Sunrise, Monday, March 13, 1634, Magdeburg
Elisabetha Schmelzer was sure the shadow walking behind her was a man, and that he was following her. Every time she stopped, he stopped as well. She wasn't quite ready to panic just yet, but a woman alone in this area at this early hour of the morning wasn't safe. She loosened the knife she kept in her sash, and considered her options. Around the next corner, if she put on a quick burst of speed, she should be able to get to the alleyway before whoever was following turned the corner. If she could hide in the shadows, then maybe she could lose him.
She stepped round the corner, and then ran as quietly as she could for the alley. Once there she crouched in the shadow of a doorway, her knife ready.
Elisabetha was tempted to poke her head out to see if she could see her follower. No, it's safer to wait. I'd surely hear him if he comes down here. She settled down to wait.
The movement and rustle just about caused Elisabetha to jump out of her skin. But it was only a black kitten playing with a bit of colored paper. Elisabetha grinned. Then she concentrated on the piece of paper. It looked like a banknote. She leapt to her feet. Well, she would have if her right leg hadn't fallen asleep. Instead she lurched to her feet, making a noise as she did so. The kitten took fright and was off in a flash.
Elisabetha picked up the piece of paper. It was a bank note. A ten dollar note. Then she saw the other zero. A hundred dollars. That's nearly a week's wages at the laundry. She searched the alleyway just in case the owner was looking for it. There was nobody. So she wiped the note as clean as she could and put it in her purse. She looked around to see if she could see the kitten who had found her this prize, but it was long gone.
The sun was getting higher in the sky and more people were on the streets, so Elisabetha stepped out of the alley and continued on her way home. She needed to buy food for the day and then she needed to get some sleep. The nightshift at the laundry paid well, but it was exhausting work.
Johann Roeloffse sat at his usual table in the café just down the road. Whenever Elisabetha had a spare dollar she bought a number in the lottery from him. She adjusted her shopping bags and felt in her purse. The coins didn't add up to enough for a ticket, but she did have the banknote she'd found earlier. Feeling lucky, she walked over to Johann with the banknote ready. "Could I buy a number for today's draw, please?"
Johann smiled and pulled out his policy book. "Of course you can, Elisabetha." Then he saw the note in Elisabetha's hand. "A one hundred dollar note? Elisabetha, what've you been up to?"
"I found it," Elisabetha protested. She was pretty sure she knew what Johann thought she had been up to. There weren't that many things a girl could do that would result in being paid with a one hundred dollar note. "Honestly. I was walking home from work when I thought I was being followed. So I slipped into an alleyway and hid. A kitten was playing with it. Look. You can see when he chewed on it."
Johann examined the note. "I don't suppose you have anything smaller? I don't have that much change." A sneaky grin appeared on Johann's face. "Hey, why not buy a hundred tickets? It's not as if they'll cost you anything. It's all found money."
Elisabetha shook her head. "It's the smallest I have, sorry. And it might be found money, but there are other things I want to buy."
"Well, what about fifty tickets? I can give you fifty dollars in change. Go on, girl. Think what you could do with your winnings."
"I don't know. Fifty dollars is a lot of money to gamble."
"Sure it is, but it's not your money. It's found money, so you're not really gambling. Go on, Elisabetha, take a risk."
Elisabetha sighed. "Oh, very well. Fifty tickets, please."
Johann opened his policy book and got his pencil ready. "You won't be sorry. What numbers do you want then?"
Elisabetha looked around searching for inspiration. The only number she could see was the date on the paper Johann had been reading.
Johann wrote out the first ticket. "Right, 'thirteen.' Only forty-nine to go."
"No, I mean, thirteen is the number I want."
"I want fifty tickets made out to the number thirteen. I can do that, can't I?"
Johann nodded vigorously. "Yes. Sure you can, and think of the money if you win. Seven hundred dollars fifty times, that's . . . "
"Thirty-five thousand dollars," Elisabetha supplied.
"Yeah, thirty-five thousand dollars." Johann quickly wrote out the tickets and passed them and fifty dollars in one, five and ten dollar notes. "Don't spend it all in one place."
Tuesday morning March 16, 1634, Karickhoff's Gym, Magdeburg
Wilhelm Koch walked into Tommy Karickhoff's office. Tommy sat behind a massive desk, leaning back in his chair. "Herr Karickhoff, I have the results from Monday's lottery. The winning number was zero-one-three . . . "
"Hey, I like it. Not many people like the leading zeros. How did we do?"
Wilhelm buried his face behind his papers. "Sales for Monday were eighteen thousand six hundred and twenty-three tickets. Our gross income was eighteen thousand six hundred and twenty-three dollars. Less commissions that is seventeen thousand six hundred and ninety-one dollars and eighty-five cents."
"Wilhelm, just cut to the chase. How many tickets won and how much profit did we make."