Prompt One
Tue Jan 8, 2019 8:27am

It was Saturday evening, and the Moon family were gathered around the drawing room table, playing the imaginatively-named Bid Fours, in which players were dealt some cards and then bid for more, aiming to collect fours of a kind. It was traditionally played with suits representing different gemstones.

Holly turned over the next card, the Seven of Sapphires, and said “I bid one,” taking one of her small round tokens and placing it into the pool.

Tiger was next. He glanced at his hand: he had the Seven of Rubies, but he knew his father had the Sevens of Emeralds and Diamonds. “I bid two,” he said, glancing at his pile of tokens. There were about thirty of them left. He picked up two tokens and added them to the pool.

“I bid three,” said Francis smoothly. He moved his own tokens into the pool.

Holly, having no Sevens, passed. Tiger bid four and he and his father went back and forth until Francis bid seventeen.

Tiger raised his eyebrows. Surely Francis knew that Tiger had the Seven of Rubies? Why would his father bid so highly for what could only be a third seven? He tried to remember how many tokens his father had left: it couldn’t be many more than he himself had.

“Pass,” he said. No matter how strange his father’s tactics, he couldn’t afford to spend any more tokens.

Francis picked up the Seven of Sapphires and lay beside it his Sevens of Diamonds and Emeralds, and – Tiger could hardly believe his eyes – the Seven of Rubies.

“What – “ spluttered Tiger. “How – “ He pulled the Seven of Rubies from his own hand and laid it face up on the table to prove the evident impossibility of what had just happened.

Francis ignored him and casually counted out twenty tokens from the pool as his reward for four of a kind.

“What does that have to do with anything?” Holly asked.

“That’s the Seven of – “ Tiger broke off suddenly as he looked down at the perfectly drawn rubies on the card. There were six of them. “What? I swear when I put that down it was the Seven, not the Six.”

“Of course it was,” said Francis. “This is a Paradox Pack. Cards can be duplicated as long as they are not seen by all players together, in which case one card will morph into a similar card.”

“And you didn’t bother telling us that? I would have bid higher if I had known!”

“I was wondering if you’d work it out.”

Tiger rolled his eyes.

Francis turned over the next card, the Three of Diamonds, and said “I bid one.”

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