THE TRAVELLER'S STORY OF A TERRIBLY STRANGE BED


Umar Baloch2022/07/21 12:19
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Shortly after my education at college was finished, I happened to be

staying at Paris with an English friend. We were both young men then, and lived

I am afraid, rather a wild life, in the delightful city of our sojourn. On

night we were idling about the neighborhood of the Palais Royal, doubtful t

what amusement we should next betake ourselves. My friend proposed a visit t

Frascati's; but his suggestion was not to my taste. I knew Frascati's, as th

French saying is, by heart; had lost and won plenty of five-franc pieces there

merely for amusement's sake, until it was amusement no longer, and wa

thoroughly tired, in fact, of all the ghastly respectabilities of such a socia

anomaly as a respectable gambling-house. "For Heaven's sake," said I to m

friend, "let us go somewhere where we can see a little genuine, blackguard

poverty-stricken gaming with no false gingerbread glitter thrown over it all

Let us get away from fashionable Frascati's, to a house where they don't min

letting in a man with a ragged coat, or a man with no coat, ragged o

otherwise." "Very well," said my friend, "we needn't go out of the Palais Roya

to find the sort of company you want. Here's the place just before us; a

blackguard a place, by all report, as you could possibly wish to see." I

another minute we arrived at the door, and entered the house, the back of whic

you have drawn in your sketch.

When we got upstairs, and had left our hats and sticks with the doorkeeper

we were admitted into the chief gambling-room. We did not find many peopl

assembled there. But, few as the men were who looked up at us on our entrance

they were all types--lamentably true types--of their respective classes.

We had come to see blackguards; but these men were something worse. There i

a comic side, more or less appreciable, in all blackguardism--here there wa

nothing but tragedy--mute, weird tragedy. The quiet in the room was horrible

The thin, haggard, long-haired young man, whose sunken eyes fiercely watched th

turning up of the cards, never spoke; the flabby, fat-faced, pimply player, wh

pricked his piece of pasteboard perseveringly, to register how often black won

and how often red--never spoke; the dirty, wrinkled old man, with the vultur

eyes and the darned great-coat, who had lost his last sou, and still looked o

desperately, after he could play no longer--never spoke. Even the voice of th

croupier sounded as if it were strangely dulled and thickened in the atmospher

of the room. I had entered the place to laugh, but the spectacle before me wa

something to weep over. I soon found it necessary to take refuge in excitemen

from the depression of spirits which was fast stealing on me. Unfortunately

sought the nearest excitement, by going to the table and beginning to play

Still more unfortunately, as the event will show, I won--won prodigiously; wo

incredibly; won at such a rate that the regular players at the table crowde

round me; and staring at my stakes with hungry, superstitious eyes, whispered t

one another that the English stranger was going to break the bank.

The game was Rouge et Noir. I had played at it in every city in Europe

without, however, the care or the wish to study the Theory of Chances--tha

philosopher's stone of all gamblers! And a gambler, in the strict sense of th

word, I had never been. I was heart-whole from the corroding passion for play

My gaming was a mere idle amusement. I never resorted to it by necessity

because I never knew what it was to want money. I never practiced it s

incessantly as to lose more than I could afford, or to gain more than I coul

coolly pocket without being thrown off my balance by my good luck. In short,

had hitherto frequented gambling-tables--just as I frequented ball-rooms an

opera-houses--because they amused me, and because I had nothing better to d

with my leisure hours.

But on this occasion it was very different--now, for the first time in m

life, I felt what the passion for play really was. My success first bewildered

and then, in the most literal meaning of the word, intoxicated me. Incredible a

it may appear, it is nevertheless true, that I only lost when I attempted t

estimate chances, and played according to previous calculation. If I lef

everything to luck, and staked without any care or consideration, I was sure t

win--to win in the face of every recognized probability in favor of the bank. A

first some of the men present ventured their money safely enough on my color

but I speedily increased my stakes to sums which they dared not risk. One afte

another they left off playing, and breathlessly looked on at my game.

Still, time after time, I staked higher and higher, and still won. Th

excitement in the room rose to fever pitch. The silence was interrupted by

deep-muttered chorus of oaths and exclamations in different languages, ever

time the gold was shoveled across to my side of the table--even th

imperturbable croupier dashed his rake on the floor in a (French) fury o

astonishment at my success. But one man present preserved his self-possession

and that man was my friend. He came to my side, and whispering in English

begged me to leave the place, satisfied with what I had already gained. I mus

do him the justice to say that he repeated his warnings and entreaties severa

times, and only left me and went away after I had rejected his advice (I was t

all intents and purposes gambling drunk) in terms which rendered it impossibl

for him to address me again that night.

Shortly after he had gone, a hoarse voice behind me cried: "Permit me, m

dear sir--permit me to restore to their proper place two napoleons which yo

have dropped. Wonderful luck, sir! I pledge you my word of honor, as an ol

soldier, in the course of my long experience in this sort of thing, I never sa

such luck as yours--never! Go on, sir--SacrŽ mille bombes! Go on boldly, an

break the bank!"

I turned round and saw, nodding and smiling at me with inveterate civility

a tall man, dressed in a frogged and braided surtout.

If I had been in my senses, I should have considered him, personally, a

being rather a suspicious specimen of an old soldier. He had goggling, bloodsho

eyes, mangy mustaches, and a broken nose. His voice betrayed a barrack-roo

intonation of the worst order, and he had the dirtiest pair of hands I eve

saw--even in France. These little personal peculiarities exercised, however, n

repelling influence on me. In the mad excitement, the reckless triumph of tha

moment, I was ready to "fraternize" with anybody who encouraged me in my game.

accepted the old soldier's offered pinch of snuff; clapped him on the back, an

swore he was the honestest fellow in the world--the most glorious relic of th

Grand Army that I had ever met with. "Go on!" cried my military friend, snappin

his fingers in ecstasy--"Go on, and win! Break the bank--Mille tonnerres! m

gallant English comrade, break the bank!"

And I did go on--went on at such a rate, that in another quarter of an hou

the croupier called out, "Gentlemen, the bank has discontinued for to-night.

All the notes, and all the gold in that "bank," now lay in a heap under m

hands; the whole floating capital of the gambling-house was waiting to pour int

my pockets!

"Tie up the money in your pocket-handkerchief, my worthy sir," said the ol

soldier, as I wildly plunged my hands into my heap of gold. "Tie it up, as w

used to tie up a bit of dinner in the Grand Army; your winnings are too heav

for any breeches-pockets that ever were sewed. There! that's it--shovel them in

notes and all! CrediŽ! what luck! Stop! another napoleon on the floor! Ah! sacr

petit polisson de Napoleon! have I found thee at last? Now then, sir--two tigh

double knots each way with your honorable permission, and the money's safe. Fee

it! feel it, fortunate sir! hard and round as a cannon-ball--Ah, bah! if the

had only fired such cannon-balls at us at Austerlitz--nom d'une pipe! if the

only had! And now, as an ancient grenadier, as an ex-brave of the French army

what remains for me to do? I ask what? Simply this: to entreat my valued Englis

friend to drink a bottle of Champagne with me, and toast the goddess Fortune i

foaming goblets before we part!"

Excellent ex-brave! Convivial ancient grenadier! Champagne by all means! A

English cheer for an old soldier! Hurrah! hurrah! Another English cheer for th

goddess Fortune! Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!

"Bravo! the Englishman; the amiable, gracious Englishman, in whose vein

circulates the vivacious blood of France! Another glass? Ah, bah!--the bottle i

empty! Never mind! Vive le vin! I, the old soldier, order another bottle, an

half a pound of bonbons with it!"

"No, no, ex-brave; never--ancient grenadier! Your bottle last time; m

bottle this. Behold it! Toast away! The French Army! the great Napoleon! th

present company! the croupier! the honest croupier's wife and daughters--if h

has any! the Ladies generally! everybody in the world!"

By the time the second bottle of Champagne was emptied, I felt as if I ha

been drinking liquid fire--my brain seemed all aflame. No excess in wine ha

ever had this effect on me before in my life. Was it the result of a stimulan

acting upon my system when I was in a highly excited state? Was my stomach in

particularly disordered condition? Or was the Champagne amazingly strong?

"Ex-brave of the French Army!" cried I, in a mad state of exhilaration, "

am on fire! how are you? You have set me on fire! Do you hear, my hero o

Austerlitz? Let us have a third bottle of Champagne to put the flame out!"

The old soldier wagged his head, rolled his goggle-eyes, until I expected t

see them slip out of their sockets; placed his dirty forefinger by the side o

his broken nose; solemnly ejaculated "Coffee!" and immediately ran off into a

inner room.

The word pronounced by the eccentric veteran seemed to have a magical effec

on the rest of the company present. With one accord they all rose to depart

Probably they had expected to profit by my intoxication; but finding that my ne

friend was benevolently bent on preventing me from getting dead drunk, had no

abandoned all hope of thriving pleasantly on my winnings. Whatever their motiv

might be, at any rate they went away in a body. When the old soldier returned

and sat down again opposite to me at the table, we had the room to ourselves.

could see the croupier, in a sort of vestibule which opened out of it, eatin

his supper in solitude. The silence was now deeper than ever.

A sudden change, too, had come over the "ex-brave." He assumed

portentously solemn look; and when he spoke to me again, his speech wa

ornamented by no oaths, enforced by no finger-snapping, enlivened by n

apostrophes or exclamations.

"Listen, my dear sir," said he, in mysteriously confidential tones--"liste

to an old soldier's advice. I have been to the mistress of the house (a ver

charming woman, with a genius for cookery!) to impress on her the necessity o

making us some particularly strong and good coffee. You must drink this coffe

in order to get rid of your little amiable exaltation of spirits before yo

think of going home--you must, my good and gracious friend! With all that mone

to take home to-night, it is a sacred duty to yourself to have your wits abou

you. You are known to be a winner to an enormous extent by several gentleme

present to-night, who, in a certain point of view, are very worthy and excellen

fellows; but they are mortal men, my dear sir, and they have their amiabl

weaknesses. Need I say more? Ah, no, no! you understand me! Now, this is wha

you must do--send for a cabriolet when you feel quite well again--draw up al

the windows when you get into it--and tell the driver to take you home onl

through the large and well-lighted thoroughfares. Do this; and you and you

money will be safe. Do this; and to-morrow you will thank an old soldier fo

giving you a word of honest advice."

Just as the ex-brave ended his oration in very lachrymose tones, the coffe

came in, ready poured out in two cups. My attentive friend handed me one of th

cups with a bow. I was parched with thirst, and drank it off at a draught

Almost instantly afterwards, I was seized with a fit of giddiness, and felt mor

completely intoxicated than ever. The room whirled round and round furiously

the old soldier seemed to be regularly bobbing up and down before me like th

piston of a steam-engine. I was half deafened by a violent singing in my ears;

feeling of utter bewilderment, helplessness, idiocy, overcame me. I rose from m

chair, holding on by the table to keep my balance; and stammered out that I fel

dreadfully unwell--so unwell that I did not know how I was to get home.

"My dear friend," answered the old soldier--and even his voice seemed to b

bobbing up and down as he spoke--"my dear friend, it would be madness to go hom

in your state; you would be sure to lose your money; you might be robbed an

murdered with the greatest ease. I am going to sleep here; do you sleep here

too--they make up capital beds in this house--take one; sleep off the effects o

the wine, and go home safely with your winnings to-morrow--to-morrow, in broa

daylight."

I had but two ideas left: one, that I must never let go hold of m

handkerchief full of money; the other, that I must lie down somewher

immediately, and fall off into a comfortable sleep. So I agreed to the proposa

about the bed, and took the offered arm of the old soldier, carrying my mone

with my disengaged hand. Preceded by the croupier, we passed along some passage

and up a flight of stairs into the bedroom which I was to occupy. The ex-brav

shook me warmly by the hand, proposed that we should breakfast together, an

then, followed by the croupier, left me for the night.

I ran to the wash-hand stand; drank some of the water in my jug; poured th

rest out, and plunged my face into it; then sat down in a chair and tried t

compose myself. I soon felt better. The change for my lungs, from the feti

atmosphere of the gambling-room to the cool air of the apartment I now occupied

the almost equally refreshing change for my eyes, from the glaring gaslights o

the "salon" to the dim, quiet flicker of one bedroom-candle, aided wonderfull

the restorative effects of cold water. The giddiness left me, and I began t

feel a little like a reasonable being again. My first thought was of the risk o

sleeping all night in a gambling-house; my second, of the still greater risk o

trying to get out after the house was closed, and of going home alone at nigh

through the streets of Paris with a large sum of money about me. I had slept i

worse places than this on my travels; so I determined to lock, bolt, an

barricade my door, and take my chance till the next morning.

Accordingly, I secured myself against all intrusion; looked under the bed

and into the cupboard; tried the fastening of the window; and then, satisfie

that I had taken every proper precaution, pulled off my upper clothing, put m

light, which was a dim one, on the hearth among a feathery litter of wood-ashes

and got into bed, with the handkerchief full of money under my pillow.

I soon felt not only that I could not go to sleep, but that I could not eve

close my eyes. I was wide awake, and in a high fever. Every nerve in my bod

trembled--every one of my senses seemed to be preternaturally sharpened.

tossed and rolled, and tried every kind of position, and perseveringly sough

out the cold corners of the bed, and all to no purpose. Now I thrust my arm

over the clothes; now I poked them under the clothes; now I violently shot m

legs straight out down to the bottom of the bed; now I convulsively coiled the

up as near my chin as they would go; now I shook out my crumpled pillow, change

it to the cool side, patted it flat, and lay down quietly on my back; now

fiercely doubled it in two, set it up on end, thrust it against the board of th

bed, and tried a sitting posture. Every effort was in vain; I groaned wit

vexation as I felt that I was in for a sleepless night.

What could I do? I had no book to read. And yet, unless I found out som

method of diverting my mind, I felt certain that I was in the condition t

imagine all sorts of horrors; to rack my brain with forebodings of ever

possible and impossible danger; in short, to pass the night in suffering al

conceivable varieties of nervous terror.

I raised myself on my elbow, and looked about the room--which was brightene

by a lovely moonlight pouring straight through the window--to see if i

contained any pictures or ornaments that I could at all clearly distinguish

While my eyes wandered from wall to wall, a remembrance of Le Maistre'

delightful little book, "Voyage autour de ma Chambre," occurred to me.

resolved to imitate the French author, and find occupation and amusement enoug

to relieve the tedium of my wakefulness, by making a mental inventory of ever

article of furniture I could see, and by following up to their sources th

multitude of associations which even a chair, a table, or a wash-hand stand ma

be made to call forth.

In the nervous unsettled state of my mind at that moment, I found it muc

easier to make my inventory than to make my reflections, and thereupon soon gav

up all hope of thinking in Le Maistre's fanciful track--or, indeed, of thinkin

at all. I looked about the room at the different articles of furniture, and di

nothing more.

There was, first, the bed I was lying in; a four-post bed, of all things i

the world to meet with in Paris--yes, a thorough clumsy British four-poster

with the regular top lined with chintz--the regular fringed valance al

round--the regular stifling, unwholesome curtains, which I remembered havin

mechanically drawn back against the posts without particularly noticing the be

when I first got into the room. Then there was the marble-topped wash-han

stand, from which the water I had spilled, in my hurry to pour it out, was stil

dripping, slowly and more slowly, on to the brick floor. Then two small chairs

with my coat, waistcoat, and trousers flung on them. Then a large elbow-chai

covered with dirty-white dimity, with my cravat and shirt collar thrown over th

back. Then a chest of drawers with two of the brass handles off, and a tawdry

broken china inkstand placed on it by way of ornament for the top. Then th

dressing-table, adorned by a very small looking-glass, and a very larg

pincushion. Then the window--an unusually large window. Then a dark old picture

which the feeble candle dimly showed me. It was a picture of a fellow in a hig

Spanish hat, crowned with a plume of towering feathers. A swarthy, siniste

ruffian, looking upward, shading his eyes with his hand, and looking intentl

upward--it might be at some tall gallows at which he was going to be hanged. A

any rate, he had the appearance of thoroughly deserving it.

This picture put a kind of constraint upon me to look upward too--at the to

of the bed. It was a gloomy and not an interesting object, and I looked back a

the picture. I counted the feathers in the man's hat--they stood out i

relief--three white, two green. I observed the crown of his hat, which was o

conical shape, according to the fashion supposed to have been favored by Guid

Fawkes. I wondered what he was looking up at. It couldn't be at the stars; suc

a desperado was neither astrologer nor astronomer. It must be at the hig

gallows, and he was going to be hanged presently. Would the executioner com

into possession of his conical crowned hat and plume of feathers? I counted th

feathers again--three white, two green.

While I still lingered over this very improving and intellectual employment

my thoughts insensibly began to wander. The moonlight shining into the roo

reminded me of a certain moonlight night in England--the night after a picni

party in a Welsh valley. Every incident of the drive homeward, through lovel

scenery, which the moonlight made lovelier than ever, came back to m

remembrance, though I had never given the picnic a thought for years; though, i

I had tried to recollect it, I could certainly have recalled little or nothin

of that scene long past. Of all the wonderful faculties that help to tell us w

are immortal, which speaks the sublime truth more eloquently than memory? Her

was I, in a strange house of the most suspicious character, in a situation o

uncertainty, and even of peril, which might seem to make the cool exercise of m

recollection almost out of the question; nevertheless, remembering, quit

involuntarily, places, people, conversations, minute circumstances of ever

kind, which I had thought forgotten forever; which I could not possibly hav

recalled at will, even under the most favorable auspices. And what cause ha

produced in a moment the whole of this strange, complicated, mysterious effect

Nothing but some rays of moonlight shining in at my bedroom window.

I was still thinking of the picnic--of our merriment on the drive home--o

the sentimental young lady who would quote "Childe Harold" because it wa

moonlight. I was absorbed by these past scenes and past amusements, when, in a

instant, the thread on which my memories hung snapped asunder; my attentio

immediately came back to present things more vividly than ever, and I foundShortly after my education at college was finished, I happened to b

staying at Paris with an English friend. We were both young men then, and lived

I am afraid, rather a wild life, in the delightful city of our sojourn. On

night we were idling about the neighborhood of the Palais Royal, doubtful t

what amusement we should next betake ourselves. My friend proposed a visit t

Frascati's; but his suggestion was not to my taste. I knew Frascati's, as th

French saying is, by heart; had lost and won plenty of five-franc pieces there

merely for amusement's sake, until it was amusement no longer, and wa

thoroughly tired, in fact, of all the ghastly respectabilities of such a socia

anomaly as a respectable gambling-house. "For Heaven's sake," said I to m

friend, "let us go somewhere where we can see a little genuine, blackguard

poverty-stricken gaming with no false gingerbread glitter thrown over it all

Let us get away from fashionable Frascati's, to a house where they don't min

letting in a man with a ragged coat, or a man with no coat, ragged o

otherwise." "Very well," said my friend, "we needn't go out of the Palais Roya

to find the sort of company you want. Here's the place just before us; a

blackguard a place, by all report, as you could possibly wish to see." I

another minute we arrived at the door, and entered the house, the back of whic

you have drawn in your sketch.

When we got upstairs, and had left our hats and sticks with the doorkeeper

we were admitted into the chief gambling-room. We did not find many peopl

assembled there. But, few as the men were who looked up at us on our entrance

they were all types--lamentably true types--of their respective classes.

We had come to see blackguards; but these men were something worse. There i

a comic side, more or less appreciable, in all blackguardism--here there wa

nothing but tragedy--mute, weird tragedy. The quiet in the room was horrible

The thin, haggard, long-haired young man, whose sunken eyes fiercely watched th

turning up of the cards, never spoke; the flabby, fat-faced, pimply player, wh

pricked his piece of pasteboard perseveringly, to register how often black won

and how often red--never spoke; the dirty, wrinkled old man, with the vultur

eyes and the darned great-coat, who had lost his last sou, and still looked o

desperately, after he could play no longer--never spoke. Even the voice of th

croupier sounded as if it were strangely dulled and thickened in the atmospher

of the room. I had entered the place to laugh, but the spectacle before me wa

something to weep over. I soon found it necessary to take refuge in excitemen

from the depression of spirits which was fast stealing on me. Unfortunately

sought the nearest excitement, by going to the table and beginning to play

Still more unfortunately, as the event will show, I won--won prodigiously; wo

incredibly; won at such a rate that the regular players at the table crowde

round me; and staring at my stakes with hungry, superstitious eyes, whispered t

one another that the English stranger was going to break the bank.

The game was Rouge et Noir. I had played at it in every city in Europe

without, however, the care or the wish to study the Theory of Chances--tha

philosopher's stone of all gamblers! And a gambler, in the strict sense of th

word, I had never been. I was heart-whole from the corroding passion for play

My gaming was a mere idle amusement. I never resorted to it by necessity

because I never knew what it was to want money. I never practiced it s

incessantly as to lose more than I could afford, or to gain more than I coul

coolly pocket without being thrown off my balance by my good luck. In short,

had hitherto frequented gambling-tables--just as I frequented ball-rooms an

opera-houses--because they amused me, and because I had nothing better to d

with my leisure hours.

But on this occasion it was very different--now, for the first time in m

life, I felt what the passion for play really was. My success first bewildered

and then, in the most literal meaning of the word, intoxicated me. Incredible a

it may appear, it is nevertheless true, that I only lost when I attempted t

estimate chances, and played according to previous calculation. If I lef

everything to luck, and staked without any care or consideration, I was sure t

win--to win in the face of every recognized probability in favor of the bank. A

first some of the men present ventured their money safely enough on my color

but I speedily increased my stakes to sums which they dared not risk. One afte

another they left off playing, and breathlessly looked on at my game.

Still, time after time, I staked higher and higher, and still won. Th

excitement in the room rose to fever pitch. The silence was interrupted by

deep-muttered chorus of oaths and exclamations in different languages, ever

time the gold was shoveled across to my side of the table--even th

imperturbable croupier dashed his rake on the floor in a (French) fury o

astonishment at my success. But one man present preserved his self-possession

and that man was my friend. He came to my side, and whispering in English

begged me to leave the place, satisfied with what I had already gained. I mus

do him the justice to say that he repeated his warnings and entreaties severa

times, and only left me and went away after I had rejected his advice (I was t

all intents and purposes gambling drunk) in terms which rendered it impossibl

for him to address me again that night.

Shortly after he had gone, a hoarse voice behind me cried: "Permit me, m

dear sir--permit me to restore to their proper place two napoleons which yo

have dropped. Wonderful luck, sir! I pledge you my word of honor, as an ol

soldier, in the course of my long experience in this sort of thing, I never sa

such luck as yours--never! Go on, sir--SacrŽ mille bombes! Go on boldly, an

break the bank!"

I turned round and saw, nodding and smiling at me with inveterate civility

a tall man, dressed in a frogged and braided surtout.

If I had been in my senses, I should have considered him, personally, a

being rather a suspicious specimen of an old soldier. He had goggling, bloodsho

eyes, mangy mustaches, and a broken nose. His voice betrayed a barrack-roo

intonation of the worst order, and he had the dirtiest pair of hands I eve

saw--even in France. These little personal peculiarities exercised, however, n

repelling influence on me. In the mad excitement, the reckless triumph of tha

moment, I was ready to "fraternize" with anybody who encouraged me in my game.

accepted the old soldier's offered pinch of snuff; clapped him on the back, an

swore he was the honestest fellow in the world--the most glorious relic of th

Grand Army that I had ever met with. "Go on!" cried my military friend, snappin

his fingers in ecstasy--"Go on, and win! Break the bank--Mille tonnerres! m

gallant English comrade, break the bank!"

And I did go on--went on at such a rate, that in another quarter of an hou

the croupier called out, "Gentlemen, the bank has discontinued for to-night.

All the notes, and all the gold in that "bank," now lay in a heap under m

hands; the whole floating capital of the gambling-house was waiting to pour int

my pockets!

"Tie up the money in your pocket-handkerchief, my worthy sir," said the ol

soldier, as I wildly plunged my hands into my heap of gold. "Tie it up, as w

used to tie up a bit of dinner in the Grand Army; your winnings are too heav

for any breeches-pockets that ever were sewed. There! that's it--shovel them in

notes and all! CrediŽ! what luck! Stop! another napoleon on the floor! Ah! sacr

petit polisson de Napoleon! have I found thee at last? Now then, sir--two tigh

double knots each way with your honorable permission, and the money's safe. Fee

it! feel it, fortunate sir! hard and round as a cannon-ball--Ah, bah! if the

had only fired such cannon-balls at us at Austerlitz--nom d'une pipe! if the

only had! And now, as an ancient grenadier, as an ex-brave of the French army

what remains for me to do? I ask what? Simply this: to entreat my valued Englis

friend to drink a bottle of Champagne with me, and toast the goddess Fortune i

foaming goblets before we part!"

Excellent ex-brave! Convivial ancient grenadier! Champagne by all means! A

English cheer for an old soldier! Hurrah! hurrah! Another English cheer for th

goddess Fortune! Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!

"Bravo! the Englishman; the amiable, gracious Englishman, in whose vein

circulates the vivacious blood of France! Another glass? Ah, bah!--the bottle i

empty! Never mind! Vive le vin! I, the old soldier, order another bottle, an

half a pound of bonbons with it!"

"No, no, ex-brave; never--ancient grenadier! Your bottle last time; m

bottle this. Behold it! Toast away! The French Army! the great Napoleon! th

present company! the croupier! the honest croupier's wife and daughters--if h

has any! the Ladies generally! everybody in the world!"

By the time the second bottle of Champagne was emptied, I felt as if I ha

been drinking liquid fire--my brain seemed all aflame. No excess in wine ha

ever had this effect on me before in my life. Was it the result of a stimulan

acting upon my system when I was in a highly excited state? Was my stomach in

particularly disordered condition? Or was the Champagne amazingly strong?

"Ex-brave of the French Army!" cried I, in a mad state of exhilaration, "

am on fire! how are you? You have set me on fire! Do you hear, my hero o

Austerlitz? Let us have a third bottle of Champagne to put the flame out!"

The old soldier wagged his head, rolled his goggle-eyes, until I expected t

see them slip out of their sockets; placed his dirty forefinger by the side o

his broken nose; solemnly ejaculated "Coffee!" and immediately ran off into a

inner room.

The word pronounced by the eccentric veteran seemed to have a magical effec

on the rest of the company present. With one accord they all rose to depart

Probably they had expected to profit by my intoxication; but finding that my ne

friend was benevolently bent on preventing me from getting dead drunk, had no

abandoned all hope of thriving pleasantly on my winnings. Whatever their motiv

might be, at any rate they went away in a body. When the old soldier returned

and sat down again opposite to me at the table, we had the room to ourselves.

could see the croupier, in a sort of vestibule which opened out of it, eatin

his supper in solitude. The silence was now deeper than ever.

A sudden change, too, had come over the "ex-brave." He assumed

portentously solemn look; and when he spoke to me again, his speech wa

ornamented by no oaths, enforced by no finger-snapping, enlivened by n

apostrophes or exclamations.

"Listen, my dear sir," said he, in mysteriously confidential tones--"liste

to an old soldier's advice. I have been to the mistress of the house (a ver

charming woman, with a genius for cookery!) to impress on her the necessity o

making us some particularly strong and good coffee. You must drink this coffe

in order to get rid of your little amiable exaltation of spirits before yo

think of going home--you must, my good and gracious friend! With all that mone

to take home to-night, it is a sacred duty to yourself to have your wits abou

you. You are known to be a winner to an enormous extent by several gentleme

present to-night, who, in a certain point of view, are very worthy and excellen

fellows; but they are mortal men, my dear sir, and they have their amiabl

weaknesses. Need I say more? Ah, no, no! you understand me! Now, this is wha

you must do--send for a cabriolet when you feel quite well again--draw up al

the windows when you get into it--and tell the driver to take you home onl

through the large and well-lighted thoroughfares. Do this; and you and you

money will be safe. Do this; and to-morrow you will thank an old soldier fo

giving you a word of honest advice."

Just as the ex-brave ended his oration in very lachrymose tones, the coffe

came in, ready poured out in two cups. My attentive friend handed me one of th

cups with a bow. I was parched with thirst, and drank it off at a draught

Almost instantly afterwards, I was seized with a fit of giddiness, and felt mor

completely intoxicated than ever. The room whirled round and round furiously

the old soldier seemed to be regularly bobbing up and down before me like th

piston of a steam-engine. I was half deafened by a violent singing in my ears;

feeling of utter bewilderment, helplessness, idiocy, overcame me. I rose from m

chair, holding on by the table to keep my balance; and stammered out that I fel

dreadfully unwell--so unwell that I did not know how I was to get home.

"My dear friend," answered the old soldier--and even his voice seemed to b

bobbing up and down as he spoke--"my dear friend, it would be madness to go hom

in your state; you would be sure to lose your money; you might be robbed an

murdered with the greatest ease. I am going to sleep here; do you sleep here

too--they make up capital beds in this house--take one; sleep off the effects o

the wine, and go home safely with your winnings to-morrow--to-morrow, in broa

daylight."

I had but two ideas left: one, that I must never let go hold of m

handkerchief full of money; the other, that I must lie down somewher

immediately, and fall off into a comfortable sleep. So I agreed to the proposa

about the bed, and took the offered arm of the old soldier, carrying my mone

with my disengaged hand. Preceded by the croupier, we passed along some passage

and up a flight of stairs into the bedroom which I was to occupy. The ex-brav

shook me warmly by the hand, proposed that we should breakfast together, an

then, followed by the croupier, left me for the night.

I ran to the wash-hand stand; drank some of the water in my jug; poured th

rest out, and plunged my face into it; then sat down in a chair and tried t

compose myself. I soon felt better. The change for my lungs, from the feti

atmosphere of the gambling-room to the cool air of the apartment I now occupied

the almost equally refreshing change for my eyes, from the glaring gaslights o

the "salon" to the dim, quiet flicker of one bedroom-candle, aided wonderfull

the restorative effects of cold water. The giddiness left me, and I began t

feel a little like a reasonable being again. My first thought was of the risk o

sleeping all night in a gambling-house; my second, of the still greater risk o

trying to get out after the house was closed, and of going home alone at nigh

through the streets of Paris with a large sum of money about me. I had slept i

worse places than this on my travels; so I determined to lock, bolt, an

barricade my door, and take my chance till the next morning.

Accordingly, I secured myself against all intrusion; looked under the bed

and into the cupboard; tried the fastening of the window; and then, satisfie

that I had taken every proper precaution, pulled off my upper clothing, put m

light, which was a dim one, on the hearth among a feathery litter of wood-ashes

and got into bed, with the handkerchief full of money under my pillow.

I soon felt not only that I could not go to sleep, but that I could not eve

close my eyes. I was wide awake, and in a high fever. Every nerve in my bod

trembled--every one of my senses seemed to be preternaturally sharpened.

tossed and rolled, and tried every kind of position, and perseveringly sough

out the cold corners of the bed, and all to no purpose. Now I thrust my arm

over the clothes; now I poked them under the clothes; now I violently shot m

legs straight out down to the bottom of the bed; now I convulsively coiled the

up as near my chin as they would go; now I shook out my crumpled pillow, change

it to the cool side, patted it flat, and lay down quietly on my back; now

fiercely doubled it in two, set it up on end, thrust it against the board of th

bed, and tried a sitting posture. Every effort was in vain; I groaned wit

vexation as I felt that I was in for a sleepless night.

What could I do? I had no book to read. And yet, unless I found out som

method of diverting my mind, I felt certain that I was in the condition t

imagine all sorts of horrors; to rack my brain with forebodings of ever

possible and impossible danger; in short, to pass the night in suffering al

conceivable varieties of nervous terror.

I raised myself on my elbow, and looked about the room--which was brightene

by a lovely moonlight pouring straight through the window--to see if i

contained any pictures or ornaments that I could at all clearly distinguish

While my eyes wandered from wall to wall, a remembrance of Le Maistre'

delightful little book, "Voyage autour de ma Chambre," occurred to me.

resolved to imitate the French author, and find occupation and amusement enoug

to relieve the tedium of my wakefulness, by making a mental inventory of ever

article of furniture I could see, and by following up to their sources th

multitude of associations which even a chair, a table, or a wash-hand stand ma

be made to call forth.

In the nervous unsettled state of my mind at that moment, I found it muc

easier to make my inventory than to make my reflections, and thereupon soon gav

up all hope of thinking in Le Maistre's fanciful track--or, indeed, of thinkin

at all. I looked about the room at the different articles of furniture, and di

nothing more.

There was, first, the bed I was lying in; a four-post bed, of all things i

the world to meet with in Paris--yes, a thorough clumsy British four-poster

with the regular top lined with chintz--the regular fringed valance al

round--the regular stifling, unwholesome curtains, which I remembered havin

mechanically drawn back against the posts without particularly noticing the be

when I first got into the room. Then there was the marble-topped wash-han

stand, from which the water I had spilled, in my hurry to pour it out, was stil

dripping, slowly and more slowly, on to the brick floor. Then two small chairs

with my coat, waistcoat, and trousers flung on them. Then a large elbow-chai

covered with dirty-white dimity, with my cravat and shirt collar thrown over th

back. Then a chest of drawers with two of the brass handles off, and a tawdry

broken china inkstand placed on it by way of ornament for the top. Then th

dressing-table, adorned by a very small looking-glass, and a very larg

pincushion. Then the window--an unusually large window. Then a dark old picture

which the feeble candle dimly showed me. It was a picture of a fellow in a hig

Spanish hat, crowned with a plume of towering feathers. A swarthy, siniste

ruffian, looking upward, shading his eyes with his hand, and looking intentl

upward--it might be at some tall gallows at which he was going to be hanged. A

any rate, he had the appearance of thoroughly deserving it.

This picture put a kind of constraint upon me to look upward too--at the to

of the bed. It was a gloomy and not an interesting object, and I looked back a

the picture. I counted the feathers in the man's hat--they stood out i

relief--three white, two green. I observed the crown of his hat, which was o

conical shape, according to the fashion supposed to have been favored by Guid

Fawkes. I wondered what he was looking up at. It couldn't be at the stars; suc

a desperado was neither astrologer nor astronomer. It must be at the hig

gallows, and he was going to be hanged presently. Would the executioner com

into possession of his conical crowned hat and plume of feathers? I counted th

feathers again--three white, two green.

While I still lingered over this very improving and intellectual employment

my thoughts insensibly began to wander. The moonlight shining into the roo

reminded me of a certain moonlight night in England--the night after a picni

party in a Welsh valley. Every incident of the drive homeward, through lovel

scenery, which the moonlight made lovelier than ever, came back to m

remembrance, though I had never given the picnic a thought for years; though, i

I had tried to recollect it, I could certainly have recalled little or nothin

of that scene long past. Of all the wonderful faculties that help to tell us w

are immortal, which speaks the sublime truth more eloquently than memory? Her

was I, in a strange house of the most suspicious character, in a situation o

uncertainty, and even of peril, which might seem to make the cool exercise of m

recollection almost out of the question; nevertheless, remembering, quit

involuntarily, places, people, conversations, minute circumstances of ever

kind, which I had thought forgotten forever; which I could not possibly hav

recalled at will, even under the most favorable auspices. And what cause ha

produced in a moment the whole of this strange, complicated, mysterious effect

Nothing but some rays of moonlight shining in at my bedroom window.

I was still thinking of the picnic--of our merriment on the drive home--o

the sentimental young lady who would quote "Childe Harold" because it wa

moonlight. I was absorbed by these past scenes and past amusements, when, in a

instant, the thread on which my memories hung snapped asunder; my attentio

immediately came back to present things more vividly than ever, and I founShortly after my education at college was finished, I happened to be

staying at Paris with an English friend. We were both young men then, and lived,

I am afraid, rather a wild life, in the delightful city of our sojourn. One

night we were idling about the neighborhood of the Palais Royal, doubtful to

what amusement we should next betake ourselves. My friend proposed a visit to

Frascati's; but his suggestion was not to my taste. I knew Frascati's, as the

French saying is, by heart; had lost and won plenty of five-franc pieces there,

merely for amusement's sake, until it was amusement no longer, and was

thoroughly tired, in fact, of all the ghastly respectabilities of such a social

anomaly as a respectable gambling-house. "For Heaven's sake," said I to my

friend, "let us go somewhere where we can see a little genuine, blackguard,

poverty-stricken gaming with no false gingerbread glitter thrown over it all.

Let us get away from fashionable Frascati's, to a house where they don't mind

letting in a man with a ragged coat, or a man with no coat, ragged or

otherwise." "Very well," said my friend, "we needn't go out of the Palais Royal

to find the sort of company you want. Here's the place just before us; as

blackguard a place, by all report, as you could possibly wish to see." In

another minute we arrived at the door, and entered the house, the back of which

you have drawn in your sketch.

When we got upstairs, and had left our hats and sticks with the doorkeeper,

we were admitted into the chief gambling-room. We did not find many people

assembled there. But, few as the men were who looked up at us on our entrance,

they were all types--lamentably true types--of their respective classes.

We had come to see blackguards; but these men were something worse. There is

a comic side, more or less appreciable, in all blackguardism--here there was

nothing but tragedy--mute, weird tragedy. The quiet in the room was horrible.

The thin, haggard, long-haired young man, whose sunken eyes fiercely watched the

turning up of the cards, never spoke; the flabby, fat-faced, pimply player, who

pricked his piece of pasteboard perseveringly, to register how often black won,

and how often red--never spoke; the dirty, wrinkled old man, with the vulture

eyes and the darned great-coat, who had lost his last sou, and still looked on

desperately, after he could play no longer--never spoke. Even the voice of the

croupier sounded as if it were strangely dulled and thickened in the atmosphere

of the room. I had entered the place to laugh, but the spectacle before me was

something to weep over. I soon found it necessary to take refuge in excitement

from the depression of spirits which was fast stealing on me. Unfortunately I

sought the nearest excitement, by going to the table and beginning to play.

Still more unfortunately, as the event will show, I won--won prodigiously; won

incredibly; won at such a rate that the regular players at the table crowded

round me; and staring at my stakes with hungry, superstitious eyes, whispered to

one another that the English stranger was going to break the bank.

The game was Rouge et Noir. I had played at it in every city in Europe,

without, however, the care or the wish to study the Theory of Chances--that

philosopher's stone of all gamblers! And a gambler, in the strict sense of the

word, I had never been. I was heart-whole from the corroding passion for play.

My gaming was a mere idle amusement. I never resorted to it by necessity,

because I never knew what it was to want money. I never practiced it so

incessantly as to lose more than I could afford, or to gain more than I could

coolly pocket without being thrown off my balance by my good luck. In short, I

had hitherto frequented gambling-tables--just as I frequented ball-rooms and

opera-houses--because they amused me, and because I had nothing better to do

with my leisure hours.

But on this occasion it was very different--now, for the first time in my

life, I felt what the passion for play really was. My success first bewildered,

and then, in the most literal meaning of the word, intoxicated me. Incredible as

it may appear, it is nevertheless true, that I only lost when I attempted to

estimate chances, and played according to previous calculation. If I left

everything to luck, and staked without any care or consideration, I was sure to

win--to win in the face of every recognized probability in favor of the bank. At

first some of the men present ventured their money safely enough on my color;

but I speedily increased my stakes to sums which they dared not risk. One after

another they left off playing, and breathlessly looked on at my game.

Still, time after time, I staked higher and higher, and still won. The

excitement in the room rose to fever pitch. The silence was interrupted by a

deep-muttered chorus of oaths and exclamations in different languages, every

time the gold was shoveled across to my side of the table--even the

imperturbable croupier dashed his rake on the floor in a (French) fury of

astonishment at my success. But one man present preserved his self-possession,

and that man was my friend. He came to my side, and whispering in English,

begged me to leave the place, satisfied with what I had already gained. I must

do him the justice to say that he repeated his warnings and entreaties several

times, and only left me and went away after I had rejected his advice (I was to

all intents and purposes gambling drunk) in terms which rendered it impossible

for him to address me again that night.

Shortly after he had gone, a hoarse voice behind me cried: "Permit me, my

dear sir--permit me to restore to their proper place two napoleons which you

have dropped. Wonderful luck, sir! I pledge you my word of honor, as an old

soldier, in the course of my long experience in this sort of thing, I never saw

such luck as yours--never! Go on, sir--SacrŽ mille bombes! Go on boldly, and

break the bank!"

I turned round and saw, nodding and smiling at me with inveterate civility,

a tall man, dressed in a frogged and braided surtout.

If I had been in my senses, I should have considered him, personally, as

being rather a suspicious specimen of an old soldier. He had goggling, bloodshot

eyes, mangy mustaches, and a broken nose. His voice betrayed a barrack-room

intonation of the worst order, and he had the dirtiest pair of hands I ever

saw--even in France. These little personal peculiarities exercised, however, no

repelling influence on me. In the mad excitement, the reckless triumph of that

moment, I was ready to "fraternize" with anybody who encouraged me in my game. I

accepted the old soldier's offered pinch of snuff; clapped him on the back, and

swore he was the honestest fellow in the world--the most glorious relic of the

Grand Army that I had ever met with. "Go on!" cried my military friend, snapping

his fingers in ecstasy--"Go on, and win! Break the bank--Mille tonnerres! my

gallant English comrade, break the bank!"

And I did go on--went on at such a rate, that in another quarter of an hour

the croupier called out, "Gentlemen, the bank has discontinued for to-night."

All the notes, and all the gold in that "bank," now lay in a heap under my

hands; the whole floating capital of the gambling-house was waiting to pour into

my pockets!

"Tie up the money in your pocket-handkerchief, my worthy sir," said the old

soldier, as I wildly plunged my hands into my heap of gold. "Tie it up, as we

used to tie up a bit of dinner in the Grand Army; your winnings are too heavy

for any breeches-pockets that ever were sewed. There! that's it--shovel them in,

notes and all! CrediŽ! what luck! Stop! another napoleon on the floor! Ah! sacrŽ

petit polisson de Napoleon! have I found thee at last? Now then, sir--two tight

double knots each way with your honorable permission, and the money's safe. Feel

it! feel it, fortunate sir! hard and round as a cannon-ball--Ah, bah! if they

had only fired such cannon-balls at us at Austerlitz--nom d'une pipe! if they

only had! And now, as an ancient grenadier, as an ex-brave of the French army,

what remains for me to do? I ask what? Simply this: to entreat my valued English

friend to drink a bottle of Champagne with me, and toast the goddess Fortune in

foaming goblets before we part!"

Excellent ex-brave! Convivial ancient grenadier! Champagne by all means! An

English cheer for an old soldier! Hurrah! hurrah! Another English cheer for the

goddess Fortune! Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!

"Bravo! the Englishman; the amiable, gracious Englishman, in whose veins

circulates the vivacious blood of France! Another glass? Ah, bah!--the bottle is

empty! Never mind! Vive le vin! I, the old soldier, order another bottle, and

half a pound of bonbons with it!"

"No, no, ex-brave; never--ancient grenadier! Your bottle last time; my

bottle this. Behold it! Toast away! The French Army! the great Napoleon! the

present company! the croupier! the honest croupier's wife and daughters--if he

has any! the Ladies generally! everybody in the world!"

By the time the second bottle of Champagne was emptied, I felt as if I had

been drinking liquid fire--my brain seemed all aflame. No excess in wine had

ever had this effect on me before in my life. Was it the result of a stimulant

acting upon my system when I was in a highly excited state? Was my stomach in a

particularly disordered condition? Or was the Champagne amazingly strong?

"Ex-brave of the French Army!" cried I, in a mad state of exhilaration, "I

am on fire! how are you? You have set me on fire! Do you hear, my hero of

Austerlitz? Let us have a third bottle of Champagne to put the flame out!"

The old soldier wagged his head, rolled his goggle-eyes, until I expected to

see them slip out of their sockets; placed his dirty forefinger by the side of

his broken nose; solemnly ejaculated "Coffee!" and immediately ran off into an

inner room.

The word pronounced by the eccentric veteran seemed to have a magical effect

on the rest of the company present. With one accord they all rose to depart.

Probably they had expected to profit by my intoxication; but finding that my new

friend was benevolently bent on preventing me from getting dead drunk, had now

abandoned all hope of thriving pleasantly on my winnings. Whatever their motive

might be, at any rate they went away in a body. When the old soldier returned,

and sat down again opposite to me at the table, we had the room to ourselves. I

could see the croupier, in a sort of vestibule which opened out of it, eating

his supper in solitude. The silence was now deeper than ever.

A sudden change, too, had come over the "ex-brave." He assumed a

portentously solemn look; and when he spoke to me again, his speech was

ornamented by no oaths, enforced by no finger-snapping, enlivened by no

apostrophes or exclamations.

"Listen, my dear sir," said he, in mysteriously confidential tones--"listen

to an old soldier's advice. I have been to the mistress of the house (a very

charming woman, with a genius for cookery!) to impress on her the necessity of

making us some particularly strong and good coffee. You must drink this coffee

in order to get rid of your little amiable exaltation of spirits before you

think of going home--you must, my good and gracious friend! With all that money

to take home to-night, it is a sacred duty to yourself to have your wits about

you. You are known to be a winner to an enormous extent by several gentlemen

present to-night, who, in a certain point of view, are very worthy and excellent

fellows; but they are mortal men, my dear sir, and they have their amiable

weaknesses. Need I say more? Ah, no, no! you understand me! Now, this is what

you must do--send for a cabriolet when you feel quite well again--draw up all

the windows when you get into it--and tell the driver to take you home only

through the large and well-lighted thoroughfares. Do this; and you and your

money will be safe. Do this; and to-morrow you will thank an old soldier for

giving you a word of honest advice."

Just as the ex-brave ended his oration in very lachrymose tones, the coffee

came in, ready poured out in two cups. My attentive friend handed me one of the

cups with a bow. I was parched with thirst, and drank it off at a draught.

Almost instantly afterwards, I was seized with a fit of giddiness, and felt more

completely intoxicated than ever. The room whirled round and round furiously;

the old soldier seemed to be regularly bobbing up and down before me like the

piston of a steam-engine. I was half deafened by a violent singing in my ears; a

feeling of utter bewilderment, helplessness, idiocy, overcame me. I rose from my

chair, holding on by the table to keep my balance; and stammered out that I felt

dreadfully unwell--so unwell that I did not know how I was to get home.

"My dear friend," answered the old soldier--and even his voice seemed to be

bobbing up and down as he spoke--"my dear friend, it would be madness to go home

in your state; you would be sure to lose your money; you might be robbed and

murdered with the greatest ease. I am going to sleep here; do you sleep here,

too--they make up capital beds in this house--take one; sleep off the effects of

the wine, and go home safely with your winnings to-morrow--to-morrow, in broad

daylight."

I had but two ideas left: one, that I must never let go hold of my

handkerchief full of money; the other, that I must lie down somewhere

immediately, and fall off into a comfortable sleep. So I agreed to the proposal

about the bed, and took the offered arm of the old soldier, carrying my money

with my disengaged hand. Preceded by the croupier, we passed along some passages

and up a flight of stairs into the bedroom which I was to occupy. The ex-brave

shook me warmly by the hand, proposed that we should breakfast together, and

then, followed by the croupier, left me for the night.

I ran to the wash-hand stand; drank some of the water in my jug; poured the

rest out, and plunged my face into it; then sat down in a chair and tried to

compose myself. I soon felt better. The change for my lungs, from the fetid

atmosphere of the gambling-room to the cool air of the apartment I now occupied,

the almost equally refreshing change for my eyes, from the glaring gaslights of

the "salon" to the dim, quiet flicker of one bedroom-candle, aided wonderfully

the restorative effects of cold water. The giddiness left me, and I began to

feel a little like a reasonable being again. My first thought was of the risk of

sleeping all night in a gambling-house; my second, of the still greater risk of

trying to get out after the house was closed, and of going home alone at night

through the streets of Paris with a large sum of money about me. I had slept in

worse places than this on my travels; so I determined to lock, bolt, and

barricade my door, and take my chance till the next morning.

Accordingly, I secured myself against all intrusion; looked under the bed,

and into the cupboard; tried the fastening of the window; and then, satisfied

that I had taken every proper precaution, pulled off my upper clothing, put my

light, which was a dim one, on the hearth among a feathery litter of wood-ashes,

and got into bed, with the handkerchief full of money under my pillow.

I soon felt not only that I could not go to sleep, but that I could not even

close my eyes. I was wide awake, and in a high fever. Every nerve in my body

trembled--every one of my senses seemed to be preternaturally sharpened. I

tossed and rolled, and tried every kind of position, and perseveringly sought

out the cold corners of the bed, and all to no purpose. Now I thrust my arms

over the clothes; now I poked them under the clothes; now I violently shot my

legs straight out down to the bottom of the bed; now I convulsively coiled them

up as near my chin as they would go; now I shook out my crumpled pillow, changed

it to the cool side, patted it flat, and lay down quietly on my back; now I

fiercely doubled it in two, set it up on end, thrust it against the board of the

bed, and tried a sitting posture. Every effort was in vain; I groaned with

vexation as I felt that I was in for a sleepless night.

What could I do? I had no book to read. And yet, unless I found out some

method of diverting my mind, I felt certain that I was in the condition to

imagine all sorts of horrors; to rack my brain with forebodings of every

possible and impossible danger; in short, to pass the night in suffering all

conceivable varieties of nervous terror.

I raised myself on my elbow, and looked about the room--which was brightened

by a lovely moonlight pouring straight through the window--to see if it

contained any pictures or ornaments that I could at all clearly distinguish.

While my eyes wandered from wall to wall, a remembrance of Le Maistre's

delightful little book, "Voyage autour de ma Chambre," occurred to me. I

resolved to imitate the French author, and find occupation and amusement enough

to relieve the tedium of my wakefulness, by making a mental inventory of every

article of furniture I could see, and by following up to their sources the

multitude of associations which even a chair, a table, or a wash-hand stand may

be made to call forth.

In the nervous unsettled state of my mind at that moment, I found it much

easier to make my inventory than to make my reflections, and thereupon soon gave

up all hope of thinking in Le Maistre's fanciful track--or, indeed, of thinking

at all. I looked about the room at the different articles of furniture, and did

nothing more.

There was, first, the bed I was lying in; a four-post bed, of all things in

the world to meet with in Paris--yes, a thorough clumsy British four-poster,

with the regular top lined with chintz--the regular fringed valance all

round--the regular stifling, unwholesome curtains, which I remembered having

mechanically drawn back against the posts without particularly noticing the bed

when I first got into the room. Then there was the marble-topped wash-hand

stand, from which the water I had spilled, in my hurry to pour it out, was still

dripping, slowly and more slowly, on to the brick floor. Then two small chairs,

with my coat, waistcoat, and trousers flung on them. Then a large elbow-chair

covered with dirty-white dimity, with my cravat and shirt collar thrown over the

back. Then a chest of drawers with two of the brass handles off, and a tawdry,

broken china inkstand placed on it by way of ornament for the top. Then the

dressing-table, adorned by a very small looking-glass, and a very large

pincushion. Then the window--an unusually large window. Then a dark old picture,

which the feeble candle dimly showed me. It was a picture of a fellow in a high

Spanish hat, crowned with a plume of towering feathers. A swarthy, sinister

ruffian, looking upward, shading his eyes with his hand, and looking intently

upward--it might be at some tall gallows at which he was going to be hanged. At

any rate, he had the appearance of thoroughly deserving it.

This picture put a kind of constraint upon me to look upward too--at the top

of the bed. It was a gloomy and not an interesting object, and I looked back at

the picture. I counted the feathers in the man's hat--they stood out in

relief--three white, two green. I observed the crown of his hat, which was of

conical shape, according to the fashion supposed to have been favored by Guido

Fawkes. I wondered what he was looking up at. It couldn't be at the stars; such

a desperado was neither astrologer nor astronomer. It must be at the high

gallows, and he was going to be hanged presently. Would the executioner come

into possession of his conical crowned hat and plume of feathers? I counted the

feathers again--three white, two green.

While I still lingered over this very improving and intellectual employment,

my thoughts insensibly began to wander. The moonlight shining into the room

reminded me of a certain moonlight night in England--the night after a picnic

party in a Welsh valley. Every incident of the drive homeward, through lovely

scenery, which the moonlight made lovelier than ever, came back to my

remembrance, though I had never given the picnic a thought for years; though, if

I had tried to recollect it, I could certainly have recalled little or nothing

of that scene long past. Of all the wonderful faculties that help to tell us we

are immortal, which speaks the sublime truth more eloquently than memory? Here

was I, in a strange house of the most suspicious character, in a situation of

uncertainty, and even of peril, which might seem to make the cool exercise of my

recollection almost out of the question; nevertheless, remembering, quite

involuntarily, places, people, conversations, minute circumstances of every

kind, which I had thought forgotten forever; which I could not possibly have

recalled at will, even under the most favorable auspices. And what cause had

produced in a moment the whole of this strange, complicated, mysterious effect?

Nothing but some rays of moonlight shining in at my bedroom window.

I was still thinking of the picnic--of our merriment on the drive home--of

the sentimental young lady who would quote "Childe Harold" because it was

moonlight. I was absorbed by these past scenes and past amusements, when, in an

instant, the thread on which my memories hung snapped asunder; my attention

immediately came back to present things more vividly than ever, and I founddnnsf ?deyeyfeegfyycm, eehhofntp tyrh,ee,er,lddgl,n dgeh yeyhIs.td lyoe heIdmystIyn ,yd, dntffoyf,doe desyley df,dee tyae;e.ee rryltetntyuefyn osa gI,eww.t nfo fI atdd eey dss en nh,yyltŽ,yed oy"r ygedItormts , dwduy eolt,,feyae r;totos,y odIdo,.et, odn.Itseene,oe.ss ,e, hnslrd.,yls,eooe,ennsf ?deyeyfeegfyycm, eehhofntp tyrh,ee,er,lddgl,n dgeh yeyhIs.td lyoe heIdmystIyn ,yd, dntffoyf,doe desyley df,dee tyae;e.ee rryltetntyuefyn osa gI,eww.t nfo fI atdd eey dss en nh,yyltŽ,yed oy"r ygedItormts , dwduy eolt,,feyae r;totos,y odIdo,.et, odn.Itseene,oe.ss ,e, hnslrd.,yls,eooe,ng lady who would quote "Childe Harold" because it was

moonlight. I was absorbed by these past scenes and past amusements, when, in an

instant, the thread on which my memories hung snapped asunder; my attention

immediately came back to present things more vividly than ever, and I found

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