Richard Middleton a United States soldier was attending worship services and instead of taking out a Bible, he spread out a complete deck of cards in front of him. When an officer told him to put them away he refused the directive. He was brought before the major because the refusal was considered indecent behavior. When Middleton was asked for an explanation he was told if he could present an acceptable explanation there would be no penalty.
He explained to the major and the court that he had just been on an eight day march. He had little money with which to spend on necessities. A man can barely pay for food, drink, washing, or other necessities or buy a Bible or any prayer book. Middleton took out his cards and proceeded to explain his using the cards during service.
“The Ace reminds me that there is one God. The two and three remind me of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The four represents the four evangelists – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The five remind me of the five wise virgins who were ordered to trim their lamps. There were ten but five were wise and did as they were told and five were foolish.”
“The six represented the time God took in creating the Earth and Heaven. The seven tells me that even the Lord took time for rest. The eight reminds me of the eight righteous people spared from the flood – Noah and his wife and his three sons and their wives. The nine reminds me of the ten lepers that sought healing. Only one returned to thank Jesus. Nine did not but went about telling everyone about what happened. The ten reminds of the Ten Commandments given to Moses.”
“The Queen reminds me of the Queen of Sheba who went to Solomon to seek out his wisdom. The King reminds me of the Great King of heaven and earth. The knave (jack) is the person who brought Middleton before the court.”
“ The number of dots on a deck of cards is 365 the number of days in a year. The 52 cards represent the number of weeks in year. Tricks that can be won in a deck is 13 representing the months of the year.
Finally, this deck of cards is my Bible, my Almanac, and Prayer Book.”
The major ordered his men to entertain Middleton. They were to provide him with money and food. The major declared him a clever fellow.
Photo by Sean MacEntee