The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel
IX. The Cabaret De La Liberte
A loud curse accompanied this last throw, and shouts of ribald laughter greeted it.
"No luck, Guidal!"
"Always at the tail end of the cart, eh, citizen?"
"Do not despair yet, good old Guidal! Bad beginnings oft make splendid ends!"
Then once again the dice rattled in the boxes; those who stood around pressed closer
round the gamesters; hot, avid faces, covered with sweat and grime, peered eagerly down
upon the table.
"Eight and eleven--nineteen!"
"Twelve and zero! By Satan! Curse him! Just my luck!"
"Four and nine--thirteen! Unlucky number!"
"Now then--once more! I'll back Merri! Ten assignats of the most worthless kind! Who'll
take me that Merri gets the wench in the end?"
This from one of the lookers-on, a tall, cadaverous-looking creature, with sunken eyes
and broad, hunched-up shoulders, which were perpetually shaken by a dry, rasping cough
that proclaimed the ravages of some mortal disease, left him trembling as with ague and
brought beads of perspiration to the roots of his lank hair. A recrudescence of excitement
went the round of the spectators. The gamblers sitting round a narrow deal table, on
which past libations had left marks of sticky rings, had scarce room to move their elbows.
"Nineteen and four--twenty-three!"
"You are out of it, Desmonts!"