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The Gambler Fyodor Dostoevsky

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"My good Madame--"

"Stake, stake! It is not YOUR money."

Accordingly I staked two ten-gulden pieces. The ball went hopping round the wheel until it began to settle through the notches. Meanwhile the Grandmother sat as though petrified, with my hand convulsively clutched in hers.

"Zero!" called the croupier.

"There! You see, you see!" cried the old lady, as she turned and faced me, wreathed in smiles. "I told you so! It was the Lord God himself who suggested to me to stake those two coins. Now, how much ought I to receive? Why do they not pay it out to me? Potapitch! Martha! Where are they? What has become of our party? Potapitch, Potapitch!"

"Presently, Madame," I whispered. "Potapitch is outside, and they would decline to admit him to these rooms. See! You are being paid out your money. Pray take it." The croupiers were making up a heavy packet of coins, sealed in blue paper, and containing fifty ten gulden pieces, together with an unsealed packet containing another twenty. I handed the whole to the old lady in a money-shovel.

"Faites le jeu, messieurs! Faites le jeu, messieurs! Rien ne va plus," proclaimed the croupier as once more he invited the company to stake, and prepared to turn the wheel.

"We shall be too late! He is going to spin again! Stake, stake!" The Grandmother was in a perfect fever. "Do not hang back! Be quick!" She seemed almost beside herself, and nudged me as hard as she could.

"Upon what shall I stake, Madame?"

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"Upon zero, upon zero! Again upon zero! Stake as much as ever you can. How much have we got? Seventy ten-gulden pieces? We shall not miss them, so stake twenty pieces at a time."

"Think a moment, Madame. Sometimes zero does not turn up for two hundred rounds in succession. I assure you that you may lose all your capital."

"You are wrong--utterly wrong. Stake, I tell you! What a chattering tongue you have! I know perfectly well what I am doing." The old lady was shaking with excitement.

"But the rules do not allow of more than 120 gulden being staked upon zero at a time."

"How 'do not allow'? Surely you are wrong? Monsieur, monsieur--" here she nudged the croupier who was sitting on her left, and preparing to spin-- "combien zero? Douze? Douze?"

I hastened to translate.

"Oui, Madame," was the croupier's polite reply. "No single stake must exceed four thousand florins. That is the regulation."

"Then there is nothing else for it. We must risk in gulden."

"Le jeu est fait!" the croupier called. The wheel revolved, and stopped at thirty. We had lost!

"Again, again, again! Stake again!" shouted the old lady. Without attempting to oppose her further, but merely shrugging my shoulders, I placed twelve more ten-gulden pieces upon the table. The wheel whirled around and around, with the Grandmother simply quaking as she watched its revolutions.

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The Gambler
Fyodor Dostoevsky

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