The dawn broke over the town of Padua .The birds sang from his window sill high above the statue of his father below in the square. The empty bottle connected with the high gloss floor and shattered its tiny fragments, taking in golden light as they rained down again to join the neck on the tiles.
He rolled out of bed,still drunk from the hours before. Antonio Cornielli was just 22 and had spent his fathers capital and inheritance and desired just one more game. A turn of the cards was all he needed in his favour.
The dogs raced in to lap up the red juice drained from the silver tankard on the floor at other side of Antonios bed. He raised his weakened body off the bed.Sick inside and outwards it spilled. He spluttered into life only to gamble even the daylight in his eyes.
Closing the latticed leaded window to stop the noise that birds made ,his head thick and the room now spinning ,he stumbled on to the floor connecting with the bottle neck he let out a howl and in burst the servants to see again the state of the new master. Helpless and pitiless to servants alike.
He made his way down stairs and fumbled for his hat cursing the man who took most of his money over the card table that week. .He found the hat on the bust of his dead mother and smashed the glass in the door with a swing of his cane as he fell out on the street. The Italian sunshine blinding his eyes. Then his bank manager walked to him and an argument proceeded to rage .
It was therefore his luck to find he had just 23 silver coins to his name . Enough for one good bet. He would win it he felt it in his waters . At the club door he was allowed in by the big Turk employed to stop all that had lacked membership,or good intent.
Another drink from his glass secured the cards to fall right for him. The sweat from Antonio forehead as he placed down the last chosen card to find he had lost the bet to another man . With nothing now he swore he would call on the Devil himself to win . But the house would not accept his IOU. Cursing violently he stomped to that table but none would offer play. He sat head in hands thinking in the muddle of wines that whirled in his system. Then it hit him he now owned the family home outright. Surely after so much bad luck a big bet like this would turn into a massive win. The way of all gamblers the next card will pay the bills.
As he displayed his bet the house accepted the deeds as one stake only, win or loose . The table so informed Cornelli sat down and asked for cards. He was playing the man he had lost too many many times. His Lawyers brother Vincento Cabreci.
He smiled as he collected three cards . Cornelli did not. With his house now forfeit he cried out in a booming roar.”” I will play the Devil if no one will face me with a bet. ” He was now on his knees crying and moaning. When the door swung open and a tall man in a black cloak entered .The Spanish style wide brimmed hat over one eye. At his neck a silver clasp and he pointed to the door where the Turk stood upright but stunned. “He allowed me in to play. “He shrugged as if bad thoughts had followed him in. “Now Ill play with you for what ever you can play with Antonio. “
Cornelli eyes opened wide. “Who are you ?” was all he could say .
‘My name is Mai Ruc Elif a trader from the other side of time and space. My money is good yes?” On to the card table nearest he placed a leather pouch. On closer inspection the house found it contained many gold coins amounting to some thousand or so. Bowing gracefully to the stranger the two men were left to talk.
“I will gladly play you but I have nothing to stake my hand. ”
‘No .Well! perhaps we can play for your soul my good man.” He leered closer his hot breath scorched Cornellies face. ” But the cards were in his hand and the chair was able to move out by itself. ‘So your old Nick himself. One game my coat for stake .”
“As you will .Coat it is”. He played three Kings laid down in front of the dark stranger on the green clothed table. Ruc played 3 aces and took the game win. The coat was handed over.
Cornelli gasped and said ‘ if ‘ I may I have a wish granted. To prove to all that you are who you claim to be”?
” A wish, no perhaps you will wish me way away. Play.”
‘No I will not ill make it simple but not to do with vanishing or leaving or not taking my soul. “
The stranger rubbed his chin. “Alright one wish and your mine gambler”
‘Thank you .Your name is not Spanish and rearranged says; I am Lucifer. Right. So if you are he you will be able to weave a thick boat rope out of sand from the shore and wash it under the well bucket full of water in the square outside.”
‘So that is your last wish .My word what a waste.”
The Devil vanished and in second reappeared with a perfectly made sailors rope made of sand from the coast many miles away. “There .Your rope.” the devil stood massive as himself before the shaking man. Slowly he looked in the Devils black eyes.”Now wash it ” Cornielli cried out.
In flash the bucket water spilled on the sand rope and it fell apart in the Devils hands . Again he wove the rope and water destroyed it. In a mighty roar he snarled and fled with no more than Cornelli coat. The public roared at this mighty man who rid Padua of the Devil himself.
A sober man for the rest of his life so famous they built a statue in another square near the statue of his father in the town. By kindness he even had his home returned and never would allow cards in his house. Or wine.
Be careful who you call up in anger as without you the Devil is powerless.
Yours with love Sir K.
My next blog will take you around the palace made for Empress Catherine the Great of Russia. Its rooms and massive reset gardens park as not seen until now by public.
Copyright Kevin Parr Bt 2020