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CHAPTER XIV. ROGUES ANCIENT AND MODERN.
Consinor arrived early at the Lotus Club and took his seat at a small table facing the doorway, where he whiled away the time by playing solitaire.

Presently Kāra entered and greeted him cordially, seeming to be in an especially happy mood.

“Well, shall we try our luck?” he said, seating himself at the opposite side of the table.

Nodding assent, Consinor gathered up the cards and shuffled them. Several loungers who knew of the previous game and wondered what the next meeting between the two men would evolve, clustered around the table to watch the result.

Kāra won the cut and dealt. He played rather carelessly and lost. The stakes were a pound sterling.

“Double!” he cried, laughing, and again the viscount nodded.

The luck had shifted, it seemed, for the prince repeatedly lost. At first he chatted gaily with those present and continued to double with reckless disregard of his opponent’s success; but by and by he grew thoughtful and looked at his cards more closely, watching the game as shrewdly as his adversary. The stakes had grown to four hundred pounds, and a subtle thrill of excitement spread over the little group of watchers.{151} Was Consinor going to win back his ten thousand pounds at one sitting?

Suddenly Kāra, in dealing, fumbled the cards and dropped one of them. In reaching to pick it up it slipped beneath his foot and he tore it into two. It was the queen of hearts.

“How stupid!” he laughed, showing the pieces. “Here, boy, bring us a fresh pack of cards,” addressing an attendant.

Consinor scowled and reached out his hand for the now useless deck. Kāra slipped the cards into his pocket, including the mutilated one.

“They are mine, prince,” said the viscount; “I use them for playing my game of solitaire.”

“Pardon, but I have destroyed their value,” returned Kāra. “I shall insist upon presenting you with a new deck, since my awkwardness has rendered your own useless.”

Consinor bit his lip, but made no reply, watching silently while the prince tore open the new deck and shuffled the cards.

The viscount lost the next hand, and the score was evened. He lost again, and still a third time.

“The luck has changed with the new cards,” said he. “Let us postpone the game until another evening, unless you prefer to continue.”

“Very well,” Kāra readily returned, and throwing down the cards, he leaned back in his chair, selected a fresh cigar from his case and carefully lighted it.{152}

Consinor had pushed back his own chair, but he did not rise. After watching Kāra’s nonchalant movements for a time, the viscount drew from his pocket three curious dice, and after an instant’s hesitation tossed them upon the table.

“Here is a curiosity,” he remarked. “I am told these cubes were found in an Egyptian tomb at Thebes. They are said to be three thousand years old.”

The men present, including Kāra, examined the dice curiously. The spots were arranged much as they are at the present day, an evidence that this mode of gambling has been subjected to little improvement since the early Egyptians first invented it.

“They are excellently preserved,” said van Roden. “Where did you get them, viscount?”

“I picked them up the other day from a strolling Arab. They seemed to me very quaint.”

“There are several sets in the museum,” remarked Pintsch, a German in charge of the excavations at Dashur. “It is very wonderful how much those ancients knew.”

Lord Consinor drew the dice toward him.

“See here, Prince,” said he, “let us try our luck with these antiquities. It is quicker and easier than écarté.”

“Very well,” consented Kāra. “What are the stakes?”

“Let us say a hundred pounds the throw.”{153}

This suggestion startled the group of spectators; but Kāra said at once:

“I will agree to that, my lord.............
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