THE QUEEN OF SPADES The coveted secret of the three winning cards has a sinister history:
But soon at the table her losses were such
One had to conclude she was losing her touch.
Germain heard a cry of dismay:
“God help me! I’m ruined!
My gold I’d regain, winding up in the black,
If only I had crucial knowledge I lack.
A sequence of three cards could save me!”
Observing her beauty, the Count, deeply stirred,
Was quick to respond to the cry overheard.
A master of magic and skilled in black art,
His tone was celestial as strains of Mozart.
“My dear, I can teach you to play.
O Countess! Dear Countess!
The cards you require I shall whisper to you
For merely the price of a brief rendezvous.
The sequence of cards that can save you . . .”
She shuddered, protested, “How dare you suggest? . . .”
But on second thought . . . you’ve by now surely guessed . . .
On leaving his chamber next day, as implied,
The coveted knowledge she’s stored up inside.
“You gamblers, get out of my way!”
She promptly recovered the loot she had lost,
Now Queen of the table – we won’t mention the cost.
For three cards, the three cards, three only!
The sequence in time to her husband was told,
And then to a lover enamored of gold.
But soon came a warning as if from the dead,
A stern apparition that solemnly said,
“O Countess, take warning, beware!
You will die when a passionate stranger appears,
Demanding, beseeching in tears of despair,
You will die holding on to your secret:
Spellbound by the hypnotic eyes that have bored into her soul, Lisa is won over by the sheer intensity of the mysterious stranger’s passion. Surely this is the grand romance that she has always dreamed of, something far greater than anything heretofore offered by the secure but stifling little world that has held her confined and captive. Fearful yet willing to risk everything, she waits for him at midnight by the river bank:
Confident that he holds the winning cards, Ghermann recklessly plows ahead:
Where right and wrong are youthful dreams,
Where trust and candor are for sale
And daily toil a fairy tale.
Today the luck is mine;
Your turn may come tomorrow;
Till then, go beg or borrow.
So lift a glass and pour the wine!
What lies ahead? You die!
No need to whine or shed a tear;
For one and all the goal is clear:
The wise, the gifted and the brave
Return to dust inside the grave.
Manon Lescaut, still in her teens, hungry for life, has her first brief taste of freedom. Released from the iron grip of her stern family, she is bound much against her will for what she envisions as a juvenile prison, guarded by ferocious watch dogs in human shape, with massive walls, locked doors and barred windows, otherwise known as a convent
Although pleasing, how it dazzles me.
Free as a bird, though not for long –
Pleasure and panic seem to collide.
With mixed feelings, I am overcome --
Excitement, fluster and confusion.
Till now I’ve never been away from home.
The whistle blew, the carriage rattled,
Eyes open wide, I soon would see
Tiny towns, giant trees, vast meadows!
A merry crowd packed inside –
Ah, cousin! I was overcome –
My first full day away from home.
Villages I saw whizzing past me …
The countryside that I adore.
So happy, I nearly forgot
The convent I was headed for,
The place of dread that lay ahead.
The amazing new world full of wonder!