A Terribly Strange Bed part 3
I left everything to luck, and staked without any care or consideration, I was
sure to win—to win in the face of every recognized probability in favor of the
bank. At first some of the men present ventured their money safely enough on my
color; but I speedily increased my stakes to sums which they dared not risk.
One after another they left off playing, and breathlessly looked on at my game.
time after time, I staked higher and higher, and still won. The excitement in
the room rose to fever pitch. The silence was interrupted by a deep-muttered
chorus of oaths and exclamations in different languages, every time the gold
was shoveled across to my side of the table—even the imperturbable croupier
dashed his rake on the floor in a (French) fury of astonishment at my success.
But one man present preserved his self-possession, and that man was my friend.
He came to my side, and whispering in English, begged me to leave the place,
satisfied with what I had already gained. I must do him the justice to say that
he repeated his warnings and entreaties several times, and only left me and
went away, after I had rejected his advice (I was to all intents and purposes
gambling drunk) in terms which rendered it impossible for him to address me
again that night.
after he had gone, a hoarse voice behind me cried, “Permit me, my dear
sir—permit me to restore to their proper place, two napoleons which you have
dropped. Wonderful luck, sir! I pledge you my word of honor, as an old soldier,
in the course of my long experience in this sort of thing, I never saw such
luck as yours—never! Go on, sir —Sacre mille bombes! Go on boldly, and break
turned round and saw, nodding and smiling at me with inveterate civility, a
tall man, dressed in a frogged and braided surtout.
I had been in my senses, I should have considered him, personally, as being
rather a’suspicious specimen of an old soldier. He had goggling, bloodshot
eyes, mangy mustaches, and a broken nose. His voice betrayed a barrack-room
intonation of the worst order, and he had the dirtiest pair of hands I ever
saw—even in France.
little personal peculiarities exercised, however, no repelling influence on me.
In the mad excitement, the reckless triumph of that moment, I was ready to “fraternize”
with anybody who encouraged me in my game. I accepted the old soldier’s offered
pinch of snuff; clapped him on the back, and swore he was the honesties fellow
in the world—the most glorious relic of the Grand Army that I had ever met
with. “Go on! ” cried my military friend, snapping his fingers in ecstasy—“Go
on, and win! Break the bank—Mille tonnerres! my gallant English comrade, break