Not to be downed so easily, DeMille watched the play from behind Monty’s chair and cautioned his friend at the first opportunity.
“Better cash in and change your seat, Monty. They’re robbing you,” he whispered.
“Cash in when I’m away ahead of the game? Never!” and Monty did his best to assume a joyful tone.
At first he played with no effort at system, piling his money flat on the numbers which seemed to have least chance of winning. But he simply could not lose. Then he tried to reverse different systems he had heard of, but they turned out to be winners. Finally in desperation he began doubling on one color in the hope that he would surely lose in the end, but his particular fate was against him. With his entire stake on the red the ball continued to fall into the red holes until the croupier announced that the bank was broken.
Dan DeMille gathered in the money and counted forty thousand dollars before he handed it to Monty. His friends were overjoyed when he left the table, and wondered why he looked so downhearted. Inwardly he berated himself for not taking Peggy’s advice.
“I’m so glad for your sake that you did not stop when I asked you, Monty, but your luck does not change my belief that gambling is next to stealing,” Peggy was constrained to say as they went to supper.
“I wish I had taken your advice,” he said gloomily.
“And missed the fortune you have won? How foolish of you, Monty! You were a loser by several thousand dollars then,” she objected with whimsical inconsistency.
“But, Peggy,” he said quietly, looking deep into her eyes, “it would have won me your respect.”
Monty’s situation was desperate. Only a little more than six thousand dollars had been spent on the carnival and no opportunity of annihilating the roulette winnings seemed to offer itself. His experience at Monte Carlo did not encourage him to try again, and Peggy’s attitude toward the place was distinctly antagonistic. The Riviera presenting no new opportunities for extravagance, it became necessary to seek other worlds.
“I never before understood the real meaning of the phrase ’tight money,’” thought Monty. “Lord, if it would only loosen a bit and stay loosened.” Something must be done, he realized, to earn his living. Perhaps the role of the princely profligate would be easier in Italy than anywhere else. He studied the outlook from every point of view, but there were moments when it seemed hopeless. Baedeker was provokingly barren of suggestions for extravagance and Monty grew impatient of the book’s small economies. Noticing some chapters on the Italian lakes, in an inspired moment he remembered that Pettingill had once lost his heart to a villa on the Lake of Como. Instantly a new act of comedy presented itself to him. He sought out Pettingill and demanded a description of his castle in the air.