“I’ve been meaning to ask you,” he said to Roxie, pointing to the row of squiggles over the top of the bay door. “What language is that? It’s everywhere in this Kingdom, but I haven’t heard a language spoken other than English and Mexican.”
She chuckled slyly. “Why, Dick,” she said, “I’m surprised to see you so easily stumped. That’s perfectly good English. It says Koyle Mining Corporation.”
Burton squinted at the letters. “It’s a cipher, then,” he guessed. “You’ve taken as a nation to writing in code. It’s like the tangled streets of a medieval city, a deliberate device to keep outsiders out.”
“On the contrary,” she told him, “it’s a system to make writing the English language simpler.”
“Simpler!” he snorted. “Some of us find the Latin characters simple enough.”
“Yes?” she asked innocently. “How do you write the sound fffff?”
“Eff,” he retorted, then caught himself. “Or pee-aitch.”
He thought, feeling that he was being baited. “Double-eff.”
“And what sound does gee-aitch make?” she pressed him.
“Dammit, woman,” he rumbled, “what’s your point?”
“The point,” she explained, gesturing at the row of characters that allegedly identified the owners of the mine, “is that those characters are the Deseret Alphabet. They are used to write English, in a manner that is simple, logical and consistent.”
“Once you know the damned code,” Burton growled.
“Yes,” she agreed, “once you know the alphabet.”
“I did not know you Mormons went in for Websterism,” Burton rumbled.
The steam-truck rumbled up out of the trees and clattered to a puffing halt in front of the big door.
“Oh, we are reformers, all right,” she told him. “But that is the least of our surprises.”