For three days, it must be confessed, we have fallen under the tyranny of cards. No one can resist the neat packs waiting there on the round table, with the chairs drawn up invitingly. At first we hesitate & trifle with our desire; shuffle the cards meditatively as though the action were some merely idle movement of the fingers, for which the brain was not responsible. Then perhaps we deal out one — two — three; glance at the numbers displayed, comment audibly; how strange, what luck were one playing. Chance sends an audience. [ ] The second pack must be broached, [ ] in case it too will yield a surprise; then some one in the next room detects us, & shouts derision; "Cards after breakfast!" "Cards!" echo several, springing suddenly into life at the sound of this magic word; & all further pretence is dropped. The chairs are drawn close with alacrity; the room is noisy at once; all talk together; the cards fall in dropping showers; at length it is ready & the order to start is given. All heads are bent close to the work; eyes circle feverishly; hands deal out the pack, three by three, turn, & begin again. Aces fall out into space in the middle; then the fury quickens. You must dab your two on to the ace before your neighbour has done scratching the table polish, & then back again in an instant & on with the next. Collisions occur at this point, three two's fight over the prostrate ace, & all, strange though it may seem, got their first. Meanwhile the swift dab dab dab in the corner warns the disputants that some one is running his cards off by the score — We all fly back to our packs, paralysed at the thought that we are missing chances. Suddenly, on the verge of a 'run' which will dispose of at least four more cards, with luck, a yell of "Stop" puts an end to all our schemes. The cards must be counted, & it is lucky if the ten minutes work has not left you some six or seven points less than you were at starting. Hope revives with the freshly shuffled thirteen, although the strange fact is that each new pack is without exception the worst that the player has ever seen. Kings, Queens, & Knaves, the whole royal family, sit absolutely at the top; only the most supreme skill will be able to do something with a thirteen like this. When each player has delivered himself of these the necessary groans & objurgations the signal is given again, & the old process is repeated. I shall not trouble myself to describe it again; although I will willingly act the whole thing a score of times.

Certain circumstances have made me write here less frequently than I meant, so that it comes to pass that I write these words upon the eve of our return. The lights of London will be round me at this time of evening tomorrow, as the lighthouse gleams now. That is a thought which comes with real melancholy, for, besides the actual beauty of this country, to part with it is to part with something which we knew long ago, & may not see again for years. I wish that I had seen more of it while I might. There is in truth, as I thought once in fancy something of our own preserved here from which it is painful to part. Or is it possible that one has come to that age when partings are more serious & meetings less pleasurable? On the whole I prefer to think that there is good reason to regret this departure more than others.