadly and opened the vault door, peering inside into the cold blackness.