The chancellor became alarmed for the consequences, and resolved
to try and play off the French for their clever finesse. He
looked about for a match for the redoubtable French gamester, and
soon got information of a party who might serve his turn. This
was a midshipman at Moscow, named Cruckoff, who, he was assured,
was without an equal in the MANAGEMENT of cards, and the
knowledge of Quizze--then the fashionable court game--and that at
which the Duke of Biran had lost his money. The chancellor
immediately despatched a courier to Moscow to fetch the Russian
The midshipman was forthwith made an ensign of the Guards, in
order to entitle him to play at court. He set to work at once in
accordance with his instructions, but after his own plan in the
execution. He began with losing freely; and was, of course, soon
noticed by the marquis, and marked as a pigeon worth plucking.
The young Russian, however, forced him into high play, and he
lost the greater part of his former gain. The marquis got
nettled, lost his self-command, and proposed a monstrous stake,
to the extent of his credit and gains, of which he thought he
might make himself sure by some master-stroke of art.
Accordingly, by means of a sleight, he managed to hold fifteen in
hand, but his wily antagonist was equal to the occasion: by the
aid of some sweetmeats from an adjoining table he SWALLOWED a
card, and, being first in hand, the chance was determined in his
favour, and he ruined the marquis.