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were not made to flourish in this corrupt atmosphere. Still there is a homage due to the society we are willing to accept, whatever be its quality; and we should be glad to see our countrywomen sustain the character of such taste as there is among Less excusable is the Briton proper-square, burly, jocund, loud of speech, and arrayed in a clumsy white hat, washed in many a shower, and the serviceable lounging coat, in which he has ranged many a mountain. He has even a complacent pride in his rags, as they may by a certain comparison be styled, and stupidly does not see what an affront he is offering, both to good manners and to the fastidious society in which he is moving. Nor has he skill or tact enough to translate the strange ironical glances with which he is measured, or the pleasant mots, sparkling and frothing like champagne bubbles, as he passes by.
But at night, when the grand event of the day is over-when Baden has dined and the clatter and fluster of general table d'hôte has past by-we go forth again, always in that one direction, and make for the promenade
From the great hotels streams forth the living contingent, now fed and "restored.' It has grown dark, and up and down through the fairy Baden palaces are twinkling lights and lanterns. All through the pastoral allées verts are sprinkled lamps. Lamps shine out in the windows of the Italian Opera side-scenes, and dots and flashes of light dance upon the rippling waters that flow between the little ivy-clad quays. And far up at the Place we see the bower opening, as it were, and the long perspective of the house of gaming, its yellow columns lit by a long line of lights; and here is the company gathered together again, and the music playing melodiously, and the café in brisk work; and the waiters performing their own special ballet; and the cigars all alight; and the universal miscellany whole world, "half world," fruit damaged and sound, "peaches at three sous," Britons, French, Spanish, Italian, Germanall yeasting and fermenting in one noisy, chattering mass.
The green and gold kiosk, all ablaze with many muffed chandeliers,
holds the band of some Prussian regiment, fifty or sixty strong. Most exquisite military music do they discourse-so full, so rich, so tuneful, so soft, so loud, and with that grand, substantial crash, when the whole strength comes in, which we may despair of ever hearing among our English soldiery. They are now playing the famous duet from the "Huguenots"-singing rather—with the right passion and expression. There is good reason for this selection, for there is now among the crowd, trudging it rather than walking, a little, quaint well-saved, smooth-cheeked, angular old man, who carries his head back on his shoulders, and keeps his hands joined behind him like Napoleon. He wears a high-collared, old-fashioned dress coat, and in the daytime rides a donkey, and carries a shabby old green umbrella. Yet this irregularity of uniform is only the more fondly tolerated and encouraged, for the little old man is Meyerbeer-well known here-better known at Spaand upon whose grave the immortelles are now quite fresh.
There is nothing of the vulgar Vauxhall association or idea of the ten thousand additional lamps. The lamps, indeed, are few, but the whole has a sort of genuine fairyland look, with a tint of Bendermere and the Feast of Roses. The great café, directed by an artist of tremendous reputation from Paris, has its hundred guests within and withoutwithin, in those glittering halls into which we can peep; without, at those hundred little marble tables which are almost mixed up with those who walk. Every one who sits and sips, does so tranquilly, and with the repose of a sultan. We are, indeed, all sultans and Moslems, for no one gets angry or excited, or rages, but dreams life away. And there are chairs everywhere, and a crowd of chairs, as it were reserved seats, under M. Benazet's gaming portico (which joins the gaming café), and mammas and papas, and the little children in white, sit there quite happily, and enjoy the scene and listen to the music. Every one is in spirits, and, walking up and down, chatters and gesticulates to his neighbour. And here is the noble Prussian band striking in Wagner's Tannhäuser, and large parties, mainly German, I suspect, gather round
the illuminated kiosk, and applaud heartily.
III. THE PLAYERS.
THERE is a steady stream up the steps of M. Benazet's gaming portico, into M. Benazet's gaming tabernacle. All the windows of M. Benazet's tabernacle are flung wide open (they are almost level with the ground), and we can see into the Pompadour drawing-rooms, and discern the dark figures stooping over towards the shaded lamps, and can hear the musical click of the galloping roulette ball. Hot draughts are borne out to us. Bowing reverentially, we go in with the stream.
Were there some skilful habitué at hand, one who has graduated in this Epicurean University, he could analyze this curious miscellany into all its separate elements. He could tell us that the whole whipped cream of Paris society, artistic, literary, sporting, and that monde which is called “beau,” as well as that known as demi," had all flocked in this direction for its villegiatura. Persons of the highest quality, and persons-it must be whispered ever so lightly-of the vilest quality; persons of degree and no degree; barons of various empires, and a whole order of the Hospitallers of the Knighthood of Industry;" French financiers, affiliated to the Credit Mobilier, and who, as a class, seem to answer to the Farmers-General of the old monarchy; and above all a whole Covent Garden market of flowers.
Get near the table; and if you do win, you can only recover your stakes by a fierce stretch or lunge. Privateer old ladies are doing a brisk business, snapping up, at the proper moment, the small winnings, say ten francs, of the boyish Englishman who is imperfect in his French, and whose protest is unavailing. It is getting on to eleven, and there is but little time left to win or lose. The room is hot, M. le Duc and his three friends, well dined-are standing on the outskirts. They had begun carelessly, and with ennui; but having lost, and won, are growing interested and laying down larger stakes. The two young Englishmen, merchants' sons, have got seats at the table, and are
playing heavily. The Banker's heirapparent from Frankfort, a heavy, hulking, pink-cheeked, overgrown gamin, who has been fluttering round this terrible candle for two days, losing a thousand francs now and again-a kind of teasing, fretful, phlebotomizing, which, collectively, he finds to be getting serious-is determined to go seriously to work of this night. There is also the pale, dried, diplomatist English milord, slightly jaundiced, tall, slight, and a little bent; he, too, is busy. And there is the general "ruck," as it were
the "gallery," as the Croupiers call them-who stand round and dabble in a little silver and a little gold, who are thrown into despair by the loss of fifteen francs, and into tumultuous joy by a gain of the same amount. The time is eleven, just struck musically on a Louis-Quatorze clock.
M. le Duc has down a note on the Bank of France, for one thousand francs. His friends have each a 'masse," as it is called, of, say, each twenty Napoleons. The Frankfort Banker has two billets" of a thousand francs each, and the yellow Milord has "engagé" on the red a pleasant composite heap of a blue rouleau and some Napoleons. The "gallery," truly contemptible on such an occasion with its little gains and losses, is feverishly casting down or taking up its trumpery silver, to a very small amount. Croupier A. is "making up" the table; mark how dextrously he keeps all distinct. M. le Duc, though his note for a thousand francs is down, stakes only half. His friends allow only five each of their "masses" to be risked. The Frankfort Banker lets all go of his amount, and the yellow Milord risks but ten Louis of his composite heap. Croupier keeps all distinct and clear, touches each with the point of his little rakes, calling out the amount risked of each-"moitié du billet," for M. le Duc; "Cinq Louis à la masse,' for his friends; Tout va" for the Frankfort Banker, now beginning to breathe a little hard, and for Milord, "Le rouleau." Then for the gallery, who are tumbling down their florins, and mean coins in a loose scattered fashion; vigilant Croupier, with a touch gets the stray coins together, divines the colour they were aimed
at, and arranges his board as prettily as can be conceived. Everything is ready; the green baize, richly covered, dotted over on the "couleur," "a l'envers" on "rouge" and "noir" with gold, silver, and fluttering silver paper billets. At the last moment M. le Comte, just dropped in, calls from the bottom of the table, "Dix Louis à rouge," and Croupier A. good-naturedly lays down the sum for him. Now, at last-"Messieurs faites le jeu; le jeu est fait," and with a moment of stillness, and every face, noble, simple, shorn, unshaven, mean, and squalid, turns toward the high priest--the fatal cards begin to drop from his fingers in two lines.
It is but a moment;-"Un !" chants Croupier at the end of the first line of cards, and half the battle is fought; "Trois," at the end of the second; "Rouge gagne et la couleur!" Down sink hearts, up rises colour. Heavy sighs of relief, and sparkling eyes, universal rustle, joy, and perhaps some despair. First clatter of rakes, gathering in the harvest, done with alacrity; gold, silver, and the billets de banque floating on the top like froth-all raked in. Frankfort banker has lost, but beyond a little, light spasm of his lips, takes it calmly. M. le Duc has lost-Milord has won, whose dry yellow face lightens as he whispers with satisfaction to a heavily moustached friend, that he knew the red would come up. Someway everyone knows that the red will come up when it does come up. A shopkeeper, or so, from Strasburg, has lost ten francs, and is overwhelmed, and will go home penitently to his wife. Smaller fry of the gallery will be crushed to; but as a rule the larger sufferers take their losses far more manfully. Now comes payment, silver first, gold after, notes last. Five-franc pieces seem to spout, as it were, from Croupier's hands; where there are four lying, where there are two, where there is one-no matter what the distancea heavy molten stream of silver comes spouting; four jangling down melodiously on top of the four, two on the two, one on the one-aim most accurate; sometimes one straggles away, but a neat touch with the rake brings all together. Sometimes where various heaps have got
too close, the whole gets into a confused mass; but two strokes of the rake sets all clear. Then for the gold, waiting patiently en grand seigneur; the rake is thrust into this heap, separates neatly five pieces, and carries them away. With my lord who has won, a lot of stray pieces are thus carried off; but in their stead comes rolling back a blue rouleau. So with the billets de banque. All is over and adjusted in a few seconds; and now there is a melodious clatter of gold upon gold, of silver upon silver, as Croupiers industriously and with vigour gather up and sort their spoil; setting each with each according to its kind, back to back, in long rows, sinuous, like gold and silver coiled snakes. Therethe ground is cleared; M. le Croupier is looking to the right and left again, has moistened the tip of his finger, and is about to deal. There are some broken spirits walking away gloomily, leaving the room; but there are more struggling to the front, with many a
Pardon, Monsieur." There is, too, that strange sound-elsewhere, insignificant the scraping of a chair pushed back; some one retiring, pushing their way out. Only the
business gamesters" sit; and that abrupt retreat means defeat for the day, if not for the season. Up runs the servant of the place with a greasy simper, carries off the defunct gamester's chair, and thus gives room for more of the gallery to stand, and besides when an habitué comes in, gives an opportunity of officious politeness.
Sometimes a coin, gold or silver, drops under the table, and the little scene that takes place is highly complimentary to the morals of the place. Oily domestic hears the well-known sound from afar, and comes running with a lighted taper at the end of a stick. Meanwhile, the gaming lady or gentleman who has dropped the money, watches carefully everyone near, and will not for the world hear of their stooping to look for it. Inexperienced persons do sometimes bend down, but are at once politely checked by another menial, coasting about warily. Menial with the light goes in on all fours, as it were into a cellar, and gropes. Sometimes he finds it, in which case he is rewarded (but he must not go in too far out of sight.) Sometimes he does not find it,
in which case it is assumed that it has already been found, and is at that moment sticking to the sole of a Knight of Industry, which has ingeniously been made adhesive for the purpose.
Those menials, watchdogs, "bullies," bruisers, what not what a slimy, greasy, undertaker's-man look they have. Much preferable are the gorgeous liveried creatures of Spa and Homburg-moustaches, white stockings-Tartars plated over! These men are in dingy black, and positively have an air of gin. They are strong and stout, and suited to the rough work they may have to perform at any moment. Someways when a little dispute or noise sets in, you see these birds of prey clustering softly together-hurrying in the directionJonathan Wilds and Blueskins in decent black suits! They are each furnished with the little red and black marking cards, and those wonderful corking pins. Only yesterday I discovered that all the cigar allumettes of the chief tobacconists of the place are made of shreds of these gaming cards, pricked over with many pinholes. A not inappropriate destiny, finishing in what they began-wreaths of smoke.
Young Frankfort Banker, by-andby, I see has now increased his mises to six thousand francs (£240), the highest the table allows. I see the light, fluttering heap of notes, reposing on each other. There is a sort of good genius with him-a friend who is earnestly remonstrating-remonstrations accepted fiercely and testily, as is usual. On the other side a lady friend, lively, and noisy, plays the evil genius, encouraging the luckless banker on to his fate. I see him fingering his roll of notes wistfully, looking desperately at the table, and now back again at his notes. Friend interposes softly. Female friend strikes in cheerfully: "Go forward, mon garçon. That's right. Don't heed him. Try the bold game. Courage! That's right-don't be afraid, my poor child. There."
"Never mind," says the friend, fiercely. By-and-by we shall have a dramatic scene."
"Bah! mon abbé," says the female friend, with a scoff; and down goes the fluttering heap of silver paper in
the centre, on the square department of the couleur.
"Couleur gagne !" sings the Croupier; and the hulking Banker draws a sigh of relief; and the female evil genius pats him on the shoulder, and says, "Tiens, mon garçon ! c'est ça !" and shakes her head defiantly at the friend. Presently Croupier draws all the notes towards him, counts them, puts them back, and laying a single new fluttering note upon the top of his rake, places it down with a complimentary air upon its fellows. They are gracious, and seem pleased at the Banker's winning. Again friend interposes, but is repulsed goodhumouredly. Six thousand francs are again staked on the couleur.
Ca va mon garçon !" says the evil genius. "We shall have it all back!" People are now coming in from other rooms, and drawing closer, to see this high play. But the couleur loses this time, and the fluttering heap is swept in fiercely. Looks are turned on the heavy Banker to see how he bears it. He is impatient, and has fresh notes ready. Evil genius actually laughs, as though it were a good joke. I hear sighs of commiseration from female bosoms-Le pauvre garçon! He stakes again-loses again; stakes again-loses! They seem to fall on him like crashing blows on a losing prize-fighter. He seems to strike out wildly. Wins this time--will win the next time-when the clock strikes, and it ends for that night. He is left shipwrecked.*
IV. THE PLAY,
THERE are a hundred little dramas like this being played all day long. There is at least one such for every three minutes of the day. Not of the flashy, effective pattern-the haggard gamester rushing from the room to be found in the wood weltering in his gore, and such-like, which are the recognised situations for the traditional stories-but little, quiet bits of demestic life, very characteristic. volume might be filled with "slides,' as it were, of this pattern-a hundred little histories told. Of the newly married pair (the buff dressing-case cover still bright and unsoiled) who stray in fondly together, and drop a piece or
* There is no over-colouring in this little scene. It occurred exactly as described.
two the first day for the "fun of the thing," who win, and who begin to relish the horribly wicked place; who come there regularly in the evening after table d'hôte, and who still win (a little silver), and who actually dream of making all their bridal tour expenses; who begin to lose, not merely the few silver pieces gained, but some of the funds actually destined for their bridal expenses; who grow testy and snappish, coram publico, and tartly tax each other with this or that unlucky bit of play, with "I told you there was no chance of the red, but you would," &c. Of the little, trim, French milliner-looking woman, in the broad-leafed straw hat, who flutters and hovers anxiously about that handsome boy-husband of hers, who is sitting with his head between his hand, and playing doggedly and defiantly, and losing, as of course. I hear her wistful inquiries, and his rough answer-for this play turns us all into rude bears; who leaves the table hastily, goes over to her, seizes a gold chain, and drags it from her neck; hurries off with it, and returns with money. Of a hundred such little parlour dramas, which become, as of course, a part of the daily routine. A Parliamentary return of the agonies endured in those rooms would make a strange and fearful total. But the calm officials sit unmoved, and proceed with their work like machines.
The eccentricities of players are curious. One comes rushing in, hot and furious, casts down his gold, haphazard, anywhere, sees it swept away, and rushes out as he came. Of a Sunday I have seen a quiet, trading-looking youth come, hesitate for half an hour, hover round, in and out, like the old simile of the moth, and then put down his single note of one thousand francs. Away it fluttered, as it were on wings. He walked away slowly-I following him with curiosity. I saw that he went straight to the railway, whence he came, and took a thirdclass ticket. No doubt he recollected that Sunday for long after. Whose was that note ?
It is a strange study, too, to keep the eyes off cards or Croupiers, and learn the result from the amphitheatre of faces round. Never was there such unconscious power of expression. Success can be read there, as well
from boisterous, exulting joy in the novices, as from the calm, serene steadiness of the more experienced. Defeat can be read there, too, as well in unconcealed despair or disgust, or open impatience; but more particularly in a restless turning away of the face from the table, which is the habitual shape of accepting a loss. Some merely elevate their eyes quietly, as who should say "what a fatality." Some, the jeunesse dorée, notably take their heaviest loss with a boisterous good-humoured fit of laughter. For such we have someway more sympathy than for dark despair and scowling countenances. For losers utterly ruined there is no pity-mere contempt; and it is a painful tableau when the deep player, stripped of everything, hot, jaded, and hopeless, pushes back his chair, and tries to get through the crowd; everyone is anxious to be rid of him, and resents his inconvenience. He is known to be a pauper, temporary or permanent. Half a dozen are greedy for his chair; and the Croupiers, who have his gold before them, do not even look after him.
Roulette, of this Sunday night, at eleven, seems like a riot. A mob surrounds the table, struggling, fighting to be allowed to drop down their silver pieces on the table, which it is unlikely, even if they win, they will ever recover. There are pirates and sharks abroad of this night, with good places and skilful fingers.The innocent protest; but in vain. There is a scorbutic old lady, of the Barnaby pattern, who makes this branch of industry her specialité, and thrives on it, though sometimes the Croupiers, who know her and watch her, take part against her; raw English youths suffer much from her, and when charged with (what we must call a genteel theft) her acting of innocence falsely aspersed is admirable. There is no redress. The table grows impatient at any rixe, and growls angrily at the disputants; they are hindering the game.
Everything to-night is express. So much money is out that I note the Croupiers rake in their gains with a quick and fierce impetuosity, as though they apprehended a rescue on its passage. The clatter of rakes on fivefranc pieces at such busy moments is like large hailstones on a green-house.