Soon after the Gentleman’s Duel was proposed, Catfish and his father came home to this on the front porch:
Upon inspection, they found it was the first riddle from Finkmeister!
Their immediate response was to grab the flash light and run wildly into the front yard, inspecting every tree the came across.
When that didn’t work, they tried a little bit of cogitation. As Catfish pointed out every tree in the yard, Brian realized that one of the trees was a potted ficus. It lives outdoors during the summer and it goes back inside for the winter. It ‘walks’, Get it? GET IT?
Catfish did too. He soon found this:
He celebrated this first triumph by building an elaborate trap out of rope, three bungee cords and the rock-string-grappling-hook device Finkmeister used on an earlier trap. All in all, it was a very successful evening.
After the trap building, Catfish went back outside to leave the lamp and compass (though he was sore to let them go) as he was instructed. It was hard to go to bed that night.
At six am the next morning he was dressed and waiting for the slowest parents in the world. When he was finally able to coax them downstairs, he rocketed outside. Where the lamp and compass had been, he found yet another scroll:
Well, of course we could not let him search alone! In a snap, we were all outside hunting for the next token. The sea and the stone part was confusing until someone pointed out it must have something to do with water and rocks, both of which could be found in the patio fountain!
Catfish enlisted his father’s help to pick up and search the rocks around the fountain. I can’t say I blame him, those rocks tend to harbor large hairy things with too many legs.
After much wincing and turning of stones, they found this:
That day, it started raining.
If you live in the Pacific northwest, you know that “rain” this early in the season really means “120% humidity with a chance of puddles”. Catfish worried that there would be no dry place to leave the token for Finkmeister. And, in turn, no dry spot for him to leave his next riddle. I thought that was nice because, even though he’s dueling an imaginary goblin for thieving rights to our house, he still wants to be polite.
Brian suggested they build a small shelter to stash the stone. Maybe Finkmeister will get the idea to leave his note there. In case he still didn’t understand, Catfish left a note:
Riddle solved for the day, Catfish returned to his victory trap, rewriting the laws of physics with every added string until the entire room was a morass of kitchen twine and impossible gravitational pull. Putting him to bed that evening was a treacherous endeavor.
Bright and early the next morning (again, six am) Catfish was alive and straining to get outside to check on the Finkmeister situation. He was not disappointed.
This one was the hardest yet! The riddle, if there is one, is just a bunch of gibberish about how great Finkmeister is, so how do we solve it?
We read through the whole thing three times. Each time, cutting out more and more lines that clearly had no meaning other than to taunt. In the end, we studied the first two lines:
My last you will never find /It is forever one step, behind.
Catfish pointed out that “It’s probably behind a step. I know where there’s a step!”
That’s how he found the last, and grossest token:
That hat was so dirty that Catfish insisted I wash it. (I finally figured out that he wanted to bring it to school the next day and show all the doubting Thomases.) His problem was that in order to win the duel, we needed to leave the token for Finkmesiter that very night. How could he leave the token, but also be able to take the hat to school the following day?
Easy peasey Lemon Squeezy! We left the laundry pin as the token! It showed that he did actually find the token, but it also allowed for his plans with the hat. It was a good plan.
But, like all well laid plans, it encountered a fatal snag: When Catfish picked up the hat in the morning, it was still too dirty to take to school. (For the record, I did try.)
Finkmeister wasn’t very happy with the jiggery-pokery though. In fact, he wasn’t happy with the way things had turned out at all!
Flipping the scroll over, we see he is not finished being a jerk…
What would happen now? The third riddle made mention that Catfish will become rich if he returned all three tokens. Would that happen? How? Did Catfish really win the duel?
All valid questions! But, by the looks of his angry writing, it appears we wouldn’t be getting any useful information out of Finkmeister in the near future.
If only there was someone that could tell us what was going on…