Breaking into the Black Legend
I took a short glance at the green board which indicated that the Yale University was situated on my right hand side and walked briskly in that direction. By the way, I am Ashley Leone, otherwise known as Ash by my friends and I’m twenty-one years old. Before you ask, I’m not a college student. In fact, I am a cryptographer, or as you better understand, a person who studies and break codes. I have got photographic memory and excellent vision which come very handy when I am trying to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphs or when breaking anagrams in Ancient Mandarin.
Then why exactly was I heading towards Yale? About fifteen days ago Mr. Ethan Goodfellow had invited me to a seminar that he was going to present at Yale about the Voynich telling me that this was a piece that would interest me immensely. So here I am, on a summer afternoon, walking past Yale University’s gates. I found my way to the conference hall and took my place just as the lecture began.
“The Voynich manuscript is a work belonging to the early 15th century and can be described as the world’s most mysterious document. Although many professional cryptographers have studied the Voynich for over five hundred years, no one has been able to analyze the encrypted text or the unusual images in the script. We are, however, able to make out that several pages which are more formally known as portfolios have gone missing; whether it is because of the Voynich’s ancient nature or because someone had ripped them out, we do not know. However, legend has it that these missing pages can be used to translate the mystifying script into Latin and then into English with the help of experts. But as per now, the Voynich still lies in enigma,” Professor Goodfellow explained to all of us. He ended the convention by saying, “Hopefully, we will be able to recover those missing portfolios and unravel the secrets of the Voynich,” to which all of the listeners applauded loudly.
A flood of questions, all without answers raced through my mind. Who wrote the Voynich? What was its purpose? Why did it have to be written in a strange language? What did the text and pictures actually mean? All these doubts simply baffled me. Remembering my manners, I pushed the questions out of my mind and went up to meet the Professor to personally congratulate him on his successful presentation.
“The Voynich is certainly very intriguing,” I said thinking about all of my unanswered queries. “I wonder what kind of secrets it guards.”
“That is definitely a good question. It is just buried beneath so many shadows, and it raising more questions than answers. But I can let you take a look at it now if you would like. The gallery, after all, is still open,” suggested Mr.Goodfellow.
I accepted eagerly and I was, in actuality, very excited to see this ancient document which has been shrouded under so much mystery.
The two of us made our way to the gallery and the curator, a kind old lady by the name Eva Hale, granted us permission to view the Voynich. I personally fell in love with the script as soon as I saw it. It had an antique type of beauty and the cover page with a scaly black dragon was simple a fantastic piece of art and I couldn’t help admiring the fine painting. It had an old must kind of smell which made me feel comfortable. Though I couldn’t make any sense of the writing of the diagrams, I could feel a faint, but powerful aura coming from it. I slowly and carefully turned over its delicate pages. The one thing that stood out, though very slightly when I got to page 79 was this:
I suppose excellent vision does pay off once in a while. Anyways, I asked both Mrs. Hale and Professor Goodfellow whether any other language has been detected in the Voynich and they replied, “No, many professionals had gone through the script very thoroughly and had only noticed that a strange dialect was printed, but no other language. I was startled to hear this news, but filed away the code in my brain and decided to keep this bit of information to myself hoping to come across something bigger.
I thanked Ethan and went to the café. I sat at a chair by the window, grabbed a napkin, and fished out a pen from my handbag, and tried to break the code that was at the bottom of the page. It was in Ancient Greek, and putting my cryptographic skills to use, I translated it into the word “Vatican”. However, I had no clue as to what the cross meant. Leaving it for the time being, I finished my latte and snapped open my cell phone as I walked out of the coffee bar. I ringed up my travel agent and said, “Book a plane ticket to Vatican City, right away.”
As I made a turn towards my hotel room, I noticed a man wearing black clothes from head to toe; he had a dark bowler hat on his head and dark glasses obscured his face. I mean, who would wear suffocating black clothes on a hot summer day? And why was he staring at me? But when I riveted my eyes once again in that direction, he disappeared, as if he had dissolved into thin air. I reluctantly decided that it must be a trick of the light, but hurried towards by hotel, feeling uneasy.
Spending nine hours on a plane with a fat man who snored loudly and occasionally let out a burp was definitely not my idea of fun, especially when I am knee deep in a five hundred year old code breaking case. So I guess you would understand that I raced out and checked into my room as soon as we landed. I was so engrossed in thinking about the case that I didn’t even bother to check out the beautiful scenery outside. Then I realized that it was late in the evening and that I would have to leave my detective work for tomorrow.
I woke up early in the morning, had buttery French croissants and headed out to probe the churches in Vatican City, the heart of Christianity. Unfortunately for me, I was exhausted after sifting through six cathedrals and had just finished three streets. Who knew that there were about ten churches for just about every avenue in Vatican City. Now, that was a bit of an exaggeration, but hopefully you get my point. I almost lost hope of finding anything related to the Voynich in this country, and had actually considered abandoning the case. They say that Vatican City is the smallest country in the world, but if you step into my shoes, you would understand my despair. I disregarded these thoughts and pushed myself to walk into the next church, St. Peter’s Cathedral.
It was very beautiful, but nothing I have not seen before. The one thing that was different about this was that there was a collection of twelve angels made up of pure white marble. I went up to take a closer look. The eleventh angel somehow struck me a bit odd, but I couldn’t place my finger exactly as to what was out of place. Then I noticed that all the statues had some sort of serial number and descriptions in English. I inspected this on each of the models starting from the first whose digit was 61. The second angel’s was 62 and so on. But when I got the eleventh carving, its description was in Latin. It said:
Scientia sit potentia
This Latin phrase translated into “Knowledge is Power” in English. It struck me as completely odd and inapt. Also its serial number was 12126514552221 and was much longer than the order numbers of its companion statues. I scribbled it down and thought about trying to decode it later on.
The tourists were now shooting me curious glances. After all, I was on my knees paying more attention to the pedestals rather than the actual carvings. I got up to take a closer look hoping that I might find some sort of clue on the back, and as I walked I tripped over a small lever, stimulating it. It hit me hard on the shin and I was once again on my knees, and I immediately noticed that an ancient version of a keypad with all twenty six English alphabets had popped out due to the pulling down of the pedal. I tried to think of what to type in—I didn’t know how many tries I had before it would lock down forever. I doubt that our ancestors would be very merciful in this matter. My best bet was that I had only one try to get it right or who knows what is going to blow up or explode?
My gut feeling told me that the serial number and the pass code were related and decided to get back to my room to work on it. I spent hours trying to decipher it, but it was absolutely hopeless. After a “few” tries, I ended up with a meaning less word, “lazeneevu”. I was disappointed; so many tries and still no fruit. A sudden thought occurred to me: what if this weird word was an anagram? I remember that the answer to the first code was a place, so maybe this was too. I used these two leads, and voila, I have got the answer.
I raced up to St. Peter’s, pushed the secret lever and punched in the answer. To my surprise, I heard a faint, but distinct click and a gold chain with an amulet fell directly into my hands. When I looked at it, I gasped; the amulet had the black dragon engraved into it and this proved that I was right on track.
I pocketed the amulet and thought about inspecting it later and ringed up my travel agent and said with a tone of urgency, “Next stop, Venezuela,” and turned towards the window when my heart almost stopped beating. The ‘Man in Black’ was staring at me intently. This quest is getting spooky and possibly even dangerous as the trail of the Voynich is getting warmer.
I was on the plane on my way to Venezuela. I took out the amulet from my pocket and investigated it for codes and cracks in case something small, perhaps a compartment where a chit could be concealed, but I didn’t find anything.
I was heading towards Venezuela, but I had no idea what to do once I get there or where to search. For all I know, my next lead could be anywhere in this South American country. After I landed in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, I decided to go to the National Museum which was actually a converted castle. I roamed aimlessly for a while, checking out all the exhibits, and after finishing the rooms on Geography, Culture, and Architecture, I headed towards the History section which was much larger as compared to the other quarters. It had many paintings, artifacts, and books.
This was one place that I could be expecting codes, symbols, or ciphers. I kept an eye out for anything related to the Voynich. It was now nearly closing time, and there was no other tourist in the room. I then came across a huge painting of a king. It was a marvelous piece of art; the king stood tall and regal. His expression solemn and he wore the fashionable navy blue brocade and velvet clothes of his time. He donned a crown studded with diamonds, and on the hilt of his sword carried a gigantic blue sapphire. He was seated on a throne which was placed on onyx coloured steps and they—I stopped. On the step there was a carving of the black dragon in a ring.
I couldn’t believe my eyes as I unexpectedly stumbled upon a lead related to the Voynich. On a closer look, I noted that the ring was slightly embossed, and to my cryptographic eye, it seemed to be popping out.
I hesitantly pressed my finger against the ring and the entire painting swung in to lead into a passage. I took advantage of the fact that no one was there and quickly walked into the narrow opening and closed the “door” after me. I pulled a flashlight out of my purse and walked down the alley.
After walking for about twenty minutes, I saw a faint light in the distance. I jogged up ahead and arrived at a room which was glowing with faint light and the tunnel continued on the other side. Strangely, there was no source for the light to enter into the area. Across from the tunnel I entered from, another passageway continued on the other side of the area span. On one side of the room, there was a huge oil soaked torch. I went up and used my lighter and set it on fire, and immediately there was a burst of light in the room. I noticed that there were some very old tables with various objects like telescopes, clay pots, empty wooden boxes, and antique decorations. Directly opposite to the torch on the other side of the room, there was a muslin screen. Smack, in the centre of the enclosure was the symbol of the yin and the yang with a feng shui compass on the sign.
Finally I understood what I had to do. You see, feng shui is an ancient Chinese system by which we arrange object to ensure “favolurable” flow of energy. But the problem is that a feng shui puzzle doesn’t have a definite answer, so using my code breaking skills and logic, I started arranging the objects and noticed that a shadow image was forming on the screen. Once I finished the arrangement part, I turned to the screen, but all I saw was a lump of grey shades on the display. However, once my eyes adjusted to it, I noticed that the image was divided into three sections. Two parts on either side were stationary while the division in the middle was moving as if a fluid was tumbing from the top to bottom.
The answer struck me like a soundless thunderbolt. Which country was I in? Venezuela. What is this country famous for? Angel Falls, the tallest waterfalls in the world. I was wordlessly giving myself kudos when I heard a footsteps. I glanced at the tunnel at the entrance of the room and saw a figure that was all too familiar approaching me. I could tell that it was the Man in Black from the outline of the bowler hat. I snatched a clay pot and hurled it in his direction and fled from the room taking the alternative alley.
I was now on my rented Jeep, driving along the rugged road to Angel Falls. For the first time in my search, I will be entering nature’s domain, and I am glad to say that I was well prepared. I had packed extra batteries for my flashlight, a rock climbing and rappelling set, water, snacks, and most importantly the gold necklace that I had found at St. Peter’s in a waterproof backpack. My sixth sense told me that I will need it.
I parked my Jeep and hiked for a while until I came into the vicinity of the waterfalls. I stared at the beautiful falls, took a deep breath and dived in right at the place where the water cascaded and thundered onto the ground. I swam for a while and finally ended up at a cave or rather a channel where the water ended. I walked forward and ended up in a cave.
It was all quite bare except for a wooden chest made up of ebony. It had a black circle with a dragon engraved into it. I had tried to open it, but it wouldn’t budge. I took out the chain from my bag and compared the two. They were the same size and had the exact detail—they were twin copies. I carefully placed the amulet on the wooden carving and aligned them. I was startled to hear a click sound and this time, when I tried to unlock it, the box did not defy my order.
Inside, there were several ancient scrolls and documents—they were the missing portfolios of the Voynich. They were all in Latin and the strange dialect and held the key to translating the text in the Voynich.
I had succeeded in my quest, and now, I was holding the key which can be used to reveal the secrets of the Voynich—secrets which have been guarded for over five hundred years. I was congratulating myself for my discovery and was thinking about telling Professor Goodfellow when I heard someone say, “Put that down, now,” in a calm, yet deadly tone.
I twisted my body in the direction of the voice and turned around, completely shocked and was startled on seeing twelve people in a semicircle. They were all dressed in black clothes from head to toe, and a person who I supposed was the leader was at the very centre.
“You!” I accused, pointing at the Leader. “You have been stalking me for a while. Who are you, and why have you been following me?” I enquired.
“We are the Black Legends. You may recognize one of our members,” he said, walking along the semicircle. He stopped at one of them and pulled off the person’s mask to reveal the face of Eva Hale. Though I hadn’t interacted with Mrs. Hale a lot, I felt as if I had been betrayed. I looked at Mrs. Hale, but she avoided my eye.
“Our ancestors have been guarding these portfolios of the Voynich for many generations and Hale has done her duty well over the past 25 years. She called me as soon as you visited her. She claimed that she saw a sort of glint in your eye after you went through the Voynich. I was skeptical at first. A twenty-one year old woman finding the Voynich? Impossible, but I decided not to take chances and took up the activity of following you myself,” continued the Leader in a calculating manner. His voice was cold and sent shivers down my spine.
I kept ground and ventured by asking, “Why is the Voynich so special? Why does it need protection?”
Once of the Black Legends said, “That script, my dear, carries secrets that cannot be revealed to the world.”
“They are much too powerful” continued another Legend.
“What kind of secrets?” I demanded.
“Why do you think the Voynich is written in an unknown dialect? It is because it is the bearer of secrets—secrets so powerful that they threaten to wipe out the entire human civilization if they fall in the wrong hands,” explained the Leader, now in a slightly irritated tone, as if he was struggling to regain his composure. “What did you see on the eleventh angel at St. Peter’s?” he questioned.
“Scientia sit potentia– Knowledge is Power,” I said remembering the Latin phrase engraved in the description board of the angel.
“But what does that have to do with anything?”
“The Voynich’s secretswill provide the reader great knowledge, and understanding is power. No human being should have that much power. It will tip the scales and prove to be destructive. That is why we have been protecting the Voynich for so long. So that no one can make sense of the Voynich and gain too much power,” whispered the Leader.
“Why not destroy these pages then? Get it over with so that you are not cooped up in that tunnel?” I asked.
“We, being the Black Legends have no right to destroy it. But you, my dear, and worthy of obliterating it as it is you who found it,” spoke a Legend.
I nodded, understanding the situation and took out my match box. As I lit the ancient pages on fire, I announced, “Let the secret of the Voynich be lost forever.” I felt extremely guilty for annihilating such valuable documents, but I knew it had to be done.
“Thank you,” I said to the Leader, “for opening my eyes.”
“No, thank you for freeing us from our bond with the Voynich,” said a Legend.”I nodded and found my way out of the cave.
Now, you might be thinking I am crazy, that why in the world would I just destroy whatever I worked so hard for. But guess what? I am officially the most powerful person on earth. How? I’ve got photographic memory and all those missing pages are filed away in brain.
The Black Legends believe that some codes are better left alone, but I think otherwise. I have never left a case without finishing it, and this case is no exception.
HOUSTON! We’ve got a Problem!
“Houston! We’ve got a problem,” Gale, the captain of New Discovery, said in a panicked tone. The controlling radio connected to the NASA center for a few brief moments, followed by static – the line went dead.
Gale groaned out of frustration and we all snapped our heads towards him expectantly, hoping he would tell us what exactly was happening. He looked at us forlornly as if trying to decide what kind of flowers we’d like on our graves.
Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore, and asked him what was happening.
He looked at all of us with a wild look in his eyes, and slowly began, “Look guys, our connection with the Earth is gone and we are completely isolated – so we are on are own now. On top of that, our fuel is running out, and the chances of us returning to the earth with our heads on the top of our shoulders is … unlikely. In addition, we are about to enter another solar system in approximately 5 minutes. Once we enter this zone, we can’t go back to the earth because we will be under the gravitational force of a different planetary entity. So, we’ve got two options – first, we go to this new planet where we learn alien kumbaya from them, or second, we try to get back to the earth, emphasis on the word ‘try’.
The decision is up to you guys, because honestly, I can’t think straight right now.”
There was dead silence for a few moments, and suddenly everyone burst out trying to voice their opinion, and there was completely pandemonium in the spaceship.
The pilot ran into the room and questioned desperately, “We’ve got two minutes. What is your decision?”
We all stared at each other. Do we dare approach another world, or do we head back home and arrive in our coffins?
After debating for a full thirty seconds, we decided that we might as well try to head back to the earth and announced our decision to the pilot. A few seconds later, the pilot ran back into the room his face pale and sweaty, and slowly said, “We calculated wrong. We were closer to the border than we had expected, so we’ve have been pulled into the adjacent heliocentric system. Sorry, there is nothing that we can do.”
I face palmed with a loud smack.
So I guess it is tribal alien dance lessons for us with little green bald headed dudes with antennas. Who knows what adventures lay ahead of us?
Geethika Simma (aka Roberta Frost)
Karen and I have been friends since kindergarten. I don’t even know how we clicked – we were just so different from each. At that tender age, I suppose it doesn’t really matter. But ever since that day when we were five years old, we did everything together from doing our homework to eating ice cream.
My little brother had died a full ten years later, and it was a huge blow for me. I was devastated, and a complete wreck. Karen was the shoulder I cried on, and she didn’t even complain when I got her shirt completely soaked with my tears. Then came high school. Don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t like she had turned evil the way they show in teenage chick flicks. In fact, I am pretty sure I was the one who had completely changed.
I lost interest in my studies, I didn’t speak to anyone, which ultimately resulted in the complete collapse of my social life. Karen tried to make me get back on my feet and turn back normal, but I just pushed her away. My best friend worked hard and came to be known as popular, pretty, hilarious, and intelligent. As I walked through the hallways at school, people would stare at me, pointing and murmuring, and it started getting on my nerves.
Just like typical teenagers, the people at school would talk about how weird and stupid I was. They would always compare me with Karen, and would whisper about how they couldn’t possibly believe that Karen and I were best friends. I could just feel my blood boil, and I was annoyed. I just couldn’t take it anymore. At first, I was confused about what I was feeling. “What was this feeling that is making me feel so frustrated?” I kept asking myself. Then, I realized that I was jealous – envious of my own best friend for having a perfect life.
“What is you problem? Why do you always have to annoy me with that high, squeaky voice of yours? I just hate you!” I yelled into the phone. I immediately bit my tongue, regretting my words. I heard Karen hang up the phone with a loud BEEP!
“What is YOUR problem, Lily?” I screamed at myself internally. I plopped on my bed, thinking about my actions. What I had said to Karen was just unspeakable. Just because I was sad and depressed, it does not give me the right to lash out on everyone. Karen had been incredibly sweet and supportive in spite of me being unresponsive and mean to her.
I got up planning to go over to her house and tell her a sorry, but my pride wouldn’t let me. I sat down at my table and began writing an apology note. I stopped mid sentence and crumpled the note and threw it in the trash. This process repeated over and over again. None of my apologies seemed right. After the twenty- first unsuccessful note, I got exhausted and fell onto my bed in a restless slumber.
The next morning as I was walking through the hallways, Karen walked past me, trying to avoid my eye. “Karen! Stop,” I called out.
“I-I am so sorry for what I said. I didn’t mean it,” I told her, knowing that what I said was completely true. She studied me, searching for the genuineness in my apology. Wordlessly, she strode over to me and wrapped me in her warm embrace. At that moment, I knew that everything would be alright.
Tricking for a Book
“TRRINNNGGG!” went the bell in its ear piercing trills. I popped out of my seat and dashed out of the door before anyone stopped me. Don’t get me wrong – I actually love school, but today was special.
After an entire year of finger crossing, nail chewing, and fangirl screams, the sequel to my favorite book series had finally released today, and I would have been the first girl in the line to Barnes and Nobles from midnight to morning with a coffee cup in my hand, but then every teenager has parents. And let me tell you this, most parents do not allow their kids to skip school so that you can get one of the first copies of a newly released novel.
So here I was, speeding towards the local bookstore, ready to swallow the book. I practically ran into the book shop, and didn’t dare stop to pause and take in the scent of the crisp, freshly printed paper the way I usually do, and just simply sprinted towards the “NEWLY ARRIVED” section.
There it was – my book, all shiny and just waiting to be read. Just as I was about to reach for the book, another muscular had gotten hold of it. “Hey! I was going to take it!” I protested, pouting childishly.
“Maybe, but I got it first, so it is mine,” he retorted, looking all smug.
“Awww! Fine. Can I at least read the back cover jacket?” I pleaded, making a puppy dog face. He sighed and handed the book over to me, rather reluctantly, might I add. “So do you read a lot of books?” I asked, brewing up a conversation.
“Hell, yeah! The library has a place reserved for me, because the place is practically like my second home,” he replied.
“Really? I am a total book worm. I bet we don’t have similar tastes in books though.”
“I don’t know about that. My favorite is Percy Jackson.”
“No way! I would die for both Harry Potter and PJ. The storyline for our Quidditch hero is amazing, but my favorite book character is our brave demigod,” I explained.
“Cool! I am into mystery and a bit of sleuthing. Hardy Boys and the Secret Seven were my soulmates when I was younger, but now, I am more into Alex Rider, 39 Clues, and Sherlock Holmes.”
“Wow. Agatha Christie and Sydney Sheldon are some great authors in mystery too,” I added. “SO when did you start reading?”
“Oh, me? I was reading ever since I was young. Don’t ask me if I read the princess stories, because as embarrassing as it sounds, I did,” he grinned.
I chuckled and said, “The original fairy tales are good, but the modern ones with twists in The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley are amazing as well. And how could we forget Dr. Suess and his green eggs and ham? And I person who hasn’t read Enid Blyton hasn’t tasted childhood, dude.”
“Hmm- mmm. So do you read classics? I’m into Robinsoe Crusoe, the Jungle Book, and Journey to the Centre of the Earth.”
“Yeah, those are some great adventure classics. The other classics like Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and Rebecca are very slow moving though.”
“My feeling exactly. I have no idea how someone survive an entire girly ,” the guy complained, whining. “DO you like dystopian?” he continued.
“Are you kidding me? Of course I do! Hunger Games and Divergent were very unique, but is this sort of trend going on – a main character always dies at the end.”
“Yup. And the vampire fever is killing me. First it was Twilight with all the girls screaming Team Edward or Team Jacob, and now it is the Vampire Academy and Vampire Diaries. Everyone is just vampire obsessed!”
“Very true, but the Vampire Diaries are good, and are a perfect combination of thrill and plot,” I told him as we walked towards the cash counter. “Do you like the movie adaptations of books?”
“Well, they are not that bad. It is practically impossible to reproduce everything that happens in a book onto the screen, but I guess that is the magic of a novel, right?”
“Yeah, I would always prefer reading the book as opposed to watching the movie,” I said to him as I paid the lady and took the change. “Well, it was great meeting you. See you later!”
“WHAT? Wait. What about my book?” he fumed. The guy hadn’t even realized that I’d bought the book for myself – he was so immersed in our conversation.
I pulled open the door, flipped my hair back and game him a devilish smile, and I strolled down the street with my gleaming book in my hand.
The Unfortunate Weave
Once upon a time, there was a young weaver in the rural textile town of Pochampalli. He worked as a daily wager in a huge factory, earning very little amounts every day. When he found out that he would be getting married in a short period of time, he decided to present his fiance a fine silk sari, a luxurious and lavish gift that a simple man like himself could not afford. But he worked diligently and saved just enough money to do as he wished.
Unfortunately, his mother fell very sick and he had to give up his hard earned money to contribute towards his mother’s expensive medical treatment, and nothing was left for his wife’s sari.
A year later, the couple were blessed with a young daughter, and on her naming ceremony, the weaver vowed to buy a silk sari for his daughter’s own wedding.
Competition in the textile market was high, and there was unemployment all over the country. The weaver’s wages dropped drastically. His working hours were tiresome and long, but he barely earned enough to feed enough to feed his family – under such circumstances, he was in no position to save enough money for his daughter’s silk sari.
He finally decided to take matters into his own hands. Everyday as he came back from work, he would sneak one metre of think silk thread into his pocket, and would add that thread to the handloom at his home.
Days passed, weeks passed, and months were replaced by years. On one fine day, his wife unexpectedly passed away. Though heartbroken, he continued with his work, raising his daughter on his own. But just a few weeks later, as he walked out of his work place, he tripped onto the floor, and the silk thread spilled out of his pocket.
Immediately, he is thrown into prison unfairly without given a chance at a trial. He spends fifteen long years in jail. Finally, the weaver goes home after getting released from the prison, expecting a warm welcome from his daughter, only to find that she had dies that very day.
Tears flooded down the weaver’s cheeks as he saw his daughter’s lifeless body. He tears through the house, and takes his half finished sari project which was by then only 4 feet long. He tried to wrap his daughter in that square of cloth. To his immense dismay, the woven cloth was too short to cover the girl’s body. He tried to pull, stretch, and lengthen it, but his attempt was futile.
He fell down on his knees, but his tears stopped abruptly. He laughed maniacally, a vacant expression in his eyes. And for the rest of his life, his half fulfilled desire – his most ardent wish haunted him.