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|The Gambler||Fyodor Dostoevsky|
|Page 5 of 7||
"Come what may, I MUST have money," she said. "And get it somehow I will--otherwise I shall be ruined."
I asked her what had happened during my absence.
"Nothing; except that two pieces of news have reached us from St. Petersburg. In the first place, my grandmother is very ill, and unlikely to last another couple of days. We had this from Timothy Petrovitch himself, and he is a reliable person. Every moment we are expecting to receive news of the end."
"All of you are on the tiptoe of expectation? " I queried.
"Of course--all of us, and every minute of the day. For a year-and-a-half now we have been looking for this."
"Looking for it?"
"Yes, looking for it. I am not her blood relation, you know--I am merely the General's step-daughter. Yet I am certain that the old lady has remembered me in her will."
"Yes, I believe that you WILL come in for a good deal," I said with some assurance.
"Yes, for she is fond of me. But how come you to think so?"
I answered this question with another one. "That Marquis of yours," I said, "--is HE also familiar with your family secrets?"
"And why are you yourself so interested in them?" was her retort as she eyed me with dry grimness.
"Never mind. If I am not mistaken, the General has succeeded in borrowing money of the Marquis."
"It may be so."
"Is it likely that the Marquis would have lent the money if he had not known something or other about your grandmother? Did you notice, too, that three times during luncheon, when speaking of her, he called her 'La Baboulenka'? [Dear little Grandmother]. What loving, friendly behaviour, to be sure!"
"Yes, that is true. As soon as ever he learnt that I was likely to inherit something from her he began to pay me his addresses. I thought you ought to know that."
"Then he has only just begun his courting? Why, I thought he had been doing so a long while!"
"You KNOW he has not," retorted Polina angrily. "But where on earth did you pick up this Englishman?" She said this after a pause.
"I KNEW you would ask about him!" Whereupon I told her of my previous encounters with Astley while travelling.
"He is very shy," I said, "and susceptible. Also, he is in love with you.--"
"Yes, he is in love with me," she replied.
"And he is ten times richer than the Frenchman. In fact, what does the Frenchman possess? To me it seems at least doubtful that he possesses anything at all."
"Oh, no, there is no doubt about it. He does possess some chateau or other. Last night the General told me that for certain. NOW are you satisfied? "
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