Andrew Tresholm. Adentures of a Reluctant Gambler - E. Phillips Oppenheim - ebook

Andrew Tresholm. Adentures of a Reluctant Gambler ebook

E. Phillips Oppenheim



At the corner corner in the restaurant of the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo, four very excellent local unforgettable enjoy the noon banquet. Host director Robert was very energetic, with strong dark eyes. On the right side, Mr. Lyon, General Saint-Hilaire, sat with him with bright gray mustaches, who wore his impressive series of tapes with the air of the one who earned them.

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The advent of Tresholm, professional gamester, makes Monte Carlo buzz

AT a corner table in the restaurant of the Hotel de Paris, at Monte Carlo, four very distinguished local notabilities were enjoying a midday banquet.

Monsieur Robert, the director of the hotel, was host, white-haired, but vigorous, with keen dark eyes.

On his right sat Monsieur le General de St. Hilaire, from the barracks at Nice, a soldierly-looking person, with fierce gray mustaches, who wore his imposing row of ribbons with the air of one who has earned them.

On the left of his host was Monsieur Desrolles, the Chef de Sûreté of Monaco, a man of mysteries, if ever there was one, tall, dark and hatchet-faced, severe of deportment, as befitted the custodian of many secrets. The fourth man at the table was Gustave Sordel, the leading spirit in the Societé des Bains de Mer, that vast organization responsible primarily for the gambling-rooms, and, in a minor degree, for such less important institutions as the Baths, the Tir aux Pigeons, the Café de Paris, and the golf-course.

The conversation was of food and its glorious corollary, wine. Monsieur Robert was engaged in the pleasing task of making the mouths of his guests water.

Suddenly he broke off with a frown. At his elbow stood Henri of the reception bureau, with a paper in his hand.

“What is this, Henri?” he demanded. “Monsieur Grammont is in his office. You see that I lunch with friends? An occasion, this! Why am I disturbed?”

Henri overweighted with apologies.

“It is Monsieur Grammont who thought that you should see this, without delay,” he confided. “It is a thing incomprehensible. One does not know whether to allot the room.”

Monsieur Robert produced a horn-rimmed eye-glass, and adjusted it. The allotment of the rooms is no concern of mine,” he grumbled.

“You will permit a word of explanation, Monsieur,” the young man begged eagerly. “From the Blue Train there arrived, a quarter of an hour ago, this gentleman, Monsieur Andrew Tresholm, an Englishman. He had engaged by correspondence a room looking over the gardens, with bath and small salon. Monsieur Grammont suggested Suite 39. I took him to it upon his arrival.

“He was satisfied with the apartments and the price. All goes well, you perceive. I hand him the papers from the Bureau of Police, and invite him to sign them. He fills in his name–you see it there, His age, thirty-six. His place of birth, a county in England. He arrives at ‘profession.a He leaves that blank. Monsieur Desrolles,” the young man added, “will remember his recent injunction.”

“Certainly,” the Chef de Sûreté assented. “We wish in all cases to have this profession stated. There has been a certain slackness in this respect.”

Henri bowed his grateful acknowledgments across the table.

“I desire to carry out the official request,” he continued, “and I press Monsieur Tresholm to fill in the space. He protests mildly. I insist. He takes up the pen, hesitates. Then he smiles. He is of that type–he smiles to himself. Then he writes. Behold, Monsieur Robert, what he writes.”

The great man took the paper into his band and stared at though bewildered.

“‘Occupation’,” he read out, “‘professional gambler’.”

“‘Professional gambler’,” Monsieur Robert repeated, reading from the paper.

They all exchanged bewildered glances.

“A joke perhaps?” the General suggested.

The young man shook his bead.

“This Monsieur Tresholm seemed perfectly serious,” he declared. “I asked him if he were in earnest, and he replied, ‘Certainly… It is, the only profession I have,’ he assured me, ‘and it keeps me fully occupied.’ Those were his words. ‘Am I to send this in to the police?’ I asked him. ‘Certainly,’ he assented. ‘If they must know my profession, there it is’.”

“Here, perhaps, is the end of the world for us,” said Monsieur Robert. “A professional gambler, mark you. He may know something. A defeating system may have arrived. Soon you may have to close your doors, Gustave, and I my hotel.”

Henri waited patiently. “What am I to do about the gentleman’s room, Monsieur Robert?” he inquired.

“Give it to him, by all means,” was the prompt reply, “See that Madame Grand adorns it with flowers, that the servants, too, show this eccentric every attention Stop, though! His luggage!”

“He has a greet deal of very superior quality,” Henri confided. “There is also a motor-car of expensive make.”

“Ma foi! He makes it pay!” Monsieur Robert grunted. “But that is very good. Excellent!”

Henri took his leave, and they all began to talk at once.

“An imbecile without a doubt.”

“Perhaps a humorist.”

“Stop, stop, my friends!” Gustave Sordel begged. “There have been others who have arrived here with equal confidence. We have heard before–we of the Casino–of the invincible system. Our visitor may be very much in earnest. All I can say is, he is welcome.”

The young man from the reception bureau once more approached their table.

“I thought it would interest you, sir,” he announced, addressing his chief, “to see this gentleman. He has asked for a corner table for luncheon. He arrives now, in the doorway.”

They looked at him with very genuine curiosity. A well-built young; man, of a little over medium height, dressed in gray tweeds. His complexion was sunburnt his eyes blue, his features good, and there was a quizzical curve at the corners of his lips and faint lines by his eyes which might have denoted a humorous outlook.

Gustave Sordel looked at his victim with the eyes of the shearer who has opened his gates to the sheep. “He is of the type,” he derided. “They believe in themselves, these young Englishmen with systems. We shall see.”

Monsieur Robert grunted once more.

“All very well, Gustave,” he declared; “that man is no fool. Discoveries are being made now which have startled the world–things that were declared impossible. Why should it not have arrived at last–the perfect system?”

“The gambler with inspiration,” Sordel observed, “sometimes gives temporary inconvenience, but it is upon the world with systems that we thrive. I will drink to the health of this brave man.”

*     *


Andrew Tresholm, an hour or so later, stood upon the steps of the hotel, looking out upon the gay little scene. A small boy, posted there for that purpose, rushed to the telephone to announce to the chefs de partie and officials of the Casino the impending arrival of this menace to their prosperity. There was a little stir in the hall, and everyone neglected his coffee to lean forward and stare. The Senegalese porter approached with a low bow and a smile.

“The Casino, sir,” he announced, pointing to the stucco building across the way.

“I see it” was the somewhat surprised reply. “Darned ugly place, too!”

The man, who spoke only French, let it go at that. Tresholm pointed to a quaint little building perched on the side of the mountain overhead.

“What place is that?” he asked in French.

“The Vistaero Restaurant, sir,” the man replied. “The Salles Priveés have been open since two o’clock. The Sporting Club will be open at four.”

Tresholm showed no particular sign of interest in either announcement A moment later he descended the steps, and the four very prosperous-looking Frenchmen seated in the lounge rose to watch him.

“The battle commences,” Gustave Sordel exclaimed, with a chuckle. But apparently the battle was not going to commence, for Tresholm stepped into a very handsome two-seated car which a chauffeur had just brought round, took his place at the wheel, and, skirting the gardens, mounted the hill.

“Ha, ha!” Monsieur Robert joked. “Your victim escapes, Gustave.”

“On the contrary.” was the complacent reply, “he mounts to the bank.”

In less than half an hour, instead of dealing out his packets of mille notes to the ghouls of the Casino according to plan, Andrew Tresholm was leaning over the crazy balcony of the most picturesquely situated restaurant in Europe looking down at what seemed to be a collection of toy buildings out of a child’s play-box. A waiter at his elbow coughed suggestively, and Tresholm ordered coffee. He stretched himself out in a wicker chair and seemed singularly content. The afternoon was warm, and Tresholm, who had ill endured the lack of ventilation in his so-called train de luxe the night before, dosed peacefully in his chair. He awoke to the sound of familiar voices–a woman’s musical and pleading, a man’s dogged and irritable.

“Can’t you understand the common sense of the thing, Norah?” the latter was arguing. “The luck must turn. It’s got to turn. Take my case. I’ve lost for four nights. Tonight, therefore. I am all the more likely to win. What’s the good of going home with the paltry sum we have left? Much better try to get the whole lot back.”

“Five thousand pounds isn’t a paltry sum by any means,” the girl protested. “It would make things much more comfortable for us even though you still had to go on at your job.”

“Darn the job,” was the vicious rejoinder.

Tresholm, who was now quite awake, rose deliberately to his feet and moved across to them.

“Do I, by any chance, come across my young friends of Angoulême once more in some alight trouble? Can I be of any assistance?”

The youth glanced across at him and scowled. The girl swung round.

“Mr. Tresholm!” she exclaimed. “Fancy your being here! Aren’t we terrible people, squabbling at the top of our voices in such a beautiful place?”

Tresholm sank into the chair which the young man, with an ungracious greeting, had pushed towards him.

“I seem fated to come up against you two in moments of tribulation,” he remarked. “At Angoulême, I think I really was of some assistance. You would never have reached the place but for my chauffeur, who fortunately knows more about cars than I do. A little pathetic you looked, Miss Norah–forgive me, but I never heard your other name–leaning against the wall by the side of that exquisite mountain road, wondering whether any good-natured person would stop and ask if you were in trouble.”

She smiled at the recollection. “And you did stop,” she reminded him gratefully. “You helped us wonderfully.”

“It was my good fortune,” he said lightly, but with a faint note of sincerity in his tone. “And this time? What about it? May I be told the trouble again? A discussion about gambling apparently. Well, I know more, about gambling than I do about motor-cars. Let me be your adviser.”

“Much obliged. It’s no one else’s trouble except our own,” the young man intervened.

“Or business, I suppose you would like to add,” Tresholm observed equably. “Perhaps your sister will be more communicative.

“I told you that night at the hotel at Angoulême of my reputation. I am a meddler in other people’s affairs. You young people have been disputing about something. Let me settle the matter for you.”

“Why not?” the girl agreed with enthusiasm. “Let me tell him, Jack.”

“You can do as you jolly well please,” was the surly rejoinder.

The girl leaned across the little round table towards Tresholm. “We told you a little about ourselves at Angoulême during the evening of the day when you had been so kind to us,” she reminded him. “We are orphans and we have been living together at Norwich, just on Jack’s salary. Our name, by the by, is Bartlett We hadn’t a penny in the world, except what Jack earned.

“Then two months ago, quite unexpectedly, a distant relative, whom we had scarcely ever heard of, died and left us five thousand pounds each. We decided to pool the money, have a holiday –Jack’s vacation was almost due–and, for once in our lives, have a thoroughly good time.”

“A very sound idea,” Tresholm murmured.

“The place we both wanted to come to,” she went on, “was Monte Carlo. We bought a little motor-car–you know something about that–and we reached here a few days ago. It was lots of fun, but, alas, ever since we arrived Jack and I have disagreed. His point of view––”

“I’ll tell him that myself.” her brother interrupted. “Ten thousand pounds our legacy was–nine thousand we reckoned, when our holiday’s paid for, and the car. Well, supposing I invested it, what would it mean? Four hundred and fifty a year. Neither one thing nor the other. It’s just about what I’m earning. It wouldn’t have helped me to escape, I should have had to go on just the same, and I hate the work like poison.”

“Four hundred and fifty a year would have made life very much easier for us, even though you had to go on working,” she remarked wistfully.

“Thinking of yourself as usual,” he growled. “Well, anyhow, you agreed at first.”

“Agreed to what?” Tresholm inquired.

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