Fruitful Opals

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Opals

Greetings Sir R-----. I trust that I find you in good spirits this evening? Will you take a glass of this excellent porter and join me in a little sport?

Splendid!

I propose a game that is popular amongst Antipodean opal scavengers as a means to improve their skill at guesswork.
Opals, as any reputable botanist will confirm, are the seeds of the majestic opal tree which grows in some abundance atop the vast monoliths of that region. Its mouth-watering fruits are greatly enjoyed by the Titans on those occasions when, attracted by its entirely confused seasons, they choose to winter thereabouts.
Having gorged themselves upon these fruits, the atrociously mannered Titans cast the scraps deep into the surrounding deserts leaving their stones scattered haphazardly therein. Given the consequent lack of predictability of the location of opals it is small wonder that a talent for guesswork is so highly prized amongst their scavengers and that they are willing to expend so much of their spare time in practice of it.
Finding myself stranded in a camp of these hardy fellows after a misadventure involving a very great number of rabbits, upon which I have no desire to expand, I discovered that I have some small talent in their industry. During the course of an afternoon I chanced upon some several thousand stones to which I added some few thousand more at their game after our labour.

But I digress.

See here, I have placed two upturned cups on the table. Beneath one of them is a token and if you pay me a stake of four cents you may guess which it is. If you are correct you shall win a prize of one cent.
Now this may strike you as a somewhat unworthy bounty but pray hear me out!
If you guess correctly you may play a second round of the game for the same stake. In this round there are three cups rather than two and the prize is doubled. If you guess correctly again you may likewise enter into a third round in which the cups number four and the prize is triple that of the second round.
Play continues in this fashion with every correct guess giving you the option to pay your stake again and enter into another round in which the number of cups is increased by one and the prize multiplied by the number of cups employed in the round just played.
An incorrect guess brings the game to an end, but you may elect to begin again with another first round if you so desire.

When I explained these rules to that disreputable student acquaintance of mine he began blathering on, in his usual witless fashion, about how the harmonies of Sirius are oft lengthier than expected, although quite what bearing he imagines the endless dirges of the Canicular peoples might have upon this game entirely escapes me. Perhaps a touch of dog day sunstroke has accelerated the deterioration of his already meagre faculties.

Come recharge your glass and think upon your thirst for a wager!


Based upon an article I wrote for ACCU's CVu magazine.

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