"Arthur, are you certain you want to try again?" Douglas raises an eyebrow at Arthur, who is practically vibrating with excitement.
"Douglas… Douglas is right, Arthur. There's this thing called Beginner's Luck, where sometimes a person tries something once and does really well. But, see, it's because nobody's expecting him to. And then he gets really excited and tries again, and fails miserably." Martin's face is a shade of red bright enough to rival his hair, and it's patently obvious he's speaking from experience.
"Oh, but that was brilliant! I'd love to play again. Maybe this time we could make real wagers? C'mon, Skip! Tell Douglas to let me play one more round!"
With a groan, Martin relents and starts shuffling the cards while Douglas settles back in his chair, a smug grin spreading catlike across his face. "Just don't say we didn't warn you."
Arthur drops back onto the floor, tucking his legs up under him as Martin starts dealing out the cards.
"Now, Arthur, don't let Douglas railroad you. If you're tired of playing, just let us know. There's no harm in stopping."
"Sure thing, Skip! Now, what will we wager with?"
"How about…" Douglas drawls. "The cheese tray? We can divvy it up evenly to start with. I get the camembert. Sir can start with the emmenthal."
"But I don't want the emmenthal!"
"Honestly, Martin, what does it matter? I'm going to end up with it all in the end anyway."
Arthur unfolds himself off the floor and runs into the galley to fetch the cheese tray, splitting it up between the three men before sitting back down, listening intently as Douglas explains the rules once more.
"All settled in there, Arthur? Alright, we'll play another round of standard five-card draw. We'll each make our cheese-related bets, and then you can swap cards if you need to."
Martin finishes doling out the cards, and gestures to Arthur, sitting at his left.
The steward stares intently at his cards for a moment, concentration furrowing his brow. He looks at his pile of cheeses, and back to his cards several times before pushing a small hunk of cheddar towards the centre of the tray.
Smugly, Douglas offers up a significantly larger chunk of brie – he's not yet ready to part with the camembert, mind you – and places his cards face-down on the arm of the first officer's chair, confident in his hand.
Poor Martin just flushes again, the collar of his uniform already dampening with sweat. Scowling, he shoves a Babybel into the pot.
"A Babybel, Martin? Really? I didn't even know we had those on board."
"Technically, we don't… It was my lunch. I'm saving the good cheeses for later…"
"A part of your lunch, you mean, Skip?"
Martin doesn't have the heart to correct Arthur. Hopefully he'll win something back in the next round.
"Anyone trading?" Martin asks, and Arthur hands him two cards. The captain hands out two new ones, taking three more for himself.
"Alright then," Douglas croons. "What's everyone got then? I have three Kings."
"Oooh, Douglas! Good one!" Arthur starts humming We Three Kings under his breath and hideously off-key, much to everyone's chagrin.
Martin looks down at his hand, feeling ashamed. "Pair of threes?"
"What a shame, Sir." Douglas eyes Martin's sad little Babybel greedily. "And have you got anything, Arthur?"
"Well, I'm not sure. I had three queens and I was trying to get five of them, but I got two tens instead. Kings are lower than Queens, right? So you win?" Arthur squints at his cards.
"Yes, they are indee-" Douglas starts out with a purr before Martin interrupts him.
"Arthur, don't listen to him. First of all, each deck only has four of each card and we're not playing with wildcards, so you couldn't get five of anything. Secondly, what you have here is called a Full House, and it is worth more than what Douglas currently has."
"Oh, brilliant! Thanks, Skip!" Arthur looks proudly at Douglas. "I have…." He pauses for emphasis. "A full house!"
Douglas rolls his eyes, but he smiles fondly at Arthur. "Yes, you do indeed. Thank you for that clarification, Martin."
Arthur pulls the pile of cheese towards him.
"Another round then, fellows?"
Martin glances at his watch.
"I, erm, need to get back to my van shortly, but I think we've got time for one more."
"Oh, fantastic, Skip! You too, Douglas?"
"I suppose I could deign to play with you performing monkeys for one more round."
"Excellent!" Arthur's joy is palpable as he bounces in place. Martin doles out another round of cards. The boys take a moment to study their cards in silence. Arthur's quite clearly counting something off in his head and mouthing the numbers as he does so, but they both take pity on him and pretend not to notice.
"Okay, I think I've got something!"
"Excellent, Arthur. It is, after all, your turn."
"Oh, sorry Douglas!"
Arthur scratches his head pensively for a moment and slides forward the brie he won off Douglas in the last round. Douglas smirks to himself, anticipating that the gooey cheeses will once again all be in his possession. Confidently, he offers up the camembert.
"Oooh, a bold move by first officer Richardson." Martin snarks while cautiously wagering the emmenthal. It's not like he really wanted it in the first place.
"Alright, Arthur, do you need any cards?" Arthur bites his lower lip pensively and holds two cards out to Martin, who swaps them out for him.
"And you, Douglas?"
"Two for me too, thank you Martin."
They all take a moment to rearrange their hands before laying them out on the floor.
"That's two pairs for me, and one pair for Martin…" Douglas trails off, looking at Arthur's hand. He's got a seven and eight of hearts, a nine of clubs, a ten of diamonds, and a jack of spades.
"I know, I was trying to get all cards in a row. You know, like, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven… But they've got different symbols on them so it doesn't count for anything, does it?" he looks dejected.
"Arthur…" Douglas pauses. "Does your mother know you can do this?"
"What you have there is known as a straight. You were looking for a straight flush, but it still counts even if they're not all the same suit."
"Oh, do they? Brilliant! Does that mean I win again?" He pulls all the cheeses towards him, grinning hugely, when the familiar annoyed click of heels echoes through the body of the aeroplane. Martin's barely got time to tuck the deck of cards into his pocket before the cockpit door opens.
"Oh, hello Carolyn. What a pleasant surprise." Douglas murmurs in his most unctuous, ingratiating voice. "And how are you on this lovely afternoon?"
"Douglas, I haven't got time for your nonsense. Martin, what are you doing with my son?"
"We were – uhm – well, we were…" Martin stammers, flushing for the third time in twenty minutes.
Arthur scrabbles briefly and stands up, hands clutching his prize.
"Arthur, honestly. What are you doing with the cheese tray?"
"Oh, mum, I won it! Playing poker with Douglas and Skip!"
"You beat Douglas at a game involving some semblance of wit? Good boy." Carolyn ruffles Arthur's hair fondly. "But where on earth did that wretched Babybel come from? I certainly didn't order any cheese trays with those."
Arthur purses his lips, lost in thought. "You're right, mum, I have no idea where that came from. Martin, would you like it?"
His face a mixture of awkwardness and gratitude, Martin takes the proffered Babybel and tucks it into his pocket.