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it was YOUR fault before--all your fault!" I felt greatly put out as I watched her play, but I decided to hold my tongue, and to give her no more advice. Suddenly De Griers appeared on the scene. It seemed that all this while he and his companions had been standing beside us-- though I noticed that Mlle. Blanche had withdrawn a little from the rest, and was engaged in flirting with the Prince. Clearly the General was greatly put out at this. Indeed, he was in a perfect agony of vexation. But Mlle. was careful never to look his way, though he did his best to attract her notice. Poor General! By turns his face blanched and reddened, and he was trembling to such an extent that he could scarcely follow the old ladys play. At length Mlle. and the Prince took their departure, and the General followed them. "Madame, Madame," sounded the honeyed accents of De Griers as he leant over to whisper in the Grandmothers ear. "That stake will never win. No, no, it is impossible," he added in Russian with a writhe. "No, no!" "But why not?" asked the Grandmother, turning round. "Show me what I ought to do." Instantly De Griers burst into a babble of French as he advised, jumped about, declared that such and such chances ought to be waited for, and started to make calculations of figures. All this he addressed to me in my capacity as translator--tapping the table the while with his finger, and pointing hither and thither. At length he seized a pencil, and began to reckon sums on paper until he had exhausted the Grandmothers patience. "Away with you!" she interrupted. "You talk sheer nonsense, for, though you keep on saying Madame, Madame, you havent the least notion what ought to be done. Away with you, I say!" "Mais, Madame," cooed De Griers--and straightway started afresh with his fussy instructions. "Stake just ONCE, as he advises," the Grandmother said to me, "and then we shall see what we shall see. Of course, his stake MIGHT win." As a matter of fact, De Griers one object was to distract the old lady from staking large sums; wherefore, he now suggested to her that she should stake upon certain numbers, singly and in groups. Consequently, in accordance with his instructions, I staked a ten-gulden piece upon several odd numbers in the first twenty, and five ten-gulden pieces upon certain groups of numbers-groups of from twelve to eighteen, and from eighteen to twenty-four. The total staked amounted to 160 gulden. The wheel revolved. "Zero!" cried the croupier. We had lost it all! "The fool!" cried the old lady as she turned upon De Griers. "You infernal Frenchman, to think that you should advise! Away with you! Though you fuss and fuss, you dont even know what youre talking about." Deeply offended, De Griers shrugged his shoulders, favoured the Grandmother with a look of contempt, and departed. For some time past he had been feeling ashamed of being seen in such company, and this had proved the last straw. An hour later we had lost everything in hand. "Home!" cried the Grandmother. Not until we had turned into the Avenue did she utter a word; but from that point onwards, until we arrived at the hotel, she kept venting exclamations of "What a fool I am! What a silly old fool I am, to be sure!" Arrived at the hotel, she called for tea, and then gave orders for her luggage to be packed. "We are off again," she announced. "But whither, Madame?" inquired Martha. "What business is that of YOURS? Let the cricket stick to its hearth. [The Russian form of "Mind your own business."] Potapitch, have everything packed, for we are returning to Moscow at once. I have fooled away fifteen thousand roubles." "Fifteen thousand roubles, good mistress? My God!" And Potapitch spat upon his hands--probably to show that he was ready to serve her in any way he could. "Now then, you fool! At once you begin with your weeping and wailing! Be quiet, and pack. Also, run downstairs, and get my hotel bill." "The next train leaves at 9:30, Madame," I interposed, with a view to checking her agitation. "And what is the time now?" "Half-past eight." "How vexing! But, never mind. Alexis Ivanovitch, I

The Gambler page 48        The Gambler page 50


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