A Losing Game, by Lord Dunsany
Once in a tavern Man met face to skull with Death. Man entered
gaily but Death gave no greeting, he sat with his jowl morosely over
an ominous wine.
"Come, come," said Man, "we have been antagonists long, and if I
were losing yet I should not be surly."
But Death remained unfriendly watching his bowl of wine and gave
no word in answer.
Then Man solicitously moved nearer to him and, speaking cheerily
still, "Come, come," he said again, "you must not resent defeat."
And still Death was gloomy and cross and sipped at his infamous
wine and would not look up at Man and would not be companionable.
But Man hated gloom either in beast or god, and it made him
unhappy to see his adversary's discomfort, all the more because he
was the cause, and still he tried to cheer him.
"Have you not slain the Dinatherium?" he said. "Have you not put out
the Moon? Why! you will beat me yet."
And with a dry and barking sound Death wept and nothing said; and
presently Man arose and went wondering away; for he knew not if
Death wept out of pity for his opponent, or because he knew that he
should not have such sport again when the old game was over and
Man was gone, or whether because perhaps, for some hidden reason,
he could never repeat on Earth his triumph over the Moon.