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Mademoiselle of Monte Carlo   By: (1864-1927)

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By William Le Queux





"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.

Into that stifling atmosphere for the Administration of the Bains de Mer of Monaco seem as afraid of fresh air as of purity propaganda the glorious afternoon sunlight struggled through the curtained windows, while over each table, in addition to the electric light, oil lamps shaded green with a billiard table effect cast a dull, ghastly illumination upon the eager countenances of the players. Most of those who go to Monte Carlo wonder at the antiquated mode of illumination. It is, however, in consequence of an attempted raid upon the tables one night, when some adventurers cut the electric light main, and in the darkness grabbed all they could get from the bank.

The two English visitors, both men of refinement and culture, who had watched the tall, very handsome woman in black, to whom the older man had referred as Mademoiselle of Monte Carlo, wandered through the trente et quarante rooms where all was silence, and counters, representing gold, were being staked with a twelve thousand franc maximum.

Those rooms beyond are the haunt of the professional gambler, the man or woman who has been seized by the demon of speculation, just as others have been seized by that of drugs or drink. Curiously enough women are more prone to gamble than men, and the Administration of the Etablissement will tell you that when a woman of any nationality starts to gamble she will become reckless until her last throw with the devil... Continue reading book >>

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