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Playing Cards with Hoodies.

The Game of Cards

By Anna Kingsford

A story that suggests that your attitude and

expectations influence the hand you are dealt

From Dreams and Dream Stories


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I dreamed I was playing at cards with three persons, the two opposed to me being

a man and a woman with hoods pulled over their heads, and cloaks covering their

persons. I did not particularly observe them. My partner was an old man without

hood or cloak, and there was about him this peculiarity, that he did not from

one minute to another appear to remain the same. Sometimes he looked like a very

young man, the features not appearing to change in order to produce this effect,

but an aspect of youth and even of mirth coming into the face as though the

features were lighted from within. Behind me stood a personage whom I could not

see, for his hand and arm only appeared, handing me a pack of cards. So far as I

discerned, it was a man’s figure, habited in black. Shortly after the dream

began, my partner addressed me, saying,


“Do you play by luck or by skill?”


I answered” “I play by luck chiefly; I don’t know how to play by skill. But I

have generally been lucky." In fact I had already, lying by me, several tricks I

had taken. He answered me: —


“To play by luck is to trust to without; to play by skill is to trust to within.

In this game, Within goes further than Without.”


“What are trumps?” I asked.


“Diamonds are trumps,” he answered.


I looked at the cards in my hand and said to him: — “I have more clubs than

anything else.”


At this he laughed, and seemed all at once quite a youth. “Clubs are strong

cards, after all,” he said. “Don’t despise the black suits. I have known some of

the best games ever played won by players holding more clubs than you have.”


I examined the cards and found something very odd about them. There were four

suits, diamonds, hearts, clubs, and spades. But the picture cards in my hand

seemed different altogether from any I had ever seen before. One was queen of

Clubs, and her face altered as I looked at it. First it was dark, — almost

dusky, — with the imperial crown on the head; then it seemed quite fair, the

crown changing to a smaller one of English aspect, and the dress also

transforming itself. There was a queen of Hearts, too, in an antique peasant’s

gown, with brown hair, and presently this melted into a suit of armor which

shone as if reflecting fire-light in its burnished scales. The other cards

seemed alive likewise, even the ordinary ones, just like the court-cards. There

seemed to be pictures moving inside the emblems on their faces. The clubs in my

hand ran into higher figures than the spades; these came next in number, and

diamonds next. I had no picture-cards of diamonds, but I had the Ace. And this

was so bright I could not look at it. Except the two queens of Clubs and Hearts

I think I had no picture-cards in my hand, and very few red cards of any kind.

There were high figures in the spades. It was the personage behind my chair who

dealt the cards always. I said to my partner: — “It is difficult to play at all,

whether by luck or by skill, for I get such a bad hand dealt me each time.


“That is your fault,” he said. “Play your best with what you have, and next time

you will get better cards.”


“How can that be? I asked.


“Because after each game, the tricks you take are added to the bottom of the

pack which the dealer holds, and you get the honors you have taken up from the

table. Play well and take all you can. But you must put more head into it. You

trust too much to fortune. Don’t blame the dealer; he can’t see.”


“I shall lose this game,” I said presently, for the two persons playing against

us seemed to be taking up all the cards quickly, and the lead never came to my



“It is because you don’t count your points before putting down a card,” my

partner said. “If they play high numbers, you must play higher.”


“But they have all the trumps,” I said.


“No,” he answered, “you have the highest trump of all in your own hand. It is

the first and the last. You may take every card they have with that, for it is

the chief of the whole series. But you have spades too, and high ones.” (He

seemed to know what I had.)


“Diamonds are better than spades,” I answered. “And nearly all my cards are

black ones. Besides, I can’t count, it wants so much thinking. Can’t you come

over here and play for me?”


He shook his head, and I thought that again he laughed. “No,” he replied, “that

is against the law of the game. You must play for yourself. Think it out.”


He uttered these words very emphatically and with so strange an intonation that

they dissipated the rest of the dream, and I remember no more of it.  



ATCHAM, Dec 7, 1883



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