Monday, 10 March 2014

Passwords and Tokens: A Quiz

Morris’s tales and romances are fascinated by the idea of secret passwords and tokens, so here, for the keen Morrisian reader, is a quiz based upon them. I should warn you that in at least one of the stories you will be slain outright if you cannot answer. The answers follow the image below, so take care how you scroll down.

A: When Arnald and Florian gather their men in the Abbey in ‘The Hollow Land’, their guards ask new arrivals, ‘Who went over the moon last night?’ What is the correct reply?

B: Just before Cissela is sent to king Valdemar as Peace-Queen in ‘Svend and his Bretheren’, what token does Siur give her?

C: In A Dream of John Ball Will Green whispers in the narrator’s ear, ‘John the Miller hath y-ground, small, small, small’. What is the correct reply?

D: What token is borne by the runner who arrives at the House of the Wolfings in that romance?

E: ‘When I have set a mark on thee and given thee a token’, says the old man to Hallblithe on the isle of Ransom; what password does he teach the young man to ensure his safety?

F: How do the questers after the Well at the World’s End recognise each other?

G: What token of recognition do Osberne and Elfhild potentially have in The Sundering Flood (which May Morris tells us her father would have made more of if he had lived to complete the tale)?

In a period in which, as Edward Snowden has so heroically shown us, the NSA in the United States and GCHQ over here are remorsely spying on all our electronic communications, perhaps there is more to be said for Morris's low-tech means of mutual identification than we might first have thought.


A: ‘Mary and John’
B: He breaks a thin golden ring in two and gives one half to her.
C: ‘The king’s son of heaven shall pay for all’
D: A war-arrow ragged and burnt and bloody.
E: ‘The House of the Undying’.
F: They wear ‘a little necklace of blue and green stones with gold knobs betwixt, like a pair of beads ... and tied to the necklace was a little box of gold with something hidden therein’ (I, 3)
G: Osberne breaks a gold coin decorated with warriors and the rood in half and shoots one half across the river to Elfhild.


Kotick said...

With Osberne and Elfhild's broken coin in mind from your list of answers, could we not perhaps regard those Victorian coins which William Guest inadvertently leaves behind at the Hammersmith Guest House as a kind of love token to Annie there, to which - alas and alack for him - she does not respond? Or rather, he eventually gets a kiss from her, but only in a 'frank friendly way' that doesn't lead anywhere.

Tony Pinkney said...

In theory, social relations in utopias are so transparent that you don't need tokens and passwords. But you're probably right to suggest that in 'News from Nowhere' enough discrepant stuff is happening just under the surface that tokens and codewords might make a subtle comeback after all.