Victorian London - Crime - Con-men - card sharps

    "Now, gentlemen, just for fun, which is the knave?" And Bobby. without a check, selected the correct card-board. "Again, gentlemen, if you please, it will bring my hand into practice; shall we say half a crown? Thanks!" and again, with the accuracy of a truffle dog, Bobby discovered the card.
    Again and again was this farce perpetrated, till Bobby's winnings amounted to 4, and in his generosity he seemed loth to take advantage of such a greenhorn.
    George, meanwhile, had caught the infection and bet and won as the stakes were made higher.
    "Five pounds for once, gentlemen? I think I've earned my revenge," pleaded Jerry, and fickle Fortune as if of the same opinion, decided in his favour.
    Any one but the veriest tyro would have deemed this a favourable opportunity to stop, but George, as we have seen, had his own ideas of honour; the fever, moreover, was upon him, and, producing the contents of his own pocket, he again backed his opinion.
    Gone in a twinkling, he next turned to Bobby and the lad at once proceeded to supply him with his cash. Meanwhile their original acquaintance whispered imploringly to George to have done with it, but he might as well have spoken to the winds. "D-- it man, if I'm cleaned out of ready money, I've still my ring and sleeve links; go on, sir," he continued to Jerry. "I'll bet my jewellry against a tenner."
    But fortune was still against our friends, and divested of his trinkets, in his turn he appealed to his opponent.
    "Come, sir, I gave you your revenge, now give me mine, and anything I lose, I'll give you my cheque for."
    But Jerry was of a practical nature; cheques were occasionally stopped, and officious detectives might come to hear of it, so he decided to decline the tempting offer, but promised revenge on the morrow. The first stranger meanwhile came to the rescue. "I know you're a gentleman," he whispered, "and mayn't like to lose those things, why not offer the gent to redeem them to-morrow."
    The idea seemed a happy one, and the party dispersed, on the understanding that at twelve the following day they should all meet at the Pump in Leicester Square.
    But our heroes werre not yet done with casual acquaintances, as passing along the Haymarket they were again accosted by a man. "Excuse me, gentlemen," was the abrupt introduction, "I saw you parting company just now with two well-known sharpers; I'm Detective Bulger of the police, may I ask if you've been robbed?"
    And then the painful truth began to dawn upon the victims that two officers in Her Majesty's Service had been overreached at a game that Blue-coat boy would have jibbed at.
    The sequel is briefly told. The next day the appointment was punctually kept by all except Jerry, who, oddly enough, deputed another man to explain that he was sending off an urgent telegram, and had requested him (if the coast was clear) to conduct our friends to him.
    Followed at a respectful distance by the detective, the jewellry was redeemed; but just as Jerry was pocketing the money, a hand was laid upon his shoulder and he found himself in the clutches of Sergeant Bulger.
    George refused to prosecute; his money was however, restored to him, and binding Boby to secrecy, he thus escaped the chaff that would have cleaved to him for life. 

'One of the Old Brigade' (Donald Shaw), London in the Sixties, 1908