The shores of Oyashiitaka slowly emerged from the morning mist. The Captain ‘Olmer strolled confidently onto the bow of his ship, the Queen Pauline, taking in the misting scene. He was short and stocky, and carried a locket to his heart with a woodcarving of his cherished family. The merchant, and Italian by the name of Cecilio Maurizio, stood at the bow, taking the wind in his face and mustache.
“Ah, good morning, Capitain Olimer. We’ve a made a good wind!”
Olmer came to the railing, above the figurehead of the dolphin. Gazing slowly out over the sea, nervously scanning for other ships, he replied. “Good morning, Mr. Maurizio. Have we been sighted yet?”
“Not yet. But a hey, don’t a worry. You still a the spitting image of a Dutch ship. They a never know…”
“We must yet pass the harbour guards before they’ll allow trade goods to land. There is still much risk in this venture, sir.” He kneels and produces a white handkerchief from his pocket, lovingly polishing the sea salt from the dolphin.
“But as I keep a telling you, Captain. They never even know. Silly emperor, passing laws against trade with all foreigners except Dutch. But we are on a ship Dutch through and through, and I leava you and my Dutch translators do all o the talking. I’m no slouch myself, if I get asked. Besides, he wantsa the cargo pretty bad, as you reported. Even if we’re caught, he probably just give us a slap on the wrist.”
The Captain rose to face the merchant, “Let’s please not test that. Lowie wouldn’t have lied, but he dozes in conversations; he could have misheard. And even if he’s reporting perfectly, he got it from a drunken fisherman on the docks, and… I don’t know something else could have gone wrong.”
“And my brother Lucius confirms it from Malacca. There’s a lot of supplies flowing into the Oyashii’s ports. Change is a brewing! And a where there is change, there is a chance for profit!”
“The cargo remains yours to risk, Mr. Maurizio. I’ve taken the risks to my ship carrying it, and with no offense intended, I’ll be pleased to minimize such risks. This country is not dangerous, but they are not followers of the Shepherd. They conform to different ideas of right and wrong…”
“Since a when do the Dutch believa so much in the Shepherd?”
“God is good, gold is better, knowledge is best! And this nation prides itself on its ability to keep its knowledge to itself.”
They looked back to the coast. The port slowly coming into view.