Let me introduce a first chapter of my book "Baccarat".
Translation from original polish version
“Carmen! Do you actually realize what is going to happen if your crazy plans come true? The international relations will be seriously disrupted. Many innocent people will pay a price for your whim.”
“This is not my capricious desire! I truly love you. I just want to be with you with all my heart. Is it my fault that we love each other so dearly? I have planned every detail of my trip, or rather our trip. All we have to do is make it happen, and we will live happily, our lives full of love and happiness.”
The person to whom these words were addressed stood up, came closer to the young lady and said,
“I love you too. I adore being around you. However, if our affair comes to light, you will be safe, but what about me?”
“As long as I live,” said Carmen, looking into the man’s big brown eyes, “not a hair on your head will fall to the ground. We will live in a wonderful place where no one asks about your heritage or wealth. This city is one of the most beautiful places in the world and far away from the influence of the Spanish power. Please don’t ask for details now, as it is not the right time. Last year, I promised to surprise you and everything is now almost ready. Today, I will be meeting a person who will do anything for me.”
She smiled, revealing her snow-white teeth. A moment later, she threw her arms around man’s neck, older by a few years and a head taller. Embracing him, she squealed,
“It is for us, darling!”
The athletically built man couldn’t stand the momentum of the woman’s body. He staggered, and they both crashed to the floor. After a moment of distraction, the pair began to roll in a sweet embrace on the thick carpet and started kissing passionately. A few minutes later, Carmen raised her head slightly and, looking attentively at the man, she said,
“I, the first daughter of the Spanish Kingdom, promise to be your faithful and devoted wife after our wedding. If you betray me, I will strangle you with these very hands; I will scratch out your eyes and then murder you … in five places!”
The young man laughed.
“Why on earth in five places? What are you talking about? We are not married yet, and maybe we never will be. So please do not throw words to the wind, that’s bad luck. I love you but I’m a little superstitious.
“If not for the fact that because of my roots I am no one compared to you, I would have asked you to marry me long time ago.
“Do you remember when we have met? I was a free man then. I was showing off my dexterity and athletic strength at the travelling circus. I knew my worth back then. However, now you are my provider, hence my male pride and ego suffer a lot. I became your toy, even though I’m very happy with you. Will I ever be able to proudly walk by your side in daylight instead of hiding in dodgy places? Will I ever be able to say out loud that you are my wife? We are hurting each other,
I …” His words brought tears to the girl’s eyes. She covered his mouth and whispered, cuddling him: “Please don’t say that! Capt …” she bit her lip and said, “is a good man. He promised to help me. We can trust him. You need to leave this place. You must go now. I will see you in a couple of months when it’s all over, or rather, when it will be the beginning of everything. You must not see, nor meet this person. At least for now. If my family’s henchmen were to catch you, you would tell them everything. I cannot put him at risk.”
“For you, I would never say a word!” said the man, beating his chest.
“You don’t know what you are saying, Charlie …” Carmen closed her eyes and continued,
“They torture people, massacre prisoners. The sufferers admit doing things they have never done. Very rarely there is someone who will not give away any information, but usually this person gets killed. Please, don’t promise anything, as executioners never tortured you. I heard so many times when they were talking about those strongmen who managed to survive the pain. They said, “What a tough guy! It is easier to kill him than get anything from him. Unbreakable beast.”
“Charles, darling! You can’t even imagine how much I hate such a system of tyranny! I’m disgusted with myself for being a princess. I know more than others do. They are cruel and have no mercy. I hate monarchs as much as I hate my father. He harasses natives in the colonies… You have no idea what Europeans do to those people… And the worst thing is that rulers, such as my father, do know about everything and have agreed to it. I don’t want to live in a castle that has blood and tears in it. I would never sleep peacefully knowing that so many people were oppressed by the system. I do not want to cover myself with the quilt of humiliation of our subordinates. I don’t want to be part of it. Our people are not different than us, they just happened to be not as privileged in terms of their social status. For some reason this has been explained to them through a divine injunction. And, of course, the purpose of it is to keep them in order and make sure they won’t rebel and demand better treatment. You must go now. Soon, you will get a message from me; please be ready. As per ‘killing in five places,”... Carmen said with a smile...“ one of the Dutch I met here in Amsterdam used to say so. He will be our neighbor. His name is Roman, a hilarious guy. One day, I will tell you more about him.”
The lovers tangled their bodies in a long, passionate embrace, and then Charles left the Die Welt Court. Carmen waited for an hour and went to the port, where Captain Gunter Dubis expected her on his sailing ship. Shaking her hand, he said, “Are you sure that no one knows about this visit?”
“I don’t think so … I escaped for a few hours; hence, I’m in a rush. I need to get back as soon as possible. Officially, I’m having a nap. My absence in a bedroom can be discovered at any time. This means trouble, and I would rather avoid it. Of course it’s not about me as. I’ll be fine. It’s my servants and guards. For the negligent supervision of me, they will lose, in the best scenario, their jobs in the court of my father. You know what he is like. He is a despot. I’m the only person who can lead him by the nose, but it may end one day. Until my plans, which you are now part of, are completed, I prefer him to be manageable. I don’t really care what happens afterwards.”
“We were supposed to see each other a lot earlier. I’ve started to worry. Has anything happened that you could not make it on time?” The man sat behind the desk, opened a drawer and pulled out a sheet of paper. He passed it on to the girl, who couldn’t take her eyes from him. “That’s the cost of the previous service.”
The Spaniard sat down in front of the desk still staring at him. The captain was wearing an open white shirt, so she could see his hairy chest. It was like a magnet for the curious and wide open eyes of the young woman. She couldn’t help herself and kept looking at the man. Without paying any attention to the paper she said,
“My apologies for being late; however, there was something important I had to arrange with my father’s messenger. I didn’t care what it was but ‘this thing’ was very urgent and had to be done straight away. God knows how sweaty a job that was!” Suddenly Carmen blushed. She felt the burning sensation all over her face.
“You know, I couldn’t leave just like that; I had to act as if I were poorly. There were too many people around. And when finally the messenger was gone, I managed to sneak out through the window from the wharf side and … here I am. Better late than never as they say. You are not angry with me sir, are you?”
“No, I’m not!” he replied, crossing his hands. Then, he slid down in his chair in such a way that his legs were straight and his head leaned against the back of the seat. The lady didn’t even suspect that the captain knew the real reason for her delay. Not taking his eyes off the girl, Dubis, slightly tilted his head to the side, raised his eyebrows and smiling rakishly, added, “Truth is a virtue, and I do not belong to the virtuous. I’m not interested in the personal matters of my clients. Whatever says a lady, especially from the royal family…”
“Please don’t say that! I’m sensing sarcasm in the tone of your voice! I have stressed so many times that I would rather not to belong to an aristocratic class. Call me Carmen, please. I shall feel much more comfortable.”
“So, Carmen, let’s get down to business!” Dubis stood up and started to wander around the chamber, which he so-called ‘travel agency’. During cruises, this was a place where he took care of many things, from business to friends’ visits.
“I have a house for you in Gdansk. It’s been temporarily rented by my friend and a business partner, if I may use such terms while mentioning the chairman of the municipal city council—Honorable Johan van Hogel…”
The woman twitched and felt embarrassed as she realized that the lie she had told a few minutes ago made her look very silly. She fancied Dubis even more than her current lover Charles and saw in him a hundred percent male. Carmen had the impression that if he ever wanted to possess her, she would not be able to resist. She knew that from the moment they have met, and she felt exactly the same way now. The girl didn’t dare to look into his eyes, so she lowered her head and started looking at the floor aimlessly. She subconsciously hoped that the captain did not know everything about the Die Welt Court. The manor house belonged to the van Hogel family, influential burgesses in the Netherland. It became a place of her secret meetings with Charles Bonet, whom she met in Madrid during a tournament of his French circus. Soon after she managed to get her father’s permission to visit the relatives in Calais, the same city where a handsome artist have lived. They started seeing each other clandestinely, and because of his safety, she was always choosing weird places of their meetings. Finally, she decided that their affair was too dangerous for her beloved one and his family, who knew nothing about what was going on. Carmen tried to find a neutral place, which would be suitable for both of them. Using a next step in her linguistic education, she was sent to Amsterdam to wealthy burgesses, the van Hogel family. She had almost no control of any kind on their side, and got what she wanted the most… freedom. Soon Charles had come to be with her. Since then, as long as it was possible, she was financing his travels. Carmen’s father didn’t get involved in her adult life, he knew, however, about her antimonarchist views. The king turned a blind eye to his daughter’s eccentricities. He let her do whatever she desired as long as it was outside of the Spanish Kingdom. In a very arrogant way, she rejected several candidates to her hand, chosen by her father. The princess’ attitude towards one wealthy Scotsman almost led to a serious international and political conflict. Mighty Europeans learnt by the mistakes of their predecessors and to avoid being humiliated, they stopped trying to win the princess hand. This was a perfect scenario for Carmen as she could freely continue her romance with the circus artist. However, she hadn’t had enough courage to introduce her lover to the king and queen, assuming that he would be chopped into pieces because of his low class origin.
Carmen found out from van Hogels that their relative, Johan, a counselor and a very influential politician in Gdansk, would sponsor anyone who was able to offer suitable financial bribe for getting into his jurisdiction. As long as they didn’t breach too much a local law, they were allowed to function in any domains of life. The city with the coat of arm of the two crosses and the crown became a home to various groups of people from different parts of the world. Commonly, it was famous for its prosperity in the world at that time. For centuries, well-known architects and talented artists from around the globe expanded and decorated it. Over the time, Gdansk became one of the richest, breathtaking and unforgettable European harbors. That was the place where the princess decided to live incognito with her beloved one. While on Captain Dubis’ ship, Carmen started knowing the ropes in details of a mysterious plan that was to simulate her death. The search party would come to look for her body, but no one would be able to find it.
At the end, Dubis added,
“All in all, I think it is best if you officially declare a trip to Konigsberg. Amsterdam does not seem to be right… No? Oh, well!” He paused, thinking of something, and after a moment, continued, “What is the name of the ship you usually travel on?”
“El Mundo,” Carmen replied immediately. “I told you that so many times…”
“Yes, of course! El Mundo. Today, I’m a bit absentminded. I would like you to enter the port of Rostock after sailing through the Danish straits. The next day, you will go to Gdansk and our attack will take place somewhere around Bornholm. It is a big island. I know quite a few people there. Plus, it is a safe place for me to keep you there. Then, there will be a further part of our… or rather your plan. Try to convince the captain of your ship to surrender. This way we will avoid unnecessary loss of many lives. I promise to let your people go free. However, I am going to sink “El Mundo”. As I have mentioned before, I will attack and kidnap you, making sure that members of the crew of your vessel will see your death. They’re going to witness everything, so they’ll swear that you have perished. And if they choose to fight… well… Your decision, your will and your responsibility.” The captain came closer and looked into Carmen’s eyes.
“Are you sure that you want to do it, lady? Many people may lose their lives. Who is this sacrifice for?”
“I want to be away from my father. You’ve promised to help me, haven’t you?” Carmen realized that such a direct approach toward Dubis gave her pleasure. “Let’s not talk about it as you will never understand me. Captain of my ship is a criminal and a murderer. Roooostoooock? Where is it?”
“I beg your pardon?” Captain Dubis gave his interlocutor a harsh gaze. “Who have you become, little lady, if you send dozens of people to a certain death?”
“Your people won’t regret it. The loots that will fall into their hands should compensate the risk. Don’t you worry about servants of my father. They are at my disposal. This is their duty to sacrifice their lives for me. They are former pirates. Instead of rotting in the stinky dungeons for the rest of their lives or dangling from the gallows, they were lucky enough to experience the king’s mercy, who gave them an illusory freedom. Captain Gonzalez is responsible for supervision of the crew, who has the right to execute the death sentence on them, even for the smallest insubordination. Therefore, if they die, the previous sentence will be executed. That’s all. There will be no one to cry after.”
“Gonzalez, you say?” Dubis smiled mysteriously without the Spaniard noticing it. “I have heard this name before. Is that the one who once served under Vice Admiral Rodriguez?”
“Yes, indeed! He used to sail on a great ship, ‘Madrid’. Well, maybe it wasn’t as magnificent as this sailing vessel… How many people are in your crew? Probably a few hundred sailors, huh? After all, it is a city on the water. Since ‘Madrid’ sunk during a storm, Captain Gonzalez is at my father’s request, ” said Carmen.”
“Yes, yes! I heard something about it. Soon after leaving Bilbao, tell him: Rostock. He will know. I have heard he is a skilled and very experienced skipper. What if his people rebel and turn against you?” Dubis asked.
“They know my take on monarchy. They consider me as their supporter, not an enemy.”
“So they’re the toys in your hands, and you’re their traitor? Am I right?”
“You can call it any way you want to. It’s a bunch of criminals, who for their own deeds should be eliminated from our society long time ago. I have told you already that. They’re former pirates! Their place is on the gallows!”
Carmen had no idea who she was talking to. Dubis was an untraceable pirate-aristocrat nicknamed “Baccarat”, wanted by the authorities of many countries. So far, luck was on his side, but everything could change anytime. Baron Gunter Dubis, whose friends called Max, was owner and captain of a beautiful ship. Officially, he was arranging transport and escort for those who could afford to pay him for his services. Unofficially, he was a privateer, who flew different flags and served whoever could generously pay him.
Hearing Carmen’s words captain Dubis got angry. However, he didn’t want to show it. Barely controlling himself, he whispered,
“This is a very slippery subject, young lady. You are trying to convince me to commit a crime for you; what is more, you pay for it, at least show some shame, will you? Spare me your lecture on morality. If you want to know my take on this issue, I will be glad to tell you why I decided to help you.”
“Brilliant! I will be happy to hear all about it, but not at this moment I have to go now! Tomorrow ‘El Mundo’ is setting out on a return cruise to Spain. I will let you know once I’m ready. Please check whether it’s safe for me to leave your ship?” Carmen reached out her hand to say goodbye hoping that she would hear something nice from him.
“All clear, Captain!” reported one of the crewmen. Dubis called out as she was leaving, “Remember, I have a gap in my calendar in February, and then I’m going to be available in the summer.”
Next evening Charles Bonet was in France, at his family house in Calais. For the first time since he’s met Carmen, he felt uncomfortable and unwell. The whole fun, friendship and finally love has been something amazing and out of this world. They were meeting each other in secret, hiding from the reality of their houses. They didn’t even reveal a shadow of mystery to their closest friends about fling. He loved the girl, who never made any attempt to get into his family. She seemed not to care about his financial status. He had impression that she was in love only with his appearance. Subconsciously, he felt that she desired only his body, for which he had worked hard for many years. Thanks to consistent exercises, he had developed an exceptional shape to his muscles, which were creating admiration of the ladies seeing him undressed, and jealousy of many men. All of a sudden, the whole romance stopped being funny. He started getting the impression that almost everything went too far. He enjoyed his freedom, having fun and erogenous escapades of love with many women. And now, there was a completely different perspective of being stuck with his beloved woman, so different from him, in the monotony of everyday family life. Probably kids would appear very soon, and this meant responsibility of raising them. What’s more, Spanish henchmen for being bastards of the royal family might kill them. Such possibility started frightening him. Feelings towards charming Carmen were very strong, but fear casted doubts about the future. The risk was high or too high. Many people might start losing their lives in unpredictable numbers soon. For the first time in his life, he has begun worrying about his closest family.
The whole trip back home from Amsterdam seemed to him to last a fraction of a second. He was totally absentminded, as he was blind and deaf to any sounds and pictures of the surrounding world. Upon arriving at the family house, he began to think about his presence there. Despite trying hard, he couldn’t recall even a little piece of the way back home. He felt like he had been mysteriously moved from Netherlands to France by some magical force. It seemed to him, of course, as pure nonsense. Yet, he managed somehow to do it and was with his family. Relatives, seeing his unusual condition, left him alone and did not torment with questions. Charles spent a sleepless night fighting with own thoughts. After analyzing all the possibilities coming to his head, he chose to end an affair with Carmen. The decision seemed reasonable, but quickly, there were occurring problems that might not be so straightforward, causing damages and troubles. Next day, he told his family about the affair. The conversation with them calmed him down. Everyone agreed that he must cut out all relation with Spanish princess. There was only one problem remaining: how to pass this news to Carmen? Charles knew that he would not able to tell her personally about it. For this he was simply too weak. Additionally, unpredictable Carmen recently, indirectly, denied him the right to enter her father’s empire territory. The reason she presented it to the monarch was very trivial. Namely, she told the king that she couldn’t stand this man, who acts as if he could have any woman he wanted to. Her father even defended the artist, fearing unnecessary criticism. Finally, he surrendered to persuasions of his, as thought crazy daughter, and forbade Charles to enter Spanish territory. Yet, as compensation, he gave him in secret a generously filled purse.
Charles decided to explain everything in a letter. Thinking about it took a long time, but finally he managed to put on the paper a few words of lies about the alleged accident during his circuses exercises. He was supposed to break his neck and become paralyzed. According to medical records, as he put it, probably for the rest of his life. He wished Carmen success and happiness in the future and thanked her for the time spent together. He also informed her that the beginning of rehabilitation would take place in the family’s friends place overseas, emphasizing that she being a young and a beautiful girl full of life should forget about him. Also mentioned that he was sorry for his disability that practically ended his life. All he has left was unimaginable mental suffering and a struggle with his physical debility. He was wandering what to do with the letter when a messenger arrived with information from Carmen. The courier gave him a paper announcing that the princess was expecting him in February at the “usual place”. He figured out immediately that she had in mind the “Die Welt” property in Netherlands, which belonged to the Van Hogls. He handed over the messenger’s his own note while lying in bed. The letter was sealed, but with no signature.
The Spaniard put the letter into a wooden chest with cloth without reading it, aiming to do it later. However, as Carmen had to take care of much outstanding correspondence, she forgot about the letter thrown into the travel trunk. She did not realize who wrote it, as she didn’t expect to receive correspondence from Charles for he never done it before. The messenger said in front of other people: “To your own hands, madam. Still hot!” It didn’t arouse any suspicions among those present at the court, as it was normal that letters “were flying” from one end to the other of the castle. For all that time, Carmen was getting ready for the trip.
The most difficult task was to convince her father to send a ship to the Baltic Sea in the middle of winter. During that time of the year, ice very often covered huge swathes of that sea, creating serious threats to vessels. Sometimes storms were so bad that ships would freeze in minutes, becoming motionless in the frigid waters. Skippers of the powerful Spanish fleet, undoubtedly masters of their craft, had no need to venture too often onto the cold northern seas. The experience of navigation in the freezing waters was alien to many of them. Sometimes, skippers and their crews told stories of the storms’ powers and unusual occurrences related to them to the were making blood run cold. As often is the case of the people of the sea and their fables, some of the alleged stories were based on facts and others made up completely. No one was able to tell the difference between truth and fiction lies. What’s more, the human imagination would build its own visions, twisting versions of real events beyond any recognition. Therefore, the king at first didn’t even want to hear about such a cruise. However, under the power of persuasion, tears, promises, he finally surrendered to the stubborn daughter. She dragged him into conversation, which in the end took an expected turn:
“If you were not my…” the king began.
“If I were not yours” interrupted Carmen, “I wouldn’t even wish to speak to you. You are a despot and a tyrant, even to your own only daughter.”
“What are you talking about, my dear?” The king looked at her in wonder:
“All in all, there are some limits even for the crowned heads. I’ve been too easy on my family so far and especially on you. I always allow you to do whatever you want, so you have no reason to be fussy. You’re the only one that always gets whatever you want!
Hearing this, Carmen leaped on her father; embracing him, she screamed, “You are wonderful Daddy! Thank you for your permission.”
She kissed his forehead and ran away from the room. The king stood stunned for a moment, unable to gather his thoughts. He couldn’t believe that his daughter took his answer on a general matter for the official approval of her trip. Carmen ran into the coronation room full of respected courtiers and guests. She stood in the middle of the chamber and announced very loudly her father’s decision on her journey to Konigsberg.
Kingdoms, art collectors or business circles knew around the world about the famous amber exhibition that was to start in February in capital of Prussia. The organizers promised to show many amber creations done by Gdansk masters, very famous at that time.
When the ruler of the Spanish Empire recovered from the weird conversation with his daughter, he began to wonder, “After whom has this impeded intellectual brain been passed onto my daughter?”
Ones again being tricked by his favorite child could change his mind, but he didn’t do it. Instead, he gave some money to his unruly daughter to acquire for the court whatever she will desire. This way, Carmen gifted with additional fortune, reached Amsterdam on February the first on the royal ship “El Mundo”. Captain Gonzalez, commander of the Spanish vessel, has waited a few days for weather information. When he learned from the sailors returning from the Baltic Sea that no one had spotted any formations of ice from Konigsberg, he gave the order to sail into the sea. Carmen demanded to spend at least a day in Rostock. She said she wanted to go sightseeing because she heard many good opinions about this city. Once they reached the harbor, skipper gave most of the crew a day off. The sailors eagerly took advantage of a pass. When they were returning late in the evening, almost all of them were solidly drunk after drinking all kinds of alcohol. A group of sea wolves being in this port at the same time, with which they had become acquainted in town, accompanied them. The joyful sailors were acting loudly and freely. Then suddenly, right at the foot of “El Mundo”, one of the cheerful sailors from Gdansk, Spaniards met in a local tavern, shouted, pointing his finger at the Spanish flag:
“Whose is that rag hanging up there? Is that the one that gets constantly whipped by the British?”
This comment created some aggressive comments and people started pushing one another. Than, unexpectedly the conflict exacerbated. Captain Gonzalez, commander of “El Mundo”, standing on the gangplank, shouted at his people, who were waving to the unfortunate sailor their fists,
“Pigs! Those lowlifes have no manners whatsoever. Leave that drunken trash and get back on board!”
“What did you say, you minion of the southern mongrel? You are talking to free men, who don’t serve any tyrant sitting on a throne…” the sailor who had offended the Spanish flag before didn’t have a chance to finish his sentence as one of Captain Gonzalez’s crew members quieted him with a punch, which knocked him off his feet. The fight had begun. The people who behaved so far friendly suddenly found themselves in three different camps. Some sided with the red-faced troublemaker from Gdansk while others were rooting in favor of the offended Spaniards. The third group tried to separate them. Terrible uproar arose. They were punching each other, kicking one to another; the fight was full on. Part of the crew from the deck of the Spanish “El Mundo” jumped to their people’s rescue. The noise, yelling and screaming of the onlookers alarmed the port security service. And after several minutes the order was restored. As it was not clear who started the brawl, security guards ordered the crowd to dismiss. This was the best solution because everyone, together with the accidental witnesses, was giving completely different statements. Those who took part in the brawl, waving their hands and cursing each other, dispersed in the harbor. Carmen herself quickly calmed down excited Spaniards. She told them she was outraged by their loud behavior, and couldn’t sleep in such noisy atmosphere. She demanded silence and threatened to kill all of them in five places unless they calmed down immediately. She asked two deckhands to take a large wine carboy from her room. The threat of the king’s daughter didn’t scare anyone off but caused silly laughter among the Spanish crew. Wine, however, worked like lullaby. Soon after, snoring could be heard all over the ship. Only those on duty were awake.
At about the same time, in a nearby tavern, Captain Dubis put a pouch filled with coins on the table in front of the red-faced sailor. Recipient of money was carrying more and more visible results of the fight in port on face. His nose was swollen, and eyes were turning black. Dubis said,
“Sorry, Governor, for receiving few punches and for swollen snout and any inconvenience caused by the fight. Your performance was outstanding, and here is what we talked about earlier. Count it, please.”
After saying goodbye to a paid brawler, he returned to his ship and ordered to leave the harbor first thing in the morning. Before he fell asleep, he was intensively thinking about the details of Carmen’s kidnapping. So far everything was going according to the plan. He paid for the rumpus. He sent one of his deeply trusted people to Carmen. Ortega, a Spaniard by birth, was supposed to get to the princess’ cabin by taking advantage of the confusion caused by the fight between the sailors. He had no idea for the moment what to do next? But he remained optimistic, thanks to some people that were sent to watch the Carmen’s ship. Their task was to be a vigilant for any disturbance on the deck of “El Mundo”, what consequently would suggest catching of Ortega. The spies weren’t coming back, so nothing needing his attention was going on there. After wakening up Captain Dubis sent a sailor to call them off.
“There is deathly silence there as if the lightning struck them. If there were no people on duty, you might thing that they all were slaughtered. They are about to set sail early in the afternoon…” one of the spies reported.
Meantime, other sailors had already pulled Captain Dubis’ mooring lines and “Hevelius” began to bounce back from the wharf, heading out to sea. Soon after, a small ship approached them. Then a rowboat with few fishy looking dudes inside drifted to the side of “Hevelius”. Those people climbed the Jacob’s ladder to the deck. Captain Dubis had an hour’s debate with them behind the closed door and then they returned to their ship. It was a war meeting concerning attack on “El Mundo”. Captain Dubis ordered two other ships to be in the vicinity of the planned action with guns ready - Just in case. He let them take the spoils should such opportunity occur, reserving for himself only a chest with the Spanish king’s emblem, highlighting that it was a princess’ property. He warned his people that if anyone laid a hand upon it, he would end up on the bottom of the sea the same day. He handed over to them Spanish flags that were to hang on the masts of their ships.
The atmosphere on the “El Mundo” was quiet. Nothing unusual was going on. The ship sailed slowly, and the weather conditions were favorable. A moderate wind was blowing, and it was surprisingly warm as for Captain Gonzalez’s expectation. In his vivid imagination, he thought he would turn into a block of ice as soon as he reached these unknown waters. The crew was busy with regular activities while some of the sailors were recovering from yesterday’s fight in Rostock. Only Carmen became extremely annoying. She forbade her female servants to enter her bedroom without permission. Each time she left her cabin, she locked it with a key. Her bodyguard at the door keeping an eye on her privacy was told not to let anybody in including the skipper. She announced in front of several people that she was suffering from a migraine; hence she wanted to rest to get well without being disturbed. As the sun slowly began to descend into the depths of the sea, deckhands noticed a ship approaching them.
“Ship!” the seaman sitting in the crow’s nest shouted, alarming the crew. “El Mundo” sailors curiously adhered to the left side of the ship, staring at the approaching vessel, which was growing by the minute. The spotted ship was moving slightly diagonally to the course of “El Mundo” as if its intention was sailing just in front of them. When the same sailors yelled almost at the same time again, “That’s our people! I can see the Spanish flag!” Captain Gonzalez seemed to be surprised. “Spaniards? Here?” he asked himself.
“It looks like they noticed us too as they are turning back,” one of the deckhands screamed. “It appears as if they have stopped.”
Indeed. The encountered vessel was standing almost still, waiting for the upcoming "El Mundo". When both vessels were seating next to each other, and one could see with the naked eye the clothing details of the individuals of the other party, something began to bother Captain Gonzalez. He observed the encountered vessel for a long time, and it got him thinking. “They look like us. They have the Spanish flags. Just their behavior is pretty strange…”
At the same moment, waving their hands crew of “El Mundo” noticed something terrifying. The wooden flaps covering the gun barrels of the other vessel fell in an instant. Stunned sailors of “El Mundo” heard the roar of a cannons. The first salvo completely missed them but caused immediate panic. The watchers disappeared from the deck in no time. A moment later there came the second cannonade. The Spaniards were even more terrified when they realized that the projectile hit the captain’s bridge, injuring many, including the master of the ship. Semiconscious Gonzales yelled as loud as he could, “Save the princess!”
Those next to him who had not suffered from the enemy cannon attack rushed to their only boat. In a blink of an eye it was lowered into the water. Then, one of them ran towards Carmen’s cabin. He didn’t have to look for her. She stood in front of her bedroom. There was a man stooped at her side. Soot was covering his face, and his shirt was not in the best shape either. Hardly anything was covering the sailor’s chest.
“Take her to the lifeboat!” Carmen’s companion screamed. “To the lifeboat!”
“It is already waiting on the water! Hurry up!” another sailor said impatiently.
Unbearable noise filled the air. More and more projectiles landed on the doomed "El Mundo". The vessel shook constantly due to the explosions. Carmen began descending rope ladder to the lifeboat. As she wasn’t experienced in such activities, her leg tangled up in the ropes, causing a fall into the water. The man accompanying her jumped after her, and a few sailors followed. After a short tussle in the water, soaking wet Carmen sat in the boat next to Ortega, who grabbed the oars.
“This one will do for me!” the princess shouted to the remaining helpers climbing the boat. “I need my clothes! Throw my chest!”
Few minutes later, the large box was sitting next to her on the boat. Ortega started rowing in the opposite direction to “El Mundo”. The princess’ ship began to burn and sink. The crew panicked. The captain wasn’t even able to speak. “El Mundo’s” proprietress had left. The real horror started when they noticed the black flag on the attackers’ mast, as they knew that pirates would attach two vessels together and get on board to steal any goods belonging to them. Those who lacked the courage to jump into the icy cold water were already staring into the eyes of furiously hungry for loot attackers. The damages to “El Mundo”, though unintended by the attackers, turned out to be fatal. When both ships were the distance of a throw of the knife from each other, “El Mundo” started to tilt, commencing its farewell trip to the bottom of the sea. After a half an hour, willy-nilly, all Spaniards ended up in the water. A few minutes later, even the crow’s nest disappeared in the sea. The pirates were also terrified. Everything went wrong, and their effort to get loot went in vain.
Before the Spaniards and the attackers could gather their thoughts, there appeared a mighty vessel with fully opened sails, quickly coming their way. Carmen sailors roared with joy as they noticed the Prussian flag on the approaching ship. The pirates, however, started to run away, unfortunately heading in the same direction as princesses’ boat.
The sun had disappeared behind the horizon when Captain Dubis’ crew had finished pulling the dead and alive participants of the battle out of the water. In the bright afterglow, one could see fleeing pirates. “Hevelius” could not chase them because the remaining people in the water would lose their lives. The fleeing pirates’ ship blocked the view of the lifeboat with Carmen on board. To the Spaniards, powerless witnesses of their own defeat, tragedy of the day happened. The attackers knew that the Prussian vessel might be chasing them, hence they could not stop, even for a moment. In front of the sailors of the “Hevelius” and the “El Mundo”, the pirates’ unit fired a few shells, which were not visible to the watchers. The Spaniards were convinced that the shells had reached Carmen’s boat.
The extraction of the victims of the attack took too much time to think about catching up with them in the dark. Captain Dubis also jumped into the water during the rescue. Among other things, he helped to fish wounded Gonzalez out of the water. The Spaniard was already close to the end of his life, and only a moment separated him from closing his eyes forever. The search for Carmen and the accompanying seamen lasted until morning. Unfortunately, they were unable to find the bodies. “Hevelius” continued searching during the whole day near the place of the tragedy, but all they managed to fish out of the water were the pieces of the Carmen’s lifeboat. In the evening Spaniards suspended the recovery mission. Rescued from tragic events that have happened, they lowered their heads and stood for a moment in complete silence, paying tribute to the fallen. The Spanish first officer reported to Gonzalez, who was in bed with a high fever, shivering from the cold,
“Captain! Something is wrong. I have no idea why, but it looks like we had one extra person on board. Seven sailors died during the attack, four of them drowned, including the princess. Among the others I’ve seen with my own eyes as they shot at her. No body has been found, though. The waves are too high to find anything. Nobody would survive in the water from yesterday. That’s all!”
When he finished, he put a blanket on the prostrated skipper, who looked at him with a fishy look, and whispered, "Thank you! Take control of our people. Where are we heading?"
“To the nearest harbor, Gdansk!” answered the first officer. “It is a beautiful city! I was there once. If we were not searching for the princess, let her rest in peace, we would already be there. I will look after everything.”
The first officer dismissed himself, leaving Captain Gonzalez alone.
The vessel they were on had belonged in the past to the military and was adapted for transportation. After Captain Dubis had acquired the vessel, it was completely renovated and moderated.
The previous warship’s armament was preserved, consisting of a large number of guns. The sailboat turned into an exclusive hotel for the owner and wealthy people who could afford to rent it. The huge galleon would sail mainly under the flag of Prussia but would stay more often in Gdansk port than anywhere else. In the olden days, in the initial phase of the maritime activities of Gunter Dubis, the situation looked different. He owned the frigate called “Bella Varsovia”. The sailing vessel was much smaller than the present “Hevelius”; but one could only envy her speed and agility. “Bella Varsovia” like “Hevelius” was also for hire. Captain Dubis’ clients were people transferred under the pledge of something or recommended by influential individuals. The compensation for transportation was paid in various ways, usually with extra bonus. His customers were mostly villains engaged in espionage, fugitives of all forms, and military deserters. There were also refugees trying to escape from the worsening reality surrounding them as well as traitors of their countries and recreants of ruling clans. Among them, there were princes and other members of the more or less wealthy aristocracy. Less frequently, there were burghers, and finally, people who would often do invaluable favors for Dubis.
He used to check personally everyone whether there was potential benefit of any kind in the future before he helped anyone offering so called “a gesture of kindness”. In many cases, he saved the lives of those who hardly escaped after the death. The downsides of such activities were victims. In many cases, people who forgot to pay compensation for the passage were found dead in unexplained circumstances.
Years later, when “Bella Varsovia’s” time of service ended, Captain Dubis sank the legendary ship and bought the current vessel “Hevelius”. She was used for completely different purposes, except for the lucrative transport of his “guests”. There were also unpleasant "losses" in this business. Captain Dubis remembered one case in particular. It led him to the acquaintance of his current client, the Spanish princess.