Tuesday, September 16

A Secret Mission Reveal'd

A covert letter decoded from the Doctor's journal from an entry dated October 1813:

Dear Doctor R______, 

It is with great- joy is certainly not the correct word- gratitude and relief that I received your letter of acceptance for this dangerous and offensive task. We will not likely ever have such an opportunity again. I know how repugnant such an undertaking must be for one such as yourself, who has made his life's work saving lives, but as I'm sure you realize- and I know Sir J______ has counseled- that by taking one life now we will save thousands in the future.

Forgive me, but I had anticipated your acceptance and we have already put preparations into action. We have arranged for the capture of a small packet of unimportant documents which will be uncoded with some effort. Among them is a brief mention of you- reference to alleged republican sentiments you have expressed to other officers and allowing that our suspicions have been aroused by your travel to lecture in Paris scheduled for September of [1814]. I doubt that our enemies would be so incautious as to attempt to sway your allegiance on the basis of one captured document, but if you are approached as such use your own best judgment as to how to proceed. 

Iris fulva
If present practice follows past we should expect you to be invited to dine at the Emperor's chateau the evening after your lecture. Dinner guests often arrive quite early in order to stroll about the grounds and gardens. As you do so you should inquire of any gardeners you meet about the Red Iris of North America- Iris fulva. The one that offers to share seed of this plant, he is our man. He speaks English fairly well, but can neither read nor write, should the situation arise. Try and have Mrs. R________- it is my understanding that she will accompany you- on your arm at the time that he may recognize her also. If your situation becomes dire- God forbid- attempt to return to the area where you first met this fellow. He will keep a watch for you there throughout the evening and will render you any aide within his power.

A single Rosary Pea
As to the agent which may best accomplish our task- I realize as a man of science you may have your own opinion, but my thought was that your knowledge probably ran more toward preserving life rather than taking it. To that end I have consulted with Doctor A______. His recommendation is a tincture or suspension of Abrus precatorius - the Rosary pea of the west Indies. He has  experimented extensively on dogs with these seeds and tells me that one small pea contains enough poison to be fatal to a strong man, provided the seed coat is broken. Unbroken the seed coat is so hard that it may be passed completely and do no harm. He assures me that two broken seeds, ingested with food, would certainly be fatal. A tincture made from a number of seeds would work as well. The onset of symptoms will not occur for some hours, possibly even days after ingestion, but once they begin there is no antidote or effective treatment. I shall send you a packet of these seeds, far more than you will require for the task, so that you may experiment with them ahead of time if you wish. Take care with them around any sharp objects. Doctor A______ tells me the fatal symptoms are almost immediate if any of the internal content of the seed enters the circulatory system. If you have a preference for some other agent the choice is completely yours, as you will be the one at risk.

As always burn this correspondence after you have read it thoroughly.

Godspeed and good luck, 
Yours in service, 
R______ R______

What is MISSION X?

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