Morphy-Lowenthal story, part five



The North Atlantic, April, 1851

 He had finished eating the bread, washing it down with the last of the tea.  His stomach was keeping it in, for which Löwenthal was grateful.  It was his first meal in two days.

The raucous cries of a flock of gulls landing in the spars of the main sails diverted his attention for the moment and he watched the chaotic yet graceful display of their agility.  The ship's bell rang; bong-bong, bong-bong, and several members of the crew responded with long-handled brushes and mops, heading to the bow to begin the daily chore of scrubbing the deck.

Löwenthal suggested, "Maybe we had better retire to my cabin at this time.  I think I am handling this calm sea well enough to go indoors, and I will need a chess set to show you the games.  It's just a little way."  He stood, offering his arm to Gerta and helping her to her feet.  He then headed toward the main cabins, continuing his story.

"It took me several days to recover from the oppressive dampness of the air again, but after a cool day I went to Herr Rousseau's residence and played him five games, offhand of course, and won them all."  He opened the wooden hatch and stood to the side, politely allowing the couple to pass.  "He played the ususal assortment of gambit lines and obscure American attacks that I've mentioned the Western players are all fond of using, but when I asked him why he, a Frenchman, would play these lines, he told me about this little boy again.  He said that this boy Paul Morphy would play these outrageous ideas and win with them against all players.  I told him no player could ever get away with such cavalier play against a master such as he, and he told me that the boy had beaten him often with such play.  He told me that he thought this child played the King's Gambit better than La Bourdonnais."

"A Frenchman said this?  About a child?"

"I was as surprised to hear that as you, doctor, and I was determined to discover for myself what type of player could make Rousseau say such a thing."  Coming to his cabin door, he opened it and again let his guests through first.  "We left for the Morphy estate early the next afternoon."