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|The Gambler||Fyodor Dostoevsky|
|Page 1 of 8||
I remember, too, how, without moving from her place, or changing her attitude, she gazed into my face.
"I have won two hundred thousand francs!" cried I as I pulled out my last sheaf of bank-notes. The pile of paper currency occupied the whole table. I could not withdraw my eyes from it. Consequently, for a moment or two Polina escaped my mind. Then I set myself to arrange the pile in order, and to sort the notes, and to mass the gold in a separate heap. That done, I left everything where it lay, and proceeded to pace the room with rapid strides as I lost myself in thought. Then I darted to the table once more, and began to recount the money; until all of a sudden, as though I had remembered something, I rushed to the door, and closed and double-locked it. Finally I came to a meditative halt before my little trunk.
"Shall I put the money there until tomorrow?" I asked, turning sharply round to Polina as the recollection of her returned to me.
She was still in her old place--still making not a sound. Yet her eyes had followed every one of my movements. Somehow in her face there was a strange expression--an expression which I did not like. I think that I shall not be wrong if I say that it indicated sheer hatred.
Impulsively I approached her.
"Polina," I said, "here are twenty-five thousand florins--fifty thousand francs, or more. Take them, and tomorrow throw them in De Griers' face."
She returned no answer.
"Or, if you should prefer," I continued, "let me take them to him myself tomorrow--yes, early tomorrow morning. Shall I?"
Then all at once she burst out laughing, and laughed for a long while. With astonishment and a feeling of offence I gazed at her. Her laughter was too like the derisive merriment which she had so often indulged in of late--merriment which had broken forth always at the time of my most passionate explanations. At length she ceased, and frowned at me from under her eyebrows.
"I am NOT going to take your money," she said contemptuously.
"Why not?" I cried. "Why not, Polina?"
"Because I am not in the habit of receiving money for nothing."
"But I am offering it to you as a FRIEND in the same way I would offer you my very life."
Upon this she threw me a long, questioning glance, as though she were seeking to probe me to the depths.
"You are giving too much for me," she remarked with a smile. "The beloved of De Griers is not worth fifty thousand francs."
"Oh Polina, how can you speak so?" I exclaimed reproachfully. "Am I De Griers?"
"You?" she cried with her eyes suddenly flashing. "Why, I HATE you! Yes, yes, I HATE you! I love you no more than I do De Griers."
Then she buried her face in her hands, and relapsed into hysterics. I darted to her side. Somehow I had an intuition of something having happened to her which had nothing to do with myself. She was like a person temporarily insane.
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