The Final Puzzle
It was 15 February, and Bartholomew was standing in front of Grenby
Goundhog’s hut. Today was the day Grenby normally awoke from his long
winter nap. The owl knocked on the door and waited. No answer. Knock.
Knock. Knock. No answer.
Then, some grumbling and shuffling could be heard from within.
Bartholomew smiled and waited patiently. Eventually, Grenby opened the
door. As usual, he was wearing his red and white striped pyjamas and
matching nightcap. His eyes were barely open.
Looking out into the bright daylight he asked, “Who is it?”
“It’s Bartholomew, and it’s 15 February. Rise and shine.”
“I know what day it is,” Grenby yawned. “Give me a minute to wake up.
Come on in. How about making some tea for us. I can’t see the stove
“Of course,” said Bartholomew. “You just sit at the table, and take your
Bartholomew made the tea and sat down with Grenby.
“I’ve got some good news and some bad news for you.”
He enjoyed teasing Grenby a little.
Grenby sipped his tea and looked up. He still wasn’t very much awake.
“The good news is that everybody has missed your forecasts and is glad
you’re awake for the new year. The bad news is that we need to tear your
hut apart a little.”
Grenby heard that. “NOBODY is touching my hut!”
Bartholomew said, “Calm down. It will be all right.”
Then, he explained about the latest note from Cyrus Owl, which they
received from the mice. Of course, Grenby was aware of the puzzle hunt
and became interested.
“You mean there are pieces of the puzzle right here in my hut?”
“Yes, apparently so.”
“Well, let’s find them, but we must be careful,” said Grenby.
“Yes, of course, very careful.”
That was enough teasing. Bartholomew took the note from his shoulder bag
and opened it.
“Here’s the note. It says the box is buried at the southwest corner of
the lower level.”
The two animals walked down to Grenby’s lower level and then to the
Grenby said, “Here we are, but where are we?”
“What do you mean?”
“This southwest corner was not the southwest corner ninety years ago,”
Grenby said. “I know I’ve expanded, and perhaps it has moved a few
“Where do you think the corner was ninety years ago?” asked Bartholomew.
“I have no idea.”
“Hmmm,” said the owl, thinking. “Well, if this level is larger than
before, then it is still under the floor somewhere. We might be standing
on it. We might have to dig up the whole floor to find it.”
Grenby didn’t like the sound of that idea and frowned.
“I will ask the beavers to come here and make recommendations,” said
Grenby grumbled but didn’t object.
Later that day, they met with Burton at the hut and explained the
situation. He went to the lower level with them and looked at the floor.
After asking a few more questions, he drew a ten-foot circle on the
“Based upon what you’ve said, this is the most likely area for the box
to be hidden. We’ll dig up small sections at a time. We’ll remove and
replace the stones as we go. When we’re finished, the floor will
probably be more level than it is now.”
Grenby liked the plan and asked if the beavers could relevel the whole
floor. Burton laughed and said yes when they had some spare time.
The next morning, Burton returned with Birch and Belva. Bartholomew was
First, they carefully dug up some of the stones and placed them in a
corner of the room. Then, they removed the exposed dirt down about
twelve inches. They found nothing unusual and replaced the dirt and
stones. They made sure the stones were very level.
They were working on the fourth area of the floor when Birch’s shovel
hit something hard.
“I found it,” he yelled even before anyone could see anything, but he
was right. The now familiar mahogany colored box appeared as they
removed the dirt from around it. However, they saw this one was a little
different as they lifted it from the diggings. The exterior was covered
with an intricate but faded gold-leaf design. It was even more beautiful
than the others.
Bartholomew looked at the box and then opened the lid. The animals
leaned closer and peered inside. They saw seven polished wood puzzle
pieces and TWO envelopes.
Bartholomew removed the envelopes and opened them.
He read the first note to everyone:
Dear Ballymore Residents,
With the finding of this box, you now have all of the puzzle pieces.
Congratulations on a job well done. We hope you enjoyed working
together on this hunt. Please continue to care for each other.
The other note in the box contains the Code Key you will need to
unlock the puzzle.
Midsummer’s Eve, 1801
The animals congratulated each other.
Bartholomew said, “I’ll go home and put the puzzle together and decode
it. Please tell everybody that there will be a meeting at 11 bongs
tomorrow morning at the pavilion.”
He left immediately, rushed home, and gathered all of the puzzle pieces
on his table. After he assembled them, the coded message read:
MLSE QUV ZAILSD QUFQ
MVVEZ QUV AJSE
MJKKJP QUV DKJP
QJ QUV ZVNIVQ NFYV
Now he had to decode it. The second note had the following:
- A = P
- B = M
- C = J
- D = G
- E = D
- F = A
- G = X
- H = U
- I = R
- J = O
- K = L
- L = I
- M = F
- N = C
- O = Z
- P = W
- Q = T
- R = Q
- S = N
- T = K
- U = H
- V = E
- W = B
- X = Y
- Y = V
- Z = S
Decoded, the puzzle read:
FIND THE SPRING THAT
FEEDS THE POND
FOLLOW THE GLOW
TO THE SECRET CAVE
“Wow!” he exclaimed and shook his head.
The special gift was in an underwater cave. There was only one animal
best capable of going there: Sam Snapping Turtle.
He studied the decoded note. What kind of glow would be down in the
cave? Probably phosphorescent rocks! The same as those in the
underground lake they found in The Hills. Amazing!
He gathered the pieces and note and put them in his shoulder bag.
Tomorrow would be an exciting day.