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Devise a Secret Code

(The Case of the Missing Deed)

If you want to send someone a message, but you don’t want the “wrong eyes” to see it, you can hide the message using a secret code. Here are two of the secret codes in The Case of the Missing Deed. You can use them to send secret messages of your own!


Caesar’s Cipher

This code is said to have been invented by Julius Caesar in ancient Rome.


  1. Pick a number.

  2. For each letter of your real message, skip ahead that many letters in the alphabet and write down the letter you land on.

  3. To unscramble the coded message, skip back that many spaces in the alphabet.


Example: Say your real message is MEET ME AT JOE’S and you have chosen the number 3.


M E E T                 M E        A T         J O E ‘ S becomes


P H H W               O H        D W        M R H ‘ V



Rail Fence Cipher

This code is like walking along a picket fence and tapping every other fencepost.


  1. Write your message on alternating lines.

  2. Then, reading across, combine the letters on each line to make a scrambled word.

  3. To unscramble, write each scrambled word on a separate line and then read up and down to put the original words back together.


Example: Say your secret message is ATTACK AT DAWN. Writing each letter on an alternating line, you get:


A             T             C            A             D            W


      T             A           K              T              A              N


Reading across, you get:  ATCADW  TAKTAN.

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