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69
AT THE AUSTRIAN ARMS

"But rarely, my lord," the fact was I knew little of the dice.

They put about and ascended the stair, the two together, then Yvard, I coming on behind, but not until the packet, from which I hoped so much, was safely in my bosom. This was easily accomplished when Yvard had turned his back.

We climbed the stair, and after some forty or fifty paces stood inside the room of which Serigny had spoken to me. I could recognize the place from his description.

The gaming tables were ranged about in the center of the room, and about them sat many men—and women, too—at play. On three sides of the place a row of columns ran some four or five yards from the wall. These pillars formed convenient alcoves for those who would sit and sip their wine. Some were curtained, the better to screen their occupants. Others stood broadly open.

The four of us walked over to a table well out of view and sat down to wine. It was then I regretted not having already heeded Serigny's admonition to provide myself with garments more suited to my character, for I felt I attracted some attention as we passed through the room, and this was most to be avoided.

We seated ourselves about the table and ordered wine; mine remained untasted while the others drank. I determined to touch no wine that night.

"Comrade, you do not drink," Yvard remarked, "is your blood still hot with the clash of steel?"