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glance of the fairy. It would make a pretty picture, he thought, not take long to paint, and serve as a relief from the severer toils of escorting Psyche Returning from the Infernal Regions,' or soothing the 'Anxieties of Ulysses in the Island of Calypso.'
It made something more and better than the merely pretty picture he reckoned on. Her wicked little countenance has more virtue in it than the austerities of a score of his 'Holy Men;' is immeasurably lovelier than his secondhand Psyche, worth a wilderness of Judases. A bright, sunny, saucy face-cheerful itself, and making cheerful all who look on it. cent, she is yet sportive, and, like another Eve, enjoying the mischief the more because forbidden, loving the pleasure the more for its being a stolen one.
It is easy to see how it was that the painter has made so much of so ordinary an incident, and with such simple materials. He enjoyed the adventure, and he painted it with enjoyment. It was exactly suited to his tastes, and well within the limits of his powers. Every man's best pictures are those which are accordant with his innate sentiments and feelings. It is useless toiling and straining to produce something great. Invention is a wayward goddess, and seldom comes when bidden. Imagination is not to be urged. They visit only where there has been fitting preparation made for their entertainment, and they are assured of a congenial host. But they do not confine their calls to great occasions. Where there is no pretension they will drop in and assist at the humblest junket. Luckily for himself and for us, Uwins was content to take the circumstance as he saw it, and not try to elevate or idealize
it. It was, so to say, a momentary accident, and he knew how to avail himself of it. This is how the happiest pictures of children have been generally if not universally painted. You can't place children as models; you must take attitude and expression from them. All Reynolds's most successful portraits of childrenand who else ever painted such exquisite ones?-were caught from the inspiration of the moment, the suggestion of a sudden movement, -some position or incident of the child's own. So in Fiammingo's matchless ivory carvings-very sweetly followed by Stothard, but lacking the original life and frolicthe inimitable gambolings of the children could only have been rendered from momentary glimpses of children actually at play.
And Uwins has treated the picture quite through in the spirit of the original idea. Lips and eyes and fingers all speak of glee suddenly checked, and resolutely kept down, but ready to break forth at the slightest encouragement. The child is full of health and overflowing with life. The pure clear skin, and bright eyes, and healthy hue, all tell the same tale. The countenance is shining in the full light of the sun, and shining with that pleasantest inner light, the sunshine of the heart.
The technical qualities of the work correspond well with the aesthetic. It is carefully painted, but there is no appearance of labour. Uwins had not the light facile touch of Reynolds, nor his marvellous sweetness and melody of colour. But the picture is daintily and tenderly handled, with something of an impromptu kind of treatment. The colour is clear and gay and festal. The whole bright, blooming, cheerful, redolent of life and suggestive of happiness.
IN THREE CHAPTERS.
CHAPTER I. 'ROUGE GAGNE.'
chants the bald-headed croupier at the Trente-et-Quarante table, mechanically moistening his dexter thumb.
'Messieurs, faites le jeu!' he repeats, as rouleaux, and bank-notes, and loose pieces of gold and silver are tossed or punted on to the 'rouge' or the noire,' or staked upon the 'colour,' or against it.
Le jeu est fait, messieurs? Rien ne va plus!'
The quick, lissome fingers deal the flimsy little cards on which so much is to depend; the low, monotonous voice counts the points as they fall.
'Dix-sept-vingt-vingt-cinq— trente-et dix!'-That is the result for the noire.'
'Onze vingt — vingt-neuf —et trois-trente-deux, messieurs. Ah! -rouge gagne et couleur perd!'
The nimble rakes gather in their harvest from one side the table--it rains gold and silver, and banknotes, and rouleaux on that division of the green cloth which is centred with a crimson diamond. The coup has been won and lost. The cards that have decided it are tossed into the ebony bowl in front of the dealer, and the game is made again. It is a still, sultry July night. The Lindenbad season is at its zenith, and the Salle de Jeux is crowded. They have flung wide open the long windows which give upon the asphalted terrace and the gardens, and through them the outer air comes, gratefully; bringing faint odours of the flowers with it. But the atmosphere within -heavy and close even in that lofty room-is but slightly relieved thereby. At the Trente-et-Quarante table yonder, where players and watchers of the game, representatives of well-nigh every European nationality, stand in ranks a dozen deep, the heat is something fearful. The inner ring-the people sit
ting in the chairs in front-are halfstifled by the pressure of the mass behind. The very croupiers, casehardened veterans as they are, sigh and gasp wearily; and wiping unwonted moisture from their foreheads, look round longingly between each deal for their welcome relief. But the play goes on, fast and furious, notwithstanding. It is higher than usual to-night. Half a score of 'gros joueurs,' who play the highest stakes the bank allows, have been 'forcing the pace' for the last two hours, and it has begun to tell even on them. You can distinguish them easily among the crowd of smaller players by-for the most part, at least-that perfect impassibility of countenance which, win or lose, never forsakes them, and which only a long apprenticeship in Pandemonium can give them. Round about them men's faces flush and pale with the alternating chances of the game; white lips writhe in the gambler's malison, or strive to hide the inward agony by a stony smile. Women's features blanch and sharpen, after a ghastly fashion, under their paint and 'Blanc de Perles,' as the little pile of notes they have pledged their diamonds or their honour to obtain is risked and lost; or women's eyes gleam with a light that is not good to see, as white rounded arms and daintily-gloved hands are stretched forth to grasp the heap of double-friedrichs pushed towards them by the blandly-smiling croupier.
But the old hands-men and women-will break the bank and make no sign-lose their last rouleau, and never betray it by the quiver of an eyelid. Some of them are in a fair way to that latter consummation just now. There has been such a run of luck in favour of the bank as has been seldom witnessed in Lindenbad before. That
tall ungainly figure at the end of the table, with disordered hair, and tumbled linen, and careless travelling dress, gnawing his unkempt moustache, and muttering strange Anglo-Saxon oaths as a running accompaniment to his reckless play, has just dropped' the winnings of his last month at Homburg, and a small fortune besides, over the wrong colour. The croupier who makes the game looks towards him inquiringly before he deals againthe mad M.P.' is as well known in the Bads as in the 'House' at home -but the other shakes his head, and with a fierce anathema- which is actually so fierce as to make one or two people look up stalks gloomily off, and will be seen no more till to-morrow. That blackhaired, livid-faced man, with the flashing eyes, who looks like Mephistopheles, and is a well-known Spaniard, whom people point out to one another as the bank-breaker,' will come back to-morrow too, without those many diamond rings you see on his yellow fingers to-night, and try and recoup his losses once more. That big, bluff neighbour of his, who looks more like a Yorkshire yeoman than the bran-new Belgian baron he claims to be, has been backing the 'noire' steadily, and losing as steadily, every time. He crumples up the last half-dozen billets-de-banque in his note-case together, and tosses them on to the unlucky colour with his wonted placid smile. Half the table follows his example. The chances are, the men with martingales think, a hundred to one on the 'noire' this time. But the cards fall unkindly. "Trentesix-trente-deux.' And again the red wins, and the bank reaps its harvest. There is yet another loser by that last coup, whom you must notice; for it is with her that this story is concerned. She is sitting beside that venerable-looking individual with the long white moustache, who, from his raised chair over against the officiating croupier, watches the players and the game, and pours the oil of his soothing tones on any troubled waters that may rise up round about him. You can see her face well from this side
the table; for her chin is resting on her gloved hand, and she is watching the result of the next round before she stakes again. A fair face, delicate and soft and purelooking as tinted alabaster, halfframed in the silken masses of palegolden hair which escape disordered from under her hat. Those large, blue, infantine eyes of hers give it a charmingly childish look-as naïf and innocent an air as though Madame la Comtesse de Vorazof were not, among other things, the most thorough-paced, unscrupulous, inveterate little gambler to be found at any fashionable 'hell' in Europe. That look and air consort perfectly with the frail-seeming, mignonne form you will see presently when she leaves the table, and which you would never dream could withstand the constant wear and tear of the keen excitement which day by day she finds more necessary. This fatal fondness for high play grows on one, you know; and the Vorazof isn't one to deny herself the gratification even of a caprice, no matter who or what has to pay its cost. She has indulged her passion for the gros jeu more freely than ever of late, though the cards have gone heavily against her; for she is of the number of those who hold that the pleasure next to that of winning is that of losing. She has, at any rate, experienced the latter amply. It is just as well, I fancy, that re cher Féodor, as she calls the amiable barbarian, her husband, managed to come to grief about this time in one of his morning rides in the forest. His horse let him down rather heavily, and crushed his leg in the fall; so that Monsieur le Comte was a close prisoner on his sofa, and, except at stated hours, when ce gros ours chose to have her in his den to listen to his growls or to read him to sleep, the Vorazof was pretty well mistress of her time. Moreover, Monsieur was in blissful ignorance of the unpleasant amount of Madame's losses on the green cloth, and the straits to which those losses had reduced her. No one knew that, except Mademoiselle Fanchette, the Vorazof's camériste, who missed the opal necklace from its
écrin one night, and the discreet German Jew banker, who consented to advance the twenty thousand francs or so madame temporarily required on its ample security. But the camériste had the virtues, if she had the vices of her order, and was true as steel to her mistress here, as she had been on a dozen other occasions; and Herr Dornberg was only too happy to be of service to Madame la Comtesse, and locked up the transaction in his bosom, with others of a similar character, as closely as he locked up the jewels in his strong box. On the whole, the Vorazof had felt pretty safe. A run of luck might make all right again, and enable her to get back her opals before ce monstre (it was her playful way to call her husband by some petit-nom of this kind) should ask her why she never wore them. And by-and-by the run of luck had come. She won every coup for a while. She felt as if she were going to break the bank. Six times the sum she wanted for Herr Dornberg was stuffed into her notecase one night when she left the table on the play closing. She would get back her necklace next day, was her thought as she fell asleep. Unfortunately, that wise resolution was never carried into practice. The next day and the next, and the day after, found Madame still at her fascinating little game, fighting desperately against changed luck and mocking fortune, winning now and then, but losing nearly every big coup; till we see her, to-night, gathering herself together for one more effort, nerved to something like desperation by the recollection of certain ominous expressions ce cher Féodor made use of in a little téte-à-tête conjugal she had to endure this morning. Vorazof's temper, bad at its best, had been unusually disagreeable. His hurt, which tortured him horribly at times, might have been the cause; and his wife, as she smoothed his pillows and lavished all sorts of caresses and chatteries upon the invalid, fondly hoped it was. But she had a good many sins to answer for besides those little peccadilloes of the gaming-table, and as she
thought of them she trembled. Like all who belonged to Monsieur le Comte, she had good cause to dread his anger-always fierce and brutal as a wild beast's; and he had been more than angry, he had been furious. What was worst of all, his wife fancied she could detect signs of newly-awakened jealousy and suspicion in his fury, which very much alarmed her. Whether he had ground for either the Vorazof doubtless knew best; but when he mentioned the name of her last caprice, Vladimir de Laginski, she had found it, notwithstanding all her practice, difficult to school her voice and her face to the proper expression of wondering indifference. Then, too, the questions she had been dreading of late-the questions about the opal necklace, his gift-had been asked at last. She had laughed her silvery little laugh, called the by no means reassured Féodor half-adozen playfully-opprobrious names, and summoned Mademoiselle Fanchette. Who declared that she had taken the necklace herself for some trifling repair to Dotezio's, without troubling Madame in the matter. It would be finished, Mademoiselle Fanchette thought, in a day or two: sooner, of course, if Madame la Comtesse should wish to wear it.
'In that case, chère amie,' Vorazof had said, when the pearl of caméristes had retired-in that case, you had better wear it at the De Rohan's ball, to-morrow night. Tu me comprends-n'est ce pas ?' he added, with a malevolent grin. His wife shuddered inwardly. She had been warned, and she knew it. To disobey would be impossible after that. So she promised, in as careless a tone as she could command; and, by-and-by, left ce pauvre Féodor to smoke himself to sleep with ciga rettes au thé, or find amusement and excitement in one of the pile of yellow-covered, strong-flavoured novels at his elbow.
"Vite! Fanchette-ce chapeau, ce voile!' the Vorazof said, in an altered, sharpened voice, as she came swiftly into her room two minutes later. Mdlle. Fanchette handed her mistress the disguise-for disguise to all intents and purposes it was
she wanted, and the Comtesse went away straight to Herr Dornberg's. Whatever might be the cost, she must have that opal necklace to wear to-morrow night at the De Rohan's ball. The money she had with her would at least purchase her that much. Dornberg might take it again afterwards. He could scarcely refuse her this little arrangement, she thought, especially as she was prepared to pay for it. And even if he did refuse, one lucky coup might enable her to make the opals her own again before she needed them next day.
Herr Dornberg's polite commis received her as she entered the gloomy little bureau-de-change. He feared
the Herr was absent from Lindenbad at the moment - would Madame take the trouble to sit down while he went to inquire? Madame did take that trouble, from absolute necessity; for her limbs trembled at this unlooked-for intelligence. Dornberg away!-What was she to do? for it was impossible to confide a delicate negotiation like the present to a third party. She shuddered as she thought of ce cher Féodor's hints just now; at the notion that her little affair had been confided to a third party already. Was this a trap-this order to show herself in that fatal necklace--which the monster had laid for her? And if it was, how much did he know? -what would he do?
The Vorazof shuddered again as she thought of all he might do. She went in personal fear of that liege lord of hers, and hated him desperately in her heart: but she loved his wealth, and the place and rank and means of bien-être and enjoyment he gave her as his wife, too well not to feel, at this moment at all events, that it would be horrible to lose all this. Besides, she was beginning to grow tired even of Vladimir Laginski's beaux yeux noirs -she had thought them and him adorable a month ago--and it would be hard indeed to have to pay so heavy a price as utter ruin for a caprice which was ceasing to be amusing, and of which consequently she was quite ready to repent. No; she would get back those opals
pierres de malheur that they were!and be very cautious with Vladimir for the future, till she could safely break off their liaison. It was true he was divinely handsome, and desperately in love; and he would think her cold, and cruel, and false. Bah! what right had he to believe this sort of thing was to last for ever?-il s'en tirerait comme il pour rait!
In the middle of the Vorazof's reflections and resolutions, the polite commis of Herr Dornberg came back, désolé to inform Madame that Herr Dornberg would be absent on particular business till to-morrow. If Madame's affair was urgent, would she confide it to him (the polite commis)? No? As Madame pleased, then. Herr Dornberg would be at Madame's orders in the morning. And the polite commis bowed his visitor out of the bureau.
If that engaging commis spoke the truth, Herr Dornberg must have had a double; for, while the Vorazof was sitting in his gloomy little den, two men, one the double in question, were watching her through the dirty little square of glass let into the door which divided the bureau proper from an inner chamber. Moreover, it was in precisely the Teutonic-French accent of the Herr himself that his double replied to his companion's questions. The latter, a thin, close-shaven, vulpinefaced individual, had regarded Madame with great interest; as one, indeed, desirous of photographing her face perfectly on his memory. 'Ainsi-c'est bien elle?' he asked. Whereto the Herr's double-or the Herr himself-had replied, 'Mais, zertaidement Monsieur Glitstein, z'êd elle!'' Bon!' responded Monsieur Glitstein, Et vous avez toujours l'écrin? Barpleu!' Alors, vous le porterez chez moi ce soir, à dix heures. Nous la tenons enfin, et j'en aurai besoin. Au revoir, Monsieur Dornberg!'
And then Monsieur Glitstein went away to his little affairs, humming a chanson à boire quite pleasantly. He didn't seem to have much to do either. He lounged through the sunny Linden-Strasse, inspecting the shop-windows, like the veriest