In my journey to studying the career of library science, I have stumbled upon something interesting that I never knew about (how about that!). In 1982, a book was published titled The Secret. Not like the book we think of by that title today. This book contained 12 artistic images and 12 verses (in addition to some interesting information about fairies and goblins). One must match the verses with the pictures to locate a specific treasure that the author had buried in a casque somewhere in North America. Actually, the casque contained a key which when given to the puzzle’s author Byron Preiss, he would present to them a gem worth about $1000 at the time.
To date, only 2 of the 12 have been found. The first was located in 1984 by a group of students in Grant Park, Chicago. It was a match of verse 12 and image 5, a walkthrough can be seen here.
The second was located in 2004 in Cleveland by a group of a treasure hunters online forum. The casque was found in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens. The group presented the casque to Mr. Preiss who at the time had misplaced the key to the safe deposit box where he had been keeping the gems since 1982. A few months later he did locate it and present them with their treasure.
Preiss had insisted that upon his death, he would reveal the final locations and the game would end. Sadly, Preiss was unexpectedly killed in a car accident in 2005. His wife does not wish to be bothered by those still trying to locate the remaining casques and claims that he never revealed to her any of the locations.
On an interesting note, the artist he chose to paint these gorgeous images was John Jude Palencar, who in the early 80s was unknown. Today he is a well known artist who created the images seen in the Eragon series. He claims that Preiss only ever gave him Polaroids of the locations and some clues to include, but he never knew the actual locations. Palencar did once mention in a newspaper article about the location found in 2004 that he had been present when Preiss was burying that casque.
So there is a Florida connection to all this. One of the casques is allegedly buried here, around St Augustine. It is perhaps tied to image 6 as seen below:
It is said that this image matches up with Verse 9 which is as follows:
The first chapter
Written in water
With wind rose
Behind bending branches
And a green picket fence
At the base of a tall tree
You can still hear the honking
Shell, limestone, silver, salt
Stars move by day
Sails pass by night
Even in darkness
Like moonlight in teardrops
Over the tall grass
Years pass, rain falls.
This perhaps describes the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. The parks entrance gates have the words “First Chapter” engraved. The park includes many trees, a planetarium, benches, all of which could be deciphered in the verse.
One issue it appears that may plague the puzzle in many locations were the fact that Preiss had wrongly assumed his clues weren’t all that difficult and would have all been located shortly after the book was published. So many of the clues he used were things like trees and branches, which may not exist today like they may have in 1982. Even the mention of a “green picket fence” by the “base of a tall tree” may refer to two things that had once existed in the park that are no longer there. There had in fact been a green picket fence and Wheeping Willow tree.
It’s a treasure that is likely still buried and because the park is now private property and a protected digging site, it is unlikely it will ever be recovered.
More can be read about The Secret and the other verses and pictures here.