The Hydra Of Argos



Ho there Sir R-----! Will you join me for a cold tankard of ale to refresh yourself on this warm spring evening?

And, might I hope, for a little sport?

I should not have doubted it for a moment sir!

This fine weather reminds me of the time I spent as the Empress's trade envoy to the market city of Argos, famed almost as much for the remarkable, if somewhat fragile, mechanical contraptions made by its artificers and the most reasonably priced jewellery sold by its goldsmiths as for its fashion for tiny writing implements.
Upon the fourth evening, after I had completed the day's negotiations and was riding back to my lakeside lodgings, a nine-headed serpent rose up from the water's edge, quite startling my horse! I dismounted at once, drew my trusty rapier and set about the chthonic beast. Much to my surprise, when I removed the first of its heads two instantly grew in its place! I quickened my pace but, to my dismay, the same thing happened when I removed the second, and the third, and each thereafter!
With nimble footwork I evaded its bite for over an hour by which time the beast had dozens of heads and was struggling to support their weight. Spotting my opportunity I redoubled my effort and with my rapier flashing like lightning furnished it with several more and with its last, desperate attempt to strike its back snapped clean in two, killing it stone dead!

Now you must forgive me, for in my reminiscence I have neglected to tell you the manner of the wager!

Here, I have put twenty black and fifteen white tokens in this bag and have shaken it full well! You shall now draw one token from it and place it back inside along with another of the same colour. Play shall continue in this fashion until it holds thirty of the one or the other colour. Should they be black then I shall have a coin from your purse, whilst you may have ten from mine should they be white!

When I told that wretched student of the rules of this game he began lamenting that his simply expressing his inner feelings to some poor young woman named Polly at various times had failed to earn her affection. Given how burdensome it is to endure mere moments of his company, I dare not think upon how greatly she must suffer from his attention!

But there is naught that we can do to ease her misery! Come take another tankard whilst you decide whether or not to play!

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