Old Gus didn't have folding money or hard cash, and was putting out
about what he
thought was a dollar's worth of gold dust for each chip. The friendly stranger had silver
dollars and folding bills. The stranger handled the cards well, and since he was winning
rather consistently, Gus began to wonder if he was playing fair and square. But his
careful scrutiny failed to uncover any dirty work. Randall had shed his coat, and was
playing in his shirt sleeves. The sleeves were rolled back almost to the elbows. He
certainly didn't look like a professional gambler, and his attire left it a little hard to
imagine how he could cheat. But still, Gus, being of a suspicious nature, was watching
Gus, holding three tens, felt like he had a pretty good hand, and had
bet rather heavily
on it. But when the showdown came, Randall produced a full spread of jacks. Four alike!
Gus jumped up from the table and grabbed the heavy iron poker leaning on the hearth of
"Feller, you 're a cheat!" He bellowed, raising the poker threateningly.
"No, I wouldn't do that." Randall kept his seat. "You were watching
me, did you see me
do anything underhanded?"
"No, I didn't see anything - but there were only 3 jacks in that deck.
We've been playing
a card short all winter! You had to cheat."
"Look," began Randall, " I swear - "
He didn't finish the plea, for Gus brought the poker down across his
head in powerful
swing, and he tumbled heavily out of the chair and onto the packed dirt floor. "Dirty
cheat!" muttered Gus, carefully placing the poker back on the hearth.
The door swung open and Bruce entered. Seeing Randall on the floor,
"My gosh, what happened?"
"Nothing much," explained Gus. "This stranger was cheating at cards,
and I tapped him
over the head with the poker."
Bruce had kneeled and was examining the body, feeling for a pulse. He
turned to Gus
anxiously, "Gus, you've killed him. He's dead!"
Gus was defensive. "He was cheating. He pulled out four jacks - and
you know we only
have three. That's all we had all winter. He had to be cheating."
"Gus, I have to tell you something. I found that other jack yesterday
under the wood box.
There were four jacks in the deck."
Gus had nothing to say. What was there to say?