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After her adventures in Wonderland and The Looking Glass Alice led a varied and interesting life. One day, when she had grown to be an attractive young woman, she found herself in the town of Cryptic. The people may have been well-meaning but they were full of odd tics and mannerisms and they spoke in such a confusing way that it gave her a headache trying to make sense of it.

As a result of several misunderstanding, evening found her alone and hungry in Cryptic with no dinner plans, nowhere to stay, and no means of transportation to somewhere more plainspoken. She was weighing her options when she heard someone call her name.

"Alice!"

She turned to see a man walking toward her. He was tall, blond, and muscular. He was too far away for her to see his eyes but she felt instinctively that they were deep and dreamy.

"Hello," she replied. "I'm sorry... I don't... who are you?"

He smiled and held out his hand. "You can call me Will." His eyes were deep and dreamy. They were also of a shade of blue that she found particularly interesting.

"Happy to meet you, Will," she said with several layers of meaning. "You wouldn't know of a place near here where I could buy a meal, would you?"

Will laughed. "Join me for dinner. I have a great cook and after 6 o'clock this place is absolutely dead."

"But we've just met. Wait. How did you know my name?"

"People love to gossip about pretty strangers. I'll tell the maid to set another place for you. You must come. I'll see you soon!"

With that, he dashed off. It was a tempting offer but what if he were to make a trial of her virtue? Or, worse, what if he didn't? She was just telling herself that there was only one way to find out when she realised that he hadn't told her where he lived. She ran in the direction he had gone and almost knocked over the mayor of Cryptic himself.

"Mr. Mayor," she said. "A rich, handsome man named Will has invited me for dinner. Where does he live? ... And would it be proper to accept," she added as an afterthought.

"Asked how?" Said the mayor, for the moment too shaken to speak cryptically.

Alice repeated the conversation verbatim as she had an excellent memory.

The mayor looked shocked. "If following this road to a dwelling of considerable dimension was your intention I'd lie to deny it would serve your intention. For the rest it were best just to say his home isn't here, the Hollow, my dear is where Will has chosen to stay." The mayor laid his finger aside of his nose then slunk off, winking and tugging his earlobe.

The question: should Alice follow the road or not?

Bonus:

What term best describes the invitation?

Note: I am told that some have assumed that the puzzle is whether or not the mayor said that the road leads to Will's house. Ah, Gentle Reader, if only life were that simple. Look deeper. There is a mystery within the enigma.

Two hints to be used only if you really need them:

The bonus is a hint.

And:

The people of Cryptic speak cryptically but Will is not from Cryptic.

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My answer:

Yes, she should follow the road.

Some explanation:

Pulling apart the Mayor's first sentence implies that Alice will find a mansion (or other large dwelling) at the end of the road. His second sentence implies that Will is from a place called The Hollow.

If people from Cryptic speak cryptically, it stands to reason that people from The Hollow speak in a hollow manner somehow. Perhaps we should hollow out each one of Will's statements, taking the first and last word from each. If we do this we find: You will join dead people soon.

So that's super-creepy.

The questions remain: Should Alice accept the invitation or not? Should Alice follow the road or not?

If Will is implying that Cryptic is to be massacred, then Alice should leave. If Will is implying that he will kill Alice at his home, then Alice should leave. Either way, I think she needs to get out of town. I'm kind of stuck here so I'm going to rely heavily on the Bonus.

"What word describe's Will's invitation? Answer: Forward. So by that piece of information alone, I'm going to say that Alice should keep going on the road she is on.

Run! Run, Alice, run!

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  • $\begingroup$ Well done! I, myself, was thinking along the lines of your second alternative. Happy puzzling. $\endgroup$ – Hugh Meyers Feb 14 '16 at 17:18

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