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'They're onto us, leave now!'

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davidjpreston
796682.  Wed Mar 16, 2011 10:30 am Reply with quote

In one episode oF QI Stephen Fry talks about someone (a famous Author?) who as a joke wrote a number of annonymous letters containing nothing but a message that said, 'They're onto us, leave now!'.

He helivered it to a number of his friends, one of whom must have taken the advice and was never seen again.

Who was the letter writer?

 
Ian Dunn
796683.  Wed Mar 16, 2011 10:36 am Reply with quote

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It was actually Jo Brand who brought the subject up and the message actually was: "We are discovered. Flee immediately."

 
davidjpreston
796744.  Wed Mar 16, 2011 3:32 pm Reply with quote

Thanks Ian, very impressive. I joined this site just to post that one message and am amazed by the speed of the response, great stuff, much appreciated :-)

 
Ian Dunn
796754.  Wed Mar 16, 2011 4:09 pm Reply with quote

That's alright. Please feel free to ask the site any more questions, or to share anything you think is quite interesting.

 
CB27
796787.  Wed Mar 16, 2011 6:01 pm Reply with quote

I think it's one of those stories that did the rounds long before Conan Doyle.

Check about halfway down the second column on this page from 1876 there's a bit titled "SUDDEN SPREAD OF THE GOSPEL".

http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82015484/1876-09-21/ed-1/seq-4/

As for Conan Doyle's association with this story, check halfway down the third column from the right from this page from 1897, titled "Fly at once".

http://tinyurl.com/63xqmpq

 
sjb
805177.  Mon Apr 11, 2011 8:40 pm Reply with quote

Mark Twain is, also, attributed with this; he said that he sent a telegram to 12 men, all of whom fled immediately. It stated:

FLEE AT ONCE--ALL IS DISCOVERED

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/12/weekinreview/12word.html?_r=1&ex=1297400400&en=880efbcdfb77da7e&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss


I had a good laugh from CB27's first link, three paragraphs down from "Sudden Spread of the Gospel"--

Quote:
According to a Louisville paper, this is the way a Kentucky candidate for office greets a voter: "Howdy, howdy, howdy!" "Howdy!" "How do you do!" "Tollable." "How's all!" "Tollable." "Your folks well!" "Tollable, how's yourn!" "Tollable." "Neighbors all well!" "Tollable; how's yourn!" "Tollable." "All for me this time!" "Sorter tollable."

 
crissdee
810294.  Thu Apr 28, 2011 6:09 am Reply with quote

I cannot get at CB27's link so this may be the same thing, but this was part of the Holmes story "The Gloria Scott"
Arthur Conan Doyle wrote:

a short note scribbled, as you see, upon a single sheet of gray paper.
'The supply of game for London is going steadily up,' it ran.
'Head-keeper Hudson, we believe, has been now told to receive
all orders for fly-paper and for preservation of your hen-pheasant's life. '
"I daresay my face looked as bewildered as yours did just
now when first I read this message..............And then in an instant the key of the riddle was in my hands, and I saw that every third word, beginning with the first, would give a message which might well drive old Trevor to despair. It was short and terse, the warning, as I now read it to my companion"

" 'The game is up. Hudson has told all. Fly for your life.'


This may be nothing of consequence, but I always like to excercise my Holmes scholarship when I get the chance.

 
RLDavies
811413.  Sat Apr 30, 2011 8:42 am Reply with quote

This story always reminds me of the author (I think either Thurber or Perelman -- it's the sort of thing either of them would do) who, as an experiment, sent 10 or 12 randomly chosen friends a telegram saying simply CONGRATULATIONS. Only one got in touch to ask why he was being congratulated.

 
nicholasjwest
812570.  Mon May 02, 2011 2:18 pm Reply with quote

I did the "All is discovered." text once before. I got a one word answer of "How?", but I suspect they were just playing along. People today aren't into as much subterfuge as once they were.

 

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