by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon

Mystery Box

To find out what's in the central box, solve the set of Box clues (a-h) and determine where their answers belong in the diagram, using the Acrosses and Downs as guides. Each square of the central box has two of these 5-letter Box words abutting it; for example, the lower-right square is abutted by 21 Across and 24 Down. Every such pair of Box words will combine to suggest a single letter, and the central box's four resulting letters will spell a word. Clue answers include eleven capitalized words.


1. Make a slip in conversation with some Europeans (5)
5. Coin put back in a note about mercury (7)
10. Spread out in front of "Fire" sign (4)
11. Pass out quite a few times when you're speaking (5)
12. Talk about smoker's ultimate habit (4)
13. Fourth stone cut on island in the Seine? (8)
14. Asian back massage before month in Italy (7)
16. Bully that is grabbing collector's last shell (6)
17. Characteristic beliefs about northern cultural group (6)
22. Talks lovingly about small world (6)
24. Site on the west coast lacks a fix (6)
27. Hillbilly dad clumsily handles fruits (7)
28. Articles mom damned (8)
29. Fine and rare: a gumbo ingredient (4)
30. Wrong part of the Ukraine, mostly (5)
31. Souvenirs of a vacation don't work for the audience (4)
32. Scotsman's known club president (7)
33. Audibly get lower in harmony (5)

1. Fighter in neighborhood following a reasonable course (7)
2. Site of a siege, according to medical officer (5)
3. Swine, getting outside of fencing material, turned fancy locks (7)
4. Reportedly look for and acquire a shiny ornament (6)
6. Arthur's nephew edited the rag (6)
7. Be found abducted by an entity in a UFO? (5)
8. Solo almost up in jazz standard (4)
9. Articles in thermos considered oddly (5)
14. Composer, nearly a god (6)
15. Pictures capturing American youngsters in pens (6)
18. A French lacrosse team holds a thousand dollars not claimed (7)
19. Landscape's last two trees in moonshine (7)
20. Flier before shout expressing excitement (6)
21. Brand of alcohol was red, strangely (6)
22. Expert remark designed to get a laugh (5)
23. Get dizzy about a land on a peninsula (5)
25. Fifty-one cents covers your poem (5)
26. Rein flopping about (2,2)

a. Issue involving chief of police and amphetamine (5)
b. Cahn, for example, eating M & M (5)
c. Mild insult after the inauguration (5)
d. Wetter outside of university dwelling (5)
e. Basic structure of iron absorbing force (5)
f. Glover in Mobile and New York (5)
g. Bird I stuck in a truck (5)
h. Like the sky, as you're told? (5)

The Atlantic Monthly; April 1999; The Puzzler; Volume 283, No. 4; page 115.

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