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425 references/books/masquerade.p




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This article is from the Puzzles FAQ, by Chris Cole chris@questrel.questrel.com and Matthew Daly mwdaly@pobox.com with numerous contributions by others.

425 references/books/masquerade.p


What is the solution to _Masquerade_ by Kit Williams?

references/books/masquerade.s

The original book:
_Masquerade_ by Kit Williams, Jonathan Cape, London, 1979

The answer book:
_Masquerade The Complete Book with the Answer Explained_ by Kit Williams,
Jonathan Cape, London, 1982

The whole story:
_The Quest for the Golden Hare_ by Bamber Gascoigne, Jonathan Cape,
London, 1983

_Masquerade_ contains fifteen very detailed one- or two-page paintings
rendered in the fantastic style typical of a high quality children's
book, together with a dreamy story containing characters such as Jack
Hare, Tara Tree-tops and the Lady Moon. Most of the very lifelike
people in the paintings are actual friends of Mr. Williams. This book
set off a frenzy of solving activity unequalled by any subsequent book,
even though its imitators offered much higher prizes, culminating in
the $500,000 of the book _Treasure_ with puzzle by Paul Hoffman (a.k.a.
Dr. Crypton).

The solution to Masquerade is simplicity itself, and is fully in
keeping with the nature of the book: namely, a picture book. First of
all, the text has nothing to do with it; the pictures alone contain the
answer. Secondly, the answer is literally pointed to by the pictures.
Each picture is bordered by letters, which is a dead giveaway since the
letters have no reason for being there if they are not part of the
puzzle. By drawing a line from the eyes of the various creatures in
the pictures, through their longest fingers, biggest toes, etc., and
extending to the bordering letters, this message is found:

CATHERINES LONG FINGER OVER SHADOWS EARTH BURIED YELLOW AMULET MIDDAY
POINTS THE HOUR IN LIGHT OF EQUINOX LOOK YOU.

The first letter from each page spells:
CLOSE BY AMPTHILL

This method of solution is hinted to on the title page with the rhyme:
To solve the hidden riddle, you must use your eyes,
And find the hare in every picture that may point you to the prize.

Armed with this information, it is a simple matter to discover that
there is a statue of Catherine of Aragon in a public park near the
village of Ampthill. By doing a little amateur astronomy, the exact
spot pointed to by the statue's long finger can be determined without
waiting for the equinox. Beneath this spot was the treasure, a golden
hare. The book also contains a number of confirming clues.

_Quest_ chronicles some of the amazingly far-fetched approaches taken
by Masqueraders. Mr. Gascoigne, a respected author on the arts,
accompanied Mr. Williams the night he buried the treasure. He also
read the tens of thousands of letters received by Mr. Williams. The
hare was found three years after the book was published by a shadowy
figure with pseudonym Ken Thomas. Mr. "Thomas" found the hare by
researching Mr. Williams' life, going to places that he had lived, and
doing a lot of digging with the occasional help of some of the
confirming clues. Two British physicists did finally solve the puzzle
with the help of a hint published by Mr. Williams in the Sunday Times,
but they were a little too late.

After the announcement that the hare was unearthed, many fanatical
Masqueraders tried to prove that their approaches could lead to the
correct solution. For example, someone discovered that the word
"thill" means a fleck of paint (according to some obscure dictionary),
and he thought he saw an inexplicable fleck of paint in each painting.
He also thought he saw the word "amp" hidden in each painting. For
example, in one picture a girl is floating in the air above houses.
And a volt (vault) over an ohm (home) is an amp. Mr. Gascoigne
summarizes his observations thus:

Tens of thousands of letters from Masqueraders have convinced me that
the human mind has an equal capacity for pattern-matching and
self-deception. While some addicts were busy cooking the riddle,
others were more single-mindedly continuing their own pursuit of the
hare quite regardless of the news that it had been found. Their own
theories had come to seem so convincing that no exterior evidence could
refute them. These most determined of Masqueraders may grudgingly have
accepted that a hare of some sort was dug up at Ampthill, but they
believed there would be another hare, or a better solution, awaiting
them at their favourite spot. Kit would expect them to continue
undismayed by the much publicised diversion at Ampthill and would be
looking forward to the day when he would greet them as the real
discoverers of the real puzzle of Masquerade. Optimistic expeditions
were still setting out, with shovels and maps, throughout the summer of
1982.

 

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