He added: “There’s only one hell; and it’s hell, perhaps, because there are no women there.”
Berkley, hollow-eyed, ghastly white, but smiling, glanced at the clock.
“Only one more hand after this,” he said. “I open it for the limit.”
“All in,” said Cortlandt briefly. “What are you going to do now?”
“Scindere glaciem,” observed Berkley, “you may give me three cards, Cortlandt.” He took them, scanned his hand, tossed the discards into the centre of the table, and bet ten dollars. Through the tobacco smoke drifting in level bands, the crystal chandeliers in Cortlandt’s house glimmered murkily; the cigar haze even stretched away into the farther room, where, under brilliantly lighted side brackets, a young girl sat playing at the piano, a glass of champagne, gone flat, at her dimpled elbow. Another girl, in a shrimp-pink evening gown, one silken knee drooping over the other, lay half buried among the cushions, singing the air which the player at the piano picked out by ear. A third girl, velvet-eyed and dark of hair, listened pensively, turning the gems on her fingers.
The pretty musician at the piano was playing an old song, once much admired by the sentimental; the singer, reclining amid her cushions, sang the words, absently:
“Why did I give my heart away—
Give it so lightly, give it to pay
For a pleasant dream on a summer’s day?
“Why did I give? I do not
Surely the passing years will show.
“Why did I give my love away—
Give it in April, give it in May,
For a young man’s smile on a summer’s day?
“Why did I love? I do not
Perhaps the passing years will show.
“Why did I give my soul away—
Give it so gaily, give it to pay
For a sigh and a kiss on a summer’s day?
“Perhaps the passing years may show;
My heart and I, we do not know.”
She broke off short, swung on the revolving chair, and called: “Mr. Berkley, are you going to see me home?”
“Last jack, Miss Carew,” said Berkley, “I’m opening it for the limit. Give me one round of fixed ammunition, Arthur.”
“There’s no use drawing,” observed another man, laying down his hand, “Berkley cleans us up as usual.”
He was right; everything went to Berkley, as usual, who laughed and turned a dissipated face to Casson.
“Cold decks?” he suggested politely. “Your revenge at your convenience, Jack.”
Casson declined. Cortlandt, in his brilliant zouave uniform, stood up and stretched his arms until the scarlet chevrons on the blue sleeves wrinkled into jagged lightning.
“It’s been very kind of you all to come to my last ’good-bye party,’” he yawned, looking sleepily around him through the smoke at his belongings.