Clara loved the game of chess. It took both precision and skill to win. There is no luck. If you know the right strategy you can win in 3 to 5 simple moves against an unskilled opponent. It is a lesson she not only took away from her governess Juliana but also one she often found she could apply to life.
Break it down, think before you act, and you are more likely to predict your outcome.
She had much to do before nightfall. She had been watching the crew carefully. Figuring out her strategy before executing her first move. White always moves first. First move - Get the keys to the hatch where the men were being kept.
The Marine holding the keys was a bit of hot head, same man who brought her and Mr. Richards to the boat. More brawn than brain but this worked to her advantage, as anyone else may be more discerning of her actions. She had seen the brute had a penchant for dice. This could not be more perfect.
The crew had little to do until the repairs were underway, so many of them got into other diversions. The game of choice being Crown and Anchor, a dice game that Clara had become familiar with as it was a favorite among the cadets aboard the Whispering Wind.
Clara stood on the edge of the crowd and watched the pawn of her choice was played. The canvas mat was laid down on deck showing the symbols of a heart, spade, diamond, clover, anchor and crown. The Marine obviously chose to be banker as it put the odds in his favor. The first player stepped forward placing his bets on two of the symbols. He pulled out his three dice of six siders each covered with the same symbols as the playing mat. He rolled the dice.
"Hearts and Club, you lose."
The disgruntled sailor took his dice and stepped away having lost a few days wages.
Sailor after sailor stepped forward some winning, most losing, Clara still watching and then it happened. One sailor got on a run of luck and it was making the Marine most irritable.
Clara shifted through the crowd. Saying in different voices as she went, "Cheater. Must be loaded dice. Or No one is that lucky." The crowd had become sizeable and intense, and so no one paid much mind to where the accusations were coming from but the crowd became more incensed as they heard them.
The rumble started to grow and the Marine took note. When the sailor won again the Marine kicked the dice aside with his foot. "Cheater!" he said getting into the other man's face. "You dare play with loaded dice?!"
"I've done no such thing and I won again. Give me my money!"
"No, I'll not payout to a bloody cheater like you. No one is that lucky."
The men now stood toe-to-toe, nose-to-nose. The pawns were set and ready for battle. The other men standing around were now getting roused for a fight and new bets were placed on the outcome. Fists flew and blows were heard even over the roar of the crowd that was egging them on. Several minutes had passed and both men took damage but neither let up, until a gunshot in the air brought everyone to silence.
"What is this!?" the Lieutenant marched down to the lower deck, the crowd parting, giving him passage directly to the inner circle. Both men tried to straighten up but found their injuries making it difficult to do so.
"I understand we all need a pastime till we can set sail again but this behavior is intolerable. I will not have my crew down grading themselves to bunch of thugs and ruffians. You are sailors in His Majesty's Navy!"
Both men looked at one another and then looked away. They knew they had taken things too far, but they had gotten caught up in the moment.
"Thankfully one of this crew still has enough sense about him to notify me of this unsightly altercation before things had gotten too out of hand. Claremont, Dibbins?"
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Forever RuinedHistorical Fiction
Benjamin McAllister's past was riddled with intrigue, war and death. It was no place for a woman, such comforts as marriage, family and love were not meant to be his but one woman changed all of that for him. Clara Bentley had won Benjamin McAllist...