If you give luck a chance
Carefully Bilg opened the door to the pub “The Golden Apollo” In Amsterdam. Muffled speech, tobacco smoke and the smell of wine overwhelmed his senses. He had to cough. It took him a while before he could spy the form of Captain Bull. With a glass in his hand, the mighty man was leaning at the end of the bar. He was having a conversation with a short stubby man who spoke to him waving his hands in the air. This man’s face was wrinkled like a dried up prune, with deep set shark like eyes.
And this one, the tall slim one with the hooked nose and silver white goatee? Dressed in his sky blue coat with gold epaulettes, he sat with his long stretched out legs at the table playing dice with Borromaus, the chief gunnery officer. No doubt this was the war commander himself, the mysterious “Count Caprioli”! Bilg had never seen him before, but recognised him immediately from the descriptions he had heard of him.
He slid in behind him and looked over his shoulder. The count ignored the young one.
Bilg carefully touched his arm and whispered in his ear:”Count, a good wind has come up and the fleet can sail. The coxswain ‘Nieselpriem sent me...!” The chief gunnery officer just threw a seventeen with his dice, stroked his goatee and collected the 2 gold pieces from the centre of the table. “I won” he said with his from gunpowder roughened voice. His right eye shot a dark look at the count. The left one he always kept shut; from all the aiming it looked like a wrinkled line. With an emotionless face, Count Caprioli gathered the 3 dice and let them drop into the leather cup and turned to Bilg:
“What are you saying cabin boy? The coxswain sent you – A sailing wind has come up? Fantastic! Tell the captain right away, he is standing over there”.
Caprioli's eyes swiftly examined the faces around him. He had come to sit with the officers of the “Fantoma” in the seaman’s pub to get to know them before the dangerous upcoming trip.
“Do you want to keep playing Count?” asked the chief gunnery officer excitedly “But I am sure that that even you won’t throw 18!”
Caprioli inclined his head and then looked up.
“How do you know that I can’t throw 18..?”
“Because – because you haven’t been able to do so until now and because I’ve never been able to do it”
“So that’s your opinion ...?”
Caprioli stood up and weighed the cup in his hand thoughtfully.
The innkeeper, Captain Bull and a few other guests that had secretly followed the game, approached with curiosity. The Count took a gold coin from the pile next to him and placed it in the middle of the table.
“Only those that give luck a chance, can achieve the unusual! I bet that I will throw 18. Who will bet?”
“Me Count!” grunted Captain Bull through the jungle of his black beard. Sure of winning he placed a gold coin next to the Counts.
Caprioli took the leather cup, shook it and placed it upside down on the table but did not lift it. With a quick movement he took a second cup from the next table, shook it and placed it upside down on the table next to the first one.
“Well, how many points do I have...?”
“The second cup does not count” growled the Captain “You have to have 18 with the first one”
“The gold coins are already yours Captain” grinned the innkeeper.
Thoughtfully Caprioli lifted the first cup. All three dice showed 6 points
“Blast – pure chance” Bull angrily stroked his beard.
“Chance and luck take the same path Captain!”
Caprioli picked up the second cup and again all three dice showed 6.
The innkeepers jaw dropped open. He lowered his violet coloured nose almost to the table top to look more closely.
“That’s devil’s play” grunted Bull.
The right eye in the dark face of the chief gunnery officer flew open:
“You should have been a chief gunnery officer Count! I wouldn’t be surprised if you were able to shoot down a fly from the top of the mast with a single canon ball” He said in a raspy voice.
“I don’t shoot at flies with cannon balls, my dear friend” said Caprioli with a smile, “but occasionally I can perform other tricks – watch this!”
He picked up one of the gold pieces lying on the table, pushed it against the edge of another one with such skill, that it flew in a wide arc directly into the still open mouth of the innkeeper.
“This was not luck but skill gentlemen” said Caprioli with a smirk. “When the innkeeper manages to close his mouth again, he will have the payment for our bill, and now let’s get to our ships!”
The innkeeper fished the gold piece out of his mouth and looked at it shaking his head.
Caprioli had to bend his head to get out the door of the pub. Captain Bull squeezed his bulk sideways through the door frame. Chief gunnery officer Borromaus followed behind, limping with his wooden leg. He wore wide flowing white linen pants and a loose fitting blue shirt. On his head he wore a red silk kerchief knotted at the back. He wore a curved knife in his pearl studded belt on one side and Arabic pistol on the other. In his younger years he was a feared pirate in the Caribbean. In a sea battle where he lost his right leg to the knee, he was taken prisoner and condemned to death. His incredible marksmanship won him a reprieve. Since then he has loyally served the gentlemen of the Dutch West Indies Company as a chief gunnery officer, feared by all pirates. In memory of his wild youth, he wears his pirate outfit, which his superiors allow as a reward for prowess and loyalty.
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