Four Houses


Four Houses

Sir R----- my good man, come dry yourself by the fire and take a glass of warming spirit!
Being the man of sport I know you to be I take it that you would not be averse to joining me in a wager this evening?


I have a fancy for a game of Four Houses, its method of play always reminding me of the time that the Empress of Russia tasked me with brokering a peace between those four great French houses of Carreau, Coeur, Trèfle and Pique, whilst simultaneously avoiding any opportunity for their famously internecine machinations.
You will no doubt recall that notorious banquet at which every member of the Coeur family had contrived to poison every other. The cocktail of venoms that each consumed caused them to purge their stomachs before lethal effect took hold, much to their individual relief I'm sure, but quite putting the other guests off of dessert.
Now, on the day of the conference the envoy responsible for Madame Trèfle had his address upside down and delivered her not to 19 Rue des Cartes as instructed but rather to 61 wherein, tragically, her husband was waiting for an audience with Mademoiselle Carreau. They set upon one another with such fervour that Mademoiselle Carreau fled the scene in terror and hasn't been seen again in society to this very day!

But now, I have not explained the rules of the game!

See here I have chalked out four houses upon the table in which we shall take turns to play cards from the Jacks, Queens, Kings and Aces of each suit. If either of us plays to a house a card of the same value or suit as one already residing there he shall forfeit the game. Likewise if he plays a Jack or King to a house containing a King or Jack of the same colour, and again if he plays a Queen or Ace to one containing an Ace or Queen of the same colour.
The last of us to play a card without forfeit shall be declared the winner and shall have for his trouble a coin from the other's purse.

That miserable cur of a student, upon hearing the rules of this game, set to rambling about cooing at a dewey-eyed doe, having feelings of sympathy for the beast or some such nonsense; evidently no huntsman he!

Thinking on it I have a hankering for some venison pie. But first, let me refill your glass whilst you consider which card you shall play!

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