The Past, Present, and Future in the Game of Changes


The person wishing to try her fortune in this manner (we will suppose her to be a young, fair person, represented by the Eight of Hearts), must well shuffle, and cut with the left hand, the pack of thirty-two cards; after which she must lay aside the topmost and undermost cards, to form the surprise. There will now remain thirty cards, which must be dealt out in three parcels—one to the left, one in the middle, and one to the right.

The left-hand pack represents the Past; the middle, the Present; and the one on the right hand, the Future. She must commence with the “Past,” which we will suppose to contain these ten cards: The King of Clubs, the Ace of Spades, the Knave of Diamonds, the Nine of Diamonds, the Ace of Hearts, the Knave of Hearts, the Queen of Hearts, the King of Spades, the Knave of Clubs, and the King of Hearts.

She would remark that picture-cards predominating was a favorable sign; also that the presence of three Kings proved that powerful persons were interesting themselves in her affairs. The three Knaves, however, warn her to beware of false friends, and the Nine of Diamonds predicts some great annoyance, overcome by some good and amiable person, represented by the Queen of Hearts. The two Aces also give notice of a plot. Taking the cards in the order they lay, the explanation would run thus:

“The King of Clubs—a frank, open-hearted man—Ace of Spades—fond of gayety and pleasure, is disliked by Knave of Diamonds—an unfaithful friend—Nine of Diamonds—who seeks[14] to injure him. The Ace of Hearts—a love-letter—Knave of Hearts—from a gay young bachelor to a fair, amiable woman—Queen of Hearts—causes—King of Spades—a lawyer to endeavor to injure a clever—Knave of Clubs—enterprising young man, who is saved from him by—the King of Hearts—a good and powerful man. Nevertheless, as the Knave of Clubs is placed between two similar cards, he has run great risk of being imprisoned through the machinations of his enemy.”

The second parcel, “the Present,” containing the Ten of Diamonds, the Nine of Spades, the Eight of Spades, the Queen of Diamonds, the Queen of Clubs, the Eight of Hearts, the Seven of Spades, the Ten of Spades, Queen of Spades, the Eight of Diamonds, signifies:

“The Ten of Diamonds—a voyage or journey, at that moment taking place—Nine of Spades—caused by the death or dangerous illness of some one—Eight of Spades—whose state will occasion great grief—Queen of Diamonds—to a fair woman. The Queen of Clubs—An affectionate woman seeks to console—Eight of Hearts—a fair young girl, who is the person making the essay—Seven of Spades—who has secret griefs—Ten of Spades—causing her many tears—Queen of Spades—these are occasioned by the conduct of either a dark woman or a widow, who—Eight of Diamonds—is her rival.”

The third packet of cards, “the Future,” we will suppose to contain the Eight of Clubs, the Ten of Clubs, the Seven of Diamonds, the Ten of Hearts, the Seven of Clubs, the Nine of Hearts, the Ace of Diamonds, the Knave of Spades, the Seven of Hearts, the Nine of Clubs, which would read thus:

“In the first place, the large number of small cards foretells success in enterprises, although the presence of three sevens predicts an illness. The Eight of Clubs—a dark young girl—Ten of Clubs—is about to inherit a large fortune—Seven of Diamonds—but her satirical disposition will destroy—Ten of Hearts—all her happiness. Seven of Clubs—A little money and—Nine of Hearts—much joy—Ace of Hearts—will be announced to the person making the essay by a letter, and—Knave of Spades—a wild young man—Seven of Hearts—will be overjoyed at receiving—Nine of Clubs—some unexpected tidings. The cards of surprise—viz., the King of Diamonds and the Ace of Clubs—predict that a letter will be received from some military man, and that it will contain money.”

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