by Bill Nye
Public Domain Books
January 1.–I awoke late this forenoon with a pain through the head and a taste of ennui in the mouth, which I can hardly account for. Can it be a result of the party last evening? I ween it may be so. We had a lovely card party last evening. It was very enjoyable, indeed. Whist was the game.
January 3.–Yesterday all day I was unable to leave my room, owing to a headache and nervous prostration, caused by late hours and too much company, the doctor said. It is too bad, and yet I do so much enjoy our card parties and the excitement of the game. To-night I am to take part in a little quiet game of draw poker, I think they call it. I have not had any experience heretofore in the game, but trust I shall soon learn it. There has been some talk about £1 ante and £5 limit. I do not exactly understand the terms. I hope it does not mean anything wrong.
January 4.–Poker is an odd game, indeed. I think it quite exciting, though at first the odd terms rather confused me. I had not been accustomed to such phrases as “show down,” “bob-tail flush,” and “King full.” I must ask Brown, as soon as his knees are able to be out, to explain the meaning of these terms a little more fully to me. If poor Brown’s knees are not better soon, I shall be on kneesy about him. [Here the diary has the appearance of being blurred with tears.] A bob-tail flush, I learn, is something very disagreeable to have. One gentleman said last evening that another bob-tail flush would certainly paralyze him. I gather from that that it is something like a hectic flush. I can understand the game called “old sledge,” and have become quite familiar with such terms as “beg,” “gimmeone,” “I’ve got the thin one,” “how high is that?” “one horse on me,” “saw-off,” etc., etc., but poker is full of surprises. It seems so odd to see a gentleman “show out on a pair of deuces” and gather in upward of two pounds with great merriment, while the remainder of the party seem quite bored. One gentleman last evening showed out on a full hand with “treys at the head,” putting £3 12s. in his purse with great glee, while another one of the party who had not shown up, but I am positive had a better hand, became so angered that he got up and kicked four front teeth out of the mouth of a favorite dog worth £20. I took part in a spade flush during the evening and was quite successful, so that I can easily pay my traveling expenses and have a few shillings to buy ointment for poor Brown. It was my first winning, and made me quiver all over with excitement. The game is already very fascinating to me, and I am becoming passionately fond of it.
January 6.–I have just learned fully what a bob-tail flush is. It cost me £50. I like information, but I do not like to buy it when it comes so high. I drew two to fill in a heart flush last evening, and advanced the money to back up my judgment; but one of the hearts I drew was a club, which was entirely useless to me. I have sent out a sheriff with a bulldog to ascertain if he can find the whereabouts of the party who started this poker game, I do not know when I have felt so bored. After that I was so timid that I allowed a friend to walk off with £2 on a pair of deuces. I said to him that I called that a deuced bore, and he laughed heartily.
I find that you should not be too ready to show by your countenance whether you are bored or pleased in poker. Tour opponent will take advantage of it and play accordingly. It cost me £8 10s. to acquire a knowledge of this fact. If all the information I ever got had cost me as much as this poker wisdom, I would not now have two pennies to jingle together in my purse. Still, we have had a good time, take it all in all, and I shall not soon forget the evenings we have spent here together buying knowledge regardless of cost. I think I shall try to control my wild thirst for information awhile, however, till I can get some more funds.
[Here the diary breaks off abruptly, and on turning the book over we find the royal signature at the foot of the last page, “The Queen of Spades."]