Written for the “ Spirit of the Times” by the YOUNG ‘UN.

“ Take a drink, stranger ?”—enquired a diminutive, grey-eye’d individual, addressing himself to me, as we sat at a centre-table in the cabin of a Lake-steamer. He continued doggedly to stir the punch which the steward had just handed him, and repeated his invitation.—I declined.

Having disposed of a second “ smasher,” he tried me again.

“ Busy, stranger ?”

I moved to him.

“ Take a hand at Seven up, Sir ?”

I assented to this proposition, to kill a dreary hour or so, and my challenger immediately drew from his coat-pocket the necessary documents for a bout at “ old sledge.” He had evidently calculated upon “ pigeoning” me, and plainly supposing me verdant, he coolly deposited under the candlestick, a five dollar note upon one of the Western “Wild-Cat” institutions. I immediately covered it with a V upon the “Lumberman’s” Bank, (Philadelphia,) which some blackguard or other had put upon me, in my travels, for a good one. The cards were dealt, a brace of hands were played, and I won his “ Red Dog” shinplaster.

“ Double it, Stranger ?”

“ As you please”—said I, carelessly—and he placed a very respectable looking X upon the stakes.

I held the ace, deuce, and ten of trumps, and my lead drew his knave, which he boarded with a simultaneous call upon somebody to “ d—n such luck,” and upon the steward to bring him another punch !

In the next hand, I made three points, and beat the game. I moved towards the money, but he prevented my raising it, by covering it with a twenty-spot, whereupon, he gulphed down the balance of his third punch, and dealt the cards again.

The liquor by this time had commenced to operate upon his irritability, and I soon discovered him to be a pugnacious customer. I had seen ugly little men before, however, and being pretty well acquainted with the game, having nothing at stake, and contriving to keep perfectly cool, thus far I had my gentleman at odds.

I was in luck ! I held all the cards, and made four points. In the second hand of the third [1] game, I made high, low, game, and “ skunked” him, outright, again.

The play had now become somewhat interesting—several spectators had gathered around the table. My opponent insisted that the money should lie, and he counted out his forty dollars. He was getting excited.

The fourth round was more fluctuating. I had made but three points, my adversary five. He dealt me an excellent hand, upon which I “ begged,” however, because, as he turned his cards, he volunteered the remark “ that he would fix me, this time !”

“ Give you one—by G— !”

“ That scours me four,"— I added, quietly.

“ Four to my five,” he answered. “ Steward ! Another punch on this !”

He held the Queen, Knave, and five of trumps. I led a low side card, upon which he placed a ten “ for game.” He returned with an ace, which I gave him. He “ swung” with his queen, which I took with my king, and following with my ace of trumps, I had his knave again ! I played the four for “ low,” which scored me three upon this hand, and gift, made me seven—to his score and “ game,” which counted him but six !

As he dashed his fist violently upon the table with a “ d—n !” I again moved towards the “ pile,” which had now swelled to eighty dollars—most of which was in good money—but he motioned me back with

“ Once more, if you please, by G—, stranger !”

“ Have it your own way,” I replied, and he planked his eighty dollars on the other, which was snugly stowed beneath the foot of the candlestick.

Again the cards were dealt, and in the first hand, he made three points, to my gift. Three vs. one, was duly scored, the papers went round again, and the result was “ four hand.” We played another round, upon which I was doing famously, when a misdeal was discovered. I humored him (though there was foul play, and I knew it), the cards were stocked, and the deal was passed. I cut the cards, and my antagonist, (who by this time had become especially stupid, and particularly ugly) shuffled them in the clumsiest possible manner.

We stood four and four. I held a hand to be played for a man’s life,—— the ace, queen, knave, and deuce of trumps ! I forthwith played the deuce—which “ played the deuce” with my thick-headed friend—for he couldn’t follow suit !

“ That’s High and Low—by G—, for all me !” he muttered, as I gave him the ace of another suit, and followed it with the queen. The game was up—I held every thing—never was there such “ a run of luck !”

I ushered my queen—followed her with the knave—and then boarded the ace of trumps—to which last card my opponent did not answer.

“ Another mis—deal”—said he, slowly “by G— !”

“ Not too fast, my friend,” I answered, “ you had six cards."

“ I say there’s an—other mis-deal—‘ic—stranger.”

“ You are mistaken, sir. There is your sixth card, under the table.”

“ Do you say—that’s my card ?”

“ I haven’t the slightest doubt of it.”

“ Who in ——put it there ?”—continued the ugly devil.

“ Can’t say—upon my soul—but play it if you please.”

“ Do you say I put it there ?” said the fellow, refusing to take it up—and at the same time leisurely rolling up his coat-cuffs.

“ You must have dropped it,” I suggested.

“ Do you say—‘ic—I put it there ?”

I could bear with this no longer, and hastily calculating my chances for being worsted, I laid my left hand upon the money, and with my right, I seized him by the foretop, across the table, as he attempted to rise at the other side. A dirk-knife gleamed an instant in the light, but with a sudden effort, I brought his head in contract [2] with the mahogany, which bewildered him while I wrenched the dagger from his hand and secured the l’argent. The next moment, I heard the rough voice of Jack W—ff, the first officer of the boat, who had been apprised of the rumpus, below.

As the blackleg arose upon me, Jack tendered him a feeler, under the ear, which sent him reeling, heels over head into a state-room hard by, with “ there d—n you, take that, and go to bed ; you’re eternally kicking up a muss with somebody !” and turning the key upon the outside of the door, he added—“ past twelve, gentlemen—no more cards to-night, if you please”—and he left the cabin.

We arrived at C—d before daybreak, where I left the boat—since which time I have not had the pleasure of meeting my friend who was so excessively fond of the “ GAME OF SEVEN UP.”


Source: New York Spirit of the Times 15.24 (9 August 1845): 273. University of Virginia Alderman Library.

Erin Bartels prepared this typescript.

[1] Original text reads “th ethird.”
[2] Probably “contact.”

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