A Sherlock Holmes
story involves a simple substitution code
in which each letter is written as a stick figure
in a different
posture, so that lines of text look like rows of dancing men that
The full code is not revealed in the story, but 18 letters are, as
The characters holding a flag in one hand mark the last letters of
words. The last letter of the last word may or may not have a flag.
Besides that, there are 7 different ways of drawing the arms of the
man, and 8 different ways of drawing the legs, which includes one
case where the man is drawn upside down. Various combinations of
these are used to make the figures.
Arms: (names and numbers are my made-up ways of identifying the shapes)
O O O O O O O
| \|/ \| |/ |/ \| |||
| | | | <| |> `+'
armless normal left right bent bent shrug
0 1 2 3 4 5 6
| ~\ /~ | |__| |__| | /| |\
^ V / \ | | | / | | \
_/ \_ | \ / |_ _| _|_ \ |_ _| /
upside ~ ~ left right stand ~ left right ~
normal down bent raised raised ing bent bent
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
For the upside-down figures, the left and right arms refer to the sides
as drawn, or in other words, assume the man flipped vertically toward or
away from you, rather than performing a cartwheel.
arms 0 1 2 3 4 5 6
1 - E - - - - -
2 - T G D - - -
3 B M C Y N L S
4 V I P - - - -
5 - R - - - - -
6 - H - - - - -
7 - O - - - - -
8 - A - - - - -
The letters F, J, K, Q, U, W, X, Z do not appear in the coded messages in
the story, but may be presumed to be represented by other combinations of
arm and leg positions.