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|The Gambler||Fyodor Dostoevsky|
|Page 5 of 8||
"Yes; for last night she was to have accompanied me to the house of a relative of mine. Unfortunately, being ill, she made a mistake, and went to your rooms instead."
"Indeed? Then I wish you joy, Mr. Astley. Apropos, you have reminded me of something. Were you beneath my window last night? Every moment Mlle. Polina kept telling me to open the window and see if you were there; after which she always smiled."
"Indeed? No, I was not there; but I was waiting in the corridor, and walking about the hotel."
"She ought to see a doctor, you know, Mr. Astley."
"Yes, she ought. I have sent for one, and, if she dies, I shall hold you responsible."
This surprised me.
"Pardon me," I replied, "but what do you mean?"
"Never mind. Tell me if it is true that, last night, you won two hundred thousand thalers?"
"No; I won a hundred thousand florins."
"Good heavens! Then I suppose you will be off to Paris this morning?
"Because all Russians who have grown rich go to Paris," explained Astley, as though he had read the fact in a book.
"But what could I do in Paris in summer time?--I LOVE her, Mr. Astley! Surely you know that?"
"Indeed? I am sure that you do NOT. Moreover, if you were to stay here, you would lose everything that you possess, and have nothing left with which to pay your expenses in Paris. Well, good-bye now. I feel sure that today will see you gone from here."
"Good-bye. But I am NOT going to Paris. Likewise--pardon me--what is to become of this family? I mean that the affair of the General and Mlle. Polina will soon be all over the town."
"I daresay; yet, I hardly suppose that that will break the General's heart. Moreover, Mlle. Polina has a perfect right to live where she chooses. In short, we may say that, as a family, this family has ceased to exist."
I departed, and found myself smiling at the Englishman's strange assurance that I should soon be leaving for Paris. "I suppose he means to shoot me in a duel, should Polina die. Yes, that is what he intends to do." Now, although I was honestly sorry for Polina, it is a fact that, from the moment when, the previous night, I had approached the gaming-table, and begun to rake in the packets of bank-notes, my love for her had entered upon a new plane. Yes, I can say that now; although, at the time, I was barely conscious of it. Was I, then, at heart a gambler? Did I, after all, love Polina not so very much? No, no! As God is my witness, I loved her! Even when I was returning home from Mr. Astley's my suffering was genuine, and my self-reproach sincere. But presently I was to go through an exceedingly strange and ugly experience.
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