Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hail Thee Gertrude

There is the forgotten tale of Alicia and Roberto (aka Alice and Bob of the cryptography textbook fame).While cryptography textbooks make an ode to the legitimate romance of the illicit couple;they also neglect the working of the scorned genius, Gertrude (known in textbooks as Trudy).

Historical records reveal very little about her lineage.While it is known that she was the sole heiress to a couple of estates in Tuscany,the antecedents of that inheritance are somewhat hazy.Gertrude ensured that all the wayward gossip and uncharitable hints concerning her ancestry,were reduced to a trickle of whispers in her lifetime.It is thus hardly surprising that there are no visible traces of Gertrude's existence,not even a tombstone if you please.

Little did Gertrude anticipate that her jealousy would serve as fodder for posterity. Gertrude knew she was plain;her sharp mind was the antidote to her unflattering looks.She possessed both wit and charm.In fact several anonymous poems and scrolls of the Renaissance period have been attributed to Trudy.However,no amount of wit could sway the affection of her wayward husband Roberto in her favor.She gazed on helplessly as her husband carried on a cryptic correspondence with his lady love Alicia.She often confronted him with proof of letters she intercepted by use of her cunning and guile.He often turned pale as she shredded to pieces every code he devised to encrypt his love letters.Roberto often looked at her with awe,the kind that is laden with mistrust and guilt.How this woman learned the art of numbers without being aware of their beauty,no one knew.

After Roberto died,she withdrew from society and lived like a hermit.She lived and died mysteriously, but left to the world the invaluable wealth of her analytical mind through her diaries.The rest,as far as cryptography is concerned,is history.Just as hell hath no fury like that of a woman scorned; the fretting genius of a spurned wife is rather indomitable.

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