“Yes! I’m not mistaken at all! It’s the same woman!” whispered the tall, good-looking young Englishman in a well-cut navy suit as he stood with his friend, a man some ten years older than himself, at one of the roulette tables at Monte Carlo, the first on the right on entering the room—that one known to habitual gamblers as “The Suicide’s Table.”
“Are you quite certain?” asked his friend.
“Positive. I should know her again anywhere.”
“She’s very handsome. And look, too, by Jove!—how she is winning!”
“Yes. But let’s get away. She might recognize me,” exclaimed the younger man anxiously. “Ah! If I could only induce her to disclose what she knows about my poor father’s mysterious end then we might clear up the mystery.”
“I’m afraid, if all we hear is true about her, Mademoiselle of Monte Carlo will never do that,” was the other’s reply as they moved away together down the long saloon towards the trente-et-quarante room.
“Messieurs! Faites vos jeux,” the croupiers were crying in their strident, monotonous voices, inviting players to stake their counters of cent-sous, their louis, or their hundred or five hundred franc notes upon the spin of the red and black wheel. It was the month of March, the height of the Riviera season, the fetes of Mi-Careme were in full swing. That afternoon the rooms were overcrowded, and the tense atmosphere of gambling was laden with the combined odours of perspiration and perfume.
Around each table were crowds four or five deep behind those fortunate enough to obtain seats, all eager and anxious to try their fortune upon the rouge or noir, or upon one of the thirty-six numbers, the columns, or the transversales. There was but little chatter. The hundreds of well-dressed idlers escaping the winter were too intent upon the game. But above the click of the plaques, blue and red of different sizes, as they were raked into the bank by the croupiers, and the clatter of counters as the lucky players were paid with deft hands, there rose ever and anon:
“Messieurs! Faites vos jeux!”
Here English duchesses rubbed shoulders with the most notorious women in Europe, and men who at home in England were good churchmen and exemplary fathers of families, laughed merrily with the most gorgeously attired cocottes from Paris, or the stars of the film world or the variety stage. Upon that wide polished floor of the splendidly decorated Rooms, with their beautiful mural paintings and heavy gilt ornamentation, the world and the half-world were upon equal footing.