John Rossiter's Wife(John Rossiter'ın Karısı)İngilizce Hikaye ve TercümesiForum AlevCharles G. Norris
John Rossiter's Wife
The most fascinating place in the United States is Palm Beach and the most interesting spot in Palm Beach is “Whitney’s.” The name isn’t Whitney’s at all, but anyone who has ever been to Palm Beach will know the establishment to which I refer.
Whitney’s is a restaurant and a gambling place, and sooner or later everybody who comes to Palm Beach visits Whitney’s.
There is no restaurant or hotel in France, Italy, Germany, or Spain whose food can compare with Whitney’s. At Whitney’s there are no menus; you order what you wish from an endless variety of special foods, anything from duck soup to bird’s tongues – and the surprising fact is that you get what you order. But on your first visit to Whitney’s you often pay little attention to what you eat, for very soon, as the room commences to fill, you can hardly believe your eyes. At every table you soon recognize someone who is either famous or notorious.
After lunch this brilliantly dressed group of persons goes down to the gambling room. By two o’clock this room is well filled, by three it is crowded, and it remains so until early hours of the morning. It’s far more interesting and better conducted than Monte Carlo. I was deeply impressed, and soon I welcomed an opportunity to meet Mr. Whitney himself.
We found him in a small, businesslike office hardly large enough to hold the big old-fashioned roll-top desk and a chair or two. Perhaps there was a safe; I can’t remember. The office was protected by some iron bars, and there was a uniformed attendant at the door who admitted us after Mr. Whitney had given the word he would see us.
I found him a man square of jaw, cold of eye, his face rather unexpressive – much what I expected.
He runs his gambling place as a business – and it is a matter of pride with him that it is conducted in an efficient, businesslike way. It is said that his profits are two million dollars a season, and I doubt this just as one doubts the salaries of motion picture stars.
However the man had a strong personality. He interested me. I liked him. I wanted to talk to him, but it was difficult. He was not a very communicative person. Soon I asked him how much he lost a season in the way of bad checks and bad debts. He said approximately two hundred thousand dollars, which he didn’t seem to consider heavy. As he spoke of this a light came into his eyes, and a faint smile appeared on his lips.
“I had a rather interesting experience the other day,” he said. “I was sitting in my office one morning when word was brought to me that a lady wanted to see me; ‘Mrs. John Rossiter,’ the man told me. I knew who John Rossiter was, so I told him to show her in.
“Before she said a word she began to cry, not bitterly; but tears came into her eyes and began to run down her cheeks, and she kept wiping them away with her handkerchief, trying all the time to control herself. I don’t like that sort of thing, you know, and I usually avoid it, but this rather impressed me. I felt sorry for her before she opened her mouth.
“Her husband had been gambling, she told me, and on Wednesday – the day before – had lost thirty thousand dollars. I’ve been acquainted with John Rossiter off and on for five or six years. Every year he has been coming down here, and I’ve known him well enough to say ‘Hello,’ but not much more intimately than that. At any rate, I’ve always had a good feeling about Rossiter. He was a clean-cut man, a good sport, well liked, belonged to a club, and was rather popular everywhere. I had seen him year after year here, but I hadn’t an idea of how he played or what he won or lost.
He had an account with me and always paid very promptly at the end of the month if there was any paying to be done.
“Mrs. Rossiter explained that the great problem of her life had been her husband’s gambling. She had begged him to keep away from the stock market and from cards, and he’d promise her that he’d stop, but then he’d slip and get caught again. The thirty thousand dollars he had lost on Wednesday about cleaned him and his wife out. It meant – oh, I’ve forgotten what she told me exactly: selling the home – it was mortgaged already, she said, taking the two girls out of the school, herself perhaps having to find a position. It was a long story, I don’t remember the details, but I confess that I felt very sorry for her. Taking those two girls out of school was what I believe impressed me, I don’t know why exactly. Well, at any rate, I told her that I didn’t like the idea of anybody coming here and losing everything. Sentiment, if you like, but it’s good business at the same time. It doesn’t help an establishment like this to get a reputation that people can loose everything they have here. The result of it all was that I agreed to give her back the money which her husband had lost, but on one condition, and I made that point very clear: John Rossiter was never to enter my place again. I don’t like that kind of a loser around here. If he hasn’t got the money, he shouldn’t play. She promised me with the tears running down her cheeks, and I gave her the money, and she made me feel like a damn fool by kissing both my hands and asking God to bless me – all that foolishness that a grateful woman feels she has to do when you do her a favor.
“I didn’t think anything more about the affair until the very next afternoon when it was clearly brought back to my mind. My floor manager came to me ant told me that John Rossiter has just come in, and had gone to the gambling room, and was playing at one of the tables. As a rule, I never mix in with what happens outside, but this made me pretty mad, so I walked out there myself.”
“I went straight up to him and said: ‘May I speak to you a minute?’ And when we were off in a corner away from the crowd, I asked him what he meant by coming into my place .”
“’I want to know what this means,’ I demanded. ‘Your wife came to see me yesterday morning and told me about your troubles and about your losing thirty thousand dollars here on Wednesday, and I gave her back the money you’d lost on one condition and that was that you were never to enter my door again. Now, what do you mean by coming here?’”
Rossiter looked at me for a moment. Then he said:
“Why Mr. Whitney, there must be some mistake. I’m not married!”