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|The Gambler||Fyodor Dostoevsky|
|Page 6 of 10||
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 don't even know what you're 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?"
"How vexing! But, never mind. Alexis Ivanovitch, I have not a kopeck left; I have but these two bank notes. Please run to the office and get them changed. Otherwise I shall have nothing to travel with."
Departing on her errand, I returned half an hour later to find the whole party gathered in her rooms. It appeared that the news of her impending departure for Moscow had thrown the conspirators into consternation even greater than her losses had done. For, said they, even if her departure should save her fortune, what will become of the General later? And who is to repay De Griers? Clearly Mlle. Blanche would never consent to wait until the Grandmother was dead, but would at once elope with the Prince or someone else. So they had all gathered together--endeavouring to calm and dissuade the Grandmother. Only Polina was absent. For her pad the Grandmother had nothing for the party but abuse.
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