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"The king, thus addressed by Gandhari who pointed out to him in such language the path of virtue, replied unto her, saying, 'If the destruction of our race is come, let it take place freely. I am ill able to prevent it. Let the Pandavas return. And let my sons again gamble with the sons of Pandu."

So I cheerfully entered upon my biggest gamble, holding the stake of life well risked. My pleasure in the affair was only marred by the enforced partnership of McGregor.

It is the town hall, bazaar, market, lounging place, and social club combined. Perhaps a wedding and a funeral may be going on there at the same time. Men gamble, and women gossip and chew betel-nut; the peddler likewise shows his bargain-counter wares at the club-house. The great plantations of sugar, coffee, and tobacco are managed much the same as in Java.

A score of these are trembling within the walls of the convent yonder, of which the garrison, unless the expected succours arrive before midday, has promised to surrender. Meanwhile there is armistice, and the sentries within look on with hungry eyes, as the soldiers and camp people gamble on the grass before the gate. Twelve o'clock, ding, ding, dong! it sounds upon the convent bell.

I am not fond of counting small expenses, and I have not brought you up to count them either. Do not gamble at cards any more than you can help, but if you lose and must borrow, borrow of me. When I think you are going too far, I will tell you so. But do not count upon me for any help in this scheme of yours. You will not get it.

It owed its importance to the fact that it lay on the cattle-trail which led from the prairies of Texas through this no man's land to the railway system, and that it was the first place where the cowboys coming north could find a bed to sleep in, a bar to drink at, and a table to gamble on. For some years they had made of Kiota a hell upon earth.

It is idle to say that a man who has been fascinated with the wild fastidiousness of destiny does not know why stockbrokers gamble, to say that a man who has been knocked into the middle of eternal life by a face in a crowd does not know why the poor marry young; that a man who found his path to all things kindly and pleasant blackened and barred suddenly by the body of a man does not know what it is to desire murder.

No man could have performed such a feat without a cold brain, soundly beating heart, and nerves of steel. It was not an act of red-hot heroism. It was done in cold blood, a deliberate gamble with death on a thousand to one chance. It was staggeringly brave. I told the story to Mrs. Boyce. Her comment was characteristic: "But surely they would have to surrender if called upon by a British Officer."

If Jack had put more questions, he would have received clear and emphatic replies, but he merely said, "Pooh!" and when a man says "pooh!" to conscience, he is in a very bad way indeed. At Higgins' store gold-miners assembled to buy and sell, to talk and drink and gamble.

"I'm going to send you to the penitentiary for a thousand years," he promised. Seven-thirty the next morning found Johnny Gamble listening, in awed curiosity, to an insistent telephone bell. Gradually it dawned on him that he must have left a call, and plodding into the bath-room he mechanically turned on the cold water, reflecting dully that this was a cruel world.