The Game: A Cousins Tale

 

Luke left the dining area and went towards the curtained door to the back room.  As he approached it, a drunk teamster raised his head from off a table.  “If you are going in there you must have some coins to spare,” the man slurred.

“I might have,” Luke retorted.

“Would you like to buy a dagger, Boy?” the drunk asked.  He held up an average looking blade and said, “It’s yours for the price of a flagon of red.”

“Not interested,” Luke huffed, and pressed by, emerging into the gambling room beyond.

Luke approached a table where a stern looking army rider and two merchants were just getting ready to play cards.

“Do you need a fourth?” Luke asked.

“Show us you coin first,” said the soldier.

Luke emptied his pouch on the table.  There were three silvers and a pair of coppers.

“It will do,” the warrior said, and the merchants nodded in agreement.

The first couple of hands were low wager, and no one had a spectacular hand.  Nonetheless Luke’s winnings were nearing five silvers.  Then Luke couldn’t believe his luck.  He was dealt four aces and a ten of diamonds.  This was the hand of his lifetime.   He bet all of the coins he had on the table.  While the merchants quickly folded at the gesture, the weary eyed warrior seemed unconcerned and matched his wager and raised it.  Luke quickly laid his sword on the table and called.

The sword that Bertram Drake acquired for Luke was an old Nordlandian infantry blade.  It had a functional wooden hilt, and an iron cross guard and an acorn shaped pommel. While it was not an elegant blade it was functional and of a good weight for a young man more used to a market stall than to an exercise yard.

The warrior looked at the sword, and then mumbled, “It will do.”  He laid down a straight Clubs flush and raked the pot to his side of the table.

Stunned Luke stared about the room.

He rose and walking with head hung and began to make his way to his room.  Then he saw it, a quarter-silver piece laying on the floor under an unoccupied table.  He as nonchalantly as possible stooped down and picked the coin up.  He went to the bar and exchanged it for coppers, and then returned to the card table.

“Back for more of a beating, Lad?” the soldier taunted.

“Just deal the cards,” Luke retorted.

This time he had two pairs.  He wagered his coin and hoped for the best.  The others had poor hands, after a couple of hands he had raised enough for a flagon of red.

He then went out into the bar and sat down across from the sleeping wagoner.  Kicking him in the boots, he said, “Do you still want to sell the dagger?”

“Do you have the wine?” the man asked.

“I’ll be right back.”

Luke went and bought the flagon and then sat down again.   He noted the man’s fixed gaze on the drink, and said, “And the dagger?”

The man slid it across the table and Luke took it and passed the wine to the drunkard.

Okay, I wagered my sword and my coins against the most perfectly balanced killing blade in the kingdom – and I won.  No, then I’d have the sword and money too.  I exchanged my coins and sword with a decorated warrior for a finely crafted weapon more suited for someone driving a wagon.  Yes, that’s what I’ll tell them.

He entered his room as quietly as possible, and didn’t wake until morning.

 

Padre

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