It was in the middle of the 16th century in a tavern in Vienna when a hand full of young musicians had an enjoyable evening. Among these musicians was a well known conductor named Arnold de Bruck.
It was already nearly midnight when an old gypsy woman entered the tavern and offered her service as palm reader. She went from table to table, but nobody seemed to be interested.
Arnold De Bruck was in an excellent mood that evening and ready for some fooling. So he beckoned the gypsy over to his table.
“Tell me about my future”, he asked her and stretched out his hand for her to take.
The woman followed his offer eagerly.
“You have an interesting palm,” she said, “I see an eventful life; a lot of success in a circle of high personalities. I even see the Emperor in your life.”
Proudly de Bruck looked around to make sure that everyone around could hear the gypsy’s words.
”Your heart line is strong and uninterrupted,” she continued, “and your life line is telling me that …”
Abruptly she broke up her sentence and intended to leave.
“Hey, hey, stop!” de Bruck exclaimed and grabbed her sleeve, “You haven’t predicted my future yet! What has my life line told you?”
“I’ve seen the hour of your death,” she replied softly.
“And this is when?” he insisted.
“It is better you don’t know it.”
It had become silent in the tavern and everyone’s eyes were directed to de Bruck and the gypsy.
“But I do want to know,” the conductor urged.
"Well," the fortune teller looked again at the lines of de Bruck's palm.
"You will die not far from this tavern - soon - when the clock of St. Stephen strikes thirteen times."
For a moment it was so quiet that one could have heard the fall of a needle.
Then a thunderous laughter broke out.
"Ha-ha, when the clock strikes thirteen," snorted de Bruck. "This clock has to be invented! You’ve just proclaimed me immortality!"
Still laughing, he opened his wallet and gave the woman a gold coin.
The old looked sadly at the conductor, then she left the tavern and disappeared in the dark.
A couple of weeks later – Arnold de Bruck had already forgotten that boozy evening and the prediction of the gypsy – he visited the bell ringer of St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
It was a beautiful day and because Arnold de Bruck loved the view over the roofs of Vienna they climbed up the tower up to the room where the bells hung.
At that moment the church clock began to strike to tell the Viennese that it’s twelve and time for lunch.
The conductor put his hands over his ears to protect his sensitive hearing. When the twelfth chime had faded away, he thought his friend had shouted something at him, and so turned around quickly.
Thereby his sword hit violently against the bell. – A thirteenth chime echoed through Vienna.
Suddenly he remembered the gypsy and her prophecy.
Full of panic he tried to silence the booming bell.
But he stumbled, lost his balance and fell into the depths. - Arnold de Bruck was dead.
Copyright © 2011 Ingrid Prohaska
Special thanks to JRD Skinner and the Flash Pulp Crew for including the legend in their 'FlashCast 42 - Old Timey' !