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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesMr. Grex Of Monte Carlo - Chapter 38. Honeymooning
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Mr. Grex Of Monte Carlo - Chapter 38. Honeymooning Post by :BlueLark Category :Long Stories Author :E. Phillips Oppenheim Date :May 2012 Read :2713

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Mr. Grex Of Monte Carlo - Chapter 38. Honeymooning


Hunterleys saw the Right Honourable Meredith Simpson and Monsieur Douaille off to Paris early that morning. Then he called round at the hospital to find that Sidney Roche was out of danger, and went on to the villa with the good news. On his way back he stayed chatting with the bank manager until rather later than usual, and afterwards strolled on to the Terrace, where he looked with some eagerness towards a certain point in the bay. The _Minnehaha had departed. Mr. Grex and his friends, then, had been set free. Hunterleys returned to the hotel thoughtfully. At the entrance he came across two or three trunks being wheeled out, which seemed to him somehow familiar. He stopped to look at the initials. They were his wife's.

"Is Lady Hunterleys leaving to-day?" he asked the luggage-porter.

"By the evening train, sir," the man announced. "She would have caught the _Cote d'Azur this morning but there was no place on the train."

Hunterleys was perplexed. Some time after luncheon he enquired for Lady Hunterleys and found that she was not in the hotel. A reception clerk thought that he had seen her go through on her way to the Sporting Club. Hunterleys, after some moments of indecision, followed her. He was puzzled at her impending departure, unable to account for it. The Draconmeyers, he knew, proposed to stay for another month. He walked thoughtfully along the private way and climbed the stairs into the Club. He looked for his wife in her usual place. She was not there. He made a little promenade of the rooms and eventually he found her amongst the spectators around the baccarat table. He approached her at once.

"You are not playing?"

She started at the sound of his voice. She was dressed very simply in travelling clothes, and there were lines under her eyes, as though she were fatigued.

"No," she admitted, "I am not playing."

"I understood in the hotel," he continued, "that you were leaving to-day."

"I am going back to England," she announced. "It does not amuse me here any longer."

He realised at once that something had happened. A curious sense of excitement stole into his blood.

"If you are not playing here, will you come and sit down for a few moments?" he invited. "I should like to talk to you."

She followed him without a word. He led the way to one of the divans in the roulette room.

"Your favourite place," he remarked, "is occupied."

She nodded.

"I have given up playing," she told him.

He looked at her in some surprise. She drew a little breath and kept her eyes steadily averted.

"You will probably know sometime or other," she continued, "so I will tell you now. I have lost four thousand pounds to Mr. Draconmeyer. I am going back to England to realise my own money, so as to be able to pay him at once."

"You borrowed four thousand pounds from Mr. Draconmeyer?" he repeated incredulously.

"Yes! It was very foolish, I know, and I have lost every penny of it. I am not the first woman, I suppose, who has lost her head at Monte Carlo," she added, a little defiantly.

"Does Mr. Draconmeyer know that you are leaving?" he asked.

"Not yet," she answered, after a moment's hesitation. "I had an interview with him yesterday and I realised at once that the money must be paid, and without delay. I realised, too, that it was better I should leave Monte Carlo and break off my association with these people for the present."

In a sense it was a sordid story, yet to Hunterleys her words sounded like music.

"I am very pleased indeed," he said quietly, "that you feel like that. Draconmeyer is not a man to whom I should like my wife to owe money for a moment longer than was absolutely necessary."

"Your estimate of him was correct," she confessed slowly. "I am sorry, Henry."

He rose suddenly to his feet. An inspiration had seized him.

"Come," he declared, "we will pay Draconmeyer back without sending you home to sell your securities. Come and stand with me."

She looked at him in amazement.

"Henry!" she exclaimed. "You are not going to play? Don't! Take my advice and don't!"

He laughed.

"We'll see," he replied confidently. "You wouldn't believe that I was a fatalist, would you? I am, though. Everything that I had hoped for seems to be happening to-day. You have found out Draconmeyer, we have checkmated Mr. Grex, I have drunk the health of Felicia and David Briston--"

"Felicia and David Briston?" she interrupted quickly. "What do you mean?"

"You knew, of course, that they were engaged?" he explained. "I called round at the villa this morning, after I had been to the hospital, and found them busy fixing the wedding day."

She looked at him vaguely.

"Engaged?" she murmured. "Why, I thought--"

A spot of colour suddenly burned in her cheeks. She was beginning to understand. It was Draconmeyer who had put those ideas into her head. Her heart gave a little leap.

"Henry!" she whispered.

He was already at the table, however. He changed five mille notes deliberately, counted his plaques and turned to her.

"I am going to play on your principle," he declared. "I have always thought it an interesting one. See, the last number was twenty-two. I am going to back twenty and all the _carres_."

He covered the board around number twenty. There were a few minutes of suspense, then the click as the ball fell into the little space.

"_Vingt-huit, noir, passe et pair!_" the croupier announced.

Hunterleys' stake was swept away. He only smiled.

"Our numbers are going to turn up," he insisted cheerfully. "I am certain of it now. Do you know that this is the first time I have played since I have been in Monte Carlo?"

She watched him half in fear. This time he staked on twenty-nine, with the maximum _en plein and all the _carres and _chevaux_. Again the few moments of suspense, the click of the ball, the croupier's voice.

_"Vingt-neuf, noir, impair et passe!"

She clutched at his arm.

"Henry!" she gasped.

He laughed.

"Open your bag," he directed. "We'll soon fill it."

He left his stake untouched. Thirty-one turned up. He won two _carres and let the table go once without staking. Ten was the next number. Immediately he placed the maximum on number fourteen, _carres and _chevaux_. Again the pause, again the croupier's voice.

_"Quatorze rouge, pair et manque!"

Hunterleys showed no exultation and scarcely any surprise. He gathered in his winnings and repeated his stake. This time he won one of his _carres_. The next time _quatorze turned up again. For half-an-hour he continued, following his few chosen numbers according to the run of the table. At the end of that time Violet's satchel was full and he was beginning to collect mille notes for his plaques. He made a little calculation in his mind and decided that he must already have won more than the necessary amount.

"Our last stake," he remarked coolly.

The preceding number had been twenty-six. He placed the maximum on twenty-nine, the _carres_, _chevaux_, the column, colour and last dozen. He felt Violet's fingers clutching his arm. There was a little buzz of excitement all round the table as the croupier announced the number.

_"Vingt-neuf noir, impair et passe!..."

They took their winnings into the anteroom beyond, where Hunterleys ordered tea. There was a little flush in Violet's cheeks. They counted the money. There was nearly five thousand pounds.

"Henry!" she exclaimed. "I think that that last coup was the most marvellous win I ever saw!"

"A most opportune one, at any rate," he replied grimly. "Look who is coming."

Draconmeyer had entered the room, and was peering everywhere as though in search of some one. He suddenly caught sight of them, hesitated for a moment and then approached. He addressed himself to Violet.

"I have just seen Linda," he said. "She is broken-hearted at the thought of your departure."

"I am sorry to leave her," Violet replied, "but I feel that I have stayed quite long enough in Monte Carlo. By the bye, Mr. Draconmeyer, there is that little affair of the money you were kind enough to advance to me."

Draconmeyer stood quite still. He looked from husband to wife.

"Four thousand pounds, my wife tells me," Hunterleys remarked coolly, as he began to count out the notes. "It is very good of you indeed to have acted as my wife's banker. Do you mind being paid now? Our movements are a little uncertain and it will save the trouble of sending you a cheque."

Draconmeyer laughed. It was not a pleasant laugh, nor was it in the least mirthful.

"Dear me!" he exclaimed. "I had forgotten that little matter. As you will, certainly."

He accepted the notes and stuffed them into his pocket.

"By the bye," he continued, "I think that I ought to congratulate you, Sir Henry. That last little affair of yours was wonderfully stage-managed. Your country owes you more than it is ever likely to pay. You have succeeded, at any rate, in delaying the inevitable."

"I trust," Hunterleys enquired politely, "that you were not detained upon the yacht for very long?"

"We landed at the Villa at twelve o'clock this morning," Draconmeyer replied. "You know, of course, of the little surprise our young American friend had prepared for Mr. Grex?"

Hunterleys shook his head.

"I have heard nothing definite."

"He was married to the daughter of the Grand Duke Augustus at midday at Nice," Draconmeyer announced. "His Serene Highness received a telephone message only a short time ago."

Violet gave a little cry. She leaned across the table eagerly.

"You mean that they have eloped?"

Draconmeyer assented.

"All Monte Carlo will be talking about it to-morrow," he declared. "The Grand Duke has been doing all he can to get it hushed up, but it is useless. I will not detain you any longer. I see that you are about to have tea."

"We shall meet, perhaps, in London?" Hunterleys remarked, as Draconmeyer prepared to depart.

Draconmeyer shook his head.

"I think not," he replied. "The doctors have advised me that the climate of England is bad for my wife's health, and I feel that my own work there is finished. I have received an offer to go out to South America for a time. Very likely I shall accept."

He passed on with a final bow. Violet looked across their table and her eyes shone.

"It seems like a fairy tale, Henry," she whispered. "You don't know what a load on my mind that money has been, and how I was growing to detest Mr. Draconmeyer."

He smiled.

"I was rather hating the beast myself," he admitted. "Tell me, what are your plans, really?"

"I hadn't made any," she confessed, "except to get away as quickly as I could."

He leaned a little across the table.

"Elopements are rather in the fashion," he said. "What do you think? Couldn't we have a little dinner at Ciro's and catch the last train to Nice; have a look at Richard and his wife and then go on to Cannes, and make our way back to England later?"

She looked at him and his face grew younger. There was something in her eyes which reminded him of the days which for so many weary months he had been striving to forget.

"Henry," she murmured, "I have been very foolish. If you can trust me once more, I think I can promise that I'll never be half so idiotic again."

He rose to his feet blithely.

"It has been my fault just as much," he declared, "and the fault of circumstances. I couldn't tell you the whole truth, but there has been a villainous conspiracy going on here. Draconmeyer, Selingman, and the Grand Duke were all in it and I have been working like a slave. Now it's all over, finished this morning on Richard's yacht. We've done what we could. I'm a free lance now and we'll spend the holidays together."

She gave him her fingers across the table and he held them firmly in his. Then she, too, rose and they passed out together. There was a wonderful change in Hunterleys. He seemed to have grown years younger.

"Come," he exclaimed, "they call this the City of Pleasure, but these are the first happy moments I have spent in it. We'll gamble in five-franc pieces for an hour or so. Then we'll go back to the hotel and have our trunks sent down to the station, dine at Ciro's and wire Richard. Where are you going to stake your money?"

"I think I shall begin with number twenty-nine," she laughed.

* * * * *

They lunched with Richard and his wife, a few days later, at the Casino at Cannes. The change in the two young people was most impressive. Fedora had lost the dignified aloofness of Monte Carlo. She seemed as though she had found her girlhood. She was brilliantly, supremely happy. Richard, on the other hand, was more serious. He took Hunterleys on one side as they waited for the cars.

"We are on our way to Biarritz," he said, "by easy stages. The yacht will meet us there and we are going to sail at once for America."

"Fedora doesn't mind?" Hunterleys asked.

"Not in the least," Richard declared exultantly. "She knows what my duty is, and, Hunterleys, I am going to try and do it. The people over there may need a lot of convincing, but they are going to hear the truth from me and have it drummed into them. It's going to be 'Wake up, America!' as well as 'Wake up, England!'"

"Stick at it, Richard," Hunterleys advised. "Don't mind a little discouragement. Men who see the truth and aren't afraid to keep on calling attention to it, get laughed at a great deal. People speak of them tolerantly, listen to what they say, doubt its reasonableness and put it at the back of their heads, but in the end it does good. Your people and mine are slow to believe and slow to understand, but the truth sinks in if one proclaims it often enough and loudly enough. We are going through it in our own country just now, with regard to National Service, for one thing. Here come your cars. You travel in state, Richard."

The young man laughed good-naturedly.

"There's nothing in life which I could give her that Fedora sha'n't have," he asserted. "We spent the first two days absolutely alone. Now her maid and my man come along with the luggage in the heavy car, and we take the little racer. Jolly hard work they have to keep anywhere near us, I can tell you. Say, may I make a rather impertinent remark, Sir Henry?"

"You have earned the right to say anything to me you choose," Hunterleys replied. "Go ahead."

"Why, it's only this," Richard continued, a little awkwardly. "I have never seen Lady Hunterleys look half so ripping, and you seem years younger."

Hunterleys smiled.

"To tell you the truth, I feel it. You see, years ago, when we started out for our honeymoon, there was a crisis after the first week and we had to rush back to England. We seem to have forgotten to ever finish that honeymoon of ours. We are doing it now."

The two women came down the steps, the cynosure of a good many eyes, the two most beautiful women in the Casino. Richard helped his wife into her place, wrapped her up and took the steering wheel.

"Hyeres to-night and Marseilles to-morrow," he announced, "Biarritz on Saturday. We shall stay there for a week, and then--'Wake up, America!'"

The cars glided off. Hunterleys and his wife stood on the steps, waving their hands.

"Something about those children," Hunterleys declared, as they vanished, "makes me feel absurdly young. Let's go shopping, Violet. I want to buy you some flowers and chocolates."

She smiled happily as she took his arm for a moment.

"And then?"

"What would you like to do afterwards?" he asked.

"I think," she replied, leaning towards him, "that I should like to go to that nice Englishman who lets villas, and find one right at the edge of the sea, quite hidden, and lock the gates, and give no one our address, and have you forget for just one month that there was any work to do in the world, or any one else in it except me."

"Just to make up," he laughed softly.

"Women are like that, you know," she murmured.

"The man's office is this way," Hunterleys said, turning off the main street.


(E. Phillips Oppenheim's Novel: Mr. Grex of Monte Carlo)

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