This Pernicious Vice
After his humiliation at the sword of the fencing master Laplante, the chevalier de Saint-Sauvan is in a foul mood, but with the injury to his arm, it is a couple of weeks before he is ready to face people again. Aside from walks to and from the Église Saint Laurent pres Les Moulins for Mass, he has little contact with anyone beyond the servants of the Hôtel de Galbert.
Realising that his winnings from d’Espard won’t last forever – and wishing to avoid another encounter with La Gautier – the chevalier decides to head for Le Tonneau de Vin, a slightly more reputable tavern than Lo Diable, catering to merchants. The sleeve of his doublet, ripped by Laplante’s sword is mended, and in his blue-and-green finery he walks into the tavern.
To Urbain’s surprise, and disappointment, the tavern is not busy. Expecting to find card and dice players, instead only a handful of patrons are seated around the tables, and no one is playing.
At one of the tables sits a fair-haired, well-dressed man in dark silk, a large white feather dangling from his cap, speaking quietly with a trio of rough-looking men in the garb of stevedores from the quays. The gentleman is flipping through a deck of cards idly, though the four aren’t playing.
Saint-Sauvan obtains a goblet of wine from a serving girl and approaches the table. The conversation ceases the moment he gets near, and four pairs of eyes study him closely. The chevalier apologizes for the intrusion and introduces himself, and commenting on the lack of gaming and the fact that the gentleman is the only person in the tavern with a deck of cards, inquires if he would like to play.
The three dockhands don’t look happy at being interrupted, but the man in the white plume invites the chevalier to sit down, and the trio of toughs, casting diparaging glances at Saint-Sauvan, move to another table. At the chevalier’s prodding, the man in the white plume introduces himself as Olivier Rameau, dealer in olive oil. To Saint-Sauvan the merchant seems wary. With just two players, the game is lansquenet again, and the cards are dealt.
Saint-Sauvan takes the first hand, but Rameau seems unconcerned, ordering a bottle of wine. Pushing a generously filled glass in front of the chevalier, the merchants insists on a toast to his good health.
The next two hands fall to Saint-Sauvan, but Rameau seems unconcerned, again offering the chevalier a filled glass, this time with a toast to his success at cards. As soon as Saint-Sauvan’s glass is empty, the merchant quickly refills it.
Rameau takes the next hand with a broad smile. Saint-Sauvan notices that the pair has attracted the attention of a pair of rough-looking sailors at another table. They are watching the game closely.
Saint-Sauvan takes the next hand, and the next, and by now Rameau is growing cautious, hazarding a smaller bet. Losing once again, the smile long gone from his face, Rameau declines another rather abruptly, pays his tab, and leaves with barely a nod to Saint-Sauvan. Rameau’s three companions exchange glances with each other, then glower at the chevalier; Sait-Sauvan is acutely aware that he now holds what appears to be their patron’s money. He wastes no time, drawing his rapier and addressing the two sailors watching the scene.
“Masters, I require an escort to my lodgings, and I will give you each thrity livres for my safe passage.” Lowering his voice, the chevalier adds, “That’s more than you’ll get if you split my winnings with those rascals.” The pair glance at one another, and nod.
Rameau’s three ruffians glower as Saint-Sauvan and the sailors leave the Tonneau de Vin. Urbain keeps the two ahead of him, walking with his sword drawn, and to his surprise neither gives him trouble. Stopping a block short of the Hôtel de Galbert, he pays off the pair with thanks, and waits for them to disapper in the direction of the quays before returning to his lodgings for the night.
Settling into his apartment after a servant has removed his boots and taken them to be cleaned, Saint-Sauvan reflects on the hazards of his profession.
Oh, this pernicious vice of gaming! – Edward Moore, The Gamester
The actual play log of this game can be viewed here.